Sunday, January 28, 2007

Some photos

The Cast leaving the ship in Barbados

Andel and Larrance standing in a beautiful ocean side botanical garden in Barbados...

Sunset from the ship...we were leaving Dominica

A photo of us in The Great Outdoors - our favorite place to hang out on the ship. It's an open air area on 12 aft.

Tortola...we're a shadow of our former selves

Andy, Edward & Michael and a strange woman

Postcard shot in Barbados

Mt. Gay distillery

Mt. Gay again!

Hey, that's a puffer fish...

We just got back from another nine day cruise. We ended up doing our show a day early because the juggler that was supposed to go on Sunday night had a black also happened to be the same night as the Playoff games...hmmm. So we did our show on Sunday night.....both shows were well attended but surprisingly the late show was busier than the first show. Usually on these nine day cruises everything tends to be slanted towards earlier but this cruise had a healthy late night crowd.

We went snorkeling in Roseau, Dominica. Michael found this great little pier near the town center. So we walked there from our ship, about a mile walk and then we had a Ginger Shandy. What's a ginger shandy, you say? Well, it's gingerale mixed with beer and it's really refreshing and delicious. I made a poor choice in foot wear. I was wearing my teva's which are great in the water but terrible to walk in. I had blister all over the balls of each of my feet. Somehow, through great strength and self-discipline, I managed to climb into the water from the pier. At first we were just going to float around a bit but then Michael put on his snorkel and after about two seconds he popped up and said, "You're going to want to see this!" So we got ours on and took a peek. Underneath the pier there were hundreds of fish, they were all swirling around this big rock. They were all silvery and very pretty. All in all we saw a black angelfish with yellow fins (Larrance), a foot long cigar fish (Jen), and an orange pufferfish (Michael and Jen). The pufferfish looked like a cantaloupe with bug eyes. We also saw some very pretty little blue fish and some other the biggest spiny urchin I've ever seen. The snorkeling was great.

As we were swimming about, a whale watching ship came in so we had to get out of the way. At first the whale watching guide stood on the pier and just stared at us, we thought he might be mad that we were there. So I did what anyone would do and said, "Hello, I'm crew on the Norweigian Pearl." He brightened up at this and proceed to give me a crash history lesson on Dominica. He also told me that next time I come back I need to swim out to this old rock (I'd seen it but not gone over there) because there was an old ship wreck over there. Then I picked his brain for whale info - good times to go, what I could expect to see. I told him about the humpback whales traveling through Maine. Then it was time to go....

In Barbados, we went to the Mount Gay Rum distillery. Michael mentioned we were crew and they let us in for free! We tried some lovely rum concoctions and then we took the tour. The tour was quick but very informative and at the end they let us try four of their rums. Then we wandered around Barbados and found another hot sauce to add to our growing collection. We also talked with another local gent who told us where to go for good Barbadian (?) food - Mauther's or the fast food place Chefette's - he also answered all my questions about the Barbadian foods I was looking at....they have ginger syrup - good in water or beer, they have marby syrup - good in water, a little bitter but good for you, some syrup I can't remember the name of that he said was better than maple syrup on pancakes (keep dreaming!), and then we talked about carambola. Carambola is a squash and it's a major ingredient in the hot sauce we bought plus it was also in a candy. I guess it's a hot-sweet item. He also chatted us about cricket which is the national sport of Barbados. I think I want to go to a cricket match, I've never been and it might be fun.

In St. Lucia, I didn't get off the ship. Instead I read my book and watched a movie. Larrance went out and he managed to procure the long sought after LLB. LLB stands for Lemon Lime and Bitters and its made by Angostura. We had it with lunch and it was delicious. I think I like Ting better but LLB is pretty good. We had our improv show that night - they went very well. Surprisingly the early show was lightly attended while the late show was packed.

In Antigua, we wandered around a bit. I found my hair braiding "friend" who yelled at me to get my hair braided until I identified myself. Then we traded hello's and I told her I would see her in two weeks. She asked if I would have my hair braided and I said can't blame her....she has to ask....she's like a fox in a hen house...can you ask the fox not to nip at the hens? No, you can't. She was actually very friendly and seemed flattered that I'd been looking for her to say hello. Who knows? Maybe she'll really come to respect my no braiding policy.
Later in the day we tried some local pumpkin soup and some conch fritters. The pumpkin soup is on the "to do again" list and whereas the conch fritters are on the "done with that" list.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We've decided to make the next nine day cruise an all snorkeling time.

This week our friends and colleagues from Chicago Comedy Company will be on board for the five days to Cozumel and Belize. We hope to get some snorkeling in and Larrance hopes to finish the 3rd movement of his String Quartet.

~Jen & Larrance

Friday, January 19, 2007

Food, Mail and 30 SPF

A Belizean Lizard....

We're in Miami today. Every Miami day, we got to our post office box hoping that our forwarded mail will be there. So far - NO MAIL! It's driving us crazy. The Ellsworth post office claims they've forwarded our mail but its either lost or stuck in some hellh hole. We know we can get mail because we've gotten other stuff....please pray for our mail.

Also I received many e-mails and comments about the level of my tanness/redness. I have to say that photo is not indictive of what I look like. I mean I'm a little tan but I wear my 30 spf everyday! Here's another photo that shows I'm not so red..

I didn't proofread this next installment so forgive my typos or grammar flubs.

What Are You Eating?

I haven't really talked about food. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm frequently concerned with what I'm going to eat. This isn't because I like to eat a lot but because my stomach gets pretty easily upset so I need to know that there's going to be stuff I can consume. Okay, maybe I like to eat too or I should say I like to eat well. So far, so good.

On the ship, we mostly eat at the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe (GC) is your basic buffet style restaurant. They have a good breakfast and a pretty good dinner. We eat there a lot because it's convenient and free.

There are 13 restaurants on board - GC, The Blue Lagoon, Mambo's, Summer Palace, Indigo, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Cagney's, Lotus Garden, Shabu Shabu, Sushi, and Teppanyaki. The first six are all free and the last six have cover charges ranging from 12.50 to 20 buck.

We've been to six of the restaurants. Here are my views on the restaurants:

GC: Covered it above. This place is like my kitchen on board. Anytime I'm hungry during the day, I hit the GC. They also have a cappucino machine which is great.

Blue Lagoon: This is a 24 hour place. We mostly go here after shows. They give you very small plates - like a snack - so it's perfect when you want to eat something but you don't want to get a whole dinner. I recommend the wonton soup, the fried rice and the fish & chips.

Mambo's: By far my favorite, they serve mexican food. The faijtas are delicious.

Summer Palace: This is a very pretty restaurant. It's on the deck 7 aft and it has two story windows that look out the back of the ship. The decor is all Russian Tsar's palace. Very pretty and the food is good. They always have a dessert souffle....they are terrible and by that I mean wonderful! Last week I had a Grand Marnier souffle with chocolate sauce.

La Cucina: Italian. Not my favorite but very nice. It's located on deck 12 aft and it have nice views out the side windows....

Lotus Garden: Asian fusion. Great! Really great. This is a pay place but it's worth it.

Sushi: There's a charge for sushi but again it's worth it. They have this incredible roll - sweet shrimp, avocado, mango and carmelized cashews - wow! It's so good. Sometimes when you're there the sushi chef will give you little tastes of other rolls but basically its an all you can eat sushi place. I wish I could eat more. Come on, stomach!

I'm looking forward to trying Shabu Shabu, Mongolian Hot Pot, and Le Bistro, French food. There's a real renoir in Le Bistro (there's also a real Van Gogh behind the reception desk in the Crystal Atrium)

For me, eating is an easy and basic way to partake of a culture. So we've tried a few local dishes as we've traveled these exotic lands. But today we had a special experience....

We were in Cozumel today. One of the crew members, Ana PanĂ­c, with whom we've become friendly recommended that we try Dracula International. Dracula is a Romanian restaurant. It's off the beaten path a bit....I think we're in someone house. It was kind of like being at a Romanian BBQ. We entered and we were in the living. There were bedrooms on either side of the living room. No one greeted us and in fact several people stared at us. Undaunted, we walked through the "living room" and went to the backyard. There were several tables there. Many of them were filled with Romanians but there was one empty one so we took it. On this adventure was: Andel, Michael, Larrance and myself. We found out that the drinks were self service. You could have whatever was in the cooler. This included sodas, water and lemonade but it also included beer, malted beverages and large bottles of tequila. After a little bit we got some plates and stuff then the first course arrived. There was no menu- it was prix fix - so the first course was this eggplant dish (sort of like babaganoush) and a potato carrot salad that had chicken in it. This was all served with rolls.

After that he brought a selection of grilled meats and a really good soup.....all around us were Romanians drinking huge bottles of tequila and getting quite drunk. We weren't able to take advantage of the huge bottles of tequila because we had a tech and two shows. The whole thing - drinks included - cost $20.

After we left the restaurant, we decided to walk back to the ship. We were about five blocks from the main road. As we were walking, a young guy stopped us to ask if we were lost. We told him we were most definitely not lost. I guess they don't see many tourists back that way.

It was great. So next time you're in Cozumel, go snorkeling and then go get Romanian food.

~ Jen

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Nine Day Cruise in Time....

No one any time because everyone is so slow on a cruise ship! The average age for this cruise was 55 - I found this hard to believe because everyone acted like they were 96. Seriously, slow and confused. Ah well, what do I have to do? Not much!

On this cruise we go to Roseau(Dominica), Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Tortola.

So we did our shows on the Barbados and the St. Lucia days. The shows went well but we did have one bit of controversy this week. We had a scene in our show called BVM. BVM stands for Blessed Virgin Mary. Basically the scene is a spoof on Joseph and Mary going to a marriage counselor to talk about their marital troubles. During the scene, they cover the birth of their child and talk about his parentage.

Many people (including a Catholic priest) love the scene and find it reminiscent of classic comedy routines (ala Bob Newhart making a reservation for the Last Supper) but some of our other passengers were...ah....pissed about the scene. This was ironic because not only was our show very successful--BVM was a particular hit on this cruise.

The few that were offended were upset enough to complain to the front desk and one of them was so upset they wrote a letter. In the letter, they complained about us and then said that the female (not males, mind you) should wear more clothes. So NCL went to Second City and asked that the sketch be switched so we're switching it this week.

I'm surprised but not that upset. I mean, I like the scene but doing it each week and wondering who we were going to piss off and then be trapped with them on a ship was not my idea of a great time. I have to say that we did do a great job on the scene and if everyone would relax it could be a fun scene. I think it's funny that a priest loved it but these people are upset. What gives?

Roseau, Dominica (not to be confused with Dominican Republic)
Roseau was very nice. We went to a historical museum and then we hit the public tin roof market and then we wandered the town. The tin roof market has been on the same spot for the last 300 years. Roseau was friendly but I guess the real beautiful stuff is outside of the town so we'll have to visit all that next time. We enjoyed our time there even though it was as hot as a griddle or a lava pot or something else really hot. While we were there we climbed up to the church, this started a whole series of going to churches in each of the places we visited.

We went to Bridgetown on Barbados. Barbados was fun. It's a great mix of a beautiful city, a bustling business center and a beachy resort. We wandered around and went to the Catholic Cathedral. The church was very old and solemn and on that particular day there was an organist practicing. It was great to hear the organist play in the huge old church.

Surrounding the church was a very old graveyard...most of the graves were above ground. After that we went to the harbor, the harbor was pretty. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a run-in with a street vendor. We stopped to look at a street side shop - they usually have knick-knacks and jewelry. Frankly, there was nothing I wanted and I was really just waiting for the others to finish looking.

Well one of the ladies working this shop took it into her mind to sell me she began showing me things. Bringing them to me and demanding that I hold them. I held onto one or two things and then put them down. She then held out a bracelet she wanted me try on and I said "Oh, no thanks. I'm not interested."

At that point, she just went off on me. Basically she said that I was scared of black people and that I was kicking her with my shoes and that if I fell on the ground she would call an ambulance and I would get the best care--but no I have to be afraid. I was to say the least, shocked. So I apologized to her and turned away. A few minutes later she walked back over to me and said I looked thirsty. I said I was and she asked me to join her at a bar where it was cheap and "you and your friends will have a good time." Needless to say we did not join her. This took the wind out of my sails but I'm looking forward to going back to Barbados and not getting yelled at.

St. Lucia
The town in St. Lucia is Castries and not much to look at. It's interesting but fairly run down. We visited both the Catholic and the Anglican church. The Catholic church was...and I don't use the word very had a beautiful painted ceiling and some great modern stained glass windows and some older ones. It was lovely. The Anglican church wasn't open but it was up on a big hill and it had pretty gardens around it. We wandered around several of the neighborhoods and while the people were friendly the stray dogs were terrifying. They weren't agressive at all but they are diseased.

While we were there we also visited their tin roof market, it's huge. We looked around a bit and found an unusual mask store. The guy who owns it makes most of the masks and he explained much of their symbolism. They were pretty cool. I bought a switch can flip her both ways and she's a doll upside or downside....does that make sense? She's cute.

Antigua is fun. St. John's is the capital and is a very pretty and friendly town.

Down in the Bahamas and the Carribean, hair braiding is a big thing. Many of the women on board the ship, have their hair braided by day 2. Frankly, it looks awful. They either get the Bo Derek doo or they just have a couple of braids put in on the side. Ugh. Well, in Barbados near the dock, I attracted the attention of one of these hair braiders. We were passing one another and she pointed at me and said, "You're going to get your hair braided." And I said "No, I'm not." And she said, "No, you don't understand. You need to get the island into you." And I said, "Not today, no thanks."

So we went and walked around a bit and then we saw her later and she said, "Hey, are you going to get it braided now!" I declined again.
After that we went to the bank and exchanged U.S. money for the E.C.D. Easter Carribean Dollar and then we went to lunch. We tried a local soda called Ting. It's a Carribean Grapefruit soda and it's delicious. We also had some great pizza there - it was like real pizza - yum. Then we wandered around and found the Yoda Guy store. The store is owned by the guy who was an artist for the Star Wars films and was responsible for creating Yoda. He sells paintings and Star Wars memorabilia.

After that Larrance went back to the ship and I decided to wander around the duty free shopping area right by the ship. There were a couple of great galleries there and a cute little wine shop.

On this trip, a lot of what we were doing is recon for our future visits. I also spotted a smoothie bar that looked pretty good. While I was doing this, my braiding friend spotted me and yelled out to me that it was time to come and get my hair braided. I shouted back that I didn't want to do it today and cut through the mall. I stopped to take a photo of the ship and who should appear in front of me but the braiding lady. She explained to me that she really just wanted me to be a part of the island (funny though since her hair wasn't braided at all).

I told her that she really seemed to have it in for me which made her laugh and I felt like we could talk. I explained that I didn't want braided hair and she explained that she wanted me to have braided hair. Maybe we can't talk after all....I told her I would think about it and that if anyone was going to braid my hair it would be her just for sheer tenacity. She liked this and bid me farewell.

I went back to the ship and did one of my favorite things. I went to the gym as the ship leaves's cool to watch the island float by.

The last stop was Tortola. This was our second time in Tortola and I really like it there. Not only do they have chickens with babies and roosters hanging out they also have a cool laid back friendly attitude but not so friendly that you feel weird. The town is very pretty.

Unfortunately, we only have a few hours there since it's a short stop. We also got up late so we had even less time. We walked around and found a great spot to get hot sauce and a bakery. All in all a good day....I also took a bunch of photos of Roosters & Hens.

Today was a sea day. I'm looking forward to getting rid of some of these passengers...especially the ones that complain...which is a lot of them. Boo. Both last night and today, the seas were very rough. The boat was a tossing and a rockin'.

Our cruise director, Matt, is also leaving. So we'll have a new cruise director as of tomorrow. I hope we like him. More on that later...


Photo Time Part Deux

Roseau Market Place - the fountain (the red thing) was installed in 1824

The Church.

A very neat looking palm tree infront of the church

Just off the ship in Roseau

A footbridge in Barbados near the harbor

The church organ, Barbados again

On the way back to our ship in Barbados...the ship here is another ship...I think it's Holland America

Uh, that's us.

St. John's in Antigua

A sculpture of the Father of Antigua

A rainbow during one of the many rainstorms we went through on the open sea

A Friggate bird I managed to catch in mid-flight from the top deck of the ship

Friday, January 5, 2007

Miami Day

So today we're in Miami running errands...Larrance is off at the post office, walgreens and bank of america and I'm sitting in the lobby of a hotel posting photos!

I didn't understand how the blog site organized photos (now I do!) so they're not in chronological order but they are labeled. I'll try to post more photos in a couple of weeks. I still need to get more photos of the ship and of course we'll be taking photos in the various ports we go to.

This week we're off on our first nine day cruise. We're going to Rosseau, Barbados, Antigua, Tortola, St. Lucia and I think somewhere else. After that we do a five day to Belize & Cozumel....and we'll alternate between these two runs.

We start our nine day with two days at sea. Pray for us that we don't go stir crazy. I also hope that this load of passengers is a little less weird than our last load. The last load was loud and rude and they all went to bed by 10pm so our late shows we're a little slow. In fact, all of the shows were lightly attended.

On New Year's Eve, I completed my resolution not to eat french fries or potato chips for a year. I had my first taste of french fries just two days ago. Frankly, I don't think I missed much....or at least that's how I feel about the ship's fries. This year I've resolved to only eat dessert 4 times a week and that mixed drinks count as dessert. I've already started that - I've had two desserts this week - so I have two left to go. The two I had were incredible - chocolate souffle with irish cream sauce and a cashew brownie with green tea ice cream.

Larrance has been finding time to compose a bit of music and he's been getting to play the grand piano in the Stardust theater when it's empty.

Hope you're all doing well. We'll write again soonl.

Random Photos

The Ship!

Rainbow over Tortola

Leaving Tortola

The Hat Series

On New Year's Eve, they were giving out noise makers, streamers and goofy hats. I was very amused by these hats but Larrance was not. I made him try all of them I present the Hat Series!

New Year's Eve!!!

New Year's Eve Self-Portrait

Fellow castmate, Andel & I

I think this says it all...they covered the hot tub and turned it into Champagne central.

Now Santo Tomas

The port of Santo Tomas...or the gulag where they hold the cruise ships or hold out the citizens of Guatemala.

A view of the building where they sold stuff...notice the razor wire....

These people paid a dollar to come in and look at the ship and to wave good-bye to us as we left. The good-bye was kind of lovely - they played music and danced. Santo Tomas wants to have more cruise ships come to visit. Right now they get one a week but they're hoping for two a week.

The view from aft just before we left port.

Costa Maya & Santo Tomas Photos

The bar swing with me swinging on it!

Andy, my friend from Gay Co and CCC and now the ship, on Costa Maya

Me on Costa Maya! Look at my sun hat!

Pez Quadro again....

Pez Quadro...have the guacamole and the rum and cokes if you go..

This is the first thing that greeted us when we got off the ship...

This is where we spent the day...check out the bar swings!