Saturday, August 5, 2017

Escaping Insanity: A Cruising Trip Report. Embarkation Day!!!! (Part 3)

Part 2 of Embarkation Day can be found HERE.

We were behind Waves just a bit, and, being a smoking area, we caught a couple of wafts of cigarette smoke, though it wasn’t too bad at all where we were.  We started moving within a few minutes, and we could hear the Sail Away party starting in full-force one deck below.  Across the A1A highway, we saw a guy attempting to use a flyboard (and failing miserably).  A few minutes later, we met the car ferry arriving at the Miami Beach terminal.  The water was really clear, and we saw a huge ray swimming by (no picture…sorry).  Soon after that, the Miami Beach marina came into view, with some REALLY nice boats docked in it.  Quite a few were heading out for some Friday evening boating.  You can see quite a bit of this in the video posted in the first installment for this day.  I'll link it again here.

Eventually, South Beach came into view, and I instinctively sucked in my gut and made sure my hair was perfect.  Sure enough…I saw her.  Just across the pier, on the other side of the rocks, a mere 100-200 yards off the beach was this heavenly being, floating in the water.  Wearing nothing but what God had given her at birth, she was truly a sight to behold.

Yep…it was a wild manatee floating just off the shore!!


Soon after, we were in open ocean, with the pilot boat cruising alongside us.  We watched the
Pilot hop on his boat to help another ship head out.  After the pilot left, we headed back to our room and noticed that we had 4 more bags waiting for us.

Wait a minute…we brought 5 bags…and two were already in the stateroom.  The last time I checked, 5 – 2 = 3.  Our bags are breeding!  We noticed one that wasn’t ours…it was 12888’s bag.  I took it down and set it with the rest of their bags in the hallway.  I walked back to our room, and Sheri pointed to MORE STRAWBERRIES!!!

She then told me to read the card.


Uh oh…dilemma…we have someone else’s strawberries.  It’s kind of weird to give someone else food, but it was easy to tell that the berries had not been touched.  Do I walk down and give it to them, hoping that they don’t think we’re complete freaks?  Do we just eat them?  Do we contact guest services and tell them of the issue?

Decisions, decisions...

I made the executive decision to take them down to 11272.  I knocked on the door, and, as luck would have it, the guy answering it stood about 6’4” and could have played onside alongside the security guard we saw at the terminal for the Miami Dolphins. I told him what happened and said that he had my solemn word that we didn’t touch them.  He seemed appreciative of them!

In a five-minute span, I delivered luggage and strawberries.  I wondered if I could get a 7-day contract for the cruise.

Sheri was going to town on unpacking, while I was taking down the GoPro from the balcony.  I could see what I was pretty sure was Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas in the distance, having just left Fort Lauderdale on its Western Caribbean itinerary.  I came back in, and Sheri didn't look too happy.

“The Packing Cubes Don’t Fit.”

My first reaction?  “Whew…I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Okay - I'm going to take just a minute here and step aside from the report.  As you read this, it might seem that, based on my writing style, you'd think that I'm married to a nag and have two spoiled brats for kids.  This is as far from the truth as it could possibly be, and, for those who know the Mushfam, they get the jokes.  Sheri is, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to me, and the boys are both intelligent and courteous to others...they all have to have the patience of saints in order to deal with me, right?  Anything that might indicate otherwise is simply my attempt at humor using the stereotypical family roles.  I think that most everyone realizes that it's all done in fun, but I wanted to make sure, just in case.  Okay...back to the report...

The dimensions of the cubes we got matched what we had read in other cruise reports on the same ship, but they simply were not going to fit in the closet.  We put one near the bed to serve as a hamper.  I helped get the shoe rack put up in the closet and started maneuvering the suitcases under the bed for storage.  FYI: we fit 3 large suitcases and two smaller ones under the bed with plenty of room to fit more!

It was getting to be around 5:00, so we got ready for dinner at the Manhattan Room and showed up promptly at 5:15.  There was a larger party working on trying to get seats, and we were waved around to another check-in.  I told the maître d’ that we had reservations for later but were hoping to squeeze in.  “No Problem!”she said.

She then reminded us of the dress code of “no tank tops” in dining rooms, which we completely forgot about.  We had two boys currently wearing tank tops on their torsos and shocked looks on their faces.  I wish our travel planner had told us about that #ohwait.


The crew member was extremely professional about it, with a kind demeanor.  I have to admit that, early on, I was wholly impressed with the staff onboard!!

The boys went back to the room to change shirts, while Sheri and I were seated.  After about ten minutes without seeing the boys, I texted them to see if they fell overboard, and they said they weren’t able to get back in.  I went to the front and found them – they were lying in a corner, curled up in fetal positions, worried that they would not be able to eat (despite the fact that there were at least 4 other free options for them to go to).  I think they went to the wrong desk, and the hostess there didn’t recognize them.

Once they were seated in the room, they started breathing again, and smiles crossed their faces as they looked at the menu.  They were even happier to hear they got more than just an entrée.  Being in the aft of the ship, we were starting to feel a little movement, though I think it may have been more the wind than the seas.  Sheri was getting a bit green, but she was tolerating it.  I was watching the boys, too.  Eric was like me – it’s part of the ride!  Aaron, however, was taking after his mother and not feeling the greatest with the motion.


I went for the clam chowder. Eric gravitated towards the chicken drums, while Aaron (the foodie) wanted to try the crab cake.  Sheri decided she was done kissing me for the day and ordered the french onion soup.

Clam Chowder

French Onion Soup

Louisiana Chicken Drums

Crab Cake

All the appetizers ranked in the "average" range...okay, but nothing to write home about.  No worries, though, because we had the entrees up next.

Prime Rib - Medium Rare!

New York Strip

Lasagna - Eric gave it a thumbs-up!

Whenever Aaron or I see prime rib on a menu, it immediately grabs our attention; however, the price on the menu usually has us choosing something else.  NOT THIS TIME, THOUGH!  We both requested that item, cooked medium rare.  It came out exactly as we expected.  For a large-scale restaurant, there were no complaints at all about the rib.

Sheri prefers her beef cooked to what I like to call "shoe-leather" texture (we've gotten her up to medium well, but it's still too done for me).  She went for the New York Strip (medium well), and it came out a bit more like a well-done temperature.  Cooking temperature aside, she said it had really good flavor on it.

Eric tends to gravitate to lasagna like Aaron I do to prime rib.  He has never met a lasagna he didn't like, and this was no exception.

Dessert was up next!

Eric's Choice: Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee

Mush's Selection: The staple of all cruise line dessert menus...the lava cake!

Warm Chocolate Lava Cake

Aaron is definitely my son - he went for the Pistachio Creme Brulee!

Pistachio Creme Brulee

Sheri chose a bit healthier selection with the cheese plate.

Assorted Cheeses, Grapes, & Crackers

All of us enjoyed our desserts.  Aaron didn't taste a lot of pistachio in the creme brulee, but it was still good.  Sheri's cheese plate was remarkably good!  That was my first-ever lava cake, so I have nothing to compare it to; it was awesome, though!

After dinner, we headed towards the forward area of the ship towards the atrium.  On our way, we caught a good picture of the chandelier, which was feeling a little blue.

As we reached the atrium, we noticed that they were in the middle of a “Minute to Win It” contest.  I took the opportunity to head to guest services to see about the distilled water for the CPAP machine.  While waiting, I gained a new appreciation for the people working behind the Guest Services desk as I heard them dealing with some odd issues with excellent professionalism.  When it came to my turn (after a couple of others tried walking up in front others and being told (kindly) where the line was), I inquired, and the woman I was working with initially thought I was talking about bottled water.  I ended up bringing up the email from the ship’s Access Coordinator and letting her read it.  A phone call later, and all was set.

Again – excellent customer service!

As happened the last time I hopped in line for Guest Services, the others headed for a seat and ordered a drink.

Oh no...nope…she was already up one drink on me.  I glanced over the menu and ordered a new selection for me…a Rebellious Fish!  We stayed there for a few minutes, since Sheri and Aaron noticed less motion in the atrium (Deck 6 mid-forward).  Since our next planned event was the Variety Show in the Theatre, we just hung out and waited, doing a little people-watching in the process.  The boys were initially planning on heading to their respective age-specific areas, but they were also starting to show some signs of wear and tear.  We arrived to the Escape Theater around 7:45 and found some seats near the back so some of us could sneak out quietly.  Aaron could check himself in and out of Entourage, but an adult had to drop off Eric at Splash Academy, though he could check himself out after 2 hours.  Both of them were to meet their counselors at 8 and then have events afterwards.

The show started with the cast of For the Record: The Brat Pack doing a piece from their show.

The boys decided to stay after that and head to their areas afterward.

We saw Tyler (Cruise Director) for the first time, and we got to see many of the acts onboard.  All of us took note of Company Men, and we made mental notes to figure out when their acts were.  After Midnight had a lot of energy, but we could tell that the boys were not that into the genre.

After the show ended, we immediately went to Splash Academy to drop off Eric and realized that it was being held at the other end of the ship, as far away as it could be – the sports court.  We decided to drop off Aaron at Entourage on our way, since it was on the way.  After Aaron headed in, we headed up to the court and found something that we were a bit concerned about – Eric was definitely one of the oldest ones there, both physically and socially.  He towered above all the others (including some of the counselors) except for one other young man.  We decided to stay and watch the interaction for a few minutes.  Eventually, the mix/mingle turned into a dodgeball frenzy, and we knew that he would be fine.  Once dodgeball was over, they headed back to the Academy.  We caught his eye and gauged if he was okay.  He wanted to give it a try, so we left as they made their way back.

It took a few minutes for Sheri and I to realize that we were alone.


Okay…closest bar…closest bar…Spice H2O!  We found two seats at the bar and looked at the menu for a bit.  There was some movement, but Sheri seemed to be doing okay.  We were both a bit warm, so we ordered appropriately.  Sheri got a mudslide, and I ordered another new one…a Bushwacker.  As we watched him make the drinks, we realized we truly had an artist behind the bar.

We immediately grabbed our cameras and took pictures of our drinks.



The guy next to me was so impressed (and perhaps inebriated) that he also took pictures of the top of the Bushwacker.

We tipped the bartender and enjoyed our (relative) solitude for a few minutes before heading back to the room.  As we emerged from the elevator, I noticed a girl walking around…probably around the boys’ age.  When we opened the door, I saw the distilled water waiting for us.  Sheri went back to unpacking, and I decided that it would be safer for me to be on the balcony.  About 30 seconds after I stepped out, I saw a Celebrity Solstice-class ship passing us on her way back to the states.

At 10:20, I headed out to get Eric from Splash.  It seemed to go fairly well, though the highlight was his “dominance” at dodgeball (in his defense, he was doing really well out there).  I dropped him off at the room and then decided to head up to Entourage to see how Aaron was handling the “Battle of the Genders”.  It was still going on, so I peeked into Spice H2O, which had their Welcome Aboard Dance Party in full-swing.  Andre, the Assistant Cruise Director, was keeping the energy up on the dance floor:

Around 11:15, Aaron came strolling out.  It went well, though he gave me the “What happens in Entourage STAYS in Entourage” line.  I just smiled.  He’s growing up.  We peeked our heads into Spice H2O again to check out the dancing before heading to the room.  When we got off the elevator, I noticed that same girl from about 45 minutes before still walking around.  I asked her if she needed help, and she said that she couldn’t find her friend’s room (a lot of her stuff was in that room).  She was looking for stateroom 12665, which, in her defense, was NOT easy to find.  That stateroom is an inside room just in front of the elevators.  All of the Oceanside rooms are even-numbered, which drove her crazy, since she was looking for one of only a small number of odd-numbered rooms in the area.  She said that she had been trying to find that room for about an hour and a half, even after asking crew members for help.  She thanked us, and we headed to our room.

As we all wound down for the night, I was expecting a major argument from the boys on the sleeping arrangements.  Luckily, Eric chose the bottom and was fine with staying down there; this was a good thing, because Aaron wanted the Pullman bed on top.  We all changed and prepped for bed.

Around midnight, we were all out cold!

The next day starts HERE.

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