Monday, May 19, 2008

Cruisin' Part II

I took the underwater disposable camera to Walgreens at lunch today, and just picked up the pictures and disc.  The pics didn't turn out all that great, but I'm attaching a couple of the better-looking ones.  Again, neither the fish nor the coral were brilliantly colored in Belize, a fact which disappointed me greatly.  H&D had snorkeled and sea kayaked the prior day in Cozumel and said that the colors were more vibrant there.  Belize is supposed to be astonishingly beautiful for snorkeling, having the second longest barrier reef in the world.  I was sadly disappointed...too common a theme during this trip.

Before writing about the final full day at sea, I'm going to back up and briefly write about the journey from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale, since I frequently get questions from people curious about my driving such a distance.  

This was the third time in 10 weeks that I had driven from Dallas to Florida.  I had twice before driven to Orlando, once in March and once in April.  This time I was going a couple hours further to Ft. Lauderdale.    I dislike to fly and love to drive, so car travel makes for a perfect transportation method whenever I can work it in.  Usually I do all the driving, but since I was still in the early stages of that nasty illness (though no longer contagious), I asked A to drive a leg for me.  

In the wee hours of a Sunday morning, I drove north to the city where A lives to pick her up, then we got on the road about 5am.  In case anyone cares, we traveled east on I-2o, south on I-49 in Louisiana (a state which I loathe), the hop over east on I-10, bypass New Orleans by taking I-12 east, pick I-10 east back up and ride it through Mississippi, Alabama, and all the way across the Florida panhandle until reaching I-75 and going south.  It's almost exactly 1,000 miles from Dallas to Lake City, Florida, which is where I usually stop for the night.  There is a Best Western in Lake City that is nice and clean and has a chorus of very loud frogs singing each night from their pond out front.

One thousand miles is about my limit of driving in a day.  I am a significantly less capable driver at night in unfamiliar territory, and losing the light means I stop soon thereafter.  I've driven the route so often now that I know where the cops sit and hide, and I am able to go about 75 mph on cruise.  That extra consistent 5 mph above the speed limit gets me another 70 miles or so in a day, and thusly saves me an hour.

I was coughing pretty hard all day long on Sunday...poor A had to listen to me all day long, bless her heart...and I had pulled several muscles in my torso from the coughing, so I was ready to see the Lake City exit off of I-75....hooray!  

The next day we got up and skeedaddled  to drive the final 350 miles to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale.  We took Florida's Turnpike from I-75 all the way down to the loop in FTL, and the tolls were over $18 total.  Abso-freakin-lutely ridiculous, if you ask me.  We have toll roads in Dallas, and I have a toll tag for them, but I still don't like them.  I think all the other fees we have to pay for our cars and licenses and registration should cover the cost of the roads.  Anyway.........

We arrived at the Port and had to show our passports, drivers licenses, and cruise 'tickets' to get through the first security checkpoint at the gate.  The security person at the gate quickly glanced at our documents then gave us directions to terminal 25 where our ship was docked.  I'd never been to a sea port before, so it was kind of exciting to be there.  That excitement quickly turned to a realization that everything looked really old and dirty.  I guess I was expecting a crisp, clean place...don't know why....I just was.

I pulled up to the unloading zone, gave our bags to a porter, tipped him way too much, and then we hopped back into the car to drive the short distance to the parking garage.  We easily found a spot, parked, then walked back to the terminal and joined a line of people outside.

While in this line we first went through another checkpoint where they looked at our passports and licenses again.  I can't remember if they needed our SeaPass document at that point or not.  Then we went through an actual security checkpoint with metal detectors and parcel x-ray machines and all that.  It makes perfect sense to want to check that no contraband is being taken on board a contained vessel, but I guess it just didn't occur to me that it would be necessary for a cruise ship.  Silly me.  If I remember correctly, we then got into line to be helped by an actual Royal Caribbean employee.  It was just a few minutes before we were helped.  The lady took our SeaPass documents, retrieved our SeaPass cards for us, and we moved on to the next station.  It turns out that the next station was an opportunity to have our photograph taken in front of a backdrop.  What is it with cruises and photos?  Geez, there was always someone wanting to take my photo or a photo of the group I was with.  I always told them no and to go away.  I think I pissed off the photographer at dinner on the first night when I told him in no uncertain terms that I would not be in the picture and would he please drop it.

Ok, so we bypassed the stupid pre-boarding-still-in-the-terminal-so-why-the-fuck-are-you-taking-peoples'-photos line, and we went up an escalator to get in yet another line where they ultimately scanned our SeaPass card and took a photo to marry the two items together for security reasons.  I was ok with that, by the way.  If someone loses their SeaPass card I'm sure that is one of the ways they ensure that the correct person is receiving the replacement card.  So finally, after what....5 different stops/checkpoints/security screenings, we were finally walking up the gangway to the ship.  We quickly found our stateroom and laughed at how tiny the bathroom was (and the shower!), but also remarked at how roomy it was, all things considered.

Our luggage would not arrive outside our stateroom until many hours later, so we went up to the Pool Deck where we ran into H&D, had a couple drinks, ate some crappy food from the Windjammer for lunch, and started checking out the ship.

Today's Photos Include:

The top two are of the coral found at Rendezvous Caye in Belize
The next one is of parrots at Playa Mia in Cozumel
The fourth one is monkey towel origami by Sean, our stateroom attendant
The final pic is the view of the Port Everglades terminal from our stateroom before we embarked 


CatBoy said...

Never having seen anything more underwater than other people's legs and asses, those look nice to me.

I'm glad to see Sean stuck to towels and left your belongings alone.

I had the same experience at the Empire State Building with them wanting to take my picture, the guy said "It's just a picture--don't be afraid." Naturally that was too good a set-up not to say, "Take our picture and *you'll* have reason to be afraid."

Jenny Robin said...

Charles, it's interesting that you mention seeing people's legs and asses underwater. I had the unfortunate experience of seeing too many ill-fitting bathing suits through the snorkeling mask underwater. Body parts were hanging out all over the place...old, droopy, should-have-bought-a-bathing-suit-that-fits-your-body-type-you-old-lady-hag body parts. Yuck.

I don't care how fat or thin a person is, as long as they are donning a swimsuit that is appropriate to cover the parts that shouldn't be seen.

I wear a modest suit of a tankini with board shorts to spare myself and others possible embarrassment when engaging in water activities.