Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Somewhere Beyond the Sea... Sea Day #3

Summer Cruise 2014
Just One More Day

Saturday, August 9, 2014 

"It is not how you start but how you end." This was the motto of our day and we were ready to see how our cruise was going to end.

Both Chris and I woke up later that usual and more of a "cruising" time at 7:40 AM. I only had about 4 hours of sleep due to the room temperature and the hardness and stiffness of the bed so I was very tired and weak. We went straight to the Main Dining Room for breakfast and they really hit a home run on this day. The daily special was a Bacon Quiche and was the best breakfast dish of the cruise and the best quiche I have ever had (Although, I don't eat very many quiches). Chris had given many compliments about the "make your own" cereal and granola bar so I too gave it a shot on this day and I was pleasantly surprised. 

We left breakfast and went straight to the Rock Wall for Chris to conquer the hard level. We were the 2nd ones there and while waiting in line we met a guy who is the greeter at local Walmart. I love stuff like this and really reminds me of living in a small town! Chris was able to get to the very top of the hard level within 1 try and did it like a pro! He even impressed the Sports Deck guide! I tried to do the easy level again but the grips were already too hot for my delicate skin and I only made it 2/3 of the way to the top.

We are ready to tackle this beast of a Rock Wall.

Chris made it to the top of the hard level in ONE try!

At 10:00 AM we went to the theater for the "Captain's Corner" talk and discussion. Here the Captain, Hotel Director, Chief Engineer and the Environmental Specialist sat in for a Q&A session with guests. We learned a lot of information about each department and had some laughs with the Captain at Carnival's disposal. He really doesn't like them. We did learn that Royal Caribbean has 4 new ships in the making and is currently looking towards going in a completely different direction and having a new style of cruise that would include more additional fee restaurants an no Main Dining Room. This is depressing to us since we like the "all inclusive" style that is currently on most cruise ships. The Captain particularly said they Royal Caribbean is in it to make money so if this new style works then there is a very good chance it will go fleet wide.

Captain Frank Martinsen... He was a real hoot!

We then followed the Captain and other high officers to Deck 12 to the jogging track for "Walk for Wishes". This was a 1 mile walk along the jogging track with the Captain for the Make a Wish foundation. We were able to donate some money to help kids in need and get to walk a mile with the Captain. This really went along the lines of "New Beginnings" and the more active approach we were taking for this cruise. Chris even got to walk directly beside the Captain and his #2 guy for 10 minutes.

Chris and I with #2 in charge on the ship.

Chris and I with the Captain and his #2. 

Walking the "Walk for Wishes". 

Chris, the Captain and his #2 just having a brief brisk walk talk.

We were hungry from the "Walk for Wishes" so we headed back to the Main Dining Room. We were very much looking forward to the menu since the previous day's selections were so good. Unfortunately it was a repeat menu from the first day but we were able to try new things since the menu was so vast. However, I was disappointed in my choices. 

Chris then went back to the room for a quick nap while I went and selected the professional pictures we would be purchasing. At 2:00 PM we went into Studio B for our Ice Skating session. Neither Chris nor I had ever ice skated but I have been inline skating many times back in my teenage years. Chris struggled and held onto the railings most of the 45 minutes while I was on center ice and doing spins and taking selfies. This was my biggest surprise of the cruise and wish we would not have waited until the last opportunity to do this.

It's time to show this ice what we're made of. 

Chris about 30 minutes into our session and he let go of the wall. 

He was getting better and better! 

Time for me to shine and take a selfie while Ice Skating! 

Skating time is over... Sad day!

We built up a small appetite and substantial thirst from our skating adventure so we headed to Cafe Promenade for afternoon pizza and cookies. Several of the "suits" from the Food Department including Mr. Werner (The guy we had dinner with a few nights back) were inside Cafe Promenade serving the guests and even making the cookies and pizzas. This really said something about them as individuals and Royal Caribbean as a company. Anytime a "higher up" type of individual gets down in the trenches with their employees and they gain total respect in my book. The best companies in America are built on this foundation. It might have been a coincidence but this was the best Cafe Promenade food of the trip. 

It would not be a DAVIS cruise without a game of Bingo. On our very first cruise back in 2006 with Chris parents we played several games since it was his parents favorite activity on board and this time we went to a session of 4 games and one was a "win a cruise" game. We opted to buy the cheapest available option of 6 cards for each of the 4 games for $32 instead of the "machine" option which was 33 cards per game for $55. This seemed ridiculous to me but looking back, I would purchase the machine because all 5 winners from the games came from machine players. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and a true DAVIS tradition. 

Before we went to dinner we waited in the 10 people deep line at Guest Services to get the self-assist tickets to get off the boat on Sunday. We were in the 5th group and should depart around 8:45 AM. We then went to dinner and had a wonderful last meal aboard The Navigator of the Seas. Our two waiters, Agnelo and Sachin, we both back from brief sickness and we were able to thank them and tip them additional money for their services. It was amazing to see the smile on their faces when they saw our gratitude. They both worked SO hard all week, as did ALL of the dining room staff, to serve us and help make our cruise a memorable experience. We learned in our galley tour that these waiters work 10-12 hour days 7 days a week without a day off during a 10 month contract. This made my heart melt for these people and their families. Sachin was so grateful and said "It was my pleasure Mr. and Mrs. Davis and please give my regards to your family". It almost made me tear up. He was so appreciative and your would have thought we gave him $1,000. Most of the time when we tip in a restaurant on land the waiter is not appreciative at all and usually asks for more or complains with the little you gave them. It was great to see a reaction from a non-greedy, non-American person. May God bless Sachin and Agnelo and thank you both for your services! You truly made our cruise a great experience.

Oh no... our glorious cruise is almost over!

We were also able to listen to the smooth sounds of the piano as we ate our dinner. It was quite humorous because he played a great mixture of hymns and Disney songs. He played "Let it Go" from Frozen and received a round of applause.  Since he received applause, he started playing another Disney song.  Chris and I, decided to keep clapping after every Disney song to see how many he played in a row and it worked as he played 6 or 7 straight.   In fact, Chris and I had a game of "Name that Tune" going on... I won! 

We wanted to really get the most out of our last evening on the ship so we went back to Deck 5 to the helicopter pad to watch the sunset. We got there about 40 minutes before the sun went down so we met and talked to a wonderful couple and family in the mean time. Come to find out they too were from The Woodlands and even knew our music minister, Kevin Kendrick. Such a small world.

Another Titanic moment at the forward of the ship during the sunset.

Look at my handsome hubby!

What a beautiful sight and yet another sign of God's awesomeness.

We went to the Farewell Show which included entertainment from a juggler, the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers, The Navigator orchestra and all of the entertainment staff and top level staff. While the juggler was not my thing he was entertaining and I enjoyed him very much. Chris was fascinated with him almost as much as I was with the trumpet player. This was an amazing way to end our cruise and so much better than the finale shows Carnival has produced.

Mr. Werner, Executive Chef Scott and the entertainment staff during the Farewell show!

I was not happy with the losses we had in the casino so I thought I would give it one more shot... especially since this is LITERALLY the only time we can play since gambling is illegal in the state of Texas. We played at a $10 Blackjack table and I doubled my $40 plus $20 within a matter of 30 minutes. Chris on the other hand lost his $40 budget sooner than later. I decided I wanted to try a different table since my luck was seeming to change. I should have quit while I was ahead. I moved over a table, gave Chris some of my winnings (big mistake there) and then lost my winnings within 10 minutes. This just goes to show you that you have to know when to walk away! Despite our losses in the casino on this cruise, we still never went over our designated budget and in fact, came home with some of that seed money so I am satisfied. 

We walked down the Royal Promenade one more time before retiring to our room only to find out that the AC was not working and it was nearly 80* in our room. I called Guest Relations and they sent a technician to check on it. They asked me over the phone if my balcony was shut and it was. We had noticed the AC not flowing freely most of the days so we kept a good eye on making sure the sliding glass doors were always shut and we also kept the curtains shut while we were not in the room to help lower the temp as well. The technician came about 1 hour later and said the balcony door was not "double locked" so after a certain amount of time the AC shuts off. This was so annoying and made it hard to go to sleep. This will be a trick I remember for Royal Caribbean in the future. 

We finally got the room to cool down around 11:30 PM and we tried to finish our packing and go to bed. Tomorrow we have to face reality and go back to the real world... What a sad day! BUT, I was SO READY TO SEE MY KIDDOS! 

God is good... All the time! 

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