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Monday, May 19, 2014

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas cruise

In January when I made my new 101 Things list, I put down "Go on a cruise" without any idea how I would manage to cross it off. I have a 10 day trip to Europe planned for later this year, and another trip planned next year that will eat up all of my husband's vacation time as well as most of the money we could spend for travel. Being the firm believer I am in having goals that seem impossible, I wrote it down anyways and hoped for the best. I was quite shocked when I got my golden opportunity early last week. I belong to a Houston bloggers group on Facebook, and saw a post come up saying Royal Caribbean was looking for local bloggers who would be interested in participating in a free one day/night cruise from Galveston on their newly remodeled Navigator of the Seas ship. There were only 10 spots available, so I wasted no time submitting my name and details to the lady who posted. Amazingly I was one of the ones chosen to go. I was allowed to bring 3 guests with me, but they all needed to have proper ID, so that left my younger children out. I decided to bring along my husband, my 19 year old son and his best friend. I emailed the person who was handling our group all of our details, including the information for my son's friend, and was given the all clear.

On the morning of the cruise we got up early and set out to the Port of Galveston. We were able to park in a free overnight parking area and take the shuttle bus to the ship. I believe parking for longer cruises was $40. Once we arrived in the terminal, which was a lot like being inside an airport, I was told to have our "set sail" passes ready to show. Our what now? No one had given me anything of the sort. I frantically rechecked all the emails I'd gotten, and nope, no one had given me or told me to print out any set sail pass. I told one of the staff people, and they told me it was no worry, I'd just need to fill out some extra forms. We made our way through security and up to the front where our ID's were checked and extra paperwork was presented. They handed me a sheet of paper and immediately I noticed my son's friends' last name was written as Roberts, the same as our, instead of his actual last name, Edwards. Again I checked the email correspondence I'd had with the person in charge of our group, and I had given them his real last name, Edwards. The lady helping us looked perplexed. I'm sorry, she said, he won't be able to join you since the information isn't correct. His ID had to match what was in their system. I explained that I had given the correct information and showed her the email proof. She told me to wait a moment and she would do what she could. Since we'd arrived extra early perhaps there was still time to change it. She called over some other people, and in a few minutes they were able to change the name and let us all on board. Crisis averted. We went up the ramp, scanned our handy new cards we'd gotten from our angel at the desk, which acted as a room key, credit card and ID while on the ship, and headed inside.
The ship was incredible on the inside. I felt like I was walking into the first class area of the Titanic, only hoping it wouldn't end the same way. I haven't ever been on a cruise ship before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I was stunned at how nice it was.The elevators were glass, so you could get a great view of the ship as you sped up or down to your destination. We found our balcony room on the 7th floor and put our bags down. We were all starving at this point, so we used the touch screen signs to locate the Windjammer Cafe which was open for lunch. The Windjammer had a very large seating area, most of which had excellent window views. At this point we hadn't left the port though, so our view was the fairly
unspectacular Galveston Port. I tried to make note of all the food that was offered at the lunch buffet. I saw stations for pizzas, tacos, baked potatoes and hamburgers. At the buffet tables were chicken, paella, various soup, salmon, mashed potatoes, fries, green beans, root vegetable medleys, mac and cheese, and a dessert table with jellos, cakes, and such. There was an ice cream machine as well. I'm sure there is much more food offered that I just don't remember. On the sides were tables with ice cold tea, lemonade and a fruit drink that tasted a bit like strawberry kool-aid. You could order other drinks such as cokes, beer, bloody marys, mai tais and such from the wait staff. All the food in the Windjammer was free. I had some salmon, veggies, a bit of paella and a bloody mary that was a bit too strong for me. I'm not a big alcohol drinker though, so it's probably just fine for others. The food was good, about on par with other buffets.

After we'd had our fill at lunch, the boys were ready to go try out the FlowRider surfing simulator. We got changed into our swimsuits and used the touch screen system to find the sports area outside. When we walked out into the sports area there were several ping pong tables, a large basketball court, a mini golf area, and a place to sign waivers and get wristbands to use the FlowRider. We got our wristbands and made our way behind that station to the surfing area. I got in line and watched to see how the other people in front of me fared. They were doing body boarding first, which was great as I have never surfed in my life. If you see the video of me attempting to skateboard, you'll know I pretty much suck at that too. The first guy who went on wiped out and his shorts were blown off by the force of the waves. Note to others : do not wear loose

fitting clothes! An older gentleman was next, and he wiped out as well. He came back around, got in front of me in line and said "I'm going to do it again". The instructor lady let him go before me, knowing he'd just come off. Oh well, I thought, I'm next anyways. No big deal. He wipes out yet again,  and as he passes me, he stops to let me know how much falling off hurts and that I'm probably going to break my arm or get the wind knocked out of me. Thanks, guy! Finally it's my turn and I go to grab a body board. "Sorry", the instructor says, "body boarding is now over. You have to either stand up surf or get out of line." Wait, what? You just let a guy cut in front of me for a second go, and you won't let me go now? She doesn't seem sympathetic to my plight a bit and ushers me down to the stand up surfing area. I pass by the cutter, who tells me again it's going to hurt when I fall. Now I'm scared. She makes me remove all my jewelry, including a necklace I haven't taken off in 8 years, but I'm already there so I remove it. She holds my hands and tries to steady me on the board, and tells me where to place my feet. I am not exactly sure what she wants but I try to put my feet where she wants them. No good. She uses her foot to kick mine into place. She asks me to place my weight towards the back side and bounce up and down as she pushes me toward the waves. I've never done anything like this before, I confess. I'm nervous. She holds on to my hands as I try to loosen up and find my center. Apparently my center went out for free drinks because I never did find it. She pushes me out into the waves and I crash. Not only did I not break my arms or get the wind knocked out of me, it didn't even hurt.

I laugh it off and go sit down to watch the boys try. 

Take that, Rude Old Guy!!

(more to come soon) ...



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