Disney cruises are magical.
They have to be. How else do you explain why 1500 crew members working 12-15 hours a day for months at a stretch are so damned pleasant all the time? Pixie dust. They gotta be hittin’ the pixie dust.
I have returned from my Amazing Race trip. As you have been able to tell if you’re a subscriber, I didn’t get to post while I was away. I’m sure you’ve survived that particular horror relatively unscathed. To be honest, I did occasionally wonder about how I could write a post about the trip when really, nothing funny or worthy of snark happened.
What? Nothing worthy of snark? In my world?!
Let me see if I can work something up.
I’ll spare you the day-by-day synopsis of what we did on this trip, because you don’t know me in person and therefore you don’t care. So I’ll just say we set sail Friday evening from Port Canaveral and arrived Saturday morning in Nassau, where only my Parents and I got off the ship because Sisters 1 & 2, Brothers-In-Law 1 & 2 and the Nephs were all trying to get a handle on their respective life schedules at the time. (When you put twin 3-year-olds and a 16-month-old on a cruise ship full of pools, water slides they’re an inch too short to ride, larger-than-life Disney characters and food, after a flight and shuttle or a long drive, you get combustible conditions. They were astonishingly good on the trip, with meltdowns associated only with lamenting their height and the 8:15pm dinner seating, which was decidedly past all of their bedtimes, but regrettably could not be changed for a party of 11. I did have to chase Neph 1 halfway down the length of the ship on the pool deck because he has a tendency to take off, but that was it.)
In Nassau, Parents and I promptly looked for and found ways to part ourselves from our money. I’m sure it’s a beautiful and interesting city, but we barely got more than three blocks in from the shore. We were in port until 2am but Parents are not particularly adventurous, and therefore no excursions were scheduled. No big deal. I set foot on land and can therefore say I’ve been to Nassau.
Here’s the kind of awesome thing about cruising to that town: there are tons of jewelry stores within spitting distance of the ship, and they lure you in to look at their sparkly shiny things with promises of free sparkly shiny things. And then… they actually give you the free sparkly shiny things. Fine, so I bought some other stuff to go with the free thing at the first store (because what can one do with a loose one-carat midnight sapphire other than set it in something?). So I have a new pendant. And then we went to another store offering free 1/2 carat gemstone pendants… and they actually gave them to us. A free pink topaz on a silver chain, and eh, ten bucks for the matching earrings. Then, the saleswoman said if we went to their other location, two blocks away, we could get a free smoky topaz, too. And so we did.
It was like trick-or-treating for jewels.
Sure, they’re probably not that valuable, and sure, they generally look better set in yellow gold, and sure, I don’t wear silver, but that’s immaterial. I didn’t pay for them.
The next day was Castaway Cay, which is a Bahamian island owned (nay, leased for 99 years from the Bahamian government) by the charming giant rodent and his pals. Although it’s a little contrived and you’re stacked on top of each other like cans of sardines in a grocery store, you’re still sitting on a Bahamian island with a cocktail in your hand, splashing around in the blue-green water, so shut up.
That brings me to a larger point with which I did battle several times over the course of the trip: there can be, really, no complaining on a voyage like this. You are entertained at every moment you so choose, by live shows, first-run (Disney) movies, swimming, sunning, drinking, eating, dancing and lounging. The presence of vermin is assumed (this is how Disney gets around rodent complaints – “What did you expect? Our most popular characters are mice!”), you have literally everything you could possibly want or need at your beck and call (for a small fee if you want it delivered to your room)… and if you want to complain about the fee to deliver something to your room, you can’t, really, because it’s being schlepped there by some poor 20-something from an Eastern Bloc country who’s working, have I mentioned, 12 – 15 hours a day with a smile on his face all the freaking time, listening to songs from Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Little Mermaid all day, every day, just to make your spoiled ass Feel the Magic. And the service is unbelievable.
I suppose you could complain, but you’d look like a jerk.
I had a little trouble navigating this dichotomy with Parents. Mother is not much of a complainer, but Father tends to randomly spout thoughts that come out as though they’re complaints, and when I try to counteract them with possible explanations, he gets irritated. My point, which I don’t make aloud in so many words, is that you apparently had thousands of dollars to burn by giving it to the Disney people and making them cart you around on a ship and feed you unlimited amounts of food prepared by relatively top-notch culinary artists, and cater to your every need, taking you to poor locations where you soothe your conscience by telling yourself that tourism is their greatest economic contributor and therefore the people there need you to give your money to the Disney people and make them cart you to their island, so you can spend more of your money.
Which is actually true. But still makes you out to be a d-bag, doesn’t it?
Now how do you say that to your father? You can’t.
And you do spend money. Not everything on the ship is included in your cruise package; you do have to spend extra on gratuities, particularly at the end of the trip, when you give to the stateroom host, the head server (which Father complained about, since you don’t see him much more than once a night – but you give him literally a dollar a day per person in your stateroom, so deal with it), your main server and your assistant server, who, by the way, is busting his ass to make your indecisive, mixed-message-sending self happy as an animated clam under the sea). You pay extra for merch and you pay extra for alcohol.
Oh, yes. The alcohol.
That’s where roughly $150 of my end-of-voyage billing statement came from. Plus $100 for the above-mentioned gratuities (I handled Sister 3′s end as well, since she was my stateroommate and she’s only 21), and $150 for a massage, which I got easily, despite the Disney Commies telling me everything was booked when I tried several times before departure.
Oh, and $40 for professionally-done photos.
But they make it so easy, you see, because they give you a little card with Donald Duck on it, and it has your name and some code numbers on it, and you use it for everything, from getting into your room to turning on the lights to accessing a foreign country to buying stuff. You use it so much in four nights that, when you get back on American soil, you’ve forgotten that you need keys and funny-looking paper and metal cash and, like, a thought in your head to get around in life.
But this card, my friends, this card is further evidence of the communism at work. They use it to track your every move. They scan it and your picture pops up. It tells them what room you’re in. It lets them charge you for stuff. It might as well be a microchip implanted in your flesh. It’s so fabulously convenient that you lose sight of the fact that you are basically under their control with that one little card.
Ahhhhhh, villainy disguised as charm. Gets you every time. Hell, that’s what Disney movies are about.
Still, I have exactly zero complaints about this trip. I even got to spend a little quiet time in the Quiet Cove pool area, sans children (people actually obey signs on Disney cruise ships!), watching the watery world go by for two hours as I sipped a cocktail and dozed on a cushy cabana seat as we shipped out from the Bahamas to head back to the States… slowly.
I’m glad I grabbed that time, because the next day we were at-sea the whole day, which meant all 4,000 passengers on board were on the pool deck, and Quiet Cove was overrun by Worn Out Adults. I took 365 pictures with my camera (hooray for digital). I saw the Nephs’ faces light up with happiness and made my family laugh with my quips. I saw sunsets and super-impressive lightning storms (we sailed around a tropical storm) and laughed in the rain. I rode a giant twisty turny on-board water slide in a raft.
And I got my picture taken with Minnie Mouse. For whom I have newfound respect, because the people on these ships work so incredibly hard, away from their own families for months, just to make you happy and make some cash that they can send home to their families in Indonesia and Bulgaria and Slovenia and Peru.
It’s a small world, after all.
Featured image of Crush from “Finding Nemo” NOT swiped from Disney film, but taken by me onboard during a little dinner entertainment. Don’t sue me, Mickey.