Monday, March 1, 2010

Out to Sea!

Okay, let's get this party started! I'm going to try to combine several days into this first recap post (which means it will be a long one, so brace yourselves), because we spent our first two days at sea, so they were relatively uneventful. Well, there was some fun stuff like touring the ship and seeing TWO of Heather's shows, so I don't really think they were uneventful, but some of you may. That's okay. That's why they're all clumped into this one post. Then tomorrow, we'll start getting to some island fun.

Day #1: Friday, February 12
Ft. Lauderdale/At Sea

Dad and I left St. Pete to make the drive to Ft. Lauderdale around 5:00 a.m. We arrived at Port Everglades around 9:00 a.m., and as we pulled up to Terminal 2, I got my first look at the Grand Princess. At this point, I was a tad bit excited.

Arriving at Port Everglades

There she is - my home for two weeks!

We waited for Heather to come through customs, then we all went to Publix so Heather could do some shopping. We also made a very important stop at the wine/liquor store so we could stock up for the trip. Needless to say I think we set a record for most money we have ever spent on wine in a single trip. But, when all was said and done we had 10 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of champagne, and a bottle of Bacardi. Please bear in mind that this is for two weeks, people. That's like, a bottle of wine per day, which is only a couple glasses per person. It's not as bad as it sounds. I think we scared my dad a little, though, as we loaded up that cart. (Which is another thing...I can't say I have ever used a cart in a liquor store before. That was kind of fun.)

Heather and our cart. Don't worry, we're not finished yet.

Our stash unloaded in Heather's cabin, plus a bottle or two in the fridge.

Heather's boyfriend Rick was coming down to surprise Heather for a day visit, but he had not yet arrived so to kill time we drove around and looked at the disgustingly huge houses in the area. Ick. But, I guess you need a big house if you're afraid your yacht will steal too much of the focus otherwise, right?

Once Rick arrived, we all went to Bubba Gump Shrimp for lunch, then loaded up our wine in our bags and got ready to get on the ship. We bid farewell to Rick and to Dad, then it was go time!

At lunch with Dad, Heather and Rick

Family photo after lunch

Getting through security and all that was no trouble at all, and we were on the ship and in Heather's cabin shortly after 1:00. We dropped off our stuff, then she took me out for a tour of the ship. She showed me all around, including the two theaters she performs in. I would spend much time in those theaters over the course of the cruise, that's for sure! I was pretty overwhelmed with how big the ship was and saw no chance that I would learn my way around. (Eventually I did, to some extent - mostly I knew how to get to Heather's cabin, the buffet, and the theaters. That's the important stuff, at least.)

Heather in her cabin. Also, meet our two travel companions: Molly-On-A-Stick, and Eric-On-A-Stick!

VIDEO: A look at Heather's cabin

The Atrium

The Princess Theater, where Heather performs most of her shows

My favorite part of the tour - Heather's headshot outside the Princess Theater!

The Vista Lounge, where Heather performs her "Motor City" show

The main outdoor pool on Deck 14. They show movies, etc. on that big screen.

Another pool at the back of the ship. I liked this one. Most mornings, we ate breakfast in this area so we could look out off the ship.

That evening, Heather had a sound check for the Welcome Aboard Show at 5:30. I went along with her, then we went back to her cabin and got ready for the evening. She had two shows that night, at 7:45 and 9:45. I went to both, of course. This was a new Welcome Aboard Show (or WABS, if you're "in the know") that they had never done before, but I thought they did a great job. The singers/dancers did four numbers, two as a group and one featuring each female singer. In between each number, the cruise directors would speak about the features of the ship, entertainment, food, etc.

I got some video of the performances, if you are interested in that. Unfortunately, my video skills are lacking and I did not actually record one of the numbers featuring Heather, although I thought I did. Blah. But, I did get two group numbers. I have posted the more upbeat one, "We Are Family," below, and if you want to see the other ("Sailing") click here.

VIDEO: "We Are Family" from the Welcome Aboard Show.
If you are looking for Heather at the very beginning, she is on the upper platform on the left when they do their first "pose." She has a long ponytail and is wearing a pantsuit.

Needless to say, I got super excited during "We Are Family" because Heather kept singing about "I've got all my sisters with me" and I was all HECK YEAH YOU DO!!!!!!

After Heather's last show, we had a glass of wine in her cabin. Her friends Leisel (a dancer), Ryan (a cruise director-type person), and Andrew (another singer) came to her cabin, then we all went up to the buffet for dinner. Unfortunately, the ship was rocking pretty bad and I started to feel pretty seasick. So, we didn't stay long. We went back to Heather's cabin and Leisel brought me a seasick patch, which was a MIRACLE WORKER (until later in the week...stay tuned for THAT story). I laid down for a bit and started to feel better, but it was time for bed. Busy day!

Day #2: Saturday, February 13
At Sea

We woke up around 10:30 a.m. I was so surprised at how dark it stays in Heather's room with her porthole closed! It is just as dark in there at noon as at midnight, so I never knew how late I was sleeping in. Heather was probably thankful for that, since I wasn't waking up early and interrupting her sleep. Ha! That girl does love her sleep.

I was very happy to no longer be feeling seasick (thank you, miracle seasick patch). We relaxed a bit then made it up to the buffet just in time to catch breakfast, which was delightful. I'll tell you what, I am already missing that breakfast buffet. I woke up this morning and was all, where are my eggs and bacon and potatoes and pastries and fresh fruit???? We ate nearly every morning out by the back pool, which was so nice.

My first breakfast on the ship

Heather at breakfast

We had hoped to lay out in the sun, but it was cloudy. So, we just walked around the ship a bit. We caught the tail end of a martini demonstration in the Atrium, and saw a Jacqueline Kennedy jewelry display (the hair brooch I wore for my wedding was from the Jacqueline Kennedy collection, so I liked this). We stopped in a couple shops then went back to the room for mimosas. We finished off the bottle of the champagne as I introduced Heather to the awesomeness that is the show "Jersey Shore." That show is glorious, if you are not familiar. It's a total train wreck, and I knew Heather would love it. Basically, we just lounged around all afternoon.

We did get off our butts for a bit to go talk to the shore excursions lady about getting the tours we wanted. She was able to get us all five of our top choices, and a couple of them we got for free! She was our new best friend.

We had a late lunch at the buffet, then Heather had another sound check at 5:00. I stayed behind and started getting ready for our first formal night of the cruise, then Heather came back to get ready for the show. That night she performed the show "Stardust," which they just premiered on the last cruise. It has much older music than some of the other shows, but there's lots of singing and Heather looked gorgeous in her costumes. I, of course, love every one of her performances. She's amazing.

Heather in "Stardust"

Heather and Brian

Below is a video of selections (read: parts Heather sings in) from Stardust, but I must take this moment for a disclaimer. My video skills are AWFUL. Actually, they're not usually that bad, but you are not really allowed to take video of these shows and I was pretty paranoid about getting caught and getting Heather in trouble. So, I tried to keep my viewing screen on the camcorder closed, and be as discreet as possible. This means that much of the time I was videoing, I had no idea what I was actually taping. So, I wound up with a lot of blurry footage, footage where Heather is behind someone's head, and even footage of the ceiling (that is more evident in my videos from the next show, so you'll see that later). In an effort to salvage these videos, I put in some still pictures in places where the video is pretty awful, so you can still hear the audio but look at something nicer. Hopefully this gives you enough of an idea of what the show is like!

VIDEO: Selections from "Stardust"

Heather once again had two shows that night (7:45 and 9:45), and I went to both again. Afterwards, Leisel, Ryan and Andrew came back to her cabin for a glass of wine, then we went to the buffet for some dinner. We were joined by Heather's friends Peter and Nikki (both dancers), and from there we went up to the nightclub, Skywalkers, where we danced, drank and talked. Leisel, Ryan, Heather and I were the last ones left up there and we talked until 3:00 a.m. Then, we finally called it a night!

Heather and me at Skywalkers with Stick Molly and Stick Eric

Day #3: Sunday, February 14 (Valentine's Day!)
At Sea

We woke up around 11:00. Our first stop of the morning was the shore excursions office to sign waivers for our first excursion (coming up in tomorrow's recap!), then went up to the decks to lay out in the sun for a while. Glorious, glorious sunshine. After a while we took a break and hit the grill for lunch, then went back to Deck 15 for more sun time. We were in front of the big screen over the pool that time, and at 3:00 they played a Cirque de Solei video. All in all, a very relaxing afternoon.

On the deck with Stick Molly

Looking out over the pool and big screen

In honor of Valentine's Day, at 4:00 in the Atrium the cruise director, Martyn, led a vow renewal ceremony for anyone who wanted to participate. Heather and I went to watch that, which was very sweet.

The Atrium decorated for Valentine's Day and set up for the vow renewal

Couples renewing their vows

After the vow renewal we did quite possibly the most shocking activity of the entire cruise: we WENT TO THE GYM. Do you believe it? Me either, but it's true. It's actually really nice because you can walk/run on the treadmill and just look out over the water. It's so beautiful.

Of course, we then negated our workout by stopping for softserve at the ice cream bar on our way back to the cabin, but whatever.

That night Heather gave the final performance of the Stardust show at 8:00, then we had some wine and hit the buffet for dinner again. I also bought a phone card and was able to call Eric, which was so nice. I missed him like crazy.

My Valentine's Day dinner from the buffet, with Stick Eric close at hand

With my husband-on-a-stick on Valentine's Day

That evening we ended up at the martini bar to listen to the pianist. Heather enjoyed an "'Earshey's Kiss" martini that came in a most elaborately decorated glass, and I had an "Oceans 11," which was really just my favorite Washington Apple with a fancy new name. The piano music was lovely and we were eventually joined by Ryan and Leisel. We did call it a night fairly early, however, because we had an early morning the next day!

The pianist in the Promenade Bar

The inside of Heather's glass - do you believe that's chocolate???

Lovely girl with a lovely cocktail


Up next: Our day in Aruba, including...SCUBA DIVING!

Also, NOTE: Just as I did with our Europe pictures (and continue to do with any other big events), I will be uploading all of my pictures from the cruise to our photo share site. That includes all photos seen here, as well as many, many more. So, if you're interested in seeing more after any of these posts, please check out that site!


Becky said...

Yay! Your first blog already and I loved it as usual. Looking forward to Aruba...

Dad said...

It looks like such fun. Except who is the old guy pushing the wine shopping cart?

Lauren said...

Looks like a great time, can't wait to see more :-)

AD said...

You make me laugh-! You are the very best blogger EVER.

Molly said...

This whole trip looks amazing, and I've only read through Day 3! I can't believe Heather is living that day in and day out - and I loved the video of her performance! Arturo said it looked like a TMZ video when the paparazzi try to get good footage of the celebs and they end up blurry so they just put somebody else's photo in instead :) Haha! I can't wait to read the rest!