Pam’s birthday cruise – part 1

It’s here! Pam’s special birthday. And our birthday celebration cruise, in honor of her special birthday. Here’s to you, Pam!

Our neighbors from waaaaay back, Cindy and Dave Lober, are able to go with us. Conveniently enough, Cindy’s birthday is next Sunday, the day we return to Tampa. How cool is that? And Dave’s birthday is just a few days after that, and mine another couple of weeks beyond.

As we packed our luggage, I tried to keep remind Pam how over packed we were during our Thanksgiving cruise. On that one I wound up wearing one pair of shorts (actually my swimsuit) almost 100% of the time, and only one or two Hawaiian shirts the entire week. But, the “what if we decide to go to a lot of shows” mentality caught up with us again, and we ended up with a ton of stuff. And when I added another full-sized case for my scuba gear (yes, I’m brining my full wet suit in case the water is under 80 degrees), camera bag, etc, we pretty much maxed out the bed of my truck. I even have a little bag of weights to use while snorkeling – something to keep me just barely buoyant instead of “Mr. Corkbody.”

We arrived early at the ship terminal to make sure we didn’t have to stand in long lines. We weren’t disappointed. We whipped into valet parking, the porter grabbed our luggage and within minutes we were checked in. All that remained was the quick pass through the last x-ray security checkpoint for the carry-on luggage, and we would be on the ship. Lido Deck, here we come!

I’m so glad a dumb-head hasn’t tried to blow up a cruise ship by lighting fire to his tennis shoes. Since no one has, we didn’t have to strip down (including shoes) to pass through the last scan. I did have to take my laptop out of my bag though. But the weights. Ah, yes, the weights. I gently place them on the conveyer belt to pass through the scanner along with the rest of my carry on. Everything slowly passes through the x-ray machine – and I see then start pointing at the TV monitor. I think they noticed my weights. “Sir, are these yours?” Hmmm. They can’t complain that they’re too heavy and the boat will sink. The boat weighs over 80,000 tons. A few extra weights on the starboard side of the ship won’t make that much of a difference.

I’m escorted to my own private room off to the side. Have they heard of some new plot that involves diving weights? Am I about to be strip searched? In the room the security guy takes a look in my little bag, and smiles. “Weights for your diving?” Whew. Someone who understands. He moves the little pouches around and tells me no problem – have a nice cruise. The weights had shown up as a big black mass on the monitor. The guys just wanted to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything suspicious inside all that lead. Like Kryptonite, for instance.

And in an instant we were on the ship – the Lido deck. I don’t know if it was in honor of Pam’s birthday, the first day of the cruise, the fact that it was a New Year’s cruise, or maybe they wanted everyone to be happy, but the free champagne was flowing. Every waiter had a tray of lovely champagne glasses. So Dave and I did our part to relieve them of every last one. Did you know that champagne goes really well with a hamburger and fries? Trust me, it does.

The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur. Lunch, to the cabins to drop off our carry ons, some exploring around the ship, lifeboat drill, back to the cabins to get ready for dinner. During the lifeboat drill I paused in the eddy of all the people and started to talk to one of the crew. He was a friendly guy, a musician. Told him it was Pam’s birthday, and he said his band would be performing in one of the lounges later and to come by and they’d sing her Happy Birthday! Cool.

Then dinner. When the guy came to take our drink order I told him it was Pam’s special birthday. He smiled and said they’ll take care of her. And they did. Dinner was excellent, and before they brought out dessert they brought out a special dessert for Pam. And a special birthday hat, folded from one of the linen napkins. They led us in Happy Birthday! – one of the most off-key renditions the world has ever heard. People all around were laughing and smiling.

After dinner Pam announced she was going to work out for a while. Eh? After dinner? I stayed in the cabin to grab a quick nap. And suddenly we were off to the lounge. The band had just gone on break before we arrived, we had a warm-up drink and listened to the canned music. In a little while the band, Music Network, came back. First song: “You say it’s your birthday!” in honor of Pam and Cindy. Pam and I looked at each other. Wow! Good rockin’ music! These guys are good!! And they were. Santana, ZZ Top, Queen, The Police, Beatles, and on and on. The guy I met during the lifeboat drill was the drummer. The bass player had a Paul McCartney type of rock and roll voice. They all sang well and had excellent harmony. Bohemian Rhapsody was amazing. They’re going to be playing on the Lido Deck tomorrow after lunch. Can’t wait to see them again.

We wound up dancing and partying until way past midnight. Happy Birthday, Pam! Hope you had a good one!

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