A long time in the making
It had been a while since I actually had a real, no questions asked, relaxing and not taxing vacation. Close to two years in fact. So I thought that not only should I do something special this year, but I would do THREE special things. Well, four if you count jumping out of a plane again, but I already wrote about that in the Daily, so I'll just stick to the big three in this article: Cruising the Caribbean again, visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure again, and going White Water rafting in the same place that they held the Olympic White Water Kayaking for the '96 Games in Atlanta. Well, only the cruise was my original idea, but I'll take full credit for the others seeing as my friends who plotted and planned the other two don't write their own sites and they never read my stuff (no matter how many emails I send them begging them to!!!). So fuck them. I came up with everything. I am awesome.
Despite throwing the invite out to everybody I ever knew, all five of them declined to come along on the cruise. Well, I mean Mehve of Team Greenwood joined after I told him there were hot, red-headed mermaids out yonder in the crystal Caribbean, and that they loved computer programmers more than anything. After that it was a quick and Jim Norton standup-filled ride all the way down from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale where the Royal Caribbean ship (The Enchantment of the Seas) was docked.
All in all I must say that compared to Carnival (the last cruise I went on), well, even though that boat was smaller and a bit older, the Carnival experience was a bit, well, more. The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was fun and an A++ "would do again" experience, but it was a bit too stuffy for me. Carnival is definitely the FUN line; RC was more the OLDER MARRIED COUPLE line. Oooooooh trust me, I'll get into specifics below.
The first night on the Enchantment was one of sobering reality for me. The Carnival vacation from two years ago was still fresh on my mind, and I vividly remembered being one of only two men at my dinner table (well, the Wolfman's actually man enough for 3, but you know what I'm saying) FILLED with ladies who loved to party. This time, Mehve and I chose the "My Time Dining," which meant that we could go eat at the 4-star dinner whenever the hunger struck, and we'd be seated with whoever the hell happened to arrive just when we did.
We met a shit-ton of fun (older married) people, and some young (married people), but no singles. Yeah, good conversations and some great meals all around that first dinner, but nobody was willing to check out the dance club in the Viking Crown after 10:30 that night, or go out to any one of the dozen or so bars throughout the ship after that evening's entertainment by that fat comedian (not poking fun of his girth, it was honestly the backbone of his act)... But then I read the in-cruise schedule and saw that there was a "Singles Mingle" at the Schooner Bar in the back of the ship scheduled for 11PM. Oh, this was going to be so great, I hornily thought.
Mehve and I got to the Schooner Bar at around 11:10 and wondered if we were in the right place... There were some drinkers hanging around the shitty pianist who did horrible over-the-top impressions of popular songs (think Bill Murray singing the "Star Wars Theme Song" in that old SNL skit), and the people were drinking, laughing, and drinking — but they were all old and in "married circles" already. I was confused, annoyed, and my horniness was being flushed down the crapper with a bucketful of depression... But then I saw her.
Krystin was sitting by her gorgeous self a couple of tables away from the Piano Man, looking gorgeous and sipping a daiquiri with her gorgeous, full lips. I pointed her out to Mehve seeing if he was interested first, but I think that he was simply still in shock at the total snoozefest this "Singles Mingle" really was, so I got a beer and asked the pretty lady if the seat opposite her at the small table was taken. Her eyes lit up and she said "No, no, no, please. Sit down. How are you? I'm Krystin..." We shook hands, I introduced myself, and then we talked until 2AM...
No, let me rephrase that: SHE talked until 2AM... About Royal Caribbean boats. I swear to fucking Christ, that is ALL she fucking blathered on about: how this was her 13th Royal Caribbean cruise and her 9th by herself; how her friends were all lame and didn't understand how fun these ships still were; how this was one of the smallest Royal Caribbean ships out there now, and how the Oasis of the Seas would totally dwarf anything ever put to sea when it debuted in December of this year; how the Titanic was only 46,000 tons compared to the Enchantment of the Seas' 74,000 tons, and how the Enchantment was over 100 feet longer, and 15 feet wider than the Titanic, and yet they both carried the same amount of passengers and crew (though the Enchantment had more lifeboats *GUFFAW!*); how the My Time Dining was relatively new, but how she's glad they started it because it's 150Xs better than being TOLD when to eat!... And so on, and so forth... for close to THREE GODDAMN HOURS. Yes, I stuck with it. I thought "Jesus Christ! She's hot, she's on a cruise ship by herself, she's drinking... This could still go well..." But she just wouldn't shut the fuck up!...
Oh, and I must correct myself again already. Krystin didn't only talk about the Royal Caribbean cruise line... That would have been just silly. No, she also talked about how she was from a Mormon family, and that her dad was really hardcore into that flimsy religion (Mormons, really, just think about the whole creation of your faith... It's just retarded), but she was kind of rebelling against him (Score!)... At 33... Ummmm, wait, what?
She also brought up how she signed up for some webpage that allows her to open her home up to traveling strangers who need a place to stay when they're in Montana and when they're too ridiculously dumb (or cheap) to book a hotel room. Yes, she told me, she's almost been raped thanks to this site (and that 40-something, fat, balding douchebag who showed up at her door one night with a printout of her page on that brilliant website), and she's had stuff stolen by guests all the time... but "it's such a great experience! It's just made [her] appreciate all the diversity and special people out there in the world" who apparently want to harm a naive little Mormon girl and take her for everything she's worth.
The capper to the night's conversation though had to have been when she told me about her roommate on the current cruise... "What?" I asked. "I thought you said nobody joined you, that you didn't have any friends, or that they didn't want to spend any more time with you in cramped quarters than they absolutely HAD to... What roommate?!" I figured I wouldn't go back with her to her room if she paid me $500 at this point, and I was really getting sick of her truly frightening world.
"Oh," she said. "There's this other website for cruisers like me who just like to travel solo. This site hooks people up with other single travelers who don't want to pay double for a room. My roommate this time is David. He's this 45 year-old guy with a 20 year-old son he left back home... He got really drunk at dinner and... He, well, I think he needed to be away from me and sober up a bit. That's why I'm here. I didn't want him to get any wrong ideas about me. Oh! Did I tell you that I was stalked on a cruise ship before? Twice actually. One time the crew member actually tried to get into my cabin late one night. I hated to do it, but I had to tell on him and I think he got fired. That was sad..... I hope that David's asleep by now..."
"...........................Holy fuck you've got to be shitting me... Ummm, well, Holy crap! Look at the time! Sorry, Julie, or whoever you said you are, were, will be... I've, wow, I've got to go."
That's when I left her and ran back to my cabin and locked the door behind me. In the dark of the room Mehve and some lady's voice told me to get the fuck out for another 10 minutes, and so I went up to the late night snack bar (glancing around every corner looking for signs of the psycho woman (who had a tattoo on her upper shoulder of the Australian flag with the word "Aussie!" underneath it — despite the fact that she'd NEVER EVEN BEEN to Australia) and her boat talk the whole way there and back. Oh, the late night snack bar was closed (Carnival had a 24/7 pizzeria on their ship), but I did get a self-serve ice-cream cone. Yay ice-cream!
Anyway, after a full day at sea the following day (where thanks to my SPF 50 I didn't get a tan after laying out for 3 hours) we made port in Grand Cayman... Yeah, we went back to the same two stops that I made 2 years before, but I didn't give a shit really. They had the same exact shit to do at every island stop on any cruise available, and there was shit that I wanted to do at both Grand Cayman and Cozumel that I didn't get to do the last time. For example, I wanted to check out the Stingray City sandbar on the far end of the GC. So while Mehve went scuba diving and drowned twice (he was brought back within 13 minutes both times, so don't worry, he didn't suffer much brain asphyxiation... much), I went swimming with the creatures that brought down THE MOST INSANE motherfucker on the planet.
This place was absolutely insane! Touristy and commercial as hell, but insane nonetheless. The boat you get on takes you out to the famous sandbar, and then (just before they shove you into the water) the crew tells you how to not get killed around these
"Listen up, mon," the skipper of the catamaran told us. "Do not step on dese fuckers. Dey do not like that shit. Do not poke or prod dem either. You may pet dem on deh back, mon, but do not try to stick your thumb up dey ass. Dey most assuredly do not like dat either... But my mate Gilligan here, he don' mind too much... Well, it couldn't hurt to ask." "Gilligan" then winked at me.
"Anyway," the skipper continued, "dey do not eat people, but dey do got dose stingers, dat what killed dat Crocodile man, if you remember none..." Some fat lady on the boat then shrieked at this news and bellowed something like "Oh sweet Jesus and Mary! It was these little bastards that did that to Stevie!?" But the skipper ignored her (well, he looked at her with disgust — as we all did — and finished up his speech. "An remember now, if you all survive, we work for very, very little, especially Gilligan, and would like some tips, mon. Now git in dat dere water and hug a stingray!" The fat chick was the first pushed in. I was third.
We swam, we took pictures, got ray back massages, I hit on the documentary-making blonde and got shot down, and we fed the stingrays gooey squids. All in all it was a memorable time. I'll never forget it mostly because those little devils looked just like Hedorah's flying third phase (after his tadpole stage and his humanoid appearance), just before he put the smackdown on ol' Gojira in Tokyo-town. Yeah, I know... All my references are pretty geeky, but at least they're not all about cruise lines and getting raped in my own home by a vagabond I invited in myself. Seriously, Krystin, you need help. And not just "Help! Get this smelly rapist off of me!" help. Deep, psychological help.
Our catamaran crew was pretty cool all around. They fucked around with the stingrays for our photo-enjoyment, told us their lives stories when we asked, and they even let me drive the boat back to the dock when I told them that I had a 150 foot yacht back on Nantucket, and did this sort of shit all the time. They didn't even get all that mad at me when I ran over that nest of sea turtles and exclaimed "Oh no! Not another endangered species wiped out by me!" They told me that kind of thing happens more often than one would think ("Gilligan LOVES baby sea turtles," they assured me), and the skipper even made some baby sea turtle earrings for me as thanks for the $3.50 tip I gave him (which is like $12,500 in shitty Caribbean money).
That afternoon we just hung around the ship, ate a ton, drank a bit, and I even bought a Bud for a WWII/Korean War/Vietnam War veteran and his wife. He was wearing a hat that proclaimed his armed forces adventures, and at first I could not believe it. True, he looked old enough to have served in all three wars, but holy shit! Have you ever met anybody who actually stuck with the army after WWII and Korea to actually kill some Charlie? His story was really entertaining and quite powerful, and it brought a tear to my eye as I shook his hand as he and his little lady slowly shuffled back to their room to get ready for dinner... But my admiration was soon forgotten as almost immediately I bumped into Krystin and some "cruisers" she met up with on the ship.
Krystin got me to join their circle of around 12 friends in the Schooner Bar as I remembered I had jack shit to do anyway, and figured what the hell, I might get some good stories out of these really freaky-looking fucks... One of them's bound to be interesting. My inner voice should NEVER be trusted. It's stupid! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. But then I looked at hot Krystin and realized that she was surrounded by a dozen ugly and bloated fuckers. I gave up and pulled up a chair.
Just like Krystin, these fat and hairy (even the women... especially the women) cruisers talked about nothing but cruises they've been on. Which one was their favorite, how this giant ship was tiny and confining to them after the something or something class boat they'd all been on in the past, etc. Oh, then they started talking about how we'd simply HAVE to do some cabin hopping in order to see all their fancy-schmancy jumbo cabins they'd all booked. They were masters at patting themselves on their backs over the awesome cruise packages they'd gotten such great deals on in the past, and then they turned the conversation into mocking the everliving hell out of the poor staff (who served them like they were obese kings and queens) and their tiny, rinky-dink quarters. After listening to my darling Asya and her friend Roma talk sadly about how cramped their living conditions were on the first cruise, I started to get really annoyed at these bloated classy assies, but luckily they all remembered that dinner was coming up soon and they all waddled back to their cabins to wash up all their chin folds to prepare for the unlimited meal to come. I stuck around with Krystin for a little while longer, but sonovabitch if she didn't start up on the Oasis of the Seas again, and how she'd "suck a sailor dry" if anybody bought her a $4,000 ticket for its maiden voyage. I then left her and the bar, but not before telling the interested bartender that "she'd do it for money, that's been proven. Now you just need to negotiate on price." He gave me a free Corona for the advice and I booked it.
That night's dinner was the "formal dinner." I asked the hostess well before hand what "formal" meant, and she assured me that as long as we had on collared shirts and slacks we'd be fine. So we showed up as such at about a half an hour after the mealtime started only to notice that most of the (older) crowd was in tuxes, and a few of the younguns (meaning people in their 40s and 50s) were simply in suits and ties. Mehve and I looked at each other and said "buffet?"
The buffet at the front of the ship was pretty damn nice. We each got make-your-own stir fry (pick all the vegetables and ingredients that you want, then tell the chef what kind of meat) and some Kirin. Then we chose the most mentally handicapped bus-girl on the entire seven seas to take our photo as we sat at the giant wrap-around picture window. And no, before you defend this retard that you haven't even met, she did speak English (rather well actually), she was just dumb as a bag of hammers. She actually took a picture of her nose before finally getting the shot of us that you can see (is totally out of focus and off centered) above. And no, Mehve accidentally deleted the nose shot or I would have most assuredly used that instead of this picture on this page. You could see right up that shnoz and into her cobwebbed skull.