*So sorry to everyone who got a half finished link to this post or something strange like that. My phone decided to publish this post without my permission… so there you go. Oh and it decided to publish it to the day I last edited it so sorry for the mix up and here you go!
Cruise Day 2:
This was a cruising day. So we spent it discovering the ship. S and J were in the kids club most of the day. B and Special K were miserable and trying to adjust to the jet lag so a lot if the day was spent in tears or in bed.
It’s good you get the first day to mess about because inevitably you make the wrong decisions about where to go and what to do and miss a lot of what you wanted but by the end of the day everything is clear. They have screens up on all the decks near the lifts that have the full itinerary of the day on them. You can also check how busy all the restaurants are before heading to them. Oh how I love technology! I’m one of the people who adore having a machine to deal with. Except when it’s one you have to speak to. those are infuriating).
When we got back to our cabin we were looking through the restaurant options and we saw there was something called ‘The Chefs Table’. It was a formal 5 course dinner and we thought this would be a great place to take S and J for their first formal dinner. No pressure, it’s on a cruise so if it goes really badly it’s not like we will come back. But in all honestly I was not worried about their behavior at all I was just excited for us to go to a nice dinner together and for them to experience different flavors of food.
I called to book and asked them if children were allowed. The woman on the other end o the line asked their ages then paused. She then said they may not eat the food that was going to be prepared as it,s a set menu. I asked her to tell me what it was. First course was lobster with other bits and bobs. Great, they’d eat that. Second course was 2 kinds of soup. Nothing too strange, carrot and
We got all dressed up and ready to go. The children looked adorable. We were running a bit late but we didn’t worry. I mean everyone attending this dinner was with us so it’s not like we were keeping anyone waiting. The cabin phone rang and they were asking where we were. So we rushed out and went to the deck the dinner would be served and there was a waitress waiting for us outside with 2 fruit juices and 2 champagnes. We explained that we didn’t drink and hurried off to get us fruit juices too. I only barely registered the strange looks the waitress and the host exchanged when we declined the champagne because they ushered us into a library where 7 other people were sitting, sipping champagne and talking.
It seemed strange to have to wait with everyone to be seated. I mean why would they have everyone wait for us! The only reason they would do that is if the food was going to be served at the same time. And the only reason they would do that is if we were all sitting at the same table.
Now we were sitting in this small room, smiling politely as the realization that ‘The Chef’s Table’ was in fact only one table and not able to give our children the pep talk we would have liked to had we knows we were going to be sat for 2 hours at a table with perfect strangers.
We did as much non verbal communication as was physically possible with our darling S and J and were able to quickly tell them in Arabic as we were walking to the dining room what at this point we though was the most important thing they needed to know: “If you don’t like something DON’T SAY IT’S BAD! just eat what you can and leave the rest”.
The dining table was a long oval shaped one with 5 chairs on one side and five on the other. At the head of the table was another smaller rectangular table which was slightly elevated for the presentation of the food. Each person had place cards to tell them where they were meant to be seated. My children were in fits of giggles because they had ‘Sir’ ahead of my daughters name and ‘Miss’ ahead of my daughters. I guess they couldn’t figure out which Arabic name was male and which was female.
Our group consisted of a newly wed couple from the south who were sitting on the opposite side to us closest to the presentation table. Beside them was a grandmother and her granddaughter (The only other person besides us who wasn’t drinking) and then S and J. On our side there was an elderly woman and her daughter and son in law then myself then my husband. Everyone at the table was American besides my mini tribe.
Here is something you should know about me. I have an impulse I find hard to control. I love getting to know people. Meeting new people. and I have an uncontrollable urge to fill any silence in social situations. So this was going to be a bit of a challenge for me because I didn’t want to blabber on and honestly, even though I have met many people in many different situations (formal, work, charitable, in the street, in a shop, at the doctors, etc) I have never had to sit at a table with total strangers and have a meal with them for 2 hours. With my husband and children no less. I was in unchartered waters.
The first think we noticed upon sitting at this table (besides how incredibly uncomfortable we were) was that there were 6 wine glasses in front of each person on the table. I picked up the menu and read that this was very much a journey about wines and the effect they have on the taste of food and vis versa. This is the reason those looks were exchanged outside the library. It’s all coming together now Mama B you can see the cogs turning in my little head. Yes… read the whole paper before signing up next time.
The head waiter took away our 12 wine glasses (they didn’t have any set up for the kids obviously) and replaced them with water glasses and another fruit juice for me as it was very yummy.
The Chef came out, introduced himself and explained how the night would go. The head waiter would come out with the bottle of wine which he will give us a little history about. The chef would then come out and show us the first course, tell us how it was made, the ingredients and how they sourced them. The first course would then be served. Once it is finished the head waiter would come out again with a different bottle of wine and so on and so forth.
Many things went through my mind. 1- Will I have to explain to my children what being drunk is by the end of this night. 2- will the conversation be child appropriate? 3- WIll we dies of boredom as they sit and talk about vintages and textures and after tastes and body, and legs! Well honestly I had no idea wine had legs till after that dinner.
The meal started and course after course was delectable! The flavors were amazing and although the talk about the wine and all that went with it was a bit long winded I didn’t die of boredom.
The children ate all the food. Loved all the food. Critiqued all the food and were sociable and polite. We were proud and extremely full by the end of it.
Although my husband and I spend the first quarter of the meal in silence just laughing at other peoples comments and listening to the conversation we got asked where were from and joined in eventually. To my great relief because I was going to burst if I didn’t talk. I was far from my chatty self but it was fun. The grandmother and granddaughter had a great relationship and were traveling on their own for fun which I thought was lovely. The grandmother (whom I suspect would not approve of me calling her that as she’s not the grandmotherly type) was witty and charming. She seemed very intelligent and worldly which I didn’t encounter a lot of this summer honestly.
The married couple were sweet and very traditional. They had just been married 4 days. The mother with her daughter and son in law seemed like a nice family although I hardly spoke to them but from that day on when I saw her she was full of smile and always saying hello and waving at the children.
At 10.30 pm we excused ourselves using S and J as an excuse. They were very tired at that point and so were we. It was not at all what we expected but it was a fun, new experience I would highly recommend. Oh and no one got drunk! Although some of the jokes got a little inappropriate but thank God a bit too sophisticated for the children to understand.
Cruise Day 3:
Labadee in Haiti! This was our stop today. We woke, had breakfast and headed down to land! I had signed the kids up for an ‘ocean adventure’ thing and my husband and I up to something called ‘The Dragons Breath’ that afternoon. It was a zip line from the top of a mountain (term used loosely but it might as well have been one) down to the beach.
First tho we took B and Special K to the beach. Special K needed a nap when we got there so I strapped him into his stroller and walked around the ‘village’. This is another term used loosely as I discovered Labadee was owned by the cruise ship so it was all tidied up. For our purposes it was perfect but I couldn’t truly say I visited Haiti. K fell asleep despite the heat and we headed back to the beach hut we rented. B was already in the water with his Baba and loving it. Well up untill the water splashed in his face and he freaked out. B is used to the water and always jumps in the pool but the salt water was definitely not his friend.
I think what must have happened was that some got in his eyes and burned them. So as a result every once in a while I would hear a blood curdling scream and the the word “TOWELLLLLLL TOWELLLLL” being shouted as he stumbled out of the water. We showed him how he can wipe his eyes with his hands and how that was enough but without result. He walked with eyes tightly shut, feeling is way through peoples legs to find the towel so he could wipe the salt water away.
When K woke I took him into the water with me. He was not impressed to first few seconds then he put his arm around my neck, laid his head on my shoulder and started singing (yes he sings, and yes other people heard it too). It was so relaxing and fun! We spent few hours on the beach then after lunch B and K went back to the ship for a nap and a rest.
It was then about time for us to go to our ‘Dragons Breath’ ride which I was getting increasingly annoyed at myself for booking. First of all the beach was amazing. Second of all what am I trying to prove launching myself off a stupidly high platform only to plummet (attached to a harness that is also secured to 2 thick cables) to the ground? and lastly there was no way that I was going to back out after this was the excursion that I chose.
We walked to the base and got kitted up then we were ushered outside onto some benches with about a dozen other people to wait for the bus to drive us 20 minutes up the mountain we were zip lining down from. This is of course after signing a bunch of papers that said we wouldn’t sue them if we died.
As we sat there waiting it was getting increasingly windier and the organizers kept calling up to the platform to check how fast the wind was there. One of the women who was busily calling and checking wind speeds walked out to the benches and called out 6 mens names to follow her back into the building we got our gear from. As they stood up they looked at each other and one of them said “I guess we all know what we have in common”. it was their weight. And because the winds were so strong it would not be safe for the to zip line. Not minutes later they walked out and told us they were canceling the whole thing because it was, in fact, too dangerous for anyone to do it. Oh what a shame.
We went back to the beach for a while longer then headed back to the ship. It felt a bit wrong not to properly see Haiti and to sit around this tidy little version of what ever is out there. I kept thinking how things are after the earth quake and how things are in general for that matter. Maybe next time.