As much as we can we like to travel during school breaks. In the last few years we have discovered a love for cruises. We were supposed to take an anniversary cruise from Vancouver to Alaska in June of 2020, but that trip and 2 others were canceled by the cruise lines.

The stories you’ll find below are from the recent past.

It’s Like We’re Traveling With Del Griffith

Our trip is off to a rough start. The drive to Galveston was very slow due to extremely heavy rain. Every time I said that it looked like the rain was easing off, another torrent came.

It was sprinkling when I dropped Becky off at terminal with our bags. As I pulled away from the curb another avalanche of rain began.

I finally get to my pre-paid parking spot and an attendant in a golf cart drives me close to the terminal. As I’m getting out of the cart the driver says that it looks like I’m going to get a break in the rain.

10 seconds later another deluge begins. I look up through the blinding rain and the great Carnival Breeze has morphed into a massive acacia wood vessel. I can just make out a long bearded man on the deck directing giraffes and zebras onboard.

By the time I get to the covered terminal my shirt feels as if I were wearing it during a wash cycle.

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A Hard Working Crew

One of the really nice things about cruising is the free room service. Some would find the menu limited (especially at breakfast) but I think all most people want delivered early is coffee and some sort of snack until they can go for some eggs and b.

While it is not required I always give a few bucks to the delivery person. Tips for your dining room waiter, assistant waiter and room are charged to your room at the rate of $12.50 a day, which is a real bargain, but room service delivery tips are optional.

You meet very few Americans working on cruise ships. The largest group of workers has to be Filipinos. They are among the nicest, most hospitable people you will ever meet and we engage many of them in conversations about our daughter in law Liza and our Filipino American grandson. More often than not we’ll share photos of them too.

Seeing one of Henry’s beach photos one Filipina worker I talked to Sunday discretely told me that the she thinks Filipinos and Americans make the most beautiful children.

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The Chronic Multitasker

Tonight we are sitting at the very back of the ship enjoying the cool breeze before the Love and Marriage show begins. 

I am alternating between listening to several musical artists and one of my favorite audiobooks. While listening I am checking my news feed, taking new photos and beginning to write future posts.

All the while I am trying to read and respond to comments on previous posts as they come in. On vacation or at home, that’s pretty much who I am, the chronic multitasker.

For most of the last hour Becky has been standing at rail and looking out into the near blackness of ship’s wake and that’s all. That is her.

As I reflect on how different we are as people and yet how close we remain as a couple, I am amazed.

I’m also reminded that I need to add being reflective to my list of tasks.

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Petty Cruise Ship Complaints

We departed Cozumel a couple of hours ago and are on our way back to Galveston. Normally this is a bit of a disappointment, but we’ve had a great time and by Sunday morning we’ll be very ready to be home and sleep in our own bed.

I’ve spent many posts detailing the great things onboard this ship, and I’m probably not done yet, but I thought I’d tell you some of the things we really miss while being on these trips.

In no particular order:

1. Chips, salsa and Tex-Mex in general.

They have a litte walk-up custom burrito place by the pool and it’s not bad, but you would never mistake their offerings for the menus and tastes at places like La Brisa, Estebans, or Lupe Tortilla.

I had a little pico de gallo on a small taco the other day and it had no heat. The jalapenos were utterly missing in action.

They did however have a chunky salsa with jicama in it. That should be against the law.

2. TV and Internet – Most of the TV channels onboard are Carnival related and most of those are trying to sell you something. Of the few other channels we get we’ve mostly watched a cartoon channel that plays a lot of Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry. No Simpsons, no King of the Hill and no classic reruns either.

They have a channel that plays a selection of programs from the different Discovery channels and I think they have showed the same World’s Cutest Cats program every day.

No ESPN means almost no way to keep up with the Astros or sports in general. We get local news from Miami and their sportscasts don’t even show scores from any teams not in Miami.

I know many won’t care about this on vacation, but we inevitably find ourselves with some down time in our room during the day and being able to watch a little of what what we want for an hour or so would be really nice.

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Our Last Day at Sea in 2017

I began my last day at sea by going out on deck to watch the sun come up over the horizon. On a clear day it can be quite dramatic, but the skies this morning were far from clear. Thanks to a short break in the clouds the sun eventually made a brief appearance before disappearing once again

I then went back to the room where Becky was trying to catch a little extra sleep before our room service coffee arrived.

After coffee we went down to the last seaday brunch of the cruise. I had my favorite flamin’ tomato soup and Becky got a collection of fruits stacked as if they were Lego blocks.

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A Return to Reality

The last 24 hours have been about reacclimating to life off the ship, which means coming to grips with a world where we aren’t akin to Lord and Lady Crowley of Downton Abbey. A few days ago, I might have been gently chided by our assistant waiter for attempting to refill my water glass from…

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Embarkation Day Blues (Part 1)

After an uneventful 32 minute drive from Friendswood to the Galveston, I dropped Becky off at the Carnival terminal where a porter took custody of our bags. Becky grabbed our carry-ons to wait for me while I went to park our car.

Even though the lot I always use, Galveston Park n Cruise, is directly across the street from the Carnival terminal, I am forced to follow a long, congested road in the opposite direction. Eight minutes after dropping Becky off I finally exited the port and drove a mile back toward the terminal.

I checked in at the parking lot and used a crosswalk to get back to the port. The police officer directing traffic wished me a great cruise.

Nice cop.

Once across the street I walked a clearly defined foot path with my eyes directed at the terminal to see If I could spot my wife. At this point I heard a shrill voice yell “You can’t do that”. The voice belonged to a young female officer and it was directed at me.

Preoccupied with finding my wife I had forgotten the walking path crossed a lane for exiting parking shuttles and I had walked out in front of a distantly approaching vehicle full of departing passengers and their luggage.

Perturbed cop.

Having cheated death by shuttle bus, I found Becky and we were inside the terminal a minute later.

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Embarkation Day Blues (Part 2)

We finally got into our cabin at 1:45 and were pleased with our selection. It’s an interior cabin, but squarer than the usual rectangular room, and the layout gives us far more room to move around the room than on other cruises.

On every cruise Becky insists we take a nap after our embarkation lunch. Of course, she insists on naps after lunch when we are at home too.

Normally I’m not too excited about beginning our vacation with a nap, but today was different.

I had gone to sleep the night before about midnight and woke up at 4 AM that morning. When I saw the clock, I intended to go back to sleep, but I was wide awake. By the time we got to our room, I was running on the fumes of my four hours of sleep and desperately in need of nap.

We were ready to lay down by 2:00 but this ship was having an early muster drill, so I figured we could sleep for 45 minutes and have 15 or 20 minutes to recharge with coffee before we had to head to the muster station.

It was a good and workable plan, but sleep evaded us thanks to people banging the walls and yelling in the hallway outside our door.

Just when I was on the verge of sleep someone barking in the hall would startle me back to full consciousness. After my anti-nap I got up feeling worse than when I laid down.

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Dark Skies, Lighter Attitude

As I am trying to go to sleep at the end of the long embarkation day, I’m struck with the thought that this whole vacation might have been a huge mistake. That thought is hardly uncommon for me. I’m hit with it at the end of the first day of every cruise and many other vacations too.  

Fortunately, I’ve learned in most circumstances that my snap judgments are not very reliable, and this proves the case once again. On our first day at sea, I’m always looking forward to the opportunities the day will hold.  

Today, Tuesday, we wake up early. Becky is up by 5:30. Shortly after that I snap out of the stuporous fog that occupies the shadowland between sleep and consciousness. I start to get out of bed, but settle for sitting up, a pillow propped behind my back.  

Morning routine phase one, complete.  

Becky asks me if I remember the idiots who came down the hall and had a loud conversation near our door at 3:00 in the morning, and oddly enough I did. I’m not easily woken from a deep sleep, whereas Becky wakes up when a flea clears its throat. The Mom gene is strong in her, so she did not rest well overnight.  

Shaking the cobwebs from our eyes, we throw on the clothes we wore yesterday and take the elevator to the Lido restaurant on Deck 10. 

There are many things to like about Carnival cruises, but the 24-hour access to fresh coffee, ice and a few other drinks in multiple locations is a major plus. (Do you hear that, Royal Caribbean?) 

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