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[personal profile] bigmog
I had best get this in writing before my memory fails me. Two readers are anticipating so I would hate to keep all my fans waiting. This is a great opportunity to flex my writing muscles and make up for my lack of blogging this year. An important finger is still injured from the fracture and was injected with cortisone today so that may be my limiting factor.

Even with sharing a stateroom, taking a cruise is an expensive vacation. Add in the cost of airfare to the port city plus any desired excursions. Being a bit of a pinchpenny makes this a difficult sale. Fortunately it was a good year for the company I work for and my annual bonus was easily spent. Better to blow it on a life experience than some new shiny toy. I was going to be spending a lot anyway so I got a new credit card for the sign up bonus awards.

Onto the cruise itself. 7 days with departure from San Diego and 3 port stops in Baja Mexico. As I was just in San Diego a few months ago, getting to the port there was a breeze. Boarding however is as involved (if not more so) as boarding a plane. There are security checks and customs. The cruise line prohibits bringing alcohol since they want to make money on selling booze.

Once aboard, I began to learn my way around the ship. Cruise ships are ginormous of course but ours is only considered a mid-size ship by today's standards. That's "only" 10 decks to navigate. The main theater has enough capacity for half of the passengers so each night the same show was performed twice. An early show and then a late show. Whichever show you didn't go to, you had dinner instead.

Ahh the food. I had never eaten so well in all of my life. I knew that the food would be plentiful but wasn't expecting the exceptional quality. I ate like a king for a week straight. By the end I had put on 3 lbs. Worth it.

Seasickness was a concern. While I had never experienced it before, I had also never been on a ship for an extended period. I planned accordingly and took meds the first day. From then on, I didn't need to take them again.

Getting back to the shows, each night had a variety show with music, comedy, etc. This was probably the weakest part of the cruise. There were performers that I know and admire but for every one of them there was another that was disappointing. Some used politics in their act which I didn't enjoy. It's not that I was disagreeing with them. It's just that I don't want to think about politics on a vacation. Also, as the shows were a mix and match of performers, it was clear they were not well rehearsed.

During the days, various other venues of the ship were used for panels and presentations. Mostly this was a chance for the authors and artists to do their thing as their craft didn't translate well to a stage show. Also going on was the shadow cruise events. These are events run by the passengers themselves. Many areas were covered like an improv workshop, knitting, crafts, logic puzzles, sing-alongs, and so on. Late night there was karaoke, dance parties, bar crawls, etc.

If none of those were appealing, a 24 hour board game room had a literal ton of games to check out and play. I certainly did some of this and learned some new games. A game that I embraced is bridge. We all know bridge as that game that little old ladies play. A bridge club made of youths aimed to dispel such stereotypes. Indeed, bridge has lasted for generations for a reason. It is a great game and I hope to play it more now that I know how.

Then there were the 3 ports in Mexico. I had never been to Mexico so I did an excursion simply to say that I had. My choice was a zip line adventure which was more fun and more stressful than I expected. The next port was a small town in Mexico that hardly gets any tourists. They were super happy to have us and were very welcoming. The third stop looked like crap so I stayed on the ship.

And if all that wasn't enough, you could always relax on the deck and read a book, soak in the hot tubs, or just sit and watch the ocean pass (all of which I did).

My favorite part was a behind the scenes tour. As you recall, I'm interested in the logistics and mechanics of how such a large ship operates. I was fascinated. Our tour showed us the engine control room, waste management, the command bridge, crew quarters, mess hall, laundry room, tailor, the galley, the provisions storage, and even backstage where we got to meet the cruise director and headliner Jonathon Coulton himself. What a surprise!

As you can tell, I had a great time and I'm already considering joining the JoCo cruise again next year. (School schedule may not allow it however) Even if I only get to do it once, I'm happy I did it.
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