Relaxing at sea

The cruise I took had two At Sea days, one at the beginning of the trip, and one at the end. In this entry, I’ll cover some of the fun and relaxing things we did while in between ports of call.

As soon as we boarded the ship, my sister and I went to the Spa to book a facial for the first At Sea day. We treated ourselves to the most pricey one they had: the Elemis Oxydermy Facial. According to the Spa Menu, it’s supposed to be a “corrective facial” that targets problem areas, using “cutting edge technology” combined with microdermabrasion to “guarantee dramatic results towards Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Pigmentation, Open Pores, and Scarring.” It was a 50-minute treatment, and cost $169 plus gratuity. Yes, you read that right.

I figured it would be worth it if my skin looked great for all of the pictures we were planning to take, so we did it. I did notice a slight improvement in the way my skin felt, but honestly, not $169 worth. Also, as I expected, the facial technician spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sell me stuff to supplement the facial. As soon as I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in spending tons of money on their products, she was a lot less chatty and got right to work. I did like the way I came out in the pictures, though, so I consider it “mission accomplished.”

On the last At Sea day, there was a $129 special that included a deep cleansing facial along with a full body massage, and other specials for only $99. If I’d known, I would have waited! Oh well, live and learn.

We ordered Room Service for our first At Sea day, so that we could be lazy and take advantage of our balcony. I ordered wheat toast, salmon, cream cheese, and coffee. My sister and I sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the sounds of the ocean as we sped towards St. John.

There also wasn’t a heck of a lot to do in the way of activities, but we had fun exploring the ship and playing some of the trivia games. We won Name That Tune and were given a Carnival medal, so that was fun. We didn’t bother sitting in on the Port Talks because they are broadcast over and over again on the in-room TVs.

The highlight of the day was the “Hairy Chest Contest” on the Lido deck. The guys who competed really put themselves out there, dancing and flirting and whipping their shirts off. It was loud and boisterous and rowdy–we loved it. The guy who won was a man named Gene, from South Jersey, and the entire crowd (including us) was behind him all the way. We met up with him later in the elevator, and his wife laughed about how proud he was of his trophy. He beat men nearly half his age–bragging rights, for sure!

We tried our luck at the Casino, but didn’t do so well. My mother and my aunt were also surprised at how fast their money evaporated there, so we didn’t spend as much time there as I thought we would.

Bingo was fun, but I found the prizes to be a bit stingy. Cards were $10 each, or 3 for $20, and even though they had consistently good crowds, the prizes were $100, $120, max $200 for the last game–and, more often than not, there were multiple winners, so you had to split that. Do yourself a favor and DON’T just sit there waiting for the guy to walk over and sell you a card. We did, and it took FOREVER. Bring cash with you and walk up to the front to get a card. You can also use your Sign & Sail card, but the lines are long.

The highlight of our bingo experience: we overheard a guy sitting behind us say that he only needed one more number, N44. I needed it, too, along with a bunch of others, so at that point, I crossed my fingers for him that he would win. The VERY NEXT number called was N44! This particular Bingo outing was held right before a show performance, and it took so long to get everyone their cards, they only had time for ONE game. So…the prize was $600, and he was the only winner! I think my sister and I screamed louder for him than he did, we were so excited.

There were quite a few kids onboard, but only the older ones (14+) were a bit of a nuisance. I have 3 kids of my own, so I’m normally more understanding of the antics of children, but there was a definite lack of supervision for these older ones–probably because of the lack of appealing activities for them–that lead to mischief. I saw teens running through the hallways, goofing around in the elevators, and knocking on random stateroom doors late at night just to annoy people. I hear this is common on other ships, too, but it would be nice if the cruise lines could be a little stricter in terms of kids under 18 running around unattended after a certain time of night.

The gift shops had some t-shirts, jackets and baseball caps, but were otherwise lacking when it came to clothing choices. I also wasn’t impressed with their makeup and perfume selections, but the jewelry was beautiful, and they had some nice handbags. I didn’t end up purchasing much of anything in the gift shops on board, which was good, because it meant I had more money to spend in port.

I brought along the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, but didn’t have a chance to start it until the second At Sea day. (Good thing, because it’s such a wonderful book, I might have been tempted to stay on my balcony all day and just read.) Instead, I popped in and out of the Internet Cafe to say hi to my kids back home. The cafe smelled a bit of cigar smoke, because it’s adjacent to the Ionian Lounge, but I found the pricing plan to be a good value. I never had to wait for an available computer, and the internet manager was very helpful.

This was definitely a low-key cruise, which was exactly what I was looking for.

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