Thursday, August 7, 2008
I went on my first cruise this summer, right after the One Stroke Painting Conference in Orlando. My sister, Rheta, talked me into it, suggesting that since we would already be in Florida, it would be easy to just take a three-day cruise out of one of the ports there. I was apprehensive about being so far out in the ocean, but the trip turned out very nice. We sailed out of Cape Canaveral on Friday, July 11 heading for Nassau, Bahamas on the Sovereign of the Seas. My first night was a little, well a lot rough, with sea sickness. We were just close enough to the hurricane that had skirted the coast for our ship to pitch a little too much. Rheta secured me some motion-sickness medicine and warm Ginger-Ale which finally helped - and gave me hives for two days. I react to medicine that way sometimes, but if you've ever experienced sea-sickness, you know it's worth the risk of going around looking like a dork for a few days. After all, did I actually know any of these several thousand people on board?
The next day saw smoother waves and my seasickness gone. We went snorkeling off the coast of Nassau. This was a hoot and took a while to get my breathing down pat. By the time we were called back to the boat, I could keep the snorkle mask on for a while without ingesting salt water. They had taken us a little way off shore (they claimed twelve-feet water, but it looked about twice that at least) and we put on snorkels, flippers and life jackets. I also opted for a floatie, not that I can't swim, but I think it acted as a security blanket, being my first time at this. Rheta and I each had a water camera which we used up. I never did get to see Nemo and his family, but I did see a large live starfish, a lot of striped fish and several neon blue fish. The coral reef was lovely, but not as brightly colored as I would have thought. The next time, I plan to forgo the floatie so I can swim down a little closer to the reef for photos.
After snorkeling, we walked around the island a bit, but didn't have a lot of time for exploring. We did get to see both of Oprah's huge houses (left) on the shore, the former Richard Harrison's house (now owned by Nicholas Cage) (right) and the bridge where one of the 007 movies was filmed.
That night we sailed to Coco Cay, a small island owned by Caribe Royale, our ship's owner. This was my favorite part of the trip until the storm hit. We kayaked from the shore to a path around the island. We spotted a large stingray and several huge starfish and conchs. This was a fun activity and makes me want to go kayaking around NC (when it's not 100F with 75% humidity, maybe in November?). After the kayaking, we laid out on hammocks strung under the palms. What a beautiful feeeling! The dry palms sound just like rain falling and the breezes were so soft and soothing..... After regaining our energy, we set off to explore a nature path, but really didn't see much nature once we got onto the path except a lot of hermit crabs and lizards. We did get to see a couple of iguanas up close at a pond near the path. It was cool seeing them enjoying a swim or just sunning on a rock. I wish I could return all of the iguanas I see in pet stores to such a place. (Yes, I have owned an iguana myself in the past, but would not do so again.) The nature trail was very hot, so we headed back to the main beach area. The cruise ship's staff had set up lunch on the beach, and this was very good.
Rheta took another turn in the water, but I was pooped by this time and opted for the cool shade of the Wacky Seagull and a Pina Colada to watch the sea gulls. They were everywhere, fighting over scraps left by the tourists. Rheta joined me to take pictures of the gulls and we noticed the sky darkening. Deciding to make a run for the ship, we left this paradise and boarded one of the tenders leaving for the ship. We wisely chose the bottom with the roof overhead. Just before we got to the ship, the sky exploded with rain and we were drenched. Now, it would seem that after having been in the water for two days, this is a small thing. Not so. The rain beat down cold and hard. We wrapped Rheta's towel over us and I bundled my camera in mine. Unluckily, I was on the outer edge of our row. We had to wait for the tender in front of us to unload, then the pilot of our tender missed the ramp, had to back up, then re-dock, managing to bang into the boat a few times. It was a great feeling to get inside again.
That night we cruised back to Cape Canaveral. There was a midnight buffet which included an ice carving demonstration. The ice carver used what looked like a large sharp spatula and carved a dolphin out of a large block of ice in about ten minutes. Amazing. The food presentation was fabulous as were all of the meals prepared on board. The trip back into port was again a little shaky, but I seemed to have developed sea legs and it was hardly noticeable this time. Our room attendant left this precious roommate for us the last night. She was great and shared in the seasickness the first night. All of the staff on board were gracious and friendly and apparently loved their jobs.
Would I go on another cruise? Absolutely.