Posts Tagged ‘Cruising’

The Death of Angelina Lauro

Warning: This is a sad story about a 24,000-ton lady, a princess and three angels. My eyewitness account of the lady’s death at St. Thomas in 1979.

On St. Thomas in March of 1979, the cruise season was still in full swing. Ships arrived every day and thousands of passengers poured into the downtown shopping area to lighten their bank accounts. Merchants and cab drivers competed fiercely for a share of the bounty.

For me, the morning of Friday, March 30 was filled with apprehension. Two days earlier, the reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania melted down, and information…

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To the Ship

“Welcome. May I have your tickets please?”

I handed over the booklet. The desk person examined it, and punched the reservation number into her computer. After looking at the screen a little too long for my comfort, she said “Welcome Mr. X. Would you mind stepping into that room over there please?”

Oh boy. Was it the suitcase again? Ryan and I walked the few steps into the adjoining room, which was furnished with a couple of tables, some chairs and a couch or two.

“What’s going on?” Ryan asked.

“I don’t know. No idea.”

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This posting serves as a prologue to the second cruise story. The first cruise story, recounting our first-ever voyage, was posted serially on over a 3-week period. More than 10,000 people awaited the posting of the final chapter, and the whole experience was wholly unexpected and quite a thrill. The unprecedented response to the that story (now in book form – What Time Is the Midnight Buffet?) motivated Celebrity Cruises to contact me and offer a free cruise in appreciation. We’ll begin with the events leading up to that event.

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Cruise Stories

There are four stories in this series, and all were originally posted on One of the stories is now a book, and the other three are here for your enjoyment.

The first story chronicled our inaugural cruise, a ten-day Caribbean jaunt aboard Celebrity’s Galaxy in celebration of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  The response to this story was so overwhelming that Celebrity Cruises invited us to take a second trip, gratis.  Eventually the story was released as a book, What Time Is the Midnight Buffet?

Kris was unable to accompany me on the free trip, so

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Kris quickly realized that I was not being impish. She had yet to witness one of my episodes, and it must have been obvious that I was in extreme discomfort.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Hot towel,” I managed to croak.

Kris ran a hand towel under the faucet and brought it to me steaming hot. I hid my face beneath it. “Your left eye is swollen shut.”

“I know that,” I said.

“Should we go to the infirmary?” asked Kris.


“Yes, now.”

“They’re all asleep,” I said. “This will be over in two hours. I’m…

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Entry Denied

Today, Kris and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. Seems like yesterday…

“Are you checked in?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Pat, waiving her ticket book and welcome-aboard folder. “I didn’t have any problem.”

“Good. Kris is right over there,” I said. “Why don’t you keep her company while we get this straightened out?”

“OK, good luck,” said Pat, and she wandered off.

I opened my portfolio to the mother’s section, and extracted the entire transaction record for their booking. My mother finally noticed that I was there. “Sheesh, Chester. Nobody had trouble but me?” she asked.

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A Grand Plan

“They just announced that the shore excursions are available for booking,” I said. “I think we should act fast.”

“Well what are the options?” Kris asked.

“The standard HAL excursions,” I said.

“What are they?”

“You never looked at the list?”

“No. Was I supposed to?”

“I suggested it a long time ago.”

“Well, I didn’t look. Tell me what they have.”

Oh, boy… I got my telephone headset and plugged it in. “Still there?” I asked.

“Yeah. Go ahead.”

Over the next hour, I read and re-read the available excursions. For Kris, only one excursion stood out – a

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Come On, Ma

I wasn’t about to broach the subject of cruising with my own mother until the holiday season was well past – there are some things a son just knows not to do. But I couldn’t just sit around and think about the upcoming cruise, and being a devout CruiseCritic, I followed my natural tendency to go out on the Internet, find fellow cruisers and start talking up the trip.

I imagined that the large majority of those who jumped at the chance to go on this trip were probably first-time cruisers, and indeed, this proved to be the case.

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Life returned to normal very quickly after our return from the Millennium cruise – quickly, as in the next day. Kris and I went back to work, while Wells and Dan returned to high school to serve out the remainder of their sentences. Next thing we knew, it was June.

The boys’ graduation may have spelled the official end to their childhood, but I think it really ended on the cruise. It was a coming-of-age experience for them. Wells and Dan had a great time on the trip, but details are hard to drag out of teen-aged boys. Perhaps we’re…

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Homeward Bound

At 7:15 a.m., I called the boys’ room. “Inspection in 15 minutes. Get up.” I couldn’t even tell who was on the other end of the line. Grogginess disguised the voice.

At the appointed time, I knocked on the door and Wells answered. He stepped back to let me in, and I was unpleasantly surprised by what I saw.

“You were supposed to leave your suitcases out for the cabin attendant last night,” I said.

“We did,” answered Wells.

“Yeah, but you were supposed to pack your stuff into them first,” I said. To my eye, it looked like everything…

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