Adventures on the Odyssey

Dearest Rachel –

The darkness eventually begins to clear as morning breaks, and the sun comes out in full power before I’m finished with my meal. Granted, I take my time with it, but I’m willing to claim that half my time is consumed with finding an open – and sanitized – table to sit down at. And before you jump on me for suddenly being all germophobic, the tables have signs on them indicating whether or not you can sit at them for that reason; bottom line, it’s not my idea to avoid this or that table, I’m just following orders.

The clouds from yesterday have departed (although there are still some on the distant horizon, they don’t seem to pose a threat), and what wind we’re dealing with is due to the fact that we’re moving at speed – 25 mph, or 22 knots, if I remember correctly. It’s nearly 1,200 miles to Aruba, and it’s going to take time, even at this pace, to get there.

Now, I promised I would go into more detail about the amenities they have here, so this is that report, more or less. I’ve not tried everything here yet (and there are things I probably won’t get around to, for… reasons), but I can list most of them off, at any rate. As always, I have to understand that anything we can do down here is probably as nothing in comparison to what you’re experiencing where you are. For all I know, you could be riding a comet to the Oort cloud, or visiting exoplanets throughout creation to see if any of them spend their days praising Oyarsa, or maybe just going through your home planet’s timeline… even our own days together. Would that, should you be doing so, I would be aware of your presence – but, given my oblivious nature, that’s probably not likely.

But I’m roaming far from the topic at hand, when I should be taking in the moment, and bringing you through the ones I’m seeing here. I’ve already mentioned the North Star

Which, sure enough, is extended out over the side of the ship. I’m sure that must make for an interesting photo opportunity in its own right. By the way, I heard that they don’t operate this thing in winds exceeding 50 miles an hour, so if we were sailing into 25 mph headwind, that thing would not be up there.

But that shot was taken on my way to see (and participate in) something completely different, and another activity that – as far as I’m aware – is unique to the Odyssey of the Seas:

…the bumper cars. It’s actually kind of funny, in that there are only ten cars roaming around on a full-size basketball court. So there’s plenty of space to get away from other people – but where’s the sport in that? I can avoid people on the road but just driving responsibly, and I wind up having to do that all the time. I made a point of trying to basically hit everyone on the court in the time allotted us.

In fact, I may have come across as a little bit mean, but isn’t bumping into everybody the point of bumper cars? Be that as it may, one of the younger drivers gave me a bit of karmic revenge right at the end of our time, as we both slammed head-first into each other, giving me a minor case of strap burn as my safety harness snapped me back into my seat. Well played, miss.

Despite being so far topside – and the boat rocking out in the closest thing to open ocean as I’ve ever ridden in – I don’t think the cars were too affected by the ship’s motion. Either that, or we were all too involved with driving around to notice anything like that.

Anyway, after all this, I had to wander around this fifteenth deck, to take a look at the other activities they have on offer here. Just past the basketball/bumper car court (which is a phrase I never considered saying before, but here we are) is an alcove offering what they refer to as a ‘4-D interactive virtual reality experience.’

I checked the schedule on the app, and it’s a 45-minute adventure in being a pirate, as far as I can tell. The presentation has the term ‘swashbuckler’ in it, so you can draw your own conclusions. I’m not sure whether I want to pony up the $30, necessarily – partly because I wouldn’t be able to take pictures (and they probably wouldn’t do the experience justice in any event), and partly because the only remaining reservations seem to be while we’re in port, and I’ve already signed up for an excursion in each one of them as it is. Of course, it may well be that the decision will shortly be out of my hands, if it books up soon. I don’t see myself getting too broken up about it, to be honest, although I’m sure you’d be all over it, as would some of our companions in the past… and maybe some of mine in the future?

With that being said, I should proceed outside on the deck, and show you some of the other things they have on offer – and, while you’re missing them now, you at least had a chance at them in the past.

We can start with what they refer to as the SkyPad here: a spherical court containing a collection of trampolines in which you’re attached to bungie cords, and bounced in the air within it.

You’ll recall having done this at least twice; once at Covent Garden in London, on one or another of our family cruises, and later on (on a smaller scale, but no less fun, judging from your reactions) during one Frontier Days festival only a few years ago.

Further aft, there’s one that you might actually find familiar…

Yup, that’s the Flowrider. Remember doing that? I do.

But this ship has something else behind and above it. Does it look at all familiar?

They call it the RipCord here, but you might remember it under the name iFLY…

I just tracked this video down on Thursday, just a day before flying out. It’d been buried on an old unused computer, but I’m glad I found it when I did.

Somehow, it doesn’t feel so bad to be looking at things you’ve already experienced; I don’t fret about the thought that you’re missing out on an experience – unless you count the combined experience of doing this or that on a cruise ship, which in it’s own right is quite the wonder indeed.

Of course, those are just the headline attractions aboard ship. I haven’t yet mentioned that they have soccer pool here, too…

Although, for some reason, they’re missing the cue ball here, of all things. By the way, it looks like a fairly simple construct; perhaps the church might consider putting something like this together for Bridge Kids or The Gathering.

…not to mention a giant chess board or two…

…the traditional shuffleboard courts

…even a small court for playing Twister, of all things…

Oh, I’m sorry, ‘Reach That!’ Can’t have any copyright issues, now, can we?

…along with the obligatory rock-climbing wall, complete with a giant cat sculpture next to it that you might remember from the beginning of this letter.

Oh, and about that…

I suspect you may have read the title, and seen that picture, and thought this might have been calculated to get someone’s attention in particular.

Well, maybe… or maybe not. I had so much to say as a coda to this letter when I thought of it last night, but nothing seems quite right when the letter’s addressed to you. So I’ll leave it with the thought that, if the offer is refused (and I expect it will be), I have an assignment for her in its stead, should she choose to accept it.

Yes, it’s very much Mission Impossible. But that’s how it goes.

Until next time, honey, wish me luck… I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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