Now What?

Okay, so. THE CRUISE is done, and it was amazing, and while I’m not a total cruise convert like “OMG ALL OF MY VACATIONS ARE GOING TO BE CRUISES FROM NOW ON!!!” I could be talked into doing another in 2024. Disney is launching yet another big ship next year, and also a second private island destination, and I am IN! Okay, so I guess I’ve already talked myself into it.

Lighthouse Point had me at Joe Rohde. He is a rock star among Disnerds as the Imagineer behind a lot of the coolest stuff. I remember being at Animal Kingdom a few years ago when the whispering began: “Joe Rohde’s here!” He was mobbed by Disnerds in moments, as normal people walked by wondering who the dude with all the earrings was and why people were quivering like happy puppies, basking in his presence. As a Disnerd I’m very excited by the idea that he’s been lured back to Disney to do his magic on another destination island.

But there’s a lot of real life between now and then, and I have a lot of things I want to achieve between now and when I Turn 65 at the end of June. Yes, yes, Medicare supplement companies, I know! I’m getting hounded and emailed about all the insurance I’ll need because Medicare isn’t enough, etc.

In the meantime I have some boring real life goals. I am on a No Unnecessary Shopping plan for the foreseeable future, because yeah, that cruise was a splurge and my emergency account needs replenishment. I want to improve my fitness, my sleep, my finances, my social life, and maybe even get my creative groove back.

Spreadsheets and research have killed my creative groove, and I resent that.

In far more positive news, I got my first performance review in my new position. I don’t like my new position, because it doesn’t feel like a good fit for my skill set and I’m often frustrated, but the money’s far better than I’ve had in a long time, so I’m working on adjusting my attitude.

My review was really positive. My boss is a sweetheart, and she’s someone who has actually done the work, not a financial wonk parachuted in to “get experience” at the expense of the team. She was positive about my strengths and also honest about areas where I need to improve (she didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know).

We do the dreaded “360 review” process where you get anonymous feedback from people you work with, and my feedback was all about how professional I am, what a team player I am, how easy I am to talk to, how I go above and beyond, etc. etc. I got a raise and a bonus, and it was all a really good day. So that went quite a bit to the improving my finances goal (I’m hoping there will be other changes this summer) so now I have to focus on sleep, fitness, social life (what’s that?) and getting my creative groove back.

Anyway, that’s my mission for this trip around the sun: to find my creativity again. I used to bake and knit and crochet and write and make random shit and experiment. That’s something I’d like to get back to take into retirement, one of these days.

OMG, THE CRUISE!!! (brace yourselves, it’s a long one)

We had an amazing time, even though the weather was unseasonably lousy.

Yep, it rained. A LOT.

It started raining hard as we arrived at Port Canaveral, and the shitty weather followed us all the way to the Bahamas. There were breaks in the rain, and the Cruise Director told us that Captain Andy actually changed course to get us out from under storms at times so the on-deck shows could happen, but yeah, the weather was unexpectedly awful. It did not spoil our fun, though we didn’t get much “lazing around the pool” time, there was so much going on onboard we weren’t too disappointed. As I kept telling The Kid, we live in FL and can go to Disney/the beach/get pool time just about whenever we want, but I felt bad for the many people who traveled a long way to get here and probably planned and waited a year or more for this cruise, only to hit unseasonably stormy weather in February.

Our sailing was actually delayed by the weather, but it let up just enough that the “Sail Away” party could happen. Crew members were frantically drying the stage with towels and such beforehand, but the show went on, and that pretty much was the theme for the weekend.

I did not actually cry when the ship’s horn blasted, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, but it was close.

It was so stormy I had trouble sleeping on Friday night, the ship was pitching and rolling and making noises and kept waking me up. It says something about how rough the water was, because the Wish is about the size of an office building.

We did not need a bigger boat.

Other than the weather, which even Disney can’t control, everything else about the cruise was incredible, amazing, delightful, I may run out of superlatives. Experienced cruisers warned that sailing with Disney will spoil you for all other cruise lines, and I can believe it. My daughter’s boyfriend joined us; he had been on other cruises before and he said he was blown away by the Disney experience. The theming, the food, the entertainment, everything was outstanding.

OMG The Entertainment!!! They weren’t kidding when they said the shows are “Broadway-style!” Especially Aladdin – the set design alone would win a Tony on Broadway, and the Genie was hilariously over the top, with so many funny one liners I can’t remember them all. And OMG can those performers SING!

The food was consistently excellent, and our servers (Disney does what they call rotational dining, so you have the same servers at every dinner and at your final morning breakfast) were absolutely delightful. They posed for pictures with The Kid on our last night. (She’s wearing a hat George made for her from a napkin.)

Our main server George was from the Philippines, he did everything from magic tricks to Mickey Mouse impressions, danced and burst into snippets of songs at random moments, he was hilariously happy and high energy without being obnoxious about it. Our jaded tween thought he was a bit corny the first night when he introduced himself and the assistant server at the 1923 restaurant (the least kid-friendly of the three, but only because there are no shows or characters). George proceeded to do magic tricks with packets of sugar, etc., and she was NOT impressed, but by the end of the cruise she told him how much she’d miss him.

Our assistant server Alex was from Honduras, and this is where my daughter’s boyfriend (whom I already liked) showed his excellent people skills. He’s bilingual and greeted Alex in Spanish when he saw his name tag said Honduras. Alex’s face absolutely lit up, and they launched into a serious and manly discussion of the wine list and the fancy cocktail options, etc. in Spanish, and he spoke Spanish with Alex at every meal. (I’m not saying this improved his attentiveness to our table, but it sure didn’t hurt.) Alex was the more reserved of our servers (though everybody was reserved compared to George) but he loosened up and started dancing and being silly too.

I had wondered before the cruise if having my daughter’s boyfriend along would change the vibe or create any awkwardness. I’d only met him once before when he joined us for Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, and I liked him then, but lunch is not a long weekend on a ship. It was a lot of hours of shared activities and shared meals, etc., but I needn’t have wondered how it would be, he’s a laid-back and very sane adult and we all got along great.

Nassau was a bust. We hadn’t booked any excursions, which in hindsight was absolutely brilliant of us because the weather was dark and threatening. We decided to just get off the ship before the next round of rain hit, so The Kid could say she’d been to Nassau. We walked a few blocks but the port area was totally dead. Bars, souvenir shops, more shops, nothing at all going on and nothing was at all tempting. The boyfriend (he really needs a blog alias) was surprised, he’d been there before and he’d never seen it so deserted. Probably due to the weather. The sky was very menacing, so after about an hour we returned to the ship.

No filters. Very menacing.

Dinner that night was the World of Marvel, or whatever the heck it’s called. Judging by the Facebook comments I expected this to be the weakest of the three dining nights, but I really enjoyed it! Ant Man and The Wasp hosted a “demonstration of new technology” via big screens, things of course go comically awry, it ends with a big superhero battle on the deck of the Wish with appearances by other Avengers, and who doesn’t love Paul Rudd? The show was very cute, and the food was, again, really delicious.

The rain stopped (or more likely, Captain Andy sailed us out from under it) for the pirate party. The 4 day cruises have a themed pirate dinner and people dress up as pirates; we were on the 3 day so dinner was “normal” (if dining with the Avengers is normal) but there was a late night pirate dance party, and more booze, and fireworks. It was crazy fun.

Disney’s private island is wonderful!

Sunday started gloomy, but the sun did come out for us to enjoy Castaway Cay. There was snorkeling and water slides and very large margaritas, and the only rain fell while we were eating lunch under a covered pavilion. It was a lovely day, and we were all very impressed with the island. There are tons of chairs and umbrellas, lots of lifeguards on duty, friendly staff, spotless restrooms, delicious food (all included).

And then it was our last night, and dinner at Arendelle, with a cute show celebrating Queen Anna and Kristoff’s engagement. (Photos above with our wait staff are from Arendelle.) Excellent food yet again, though the Frozen Fractals cocktail looked better than it tasted, IMHO.

The camera didn’t really capture the sparkles. Very pretty and not terrible, but not the best thing ever.

And so the Big Cruise Weekend is over. I’ve really only hit the highlights here and skipped things like The Kid doing the Incredibles obstacle course, the endless soft serve ice cream, and how many flights of stairs we traveled in 3 days. I was as blown away by the quality of everything about the Wish as everyone said. I was particularly impressed with the talent of the musicians and singers and dancers in every show; the performers wear many hats, and they’re not kidding when they say the shows are Broadway quality. The food and booze and staterooms and everything was really well done. Even with the unexpectedly shitty weather, we were all dazzled and sad to leave on Monday morning. Even leaving the ship was handled with Disney efficiency and polish, we ate our final breakfast in Arendelle, said our sad farewells to George and Alex, and were off the ship and through customs and on the road home before 8:30 a.m.

Gidget cried for five minutes when I got home.

And now I’m back at work. Shit.