The first evening was spent exploring our floating hotel/mini city. I’d read about being out on the bow for the sail-away, though that was misinformation. The closest we could get to the front of the ship was in our room, ironically. It was the closest to the front of the ship (and the anchor) down on deck 3. No wonder it was still available at such short notice before sailing date. The two portholes looked like cannons, and I would have loved to be able to open the glass windows covering them, but they were bolted down. We went up to the top deck to watch the departure from Tampa. There was a helicopter and a police boat escort, holding back any of the other water traffic, which began to build up in a line stretching back behind us. I learned later that the maximum speed for the larger ships is about 27 miles per hour, so it makes sense that the initial departure seemed pretty slow. We were traveling at much slower speeds in leaving the bay, so the land just was crawling by. (For contrast, in our flight leaving Tampa upon our return from the cruise, we saw the Sunshine Skyway bridge within 5 minutes of take-off. We didn’t sail under it until two hours after our departure on the ship… So, not the quickest mode of transportation.) I thought it was just that we were on such a huge vessel that it looked like we weren’t moving very quickly.
We wandered around the ship a bit, getting familiar with the different decks. The kid loved the jogging track up top and we frequented that area the most, I think. Four times around the loop was a mile. Kid averaged about 7 times per day. We got ready for our dinner seating at 8pm. I was looking forward to having dinner with a bunch of strangers the least out of all the aspects of the cruise. We arrived to three other couples already seated, along with one older woman, whom I sat next to. She was nice; lived near St. Petersburg, but said she was going to change her dinner time to the earlier seating for the remaining nights. We made small talk amongst ourselves, getting basic info on where we were from, if this was the first cruise, etc. Two of the couples had been on many, many cruises before, many on this same ship. The other couple was on their first cruise. The older woman had been on a few before. She just loved the food, she said. I began to understand why so many people had great things to say about the food on the ships. Dinner was quite nice, with a full menu to choose from, and the ability to order as many appetizers, main dishes, and desserts as you’d like. I didn’t go too crazy, but was happy with the amount of food I got. It all tasted great – some of the best food I’ve had. (I began to question if there were additives to make it seem so good, as each dinner I had in the dining room was pretty fantastic, with the exception of the last night.) The kid liked sitting at the big fancy table, and was well-behaved. He got two plates, both with piles of french fries accompanying his entrees, so he was in heaven. It seemed that every kid’s meal came with fries, apparently. For the dessert, I was brought out a special slice of cake with a candle for my birthday. The wait staff and the table guests sang Happy Birthday to me, then the candle was quickly confiscated upon me blowing it out (contraband on the ship).
Goodnights were said after dinner, and following a minor hiccup where the child became extremely upset that he couldn’t catch the younger couple from North Carolina to tell them one last thing about his Batman figurine, we left without incident. (That and he decided to draw upon the tablecloth with the pen that the waitress so kindly left him – we usually are dining at places with paper on the table when they leave pens behind, so I couldn’t fault the child. The waitress said, “I see nothing” when I confessed to his artistry. I was worried we’d have to pay $150 for a cruise ship tablecloth, or something exorbitant like that…) I had to run down to the room to gather my camera, as the moonlight reflecting on the ocean was too a serene a picture not to try and capture.
We wandered the ship a bit more, taking pictures of eerie parts of the ship, lit up in the moonlight, then headed back to the room to try and get some sleep. The kid watched some cartoons and then fell asleep. Mike wandered out in the middle of the night, sleepless. I also was having trouble falling asleep. I’d thought that the rocking of the waves (much more apparent than I’d imagined) would lull me to sleep, but by the time Mike returned, I still wasn’t asleep, and was beginning to feel like I was coming down with the respiratory illness that he had developed the days before the cruise. He gave me some Dayquil and I decided I was going to go up to get some air on the deck. I went up and found some chamomile tea and sipped it out in the wind on the deck. I finished it, and headed back downstairs. I started getting very dozy on the way down, thinking it was the combination of the medicine and the tea, though when I got back to the cabin, Mike told me he’d not given me the meds that would make me drowsy, so I suppose it was the combination of the motion and the tea. I fell asleep soon afterwards.
We slept in the next morning, only getting up and about around 1 in the afternoon to get lunch at the buffet. Many other people were there – it was quite crowded. The buffet was so huge, I had trouble deciding where to start. After I ate, I took leave of the boys to go off for my massage appointment. I went into the spa area, which smelled strongly of their signature fragrance, the frangipani flower mixed with a variety of others. The spa was at the back of the ship. I waited in the glass observatory room where workers were picking up after the Lady Pampering Party they just had, showing samples of each of the products available through the spa. I looked out at the wake of the ship behind us and filled out my client intake form. I would have been less honest had I realized they were going to use every minute detail on it to try and up-sell me products and services. I had my massage treatment with a young British woman. She said the hot stone massage was her favorite treatment to give and asked why I’d chosen that particular one. It was because I’d never had it before. I’d seen photos of people laying with rows of dark volcanic rocks placed along their spine, so I imagined that the rocks would be stationary and warm. They were quite hot – so much so that they burned my legs when she put some under the sheet to warm me up – and they were held in the therapist’s hands, so she moved them along the muscles. It felt quite nice and I became very relaxed. After the treatment, she wanted to sell me some huge bottles of products to help with my specific issues, though I declined to purchase them. She also booked me an appointment with the botox specialist, who was immediately available to give me a consultation after my massage. She gave me a mirror, and I really couldn’t find any major issues with my face, probably all the fine lines were massaged and relaxed away, so the woman was a little irritated that she’d seen me but I didn’t want her sticking needles in my face. She did have immaculate skin, and her face was completely flawless and wrinkle free. I told her so. “Perks of the job,” she said, and sort of smiled. I walked out to find the boys so I could relieve Mike so he could go to his massage appointment.
I was out later than I thought, so I had to head straight down to the cabin and send Mike up for his appointment so he wouldn’t be late. I briefed him on my experience and told him I really enjoyed the hot stones, but didn’t buy anything from them following the massage. He headed out. I was beginning to feel nauseous, though I thought it was from the overwhelming frangipani scent, so I lay down for a bit while the kid watched cartoons. I thought a shower would help me feel better, and wash away some of the damned lotion, so I got up and made my way to the bathroom. I took a shower, rocking around in the tiny stall, my stomach lurching with each bounce of the ship. It soon became clear to me that the feeling in my stomach was not getting any better. I stepped out of the shower and in the multiple mirrors that reflected every aspect of the tiny bathroom stall, saw myself turn a gross green color. I sat on the toilet and then held the trash bin in front of me and had the undignified, unique experience of being able to watch myself throw up. Lovely. I felt really bad about the trash can, since it was unlined, and our room attendant was so nice, I hardly wanted to impose that kind of clean up on him, but I really couldn’t do much else at the time than stumble from the bathroom to the bed and curl up in a fetal position, focusing on my inner horizon to try and still the motion. Mike got back a bit later. He kindly took care of my bathroom mess, and went out to get me hot water for my ginger tea, some crackers and gave me two Dramamine tablets. We both decided that it should be fine to take on an empty stomach (Right? I mean, what would the alternative be if you’ve just puked up your meal?), and despite my general dislike for medication, found the orangy-mediciney taste rather refreshing. Soon afterwards, I felt well enough to try and venture out of the cabin. We met up with some of our table mates as they were leaving the dining room after dinner, and they took one look at me and knew I was feeling sickly. One of the veteran cruise couples told us some of the remedies that had worked for seasickness for them previously and said they were heading up to the café to get a green apple for the wife, and I should come along with them to get one, too. There was a suggestion made that I could just be thrown overboard. Mike said, “I think we’ll try the green apple first.” We got up to the café and there were no green apples to be found. I saw a gentleman taking tentative bites from one, and walked over to ask him where he’d gotten it. His partner answered for him, saying that they’d gotten it from the café, and she had just let them know that they needed to bring more out. I thanked her, and went back to the café where one of the cooks was just bringing out another tray of the apples. We stood and talked for a while longer. The husband was talking about NM license plates and things. I think he’d had a bit too much too drink, and the wife was trying to pull him away – for herself and for us, I think. They said they’d never seen this much movement in all the years they’d been on this ship. The indoor pool was sloshing around like crazy, waves washing this way and that, and a net had been placed over it just in case anyone decided it would be a good idea to bash themselves around in it for a while. I joked that this must have been how they came up with the idea to do the surf-simulator rides on the larger ships.
We went out onto the deck to get some fresh air, which helped. There was no horizon to stare at, so I just took deep breaths and stared down at the waves below us, which were white-capped and wild. Looking up, I could see no stars, then got a slightly panicked feeling when I realized I couldn’t see the moon, either. I looked more carefully and saw the edges of some very dark storm clouds illuminated by the moon that they were hiding. Sheets of black rain falling down below them, and the wind was picking up, so we headed back inside. In bed, I ate the green apple, which tasted magical, and then the crackers, too. I had another cup of ginger tea, then fell asleep.