Vacation planning is the best! I had months to create Pinterest pages, watch YouTube videos, and create a vacation-centered Amazon wish list. You may be cringing away in horror, but it was a pleasant distraction during my downtime in the desert. My husband, Bee, is more of a spontaneous soul and feared I would have the trip planned down to the minute. I tried, and he rebelled. When the time finally came for our Royal Caribbean cruise on Enchantment of the Seas, I practically floated onto the boat in my excitement. Just for the record, I am not being paid by any of the companies mentioned here, but if any want to sponsor me, we can talk. Pinterest made it seem like everyone on a cruise ship has custom door magnets. Not wanting to be left out, I figured out how to make one and slapped it on our door first thing. No one else had one. Not. One. Door. It did make our room super easy to find after a few drinks so I’ll call it a win.
Booking through Costco Travel, we had reserved a balcony stateroom on the 8th floor. My research showed that we would be less likely to feel rough seas toward the middle of the boat. The room contained a king bed, created by pushing two twin beds together. While the bed was comfortable, the seam between the two did seem to widen when any weight was applied directly in the center. The view from our room was beautiful and standing out on our balcony was a private paradise. Feeling extra fancy, our stateroom attendant would create towel animals on our bed each night.
Fun fact about me: I have a bit of an anxiety disorder. It only affects me in the bathroom, shower, and while eating. It’s only a huge percentage of each day, but no one is counting. Between meds, counseling, and Sophie the Wonder Dog, I’m working on the issue. The shower in our cabin was almost too much for me. The low ceiling, small space, and shower curtain created a combination that were almost unbearable for me. To put my general anxiety in perspective, picture this: You’re standing in front of a dark, coffin of a shower that is used by a large number of strangers. Now climb into a sleeping bag, hop into that shower, and turn on the water. That is the level of discomfort that can sometimes overwhelm me. Luckily, I happened to come back to the room while our attendant was cleaning, and I discovered that her and I share a love of bleach. After that revelation, I felt confident in the cleanliness of the shower and could focus on the vacation. Sorry for the tangent from my normal humorous accounts, but life isn’t always peachy, and it is only fair to share this truth.
The only extras we opted for with our cruise were a deluxe beach cabana on Coco Cay and the all-inclusive drink package. Our end of the night bar tab has sometimes resembled a car payment, so this was a no-brainer. That said, I felt it was my duty to get my money’s worth each day and discovered the magic that is the chocolate martini. I also enjoyed blended mango daiquiris that are sometimes served in a pineapple. You can’t help but smile when drinking from a pineapple. How could we drink like fish everyday and not be ruined for the next day? While Bee is simply a pro, I discovered a supplement called Thrive Plus. Each night, I took two pills with a full glass of water and never woke up with a hangover. Call it the healing powers of milk thistle. Halleluiah!
Everyone says that cruise ships are all about the food, but you can’t really understand it until you’ve experienced it. Unless you are dining at one of the specialty restaurants, everything is complementary. Each day, we enjoyed an on-the-go breakfast, buffet style lunch, small pre-dinner, and extravagant 3 course main dinner. We were cruise ship hobbits! The options in the main dining room were so delicious that we ate there every night instead of paying extra for a signature restaurant. We also took the stairs whenever possible because the wait for the elevators was always long. Plus, we might as well use our legs while we are still able and burn a few extra calories. There is a dress code, though not strongly enforced, prohibiting shorts and tank tops. Khakis and light dresses are plenty fancy, but you’ll also see suits and evening gowns. It was at dinner that I appreciated our forbearance of cellphones. There is no cell service at sea although you can buy Wi-Fi on the ship. We decided to focus on the vacation and each other while saving some money. Bee and I talked like people from the ancient times before technology. No need to check my sundial every 30 seconds.
Our first day of the cruise took us to Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay. Here we had rented a private cabana that came stocked with water, towels, and floating lounge chairs. The fish were so friendly! Their fins would tickle as they swam around our legs while we floated and enjoyed cocktails. The only complaint was that the snorkel gear was one size fits most. Bee couldn’t get his mask to seal and was rather disappointed that he couldn’t snorkel. We still had fins that fit so I distracted him with an epic swim around the lagoon. I can get a wake going like Flipper when I’m kicking these strong legs with fins. Bee moves pretty well himself, but he rides lower in the water. He’s more of a tugboat while I’m a little dinghy.
Day 2 brought us to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. The excursions on this day were all about tours. Bee and I opted to be our own tour guides and set off on foot to explore. Following a map provided by the port, we found the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. Panoramic views from the fort showed our next destination, Atlantis. Continuing our journey of a million steps, we made our way over to Hog Island, which was renamed Paradise Island for tourism. Atlantis is a sprawling hotel with a labyrinth of pools, beaches, aquatic exhibits. We purchased day passes to explore the aquariums and grounds. Huge tanks showcased an ancient city inhabited by only sea creatures. They had underground walkways lining many of the aquariums and a complete glass tunnel in the shark lagoon. After 17 miles, we took a cab back to the ship, so we wouldn’t miss dinner.
Our last full day on the ship was a cruising day, where the boat is at sea all day. We signed up for a morning sushi making class and were able to eat our creations at the end. The wasabi came in tiny packets with Japanese writing. This should have been our first warning. American wasabi can be eaten in moderate portions, while Japanese wasabi will burn your ancestors with only a fraction of a serving. It was still delicious as my eyes teared up and the burning threatened to cause permanent damage. After recovering from sushi, we sat on the pool deck and waited to view the belly flop competition. Neither of us were participants. Following an afternoon nap, we watched a gameshow competition using volunteers from the audience. Neither of us were participants. The evening ended with a late-night comedy show. The whole day left my face sore from smiling and laughing. There was even time to fit in a bit of balcony “laundry” in true travel style.