Day One It was a dark and stormy night when Trish and I departed Wilmington, NC. Actually it wasn't stormy, but it sure was dark. I used travelocity.com to find a great price on airfare, but our flight departed Raleigh/Durham Airport at 7:30am, so we had to leave home at 4:30 in the morning. We then flew to Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC, where we caught another plane to Orlando arriving at 11:45am. We had purchased the Airport Transfers and were please to find a RCCL employee waiting at the entrance to the shuttles to the main terminals and another one near the baggage claim. After picking up our luggage we walked to the RCCL staging area to check in with the employee there. A bus arrived shortly and the luggage and passengers were loaded quickly and we were on our way to the ship. Or so we thought. The bus circled back around to pick up other passengers arriving from other flights. After a short wait we were on our way again. Although Trish had sailed on the Big Red Boat eight years earlier this was my first cruise. This was also the first time we had vacationed without our children. We felt a three-day cruise would be perfect for our situation.
Boarding the Sovereign of the Seas was well organized. Porters were waiting at the bus to take our luggage. The first sign of things to come was the ever-present tip bucket held by the first porter you see. This was the first of many tip buckets that we would be seeing later in Nassau. Within 10 minutes of stepping off the bus we were handing our tickets and birth certificates to the nice lady behind the counter. There were quite a few nice ladies and gentlemen behind the counter so the whole boarding process was fast and efficient. She handed us our SuperCharge Cruise cards and one room key and we were on our way to the enclosed walkway and the x-ray machines. After crossing the gangway you enter the ship though the Centrum on Deck 4. To the left are glass elevators and the Kismet dining room. Across from you is the Purser's desk and on your right is the Excursion's Desk. Stop here. Do not go on to your room and return later. Sign up for your excursions now. The popular excursions are filled quickly. We arrived around 1:30 and there were only two times (8:00 am and 8:45) left for the Para-Sailing on Cococay. We talked to a couple whom wanted to do the Yellow Bird tour on Nassau but found it completely booked when they went up Thursday afternoon to arrange their excursions.
We were pleasantly surprised by our room on Deck 2. We were told that it would be small and we were told right, but there was plenty of room to store our belongings and hide the luggage under the bed. We never felt cramped and although the bathroom was small it had plenty of shelf space. The shower had great water pressure, but you had to be prepared to correct the cold water setting as the hot water alternated between scalding steam and freezing rain. Our room was very close to the water, which I enjoyed. If there was a way to open the porthole I could have done some sport fishing from my bed. I checked, but it was securely fastened. We were also mid-ship which was lucky for Trish because the ride back to Port Canaveral was much rougher than the sail out. She is sensitive to motion, but a couple Dramamines and she was all right. It was also a very quiet cabin. The only sound we heard was the soft whine of the air-conditioner. One of our tablemates told us horror stories of the sounds they were hearing whenever we stopped somewhere. Not only the anchor chain, but the bow thrusters were very loud. Our cabin steward, Donald, and was very accommodating. How he managed to keep the bathroom clean is a mystery to me since he was the size of your typical college linebacker. I can't imagine how he maneuvered in there.
After dropping off our carry-on bags we headed up to the buffet in the Windjammer Cafe. The Windjammer itself was very nice and had a great view, especially from the upper deck. The food, on the other hand, was less than inspiring with the exception of the "smashed" potatoes, which were excellent. Too bad you can't live on mashed potatoes. The Windjammer Cafe is next to the pool and the pool bar. We strolled by the pools on our way to the aft section of the ship. There were plenty of chairs and room in the pool during the entire cruise. The hot tubs were in high demand, but if you were patient or came up late afternoon you could usually find space. We continued on to the sports deck where some teenage boys were playing basketball. On another deck were ping pong tables and other recreational items, but we didn't see them. We visited the Adventure Ocean area where the Kids Club and the Fantaseas (for teens I believe) activities were held. We were pleased with the look of the place. There was plenty of space to play games, craft and do whatever else the staff might have them do. They also had computers for the kids to use. We did not bring our children, but we talked with other parents that did. They seemed happy with the attention their kids were getting.
We then went to the Shipshape Spa and Fitness Center where they were giving tours. In the Spa we were shown someone getting a two-hour massage ($144) and someone else getting a facial ($69). Then we went to the Fitness Center where they had us do a quick aerobics workout, but, thankfully, let us off the hook after a couple minutes. After explaining what was available, they sent us back to the shipshape desk to book a massage or facial. My wife wanted to do the massage, but decided she would rather sleep in. We did talk to someone who did get the massage and other pampering. It cost her $200 but she was in the lap of luxury for four hours. She was very happy with it and recommended it to anyone who wants to be spoiled. She did say that the attendant was very upset that she didn't buy any of the products they were selling.
It was now time for the Lifeboat Muster Drill. Apparently, when it comes to life threatening situations, no one is too concerned with being Politically Correct. The men and women were separated, with the women and children to the front and the men to the back. After giving your room number to the crewmember they pack you in like sardines until the Captain comes on to tell you that everyone has been counted and gives you a little speech. I don't know how they account for everyone since at least 6 cabins never reported to our lifeboat station. The drill was another opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers since you are closely packed together and the chance to make stupid jokes about the Titanic and the ship sinking was to much for some of us to resist.
After the muster drill, Trish returned to our cabin to take a nap. I took this opportunity to explore the casino and found out it would open at 6:00 PM. Up on Deck 12, I bought a drink from one of the many roving waiters and watched the Carnival Fantasy and the Disney Wonder cast off their lines and get underway. A Calypso band was playing poolside and the cruise staff had started a party. They had quite a crowd "line dancing" and people congregated by the pool to watch the activities. The Sovereign of the Seas pulled away from the wharf and we were on our way. After passing the light house at the end of the channel we entered the open ocean and I headed down to the Casino … where I bet 20 consecutive $1 dollar chips on number 5 without ever getting close. I figured lady luck must have been still putting on her make-up so I left the casino and took the elevator up to the Viking Crown Lounge. It was already dark and the majority of the tables were occupied, mostly by smokers. A wedding reception was being held in the section in front of the bar that looked down on the pool deck. On the way down the stairs I noticed that there would be a "Rock on Broadway" show in the Follies Lounge. They hold two shows for nearly every event aboard ship. Early shows for those of us dining during the second seating and late shows for those in the main sitting. I headed for our cabin to wake my wife and to change into evening attire.
The "Rock on Broadway" show was more of a welcome to the ship than a stage show, but eventually the show did start. The dancers and singers were ok, but one above all the rest was simply wonderful. She really did justice to the musical hits they were singing. After leaving the Follies Lounge we walked through the Schooner Piano Bar to get to the Centrum. The Schooner bar was decorated in a seafaring motif and I planned to spend some time there later. I never did manage to actually sit and enjoy the surroundings since we always seemed to be walking through on the way to someplace else. In the Centrum the people waiting to enter the GiGi dining room were colliding with people searching through the walls of embarkation photos taken by RCCL photographers at the gangway. It wasn't very pleasant to be so crowded and for future meals we entered from the portside and did not come down till after they opened the doors. Even so, we always seemed to be the first ones at our table. The service in the GiGi Dining Room was excellent and it did not faze them one iota when I asked for two appetizers and two entrees. Although Nuno, our waiter, with a straight face, told my wife he would have to check with the Captain when she ordered two entrees. Of course, he brought her both entrees and as it turned out he was a very funny guy. During the first meal I had to ask for more tea and for the rest of the cruise my glass never got below half full. As I stated, the service was excellent, as were the menu choices, but the food itself was just average. Our tablemates were wonderful. Our ages ranged from mid-twenties to early-forties. One couple was experienced cruisers while the rest of us were on our first and second cruises. It was enjoyable to sit over dinner having stimulating conversations with fascinating people without having to cut the food for our children or clean up their breadcrumbs. That was what Nuno did for us. He cut our Duck A l'orange and scraped away our crumbs prior to serving dessert. One of the couples at our table became engaged on the cruise. He told her the Wednesday before the cruise to pack her bags and proposed to her while snorkeling at Cococay. He fastened a ring to a float and tossed it in front of her.
After dinner, we went in search of a ladies room. We always seemed to be in search of the ladies room. A word to the wise, learn where all the ladies rooms are and steer clear of the one near the excursion desk. It always had a long line. I am not sure what goes on in there, but it appears be the most popular attraction on the ship. We decided to take a stroll around the promenade deck. It was a little chilly, but still a very nice evening to be arm in arm with the one you love. Until we met the gale force winds near the bow of the boat. The bulkhead jutted out near the bow and made a sort of funnel for all the air coming over the bow. We were lucky to stay on our feet. Trish was a real trooper though. Instead of ducking into the nearest doorway, she endured the tempest till we had walked back around to the starboard side. After we re-assembled our hair we stepped into Finian's Rainbow Lounge. The Compass said there would be Karaoke there at 10:30, but the Guy Fox Quartet was still playing dance music. It was very relaxing and we took a few minutes to enjoy the music. Trish wanted to try out the Karaoke, but I would rather wait in line for the ladies room than sing in public. So we set off to find a new adventure. In the Music Man Lounge we found the "LMNOP" band. They also had a DJ between sets, but he wouldn't know a good dance tune if it walked up and jitter bugged on his face. We still managed to dance the night away. Something we haven't found much time to do since the children entered our lives. Around 2 am we were back in our room where we were greeted by two towel swans kissing on our bed.
Day Two We slept in Friday morning. We ambled up to the Kismet Dining room where it was open seating. Breakfast was adequate, but someone needs to instruct the staff in the proper way to make toast. We had planned to eat lunch on board then head into Nassau after everyone else had departed the ship. Upon returning to our cabin we discovered another advantage to being on Deck 2. The line for the gangway started at the stairs on Deck 2. At 11:30 we left our room and walked 50 feet to the stairwell and were one of the first 50 people off the ship less than 5 minutes after leaving our room. We walked up to Fort Fincastle, the water tower and the Queen's Staircase which were all located on the same block. The water tower cost 50 cents to get to the top and there we took the prerequisite photo of the Sovereign of the Seas. I had packed a pair of binoculars in my bag, but forgot all about them until we were back on the ship. Fort Fincastle was interesting in its simplicity. We did learn from a tour guide that The Bahamas still has capital punishment where you "hang by the neck till your dead, dead, dead". The Queen's Staircase was very impressive, although I have no idea where they were going with this thing since there is nothing past the staircase that I would want to ride a horse to much less walk. We then walked back to the straw market where we planned to hop a jitney (a Nassau city bus) for a ride to cable beach and back to Arawak Cay to eat lunch. I had read an article about using the bus to ride the shoreline all the way to Cable Beach. I should have taken better notes. We hopped on the number 10a bus instead of the number 10 bus. The driver told us that it would indeed take us to Cable Beach. My first inkling that something was amiss was when the driver turned away from the bay and toward the interior of the Island. Nassau is not a pretty place. Most everything we saw was pretty run down. Colorful, but rundown. We passed the College of Nassau and the Department of Transportation before heading back toward Cable Beach. We eventually did ride through an area with some beautiful properties, but I couldn't help but think of the British Class system. This one bastion of wealth and refinement surrounded by decay and poverty. We made it back to the Straw Market where we did a little shopping before heading back to the ship for lunch.
Upon entering the Windjammer Cafe we discovered we had just missed the hot lunch, but there was hot dogs, chicken wings and other snack items available. A hot dog is better than a sharp stick in the eye so we went ahead and ate lunch. After our "meal" we retired to a pair of lounge chairs above the pool and enjoyed the warm Bahamian sun. Trish wanted a few minutes of blessed silence and a brief respite from my desire to go, go, go. I guess I was bouncing in my seat because after a short while she was ready to take the water taxi to Paradise Island. The boat cost $3 per person and was nearly full when we arrived so we didn't have long to wait. During the 15 minute ride one of the deck hands provided us with information about the harbor and some of the homes on Paradise Island. We also got to watch the oldest airline in continuous operation in action. A seaplane landed a hundred yards from us and another one took off and flew right over our heads. We arrived at the dock at 4:00 pm and walked the 10-minute trip to Atlantis. Atlantis is a beautiful place. Everything sparkles and is done on a grand scale. We walked through the casino and out onto the terrace that looked over the lagoons and pools of the Atlantis proper. The staff was positioned at all the entrances to the lagoons collecting $25 dollars from all non-guests. We strolled along the veranda looking at the fish in the pools below us. I had read that you can see most of the aquarium from one of the areas open to the public and was keeping my eye open for that. We ran out of veranda so we went inside through one of the Atlantis bars. We found the main hallway and kept walking till eventually we found ourselves out by the pools where we viewed the shark tank with the lazy river flowing through it. While Trish stretch out in one of the poolside chairs, I explored the grounds. They have several man-made beaches on their private lagoon and several pools. The water slides required a wristband, but I was able to swim in the pools, lagoon and in their private beach cove. On the way out we went through "The Dig" which was interesting but certainly not the best aquarium I have ever seen. The exit/entrance to "The Dig" took us into the open public area where I had read you could see the aquarium. With the exception of a couple tanks inside "The Dig", the shark tank by the slides and the architectural presentation of the fictitious Atlantis, the entire aquarium could be viewed from this room.
We went out through the main entrance and took a taxi back to the ship. They call it a taxi. I call it a thrill ride. For the measly price of $4 per person you are taken for a ride through every parking lot and driveway in Nassau. No shortcut is to extreme for them. We drove into a fenced used car lot and out the other side. Crossing the road we entered a vacant lot to access a bank parking lot, then back onto the road. The roads were so narrow you could change the radio station in the car next to you. The driver would jump up to top speed then brake hard. Eventually we made it back to the straw market and haggled over a few purchases while the market closed down around us. Apparently everything closes in Nassau at 6:00 pm. We went back to the ship and up to the solarium for a dip in the hot tub. We shared it with two couples who had rented mopeds for the day. They were very happy with them once they got away from the immediate area of Prince George Wharf. They rode all over Nassau and over the bridge to Atlantis and the public beach on Paradise Island. We said our good-byes and went down to our cabin to dress for dinner.
Friday night was the Captains Gala Dinner, otherwise known as Formal Night. After stopping by one of the formal portrait shoots in The Centrum we joined the Captain's Champagne Party in the Follies Lounge. All drinks here were free and the Captain was introduced as well as the head officers of the various departments. We left there, again in search of a ladies room, before entering the GiGi Dining Room. We were there alone for 10 minutes before two of the other couples arrived. I was starting to think we were going to dine alone. One of the couples stayed at Atlantis to have dinner and gamble in the Casino. Again, dinner was a wonderful event, with the exception of the food itself. The presentation, the menu choices and the service are top-notch but the food is Golden Corral. After dinner I am not sure what we did other than take two more formal portraits. We were probably waiting in line for the ladies room. Did I mention the lines for the ladies room was usually pretty long?
We then returned to the Follies Lounge to catch what was left of the "The Not so Newlywed game". It was really funny. A couple that had been married for 52 years knew each other perfectly and still seemed very happy with each other. After the "not so Newlywed game" the Headliner Showtime act started. It was a comedian named Steve Shaffer and he had us rolling in the aisles for an hour and never used a foul word. I haven't heard Trish laugh so much in ages. After the show we headed up to the Pool Deck where "The Caribbean Four" were playing Calypso music poolside. Upon arriving on the Pool Deck we found the MIDNIGHT buffet in full swing. I couldn't tell you what time the MIDNIGHT buffet started, you will have to check the daily Compass. The food was a sampling of dishes from most of the Caribbean Islands. It was plentiful and as good or better than the dining room fare. We sat above the pool and watched the cruise staff lead the drunken masses in line dancing. Around 1:00 am we returned to our cabin and set a wake-up call for 7:00am.
Day Three While having our continental breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe the ship arrived at Cococay and dropped anchor. If we could have waited another 10 minutes there was supposed to be a hot breakfast available. We had arranged a Scuba Dive for me and Para-Sailing for Trish at 8:00 am so we were scheduled for the first Tender at 7:50. We headed down to Deck 1 to find that the Para-Sailing had been canceled. There was supposed to have been letters delivered to all our rooms, but someone dropped the ball. The Excursions manager went to check on it and a steward appeared holding all the letters in his hand. The look on his face made me think they would be keelhauling him later. I remembered reading during my cruise research that if something goes wrong, don't wait till you get home to complain to your friends and/or on the internet, let the cruise staff know right then. So I asked the excursions manager if they would be giving out free banana boat rides and he agreed to giving either that, a sailboat rental or snorkeling gear. But he didn't seem to be telling anyone unless they asked for something. Trish elected to take the banana boat ride.
I had not been scuba diving in over six years, but Cococay is the perfect place to re-start. It cost $55 for all equipment, including wetsuit. After the dive you could pick up a snorkeling vest and keep your mask, fins and snorkel so you could snorkel the rest of the day. I was diving alone so I was paired up with another guy to be my dive buddy. Dennis, from Los Alamos, Ca., and I ended up snorkeling together as well. After a brief review of what we would be doing and the hand signals we would be using we headed for the beach. We snorkeled out a couple hundred yards till the reef dropped off to a depth of about 15 feet. There I discovered I did not have enough weight and had to get more from the safety diver on the Jet Ski. Half the group had to get more weight and several divers decided they didn't really want to dive and went back to the beach. Once we were all ready we emptied our BC's and headed for the bottom. Visibility was incredible. I felt that I could see forever. There were colorful coral formations waving like fans in the breeze and yellow streaked fish swim right up to you. As we swam around this wonderland we spotted several stingrays, plenty of various types and colors of fish in and around the reef. We also spotted a sea turtle just a little ways in front of us. After a brief wait to make sure everyone saw it, I swam within a yard or two and snapped a couple pictures. He didn't seem to be in any great hurry to get away from me. Some of the divers saw lobsters, but I missed that. I was probably chasing some fish under the reef ledge to snap a close-up. We could have dove to a depth of 45 feet if you wanted to lie on the bottom of the trenches, but since the visibility was so great I didn't go deeper than 35'. You use more air the deeper you go and I wanted to stay down as long as I could. After about an hour or so on the bottom we resurfaced back where we had started and snorkeled back to the beach. It was a beautiful dive and I am ready to start diving again on a regular basis. Dennis and I had swapped cameras so that each of us would be starring in our own pictures. We then decided to send each other a copy of the pictures so we didn't really need to exchange them anyway.
Dennis and I went in search of Trish and her version of Island paradise. We found her way down the beach, far from the crowds, lounging in a hammock, under a grove of palm trees, with a ladies room 50 feet behind her. The ladies room was a big hit on this cruise. We pulled together four chairs to go with the hammock and Dennis and I left to go snorkeling. We were searching for the wrecked plane sunk by RCCL. As we swam out toward the smaller island, we crossed over several reefs covered with seagrass where fish could be found along the wall. Next we found a sunken wall with four cannons still waiting to repel an attack. Another 50 yards or so we found the remains of Queen Ann's Revenge with several cannons in view. We kept swimming till we found the wrecked plane. Here the lifeguard on the platform threw fish food pellets into the water around you and hundreds of fish enveloped you. They were so thick you could feel your fins pushing them aside as you swam. You had to push them away with your hands. Down inside the plane they were packed in like sardines in a can. The same with the fish under the platform. A little further on was another sunken plane. There was also an area where stingrays congregated and the people who swam out from another beach crossed over that. I wish that I had known about that area, but I feel I was able to see quite a bit and was very happy with snorkeling on Cococay.
Dennis graciously allowed me to use his gear while Trish used mine. We went snorkeling together while Dennis went to sample the Barbecue lunch being served on the Island. Trish had only been snorkeling once before and absolutely loved snorkeling on Cococay. Once you get the hang of it snorkeling is quite easy. If you tire, just lie on your belly with your face in the water and breath though the snorkel. The sunken plane was several hundred yards off the beach and I showed Trish all that I had seen. She even made a few dives down to the plane. We swam back to the beach and met Dennis at the hammock to return his gear. He had to return to the ship to meet his wife Cindy, who had spent the morning getting pampered for four hours in the Shipshape Spa. Trish and I went to get lunch.
Lunch was plentiful, hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs and various salads, but nothing to crow about. by the way, there are chickens all over this island. After lunch Trish went over to the "native" straw market to get a few strands of hair beaded. She also wanted to pick up another straw hat since she has decided to keep the one she bought in Nassau. I went back to the hammock for a few minutes rest before I began my exploration of the Island. I found Dennis had returned from the ship and had brought his lovely wife back with him. She was visibly glowing from all the pampering she had received. They had scheduled the Jet Ski tour excursion and told us later it was very thrilling. Trish returned from the straw market and we all sat and chatted for a while. Then they went to the Jet Skis, Trish stretched out in the hammock with her Stamping-Up magazine and I headed out to walk around the island. Now, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone else, but it is just something I have to do. I am sick that way. The island is round (well its actually shaped like a long teardrop) and its small enough to walk around so I just had to do it. The next beach past ours was the last sandy beach and it was to die for. A long white sand beach curved gracefully with a small grove of tall palm trees dead center of the beach. A few chairs, no hammocks and nearly void of people. You could wade out into the water for hundreds of yards and never get your shirt wet. Lying on the bottom in knee-deep water were stingrays. You could walk right up to them before they would move. Just be careful not to step on them. Walking along the beach was one of the crewmembers of the SOS. I never asked his name, but he was from Hungary and worked in the GiGi dining room as a waiter. He spoke excellent English and also spoke Russian and German as well as his native language. After the last sand beach the shore became mostly a jumble of sharp rocks. We headed up a trail that went through the maritime forest above the beach and took us past the rocks to the tip of the Island at Land's End where he told me there was excellent fishing. From there, he returned to the ship and I continued my walk around the Island.
From Land's End all the way back around the Island to the inlet where the tenders were berthed was solid rock with pockets of tidal pools. I found a huge piece of coral up in the rocks bigger than a human head. I toted that piece of coral all the way back to Wilmington. There were crabs scampering all over the rocks at the water's edge, but they were too quick for me to snap a picture. About half way back this side of the island a road came out of the woods and ran alongside the rock ledge. The going was easier here and I thought I was nearly back until I reached the lagoon where the tenders were berthed. Of course, I was on the other side of the lagoon. There wasn't a public path around the lagoon, so I had to walk along the road through the woods to get back to the public areas. Somewhere along this road was the "gravesight" of Edward Teach, a.k.a., Blackbeard the Pirate. Since, like the sunken artifacts in the snorkeling area, this was placed here by the Cruise Company to amuse the guests, I didn't spend much time looking for it. I made it back to Trish who had moved from the hammock to the lounge chair. I think that was the extent of her after lunch activities. She was just to the point where she was ready to head back to the ship, so my timing was perfect. On the way to the dive shop to drop off my gear I bought a Cocoloco, the Island drink. It was very refreshing. After all, I had scuba dived and snorkeled for over five hours and walked around the entire island. We arrived at the tender just as they were loading the last passengers for that trip and within a couple minutes we were pulling away from Paradise.
Back on board, we headed up to the solarium for another boil in the hot tub. It was crowded this time, but we squeezed in. We shared our Cococay stories and heard about what others had done. It is very easy to start up conversations with others on a cruise. Everyone seems ready and willing to talk. Afterwards, Trish lounged pull side while I did a few laps. On our way down to our cabin Dennis and Cindy stepped on our elevator. They were just returning from their Jet Ski tour. We arranged to meet later in the Viking Lounge to exchange addresses. Back in our cabin we took our time getting dressed for the evening activities and began packing our luggage. I watched from our porthole as the Sovereign of the Seas raised anchor and pulled slowly away from the island paradise of Cococay. We made it to the Viking Lounge in time to watch the sunset with Dennis and Cindy. The crew were serving chips and salsa and $3.25 margaritas. We saw our tablemates from the GiGi dining room and stopped to chat with them for a couple minutes. While we were there yet another private party was being set up to take over a third of the Viking Lounge. Since it was now full dark we moved away from the windows to the couches in the middle of the room. We enjoyed the company of our new friends until it was time to head down to the Bon Voyage party in the Follies Lounge. Cindy was ready for a nap so they went back to their cabin.
The Bon Voyage party was excellent. The entertainer, Lenny Welch, sang songs from the 50's and had a hit of his own, Since I Fell for You, that sold over a million copies. Dinner in the GiGi dining room was once again an enjoyable experience. During dinner the ship started to roll a little and I headed back to our cabin to fetch the Dramamine for which Trish and another guest at the table were very thankful. Trish seemed to be handling it fairly well, but as the ship rolled more and more the other lady began to get paler. She left for her cabin before dessert. I hope the sail home wasn't to hard on her. We returned to our cabin to complete our packing and placed the luggage outside our door. Up in the Music Man Lounge the "LMNOP" band had transformed into "Chuck Roast and the Mashed Potatoes" and were playing a 50's and 60's Rock and Roll sock hop. Once again the DJ didn't have a clue, but we danced for a while, then returned to our cabin. Trish went to bed and I went to the Casino to lose the remainder of the $45 I had budgeted for gambling. As you can probably guess, I am not a high roller. Within minutes I had ran my $25 dollars up to $60. I should have walked away, but I had only been in the casino for ten minutes. I ran it back down to my last $5 chip then back up to the original $25 and called it a night.
Day Four At 6 am, I woke to the lighthouse at the entrance to the channel to Port Canaveral reflecting off the walls of our cabin. I glanced out our porthole to see the lights of the motels along the beach. Just then our SuperCharge bill was slipped under our door. We were not big drinkers, did not take extravagant excursions nor did we buy very many of the photos taken by the RCCL photographers, but our bill was still pretty big. I listened carefully and thought I could hear the anguished wails echoing down the empty passageways of all the party animals reading their bill for the first time. I saw a charge on the bill from the dive shop on Cococay that I didn't think we made so I went up to the purser's desk to question it. They told me to come back after 7:30 when they would have a response from the dive shop. On my way back to the room I suddenly remembered that Trish had rented a mat. I felt pretty silly getting back in line to retrieve my bill. We had breakfast in the GiGi dining room and were joined by one of the couples we regularly dined with for dinner. Another advantage of the second seating is that you can eat a hot breakfast at 7:45 am. Main seating had their breakfast at 6:30. Afterwards we went in search of a ladies room, then up to the library to wait for our color, turquoise, to be called.
The library was quiet, comfortable and overlooked the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Fantasy. After a short period spent reading, our color was called and we joined the queue to depart the ship. We were directed to the turquoise area of the baggage claim. There was nothing indicating it was the turquoise area other than being told it was near the windows. In my opinion, they should spread the tables out more. There is barely enough room for two people to pass by in the aisles much less two people carrying luggage. And then there are the porters weaving in and out of everyone pushing dollies in front of them. After retrieving our bags, we got in the line for customs. It moved quickly and when I handed the Customs Agent our form, he glanced at the line waiting to have their bags searched, saw it was full and waved us on. We stepped out the doors and walked over to our bus and immediately boarded. It took no more than 20 minutes from the time we heard our color called till we boarded the bus. After a few minutes waiting for the bus to load we departed Cape Canaveral for the Orlando airport. As we passed the Disney Cruise facility I noted that the white gloved hands of Mickey indicated it was 10:00am.
The line in front of the United desk at the airport was very long. I think I was in line longer than I was on the bus. We checked our bags through to Wilmington, NC and passed the time shopping in the Warner Brothers and Disney stores. The trip home was uneventful till we reached Dulles Airport and boarded the toy plane that would be taking us back to Raleigh/Durham. It was a Jetstream 41 and only had 3 seats per row. They were divided by a thin strip of free space they called an aisle and there was no overhead bins. The seats were so narrow they had to provide a drink holder since there wasn't room on the seat tray. Or maybe it was because we bounced around so much you could never keep a cup on your seat tray. The engine was 5 feet from my ear, but thankfully we still had the earplugs Trish wore to bed the night before. After a long hour, we were back in Raleigh, picked up our bags and drove away from the airport at 5:15 pm. Trish called her sister Pam and found out that she was pregnant. We have only been out of telephone contact with the world once in 10 years and that is when Pam gets pregnant. Arriving home at 7:30 pm we were very happy to see our children. And they were happy to see us.
Overview Overall, I loved our trip on the Sovereign of the Seas. My biggest disappointments were the food, the DJ in the Music Man Lounge and the City of Nassau itself. Nassau was ok to visit once, but if I am ever there again I plan to visit the outlying islands instead. I only listed my disappointments because the things that pleased me were too numerous to name again. The cruise is what you will make of it. If you want to be disappointed, I am sure that on a twelve-year-old ship you can find things to disappoint you. Everyone I met on the cruise seemed to have different experiences and viewed the trip through different eyes. On the flight home, Trish overheard a man who had been on our cruise describing it to his seatmate. From his description you would never have known we were on the same cruise. He did all the things that we didn't do. He spent time in the Schooner Lounge and Finian's Rainbow Room. He played volleyball all day at Cococay. He experienced different excursions in Nassau. It is easy to see that this ship had something for everyone. So, even if you have never cruised before, you can find almost anything you ant on the Sovereign of the Seas. Book your cruise now, you will never regret it.