Father and Son Cruise
I was expecting to meet with a man from the Celebrity Marketing Department on board. My first thought was that it might be him at the door. Besides my own interest in gleaning whatever I could about the cruise industry, I thought it would be good for Ryan to participate in the discussions. One of my goals for this father/son bonding trip was to open his eyes to some of life’s possibilities.
“Mr. M” (for Marketing) had written an email to me in which he said he had traveled the world as a photographer for 20 years. Since Ryan’s discharge from the Marines, photography has been his main interest. The week before the trip, he sold his first photograph through a gallery in Philadelphia.
Hat in hand, Ryan opened the door. Unless “Mr. M” was traveling disguised as a cabin attendant, it wasn’t him. What our caller saw when the door opened must have required a great deal of composure to suppress a chuckle.
Ryan’s copious hair stood straight up in the air, charged by hour’s worth of contact with the Rasta hat. He looked something like Cosmo Kramer – if that doesn’t ring a bell, watch a rerun of Seinfeld. Only after opening the door did he think to rearrange it. I knew now that the haircut money I’d given Ryan went toward something else – probably to feed his dog.
The attendant’s name was Aldrin. He stepped into the room and we conducted the formal introductions. Aldrin is a very proper and well-spoken gentleman. He pointed out the major features of the room and asked that we not hesitate to call him if we needed anything at all.
Cabin 9135 is a category 2 accommodation. Ryan and I were going to be like dorm roommates for a week, only our room was about half the size of the one I had in college. The Sky Suite on the Galaxy was smallish but cozy for two, and it was 50% bigger than this room.
When I drew the curtains for a look at the verandah, I realized just what a special place the Sky Suite was. The verandah there had been huge. In fact, it was larger than all of cabin 9135, by eight square feet. The verandah in 9135 was roughly 4.5’x 9’. One person had to go out and sit down in one of the two chairs before the other could squeeze through the door.
From all my reading, I gather that the standard rooms on Celebrity ships are a cut above most others’ both in size and appointments. To quote Berlitz about the Mercury, “The standard (interior and exterior) cabins are quite spacious and nicely decorated…”. Most of you probably already know that, but as a novice cruiser whose only experience had been in a Sky Suite, “spacious” was not my first, or second, impression. I knew that 9135 was representative of about 85% of the accommodations on the Mercury, so I kept an open mind.
I quickly understood the logic in the position that many take; “It isn’t worth paying for a (window, verandah, etc.) because you don’t spend any time in your cabin”. On this 7-day cruise, I found that to be the case. There was too little time to do half the activities we wanted to do, so being in the room wasn’t high on the list anyway. Indeed, it functioned as a place to change clothes and to sleep. The Sky Suite was considerably more inviting to actually hang around in. I think I did the right thing by booking a Sky Suite for our first trip. With five sea days, we welcomed the opportunity to ‘hang around the house’ on occasion.
Being on the port side, the view from the verandah wasn’t terribly interesting – a channel bordered by some parkland and a highway beyond. We perfected a routine for re-entering the cabin. Inside on the table was a bottle of champagne on ice with a card that read “Compliments of Celebrity Cruises”.
“Hey, ya want some champagne?”
Huh. I guess Ryan doesn’t take after his mother in that department. We left the champagne behind and set out to look around.
I took Ryan down to deck 5 and we worked our way up. While I was busy comparing mental notes of the Galaxy with what I saw, Ryan was busy gaping. I think I moved too fast for him. I was able to assimilate it all very quickly, but I thought back to my first walk around the Galaxy. For Ryan’s sake I tried to slow down, but he still lagged behind, examining everything in detail. I pushed on because I was hungry and knew where that problem could be resolved.
Eventually, we reached deck 11.
“Yeah, I guess so.” All purpose response.
I gave the clean automatic sliding glass doors plenty of time to do their thing, and we entered the Palm Springs Café, Mercury’s equivalent to the Oasis onboard Galaxy. I marched right up to the buffet, took a tray and two plates and started to load up. Ryan seemed a little uncertain.
“Can I have whatever I want?”
“Sure. Whatever you want. As much as you want.”
By the end of the line, I easily had three times as much food as Ryan did. I think he was anticipating a cash register.
I had enough food to keep me occupied for a good long time. When Ryan’s plate was empty after just a couple of minutes he asked, “So can I just go up and get more?”
He made a total of three trips for food so we came out about even, but he got more exercise. I think he was most impressed by the man who willingly carved a fresh slice of roast beef for him on every visit.
Now I was ready to get up and go. Time was flying, and there were things to do.
“Can we just sit for a few minutes? We’re on vacation, right?”
I knew he must be tired from all the trips to get food, so I got a cup of coffee and we relaxed. I laid out the activities ahead. First a trip to check out the spa, followed by the 4:00 party in Babette’s suite. Hang out for a while, unpack and then go to dinner. I had once again requested late seating, so there would be plenty of time for everything. Maybe an introduction to the casino afterwards.
We made our way aft through the Palm Springs indoor pool area and out to the café on the stern. The Majesty of the Seas was docked right behind us. A handsome ship. I’ve always been partial to the Viking Crown Lounge which encircles the smokestack. On the terminal building I noticed a design element that paid tribute to this feature.
I changed my opinion about the big white spiked things. Now they looked like something Madonna would wear.
We walked all the way forward past the pools and into the spa. A guided tour was about to begin, so we joined two couples for a look around. We were taken into all of the treatment rooms, where short demonstrations were given. It felt a little weird walking in on people clad in towels being massaged. I don’t know if they were staff members or passengers, but next time I think I might volunteer for demo duty.
As we passed the Thalassotherapy pool I nudged Ryan. “You’ve got to try that. We used it every day on the last trip.”
At the end of the tour, we came to a table where spa services were being booked. The T-pool was $50 for the week. I signed up for the two of us without hesitation. As an afterthought, I asked, “Can we get him a haircut?” I nodded in Ryan’s direction, and the woman at the table glanced over. “Oh yes, we can certainly do that,” she said with a conspirator’s smile. “How about 9:00 tomorrow morning?” Done deal.
Cosmo and I went back to the cabin. The luggage was there, so it was a tight squeeze to get into the room. Ryan had a huge suitcase – a rather nice one at that. I could have fit everything I brought into it, with room left over. I was curious.
“Where did you get that?”
“Oh, it’s yours. Mom gave it to me to use when I visited once.”
That explains why we had to buy new luggage for the Galaxy trip. I thought we had some, but after spending two hours looking for it, I gave up and went to Kohl’s.
I proceeded to unpack, but Ryan made no move to do likewise.
“Don’t you want to put your stuff away?”
“Nah, I’ll just leave it in the suitcase. It’s fine.”
I patiently pointed out that with the suitcase in the room, there was no room left to walk. Reluctantly, Ryan unzipped it and heaped the contents onto the bed.
I could immediately see a laundry bill in our future. A couple of things were salvageable, but I took the nice shirts and pants, bagged them, filled out the form and went to the corridor to hunt down Aldrin. He was hovering nearby, and quickly approached.
“How can I help you sir?”
“Can we get these things ironed before dinner tomorrow?”
“Of course sir.” He took the bag and hustled off.
I glanced around to see what time it was. No quacking wall clock like there was in the Sky Suite. The room redeemed itself somewhat – I might sleep well tonight.
I resorted to my watch, a $20 drugstore special with a band designed to rip the hair out of my wrist. It was 4:05 p.m., and we were going to be fashionably late to the party. Only halfway unpacked, we left a few minutes later.
On the way out, I said, “Maybe I should take the bottle of champagne. What do you think?”
“Nah. Save it for later.” Maybe there was hope.
Up one flight, we looked for Babette’s Royal Suite. In an endless corridor, none of the doors was topped by a crown. I thought I’d have to go back to the cabin to look up the room number, but we soon came to a door festooned with ribbons and such. The sound of a party came from within, so I knocked.
Someone opened the door and we made our way into the large but crowded room. Platters of goodies and bottles of wine covered the table. We partook.
There wasn’t much room, so I headed toward the corner to get out of the way. A man with the same idea was already there. I thought he looked a little like me, which somehow made the introduction a bit easier. Probison (Patrick) was the first Cruise Critic I’d ever met.
We had a nice conversation. At the end he said, “Funny.”
“You don’t look like I thought you would.”
“What did you think I’d look like?” I asked.
“I thought you’d look more like me.”
I went for a refill. Ryan seemed to be chatting freely among the guests, which I was glad to see. I met a few other people, including Adrienne and Mike (mandaf), but was never really able to move more than five feet or so from where I’d first settled.
For as many people as there were in this cabin, I understood that an equal number were next door in the suite occupied by kwsunset (Michael). Still in a slight haze from my flying medication, I remembered that I wanted to meet Michael. From clues on the Mercury Oct. 25 thread, I had sniffed out the fact that he is a published author. Amazon.com and everything. I always wanted to meet a real author, but as far as I know we never did meet.
We left the party just before the 6:00 lifeboat drill. Ryan seemed to know everyone. I think I met Babette on the way out, though I had identified the person in charge from across the room early on. We had a good two and a half hours before dinner to complete the unpacking chore.
First, we tried on our life jackets. After mustering in the casino, we did the drill. Standing out on the promenade, I noticed the nice polished handrails on the underside of the lifeboats. “What an extraordinary detail,” I thought. Then I realized the circumstances under which they would be useful, and chased the thought away.
Back in the cabin, I checked for a message from “Mr. M”. Nothing. I then conducted a seminar in clothes hanger usage. As a special topic, we covered drawers. Aldrin dropped by and offered to take care of the suitcases. I didn’t realize that the ship had storage space for them, so I was glad. I hadn’t come up with any bright ideas about what to do with Ryan’s giant. In the Sky Suite, we had stuffed the largest suitcase under the desk, but there was no way that would work in 9135. We’d have to climb over the displaced chair to get to the verandah.
Finally everything was put away, and I sat down to look at the various cards, newsletters, invitations and brochures that were lying about.
I found our dining room assignment. Table 517, 7:00 p.m.
7:00 was too early for late seating, and too late for early seating. It was now 7:20 p.m., and I was looking forward to an hour of relaxation before dinner. I grabbed The Mercury Daily to search for the answer. It told me that dinner tonight was at 7:30.
Obviously, we were either early or late.