So, I'm sitting here typing this letter outside my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. It's almost 7 pm, the sky is dark with gray clouds moving in over the river that runs outside my hotel. I can see the other side in the alley created by the "mega yacht" Battered Bull, and the huge ass sail boat with a mast that's at least 5 stories tall called Kokomo. There are yachts and water buses cruising along the river, and down the way, past the big ol draw bridge (that incidentally has to open up to allow that big ass sail boat access to the other side), are about six cruise ships that have docked here for the night.
In case I never got around to telling all of y'all, I have decided to go out again for another shot at cruise life. Many of you know about the last time around, and there's no sense in getting into that can of worms, so lets leave that behind us and discuss what's happening now.
This time around I am going to be cruising on the Norwegian Dream. I'll leave out of Alabama, where the ship will be dry-docked, and head over to the Caribbean. I'll be porting out of Houston and New Orleans and going to places like Cozumel, Belize, and St. John. In mid May I'll shoot through the Panama Canal and make my way to Alaska where I'll spend the bulk of the cruise (porting out of Seattle). Then sometime around mid September I'll come back through the Canal and head back to the Caribbean for the fall, then in mid November I hit the end of my contract and head home!
The ship itself is going to be much different from the good ol Silver Sea. Besides the different itinerary, it is a much bigger ship, carrying 700 crew members (Silversea had 350) and I believe the number for passengers can get to 2500 if all the rooms are double occupied. It has the usual stuff one would find on a big ship like lots of restaurants, several pools, a night club, and all that good stuff... For more info, head over to http://www.ncl.com/fleet/07/dream.htm.
As for the shows, thankfully they seem pretty fun. First up is Rock This Town, which is a pseudo pop revue. Pop if your idea of pop is Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington! (Perhaps its a Pops revue...) In either case, I am singing Crunchy Granola (Neil Sedaka? Neil Diamond?), Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller), Solitude (Duke Ellington), Hollywood Nocturne (style of Brain Setzer) and Sing, Sing, Sing. All the arrangements are well done (and in my key, hah!).
Next is the surprisingly good Country Gold. I was joking to my buddies that since I'm from Texas, I'll probably get most of the songs in this one. Yep, I did! I can't think of the names of the folks that sing most of these, but they run the spectrum from ballady to singing fast about driving my pick up and stuff. Songs are "He's Gone Country," "Be My Baby Tonight," "What Was I Thinking?" "That's Just That" (Rio Diamond), "Desperado" (I still think the Eagles are more Rock than country, but I ain't complain' bout this one). I also get to sing some by Garth Brooks: The Dance, American Honky Tonk Association, and Ain't Going Down. It's funny how many of these songs are almost a country type of rap, just rattling off lines as fast as they can. Word Y'all.
The third show is gonna be a Cirq type show, and all I know is that I am singing an up tempo vrsion of Old Man River. Picture Sammy Davis Jr. putting his spin on it, with total disregard for th meaning behind the lyrics. Poetry...
Oh, and for those who are interested, I had my burrito on Easter Sunday after going to mass. It really is sad, giving up California Mexican Food for Lint, leaving California before Easter, and having to explain to someone what a California burrito is. Sure they thought I was crazy, putting French fries in the burrito (French Fries in the Burrito is my new band, by the way) but they did, and I was happy, and it was good.
So, what can I tell you about Ft Lauderdale... It's got a lot of little islands on it, I believe most are man made. They made rivers that separate the islands, and it gives some of the neighborhoods a canal feel. I go jogging over the draw bridge (Each time I picture it opening up and dropping me into the river while the dude who operates it points and laughs...) to a neighborhood like this. It goes like this... Street, house, water, house, street, house, water, house... Oh and those of us from the South and Midwest know that when ya own a boat, you usually rent a slip in the marina or drag it out at the boat launch. Well, since these folks have water for a back yard, they park there boats outside the house!
Oh, and these boats aren't the small fishing boats and pontoons that we're used to. These suckers are huge. Big. I don't know how much they're worth, but when you look at the houses, which makes the houses in La Jolla look like shanties, holy cow what a big freaking house! Outside the houses are stables of expensive cars. One house had a Hummer, convertible caddy, two coupe infinities, and a stretch. Across the street was an older house, although still nice, and as I was jogging by a silver Honda S2000 Roadster came backing out of the driveway. And it's jerks like that bringing the property values down in this neighborhood with their simple 3 car garage filled with paltry $35,000 automobiles. Jerks, why can't they think of anyone else but themselves...
Pretty humid here in Florida too. Actually am getting bit my mosquitos as I type this. Haven't been bit by those suckers since I lived in Texas!
There isn't really much more to report yet, but I should have some interesting stories very soon. I rehearse here in Florida until April 11th, then I fly to Alabama to plug it in the ship, and the 19th we officially open. Oh, and we show schedule is kinda like last time. We do each show twice a cruise, so three nights of doubles a week (or 10 days when in Alaska, or 15 days when heading through the Canal). I am gonna try and put another jazz set together while onboard just for kicks.
All right, I gotta go check my laundry now. Hope all is well in California, and anywhere else this E mail lands. If you got this letter twice, let me know. If someone sent you this E mail and you want to get the rest directly from me (I spritz cologne on each one) then let me know.
Talk to y'all later!
Your pal,Michael Lamendola