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FIERCE ANTICIPATION: Going to the Boat Show


a guest blogumn by Michael Gutenplan


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan Dixon is in the midst of revamping and rethinking his blogumn and will be back in a few weeks. Til then we’ll have a series of guest bloggers. Please give them tons of love!]


The Cruise!

michaelcruiseA few months ago a friend of mine had the idea to get a group of guys together and go on a cruise to Mexico for seven days. After a moments thought I sent in my deposit and started preparing.  I don’t know about you but I like to do some research and prep work before I go somewhere, so before I set sail I made some calls and checked out some websites.  

I was a bit nervous about a few things, mostly the amount of food onboard and the boredom factor, i.e. will my only options for entertainment be bingo and playing bridge with some old ladies — though, mind you, both options are actually very appealing to me!

My first destination was, an all-powerful website that has user-based answers for any and every question about cruising.  We were going on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas ship and had a ton of information including ship plans, things to do and past reviews of the exact itinerary I was about to take.  It seems that in a world where everyone has a complaint about something, most of the reviews were positive and actually glowing.  With most of my questions answered from the website I made a quick call to Royal Caribbean directly to get the rest of my questions answered.  Here is what I learned from my conversation with Royal Caribbean… they do this every week and I shouldn’t worry about a thing.  I was a bit scared that everything seemed so perfect but I went with the flow and with my passport in hand and with way too much excitement I set sail for the Mexican Riviera!


michaelcruise2I am a complainer most of the time.  I always find something not right and let my voice be heard.  I can honestly say that there was not one thing to complain about on this cruise!  Sure the food wasn’t gourmet (I would use the term “very good diner food”), the entertainment was hokey and the beds were small but I was prepared for that. Other than that, I have never experienced the level of service and attention to detail that I saw on this boat.  Every crew member seemed to make it his or her job to make my vacation perfect… and it was.  The most impressive group of staff members was the dining room staff.  Our Head Waiter, Orhan Yenice (who looked exactly like Rick from Casablanca); Waiter, Pelly Pereira; and Assistant Waiter, Naik Krishna,  were beyond amazing.  Sure, I buttered them up every night with a few magic tricks but they took care of my every wish and desire and never let me leave hungry or unsatisfied.  With this team of servers I felt like a king… and it seems that every other cruiser on that ship felt the same way!

I also got to sit in the captain's chair!

I also got to sit in the captain's chair!

Now, I’m going to be honest. I like getting something a little extra special wherever I go.  Sometimes I go to the ice cream parlor and take just one extra sample or sneak a grape at the supermarket and this cruise was no exception.  I had made Royal Caribbean aware that I am going to be writing a few articles about my cruise trip (I have another article for a different website in the works), and the fruit plate upon departure was a nice touch but that wasn’t what sealed the deal. A private tour of the kitchen was nice and indeed special but I wanted something a little bigger – something that only a few select people ever get to experience.

Just like on the Love Boat, every ship has a Captain’s Table, a special table in the dining room where the famous and VIPs get to dine with the captain over fine wine and extra special food.  Our ships table was in the center of the amazingly stunning three-story tall dining room and was to be used twice on our cruise.  From the moment I got on the ship I started my planning.  I let a few select people know that I write travel articles and the second, and most important part of my plan was that every night I performed a magic show for the waitstaff in the dining room.  After everyone was done eating I would do card tricks, bend silverware with my mind and steal watches on a nightly basis, making sure that every member of the dining room staff knew who I was… and by the time I asked to be invited to the Captain’s Table I had the entire staff eating out of my hand!  So ladies and gentlemen… I got my wish. I sat at the Captains table and it was GREAT.  I was served fine wine, lobster and steak along with great company and nautical conversation (Of course I had prepared a few nautical trivia questions for the captain.)


So there you have it.  An amazing vacation.  A truly amazing vacation. I was relaxed, pampered and had the time of my life.  Yes, there were down parts.  The weather in Los Angeles created terribly rough seas that had the boat rocking back and forth. (don’t come-a-knocking) and the ports weren’t the most exciting, but it was a blast.  I played shuffleboard, bingo and took a nightly dip in the hot tub.  I had girly frozen drinks and grazed the buffet every night.  I did Karaoke with a live band, got a massage, hit the casino and even went to an art auction (I didn’t buy anything, but did win a bottle of champagne). I never expected to be an advocate for the cruise industry but I have to say that you cannot beat the value for your cost.  I have already started looking at other cruises and can’t wait to head out again.  I will leave you with a few bits of wisdom about cruising:

–    Go with a group of about ten people.
–    Get a room with a balcony.
–    Turn your phone off and don’t check your email.  
–    Bring pants with an expandable waistline.
–    Per the above statement- don’t overeat!
–    Learn a few magic tricks and bar tricks.
–    Make friends with the dining room staff, cruise staff and bartenders.
–    Find a drunk woman in the casino to give you money to gamble and let you keep what you win (if you would like to know more about this story I’m more than happy to tell, but I think it’s best kept off the internet!)