During my senior year of college, my parents decided the five of us were going to take a spring break trip. My sister was also in college and my brother was a senior in high school. It was going to be a cruise. It was all very exciting. We would all get to be together (because we actually enjoy the family togetherness thing) and we hadn't all been on a vacation together in quite some time. So this is the story of the Timmons family's big ship adventure.
The night before we left, my sister and I were packing and my dad was watching a special on the travel channel about cruises. He assured us the ship would have bathrooms equipped with blow dryers, you know, like hotel rooms. He had seen it on the show so it was sure to be true so we didn't pack one. We did, however, pack one entire suitcase of nothing but shoes. For a cruise of all places!
My mom booked the trip. I don't know if it was last minute or if she wasn't aware that we could have gotten adjoining rooms, or if she wanted us to all be extra close or if there was a shortage or rooms --- I don't know. What I do know is somehow all FIVE of us ended up in ONE, interior room. And we're basically a family of giants. My sister and I clock in around 5' 9" and our brother is a real whopper at 6' 5." Our parents fall somewhere in between those sizes. SO you get it - we're gigantors. Our ship steward was a little hobbit-sized man and always seemed to be in awe of us. One of us would open the door and he'd gape and ooo and ahh at all of us crammed in one, tiny room.
This also meant one, tiny bathroom. The bathroom bothered me on several levels. It was always wet. And the shower was practically over the toilet. Not to mention for a family of giants, it was like that scene in Elf when Buddy is trying to shower in the elf-size shower. Yeah, like that. Every time I went in there to brush my teeth, my toothbrush was already wet. Blah!
Also included in our clam-sized room was an itinerary that none of us bothered to read. The first day was pretty basic - there's that safety thing everyone has to do so there's not a Titanic situation on their hands, then just walking around and getting ready for dinner.
We were all excited about dinner because we wanted to get dressed up. I showered and then to my horror, couldn't find the blow dryer anywhere. I'm not one of those girls who is blessed with that easy breezy all-American girl next door I-just-wash-my-hair-at-night-and-wake-up-looking-flawless-and-amazing kind of heads of hair. A blow dryer is necessary for my not looking like a child-eating monster. There was no blow dryer. As it turns out, the ship we were on was on it's last voyage at sea before it was going to undergo a massive remodel. I was so angry I didn't speak. We all got ready in our fanciest of fancy duds and me with my fuzzy still wet and ugly hair...
Only to get to dinner and see that everyone else was still super beach casual. Yep, had we read the itinerary, we would have seen that that night was a casual dining experience. Everyone was looking at us with their mouths hanging open, doing double takes and then looking back at themselves. For some people, it was almost like they thought they had it wrong. Nope, that would be the family of giants traipsing through the dining room dressed better than everyone else....except for that one ugly duckling with the wet hair. Yuck!
When we were mercifully seated at our table, we met our dining partners - another family of five. The husband was a doctor and the wife worked in his office. They had three kids but I think some of them were missing from that first dinner. I was still irritated about my wet hair and the fact that we were overdressed so I didn't speak the entire meal. I'm a real treat sometimes.
I think the whole next day we were on the ship. My favorite place was the soft serve ice cream machine. You could eat as much ice cream as you wanted and boy did I ever. They also always had these ice cream dishes that looked like swans with cookie wings and heads. Owned a few of those too.
Dinner went more according to plan the next night. We went up to a deck with powerful wind to dry our hair and we were dressed appropriately for dinner. I explained the whole hair fiasco to our dinner mates and they totally understood, having a daughter themselves.
My dad's eyes about popped out of his head when I said casually, "So how in the world did you two meet?" Turns out, she was divorced and had taken her son to see the single older doctor gentleman. Bam! Instant love connection.
The next day at the Progresso port, my mom and brother, determined to go somewhere, got off the ship and were greeted by some AK-47 bearing Mexicans. I don't know what my sister was doing but my dad and I stayed on the ship and pretty much had it to ourselves since everyone else was on an excursion. We both fell asleep laying on a deck and both woke up scorched to the bone on the front side of our bodies. Stupid stupid stupid. That night, we couldn't take it anymore. I went to the gift shop and purchased what may as well have been diamonds in a bottle mixed with lidocaine but it did the trick.
My brother and I made a game out of trying to "break" our super friendly, super professional waiter each night. We'd decide exactly how he would say wrong what he was ordering in hopes that at the very least the waiter would help this poor Oklahoma boy called Bubba with the proper pronunciation. He never did. He just always said, "Very good, sir! Very good, sir!" no matter how severely botched my brother said escargot. The downside of this was that my brother had just ordered escargot or something similar. He'll eat anything. I also remember they had this amazing chocolate dessert and upon learning how much we loved it had some more for us the next night.
That night, things at sea got a little rough. So rough that they blocked off our favorite deck: the one on top. Where we could usually go at night when we were cruising at a pretty fast rate and between the door frames where the wind was rushing in, you could lean against it at a good 45 degree angle and it would hold you up. It was awesome!
Then, BEACH PARTY the next day! This was fun because everyone else who signed up for this "excursion" mostly just stood in a football field length line for drinks or got their hair braided. The water was fun and there were these huge inflatables no one was strong enough to climb up on. I found a pretty orange shell and we had beach food under a huge tent. I love beaches.
Later when it was time to go home, I'm packed up my things and, miraculously finished before anyone else. It's a gift, really. All of the sudden my brother says, "Hey, who took my red toothbrush out of the bathroom?" "What?!" I say. "My toothbrush is gone." he responds. "Well I'm packed already and mine is in my bag." He opens his back pack and there is his, untouched for the entire trip. He'd been using my toothbrush the whole time. That's why it was always wet! Gag. Gag. Gag.
Overall, it was one of the best trips ever. We had a lot of fun and made many memories. Some things to remember: ALWAYS read the itinerary, take your own blow dryer just in case, smother yourself in sunscreen and make sure your brother unpacks and uses his own toothbrush. I cannot wait until we go on an Alaskan cruise!!