To begin with, I wish I could report to you that, post-cruise, my nerve endings are all smoothed out, that I am stress-free and ready for re-entry. I wish I could say that the cruise transformed my life. I wish I could, but I can't, and so here, as promised, is my report, but sans pictures, because I have evidently left my usb cable elsewhere. But I digress.
The cruise was pretty great, I must say. From the moment we got onboard, after a bit of nerve-wracking buzzing around Long Beach with my folks, it was plenty of fun. For one, when we took off for the first time, I had fallen asleep in my room (hereafter to be known as "stateroom"). The movement of the ship on the water was what woke me up. It was, somehow, rather thrilling. I hastened up to the deck to see and watch. There's something about being surrounded by water, and a vast body of water at that, and watching the coast recede, that feels almost instantly redemptive.
The fam had dinner together every night at the same table in a dining room. The same team of folks attended us, and this felt effervescent and charming. Our head waiter was from India, the dining room manager was Polish, our drinks waiter was also Indian--every night, the same people, and by the end of it, you felt kind of bad to be leaving them behind. Also, when we returned to our staterooms, the beds were turned back, and the stateroom attendant, Basil, had made various types of animals out of folded and twisted bathtowels. There was a bunny, a bat, a stingray, an elephant . . . we had a whole menagerie, between our five staterooms. Also, a lovely bedtime chocolate mint on the pillow, or forming the eyes of the stingray, depending.
What I did do: buy presents for various folks in Avalon (Catalina) and Ensenada; take naps; get a little sun-burned, despite dutiful application of heavy-duty sunscreen; see whales spouting off the coast of Baja; karaoke, including a stellar duet with my brother on "Get Back" ("her high-heeled shoes and her low-neck sweater"), a killer rendition of "Hotel California" with my younger sis, and, irresistibly, a trio with both sisters of "We Belong"; read a novel and some magazines; most of one crossword puzzle; sleep perfectly every night.
What I did not do: read as much as I thought I would; much lolling around at the pool; make use of the fitness facilities, despite having packed workout clothing; sit for hours watching the ocean.
I would do it again, in a heartbeat--especially if someone else was paying! The only thing I would change is to spend more time actually out at sea.
When we got off the ship, the historian and I had hours and hours to kill before getting on a plane back to SLC. So we decided to rent a car and check out Long Beach. We had just made a book-killing at Sam Weller's before we left, so we opted not to visit Acres of Books, which was perhaps a mistake. We did, however, have a lovely time at the Long Beach Museum of Art, a small museum with a lovely exhibit of Ruth Duckworth's sculpture. I had been only peripherally aware of this wonderful artist, so the exhibit was just great. On the second floor of the museum, they showed other works, including many ceramics, which created a nice conversation with the ceramic work downstairs.
On the way back to the airport, I was on the lookout for a place to have some iced tea. We ran into the Vintage Tea Leaf tea room, which was hilarious and also happened to offer a very nice pitcher of Lady B's Southern Comfort iced tea and some lovely scones, accompanied by clotted cream and lemon curd. The hilarity derived from the massive charm overkill--it's aiming for a Victorian-style tea room, and I suppose it might come close. Anyway, it was funny and very refreshing.
After that, we went to the Long Beach airport, which I highly recommend to anyone who has to go to the LA area. It's basically the size of a couple of postage stamps, and is very lowkey and friendly. Most airports make you feel like you want to kill yourself or somebody else, but this one makes you love all mankind. "Thank you for checking in early," said the guy at the Delta counter. No, thank you!
Sadly, now that I am back in regular life, I am just as snarky and irritable as I have ever been. Why? why is it that after a vacation, real life feels so much more unbearable? Sigh. I need to have a consult with the Tea Mistress (I am not making that up) of the Vintage Tea Leaf tea room (only $100). Or maybe just a pitcher of that Lady B's Southern Comfort. Or maybe just some Southern Comfort. Now we're talking.