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About Bimmer09

  • Rank
    5,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Chicago, via NJ, via Miami, via London, via Northern Ireland
  • Interests
    Opera, theater, ships,driving in Germany, all things French including fries,drums,sailing.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Any line not featuring Joe Farcus "designs"
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska and hopefully the Baltic

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  1. When I write my normal cruise reviews I am a slave to chronology but when writing about 44 cruises that goes out the window. Just random memories as each week was the same itinerary. There was a totally new 1200 passengers getting on in Miami each Saturday. Some crew got off never to be seen again and there would be familiar faces and reunions to compensate as our contracts crossed paths. There were days when I stayed on board in port-Cayman in particular as it was just a lay on the beach day and if was too hot I liked the quiet and cool of the ship and a nice lunch in an empty MDR. When I went ashore there it was always to 7 Mile Beach... with one of the dancers Dunns River Falls, Ocho Rios with Cedric, guitarist/singer with the steel band at that time (July 86) I later (1990?) met Cedric walking down the street in Old San Juan when I was on a Carnival cruise with my then wife whom you saw earlier-one of the passengers on SON in 1985) with John, my neighbor in 1985 at the falls Sailing to the same places each week gives one (me!) the luxury of time. The Falls would be there next Tuesday if I didn't feel like it today. Same with 7 Mile Beach . Too hot? Too windy? Raining?-I'll stay on board and maybe catch up on some sleep. The deck where I spent a lot of my off time, either in the sun or at night between shows was the Sun Deck It was my preferred venue to host scrabble battles as I was a tough opponent. Here Blake Bahner, a handsome fellow who was a Cruise Staff member whose function for much of his time was to dance with unaccompanied ladies and they weren't complaining. A very charming fellow. Also sweating over my last word is Dave, the bass player/singer and heart-throb who flew in from Warrington. Lancashire to replace his friend Mark. More soon Norris
  2. On formal nights one of the Polish bands would stroll the dining room as we ate These fine gentleman often roped me into attending a "vodka night" in their cabin on a Tuesday night after we left Ocho Rios. I was off and their day was done by 11. Their RCCL pay was worth 10 times its value by the time it got wired back to their families in Poland. Fun people. I found myself with all kinds of nationalities as friends, but that was true to a lesser extent living in London for a total of 13 years. The drummer Thadeus bringing up the rear with a tambourine fell from his top bunk after one vodka night and landed on his face. Off to the ship's doctor. He couldn't play for the rest of the week and the CD asked me if I could cover. Sure. So now I was playing in 2 bands and schedules were adjusted if needed. In the same week on Tuesday the drummer in the steel band was stopped by the gangway security and found to be carrying weed he had bought in Ocho Rios. He was sent home to Barbados. The CD asked me if I could cover for him too. Deep breath-"Sure" and so now I was in 3 bands. The steel band music was fun to play and as well as playing quietly at the Midnight Buffet I got to play ferociously on deck in the sun by the pool surrounded by dancing bikini ladies and speedo men. Some steel band players join us in my cabin in 1986 for a rum 'n Coke soiree I was kept busy that week but my energy level was high and I was well-fed. As well as being able to eat 3 meals a day in the crew mess, I was able to have 3 in the MDR (preferred choice). As we worked until 3 a.m we had the option to eat with the pax at the pool buffet open until 10 a.m, set up on the bar top. Basic bacon, eggs potatoes, fruits and Danishes but pleasant in the sun. So that's 7 choices available. However, due to my friendship with Leif the Night Watchman I could also visit the Officer's mess in the wee hours. In the oven there were always steaks and potatoes keeping warm. I often took advantage. I finished work at 3 but often didn't get to sleep until 6 or 7 as we would go lay out in the warm Caribbean night air on the crew deck at the stern with a case of beer. 3 hours sleep then up to the pool for breakfast then back to bed for a couple of hours nap (or not) Passengers on the SON then didn't have the multiple choices we take for granted now. No balcony cabins, no choices for lunch or dinner. MDR only but the food was decent and there was plenty of it including the popular Midnight buffet. I can recall 5 bars-one in each of the 3 showrooms I played plus a pool bar and the Viking Crown. No beverage packages. Attentive roaming waiters everywhere. Jamaicans mainly with big smiles and personalities. I never saw a face that wasn't smiling. Sun sea booze casino ports beaches food music. Those are the basics of cruising. I did hear Diamonds International mentioned many times. Over 30 years later I still hear it. dancers brought on board in port More later...Norris
  3. The iconic bar on the funnel (much later removed) Crew were not allowed in the Viking Crown lounge but I went there a few times anyway and enjoyed how cosy it was and how unique. The ship's Night Security officer was called Leif and he spoke good English and befriended me early on and that helped. Here he is with Mark our bass player from Manchester. In November 1985 we left the ship and were offered another contract to return in March 86 which we accepted. There was only one original band member from Manchester and us 3 London dwellers. Once home, my neighbor John decided the sea life wasn't for him , especially on the next contract which was for 6 months. So I took the responsibility to find two new members as Geoff the guitar player had missed his wife for 12 weeks and was also not returning. Again an ad in Melody Maker and auditions in London which yielded 2 great new people. I was home for almost 5 months and each day wrote a letter to a New Jersey passenger I met on my 3rd from last cruise. After the cruise I met her in Miami and we went to Orlando to Disneyworld for the weekend. We arranged to meet back in Miami in late March a couple of days before I sailed SON again. She's the one on the right Back to life in 1985 when the ship and cruising was all new to me. Life on board with only 21 hours of work a week was easy-for the musicians at least. We got a day off! Not so the waiters and room stewards, many of whom I knew by now. Their meals were basic affairs in the Crew Mess-mainly big pots of stew and rice. Occasional steaks and fries. Salads. We had our own table at the back of the MDR-the only passenger dining room back then. You could smoke in the dining rooms and bars then. Waiter/busboy service and order as much as you liked from the menu. Cherries Jubilee flamed table side by a head waiter. This is a 1986 shot of the table with me and Mike our new keyboardist/singer We sat next to the tiny office of the Maitre 'd, Italian Raimondo, a firm friend The Marvelous Marvin sticker refers to Marvin Hagler who sailed with us and came to the disco each night with his wife. He was a very graceful dancer-not drunk uncle at a wedding. Nice man. 1986. The guy in the red shirt is Dave, a friend of Mark's. Yes within 2 weeks of our 1986 contract in March, Mark decided he was missing his new girlfriend too much and gave notice. He gave us Dave's name and we (Royal) flew him out. We didn't hear him until we were rehearsing on the ship after Mark had gone to the airport. Luckily he was a great addition to the band and a friend to this day via Facebook! More tomorrow when I am off work. I'll leave you with a pic of one of my favorite places on the ship. Promenade deck Norris
  4. I had about two hour's rehearsal with my new band on that first Saturday as I already knew a lot of the rock songs they would play and had a good idea of the easy listening, cocktail volume instrumental tunes that I would need at 5 pm. Yes, we were the band that played indoors during sailaway. The My Fair Lady lounge had huge windows and I could sit and play and look out on McCarthur Causeway where for some reason young women would flash their breasts from passing speedboats. We played one 45 minute set in this room and then didn't have to play until 11 pm-this time in our main venue the Land of the Midnight Sun disco where we would play 4 sets with a 15 minute break between each when an American guy called Carl would play some records. At 3 a..m we were done and we weren't alone in the room. We played as loud as we could, which was nice after the restraint of the cocktail music. Who was popular then? Bruce Springsteen, definitely Huey Lewis, Rod Stewart, Kool and the Gang. Dance music. One of the cruise directors I worked with (my boss) was a big Aussie man with a beard, bald and a wickedly good stand-up comedian and quick witted. His name was Greg Maxwell and I have yet to see anyone as witty or as smooth as him. My band had to back him up on a special night in the other lounge which was called____ name escapes me now but will return. I only played there for the Masquerade Party and had to watch his hand-signals behind his back (shades of Van Morrison) and produce drums rolls and rim shots for comedic effect. I had to watch his hands like a hawk and none of it was ever rehearsed. The people that passed across the stage were hilarious in their make-shift costumes as pirates, Roman senators, drag queens, huge men dressed as fairies etc had me and the crowd (always packed) in stitches. I remember- South Pacific Lounge. I worked 21 hours a week with one day off (always Ocho Rios) but that was a formal night so had to wear an RCCL tuxedo which I loved. Uniforms were provided for the bands so we looked smart and all our laundry was free and pressed. A cabin steward cleaned our room each day and brought fresh towels. Hooray! Here are some pics to break up the narrative. As I have warned you before-pics from 1985 were taken on an instamatic camera (i.e. pretty crap). 1986 (if we ever get there ) will have Nikon DSLR pics in the hands of a novice. Here, on a sunny day is a steel band playing by the pool (cold sea water but nobody cared). They were intoxicated by the stuff brought by the strolling Jamaican "bar service" men who spun large trays as they walked. That was in Cozumel and some Mexican dancers from the town were brought aboard to dance. Cool! Also in Cozumel, where I often had lunch in the MDR on the ship, a Mariachi band was brought on board to stroll around during the meal, stopping at tables (loved that!) to uplift our spirits as the weather was so beautiful, the drinks cheap and the beaches fantastic. It was a very unhappy time in my life (LOL!) on a pedallo in Grand Cayman( probably) with John Parties in the crew mess were impromptu, fired up on cheap rum (Cruzan was popular) and cases of Budweiser @ $7 for 24 cans. Instruments would appear from nowhere as there were 18 musicians on board and the ship's dancers would twirl. This is our guitarist Geoff from London and Peter from Poland playing trumpet. As there were 47 Nationalities onboard in the mess, Beatles songs proved universally known and that makes sense. Miami skyline 1985. Taken from the Howard Johnson hotel where we were put up for a week while the ship went to the Bahamas for a quick dry dock. We were given a daily food stipend. More soon, just home from work. Norris
  5. Thanks Adam, I knew two Polish drummers-Teddy (Thadeus) and John and have pics of them which I'll show as we go along. There was also a steel band on each contract. Four bands on the ship on each cruise. Meanwhile I am off to work. Cheers! Norris
  6. Yes it's an old thread and I'm finding it 13 years later. CC is such a great resource! I worked on the SON as a musician for 12 weeks in late 1985 and a second contract of 32 weeks March through October in 1986 and had a lame Instamatic camera on the first and then a decent Nikon camera bought in Miami for the second so I can make a contribution here to the collective memory. I was living in London and there was an English band on board in August 1985. Their keyboard player gave his notice. A call went out to the agency in Manchester who had provided the band. A woman in the office said "I know a guy in London" and my next door neighbor got the call and had to scramble to be in Miami in 2 days. As he left on a Thursday I wished him bon voyage and said jokingly-"If they need a drummer give me a call" On the next Tuesday he (John) called me from Ocho Rios and said "do you want a job?" "Yes" "Ok- you have to be in Miami in 2 weeks and you have to find a guitar player!" "On it!" I advertised in a trade paper (Melody Maker) and found a doozy who could also sing. Two weeks later we were in Miami at RCCL offices having our medicals and soon we were on board and rehearsing for sailaway that afternoon at 5pm bound for the Western Caribbean which that year was Ocho Rios Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In 1986 Labadee was added. NCL's Norway would set off ahead of us. An impressive sight. John and I in our cabin on deck C at the waterline. I'm the man in black. John is being Stan Laurel for a minute. Being arrested by head waiter Raimund on French night in the dining room Tendering to Georgetown, Grand Cayman Passengers returning to the ship in Cozumel I have lots more, of the ship and the people on board and some insight into the crew-member life back then. The Nikon ones from 86 will be better quality More on my next day off... Norris
  7. Crystal, I found and read this today and gobbled it up in one long sitting. Another fun review and I like how you rolled with the punches-no Coco Cay, 5 hours in San Juan (El Morro fort was a highlight there for us), no St Kitts but I am happy you went to beautiful St John (but with rain), Labadee with wind=no bueno. And all the mishaps early on especially that taco place! What put your friends off cruising for 7 days as opposed to, say, 3? Norris, with thanks.
  8. Mary Ellen, I like your plan re the organized ship tours as they have their drawbacks and you can maybe use your time better by picking and choosing locally. It looks like I will cancel the Azamara cruise we have planned for this October (Rome to Venice) as we have got tickets to the Wagner Bayreuth Festival in Germany after 7 years on the waiting list so it may be a while (a year) before I have a cruise to write about. Meantime have yourself a great one (you will) on the Silhouette to the Fjords! Norris
  9. Mary Ellen, thanks for the kind comments! I'm glad you took the time to read it and hopefully it has whetted your appetite for this stunning ship. Norris
  10. October 3 Rome to Venice on Pursuit with the meet up of all three Azamara ships in Koper to celebrate the company's 10 th anniversary! Norris
  11. The buffet is your best friend if you want to linger over the scenery and not wait to be served. Room service too. I can't recommend any theater in London-I've maybe only been to 4 in my whole life. It all depends on what you want to enjoy inside the theater. Anywhere near Piccadilly Circus is going to give you that "West End" buzz, helped by neon and crowded sidewalks. That can add to the sense of occasion, for sure. We saw a dark comedy written by a favorite author, starring John Malcovich so we were happy and the theater (the Garrick) didn't add anything to the event. There is no doubt that whenever you are in London there are too many choices. It's a stunning one of a kind city. Do your research now on line. Plan ahead and enjoy. We had to go see a play in a city that is renowned for theater more than any other on the planet. Happy we did! Savor London! Norris
  12. Hi, somloi! Thanks for reading. Showtimes were 7 and 9 pm so we would have had dinner between those two times. The show in Flam becomes the sailaway, especially if you have a camera and particularly if it isn't getting dark soon after 6 as was our case. We were limited in how much Sognefjord we could savor-by the light and the cold. But you have to eat so much may depend on the show that night. We went to fewer shows than ever before in Norway as we were off the ship each day and the scenery called to us as we left each port and so we weren't inclined to rush indoors. I wouldn't want to sail the Fjords so late in the season again. Summer in Norway must be amazing! Hope this helps. Norris
  13. Yoshi, hope you had a great Christmas cruise! Glad you enjoyed the coffee (espresso for me, sipped slowly like the Sambuca) I had one on New Years Day after a surf n turf at our local Ruth's Chris steakhouse. It hit the spot! Stay well! Norris
  14. Joe and Pat, a great read which I just lapped up in one sitting. Thanks for the superb photos and for reminding me how colorful and cool Curacao (Willemstad) is. One of my favorite ports. Cheers! Norris
  15. Ocean Majesty cruise ship and HMS Belfast, London Viking Sun, Greenwich, London Viking Sun at Sundown Norris
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