Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: (Bonus!) Day 6

All in all, my misadventures in travel on Day 5 turned out pretty well, considering that I never actually made it home (or even left the state of Florida, for that matter!). I had a nice room at a hotel I was familiar with, and I’d even managed to pay for it with my Hilton points, meaning I wasn’t out of pocket any additional money. I had a ticket on a direct flight home (well, almost home) on the next day, and it didn’t even leave until the reasonable hour of 11:30 am.

I was feeling pretty good…perhaps, too good? I woke up fairly early on the unexpected day 6 of my trip and packed up my things to head to the airport around 8:30. Sure, I’d be a little early, but Orlando can be a notoriously busy airport, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get there a little early. Indeed, the rash of cancellations on the previous day meant that Delta’s ticket counters were busy and the lines were a little long. I checked my bag again, feeling a strong sense of déjà vu, and went through the security line.

I had been resting comfortably in the Delta Sky Club, posting my Day 5 blog post, for about an hour when I saw the first delay on my flight. Here we go again, I thought, but fortunately for me, Day 6’s flight delays had a much happier ending than Day 5’s. While we were delayed about a half an hour in our departure, we only landed about five minutes after our scheduled arrival time.

I arrived home to a winter wonderland – the weather system that had cancelled my flights on Day 5 was still in full effect, and it snowed for most of our drive home from the airport. Even though it was cold, I was glad to be home. But that doesn’t mean I’m not counting the days until my next cruise!

Read the previous posts in this live blog series: IntroductionDay 1Day 2 (CocoCay)Day 3 (Nassau)Day 4 (Sea Day)Day 5

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 5

Day 5 was a study in the need for (extreme) patience when we put our fate in the hands of the airlines — and mother nature.

Remember that wintry weather I mentioned on my Day 4 blog? I called Delta as soon as I was back in cell range, but didn’t have any luck getting put on earlier flights. Nevertheless, I hustled to get my bags ready and get off the ship with the “self-assist” disembarkation group, which left at 7:45 am. This is the term for when you take your own bags off the ship rather than using the ship’s luggage assistance (when they collect your bag the night before you depart and deliver it to you in the terminal building). If you have an early flight or just want to get off the ship early, self-assist is the only way to do it.

Just as in my last experience at Port Canaveral, I was off the ship quickly and on a shuttle to the airport around 8 am. When I arrived at 9 am, I asked again about earlier flights, but nothing was available. I decided I had no choice but to hope for the best. I checked my bag, went through security, and settled in at the Delta Sky Club, a perk I get from my American Express Platinum card (while its annual fee is rather pricey, this card certainly has some advantages for frequent travelers like myself).

It started innocuously, with a 20-minute delay to my first flight (Orlando to Atlanta). But as time wore on, the situation worsened quickly. First, the flight was delayed for 90 minutes, as was my connecting flight from Atlanta home to Greensboro; then the delay went to over two hours. I had a small bit of hope that I might make it as far as Atlanta when they actually boarded our flight (about an hour after we were originally scheduled to depart), but that hope was short lived.

Through a long sequence of events (that would make this post infinitely long if I detailed them all), my flight from Orlando to Atlanta was cancelled. I jumped on my phone and hustled to find a hotel room in Orlando for the night; fortunately, I was able to get a room at the same DoubleTree we’d stayed at when we came for our Majesty cruise in August. With the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to sleep in the airport, I was able to rest much easier while I waited in line (for quite some time) to find out what flights I’d been reassigned to.

Here’s where the story has a funny ending, albeit a happy one. You see, I live right in between two airports – Raleigh-Durham (RDU) and Greensboro (GSO). It’s about equidistant to drive to both, but for this trip I’d chosen Greensboro. Well, when Delta reassigned my flights, they had me routed from Orlando to RDU to Detroit and then back to GSO! Fortunately, I was able to talk to an agent and they easily changed my schedule to the first flight only (Orlando-RDU), and I talked the hubby into coming to pick me up at RDU since my car was parked at GSO. (This was very nice of him, seeing as how I’d left him at home while I went on this cruise by myself!)

As a bonus, I looked at the boarding pass the agent handed me for my flight the next day – and I had been put into first class! What a treat!

So while I thought that Day 5 would be the last day of my vacation, it turned out that the travel gods had another plan for me. So here I am in a hotel room in Florida, while it snows back home – I’m a little disappointed to miss the snow, and not looking forward to clearing off my car (parked in a surface lot and not a garage, sigh) when I get home. But I do remember that ultimately, I will get home – even if it’s a day later than I’d intended. I just wish I’d remember to pack an extra pair of underwear….

Read (unexpected!) Day 6’s blog here.

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 4

How did it get to be the last day of the cruise already?? Day 4 was our day at sea, and so I took advantage and slept in…until almost 8 am. Woohoo!

I had signed up for the brunch and galley tour at 11 am, so my morning was pretty much taken up with writing the previous day’s blog post and ingesting large amounts of coffee. (You may have noticed that none of my posts have mentioned breakfast – I’m currently on an eating plan called intermittent fasting, where I only drink black coffee and water until noon each day. It’s been a surprisingly easy “diet” to follow on a cruise!)

I showed up around five minutes to 11 for the galley tour, which met in one of the dining rooms. I was surprised to see almost a hundred other people waiting as well – apparently this event is very popular! The event cost $30 per person and included a tour of the galley areas along with unlimited champagne/mimosas, followed by a sit-down brunch (and the continuation of said mimosas). I maayyyy have had a few mimosas, which made sitting down to edit and post the blog entry I’d written earlier a bit of a challenge!

I enjoyed most of the afternoon having some down time in my cabin. At this point, I must sound like a really lame, boring person, but I can promise you (and people will vouch for this) that’s not true! I’m what you might call an extroverted introvert, and while I enjoyed chatting with people throughout this cruise (something that’s a lot easier when you’re cruising solo, I found), I also really enjoyed the opportunities to be quiet by myself, reading a book or checking Twitter.

After dinner, I stopped in the casino to play some video poker before catching the production show for the evening. I won a big hand and was up by $20, hurray! But then I came back later and lost it all back again…I’m beginning to see a trend here. The show was a little disappointing, so I left early to go back to my room and pack up, then go to bed.

It was on Day 4 that I started to get an indication that my flights home might be affected by some wintry weather. The forecast looked increasingly dire as the day went on, so I set my alarm for 6 am (about the time I figured we’d have cell service in anticipation of our 7 am arrival) so I could call the airline to try to get on earlier flights, and to make sure that I’d be on the very first shuttle from the port back to the airport just in case an earlier flight was available.

My last night at sea ended with the motion of the ship gently rocking me to sleep. I’m really going to miss this….

Read Day 5’s blog here.

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 3

Day 3 was our port stop in Nassau, which I’ve been to about four or five times in the last year. As a result, I wasn’t totally gung-ho to get off the ship right away, which made for a nice relaxing (and productive!) morning.

I woke up early and chugged a cup of coffee before heading to a 7 am class in the fitness center. (I told you I was one of those early-morning people!) The class was at the same time as our sail into Nassau, meaning that I would miss my opportunity to take some pictures, but that was ok. After the class ended around 8 am, I sat on the deck and drank a couple more cups of coffee before going back to my room to shower. It was a beautiful morning for Nassau, fairly cool and not nearly as humid as I was used to encountering at this stop, with some clouds keeping down the heat.

I spent the morning writing blog posts and enjoying the quiet of the ship. I’d heard from some frequent cruisers that many of them don’t even get off the ship in Nassau because they prefer to enjoy the day on board, and I can see why – the venues were uncrowded and the pool deck was fairly unoccupied. We were parked next to the Liberty of the Seas, an unusual sight to see in Nassau since this ship usually does Western Caribbean routes out of its home port of Galveston.

Photo Dec 06, 8 22 46 AM

Around noon, I wrapped up my writing and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch. I had thought about trying out the Johnny Rockets on board, but decided instead to be healthy and opted for a big salad from Windjammer along with soup and a sandwich from the Compass Deli. (I understand that the Compass Deli might not survive the next round of refurbishments on Majesty, which are scheduled for early 2018, which is a shame!)

After lunch, I grabbed an ice-cream cone and lounged for a bit on the blissfully quiet pool deck. Around 2, I decided it was time to head into town, so I went down to the cabin and collected what I’d need for the day. The port in Nassau is incredibly convenient to the downtown area, and to make things even better, we were parked in the very closest berth to the terminal building. Without a crowd of departing cruisers to slow me down, it only took me about 10 minutes to go from my cabin on the ship to the main street in Nassau.

My first stop was my favorite place to go when I’m in port here: the Pirate Republic Brewery. Friends, I’m a bit of a beer snob, and I’m here to tell you that their brews are not just surprisingly good for a brewery in Nassau, they’re flat-out good, period. I started with a flight so that I could sample some of their new seasonals, then switched to my old standby, the Island Pirate Ale (IPA, get it?). I found a nice couple who were on the Liberty, and talked with them for a while as we drank our beers. I made a stop in the brewery’s excellent gift shop to bring back a present for the hubby, who didn’t get to make this trip with me.

It was getting a little late, but I decided to walk a little more around Nassau before heading back to the ship. I found myself at an Irish-themed bar called Shenanigans, which was near the end of Bay Street, the main shopping street. I found in talking to the bartender that they had only opened a few months ago, and the bar certainly had two important elements: good wifi and cold air conditioning. I paid a lot for my Guinness ($11!), but if wifi and a cool place to sit down are what you’re looking for, this is a good place to stop. (Just don’t get the Guinness – I think the other beers are cheaper.)

As I finished up my beer, I realized that it was nearly 5 pm – and my dinner time was a 6! Overall, I’ve enjoyed having the early dinner seating on this cruise, but it can cause one to adjust the schedule somewhat, especially on port days. I headed back to the ship, but there was only one problem – after all that beer, I was getting sleepy! I made a beeline for the Windjammer and filled up two water glasses all the way to the top with ice, then filled them with coffee. Hey, it’s not the best iced coffee ever, but it works! I happened to catch a lovely sunset on deck while I drank my iced coffee and listened to the reggae sounds of the house band.

After recharging, I got changed for dinner, then headed to the dining room. I stopped at a bar on the way to dinner to use one of my Crown and Anchor deals to buy one, get one free on a glass of wine for dinner. Well, two glasses of wine, to be honest – which I then proceeded to combine into one very full glass. I got a few looks from my dinner companions!

After dinner, I planned to visit the casino for a few minutes, then head up to a vantage point to watch our departure from Nassau. Well, as it turns out, I should have just skipped the casino entirely, because I wound up losing back all my winnings from the first night (and then some) – but there’s always today, haha! And to add insult to injury, we sailed away earlier than scheduled (that happens sometimes when all passengers have gotten back on board, especially for a late evening departure), and I missed that too. By the time I got up on deck, the lights of Nassau were just a speck in the distance off the back of the ship.

Oh well! I decided it was as good a time to any to head back to my cabin for the night. (It was definitely better than heading back to the casino!) I watched a bit of a basketball game on TV before turning in around 10 pm. Another early night, and no one to tease me about it. I was thrilled!

Read Day 4’s blog here.

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 2

Day 2 started early, but fortunately not as early as Day 1! My alarm was set for 6:30 am, but I actually woke up around 6:20 as it was starting to get light in the room. Around 6:45, I put on clothes and headed up to the pool deck to catch the sunrise and drink some coffee. I was planning to go to CocoCay fairly early, as I had rented a beach bed and wanted to make the most of it, but I knew that I didn’t want to wait in line for the first few tenders. So I took my time, worked on my Day 1 blog post, drank some coffee, and chatted with some fellow cruisers.

They announced around 8:30 am that the tenders had started running, so I went to my cabin to get ready for the day. I finished up the first day’s live blog and posted it while in my cabin. Around 9:15, I started heading for Deck 2 to get in the line for a tender, only to find – surprise! – that the line wound up the stairs back to Deck 3. Fortunately, once a new tender pulled up to the ship, the line moved quickly (a staff member told us that the tenders hold about 250 people each; on a ship the size of Majesty, that’s not a problem!).

The tender ride to CocoCay is quick and easy, though it will still be nice when the new pier is finished next year. I walked off the tender and found the pickup spot for beach beds, where I boarded a shuttle that took me to the private beach where beds and bungalows are located – it’s at the far end of the area, so while you could certainly walk, it’s nice to have a ride!

I’ll write more about my beach bed experience, but overall I’d say that it was a very positive one, and I’ll definitely consider a beach bed again (especially if I can get it on sale like I did this time). As you may have seen in the pictures, I’m a sunburn-prone ginger, but the bungalow afforded me enough shade to spend nearly four hours on the beach…although it didn’t work out exactly as I had planned.

I headed back to the ship via the tender a little after 2 pm and made a remarkably responsible decision: I was going to go to the gym! It would have been easy to be dissuaded (ladies, if you’ve ever tried to put on a sports bra when you’re already sweaty, you know what I mean, haha), but I persevered and made my way to the fitness center at the back of the ship, where I walked for about 30 minutes on the treadmill while looking out at some beautiful blue waters. Hey, if you have to get some exercise, it’s not a bad way to do it!

After the gym, I headed back to the room to shower and clean up. I’d gotten a bucket of ice earlier in the day to chill down one of the bottles of wine I brought on board, but I realized that I didn’t have a corkscrew. But not a problem – I had met some ladies staying in a cabin down the hall who mentioned they had brought one with them. So I traded a couple of glasses of wine for the use of their corkscrew – not a bad deal for either of us! J

As I’m used to eating much later, my assigned 6 pm dinner time kind of snuck up on me. It was formal night, so I put on my dress and poured myself a glass of wine to bring along to dinner with me. (The cruise lines will often charge a corkage fee if you bring your own bottle of wine to dinner, but bringing a glass is no problem!)

After dinner, I went back to my room to change into more comfortable clothes for the evening. I stopped in the casino to kill some time before the 7:30 show and won about $30 at video poker. Feeling pleased with myself, I cashed out my winnings and headed to the theater. The production show was very good, and three of the four singers were really excellent. (We’ll just leave at that.) At the end of the show, one of the passengers proposed to his girlfriend! It was very clever and she said yes, so everyone was in a good mood.

Riding high on the positive vibes, I made my way back to the casino and promptly lost $40 on a slot machine. I guess that’s how these things stay in business, huh? Because I was able to quit while I was behind on Day 2, I was still able to say that I was up for the trip, as I won about $75 on the first night.

I checked my watch. It was 10 pm. I decided I was tired, so I went back to my cabin and went to bed. This traveling alone thing isn’t half bad….

Read Day 3’s blog here.

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 1

The first day of my cruise started early, so it wasn’t surprising that a nap was involved later in the day….

My travel plans took me out on the 6 am flight from Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad Airport, our ‘local’ airport and one of my favorite to fly out of because of its small size and convenience. I left the house just before 4 am and was sitting at my gate around 5 am – and the airport is 45 minutes’ drive from our house! My travel to Orlando via Atlanta was uneventful and I collected my bag.

Based on my good experience the last time, I booked a round-trip shuttle to Port Canaveral with GO Port Canaveral. When I traveled with the hubby in August, an Uber had made more sense and was much more convenient since we were staying at a hotel the night before, and not coming straight from the airport. But with just one of me, a $15 shuttle vs. a $46 Uber was an easy decision.

The trickiest thing about finding the shuttle was that the GO pickup is at terminal A, and my bags had come into the baggage claim at terminal B. After a bit of poking around, I finally decided the best way was to come back up to the main (ground) level and cross the airport from B to A at that level. Once I found the location, I checked in with an attendant and waited about ten minutes for the bus to arrive. We were loaded promptly, and a friendly driver took us straight to the terminal in Port Canaveral – easy peasy!

I arrived at the terminal around noon and looked longingly at the place where the line split for Diamond-level Crown and Anchor members and above – and sadly took a left to go in the line for “everyone else.” (But not for long! Taking this solo cruise will bump me up to Diamond level with the double points I’ll receive for traveling solo and paying double the fare.)

Even though the original security screening line was long, it moved quickly, and my check-in was a breeze. In no time at all, I was on the ship! Not wanting to brave the crowds in the Windjammer with my rollaboard suitcase in tow, I grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Caffe Lattitudes and settled down in the Schooner Bar to wait until the rooms were open at 1 pm.

Once my room was available, I dropped off my suitcase and took a few pictures of the room. I’m very happy with the cabin, an oceanview this time, although I noted that it has many of the same quirks as our inside room in August, though not quite so exaggerated. The window really makes a big improvement in letting in natural light, as well.

I took a bit of a wander around the ship, but that 3 am wakeup time was starting to weigh on me. Noting that the Windjammer closed at 2:45 pm, I took a quick nap around 2 pm and woke up about 2:30 to head for a mid-afternoon salad. After my snack, it was time for the muster (safety) drill, and then for sail away! I enjoyed a lovely sail away on Majesty’s series of back decks, which are a bit labrynthine but offer a lot of different perspectives. Afterwards, I popped in on the sail-away party on the pool deck and had my traditional Miami Vice, and I might have joined in on a Cupid Shuffle or two.

I had signed up for the 6 pm dinner seating, so there wasn’t much time to dilly dally after our 4 pm sail away. I headed back to the room and noticed I had a message from the Shore Excursions desk about the beach bed I’d rented in CocoCay (day 2 of our cruise). More info in my blog post to come about that experience, but long story short, I wound up standing in line at the shore excursions desk for about 30 minutes on my way to dinner. Fortunately, I’d brought a glass of wine, and there was a good band playing in the Centrum, so it could have been worse.

Dinner took a little over an hour and a half, so I decided to skip the 7:30 show and wait for the 9:30 one instead. I spent some time looking through the shops and eventually made my way to the casino, where I had a little bit of luck on the slot machines. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure that I would still be awake at 9:30! But fortunately, the first-night energy of the ship (combined with that lucky pull on the slot machine) kept me energized enough. The show started with a rendition of my favorite Christmas song – which seemed even better after two Cosmos at the casino bar! – and after a brief announcement from the cruise director, the comedian came on stage.

Now, no offense to this guy, or the countless other guys I’ve seen doing stand-up comedy on cruise ships, but I’ve found that cruise ship comedians are pretty mediocre bunch.* The only show I’ve really enjoyed was the late-night adult show by Cruise Director Graham Seymour during our Rhapsody cruise in November 2017, but comedy is pretty specific to a person, so maybe it’s just me. I heard plenty of people laughing in the show on the first night, but it wasn’t  really working for me, so I decided to head back to my room.

It didn’t take long after I made it back to the cabin before my PJs were on, teeth were brushed, and I was in dreamland. Before I went to sleep, I set my alarm for 6:30 am so I could be up for the sunrise. Yes, I’m one of those crazy people who likes to get up early on a cruise! (As you’ll see in the post for Day 2, I actually woke up before that alarm even went off.) And the great thing about cruising by myself is that I can do that and not have to worry about bothering anyone. Perfect!

*I don’t want to get controversial, but maybe the mediocrity is due to the fact that by and large, these comedians are all…guys? Maybe one of these cruise lines should be the one to discover the next great female comedian. Who’s with me??

Read Day 2’s blog here.

Let’s try this: My first live blog

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a cruise addict, but I love reading live blogs on sites like Royal Caribbean Blog, Cruise Habit, and CruiseRadio, among others. In a live blog (sometimes called a trip report), the cruiser posts a rundown of each day spent on the cruise – what he/she did, ate, drank, etc. Some of these can be rather extensive, and they give you a really good idea about what life is like on the ship and in the ports being visited.

I had a mind to do a live blog for our Pacific Coastal cruise in September, but due to a number of factors, it didn’t happen. In part, I felt bad telling my husband to leave me alone once a day so I could write and post a blog entry! So upon embarking on my first solo cruise, a live blog seemed to be the thing to do.

I’ll be leaving on a 4-night sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas today, Monday December 4, and hope to post on the blog every day this week telling you what my days at sea (and in port) consisted of this week. It’s my first time giving this live blogging thing a try, so bear with me!

Our cruise leaves from Port Canaveral and visits CocoCay, Nassau, and has a day at sea before returning back to Florida. I’m excited to return to Majesty of the Seas after our short Bahamas cruise on her last August. I’m looking forward to hanging out (and writing blog posts!) in her lovely public areas — and mostly I’m looking forward to NOT having one of her tiny inside cabins!

Read Day 1’s blog here.