By WALLACE IMMEN
Where to start? There’s dodgeball, boot camp exercises, Latin dance class, a free-throw contest, temporary tattoos, movie trivia, sports trivia. Or there are diagnoses based on looking at your tongue, or mixing a drink to fit your mood or taking a plunge into the pool or down the spiralling water slide.
Whew. There’s a whole day’s worth of activities to choose from and it’s only 10 a.m. on a Caribbean cruise of the Carnival Liberty. When there are nearly 3,000 people aboard a “Fun Ship,” Carnival Cruise Lines has to offer up a whole range of fun possibilities. But it almost seems there’s too much to take in at once on a full day at sea before we reach our first port Cozumel, Mexico, and then head on to Belize; Roatan, Honduras and Grand Cayman.
I might have wanted to join the salsa dancing class or get to learn from an expert how to fold bath towels into elephants and giraffes, but having overdone it at the rum punch party the night before, I started off with a coffee and joined a group doing laps around the upper deck before having a plunge in the pool.
That woke me up enough to start exploring this vast ship.
And I found there are a lot of events that aren’t even on the program, that spread by word of mouth.
People are decorating their stateroom doors in Iguana themes to show their loyalty to the newly installed Blue Iguana tequila bar on deck. It’s apparently going to be a rivalry this week with the patrons of the other new bar on the opposite side of the deck: Red Frog Rum Bar.
A port shopping talk in the theatre is like a TV game show: “and here’s your host: Jimmy Marks, the shopping expert.” To which the audience yells, “Hi, Jim.” It’s based on one of those crazy television infomercials, and you know the patter: “But that’s not all.” It’s mesmerizing, but I’ve got to pull myself away to get out on deck.
Those who wanted to try their hand at inventing their own libation were at the newly installed Alchemy Bar, where a pharmacy-themed counter complete with prescription pads and light up menus invite patrons to describe their symptoms to lab coated mixologists who concoct mood enhancing martinis.
There are no prizes for drinking– well not officially—but drink blending becomes a theme in a contest that chooses a drink of the cruise designed by a passenger. The winner blends tequila, amaretto and a couple of juices. She gets a gold medal for the win and her name on the drink available at the pool bar during the cruise.
A highlight of the day is another one that spread by word, or more likely giggle, of mouth: Gals lined the pool area to take in the hairy chest contest that had guys strutting their stuff down staircases, yelling like Tarzan and taking showers while lady judges who were obviously enjoying every second gave them either roses or a consolation medallion.
I didn’t have the chest fuzz for it, but as it turned out one of our dining companions that we’d just met the evening before came out the winner. His prize, a big kiss from his girlfriend displayed on the big movie screen on deck.
Next up, bingo on deck, and someone’s just won $1,000. It could have been me, but I hadn’t bought a card.
No problem. It seems even sunning is a competitive sport with entire groups seemingly turning over in unison to make sure they all get the same uniform color on all sides. I decided to have some lunch and then join them for a while. There’s still an afternoon and an “elegant dress” evening ahead and it’s only the first day.
Sometimes having no agenda can be the best fun of all.