Monday, July 07, 2008

Cruise In A Nutshell

...not to be confused with "Norway In A Nutshell," which is actually a cool, cool, tour you can take from Bergen to Oslo (or the reverse) via train, motorcoach, boat, another train, then yet another train.

Anyhoo, so yeah. Went on a 3-day cruise for the 4th of July BY MYSELF (cue Celine). Must be the only time it's ever happened in the history of Carnival Cruise Lines because one after the other--clerks, bartenders, you-name-it--upon hearing my response that no, I was traveling alone, practically gave me a high five. "Good for you!" "Atta girl!" "No, really? That's great!"

I was, therefore, delighted to meet Stephanie, a 23-year old beauty of Puerto Rican/Asian mix. Her father (the Asian part), doesn't approve of her boyfriend (a German), so he's taken to sending her on vacations in the hope she'll fall for another man. Nice. Thanks, Dad.

I was LESS delighted to meet Paul--American citizen but of Indian decent, who looked a bit like a taller version of Danny DeVito and who apparently subscribes to the theory one should consume maximum amounts of alcohol to get the true cruise experience. Poor Stephanie. She handled him well (maybe that black belt in karate she holds helped out.)

So, alas...can't say this was a very eventful cruise. On Saturday morning, we docked in Ensenada (which, as you know, I've been to a million times). To stretch my legs, I got off the ship, walked into town, then turned around, and walked back. How exciting. Next, I purchased a margarita and sat back to do some people watching. You know it's bad when the antics of 2-year old twins capture your attention for thirty minutes.

On Sunday, our "day at sea," I was all primed for a solid day of sunbathing. Even took it easy on the cocktails and went to sleep relatively early the night before. Only one problem. No sun. In fact, it was downright chilly and since I'd brought nothing warmer than cap sleeves, I couldn't even sit on deck.

Which...y'know...translated into an AWFUL LOT OF TIME at the casino. Unfortunately, this being an older ship, "casino" is really putting it politely. Oh, there were a slew of slots and the usual table games but even I got bored with playing the same machines over and over and over.

On the bright side, I have to say that the Carnival Paradise is really nice. For these shorter itineraries, the cruise lines use ships they've put out to pasture and it's true that the 7-day ships are bigger, sleeker, have more balcony rooms, and so forth, but still...the Paradise's layout is convenient, it's well-kept up, and it's just the right size. Oh AND, even though it was sold out, it didn't feel too crowded.

As a bonus, they've got embarkation and debarkation down to a science. Took me less than a 1/2 hour to board, and this morning, I was off by 7:15. (Unheard of in the old days!!)

All in all...a satisfactory trip with no drama, no surprises. Sometimes, that's as much as you can ask for!

P.S. I took the picture with my cell phone. In case you can't tell, those are the glass elevators rising from the Atrium Lobby.

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