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The Cruise

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I’ll start off with a picture from the honeymoon …

Other than the hurricane, the weather was fine. Other than the rash, we didn’t mind the free drinks.

Yes, the entire trip was effected by Isidore and it’s funny that when a hurricane strikes near a Caribbean cruise, the least informed people in the world are the idiots on the ship. Much like you wouldn’t see “Airport 1975″ on a United flight, the cruise dropped Headline News from it’s channel line-up halfway through the trip and replaced it with CNNfn. With no cell phone service, the only way I could tell if the hurricane was approaching was to learn how the market reacted to it.

A cruise, it turns out, is a strange mistress — one we may never call again. Less than 24-hours into the trip, Jules wishes aloud that she had gone somewhere secluded with her newly roped-down man-cake**, opting “to spend my honeymoon with my husband, not with a bunch of boring fat people and the mentally-challenged.” Very politically-correct on one hand but not the other, however I instantly agreed. It was as if a bowling alley had converged with a telethon. The entire experience was reminiscent of the beach scene in a Huey Lewis video. If this is it, please let me know …

**Jules may or may not have used this exact expression.


A travel agent has since said we touched on, in her words, a “bad cruise.” She assumes that due to hurricane season, most of the smart people stayed away from large metallic objects the middle of the ocean during a violent electrical storm, leaving many empty cabins that need to be filled. Enter numerous slow-witted families full of the most artery-clogged — yet travel bargain savvy — buffet robbers that you’ve ever seen. Also, apparently and strangely enough, add an overexaggerated per capita of special needs individuals of all ages and you can already see the disadvantages of using the pool. Within 2 hours of boarding, Jules and I saw the largest fat triceps we’ll probably ever see in both our lifetimes. I can still see them jiggle in my mind, but this is hardly the point.

We soon reached an agreement that if we went about the proscribed route of entertainment that the ship had to offer (i.e. napkin folding – 100% serious!!!), we would end up taking cruises more often just to avoid speaking to one another. This is what we gathered from the couples at our table. One was from Fresno but I eventually started referring to them all as “Fresno.” Many of them seemed to enjoy traveling but almost as if to maintain something in common. None of the Fresnos seemed to be enjoying themselves, let alone each other. Very strange.

This being our first vacation trip together, Jules and I didn’t want to see ourselves in that place years down the road. We called audible after audible and learned the joys of room service. When everyone zigged, we zigged as well but zigged to our own drum. We went to our table only a total of two nights and instead ordered the same meals delivered to the room. We ate in bed. It was a blast.

The balcony that came with the room was the difference between salvation and non-salvation. The second time we actually went to dinner, I had a feeling we wouldn’t be back so I cut loose with a martini the size of my face to loop me into a steady stream of conversation. Had I done this on the first night, I would have announced ourselves as Ed and Brenda from Kansas City and Jules would have just had to go along with it. Over the course of dinner, I mentioned that one of the older Osmond brothers has had cosmetic surgery and that Tommy Hilfiger’s clothing is manufactured by monkeys in countries that support terrorism. I haven’t seen Jules laugh like that in a long time.

And so what if we never went back? This ship carried 4500 people so it wouldn’t be as if we’d ever run into these people again. But there was Fresno at the pool, Fresno on the elevator, Fresno in Jamaica. Even Fresno at customs. It never ended.

In Haiti, we kayaked around the bay and saw where the natives live and heard how they make wooden boats. Many of their homes have satellite dishes and most of the street merchants I saw had cell phones on their belts. They love this racket! Later I bought a $20 Cuban cigar that the next day in Jamaica sold for $8. Who knew?

I spent the entire first day avoiding marine life like everything I touched could potentially kill me, while Jules picks up random objects with the confidence of the Crocodile Hunter and licks them to show her lack of fear. I wake up the next morning with a severe rash on my ass. Jules is fine.

Jamaica rained like hell but we said “no problem” just like everyone else. Ate Juici patties. Had a guy offer to sell me pot at Dunn’s River Falls. He was wearing a dress, a big straw hat and pulling a donkey. I only wish I was making that up. We assume the hurricane is close by. I’m now taking cortisone pills for the rash.

Grand Cayman and the rain followed. Our excursion of snorkeling plus swimming with stingrays is canceled due to something they call a “hurricane watch.” Total sissies. Something about lightning I guess, not sure. Isidore is heading north to Cuba and we’re going west to Cozumel so we’re in the clear. About an hour after I make this assumption, the Captain announces that he’s canceling Cozumel and heading instead to Nassau. We later learn that Isidore changed course and had we continued to Cozumel, we would have gotten clobbered on the return to Miami. Me rash es su rash. Jules catches Haiti fever. Luckily, part of the vows demands we share prescriptions.

As Jules said, all of this is nothing that a bit of sun, live reggae music and a two-hour open bar can’t cure. They opened the bar to steady our nerves and to sedate us so that we wouldn’t ask what happened to Headline News. We hopefully got some very cool photos of an amazing sunset against one big ugly-ass storm cloud that was an offshoot of Isidore. It’s amazing how close you can be to something like that and the ocean is still. Matter of fact, the entire concept of being on such a huge vessel felt sometimes as if we were on a stationery object while the sea rolled past us. This was really just a hallucination brought on by the cortisone.

Nassau is a total hole. A place we stopped at for lunch looked nice enough from the outside but I had to use the bathroom first and saw that scene in “Trainspotting” that I never wanted to see first hand. I still haven’t described to Jules what I saw but we decided to eat on the ship after I took a long shower.

Everyone will be glad to know that I made it to the ship on time every day we were in port. I found it particularly exciting to be onboard and hear the ship horn blast a warning 30 minutes prior to setting sail. I would tell this to Jules every time it happened until she finally told me my dorkyness had become endearing.

We truthfully couldn’t wait to get off the ship and have one final honeymoon day in Miami before heading back to LAX. The one saving grace of the cruise was that the food at the 5-star restaurant was the one of the finest meals we’ve ever had. A total treat, so was Miami.

In fairness, we had a much better honeymoon than we admitted while it was happening and at least we were a day ahead of the storm at all times. The travel agent I mentioned was also in Jamaica and they weren’t so lucky. They were supposed to fly out the day Isidore hit the island and she said it’s funny that when your flight is canceled in Jamaica, suddenly nobody speaks English.

We’d both would like to thank everyone who came to the wedding for making the day even more special with your presence, humor and good cheer. It was a perfect day.

I’ve promised Jules that next September we’ll drive up the coast to celebrate our anniversary — just the two of us — somewhere up north. If we reach Fresno, we’ve gone too far.

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