Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winter Vacation Day 2

December 20, 2015
Today I woke up at 4:15 thinking that it was much later than it was. At the time, I put some clothes on, grabbed my laptop and went to the Leto deck to look outside and do some writing. It was great being on a ship filled with thousands of people but not seeing other tourists. So instead of immediately writing, I started walking around the ship, exploring and finding shortcuts.
I walked through the different dining areas. I found an arcade with games that were bolted to the ground. There were claw games that you could win electronics. I wondered how low the probability to win these expensive items was to keep it profitable. There were a few flying games that were fully immersive. One of them, you sit inside a pod and have screens bend around you to make it visually impossible to see anything else. As I sat down watching the demo, I started to feel a bit queasy. It may have had something to do with the ship moving as well. 

I walked into an empty piano bar that had pianos hanging from the ceiling and walls. The bar encircled a piano that a performer could sit at and sing. The bar itself was lined with fake keys to make people feel as if they were sitting at a piano as well.
Finally, I found The Habana Room. This room was designed to look Cuban. The chairs and couches were leather. The tables had bases shaped like cigars. Murals lined the walls with old advertisements for cigar companies and Jazz music played endlessly from the speakers. I found a seat in the corner and wrote about the previous day.
Around 6:30, I went back to the room. As soon as I walked in, Tate let out a big sigh.
“Finally,” he said. “I’ve been waiting forever.” He wanted to leave the room. As he was getting ready, Emery woke up, too. Leigha wasn’t feeling too well so I took both of the kids to show them what I had previously explored. The first thing, of course, was that they had switched out the soft-serve ice cream machines to have strawberry ice cream. While they had a breakfast cone, we looked out at the Gulf of Mexico. The water was choppy and the ship was definitely jumping up and down and swaying back and forth. There were plenty of waves and motion to the water. Anytime the kids saw something dark, they swore that it was dolphins or a whale. I think that it was just water.
After we walked around for a bit and pretended to play games in the arcade, we watched them set up the breakfast buffet. The kids sampled a few things and we went back to the room. Leigha hadn’t acclimated to the ship yet and was feeling sea sick. We decided that it was probably best to move around, get some fresh air and food.
We were one of the first groups to arrive for the sit down brunch. In our booth, we see the cups shift and vibrate as they touched one another. Up until that point,
I had assumed that they increase the speed of the ship while people sleep because there are less people walking around. On a channel in each room and a few points in the ship they show a map indicating where the ship is and how fast it is moving. It maintained a speed of about sixty miles per hour. As we were waiting to eat, Leigha braced herself and maintained a lot of deep breathing. After a few minutes, Emery seemed to develop some sympathy sea sickness as well and had a difficult time eating her breakfast.
For breakfast, I had eggs benedict and corned beef hash, and dish that I associate with cruises as the first time that I had ever eaten it was on our Honeymoon cruise. Leigh had bagels and lox. Emery had eggs sunny side up and Tate had fruit and macaroni and cheese.
After breakfast, we went back to the room and Leigha rested and the kids watched a movie on the t.v. There was a foosball competition that I had marked as a possible activity for us to participate in, but Tate preferred to stay back and watch the movie. Emery was torn. I explained to her that once we got home, we could always get the movie from the library and watch it later. We couldn’t participate in the tournament later. So the two of us left while the others opted to stay in the room.
The foosball tournament was located in a bar on the ship. The good thing about bars on cruise ships is that they aren’t established nasty dirty places of overconsumption like a normal bar. The place was clean and filled with games that kids could play (Foosball, shuffleboard, bag toss). Emery and I played shuffleboard as we waited for the tournament to begin.
When the tournament began, people were paired into teams if they came by themselves. Emery was a little scared to play because she wasn’t that good. I told her that I didn’t care if we won and that we could rotate if we were goalie or not. I think that she was worried that she would lose the game for us. I told her that I only cared about having fun and spending time with her. Each match was played either the first to ten or whoever had the most points after five minutes. When the time expired, we lost by two points. I reinforced the fact that I just wanted to spend time with Emery. It was a nice mini date.
At the steakhouse, we went to a food demonstration. The head chef for the steakhouse was an Indian man that introduced himself and his sous chef, from Indonesia and his buffet chef from India. Pretty much, the buffet chef carved a watermelon as the head chef explained how they made certain dishes and the sous chef actually made them. He told us the virtues of clarified butter and truffle-infused oil. What I didn’t expect was that we got to have samples of the different dishes. First a cappuccino mushroom soup. Essentially it was a soup made with several different varieties of mushroom that was served in a cup with froth to make it look as if it was a cup of coffee. Next there was a salad with a portion of mushrooms hidden inside. Third, a free range chicken and finally a tiramisu. The kids listened attentively and the man sitting next to us was surprised that they ate each of the samples, not afraid of the mushrooms or other foods that kids may avoid.
Our next event was a hole-in one competition at the mini golf course. As we had yet to go the mini, it took a bit of exploration to find it. Eventually we pushed our way through the high winds around the running track and went to the course. There were roughly twenty-five people that were competing in the contest. Everybody was allowed a single hit. If there were to be multiple people that made a hole in one, they would have a tie-breaker shoot off. A couple kids went before it was Emery’s turn. She, like them, hit the ball off of the hole. Tate was next and putted left-handed. And got a hole in one. Then Leigha and I went, unsuccessfully. As more people took turns, it looked as if Tate would be the only person that was able to make up for the high winds and the motions of the ship. As there were less and less people that had turns remaining, we watched the last person, a teenager become the second person to sink the putt. I may have been biased, but it seemed at that point, that everybody was rooting for Tate because he was a kid. In the following shootout, the teenager was able to hit a second putt before Tate and won. However, the guy running the competition still gave Tate a medal.
After the mini golf, we went to tea time. This didn’t go over as well as any of us were thinking. By this time, both Tate and Leigha were feeling nauseous and Emery didn’t want tea. Pretty much instead of having a laid-back and slow environment, the kids were ready to leave as soon as we arrived. And they weren’t really enticed by the finger foods and desserts.
After the tea time, we decided that it would be a perfect time to have the kids check out the kid room. Tate was willing to go because it was the only place that had video games. Emery wanted to stay with me and participate in the bag toss competition. The teams consisted of mostly adults thus team Wishful Thinkers was born. As with the earlier competition, I emphasized that were there to have fun and it didn’t matter if we won. Then I told Emery that her goal should be to get one bag on the board. We didn’t make it past the first round and Emery achieved her goal.
Much to Tate’s delight, tonight was lobster (and shrimp) night.
I think that Tate has loved the amount of seafood on this trip. Every night he starts with a shrimp cocktail, but tonight he got to follow that up with lobster and more shrimp. Emery got lobster as well, however she was not a fan. The three of us split her lobster and shrimp and she ordered chicken nuggets. Tonight was also a formal wear night. We haven’t paid attention to the dress code at all.
As soon as dinner was over, the girls rushed down to the room to change into swimsuits. At the main pool, they were playing the live action remake of Cinderella. The girls sat in the hot tub during the movie and I sat in a beach chair. It was so windy, that I held the towels and girls’ clothes so that they didn’t blow away. Instead of sitting next to me, Tate stood next to the pool and watched the movie. Then halfway through, Tate decided to that he wanted to get into the hot tub as well. I took him to the room and he changed quickly. When he got in the hot tub, there was a weird kid that kept spitting water on Tate and rubbing Tate’s head. When I asked Tate about it, he said that he just ignored the kid.

Day 1
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7