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Live Blog: Enchantment of the Seas 10/16-10/20


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Haha...do you guys comp me trips if I work for this blog? ;)

***

(apologies to Captain Toni for calling him Chef Toni yesterday.)


Day 4: I woke up on my own at 7am, which is good because we had to clear immigration at 9:30. It would have been 11:15 based on our muster station, but since we had an 11am excursion, we got to leave earlier. We got dressed and headed to our beloved windjammer for breakfast. Mom got her usual gluten free grub, I got "fruit" (chocolate covered bananas), some sweet bread with berries in it and sugar on top, a grilled tomato (good and I think something I can do at home), carved ham (apologies to yesterday's pig) and coffee. And mimosas, of course. After that we took our second cups of coffee to the pool area to watch us dock at Key West.   We went to MDR at 9:30, and were trooped up the stairs, across the ship to the theater, and down those stairs. Our group was puzzled, but compliant.  The very nice agent looked at our documents and cleared us to leave the ship. (background music: Neil Diamond's "America")

I chose the Conch Train Tour for our excursion because it was hop-on, hop-off and that was an easy way to get Mom around town. Plus, it looks like a cute little train! What I didn't realize (I probably should have researched it more instead of gazing lovingly at port webcams) was that there is a 50 minute tour ride between Stop A and Stop B, AND that Stop B was only a few blocks away from Stop A. We were driven right by the Southernmost point buoy without the opportunity to hop off. We hopped off at B and decided to walk down Duval Street in the 85+ degree weather to the Southernmost point buoy and then walk back to Train stop C to continue on. YES my mother is still walking slowly with a cane, NO I didn't think this out, and YES I stink at map skills.

My first stop was at a shack that claimed to have Best Conch Fritters. I had a 3-piece and I can verify that they are the best conch fritters I ever had. We meandered down Duval Street into and out of shops. Sloppy Joe's was full, so I mugged at the Duval Street webcam instead. My productivity is going to improve 100% once I get back to work because my second monitor will no longer have 5 webcam feeds running on it all day long. We saw the oldest (still-standing) house in Key West. I squeed at the Margaritaville restaurant but we didn't eat there because I was full of chocolate covered bananas and conch fritters. Instead, I bought a shirt with a parrot and "it's 5:00 somewhere - Key West" on it because I excel at being a tourist.  After about an hour of walking, I brought up Google Maps and had my expectations reset as to how quickly we'd get to the buoy. It was literally closer to go back to Stop B and ride down to Stop C. We turned around and walked back, hopped back on the train and rode to Stop C at Truman and Duval Streets, which was still a good 5 blocks away from the buoy. GOTTA GET THAT PICTURE!

Wouldn't you know, that the buoy was repainted yesterday (Wednesday) because of the damage it sustained from Hurricane Irma? The colors are painted onto it but the words haven't been redone yet. So we had our picture taken in front of the plain buoy.  I smiled for the webcam and considered the walk back to Truman/Duval. And then we saw him. Like an angel sent from above to save my mother from her daughter's bad decisions...a young man with a pedicab. It was very hot, and I ran out of my liter bottle of water.

He took us back to Mallory Square and it was a gorgeous, breezy ride. Just amazing. We tipped him well. We bought touristy things at the open-air shops (more non-magnet souvenirs for the nephew and a wooden Key West sign for me, and I don't know where I'm going to put this thing) there and called our trip to Key West good. I didn't have an alcoholic beverage or a slice of pie, but I loved the artsy, beachy, slightly drunken vibe there. I'd like to spend 3-4 days there in the future, drinking at sticky bars and listening to music. I'd have rather been docked at Key West until midnight instead of Nassau.

If I had to do it again (I hope I get the chance to do this again!) I would take the Trolley tour instead of the Conch Train because the trolley tour had more stops around town. 

My clothes were stuck to me, so I tossed on the sundress I wore on the first day because it's the coolest non-swimsuit item I brought. We missed Windjammer lunch but Windjammer afternoon snack time is just about the same thing. I had a hot dog and a fruit crumble drowned in chocolate sauce and then we returned to our solarium lounge chairs.  I wonder how much it would cost to renovate my living room into a mini Solarium?

We went to the photo shop to make our tough decisions about photos. It wasn't open yet so genius me used the kiosk. I ordered the digital 4-photo package, put in my stateroom, prepared to slice 20 photos down to 4 and ... it thanked me for my order.  Uh. When do I choose the photos? I guess I'll find out after dinner.

Bingo was starting up it the Centrum. I smugly prepared to walk by until my Bingo Boo JP announced that the jackpot was $300 and it was only a $25 package instead of $33. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. We bought 2 packages, got the third one for free, and lost AGAIN. Bingo is gambling. Don't be like me. By then it was 5:45. Mom went to get a sweater and I watched us pull away from Key West. Sadly. Wistfully. Lip-quiveringly. 

Our tablemates didn't come to MDR that night, so again we had the table to ourselves. I had French Onion soup which was oh my goodness so good. I could have had 3 more bowls and skipped everything else. Instead I had a turkey dinner and carrot cake. Mom had shrimp cocktail, Angus beef sliders without the buns, and a gluten free sugar free chocolate cappuccino mousse. Ajay and Jesus (assistant waiter) wished us well and said they'd miss us. We were THIS CLOSE to breaking down into ugly cries but pulled it together.

After dinner we went back to the cabin to pack. Sadly. Wistfully. We were almost done when I saw that it was 8pm. Parade of Flags! We need to see this! We dropped everything and fled back to the Centrum.

I thought this would be the hokiest event EVER. It really looked like it would be. I rolled my eyes as my GenX people do. Whatever. Let's watch this. You know what's coming, right? Because you've all seen this before.

It. Was. So. Fun. We really enjoyed the dancing interludes and the love and pride the crew has for the countries they are from. (USA's dance was to Cotton Eyed Joe which, okay fine.) When the Cruise Director Michelle said if the over 800 crew members from over 50-some countries can work together and be a family, so could we all, I got a little choked up. Let's all be nice to each other. We all want food, love, warmth - that should be more than enough to overlook whether or not I voted for that candidate or that the lady over there wears a headscarf or that other weird person thinks chocolate covered bananas are awful. I'm glad we took the time to see it and still feel guilty for mocking it prematurely.

We finished packing, put the bags out, and went back to the photo store. Turns out that the digital package is a computer program that allows me to pick 4 photos to download once I go home. Perfect. The best hard decision is a postponed one. After that good news we went to the Spotlight Lounge to watch another round of karaoke. I collected my final drink of the day, the Citrus Cooler. We had 14 fantastic performances and one guy who drank too much and wanted attention. I will listen to people sing off key all night as long as they're trying in earnest. But when Drunky McLookAtMe tries to be cute, I'm done. On the positive side, there was a young German couple who sang "Stumbling In" ("Our love is alive, and so we begin...") perfectly and got a standing ovation. When we went back to our cabin, they were rebroadcasting the Parade of Flags on the RCI channel so we watched it again. Mom told me this was the best vacation she ever had and thanked me for planning it and I cried because I'm a giant baby. 

It was a great end to a long day and a beautiful cruise.

Day 4: A++


Day 5 - the Saddening: 

Since our departure time was slated for 9:10am, I set my alarm for 7. We were awake before that though, because at 2am I realized I packed my keys into the big suitcase that I left out last night and what if the bag doesn't make it to Philadelphia and my keys aren't there and how will I get home and I don't want to call my husband and say the keys are lost and .. and ... and... That kind of put a damper on my sleep quality for the rest of the night.   At 6:30 Mom and I sat in the dark in our cabin as we glided by Miami's pink and blue lights and docked for the last time of our cruise. SIGH. 

Mom went up to the Windjammer to get a table (good plan, it was crowded) and I went to pick up my photo DVD and get boarding passes printed out.

When I got up to the Windjammer it was bedlam. As God is my witness it was like nobody was going to EVER eat again. People were running and grabbing and stacking plates high with food. It's a freaking hashbrown, people - they sell them at McDonald's. Get a grip. Of course with all of the chaos, people were spilling things left and right and the floor was dive-bar-level sticky. Mom had her usual gluten-free grub. Two truths and a lie: To fit in I had 3 pieces of that sweet bread, 5 pieces of chocolate covered banana and did a keg stand at the orange juice dispenser. 

After that we walked the pool deck one last time. We went to the Spotlight Lounge at 9:00 and at 9:10 we were processed off of the ship and into the terminal. Something happened with Customs and we waited an extra 30 minutes before being able to get downstairs to the baggage carousels. I found the bags without a problem, and we got into the other line to be cleared by the Customs agent. Which made us late for the shuttle from the port to Ft. Lauderdale airport, but gave me time to feel through my bag and find my keys. All of the fruit that people collected during the morning's breakfastpocolypse ended up abandoned.

The ground transportation area of the terminal was loud and crowded and chaotic. We ended up on the 10:30 Miami Port Express shuttle.  Major props to them, because they kept in touch with me though all the delays. The FLL -> MCO -> PHL flights went without a hitch, and on the flight I typed out Day 4's blog post and scrolled through pictures. Sadly. Wistfully.

Got back to PHL, found our bags, shoved onto the Economy Parking shuttle, got to the car (oh crap I only have 1/8 tank gas left thanks Past Kim for leaving me this mess), stopped at the nearest gas station (Wawa, and this Jersey girl DOES pump gas when she has to), headed back to Jersey, dropped off Mom, went home. And here I am, filled up on husband hugs and on the sofa with two happy, snoring spaniels in my lap.  The suitcase needs to be unpacked but I am tan and happy and sleepy and ... sober.

Day 5: B-. Points off for being told we had to get off of the ship.

****

THANK YOU for all the compliments.  This was a fun exercise to help me remember and document this amazing trip. And also it's my thank you gift back to this community. I have a rough list of of takeaways that I'll come back and post in a few days.

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28 minutes ago, kimberussell said:

Haha...do you guys comp me trips if I work for this blog? ;)

***

(apologies to Captain Toni for calling him Chef Toni yesterday.)


Day 4: I woke up on my own at 7am, which is good because we had to clear immigration at 9:30. It would have been 11:15 based on our muster station, but since we had an 11am excursion, we got to leave earlier. We got dressed and headed to our beloved windjammer for breakfast. Mom got her usual gluten free grub, I got "fruit" (chocolate covered bananas), some sweet bread with berries in it and sugar on top, a grilled tomato (good and I think something I can do at home), carved ham (apologies to yesterday's pig) and coffee. And mimosas, of course. After that we took our second cups of coffee to the pool area to watch us dock at Key West.   We went to MDR at 9:30, and were trooped up the stairs, across the ship to the theater, and down those stairs. Our group was puzzled, but compliant.  The very nice agent looked at our documents and cleared us to leave the ship. (background music: Neil Diamond's "America")

I chose the Conch Train Tour for our excursion because it was hop-on, hop-off and that was an easy way to get Mom around town. Plus, it looks like a cute little train! What I didn't realize (I probably should have researched it more instead of gazing lovingly at port webcams) was that there is a 50 minute tour ride between Stop A and Stop B, AND that Stop B was only a few blocks away from Stop A. We were driven right by the Southernmost point buoy without the opportunity to hop off. We hopped off at B and decided to walk down Duval Street in the 85+ degree weather to the Southernmost point buoy and then walk back to Train stop C to continue on. YES my mother is still walking slowly with a cane, NO I didn't think this out, and YES I stink at map skills.

My first stop was at a shack that claimed to have Best Conch Fritters. I had a 3-piece and I can verify that they are the best conch fritters I ever had. We meandered down Duval Street into and out of shops. Sloppy Joe's was full, so I mugged at the Duval Street webcam instead. My productivity is going to improve 100% once I get back to work because my second monitor will no longer have 5 webcam feeds running on it all day long. We saw the oldest (still-standing) house in Key West. I squeed at the Margaritaville restaurant but we didn't eat there because I was full of chocolate covered bananas and conch fritters. Instead, I bought a shirt with a parrot and "it's 5:00 somewhere - Key West" on it because I excel at being a tourist.  After about an hour of walking, I brought up Google Maps and had my expectations reset as to how quickly we'd get to the buoy. It was literally closer to go back to Stop B and ride down to Stop C. We turned around and walked back, hopped back on the train and rode to Stop C at Truman and Duval Streets, which was still a good 5 blocks away from the buoy. GOTTA GET THAT PICTURE!

Wouldn't you know, that the buoy was repainted yesterday (Wednesday) because of the damage it sustained from Hurricane Irma? The colors are painted onto it but the words haven't been redone yet. So we had our picture taken in front of the plain buoy.  I smiled for the webcam and considered the walk back to Truman/Duval. And then we saw him. Like an angel sent from above to save my mother from her daughter's bad decisions...a young man with a pedicab. It was very hot, and I ran out of my liter bottle of water.

He took us back to Mallory Square and it was a gorgeous, breezy ride. Just amazing. We tipped him well. We bought touristy things at the open-air shops (more non-magnet souvenirs for the nephew and a wooden Key West sign for me, and I don't know where I'm going to put this thing) there and called our trip to Key West good. I didn't have an alcoholic beverage or a slice of pie, but I loved the artsy, beachy, slightly drunken vibe there. I'd like to spend 3-4 days there in the future, drinking at sticky bars and listening to music. I'd have rather been docked at Key West until midnight instead of Nassau.

If I had to do it again (I hope I get the chance to do this again!) I would take the Trolley tour instead of the Conch Train because the trolley tour had more stops around town. 

My clothes were stuck to me, so I tossed on the sundress I wore on the first day because it's the coolest non-swimsuit item I brought. We missed Windjammer lunch but Windjammer afternoon snack time is just about the same thing. I had a hot dog and a fruit crumble drowned in chocolate sauce and then we returned to our solarium lounge chairs.  I wonder how much it would cost to renovate my living room into a mini Solarium?

We went to the photo shop to make our tough decisions about photos. It wasn't open yet so genius me used the kiosk. I ordered the digital 4-photo package, put in my stateroom, prepared to slice 20 photos down to 4 and ... it thanked me for my order.  Uh. When do I choose the photos? I guess I'll find out after dinner.

Bingo was starting up it the Centrum. I smugly prepared to walk by until my Bingo Boo JP announced that the jackpot was $300 and it was only a $25 package instead of $33. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. We bought 2 packages, got the third one for free, and lost AGAIN. Bingo is gambling. Don't be like me. By then it was 5:45. Mom went to get a sweater and I watched us pull away from Key West. Sadly. Wistfully. Lip-quiveringly. 

Our tablemates didn't come to MDR that night, so again we had the table to ourselves. I had French Onion soup which was oh my goodness so good. I could have had 3 more bowls and skipped everything else. Instead I had a turkey dinner and carrot cake. Mom had shrimp cocktail, Angus beef sliders without the buns, and a gluten free sugar free chocolate cappuccino mousse. Ajay and Jesus (assistant waiter) wished us well and said they'd miss us. We were THIS CLOSE to breaking down into ugly cries but pulled it together.

After dinner we went back to the cabin to pack. Sadly. Wistfully. We were almost done when I saw that it was 8pm. Parade of Flags! We need to see this! We dropped everything and fled back to the Centrum.

I thought this would be the hokiest event EVER. It really looked like it would be. I rolled my eyes as my GenX people do. Whatever. Let's watch this. You know what's coming, right? Because you've all seen this before.

It. Was. So. Fun. We really enjoyed the dancing interludes and the love and pride the crew has for the countries they are from. (USA's dance was to Cotton Eyed Joe which, okay fine.) When the Cruise Director Michelle said if the over 800 crew members from over 50-some countries can work together and be a family, so could we all, I got a little choked up. Let's all be nice to each other. We all want food, love, warmth - that should be more than enough to overlook whether or not I voted for that candidate or that the lady over there wears a headscarf or that other weird person thinks chocolate covered bananas are awful. I'm glad we took the time to see it and still feel guilty for mocking it prematurely.

We finished packing, put the bags out, and went back to the photo store. Turns out that the digital package is a computer program that allows me to pick 4 photos to download once I go home. Perfect. The best hard decision is a postponed one. After that good news we went to the Spotlight Lounge to watch another round of karaoke. I collected my final drink of the day, the Citrus Cooler. We had 14 fantastic performances and one guy who drank too much and wanted attention. I will listen to people sing off key all night as long as they're trying in earnest. But when Drunky McLookAtMe tries to be cute, I'm done. On the positive side, there was a young German couple who sang "Stumbling In" ("Our love is alive, and so we begin...") perfectly and got a standing ovation. When we went back to our cabin, they were rebroadcasting the Parade of Flags on the RCI channel so we watched it again. Mom told me this was the best vacation she ever had and thanked me for planning it and I cried because I'm a giant baby. 

It was a great end to a long day and a beautiful cruise.

Day 4: A++


Day 5 - the Saddening: 

Since our departure time was slated for 9:10am, I set my alarm for 7. We were awake before that though, because at 2am I realized I packed my keys into the big suitcase that I left out last night and what if the bag doesn't make it to Philadelphia and my keys aren't there and how will I get home and I don't want to call my husband and say the keys are lost and .. and ... and... That kind of put a damper on my sleep quality for the rest of the night.   At 6:30 Mom and I sat in the dark in our cabin as we glided by Miami's pink and blue lights and docked for the last time of our cruise. SIGH. 

Mom went up to the Windjammer to get a table (good plan, it was crowded) and I went to pick up my photo DVD and get boarding passes printed out.

When I got up to the Windjammer it was bedlam. As God is my witness it was like nobody was going to EVER eat again. People were running and grabbing and stacking plates high with food. It's a freaking hashbrown, people - they sell them at McDonald's. Get a grip. Of course with all of the chaos, people were spilling things left and right and the floor was dive-bar-level sticky. Mom had her usual gluten-free grub. Two truths and a lie: To fit in I had 3 pieces of that sweet bread, 5 pieces of chocolate covered banana and did a keg stand at the orange juice dispenser. 

After that we walked the pool deck one last time. We went to the Spotlight Lounge at 9:00 and at 9:10 we were processed off of the ship and into the terminal. Something happened with Customs and we waited an extra 30 minutes before being able to get downstairs to the baggage carousels. I found the bags without a problem, and we got into the other line to be cleared by the Customs agent. Which made us late for the shuttle from the port to Ft. Lauderdale airport, but gave me time to feel through my bag and find my keys. All of the fruit that people collected during the morning's breakfastpocolypse ended up abandoned.

The ground transportation area of the terminal was loud and crowded and chaotic. We ended up on the 10:30 Miami Port Express shuttle.  Major props to them, because they kept in touch with me though all the delays. The FLL -> MCO -> PHL flights went without a hitch, and on the flight I typed out Day 4's blog post and scrolled through pictures. Sadly. Wistfully.

Got back to PHL, found our bags, shoved onto the Economy Parking shuttle, got to the car (oh crap I only have 1/8 tank gas left thanks Past Kim for leaving me this mess), stopped at the nearest gas station (Wawa, and this Jersey girl DOES pump gas when she has to), headed back to Jersey, dropped off Mom, went home. And here I am, filled up on husband hugs and on the sofa with two happy, snoring spaniels in my lap.  The suitcase needs to be unpacked but I am tan and happy and sleepy and ... sober.

Day 5: B-. Points off for being told we had to get off of the ship.

****

THANK YOU for all the compliments.  This was a fun exercise to help me remember and document this amazing trip. And also it's my thank you gift back to this community. I have a rough list of of takeaways that I'll come back and post in a few days.

This was truly one of the funniest pieces of writing I have read in a long time. Kudos to you! I look forward to hearing about future adventures.

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I laughed,  I cried!   I think we need to chip in to send you on anther cruise.   You managed to find all the humor and fun of the cruise... and to be able to ignore the bad!   Start planning your next one...it gets you through that first week when you actually have to make your own meals lol.  Jane

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I can see it two weeks from now...

@kimberussell has gotten over the buzzkill of getting off the ship for the last time. She's finally back into her routine, and has some friends over for dinner Saturday. She serves them a new soup they've never had before, and all rave about it.

An hour later, as they're sitting and chatting, one of them comments, "I think I'm buzzed from this soup."

And @kimberussell smiles quietly to herself.

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Final Takeaways: 

Dress Code: I sweat this WAY too much. People were wearing swimsuits in Windjammer (I think as long as men wear shirts and women cover their bottoms it was allowed), shorts and polo shirts in MDR, and on formal night it looked like at least 1/3 of the MDR skipped it altogether. For formal night I was going to bring a fancy dress that I wore to a few weddings this year, but it wrinkles easily and I didn't want to fret about getting it pressed. Instead, I brought my trusty little black dress which is actually from Eastern Mountain Sports and is made of yoga pant material. Accessorized with a large scarf and bangin' shoes, it fit right in. The maxidresses I left home because I thought they would be seen as sloppy were just right for all of the other events.  As far as swimsuits go, I wore a 2-piece tankini and a strappy-cute one-piece and STILL felt like Hester Prynne at times. 

Room: A large Ocean View cabin is completely fine for 2 people. I didn't even open up the package of magnetic hooks - everything we brought fit in the closet and drawers without a problem. My only quibble was with the shower, because no matter how I tried I ended up wetting the floor. I didn't use the drybags for our phones because at Coco Cay our chairs were right near the waterline. We also had the concierge nearby so I never felt unsafe leaving my stuff there. 

Food and Drink: The drink package would have been a waste of money for me. Even with a mimosa, glass of wine, and drink of the day specials, I was under the daily amount, and with the new rules in place that make both roommates buy the drink package it would have been a HUGE waste. My favorite specialty drink: Coco Loco. Least favorite: Royal Lemonade. The food in Windjammer and MDR was fantastic and I don't feel like I missed out on anything by skipping Chops.

The cane: Everyone was very accommodating to Mom, pulling us to the front of lines, letting us take elevators for muster and immigration lines, etc. When elevators were crowded, our fellow passengers were kind enough to wait and let her on first. (I kept taking the stairs to work off the drinks and breads.) The kindness wasn't exclusive to RCI -- TSA agents, airport employees, immigration & customs agents all went out of their way to make her trip easier and I am ever thankful. 

Enchantment of the Seas: What a great ship! I think it was just the right size for us, and frankly the pictures I've seen of the larger ships are intimidating! Yes, she's showing a little wear, but no worse than any hotel would after a few years. Our dresser drawers were stiff, and the public restrooms have seen better days. We are definitely going to take another RCI cruise, but I don't know when it'll fit into my schedule. I already have a non-cruise vacation with my husband planned for next October, and I really need to visit my father (in FL, not a hardship) after the new year.

Familial status: Thanks to this cruise, I think I'm solidly the favorite child until my sister-in-law brings Mom's second grandchild into the world next year. It's good to be Queen!

Day1Sail.jpg

(Mom and me. I'm on the left.)

And one more time: Thank you for the encouragement and kind words. They will buoy me through this bout of post-cruise, mimosa-free depression. 

Edited by kimberussell
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On ‎10‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 3:16 PM, kimberussell said:

Totally gorgeous! We stood in the Centrum for a while, overwhelmed. Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed with people and some typically crappy tourist behavior, like taking over tables with suitcases and camping there until the cabins opened. Boo

This is why we reserved Chops for our cruise we took 2 weeks ago on Enchantment.

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