We’re here on the boat. On the left side, click the webcam or location links to see where we’re at and what it looks like here. The internet is ROUGH and VERY expensive (40 cents a minute, it turns out; though they’re giving away a free 500 minute block tomorrow, fingers crossed) and so we’re talking barely dial-up speeds. What’s that mean? No pictures. Sad day. We’ll see what happens with Rome. We have all-day excursions in St. Maarten, Portugal and Spain, and we’re looking to fill up Italy pretty full, but I’ll do what I can.

After a nice night chilling in the hot tub and pool at the hotel and some far-too-expensive room service, coupled with a 2-hour-or-so embarkation line, we’re here, we’re moving

and we played a badass game of giant chess on the lido (pool) deck, which was way fun. (Evan made a misstep that let me capture his queen and resigned.)

The demographic skew on this boat is seriously rough. We’ve seen exactly 2 girls who appear to be our age, minus a few couples who are honeymooning. (No more than 10

individuals under 30, though.) It’s about what we expected—it’s a bit of a stretch for most people our age to get the time off and be able to pay for a trip like this. Definitely not a

surprise, but we’re just hoping the ship doesn’t start to smell like Ben-Gay.

The Carnival Freedom is very attractive. It’s this ship’s inaugural season (or about the end of it) and you can tell. It’s also their largest boat; about the size of the Valor, or a little

bigger. Not as big as the Splendor which is still to come. On this boat, there are a ton of great places to eat. There’s an Asian deli, a NY deli, a grill, a fish and chips place, a pool-

deck buffet, a supper club, 24-hour free room service, a pizzeria, a sushi place… You get the idea. It’s pretty serious.

We had delicious fish and chips today. I was surprised that they were fresh battered, instead of like, “trust the Gorton’s fisherman.” It’s very very tasty, and since all the food is

free here, we’re looking to resolve to always use the stairs. (A bit of a bitch, since we’re on deck 1, and all the food is on deck 4-5/deck 9-10.)

We have two days at sea before we land in St. Maarten. We’re going on a pirate/longship (duelling boats, actually, sailing side-by-side) trip around the island, complete with

snorkling and BBQ. Then it’s FIVE DAYS ACROSS the Atlantic. Craziness ensues. Tonight is $1/$2 no-limit; the only no-limit poker night of the cruise, so we’re going to partake in

that shortly as we’re about to hit international waters.

Still to come: who our dinner guests are (if any) and all that jazz. The stateroom is just the right size; the same as the other Carnival cruises I’ve been on. I’ve taken about 100 pictures already, with Tony taking a bunch as well. I’m going to keep shooting out my battery and card, since I have my portable hard drive, so the sky’s the limit there.

If you want to get in touch with me, you can leave a comment here or email me directly, chris.cardinal [at] gmail. I’m getting email, but thankfully, Outlook lets me grab just the headers; even 2 MB of email took about 6 minutes. Ugh.