Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Dream Part Six - Mexican Chocolate Cats & Movies

Here we go again. Week six is over half way done. Spring Break has wound down, the median age of the pax is up, and the quality of the food is still right in the middle. The Dream, unaware of time and place, just keeps chuggin’ along.

Most of the JARs are eagerly anticipating the end of the contract, which is about two weeks away. As a matter of fact, all but one are leaving The Dream for other opportunities, or to simply take a much needed vacation. As for me, I am one of the many that is going back home to reality, but since I am not on the plane to San Diego just yet, lets focus on the week that was…

This week the gang and I went out and enjoyed all the best that Mexico has to offer. In Progresso we got off the boat and after our 4 mile bus ride down the pier into town we ended up at Ricky’s Mexican Cantina. Once there it was cold cerveza, ceviche and chicken nachos… even a celebratory shot of tequila… celebrating something we never quite decided on, but dammit it was gonna get celebrated anyway.

Now, I think there is a certain signal one gives out when you’ve had a few tasty Mexican beers and a swig of tequila… While I can’t tell you what it is, I can tell you that when it happens, all the street peddlers with their shirts, beads, shells, gum, bootleg DVDs, postres, helados, bracelets, evening gowns, encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners, Ginzu knife sets, pocket fisherman, smokeless ashtrays, and peeing statues come out of nowhere. Out of all that I had to choose from, I decided on this handsome box of chocolate.

You can see by the cover that after some beer and tequila the selection was irresistible. Nothing says fine Mexican chocolate quite like a black cat and a white cat intertwined and smiling like they just peed in your hat, but they ain’t gonna tell you. Fortunately, the chocolate wafers inside did not resemble cat pee in a hat, and were instead quite refreshing.

After the chocolate, we settled our tabs and crossed the street to the beach. Once there it was your standard “get in the water, get out of the water, sun, get in the water, get out of the water, sun, etc…” The only difference between this and your otherwise normal everyday beach day was the fact that our resident singing Australian Peter decided to teach me how to bowl a cricket ball. Ironically, the ball itself was made out of cow hide, and was much like a baseball, if a little bit heavier.

The whole idea behind bowling this here cricket ball is to look foolish doing it. As a matter of fact, you really have to abandon all pretenses of looking normal if you want to do this right. Basically you step a few times then hop up on one leg, tucking the knee up with the other leg. While doing this you tuck the ball into your chest, then whip the ball down to your waist, then back up to your shoulder like one big wind up, finally releasing the ball like a hopping human catapult. Thing is, you have to do this wind up with a straight arm, otherwise the umpire or designated official will call you out, effectively embarrassing you in front of friends, family and loved ones.

The whole physical mechanics of doing this is much harder than it is visually silly. While most of my efforts effectively slung the ball to an early release and shattered the ozone, Peter could whip this heavy red ball quite fast. So we did this back and forth for a while, until Natalie and Lance (JAR Singer and Showband Bassist, respectively) decided it would be a funny idea to pants yours truly. And they did, and they saw my butt, which I think was immediate and effective retribution. But, just in case it wasn’t, I submit to you, my readers, Lance posing like a girl on the beach…

After more swimming and bowling, it was time to get back on the boat. Next up on our Mexican Beach hit list was Cozumel. Now, in case I haven’t mentioned this earlier, Cozumel doesn’t really have a beach to speak of within walking distance. There’s the Barracuda Hotel, which has more or less some old cement steps that go into the water… but really no place to hang out or sun. Peter was telling me, however, that there are several beaches within taxi distance. So Peter, Natalie, Dominic Dillan, Andrew, and myself (all JARs) decided that today we would pile in a cab and make our way to “Bob Marley Beach.”

At the time, all I knew about this beach was that it was located on the North shore of the island… isolated and beautiful. Peter and them had been before, and now I was going to experience it for myself. So we get in a cab, tell them where we wanted to go, and were on our way… and that’s when the trouble started.

Now, for those of you who live in sunny Southern California and have tasted the sweet nectar of Tijuana and points south, know about taxis. They almost never have a meter, and will take you anyplace you want to go… when you agree on a price ahead of time. When we all piled into the van, I wondered about the price, but didn’t say anything thinking Peter had taken care of it… nope.

We were five minutes out of town when the taxi driver admitted to us that he wasn’t quite sure where he was going. After pointing to a location on a laminated map, the cabbie told us that round trip was going to be a hundred dollars. Oops. Peter was expecting fifty, since that’s what he paid last time… The cabbie said the lowest he was going to go was eighty. Then Peter and him went back and forth haggling about the price as we are driving there… Now I’m no Donald Trump, but it would seem that the consumer’s buying power lessens significantly once they have already begun consuming the goods.

Over the next five minutes Peter and company tried to talk him down, but it wasn’t going to work… so we decided to hit Playa Mia instead. Closer than Bob Marley, Playa Mia is a place where turistos can purchase admission with an “all you can drink” bracelet. There are lots of things to do there like jet ski, rock climb, volleyball, etc… all for a nominal fee. And Since we’re crew, we got in para gratis and had lunch, then swam in the bath water temperatured ocean and laid out in the sizzling hot sun.

After a couple of hours, it was back to Cozumel where we hit the usual coffee bar, relaxed, then walked back to the tender station to get back on board. Along the way I window shopped for some new boots… I think I’ll be coming back with a new pair… More on that next week.

Belize was, as it is and always will be, Unbelizeable. Today we walked down to the Princess Casino, where I gave the Country twenty-five dollars. Or, you could say I bought two Belikin beers at twelve fifty a piece… I’ll leave it up to you. After the casino, we found a French bakery. The doughnuts were exquisite, and while Peter, Natalie, and Frederico finished their doughnuts, I decided to stack some Belizean currency

Yeah, I know what your thinking… “You mean he can sing, dance, act, AND stack one dollar Belizean coins?” Why, yes, I can… for hiring information, visit

Then it was back to The Wet Lizard for a strawberry banana daiquiri. Now, I’ve been to this place several times, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why I keep coming back. The service is at best slow and forgetful, and you never get the drink you ordered. My strawberry banana daiquiri had no banana in it… sigh… Next week we’re going to the Smokey Mermaid… another Belizean “adjective-noun” bar. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

And now for a lesson in wine purchasing…

That night Tracey and I dined out at The Four Seasons Restaurant, located on the scenic Deck 9 Midship. The service… impeccable. The food… surprising and good. The conversation… sparkling. Now, a few weeks prior Tracey had taken me out for dinner and bought us a very nice bottle of wine… A Jordan Cabernet. So I thought I would return the favor, and this time I bought a Camus Cabernet. The wine came, the bottle said Camus Cabernet, and we drank the wine… enjoying every sip.

The meal arrived and was eaten, and as we were enjoying desert when my bill for the wine came… Now, the Camus Cabernet was an eighty dollar bottle of wine… this I knew. When I received my bill, and it said ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS AND TWENTY FIVE CENTS, I was startled. Well, turns out that in the wine menu there is a “Unique Bottles” section… unique because they excelled in math and science in high school, or because they came from Mars, or maybe because each grape was hand squeezed by Marcel Mercot and Maurice Chevaliet while arm wrestling high atop the Eiffel Tower.

Well, turns out there are two Camus Cabs on the menu… and I got the gifted and talented one. After a long conversation with the bar manager, I was as we say in the states… screwed. So, I signed for it, and now the bottle, cork, and serving towel sits proudly in my room, and will travel home with me where I will never… ever… ever throw it away. Ever. I think iced tea is a highly underrated drink, by the way…

That night I played poker with the fellas (and Natalie, who is an honorary dude in the most flattering sense) and we all had a good laugh about the bottle, and even though I started the game a little lethargic, was able to beat out my buddies in a little Texas Hold ‘Em and effectively narrow the spread of regular and premium unleaded wine. All’s well that ends well…

And the news gets better… Remember way back in Week One of my literary journey where I mentioned the STYLE video we shot? If not, go back and read it… then come back here… For the rest of you… we won! Well, we tied for First Place with the Norwegian Dawn… so we won… basically… really. Anyway we all get a hundred smackers for our time and efforts (read: pretending to be drunk and disorderly). That money is going to go to my boot purchase in Cozumel… sweet.

Which brings me to the film presentation for this blog. Thanks to the power of the internet, I am able to share with you moving pictures accompanied with sound. So, I invite you to enjoy our award winning Style video. See if you can spot all the contraband in the cabin… examples of being unSTYLEish… and what would be considered STYLEish. If you can tell the difference, you are half way there to becoming NCL material! Here we go…

Pretty neat, huh? This was all shot my first week on board, and I am proud to say that all the folks involved are really good friends of mine… I would like to thank them, and the academy, for this honor.

For my next trick I submit to you the following… On the evening of March 13th I was invited to a hall party in the room stweard department, and had a great time singing and throwing back a few Coronas. Around an hour into the night, I had someone's camera in my hand...

For those of you who have left your camera or phone in my hands, you pretty much know what to expect... for the rest of you, here's what happens.

And that pretty much sums up the week that was… My tattoo this week is tough yet delicate… like me. I leave you with that.

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Dream Part Five - Birthdayapalooza

This cruise started much like all the others… After returning from another successful venture into the shopping center known as Pasadena, Texas, I picked up my cell phone and dialed my mother. Since I am only in the States on Saturdays, this is the time I have to catch up with family and friends. Anyway, I dial her up and we begin catching up on all the events that have occurred in the past week. Then she says that she can’t hear me very well, probably because of poor signal. Since I just got one of those super cool blue tooth phones and another equally super cool blue tooth ear piece, I figured that my afore mentioned super cool ear piece just ain’t cutting it, what without a cord and a propensity towards not brushing its teeth and all… Then she suggests that she just come down to my cabin…

“Come down to my cabin?” I ask… then there was a knock on the door. I open it, and there is my mother! Turns out she had planned to surprise and spend my thirtieth birthday with me. So there’s my mother and her friend Jack, whom incidentally she met on The Dream while visiting me back in 2005, standing at my door. Hence with the combination of my mother, Jack, and all my buddies on the ship, I had one helluva birthday… or birthdays.

If you read “The Dream Part One - Embarkation” then you know that I had a early birthday back in February. Half a going away party, the purpose was to hang out with my friends in San Diego in order to hedge my bets in case I had to work with a bunch of jerks and pecker heads. Fortunately I have made some fantastic friends on board, and with their help and guidance, I was able to officially stretch my birthday into three full days… which came to be known as “Birthdayapalooza.” Here’s the breakdown…

Since we’re in Houston, I decide this is a prime time to get some good ol’ Texas steak and beer… I really needed my fix. And lucky for me, since in year’s past I have given up red meat for Lint. This year I thought I would be a little more creative and give up television… and before any of you ask, no that is not a cop out. During my last contract here I spent a good many days watching movies on the crew channels, playing video games, and ultimately widdiling away a whole bunch of time that could have been spent more creatively. So in the place of TV I am reading and writing all that I can, part of which this blog is a direct result. And now you know… but back to what’s really important here… meat.

So, since it’s Birthday eve, and because where else but Texas can I get a friggin’ huge T Bone and a Shiner Bock, I invite all my buds to accompany me to The Texas Roadhouse. In attendance were a whole bunch of JARS, including Natalie, Peter, Domonic, and Tracey. Also there was Federico (Shore Ex) and Natalie’s visiting mother and aunt, who were kind enough to drive some of us from the ship and bust my chops for being directionally challenged.

Now, I always love to introduce folks to real Texas food… like BBQ, Chicken Fried Steak, and especially a good ol’ T Bone. Most everyone took my advice and ordered just that… and the rest is history. In minutes the table was full of 18 ounce T Bones, oversized mugs of Shiner Bock, cheese fries, potato wedges… dammit I’m getting hungry! Peter and Domonic were quick believers in Texas Steak after that, and I’ve already been told that we are going back before the contract is out… No arguments here!

As far as birthday loot goes, Natalie and her folks gave me a package of whoopee cushions (and rightfully so), as well as a T-shirt that looks like it has one of those “Hello My Name Is” badges on it, and crudely written on it is the word “Trouble.” Darn tootin’. I wear that shirt with pride, and every time I look at it I am somehow reminded of the Brownie Scouts. I don’t know anything about the brownies, except for this shirt they used to wear. Even though I was only four or five when I noticed this, they would wear these shirts that on the front would say “Here Comes a Brownie” and on the back would say “There Goes a Brownie.” Ahh, who doesn’t like an anecdote… Finally, Anna Mona, my personal tattoo artist, gave me a really cool St. Patrick’s Day shirt… I’m wearing it right now!

Later, after I was surprised by my mother and Jack, the three of us had dinner on the ship. Since they had been on board before, they weren’t surprised by the ho-hum quality of the food, and dinner went well. Afterwards I had drinks with Anna and Ben (art auctioneer) in Lucky’s. Now, Ben is from England, speaks with a thick Cockney accent, and somehow can put down more alcohol than an insert your on metaphor here. So the three of us have a very nice time just chatting and passing the time away, every now and then glancing at our watches and counting the minutes until midnight.

Then Ben tells the waitress to bring us three shots of Zambuca at midnight. Once Twelve rolls around three stemmed shot glasses arrive with a clear liquid in them, accompanied by a couple of coffee beans in each. Then Ben pulls out a lighter and lights the alcohol on fire, blows it out, and tells me to drink it. I must not get out much… does this happen often? Anyway, I shoot it halfway wishing I could sip and savor the rich tasting drink, and toast in my thirtieth birthday.

Since this is a Sunday, I have two performances of “Rock This Town” during the evening. So the day starts with a rehearsal. After many well wishes and “happy birthdays” the rehearsal begins and ends. Then lunch with Mom and Jack, followed by a little siesta. The shows went very well, and I was introduced as the Birthday boy both before I sang the show’s title song “Rock This Town” as well as during the bows where Peter now introduces me as “The world’s greatest luscious grandmother.” (If you don’t know what that means, I ain’t gonna tell you…) Afterwards it was more cocktails in Dazzles, complete with a birthday crown supplied by Natalie.

Since most royal paper headgear designed for birthdays are intended for those ten and younger, I could only precariously balance the crown on my head, careful not to jerk one way or another thus agitating the crown off my head and admitting to the world that perhaps being the “Birthday Prince” is not a product of divine sovereignty… Say, that was a well-worded sentence, wouldn’t you say? But the smallish size of the crown didn’t deter a lot of my buddies to come out and help ring in another year with me.

Oh, and before we had drinks Nat and I were walking the long hallway on Deck 5 to the JAR hallway all the way aft. About halfway down the hall this drunk man turns the corner and proceeds to walk towards us. In his mid forties and holding a full glass of red wine, the man staggers closer to us and sings to Natalie “Hey sista’ soul sista’… where’d ya get ya soul sista…’” Of course, coupled with the fact that he sang this to her in a thick Texas accent made it a nice garnish to all my birthday celebrations. Me encanta turistos barrachos.

Many of you would probably get sick of a long drawn out birthday, but Hell, when you work on a cruise ship you take a different look at reality. Now, day three was actually both a necessity and a technicality. Every good birthday needs an equally good birthday dinner. It helps to define the gathering by attracting people to help you celebrate, if only for the prospect of cake (hope it’s chocolate!). So, since I had two shows on my actual birthday, I had no time for an organized dinner. Also, since we had our steak during lunch time the day before my birthday, that didn’t count. Because of this, a birthday dinner was scheduled for the evening of the 19th. So nine of us went down to our resident Italian restaurant, La Trattoria.

Again, the tables were full of food… Olives, cheese, bread, pizza, lasagna, veal, wine (thanks to Jack who tried to smuggle it on board), pasta, and everything else you could possibly imagine. Conversations floated back and forth from our two tables, and since many of us don’t have the time or occasion for a long sit down meal it was a well deserved evening.

After dinner, a few of us were standing in front of the elevators wandering what to do next. Peter turns to me and says “Well, since we are still celebrating your birthday, it should be up to you.” And since it was up to me, we all went back to my cabin and played Monopoly… and it was good…

And that pretty much ends my three days of Birthdayapalooza. There was an unofficial consecutive fourth day on March 20th where I received a second birthday card from the Captain… but I kinda like the mathematical implications of three days. So there you have it, three days to celebrate thirty years. I can’t wait for my fortieth… Wait, to Hell with that… I can wait. I mean, I like birthday’s, but I’m not stupid… that’s when colonoscopies happen.

This week’s cruise was also eventful since I took in a couple of tours. Since mom and Jack were here, I felt they probably wouldn’t want to do the things that I do while on land, such as drinking beers, eating nachos, and playing in the water… actually, maybe they would have… It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? In any case we took in some Mayan ruins in Progresso and Belize (and, of course, they were Unbelizeable).

First off are the very impressive Mayan ruins we saw while in the port of Progresso. After getting off the boat we boarded a bus, and after two hours we arrived at Chichen Itza (pronounced Chi-chen Eat-za… or if you don’t care Chicken Pizza). Now, you’ll have to forgive me, but for some reason I didn’t soak in much of what the tour guide was saying, so let me show you some pictures…

Here's the pyramid... they left this side unrestored, mostly because they are lazy.

Here is the West Side of the pyramid, fully restored and shiny.
The Mayans loved snakes. These snakes are where the postman left the oversized packages.

Here is a picture of some of the thousand colums they built outside another building. Each column represents a petal in a very intricate and complicated game of "She Loves Me... She Loves Me Not."

Here is the ball court... I'll talk about that in a second...

Here is the hoop for the ball court...

Here I am preparing to sacrafice myself to the Gods.

Pretty neat, huh? Of course, I do remember some things about the ruins… One of which is that we were there a few days before the Lunar Equinox, so they were setting up for a huge celebration… and of course just like Carnival in Cozumel we don’t get to go… stupid Norwegians. I am told that during this time when the sun sets it creates a snake on the side of the pyramid.

Plus, when you clap your hand in front of the stairs it makes a cool echo sound. Our tour guide said, and I suppose many historians agree, that this was a way to send your… clap… to the heavens, since the sound is hitting the stairs and then bouncing up. Now, I don’t want to get all pessimistic about this, but since all those stairs are there to get you to the top of the pyramid, wouldn’t it just be some sort of coincidence? I mean, can you imagine Fred and Herman Mayan standing outside their newly finished pyramid?

Fred: Gee, should we have made this damn thing so tall? I’m feeling out of breath just thinking about havin’ to go up there twice a day.

Herman: Yeah, we should have waited for the escalator to be invented…

Fred: Boy, our boss is sure gonna be pissed when he sees this.

Then a Mayan child comes by and slaps Fred’s leg as he passes… making the first clapping sound in front of the pyramid steps. The sound travels up and over them… I am writing in Italics because it’s like something you do when describing action in a play… Anyway, then Fred says:

Fred: Hey, Herman, did you hear that?

Herman: Sure did…

They think… I’m doing that italics thing again.

Herman: What if we told our Boss that if he claps in front of the stairs that some part of him goes to Heaven.

Fred: You mean like that movie All Dogs Go To Heaven?

Herman: Yeah, like the movie, only instead of dogs, it’ll be whoever claps in front of the stairs.

Fred: Awesome! Lets go get some tacos!

Now, the Mayans were very concerned with Heaven… So much that they couldn’t be bothered with waiting forty or fifty years to die. No way, they wanted to die right now… but there were rules. I mean Herman and Fred Mayan couldn’t just run at each other with hot pokers… that wouldn’t count. So instead they sacrificed people.

Take for example that game they played where they have that stone hoop and the ball had to be bounced off the leg or hip… Remember what that is called? Good… ‘cause I don’t. Anyway, there were seven players on each team, one of which was the captain. It was pretty much the captains who tried to score. And the game was won when the ball went through the hoop… Sports Center would only need a 1 and a 0 to commentate on the score. And, the lucky guy who won got to get his heart taken out of his chest and set on a statue so the birds could eat it and thus send him to Heaven… Those kooky Mayans.

But hey, what about the people who aren’t so athletic? No problem, tubby Mayans can get to Heaven too! All you have to do is jump in a hole with seven rattle snakes, and let them bite you and bite you and bite you… Then heart out, birds eat and you’re whisked away!

Afraid of snakes? No sweat. Lets dress you up in a suit of rocks and throw you into our drinking well. Then, as your body decomposes we’ll drink the water and we’ll all die!!! Those Mayans were in desperate need of Nintendo.

Still they sure could build some neat lookin’ buildings. Unfortunately, the days of climbing to the top of the pyramid are gone, so we’ll all just have to wonder what the tops of the trees look like. Anyway that’s what I can recall from Chicken Pizza. After that it was a long bus ride back, made short by a nap. In Belize we went to another set of Mayan ruins called Altun Hun.

These ruins were only discovered a hundred years ago… And for some reason they weren’t as architecturally developed as their Progressive cousins (hey that joke just wrote itself!). The interesting thing about this place is that the earth grew over all the buildings, and were literally unearthed. There are two main sections, with the big temple looking over them both.

Fortunately, you can go to the top of the temple here, and the tops of the trees were breathtaking!

Wanna see what I look like at the top from the bottom? I got a picture of that too…

From there we took a bus ride back into to city of Belize and took in the city. It was fairly interesting, but was mostly this is a school, this is our telecommunications building, this is a storage unit… But belize me it was an awesome storage unit. Back in Belize we took in the Jade Museum, and chased it with the Pirate Museum. Here you can read all about Captain Kidd and other Pirates who plundered and killed their way to international maritime stardom. Plus you can buy bottles that have washed ashore and sample rum.

In Cozumel we just walked around the town. After eating lunch at tucked away place usually filled with crew members we took in several jewelry and souvenir stores. Now, normally I wouldn’t purchase anything, but since it was Birthdayapoolza I decided to splurge when I saw a shirt that really spoke to me.

Funny thing… the lady who sold it to me was literally rolling her eyes and poking fun at me en espanol to her coworkers. Pardon me, but it was your shirt first! I only bought one… you bought a whole box of ‘em! So I told her to callete and sell me the stinkin’ shirt! And I wear it down Deck 5 to the elevators that take me to the back of the theatre… and everyone I walk by smile and laugh, because deep down… they love to fart too.

I can recall when I was twenty I spent a summer at my buddy John’s house while performing in My Fair Lady. We were up late one night talking when one of use farts… then the other… then we laughed and wondered if farting would always be funny… Well John, its ten years and counting.

Speaking of farts, many of you know the talent I possess of being able to make a very realistic fart noise by buzzing my lips and humming. I’ll have you know that almost half the cast has picked up the skill, and in a few weeks all thirteen people will be making fart noises with their mouths at random intervals in their lives… All because of me. And to that I say Pffffft.

And that brings us to the close of another week onboard the M/S Norwegian Dream. This is the last night of the last big week of spring break… so that means the excessive drinking will go down and the median age of the passengers will go up. As I was walking back to my cabin after a long conversation with a couple of well dressed and spoken passengers, I saw a man in a toga playing the piano on Deck 9. Like Nero playing the fiddle as his empire burned, so did he as spring break fizzled to its end like a sparkler in a child’s hand… ah… the precious memories…

Finally, here’s a picture of my tattoo for the week. I feel that I peaked with my first… the ever popular and endearing “World’s Greatest Grandma.” Still, who can argue with two dolphins and a heart? I can’t.

That’s it for now… I leave you with my passenger quote for this week. I think it encapsulates Spring Break on the Dream…

Guy: Dude, I like threw up in the ocean three times today.

Girl: I’m glad I didn’t go in the water.

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Dream Part Four - The Pearl

Today I am writing to you from Lucky’s Lounge… just forward of the art gallery and aft of Dazzles Disco. I am sitting by the window, watching the clouds cast shadows over an ocean that is calm and grey in the late afternoon haze. Around the corner James is singing in his best Irish tenor in preparation for tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Our art director Ben has just come on the intercom to bait the pax into one more chance at buying one of his framed posters…err, fine pieces of art, in his finest cockney drawl. Plus, in just fifteen minutes the last session of giant jackpot bingo will take place in the Stardust Lounge, where a cash purse of “well over one thousand dollars” will be given away. All in all, another day on board the Norwegian Dream.

This week has gone by routinely, much like the weeks previous. The shows went well, aside from a senior moment where my feeble mind decided it would be best to sing the second verse of a song in place of the first one, as well as it in its rightful place as the second verse. But no one seemed to notice, since spring break is upon us. Our group of pax this cruise is well at capacity with over two thousand in attendance. And, much like a tool box, they are drinkin’ screwdrivers, gettin’ hammered, and goin’ nuts (and they can’t pliers themselves away from the bar… ahahaha… I made all of that up myself)

Our ports are just as we left them last week. In Progresso I joined my buddy Natalie (JAR singer) and her visiting mother and aunt on a two dollar convertible double decker bus tour. Worth an actual dollar twenty-five, the bus showed us the beach, some buildings, explained why broken bottles are cemented into the stone walls of properties (to keep wild dogs out) that the miniature water towers on each of the houses are really there to hold beer and tequila (un chiste!), and finally showing us where the children go to school (a school). But the tour did have it’s exciting points, especially when we were driving through the town and the man on the microphone told those of us sitting on the top to duck as the bus grazed under the cities power lines.

Once the tour was over, it was back to life as usual for me in Progresso. Grabbed a cerveza, walked to the beach, ate some nachos, and played some volleyball and soccer. Now that’s what I call a day well spent. In Belize (Unbelizeable) I got off the boat with my buddy James and walked into town and watched him attempt to deposit a check at the bank. Not only had it already closed, but they informed him that they wouldn’t deposit his Canadian tax refunds into his account anyway… Poor Canada, even the Belizeans don’t trust ‘em. The day ended with a dirty banana at the Wet Lizard, and chased with a Belikin Beer (the official beer of Belize, and surprisingly dark for the region). Oh, I nearly forgot… I took this picture while inside a hardware store in Belize.

You may not be able to see it, but the beer bottles have been filled with un-beer like substances and labeled with tape and a marker. When you reach for a tall cold one, think twice before drinking a “Sanding Sealer,“ a “Contact Cement” or the enigmatic “L. Thinner.” You’ve been warned.

Now, on to Cozumel, and the meat and potatoes of this little ditty…

Recently it has come to my attention that NCL has other ships in its fleet besides The Dream. It has also been explained to me that while The Dream seems big… it ain’t. So, to educate and inform on the difference between a cruise ship and a friggin’ cruise ship, I tagged along with Brett (our cruise director, and a damn nice guy), Andrew (JAR dancer), Dominic Dillan (JAR gymnast), Adrian (JAR costumer) and James (cruise host) to tour NCL’s flagship, the Norwegian Pearl.

Lemme tell ya, this ship is huge. Every other Cozumel we tender in so this monster can dock. As you walk up to it, the ship seems big… then as you get closer, you feel the ship is getting farther away, cause the size gets daunting. Then you get right up next to it and you realize just how big it is (and how small our Dream is). Now, I heard the gross tonnage of The Pearl versus The Dream, and I know it’s way more… but surprisingly the ship only holds near 700 more people than we do. What that translates to is a ship that has a lot more variety in places to eat and drink, lounges to entertain, and outside decks to play.

Here you see the shadow created by two huge cruise ships. You’ve got a Carnival monster to the left, and The Pearl on the right. Way off in the distance is The Dream… if you listen close you can hear it say “Hey guys, heard there was a party!” But the big ships just ignore it. Poor Dream… poor poor Dream.

Once we boarded and received our visitors pass, it was immediately apparent that this ship is big and new. It has only been in service for three months, and everything looks and feels fresh. It seems that NCL as gone away from the pastels they used on our ship, and instead have made everything dark and masculine… save for the Casino and various lounges. And, unfortunately, a common phrase uttered by all of us about a million times was “Wow, this is so much (nicer, better, newer, bigger, cleaner, fresher, gooder, butter, darn near killed her) than our ship!” Rather than waste words, let me take you on a pictorial tour of NCL’s pride and joy. Keep in mind that for many of the pictures, it was difficult to get the massive size of the rooms, but believe me when I say this place was nice and big…

There is a lot more to catch your eye on this ship. Take for example this bar, complete with a color changing water bubble thing.

Here we see the very impressive piano lounge. With seating for at least two hundred, it is flanked by a couple of bars, and sits below several restaurants, including a coffee lounge, sushi bar, and one of those places where the guy cooks the food in front of you and flips shrimp into his hat. While I wouldn’t recommend eating the shrimp after it has been in some dude’s hat, it’s still a pretty neat trick… unless you happen to be a shrimp, in which case you would get really hot, disoriented, and then wind up in some dude’s hat. Let’s face it, being a shrimp sucks.

Here is The Pearl’s casino. The room is probably the same size as our theatre is on the Dream. Plus, with all the colors and lights, it looks a clown threw up… but in a good way.

Then we made it into The Stardust Theatre

Now, I’ll make no bones about it… this is a theatre. While we have a Stardust, our signs call it a lounge… and for good reason, since instead of theatre seats, the room is stuffed full of cocktail tables, chairs and couches, festively colored in shades of pink and tan. The Pearl’s Stardust, however, must seat over a thousand people. It has two levels, and all the chairs are green and oh so plush. The rigging (yes, the theatre has a fly system) is all electronic. All the instruments are DMX (meaning they flip, twist, and change color on their own), and the stage has a turntable down stage and six platforms up stage that raise and lower six feet hydraulically.

The dressing rooms are three times the size of ours, and upon close inspection, the costumes appear to be brand new (our costumes ,once cut open, have at least a hundred rings in them). The shows are more Vegas style than ours, with fewer numbers and a helluva lot more glitz. Not to mention this particular JAR cast has BMX riders that (no kidding) do tricks on their bicycles off of ramps and things. No word if they also have to sing and do a double jazz turn.

Here we are in the reception area. Again, this is a two story atrium type place. With plenty of loungy type chairs, a bar, a second story with more food and drink, and a two story television, this room is what the pax are first greeted with upon embarkation. Very impressive. Then we made our way through a mile of duty free shops, a impressive photography gallery, art gallery, into one of the coolest lounges on the ship, entitled “Bliss.”

The room was fairly dark, but think Chinese restaurant chic (ornate red furniture and things with golden dragons climbing up the walls) long couches and beds all over, and VIP lounges with more beds and plush hideaways with televisions on the ceiling. Plus, flanking the club on either side are two pairs of BOWLING LANES.

No kidding, bowling lanes. The lanes were a little shorter than the real thing, but believe me, this was a friggin’ bowling alley. They have the tacky red and blue shoes to rent, and the balls are brightly colored and nicked in places… The only thing it was missing was pitchers of beer and some guy yelling “WOOOOOOO! HOT DAMN! CHUCKA CHUCKA CHUCKA!“ while tossing his hat in the air and moon walking across all the lanes. Fortunately, I had a hat with me.

Anyway, looking at the eclectic mix of hip hangout and bowling alley, it’s like NCL decided to hedge it’s bets when designing this club. I can see them in the executive boardroom at NCL HQ…

“Well, Stan, I like the idea of an ultra hip club, complete with beds and dragons and stuff”

“Me too, Herb, but I think we should include some bowling lanes in the club, just in case Edith and Merle decide they want to trade Grey Goose for Miller High Life”

“You’re right Stan, now our club is truly crossing borders… Lets go get some tacos.”

And so it was born. Now the only curious thing about this club was what was playing on all the flat screens. Keeping in mind the ship is three months old, and that everything in Bliss is new and cutting edge, does it make much sense to play videos from 1992? No kidding, I bowled to Snoop Dogg singing “G Thing”, that dude that sang “Informer”, Naughty By Nature’s signature “Hip Hop Hooray”, and some Madonna song when she had short black hair… Peculiar…

Then we saw more restaurants… such as their version of our Italian Restaurant, which smacked of Tuscan style family dining, complete with long wooden tables and old world charm. Then we saw their steak house, one of their alternative restaurants, where for fifteen dollars you can get a four course steak dinner (this is where I cried a little… I love you Dream, but at night when I sleep, I dream of all the steak I could be eating on The Pearl… please don’t hate me). Then their was their all you can eat buffet, which really got us jealous for a myriad of reasons, since most of us dine at The Sport’s Bar on the dream because of it’s quick and easy nature.

Now, the Sports Bar was in its inception exactly what it says… a bar. Then, later down the road, NCL decided to transform it into a buffet. What that means is that you have a buffet that was poorly conceptualized and is plagued with traffic issues (yes, traffic at a buffet), and a small eating area for a collectively voracious appetite. What really got me wasn’t the fact that they had a ton more food to choose from, nor the fact that much of the food can be prepared to order (such as a crepe station, several carving stations, pasta station, etc)… no, what got me is that the food’s quality was better.

As my companions can attest, much of the food at our Sport’s Bar is suspect… Take for example the hamburger patties that need a life vest in order to stay afloat in the lake of grease they are served in. Or the meat at our carving station that while is freshly carved, is dry and disappointing. And nowhere did they have food that you looked at and said “umm… No.” Sigh... We all piled our plates with more food than we are used to eating, and the only sounds heard during lunch were sighs and exclamations of jealousy laced with rage.

After our meal, we visited the Cruise Director’s cabin… yeah, it was nice. Took this picture on his television set…

Here you see the bridge camera for the Pearl. And once again, as if to make us feel guilty for seeing another ship behind her back, was the dream… “Hey guys, I heard you were playing catch so I brought my mitt…” And the big ships just turn their backs on the poor old Dream. They didn’t want to play catch with the stubby old ship… Why, The Dream doesn’t even have a big yellow water slide on her pool deck.

We concluded our tour visiting the outdoor decks, complete with several pools and lounge areas with more food and drinks. They also had a full tennis and basketball court, climbing wall, and giant chess set, as well as the prerequisite shuffleboard. Then there was the kid’s play area, complete with their own disco (which was about the same size as ours on the Dream… no kidding). Finally we made it up to the observation lounge, which was amusingly close to the size of our theatre on the Dream. They use it for bingo and stuff… Poor poor Dream indeed. Here’s a picture…

There was also the health spa, with its huge gym and oasis of a spa area… There are also saunas with windows so you can sweat your guts out while getting baked by the sun. Three months and no sauna related fatalities… yet.

And thus ended our day on the Pearl. As we were walking out, we came down a corridor with pictures of other ships, and there, in the middle of it all was your friend and mine… The Dream

While she may be smaller than the rest of her class, and too old for the track team, and yes even a nagging odor problem, she is my home away from home. There is an upside to my story however. Since the Pearl is so new, everyone employed there is working under a microscope. This is aided by the fact that there are security cameras EVERYWHERE, so Big Brother will know if you sneeze into the food. Not so on the Dream… we can sneeze all we want. You know, it ain’t so bad here after all… I love you Dream.

So that brings us to the present tense. I just got done doing The Fountains bit with some buddies during the farewell show. Done to some Enya type music, we all slowly march on stage wearing togas, and essentially spit water at each other… I hope to get a video of it soon and post it, as it is much funnier than I care to explain here.

Plus, tonight we had a Med-Evac. The Captain came on the intercom and told us to basically stay clear of any outside decks, and not to take any flash photography. Basically they air lifted a pax onto a chopper (we have no heli-pad… we don’t even have a yellow waterslide) and flew him back to Houston, which is about an hour’s flight from our location at that time.

And for those of you who wonder what we do to pass the time during those long days at sea, I submit the following.

Here is Peter, Andrew, Federico and myself taking a break from poker so we can blow farts into our hands. Not pictured is Natalie, who was taking the picture and rolling her eyes… secretly wanting to blow farts in her hands, but she’ll never admit it.

So, that’s it for this installment. By the time many of you read this, I will be turning, or have already turned the big Three-Oh. I plan to celebrate a day early by eating a great big steak and drinking one or two pints of Shiner Bock at The Texas Roadhouse in Pasadena, Texas. And, for an early birthday present I got myself another neat tattoo. I leave you with that picture.

Your Pal,

Michael Lamendola


My “World’s Greatest Grandma” tattoo is more than a memory, since I had it on whilst I was playing in the Cozumelian sun. A subtle reminder of it is burned into my skin, outlasting the temporary ink for what could be months to come! Maybe being the world’s greatest grandma is my true destiny.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Dream Part Three - Spring Break

March is upon us now, and spring is in the air… The snow is beginning to thaw, trees are blossoming, the birds chirp and sing… and on board the Norwegian Dream its one big friggin’ boozed up spring drink stagger-a-poloza! Come one come all, and join us as this once majestic cruise liner magically transforms into a party barge! The Gulf of Mexico becomes more of a Lake Travis as the median age of our passengers plummets from 52 to 41 this cruise, and by next cruise about seven hundred people will be between the ages of 18 and 26. The times they are a changing’ around here. Even the first night of this cruise there was a feeling of transition on board…

Not my cabin, but one of the passengers’ down the hall from mine. If this boat’s a rockin’… Still, for every night there must be a day, and the next morning as I was walking out that very same corridor the sock was replaced by the unmistakable smell of pee. Ahh… pee… As a matter of fact, the smell of pee lingered heavily in that general area for several days. Sometime yesterday, I think, they finally steamed the carpet, but the gentle aroma lingers… of pee.

Actually, for the next few weeks we actually have two of Texas’ finest on board with us. Dody and Tracey are two cops in the La Porte area who also work as local port authorities when we disembark. While on board their jobs are to keep the peace and make sure no one gets too stupid while enjoying their Mexiribean cruise. So far, they have busted a couple of kids for marijuana, and they were kicked off the boat in Progresso. Otherwise things have been closer to the norm around here, their time taken up by watching all the turistas borrachas (and turistos borrachos) drink themselves into their senior year. We had a crew party last night, and Dody and Tracey were there, off the clock and rum punch firmly in hand.

The crew party was to celebrate Women’s Day, or National Women’s Day, or something that had to do with Women. James, my good buddy and crew welfare chairman, bought something like 300 roses in Cozumel and every woman in attendance received one. There was food, the rum punch I mentioned earlier, and dancing. Suspiciously, I have not heard of a Man’s Day… I suppose if there was one, you could hand out beef jerky and pork rinds… Actually, that’s not a bad idea… Beef jerky sounds pretty good right now… with teriyaki flavor… or smoked… yeah, and they have crushed pepper on the sides, and you just sit there with a whole big bag that is meant for like 10 people and you just eat it all… and wipe your hands on your shirt and open another bag… and people would walk by and stare, cause you’d do this at your local mall or child care facility, but you wouldn’t care, ‘cause you’d be eating beef jerky… and pie… remember last week when we talked about pie? That still sounds awesome…
Anyway, the crew party was excellent.
The shows, in case you are still wondering, are going just as well as can be. I have had a sore throat for the past week or so, but the doctor said it was nothing serious. So as of this writing (March 8th) I have finished my regiment of penicillin and things are almost back to normal. But other than my ailment, everything show wise is peachy. There was a lady who was sound asleep in the front row during our country revue. Her mouth was open as she sawed logs on the shoulder of her husband (I assume… it could have just been the guy sitting next to her.) And that is the state of the shows… knockin’ em’ dead in the front rows.

It has been an overcast week this cruise. Sunday, on our way from Texas to Progresso was a rocky one. Not the type of seas that makes your face green, but enough to be annoying. All of our ports were windy and cool, which is tough if you are nursing a sore throat and trying to get some sun. Still, that didn’t stop us from playing some beach volleyball. We got a game going with some folks who were on the ship, and everything was going well until somehow we treed the ball into a palm. Peter, our other male singer from Towumba, Australia, was resourceful enough to be able to climb the tree and free the ball, thus continuing our frigid game. Here’s a picture…

Later that night some of us decided it would be a good idea to play a game of basketball on the ship. We have a court on deck 13, which is an outdoor deck above the salon. We waited until 10 o’clock (After the salon had closed… this is because a simple dribble of the ball sounds like King Kong to the folks getting manicures and massages below) and then began our futile efforts.

Now, those of you who knew me in my youth can attest that my “skills” at basketball were… limited. I knew all the basics of the game… dribble, pass, shoot. Still, it wasn’t uncommon for my buddies to award me a point if my ball made contact with the rim… I only say this to preface the following story, not because I am not the best basketball player, but because of the insurmountable odds of the game at this particular time and place.

Now sometimes the open sea can be extremely calm and pleasant. The ship cruises along the water and the air is cool and still. This particular night, however, the wind was blowing at a least a million miles an hour, angrily whipping us like a red headed step child failing algebra (and no, I don‘t condone the study of algebra). The court is located pretty close to the bow of the ship, and since it is the highest point, there isn’t much in the way of… well… getting in the way of the wind. So, dribbling the ball required extra finesse, shooting the ball required a slight adjustment in aim, and passing would usually end up in knocking another guy in the face or gut. But, being men, we decided that mother nature couldn’t stop us… and then the accidents started to happen.

Frederico works in the shore excursion department. Argentian by birth and Norwegian by employment, he is probably the most athletic of the bunch and no stranger to a contest involving a ball and scoring system. Five minutes into the game, he trips over another guy and twists his ankle. We get some ice and take care of what will be a sprain. After ten minutes Peter gets back from walking Frederico to his cabin, and we decide that the ankle was merely an accident, not an omen, and continue to pretend to be prominent card carrying members of the National Basketball Association. Minutes later a pass to Peter turns into a bloody nose.

We decide to play horse after that.

After about half an hour Peter and I have an “H” and Andrew and Will have an “H O.” The wind has gone from a million miles and hour to something like a million billion miles an hour. The ball is whipped out of the air and slammed into the net that separates our open deck from the sun decks below like Ken Griffy Jr swinging at the world’s ugliest pinata without a blindfold. Or, if you prefer a golf metaphor, please picture Tom Daly after a weekend of boozing and knocking golf balls into the side of his trailer. Anyway, you could roll the ball across the court, and six feet later it’d be screaming back at you. So, with heavy hearts, twisted ankles and bloody noses we assumed defeat… Mother Nature 1, Man 0.

Oh did I mention I have a tattoo? Yeah, I decided that it was high time to get one, since it’s spring break and all. So, in Cozumel I drank me a whole bunch of margaritas and got a great big tattoo… of a margarita… on my arm. Okay, so really I was on the ship, and I drank a whole bunch of herbal decaffeinated tea (for my sore throat) and went to the airbrush tattoo artist. And while I didn’t get a margarita tattooed on my arm, I wanted something that was tough… a tattoo that said to the men “back off” and to the women “come closer.” It had to be something unique… eye catching. I decided on this one:

Here is my friend Anna, who is the resident tattoo artist on board, posing with her most recent client.

Next week I think I’ll get one of the dogs from Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.” As for now, I can’t wait to get into the gym with my tank top on. I’m gonna go when its most crowded and get one of them pink weights and grunt and groan loudly as I do my reps… ONE! TWO!!! FEEL THE BURN!!! This is what I choose to do with my free time.

So, all in all life is pretty good on The Dream. And now that my mint soother has reached the bottom of the mug, I shall leave you so I can get my friggin’ billionth cup of hot tea. Hope all is well where you are reading this, and I’ll holler at y’all next week.

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

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


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.


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)