Welcome to the My Cruise Stories blog for CruiseNewsSite.com. Since this is my first blog, I’ll start with my first cruise, on Imperial Majesty’s Ocean Breeze. While there is still a website to Imperial Majesty, they no longer have a ship, so no links included here. Sadly there was a site that said this boat has been scrapped.
My husband purchased this 3-part vacation off a fax from a time share, then kept putting off actually going. Finally when it got to the use it or lose it stage, I went with my daughter. Good thing too, as she and I are easily amused. He is too accustomed to 5 star fishing lodges and probably would have spent the whole time complaining, where we had a great time. If one cares to Google Imperial Majesty, there are all sorts of comments and not all of them good.
After getting off the plane in Orlando, the first stop was at the car rental, where we were pleasantly surprised with a Mitsubishi Eclipse instead of the cheap tiny economy car we were supposed to have. I drove to Cocoa Beach for the first part of our journey, where we entertained ourselves for 2 days with $2 Styrofoam boogie boards and ocean waves. I did say we are easily amused.
From there we went on to Fort Lauderdale for the cruise. We took the crowded freeway, as we did not discover the parallel toll road until the way back. The toll road was well worth the money because of the lack of traffic and the rest stops like little shopping centers with gas stations, gift shops and food places.
Finally we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, in plenty of time to board, but not early enough to beat the crowd. Oh well, can’t have everything. We waited through the usual lines, had our pre-boarding photos taken, and finally got on board. Tropically dressed crew members selling welcome aboard drinks they called Bahama Mamas greeted us as we set foot on the ship. I must say I save a lot of money on cruises because I don’t drink. My daughter was only 18 or 19 at the time so she could not drink alcohol whether she wanted it or not. One could blow through a lot of money in very little time buying alcohol on cruise ships.
We had a bit of time to explore before the mandatory life boat drill. We found the tiny pool that made for good jokes by the ship’s comedian, the hot tub that never seemed to be open at convenient times to use it, and the fitness center we never bothered to use. But exploring is always fun, whatever you might find. At the lifeboat drill I wondered why we had to go so far to find our assigned lifeboat when we could practically stand under one after exiting our room. I hadn’t considered that people who did not have rooms on that deck would have a greater distance to go, so we had plenty of time to walk down to the farther boats while they didn’t. Luckily I have never been on a cruise that needed to use the life boats for anything other than tenders for ports where they couldn’t dock. It might be kind of fun to see one of those barrels pop up into a boat, but only for a test and not out of need.
I have no idea why they assigned us to the room we had. The ship was not full, and the cabin boy said that he had to move all his spare sheets and towels, as he normally used that room for storage. The room resembled a hallway with one single bed at either end, and a couple feet of floorspace between them. The closets, drawers and mirror lined the one wall that did not have beds against it, with about a foot or so of space to walk on between them and the beds. At one end was the door to the largest bathroom I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It had what looked like a cement floor, a toilet, a sink, and a shower head on the wall with an old curtain that pulled around it. Not very fancy, just big. So when the ship’s comedian made jokes about the tiny bathrooms, I guess he had not seen our room. Peeking into other people’s rooms as we walked past when they had open doors, I saw that the layout there was much like that of any other cruise ship, and nothing like our room at all. (Does everyone peek when doors are open, or am I just weird or snoopy? I’m always curious to see what the other rooms are like.) The ceiling vent spewed a constant stream of cold air. Unable to find any controls, we asked the very nice cabin boy how to shut it off. He said it didn’t, but he did tape cardboard over it to reduce the air flow and gave us extra blankets. Other passengers said that their (more normal) rooms had controls for the air flow and temperature. Hmm. One room is not as good as another. Next time look for those free upgrades. Live and learn.
Once the boat got underway, the casino opened. My daughter’s first time in a casino. We found a couple nickel slot machines side by side and each set to work on one. After putting a few nickels in, she was quite dismayed that no money came out. I managed to keep a straight face amongst my internal laughter while I explained that Las Vegas was not built on slot machines spewing out money like ATM’s. That pretty well dampened her interest in the casino.
The people at our assigned table were quite friendly, and the food and service both good. We decided to go to bed early that night, as we had an early shore excursion the next morning. After going to bed we discovered from all the thumping and banging overhead that our room was directly under the stage. Should have gone to the show. We made sure to go the next night. Might as well see it since we were going to hear it anyway.
From our windowless interior room, we could not see what went on outside. Heading out to breakfast we saw that the boat was already pulling into Nassau, where it was dwarfed by the other cruise ships already there. More picture taking as we left the ship. My very photogenic daughter loved posing for all those pictures they take. I just hope not to break the camera as I am about as photogenic as a rabid orangutan. We did have fun looking for all our pictures. Mostly she looked great and I looked horrible, but we did find a couple where the camera lens was still intact after contact with me.
We followed the rest of the people on the same excursion to the boat that took us out to a reef for some snorkeling. We bought some little bags of fish food pellets so we could coax the fish up close. I have not seen that done anywhere else I have ever been snorkeling. In fact in some places they specifically ban feeding the fish. I don’t know if it was the location or the fact that this was some years ago, but whatever the reason we set out with our little baggies and a cheesy underwater disposable camera in search of brightly colored fish. We did not have to search far, lots of fish everywhere. The most abundant type of fish seemed to be the only ones interested in the fish food, so perhaps we’d have seen more of the others without it, but would not have had the fun of feeding the hungry ones.
When snorkel time ended, the boat dropped us off on a small island they called Blue Lagoon Island. The movie, Blue Lagoon was filmed there, they said, as was Gilligan’s Island. After I got home, I mentioned to my family that we had been to the island where Gilligan’s Island was filmed. “When we went to Hawaii,” my parents said, “They told us it was filmed there.” “I took a studio tour in California,” my sister said. “They said most of the filming for Gilligan’s Island was done in the studio.” So who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Or were bits and pieces of it filmed in various places? Or maybe the show had some outdoor shots in one location and the movie made many years later in another? Maybe I should have Googled that instead of wondering all these years.
The island did have a lovely shallow lagoon with white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water, which was great for swimming. A good thing too since the exterior beaches were too rocky and had quite a heavy surf. They served a nice barbecue lunch buffet under a shady roofed area. Exploration of the island revealed a multitude of comfortable hammocks in various places, some with excellent views of palm trees and bright blue seas. After spending a pleasant afternoon there we caught a boat back to the dock. Walking back to the ship, we passed an adorable little local boy who called himself “Cheap Charlie” and tried to sell us some wooden turtles with bobbley heads. Also cute, but what would we do with them?
We went to our room to shower and dress up for the formal dinner, and found the room already occupied. There, on one bed, sat a towel dog wearing a pair of sunglasses my daughter left in the room. Not having been on a cruise before, this was our first introduction to towel animals. At the time we thought we were quite special for the cabin boy to have made that for us.
More photos. They set up a backdrop depicting the famous Titanic stairway for the formal photos. I’m not sure if imitating the ill-fated Titanic on a moving boat is a good plan, but it did make for some nice photos. At dinner there was a new person who had not been at our table before. He said he lived in the Bahamas and went to school in Florida, but did not like to fly so he used that cruise for transportation. “Just wait until desert,” he said. “The crew will dance around with fire on their heads.” And so they did. All the lights went out and here came the conga line, the crew dancing with fire on their heads to serve baked Alaska. I have not seen that on any other cruise!
“What language do they speak in the Bahamas when they aren’t talking to us,” I asked him.
“English,” he replied.
Oh. Way to feel stupid. Oh well, learn something new every day, so they say.
Pretty much about the time we finished breakfast the next morning, the ship had already reached Fort Lauderdale. So it really didn’t need much in the way of pools and things as most of the time spent on board was eating or sleeping. This was just enough of a cruise to whet my appetite for a longer one, one that did have some time spent at sea while awake. Alas, it took several years and a poker cruise to convince my husband to actually take one, but once he did the cruise bug bit and now he can’t wait for the next one either.
My daughter and I spent the last bit of that vacation in Orlando. We had to go to the presentation for the time share through whom the trip was purchased. We declined to buy one and skipped off with our prize for attending. We each got tickets to both Disney World and Medieval Times for less than it would have cost just to go to Disney World without having attended the time share presentation. If you have a few hours to spare and the willpower to say no, you can get some pretty good things for listening to time share blurbs. My husband and I have gotten tickets to Cirque de Solei in Vegas and a day’s guided fishing on a panga in Mexico. Still don’t own a time share either.