unforgettable cruise

Chapter 1 - boarding a floating city

🎼 So be my guest
You’ve got nothing to lose
Won’t you let me take you on a
Sea Cruise? 🎼

The spectacularly-appointed Sapphire Prince assuredly dwarfed whatever cruise ship about which Huey “Piano” Smith and His Clowns sang in 1958, or for that matter the vastly more familiar 1959 major hit single with Frankie Ford doing the vocal over the identical instrumental and sound effect track. It was the latter version singing to about-to-be vacationing Leigh Down through her earbuds as she boarded the ship at her home port of San Diego, California. Adrenalin pumping from high excitement, she continued her way up the gangway.

The ship looked ever-more impressive the closer to, and finally onto, it she got. 1370 cabins holding up to Two-Thousand-Beast-Number passengers as Leigh sillily thought of it (2666 to the rest of us) plus well over one thousand crew and staff members, more decks than many lesser hotels had floors, redundant on-board water treatment each fit for supplying the needs of a small town, redundant high-tech propulsion, state-of-the-art facilities and accoutrements too numerous to enumerate—this was some serious maritime hardware!

Her pleasure with her chosen pleasure craft grew further upon meeting her Upper Promenade Deck stateroom. Plushly, beautifully, and tastefully appointed (especially since the ship’s most recent refresh just a year prior), the light, optically bright pastel wall finish and complimentarily-contrasting medium dark wood trim, panels, and accents—and indeed the entire stateroom—were well- and evenly-lit by lines and rings of energy-efficient soft white dimmable LED lighting. Shaped vaguely like neon tubing and unlike rope LED designs with their individual light dots, these LED tubes produced smooth, continuous, often indirect light, blending into the room well enough to become one with it, rather than discrete fixtures.

On the small side of medium in size, while able to sleep 3 by design, it was perfect for one person wanting some space without requiring extravagant amounts. She happily stowed her well-packed suitcases in the closet, then made a beeline to the one area of concern she’d had: how big was the shower door? {Big enough} she thought as she tried it, smiling from a combination of relief and the shower’s (and indeed the bathroom’s) innate glass with gold structural members and fittings beauty. While fitting through the shower door wasn’t any issue now, given how her life usually went and what she had in mind for this vacation cruise, it could have been later. The sink in the gray terrazzo countertop and toilet were equally well-appointed. Some of the fanciest staterooms had those newfangled bidet seats, with all kinds of cleaning and warming and other functions. Leigh was just as glad to have a conventional “dumb” toilet seat and toilet paper for their own sake, beyond saving money. No question: the bathroom would be fully up to the task for this leisurely-paced leisure cruise.

Upon finishing making use of the latter two bathroom fixtures, her next beeline was over to the bed, near the full wall-height exterior window/sliding door. She expected to be spending most of her time when in this stateroom on or in the bed, whether sleeping, enjoying the view, reading, or possibly even getting into some pleasure writing she’d long neglected. Gloriously sensually soft, plush, and welcoming, its materials gave it a slightly warm feel of the nature of some cloth materials, others of which can feel cold to the touch despite both being measurably at the same ambient temperature. Laying fully down atop it she thought, {This really is like floating on a cloud}.

The view out the full-wall picture window/door was gloriously free from visual restrictions, and with the day being a nice sunny San Diego late afternoon, glorious in general. Royal Prince Cruise Lines was very proud of the innovation they’d introduced on this series of ocean liners during the most recent extensive refresh: a small balcony-like area just outside each of these staterooms with a waist-height metal-side glass-front wall with its own door out onto the main Upper Promenade deck area ringing this deck level. The metal sides were equipped with sliding opaque privacy partitions (initially retracted) able to be adjusted by either of the visually adjoining staterooms, when one wanted a more traditional private balcony experience. Called the Balconette by Royal Prince, the name reminded her of a bra style for which she barely had enough boob flesh to justify. Leigh made sure to test the electric self-locking picture window glass door, both from its pushbutton opener on the inside and the key card mechanism on the outside. She was just as glad to have overhead cover at that moment, given the flock of seagulls noisily chirping as they flew by (definitely *not* singing any early 1980s Hair Band/Neuromantic songs, by any band).

The ship was still in port and would so remain for awhile as other cruisers continued to board, and Leigh had more of her stateroom to check out! Back inside, she found the couch entirely serviceable. Even if not as nice as hers at home in terms of plush comfort, it was undeniably cleaner! The nearby comfy chair was on the verge of claustrophobically snug, and of no matter to her given the couch and bed options. It *was* comfortable, and if a guest wound up visiting, they could likely sit there with no issue. The small desk and its chair were indeed several notches above motel perfunctory, even if not quite up to the level of the rest of the room in terms of elegance and comfort. Not a place she expected to spend any time, so no matter.

She spent some time reading a good bit of the voluminous information Royal Prince Cruise Lines provided regarding the many activities, amenities, services, and so on from which she could partake. {*Ten* restaurants?! Mmmmmm… thank goodness it’s dinner time soon. *Four* swimming pools?! Yikes!… Eight lounges doesn’t surprise me. Well} “hhhhhh” she sighed aloud, {might as well fine-tune myself and get ready for the muster drill, then after that head directly out to dinner}.

* *
Experiencing the escalator ride after the reasonably brief and pleasantly painless muster drill down to the lower level of the expansive multi-deck-height Grand Promenade area looked and felt in every way to Leigh like a mash-up of going down a land-based upscale shopping mall escalator near the prime stores from its upper to lower level with descending into the main lobby of a well-appointed luxury hotel: open, spacious, vast, opulent.

The many disparate languages being spoken by those moving every which way around her—quite like a busy mall or hotel lobby, or even transit terminal—along with details of physical build and appearance caught her attention. {It’s like a mini-UN here} she mentally mused.

She made her way to Glissando, one of the higher-end restaurants on the ship. As part of the Pampered Gem package into which she’d bought, eating there was no extra charge for her, as it would be for those opting for standard fares. Thankfully, she was able to be seated right away.

Excellent acoustic treatments integral to the tasteful dark wood-forward decor made for a peaceful relatively quiet space for private at-table conversation, as well as dispersing the mellifluous notes of the beautiful and beautifully-dressed harpist’s large gold-colored harp evenly throughout the restaurant space such that it could be easily heard without being overbearing. Yes, this lithe brown-haired maiden in her white sequined full-length dress was running glissandos lovely enough to make angels weep.

{Goodness, I’m in one of my nicer outfits and I’m almost underdressed!} she thought on the walk over to her table, following the hostess’s tight, small ass, the likes of which she hadn’t had since she was 11, if then.

The young woman’s gracious smile and waving hand motion towards the linen-covered table exuded welcoming sincerity.

“Thank you” said Leigh, thinking as the woman left, {You’d be about the age of the daughter I’m glad I never had}.

“Good evening, Ms. Down” a tall square-jawed young man not much older than the hostess greeted her, his light brown eyes glittering from his toreador-like face framed by long jet black hair. His uniform informed her that he was her waiter, named Andrés per his black text on shiny gold name tag. “How are you this evening?” he asked as he set down a generously-large glass of water and basket of fresh, warm bread.

“Well, thank you. And you?”

“Delighted to be here, and to be of service. Tonight’s Sapphire Special is Braised Veal Bonavente. Our Explorer Special this evening is Sardine Poutine.”

Leigh couldn’t help grimacing slightly at the thought.

“Chef Lindgren assures me that its name was chosen more for purposes of alliteration than literal representation of its composition, other than it assuredly contains fresh premium sardines. He promises it will delight the palate, and few of us who’ve ever had the honor and privilege of partaking of his creations have ever found them less than delightful.”

“Seems like an unusual choice of fish.”

“Chef claims that sardines’ position low in the food chain makes it a far more healthful option in our modern world than nearly any other seafood outside of wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which we prefer to source once we’re much farther up the coast.”

“Fair enough. Being new on-board tonight, I’m going to need some time to peruse the menu before making my selection” {and hope that you’re on the menu}.

“Of course; please take your time” he smiled, just missing patting her hand with his gentle table touch before departing.

An inveterate foodie, Leigh was already feeling food lust arousal before even making it out of the appetizer listings. {Uuoooohh, I’m gonna love this cruise!}
87 chapters, created 3 years , updated 2 years
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