I finally am getting around to writing my trip report from our “cruise to nowhere”! LOL
We left home at 5:00pm Thursday, February 21, 2004, dropped our DD at dance class, then headed south toward New Orleans. We stopped in Bevier, MO for dinner at a little restaurant I’d eaten at, but DH hadn’t. This is a little tiny town, with only a couple of businesses, from the looks of it, but if anyone is traveling through there, I would highly recommend it! It’s a little pricey (along the lines of WDW), but if anything could be said it’s worth it, well, it is! They have the very best house dressing, homemade croutons, well—everything’s excellent! Anyway, full, we continued on our way, arriving in New Orleans about 8:00am. We stopped for breakfast, then headed into the city. My cousin called to let us know that there are two Wyndham’s downtown, and which one to go to—which of course, we went to the wrong one—driving right by the one we were wanting because the other was right in front of us—LOL. Finally got to the right hotel and located the people we were meeting up with—my cousin & wife, and his ex-boss and his wife. Of course they were all rested and ready to go…so off we walked to Bourbon Street, which was probably 10-12 blocks from our hotel (we were across from the River Walk). I couldn’t believe how crowded it was that early in the day. It was probably 10-10:30am and the streets were packed. This little town girl also got an education—LOL. It seems like everything I’d heard about Mardi Gras was true. There were lots of guys up on the balconies taunting the people on the streets with their beads. And, to get the “good” beads, you had to flash them. To say the least, I didn’t get any “good” beads. DH was quite disappointed that he always seemed to be looking the wrong direction. LOL He did finally get lucky, or so he thought. It didn’t take long before you’d seem more than you wanted to see. It wasn’t just young girls, either! We did get a kick out of a young guy walking down the street (it would have been very hard to drive since people wouldn’t get out of the way, but people were trying to maneuver down them) with only his underwear & a guitar on—oh, and cowboy boots. The girls were flocking up to him, putting money in his boots, then getting their pictures with him. The best part was that first he’d face the camera, then he’d turn around for a behind shot—where “the naked cowboy” was written across his behind. What a riot. AND he was making money! We had our coffee & beignets at Café du Monde, wandered around Jackson Square looking at the artist’s wares, then took a horse carriage tour, which really wasn’t much. The best part of this was going down Bourbon Street and having the horse take his nose & push people out of the way. LOL Plus, I did get a few good beads that fell into our carriage. We had our hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s, too. Basically, did the tourist thing. About 5pm it was starting to get chilly, so I ran back to the hotel for a jacket, then we went for sandwiches before the parades started. Everyone wanted po’boys, so we found a little diner that served them. The service was pitiful. The waitress started taking our order, then right in the middle of taking one person’s order she just left the table and didn’t return for several minutes. When she brought the food, she brought everyone’s but mine. She said mine would be right up, but everyone was almost done eating by the time mine came. And, the food wasn’t even that good. LOL She even wrote in her own tip—which the guy paying changed, and that really made her mad. Sorry, but you’ve got to give good service to get a good tip! We then went outside to watch the 2 parades that night. The local parades around here last, maybe, 20 minutes (and that’s a good parade!). These lasted over 3 hours! I couldn’t believe it. They’d have a float, then a school band, and they alternated throughout the whole parade. The floats were very elaborate. We were told later that they sometimes reuse the floats another day for a different group of people & just change the signs. The police escort the floats from their storage to where the parade starts, which is sometimes 20-30 miles away. The police also are usually only off 3-4 hours out of 24—I bet they’re really glad when this is over! Although the money this brings in! They said that by Tuesday, there would be a million people on Bourbon Street alone. No thanks! During the parade, the people on the floats are throwing beads, cups, coins and small stuffed animals. I can’t believe how people act over some cheap beads. Well, you do get caught up in it, and I had more beads than my neck could hold. LOL Of course, if I’d known you were suppose to wear really low-cut shirts… I couldn’t figure out how the lady (older) next to me was getting SO many beads thrown straight at her—until I saw her from the front! The only thing my DD said she wanted me to bring from this trip was beads, so she was quite happy! About 11:00pm, we finally returned to our hotel, and after 40 hours of being up, the bed felt great!
Saturday—finally the day to get on the ship! We walked down the street to a coffee shop for breakfast, then gathered everyone together to head over to the ship—which we could see from the hotel. By this time, another girl had joined us. She’d flown in the night before from Chicago. She was the “ex-bosses” DD’s best friend—his DD was flying in that day also from Detroit. Check in was the easiest I’ve ever had. They had plenty of people working and the wait was just a few short minutes, and we were heading onto the ship. We probably were on there by 11:30am. We couldn’t get to our cabin until 12:30, so we explored the ship, then went to grab a bite to eat. Hey, we’re on a ship, we’re suppose to be eating, right?! By this time the last person in our party had arrived from Detroit, so we had a great group of 8 people ready to have a wonderful time! After we ate, we did the spa tour, then took forever trying to decide what we wanted to do. I know now to decide quickly, as those spots fill up quickly. We really had to work and work to get everything in since their schedule was quite full too. The prices and services seemed on par to other cruises I’d priced. All this time, we’re blissfully unaware of what’s really happening—and can’t wait to leave the port. DH & I always have to be on deck when we leave. We were late getting the mustering done, and were afraid that we’d be taking our life jackets back to the cabin when we pulled away. Little did we know! As we were hurrying to drop our lifejackets in our cabin, the Captain came on with the announcement that there’d been a little delay and we wouldn’t be leaving at 5:00pm (this was sometime after that even), but hopefully at 9-10:00pm. OK, fine—time for dinner. We had the early seating (6:00), so headed to find our table and meet our waiters. After dinner, Barry the Booze Doctor made his rounds with after dinner drinks for sale. Boy, I found my weakness! I fell in love with each one. They had different ones each night, which were a combination of 3-4 liqueurs each. Now I have a bunch of liqueurs to buy so I can have them at home. They all came in a cute little “after-dinner-drink” size glass (looks like a very very small hurricane glass), all in different colors, so of course now I have 7 cute little glasses. LOL After dinner we went to see a comedian/juggler, Dan Bennett, then off to bed. And by this time, the Captain had come back to say that there were still problems, and they were hoping to leave dock about 6:00am Sunday. OK, we’ll just get up early to see that—no problem.
Sunday I set the wake-up call so we’d be up and on deck to watch us leave—but, hey, we’re not moving, so back to sleep. At 8:00am the Captain comes on to tell us that we still haven’t been released to leave the dock, and that he’ll give us more information as he gets it. Well, this turned out to be the tone for the next few days. I didn’t even have to set a wake-up call, since we could depend on the Captain’s 8:00am announcement. We had an inside cabin, so we could have easily slept all day and never known the difference. As of today, we would be given an 8:00am announcement, saying he hoped to leave at 5:00pm that night, then at 5:00pm we’d get the announcement that he hoped to leave the next morning. This went on until Wednesday.
Back to Sunday. Today was the first of my spa treatments—a foot & leg message followed by the Alpha capsule. Very nice! I enjoyed the Alpha capsule, but it wasn’t as wonderful as I thought it would be—although I certainly wouldn’t turn down a chance to do it again. It was very relaxing. We really didn’t do much all day, other than the usual eating. LOL Of course, we’re waiting all day to go someplace, so we just stayed on the ship and explored. Tonight was the Captain’s reception, so we went to see just what he’d have to say about the current situation. This is when we found out the reason for our lack of cruising. Early on Saturday morning, 2 boats had collided at the mouth of the Mississippi, blocking the only passageway that was deep enough for our ship. I thought we were just around the corner from the Gulf. Turns out, we were 90 miles up-river (I really thought that New Orleans was on the ocean!) A supply boat for the oil platforms in the Gulf, and a tanker ship, had collided, with the supply boat capsizing. There were 5 people missing, so they didn’t want to disturb the boat (which just had a small part of the end still out of water), in hopes that they were in an air pocket. Turns out that they only found 3 bodies. Made it a sad bit of information. Anyway—this was the first time I’d seen the Captain. Woohoo!! He’s 36, from Argentina, and just a doll! And…nice! As the week went on, he stopped to visit with me several times. I’ve never been on a ship that you even saw the Captain very often, let alone was able to actually talk to him. I did make it a point to not complain; as I knew from the rumblings I heard around the ship that he was getting enough of that. Besides, it wasn’t his fault that we were stuck at the dock! The show that night was the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers presenting “Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme”. Nice show. One dancer is extraordinary, so I pretty much watched him the whole week. I tend to pick out one person and concentrate on their moves, etc. He was just SO professional and such a natural. After the show we went to watch one of our favorite shipboard activities—karaoke. It’s always such a blast! It was rather disappointing at first since everyone was just SO good. Then, the ones we’d been waiting for—the ones that THOUGHT they had talent, or else had enough alcohol in them that it didn’t matter. I just love a good laugh! After this, it was off to bed. All day we’d watched people coming into the ship terminal—of course expecting to be getting on their ship, that wasn’t there. Turns out that a couple of cruise ships were stuck out in the Gulf and couldn’t get in to port, so they ended up sending them to a couple of other cities (Gulfport and somewhere else) to dock, then bussing the people from there back to the terminal and vice versa. There were still people boarding busses at the terminal at midnight. So…we weren’t the only people not having the perfect cruise.
Monday we had a little variety—I guess since they knew we weren’t going anywhere they even printed a “revised” day 3 agenda. Oohh, something new to look at. (See, by this point it didn’t take much). I really had high hopes to actually exercise on this trip—but alas, there just wasn’t time with the eating, lying by the pool, etc. This afternoon was “Lost in Translation” in the theater, so we went to watch that. When DH woke me up because I was snoring, I decided to start a new afternoon tradition—the nap in the cabin! I got up from that pastime just in time for dinner. The show tonight was a singer, Michelle Murlin, and a great comedian Tom Parks. If you ever have a chance to see him, do. Very funny man! After dinner was another one of my shipboard favorites—an adult scavenger hunt. I’d done this on a couple of other ships, so had a small idea what was going to be asked for—so I went prepared with my bag full of “stuff”. The rest of our group thought I was nuts, until I was able to come up with some unusual things, quickly. This is something that is just a riot to watch—I had tears rolling most of the time. My usually shy DH got competitive and was running up to show our items before I could hardly get them to him. It was just so out of character for him, which made it even funnier! Anyway, we didn’t win, but next time, not only will I take my bag of stuff, I’ll also sit where I have quicker access to get to the middle of the floor! After this, Tom Parks did an “adult comedy show”, which was just hilarious. It was great because he didn’t use bad language, just a few not-so-terrible topics. I could have listened to him for a lot longer and hated for the show to end. Too much fun for the night, so off to bed.
Tuesday was a beautiful day, so we spent most of it on the deck, looking at the back of the warehouse. It was kinda strange since the Coast Guard kept a boat in the water just going back & forth by us, plus there were some kind of guard people roaming the ship—the boat had machine guns on it & these guards all had guns. What did they think, that our ship was going to try to leave quickly or something? Come on! By this point, we saw a lot of people taking their luggage and leaving the ship. I heard that 230 people left just today. Hey, I figured I’d stick it out—it was better than being home, cooking & cleaning for myself! By this point, however, I did cancel the rest of my spa appointments. There was just something about still being at the dock, looking at the muddy Mississippi, that wasn’t conducive to spa treatments. No problem, they’d credit my account. We did run out to the car (one nice thing about being at the dock by the car, we could take stuff to the car & not have to carry so much when we left! LOL) so I could grab my cell phone. No point in not calling home to check on DD. She burst out laughing when I told her we were still at the dock and let me know she was having a much better vacation than I was. The highlight of her week was watching lambs being born. She now thinks she’s a farm girl! We did a backstage tour of the theater, given by a couple of the ship’s dancers. They answered a lot of questions, plus it was quite interesting to see what small room they had to work with, and how quickly they had to change costumes, etc. We had lunch, then grabbed some dessert and headed to the theater to watch “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Great chick flick! Then to my afternoon nap (I can’t believe I’m on a ship, taking a nap, which I never do at home—and loving it!). I had a little time to kill before dinner, so I broke down and logged onto the internet so check my mail and hopefully see what was going on with the newsgroups. The internet area was just down the hall from our cabin, and it was just so tempting every time I walked by—I just couldn’t take it any longer. I’d really planned on a whole week away from the computer, but boredom finally kicked in. Well, I never could get a connection (although the bill did run up—which they took off for me), so that was the end of that thought. The one thing I was disappointed about was that they didn’t have any kind of internet plan. It was a flat $.50/minute. If they’d had some kind of plan I’m sure I would have signed up, then had something to entertain myself with when I’d walked around the ship too much. Off to dinner, then the show “Jump Jive & Swing”. By this point, the attitude of most people on the ship wasn’t very good—there was a lot of tension and people were just hanging around and not really getting into anything at all. I did feel badly for the people that live in New Orleans & took this cruise just to get away from the Mardi Gras crowds! There was one person on there that said he could see his house from the ship. LOL Nothing interesting to do tonight, so off to bed.
Wednesday it was a little cooler out. No longer was it short’s weather, which of course is pretty much what I’d brought since we were going south. Oh well, I guess I’ll just wear the same clothes for the whole trip. LOL We went over to the River Walk to browse the shops and kill some time. Bought a couple of postcards and a cup of coffee—big spender! Rumor had it that we MAY get to leave port tonight! I’m sure the ship line people were anxious to get us going—while at port the shops and casino couldn’t be open, so not only were they paying big money to be tied to the dock, they were also not bringing in that money! We didn’t want to see today’s movie, so that just meant an earlier nap. I tried the internet again, and was able to get a connection, so checked my mail and sent a quick note to The Magic for Less to let them know what fun I was having! LOL That afternoon they were also having a special bingo to give someone an upgraded cabin (whoopee—for the last couple of days?!). This turned out to be the only game of bingo I ever made it to—and didn’t win a thing. Of course, at this point we’re still at the dock, so they couldn’t give any monetary prizes, just things like caps, etc. I finally got my little bit of exercise for the cruise in—I walked 2 miles around the deck. Good thing since this was the last good weather we saw. Then…low & behold, about 5pm there was some movement—we were actually pulling away from the dock! Everyone was SO excited! By this time, though, we’d lost our window to get to any ports, so we were just going to go out into the Gulf, do a big circle for a couple of days, then come back. Also, because of this (I guess), they did announce today that RC would be refunding all of our money, plus a 25% discount off our next cruise. Very generous of them. I figured they’d do something, but they certainly went far with this! This, plus the fact that we were finally going somewhere, seemed to completely change the attitude of those still on the ship. Finally, a festive feeling! After dinner, we saw a magic act with Knight Magic, then DH & went to the top-floor bar to the 70’s Disco party. While up there we cruised past the boat that was capsized, with a crane beside it getting ready to lift it out. Pretty sad! We sat up there awhile, then headed to bed. On our way to the cabin, we walked through the casino. They announced that it would open in 20 minutes (we had to get 3 miles out in the Gulf to be in international waters) and the place was already packed with people that had staked out their machines/tables. What a riot! LOL
Thursday—we’re in the ocean! It’s great to not be looking at our warehouse view, but my—the ship’s really rolling! There were a lot of people that didn’t feel too well today. That was one plus of sitting at the dock—no sea sickness! LOL It was cold and rainy, too! The highest it ever got while we were on the ocean was 55, with very high winds, making the wind chill about 35. Brother—and THIS is a cruise? LOL This morning we met with the person that signs up future cruises and we all booked our next cruise (to use our discount) and we were able to get a verandah cabin for the same money that we’d spent on our inside cabin. The next cruise, though, we’re taking out of Port Canaveral—no more New Orleans for us! LOL We’re going next November, since that’s when they had the best rates. No one really cared when they went, so that’s how we determined the dates. We’re also going on a much larger ship (this ship was the smallest one I’d ever sailed on), so I’m excited about that! I went to the shops about an hour after they opened and you could barely walk around. I think that people were going nuts there since they wouldn’t be getting into any other ports. It was crazy! I did find a bracelet of dolphins that I fell in love with, which I showed DH who just said to get it if I wanted it (which is why we never buy each other gifts—we just get something if we want it—LOL). I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. Either tonight or last night was also the reception for previous RC clients. There were a few people there with over 10 cruises, with the most being 24. The show tonight was “Beat Goes On”, which I was looking forward to as it looked like a lot of fun (had seen the costumes when we did the behind the scene tour), but before it was time for the show the Captain announced that there was a medical emergency and that about 8:40 the Coast Guard would be air-lifting someone from the top deck and to please stay clear of the outside decks. We decided this was something we’d never have a chance to see, so went to the upper bar where it overlooked the top deck and we’d have a good view. Of course, I thought, too, that we’d have plenty of time then to get to the show. That didn’t happen as they were about an hour late getting to the ship, and by the time it was over, so was the show (which everyone said was the best one of the week). However, I thought it was quite interesting watching the Coast Guard operation. They first lowered down a person, then the basket, which they sent back up with the ill person, then they picked up the person they’d first lowered down. Remember, it was VERY windy out, plus being a passenger cruise ship, they took a lot of precautions. They had their fire team out, suited up, with fire hose in hand. They also had several employees out on the decks in various positions. Anyway, it was pretty exciting. We heard it was a crew member that was ill enough that he had to be air-lifted to a hospital, but whatever he had wasn’t contagious (I asked the Captain that just to make sure—then later he announced it). Whatever he had, he was doing fine at the hospital. Tonight was the Grand Gala, which is the first “midnight” buffet I’d even thought about. I did go look at the beautifully carved veggies, fruits and chocolate, but wasn’t about to wait for the huge crowds so decided I really didn’t want anything more to eat. So much for excitement—now it’s time for bed.
Friday—another very cold and rainy day. Oh well, there’s plenty to do in the ship. At least the shops being open gave me a chance to buy a sweatshirt! I browsed the shops again—they had a lot of different things out today– so ended up getting a couple of bracelets made where you paid by the inch which turned out to be a really good buy. Later I was showing DH my buys, plus had several things in my arms to pay for, when he told me maybe I should see something he bought before I spent too much more—and he gave me my dolphin bracelet! It meant much more since this is just so unlike him! How sweet! He then claimed that he had now taken care of birthday and anniversary. Fine by me! For our last day I took all my desserts (yes, ALL!) to the theater to watch “Sweet Home Alabama”. I can’t believe all the movies I’ve watched this week—more than I usually watch in a year. I also had to go to the spa to find out why my spa credits hadn’t been credited back to my account. Got that straightened out with no problem—but it’s a good thing I’d checked or I would have just been out. Tonight was our last night, so I went back to the cabin and got our suitcases packed so that after dinner we could put our stuff in them and get them out in the hall before our evening activities. We ate, gave out our tips, then went back to the cabin to change and put out our luggage. The show tonight was a comedian Craig Carmean. He was funny, just not as good as Tom Parks the other night. After that was another karaoke night, which we enjoyed as usual. After that, Craig did an adult comedy show, and this time it was truly for adults only. I’m not a prude, but it just isn’t funny to me when someone has to use bad language to be funny. Oh well, some of his stuff was worthwhile. He was more a college-crowd type comedian. I’m sure they’d love him! It’s hard to believe, but at this point I was actually glad that tomorrow we’d be getting off the ship. It just wasn’t the ideal cruise, but then again, it was free! Oh well, it’s something to remember as it was the first time in 50 years that the river had been closed, the first time RC hadn’t been able to leave the dock like that, and only the 5th time they’d had to air-lift someone from the ship. All things that make memories. To bed for our last night.
Saturday we were back at our warehouse dock again—seemed like we’d just left. LOL We ate, then sat in a lounge to wait to be called to disembark For some reason, we were among the 2nd group to be called, so we were off the ship and on the highway by 9:00am. We left New Orleans by a different route so we could go across the 24-mile bridge that spans the Ponchetrain Lake. By midnight, we were home and our journey had ended.
Thanks for sticking with me for this whole long tale. Let me know if you have questions. Thanks for reading!