Friday, January 7, 2011
Some of you have been asking how our four day (or was it five?) Christmas cruise went.
Ok, one person asked. But still.
To answer that question, I will have to remind you that there were 11 people in our party, 10 of whom were related by blood or marriage, and all of whom have access to the Internet. And then I will have to politely change the subject.
Now, I love Atlantis for one reason and one reason only. Can you guess what it is? Considering that I just posted a big picture of one above this paragraph?
A pretty ceiling in the main lobby:
And if you've ever been, you'll of course remember these glass sculptures in the casino:
[Update: You commenters are right: this IS the work of Dale Chihuly. According to his site, this one represents the sun, and the blue one down below the moon. Nice!]
If you step outside the casino there's a nice patio/walkway with this view:
That building houses an underwater aquarium and also a restaurant, if I'm remembering right.
And now, let's check in with our vacation correspondent, Mr. Seymour Butz! (woo-hoo!)
*giggle* Yes, I'm 12. Besides, I was getting a real Ocean's 11 vibe here with everyone bellied up to the balustrade, so of course I had to take a picture. And John caught me in the act, of course.
I love this shot. You can almost hear the fish saying, "Dude. I'm right HERE."
It started like any other day.
Well, not really; we were on a cruise. Heh. Um. Maybe I should just skip the intro? Yeah.
So here's the thing: when you have 11 people in your party, deciding on a course of action for the entire group is kind of like trying to steer some massive, unwieldy metaphor for something that's hard to steer. It's hard. Which I guess is why we ended up on the water taxi to Atlantis.
Now, John and I have actually been on a really nice water taxi to Atlantis before. It was a big double-decker with open-air decks, clean seats, and a PA system so the tour guide could narrate the 10 minute trip with ease.
That was not the boat we ended up on.
Our boat was a small, nasty wooden thing with peeling paint, belching fumes, and tiny windows that were fogged with scratches and grime. However, by the time we saw what it looked like we'd already walked a block or so to get there, and with 11 people you don't just change the plan willy-nilly once it's been set in motion.
Before we boarded, though, we did make sure that we could safely get my grandmother - who can walk, but mostly travels by wheelchair due to balance issues - on board. So, we asked the crew for their professional opinions on the matter. In answer, we got lots of enthusiastic "No problem!!"s and head bobs, as they quickly took our money for the tickets. And, in fact, it wasn't too bad: one big step from the dock onto the back of the boat, and then she could sit down again. Easy peasy.
The trip over was smelly, muggy, and unbeLIEVably loud, since the "tour guide" "narrated" our "tour" by bellowing at the top of his lungs directly into my right ear. (This was necessary to be heard over the skull-vibrating drone of the engine.) When he screamed out his first "LADIES AND GENTLEMENS!!" - yes, it was "gentlemens," a double plural - I nearly fell off my bench. I spent the rest of the trip trying to catch a whiff of fresh air through the tiny cracked windows, counting how many times the guide said "gentlemens" (8), and wondering how much I would have to tip the guide to make him *stop* guiding.
It was when we docked that the trouble started.
You see, we had boarded at the back of the boat, which is where small boats like this are meant to be boarded. As you may recall from any previous boat encounters you've had, the front is the pointy bit. It has no railings, walkways, or flat surfaces.
In fact, here's a picture of a boat similar to the one we were on:
At first I didn't realize there was a problem. We were seated in the back, which was much lower than the example above, and couldn't even *see* the front of the boat. Then, as the passengers emptied out ahead of us, I realized there were several very steep steps to navigate on the way forward. "Uh-oh," I thought. "Grandma's going to have trouble with those."
Then I stood up and saw that everyone was being forced to crawl out the front windows.
Shocked, I allowed the crew to hustle me forward, trusting that somehow the guys in our party would see Grandma safely ashore. As I climbed the steep steps a crew member grabbed my arm and pushed me towards the left window. "You go out the window," he said, pointing. Like this was a perfectly normal instruction to give in a non-burning mode of transportation.
Seeing no other option, I hitched my leg over the sill and crawled onto the outside deck, where I noted with mounting horror that the "walkway" was approximately 8 inches wide, and rail-less.
Which is how I came to be clinging to the side of a boat in the Caribbean and side-stepping around the edge like James "Twinkle Toes" Bond.
Now, at this point most of the passengers were off the boat, which meant that it was turning into the world's largest teeter-totter. It swayed side-to-side, rising up 6 feet only to crash down again a second later. Normally I find this fun. This time, all I could think was, "My grandmother is about to die."
Eventually I made it onto the dock where a small crowd was gathered, staring back behind me. I almost didn't want to look. But, of course, I had to.
Well, anyway, here's what I saw: John, my grandmother cradled in his arms, was staggering forward Backdraft-style down the main aisle of the boat. Seriously, the only thing missing was dramatic music and maybe a few explosions. The deck was heaving so violently I was sure he would lose his balance and they'd both go down, but somehow he managed to climb the steep steps inside and get her to the window.
Next, he and my brother helped Grandma crawl out onto the tiny 8-inch pathway. (Around this point my heart stopped. You understand.) With one going before her and one after, the guys then kept their arms around my grandmother's back, pinning her to the boat side as the three of them slowly inched their way down the edge of the wildly pitching deck.
On the dock, roughly half a dozen people prepared to dive into the water in case she fell.
However, as you've probably gathered from the fact that none of my photos showed a dripping wet grandmother, my grandmother made it. When the guys helped her that last step onto the dock a small cheer went up, and eventually - maybe just one or two days later - my heart even started beating again.
The boat crew, I should mention, looked bored and slightly impatient throughout our ordeal.
So, to sum up: never, EVER, take your aged or frail relatives on the crappy Bahamas water taxi. For that matter, don't go yourself, either. Take the car taxi. It's well worth the extra $2. Trust me.
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