Tuesday, June 17, 2008

St. George's Dream Part Three - Beach Days and Mooring Deck Nights

At the moment I am sitting in the men's dressing room, up on deck 11. One deck below me is the stage for the Stardust Lounge, and on that stage is Kenny, Lindsay, and Katie, dancing to “Vicky And Mister Valves.” Tomorrow we'll arrive in Bermuda for the sixth time, and I'll do what's become the norm for a Tuesday: Get up at my own pace (I'll leave the exact time to myself, so as not to disgust and anger you), clean up and go visit the Sport's Bar for lunch, then grab my beach towel and head to Gate's Bay for a little sun, sand, and surf (and volleyball, but wouldn't it sound better if it was called Solleyball?). After that, I'll make my way back to the ship. Clean up, maybe take a nap... From there I might get dinner, maybe play some scrabble or take in a show, and end up at the small boat that is docked outside the Majesty for a little drinking and debauchery. All in all, things get pretty routine when you visit the same port over and over... and believe me, I ain't complaining.

So, with that in mind, what can I talk about that isn't a repeat of things I've already mentioned? Let's see... Well, last week Steven, Jayson, and myself grabbed a bus and headed out towards Horseshoe Bay, which from what I understand is one of the better known beaches in the area. From St. George's we caught a bus to Hamilton, and then another to Horseshoe. The trip was something like 23 kilometers, and even though the transfer from one bus to another took only took a couple of minutes, the entire trip took about an hour. There really isn't such thing as a highway around here, and all the roads I've traveled on are barely two lanes, with no shoulders or sidewalks, winding up and down hills and around lots of colorful houses and buildings.

The day we chose to take the trip was an overcast one, and while it didn't rain, the sun never came out to greet us. Horseshoe is definitely larger than the three beaches in St. George's put together, but it's still pretty small. Here are some pictures.

It doesn't show in any of the pictures I took, but Horseshoe bay is known for it's pink beaches... and true to what's said, there are lots of little pink bits of coral and shell mixed in to the sand. You'll have to either come see it for yourself, or take my word for it.

Anyway, hung out there for a little while, mostly swimming and napping under a cloudy sky. From there we grabbed a bus back to Hamilton for some fried chicken and a movie. There are two chicken places that I know of, located literally next door to each other. One is the universally known KFC, and the other, “Mr. Chicken.” We ate at Mr. Chicken. I don't really have anything else to say about Mr. Chicken, or any reason to have brought up Mr. Chicken in the first place... I just like saying Mr. Chicken.

After dinner, we had some time to kill before our movie began, so we walked around the city a bit, stopping at a street corner up a ways from the theater. At one point we were approached by a man on a bicycle. I don't need to tell you what kind of man he was, as anytime you are approached by someone you don't know, it's usually unwelcome. Anyway, he informed us, without any invitation or prodding on our part, to the dangers of drugs, gave us his opinion of that stupid bitch he calls Karma, told us about his children that he can't visit back in America, showed us a picture of his girlfriend (lucky him if it's true), and in closing told us to “be nice to women, children, and animals, and kill the rest. You can take from my experience what you want, but I learned that if you stand on a street corner after dark for too long, you deserve what's coming to you.

After the strange man on the bicycle left, we were approached by some pax from our ship. They were clearly drunk and from Boston (redundant?). They talked to us for a moment, then went into the liquor store that we were standing in front of. A little while later they left, and we noticed that the store owner came out on her phone, looking for the group. Soon after a policeman (complete with dress shirt, blue shorts and socks) arrived on his moped, and spoke to the store owner. Coming out of the store, they asked us where the group went. Having seen where they went, I pointed the policeman in the right direction. He drove off, and a minute later a police car drove past, going in the same direction. I guess Bermuda has some sort of “don't be drunk in public” law, and yours truly helped to send a group of pax to the Bermudian drunk tank. This is the Norwegian Way. Oh well, I didn't see them at any of our shows.

After all that excitement, it was time to go see the new Indiana Jones flick. The movie theater, aptly called “The Little Theater” (but wouldn't it have been awesome if it was called Mr. Little Theater? I know, not really...) was exactly like its title implied. Here's a picture of the little movie theater:

The screen is definitely small, but the sound is HUGE. Plus, as you can see in the picture, the restrooms are located right in the theater, so if you are a frequent pee-r, then we will all know about it.

From the theater we caught the last bus back to St. George's, changed clothes, and hopped over to the drinking boat... for drinking. More people jumped in the water, and a good time was had by all.

Other than that one particular outing, it has pretty much been beach days when we are in port, sometimes preceded by a rehearsal, and most of the time not. While Tobacco Bay is prettier, it is usually saturated with pax, so the crew all go to Gates, which is where Catherine's Fortress is. One day, in between napping and swimming, I decide to venture out to see the cannons that lay at the base of the fortress wall. Here they are:

Try doing that on anything old in America... Like the Bill of Rights or the Liberty Bell... only on small Bermudian islands and Mexico can you straddle relics. Oh, and I mentioned earlier that I play a little volleyball (Sollyball if you really read it). Here is a picture that pretty much sums up my solleyball playing skills:

Let's turn now from the beach back to the ship. The other night we had a party on the mooring deck. One of the unique pleasures of working on a ship is the interesting places in which the crew can gather. Don't ask me what happens on a mooring deck when mooring is taking place. All I know is that there are lots of ropes and things that probably keep the ship from floating away while we are in port. The only fact I am certain of is that every time I have been on the mooring deck, there is loud music playing, and trashcans full of beer. Imagine how funny it would be if they confused a mooring deck party with the actual function of the mooring deck. Here we are, pulling into port... the guys down on the dock are waiting for the ropes to be thrown down, and instead of ropes they get tossed some “tall cold ones.” Oh, the hilarity... here are some pictures from the afore mentioned mooring deck party.

A view of the party from my vantage point.

From left to right are Gareth, Alison, myself, Fred, and Ashley. We've had to say goodbye to Fred, unfortunately, for various reasons. While I am unable to quote him here, you can read his own thoughts about his short time on the Dream HERE. For what it's worth, he's eloquent.

Lindsay, Jayson, and myself, enjoying the party and a tall cold one.

Life on board the Dream is pretty much the same, as to be expected. The only kink is the introduction of Freestyle 2.0 that I mentioned to you last time. I am not sure how it is affecting the larger, newer ships, but we are definitely going through some growing pains here. Mostly because our ship was never meant for Freestyle cruising, partly because we are understaffed, and due in part largely to our hotel director who wants to control the entertainment department, things have been a little difficult around the office. For example...

The days in which we do our shows never change. Rock This Town on Monday, Country Gold on Wednesday, and Sea Legs at Sea on Friday. Also, we have grown accustomed to a show time schedule of 7:30 and 9:30, give or take fifteen minutes on the late show. Well, one night I was in my cabin... it was about 6:45 in the evening, and we had RTT at 7:30. So, I was about to take a walk to the theatre when I got a knock on the door. At the other end was Kenny, half of our adage team, there to tell me that the show was in ten minutes... Awesome.

So, I stroll to the theatre. Nothing I have to do but put on a tux and grab my microphone, and the commute only takes a few minutes, even with heavy traffic (!!!). So I get there, and the JARs are slowly trickling in from the mess and their cabins. Long story short we go at 7:15 while a frazzled cruise director's head is spinning, and loads of dancers upset because they didn't get the proper time to warm up... and why did this all happen? To alleviate lines to the restaurants.

The change to the shows' schedule was made after our schedule was printed for the week, so none of us knew about it. Since then, we have heard about the possibility of having shows at 5:30 and 7:30, or two shows on a port night... It's been quite an experience, let me assure you. Bottom line is, our HD (who is not from America) doesn't get the fact that Americans like their dinner early, say from 5:30 'till 7:30, and no matter what she tries, people who are used to the Early Bird Special will not fore go that right just to see me skirt around the stage in a sequined captain's outfit. But, the hilarity continues...

Last week we were performing SLAS... Nothing out of the ordinary. We were putting the cap on the second show. Individual bows were made, and after a black out we all lined up for the final group bow. As the lights came up, Fith (our Cruise Director, and yes, supposedly his real name is Fith Fithian) started speaking into the microphone. Something like “Ladies and Gentleman, your Jean Ann Ryan Company” or something. Like they were all hearing their master's voice, the ENTIRE audience, standing or not, stopped clapping immediately and stared at us, while we were bowing. We bowed twice to a bewildered group of five hundred or more, standing there with their heads cocked like a dog hearing a strange noise. Surreal.

After that, we dash offstage and I strip out of my teal and white sequined excuse of a costume and into my tuxedo for the final “Home Away From Home” song that I sing. As you know, the song is sung at the end of the cruise, while crew from every department comes on stage and sways back and forth to that and to several choruses of “We Are The World.” Anyway, the song starts with Christy singing the first verse, and my singing the second verse. As I sing, I descend the stage right staircase, and meet Christy down stage center. Well... I was coming down and misjudged how many steps were left... leaving one step unaccounted for. So, I stumble down the final stair onto the stage, much to the audience's delight. As I regain my composure physically, I start to lose it emotionally, laughing at myself and losing track of the song a couple of times. Finally I make it to the chorus, thankful that Steve was on mike singing it behind me, so I could drop out for a moment and laugh it out of my system.

One of the people in the audience was Tim, half of a comedy duo on board. Not one to ever let a joke pass by, he reveled in my misfortune, pointing at me and laughing throughout the rest of the song. The following night, I attended his show, and watched as he gleefully brought up my mistake to the audience five times... and each time he would look at me and chuckle. Good times.

I had made Tim's acquaintance earlier in the cruise, as he and his comedy partner Steve joined us for poker. Even though I lost, it was the best ten bucks I have spent thus far, as he rode Fith to the ground, poking at him and cracking jokes at his expense. He even went as far as trying to make Fith flinch, and when Fith would, Tim would punch him twice in the arm... Now that's a classic. We all like Fith, don't get me wrong, but he runs his poker games like a traffic cop, waving us through the intersection and keeping a rush hour pace.

Here is my favorite picture of the night:

To make a long story short, Tim (well dressed man on the right), told Steve (JAR singer on left) that he would eat a cheeseburger freshly wiped on Steve's butt, five and ten second rules be damned. Unfortunately Fith (center) didn't allow it to happen. Just another slice of life on board the Norwegian Dream.

Since we have been a little short staffed, Steven and I have pitched in here and there, selling Krak-its to the pax on the last sea day. An equivalent to lottery scratch offs, pax can win two thousand bucks by matching symbols a la slot machine imagery. In return for our time, Fith takes Steve and I to the Bistro, our alternative restaurant, for a nice meal. The Maitre'd there, Michelle, has gotten to know us, and now helps us finish our dessert.

The Krak-its have one two thousand dollar winner per box, so to make things fair one of the cruise staff has to put the krak-its through the randomizing machine before they can be sold. It's a very complex ordeal, but in order to demystify the process I am making public, for the first time, how the randomizing takes place:

Basically Dara takes all the Krak-its and throws them on the floor over and over.

Oh, and aside from all that, we are still enjoying all that Boston has to offer... Here are some pictures from Bean Town.

Here I am outside the Bull and Finch Pub (otherwise known as that place they shot the exteriors for Cheers at). I also ate inside the place the other day. Now I can tell you that it is also the place that inspired Applebee's, Chili's, TGIF, and Bennigans.

Oh, isn't the irony delicious?

I found this kind of amusing. Here is a bum with a new pair of Nike shoes... which obviously make a great pillow.

Ahh, I got nothing.

And that'll be all for this installment. I am finishing this blog in the Mariner's center in Hamilton. We were due to arrive in St. George's around eleven this morning, but due to the inclement weather later in the week, the Captain turned the Dream around with only a half mile to the St. George's cut and rerouted us to Hamilton. If there's bad weather on Friday, our chances of leaving St. George's port would be slim, and a lot of Bostonians would miss their flights home... wait a second. Damn.

Keep on Livin' The Dream,

Michael Lamendola

With Steven and Jayson, taking in Hamilton's harbor


Please help me welcome my new working television to my cabin.

Not only does it have sound, but picture! Wow! Just this morning I decided to hang out in bed for a moment, and see what was on the tube... Until I discover the remote control doesn't work...


  1. Hi Michael,

    Sorry I'm not some young chick commenting on your post but I have to tell you how much I enjoy reading about your adventures and also getting a little insight of behind the scenes of cruise ship life. Your Mother would be proud!

    My husband and I will be on the Dream in September celebrating our 40th anniversary. Notice I didn't say "Wedding", I prefer "Endurance Anniversary". Anyway, we have cruised many, many times but this will be the first time on NCL and looking forward to it.

    Keep enjoying yourself and sharing part of your "Dream"


  2. Nothing anonymous here. Michael, you are one class act. Sing like a bird, and cute, too. Some chick told me that. Me, I guess you're ok, I just don't happen to swing that way.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. It was unexpected, but cool. If you ever work on another line, we may work together again. NCL...?



    BTW, if you get a chance, read my latest.

    Respect and friendship,


  3. Hi Michael, I am former cruiser - first time ever - on the June 22-29 trip to Bermuda with my wife. We had a great time on the Norwegian Dream and were impressed by the quality of the entertainment in the Stardust Lounge. I don't know if you get much feedback, and perhaps the singers and dancers lose sight of the work that you all do, given the long season that you work that ship.

    It's a young company, everyone just beginning their careers, including you. However, the commitment, attention to detail, and enthusiasm on display during your shows was apparent and impressive. The material probably comes direct from NCL corporate and is designed to appeal the average cruise consumer, i.e. mainstream and not particularly edgy. However, it was delivered with a level of professionalism that, as a newcomer to the cruise world, was impressive. So, to you and the hard working people that share the stage with you, let me compliment all of you and please pass along our thanks for a job well done. Broadway beckons. Steve.