Cruises inspire us to think less about life's daily troubles, and as a result, we have a lot of fun on cruises. It's just my opinion, but on the whole I'd say that the average traveler laughs and smiles three times as much on a cruise as a regular land-based vacation.
My second cruise was on the Norway in 1981. I traveled with my brother and we had a terrific time. We were both working and spent a fair amount of money (at that time of lives) for this cruise, since it was peak season and the Norway just started sailing under her new name and owner, NCL. I packed a 1/2 gallon of Jim Beam in my big suitcase and when I opened it, this rugged thick glass was shattered all over my new clothes! In particular, a brand new maroon Polo shirt bled over everything and it was quite nightmarish and expensive getting everything cleaned on the ship.
Anyway, we both brought limited cash and the ship (I believe) was not capable yet of accepting credit cards (and the casino only had slots), so after we figured out our basic expenses, we had little to have fun with. Today, it's different with the Sail & Sign cards that make on board expenses so much (perhaps "too much") easier.
Anyway, we were pretty thirsty all week long having to watch our nickels and dimes and rarely ordered drinks. It's hot out there on the Caribbean ocean and watching frozen drinks walking around all day is tough. It was during this unquenched cruise that I promised myself to bring a blender for frozen drinks on my ensuing cruises.
Now the blender idea came from a friend of mine that I went to college with. Rick was a Tennessee native and began mixing blender drinks at parties in college. The idea flowed over to our annual spring break pilgrimages to Fort Lauderdale in the mid to late 70's. Heck, add the words "Free frozen cocktails" to a group of college students, and our place was party central. We mixed in anything - from grape juice to beer to bananas, and each blenderful's lifespan was very limited.
On the Carnivale, my cruise after the Norway, I began to perfect the easiest and most economical way to drink on a ship. I brought the blender and tucked in some Crystal Light (CL) just before leaving Atlanta. CL weighs nothing and takes up zero space. One of the biggest dilemmas some people have on a ship is that you can purchase liquor for next to nothing on the islands or even on the ship, but there are no mixers! Alas, the CL mixed with rum and ice was the answer.
And there's more to the story if you plan on your next cruise on mixing up a few Twisters , as a friend once labeled these frozen concoctions of the high seas. And if you follow my guidelines to some degree, I'll personally guarantee that you will:
Blender and Accessories Required
OK, first you need a good modern blender. No 30 year old chugalugs that weigh 23 pounds and short circuit the neighborhood (argh, argh, argh), nor, the dainty but worthless battery operated ones. Mine is a Hamilton 7 speed. It's light, durable and cost only $25 - the cost of a round for four people.
Next, you need a 6-8' extension cord. Some ships only have an outlet in the bathroom and it's already too crowded by the sink to think about putting the blender there, so bring the cord and set the blender up on a table in the room.
You will also need a large spoon to stir with.
Drinking Gear Required
This is a very important part of your successful cruise experience, so pay attention here. You must bring large plastic cups - since you'll no doubt be sharing these with friends, neighbors and passers by. I prefer to bring "festive" cups (i.e. nautical or colorful) for two reasons. They liven up the party, and if someone walks down the hall with a festive cup, versus a cheap clear plastic cup, he'll be less conspicuous.
During the day, especially if you go topside by the pool, it's a must to bring a few colorful insulated workout type bottles with built in straws. Here again, discretion is appreciated by the cruise lines and we should obey their wishes. If you go with others or plan to meet others, than one other important piece of equipment is an insulated plastic jug (approx. 50 oz is good). This way, someone will minimize their trips back down to the room to mix another batch.
Alcohol and Mixers
Before boarding, I always stop at a liquor store near the Embarkation pier to pick up my ingredients. I buy the CL at home and pack that, but don't want to have a bottle break open in my suitcase again. This is how I recommend that you stock the bar before departure:
CL has some wonderful flavors now that taste great with my recipe. I think they call them the "Tropical Flavors" and include Strawberry Kiwi, Pineapple Passion and about 4 more. Note that the lemon lime is good to bring if you wish to make frozen Margaritas. Just substitute Tequila for Rum. As for how much CL to bring, figure that each container of 3 tubs makes 9 blenderfuls. The larger CL containers contain 5 tubs and make 15 blenderfuls. Your personal consumption habits will dictate how much you need to bring, but remember it's better to err on the side of abundance when you are at sea!!
If you've come this far, please pay attention to this part, as improperly blended drinks are not fun. Once the top is on the blender, hit the second highest blending button. (Be kind to your blender and do not burn it out!) Blend until the crushed ice noise turns into a liquefied state. You'll also see the color of the consistency become lighter. If this is not happening after 30 seconds, then you most commonly have to add water. If your mixture is too thin, then pour out about 12 oz into a cup and add more ice.
The proper consistency is as creamy as ice cream. There should be peaks on top once you've poured some into a cup, kind of like the consistency of meringue. If you have chunks, keep mixing till they disappear. You will serve no drink before it's time.
Your ice bucket holds enough ice for one blenderful at a time. If that's all you need, then disregard this tip. I bring a cooler on board - either a sturdy Styrofoam one or an Igloo type that holds at least a 12 pack. Ice can be a commodity on the ship - since it's hard to find. Your room steward sleeps during the afternoon - which is the most common time of day when the blender is in use. Therefore, stocking up is important. Here are a few pointers:
Logistics and Getting on Board
OK, now you wonder how the heck to do all this. It's easy. First, you pack the following in your suitcase:
If you're on a bus from airport to the ship, that's fine. Board the ship, find your room, and grab your boarding card and a taxi. In most ports, you'll probably spend about $10 - $20 for a taxi. Go to the closest, yet safe, drugstore (i.e. Revco, Eckerds, Walgreens, etc.) and grab a cooler. Then to a liquor store for the following: (note that if you did not carry on your luggage and or blender, you can wait till after dinner to purchase your rum/vodka on board)
To get on board a ship, the easiest way is to place the liquor inside your suitcase just before you board the ship. Put the OJ and other stuff inside the cooler, so in case they ask what's inside, you can just say that your Doctor recommends plenty of vitamin C everyday.
Well, this is just one minor thing you can do to ensure your wonderful cruising experience. Two buddies and I went this past spring on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise and we figured that each blenderful cost us approximately $3.00, and that it equaled 4 frozen drinks on board, for a total of $20. We made 50 blenderfuls of Twisters - so that was 50 x $17/savings each for a total savings of $850!! ( Obviously we made lots of friends who also liked them!)
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please