My husband, Eric, and I were married just this last May, but because of busy schedules we weren’t able to take our honeymoon until November. We tossed ideas back and forth like a football. Hawaii – lovely and one of our favorite places? Naw. Let’s try something new. Europe? We both love Europe in the fall, but not really in our price range at the moment. When Eric suggested we take a cruise, I remember looking at him like he’d grown another head. He had spent years working on a fishing boat up in Alaska and a vessel on the sea was the last place I thought he would want to be.
Warm weather. Sandy beaches. All-inclusive. Plus, he had never cruised before – I couldn’t think of a better way than to escape the drizzly skies of the Pacific Northwest in November.
We had time share points listing away in an account, and a phone call later, I was able to take those points and book a four-day Bahama cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty. The weeks slipped by quickly and before we knew it, we were packing our bags and heading to Orlando to spend a few days with family before heading to Port Canaveral to catch our boat.
I had taken one cruise before, many moons ago, and I don’t remember a ton about my trip. We were both like fish out of water as we showed our passports, got our pictures taken, and walked the gangway to the boat.
A lovely cruise employee directed us to a bank of elevators as soon as we crossed the threshold of the boat. “Head up to deck 9 for lunch!” With a ding, the elevator doors opened and we walked into the open air of the Lido Deck. Folks were already swimming lazily in the salt water pool, kids flying down the waterslide, platters of tasty-looking food scattered on tables, and those always-appealing fruity umbrella drinks in our hands.
We had a folded piece of paper in our hands with our cruise information (which was supposed to be used in lieu until we got our cruise cards later that afternoon), but we weren’t sure how to get food or drinks. In hindsight, it cracks me up the conversation we had huddled around a little table near the cantina.
Eric: “Do we just use this piece of paper to get a drink?”
Me: “I have no idea. Do we have to show it to get food?”
Eric: (taking control of the situation): “Okay. I’m going to see if I can get us some drinks.”
Me: “I’ll try to get us something to eat.”
Without another word, we broke away only to find each other a few minutes later, me with a chicken burrito and he with two bright pink drinks. Success!
“This is all free?” Eric asked me incredulously as he sipped his first and last pink drink.
We wandered around the top deck after filling our bellies, snapping picture of what would be “home” for the next four days. A DJ, perched high above the main pool, spun tunes while a huge screen behind him flashed “Welcome Aboard Carnival Liberty. Next stop? Bahamas!”
At 2:30, we got the green light to go to our rooms to bring our bags inside. I could barely contain my excitement as Eric swiped his card to go inside our cabin – I had secretly upgraded us to a balcony suite on the aft of the boat.
We spent the next 48 hours lounging in the sun, playing on Cable Beach in Nassau, sipping on cocktails, and cruising all over the boat. One of our favorite parts? The music that seemed to be in every corner of the ship from the steel drum player in the casino to the pianist, Tony Ward in the sing-a-long piano bar to the R&B band rocking the entire Atrium.
We knew were going to have a great time – Carnival cruises are dubbed the “fun ships” after all, but our experience far exceeded what we could have dreamed. It was phenomenal. The best part? The folks we’ve met will become lifelong friends that we hope to see on another cruise in the future. We’re both anxious to get back to the sea.