Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mi casa es su casa, and there's no place like home

Back from our cruise, back from Mexico.  It was terrific.  As soon as we walked in the door, I put down my purse and landed on the couch.  Slept for hours.  I'm in between naps now  ;-)

As you can imagine, I got a lot of pictures on my iPhone, which I will have to gradually move over to Facebook so I can post them here.  I also used my iPad to create blog entries, albeit offline, and those have to be moved over here by a multi-step method that is awkward but necessary.  I had no time to set up 3G on the iPad before we left, but I did have wi-fi capability - however, one pricing area where the ships are absolutely mercernary is with their internet access, and I just could not bring myself to spend it.

Let me just say that I have been waiting my whole life for the iPad.  It is everything I have ever wanted or needed in a portable computer.  I carry it in my purse.  It has 3G and wi-fi.  It has sufficient word processing ability, for my needs, on it's Notes app, which comes with the iPad.  Before I left, Cory set it up for my and sync'ed it with my iPhone.  There's still some more syncing to complete, but the fact it can sync through my main computer, which is Microsoft rather than Apple-based, is a joy.  I have all my iPhone apps, and then new iPad apps.  Extended battery life.  The screen is clear, colorful, and gorgeous.  With this, I have no need of a laptop.

One thing I did do when I got home was check my BlackBerry to see what had transpired in the office in my absence.  Nothing horrible, or even awful, and all I can say is that I still work with the best group of people in the world.

And the Dallas Mavericks kicked the Miami Heat's sorry asses beat the Miami Heat in Game Two of the NBA Finals.  Go Mavericks!

Food was a big part of this vacation, as the number one activity on a cruise ship is eating.  We also had the opportunity to take two cooking classes, and having done this for the first time would really love to see the cruise lines do more of it.  We can't all afford those wonderful 12 day celebrity chef cruises to Alaska or the Mediterranean or Italy, but I think cruise lines like Carnival can incorporate some more classes and programs into their onboard and offshore schedules.  Trust me, there is a substantial audience for this type of thing.

Here's the first blog post from our cruise:

Approaching the Carnival Dream at Port Canaveral, Florida

May 28, 2011
11:30 am

We are in the car, packed and poised to head out to Port Canaveral. The weather is beyond perfect. Since it was raining cats and dogs last night, that is a relief. Speaking of cats and dogs, our Gang of Eight is moping around. Situational depression caused by the sight of the suitcases. By tonight, when they realize they have the entire bed to themselves, they'll be getting over it.

So we've moved onto State Road 528, which gives me a chance to bitch about the name change. As far as I am concerned, this is the Beeline. I traveled on the Beeline every work day for four years as I headed to the DCF Legal office in a particularly funky section of Cocoa. The name of the city seems so innocuous - cute, even - and that is probably true if you limit your exploration to Cocoa Village. But Monroe Center, the truly decrepit facility used by the agency formerly known as HRS, was in a section of town so horrible, even the drug dealers did not hang out there after dark. So riding to work on a road called the Beeline, marked by signs sporting a cute little bumblebee, took away some of the sting - ha ha- of practicing law in a condemned building while paying law school loans that raised my personal debt ceiling into the stratosphere.

And then, several years ago, somebody proposes renaming it to the "Beachline" because - are you sitting? - it takes you to the beach! Dude, all the roads into Brevard County take you to the beach! From whimsical and charming to merely utilitarian - beach line . . . Sounds like a BMT subway line, and twice as boring.

Casual Dining on Lido Deck - "The Gathering" - Silly name, good food

So we took this boring road all the way to the beach and beyond and now we are on the ship, which is anything but boring. This is our fourth cruise, and our third on Carnival, and this is the most amazing ship so far. I took some pictures, but won't be able to upload them until we return home. The ship is pretty new and tricked out like Mrs. Astor's pet horse. Embarkation was reasonably painless. Hot and cold running food, drink, and music, and we're still sitting in port. I could get used to this.

Pool area, aft  deck  

The other pool area on the forward deck, with crazy slide and "Serenity" area on upper decks  

Rob and I took a stroll on the upper decks and found a child-free zone, called "Serenity." Very nice place to sit with your sweetheart in the whirlpool or in those special wicker chairs for two while clutching a cold drink sporting fruit salad on a stick or a paper umbrella. There is something so inoffensively festive about a drink wearing that paper bumbershoot, especially if it contains some of that there Kickapoo joy juice with a splash of something sweet and fruity. I've yet to have a Cosmo thusly embellished, and I'm wondering if I could enjoy it even more, decked out like Carmen Miranda, when I already enjoy it so much. Post gastric bypass, it just takes half a drink for me to slide into the toasty zone. Wheeeee!

4:26 pm

And the Carnival Dream is is moving gently out of Port Canaveral . . . (click on the link for more info on the ship)

Port Canaveral from the ship - just left of middle on the horizon, you can see Kennedy Space Center

Our first night out, we met our table mates - Denise and Terry from Indiana, and Gloria and Bob from Oviedo - and our wait staff, Ilia (I think - I could never see her name tag well enough) and Desirta.  I actually enjoy the traditional cruising dinner experience, which now that I think of it goes back to my summer vacation days at Kutsher's in the Catskills, when you were assigned to a big table with a bunch of strangers and made a whole bunch of new friends.  First night dinner I chose the tomato soup and the tilapia.  The tilapia was delicious, nice and moist (tilapia can dry out if you're not careful) and the tomato soup was good, but - I can make it better.  I'll even give you the recipe over at the recipe blog.  Rob ordered the St. Louis spareribs (which I ordered the last night) and they were incredibly good.  The St. Louis-style rib is my favorite cut of slab rib, but difficult to find.  These were expertly prepared.

Although I missed my furry babies, I managed to sleep well; in fact, except for the small, noisy and inconsiderate group  of young hoodlums adults who created minor disturbances at 3 am, I slept through the night and but for two of the nights, did not need any OTC assistance. 

Our room steward was Ricardo.  Like our wait staff, he was kind, efficient, and extremely personable.  A good crew can make or break a cruise, and I don't think there was one person working there who did not enhance the experience.

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