By the time everyone was showered, shorn, puffed and primped, Christi was Starving To Death. Those of you who read last year's report will recall this as a familiar theme. Ronda and Kay went shopping and bought me sunblock and Saltines, the former of which I didn't need and the latter of which I most desperately did, but that part of the story comes later.
Sarah, Christi and I -- whom I will generally refer to as 'we'; any other 'we's' with more people will be so noted at the appropriate time -- went down to breakfast while Vonda worked on packing. Breakfast was unimpressive but took the edge off, which is all that really counted. Plus it only cost $5, which is pretty bloody amazing for a hotel breakfast buffet, so what do you expect?
We got packed and checked out of the room, and spent what seemed like an Extremely Long Time milling about the hotel lobby and generally actually having a pretty good time chatting and anticipating and wondering if the crowd was getting smaller or if new people just kept arriving to fill up the empty spaces when people got on the shuttle to go down to the port.
The port, I must admit, was a grand success. It was better organized than last year, with most of us having been encouraged to check in to the cruise, then come check in for the Highlander side of things, and as a result it was much less hectic and there was less line-standing and at least while we were there, the Highlander check-in booth wasn't flooded beyond belief. I hope it was like that all the time, for the sake of the women working it.
Which gives me a moment's pause to express my appreciation for all the work the Clan staff and volunteers did. I don't know nearly enough names, though faces are more familiar to me, but Deb and Jan and everyone really did a great job and I'm once again impressed with the efficiency that the con was run with. Everybody who was on the cruise should take a minute (yes, even from reading my scintillating report) to email the Clan (I am no longer certain this email is correct, but it's worth a shot) and say thanks. They worked incredibly hard for us.
We had our first Peter Sighting at the port. He and Caroline (who looked both radiant and taller than I remembered her being, not that I ever got to meet her last year, snif, or that I saw what shoes she was wearing) were fifteen or twenty people back behind us, grinning like idiots. :) Peter looked as if he were going to burst. :)
Evidently Jim was right behind them, but I managed to be unable to see him in a crowd of several trillion. Sniffle. I did, however, see Anthony as he made an Entrance, and it was, by God, an Entrance, too. He came out of the elevator up to the cruise ship and was wearing what was very possibly a Duncan Quickening leather coat, and sunglasses, and he Strode Dramatically across the gangplank while the rest of us were being forcefully photographed by vicious, camera-wielding Official Cruise Photographers. (We all went "AAAAH!" in alarm when we saw the resultant photo. Ugh.) Anyway, we got a Tony Entrance, and that was pretty fun to watch. :)
The rooms were . . . adequate. Apparently many other people didn't feel this way, but I was badly unimpressed by Royal Carribean's ship (we were on the Viking Serenade). I'd been warned they were smaller; what we hadn't been warned about was the poor lighting, old, water-stained carpets, or walls badly in need of painting. Scuttlebutt was that on Royal Carribean, what you're paying for is the food and service, not the cabin. I admit the food was much better than last year's, but I thought neither the service nor the room were anywhere near what we had last year. Shrug.
By the time we were done with checking in and all, we were around to being hungry again, so we headed up to the Windjammer Cafe to find some food. Vonda managed another Peter Sighting, which I failed, we got food, and then took a spin around the upper deck and had a Jim Sighting.
Oh. My. God. Did he look good. Tan and fit and of COURSE I didn't have my camera with the telephoto lens on it handy, but wow he looked great. He was talking with his bodyguard and some other people and we stood for a moment and gaped at him 'cuz he was just so damned gorgeous. Once we got our brains functional again we staggered along the deck and ran into somebody and stopped to chat. Jim came up the deck (he was down below us) and grinned up and waved at everybody, and said hi, and we all swooned and fell down kerflump.
All right, not quite, but my god he looked good. How does the man do it? I mean, Peter is perfect (see paragraph on the Sunday 98 cruise page which caused my friend Trip to comment, mildly, "I didn't know you could actually scan drool,"), but Jim. Jim. Wow. That smile. Man.
We staggered around for a bit going 'wow' at Jim, before getting to go to the ever-so-exciting lifeboat lecture. The lifeboat lecture actually turned out to be rather amusing, in part because of our guy who did the lecture. He started out by saying, "All right, everyone. Listen up; I have some things to tell you, and then the Captain is going to come over the loudspeaker to say the exact same thing, only in a slightly different accent."
He proceded to tell us a bunch of things that the Captain then came over the intercom and said again exactly, only in a slightly different accent.
On the positive side, there was an incredibly cute girl standing next to us who was wearing great t-shirt (the picture is Misha the Incredibly Cute Girl, although she's not in the t-shirt in the picture). While the crewman was lecturing us about not throwing anything overboard, we were giggling a lot at the t-shirt. :)
*snicker* The guy behind us in line was listening to the lecture, and the women and children first bit was stated, and he said to his wife, "Great, honey. You get to get on the lifeboat while I stay here and drown." *giggle*
The crewman, for what it's worth, had an Australian accent, and the Captain was I think Swiss. His accent was mostly French.
The opening ceremonies were at 6pm, which meant the Jim Byrnes Band came out and made music for us. I went back to the room and changed into (gasp) a dress, much to Sarah and Christi's befuddlement, but I much prefer dancing in heels and they'd have looked silly with my t-shirt and jean. :) Then I more or less dragged Sarah out onto the dance floor for the next hour and a half; CHristi prefered to sit and listen to the music, as she's a musician.
I shot a roll of film that night; I dunno how much of it will turn out, for various reasons. It was only 400 speed, for one, though I had a decent flash, but more alarming was the awful scraping noise the rewind mechanism made when I rewound the film. I'm hoping I didn't scrape all the emulsion off the film, or something. I'll find out tomorrow, though, 'cuz there's a photo development place at the mall where I work. Anyway, if it turns out there'll be cool JBB and dancing pictures.
Anthony and his wife spent some time making the rest of us look bad, on the dance floor. *grin* Those two are just too sexy for their shirts, man. They look great together, they look so incredibly happy and in love -- I just can't help grinning goopily at the two of them. Tony struts around and his wife is this sultry challenge and I just can't stand it. They're so cool. *grin* *laugh* Oh, there was a bit where Tony put his hands on Mary's waist as if he was going to lift her, and she let out a horrified squeak and wouldn't let him. Pretty cute. :)
Peter and Caroline spent the entire concert being pretty adorable, all wrapped up around each other and smiling and listening to the music. I'd have loved to have seen them dance, but oh well. I guess we don't get to have everything. :)
Oh. *laugh* Bob and his girlfriend also spent some time putting us to shame. Bob looks so slender now, like he's lost weight since SSW. It could be that I'm just used to seeing him in floofy shirts and pants and that a suit emphasizes his tall-and-narrowness. Anyway, he and Nicholle (your spelling may vary) looked awesome together, and if he's lost weight, it hasn't affected his strength any. Sheesh. He was dipping and spinning her like there was no tomorrow.
The concert was absolutely brilliant fun. Tony and Bob were -- as seems usual, actually -- the only celebrities who were exhibitionists enough to dance, but Stan was there, and the band just rocked. I was already getting hoarse by the end of the night, and I sound like a frog now. :)
After the concert we had dinner, and like I said, the food was very good, much better than Carnival's. At our table we had Pat, Pat, Tonya and Pat. Um. No. :) Pat, Pat, Tonya, Sheila, Caroline and then the three of us. Friday night was actually kind of quiet, and we didn't do a lot of interacting with the other ladies -- one of the Pats wasn't there, and we ended up sort of them at one end of the table and us at the other, so it was a little awkward. By Sunday, though, we'd all made friends, and Sheila might want me to design her a travel agency website, so that'd be cool.
We had a /very/ cute waiter's assistant, whatever they're called; his name is Amit and it was concluded he was the Indian Ricky Martin. We were discussing just how darned cute he was, and he walked up behind Sarah and Christi, thus causing an awful lot of giggling. He wanted to know what was so funny, and so completely inappropriately I explained that we'd just been discussing how handsome he was. The poor boy actually blushed and was very quiet the rest of the evening. He recovered, however, by Saturday night, and gravitated towards Christi. :)
It was kind of after dinner that things proved to be very different from last year's cruise. Gillian and Donna weren't here this year to do the Gillian and Donna Show -- the clips and bloopers and auditions and scenes that we don't usually get to see. No Jimmy scene this year, in other words. So instead of something extraordinarily memorable like that we actually ended up going to bed a little before midnight. I slept a lot more this year than I did last year. :)