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I’ll give you one good thing about cruises: the access to free drunk food is amazing. I spent much of yesterday cursing the day as I went down the laundry list of alcohol I consumed the night before, the likes of which included champagne, martinis and scotch. (Yes, apparently I turned into a high society booze hound on Monday night.) But this stream of poor decisions led me to see the light about cruising: all-you-can-eat pizza is….perfection.
Okay, so maybe I’m going overboard (no pun), but when you are stumbling back to your room after partying with fellow media (because those dudes can hold their own), and you see a man holding a piping hot pizza, cheese glistening with grease, and he says that it is free and unlimited…well…let’s just say good thing I’m not single.
So maybe cruising isn’t exactly for me, but at least with Oasis of the Seas, for whom they cater to, they do a very good job. Everything about the experience has been seamless, the staff is friendly and the food is actually surprisingly good. This isn’t how I would choose to spend a vacation, but I’m not exactly complaining about the 85-degree weather, tanning on the pool deck and hanging out on my stateroom balcony. It’s also fun to play the part and embrace your inner kitsch.
Sure, the internet connection is sh*t, and when the ship docks the passengers rarely leave the port, which to me, begs the question “why even travel?” But I’ll put my travel snobbery aside I suppose, because I’m supposed to be cruising like a cruiser.
However, when docked in St. Thomas a writer friend and I took ourselves into town for lunch and a local beer (the hair of the dog, am I right?). If ever in town on a short amount of time, hit up Coconuts and try the fresh grouper and a Blackbeard Ale (sold exclusively in the Virgin Islands, but bottled in Portland, Maine…). You won’t be getting a local experience, but at least you are off the boat. The food is fresh, the beer is cold and you’re in the Caribbean. Life is good.
Tonight there will be time for one last adventure before disembarking in St. Maarten for a solo stay.
David Foster Wallace once wrote, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” It was about cruising. Well played, Dave. Well played.
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning with the notion that all-inclusive cruises were the reason why the world hates Americans (I’m thinking of you, midnight buffets and the march of the XXXL’s). Don’t get worried – I haven’t had some life-affirming experience that has changed my outlook on cruising, but there are a few upsides to this floating Las Vegas that could help put it in a new light.
First of all, it’s a floating Las Vegas. Let’s look at the positives of that. Last year I went to Vegas four times (all for business, relax). When you go somewhere that often you need to learn how to make the most of it, which is how I have been approaching this sea titan. The upsides: Excellent restaurants, legitimate pool/hot tub scene, great bars and a spa/fitness center. And the views of the ocean don’t exactly hurt, which is something Vegas sorely lacks. Also – let’s not forget that cruising at this level was designed for the truly lazy (and no this does not belong in the negative column). When you are in Italy, you would be an idiot to sit by the pool all day. When you are in Ho Chi Minh City, you aren’t signing up for multiple spa treatments. But when you are on a Caribbean cruise? You go ahead. You lay by that pool, you meander off the boat at a leisurely pace only to return an hour later having accomplished nothing. It’s okay! Good for you!
Truth be told, cruising has come a long way and this ship was a definite game changer. You are no longer forced to eat at the same time with the same people holding awkward conversations (although you can, if you still want to). The entertainment has upped the ante in terms of electronics (and perhaps pyrotechnics) and everything just feels fresher and newer.
The downsides: Much of it is all-you-can-eat, which is often grossly taken advantage of. (I once heard a story about a guy at an all-you-can-eat that sucked sauce off of his plate to make room for more food. Oh, America.) Second, it’s all families and couples and once again I’m here alone, though that’s just the nature of the biz and no fault of the cruise line. Bucket of champagne for two for one? Yes, I will drink that all alone and further drown my loneliness by eating all of those chocolate covered strawberries….what?
Ahem. Point being, it’s not awful. I could actually see myself having some fun. But going back to Mr. Wallace, his outlook is probably with where my allegiance will align.
If you are anything like me, you are always ready for a last-minute adventure. Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas is preparing for its early 2012 sailings to the West Caribbean and there are some spots left. Here’s where you come in. Snag this seven-day cruise that hits Cozumel, the Caymans, and Jamaica – and it can be yours for just $399. Hey, we’ll even throw in this free set of ginsu knives!
Happy weekend, friends. I’m off to the newly renovated Mount Airy Resort for a mini press trip. Tales on Monday.
Any cruise fans out there? Anyone? Bueller? I’m not a big fan of the all-you-can-eat, kids-at-every-corner concept. But when I get to meet Guy Fieri at an event for Carnival Cruise Lines, sure, cruising gets a little cooler. (Note: I’m a Travel Channel fan through and through. I bleed Bourdain. But something about this frosted tip, burger guzzling, California dude makes me smile.)
I’ve taken one cruise in my entire life. It was a three day shindig from San Francisco up to Vancouver and it was aboard Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony. I’m told that’s the way to go. It’s luxury cruising at its finest. So believe me when I say I am no cruise connoisseur.
But for all my cruise fans out there, let me tell you that yesterday I attended an event for Carnival Cruise Lines at Manhattan’s very swank Hudson Terrace (probably the only time I will ever see what’s beyond those velvet ropes). Sitting among members of the media (I’m talking real members here, like USA Today and Fox), I learned about Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0, which includes a host of new offerings centered around dining, entertainment and bars & lounges (complete with some celebrity partnerships – enter Guy Fieri. Oh, and George Lopez. He was there, too.)
Fieri will be overseeing Guy’s Burger Joint, a “straightforward, real deal, quality burger,” according to Fieri. Lopez will take on Carnival’s signature The Punchliner Comedy Club as the new “curator of comedy.”
I apologize that this post is so industry-related. I’ll have some more tales from my weekend jaunt to Philly sometime tomorrow. If you really care about Carnival Cruise Lines’ announcement, you can read the post I did for my actual job here.