Thursday, March 31, 2005
Location: Sea-faring throughout the British West Indies...
Ahoy, ahoy! Welcome to yet another adventure on the high seas, this time courtesy of Holland America Line. While not my first time cruising, it is my virginal experience with HAL (perhaps the only virginal thing left about me) and so far, it’s been entertaining.... Both in in a good and seriously ‘it’s so bad, it’s good’ way. Let me expunge:
Day One~ Tampa... Checking into any ship is a pain-in-the-keyster and this was no exception. The ship was over 5 hours late getting back into port from the last cruise due to fog, so the scene at the dock for arriving & departing passengers was not pretty. Instead of smiles and water, HAL employees should have been giving out Paxil and a shot of that cheapo rum they sell in their onboard duty free shop. Hope springs eternal, eh? :)
Once on the ship, things smoothed out and we ventured out to meet with our then unknown fellow dining room ‘tablers.’ Luckily, they turned out to be pretty hip ol’ gals and some who shared my distain for small, loud children. We made plans to find the most unruly on the ship and beat them later. If I remember correctly, we said something to the extent of let’s ‘hang them over the verandah and use them as chum.’ Good times indeed. The meals in the formal dining room were consistant, well-served and had a good range of taste. Before I start taking myself seriously and turn into a Times food critic, I’ll just say that it was some of the better cruise ship cuisine I’ve had.
The ship itself was a smaller one: Definitely not of the ‘megaship’ variety. Specifically, this was the HAL Veendam (debut circa 1997) and can hold maxed out about 1200 guests. I’d say the ship was only 75-80% full. Typical age of a cruiser on this iten seemed to be 50 years old and the ‘dam’ jokes (in reference to the ship name) were abundant and got old about an hour into the cruise.
Day Two~ A day at sea. I spent the day checking out the ship, getting aquainted with the gym (and the rather hot brit-boy, Andy, running it) and generally watching people get fatter by the second. The sheer amount of food on this floating city is AMAZING. I’m always bowled over by how much they serve, the orgasmic portions they produce and how all of this is done without the use of an open flame.
I bet’cha didn’t know that ;)
All cruise ships leaving from a US port are regulated to NOT use an open flame in cooking or anywhere on the ship. Everything you eat has either been pre-seared or artificially flavored to give it that authentic taste. I found it pretty... Uh.... Interesting. Sort of makes you want to bring your own can of Sterno and ‘Emerilize’ dinner back in your stateroom. BAM!
The entertainment on the ship was FRIGHTENING. It was so bad that it went from craptastic back to camp-quality, wholesome goodness. I had an absolute ball watching these kids completely rip apart every single song they sang & danced to: It was the annihilation of the American Musical... Live and right in front of me. Somewhere in the show (after the tribute to Cinderella I think), I would swear I heard the sound of Lerner & Lowe turning over in their graves. It could have just been the tech guy forgetting to turn off a performer’s mic. Who knows.
One of the lead male singers closely resembled Donny Osmond, which in turn reminded me of Marie Osmond, which in turn reminded me of her recent (hideous) face-lift, which overall spoiled that portion of the show for me. She’s a little bit of country my ass...
I know that critiquing cruise ship performers is silly, especially when they’re pandering to a trapped audience, but I’ve seen some outstanding performances on ships over time and this was simply the bane of my entertainment existence. I did, however, pick out a nicely built male dancer in the shows and just keep my eye on his rather nicely muscled (and exposed) arms.
See, I’m not that negative... Always something there to be positive about.
Towards the third night, I was severely hoping for an impromptu performance of ‘Naked Boys Singing,’ sans ‘Donny’ of course. He needed to drop a few pounds and realize that spandex is a privilege, not a right.
Other entertainment included a husband & wife magic act called ‘DV8' from Vegas (her breast implants were the real show), a rather young ‘crooner’ direct from the Broadway company of Hairspray and an overly clean comic who probably would have been drop-dead-funny with a few shots of Quervo in him. I’m a magic fan, so DV8 was definitely fun. I’m all for an old-school lounge act as well, especially as it was sung well, so that was shagadelic too.
Day Three~ Grand Cayman, Georgetown. It was interesting to see the changes the island went through before and after the hurricane last December. I had spent almost 2 weeks down there last year to scuba and was jazzed about getting back.
*sings* What a difference a day makes...
The island is barren. Very little vegetation has grown back. Most of downtown Georgetown is back up and running, but the rest of the island is incredibly devastated. For those familiar with the island, Rum Point and everything to it is pretty much wasteland. Very sad. I had enough time down there last time to really enjoy the locals, so it worries me how (and if) they will survive. Cayman is such an incredibly beautiful spot and it’s a real shame that they had to deal with something this bad. Luckily, the water is still crystal clear, the weather perfect and the beaches not-too-eroded from the weather issues. If you haven’t been down, it’s a hop-skip-and-jump from Miami and is a real gem if you’re a scuba-nerd like me :)
Oh yea, got some rum cake in the Cayman too. WHOOHOO!
So I get back to my cabin and something dawns on me: My toilet is not working. Not that it would have been that much of an issue, but after some searching, I realized that NO toilets in the vicinity of my room were working. This was definitely an ‘oh crap’ moment... Literally and figuratively. Seems some lovely little tyke decided to throw mommy’s panties in the vacuum-based toilet system and backed up 90% of the ships facilities. This lasted for, say, 12 hours in our room alone and from what it looks like, some never got totally fixed. Luckily, the RR in the gym worked swimmingly and I easily slipped past the velvet rope for access to the stalls. Crisis averted.
Day Four~ Montego Bay, Jamaica. If I hear ‘No Problem’ one more time, I think I’m going to take a brick of that amazing Jamacian coffee and beat someone about the head & shoulders with it. The town’s shopping is pretty much ‘tourist-to-the-extreme’ and very much a hard sell situation, so if you’re looking for deals, I recommend hiring a private driver or going with a ship-endorsed excursion. Going alone will test not only your willpower, but your wallet as well. An interesting sidenote: As we were dropped off at the market, there’s this random little Chinese resturaunt just stuck in there. I was expecting some authentic Jamaican specialities, but instead got sweet & sour pork. LOL. Gotta love the randomness of life. Made me smile.
Am I the only one who thinks most Cruise Directors are actually horribly depressed people due to the fact that they have to spend every waking moment smiling for passengers? On the Veendam, our CD’s name was Steven. His monthly bill for Botox must be astronomical in order to keep that frozen car salesman-like smile on his face. Everytime he got up onstage to address the crowd, I didn’t know whether he was going to introduce the entertainment or try to sell us a car paintjob, Earl Shieb-style. His personality mix of a Village of the Damned child and Charlie McCarthy simply frightened me. NO ONE can be this excited about bingo... No one.
The 'crooner' on the fourth night of the cruise started out with good intentions, but soon began to butcher artists like Elton John, Bobby Darin and *gasp* ...Simon and Garfunkel. Sacrelig. Plain and simple. Unfortunately, the snipers never came.
Okay, okay: So I’m being a little negative, but honestly it’s all in good fun and overall the ship was enjoyable and created MANY awesome memories for me. I met some pretty cool ladies at my table and came to the ultimate conclusion that the elderly shouldn't be sequestered or have their drivers licenses taken away.
Off the 'cruise' topic, i did hear a bit of Las Vegas gossip that might perk someone's ear: Seems that the new company of Hairspray at the Luxor (debuting this fall) is having an issue finding an 'Edna' to drag up Sin City's new musical extravaganza. Bruce Villanch is still heading up the Broadway company, while John Pinette is knocking em' dead on the tour. Top-secret names being thrown around have included John Travolta, Harvey Firestien and... believe it or not... Wayne Newton! Seems that Newton is soon closing up show-shop and is looking for something to revitalize his image. Interesting. Call me crazy, but i can actually see him as quite a good Edna.
Big congrats to Vegas's own (and mi HustlaBall amiga) Frank Marino for walking the red carpet in quinessential style for the premier of 'Miss Congeneality 2' in LA. Currently performing in Vegas with his longtime show 'La Cage' at the Riviera, Marino had some great screentime in the sequel and seemed quite chummy with Bullock. Also: Another big pat-on-the-back to Marino for recieving his SECOND star on the Vegas Walk of Fame recently. If anyone reading hasn't had a chance to check out his show at the Riv, i can personally say it's a real deal and the entertainment is fantastic. Lots of hard-working 'gals' up there.
Steve Wynn is putting the finishing touches on his new $3 billion resort: He says it's a 'gift for his wife' and will romantically also open it on her birthday, April 28th. Look for the largest standard room in Vegas (1100 sq ft), Broadway's 'Avenue Q' musical, a Ferrari/Maserati dealership and Cirque's newest show 'Le Reve.' Directly after the first resort opens, Wynn will break ground of 'Encore,' a totally seperate hotel property. The $100 million theatre for 'Le Reve' look to soon hold quite an impressive show: The 2,000-seat room will be shaped like a globe with the audience sitting in sections that will have water flowing above, below, around and through them. As opposed to a traditional stage, the performance will occur throughout the room, immersing the audience in the action, which the designers guarantee will be no farther than 40 feet from any seat. There’s no exact word yet on what the show is going to be, although rumors have abounded about a Cirque-style spectacle centering around a Himalayan boy who could fly. Whatever it is, the show and the showroom are expected to open with the hotel in the beginning months of operation.
Rates for both Wynn Resort and Encore will easily top $400 a night. Yeowzea! For that kind of cash, i'd rather shack up in a suite at Bellagio. That being said, i am curious to see how Wynn created a resort at double the price of Bellagio, but half-in-size overall. Solid gold toilets perhaps? A Celine Dion dart board on the door? An automatic Eros lube dispenser by each bed? Maybe it's all too much to ask for...
Ah: One can dream, can't he? :)
Speaking of Cirque Du Soleil: On this past cruise, as the ship was pulling out of port at Jamaica, i had my iPod going. The sun was beginning to set and this particular piece of music randomly began to play through the earphones. Click HERE for a sample of it. It's the last song in 'O' and it's absolutely beautiful in both composition and cadence. It set the moment off perfectly. There are some moments in life that i will remember forever... This was one of those times.
Here's another something i'll remember for awhile:
A very recent pic of perfection, aka Ryan Phillipe. Damn... He still looks as good as ever and possibly better now that he's filled out and really grown into a man. I hope Reese Witherspoon gets laid like cement on a regular basis, as wasting such a fine male specimen like Phillipe would simply be a disgrace. Added, that whole 'b-boy' look he's got going really seems to work well on him. I'd fancy a shag... Pronto :)
Those looking for snapshots of yours truly & the HAL cruise can click 'Benjamin's InfoGroup' on the menu to the left or simply click HERE to link over. Joining the group is FREE and the quickest way to access many of my images, travel details and latest news. Over the next couple of days, i plan on posting images from the cruise on the groups site. Some are already up. Enjoy!
This week there's going to be a lack of EYE CANDY, as i'm writing this blog day-by-day from the cruise ship and don't have access to my image bank on my home machine. I apologize, as i know the EC is a big reason to hit the blog. I do, however, promise to post some scintilating images when i'm back in the states on Sunday afternoon. I'll probably just update this current blog with the images, so keep a lookout for the refresh around Sunday night. Still can't see the new images? I recommend emptying your cache and history on your machine by clicking on your menu above- going into TOOLS- then INTERNET OPTIONS- then DELETE FILES and COOKIES from TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES. I'd also recommend DELETING HISTORY as well. While i'm no web-guru, i do know this this seems to be the main problem in seeing the older version of updated webpages. Again, look for the EYE CANDY update on Sunday evening. Thank you and please drive through.
Took a fit ball class on the ship: KICKED MY ASS. My obliques still hurt. WHOOHOO!
Last week i mentioned the mysterious 'Mister Green' and am now recieving loads of emails from other working guys who share in my joy. Seems this guy hits some of the higher profile escorts out there and hilariously enough types 'Nice Juicy Pussy' to others. LMAO! So, it looks as if our beloved Mister Green is a hermaphrodite. Methinks this Green should get ahold of Jerry Springer pronto. I can see the show topic now: 'I love escorts... From both sides!' A Springer classic for sure.
A big WELCOME BACK to Las Vegas boytoy & escort-wunderkid Bobby Lane, who's not only a good pal of mine, but also hottie who's putting Sin City back on the 'scorting map. Vegas has hit the skids over the past year for solid, well-rounded escorts (ie, Stef LaCoste, VegasBoy Dave, Adam), so it's great to see Bobby back in action. If anyone's headed over yonder, make sure to take a glance at his reviews on M4M and give him a hoot & holler.
By the way, Costa Maya never happened as the last port, as some seriously choppy water didn't allow us to dock. Instead, we were supposed to be rerouted to Cozumel, but unfortunately other cruise ships who'd be turned away at Costa Maya had the same idea. The port in Cozumel was full up, plus one. Argh. So, we spent another day at sea.
Caught a showing of 'Ray' on the ship and found the movie much better the second time around: While i still didn't think that Foxx deserved the Oscar, i did think the supporting cast was fantastic. Worked out as usual. Dinner brought the prodigal 'Baked Alaskan' chorus line with just enough kitsch to make it a real crowd pleaser. Entertainment for that night was a '50s-style revue. Only on a cruise ship can you find a tone-deaf white girl singing 'Diana Ross & The Supremes' songs. It made me smile and cringe, all at the same time. Now that's entertainment ;)
As promised, here's this week's EYE CANDY, fresh off the boat and looking for work. As a bonus for those with faster computers, i've thrown in some animated GIF images to wet yer whistle. Just know that all the EC images you see have been pre-approved and pre-wanked to by yours truly: I only want the best for my readers ;)
Here's wishing everyone a happy belated Easter as well! I spent last Sunday hunting for Easter eggs around the onboard buffet.
'You can't stop the beat'BN