- To hell with the pig... I'm going to Switzerland.

A Vacation to... Nowhere? (Monday, September 18, 2006)

I have returned from the most interesting "vacation" I've ever had. I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to escape from work, and soon, so I put myself on the first cruise within driving distance I could get on — Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, for a five day cruise to Bermuda. Of course, Hurricane Florence decided to vacation in Bermuda this past week, as well. So leading up to my vacation, Royal Caribbean warned us that we may have to sail an alternate itinerary — a day in the Bahamas instead of two days in Bermuda. Well, that was okay with me, as long as it was someplace warm and sunny — I wasn't really interested in shore excursions anyway. Then the day before my sailing arrives, and I get word that the ships rudder was damaged, and that they'd be late getting into port, even later departing, and that it was now a Cruise to Nowhere, as Bermuda was out because of the weather, and anything else was too far to sail in the time available.

So, I hung out in Baltimore all day on Sunday, and boarded the ship in the late afternoon. We spent all day Monday sitting in Baltimore Harbor, and then finally, we got under way at 4:00 AM on Tuesday. We spent most of Tuesday in the Chesapeake Bay, and were welcomed to the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday afternoon by the remnants of Florence, in the form of twenty foot swells. Our first two days at sea were punctuated by a mass exodus from the public areas to the cabin areas, which Pete Thompson, the Aussie piano player, eloquently dubbed the "Vomitorium". Among the highlights from this part of our voyage were watching all of the products falling off the shelves in the boutique, and even some of the free-standing shelves tipping over, Pete's tip jar repeatedly sliding off the piano, and lines of sober passengers walking back and forth across the deck like they were drunk.

Even though we didn't go anywhere, and the seas were rather rough, oh, and the passengers were either elderly or mentally handicapped (who would bring 150 mentally handicapped people onto one cruise?!), I still managed to have a pretty good time. I spent most of my time in Pete's piano lounge learning all sorts of interesting new Australian vocabulary, exercising, or eating and drinking. The food was mostly pretty good, and the service was terrific. I did manage to get a hot-stone massage, which was great, though it would have been better after a week's worth of working out and not at the very beginning. The casino was closed while we were in port, but I found some time to place a few wagers before the end of the cruise. I discovered that well executed basic strategy does not help at Blackjack with the dealer never ever busts. Ever. But that's okay, because I also discovered that the Roulette wheel on Grandeur tends to pick a handful of numbers and land on them over and over again. As a result, I was able to win $175 on one spin, and $140 on another spin, within about ten minutes of each other, and walk out $70 ahead, despite my utter defeat at Blackjack.

I have it on good authority that I'm going to be getting a 50% credit for the cruise, and a 25% off of a future cruise, so I guess I'll be giving Royal Caribbean another chance — but I don't think I'll sail out of Baltimore again. I'll suck it up and fly to Florida. Pete's probably going to get a new ship in January anyway, so perhaps I'll follow him. That's all for now.

—Brian (9/18/2006 12:58 PM)


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