You guys knew this was coming. I warned you last week. Yes, you get to suffer through my tales from the high seas. Mwahahahahaha!
Okay. I’m just going to tell you guys a few things about my trip aboard the Carnival Pride. Not a whole lot, I promise. Mostly because I didn’t faithfully document everything I did because I didn’t have the time, energy, or desire to do so. Instead, you get the Cliff’s Notes version and some impressions from my trip instead of some kind of travelogue. You can react to that news in whatever way seems best to you.
The cruise sailed out of Baltimore which was convenient for us apart from the fact that there was an Orioles game that day and my friend had plugged the wrong port address into her car’s GPS. Combining the traffic, the elaborate u-turn to go the right way, and the fact that my friend had magically misplaced the boarding pass I’d handed her at the start of the car ride, just getting to the ship was an adventure. Fortunately, that was the only difficult part of the trip. After that, it was all literal smooth sailing.
One of the things I didn’t really realize until we got on the ship was just how freakin’ big it was. Our balcony stateroom (best way to cruise, srsly) was on the fifth deck. Fifth of, like, 10 (if you count the sun/sport deck at the very top of the ship). It was a small hike from stem to stern (see what I did there being all nautical and shit?). Our stateroom was actually about the same size as my bedroom at home, but the furniture configuration made it feel alternately smaller and larger, but whatever. The ship had a theater, a comedy club, a night club, a piano bar, a sports bar, a few lounges, an area for kids, restaurants, shopping, bars, a gym, a spa, three pools, and a few hot tubs. Seriously, folks, it was big. I’m not even counting the large buffet areas on the Lido Deck (deck 9). The fact that getting around the ship required a lot of walking made me feel a lot better about the food.
The food? So good. Seriously. Included with the cost of the cruise are your meals for the duration of your trip. Sure, you could drop an extra $35 on a 5-course fancy meal at the super spiffy restaurant on the ship, but why spend the extra money when the food in the restaurant is so good? My friend and I chose to mostly eat at our assigned table in the restaurant instead of braving the buffet lines. It was a good choice. The food was excellent and I used the opportunity to try foods I’d never spend money on because I wouldn’t be sure I’d like it or not. This meant that I ate shark, alligator, escargot, and a bite of frog leg (out of respect for Kermit and the fact that I just didn’t like the taste, I limited myself to only a single bite of frog leg). So, yeah, the meals were so great. The desserts were excellent, and if you still had the munchies later, you could get ice cream, frozen yogurt, pizza, or a light meal from room service 24 hours a day. If you’re broke like me, the idea of free room service fills you with glee. We definitely took advantage of the opportunity a couple of times.
When you’re not eating on a cruise, they do give you plenty of stuff to do. On sea days, they have all sorts of random classes and activities planned. I participated in two trivia contests the first sea day, one of which I won. Folks, it’s probably wise just not to go up against me in Disney trivia. Just so you know. I cleaned house and won a “ship on a stick” for my efforts. On top of those activities, the ship also offers a few shows with its “award-winning” cast of singers and dancers (not sure what awards they’ve won, but that’s what they kept saying). I dragged my friend to three of these shows. After the first, I had to do time at the gym as penance.
Okay, let me explain. The people on the cruise ship are predominantly American. Though they’re from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, the vast majority of folks on any cruise ship aren’t going to be particularly culturally literate. Once you understand that and let it sink in, what happened during the first show will totally make sense. The first show was called Around the World and featured music from, you guessed it, around the world. By around the world, what they really meant was that they were going to feature mostly European countries with a smattering of other cultures thrown in. There were at least six different and distinct European segments. Then, we got to Asia.
Yes, just Asia.
First, they started that segment with “One Night in Bangkok” from Chess with back-up dancing girls in pseudo-Thai attire. I giggled because a) I don’t think the people choosing the music for these shows really thought through some of the lyrical implications (“You’ll find a god in every golden cloister, and if you’re lucky then the god’s a she”) and b) It was just so ridiculous. Seriously. So very ridiculous. Then, there were showgirls in sexy, short kimonos trying to do the sexy Geisha dancing thing to music from The Last Emperor. Basically, they mashed together a bunch of Asian stereotypes to at least try their hand at some sort of equal representation. As a result, they did a whole large chunk of the world’s population a great disservice.
The Africa section made me almost bust out laughing. First, they put the white female singer (both of their singers were white folks, obviously) in “traditional” African attire and she was singing some old pop song associated with Africa in that sort of gospel style one tends to expect in these sorts of situations. Then, the four male dancers jumped out in beads, feathers, and stuffed zebra head hats. Yes. Stuffed zebra head hats. I’m assuming they were heading toward a Lion King angle there, but it just looked so silly. On top of that, the female dancers then came out in feathers, beads, and thong bikini things. I don’t even know, man. All I know was that the rampant racism, cultural appropriation, and sexism didn’t bother our table neighbors at dinner that night, but the thongs? That was just too far, offensive, and inappropriate.
So, as penance for making my friend sit through that show that also featured dancers in penguin costumes dancing to “Putting on the Ritz,” I had to join her for a workout in the ship’s gym. Fortunately for me, the subsequent shows we saw weren’t nearly that bad. The best one was entitled “Vroom” and was about music from the 50’s through the 90’s. The best section of this, of course, was the 80’s. I’m wondering how parents explained some of that show to their kids. Oh man.
On top of the signing and dancing, there was a comedy club. On the last night of the cruise, we got to catch the comedians’ acts. Of course, they were understandably sexist and misogynistic, not to mention transphobic, but that’s par for the course, I suppose. At least the second comedian was actually a lot funnier than the first. I think my friend forgave me for that.
When we weren’t hanging out, snarking, catching some sun, or eating all of the tasty food, we’d just chill in our stateroom. We’d frequently watch what we affectionately referred to as “The Map Channel.” It showed us where we were, how fast we were going, how deep the water was, and in which direction we were heading. It played pretty sweet music too, like jazz with Louis Armstrong and music you’d expect to hear in a global fusion restaurant in DC. Then, we discovered the movie channels. There were three channels that would play a single movie over and over again all day. More often than not, one of the channels would be playing Captain America: The First Avenger. Being able to relax after a busy day to Cap was comforting.
Anyway! We stopped at three ports: Port Canaveral in Florida and Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. Of the three of them, I was most fond of Freeport. Port Canaveral was nice but, well, Florida. Nassau was busy, full of people trying to sell stuff, and so bloody hot. Freeport was a quiet respite after that. Now, the thing I learned about the Bahamas is that for all of its tropical beauty, the group of islands is actually quite depressing. In the United States, we’re frequently focused on how the economy is just affecting our own lives and desires. We forget that there’s a whole world out there that’s suffered from our economic collapse. That’s most apparent in the Bahamas. The islands rely on tourism for its economic needs. When people can no longer afford to go on vacations, they don’t travel. When they don’t travel, they don’t spend their money in the countries that need it. On the way from the ship to the beach in Freeport, we passed so many abandoned shops and a huge, abandoned hotel that had been hit by two successive hurricanes. When the owners got their insurance money, they just abandoned their hotel and cost 2,000 people their jobs. This figure may have been exaggerated by our bus driver, but you get the idea.
It’s fascinating to experience new things and think about stuff that would otherwise escape my notice. Unfortunately, I don’t think that a lot of folks have the same thoughts I did. After all, there were the people on the cruise who scoffed at the idea of tasting foods with which they weren’t familiar. After all, that stuff is “weird,” right? Yeah, I don’t get those kinds of people. Also, some of them weren’t all that self-aware. Like the dude with the “Welcome to America. Now, speak English!” t-shirt. Yeah. That guy. Oh! Speaking of jerks: ProTip – Don’t be a jerk when you’re on a cruise. Respect your stateroom neighbors and don’t make loud noises at random hours, thus costing your neighbors some precious sleep.
Man, this has been going for a while. Long story short, I had a great time on my vacation. I didn’t get sunburned (which was an achievement). In fact, all I did was acquire some more freckles. I should have taken a before and after shot of my arm so you guys would see that I wasn’t exaggerating. See, like many stereotypical nerds, I avoid the sun like the plague. Mostly because I burn like nobody’s business. The feet in that picture up there? They’re mine. I’m that pale. For serious. I ate so much food, got to get some laughs, and created memories that I’ll cherish for a long-ass time. At the end of the day, that’s really all I want out of a vacation. Also rest and relaxation. Yeah, I got that too.