Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rant #1,306: The Great Return

My family and I are back from vacation, and what a vacation it was.

We went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean--the Explorer of the Seas was our ship--and no, we were not on the cruise liner that had the supposed Ebola patient on it--that was on a Carnival ship.

But outside forces did greatly impact our trip.

We were supposed to go to Bermuda, to St. Maarten, to Puerto Rico and to Haiti, but we never got to St. Maarten, and although we did get to the other stops, the weather changed our boat's schedule quite a bit.

Two hurricanes--one was Fay and the other I don't remember the name of (was it Gonzalo?), but it was the greater of the hurricanes--shifted us to a different course, forcing us to miss St. Maarten entirely.

We did get to Bermuda, but the winds there were up to 40-50 mph while we were there, and we basically blew right through there.

And if you have a cruise that is supposed to stop in Bermuda in the foreseeable future, well, you aren't going there. The second hurricane that I spoke about ravaged Bermuda just a day or two after we got there, and we were told that we were the last cruise ship to dock there before the storm, so Bermuda is off limits for the time being.

Anyway, the two hurricanes greatly affected our course, so we had to bypass St. Maarten, one of our excursions that we had planned and paid for. Being forced to do so since the weather diverted our course, the cruise liner then planned to spend two days in Puerto Rico, and we planned two excursions, but alas, this also was not meant to be.

As Gonzalo, or whatever it was called, moved about the ocean, we had to make just a brief stop in Puerto Rico, just a few hours. We managed to take one excursion around San Juan, and that was that.

We then took the boat to Haiti, and that was probably the highlight of the trip.

Although our time was also shortened there--we had to take a longer course back to reach home to avoid the hurricanes--we had more than enough time there to enjoy the island--the Royal Caribbean way.

What I mean is that the cruise company rents land from the Haitian government and basically sets up shop there on a few coastal miles of the island, so all you get to see is fun, frolic, swimming, and happy people.

As you know, Haiti was ravaged a few years ago, and even beyond that, it was and still is one of the poorest spots on the planet.

But if you get to see the island the Royal Caribbean way, you miss all that, which is fine with me.

My family and I were on vacation, not a Peace Corps mission.

We swam, we ate, and we had a very good time there.

And really, that is how the whole time on the ship went.

There was a lot of down time on the ship, but we did what we could to make the most of it.

We saw several shows--they had one almost every night--we swam in the boat's pools, and we ate to our heart's content.

It was a fun trip, overall a very good experience for us, and some well-earned time away from the daily nonsense we go through.

This was our third cruise. The first two were on Carnival, and the two cruise lines do deserve some comparisons.

If you want to have the ability to party 24 hours a day, you must pick Carnival. The atmosphere on those ships is party hearty, and if that is what you like, Carnival must be your choice.

If you want to relax, you choose Royal Caribbean. You can party plenty on that line, too, but it is more sedate. There is more down time when you have to make your own fun than on Carnival, but if you want to relax, this is the boat to pick.

We are already looking ahead to our fourth cruise, but we won't plan that for a while. Once you have been on a cruise, you cannot go back to a time share or just a stay at home vacation.

A cruise really is the ultimate vacation, and we would love to take another one in 2015 or 2016.

Anyone game to join us?

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