As you may have already seen via the tweets and Facebook updates, the Mattocks bunch officially embarked on their Caribbean vacation yesterday aboard the Carnival Cruise ship, Conquest. For me and the girls this constitutes our maiden voyage on a body of water larger than a reflecting pool. For my wife, Ashley, this is her second such trip, the previous one being taken with her girlfriends, during which she proceeded to get hammered and then engage in a karaoke melee to the upbeat stylings of Fiona Apple. Given that our current excursion is intended to be more family oriented, Ashley has promised to refrain from singing of any sort.
We arrived at the port in Galveston around noon, and by dinner the ship departed. In between this time, we grabbed a bite to eat, got situated in our room, and then attended the mandatory muster briefing, at which everyone was informed on the evacuation procedures “in the unlikely event” the ship should sink. (I have to say, I’m rather enthralled with the engineering of the lifeboats, touted as being “unsinkable” by the ship’s Cruise Director.)
What gets me is massiveness of the ship, something impressed upon me from the moment Ashley pointed it out to everyone …when we still a good three or four miles away. “There’s our ship,” she said with a matter-of-fact sort of glee. Given the distance it was difficult to make out any sort of details, but the grayish-blue form looming ahead reminded me of a scene from the recent Star Trek film where a young James T. Kirk gazes out at the docked Starship Enterprise which dominates the twilight horizon. Am I being dramatic? Naturally. (Hellooo, It’s me, people.) However, the notion of a swashbuckling Captain Kirk at the helm of the Conquest provided me a solid thirty minutes of amusement.
Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be such a great idea given that I’ve grown rather attached to my life vest. (The ship’s staff has had to switch out three of them with me already because I can’t keep from tinkering with the built-in homing beacon. Apparently, it sends out a distress signal the Coast Guard or something like that.)
No, I’m thankful that the ship’s crew is so safety conscious, as well as being even more engaging. Everyone from the wait staff to the stewards have gone out of their way to introduce themselves and to ensure we have everything we need. This is particularly impressive for the cleaning personnel who I have to imagine are forced to deal with all manner of unpleasant discoveries while servicing rooms.
For the record, I do not attribute these courtesies as being endemic to our family’s role as Carnival Ambassadors. Yes, there have been some associated perks, but as a whole, the majority of the staff and crew are unaware of our purpose, and so I would have to say such friendly treatment is the rule and not the exception. No quid-pro-quo here.
To underscore this somewhat, there’s a few things I should mention here. What Carnival didn’t realize when they invited me to be their guest, was my propensity for free-wielding cynicism. Add to this my being raised in the Workaholic faith, where relaxation is considered a sin (even a few hours of TV can induce a soul-crushing guilt redeemable only through an afternoon of yard work); and then compound these with my inability to ignore the laws of physics which dictate that steel is a material that sinks in water, and what Carnival has on its hands is a pessimistic, antsy, nervous Neddy. It’s not out of the question that such a volatile combination of these nefarious traits could justify rechristening the Conquest as the U.S.S. Maine (proverbially speaking of course).
My wife better sums up these behaviors which always tend to surface when I am forced out my routine, referring to me as a curmudgeon. Admittedly, there’s probably some truth to this. At the current moment, I am in the ship’s library typing away amidst other sixty year-olds who, in between bridge hands, are complaining about the limited hours for checking out books. Still, I do intend (at my wife’s prodding) to engage in a whole host of activities with shuffleboard, napping and early dinners ranking high in the order of priorities.
Ultimately, though, I am enjoying myself, which I think was my family’s chief concern. When I am at my curmudgeonly best, it tends to put a damper on things for everyone. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case thus far. Ashley’s wit is running at full-speed ahead, while the girls’ excitement over the array of activities designed specifically for them can hardly be contained. Their giddiness may or may not be influenced by unlimited access to the all-you-can-eat dessert bar. But whatever. If having fun means gorging themselves on mass quantities of Key Lime Pie and cheesecake the same way that that annoying Ke$ha claims to guzzle whiskey in her overbearingly loud and rock music, then have at it, girls. After all, the point of a vacation is to have fun, and based on the last twenty-four hours, that’s what everyone seems to be doing.
Note: In compliance with FTC regulations I am required to disclose that Carnival Shanghais’d me on their dime for this swell cruise in exchange for my humble thoughts posted here.