It started slow and then ended all at once.
I feel like I say that a lot, but I feel like it’s true of every cruise we’ve been on: the anticipation, the first few days, it feels like suspended animation. Everything moves so slowly, so deliberately. And then, the wind picks up and moves everything at hyper speed. Suddenly, it’s the last day and we inevitably end up wondering to ourselves where the week had gone.
We didn’t accomplish half of what we wanted to. We didn’t drunkenly sing along to Billy Joel at the Piano Bar. We didn’t sip martini’s at the Alchemy Bar. We didn’t play a round of blackjack or see that second showing of Epic Rock.
So as we were laying out on Serenity on our final sea day in chairs Stephanie had been laying out on since 7:30 in the morning (the last two chairs available on the three-deck Serenity area at 7:30 in the morning, mind you – that was the sheer insanity we were cruising with this week), we asked ourselves where our week went, what did we do, where did it all go?
I didn’t have an answer. Not anything outside of the usual one – time just happens and things move quickly even though they come on slowly. The cruise always has to end. You know. Unless you live on a cruise ship. Then it never ends (and what a life that would be).
We didn’t stay out too long – we were up and lounging early, and we were done by noon, when we opted for brunch instead of the Chocolate Extravaganza that was set up on the Lido deck. We had some free drink vouchers begging to be redeemed, and I’ll take huevos rancheros over an ice cream swan any day.
Throughout our trip, we’d had some terribly rough seas and our final sea day was no exception. Often, we’d need to hold onto the railings while walking down stairs or we’d stumble from one side of the walkway to the other. We took it easy for most of the afternoon, shopping our way through the Fun Shops and relaxing out on the promenade until some storm clouds chased us indoors.
The Diamond and Platinum Party was also held on the last sea day, with invites coming through the evening prior (so late into our cruise that we’d thought it wasn’t being held). And the party was lovely as always, with free flowing drinks and plenty of small bites to snack on while we made our way around the lounge to each of the trivia stations that were set up.
The storm clouds abated long enough for us to enjoy one last sunset, but we sailed right into another set of storms, and if the boat wasn’t rocking already, it really got moving once the storm hit.
We skipped dinner in the dining room, opting to dine up on the Lido deck with burgers from Guy’s (which they’re happy to serve bunless, by the by, if you’re looking to save some carbs to splurge on some fries).
I was forced into doing some of the packing I’d avoided all day after dinner, but found another method of procrastination in the form of Epic Rock, the Playlist Production show for the evening and one of my favorite shows currently on Carnival. The setlist is great and the show is so high energy. It’s really a great one. So good, we took it in twice!
We finished packing and we put our bags in the hallway for collection after the second show, and that’s when the motion got really bad. Mom went to bed, hoping to sleep through it, and Stephanie and I grabbed our last bottle of champagne to polish off in the Havana Bar, where the evening’s entertainment featured a live Cuban music duo.
The motion continually got worse, and with the Havana Bar in the far aft of the ship, we just couldn’t last too long there. The motion was far too heavy (and I almost never say anything like that – I generally enjoy the motion because it helps me sleep). As we headed back to the room, we noticed they were starting to tie down some of the outdoor fixtures and loungers.
What we experienced that night was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on a cruise ship. I remember waking up in the middle of the night feeling like I was on a roller coaster, almost delirious, entranced by what was happening outside our window. Our stateroom was on the second floor and every time we hit a wave, the ship would crash down and the wake of the water would come up against our window. I laid there hoping to fall back asleep, trying to keep my eyes closed, but we were so low on the ship that we felt everything. The ship would rise up, up, up and then slam back down. Up, up, up. SLAM. There were moments I was convinced our room would end up below the water line because we were slamming back down with such force.
Needless to say, our arrival into Port Canaveral was heavily delayed as the Captain had to really slow the boat down to get us back to land safely. We were still at sea when the sun rose, no where near land.
The next morning, as we cleared out our stateroom and headed up to the Lido deck for breakfast, we noticed the bars were emptied of all bottles, new glassware was getting set out and the Fun Shops were in disarray, with displays knocked to the ground and merchandise scattered across the floor.
We didn’t debark until well past 10:00 am (and we were in Group 1). Firetrucks were waiting at the pier and as we exited, the crew were beginning repairs on the ship – some broken windows and minor exterior damage. Thankfully, our flight wasn’t until the evening, so we grabbed our luggage from the terminal, made our way through customs and headed out to the car rental pick up. Our flight home was from Tampa and a one way car rental was less expensive than a taxi or transfers for the three of us.
With a few hours to kill, we headed to Disney Springs for a quick lunch at Wolfgang Puck (because I’m still convinced his Chicken Chinois Salad is the greatest thing ever) and thankfully, it was much less crowded than we left it the week before.
Tampa isn’t my favorite airport – it feels like an airplane hangar and shops and amenities are few – but we had a more than reasonable fare and on a Sunday evening, only had a few flights going out.
We took off as the sun was setting, painting a watercolor like array of colors on the horizon. The flight was short and before we knew it, we were descending in a familiar path over the downtown skyline into O’Hare.
And that was it until the next adventure. Which starts today. Because we leave for our Baltics cruise in nine hours. Ahh! So many pictures coming your way on Instagram. And Facebook. Holy crap. We’re going to Copenhagen today.