Alcohol for $ 400, broken cabins and gluttony: what awaits Russians on a Caribbean cruise
A cruise on a huge and luxurious ship on the mysterious islands of the always warm Caribbean - what could be better? Especially when it's your honeymoon trip.
Marina Krynzhina, a teacher from Moscow, told the publication “Lenta.ru report»About all the charms and shortcomings of the honeymoon on the ocean liner.
The dream will remain a dream
We live in such a beautiful and happy time, when many people can rest abroad. Therefore, the honeymoon, in contrast to the planned vacation, must necessarily be something special. Long before the cherished “yes” and even before the meeting of the future husband, I decided that I would go on my honeymoon trip to Aruba. This idea was born ten years ago, when dad was chatting with his classmate on Facebook. A classmate was not simple: almost immediately after school, she moved to the States and settled in New York. Dad asked her how are you, and she replied that she had just returned from Aruba. Dad asked in Russian, she wrote in English, so I translated her intricate answers to Dad.
“What is Aruba and how does it affect things?” - We puzzled and began to look for an explanation on the Internet. Since then, I have known three main things about Aruba: firstly, it’s an island in the Caribbean, secondly, it’s so far away that Russians don’t usually rest there, and thirdly, “Aa-Ruuu-Baa” mysteriously and alluring. Subsequently, I found out that all Americans (almost the same as the Russians on the Cote d'Azur) dream of relaxing on little Aruba, and my father’s classmate's answer began to play with completely different semantic colors. It is a pity that we were unsuitable interlocutors and could not appreciate it.
When it was finally time to get the dream off the shelf and shake off the dust from it, it turned out that Aruba is just one of the 62 islands of the Caribbean region, besides being the most western and off the coast of Venezuela. It turned out that all the islands of the West Indies (the historical name of the islands of the Caribbean since the first European seafarers mistakenly decided that they came to India), except for the Bahamas, are divided into two categories: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser.
The Greater Antilles include the four largest islands in the region: Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti (along with the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. Small Antilles are so small that some of them can be walked up and down in a day. Therefore, if we decided to fly so far, then it is worth capturing not only Aruba, but also the neighboring islands, I thought and called the agency with a request to pick up an appropriate tour request.
If you do not have a yacht, then the best means of transportation in the Caribbean is a cruise ship, the agency employee happily announced by phone. Upon learning that we have US visas, the girl was even more delighted. The fact is that many of the islands in the region, with the exception of independent states, are historically dependent territories; they are still divided between themselves by the United Kingdom, Venezuela, the Netherlands, the USA and France. Belonging to a country determines not only legislation, but also the conditions for entry into the island.
Another important aspect - the vast majority of cruises to the Caribbean islands depart mainly from the States, namely from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Therefore, the presence of a US visa untied our hands in choosing the most interesting and optimal route. Despite the variety of options, the range of suitable liners began to rapidly narrow. It turned out that on the selected dates there is only one cruise from Miami in the direction of the cherished Aruba, but we could see only three islands, not counting the day of sailing and the day of arrival in Miami, and four days out of nine were to be spent at sea.
To us, people who have never traveled on a liner in their life, such a wording seemed even frightening. Imagine immediately how you drift in a boat somewhere in the middle of the ocean and rock you violently, and Jack drowns somewhere nearby and freezes on the wreckage of the Titanic his Rose (finishes his imagination). And what can you do on the ship for four days, outside land, we did not understand well. In addition, the girl initially insisted that Aruba and the whole Southern Caribbean are not the most interesting from the point of view of the active tourist island, and insistently offered to consider the Eastern Caribbean.
The program of a week-long cruise from Royal Caribbean International, which departed from Puerto Rico on the same day, promised that we would wake up on a new island every day, while the cost of the cruise was significantly lower, apparently due to the proximity of the islands. After weighing all the pros and cons, we collectively decided that Aruba would wait, and began to choose the cabin.
Educational program for cruise vacation features was short. Cabins are divided into four types - a cave without a window, a cell with a window, a cabin with a balcony and suites. The girl on the wire once again showed the miracles of adequacy, suggesting not even considering the exorbitant prices for suites, because "you are young, you will only sleep in the cabin."
If the budget allows, it is better to choose a cabin with a balcony. As it turned out, you can’t compare with anything when you wake up and, as a discoverer, you go out onto the balcony to look at the next island in the port of which your ship has moored today. Neither give nor take Christopher Columbus. There is one more feature that should be taken into account: the prices for cabins located closer to the elevator are higher, but at the same time the numbers of one category do not differ from each other.
Sly rain that almost ruined the rest
“Congratulations, your cabin is number 66!”, The tour operator happily reported, and wished a happy trip, specifying that before sailing you need to print cruise documents, baggage tags in advance and read the cruise passengers note very carefully. We mastered the valuable information already on day X, on board the Miami-San Juan flight, which we later regretted. The first paragraph of the memo, printed in bold, read: “Attention! The liner is not waiting for those who are late! Please arrive at the port 4 hours before departure! ”
In the second paragraph, the inexperienced mariner was advised to go through online registration to facilitate customs control procedures, but no later than 3 the day before sailing. My husband and I read the memo, nervously shivering in the seats of the aircraft. According to the plan, we were supposed to fly to Puerto Rico at two o'clock in the afternoon, but five minutes before the flight to Miami, it suddenly started to rain, which almost immediately turned into heavy rain.
The flight was delayed indefinitely. It was an hour, two, three. Rain did not stop, the flight attendants carried the water and did not promise anything. An elderly American reluctantly stated that he was late for the connecting flight, had to stay overnight in San Juan and postpone all the planned business meetings: “Helen, reserve me a room in a five-star hotel. Such that he was near the airport and had his own beach, ”he asked the secretary by phone, and then turned to me and, smiling, said,“ since I have to stay in this city against my will, I will at least swim in the ocean ".
Looking out the window at the ruthless element, we clearly realized why many tourists are afraid to rest in this region in the season of the Caribbean hurricanes, especially at its peak, which falls from August to October. We can not call us irresponsible travelers: buying a tour, we asked what is the probability of falling into the trap of a Katrina hurricane at this time of year. The girl reassured. There is a possibility of bad weather, but you will not feel it on a cruise ship: if the wind changes, the captain will simply change the route.
In this regard, the cost of Caribbean cruises does not depend on the time of year: there is always season on a ship. You can not say about the aircraft, which are much more dependent on nature, which, as it turned out, when planning the route should be taken into account. Fortunately, after four hours the downpour had just as suddenly ceased, and already on 6 evenings we landed in San Juan. There was an hour left before registration closed, so tired and hungry (on American Airlines, they only feed on snacks and nuts, and for an additional fee), we immediately went to the port.
A ship called the Freedom of the Seas ("Freedom of the Seas") took on board its passengers. 4000 happy travelers were already creeping around in their cabins, uncorking the champagne prudently carried on board the ship and allowed by the regulations. As we learned from the reminder, with us on board on the first day of the journey you can carry only two bottles of weak alcohol: wine or champagne.
Moreover, it is useless to try to outsmart the customs and bring the prohibition on board in the form of makeup remover in the road cosmetics bag. Alert officers open all suspicious jars, confiscate the "advantage", assign him a cabin number and, surprisingly, do not throw it away, but keep it until the end of the journey.
It is noteworthy that even souvenir alcohol purchased during the cruise on the islands is also confiscated. It may seem that such strict regulations are invented so that the traveler does not drink himself, but everything is much more prosaic. The fact is that the price of the cruise includes accommodation in the cabin, meals and non-alcoholic beverages. For the desire to get drunk on the joys have to pay, and the price tag is very significant. 15-20 dollars - the average cost of a glass of wine, a cocktail or 50 grams of strong alcohol, so on board there is a widespread system of all sorts of packages and discounts, which the crew members intrusively offer passengers on the day of departure.
So, one package of alcohol in the "all inclusive" system costs 400 dollars, but the trick is that you must buy it at once to all the inhabitants of the cabin. And these amounts do not include 15-20 percent tips, which aboard the liner of the American cruise company, consisting mainly of Americans (or rather African Americans), "are always welcome."
In addition to the gratitude of the staff, who can be left in cash or entered into a check, it is prudently indicated in the tourist's instruction that tips “all over the world is the norm”, so you should not be surprised when at the end of the cruise you will be given an additional check based on 14,5 dollars per person per night (equal to 200 dollars for two for a week). You can’t dispute or refuse to pay tips; the salary of the crew consists of them (more than 1500 is a man on the ship), so all the staff are extremely friendly and friendly.
Knowing this, imagine our surprise and indignation, when, still tired and hungry, forcibly missed their dinner (the evening meal takes place in a festive atmosphere in a restaurant in two streams of a tourist's choice - at 18: 00 and 20: 00), we went in their cabin and found on the shelves of someone's forgotten jewels and plastic plastic cup sparkling. In addition, spoiled by modern hotels and encouraged by their unreasonably high expectations, we tiredly and joylessly noted that the luxury in the cabin does not smell. Later we were told that when choosing a cruise, it is worth paying attention not only to the route, but also to the “stariness” of the ship on which to go on a trip.
For example, since 2018, the most modern, technologically advanced and largest cruise liner in the world is Symphony of the Seas (also owned by Royal Caribbean), on board which, besides standard entertainment, you can just think about laser tag, indoor ice rink, double-deck aquatheater, 25-meter zipline an incredible size is a ten-height slide, designed for quick descent from the sixteenth deck to the sixth, and even a bionic bar, where ordinary robots were replaced by special robots who, like the bartender android from the movie “Passengers”, can Cocktails of any level of complexity.
Looking ahead, I would say that although the above-mentioned rides on our liner were not, and the design of the cabin turned out to be slightly outdated (the ship was built in 2006), we could not master the whole program of entertainment and entertainment events on board every day. Discouraged by the findings, we decided to settle the issue peacefully. Contact the information desk and asked to change the number. It turned out that there are no free cabins of the same category (experienced tourists begin to book the trip on the liner very much in advance - for two or even three years), so the cleaning officer apologized and offered to take the extra items out of the cabin.
After a long and tiring day, my mood was hopelessly spoiled, especially with me, because the day was declining, and my birthday (namely, on my birthday, the cruise set off on a long voyage) we still did not start to celebrate. And even holiday swans from towels, which rely newlyweds in the honeymoon, no one carefully turned us. Therefore, this solution seemed unsatisfactory to us. Inviting the manager, the husband emotionally told about the misfortunes of our day, asking the girl to at least check that the jewels left by previous guests were deposited and not appropriated by someone from the staff.
Michaela in a male uniform, who asked to call her Mick simply, showed her steel bar in solving difficult issues: she promised that the cabin would be thoroughly disinfected again while we were having dinner, and the company would surely make a bad first impression of our first cruise - a free meal in the best liner restaurant.
Relax and enjoy
Dinner at the Italian restaurant on the upper deck of the ship, in terms of atmosphere and level of service, rather reminded Moscow Pushkin, was a pleasant bonus, but not at all obligatory. The fact is that the travelers on board the Royal Caribbean are fed for slaughter. In addition to the standard dinner (if you can call it dinner, the menu of which includes lobsters every other day), passengers of our ship could use the buffet service all day, the set of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner was always different.
For lovers of fast food on the ship from the morning until late at night there were several small cafes in which (for free, unlimited, unceasingly) you could eat pizza, sandwiches, various tapas and other snacks while waiting for dinner. Needless to say, it’s hard to resist such unlimited gluttony, so already at home it took me at least two months to restore the diet that had been brought down by around-the-clock gluttony.
While we were sorting out with the cabin, experienced mariners were already sweeping along the decks of the ship with pizza in one hand and the program of the day in the other. Cruise Compass is a comprehensive daily A4 format, with a detailed description of the place, time and content of events held on board, an available excursion program on land, as well as general information about the port of call and recommendations for choosing clothes, was designed to guide the traveler in all the entertainment available to him .
Contained in the newspaper and recommendations for evening dress code on the ship. And although the tour operator assured us that modern cruises are extremely democratic and you can not take the formal clothes with you, on our liner almost all passengers observed the dress code every day. On the evening of the gala dinner with the captain, my husband lamented that he had not taken the tuxedo with him, which the official Black Tie obliges, or at least the jacket.
And the point is not that you are not allowed to go to a restaurant in inappropriate clothes, where sometimes we even went in shorts without having time to change clothes, but the fact that all these additional nuances find the conditions of the game in this confined space there can be no winners, but in which, as far as emotional relaxation is concerned, one really wants to participate.
Relax and enjoy what is happening - that is, perhaps, the main task of the Russian tourist on such a liner. Considering that the majority of passengers are Americans, do not be surprised if a stranger suddenly tells you what kind of sandals you have, and when you meet with a plate of pizza in the corridor, he laughs and loudly shouts after him: “Eat again? Understand!". By stiffness, tightness and inability to conduct small talk, the so-called small talk, only the Chinese are in line for the Russian sandwich.
Perhaps this is why we cannot understand how Americans can truly rejoice where a Russian would feel humiliated and insulted. Newlyweds from Tennessee for dinner sincerely regretted that my husband and I could not take part in the game, the purpose of which was to race to bring as many strange personal things to the leader. At the same time, a skating rink was flooded in another hall of the ship and they showed an ice performance with the participation of Russian figure skaters, which we could not miss.
“Imagine, he announced into the microphone:“ Bring a leaky sock ”. And then I remembered that Joshua had just put on this today, I shouted: "Take off soon!" And we won! ”, Joshua's wife told us with delight and enthusiasm, who, in turn, was no less happy.
We were neither ideologically nor mentally prepared for such mass entertainment games, which appeared daily in the program and were in great demand. But thanks to attentive manager Mick, who, leaving us on the day of our acquaintance, said “guys, I'll take care of you” at parting, we still managed to relax. Obviously touched by our ordeal, she decided to make a personal apology, so the next day in the room we found not only a peacock from a towel, but also champagne in a bucket.
Imagine our surprise when on the second day of sailing we found another bottle in the cabin, although the previous one floating next to it was only half empty. On the third day, the dressing table was lined from edge to edge with buckets. Having uncorked the third bottle, which turned out to be a real Moet & Chandon, we finally melted, called the manager and asked him not to solder us anymore.
Thanks to Mick, we are quite comfortable. They made evening promenades from bar to bar, listened to live music, jazz, folk, talked with musicians, drank broodershaft with bartenders, danced salsa by the pool, went to the theater, to the cinema, played in the casino, put everything on zero, even won, learned to smoke cigars, drank them the right temples, before bedtime played golf, basketball, walked. By the end of the third day, we were already perfectly oriented in the closed space of our “Titanic”: after dinner we immediately went to our favorite bar, poured out “House by the Road” from “Twin Peaks”, in which every evening against the background of the same red as in the series, the curtain, the musicians performed covers on the hits of all times and peoples.
As a result, we were so relaxed that we even decided to sing a karaoke song in front of a crowd of strangers, for which you need to have a certain courage. For three days and three nights we drank champagne and watched as other passengers of all ages went to the microphone, getting ready to repeat their trick, until the next evening the girl with cerebral palsy did not leave the hall. She sang heartily as she could.
The song that she likes, although it was difficult to make out the words and melody. The audience supported her with applause from beginning to end, but in the same way they cheered all the speakers. And it even became somehow embarrassing and embarrassing at how many frameworks and conventions we have to overcome daily in order to simply be ourselves.
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