The day didn’t demand much in the way of activity or excitement really. We all packed our bags and generally just lounged about waiting for the adventure to begin. Martina and I did stock up on “emergency chocolate”, our thoughts being that should the situation become dire we could always survive at sea on a block of Green & Black for a couple weeks. WTF were we thinking! Neither of us were really prepared for what we were about to encounter:

Oh Mm Gee. It got real once in the taxi driving to the pier and we could spot the tail-exhaust of the ship from about 3/4 mile away! The whole ‘cruise industry’ has this thing down to a science: the staff at the port greeted us and took our one check-in bag, it disappeared and was in our room by the time we got there! Angie, Martina and I got our ‘fun pass’ identification cards which guaranteed us to have fun… or else. Us 3 were bunking in a room that had a queen-sized bed and a bed that folded out of the wall. I remember walking into the room, quickly dropping our bags and Martina, upon spotting the nightlights that operated behind plexi contour art proclaiming “yeeeeeeaahhhhhh!!!!” and literally jumping up and down.

We exited, took a random path to start learning our home for the next several days and quickly found our way to the top:

Holy crap.

These things are humongous, and wild. And run like clockwork. Within our first hour they announced our life vest and life raft tutorial which sounds cumbersome but really wasn’t and is necessary, you never know. We did a 180 from the port and started heading downstream to the delta and out into the Gulf. Even considering the tutorial we had enough time to catch glimpses of the city on the horizon and even spotted the neighborhood Angie lives in from the boat:

Bywater area.

On the same token this following shot is of the Lower Ninth Ward. It’s hard to tell in this image but consider this is the same Lower Ninth pictured in my ‘on the Eve of Change‘ post:

leaving New Orleans parish. you can see the city in the background (view larger image on my Flickr to zoom in)

Now I’ve never been on a cruise before, I had no idea what to expect. In short these things are designed to pamper. It’s incredible, and pretty ridiculous, in an amazing way. Geez that doesn’t actually tell you anything does it! Okay, your bedroom is “turned down” twice a day – cleaned, changed, made anew; food is limitless, seriously you can eat your body weight daily if your intestines wouldn’t revolt; there’s round-the-clock entertainment in the form of musicians, gambling, bars, game rooms, stage performances, etc.; there’s a gym; multiple hot tubs and pools; there’s a sauna and spa for chrissake!; there’s even… an art gallery!

Clearly when I saw that I knew I was going to have some fun. is that Comic Sans? seriously? These ships were obviously designed in the early 90s! No but seriously there’s a real functioning art gallery on the ship, and yes we saw some people buying art, expensive art, like more expensive than all the expenses me and my party paid for the entire shebang. Times ten. People, are here to have fun, spend money, escape themselves, and be taken care of. and party.

The evening of the first full day on the ship, which we spent entirely at sea, there was a formal gathering and dinner which the captain emceed. Some people, “veteran cruisers” as they’re called, live for this. They came prepared. Not me, I packed two pairs of shorts, flip-flops and my boy scout belt! I didn’t even bring a towel, thinking it’d be so hot all the time I’d air dry when necessary (I forget the interior of places like these are always air-conditioned!); meanwhile these people packed jewelry and a pair of shoes for every day. Outclassed. Still, we had our fun:

Thanks – in part – to the performances, wisdom and hospitality of a one Rob the Pianoman.

If you take the Fantasy ship be sure to look this guy up. He plays at the Cleopatra Piano Bar (duh, he’s a Pianoman!). He made our night on several occassions. This Georgia boy will not disappoint, and his single-handed take on some classic songs (a la Dylan, Van Morrison, the Beatles) is not to be missed!

Next entry: Progreso, Dzibilchaltun, Mayan f*%^ing ruins!