Day one of our cruise was a pleasant one. We arrived around 10:30am at the port terminal and only waited a short time before the doors opened. Check-in went quickly and we were finally boarding.
As always everyone was sent to the Windjammer Cafe´ for a wonderful buffet lunch while waiting for our cabins to be available. I really do not like buffets very much and will usually just get a nice crisp salad for lunch which I did. Once our cabin was ready we settled in for a little down time before heading up to the pool deck and the ‘Bon Voyage Sail Away Deck Party’ at around 4:30pm.
Our small but cozy porthole cabin was located on deck 3. It had plenty of storage and I really liked the somewhat spacious shower. The only negative was the lack of good TV but then we would not be in our cabin very often or long so, oh well!
On our way to the pool deck we stopped at guest relations to see if there would be an opportunity to take a tour of the kitchen. Yes, there would but the tour also included the bridge and the engine control room. Oh, well, I decided to sign up. Then we were off to the pool where we found two wonderfully inviting lounge chairs with our names on them and settled down to read our books, listen to great island music and watch the ship slip away from the port and into open water.
While we were sitting there we started to talk about all the things we have not participated in on the many cruises we have taken and thought out loud that perhaps this would be the cruise where we would do some of them.
While reading the daily activity newsletter called the ‘Cruise Compass’ I spotted a little announcement about the ‘drink of the day’. I looked at Randy and said, “You know we’ve never ordered the drink of the day, let’s start with that”. Randy, always ready for a party said, “Okay”. With that we hailed the first water we saw and ordered two ‘Pomegranate Stingrays’ made with Smirnoff vodka, Triple Sec, orange juice, Monin Pomegranate and Sprite and decorated with a slice of orange, a Maraschino cherry and colorful paper umbrella! And, of course, this wonderful mixture of delightful tastes was served in a complimentary souvenir glass. The drink was yummy sweet and trust me when I tell you the bartender was not stingy with the vodka!
The sail away party was as always a great deal of fun with a great live band, line dance lessons and snack food. As we sailed past the Kennedy Space Center Randy pointed out the huge Vehicle Assembly Building with the American flag painted on the side, the launch pad used by the shuttles and the old Atlas launch pads where the space program got started. I found the moment bitter sweet as we watched the space coast disappear into the distance knowing that so many Floridians are now out of work, some losing their homes, businesses closing and worst of all the thought that America would not be leading the way into the next generation of space exploration
Dinner was delightful. We were assigned to Claude’s dining room at a table for four. Shortly after sitting we met our dinner companions Miles and Cathy Johnson from Kettering, Ohio. We settled in introducing ourselves and asking ‘get to know you’ questions like, “Where are you from?” “Have you ever cruised before?” etc. Before long you would have thought we had known each for a long time.
I had made the decision before getting on the ship to stay with the Monarch’s Vitality menu that offered a balanced 3-course menu under 800 calories as much as I could during the trip. The menu is designed for weight conscious cruisers that include a starter, main dish and dessert. I lost four pounds on my last cruise and was curious to see if I could do it again.
Tonight’s Vitality menu included a Caprese salad, Chicken Marsala and low-fat Angel food cake with Grand Marnier-marinated strawberries. The entire dinner was very good but I must admit that I have never known the chicken in Chicken Marsala to be breaded. What the chef made was Chicken Scaloppine and then added a Marsala mushroom sauce. It was different but very good.
During dinner we learned that Cathy experienced a little discomfort with the motion and vibration of the ship. Our very observant and attentive waiter, Nilo, suggested that she drink hot water and lemon to settle her and explained that his mother had always used this remedy with the family. He also suggested that she eat a little green apple wedge and some crackers before bed to keep her comfortable. Just before we finished dinner he brought Cathy a covered plate with several green apples, a knife and packages of saltine crackers to take back to their cabin. We were all very impressed with this wonderful individual service.
Miles and Cathy were just delightful company so we all agreed that we would meet at the same time same table each evening the rest of the cruise.
Randy and I decided to go back up to the pool deck and do some night swimming. We did not realize that the wind had picked up and it had started to rain. By the time we got our suits on and went up to the pool deck and it was deserted excepted for a few brave souls in the hot tub. Not to be deterred we decided to join the group in the hot tub. It was very, very windy so after a short while of being pelted in the face with hot tub water we decided to go back to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow—Cruising to the Bahamas-Cococay