Note: This post was originally supposed to go up on August 10th, right after my family and I got back from our cruise to Mexico, but seems to have gotten lost in the ether. Still, I thought, no reason not to go ahead and post it now. Maybe it will put you back in a summery frame of mind . . .

Photo by Paul Beattie, CC BY-ND 2.0

In which I give all manner of free advertising to Carnival Cruise Lines . . .

I swore to myself I was gonna make this trip invisible to the blog, by lining up saved posts ahead of time, but in the end one lonely post, posted the day after I intended, was all I could manage.† Now I’ve got less than a week to accomplish a million things that really need to get done before the next school year begins.

I wasn’t always such a fan of cruising. That was more Lisa’s thing, while I loved nothing more than a good road trip. The thing is, a good road trip is more of a young dude’s thing–before kids in the backseat, before setting up the DVD player (and before said DVD player arrived on the scene, forcing me to leave the stereo off), before carsick passengers, and before having to have every detail in the itinerary planned.

Maybe some day the freewheeling road trips of my youth will be possible again, but for now I’ve learned to enjoy the perks of a good cruise: tons of activities for every member of the family, most of the major expenses taken care of up front, getting there is more than half the fun (you rarely hear “are we there yet?”), and you unpack only once while your hotel room moves with you.

A lot of folks in this town hear me mention cruises and immediately start talking Disney Cruise Line, but I’m actually not a fan. My wife and I have cruised with Carnival, Norwegian, Disney, and this little rinky-dink outfit out of Fort Lauderdale, and the one we keep coming back to is Carnival. My biggest complaint with Disney is that there frankly wasn’t very much to do. I guess a lot of people like to sit on the pool deck all day relaxing, reading, drinking, and so forth. On Disney, all the activities are pretty much in the evening, and often they are scheduled to conflict with their (excellent) theater shows. Their much-vaunted “adult entertainment district” is, in my experience, usually completely dead.

On Carnival, the party never seems to stop, from well before I get up in the morning until I pass out early the next morning. And it doesn’t hurt that Carnival costs like half as much as Disney does.

This cruise managed to exceed my already high expectations in a number of ways. There were a lot of little things I appreciated, like their new open dining time plan, the way several of their bar servers seemed to learn my name after just one evening, and even the magician doing card tricks from table to table during dinner time. They also had even more of my favorite activities than I’d come to expect. I didn’t see comment cards in the usual pile of debarkation paperwork, and that’s too bad, because I would have had extremely positive things to say about the Inspiration and her crew.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of my favorite things about cruises–apart from getting to explore foreign ports of call–was karaoke. This trip didn’t disappoint in that regard, and I got to add a couple of new songs to my repertoire: Colin Raye’s “That’s My Story” and Sammy Kershaw’s “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful.” I also gave the best rendition I’ve given of David Lee Roth’s “Just A Gigolo”–I may not quite have mastered the scat part of the song yet, but I muddled my way through pretty dang decently.

As last blasts go, this was a pretty decent way to close out a summer. 😎

† i.e., Friday, which is quickly shaping up to be this site’s black hole in terms of traffic.

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