It finally happened.
The cruise we booked for January, 2021, and was postponed again and again, finally happened. Now that the pandemic is eternal, I wasn’t sure the Royal Caribbean cruise we booked way back in 2020 would even come to pass. But it has. And much to my surprise, I loved it.
On January 7th, Michael and I boarded the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas for an 8 NIGHT cruise that would take us to Haiti, Aruba, and Curaçao. With three ports of call, this meant we were facing quite a few sea days. My fear of cruising has always been that I wouldn’t enjoy my time on the ship, or that I would get seasick, or that I wouldn’t be able to contain or satiate my desire to wander. It’s my tendency to wander that made the Camino walks so enticing. Walking from morning to late afternoon through one town after another in a seemingly endless stream of days? That’s my idea of a perfect holiday. Staying stationary on a moving ship? I wasn’t so sure.
Turns out there’s LOTS to do on a cruise ship. Also, when you’re with the right person of course you’re going to enjoy the experience. We had a blast! Michael and I cruised with his sister and her husband. Jenifer and Gary were great company!
What I didn’t quite realize about cruising–though I suspected it–was that there are people who do nothing but cruise. Or at least people who have several or dozens of cruises under their belts. Even Michael has been on at least 20. I constantly overheard people aboard the ship talk of their many many cruises. I anticipated my first one with something bordering on dread, at first. But after watching a few YouTube videos, my dread was laced with a healthy thread of maybe. Eventually, this thread softened to a guarded anticipation. I could do this. I could cruise. I would have all the ports to look forward to. They would feed my desire to explore, to wander, to see foreign places. And the more videos I watched, the more I realized the wide and varied activities cruises had to offer.
We watched a great rendition of the musical Grease. As it was my first time cruising, I wasn’t aware it was the same show Michael watched back before the pandemic when he went on a family cruise on Harmony with his sisters. It was new and fresh to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We watched a puzzling musical called Columbus. The comedy, at the beginning, fell lower than flat and it was so groan-worthy I found myself cringing when the audience neglected to laugh (or even smirk) as lines were delivered. (I say this as a sometimes playwright who has sat in the audience of their own comedic plays both while watching an audience in the throes of uproarious laughter, as well as audiences lost in the deadly silence of unfunny one-liners.) But it picked up a bit and the music was great. Over all, I enjoyed it despite its often-times lack of humour. Sometimes a comedic show cannot survive the fact that it’s simply not funny, but this one did. I think I eventually caved at the dancing sharks. It was endearing.
There was a stand-up comedy show one night. I enjoyed that, but opted out of the show on ice. Ice reminds me of winter, which I hate. Ice while on a cruise to escape winter? No.
We ate at the specialty restaurants on the ship and they were, to a one, exquisite. From the enchanted Wonderland Restaurant (fashioned as a sort of trip down the rabbit hole and into Alice’s Wonderland world of topsy-turvyness), to Jamie’s Italian, to Chops, to 150 Central Park, to Izumi and more, it was all good. Incredible food and great service. No complaints.
We discovered early on in the cruise that DUCKS were a thing. People hide little rubber ducks about. Lots of little rubber ducks. At first, it seemed I would find one wherever my eye wandered to. One after the other they appeared. Then we set out to purposefully find them, walking about the ship hunting for rubber ducks. I did not foresee this activity being something I would be doing during the cruise, but there we were. As we wandered about Central Park looking amongst the shrubbery, we discovered more hunters. They were obvious to spot, despite their attempts to blend in with other strolling cruisers. There was a hunger in the eyes of the duck hunters. Their desperate glances would linger too long in the bushes. They quickly gave themselves up.
It was late in the game when Michael finally found his first duck, but he soon gained traction. We came home with 14 ducks, and a desire to hide our own on the next cruise. And, yes, I said NEXT. As early as day 2, I found myself imagining that I could do this cruising thing again.
The ports were all amazing. I had been to Aruba before, but never to Haiti or Curaçao. The three ports were enough to satiate my need to see new places. I was especially enchanted with the brightly coloured houses of Curaçao. We took a little tour of some of the island and saw lovely street art there. Let’s face it, to even be in the sunlight in January is a magical thing for us Canadians. It was warm and bright and who could ask for anything more!
There’s LOTS to do on a cruise ship. Harmony of the Sea was no end of surprises and fun. I’d definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again.
Our little getaway beach in Labadee, Haiti:
Shots from Oranjestad, Aruba:
Shots from Willemstad, Curaçao:
And I know the world has been wondering…YES, Harmony of the Seas does, in fact, have a carousel! And, yes, we did go on it. Of course we did.
So, would I cruise again? YES. Absolutely!
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