Thursday, April 06, 2006


Oh, all of my faithful blog readers: I am sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks. So much has happened (on my short term "to-do" list) and at the same time, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED (on my long term "to-do" list).

Bridging the gap between "so much" and "nothing" is the quick trip to Nashville I had to make, a (free) long weekend at the beach with my mother and her friend, two days of cleaning and packing several boxes of my late grandmother's stuff, joining the praise team at the church I've been attending, babysitting, having to finish writing a wedding invitation (NOT MINE) and lastly, taking what I would proudly classify as the best vacation of my life, probably to be topped only by my honeymoon, provided I ever meet someone who wants to take me on one.

The cruise ended up being a spur-of-the-minute decision. You know the phrase "you never know how much you want something until it's gone"? Well, the case applies here. JB and I had talked all semester about how "if" I didn't have a job by spring break (not that I didn't try), then we would go somewhere in honor of both of our Last Spring Break Ever. The tentative plan was to borrow her parents' convertible, grab some scarves and a road map of Florida and just take off, Thelma and Louise style (without the whole going over the cliff part). However, not wanting to spend all of our money on gas, and not wanting to get raped at a random Red Roof Inn in Armpit, FL, we decided to actually nail down some plans.

Destin was our backup. It could still be something different: just because everyone else from Auburn would be there didn't mean we had to hang out with them (no offense). We were just aiming for something greater, something more memorable, something HARDER--if you will--than a week in Destin for our Perfect/Last Spring Break.

Since JB is still in school, and I am not, I spent a lot of time in March researching flights and/or hotels in various cities across the US, including L.A., New York, St. Simons, Hilton Head, etc. One by one we ruled the cities out. Knowing that we could spend the week in a Dumpster and still have fun, I wasn't too brokenhearted about a week in Destin. I mean, the beach is the beach. Great company is great company. I really wasn't going to complain.

I had floated the idea of a cruise (pun intended) past JB early on in our quest for the Perfect Spring Break. I've never been on one, so she was open to the idea, but she did remind me she went on a cruise last spring break with her family, and is taking another one with them in August. In a similar vein, I've been to Destin with my family and I've been with my girlfriends and let me tell you: two totally different vacations. I knew that the same principle would apply if we opted to hit up a cruise, I just had to get her excited enough about it.

The weeks passed by and spring break drew closer and closer... well, HER spring break drew closer and closer. When you're unemployed and not in school, technically, everyday is a spring break... minus the R and R. As of Monday, when we were down to four days until she would be out for break, we still had no plan. I brought up the cruise idea again, adding that I had found a good deal online through a last-minute vacation site for a bunk-bed cabin aboard the Carnival Holiday, which conveniently leaves out of Mobile, but there were only a few rooms left. She said she'd think about it.

Looking back on it, I now see that she knew what I didn't. Trying to convince a Mobile native to go on the Holiday is like asking a Birmingham native to take you to Visionland. Unlike myself, she was aware that the cruise we'd be on would be the Holiday's maiden voyage after a six month FEMA charter. The Mobile Register said the ship was left in "deplorable" conditions. Unlike myself, she knew that the Holiday was the oldest and smallest in the Carnival fleet. That's why it leaves from Mobile. Therefore, in hindsight, I can totally sympathize with her reservations.

Well, to make a long story short less long, on Thursday, she finally agreed that it would be fun and something different and she didn't mind if the boat wasn't as nice as the boat she'd been on before (which was a Royal Caribbean cruise). Bottom line: it would be an adventure, which is what we were after all along. Excitedly, I gave her the number to call to book the room, and crossed my fingers that there'd still be cabins available.

She called back a few hours later to tell me she couldn't get anyone to answer. So I tried calling also, and was also unsuccessful. FINALLY my agent (this is starting to sound like a drug deal, no?) answered his phone and told me how busy they'd been all day. Turns out, ALSO calling the vacation people's office on Thursday were the hundreds of people watching the news reports about the Princess catching on fire at Sea. That's right, another cruise ship (not a Carnival one) had caught fire in the middle of the night and reports broke of it early Thursday morning. Therefore, everyone was calling to check on their cruise. Well, I tell him we have finally made up our minds and to book the room! Naturally, when he logs into the Carnival system, the type of room we want (the cheapest) is gone. There was only ONE cabin left on the ship and it cost about $80 more, so I call JB to okay that with her. We mull it over for approximately one minute, and decide that it didn't seem as great of a bargain anymore. I call the agent back to tell him thanks, but no thanks, but before I can even utter the words, he tells me that as he was logging into the booking system, the room got booked. No cruise.

Surprisingly sad, I call JB back to tell her that the cabin we didn't want was taken by someone who did want it. Destin, here we come.

Later that night, JB calls me to tell me that in the two or three hour window we thought we were going on a cruise, she'd gotten really excited about it. She decides to call Carnival to see if they have anything different to tell us. Of course they don't, but she puts us on the waiting list anyway, hoping that one of those hundreds of people calling the vacation offices around the country to check on their cruise will cancel it instead. At this point, we're between a rock and a hard place. How long do we wait on Carnival to call us? What if the only room that comes open is a penthouse suite with a balcony (aka EXPENSIVE)? All the good condos in Destin are getting booked right and left. We don't want to be cabinless AND condoless, but realizing nothing more can be done about it that night, I retire to bed.

When my phone starts blaring "Pieces of Me" (JB's ringtone, long story) at 8:30 a.m. the next morning, I knew it was for good reason. She used to be my roommate, she knows better than to call me at 8:30 in the morning just to shoot the breeze. My good suspicions were confirmed: there is a room open on the Holiday, for the exact same price we turned our noses up at the day before. Ironic. I give her the greenlight and get up to go find my passport. LOOK OUT, MEXICO!

So that's how the Greatest Vacation Ever (aka the Perfect Spring Break) came into fruition. We were super excited about our cruise, especially since we'd already lost it once. Since we'd been so bummed when we thought we couldn't go, we were on cloud nine when we found out we WERE going, and didn't come down off of it until we had to get off of the ship.

Turns out, booking the cruise was the smartest thing we ever did. Oh my gosh, did we have fun. I mean, we should run a travel company or something to show people new ways to enjoy a vacation. Wow. To try to capture the whole cruise in a blog entry would be futile. Pictures are worth 1000 words, so I've posted 162,000 words worth of pictures on my webshots album. Other than that, I can't try to possibly relate to you the fun, the giggles, pickup lines, desserts, etc., that I'll forever remember about this trip. I just wish your spring breaks (if you had one) were as fun.

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