Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mediterranean Cruise Report -- Day 3

Welcome to my recollections of the wonderful cruise my wife and I took during the month of July, 2010 for our 5th anniversary. This will be an ongoing series replete with anecdotes, history, pics, and even videos taken as we experienced all that our various ports of call had to offer. As usual, click on the pics to view larger versions.

If you missed a prior trip report, or would like a refresher, please click on the appropriate link below:
Day 1 -- When in Rome.
Day 2 -- Bad Sun Rising.

DAY 3 -- Let Me Take You On A Sea Cruise.

The next morning started off innocently enough. We knew we had to be out of our room to meet the bus by 11:30. So rather than pack what little needed to be stuffed back in our suitcases, we went down to the basement to have a nice breakfast, compliments of the hotel. While we were there, we met up with one of the cruisers we had befriended. He was the one who'd arranged the transfer that would take the lot of us (all 14 of us staying in Rome) to Civitavecchia where our ship was docked. We told him we would meet him and his wife down in the lobby by 11:15, then finished up the rest of our breakfast. We got back to the room around 10:45 and started to throw things into our bags.

Plenty of time, right? WRONG!

The phone rang. It was the front desk telling me that the driver was already here to pick us up. SHIT! He was supposed to get here at 11:30. I was pissed, but told the desk that we were coming down right away. Now Lisa and I had to run around the room making sure that everything was accounted for and that our bags were completely packed. It was a mad rush that was not at all the way I had wanted to start off my day. We got down to the lobby just minutes to 11:00, and found the rest of our party already waiting. FUCK!

But the checkout process was quick. I wished I had had more time to thank the staff -- it really was a lovely hotel, after all. We definitely plan to stay there again next time we're in Rome. I grabbed my receipt and followed everybody out the front door with bags in tow. The driver, it turns out, didn't speak a word of English. Worst yet, it appeared he didn't know where to go to pick up the last couple in our party. Even still, when we finally figured it all out, it was an adventure just getting to the spot as the old man didn't seem to know how to drive, either. OH LORD!

Anyway, to make a long story short, it all turned out okay in the end. We made it to the dockyard around 1:00, went through security and check-in, and received our stateroom keycards. Then it was all aboard as we climbed the gangway and was shown through the typically narrow ship corridors to our room. We were quite pleased with our Deck 9-forward living space. The room was large enough, the bathroom fantastic, and of course the veranda a dream come true. This, Lisa said to me . . . this is nice! :)

I threw my carry-on bag on the bed and immediately stepped out onto the balcony for a view of the people being dropped off below at the check-in tent.

Our bags were sent up to us only 30 minutes after we put our keycard through the door. Wow, now that was fast! On our last cruise, it had taken 3 hours to get our luggage. The ship had already left port before they finally showed up later that night. Things seemed to operate much quicker on the Celebrity lines. But rather than start unpacking, we decided to take a stroll around the ship.

It was a fairly nice new ship, as far as cruise liners go. Lots of glass-paneled elevators and plush carpeted halls. The layout, I found, was a tad more intuitive than on the Royal Caribbean ship we'd been on last. The main dining room was on decks 3 and 4; specialty restaurants were on deck 5; and the more casual, buffet-style dining café was on deck 14. We would end up eating most of our meals on deck 14. Casual is our preferred way to dine, especially after a long day ashore. Having seen the ship in all its glory, we were glad to have made the decision to sail on the Equinox. We could see it being a comfortable home away from home for the next 11 days.

We met up with two of the couples from our transfer bus earlier that morning, and arranged to meet up for dinner at one of the specialty restaurants--the Tuscan Grille--later that night. Dinner was divine! And the company, even better. My course consisted of a fresh Caprese salad, steak, and chocolate fondue with assorted fruit -- YUM!

Dinner was great, but the company was even better. We talked and ate until well into the evening when hardly no one else was left at the restaurant. Afterwards, we took a stroll through the casino area. It was a big and well-lit space, with slot machines galore and plenty of gaming tables to choose from.

Eventually we made our way over to the digital Texas Hold 'Em tables, where we discovered that the scheduled tournament that night had to be postponed due to very low turnout. But the woman running the tables asked if we would like to take this opportunity to try the game out. The two other guys in our group were familiar with the game, whereas I knew the rules but didn't understand how the gambling side of things went. The woman assured me that we would not be playing for real money, but fake digital credits since this was not a real tournament play. Fair enough, I thought. A nice man came and got our drinks -- Lisa had a Pineapple & Malibu, I had a Scotch on the Rocks (Black Label). It was a damn good drink, I must say. Damn good!

With drink in hand, I was ready to play for pretend money. And I don't know how, but by some blind pure luck I ended up being the last one with credits to my name. The game was all in fun, though, and no one was trying to cutthroat anyone. And while I had a lot of fun, I had no near-term desire to play "for real" in any of the scheduled tournaments. For me, money put down on the tables is money you might as well write off. I know enough about myself to know that my luck is supremely rotten when in situations where I need it the most.

At this point, the night was getting long and it had been a tiring day. So after the game we bid the other couples good night and promised to meet up with them on the morrow. They were a really cool bunch, and we would become fast friends during the cruise. So, arm in arm, Lisa and I walked back to our room, stopping by the retro-themed disco club for a peek, but hardly anyone was up for dancing it seemed.

Finally we retired to our stateroom and watched a little tv before calling it a night. The next day ahead was going to be at sea, which meant we could take our time waking up and really not do much at all for the rest of the day but stroll around the ship and check out the upper decks and pool area. I was very much looking forward to living the good life on the high seas for the next week and a half. Although we were leaving Rome behind, I knew we would be back again at the end of the cruise.

But for now, we had nothing but adventure to look forward to ahead!

Up next: Day 4.

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