Travel Log: Orlando and Bahamas, 2/17 – 2/20

February 28, 2017

It’s the dead of winter, so a trip to a tropical atmosphere was in order, starting first in Orlando, Florida, then taking us to Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas. I mean, I can’t really complain living in Southern California, but my good friend Zita is going through it with snowstorms in Boston. So we got out of dodge and spent four glorious days and three lively nights on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, we cruised it up! Click the slideshow to see some fun visuals, and read all about it below.

DAY ONE: Friday, Feb. 17
I landed at MCO (Orlando International Airport) bright and early at 6:30 a.m. and waited for my pal, Zita, to arrive. I posted up for a few hours and got caught up on some episodes of “Z” on Amazon Prime. Thank God for WiFi and headphones. When, she touched down, we fueled up on some light snacks then boarded a shuttle for the port at Cape Canaveral. Off in the distance, we could see our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas, which would be our home for the next four days. We breezed through security at the port and checked in on the gangway, where we were greeted by Jock Jams blaring through the speakers. “Y’all ready for this?!” Why, yes. Yes, we were. Our first stop: the pool bar.

With unlimited drinks available (Hot tip: You’re gonna want to buy the drink package in advance!) at the swipe of our Set Sail card, we ordered our first libation of the trip — an ice cold piña colada. Zita immediately began mapping out the day’s plans as outlined in the Compass. Should we dance under the stars or hit up bingo? The world was our oyster! At about 3 p.m., we were able to go into our stateroom, located on the third deck. We would later find that this was actually one of the better decks on the ship. You felt the swaying most on the upper decks, and Lord knows ain’t no body got time for sea sickness. As our ship departed Orlando, I observed from the room’s porthole a flock of pelicans flying in a perfect V formation. It was truly magical. Something I didn’t catch on camera because I was immersed in the moment.

After a bit of a fiasco with the dining room assignment for our 8:30 p.m. dinner time, we were seated at a table among a crowded sea of people. We were surprised that we were expected to eat dinner with complete strangers, but thankfully, our table mates, Sarah and Lacey, were good company. We kinda felt bad for Kelly, another table mate who was ditched by her 17-year-old daughter, who was busy meeting boys in the teens-only section of the ship. Shame! After dinner, we found our way to the seventh deck, where we were promised free champagne and the possibility of winning raffle prizes (the magic words). We both made off with a free print and were encouraged to return the following afternoon for an art auction with even more raffle prizes. Exhausted, we called it a night early.

Find out how the rest of my cruise went after the jump!

DAY TWO: Saturday, Feb. 18
I woke up feeling rested and glad that I was on a boat out in the middle of nowhere. It was beginning to set in that this really was a vacation, and I was elated. I put on my best nautical outfit (striped, scoop-neck three-quarter sleeve top and high-waisted denim shorts with gold button embellishments) and headed to the 11th deck for breakfast at the Windjammer buffet. That omelette bar was everything and more! And the mimosa was right on time.

We dashed off to the seventh deck for the presentation on diamonds. Truthfully, we were just there for the free tanzanite earrings, but we learned a lot anyhow. Next was the art auction, where there was a promise of more raffle tickets. While perusing the art, I happened upon a painting by Lebo (David Le Batard) with these two vibrant owls, and knew that I had to have it. I’ve long wanted to be a fine art collector and this painting let me step into my goal. It was an exhilarating experience to — for the first time in my life — raise my paddle and make a bid on a work that I was absolutely enamored with. Can’t wait for it to arrive in a couple of weeks!

By the way, did I tell you about the nectar of the gods that we discovered on the ship? It’s called Rekorderlig Passion Fruit Hard Cider, and I’m having withdrawals from not having it since the trip. So good! Get you some, if at all possible. After the auction, we laid out on the deck and caught some rays. Zita was looking to work on her tan and I was just there for the sunshine and warmth. When we docked in Nassau, Bahamas, at about 1:30 p.m., most of the cruisers left the ship to head into the city or out on excursions, so we pretty much had our own private area to lounge. It was awesome. Down below, a guy was playing some jazz on his sax, so of course I danced a quick jig.

After getting our fill of vitamin D, we disembarked the ship to enter Nassau to redeem our tanzanite earrings. Let’s just say, Nassau isn’t exactly Disneyland. It was a little on the dicey side, so we didn’t stay long. That and I was paranoid about being left on the island. We stopped by Tanzanite International, where the voucher said we could redeem our earrings but were promptly scolded by a disgruntled islander working there who barked that we needed to go a few doors down to Diamonds International to claim our jewels. Cool it, ma’am. When we arrived at the shop, we were handed these chintzy little earrings. At that point, I wanted off of land and on the ship. We grabbed a quick bite at … wait for it … Burger King (leave it to us Americans to stick with what we know), then I grabbed a couple of souvenirs. We probably were in Nassau for an hour tops, which was more than enough time. As we made our way back toward the ship, a local band was playing a soulful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”

“What’s going on?” would be the very question we asked ourselves when we made it to dinner back on the Majesty and saw our waiters dancing the Macarena. Yes, the Macarena, set to the backdrop of the ’90s tune blaring through the speakers and a parade of wait staff looking unamused with the stunt the cruise directors had probably demanded they perform. It was formal night and it was wild. Although, it was really fun to get gussied up and see everyone in their best outfits. We switched our dinner time for an earlier option and ate at the fourth deck dining room instead. The chicken consommé was on point! I could slurp that up all day. Unfortunately, the tenderloin was dry and came well done when I asked for medium. Oh well.

When I returned to the gallery to select my matting and frame for the Lebo piece I bought at auction, there was a full-on show being put on by the cruise staff. Carrying flags from each nation where staff hailed from, there was a sea of colors representing people from all over the world. It reminded me of the commitment cruise employees make to work on the ship, being so far from family and loved ones for so long. To cap off the night, Zita and I returned to the Schooner Bar to hear the lounge crooner Simon James sing Elton John hits. “Tiny Dancer,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “Benny and the Jets” had everyone singing off key with full vigor. It was fantastic!

DAY THREE: Sunday, Feb. 19
OK, so I may or may not have overdone it with the Jameson and ginger ales the previous night (thanks for the heavy pours, Catherine), which made waking up super fun. I powered through to breakfast but wasn’t feeling so hot. Thankfully, Zita hooked me up with some Alka-Seltzer, and after a short nap on the deck near the spa, I came back to life. I’m glad I felt better because we were really looking forward to some beach time — our only real chance for it on the trip.

Our ship had arrived off the coast of its private island, CocoCay, so Zita and I disembarked on a smaller boat to take us there. Despite forecasts of clouds and possible rain, the sun wash shining and it was nice and warm. We caught the tail end of the barbecue, which was decent. Hot dogs, ribs, chicken and lukewarm sides. I was most excited for the opportunity to dig my toes into the sand and dip my toes into the water. So clear and crisp! Zita went out for a quick swim in the ocean, while I laid in a chair on the beach and people-watched. Folks were in rare form on that beach, y’all. We only had a few hours there, so people were really maximizing their time and drinking. Heavily. I observed a drunk girl sitting on the lap of a guy being pushed in a wheelchair in the sand fly off, spilling her drink everywhere. Among the chairs, the tiny little sandpipers were swarming looking for crumbs. One adventurous bird hopped on the empty chair next to me, looked around, ran up the back of the chair and flew away. It was the cutest thing. Our time on CocoCay was brief, but it easily was the highlight of our vacation. I didn’t buy any souvenirs there, as everything was overpriced. And I mean everything. Who’s really going to buy a $20 bottle of sunblock? But I digress.

We made it back onto the ship and grabbed a snack at the Windjammer (nacho bar was on point!) and relaxed before dinner. That night, dinner was Italian. Zita ordered the lasagna bolognese and I was jealy because my salmon was subpar. At least the tiramisu was tasty. Oh, and our waiters serenaded us with an Italian love song with all the enthusiasm of getting a root canal. My word. They were not into it, which made it all the more awkward to observe. After dinner, we caught the beginning part of karaoke and the final performance of the musical in the Chorus Line Theatre. The cast’s voices were great, but the costuming and choreography were in desperate need of a revamp. Zita and I met up with Sarah and Lacey for one final hurrah at the Schooner Bar. Different crowd, different vibes from the previous night, so we didn’t stay too long. The four of us made it to the adult’s-only game show, which was entertaining and funny.

Afterward, the dance party with DJ Justin kicked off. Weird crowd. People were just sitting down and watching us dance. Um, dancing isn’t a spectator sport and there was no effort whatsoever from the cruise staff or DJ to liven the mood. We danced the “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle” (unfortunately, no “Wobble”) and even formed our own Soul Train line with a handful of ladies who knew how to party. It was apparent the party wasn’t going to get any livelier, so we cut our losses and went to Sorrento’s Pizza, which was open late. Again, the server was cranky and the pizza was just aight. There, we ran into Simon from the piano bar and we told him he was the best entertainment on the ship. He also gave us some intel about working on the ship, and I sold him on the perks of using Snapchat. Just when I was getting used to the cruise life, the trip was about to wrap up.

DAY FOUR: Monday, Feb. 20
Our ship returned to Port Canaveral bright and early, and it slowly started to feel real that our vacation was just about done. Zita and I grabbed one last breakfast at the Windjammer. An omelette with cheese, bacon and bell pepper for me, and lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato and cucumber on a bagel for Zita. She snagged an orange from the buffet, but after repeat threats of fines, she wisely chose to keep it in the room.

We left the Majesty at about 9:15 a.m. to head off the ship and go through customs. Our shuttle took us back to the Orlando airport, but we had several hours to kill, so we instead went to the Lake Buena Vista Outlet Mall to store our luggage, and made off with some great finds from Express. Zita also nabbed some cute pieces for her upcoming conference at The Loft, and we enjoyed a hearty lunch at a local Irish pub. Next, we ventured out to the Disney Springs shopping center, which was like Downtown Disney in California on steroids. It was pretty warm out, so Zita and I got some ice cream from Ghirardelli (the chocolate and cookies-and-cream were so good and refreshing). We didn’t stay long, but I’m glad we explored a little.

Off to the airport we went in an Uber. We grabbed an overpriced quick bite and a beer at one of the airport eateries and then headed to my gate (my flight was leaving first), where we began to list our grievances for “the letter” we’re going to write to Royal Caribbean. Just some tips and ideas for them to improve their service. We snapped one final selfie, and just like that, the party was over. Until the next vacation!

My first cruise was definitely a memorable one. As I said in one of my Snaps, I didn’t choose the cruise life — the cruise life chose me! I would love to go on another cruise and maybe even try a different cruise line. Need any hot tips? Shoot your girl some questions in the comments section below!

To see previous places I’ve jetted off to via my Travel Log, click here.

ashley ♥ adores

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