|In November 2004, Ben and le Marquis Déjà Dû went on a seven day Caribbean cruise. They were never heard from again.
Four years later, these notes were found
Check in early this afternoon. Boat security is much easier than airport security. I got to keep my boots on. And if I had thought ahead, I could have smuggled my AK-47, my can of Napalm or my kee of coke in said footwear. Had I but known! Oh well. Next time I'll be prepared for my mutinous hijinx. Tee hee!
I've been on one cruise before fifteen years ago through the Greek isles and down to Turkey. That boat was nice. This boat, this aptly named Grandeur of the Seas, is breathtaking. I mean that literally. When we saw the first full glimpse of it moored to the Riverwalk on the Mississippi in New Orleans, we both gasped for air. We're going to be on that for a week!? It's hard to describe something like this. Think of the biggest boat you've seen. Now double it in length. Now triple its height. The inner size queen reeled.
Eleven decks, and approximately 4,900,000 feet long, or so it seems to walk from stem to sternum (my nautical terms are not the pride of my vocabulary). After some warm-up cocktails, compliments of Harrah's who gave us this cruise, we began to explore.
For a few hours.
And we still haven't seen all there is to see, for each deck seems half a mile long, and there are eleven to explore.
The design is opulent yet not ostentatious. Titanic without being showy. And, I'm hoping as I write this, a little more seaworthy.
Each deck boasts prettier and prettier overworked coffee boys, fun-loving waiters, or sullen cabin boys. There's a Ben Affleck lookalike with a charming, clipped Brit accent, and while Ben Affleck is not my first choice of Things That Go Bump In The Night, he'll do in a pinch.
There are two swimming pools, one outdoors, one in a solarium in case of rain, and I am told there is another pool for the crew. 641 crew members. 2100 passengers. Yet nowhere does it seem crowded, and believe me, my terrible phobia about crowds would be the first to report otherwise were it so.
Pre-dinner, we soaked in the indoor hot tub, talking to the ship's piano player, who, when not soaking in a hot tub, plays one of twelve pianos on the ship. We watched Louisiana's banks slink by smoothly, dotted lights of the endless oil refineries the only clue that land is near. We've been moving for about four hours and we're still on the Mississippi. I expect tomorrow morning I'll wake up to endless expanse of the Gulf of Mexico.
Dinner is assigned seating, as is often the case on cruise ships. In the dinner queue, we made a silent wish list of who we wanted to be at our table (a tall lad looking like Rod Stewart from the back, but don't worry, it got better when he turned around). There are so many tables it's unlikely you'll be assigned to the rockstar of your choice. Our table had a nice elderly Texan couple who ignored basic verb conjugation with refreshingly delightful abandon. The man told us a joke: "What did the cowboy say when he seen his horse come over the mountain?" "I don't know. What?" "There come my horse over the mountain!" I laughed, though I still don't know if it's because of the non-jokiness of his joke, or the curious grammar. (Ben says, simply, "I think it's funny!")
The cadence and scansion of this man's talk is in gross opposition with the three knives, four spoons and five forks set at the impeccable table.
Across from us sat an older man and his younger (trophy?) Korean or Vietnamese wife, New Orleans Westbankers the both of them, and her English so smothered in eastern accents that you just nod and smile along with her monologues, pretending you understand the jist of the story.
Next to them, a nice, again older couple from Schenecktiddittidditiy, NY, a word I can never spell, but I love to say it over and over until it loses what little meaning it didn't have to begin with. We will be dining with these people for the next week, so it's nice to get to know your neighbors. Ben and I played lots of touchy-feely just to acclimate our dinner partners to the unholy union which we so shamelessly celebrate best to get these things out of the way early.
The nice little Texan lady next to me asked, "How long have you been together?" "A year and a half," I replied, "but that's like ten in gay years."
As we left the restaurant, we passed Rod Stewart's table again, and he quickly shut up and eyed us closely, as he had done twice before (according to Ben). I think he's on this boat with his mother, which is somehow incredibly hot to me. He will be ours!
Our room is a thooper-dooper deluxe cabin, spacious for a boat, with a private balcony overlooking well, water, duh. I'm sitting on the balcony now, tiny beads of the Mississippi River spraying onto the computer screen. It's chilly tonight, but we're told that the weather in Mexico is clear and warm. Perhaps Rod Stewart will see fit to remove some of his clothing then?