Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And we somehow managed to avoid pretty much every camera on our cruise. And since I carried my camera with me everywhere but used it to take exactly 15 pictures all week—three of which turned out dark and blurry—there isn't a lot of photographic evidence we were even on the good ship Solstice.
But! Thanks to the miracle of the Internets and the stalker photo-stealing capabilities of Facebook, I've been able to assemble a bunch of other people's photos—some of which actually include us—into a picture directory I can call my own!
So let's cruise (ahem) through our borrowed trip memories, shall we?
First of all, here is the beautiful Celebrity Solstice, our home away from land for a whole week. See the row of orange lifeboats? Our private balcony—and now that we've sampled the charmed private-balcony life of people who scrimp and pinch so they can afford to sail in rooms with private balconies, we are never going back to the prison-like confines of an interior stateroom—was one floor above the space between the leftmost two lifeboats:
Before we set sail, we were docked in a space crammed with other cruise ships, including this one that sounds like it might be expensive:
Gay boys on gay cruises are compelled to decorate their doors in gay ways. I think we succeeded gaily:
We set sail the night of the Academy Awards, which were broadcast on a giant screen in the giant theater on the ship with a couch full of sassy drag queens and raunchy comedians sitting below the screen making catty comments. Here's my husband and our fabulous friends Curtis and Chris hanging out in the theater in the moments before the broadcast ... and before we discovered just how excruciatingly painful unrehearsed commentary can be, even when it comes from sassy drag queens and raunchy comedians:
The cafe on the ship is open 24 hours a day, and—in contrast to the formal dining room—it's very casual. Here's what a gay cruise looks like on the first morning. And for those of you who aren't gay, here's our secret for always looking so young and fresh:
Our first port of call was Coco Cay in the Bahamas. We couldn't pull our massive ship up to the island, so we had to drop anchor a couple hundred feet (or knots or ripples or whatever unit seafolk use to measure distance across water) away from shore and ride smallish boats called tenders to get to land. Here's the view of our mighty ship from one of our tenders:
Coco Cay, though lovely, has a distinctively Disney flair to it. I'm a huge Disney fan, so I'm not saying this as an insult. But I have a hard time thinking we experienced Coco Cay the way the pirates did:
Here's the view from our tender as it pulled up to the boat slip on the island. Notice how easily I throw nautical terms like tender, slip and aaaarrrrrgh! into this blog post.
Coco Cay beach is stunningly lovely:
And here's the view from our beach chairs:
Back on the ship, we had our first themed party: the Dog Tag T-Dance. A t-dance, which is often spelled tea dance, is just an afternoon dance where you're as likely to find tea as you are to find teabaggers and their misspelled anti-
Here's another crowd shot I stole from the t-dance. It contains two of the five guys I drooled over all week but never got the stones to walk up and say hi to:
Our second port of call was St. Barth, which, like practically every island in the Caribbean, features charming architecture echoing a history of Dutch, English, French and/or Spanish occupation; stores dedicated to selling overpriced jewelry and dustables to tourists; pre-Revolutionary buildings with pre-Revolutionary cannons in front of them; and giant nautical objets d'tourist that you can use to lend drama to your vacation photos:
St. Barth has dramatic mountains and huge bays filled with giant private yachts. We asked a local to take a picture of us in front of both as though we were mega-wealthy yacht-and-mountain-owning moguls. But he cropped us too tight so for all you know this picture was taken in front of a flooded Walmart parking lot in South Carolina:
We tendered back to the ship in choppy water after sunset. Here's the best my intrepid little camera could do to capture the majesty and grandeur of the good ship Solstice without aid of natural light or terra firma:
Our next t-dance was disco themed. And the gays NEVER pass up a chance to dress in ridiculous polyester:
We met a lot of fun new friends on the ship, and we went out of our way to coordinate dinners with everyone in the ship's grand dining room. There was only one night where we couldn't scare up dinner dates so we asked to be seated at a table for four and play dinner-companion roulette with another couple. Unfortunately, we didn't specify that we wanted to be seated with an English-speaking couple, so we and our German dinner companions spent a whole hour gesturing at our food and making nummy sounds at each other. I broke out in a cold sweat from the awkwardness of it all. But! Most of our dinners were more fun, like this one with all our new best coastal friends who hail from New York and San Francisco:
Only on a gay cruise can you get away with wearing cheesy matchy-matchy shirts. Justin got to be Partner A because he's bigger and he can beat me up:
My favorite part of the gay cruises is hanging out by the pool and meeting new people. Here we are with our new best friend Ron from New York, who has actual Broadway connections. Which is like catnip to us. Sparkly, marabou-trimmed catnip. We might as well be posing with Sondheim himself here:
There is goofy poolside entertainment on the ship every afternoon, like spoofs of Project Runway or Dancing with the Stars. Those of us in the know stake out good deck chairs so we can watch all the goofiness without standing on our tippy-toes. And once in a while we get captured in strangers' photos that get posted on Facebook:
Here's a closeup of that last shot, which shows me sitting tantalizingly close to some distractingly attractive men:
Gay boys in speedos socializing in a giant pool. It truly is heaven on earth. Except for the love handles that glow so loudly from my lower back:
More socializing in the pool. More proof that I don't suck in my stomach hard enough when cameras are around:
The last t-dance of the week is called Splash, and it has a nautical/poolside theme. Unfortunately our cruise wasn't the epitome of warm Caribbean weather, and people actually bundled up instead of parading around in skimpy costumes for this dance. But not us! Because we had adorable outfits!
There are huge themed parties almost every night on the ship. We packed fabulous costumes to wear to the FantaSea party and the Lost Island party, but they started too late and we were too tired to go to them. But we did stay up past our bedtime for the week-ending White Party, where people dress any way they want as long as they're in white. And our $25 white nerd costumes were pretty fabulous, despite the fact that my pocket protector kept sliding down like it was some kind of kitten-sized messenger bag:
Atlantis, the company that charters these cruises and makes them fabulously gay, knows how to throw a party ... with lasers and fog machines and massive speakers and top-name deejays. Here's a shot of the White Party crowd dancing away to thunderous music on a gorgeous ship in the middle of the Caribbean:
And here's a shot taken without a flash, which shows all the cool laser effects:
The guy on the right went to my high school. I used to deliver his family's newspaper. He's five years older than I am but he looks 10 times younger and hotter. Life is so not fair:
I leave you with one more look at us in our fabulous White Party costumes as we flank our distractingly tattooed and distractingly hot stateroom neighbor:
And let me point out that micro-spray SPF is about as useful as a Sarah Palin opinion. I applied my micro-spray SPF 45 every 45 minutes or so on our cruise and I still turned bright red on the first day I was in the sun. Unfortunately, that's all the sunscreen we'd packed. But rest assured I'm going back to the thick goopy SPF 45 that's kept me reliably pasty white for all my smooth, relatively wrinkle-free years. Sunburns are for nerds.