Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Speaking of Impulse...

Most of you already know that Dad and I went on a cruise to Cozumel on a whim last weekend (if you didn’t, you should check out the pictures at www.jackandmandy.com/cruise.html). Here are a few of the highlights.

The decision was made to go on a cruise the Tuesday evening that same week. There was a $350 per person cost for a super-duper nice ocean view room, and Dad was paying if I wanted to go. What kind of person passes that up?

I e-mailed my boss about it for time off, but unfortunately he didn’t get an answer back in time. It was Wednesday and the fare was gone.

As I talked to Dad about it, it was clear that both of us were bummed about it. Finally, dad said, “If we went on the current fare, [which is $450 per person for an inside, matchbox-sized room], it would be about $1,000 for both of us. Would you rather I spend $1,000 for the cruise or add $500 to your wedding budget, which would you choose?”

Sorry folks, but if I get $500 extra for the wedding, it’s just going toward feeding you a little nicer dinner, and I don’t care quite that much if you’re excited about the food. I told him I wanted the cruise more.

Apparently that was one of those magic questions parents sometimes ask - you know the ones; they mean something but you don’t know it until you answer – like when your dad asks you if you and your “friend” Jack kiss after he’s already seen you kissing? That kind of question. This answer, as opposed to the answer I gave to the kissing question, was the right one. It’s the answer he was looking for. He booked the cruise.

Now let’s take a quick break here to acknowledge that I’m spoiled. Don’t lie, you were already thinking it. Especially you, Shane. You were thinking “Dad didn’t take me on a cruise before I got married.” That leads you to think that I’m his/their favorite. You would be right. I do not deny the fact that I’m spoiled, but I also want to point out that I do not expect to always be spoiled in this manner (Jack breathes a sigh of relief). It’s just a nice surprise when it happens.

Day 1 (Thursday, March 22) – You don’t get to go

Apparently booking a cruise the day before causes all sorts of clerical problems for the worker bees in Galveston. Dad and I spent about an hour at the front desk with a confused old man telling us “no, your reservation doesn’t exist – you’re not on the manifest” over and over. Finally, after we got all the kinks ironed out and we were on the boat and on our way to Galveston.

We learned an important lesson about muster today – you don’t actually have to go. When they announce it, just stay in your room and be very quiet. Someone will come knock on your door. Remain quiet. Hang out there for a little while and you can avoid the life-jackets and people gridlock of muster. This works even better if you still aren’t actually on the manifest. Important lesson learned.

People Pong

There are 2 ping-pong tables set up in the breezeway between the Solarium (inside pool area much like a greenhouse) and the outer deck. In between the tables is where people have to walk if they want to get from one place to the other.

The rules of people pong are simple. The goal is to hit someone with the ping pong ball, preferably making it look like an accident. Before you gasp and tell us we’re horrible, keep in mind that it’s not possible to hit a ping pong ball hard enough to actually hurt someone, and most of the time people don’t even feel the ball hit. Also, it’s quite windy, so the game is harder than you might think. ½ point is given for hitting one of the people playing next to you on accident only. 1 point is given for hitting a regular person, 2 points is given for hitting a baby, and a whopping 3 points is given for hitting someone in a wheelchair. A game ends at 3 points, so obviously you really want to find somebody in a wheelchair.

Dad won that round of people pong (by a hair – it was 2 ½ to 3), but I look forward a rematch. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Day 2 (Friday, March 23) – Dad learns about sunscreen

After lying on the pool deck for about 2 hours in the sun, Dad had quite an interesting sunburn on his arm. I had put SPF 15 on that morning (no pre-mature aging or skin cancer for me!) but had missed one spot on my chest, so got burned there an nowhere else.

We also learned that pool chairs are always taken, but not really by humans. People would come put a towel on a chair and then leave for 4 or 5 hours. Dad and I decided it would be fun to go pick up all the towels and take them to the dirty towel place.

Day 3 (Saturday, March 24) – Como se dice “get out of our all-inclusive resort” en espanol?

After taking a picture in front of the boat (in which I asked a stranger “will you take a picture of me and this old guy? He makes me look so good that I couldn’t pass this opportunity up.”), Dad and I walked around for quite a while looking for a locker by the beach to put our stuff in so we could go snorkel. We figured we would find such a locker in or around one of the hotels on the beach. At one point, we found an open door to a beach area in some alleyway, so we went inside.

“This one’s nice,” we observed. There’s a swim-up bar, food places, fancy chairs, volleyball with a ref (who has a whistle and everything), and the soft sand you don’t find anywhere else on that coast after the hurricane pummeled the beaches.

After a few minutes of walking around, we realized this was some kind of all-inclusive resort and we weren’t going to be able to get out of this place without going in the way we came in. As we walked back to the beach from the courtyard area, one of the employees asked us where our wrist-bands were.

“We don’t have one,” my dad replies truthfully. “We’re leaving today so we didn’t need it.” Also true. We walk past him back through the pools, bars, food, and fancy chairs to find our exit.
This makes the guy a little uncomfortable, but he didn’t do anything, probably because you can’t get the food/alcohol/in on the volleyball game without your wristband.

When we finally found a locker and got in the water, we found some spiny black anemone thingies, which Dad said would really hurt you if you touch them (as I was caught in the current that was pushing me toward them), and I saw a barracuda right before I landed myself right in the middle of a huge school of silver amberjack fishes. It was pretty cool.

On our way back to the boat, we got the solder guys holding the big scary rifles to take our picture by the boat. I wanted to hold one of the rifles in the picture, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have liked that request.

Day 4 (Sunday, March 25) – Ashton Kutcher comes to visit

On our way back to Galveston, the captain announced that we were being diverted to the coast of New Orleans, where the coast guard would pick up an emergency medical patient. Although they wouldn’t let us on the deck or in the lounge above the deck where the helicopter deck was (so that if the helicopter crashed into the boat, nobody would get hurt - go figure), we found a place inside where we could see the helicopter drop down its coast guard guy and basket and then bring the guy back up. We found out later this was a 17-year-old kid with appendicitis. That couldn’t have been fun. Except the ride. That would have been fun.

Day 5 (Monday, March 26) – Back in Galveston

Despite the diversion, we were back in Galveston on time. We learned an important lesson about leaving early – if you just carry your suitcases on an off the boat it makes for a much easier and more enjoyable experience. That way, you can also get up at 8 instead of 7. No colors, no waiting. Just walk off the boat.

Another thing we learned about avoiding waiting is that you should walk to your car instead of trying to take the shuttle. The parking lot is only about 2 blocks away and it’s well worth it. You beat the other cars out and there’s no waiting for that either.Anyway, it was a great trip all in all and I enjoyed the quality time with my dad and the resulting tan. I plan on taking a similar cruise next fall with all my girlfriends as a bachelorette party. If you are female and interested in going, let me know.

Anyway, thanks, Dad!