After Charleston, we have two, full days at sea.
I'd been dutifully sopping up puddles of Xingxing's urine with bits of newspaper, and storing the newspaper in a ziplock bag. On our last morning in Charleston I took the little plastic fire hydrant I'd brought along and shoved it beneath a startled Xingxing as he peed, then wrapped it in plastic and let it marinate. I also scooped up handfuls of dirt from places he sniffed, and squirreled them away in the plastic bag with the urine-soaked strips of newspaper. You have to admit, I was doing my best. And all the while I was thinking, He can't go two days without doing anything. He simply can't.
As we headed out to sea, I tucked the pieces of newspaper beneath the cedar chips, sprinkled the dirt I'd collected over the top and set up the (hopefully) reeking plastic fire hydrant.
The next morning, we went out on deck. Water, water everywhere. White-caps, too. I led Xingxing to his "special place". He jumped into the box, and promptly began to sniff. He was interested. He was more than interested. He circled the little red hydrant three times, and finally -- after due consideration -- lifted his leg. Victory at sea!
This is not the sort of detail you find in most travel blogs. But if you're thinking of taking a dog on a cruise ship, it should be compellingly interesting. And yes, I'd brought along some puppy pads. But Xingxing has never used puppy pads, and found them as uninspiring as the original cedar chips.
Now that we'd solved the potty problem I could exhale, settle down and enjoy myself. There is plenty to do, even at sea. Crossword puzzles and sudoku in the library, where there are also a number of novels. Talks by guest presenters, on a variety of topics. Ping pong. A casino, with slots and gaming tables. Bridge and scrabble. A pool, a fully equipped gym and a jogging track. And of course, a spa -- including an acupuncturist.
Beyond the spa Xingxing and I discovered the best place on the entire ship -- the big, warm, bubbling Thalasso Therapy salt-water pool. Set like a blue jewel in its own, private, glass-enclosed area at the prow of the ship, this is purely delightful. First, you luxuriate and rejuvenate in the pool. Then, you stretch out on one of the deck chairs and (protected from the wind) enjoy the sun and the fabulous view. It's very quiet, and for some reason, there are never many people. You feel as if you're atop a magic carpet, gliding above the sapphire sea. I could have stayed there forever. But it was noon, time for lunch.
That's the other thing you can do all day aboard the Azamara Quest: You can eat. There are seven different places you get a meal or a snack, plus several bars. Plus 24-hour room service. Drinks at the bar are free, and so is wine with lunch or dinner. (Also wine at the bar) Azamara Club cruises are all-inclusive, including gratuities. And it's open seating, which means you can eat when you want to eat and you can sit with anyone.
No matter where you eat, the food is simply fantastic. I am going to get seriously fat.