Making more Magic (Part 1)

CRUISING THE CARIBBEAN, JANUARY 2014

Day 1: Jan. 19. This cruise was the great experiment, to see how the other half lives. After only cruising in balconies and suites, I decided to save some money and try an interior room. Tom’s spoiled, but he wasn’t coming this time. I was taking my son, Kris. It was his first cruise, and he’s pretty flexible. Why not give it a try?

About a month before sailing, though, I got the coveted email from the Upgraded Fairy, offering a deluxe ocean view for just a few dollars. I wasn’t that interested in experiencing an interior (especially considering that sometimes I do suffer from a little claustrophobia) so I grabbed it.

Unlike any cruise I’ve been on before, I was part of a very active Facebook group and Cruise Critic roll-call for this sailing. There were over 175 of us who had been conversing and planning online for months, and we had group activities planned and many of us felt as if we already knew each other. I was really looking forward to the Meet & Greet party and the cabin crawl planned for the second day (first full day at sea).

The day began with the Port of Galveston closed due to fog, which delayed the Magic’s return to port, which in turn delayed our boarding. Seeing as we didn’t have FTTF or other priority status, we took our time and had a nice lunch at Landry’s first.
  

We got to the cruise terminal between 2:30 and 3:00 pm.
 
I was glad I didn’t pay $50 for Faster to the Fun, since we pretty much walked straight through and onto the ship (although we didn’t get to use “our” VIP escalator <sad face>). We got to the cabin and our luggage was already there, which surprised the heck out of me (especially considering that last cruise on the Triumph, even though we had a suite and FTTF, one of my bags didn’t get there until about 4 hours after we boarded).

I was terribly afraid we were going to have some very bad neighbors, when there seemed to be a bunch of people gathered right outside our door talking loudly for about an hour. But for whatever reason they were there, they went away and haven’t been back as of now (midnight) and all has been quiet.

We went up to the top deck to watch the sailaway and waved “goodbye” to Galveston.
 

I spent the next 45 minutes or so getting unpacked, and then it was time for the muster drill. That seemed to go more quickly than usual and our muster station was in the aft dining room – which was much nicer than standing out on the deck like we did on the Triumph. It didn’t seem to take nearly as long for them to get started, and they didn’t do it in multiple languages; it was all over within half an hour.D7K_5361 - Copy

When we got back to the cabin, I decorated our door with the group picture we were all using to identify each others’ cabins, along with other decorations.

When we first got here, they had the beds set up as one king instead of two twins as I had specified on the booking. Other than that, the room was a pleasant surprise. It’s a little bigger than a balcony room (because the footprint is the same so there’s more space inside) and the big window gave plenty of light and had a big ledge that I figured would be a great place to sit and read (which I later confirmed).

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When we got back to the cabin after muster, I left a note for the steward to change the bed arrangement and we went out to explore the ship. When we got back, nobody had been there so I called Housekeeping and asked to have the beds separated. They said sure, but it was over two hours before our steward finally showed up. He said he would take care of it while we were gone to dinner.

He also saw my power strip and said “they’re confiscating these” – although it’s the same one I’ve used on both this ship and the Triumph before (but that was on deck 7 – does that make a difference?). However, then he said he would bring us one of theirs, and he was back within 15 – 20 minutes with it, a humongous monster of a power strip with more outlets than mine, so all’s well on that front.

We went to dinner and got right in to the dining room with Your Time Dining (after going past the aft dining room where they have set dining, and where there was a long line of people piled up waiting for their 8:00 pm seating – likely because our delay in sailing threw the 6:00 folks late getting started. Over in our forward dining room, we got right in and got seated immediately).

Our waiters were fine; they kept the coffee cups and water glasses filled and our food came out in a timely manner, but they weren’t nearly as friendly as I’m used to. They weren’t unfriendly, they were just … fine. Not great. I figured maybe tomorrow we would try for different waitstaff.

Back to our room, and discovered our ice bucket hadn’t been filled. That’s completely unusual. We didn’t bring water or sodas with us; I normally just drink (decaf) coffee most of the time. Around 11:00, I went up to the Lido deck with my cup to get some coffee – and there was none to be found. All of the machines had “not working” signs on them. WTF (What The Frappaccino?) I filled my cup with frozen yogurt instead, but that sucks. No ice, no coffee. Not the kind of stellar service I’d grown accustomed to.

Then there’s the Internet. After having a wonderful unlimited connection on this same ship in August, now they’ve done away with that and we had the same ridiculous package of minutes that we had on the Triumph. Except that the connection is so bad that I hadn’t been able to do much of anything. I was able to download some email, but couldn’t get a message sent out. So I was sitting there typing my not-too-generous impressions on a computer that was completely off the grid. How weird is that? Thank goodness I didn’t have a Chromebook. 🙂

So far, I was not loving it but I had to remind myself that on my first cruise I was totally unimpressed on the first day, too, and had no Internet at all, and even on the cruise last October, with the suite and all, the first day was chaotic and I was exhausted and we had the leaky floor in the dressing room and I think we had Internet problems then too. Maybe everybody on the ship tries to connect on the first day. Maybe first days just aren’t destined to be good days.

I was willing to withhold judgment; I suspected the late start due to the fog might have had all the crew members off their game a bit. I was hoping to connect with some of the Facebook group the next day and have some fun. Meanwhile, I was a little surprised to find that the cabin itself wasn’t bad at all. The big, deep window was nice and it was nice having the one and three quarters bath, plus we had more closet space than Sharon and I had in the regular balcony room on 7 on this same ship.

I expected to feel wave motion and/or vibration this far at the aft but I hadn’t felt much of anything at that point (a little bit of a disappointment as I like the rocking to sleep aspect). I knew I was pretty tired after only sleeping around four and a half hours the previous night, and I was sure (or at least hopeful) that things will start looking up tomorrow.

As the day wound down, though, I was missing Tom and the dogs. When Tom was with me, being disconnected wasn’t as bad but I hate not being able to get in touch with them. I tried the Internet again and found that at that late hour (after midnight), it was slightly better. I was able to send some email and it didn’t take long to fall asleep.

The next day, as I had come to expect, things were a whole lot different.

1-deb-sig
DEBRA LITTLEJOHN SHINDER
deb@shinder.net   www.debshinder.com

About debshinder

Technology analyst and author, specializing in enterprise security. Author of or contributor to over 25 books, including "Scene of the Cybercrime." Fourteen-year Microsoft MVP, married to Microsoft FTE Tom Shinder, and proud mom of two wonderful grown-up human children and three amazing Japanese Chin pups. In my spare time, I love to travel - especially on cruise ships - and write about my grand adventures.
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