Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Dream Part Two - At Sea

The white caps are all around us today. The wind is kicking up a cold breeze as we make our way back to Texas for another disembarkation. We understand that it’ll be cold and rainy back there, as it was last Saturday. It’s a funny thing… when I packed for the Caribbean, I did not take into account that the rest of the real world would not operate under such climatically false pretenses. I suppose when one lives in such a make believe climate such as San Diego, and travels to another far fetched climate, such as coastal Mexico, you forget… I didn’t even pack a wind breaker. Oh well…

So week two is coming to a close. Looking back on the week I hate to admit that things are already becoming routine. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday are show days. And, now that I am firmly entrenched in the shows as I was a while ago, there really aren’t any surprises.

We have a new sound technician, Michael, who works hard, but ultimately doesn’t quite know what he is doing… So the shows are many times unevenly balanced. I suppose it is tricky when you have a live band playing to a recorded band, and the live band has to hear the recorded band, but not so much the singers… Then the audience is many times blown into the back row of seats when the mix comes out boiling hot. Somewhere along there us singers are bombarded with margarine thick reverb, syrupy like any karaoke bar worth its salt, and feedback. Still, somehow it works out from rehearsals to performance…

Aside from our usual shows this week, we also did our closing number from our country revue in the crew show. While the crew performs for the passengers once a week singing, dancing, and performing displays of cultural traditional dances, this time it was crew performing for crew. It all started around 12:15 AM, forty-five minutes after it was scheduled to begin. The crew had been trickling into the Stardust Lounge since 11:30 PM, coming from their waiting and serving duties, done turning the beds down and through polishing the brass handrails for the night. There was enough free beer, wine, and soda to satiate, and unlike the pax, the entire show was permeated with loud talking, boisterous laughter and the general release of tension.

Watching the acts come across the stage, I was reminded of the scene in The Blues Brothers where Jake, Elwood, and the band performed at Bob’s Country Bunker behind the safety of chicken wire. The more the rowdy crowds enjoyed the music, the more stuff they threw. While nobody here was chunkin’ bottles at the stage, there was an energy in the audience that you normally don’t feel in this type of situation. Part electric, part gasoline… And the acts were different too. When the crew performs for the passengers, they sing songs by The Righteous Brothers and Bobby Darrin. They dance traditional Indonesian and prep school drill team numbers. For the crew they sing songs by Guns N’ Roses and Elvis Presley. They dance traditional Indonesian in drag and the drill team numbers are now suddenly coordinated by knee high socks and short skirts.

By the time we got on stage to sing “The American Honky Tonk Bar Association” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down” it was past 1 in the morning, and the crowd was split down the middle… half drunk and half not paying attention. We could have been juggling baby seals on fire while mixing cake batter, but nobody would have noticed (and really, would you want to see that?). So, we did our ditty, took our bows with the rest of the folks who performed for their peers, and then I marched my butt to bed. Well, not so much a march… more of a saunter with a cadence.

As far as the ports this time around, it was nice and relaxing. No shore excursions this time around, but soon… In Progresso a group of us headed down to Flamingo’s and had some good ol’ Mexiribian fish and cerveza. In Cozumel it was more of the same… Had a nice meal, then off to the beach to swim and sun it out. Belize was as hot and muggy as ever. I took shore leave with a buddy from the cruise staff department, and after lunch at the Wed Lizard (which has that naked picture of the bass player Sam I showed you in last week’s installment) we went for a walk into the city.

We were about to cross into the smelly heart of it all when we spotted the Captain having a cappuccino at this little stand. We joined him and the three of us enjoyed a cup in the frigid air conditioned building that was surrounding by scalding heat and seemingly dozens of blazing suns. We talked about the ship, the repairs that are going on to the bow thrusters, how his cabin is seemingly always placed below a bar or theatre, and where he can find the best cup of cappuccino in different countries. I brought up the fact that the cappuccino they serve in the coffee bar was less than great, and he told me I should go into the Officer’s Mess to use the machine they have. I told him that I didn’t have Officer’s Mess status, and he looked at me strange, as if I was supposed to (and really, since I can go practically anywhere else). He then said to just go in there and make your cup, and if anyone gives me any lip to tell them he said it was okay… I chuckled and put my hand on his shoulder… I said to him that if someone tells me I can’t be in there, and that I respond that the captain said it was okay, they would look me square in the eyes and say “Bull Shit.”

We all had a good laugh…

Oh, and hey! Did I tell you someone died last week? Yeah… it is a more common occurrence than one might think, but people do actually travel to the great beyond on these ships, even if it isn’t on the itinerary. From what I understand, a fella was in the steam room and that’s where it happened. One of the spa girls went in to check on him, since he had been in there for half a hour… I believe the ship is outfitted with at least one cadaver cooler somewhere, possibly in the medical center. I’ve never seen it… but I also understand there’s a brig and more than likely a locker full of fire arms, but I haven’t seen those either.

Our fatality rate should get back down to zero in the next couple of weeks once spring break arrives. Brett, our cruise director, told me last night that the median age will drop down below 40, and half of the pax will be between the ages of 18 and 26. I don’t think I’ve ever worked a ship that had an average age less than 50, so I should have lots of stories and photos to share (otherwise known and people’s exhibit’s A, B, C, etc…

And that pretty much sums up life on board for the week. Oh, there is a group of about 80 gay and lesbian folks on board, all in a group that organizes cruises and vacations. They have had a couple of private shows in the theatre that were “after hours” type entertainment and were reserved only for them and us crew that could attend. Can’t really discuss what I saw in polite company, but I can say that one night was a cabaret act, and the other was a game show. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions from there, but I will add that they got a striped NCL employee to participate in the game show. As far as I know, she still has a job.

And, so do I. That’s all for now. I leave you with some various pictures that really don’t have much of a story to go along with them… but they serve as proof that I have not yet been claimed by the steam room.

Your Pal,

Michael Lamendola

P.s.

It’s now 11:45 pm, Friday night. All the passengers have set out their suitcases for pickup. I was walking back to my cabin from the Observatory Lounge. I was coming down the corridor when a man comes out of his cabin. He was... rotund... and I could easily tell this because he wasn't wearing anything but a pair of boxers. He must have just gotten out of his clothes because I could see his sock lines where his leg hair was matted. He looked at me and said "Good job," hopefully refering to my singing on stage. I was praying he wasn't going to reach for my hand... or give me a great big hug. In any case, he didn't and I walked over to my room, got in bed, and cried a little.

ML



Here is Heidi, James, Ferdie (Cruise Hosts) and myself (Neat Guy) having some well deserved cerveza y comida at Flamingos in Cozumel.



Flying with the birds in Cozymel


Here I am with Karen (Cruise Hostess) and The Captain of the M/S Norwegian Dream. I can't spell his name, so for the moment, lets just call him Captain Crunch.


Here is a view of an Oceanic Ship (6 star luxury line) from the aft of our ship (4 star ship that makes a decent effort)

4 comments:

  1. Did anyone die while we were on the ship? If so, you cruise people cover it very well. I hope nobody dies this week and that you get to look out at the beautiful ocean in the blackest of nights and think about your past cruisers.

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  2. Dallas Rainey3/04/2007 5:39 AM

    I think every singer I ever knew thought the sound guy wasn't very good. Why is that?

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  3. That Capt' Crunch doesn't look very old, he actually looks kinda yummy. I like my Capt' Crunch with blueberries.

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  4. i was going to post something about your blog but am too surprised to see you have friends outside of me....


    I lost $5.

    ReplyDelete