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The Cruise Rats are Coming!

Location: Sunset Key, Key West, Florida

We've been in Key West several days now, and though Sunset Key is gorgeous, it gets a little claustrophobic after a while. Besides, today is genuinely chilly - somewhere around 65 degrees and windy - so not suitable for lounging by the pool. What's a girl to do? So, this morning we got up early and ventured back into Key West proper, with the intention of hitting the grocery store to stock up on some "normal" food. After eating at the hotel restaurant for several nights in a row, we're both desperate for some non-rich food. Oh, and we're tired of paying usurious rates for the beer in the mini-fridge.

As we began walking to the dock, right away we noticed something was amiss at the Circle K: there was an enormous cruise ship docked across the way, in Key West. And then the captain (of our dinghy) informed us that one was nothing - the Disney cruise ship was docking at 11:30, and it's huge. Wow. Serious understatement.


The streets of Key West early on a Sunday morning should have been quiet and deserted, with the lushes sleeping off their hangovers, but instead we were treated to sidewalks teeming with geezers in hiking boots. Aimless geezers, cluttering the path forward, reminding us of why we had been hunkered down at the pool. I didn't think it was possible for Key West to be worse during the day than at night, but apparently I grossly underestimated the place. 

But then we found ourselves in a serious quandary. In this enlightened land of "go-cups," where they let you get your drinks in a plastic cup "to go," and not only have no issue with, but actively encourage displays of public drunken disorderliness... in this crazy mixed up land of anything goes, they don't sell alcohol before noon on Sundays. Seriously? Seriously?!? As though that's going to redeem these sinners and get thee to a church? Not likely. Our challenge: could we put up with the tourist mayhem long enough to purchase supplies... did we love our cheap beer and wine more than our sanity? Turns out the answer is no. I think more than anything this officially answers the question of whether we've become vacation alcoholics... and the answer is a resounding Not Yet. Or, perhaps we're just willing to pay more to drink out of the mini bar. But when it was only a question of holding out for one more half hour, we ran to catch the boat back to Sunset Key. 

And then waited for 20 minutes for the GIGANTIC Disney cruise ship to finish docking so we could slip past, barely squeezing between its hull and the dock. 

There is something so fundamentally wrong about cruise ships. Perhaps I shouldn't judge, never having dragged myself aboard one (at least not legally - there was a drunken incident in Bermuda 15 years ago, attempting to talk our way aboard, but shockingly it was unsuccessful). But when I see these barely-floating monstrosities descend on tiny towns and islands... my traveler sensibilities are offended. Granted, I'm not *yet* a gristled world traveler, but I know authenticity when I see it, and I certainly recognize the glaring lack thereof. I know people who love cruises, and I can certainly understand the convenience... but at what cost? They are to travel what pre-fab, shrink-wrapped cardboard frisbees in a frozen food box are to a Zacharys stuffed pizza. No comparison. 

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