The Perfect Storm: A Vacation Travelogue (Part 11)

It’s Friday morning. We’re scheduled to spend the day at Grand Cayman, a beautiful little island we’ve been to before, on another cruise. We’ve also missed this port before, on another cruise. The port of Grand Cayman uses teeny tiny little tender boats to shuttle a handful of passengers at a time from the cruise ship to the shore. It doesn’t take much in the way of bad weather to shut down the whole day here.

Which side of the coin are we on this time? Three guesses. The first two don’t count.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m awake just before the alarm on my phone goes off. You know, my “phone” that is now just an alarm and a small device for playing spider solitaire. Really, I should be calling it anything but a phone, since that’s now the one function it cannot do.

I get up and head for the shower, and only then do I hear over the loudspeaker that high winds have canceled our entire port day here at Grand Cayman. As an avowed night owl, my first thought is, “I could have slept in.”

My second thought is, “Wait, no sting rays!”

I secretly wonder who Wayne bribed to shut down the port so he wouldn’t have to touch sting rays, or any other living animals, on this cruise. And did the bribe cost more than the puddle-upgrade we paid $600 for?

These are all purely theoretical questions, of course. He’d never admit it. When we had to fix a buried terra-cotta plumbing pipe in the yard in 2006, he surreptitiously bought three ugly gnomes and placed them on the mound of dirt in the front yard. Thirteen years later and he still hasn’t admitted it, even after I found the box hidden in the basement a few months later.


IM000857.JPGThey’re creepier than the average gnome…


Anyway, nobody’s getting off the boat today. Unless they want to swim back to Tampa. Pretty sure none of us do, so we’ll now have two “sea days” in a row. Except for the no-sting-rays thing, I’m okay with this. I love just being on the ship. If they put me on a cruise and just sailed around in a very large circle for a week, I’d be happy as a clam. Well, as long as it’s not too tight a circle. I get motion sickness easily. Plus, I have no idea just how happy a clam really is. Apparently they’re cheerful little chums.

Because we didn’t find out about the cancellation early enough, Wayne and I are showered and ready a full hour sooner than  we’re used to. We head to the Lido deck for breakfast … along with approximately 2,000 other people who are now stuck on the ship and still need to eat breakfast too. Everyone’s still chipper and content, though. Carnival is still feeding us like kings and queens, and none of us have to do the dishes. For me, that’s always vacation enough.

But this will teach me not to book a one-opportunity shore excursion for the last port, especially if it’s one that uses teeny tiny little shuttle boats. Lesson learned.

After another yummy breakfast, I grab ICCC #6 (chocolate-vanilla swirl, as usual) midship on the Lido deck and walk back to the stateroom. I mostly walk in the right direction this time. Because the cruise is almost over. By the time we debark on Sunday morning, I should know exactly how to get to our stateroom.

Another towel animal has appeared. I’ve kept all our animals intact all week, because it just feels wrong to disembowel the towel and then use it to dry off after a shower. “This used to be the beautiful swan towel animal…. Well, at least my butt is dry.”

Yeah, that’s just all kinds of wrong.

Besides, they’ve been keeping Boris the squirrel company on the sofa.

I think all the towels are named Terry…

At the end of the week, I plan to blind all the towel animals, and take their plastic googly eyes off and bring them home. There have to be dozens of ways I can use these things once I’m home.

I spend most of the day either meandering around the ship, enjoying the fact that it’s now a few days till Christmas and I’m wearing capris and sandals on deck and sitting barefoot in a deck chair on our balcony, reading to my heart’s content and soaking up the sun while listening to the waves.


A deck chair, a Kindle, and the sound of the sea…

It’s beautiful.
It’s glorious.
It’s refreshing and inspiring.

But it still ain’t worth an extra $600. Sorry, Wayne.

Next installment: Don’t rock the boat… except with Xfinity Mobile.



The Perfect Storm: A Vacation Travelogue (Part 7)

Marvin tells us that he’s called the plumber, so at this point there is little to do except wait … and continue to use Marvin’s three hundred towels to mop up the recurring puddle. The next morning we have a lovely late breakfast on the Lido deck and then split up. I head for a quiet spot on the Atlantic deck overlooking a beautiful view of the ocean.


Unfortunately, staring at all that wild, uncontrolled water keeps reminding me that there is too much uncontrolled water in our stateroom right now. So I use the time to jot down notes about the vacation so far. That book ain’t gonna write itself.

Then again, it kinda is writing itself. I can’t make up shit this good. (I’d say “make up shit this funny,” but it’s not funny yet. Maybe once we’re home. Maybe.)

Speaking of shit, Wayne’s biggest concern is that the water might not be coming from the tub, even though the puddle seems to always end up there. He reminds me that we’re on a moving, rocking cruise ship and that the puddle isn’t necessarily going to stay where it started out.

He has a point.

His concern is that it’s water from the toilet. Which completely freaks him out. But, I raised four kids and changed diapers for years. I’ve been blanketed with pee, poop, and projectile vomiting. A small puddle of toilet water isn’t freaking me out.

What’s freaking me out is that we paid $600 extra for this small puddle of toilet water.

But then again, unknown toilet water is gross. At least the pee, poop, and projectile vomit were all from cute little babies who share my DNA. I rethink Wayne’s concern.

He has a point.

Then again, when he bought the sleeves of Diet Coke and the Ace bandage, he also picked up a little something he never travels without: a large pump bottle of hand sanitizer. He has a thing about germs.


I never ask him why he doesn’t just buy a travel-size bottle, because to Wayne, this IS a travel-size bottle. In fact, he’s concerned that he might run out. And at this point, I think he might. He’s going through this stuff in a panic, mumbling things I can’t quite hear but that sound like “toilet germs” and “bubonic plague” and “lawsuit” and “refund.” Those last two are becoming a sort of mantra for him. I think he mumbled them in his sleep last night.

So, while I’m taking notes on the Atlantic deck, he’s at the customer service desk on the Promenade deck. Since this is still early in the cruise and tomorrow we will be in port for the first time, all the customer service lines are jammed. People are ironing out stateroom issues and dining room issues and sea sickness issues and shore excursion issues and probably Oedipal issues, too. In fact, half the ship’s passengers are in that line this morning, so I’m grateful he’s willing to take one for the team.

Plus, we both know I’d knuckle under and walk away from that service desk placated with another half dozen VIP Club pins. I have no backbone.

The other half of the ship’s passengers are on the Lido deck getting another soft-serve ice cream cone. That ice cream machine is going to be the death of me yet.

As I’m enjoying the view and scribbling in my notebook, I realize my Birkenstocks are killing me. They’re fairly new, and I hadn’t worn them for any serious length of time before. Now I’m walking 3 or 4 miles just to eat breakfast. Well, more like 6 or 8 miles since I keep heading to the wrong end of the ship.

I finish my notes and then stop in the gift shop to price a pair of softer sandals. No go. We’re a captive audience, so a pair of sandals in the gift shop would mean refinancing our mortgage and putting my grandson up as collateral. I’ll look for sandals when we’re in Cozumel, Mexico, tomorrow.

In the corridor to our stateroom, I see our door is open and I hear noises. I pass a guy in coveralls carrying a toolbox as I head to our room. I use my super-sleuthing brain to deduce that he is the plumber. And he’s leaving.

In our room, I find Wayne chatting amicably with a woman who has opened the safe for him. Marvin is also here, still apologizing, in several languages I don’t know. I nod a lot and smile. The entire metal front of the whirlpool tub is off.

Wayne and I try to discuss our activities for the day, but two more crew members arrive with a loud shop-vac and cleaning supplies. Wayne tells me the plumber will be back. I look at the torn-apart bathroom. Gosh, I hope so.

Tonight is our first formal night for dinner. Carnival calls it “Elegant Night,” but clearly they’ve never seen me in a dress.

I realize Wayne’s brand-new dress shirt needs to be ironed (it’s still in the package), as do several of my cotton capris, so I grab a handful of items and head to one of the laundry rooms.

There’s nothing I’d rather do right now than some ironing. I don’t even iron things when I’m at home. I hate it twice as much when I’m on vacation.

There is a drop-down ironing board like you see in vintage comedy movies, and the iron is hanging from a metal hook about a foot over my head. I say a prayer and get it down without poking my eye out or dropping it on my foot.


Grateful that the ship isn’t wobbling around too badly, I iron the items without burning myself. But, getting the now-hot iron back up on that hook over my head strengthens my prayer life in ways you can’t imagine. The dual mantras of “lawsuit” and “refund” spring to mind. I envision another design engineer getting fired.

I bring my laundry back to the stateroom and hang it all up neatly in one of our $600 unused closets. We haven’t eaten since breakfast, so we head to the Lido deck to grab a quick burger. Wayne orders a $10 drink of the day, a concoction called Ocean Blue Cocktail. It’s bright blue, and he has no clue what’s in it. This doesn’t seem to bother him, though.

This is the same man who was freaked out over some possibly-but-probably-not-toilet water on the floor. Now he’s drinking chemicals from Monsanto, for all we know. Expensive ones, too. But at least they’re blue … the same color as the toilet water, by the way. Once he makes that connection too, he’ll head back to the stateroom to gargle with some of that hand sanitizer.

Back in our stateroom, we find the tub put back together and everyone gone. Wayne calls poor Marvin to say that the bathroom floor was not properly cleaned after the crew workers left. We’re told it was a sink leak, not tub or toilet, but I suspect Wayne isn’t convinced.

I sit on our balcony and read instead of watching yet another crew member clean our bathroom yet again. Wayne tries to nap, but of course the cleaning crew shows up as soon as he starts to nod off.

Later, we head to dinner, all dressed to the nines and without a clue what that even means. We try not to make eye contact with all the photographers on the Promenade deck coaxing people to have their pictures taken in their finery. Pictures they will sell back to you for twenty bucks.

Two young women are having fun with their photographer and posing on the furniture in “cheesecake” shots, hamming it up, and then another photographer without a customer runs into the shots and poses with them. It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen since I got on the ship.

Then again, I lost my phone and we’ve had not-toilet-water all over our bathroom floor for 36 hours. My standards for humor might be a bit off.

In the dining room, the maître d’ asks us our names and our stateroom number. Wayne gleefully announces, “Stateroom 7296. We’re Dixie and Steve!”

The maître d’ doesn’t get the joke. That’s okay, though. I get the joke, and I’m not laughing either. That won’t prevent Wayne from saying this every time we enter the dining room all week long.

We end the day after our lovely dinner with another soft-serve ice cream cone because we’ve walked past the machine on the Lido deck again (accidentally on purpose), with a clean bathroom and a dry floor, and with a cheap rum and Diet Coke. Wayne bemoans the fact that Papa Bert’s Sippin’ Seat doesn’t hold nearly enough rum for a 7-day cruise.

Tomorrow, though, we’ll be in Cozumel. Wayne has a 100% track record for getting cheap Mexican rum back onto the ship from Cozumel.

We’ll see if he can maintain that perfect score. They’re calling for rain all day tomorrow.

Next installment: Jack Sparrow taught him everything he knows about rum smuggling…