There were so many things to see and do on this cruise. J. Anthony Brown warned us during his opening monologue on the first evening of the cruise to "Pace yourself!". In addition to the activities already provided by Royal Caribbean such as the casino, bingo, the spa, miniature golf, the rock climbing wall, and Internet cafe, the Tom Joyner staff offered a slew of other interesting activities. There were fashion shows, speed-dating for singles, book club meetings, art auctions featuring African American artists. Talk show host, Tavis Smiley did a 2 hour interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan that people raved about. Traci and I missed that one because we were touring St. Thomas at the time. There was a Think Tank discussion in which social issues and relationships were discussed by a panel including BET News anchor, Jackie Reid, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and others.
One of my favorite seminars was the Drink Tank which consisted of a panel of comedians such as D. L. Hugley, Bruce Bruce, J. Anthony Brown, Earthquake, Sommore, Kym Whitely, D. Whiteman, and Ms. Dupree. It was supposed to be a spoof of the Think Tank in which the comedians gave silly answers to questions from the audience, but instead, it ended up being a serious discussion about their careers in comedy. A hot topic of conversation by the panel was the unexplained hiatus Dave Chappelle took from his hit show, The Chappelle Show. A few of the comedians sympathize with Dave but many of them called his actions irresponsible. It was interesting to hear these opinions from the colleagues of Dave Chappelle.
comedians of the Drink Tank
There was a movie night in which everyone was given a bag popcorn and invited into the Lyric Theater to watch the screening of Hustle and Flow. One of the lead actresses was on the ship to introduce the movie. I didn't care for the movie because of the reasons listed in my Things That Disappointed Me section but there were several people we spoke to who did like it. I think the movie will do well in theaters because it seems to be an extension of many of the today's popular music videos. I couldn't seem to get the darn theme song out of my head for a few days: "Whoop dat trick! Gidd'em! Whoop dat trick! Gidd'em...". Oh no. There I go again.
Then, of course, there were the parties. There were pool parties, theme night parties, and, not to mention, the parties in the ship disco lounge. With all the activities, parties, and concerts on this cruise, Traci and I got little sleep that week. Fortunately, at the end of the cruise, we spent two relaxing days in Puerto Rico (my San Juan Trip Report) to rest up before we had to go back to work.
morning workout with Mocha Lee
"Honestly, the ropes will protect you if you fall."
"You go, Girl!"
"I must concentrate."
"Party over here..."
"Party over there..."
"Now wave your hands in the air..."
We ate very well on this cruise. All the meals were included in the price of the cruise and you could get something to eat day and night. This is no different from other cruises.
Traci and I ate all of our dinners and most of our breakfasts in the main dining room. Unlike other cruises, there were no assigned tables; therefore, we dined and chatted with new people every time we ate in there. It always amazes me when we meet someone who lives in a different part of the country, yet we know one of their friends or relatives. It truly is a small world after all.
There were different sets of tasty appetizers, main courses, and desserts to choose from every day at lunch and dinner in the main dining room. However, there was a Tom Joyner Special that was available everyday. This dish consisted of fried chicken, collard greens, and corn bread. Unfortunately, the Royal Caribbean chefs missed the mark on this one. Traci ordered it the first evening and never again. The greens tasted terrible and the chicken was dry and stringy. Awful!
Another dining option on the ship was the buffet in the Windjammer Cafe. We normally ate there for breakfast if we were too late for breakfast in the main dining room. I also ate there for the midnight buffets. There was normally a long line at this hour. The Windjammer Cafe was also a good spot for celebrity sightings.
enjoying a late breakfast in the Windjammer cafe
If the Windjammer and main dining room weren't enough, we could get snacks such as pizza, sandwiches, and pastries from the cafe on the Promenade Deck around the clock. With all this food available, it is no wonder I came home 8 pounds heavier. Yikes!
Traci and I loved this cruise. The concerts and activities we experienced will make it difficult for us to sign up for any cruise that doesn't offer the same caliber. At almost three times the amount of a typical Royal Caribbean cruise, the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage is definitely not cheap. However, with the high quality of entertainment we received and knowing that $1700 of my cruise price will help someone finish college (we received a donation receipt for tax write-off purposes), I have no regrets about going on this cruise. In fact, Traci and I have already signed up for Fantastic Voyage 2006 which leaves Miami and stops in Belize, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Bahamas. We can't wait!
Magnets Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)Entire fridge magnet collection...