Spring Broke: Life on the Boat
This is the second post in a (probably, unless I don’t get to part 3) 3-part series about our Spring Break adventure in 2017. Part 1 can be found [here]( [Road Trip: Spring Broke — Glenn Goodrich — Medium](https://medium.com/@ruprict/road-trip-spring-broke-ef494bbfd8b8))
Upon arriving in Tampa and after sedating the Littles with makeshift blow darts, we circled the port several times trying to find a parking spot. There is an entire fleet of cruise ships and the email about our ship says it’s in “Terminal 3”. However, the signs for the terminals all say things like “Terminal F”. My guess is this is a result of cruise tickets being handled by the same people that handle Nicaraguan Email Spam Schemes.
When we finally find the place where we’re to drop our 7 metric tons of luggage, we are bumrushed by valets.
This is probably as good a time as any to describe my affliction when it comes to dealing with strangers. I am not good at it and I don’t like it. Especially if those people are providing a service, like a waiter or a valet. It’s almost like I am on a blind date and deathly afraid that I am going to offend the other person. I’ll blurt out something that makes no sense, laugh loudly and awkwardly, then bow my head. I have no idea why I am like this. *
*This all changes if I have 1/2 of a beer, at which point I hug-tackle anyone unlucky enough to come within 50 yards and talk to them like we grew up together.
As I step out of the car, the valet sprints up and says “Would you like to valet?”
I immediately freeze and look at him for a solid 12 seconds.
“THIS IS MY CAR! WE ARE GOING ON A BOAT! I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IT!”
Valet guy took a couple of steps back, mouth opening and closing as if testing responses to whatever just engaged him. I’ll give him credit, he recovered well and went back into the breach.
“Valeting is only $15 more than parking for the week and you don’t have to go find your car. It’s a great deal.”
I’ve reached the point where I just want this interaction to end, so I try “YES! THAT SOUNDS GREAT! ROUGHLY A YEAR AGO WE GOT A DOG!” and thrust my keys at him.
“Um, that’s nice, sir. I’ll get you the ticket.”, and, with that, he trots off. Jill walks up and asks “What was that about?”
I exhale, finally resuming normal breathing and tell her that we are valeting the car. She is disappointed, “We are trying to watch our money on the trip, Glenn. Why did you do that?”
“He spoke to me.”, I respond with shame, “You know how I am. This is really your fault for not intervening.” Jill rolls her eyes and goes back to the kids. We unload and head to the boarding area.
After an escalator and several cattle-rustling (I guess?) gates, we end up at a check-in desk. There are three people behind it that look catatonic. Our approach activates them.
“Welcome to Royal Caribbean!” says #1.
“Can I get your name?” says #2.
#3 just smiles. I sink down below the chest high desk as Jill takes care of things. Each of us are issued a card for the trip. As #3 hands a card to Lily she says, “Now, don’t lose this, sweetie!” Lily smiles, assuring he she won’t.
Cards in hand, we make to the boat proper. I am the first to be scanned on and I take 10 paces onto the boat and exclaim “Kids! Here we are! Isn’t this the biggest bo — “
“Dad, I lost my card!”, Lily screams.
“What? How? You are still within an arm’s reach of the check-in scanner!”
“I AM SORRY! I don’t know where it is!”, and she begins to sob. It’s here that I decide I need to find the nearest bar. Jill takes Lily to get a card replacement that I suggest should be sewn into Lily’s forehead.
Day one on the boat was spent as you might imagine: the kids sprinting through the boat saying “WOW! Look at this! They have a THEATER and a POOL and a BIG TV!” or me saying “WOW! They have a BAR and ANOTHER BAR and even ANOTHER ANOTHER BAR!” We found the Teen Area so that Logan and Emma could have something to “never, ever go into. Like NO WAY”. The Littles were all about going in the Kid Area, but it wasn’t open yet and I couldn’t break the lock.
Truth be told, this was Royal Caribbean’s smallest boat. The pool was smallish, the Teen Area was a closet, and the bars were teeny. But, we didn’t care. We were on a cruise, so we got on our bathing suits, checked the Kid Area again (still closed), and headed to the pool.
For dinner the first night, we dressed and headed to the dining room. As we approached our table, it was obvious that there were only four spots. We have six people. I am not math wiz, but something was amiss. Turns out, they had split us up, probably in the hope that we’d be quieter. As we took in the situation, the host led Emma and Lily off to the other table.
Their table was also a four person table, but with two other people already sitting there. I called them Harold and Mavis, as they were an older couple. When I walked over to check on the girls, they both looked at me like my face was upside-down.
“HI! WE ARE SITTING AT A DIFFERENT TABLE! TONIGHT IS NOT A FORMAL NIGHT. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO MAINE.” and walked off. I am sure that smoothed everything over.
Luckily, Harold and Mavis are very nice people who like to party. By “party”, I mean “bring their own flavored water additive” which they offered to Lily and Emma. My girls enthusiastically accepted, prompting a later discussion about accepting a drink from a stranger where they have added a custom ingredient.
You may be wondering why Jill and I didn’t split up so our children didn’t have to face The Harold and Mavis Roofie Extravaganza. That is a valid question that really should be addressed to Jill because I would have spent the entire dinner yelling things at them about ostriches or something. I think we can all agree Jill is a terrible parent for letting this happen.
The week on the boat affected all of us differently. Logan, for example, finally came around and went to the Teen Area, mainly because they had video games. He met some other teens that he said were very nice. “What are their names?” I asked, stupidly.
“Pfft! I dunno!” was his answer. You see, asking another teen their name is lame and I am a complete butthat for inquiring about it. Also, every once in a while we would walk by one of the cruise staff and Logan would nod at him like they were trading spy signals. When I asked Logan about it, he demurred, “I am not telling you. You’ll get mad.” I did not push it, but to this day we don’t know in what espionage Logan was involved. I just hope it doesn’t involve the Russians or Harold and Mavis.
Emma also decided she could grace the Teen Area with her presence. After night one, she said “No one will talk to me!” Of course, we asked if she talked to anyone.
“OMG! No!” We suggested that maybe she could initiate a conversation which she took as “you could light yourself on fire.” However, each day Emma added a new friend until she had a whole , um, squad, I guess. Anyway, other teens would walk by and they’d do some elaborate dab or Free Mason like gestations to indicate that they were, indeed, young and knew each other.
I’d like to add that Emma really got into the cruise life. One night at dinner the wait staff performed a little song and pulled various cruise-goers up to sing and dance with them. Emma was one of the dancers and she really got into it. For just a few moments, she was just a happy, laughing, dancing girl and it was beautiful. I literally teared up. I hope that Emma comes out more often as she grows up, because she emanated happiness.
The Littles made fast friends in the Kid Area, which may have actually kicked them out. There is an option to allow your kids to sign themselves in and out of the Kid Area without a parent being involved. Jill and I enthusiastically took that option, which should not surprise you after we abandoned two of our kids at dinner on the first night.
Lily and Becca ended up spending most of their time playing Hide and Seek throughout the entire ship. Every once in a while we’d see a kid under the stairs or diving into a porthole or buried in the buffet. Our Littles and their friends would run up and down the stairs asking adults “Have you seen Maddy or Landon or whatever?” Most adults would mumble things about the whereabouts of the parents who, frankly, were the real winners in this game of Hide and Seek.
After the first night, we had a 6-person round table for dinner. To pass the time, we’d play games, like Think of a Person and Everyone Gets to Ask You Yes/No Questions Until Someone Guesses the Person and Then It’s Their Turn (Note to Self: Come up with a shorter name for that game.) The game would get louder and louder, often because Lily has a disease where she cannot control her volume (“DOES THIS PERSON HAVE A FACE?”) or because our waiter, Law, would ask me what I’d like to order (“WE ARE PLAYING A GAME! LAW IS A WORD IN ENGLISH!”) Once the game ran its course, we’d do the Breathe on the Spoon and Hang it From Your Nose thing. Man, we’re so cooky.
Anyway, the dinners were some of my favorite times. We joked a lot, talked about our days on the boat or on excursions, and really were a family. After which, everyone would go their different ways until the morning.
I’ll leave you with one more story. You are hereby forewarned that this story will be Too Much Information for many of you. If you choose to keep reading, any revulsion is on you.
When you think about being on a cruise, you probably see yourself in a bathing suit by the pool getting tan with a big drink in hand. I bet you see nights of glamorous dining and dancing and other sophisticated events. Well, our time didn’t quite manifest that way. Here’s an example:
Jill and I spent most mornings talking about the last time we pooped, which seemed like a faint memory for both of us. Combine the heavy, non-stop food and the lack of hydration and the stuff in our GI developed its own gravitational pull. At one point, I noticed a couple of physicists following me around on the ship mumbling about having found a source of dark matter. When I’d spin around they’d try to act nonchalant, but physicists on a cruise ship have a hard time looking natural. One of them was holding a beaker of something pretending it was a margarita and the other started building a complicated pulley system out of shuffleboard equipment.
On the day that we finally ejected the dark matter we were getting ready to go to dinner and Jill comes out of the bathroom with a face mask of white goo on her face. I am standing there with no pants on. She takes off her shirt to change, so she now has no shirt on. It is now that I choose to inquire on whether or not we should purchase lanyards to hold our cards for today’s excursion:
Me, sans pants, “Maybe we should get lanyards, whaddya think?”
Jill, sans shirt, with white ritual paint on her face “Maybe.”
Me, “Man, I feel 10 pounds lighter.”
Jill, “We are disgusting.”
And that, folks, is marriage on a cruise.