New York and Anthem November 2019

While we got on the road by 6:30 yesterday, it still took us until 2 to get to the hotel. Thats partly due to rain but also to some stops along the way. Apparently the earlier the start the more leisurely trip we’ll allow ourselves. Finally after several years of waiting, we had opportunity to stop at a White Castle for a pile of burgers along the way. So the delay was worth it, for me anyway.

Staying at the Conrad Downtown again. Its our third time here and nice for a one night stay. I wouldn’t choose this location (along the Hudson, just west of the World Trade Center) for a longer stay.

Our abbreviated journey yesterday first took us to the World Trade Center Memorial. Seeing all those names in the footprints of the towers was still unsettling even after all these years. Across the street was the Occulus, which is the crazy looking subway station/shopping mall under the area surrounding world trade center. We rode the subway to Union Square and milled around the Christmas Market that is set up there, this time of year. It was very nice and had hundreds of vendor spaces for small and local businesses. They are put on by Urban Space I believe and there are a handful all around the city. I had the absolute best hot apple cider ever there by the way.

From there we walked south to the Strand Bookstore, Metropolis Vintage Clothing and Muji. The Strand is exactly what a bookstore should be. It’s enormous and doesn’t only have the hip new Oprah and Reese Witherspoon validated books, but all the great stuff thats out there. Metropolis may have actually traumatized Steph. Colton and I wanted to go to see all the cool old band shirts available. And there was a lot to see. Classic metal band tours from the 80’s, old punk bands, mainstream stuff too. That aspect was really great, but much to Steph’s digust, it was all used. And believe it or not sometimes expensive! I totally agreed that I wouldn’t be buying anything, but Steph seemed creeped out that anyone would! Muji of course is the Japanese minimalist type store we fell in love with last summer. I stocked up on notebooks and we headed for the subway station.

We spent more time at underground around the World Trade Center area. As is easy to do underground, we found ourselves three blocks south by the time we were ready to head across the street to Brookfield Place. It was way colder down in this area close the river and super windy. So it wasnt a good time to be momentarily disoriented, but that we were. Colton and I consulted our maps a few minutes later we embarked on the coldest walk I’ve taken in several years over to Brookfield Place. We found some great food places there a few years back and stopped by to get Colton something to eat before retiring for the night.

Anthem of the Seas

Port Days

This sure is an unusual writing schedule I’m keeping this trip. The port days have been very good. In Orlando I was able to take Colton to see a little event A Day to Remember put on for their homecoming celebration this week. They are doing 4 shows at House of Blues in Orlando and set up a cool rare merch shop/museum at a local bar. This was open a mere 15 or 16 hours total and it fit our window perfectly to rent a car make a drive to Orlando. Those are some long odds considering probably 99% of their fans couldn’t make it there. So Colton was quite happy with that.

We didn’t leave the ship in Nassau. Unfortunately that is the plan for more and more cruisers much to the dismay of Bahamas tourism people. Steph isn’t happy about it either because what used to be a good day to have the ship to yourself is becoming quite sea day like.

There were six ships in Nassau yesterday which is more than I’ve seen there. Another good reason to stay onboard really. All but one we have either sailed on or are booked to sail on. Even the Carnival Sensation was there which we sailed in 1997 on my first seven day cruise. She’s looking pretty rough by the way. Colton and I skipped the show and noticed late in the evening that we were the only ship left there. That was very weird and also something I don’t ever remember happening.

Walking this week has been unbelievable. So far 3 days at 14k, one at 17k and one just under 20k. I think on the Grandeur I was averaging 12k on a sea day but that was a much smaller ship. Since the ship is enormous it takes a hike of 9 decks or more to go from the promenade to the pool deck. Needless to say I can’t get the others on board with doing that exclusively.

Today is Coco Cay. I’ve no doubt it will be beautiful and thankfully the weather looks as though it will cooperate. My plan is to take my $20 snorkel equipment from Amazon and see what I can see on the free side. The incredible slides and water park stuff is all for a “nominal fee” I’m sure. As usual, no thanks.

Have a good turkey day.

Sea Days

Well into cruise life by now with the first full day under my belt. Boarding day was even almost a full day since we found ourselves on board by 10:30. Thats crazy. My friend who works for Royal says their goal is to have you from the car to the bar asap and it certainly seems they have that mastered. Maybe our being Platinum now factored into that, but I couldn’t see where it did.

Still unfortunately so many little things I dislike about Royal, and I’m not sure I’ll ever consider myself a Royal person. Kind of like how I live in Bridgeport but will never ever be a Bridgeport person. This mornings irritation is lighting. Its time for sunrise now. Primetime for people like me who want to come out and enjoy the sea. Here, it is impossible to sit somewhere and gaze at the ocean without bright lights in your face. And if there is a ceiling, you better believe there are overhead lights spoiling the atmosphere. Ok, thats enough of that. But there are just so many little things like that.

Anyway, I mentioned boarding day was amazing. Yesterday we tried out the bumper cars which is always fun. Colton didn’t grow up on those like I did but he enjoyed it. The air hockey tables here are just about perfect. Unfortunately, it makes our “home ice” back at the Boardwalk seem kind of lacking. Its getting hard to beat Colton, which is good. I have to go all out just to stay in the game.

Food has been ok. Service the first night at dinner was just plain bad. They must have sensed that from us since last night it was greatly improved. They always use “first night” as the reason, but don’t they literally serve those same tables every single night for 6 to 8 months? The buffet is strong is the norm at Royal Caribbean.

Entertainment has been excellent as is also the norm here. We Will Rock You was the same one that was a hit London theatre show. And the 270 venue is incredible with all the technology it puts to use. My favorite though? The first night comedian at an unticketed show in the main theatre. Thats what cruising is supposed to be. Not reserve this and that and pay for this and that.

This ship evokes the same feels as the Oasis of the Seas…I don’t need all this. I realize I’m grouping myself firmly among the older folks, but thats fine. The sea, the food and a show after dinner. Thats all I need.

Don’t let the bellyaching make you think its not good though. Its still a cruise and there is nowhere I’d rather be than right here where I am. I’m just sadly becoming a grumpy old man. And believe me, it bothers me more than it does you.

I’ll check in again after we hit the A Day to Remember pop up shop in Florida. I don’t think its an exaggeration to say that it will be THE highlight of the week for Colton.