All aboard!

I was a bit sad to leave Florence. But by this time we had been moving for a week, and I was ready to get on the cruise ship and be pampered. Hauling your life in a backpack isn’t fun. I would make a terrible homeless person. We took the train, uneventfully, to Venice, where we were bombarded with one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever seen. We weren’t about to go roaming the maze that calls itself Venice in the pouring rain. So we sat under the overhang outside the airport and watched the canals and the people. And the rain.

At last, the rain let up and we took off, dragging our luggage with us. While Venice doesn’t allow motor vehicles and is all pedestrian traffic, what they do happen to be fond of is stairs. Every freaking bridge over every freaking canal has a staircase on either side. I don’t know why they didn’t just make them smooth. Probably to prevent American tourists from packing so much crap. We each had a huge rolling suitcase, an overstuffed backpack, and a purse. We had to rest at the top of every bridge, which wasn’t terrible, because the views were pretty fantastic. We finally made it to the “apartment” we were staying in for the night, and met up with the rest of our crew. Like most girls, we all greeted each other as if we hadn’t seen each other in decades, with plenty of squealing and jumping. And then we decided to go out.

I wish I had some magical story to tell you about our evening in Venice, but I don’t. It’s incredibly difficult to get around in, you just walk in circles until you find your destination. (Actually, we did spend the evening in an Irish pub, completing the trifecta of Irish pubs in Italian cities.) The next morning, we headed for the Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas. We wended our way through the city maze, and ended up on the edge of town, near the water. The cruise ships are docked not far from there, and this is where they allow motor vehicles, so it was a madhouse. We decided to walk. I also had decided to wear shoes that I KNEW would give me a blister. And as we walked, and walked, and walked, and my blister grew larger and larger, the rain from the day before came back to haunt us. Although wet, and sick of dragging our three tons of luggage, we finally made it to the ship.

I’ve been on one cruise before this one, but it was a Carnival cruise in high school, and this was a whole different league. If I could make nine out of 10 of my vacations a cruise, I would. My husband doesn’t agree. (This is the same man who is going to Alaska next spring to “live of the land.” He really shouldn’t be allowed any input to our vacations. I will also mention that he’s never been a cruise, so again, he doesn’t get input.)

The ship was gorgeous, and amazing. We found our cabins, and did the prerequisite life jacket drill. I certainly hoped they had more lifeboats than the Titanic. And after that, we slowly left Venice behind. Unfortunately, the weather sucked. But we all bundled up in sweatshirts and hit the free hot dogs on the deck.

The best thing about a cruise is THE FOOD. There was a cafe that was open nearly all the time, in case you didn’t feel like getting all gussied up for dinner. Dinner in the dining room was definitely an elaborate affair. There were always several options to choose from, so even a finicky eater such as myself was always happy. This is probably because they always had some choice that equaled a slab of red meat, and that’s all I need, really. Wine flowed freely and the desserts were to-die-for delicious. In addition to the dining room fare, the ship provided 24-hour room service. Hello, drunk munchies! On nights that we took it easy (which was more than you’d think, because drink prices are ridiculous), my roomie Gibson and I would order cookies and milk to eat while watching the movie of the day. (Kind of a bummer now, since I watched all of those movies on the way over during my FIRST CLASS flight.) There is one room service incident that bears mentioning, since I’ve never lived it down.

All of the girls were out at the ship’s club one night, just shaking our groove thang and having a great time. I left to go back to the room before my roommate did. I knew that I was starving (I’m notorious for drunk snacking; the people at QT know me by name because I love the hot dogs), and figured that Gibson would be, too. Cookies and milk wouldn’t cut it, so I simply ordered one of each item on the menu. I was pretty embarrassed when the waiter arrived, and I was alone, but I didn’t care. I took about one bite of everything (discovered I don’t much care for chorizo), and promptly fell asleep. I was awakened the next morning by Gibson coming into the room. She’d decided to have a slumber party with Angela and Allison, so as not to disturb me. Of course, at the sight of six different room service trays, she had to go drag everyone else to our room so they could all laugh at me. To this day, I maintain that I was just trying to be nice to my roomie!

The weather turned out to be pretty crummy for the days that we were “at sea.” We spent those days playing board games (“Life”, anyone?) from the ship’s library, ordering lots of room service, and chilling in the hot tub. The best stuff happened when we hit land…

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