Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trip Report: Christmas Cruise on Independence of the Seas [Day 2] At Sea

Rachel and I spent the morning of our first sea day in bed catching up on some much-needed sleep.  Dad called our room at 9:30 in the morning.

Dad - "Hey!  What are you up to?"
Rachel - "Sleeping!  It's 9:30 AM!"
Dad - "I'm going to get us tickets for the ice show.  What time would you like to go?  3:30 or 5:00?  Also, we can go today or on the day we're in St. Maarten."
Rachel - "Uhhhh... 5:00 today is good."

We realized that we were sailing along with the Carnival Breeze.

Carnival Breeze

I hung our Clemson flag on the balcony so that all of the dolphins who happened to swim by would know that we were Tigers.



Tigers at Sea

Rachel and I ate a late breakfast at the Windjammer. It's not very crowded at 11 in the morning, and it's a good thing because I hate waiting in lines at buffets. When I'm hungry, I do not have the patience to watch the person in front of me sift through the bacon to find the best piece. Get out of my way - I need food! That morning I made the disappointing discovery that Royal Caribbean's eggs are most definitely poured out of a carton, and might not even come from a chicken. From how they tasted, I wouldn't be surprised if they were pigeon eggs.

We then made our way to the Vitality Spa to book massages. There wasn't much availability during the afternoon the next day (unless we wanted to do a couples massage, which the lady booking us seemed to be encouraging), but we were able to get 75-minute massage appointments for the next evening.

You know Rachel's not feeling well when she doesn't even want to lay out in the sun to get her tan on. We ended up spending most of the afternoon in my parent's stateroom watching movies on TBS. The commercials are in Spanish, but the movies are in English. I was rather disappointed in Royal Caribbean's television. Lately I've been spoiled by On-Demand offerings on Disney Fantasy and Royal Princess. Royal Caribbean had two decent English channels... only one of which had English commercials.

Strings Ice Show

While passengers are encouraged to obtain complimentary tickets to the ice show that they choose to attend, guests without tickets are allowed to fill remaining seats five minutes before the show begins.

I've seen the cruise ship ice shows before on Mariner of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of choreography.  The small ice rink doesn't give the skaters much room to work with, and in the shows I had seen in the past, the choreographer/show-writer seemed to take more advantage of large props and elaborate costumes than the talent of the skaters.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Strings.  The narrative follows the violin from its invention and how manipulation of its sound has shaped music throughout history.  Music was performed by a live violinist, and besides a chair in the beginning, there wasn't a heavy reliance on props.  Costumes fit the time period and style of music thematically, but they didn't restrict the skaters' movement.

Strings - Ice Show

Strings - Ice Show

There were a lot of really great partner skating routines.  Many impressive (to me) lifts and stunts.  And I don't believe I saw a single fall throughout the entire show.

Strings - Ice Show

Strings - Ice Show

The western routine was by far my favorite.  The featured female skater for this was very tiny, so there were a lot of cool tricks with her.  I believe it was the best part of the show.

Strings - Ice Show

Strings - Ice Show

Strings - Ice Show

Strings - Ice Show

I really enjoyed the ice show.  I was impressed by the talent of the skaters and how confident they were in the skills they performed.  It was also nice to see an ice show not overwhelmed by ridiculous props.  And the narrative, Strings, wasn't ridiculously corny, either (maybe a little corny).

Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception

There is one reason and one reason only we get ready an hour before dinner and attend the Captain's Party.  Free champagne is perhaps the only reason my family ever arrives anywhere on time.  We were actually a little early (this never happens!).  We found a seat in the promenade and waited for the bartenders to start passing out the bubbly.  7:30 PM arrives... nothing.  7:40... no drinks, no captain.  SOMEONE PLEASE BRING ME SOME CHAMPAGNE!

Rachel wasn't allowed to drink on her medication, so naturally she decided to forgo the meds in favor of alcohol.  Rachel needed to start numbing the pain, so I headed to the champagne bar and ordered two 7-7s (R's drink of choice).

Bartender - "That's 14."
Me - "I'm sorry?"
Bartender - "Two 7-7s... that's 14."
Rando lady sitting at bar - "Haha, I get it!"
Me - "No, two 7-7s.... that's 28."

Whatever the number, I got the drinks, and just as soon as I returned with them, out came the free champagne.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Royal Promenade

Captain's Party

Captain's Party

Romeo & Juliet Dining Room

We weren't exceptionally late to dinner this time.  Imagine that!

For an appetizer, I had the Bay Scallop Gratin.  It comes in the escargot dish and looks like escargot, but it is not escargot.

Bay Scallop Gratin

Carved Fillet of Beef Tenderloin for my entree.  I didn't care much for it, but I did like the mashed potatoes underneath.

Carved Fillet of Beef Tenderloin

Dessert Menu

And Sky High Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert.

Lemon Meringue

Rachel stuck with sorbet.

Sorbet

After dinner, Rachel and I went to the ship's club, Labyrinth (really dumb name for a club... but at least it's better than "Jester's" on Adventure of the Seas), for 50% off all Cocktails for Ladies night.  Half off cocktails is a really great deal... a dangerously great deal.  And they had the half off ladies promotion in Labyrinth twice during the cruise, and on the last night, it was half off premium cocktails (premium is defined as more than two parts) for everyone.  I haven't seen this kind of discounting for cocktails on any other cruise line, and it was something I really appreciated.

Towel Animal

NEXT: [Day 3] At Sea