Thursday, November 18, 2010

Raw Hot Dog Fever-Part 1

To answer all of your questions--
Yes, it's true!  We were on that boat! 
Stinks for us, huh?  Was it my dream vacation?  No!  Was it a memorable vacation?  Yes!

More important--
Will I ever eat raw hot dog again??

A resounding NO!!
**But the cooked ones are still at the top of my list.

Since this blog is also a quasi-journal I am going to use Jake's (YES--this is Jake's) journal entries and just add pictures.  I am going to do this is 2 part because: 1.  It is long  2.  He hasn't written the second part yet:)

I realize most of you will probably just look at the pictures, but try and read it because Jake did a really good job on it--it's really funny and totally true!

**before we lost power and our vacation
Carnival Splendor
Sunday Nov 7, 2010

Location: Long Beach, CA.  The time: Noon.  Registration Line: Hundreds of people.  Frustration level: Maximum.

“What is going on?”  “Why are we outside?”  “Why are there so many people already? We are like an hour earlier than the early check-in time.”  Just a couple of the questions we asked each other.  We have been on cruises before, and this is nothing like the check-in process at the other ones we’ve done.  Maybe this is just the way that Carnival runs their operations—pure chaos.  The poor lady behind us was carrying a big white vinyl bag we correctly guessed contained her wedding dress.  We would later find out that she was on her way to have a destination wedding, bad way to start your wedding vacation, in the cold November Long Beach cloudy weather, in a line with what seemed like a thousand people in front of you.

We heard through the “grapevine” that the reason we were outside was because the US Coast Guard was performing a routine yearly inspection of the boat.  Was this true?  No idea! We never heard from anyone wearing a Carnival name tag the reasoning behind the madness.

The closer we got to the registration desk, the slower we seemed to be moving due to everyone and their dog allowing their family, friends, and strangers in front of them.  This only added to the stress levels.  Keep in mind that Gary is with us, getting more and more anxious with every passing second, increasing the tension levels of everyone travelling with him.  After what my legs told me was 2 days of standing (actual time-2 hours), we finally made it to the cordoned area of the registration desks.  At this exact moment, here comes Jim and Jennefer strolling up to make their way with us.  Why not, everyone else let their families in line, right?  It just makes me wish that it was me who just strolled up and didn’t have to endure “shopper’s leg”!

Finally, we get checked in, we got blue Sail Cards.  Gary was quick to point out that he and Becky got the gold Sail Cards, probably for his golden status with Carnival Cruises.  It is actually because he has cruised with them before, and we hadn’t.  I just thought that was kind of funny.  So after check-in, we got boarding “paddle” number 12.  What? Another line?  More waiting?  What in the world is going on here?  Just get us on the boat already!  Luckily the wait for #12 was only like 3 minutes.

Once our boarding number was called, they finally decided to take us in to the building where we should have been checking in since the first minute we got out of our vehicle to check-in.  So inside we find…you guessed it, another line!  What kind of disorganized company is this?  Nobody is answering any of our questions as to why all the lines, so I guess we are stuck with the Coast Guard explanation.  The line that we were a part of this time was the line to go through the security screening/metal detectors.  Wait time in this line, maybe 20-30 minutes.

Luckily for us, we made it through the security no problem.  Once the conveyor belt spit out our items from the x-ray machine, we gathered our belongings, put the shoes back on and head towards…another line!  I am about ready to swear just thinking back to the insanity of just getting on a stupid boat!  What in the world is this line for?  Actually there were about 5 lines of about 75 people each, with each group standing behind a sign with a number on it.  We were group number 14, I don’t know why I remembered that number.  Again, we had no idea what we were in line waiting for.  Let me tell you that the communication thus far by Carnival was horrendous!  We didn’t know if we were going to ever get on the ship.

“Group 14! This way please.” On we went behind a door that led to who knows where.  Well, we found out to where it led…Pictures!  What?  Are you serious?  What a splendid idea to have the picture taking area after the people have been waiting in line for three hours!  Needless to say we didn’t want to smile—we wanted to flip the bird!  Well, we didn’t give the “California Howdy”; we did what we were supposed to do…we smiled.  With pictures out of the way, it was on to the ship!  No, wait…another line!!!  What is this line for?  We were standing right at the escalator that would take us up to the gangplank to get on the Splendor, but for some reason they had us wait right there at the bottom of the moving stairs.  I don’t know that I will ever know why they did this—only a guess as to why…nope, I can’t even guess as to why!

Well, after a few more minutes of patiently waiting to stand on those moving stairs, we made it, to the top of the escalators, finally home free…nope, another line!  “You gotta be kidding me?!?”  Wow!  Who would’ve thought?  The line this time actually was the final line before getting on to the ship, this line was the line to take your picture for your Sail Cards, and they had to swipe the card to make sure they worked.  Our cards worked, it was finally on to Cabin #2-229; for the Hutchings, this cruise was finally under way!  Time: 3:30pm.

The Ship

“I don’t care, we can find them later! I am hungry, we have fasted all day!”  These are the loving words of a child referring to her parents as we crossed the gangplank.  So, off we went, not to the stateroom, not to the pools, straight to deck #9—The Lido Deck.  This is the place that we would get to know pretty intimately over the course of our cruise.  Food!  We were starving!  We got in another line, believe it or not, to partake in the “world renowned” Carnival food experience.  This line was the only line that was worth the wait all day, the food was absolutely divine!  Some of the best lasagna I have ever partaken of.  Yummy!

Upon completing the scrumptiousness of the warm food in our bellies, we left our trays on the table in the Lido Restaurant, and off we were to begin the exploration of the Carnival Splendor, but first to our cabin.  Two of our three pieces of luggage were waiting for us outside our door.  The blue and orange “old faithful” Mustang Soccer bag that I have had since high school that has been on 90% of the trips I have made since high school, and also we had the nice red “Docker’s” carry-on that I got for Emily a couple of years ago—which she has never used.  Emily’s bag of clothes was not there yet.  We took the bags into the room, laid them on the bed, and off we went to explore.

This was such a long anticipated trip, a much needed break from the little ones, and from the stresses of the unemployment market.  We began to walk around the Lido Deck, the pools, up the stairs to the “Adults Only” areas where there were some very comfortable lounge chairs, we checked out the waterslide where a brave little boy was besting the 60 degree weather frantically climbing the ladder over and over again (he was the only one near the pools).  After some time exploring, we decided that maybe it was time to head to the cabin to start unpacking our stuff before they called us to the Muster Stations.
**look closely that kid is sliding down

To get to the cabin, we had to go back through the Lido Restaurant, where a lady asked if we had heard about the luggage.  “Oh, great; now what in the world is going on? Do we need to go stand in another line to receive our luggage or something?” These were the thoughts rushing through my head. The lady said, “You didn’t see it? There were like 25 pieces of luggage in the ocean!  They had to lower a life boat to pick them up!”  Those first thoughts through my head were something like “Oh, CRAP!” we were freaking out!  Emily is going to have a wet bag, wouldn’t that just be par for the course on this cruise!  Apparently one of the forklifts taking luggage from the pier to the ship had the luggage crate on the forks incorrectly (the crate opening towards the ocean) and he hit a bump, and if you have never driven one of those things, little bumps get accentuated by about 100 times.  So, he hit a bump, bounced, and then splash!  In went the luggage to go swim with the fishies in the sea!  I was seriously second guessing our decision to come on this cruise.

Practically running to the room at this point to see if Emily’s black bag of clothes was wet or dry, we could see it down the hallway, next to the door—all was well.  Whew!  I wiped the sweat of my brow!  We started the unpacking process, and were pretty well finished when we got the mandatory call to go to our muster stations.  Something was different about this announcement from the other cruises that I have been on—he said that we did not have to have our life jackets.  Hallelujah!  Standing in those muster stations packed in like sardines wearing a life jacket gets very claustrophobic and warm.  I for one was very grateful for the “no lifejacket” life-saving practice run.

It was about the time we returned to our stateroom that I started to wonder what time it was and what time we were supposed to be leaving Long Beach.  Turns out we were about an hour and a half late leaving port.  No big deal, we had a full two days of travel before we were supposed to get to Puerto Vallarta anyway, we could make it up.  Well, we were finally on our way and our cruise was just beginning.  “What was that sound?  Was that a baby?  That sounded like it was right next door.” Now that noise reminded me of a previous lesson learned on a cruise—the walls on cruise ships are very thin (thanks for teaching us that lesson Grant and Shalie!).  Sure enough it was just what we thought it was…a BABY, 3 months old none-the-less!  We just travelled 2500 miles to get away from our own kids, now this

I was lying on our bed, channel surfing, while my beautiful wife was readying herself for our first official dinner of the trip.  “Shall we go?”  I stood up, maybe a little too quickly, got a little light-headed, and BAM—Blind Spots!  For me, blind spots=migraine.  I guess I was hoping that it would all just go away.  I tried to go to dinner, made it to the elevator, said nope, and went back to the room and waited for some medicine that housekeeping was going to bring to me.  I couldn’t even see the little receipt paper where he wanted me to sign!  So, that was it for me for the evening, 6:30pm, pitch black, sleeping off a migraine, see you in the morning—what a cruise!  Emily continued on in the evening, she even won a cool trophy that had the boat mounted on it, with the words “Carnival Splendor”.  Who in their right mind would want to keep a silly trophy to remind them of such a wonderful vacation?

*I will sell this trophy to the highest bidder!:)

**You can see the smoke coming out of the left fin
(This was actually from the diesel generator but we didn't
know that then)
It Happens

“Alpha Team.  Alpha Team.  Alpha Team.  Deck 0, Engine Room.”  Those are the cursed words that woke us up Monday morning.  “What time is it?”  In a very exhausted voice she said that it was 6:00.  That can’t be good, calling for the Alpha Team.  I kept thinking, “I wonder if Alpha Team to these guys means like the alpha dogs, the big dogs, the awesomest of the awesomest.”  If so, why in the world would they be calling for them this early in the morning on the inside cabin announcement system?  “This can’t be good!”  I remember not being able to go back to sleep, I thought that I would just go take a shower.  As I was about to sit up we heard the little beep that precedes the PA system, and John, our Cruise Director begins to talk (this is taken from his blog

Ladies and Gentlemen. My sincere apologies for waking you up but as you may have heard we have just used an Alpha Team call which is the alert for our fire teams to attend. At this moment the captain has informed me that there is lots of smoke in part of the aft engine room on deck 0. (A side note: I told the guests this in case they thought the engine room may be close to guests’ cabins which of course it isn’t.). Please would all guests remain in their cabins while we investigate and regardless of if there is any more information I will return in 5 minutes with an update. Please don’t worry and I promise I will keep you informed.

 Coming up---

The part you really all want to hear about instead of our personal adventures!!


Rebecca said...

that is hilarious. i am literally laughing out loud. can't wait to hear part 2! why are there like 10 of the same pics?

Johnson said...

I did not know you were on the cruise ship! Holy crap! And to think that the way it started was already horrible. I can't wait for part 2! I can't imagine being on that boat.

Grant and Shalie Morgan said...

I can't wait to hear the rest! I'm glad we taught you about the thin walls on cruise ships. I bet you liked hearing what Grant and I were doing better than listening to a crying babe huh?!! Sorry about your migraine Jake, that is a bummer, especially for the one and only night of good food you had. But, I'm glad you got your yummy lasagna!

Jene and Megan said...

Wow...Who knew Jake was such a good writer?! I'm excited to hear the rest...I still want to hear it in person though! =)

Maylene said...

I can't wait to hear part 2 either! I can't believe you guys were on that cruise ship. I've never been on a cruise and I most definitely will never try least after reading about the begining of your vacation.

The Allred Family said...

we are on the edge of our seats guys...c'mon! :)