The Wild West(ern Caribbean Cruise)
We flew into ‘sunny’ Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. Not much to say about the place really. It was windy, raining and full of fit people with fake tits and tans driving cars that had Adam rubbernecking wherever we went (I’m sure he was only looking at the cars, not the tits!) We took the opportunity to get into the cruising spirit and basically did nothing – it was great.
On Sunday we boarded the biggest cruise ship currently afloat – the Allure of the Seas. It’s epically huge, with 5,000+ passengers, 2,000+ staff, 16 floors. It had some very cool features, like Central Park: an outdoor garden with lovely cafes and complete with recordings of tweeting birds (though I did find a dead sparrow on the deck one day at sea, so maybe there were real ones too). Another oddity was a drinking spot that moved up and down between the Royal Promenade and Central Park, called the Rising Tide Bar. If you want more details on the Allure, here’s an 11 minute video on YouTube. I can’t speak for the quality of the video as we didn’t watch it coz, you know, we’ve seen the real thing 😉
We were totally impressed with our room, and our view – the wide blue ocean. We started the first few days with room service breakfast (until we found the buffet – deadly) and finished every evening with chocolates on our bed – pretty tough to take.
Sitting around admiring the fixtures only keeps you occupied for so long. Fortunately, there were ample options to entertain 5,000+ cruisers all day and night:
- OPTION 1 – MOVE. Choices included swimming pools, hot tubs, climbing walls, basketball courts, a zip line across the 16th floor over Central Park, FlowRiders (boogie boarding and surfing machines), an ice skating rink, a gym, numerous staircases etc. Yes, staircases. Every step counts when you’re on a cruise. Besides, every landing had cool art.
- OPTION 2 – WATCH. There were shows of all descriptions: Broadway (Chicago), tribute bands (Revolution covering The Beatles), acrobatics (Blue Planet, Ocean Aria), comedy and ice skating. And if that didn’t excite you, there was plenty of people-watching to do – the range of people on this cruise was wide, as were many of their waistlines!
- OPTION 3 – DRINK AND/OR DRESS UP. I don’t think we had a dry day. It’s pretty hard to knock back a big Jamaican dude welcoming you with a tray of Pina Coladas and telling you to drink a couple of inches down immediately so he can top it up with more rum. Dressing up for 2 of the nights made me feel like less of an alcoholic (I’m dressed up – must be a special occasion, right?) Phill and Adam found their formal attire onshore in St Vinnies for the grand total of… $60. Nice one, boys!
- OPTION 4 – EAT. A lot. No photos of this – it wasn’t pretty.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we had three ports of call in three different countries. Frankly, I found they distracted me from the fun to be had on board, so I only ventured off to try their activities. We stopped at three ports:
- TUE: LABADEE, HAITI – basically full of unfriendly, obnoxious people, but quite a nice location which was designed to trap you there with no opportunities to get beyond the port. We did what is apparently the ‘world’s longest zip line over water’: 2500 ft. It was an awesome feeling to step off the ledge. $85 for 60 seconds of glory.
- WED: FALMOUTH, JAMAICA– we ventured out of the compound to get a taste of the real Jamaica and it was enough to send us back to the cruise-tourists-only compound. We could have got beyond the port, but we had a date with some quad bikes (All Terrain Vehicles for the Yanks) and a bunch of mud so we didn’t go exploring.
- FRI: COZUMEL, MEXICO – better. Good vibe, good shopping etc. We opted for the ‘3 reef snorkel’ tour, which was a good choice because it was pissing down with rain and we’d’ve gotten wet anyway. Not the world’s most interesting snorkeling spots, but still good to get in the water and check out the place. Somehow I managed to get massacred by stingers (everyone else escaped) so have been munching antihistamines ever since.
For such a lazy week, I’m surprised to look back on how much we packed in. We were reminded of how lucky we were when we got to Miami Airport and had to deal with non-cruise staff (how do those people remain so upbeat and friendly for 6+ months at sea??)
Next post: The Big Easy (yew!)