Good news?  We are back on a boat!  Bad news?  It is only for a week, we aren’t in charge of where it goes, and we are joined by about 4,000 other people.  We are on a cruise ship for seven days.  We shall see if we survive.

We have been on one other cruise before, back in 2012.  That time was with Mssr. Disney on one of his little boats  AJ was about seven years old.  We remember vividly as we sat on deck pulling out of Orlando, looking down at a sailing catamaran waaaaay below us and Jan saying “I want to be where they are.”  Which we were for awhile.  We decided that as part of this trip we would use the cruise ship to help us see some of Italy which would have been tough to add to an already long trip.  So cruise.

We depart from Barcelona and when we get to the port we see that there are not one but FIVE cruise ships in port.  This is, apparently, a popular place.  We get quickly aboard and then are in the weird.  The weird, as those of you who have been on a cruise can relate to, is the period between the time you get on board and the time you can get in your room.  Experienced cruisers bring swimsuits and belly up to either the buffet or the bar (or both), getting a jump on the pound a day gain in weight.  The jet-lagged (those unfortunate bastards who flew into Spain in the past 24 hours from the states to get on the cruise) are passed out on couches in the shade.  The inexperienced wander aimlessly looking for a place to hang out where they won’t look like, well, inexperienced cruisers.

We took a tour of the boat, which lasted an hour.  It covered the major areas of the ship that we will probably never see like the spa, the gym and the really fancy dining room (extra cost).  But it wasted an hour.  We headed up to a place called ‘Entourage,’ which is a room for 13-17 year olds and signed AJ up.  Then we headed downstairs to a pub to get some hot wings and watch the British Open on TV.  Bags delivered at 4pm, we ate dinner at 5pm, AJ disappeared at 6pm and we were underway.

Our first day would be at sea…we would head out from Barcelona, at 7pm(isa) and spend the next 36 hours at sea until we got to Naples, Italy.  While underway, let’s review some of our thoughts/goals for the trip and (given I’m writing this after we return) if we make it or not.

1.  Use the cruise to see the Mediterranean Sea; want to check it out for future sailing opportunities.

Boom.  Check.  Jan decided that we would buy a place in Cannes and cruise in the Med.  For the seven day we were on the sea, six of them were calm.  Placid.  Only one day were there any waves to speak of.  What the hell are we dong boating on the East Coast in those big waves. 

2.  Check out Italy and explore some cities we haven’t been to before.

Check.  Kind of.  We did get to see Naples, Florence and Cannes which we have missed in the past. And AJ and I got to Mallorca, which Jan had seen before.  Jan and I had seen Rome before but AJ has not.  But the cruise was not conducive to how we like to explore cities.  Naples and Florence were excursions booked through the cruise lines and we spent time at ‘demonstrations’ which were sales pitches for some local trinket.  Then we were following a guide like little duckies which is cool for about 10 minutes but sucks for a couple of hours.  Rome was through a different company and was good–it was a ride to Rome and back to the ship, but the port is 90 minutes from Rome.  We did Cannes and Mallorca on our own; no issues.  Other than Jan wants to buy a place in Cannes and that ain’t cheap.  Anyone need to hire a nurse?

3.  Not gain weight.  The average, we have heard, amount of weight gain on a cruise is a pound a day.  We are on the boat for seven days.  We took a tour of the gym, it looks nice, lots of machines, we should be able to nail this.

Yeah.  We nailed it all right, but not in a good way.  Jan and AJ probably walked off the boat even or down a couple of pounds.  But I MORE than made up for it.  I want to say I only had to expand my belt by one hole, but it hurts so bad, it probably should be three.  I went to the gym twice, but there was no real effort.  I ‘ran’ with AJ once, but that was really AJ running and me yelling.  Lots of trips to the buffet.  You get the picture.

4.  Get AJ some kid time.

Check and in a HUGE way.  As stated earlier, there is a club for 13-17 year old kids, no parents allowed.  AJ left us on Sunday afternoon, about 6pm.  I had to find him at 1am to get him back to the room–a failure on our part to clearly say that 1am (the ship curfew for kids) is the time for you to be back!  Every single day afterward we saw AJ when we woke him up and went ashore.  Then he showered and disappeared unto some time after we had gone to bed.  No early idea what he did, but apparently he enjoyed the trip.

5. Enjoy someone else doing all the work driving the boat from port to port while we participate in all the activities.

Meh.  While there is something to be said about not having to worry about moving from point a to b, there is only so much fun stuff to do on a ship.  And I like sailing our boat!

6.  Not spend one more penny aboard the ship, other than what we already laid out for the cruise.  I’m cheap.  I don’t like to spend money frivolously.  We paid for the cruise including some packages for drinks, internet and tips.  The cruise has insidious ways to get us to spend more of our money on their boat.

Not zero but not bad.  We spend just over $100 for our seven days aboard the boat.  The breakdown was $20 for laundry, which was a necessity.  $45 to pay for busses from the ship into Mallorca city center which was worth it–saved an hour or more of waiting in the hot sun for a cab.  The rest for AJ to play video games on the last two days of the trip.  Which sounds like a lot, but at $2.00 per game, not so many. 

7.  Use 250 minutes or less of ship’s internet, which was included in our cruise.  250 minutes is what AJ considers a ‘good day.’  The 250 minutes is for all of us.

BOOM!  We used less than 200 minutes total for the trip and had used less than half of the minutes up to the last night when we tried to burn down the minutes.  Turns out that if AJ is occupied all day and all night, the internet doesn’t get used!  We did have some assistance–when we were in port, we had use of cellular coverage, but mostly that was used for Mr. google to help us find our way around the city.

8.  Enjoy ourselves.

Yep.  Enjoyed ourselves.