Submitted by deke on 20 January 2009 - 4:11am.
Of all the vacations available to you, the Tropical Cruise ranks among the most surreal. Like a casino lost at sea, the shining multitiered ship promises excitement, wraps you in comfort, and imprisons you in tedium. At any moment, there are 7 events eager to dazzle -- miniature golf, anyone? climbing wall? ice skating?! -- and 11 waiters killing each other to attend to your temporal needs. We were fortunate in that our waiter was none other the President of the United States Barack Obama (see below). If his leadership skills turn out to be anywhere near as good as his beverage-fulfillment abilities -- and I for one have high hopes that they will be -- this country is in great hands!
In fact, the whole cruise experience goes swimmingly so long as you kick back and let it happen. Imagine your grandmother's idea of "island time." But God forbid you should happen upon an actual objective. (The need to catch up with two darting children, for example.) That's when you encounter your fellow travelers: vast, entitled, largely immobile souls, plugging the narrow corridors like inoperable arterial clots. Until the seas get rough, when they list like rudderless dirigibles, blocking even the most adept student of the old dodge-and-weave.
Such is the nature of paradise: A garish blend of reservation-style gambling, 24-hour buffets, formal dress-ups, poor-folks' paparazzi (photographer's hound you at every turn), shitty art auctions, and a dozen other glitzy attempts at some sort of eternal New Year's Eve celebration. All made somehow palatable by salt breeze, rum drinks, and the convenient appearance of a new port-of-call every morning. Toss in the occasional oil derrick, some overcast skies, and sudden explosions of relentless rain, and you have a blissful week in the Western Caribbean, the left edge of the most beautiful ocean-filed impact crater on Earth.
Permit me to elaborate, not to mention annotate with lots and lots of full-color photographs, all captured in glorious JPEG with an Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. Read more »