This Saturday, I set sail on my very first cruise on Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas“, the largest cruise ship in the world. Past vacations included a more adventurous itinerary, such as an African safari, surfing Costa Rica, or sand duning in Dubai. So I unfortunately have certain preconceptions of a Caribbean cruise – like that it will be akin to staying at The Villages retirement community, eating from the buffet trough at Circus Circus Casino, while wedged into a space like the mall at Christmas. I truly hope to be pleasantly surprised, but here are my top 4 preconceptions of a cruise:
1) FOOD – Clean plates and rubber chicken.
Food quality and/or quantity has to be the #1 concern of any warm blooded mammal on a trip. With almost 6,000 mouths to feed over 8 days and 24+ meals, I’m eager to see if my hollandaise sauce holds its form under the heat lamp. Modern service companies have embraced a high standard of cleanliness, so I am expecting a tidy ship with only the occasional dust bunny.
2) ROOM – Carpeted coffin, but who cares?
151 square feet staterooms provide “ample” space for a queen bed, love seat, and an airplane-ish bathroom. We did upgrade to a balcony, so expect to learn how long it takes for a drink umbrella strapped message-in-a-bottle to parachute 200 feet down to the Atlantic Ocean. If I don’t find a beach chair to snooze on in the afternoon and night, I plan on wedging into the cozy stateroom for very few waking hours.
3) ACTIVITIES – Move over kid, it’s my turn!
As an avid adventurer in Southern California, I am officially “stoked” to get on the rock climbing wall, rip the surf machine, scream down the zip line, and curate excellence in the napkin folding artistry classes. When my blood is pumping, I often revert to my childish ways, like swimming right after eating. If any kids snake my fake wave on the FlowRider machine, I can always retreat to the adult-only Solarium pool.
4) DESTINATIONS – Hey Mon! $59.95 please.
Who wouldn’t want to explore caves in the Bahamas, swim with sharks in St. Maarten or attend the 28th Annual Texas Society of the Virgin Islands Chili Cookoff in St. Thomas? The islands of the Caribbean offer hundreds of options for the adventurous, but certainly at a cost, a tax, a VAT and a tip. Excursion packages through the cruise line are expensive, but they might just provide a chance of a lifetime to experience and learn something new.
If Tropical Storm Isaac doesn’t leave my wife floating on a door in the icy cold waters of the Caribbean, stay tuned for my post-cruise blog post.