Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Elusive Insulated Drink Cup

This was my fourth cruise so I figured I’m pretty much a cruise expert by this point – right?

Well, not so much.

It might have been my fourth cruise, but it was my maiden voyage on Royal Caribbean. Turns out all cruise lines work just a little differently.

On our last cruise with Celebrity, our drink package was offered as one of the perks, so it was never a problem getting any sort of drink we wanted – fresh squeezed juice, soda, alcoholic beverage, fancy coffee, bottled water. Whatever. It was all free. And it was definitely the way to go.

But I discovered that Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer drink packages as a perk. So we opted to pre-pay for one because our last experience worked so well. I didn’t want to worry about how much we were spending every time we wanted something to drink on the ship, no matter what it was.

Once on board, we found out that Royal Caribbean provides insulated cups to those cruisers who have drink packages and there are soda/juice machines placed throughout the ship for self-service convenience.

Great, I thought. That will make things easy.

Famous last words.

As a person who only grudgingly drinks coffee and has a very specific acceptable coffee formulation, which can only be concocted at home (for a minimal price) or at Starbucks (for a premium price), I usually opt to get my caffeine fix with Diet Coke while on vacation.  Makes it simpler. And cheaper.

So I was thrilled with the idea of being able to fill my insulated cup whenever I wanted.

We headed to lunch on that first day and I saw numerous people walking around carrying insulated cups. When we asked where they got them, we were told they had been in the cabin upon arrival.

But when we arrived in our cabin after lunch, not an insulated cup was to be found. And, believe me, I searched.

So I knew then that we were going to have to go on a treasure hunt to find ours.

First we stopped at Guest Services and were told that the cups were in our cabin. When we said they weren’t, we were directed to the guy selling drink packages. On his table, there were dozens and dozens of those shiny plastic insulated cups. I think I started salivating, just a little. (Oh, and by the way, there were a LOT of people selling a LOT of stuff that first day – drink packages, internet packages, spa packages, port tours, fancy watches – you name it – they were selling it!)

We waited while the harried salesperson finished selling several drink packages and handed the cruisers their prized insulated cups. When he turned to us in anticipation of selling us a drink package and we told him we’d already purchased it, we pointed to the cups on his table and said we just needed two of those. But he dismissively told us that if our drink cups were not in our cabin upon arrival, they would be delivered there later that day.

Okayyy. By this point, we had threaded through the long lines at Embarkation and had wandered around the ship trying to get our bearings, and had been to lunch where I’d only had a small glass of water. I was still parched, but figured I would eventually get my drink cup and my thirst would finally be quenched.


We again went back to our cabin where we found our suitcases awaiting us (a major relief!) so we unpacked our bags to be all ready for our week-long vacation.

I was still pretty thirsty, but was trying to be patient about my drink cup.

We met our stateroom attendant (who was new to the job). I gave her a big tip hoping to get good service throughout the week and asked her about the cups. She said she would check on them and we should have them by the end of the evening.

So we changed for dinner and wandered around the ship a little more and eventually found a bar. Oh, who am I kidding? You can find a bar every five steps on a cruise ship. But maybe I should say we found one that looked like fun.

So we asked the bartender for lots and lots of water, but also ordered several mixed drinks. Fortunately, insulated drink cups were not required for mixed drinks. And, also fortunately, our badges proved we had paid for the drink package, so we didn’t have any hoops to jump through to get a simple gin and tonic.

We sucked down those drinks – probably because we were both so thirsty by that point. This certainly didn’t help our dehydration problem any, but we were just glad to have something cold and wet to drink. While there, we met some fellow passengers and had ourselves a fine ol' time.

Eventually, we headed to dinner, which was also fun, not to mention tasty.

By the time we returned to our cabin late that night, we fully expected two shiny, brand-new insulated cups to be sitting on the table awaiting our first fill of caffeinated bliss the next morning.

Nope. Not there.

Hunh. I was getting a little perturbed by this point. I mean, how many people I gotta talk to to get a stinkin’ plastic cup??

Fortunately, it was nighttime and I was not in any dire need of caffeine. But I knew I couldn’t last two days without it.

Vince, on the other hand, wasn’t as concerned about the cup as I was. He drinks very little soda. For him, caffeine comes in a simple cup of hot, black coffee. Or three. He’s easy. But he also wasn’t caffeine-deprived like I was.

When we got up the next morning and saw our room attendant, she reported that the cups still had not materialized. 


So we walked to the main dining room. You should know, by the way, that our cabin was in the front of the ship and the dining room was in the back of the ship. I could get all fancy and go all “fore” and “aft” and “starboard” and “port” on you – but I’d have to look it up to be sure I knew what I was talkin’ about and I don’t wanna ‘cause I’m getting mad all over again about my drink cup!

Anyway, suffice it to say, it was a L-O-N-G walk from the front of that ship to the back.

Okay, I couldn’t stand not knowing this part, so I did check so I could estimate how many miles a day we walked. Allure of the Seas is 1,188 feet long and we walked to the main dining room and back twice a day. Not to mention all the other places we walked to on the ship. And all the places we got lost on the ship and had to backtrack. Yep, just as I suspected – that’s a lotta walkin’!

Vince kept telling people if we invented an “Uber” for getting around the ship we could make a lot of money. And most people agreed with him.

Anyway, we went to breakfast in the main dining room and I was – seriously – so dehydrated that I could barely form enough spit in my mouth to speak. When the server asked if I wanted coffee, I just looked at her and started crying, which rather shocked and horrified me (not to mention her).  But I plaintively cried, “I…just…want…a…Diet Coke!”

Then I blubbered out the whole story about the apparently impossible-to-get insulated cup. She solicitously patted my shoulder and scrambled to get me a Diet Coke – all the while probably wondering what sort of crazy person she was dealing with.

And then she called over some other lady who looked pretty official. I mean, she had on a white shirt with epaulets and everything. So that lady called someone and told them to get the insulated cups to our cabin stat.

They probably had a good laugh later about the deranged blonde woman who cried over not having an insulated cup – which I could hardly blame them for – but they were nice enough not to laugh in front of me.

Vince and I finished breakfast (where I had not one but TWO small glasses of Diet Coke, so I was sufficiently caffeinated by the end of the meal). And, because our first port of call in the Bahamas was that day, we disembarked without any cups. But, fortunately, there was a guy on the gangway handing out bottles of cold water, so we weren’t at risk of further dehydration.

Once we arrived back on the ship and returned to our cabin, there was a knock at the door and – voila! – our room attendant was standing there with a big grin on her face holding up two insulated cups!! I shouted, “Bless you!” and all but snatched them out of her hands. She just grinned some more and then apologized for the delay.

I didn’t care – I was just happy to have them!

But here’s the interesting thing. I didn’t spend much time on the level where the drink machines were – consequently, I didn’t drink a lot of Diet Coke on the ship.

But at least I had enough to quench my thirst and get sufficiently caffeinated so as not to annoy Vince. 

Oh, and by the way, both the server and her supervisor sought me out later that evening during dinner to make sure that I (a) got my insulated cup and (b) was not having any further meltdowns over caffeine and/or plastic drinkware. 

That was brave of them, eh?!

No, but seriously, I was touched that they followed up like that. And no more tears were shed the entire rest of the cruise. This is a good thing because, after all, I was on vacation.

We made a habit of loading up on the beverages whenever we stopped at one of the many pool bars. We'd order a bottle of water, a can of Diet Coke, and a fancy mixed drink with fruit stuck in it. We wanted to make sure the fridge back in our cabin was well-stocked. Well, except for the fancy drink with fruit stuck in it. Those we drank sitting by the pool and hot tub. 

When we were gathering all our belongings at the end of our trip and it came time to pack up the drink cups, I considered NOT bringing them home with me. For about a second and a half. After all, we have a cabinet full of insulated drink cups and these, frankly, didn't keep the ice from melting like some of our other cups do.

But there was NO WAY I wasn't going to bring these suckers home given how much I had to go through to get them! So in our bags they went. And when I look at them now, I can only shake my head and laugh. 

And, really, I wouldn't have had to write two L-O-N-G blogs about this vacation if our shuttle bus driver had taken us directly from Point A (Miami Airport) to Point B (the correct Hyatt Place hotel in Ft. Lauderdale). And if my drink cup had been in the cabin upon arrival. I mean, what else could I have talked about? 

The monkeys in St. Kitts? The pretty jewels Vince bought me? The production of "Mama Mia" we saw? 

Yeah. Maybe. But they may not be nearly as entertaining. I'll work on it...

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