Saturday, December 30, 2006

Since Last we Spoke

We just finished our first seven day cruise yesterday and started the second seven day cruise that very afternoon. The ship usually docks around 7am on disembarkation day and they start telling everyone to get off the ship...they say it very nicely like this....(Bing Bong) "This is the front desk/receptionist/cruise director speaking! Disembarkation is beginning, please proceed to the exit. Thanks for cruising with us." They do that about 20 times. Then when it gets closer to final disembarkation time (9:30am), they say, (Bing Bong) "All passengers should be off the ship. If you're still on the ship, please proceed directly to deck seven and the exit." They're really nice about it when I think what they want to say is "You've over stayed your welcome. Now Get Off the Ship!!!"

After all those people get off, the crew and staff clean the ship top to bottom, inside and out, fix whatever needs fixing and then a whole new group starts getting on by 11am. 11 am. It's crazy. That day is filled with stuff, people and luggage (oh, so much luggage) being loaded onto the ship. All the while the crew is all getting off the ship for a few brief but sweet hours in Miami.

I seriously can't believe how people pack for a seven day trip...I mean it's seven days and they pack like it's four months...I know this because I packed for four months and I packed the same amount as them. When they get on for their first day on the ship, they all go crazy in the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe (aka GC) is where we have most of our meals. It's a buffet style restaurant. The passengers get in there on their first day and lose their mind. I mean so much food and they're all stressed our from traveling. So people are in there growling at each other over enormous plates of food either about the food, the drink they want or the drink they have and how hard it was to get on the ship. This sounds crazy to me because none of them even have to handle their own luggage, it all gets delivered to their room! By the second day most of them have mellowed out....they still tend to stop in doorways for no reason, stop in the doorway of the elevator for no reason and to walk in a sidewinder pattern down the halls so you can't possibly pass them no matter how hard you try. They also throw out their arms at random and drop stuff. All in all the passengers are pretty fun to watch but don't touch!

This last trip during Christmas week we went to Samana, Tortola, St. Thomas & Great Stirrup Cay. Here's a bit about each place:

SAMANA - is located in the Dominican Republic. It's a beautiful, lush island from afar. Mountainous, covered with jungles and surrounded by clear waters. But Samana is a very poor town in a poor country and not really ready for tourists. This is not a bad thing but it's a weird situation for a bunch of people on a cruise ship to be dropped into. I don't think every place should be picture perfect but there should be something there to see. After we walked around for a bit, we found a group of dancers in the village square. They were performing traditional dances of the DR and that was fun to watch. I was freaked out by all the stray and very sad looking doggies running around. I alternately wanted to love them up or make them go away. We all went to a restaurant for a bit and had some platians, coffee and some beer. We didn't shop but we did our bit to help the local economy.

TORTOLA BVI (British Virgin Islands)- We docked in Roadtown. Roadtown is part tourist town and part town town. It's very pretty and rugged. When we got off the ship, we found out that all of the swimming beaches were on the other side of the island. So we all got into a truck bus....basically it's truck in the front and open air bus in the back. Then we began our climb up and over Tortola to Cane Garden Bay. The drive was scary and fun. Many of the roads are blind one lane as were were going up or coming down we couldn't see if someone else was too....amazingly they managed to avoid all the near death (actually didn't avoid near-death, only actual death). We also had to tend with goats, cows and chickens on the road as well.

Tortola is beautiful and Cane Garden Bay was a great place to spend Christmas Day. We were on a white sand beach with all these little ramshackle bars on stilts, and several guys with dreadlocks renting sun chairs. There was also an adorable little curly haired black dog that played fetch with everyone. I mean this dog was super cute and smart. So we went swimming/snorkeling and then laid around on the two chairs we rented. After a bit we decided we should go to the nearest bar which was called Myett's. There we had a traditional Christmas dinner of PiƱa Coladas (Beer for Larrance), coconut shrimp, chicken roti, mahi mahi burger and jerk chicken wings. After that we got back on the truck taxi with a gentleman who really liked to speed and then we got back on the ship.

That night we had our Secret Santa exchange. I got a tiny blown glass octopus from Ben. I was Andel's Secret Santa and I got her a red bag, some acrylic rings, and oatmeal chocolate chip lip balm. And at the Garden Cafe, they had traditional Christmas was delicious....but weird to be eating it in 80 degree weather with balmy sea breeze blowing on my back.

ST THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Isle - we stopped on St. Thomas on the day of our showcase show so we didn't have long to spend there. St. Thomas is the opposite of Samana. It's all about the tourists and wealth so it's a very pretty but kind of gross sometimes. I mean it's all shopping - everything from cheesy t-shirts to crazy expensive jewelry. The town itself is very pretty and there are lots of big fancy private yachts in the harbor. We didn't shop but we did buy some iced coffee and sat and watched people. Then we decided to walk a bit off the beaten got a little scary...behind all that wealthy facade is a very poor population and I couldn't help but feel that we were part of the problem.

GREAT STIRRUP CAY-is a small island owned by NCL. It's in the Bahamas and fairly near to Nassau. There's nothing on this island but NCL stuff. So you go over on these big tenders (aka boats) and then you hang on the beach. That didn't excite us too much but there was a light house on the far end of the island so we walked out to that and took some photos. Then we climbed around on this rocky bit that looked like the surface of the moon. The best part about this bit was that you couldn't hear the band or any of the people. You could only hear the ocean. (Larrance is finding the constant music on the ship annoying. We're slowly finding areas free of passengers and music (besides our cabin of course)). After we were out there, we went back to the NCL "beach party" (everything's a party on a ship) and we got some bbq chicken and fixin's and then we went wading in the ocean. After that we went back to the ship on the tender and had a nap. What day!

I think I should explain something. The ship either docks or we have to tender. When we dock, you get to walk straight off the ship. OR the ship drops anchor in the water and we have to take these little tiny boats called "tenders" to the pier. The tenders are awful because they're slow but really it's because they stink. Oh, how they stink. The tender on Great Stirrup Cay wasn't bad because it was an open boat and it carried 250 people. Usually they're enclosed and only carry 100 people and they contain a foul stench that really can't be explained and can only be experienced. May you never have to experience it!!

Our days are pretty's a typical schedule

8:30/9am Get up & Shower
9:30 to 12:30 Breakfast & Coffee Klatch with the cast
12:30 to 3:30 Read, sun, swim, watch a movie
Sometime after 3:30 but usually before 7:30 Go to the Gym
8pm Dinner and then hang out and do whatever.
12am to 2am Go to bed.
Larrance spends some time composing and has found the times when the concert grand piano in the theater is free.

Obviously this changes if we're docking/tendering somewhere....then we're usually off the boat by 10:30 and back on around 3:30/4pm.

Two days a week we have our shows. Our showcase, scripted show is in the Stardust Theater which holds over a thousand people. We do an early show (about 7:30 pm) and late show (about 9 or 9:30), both of which were packed last week and very well received.

The other show is our improvised show in Spinniker Lounge which holds about 300 people. But they packed an extra hundred or so in there last week for us. We do an early and late show there as well (about 9:00 and 11 pm)--the later show is billed as adults only so we're allowed to get a little blue.

During the first few days of each cruise, we're anonymous--just more passengers. After our shows we're always being stopped and congratulated and asking to take our pictures with them. So far our shows have been wildly popular.

It's fun to be acknowledged but the anonymous beginning of the week is nice also.

Miami days are the busiest days since they're all business. We hit the seaman's club to check our P.O. Box. Then we run errands. One of these days, I need to find an internet cafe so I can upload all the photos we've taken.

Today we're at Sea. Tomorrow we are going to be in Costa Maya, Mexico. After that we visit Cozumel, Belize City and St. Tomas (Guatemala). I'll write again soon.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Starry Starry Night

Well at this point we've done 5 improv shows and two showcase shows. Most of the improv shows have gone well and both of the showcase shows went great.
We received a spontaneous standing ovation for both of our showcase shows....this isn't unusual for the ship but it was still very nice.

Today we start our first seven day cruise. We're going to Samana, Tortola, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay (NCL private island).

On the last cruise, we went to Key West and Cozumel. Key West was fun and very cute. We had a pretty good time until Larrance and I decided to separate from each other. He was going to run to get some presents for his Secret Santa and I wanted to look for my Secret Santa too. So we agreed to meet in front Fat Tuesdays at 1pm...that's what I thought...Larrance thought we were meeting in front of Sloppy Joe's. Basically we waited for a half an hour in front of our respective bars until we managed to find each other on Duvall St. It turns out that during the time we were apart we were thinking the same thing, "He/she's not here. He/she must have been hit by a car/had a heart attack/got mugged/sold into white slavery! What will I do?!?" So when we saw each other we were relieved and pissed in equal parts and we said, "THERE YOU ARE! Are you Okay!?!"

That night we had our improv show and I created, along with my scene partner Michael, a very memorable scene about Herpes. Seriously, it was some funny stuff. After that show, we met some of the Jean Ann Ryan (JAR's) dancers. They are all very tall and they wear super high heels. Larrance and I look like tiny tiny tiny people next to these statuesque beauties. They're all super nice and since we're all in theater we have a lot in common. So that's nice.

Our director, Matt Hovde, had his last night on the ship last night. We went to the Lotus Garden and had a great meal. Then we went to the Bliss Ultra Lounge and danced to ridiculous pop music. We were mini celebs! Many cruisers said hello to us and complimented us on our shows. One of the fans, a young lady, grabbed my ass and lifted my skirt.....then she apologized and I left the dance floor.....not because of that but because I was tired. Although it was strange to have my skirt lifted by a very drunk 21 year old.

Tomorrow is a sea day. Andy and I are going to a Yoga class tomorrow. We've been going to the gym but now we're going to try the classes. They offer one called Boot Camp which kind of scares me.....who wants to go to Boot Camp on a cruise ship? Not me!

Merry Christmas Everyone. I send you all holiday cheer and lots of love.

~Jen & Larrance

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Three Posts in One - Photos to Come Later

The Day we got on the Ship

We got to Miami around 1pm, got our luggage together and headed off for the ship. We were told that getting onto the ship might be very difficult and time consuming. It was really the exact opposite for us - we got on right away and got assigned to our rooms. On the other hand, it took Matt and Beth four hours to get registered on the ship since they weren't on the "list."

When we boarded the ship, there were no other passengers aboard. So it was just crew and there wouldn't be any passengers until the next day. So we kind of had the ship to ourselves. We got to walk around and see all of the sights, restaurants and bars by ourselves. It was very cool.

We went to bed fairly early in preparation for our first rehearsal and show on Wednesday night. We got up to rehearse in the Spinnaker Lounge. This is where we perform our improv shows. {I'll post a picture of the Stardust Theater later - it is beautiful.}

The ship is really luxurious and covered stem to stern in wild colors. In the Crystal atrium, kind of like a main lobby, everything is teal, raspberry, purple and dark blue. The furniture ranges from formal little chairs to huge divans to ottomans to little nautilus chairs.

In the Spinnaker Lounge, they had huge chaise lounges, weird round white chairs and more nautilus chairs and tables.


We set sail to Nowhere...

We did our first show two nights ago. It was a scriptless (aka improv) show and we were performing for shore side employees. They were a great house and the show went very well. We had to perform with handheld mics which was kind of strange but we made it work.

Last night we did our first "nowhere" cruise. Basically, the ship loads up the passengers and then we cruise about 155 miles from the port, sit around a bit and then cruise back. It was fine. The best part was that all of the restaurants and bars were finally open so food was plentiful. Yay!

Tonight is the special Rosie fundraiser cruise. There will be her show in the Stardust and we'll be performing two scriptless shows in the Spinnaker lounge.

She dropped an F Bomb!

Last night was the fundraiser for the "All Kids Foundation." Rosie was the host. She did two shows in the Stardust theater and we played in Spinnaker. We got to catch a bit of Rosie's. Show - it was a Broadway revue with her telling stories in between the songs. She was very funny and told some great stories. She must have dropped like 20 F bomb's while I was watching and the audience loved it. I guest right after I left the auction started - one of the items went for as much as $50,000 buck. She raised a bunch of money for her foundation. Yay!

Our shows went okay. The crowds were a bit hard to deal with - a little drunk, a little unsure what they're getting into and we got into our heads. We still had some fun and many people said they enjoyed the show.

After our second show, we went to the late night buffet at The Great Outdoors. I'm not sure we'll do that again since it was mostly fried foods. It was delicious but uh,...kind of horrible for me. After that we went to the Bliss Lounge. Bliss is the wildest bar on the ship. It has two two lane bowling alleys, a dance floor, some chairs and several beds. Yes, I said beds. Really big beds. Everything from a four poster bed to just a platform bed. Last night in the middle of the "party" happening in the lounge, a woman was asleep/passed out on one of the beds. Larrance thought she was a pillow and grabbed her head. She barely noticed. After one drink, I went to bed.

Today we're on the Stardust stage rehearsing our showcase show. We perform the show tomorrow afternoon as a part of the inaugural events that are taking place on the ship tonight and tomorrow. Monday we have our first real cruise to Mexico!

I think that catches this up...I'll post more later.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006 tomorrow

We leave for Miami at 6am tomorrow morning. We're getting picked up by a limo. Then we fly to Miami to meet the Pearl....we're very excited to see the place we'll be living for the next four months.

We have a couple of one day crusies before the actual inaugural cruise. On the second one day cruise, Rosie O'Donnell will be on the ship hosting a fundraiser for her "All Kids Foundation." She'll be performing in a Broadway style show and we'll be doing a scriptless show sometime during the evening - we're hoping she'll at least perform one game with us.

I have to get up at 5am so I should probably go to sleep. Good Night?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Heavier they are the...

More you have to pay for your overweight luggage. Larrance and I flew out of Bangor on Thursday and for the first time ever in our lives together we had to check our bags. We both have a reasonable carry-on bag and a very unreasonable huge bag - when we weighed our bags they were both over weight. So we had to pay extra and then we had to wait for our checked luggage. That drove me crazy. Just standing there and waiting for the luggage to appear - BOO!

We had our first meeting at Second City with Beth on Thursday night. Beth gave us all the info we need to know about life on the ship.

The next day we had a photo shoot. They did extreme close up's of our faces for the marquee in front of the theater. The layout they use kind of looks like the Brandy Bunch. When they put it up, I'll get a photo.

On Friday, we started rehearsals with our director, Matt Hovde. Some of you may have met Matt before if you ever came to a Galileo Players show. He was my director for many years so it's been really great to get to work with him again. Rehearsals have been going well and it looks like the show will be funny and very ship appropriate. In short I get to play a mother pretending to be her teenage son and the Virgin Mary.

We've been seeing lots of our old friends. Andy, who's also going to be on our ship, and Becky, who's going to be on another ship, had a party on Friday night and it was lovely. They just bought a condo together so it was part housewarming/bon voyage/holiday extravanganza. We stayed way too late but we got to see lots of people we haven't seen in a long time.

We leave for the ship on Tuesday morning EARLY. So tomorrow we have our final run thrus with props.....and then we're off to meet the Pearl.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006


We're on our last full day at home! Yesterday I thought we were pretty well organized and I was feeling, I feel like I'm nowhere near ready to go. I'm sure that's just nerves.

It's weird to think that the house will be on its own for that long. I hope it doesn't get too lonely. Our friend, Michael, will be visiting the house on a regular basis so it should be okay.

We've given away all the plants and the water is supposed to be drained tomorrow. Supposed to be is the key phrase here so far our plumber/heater guys have yet to make it it our house. We've made two appointments and they've had to cancel both of them. Something about coldest day so far and people without heat - BAH! Hopefully they will come tomorrow as scheduled and then we'll be out of here.

Please tell the squirrel in my yard that it's not welcome in my home. Thank you. Also please tell it that the bird seed is for the BIRDS.

~ Jen

Monday, December 4, 2006

Testing for Photos


It's snowing today! We woke up and everything was covered in a snowy blanket.
We have a very nice tree outside of our kitchen window and we get a lot of birdy type visitors. So we got out the new
digital camera today and tested it out....let's see if I can get this to work

Sunday, December 3, 2006

First Post

I just set this up today.

Larrance and I leave in approx. 4 days to begin our big adventure. We're going to be in Chicago for about five days of rehearsals and then we're off to Miami.

This blog will be dedicate to our travels so check back for photos and stories about our experience on a full service cruise ship.