Somewhere in the last few weeks was J-Mo and my first anniversary. It’s hard to believe that this happened a year ago. It has been both the longest and shortest year in the history of all time. We didn’t really go on a honeymoon, so several months ago we decided we would go all out for our anniversary and booked a trip to New Orleans and with an add-on Caribbean cruise to celebrate. I didn’t really mention this online because due to a completely ridiculous farce which I can’t get in to now, we weren’t sure we would actually be able to go until just a few weeks prior to getting on the plane to the South. It’s kind of like how we didn’t really finalize our wedding date until just a few weeks prior to getting hitched. Same farce. Loooong story.
Anyway, with just a few weeks notice, J-Mo and I packed our bags and headed to New Orleans (posts forthcoming) and then boarded a big ass boat and turned our phones off for four, glorious days. Now, I am not the type of cruiser who plays hours of Bingo, spends the day sun-baking on the Lido deck, and makes multiple trips to the buffet. I mostly wanted a place without any worries or issues, which include trifles like making my bed, doing the dishes, or larger annoyances like answering work and personal email on my phone. All cruises and cruise boats are not equal. This boat was a little older, our room had (clean) salmon-colored carpet, red and orange cabinetry, and the window was so streaky we could hardly see the horizon. Still it was sufficient and even comfortable. The on-board comedians weren’t hysterical–they were a little dry–the shows in the evening weren’t stellar–I’ve become a snob when it comes to “professional” performing–but just being with J-Mo for several days without anywhere to go or anything to do was divine. We chose a cruise with only one port, Cozumel (post forthcoming), and a lot of cruising time for naps, curling up under a layer or three of towel-blankets and watching the water from the back of the ship, playing miniature golf, and just being together without any kind of connection to the rest of the world. It was divine.
Most people talk about how the food on cruise boats is both never-ending and amazing. Um, never-ending? Yes. Amazing? Uhh, it was okay. Ish. Although I will say there was a good range, variety, and options to choose from. Can we talk a minute about the strange and not-so-strange things I tried at dinner? In addition to sushi (meh, it wasn’t awesome, too much rice) and several cuts of steak, I also had two lobster tails and some mussels and scallops which only cemented my opinion that lobster is a really expensive crustacean that tastes like garlic butter. I did have some excellent cold strawberry bisque which tasted like melted strawberry ice cream and stood in beautifully for dessert, even though it was listed as an appetizer. (Ways to throw off your waiter: ask for an appetizer for dessert. He thought I was losing my ever loving mind.) The stuffed mushrooms were filled with pesto and surrounded with marinara sauce (?). They cannot compare to brown buttons stuffed with sausage and cream cheese that I have made at home. But I tried them. I also tried deep fried alligator balls, which is not some kind of Bayou version of the Rocky Mountain oyster, I simply mean that the appetizer was alligator meat mixed with onions and peppers, rolled into a spherical shape and then deep fried and served with a smear of sauce. It was okay. It mostly tasted like onions and peppers. But hey, now I can say I’ve tried alligator.
Here’s the thing about cruise food, or at least about this cruise’s food. Cruise food is “free” (you know, for the price of a fancy cruise they feed you all. the. time. and then charge you an arm and your left toe for any beverage other than water. But! Free food! Amazeballs!) but everything you eat is made, prepared, and probably plated in advance, several hours in advance, and kept warm or cold in a huge holding warehouse-room on the cruise boat until you tell your Eastern European waiter that you want the scallops or the steak or the vegetarian basmati rice and pumpkin dish. The waiter goes to fetch it, your lobster or strawberry soup or alligator balls appear in under 8 minutes and are mostly the correct temperature and in 90 minutes they serve a thousand people only to be followed by another thousand people thirty minutes after that. Roman, our charming Croatian dinner waiter, told us that after he served and cleaned up dinner he worked through the night to get breakfast ready for the cruisers. Made to order eggs Benedict in the morning? Highly unlikely. That being said, the food was fine. Some of it was actually quite good (molten chocolate lava cake in a small ramekin? I’m thinking of you!), but it wasn’t gourmet and it wasn’t particularly fresh, organic, or, well, up to snuff for a food snob. Again, all cruises are not equal and all cruise boats are not the same. I’ve heard some have really great restaurants with all star chefs on board. Some of the more expensive ones have better food options. This one? This one was just okay. But, J-Mo and I did not board an enormous cruise boat for the food. Or the on-shore excursions. Or the towel animals. Or even the experience. We went to get away, far far away.
I didn’t take a single photo of our cruise cabin or those cute little towel animals that showed up every night. I didn’t photographically document of the strange things I tried at dinner, or the stack of books I devoured. There aren’t any pics of J-Mo and I being all cuddling and cute and honeymoony. It was exactly what the proverbial doctor ordered. In fact, I’m already looking at options for next year that fall squarely into the “get far, far away from it all” category of vacationing, with perhaps more of the strawberry soup but no alligator balls.
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