’10 Cruise


The Randall Murphy 2010 Eastern Caribbean Tour

Ship: The Carnival Conqest

From 04-Cruise Day 4-September 22 2010-Nassau Bahamas

September 19-26, 2010

Nassau, Bahamas

Freeport, Bahamas

Lloyd’s tropical Bike Tour, Key West, FL

To see the pictures for each day, click on the links below:

September 19, Embark Day

September 20, Fun Day at Sea

September 21, Fun Day at Sea

September 22, Nassau, Bahamas

September 23, Freeport Bahamas

September 24, Key West, Florida

September 25, Fun Day at Sea

September 26, Disembark Galveston

Day 1 Sunday September 19, 2010

After pulling our bags literally through the mud, and across the street to the Galveston cruise terminal, the boarding process onto the Carnival Conquest took about an hour. My cruise mate Chris was able to thwart the security guys checking for contraband. The screener guy saw his bottle of Jim Beam and pointed him to a second screening guy. The problem for them is the screener guy told the other one to check the wrong bag. So after a few minutes of searching and some confused looks, Chris was cleared for passage. It might be good to note that it’s not illegal to have liquor on a cruise; they just don’t want you bringing your own.

The cabins became available after about 1 pm. The beds were pushed together into a queen. This was corrected when we met our attractive room stewardess Arisa. Before dinner she had fixed the beds.
The hallway on Riviera deck

From 07-Cruise Day 7-September 25 2010-Sea Day

Our cabin 1306

From 07-Cruise Day 7-September 25 2010-Sea Day

Obviously taken one morning before the stewards worked their magic

From 07-Cruise Day 7-September 25 2010-Sea Day

At 3:30pm we went to the mandatory lifeboat drill. On previous cruises I’ve been on, they made you bring your lifejacket from your cabin to the drill and then take it back afterwards. Now you do not. Shortly after the drill we were underway and heading out of the Galveston Harbor. By the way the last few times I’ve been to Galveston, the water did not look so murky. The waters of Galveston will not be mistaken for Cozumel anytime soon.

At dinner time we were seated with a couple of friendly dudes from Fort Worth, and two women who are either really shy or have something stuck up their you know where. Two Hispanic ladies were late comers to dinner, they were nice.

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After dinner we went o the Welcome aboard Show hosted by the cruise director Chris Jefferson, a Brit, or a Limey as Major Dick Winters and his band of brothers would have called him. The show was a mix of dancing and singing by the Conquest dancers. Then the ship comedians came out and did some short bits.

After that we checked out the disco for about 15 minutes. While I thoroughly enjoy attractive women shaking their money makers, the club scene on a shore or sea is not my thing.

Then we went to karaoke hosted by Madga from Poland. I think I am in love and want to move to Poland if Magda will be there. Of course she’s on a cruise ship in the middle of the gulf. So not sure what sense moving to Poland would be. A fellow can dream right?

From Cruise 1

At midnight, I was pretty much done for the day since I had been up since 4:30 am.

Day 2 Monday September 20, 2010

I slept great (and slept in for me) until 7:40 Monday morning. It’s 9:05 am on Monday morning. Now I’m off to the pool area to see what kind of party Chris the cruise director is throwing.
Well it wasn’t really a party, but morning show with the cruise director and several of the ships managers encouraging everyone to spend some more money at the shops and casinos.
At 10:00 am I went to a show in the big lounge where they told about the different ports of call we’ll be going to on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Those ports are Nassau, Bahamas, Freeport, Bahamas, and Key West.

For most of the day it was overcast outside. I met up with Chris around noon, and we had lunch on the Lido deck. There is nothing like having a cheeseburger in the middle of the ocean. After lunch we sat out on the deck for a bit, Chris actually stayed out longer than me. I went and checked out other things that were going on. I actually made it to the gym and rode the stationary for thirty minutes, while admiring the running on treadmill technique of a cute blonde for most of that time. Then she left the treadmill and kept on running out of my life.

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At 7 pm we went to the show in the big lounge. The show was a tribute to Paris with dancing and singing. While the music and style of the show really wasn’t my thing. The hot female showgirls made it very enjoyable. It kind of reminded me of the scene from European vacation where Clark and Ellen are at the show in Paris and he’s telling her “its culture Ellen.” Does it sound like I’m spending most of the cruise looking at women? Well you’re probably right. Unfortunately most of them appear to be “taken”. I wouldn’t have a chance with them anyway, but oh Master of the Seas, throw me a bone here!

After the show we went to dinner in the Monet restaurant. The two unsociable women from Sunday night were absent. I guess they were offended that people talked to them the night before. The other people at the table besides Chris and I are pretty cool. The two dudes from Ft. Worth are Jeremy and Justin, two brothers. Jeremy works for BP and had something to do with the big oil well in the gulf getting plugged. I’m not sure what he does, an engineer I think.

After dinner we caught the tail end of Monday Night football out on the big screen on the Lido deck. Then we tried to go to the 11 pm comedy show, but the lounge was full. That would be one of my few complaints of this cruise. The entertainment staff could utilize the space they have different. I would have put the comedy show in the big lounge and karaoke in the smaller lounge where the comedy show was. We went to the disco for a few minutes since the comedy lounge was full. Once we checked off rubbing shoulders with tools in the disco, we went back to karaoke since some seats had opened. When the 11 pm comedy show was over, a lot of people left even though a different comedian was coming on at midnight. So headed back over there and saw Carl Falkenburg’s show. He does an act that involves a lot of crowd work with a wooden puppet. He was pretty good. Hopefully we’ll get to see the other guy tonight.

At about 1 am we had a piece of pizza. I was about to fall asleep in my chair.
So I was done for the night. Chris went back out.

Day 3 Tuesday September 21, 2010

We changed time zones to eastern and lost an hour. Once again I slept in for me until almost 9 eastern, 8 central. Chris was dead asleep. I took a shower and came up to the Lido deck and had breakfast at the back of the ship and when I look up see the ocean we are leaving behind.

I am now writing this on Wednesday morning, its 5:20 eastern for those keeping score. Tuesday was another day at sea. After some time on the deck, and lunch, we went to the marriage show in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge. It’s the lounge I’ve been calling the big lounge. This time I finally pulled out the schedule to get the exact name. The marriage show is always a lot of fun. It’s typically the same format on all the Carnival cruises, but the cast of characters make it different. They feature a newlywed couple, couple that’s been married for ten years, and the longest married couple (50 years on this one).

From Cruise 1

When that was over I lost $20 playing bingo. I’ve only gambled about $40 total and that includes bingo.
At 5pm I was invited to a past guest party, though by the size of the crowd and the fact that they had two sessions. Almost everyone on the boat is past guests. I just need 7 more cruises with Carnival and I get free laundry service.

Before dinner we went to karaoke, hosted by the ever so pretty Magda (more on her in a bit.) I was the first one to sing anything at this session and I sang one of my all time favorite Elvis songs, “Marie’s the name of his latest fling”. It was met with tepid reviews from the audience. Maybe they didn’t like Elvis? Maybe I just didn’t sound that good. That’s probably it.

At dinner, the two ladies we had labeled anti social were back. It was just they, Chris, and I. Not to get all cheesy with a life lesson here, but you do learn something everyday. Sometimes you learn the same lesson over and over again. And constantly have to relearn it. The lesson is about judging people on one meeting. Tuesday night they were both friendly. They hail from Tyler, Texas. One is married to a man in the Army deployed to Iraq. This cruise was supposed to be for both of them, but things did not work out for him to make it back in time for the cruise. So Crystal took her friend Ashley. They are friends from high school. From guessing they are very young and maybe 21 if that. I thought Ashley looked older the other night. Man am I bad with this book cover judging game. Anyway, it was a reminder to me that I should not judge people so quickly on one meeting. I honestly think they were just overwhelmed the first night and their anti social ness was really a result of shyness. Leaving the dining room I posed for my obligatory picture with a showgirl that I get on every cruise. They stand outside the dining room with the photographers. It was Chris’ thing so he skipped it. I couldn’t pass up my once in every three to four year arm around a hot showgirl, even if it was for the purpose of Carnival exploiting me for $12. I don’t even know her name.

After dinner we went and caught the adult comedy shows again. We ended up seeing the same guy from the night before. It was ok, same routine. So it was hard to laugh at stuff you knew was coming. And some of the jokes were a bit cheesy, like one involving the Pillsbury doughboy having a yeast infection. A derivative of that has been going around in internet jokes for years.

The second comedian was great. His name escapes me at the moment. The show was at midnight before the first port day, so the crowd was thin. Maybe thirty people and that included some of the cruise ship staff on their downtime. A lot of them date each other. I’ve seen this on the previous two cruises. I think it’s cool that Carnival lets them. However Magda from karaoke appears to be dating the sound guy in the Degas lounge as Chris saw her come in and give him a big smooch. Once again my heart is broken. You get used to it. I’ll just have to find another European beauty to infatuate over. If you’re going to dream, dream big, right? And dreaming is about all it is.

Day 4 Wednesday September 22, 2010
This was the first port day in Nassau, Bahamas. We left the ship about 8:30 am. We had a shore excursion at 10:30 am. So we had a chance to walk down the pier and a few blocks into Nassau to check out some shops. The people of the Bahamas are mostly friendly. Most of them want to sell or rent you something.

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At 10:30 am we got in line for the walk to our ferry to Blue Lagoon Island. The ride over took about 30 minutes and everywhere you looked outside the boat was like a post card.

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Blue Lagoon Island has a cove that they dropped us off in. We swam for a few hours and I took some pictures of fish with a disposable underwater camera.

The ride back was on the Caribbean queen. This time a guide pointed out highlights like an island owned by Eddie Murphy, and houses owned by celebrities including Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise, Chuck Norris, Oprah, and the one I really cared about a house that was owned by Elvis.

From 04-Cruise Day 4-September 22 2010-Nassau Bahamas

Upon arriving back at the pier in Nassau we walked around town. I picked up some souvenirs at Senor Frog’s.

From 04-Cruise Day 4-September 22 2010-Nassau Bahamas

We made it back to the boat about 4:30 pm. We did a lot of walking total for the day. I’m guessing three miles at least. So my legs are a little sore as I write this.

At 7:00 pm in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge there was a magic show featuring Lady Hellivi from Venezuela along with the Conquest dancers. The show was great and even though I have seen some form of most of the tricks. They pulled it off. It was by far the best show I’ve seen on a cruise ship. And one of the best magic shows I’ve seen period.

After the show was dinner, Chris and I were the only ones at our table. The table is round and seats probably 8. It hasn’t been full on any night, but it seemed really big with just 2 of us sitting there.

After dinner I turned in early at about 9:45 pm. as a result of being in the sun all day and burned on the face and neck, despite me putting sun screen on a few times.

Day 5 Thursday September 23, 2010

It’s now 6:00 am and today’s port is Freeport, Bahamas. We’re doing the Snorkel Catamaran boat excursion. I did one of these in Cozumel on my first cruise and that was a lot of fun. So I think one will be as well. We are supposed to dock at 7.

From Cruise 1

General thoughts so far, I am having a great time. However saying that, seeing so many couples make me lonely. If I didn’t know any better, this is a couple’s cruise and I just didn’t get the memo. Though I guess being lonely on a boat in the ocean is better than sitting alone in my apartment any day of the week, or year. I wish a big group of my family friends could be here.
I think we’re skipping the second formal night at dinner. It’s a bit like going to prom. Well I am shutting this down for now.

It’s almost 3 eastern on Thursday as I type this. When the sun came up, Freeport looked like a very glum place to spend a day. Despite the cruise director Chris telling everyone in his talk on Monday that when we docked in Freeport, that it would be in an industrial area and this really was the port to do a shore excursion. The first thing that popped in my head was “man why does Carnival port here?”

We took a bus ride from the dock to the Port Lucaya marketplace and marina. Then we got on a powered catamaran boat. The crew was very nice. It took about fifteen minutes to get out to the reef for snorkeling. I was the first one in the water after two of the crew guys jumped in.

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As soon as I looked down at the reef, I immediately thought this is the highlight of the trip. Below was the reef, lots of fish, and plants. It was beautiful! If snorkeling in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Bahamas doesn’t get your excited. I don’t think there’s much that can. I stayed out as long as they would let me stay and was the last one from the group to climb back on the boat. One of the crew guys told me he could see I was a strong swimmer. The crew took the boat back towards shore and gave us a tour of some nice beaches, houses, and a place where they train dolphins. The snorkeling trip has been my favorite thing so far. I Hope some of my pictures turnout from the underwater disposable camera.

The boat took us back to the Port Lucaya marketplace. The land part of the excursion was much disorganized. No one told us what time the bus would take us back to the boat. So we didn’t know if we had time to look around or not. There was a bus for a shopping excursion/island tour leaving for the tour part and the ride back to the boat. Bryce the tour guide was nice enough to let a couple from Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner), Chris and I ride back with his group. There is a straw market right outside of the dock. So we looked around for a bit. Most of the shops sell the same stuff, t-shirts, and hats. There were a few handmade items. I bought a candle made with sand and rocks from the beaches here in the Bahamas. I guess if it wasn’t I’ll never know.

We returned to the ship a little after noon. While the other side of Freeport is very beautiful, we decided since we were back at the ship to clean up and relax for the rest of the day. On port days the shops on the ship are closed and the activities are scarce. So I came up here to the Lido deck, deck 9 for those of you keeping score at home. I pulled all of my images thus far off my memory card, and put them into corresponding folders for each day of the trip. A family two tables to the left of me is playing dominos. Some retired couples in front of and to the right of me are playing some kind of card games. My view to the right looks out onto the water and some kind of rock crushing place. The ship should be pulling away in ten minutes or so. I’m going to go out and watch. Wish you were here.

Hello again, it’s Friday September 24, 2010 about five minutes till 5 pm Eastern as I write this. I’ll recap the rest of Thursday and then tell you about today up until this point. Side note, though I was hesitant to bring my laptop and worry with it. I am glad I did as it gives me a chance to sit down and relax everyday at various places on the ship, and write a recap. If I did this when I returned to reality, I don’t think I would be giving very good details. Maybe I’m not anyway, but I am on page six in word.

Thursday I left you on the Lido deck, and I am writing from there again today looking out at the ocean. I’m not sure if we are back in the Gulf of Mexico yet, I suspect we are as Key West has the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic on the other. And we are heading back towards Galveston. We have one more day at sea tomorrow, then… Well I don’t want think about that right now. I’ve been listening to my iPod a lot. I wish I could say I made a new group of friends and was hanging out with them somewhere like the hot tub. I’m alone on land, I’m alone at sea. No worries, I’m on a freaking cruise ship and not at work. I don’t have a boss out here, and that is exhilarating. While listening to my iPod I shuffled onto a live version of Panama by Van Halen. I think Sammy Hagar is singing. In the middle of the song he talks about how the night before the concert that he had stayed in his hotel room the night before, because he was worried about the following day. Meanwhile the rest of the guys were out partying with chicks. He said “last night I should have been worrying about last night, and spent today worrying about today.” While I haven’t had the opportunity to party with rock stars and a bunch of chicks, I got the simple message he was portraying. This trip has been very retrospective for me. A lot of second guessing myself about past mistakes and wrong turns, right now I’m just worrying about enjoying the time I have at sea.

OK with that mouthful out of the way, back to Thursday. After leaving the Lido deck on Thursday, I put my laptop in the cabin and went walking around the ship. Down on the Main deck (deck 3), one of the cruise staff was leading a trivia game. I got there late so I just sit and listened to the questions. I would have gotten most of them right.

Then I went and some time on the deck on a deck chair just relaxing. I confess I had some kind of fruity drink called a Bahama Mama. It tasted like an orange flavored pina colada. For my contribution to the Carnival Cruise Line bottom line, I received my drink in a cheap plastic souvenir hurricane “glass”. It’s all about the experience right?

There was a show by the dancers and singers at 7:00 pm in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge (Decks 3, 4, 5 forward).

From 01-Cruise Day 1-September 19 2010-Galveston Embark

The show was called “Point and Click”. It was kind of a “You’ve got Mail” story line set to music and dancing. By the way I think my new infatuations are some of the Conquest Dancers, namely Gemma, Robyn, and Sertina. I’m not stalking these girls I promise. When you are on a ship you are bound to pass by them at some point or points. I’ve bought bingo and raffle tickets from Gem and Robyn. Sertina was at the deck party on Monday night. Gemma is a cute redhead who wears glasses when not dancing. Robyn is a blonde with a Swedish accent I think. Guess I should look at her name tag next time I pass by her to see where she is from. Sertina (not sure on the spelling just going by how it sounds when they introduce her) has a great big smile every time I’ve seen her. Including the other night when she was getting pizza with one of the male dancers on the aft Lido deck. Aft is the back for you non nautical people. Back on point, the show was decent. I was entertained.

After the show I went to karaoke, Chris went to the Lido deck where It’s Complicated was showing on the big screen. I got up and butchered “Dream On” by Aerosmith. Hey I had to make at least one last attempt to woo Magda. I thinking it didn’t work. There’s always that one in a million chance that she follows me off the boat on Sunday and tells me how charming my versions of “Marie’s the name” and “Dream On” had her lying awake at night wondering if she could catch me before I walk out of her life. So any who, the crowd gave a complimentary applause, though I think I am done doing karaoke without the aid of friends or family being present to boost my stage confidence. I know it will never happen, but I’m just thinking how awesome it would be to have a bunch of the Briggs, Murphy, and friends from various points in my life all on one cruise. This journal is all about me if you haven’t figured it out. In my mind or word land, anything I want can happen.

The highlight of karaoke was Shaka Houston (as they are known to everyone on the boat) two large black women who seem to be at every session. They don’t sing too well, but they get up there and have a great time and make people laugh. People are laughing at them, but laughing because they are funny. Honestly as a person who likes to make others laugh, I use to get a little jealous when someone else made people laugh. Now I also enjoy laughing with others at someone funny. Yeah I know, this thing is getting overloaded with sap and life lessons of Randall Lee Murphy.

After I left karaoke I went out and sit on the deck and watched a little of “It’s Complicated” with Chris. I saw it in the theaters, so I listened to my iPod. It was just relaxing to sit on the deck and enjoy the cool breeze.

We went to two late night comedy shows. Both comedians were pretty good. I laughed a lot at the first one, some at the second. Both routines were pretty crude involving a lot about sex. One thing I’ve noticed about the comedians on the cruise ships is they seem to borrow material from others. A lot of times I’ve heard parts of the sets by someone else several years before. At one time I thought I could do stand up comedy, but it would be hard to not sub consciously lift material from other comedians. That’s assuming the lifting by the cruise ship comedians was sub conscious and not intentional.

After the comedy shows I had a late night cheeseburger. Hopefully with all of the walking and exercise I’ve been getting. The scale will be about where I left it at. By no means have I been gouging, but I have been eating quite a bit. Ironic that you start thinking about self improvement while eating a cheeseburger, but that’s what I was thinking of last night, how I lose enough weight and firm up to look like Bruce Willis (he’s bald like me), fix my teeth, fix my eyes, learn to sing and dance like Steven Tyler, while portraying an awe shucks persona like Jack Johnson. I’d be pretty freaking awesome. Guess I should start by putting down late night cheeseburgers.

I went to bed a little after midnight eastern time.

Day 6 Friday September 24, 2010

The Carnival Conquest pulled into Key West, Florida about 7 am. Chris and I left the boat about 8. There was a little bit of a hold up because a lady who fell yesterday had to be taken by ambulance for x rays. I heard she had broken her back before or something and they fear she may have re-injured an old injury. That could all be gossip, but I did see the ambulance come down the pier with lights on. So I know we were delayed getting off the ship because someone needed medical assistance. Hopefully whoever it was will be ok.

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Earlier I had called Lloyd at Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tours to see if he could fit us in on one of his tours. It wasn’t a shore excursion offered by Carnival. I found Lloyd through my GPS. A few weeks before the cruise I was looking up points of interest in Key West up came Lloyd. I googled him and sent Chris the link to see if he was interested. He said he was game. On the way there we walked up Duval Street by Margaritaville, Sloppy Joe’s, Flying Monkey’s Saloon, and then over a few blocks and took a peek at Ernest Hemingway’s house.

From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL
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From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL

There are many tours offered on Key West, most will take you by all of the tourist spots. Lloyd does not do that. For $35 which included the tour and bike rental while on the tour. Lloyd showed us places like a friend his’ secret garden which was beautiful. It sounds like Nancy the owner is about to be chased out by high taxes under the name of progress because her land is so valuable. Lloyd showed us a small shack that is for sale and on the market for $450K. I can see why the real estate is so expensive; there are hot women around everywhere in Key West, a lot of them are Russian beauties. Yes Key West is now on my desirable places to live.

From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL

Lloyd showed us the first school in Key West that is no longer used and up for sale. Bettie Paige the pin up model was a teacher there after she left the pin up world and started a new life for herself in Key West. Surprisingly the older crowd of twelve or thirteen with us on the tour seemed to have no idea who Bettie Paige is. I knew, as I’ve looked at some of her pictures a “few” times.

Along the way Lloyd brought out fresh Key Limes, Coconuts, Avocados, and Lemons for us to sample. He took us to what he says is the real southern most point in the United States, and not the one shown on postcards. His is a pier that goes a few hundred yards out in the ocean. I asked him why the other one was referred to as the southern most point and he said it was because the pier is man made, but he had heard the land where the “real” one is was filled in by the military at some point. Lloyd was funny, cussed at drivers who didn’t yield for bikes, and blew on a Conch shell at the other tours who we crossed with. If you are in Key West and not looking for a generic tour, I recommend Lloyd. Though you probably want to allot some time to see the tourist traps since you’re there.

From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL
From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL

After the tour was over, Chris and I walked to the southern most point in the post cards. Then it was back down Duval St towards the pier. We stopped in several shops including Margaritaville, and Sloppy Joe’s. Chris tried a Conch fritter. He offered me some, but my stomach was not in the mood. We were almost back to the pier and a shower set in. One had come on while we were on the bike tour as well and only lasted about five minutes. This one was a little longer, but passed very quickly.

We made it back on the ship about 2:15 or so. The boat pulled out of Key West at 3. We probably walked five or six miles while in Key West plus a couple of miles on the bike with Lloyd. By the way he complimented me on how well I handled a bike. He said most people would have crashed with him at some point, but “you slide in and out pretty well.”
I’m proud to say I was at the front the whole time. I might run and walk slow, but this fat boy can ride a bike. Though to say the bike tour with Lloyd was at a very leisurely pace, would be pretty accurate. With compliments like these from the snorkel boat crewman, and from Lloyd making my head swell. Maybe I should become a professional snorkeling bike rider.
With all of that exercise today, I felt a little less guilty as I ate a Cheeseburger in Paradise as the ship left Key West and I looked out from the Lido deck a watched the beautiful beaches and water go by, or Cheeseburger while leaving paradise might be more accurate.

Wow, I’ve been writing for an hour and a half. It’s now 6:30 pm eastern. Where did the time go? Wish you were here!

It’s now 7:10 am central on Saturday September 25, 2010 as I sit and write this on the Lido deck. After leaving this yesterday, I went back to the cabin and chilled for a bit before dinner in the Monet dining room at 8:15 pm. Chris and I were again the only ones at the table for ten. Yes I counted the chairs to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating. The meal was pretty good, maybe the best one I’ve had so far. They have several choices for each course every night with a few standards. I had the fried shrimp for the appetizer, veal parmesan for the main course, and old fashioned apple pie for dessert.

After dinner we went to the Toulouse Lautrec lounge. Chris and I both played and lost at bingo. During these bingo games they have a person on the stage calling the numbers and other people from the entertainment staff roving the audience to check the cards when someone calls that they have a “BINGO”. A lot of times it’s the dancers that do this. This was the case last night, when I thought I was being sly taking pictures of one of the dancers when she came back just two rows in front of us to check someone’s card. It was county and western theme night, you’ll see in the pictures the staff was dressing the part. While I write/type this, I am listening to The Rolling Stones, and “You can’t always get what you want” played a few songs ago. It seems very relevant as I tell this story.
I found out the hard way that even when the flash is off on my camera, in a dark setting the camera emits a strong orange light, probably something to do with the red eye reduction. I snapped a couple of pictures of this hottie dancer and when she was walking away I hear “are you taking a picture of me?” in one of the hottest British or Australian accents I’ve ever heard in my life. I was busted, so I just nodded yes. She turned around took a seat on the back of a lounge couch and faced my direction and posed for me. At this point I put the flash up and took the picture. I don’t know her name or where she’s from yet, but she’s added to the infatuation list.

From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL
From 06-Cruise Day 6-September 24 2010-Key West FL

After bingo Chris left and went to the Lido deck where they were showing “The Blind Side” on the big screen. I staged and watched the juggler they had. He was pretty funny and great at juggling as well. When that was over I went and changed clothes from my dining room attire to shorts and a t shirt. Then grabbed my iPod and headed up to the Lido deck. I was halfway watching the movie but more listening to Jack Johnson while sitting on a deck chair and feeling the warm ocean breeze. After that I went to bed.

Day 7 Saturday September 24, 2010

Well it’s the last day of the cruise. I don’t really count tomorrow as it will be a different feel on the ship when we wake up tomorrow. They will serve breakfast, but pretty much everything else will be shut down as everyone prepares to leave the ship. So I am going to make the best of today and just relax. The last three days were pretty fast paced and while I enjoyed it very much so, I have some blisters on my feet from all of the walking that I’m nursing. I think it’s time I stopped buying cheap socks at Wal-Mart. A week without the corporate grizzly and I had to bring them up. It would have been better just to not mention it.

I don’t think I’ve really talked about this aspect of the cruise yet, but the people who work these ships and make them run work their butts off. Most are from all over the world and only a handful of Americans work on the ship. They are almost always friendly even when they are in the middle of tedious duties.

Even the jobs with the most recognition like the cruise director and his staff have very busy days. I have dreamed about being a cruise director. I know it would be a lot of hard work and very long days, but the ones I’ve seen appear to enjoy their jobs and it shows.

While those people work hard, from what I’ve seen no one works harder than the room stewards, and the wait staff. Not only do the wait staff work the dining rooms at night, but most of the time the work most of the day on the Lido deck bussing tables and cleaning up messes. They never complain. On the last two cruises, we had the chance to get to know our wait staff in the dining room. I’ve talked to them a little bit, but it’s been harder this time to make connections.
Almost everyday I’ve talked to Arisa our room stewardess. She always asks how the day is going and if you are having a great time. I get the feeling most passengers just see Arisa and her associates as hired help. When they don’t seem too busy, I try to stop and talk to them. This is usually early in the morning or in the evenings before dinner. They seem to appreciate it when you show them you want to know about them, ask for recommendations on what they like to do in the ports of call. Besides checking back into reality when the cruise is over, from my past two cruises I’ve found one of the hardest parts of a cruise is leaving the staff. It sets in that even though you’ve only been with them for a short time, you’ll probably never see any of them again. Such is life, people passing each other like ships at sea. Wait, I am on a ship at sea. Well that’s it for now.

It’s 11:08 pm central on Saturday night. Barring some spectacular even in the morning during debarkation, this will be the finale of my cruise report or whatever you want to call it. Here’s a recap of the day, I wondered around the ship taking pictures outside, and inside. I played the name that tune in the lobby this afternoon with the theme being Motown. My score was respectable but I did not win. I went out on the Lido deck and watched a little bit of the UCLA vs. Texas game on the big screen. UT lost, but I am not going to gloat as I don’t know if my Oklahoma Sooners won their game or not. Besides it wouldn’t be classy to gloat. As for the lack of information part, that’s the beauty of being at sea; it’s almost like being in a bubble devoid of too much information. You have no choice but to try and ask the questions of yourself that get pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of life.

Chris won $200 at bingo this afternoon. I was happy one of us won something. I didn’t play today as I figured I’ve already spent too much.

Before dinner we went to Superstar live, which is basically karaoke with a live band. It’s pretty cool! Though I swore off anymore karaoke without you, my friends and family nearby, I had to try it with a live band. I sang “You may be right” by Billy Joel, and I nailed it. No it wasn’t perfect, but it felt great singing with a live band and though my stage presence wasn’t great, I had the vocals. I knew singing along to Billy Joel would pay off sooner or later. Well I guess it depends on what the pay out is. In this case it just made me feel good for a little while, I’ll take it.

After karaoke Chris and I went to dinner for the final time in the Monet dining room. We were the only two at the table for ten. The good news is dinner only lasted about 45 minutes whereas it has taken up to almost two hours on one night.
Chris headed to bed; I headed to the final show of this cruise in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge. It was called “Carnival Legends” and had guests doing impersonations of Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, and the entertainment staff doing Sonny and Cher, and Dolly Parton. It was very funny and great. They were backed up by the same band from the Superstar Live karaoke that I sang with earlier.

After the show I took one last look at the lobby for the night where the dancers and entertainment staff along with the guests in the show were greeting everyone. I didn’t get the name of the hot dancer who posed for the picture last night. She’s still in my dreams though.

The cruise director Chris Jefferson and his staff have been great. They’ve exhibited infectious smiles the whole trip. They love what they do and it really shines, from Chris Jefferson’s British humor, to Maggie the assistant cruise director’s wit, to people under them Luke the American from South Dakota who is the comedy club manager, who has a friendly charm that would make it hard for anyone to dislike the guy. Then there is Popeye from Baltimore, you can tell he was a trainer in the gym before joining the entertainment staff but he always has a smile and makes himself the butt of jokes on stage and off. My favorite of the entertainment staff is the one they call “Donkey”, real name Chris. He’s an Aussie and I presume he got the donkey nickname because he kind of looks like donkey from Shrek when he smiles and laughs. When he starts laughing and cracking up with you can’t help but be in a better mood.

I’ve enjoyed this cruise, and though I’ve probably mixed some pretty deep personal thoughts in here. It was good to get it out. This week of good times and travel does not mean I have the questions for my life’s direction answered. I do think I would enjoy working on a cruise ship in the entertainment staff. I’ve thought about it before but never really pursued how to get my foot in the door, it’s time to do something different with my life than what I’m doing. That’s not a revelation, but this my third cruise has been a barometer of sorts. I remember being single on the first one, the second one, and now the third one. While I refuse to by into the “there is someone for everyone” myth. It doesn’t mean I haven’t found myself very lonely at times this week. I was fortunate to find a cruise mate in Chris Stoy. And certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful that he agreed to share a cabin with me for a week. If you read this Chris, thanks for taking the trip!

Well the pictures are taken, my bags are packed, and the boat is destined for Galveston at 6 am. One more sleep and the trip is over. Back to reality, I hope you found this a wee bit entertaining.

From 07-Cruise Day 7-September 25 2010-Sea Day

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