|Our ship off the coast of |
Cocoa Cay, Bahamas
My Thanksgiving week was spent aboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship the Freedom of the Seas. I can sum up my experience in three words.
Between the casino, the endless buffets and the bars, which began offering alcoholic beverages at 7:00 am, the cruise should have been called Sinning on the Seas. The only vice missing was pornography.
At least that’s what I thought, until my sisters and I spotted an aging porn star sunning herself on Deck 11. We’re only guessing she’s an ex-adult actress of course. With her long, bleached blonde hair, double-G breasts, rhinestone-studded false eyelashes, lips so full and tight they looked like they were inflated with a bicycle pump, and skin the color of an Oompa Loompa’s, she might be the owner of a tanning salon or possibly a tattoo parlor. But we’re sticking with porn star.
While her appearance was gawk-worthy, that’s not what really fascinated me about her. I was impressed, envious even, of her strut, her confidence. The way she sauntered over to the deck hands to ask for a towel as if nothing was amiss, passing rows of suburban moms from Connecticut, Missouri and Virginia, all turning our heads and elbowing our neighbors to watch her walk by. She completed her journey, shaking her assets in her black string bikini, acting as if it was the most glorious thing to be the color of burnt sienna.
I wish I had an ounce of her chutzpah.
When I wasn’t staring at our porn star friend poolside, I was glancing around the dining room at our 3,000+ traveling companions and observing their eating choices. Cruise ships are a fascinating place to observe human dietary behavior. And for the most part, overindulgence ruled the day.
With an all-inclusive setup, 24-hour access to a stunning amount of food, and customers with an “I’m on vacation” mindset, plates were piled high with bad choices. Pastries, doughnuts, sausage, bacon and waffles for breakfast. Pizza, burgers, fried steak, chicken and French fries for lunch. Lobster, steak, mashed potatoes, and pie for dinner. All this chased with Royal Caribbean’s drink of the day—Coco Loco, Mango Madness or some other fruity rum concoction.
Compulsive eaters beware. Cruising is not the place for you.
And even me, who my sister claims has the self-restraint of a Tibetan monk, felt the pull of temptation.
I controlled myself fairly well, but as the days wore on, I felt my will power start to wane. With everyone else on board eating and drinking like they were on death row it was hard not to pile on.
I remembered my dad’s admonishing words from childhood, “If all the other kids are jumping off a bridge are you going to too?”
It turns out I would. Especially if there was tiramisu, crème brulee and a chocolate brownie in the gorge below.
By Day 6 I had joined my death row inmates. My simple breakfast of fresh fruit and a bowl of oatmeal was no longer enough. “I need some protein too,” I declared. I returned to the table with eggs, bacon and toast, a complete breakfast unto itself, and my second plate that morning.
While I passed on dessert at lunch, I always indulged at dinnertime. And then there were the Bloody Marys after dinner. That counts as a vegetable right?
On the positive side, I did make it to the fitness center, climbed the rock wall, spent two days snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, and shook my moneymaker during 80s dance night. All of which burned off maybe two Bloody Marys and a cookie.
As we prepared to disembark I filled out the customer feedback form leaving the following advice for Royal Caribbean:
“As a service to your guests might I suggest an Overeaters Anonymous booth on the Royal Promenade. A small office between Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor and Sorrento’s Pizza would be ideal.”
I'll leave you with a few photos from my gastronomic journey.
|Breakfast at sea|
|The main dining room. |
How can you not overindulge in this atmosphere?
|A typical dinner—seafood skewer of lobster, shrimp and scallops.|
|Followed by a typical dessert. Yes this was for one person.|
|Janelle drinking a virgin Coco Loco.|
My sugaraholic daughter was in heaven.
|I could've said no to the fruity beverage,|
but you get to keep the glass. So we ordered four.
We wanted a full set.
|Ah, the Bloody Marys. My vegetable servings for the day.|
|The cruising clan. Three generations under one roof.|