I was up way too late Wednesday night. There was packing, web surfing, laundry, DVD burning, and TV watching to do, and I only got about an hour and a half of sleep. We caught a cab to Dulles, and checked in and got through security quickly. The big question in our minds was if Julie would be joining us on the cruise. That was quickly answered in the affirmative, as Joe and Kitty Murphy (her dad and mom) were on our flight down, and they let us know she’d be coming. We were pretty happy about that, and the flight was uneventful. We took a taxi to the cruise pier, where we had a slight delay as both of us had lost our sunglasses (I need a subscription to a sunglass a month club), and we went one at a time to buy some from a cart in a nearby mall. The band had pulled up in a giant limo while we were waiting, as well as our friends Janice and Stuart and Jill’s mom Sue and her husband Dave. We were bringing them on the cruise as a combined birthday/anniversary/Christmas present, kinda like my parents and I did for sister the last time (though last time I’d really thought it out and at Christmas, my sister got an unmarked videotape that when she played it had Robbie from the band saying “Sharon, you’re going on the cruise!”).
We made it on the ship by 1, and headed up to the Lido deck to grab some lunch with Sue and Dave. We were both sleepy after that, and we headed to our room to nap. We got up in time to make the cocktail party in the Rock & Roll Disco (it was promptly pointed out that Rock & Roll Disco is an oxymoron). The only time we’d get free drinks, we took full advantage of it. It was good catching up with people we hadn’t seen since the last cruise, but we were a little buzzed by the time dinner rolled around. Our tablemates were Andrea and her mother Linda, and Jim and his wife Jen and her parents. Ironically, Jim was ready to propose to his wife on the last cruise, but I’d stolen his thunder with my proposal, and he’d done it shortly after the cruise. They’d gotten married the day after us (and the same day as our friends Meg and Jeremy) as well. It was a good table, and I believe I had steak that night. We went to bed shortly after dinner – the nap wasn’t that long.
Friday we didn’t sleep too long in the morning as we’d gone to bed so early, and made breakfast in the dining room. I had to have some eggs benedict – very tasty, and Jill had french toast. We went up to the spa and made plans for a couples massage the next day after we returned to ship, as well as a facial for Jill. I went on deck to read for a bit, then grabbed a reuben from the deli and went back to the room to read, but napped instead while Jill napped for a bit then went to tea with Sue. Got up in time to dress partially for dinner (it was formal night) and get my video camera ready for the show. The night before at the cocktail party, we’d been given a slip of paper and told to vote for two songs. We’d formed a block with Sue and Dave and all voted for “Hole Hearted” and “Woman Of Faith”. “Hole Hearted” is their cover of the Extreme song. I’d heard it on the last, epic show at the Bad Habits club they played every Tuesday for 6 years, and had only heard it once at Falcon Ridge in 2003, but the wind and bit of rain that day made a less than pristine recording. “Woman Of Faith” is Jill’s favorite efo song (and the one I’d proposed before), but they hadn’t played it since Robbie’s divorce (he wrote it for his wife), and thought that would fall into the “Hell no” category of songs (the other two being “ok” and “We can’t remember it”). They played “Hole Hearted” during the first show (whole set here), and as usual a parody song about the cruise (“Sailing With The Edheads”, to the tune of “Number Six Driver”). A good show, but we had to hurry to get to dinner on time.
Dinner was ok – I had a lobster tail that wasn’t very fresh, but I smothered it in butter, and had a bit of Jill’s prime rib. After dinner, we went to the Candelight Lounge for karaoke, and much cattiness back where we were. Except when Robbie and Julie went up to sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”. We also went down to the piano bar (the scene of much activity on the previous cruise) to check out Robert and his talents. We ended up not spending as much time in there as some, but we were still pretty busy. We stayed up for the grand buffet at 12:30, which was ok, and went promptly to bed as we had an early wakeup.
Saturday morning we docked at Progreso, Mexico. We had room service deliver breakfast as we didn’t think we’d have time to make the buffet (and we were right, though cereal wasn’t what I consider a cruise breakfast, though the muffins and bacon Sue brought back helped). We were off the ship by 9ish and waited for a couple minutes for the rest of our party before boarding a bus to the Mayan ruins at Dzibilchaltun (pronounced d-zeeble-chall-toon). There was also a trip to the legendary ruins at Chichen Itza, but that was a 2.5 hour bus ride each way. 50 minutes was much more our style. Funniest line was Dave’s when we got off the bus: “They tell us to stay away from the water in Mexico, and the first thing they do is give us water!” (it was bottled). Our guide, Dario, was of Mayan ancestry himself, and was extremely informed and passionate about his ancestors. He may have been more interesting than the ruins, actually. They were still pretty cool, but I got hot with the cast and full backback, and the “swimming hole” wasn’t very attractive. After the first hour and a half, the tour was done and we had a another hour and a half of free time. We went back to the entrance where there was a restaurant on the second floor (Xlakah, means “old town”), and had a couple of local beers and Jill had nachos. Then we had some margaritas made with some local tequila. After the tour, they dropped us off on the pier next to the ship where they had some shops. I was looking for some coconut rum for a coworker, but all they had was Bacardi. Plenty of tequila, but I’ll never drink it straight again (bad experience in college) and I’m not that picky about margaritas (although thr one we’d had that day was mighty tasty, but I was hot and sweaty).
Back on the ship, we showered and changed for our massage. It was the first time we’d done that, and it was different having each other there, but not very romantic. Of course, the fact that I fell asleep as usual may have had something to do with that. Afterwards, Jill stayed for her facial and I went up to the cabin to read. We joined our table for dinner, and Jill took one look at the menu and informed me I’d start with the duck entree as an appetizer, then have the caesar salad and finally the chateaubriand. I looked, said “damn you” and let her order. It was good, the best meal I had on the ship. We went over to karaoke, but not much was going on, and we wandered around for a while until the party on the Lido deck started. We stayed until the Mexican buffet started, then took it back to the cabin. It was better than the grand buffet the night before. We thought about going to bed, but got a second wind and joined the Edheads still on deck as they went back to pizza and chatted until it was pretty late.
Sunday morning we slept in. I slept ’til almost 11 and hurried to make the debarkation talk, but Sue was there and caught the beginning. When I got back to the cabin, Jill was still asleep and I woke her as she’d said she wanted to join us for lunch. After lunch, I went up to the back of the Vernanda deck with the other Edheads and read and chatted while Jill went to play bingo with Sue. I got hungry and grabbed another reuben on the way down to the cabin. I ate it, changed, then joined Jill in the hot tub. They’ve got hot tubs next to the pools, but those are filled with seawater and are cool, not good unless you’re hot. Before we got our massage, we’d discovered that in back they had a real hot tub, so we soaked for a while in them, then went downstairs. I started reading and got caught up in my book and had to rush to change, only to be completely pissed off during the show as my video camera stubbornly refused to work (more about that in a later entry). On previous cruises, they’d had a long electric show and a shorter acoustic show. Due to Julie’s condition, they’d decided to do two electric shows, about the same length (about an hour and a half) as the acoustic show. One new thing they did this year was have a raffle to do efo karaoke, where the male and feamle winner came up and sang with the band. The winners were pretty good (can’t remember their names), especially the lady who killed on “Independence, Indiana”. Julie wore her blond wig for “New James Bond” (though she didn’t need it) and wore it for the rest of the show, bringing on a lot of picture taking. They had a question and answer session in the middle (mostly the standard questions about the name and meeting, but they did tell a new story about playing the same places the Dave Matthews Band, only to play a dive in Annapolis one night in 1994 to a small crowd, then seeing Dave Matthews Band on Saturday Night Live that night. They did end the show with an off mike “Walk Humbly, Son” that was moving, but I was still ticked about the camera. We went to dinner for the last time (more steak), then the football obsessed among us hotfooted it upstairs for the remaining 2/3s of the Skins/Eagles matchup. Eddie and Stuart were smoking Cuban cigars (last night so they had to be smoked), and Bob joined us as well. Good game as it came down to the wire as McNabb almost had a comeback to tie it before a final interception sealed it for the Skins. After that, we went to the Lido deck for some pizza (and I had a sundae), before joining the crowd in the piano bar. We closed it down and went to the Rock & Roll Disco for a couple minutes, but the hiphop was a bit much (and loud) and we were tired.
When we got up Monday the boat had docked, and we hurried to a final breakfast (more eggs benedict) before departing. It was pretty easy, then we called the hotel we were staying at and they sent a shuttle. They let us check in early and we went to our rooms. Jill just zonked out while I read. She’s asked me to get her up in an hour, but she didn’t want to then and I gave her an extra hour. We were in historic Ybor City and wandered around there. Jill and Sue went for coffee at El Molino (and Jill got some shipped home) while Dave and I went to Gameworks, where he whooped my ass at racing (big NASCAR fan) but I ruled at air hockey, even when Jill tried to take me on. We walked around and were getting hungry, so we stopped at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. A bit loud at first due to some morons at the bar, we got a table in the rear and that was better. The beer and food was amazing – don’t miss the Warthog (a dunkelweizen) or the pizza. Serious food coma afterwards, we went back to the hotel and watched TV (switching between Titanic, Family Guy, and Monday Night Football).
Tuesday morning we went out around 9:30 to a crepes place. Jill hadn’t had crepes before, and these were pretty good. I was just disappointed the breakfast one I had filled me up, and I wasn’t able to get a sweet one. We checked out of the hotel, got a cab to the airport, and left Sue and Dave (they left from a different terminal). We checked in, got through security, and had a nice flight back.