Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A supposedly fun thing that didn't really go off as planned.

Here's the story, with no digressions:

I've never been on a cruise and never really had the urge to, but Sarah wanted to celebrate her MA graduation with a vacation we didn't have to plan.

We picked out a Royal Caribbean cruise for seven nights, a western Caribbean cruise stopping in Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. We arranged with some Houston friends to watch our dog. We got audiobooks for the 6-7 hour drive to Houston. I bought some new ties for dinner time.

The drive to Houston on Saturday went fine. The dog settled in fine. The food in Houston was pretty good.

But on Sunday, when we were supposed to drive to Galveston and board the cruise ship, we got news that the Port of Galveston was temporarily closed due to oil spill. In the larger scheme of things, we were doing OK: we weren't stuck like the people on the ship or in danger like the sea animals and birds in the area.

That night, we got the all-clear to come to Galveston and board the ship, which was a series of long lines--a car line to drop off our luggage, a car line to drop the car off at the parking lot, a long human line to get through security, then another long line to get our ID cards. It was 1:30am when we got to our room. It had a virtual balcony, which is a large monitor-like screen that shows the outside world. In this case, it showed the port.

The next morning, it showed the same thing. Being stuck on a cruise ship at port is probably not all that different from being on a cruise ship at sea; though due to cool weather and rain, a lot of the outdoor activities were cancelled. So we explored the ship, hit a hot tub, went to the gym. Really: not a bad life.

The only annoying, niggling thing was the uncertainty. When were we going to leave? Eventually we got told that Roatan was cancelled, but we'd get more news about leaving later that night.

Then, at the formal dinner--where we shared the table with some dog-loving and straight-laced senior citizens and avoided talking about politics or religion--we got told that the cruise would be totally cancelled. People could leave the ship when they wanted to; or they could stay and use it as a hotel/buffet. Either way, we'd get a full refund and a discount for our next cruise.

For a lot of people--for example, for the retirees from snowy states--this was perfectly good news.

But Sarah's vacation days are a finite resource and she really wanted to snorkel in Roatan and see some Mayan ruins in Belize. So we decided to cut our vacation short, save three vacation days (and not stick our friends with our dog for longer than necessary), and hopefully re-book at a future date.

It was too late to leave Monday night, but on Tuesday, we packed, picked up the dog, and drove back to San Angelo.

Here, if you're waiting for it, is the final kicker: around halfway through the trip home, I got a message from Royal Caribbean saying that they were going to leave for a quick trip to Cozumel.

And that's my story of the cruise that didn't happen--at least, not for us, not this time.

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