Monday, November 28, 2011

Tips For Surviving a Hawaiian Cruise

You may or may not know this, but my last two posts have come to you from Hawaii! Okay, not exactly. I was in Hawaii, and left my pre-written posts with a friend so that I wouldn’t have to worry about putting them up while I doubled my weight in cheesecake consumption during my honeymoon cruise. The point is, I was gone, and now I’m back, and you didn’t even know the difference. Shabang!

Anyway, as with all my vacations this year, I came home with a list of helpful tips and advice for those of you who may be about to embark on a similar adventure. I also came home with a burn mark on my leg, and sans luggage. But more on all that in a minute.

The walls of the Queen Mary hotel are very thin. We arrived in California the day before our cruise left, and thought it would be very cool to stay at the Queen Mary, the ocean liner turned war vessel turned hotel, docked in Long Beach. Before you get ahead of yourself and assume that I play the (embarrassed) fool in this one, I’ll tell you that Dawson and I were the ones woken from a wonderful, much-earned sleep by the young, adventurous couple in the room next to us. Several times in one night. And in the morning. It seems that although the legendary ship was able to survive World War II, its walls cannot contain the sexual exploits of its passengers. Luckily we never ran into our neighbours. And I mean, lucky for them, because Dawson undoubtedly would have made a comment.

BYOD. Bring your own drugs. And I don’t mean the kind that will get you stopped at the airport or thrown in a foreign jail. I mean the ones to stave off motion sickness. Even if you’ve never had motion sickness in your life. Even if you are 100% sure you won’t need them. Because the truth is, you might. Your ship might sail through a storm, a mild storm yes, but one still able to rock your ship so much that at least 50% of the passengers have their heads in the toilet. And when that happens, you don’t want to be stuck buying drugs from the ship pharmacy because they will charge you eleventy-million dollars for eight cute, little, itty-bitty tablets. Even though the packaging box looks like it could fit seventy more pills in there.

Where applicable, rent mopeds. This was the most fun thing we did on our vacation, and potentially the most fun thing I’ve done ever. It even beats the time I touched Timbaland’s arm.* We tried to rent them in Hilo but a local woman advised us that Hilo’s many highways weren’t the best place to be with a souped up bicycle. Then we were going to try in Honolulu but I chickened out after seeing how busy the streets were. It turns out Kauai is the best island to moped around, as they have no major highways and no real metropolises. So Dawson and I hopped on and made our way through the mountains of the island where they filmed most of LOST, swam in a secluded fresh water pond, and found the best burger joint on the island. Possibly the best anywhere. It. Was. Awesome.

But don’t touch the muffler. Seriously. Don’t touch the muffler. Especially after you’ve been riding the moped mostly non-stop for five hours because it’s hot and will burn the shit out of you. Not literally of course, but it will leave a triangular shaped burn mark on your left leg when you accidentally skim it while trying to refill the gas tank. Which was nowhere near the muffler. 

BYOMK. Bring your own medical kit. Again, because you don’t want to be stuck getting your over sized band-aids and antibiotic cream from the ship’s medical office because it will cost you $60 just to meet with them. Also? When another passenger offers you a package of (sealed) antibiotic cream, thank him graciously and use it, but make sure to ask him if he’s a doctor. Because if you take the cream and assume he’s just being friendly and trying to help, eventually his comment that your leg looks inflamed will haunt you in your dreams until you break and decide it’s probably best to book an appointment with the ship doctor just to be sure, only to find out after you forked over the $60 that the friendly passenger dude is actually a legit doctor who gave you some medical supplies for free.

Always bring your ‘A’ game. Because you never know when a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons cover band is going to pull you on stage to serenade you with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” Your heart might be pounding, and you might not be able to see anything past the first two rows because of those blinding stage lights, and you might end up shaking for at least two more songs after your moment is over, but it’s okay. Just smile, and play along. Make faces, dance a little, sing along. After all, most of the audience is 60 + and they will love you hamming it up, and will tell you how great you were afterward. Except for the die-hard fan sitting next to you who asks you through gritted teeth if you even know who the band is (yes I do, thank you very much!), and the woman you run into a few nights later who pretty much tells you that you only got picked because you’re young.

Disneyland might not be a great idea on Thanksgiving. We disembarked from our cruise ship pretty early in the morning and had a whole day to kill until our flight home that night. We did what any reasonable person would do, and drove a rental car to Disneyland to kill some time. Smart, right? Except that that weekend was the American Thanksgiving. The three rides we went on took us over three hours, and by then we decided we might as well cut our losses and focus on dropping a small fortune on shopping purchases. Instead of buying tickets to the theme park, we should’ve just stayed in the shopping area located at the entrance. That’s where we bought most of our stuff anyway. At least we know now for the next impromptu trip during a major American holiday.

Airlines suck. This one isn’t really a tip; it’s just me ranting. Firstly, I don’t understand why airlines get to charge passengers extra money for checked bags. Isn’t that partially what we pay them for to begin with? And secondly, I don’t know how they lose people’s luggage all.the.damn.time. How freaking hard is it to send someone’s luggage on the correct plane? When I have a connection to catch, I manage to do it. Why can’t someone make sure my luggage does too? And when it doesn’t, why can’t people at the airport be nice and understanding about it? Why do they make it sound like it’s our fault for trusting and expecting airlines to do exactly what they said would do? Why? WHY, AIRLINES? WHY DO YOU SUCK?

Despite the airline fiasco, the burn mark, and not getting to meet Cinderella at Disneyland, the trip was amazing. I got to sleep in and take five hour naps, I saw a ton of waterfalls and walked where Sawyer, Kate and Jack walked before me, and I got to eat all of my meals without having to convince any other tiny humans to please for the love of God eat something. Speaking of, Thumper was reportedly well-behaved for all of her babysitters and didn’t seem to miss us at all. We called my mother in law from the airport to check in before coming home, and heard Thumper yell from the background, “I AM HAVING A GREAT TIME!” Of course, that didn’t stop her from breaking down in tears when we picked her up. After a fifteen minute scream/cry-fest, I asked why she was upset and she said she forgot that she missed us until right then. She’s been asking for a lot of hugs and kisses since then, and we’ve been milking it.


*Okay, maybe not. Touching Timbaland’s arm while he walked past me at a Justin Timberlake concert was pretty cool. 

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