SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2009
The Giddy Mystery Cruise – Day Three – Departure For Us and The New York Giants
The day had finally arrived – we’re about to actually embark on board a ship the size of a small city and sail around the eastern Caribbean. We pack up, down some more cold fake eggs at the buffet and jump on the shuttle to the pier. Once there we finally come in view of the Celebrity Solstice, the newest floating tribute to excess from Celebrity Cruises! The friggin ship is so big it pretty much blocked out the sun.So we leave the bags with a porter and we head inside to what I guess is more or less the staging area. We follow the arrows into a huge room with rows and rows of seats. And pretty much every one of those seats is filled with a glimpse into our future. No, not the pending week, but more like 40 years into the future. I swear we walked into a casting call for Cocoon 2. Most every passenger was a Senior Citizen. We began to wonder who was going to be joining us closing down the bars, figuring the majority of the Geritol set would be looking to get to bed most nights by half past Matlock.
We’d gotten there early as we were in the Aqua Class (isn’t everyone on a cruise really in aqua class?) and this enabled us to enjoy an expedited entry onto the vessel. Good thing too as the Giants were about to play the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs and kickoff was scheduled for 1pm. It’s about 11am and we figure we have plenty of time to get on and see the game. There are lots of staffers but only one with a microphone – being in radio forever, I know that the one with the microphone is always in charge – so we pay attention to what she has to say. What she says though indicates that they’ll be ready to let us board the ship by 1:30pm. This won’t work – the game starts at 1pm. You could see a few other Giants fans getting a bit antsy in their seats.
We spent a few anxious moments waiting, but it wasn’t too much longer when they said they would be able to begin boarding early after all, and it wasn’t even noon. Life is good! The lady with the microphone (who now mysteriously could only be heard and not seen) came on and announced they were going to begin boarding and that they were going to start with the Suite and Aqua class passengers. That included us! So we got up from our seats and started heading, well….somewhere. Nobody really knew where to go. People on the left side of the room went to the right, those on the right of course went to the left. We went to the middle and there were several very confused looking staffers not having a clue where to send us. Oddly, most of the staff for Celebrity here in the holding area all resembled the sort of worker you might find at a voting center on Election Day, over 70 and willing to work for a nice donut and a Sanka.
One particular gentleman who closely resembled the actor who played Jerry’s Dad on Seinfeld seemed to have it in for us right away. He instructed us to go back and sit down.
Our retort was the lady on the microphone told us that they were about to check in the Aqua Class and allow us on board. Besides, the game was going to begin in less than an hour and the three of us all were wearing Giants jerseys. Should have at least indicated that even if we weren’t New Yorkers, we were at the very least from New Jersey, so it’s in everyone’s best interest not to fuck with us.
Suddenly to the far right, someone noticed a few panels being set aside and people from the Suite Class being allowed to enter into a new room the size of a Home Depot. We saw this as our opportunity to move and merge in with the crowd. Jerry’s Dad kept shouting something to the effect of “Sit Down” to us, but we kept moving with the small flow of people, passing by all those sad standard class passengers forced to wait in their chairs. Sometimes if you just look like you belong there, it’s easy to sneak into most anything. Our long and storied history has seen us crash many weddings and walk red carpets at porn industry award shows. It’s all about confidence, and simply looking like you belong.
Checking in was pretty simple, a few signatures and passport showings, we take some goofy photos, give some blood, hair and tissue samples, then we’re walking up the long carpeted gangplank until we enter the ship.
The Solstice is mighty impressive. You really have no idea you’re on a boat, it’s like you’re at a mall with lots of bars and restaurants, and when you’re out at sea – it’s sort of like you took a few too many cold pills and went to the mall, there’s still lots of brass, silver and old people, but you’re world is just sort of swaying too and fro all the time. There’s going to be plenty of time to notice and talk about all of the wonderful sites and amenities the boat has to offer, but our first order of business is simple – find the Giants game! Our staterooms won’t be ready for a while, and we’re really only supposed to be walking around the ship anyway. Finally, just as the game is about to start we find Celebrity Theater, a couple of cold beers and we sit down to watch the game.
The theater has a couple of hundred seats, and they’re starting to fill up quick. Giant’s fans seemed to easily out number Eagles fans by at least 5 to 1, so I’m thinking this is going to be fun. And it was! For about 10 minutes. Then Eli Manning throws a terrible interception that is returned to the Giants 2-yard line, and it just never got any better. It was probably right before halftime that an announcement was made that all of the staterooms are ready – so Chrissy and Miss Junior Giddy each went to check out the rooms, while I stayed behind and sulked over the Giants poor play thus far.
The second half was no better, and one by one the die hard Giants fans departed the theater to begin their vacation, figuring they had all week to get over the loss. I stayed there as long as I could when the ship turned off the announcers because it was time for the all-important “Mustard Drill”.
I’ve tried to determine exactly why it’s called a mustard drill. Basically it’s a procedure whereas all of the passengers put on their life vests and learn where the lifeboats are and what to do should by chance the ship hit an iceberg or a flock of seagulls and sinks. The drill at no time had anything to do with condiments or anything resembling relish. I had to race to our stateroom and grab my life preserver; I met Chrissy there as she was flirting with the nice two gentlemen in the room next to ours. Frustrated by the Giants pending loss, I sourly put on the life vest and we headed down six decks to the area where we were to get our instructions, the very large Solstice Theater. We took our seats, watched a trailer for the movie Titanic and then listened to Mary Poppins show us the proper way to strap on the life vests. Well, it wasn’t really Mary Poppins, but the girl had a British accent that was spot on for her. We immediately began singing to ourselves…
(Sung to the popular Disney tune “A Spoonful of Sugar)
“Just a twist to the vest strap while the big cruise ship goes down, the big cruise ship goes down, the big cruise ship goes down…better hope the lifeboat floats…”
We missed most of what the drill was saying due to apathy and a sudden interest in the complimentary hot towel we received but we did hear that in the event of an emergency our stateroom was in the group that was to report to Life Boat #1. Awesome, we’re number one – first one’s to safety! Suck on that Molly Brown!
For a few moments we thought we would have some fun and wear our life vests for most of the cruise. We did wear them all the way back to our room – just to be annoying, bumping into people as we walked along and blaming it on the poor line of vision the bulky jackets afforded us. Actually, they were most uncomfortable so we all agreed it would be a pretty stupid idea to wear them all of the time. We all make a mental note that sometimes it is actually a good thing to think things through just a bit.
One thing we did continue to wear however was our New York Giants jerseys. Yes, we were ridiculed unmercifully by Philadelphia Eagle fans throughout the boat (fuck ‘em since they lost the next week to the Cardinals. The Eagles got beaten by the Arizona Cardinals). We didn’t mind all that much though, they had a great run last year – this year, if Plaxico had just worn jeans to the club on that faithful night – perhaps things might have been different.
Being a member of Aqua Class – we were able to have all of our regular meals in one of the specialty restaurants – Blu. A great place with a menu featuring more “organic” and healthier meals. Plus it was stockpiled with a waiter, waiters assistant, several Maitre D’s, a wine guy, a bread guy and a guy who kept folding your napkin into your lap.
The food was great – however, none of us decided to eat the Quail – even though it came highly recommended by the waiter. I guess Quail probably doesn’t travel too well, and they wanted to get rid of as much if it on the first night as possible.
One of the things we learned was, that because this was our standard restaurant, and we had the same seating scheduled for each night we chose to go, we also had an assigned table. Number 806 to be exact. However, on this first night, there was a well dressed couple seated at table 806. Hmmm…this seemed to throw the Maitre De for a bit of a loop, we guessed that the assistant Maitre De had seated them there in error. So did they reassign the Giddy’s to a new location. Hell no. They moved those potential big tippers right out of the way and put us into the seats. Yup – Blu has lots of class!
After dinner we wonder around the ship a little more, then retire early as it’s been a long day. The stateroom is pretty nice with a balcony and comfortable bed. The light switches though did present a slight challenge. There are three main controls and you have to find just the right combination to get the nice reading light next to the bed to work while you’re in the bed, without the main room beams acting like a tanning bed. After a couple of hours it seemed, we managed to get it working right. Though, at the time I seriously doubted that I’d be able to remember how to do it the next night.