My Cruise - The Week of Labor Day, 1995

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale... (don't get discourage by the length, I saved the best stories for the end)

So, my red-eye leaves SF at 1AM and arrives uneventfully in Miami. Once there I meet my college buddies and the fun begins right there in the airport. John, decked out in his lovely leisure suit (complete with plaid jacket and wide tie) is in search of his lost luggage. Looks like he's going to be stuck in his leisure suit all week. John insists that I change into my leisure suit, which I dutifully do, stripping right there in the open in front of everyone. After sauntering around the airport with my lovely leisure suit (bright blue, Hawaiian-esque silk wide collared shirt, tight powder blue polyester pants, and a Brady Bunch (TM) style jacket, and reflective sunglasses alternating between my face and being hung on my open shirt a few buttons down) we finally find John's bags arriving on a later flight from Detroit. I run around the airport jumping off of chairs and luggage carousels.

We arrive at the ship. It is raining. Not a good start. We also haven't filled out the appropriate forms on our tickets. After a long amusing chat with the check-in lady we are sent to fill out our forms. We, of course, are already the life of the party, now having all changed into our leisure suits and being suitably loud and obnoxious. At this point, we have already been warned that hurricane Luis may cause us to change our scheduled itinerary.

We enter the ship and have our picture taken. We go back to the cabin and await our luggage. Mind you, John Coyle (whom we shall call "Bigger John" from now on. During the cruise I dubbed John and John "Big John" and "Little John" to avoid confusion but, not to be diminutive, decide to call them "Big John" and "Bigger John") and I each were smuggling large quantities of alcohol onto to the ship. Bigger John had 3 liters of wine, and I had 1.5 liters of Midori, 1.5 liters of Stoli, and about 1 liter of Sweet and Sour, which can only mean one thing - Green Apples (editors note: more S&S would have been nice... as would more vodka since that got drank apart from the Green Apples).

Well, my luggage doesn't show so everyone else changes into other clothes while I'm stuck in my leisure suit, and sans alcohol. We go up on deck to socialize and I immediately get grabbed by some young woman who is in a large group from Atlanta. She wants a picture with me. Later, a friend hands me her beer to hold which I graciously finish for her. The suit is working just swell. My buddies all want to go back and change.

At this point I think it's best to introduce the principals:
(*= standard description by me of our group members to our new acquaintances on the ship)

So, we're off and sailing. I am still without luggage and none to happy about it. My friends are none to happy about me complaining and threaten to punch me every time I mention my luggage. I get punched a lot. Eventually I discover my luggage on my own near one of the elevators and I unpack and make some Green Apples.

Dinner and the Bitches

This deserves a subheader it's so nice. We all show up in our leisure suits to dinner and sit down with some uptight Southerners whom we find out are from New Orleans. Right away they are not amused and ask "are you guys for real?" Of course, we're not going to try and chase away these cute young ladies (well, 3 of the four were cute), but we're also out to have a good time, and we're not going to turn down the fun TOO much just to please them. Nary 20 minutes into this it is clear that we've got no chance in hell of ever pleasing these ladies so I decide it's time to just turn it back up to normal (which is bad enough, but God forbid if we ever gave them full blast!). After I commented that New Orleans really isn't in "the South", they wanted to know what I defined as "the South". I responded "pretty much any state where it's legal to marry your cousin." Bam. Game over. The next night we were offered a bottle of wine by a group of guys to trade tables with them. We never ate dinner with these women again. However, they did provide ample entertainment later.

Gambling

A few words of advice on cruise ship casinos:

Gauss and the Big Pot

Most of my money was made on one hand. I'm sitting around and playing pretty tight, but loosening up as the week continued. I've got aces and 2's and feeling pretty good. The pot is building quite nicely and we're now down to 2 other players. $5 bets are coming from me and no one is really raising. No one looks to have much. As it turns out, I'm actually up against aces up from one guy (obviously higher than my 2's - fives I think it was) and a flush from the other guy. I've already got a pretty healthy stack in front of me and as we get to the last few cards, Bigger John has walked in to watch. He tells me I'm a parody of myself. I'm wearing white pants, a white shirt, and a black three-quarter sleeve jacket. Very cheesy. I then unbutton my shirt another button to add to the cheese. John looks at my cards and thinks they're pretty good. So, here comes the last card. I Gausstabate in the greatest fashion (editors note: Gausstabation is the act of taking two cards and sliding one up and the other down, with a third card behind them, slowly revealing the final unknown card. The is named after the immortal Russ "Gauss" Garber). Sure enough, I land the deuce for the full house and go from "worst to first" as Gauss would put it, never even knowing I was in last all along. I take home a monster hundred and change dollar pot. John is impressed. I'm done. Time to party some more. If I had just been out to make money, I think I could easily have payed for my trip just by gambling. Until the last night, I never left down from a session of poker, but there was so much else to do and I was on vacation, so I never played for very long. My other buddies didn't play poker or else it might have been a little different. Still, there was much fun to be had elsewhere. The only other downside of gambling was that I was playing cards with the father of one of the women I was hitting on. And he was none too happy when I was all in and he found out about the "table stakes" rule. Of course, I won the hand, which should have made him happy since the table stakes rule saved him money, but for some reason this didn't seem to make him feel any better :-)

Change of Itinerary

Sure enough, early in the morning our cruise director gets on the air and tells us that we've got a change of plans due to Luis. Not only is his English accent very annoying, but we went to sleep at 5 and we are tired and grumpy and hung over. Plus, every other word is "indeed." "Indeed, hurricane Luis is indeed heading toward Saint Maarten, indeed. And indeed, our captain..." We invent a new drinking game. Every time he says indeed, you must drink. We end up going to Jamaica, Grand Cayman (editors note: very expensive place), and Cozumel. We are happy with the change of plans and like these destinations better than the originals. We only hope that Luis beats us to Miami so we can be stuck at sea longer.

We have fun in all the ports. Since this report is already dragging on, I'll skip the extended port by port reports and just summarize.

Beer Smuggling

We decide we need more alcohol so we buy beer in Jamaica. Red Stripe. Good stuff. However, the only thing which exceeded being asked if we want any ganja during our walk was being asked for beer during our walk back to the boat with our beer. Every five feet someone would ask, including the road crews. We were perseverant and kept all our beer. We also walked the entire way because, somehow, the closer we got to the boat, the MORE they wanted to charge us for a ride. We stood fast. We get back to the boat and security won't let us bring the case on. They insist "no cases of beer." After fighting with the security guard for a while, I go to the purser and ask about the rules. He says "up to 5 liters of alcohol per person." I tell security. He doesn't budge. I go back to the purser and this time find out that we can bring on up to 5 liters, but they have to hold it for us and we get it back Friday night. We explain THIS to security and finally convince them to keep the beer for us and take down our room number. Now, we had already taken a few out when we got yelled at the first time (we left the boat and packed some into our bags before fighting again), so we were down to 17 (we also drank some on the way to the boat). The guy asks us how much beer we brought. We said 17. He said "what about these other cases?" Being idiots, we didn't claim the other confiscated beer which other people had given up on. We were honest, but we did get our beer back Friday night and I tell ya, 3 or 4 or 5 of those Jamaican Red Stripe Lagers and I was toasted. Red Stripe was about $1 per bottle but after shopping around in Cozumel I managed to find Corona for about 50 cents each so we bought a case. This time we were smart and split them up and smuggled them on in our bags. No problem.

BeerGuyver

Much like his better well-known MacGuyver, BeerGuyver is a very resourceful individual. He can open up a beer bottle anywhere. I was given the task of being BeerGuyver. I opened beer bottles on the handles to our bunk beds, on a post in Jamaica, on the backs of lounge chairs, on a towel cart, and on the door to the sauna.

The Crab

Back to our friendly New Orleans group. They got into a practical joke war with the guys who bought us out to change tables. Lucky for them they didn't get mixed up in such a war with us. Well, the guys bring back a crab from Cozumel and put it in their shower. Well we just happen to get back on the ship the second time just behind the ladies. We follow them back to their cabin and they happen to leave their key in the door. We wait for the screams, open the door and take pictures. They freak and the head bitch starts kicking the crab and eventually chases him out with a toilet brush. Feeling sorry for the crab, we capture him in a bag and bring him back to our room. On the way, we run into two little kids. Bigger John shows them the crab and teaches them how to pet it, etc. While we're there, some guy comes down the hallway and then starts SCREAMING "you fucking perverts" and "you fucking faggots" and so on. We egg him on a little, but are genuinely perplexed as to what his problem is. We incite him with "what? You're a faggot?" and "you look good in those tight jeans" and so on. Eventually, he comes all the way back to us and then leaves. As he is almost gone, Kevin lets out "what's the matter? You didn't get laid tonight?" He then kicks a room service tray, breaking the lid and sending cake all over the hallway. At this point, people all up and down the hall have their heads out of their doors trying to see what's going on. Bigger John wants to find him and kick his ass. Well, as luck would have it, the next night I'm playing poker and who do I see working at the craps table? Crab boy himself. We were going to rat him out but never did remember to report him.

Unauthorized Communications

OK, so let's cut to the chase. Did I get thrown in the brig or not? Well, it was close. After our final port call we partied until 3 in the disco, as usual, and then decided to have a little fun. Earlier in the week, someone had gotten on to the PA and announced "this is you captain" and then "we're going back to Puerto Rico." I later found out who this was and where they did this from. We couldn't resist. So it's 3AM and I find the mike and announce in my best imitation of our cruise director "This is your cruise director speaking and indeed, I am a pompous ass." We check around to see if anyone heard and then Bigger John returns and says "Welcome to day seven of the Carnival cruise. This is your cruise director speaking and indeed, I will be waking you all up at 8 in the morning even though we don't have a port of call tomorrow." Sure enough, we did actually get waken up by the cruise director, as usual, for no good reason. As we left to go back to the disco, some crew guy dressed in white comes running down the hall. John took one stairwell, I took the other, which happened to be closer to the guy. I walked, looking non-chalant, but was stopped and harassed anyhow. I never admitted anything, but the guy knew I was involved. He tells me how it against federal law to interfere with ship's communications and blah blah blah and I should tell whoever did it how serious this was. I go back to the disco, have a good laugh and tell everyone what happened. Well, he comes back again, this time with a security guard, and interrogates me again. He takes down my cabin number and so on and tells me "we've already had our last port of call, so we can't disembark anyone, but..." blah blah blah. I play along and tell him I know it was very serious and it won't happen again. The next day, we got many congratulations for this prank, and everyone who knew us knew we had to have done it.

Boat

We decided that you could actually communicate with only a single word language. We chose boat. With varying inflection, "boat" meant everything. Much to the dismay of a phone caller to our cabin, she spoke to all four of us and for a minute did not hear anything other than the word "boat". I answer the phone:
"Boat?"
"Can I speak with John"
"Boat."
Hand phone to John
"Boat!"
... and so on.
When she arrived, we were watching the news about some monkeys so we lapsed into monkey-mode, "eeh eeh"-ing and bouncing around. We sniffed her and then groomed her, picking for bugs and all. Much fun. Yes, we're weird.

Miscellaneous

Other items of note: Lots of other stories I'm sure I left out but will remember later. Just ask me about it next time you see me. Remember, I've CONDENSED these stories to make this easier to read and more importantly to type.

It was a ton of fun. Remember, we were a clique back in college but haven't all been together since '91. This is going to be an annual thing but this was a our FIRST annual reunion. It was fun just being together again. Kevin had told his parents I had mellowed. He was wrong!

Perry

PS Please don't ask about the Bible.


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