On January 15th, 2017, five young college students, worn out from the previous semester and desperately seeking refuge and adventure, embarked on a journey known as the Royal Caribbean 5 Night Western Caribbean Cruise. The Navigator of the Seas is the large, trusty steed that was responsible for steering them through the deep waters to their tropical destinations—the Bahamas and Mexico. For most of these women, this cruise was their first. Inexperienced but wise, they joined forces to have the time of their lives and create the most ideal winter break, the kind they had looked forward to the entire semester.
The ship was essentially a bustling city in the middle of the ocean. On the Royal Promenade main floor, there were restaurants, clothing stores, bars, dance clubs, and dining halls. Guests could get a top-notch view of all the activity from the glass elevators that ran through the ship. On days spent completely at sea before arriving to our destinations’ ports, anything at the Royal Promenade was at our disposal. In addition to the main floor, there was an ice-skating rink, a rock climbing wall, and a concert venue. We would spend much of the day lounging by the pools and hot tubs on deck, soaking in the sun whilst sipping from our chalices of wine like the classy ladies we are. Alas, we couldn’t spend all our time lounging, so the Royal Caribbean had us covered. On occasion, we would attend the early morning Fab Abs class, though we never did make it to the gym. We took on the rock climbing wall, which was physically challenging but worth it, due to the ridiculously good-looking Australian employees who ran the show. While we never got the chance to utilize the ice-rink ourselves, we had the pleasure of watching the Royal Caribbean Ice Show, which blew our minds more than we expected; those ice skaters gave a performance that we didn’t think was humanly possible. Some night activities we indulged in included Battle of the Sexes, comedy, impersonation singing, the notorious casino, and late-night karaoke. At karaoke, the older clientele seemed confused by us, but we still had a jolly good time and sang our hearts out. Karaoke took place in the main dance club on the ship, the Cosmopolitan; right after karaoke, the Cosmopolitan would turn into a dance floor. DJ Ross was in charge of the vibes every night; after night three, however, we realized this imposter of a DJ was using the same playlist every night. The songs he chose were classic though, so we just embraced the same party every night regardless.
The days we left the Navigator were golden. We only had a couple of hours in each destination, so we utilized our time as wisely as we could. When we arrived at our first destination, Nassau, Bahamas, we planned to explore half the day and book an excursion via Royal Caribbean. We dodged the locals trying to sell us unnecessary products, but did stop at one point to buy the coconuts, which is a rite of passage for any tourists in a tropical destination. After directions from a friendly local policeman, we found the beach, where the water was oh-so-blue, a color that typical New Yorkers would have a hard time grasping based on their own bleak beaches. Halfway through the day, it was time for our excursion: snorkeling at the Rainbow Reef. We cruised through the ocean on a boat that was much smaller than the Navigator, our hair flying back with the wind as we immersed ourselves into the colorful scenery. Once we finally found the courage to dip our feet in the cold waters at the reef, we became one with the Bahamian fish, just like Kanye West in that South Park episode. We became accustomed to the waters quickly, swimming through schools of fish in our goofy flippers and admiring the coral on the ocean floor. It was physically challenging, the perfect contrast to our leisure hours on the ship. Our plans for our second destination, Cozumel, Mexico, were less structured. We hopped off the boat with intentions of finding the beach, though we made a couple of detours on the way. We stopped to have fish eat the dead skin off our feet, which may or may not have been effective. After passing by several local establishments, all offering well-known Mexican tequila, we got distracted by the most tourist-friendly bar: Senor Frog’s. The ambiance was light and fun, with lively music and staff eager to dance with the guests. If you’re looking for a venue to let loose on vacation, Senor Frog’s is where it’s at. After spending a sufficient amount of time at Senor Frog’s, we directed a cab driver—in very broken Spanish—to any beach, and finally ended up at Paradise Beach. This beach offered inflatable Wibit slides and rock-climbing walls, so we explored for a bit before resorting back to the lazy state we had adopted since day one on the cruise. I basked in that hot Mexican sun, my hair drenched in Sun-In and saltwater, and my skin drinking in a delightful tan. It truly was paradise.
The only aspect of our cruise that wasn’t exactly the “high life” was the food. Keeping kosher inevitably makes the food situation less than ideal, but we princesses sucked it up and made the best of the situation. The staff really tried to work with our dietary restrictions; salmon, baked potatoes, cereal, fruits, vegetables, and several TV dinners were available to us. The head waitress even hooked us up with challah every night as dinner. There was also a kosher Ben & Jerry’s on the ship that we made sure to indulge in. We definitely didn’t starve: going on a non-Kosher cruise is one hundred percent doable. We were able to focus on all the other amazing aspects of the cruise instead of getting distracted by all the different food options. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to vacation than food: who knew?
At this point, the 5 Night Western Caribbean seems like a very pleasant dream, a dream that I will cherish forever. Even though we’re back at it with the books, it seems like the dream just continues. I spent the perfect break with the perfect people, and I’m hoping that these unique adventures will keep coming my way.