The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Caribbean Cruise
November 2006
"The Turn of the Century"

Our traditional Thanksgiving plans were foiled this year. Most of the children we travel with have gone off to college, so we were faced with a dilemma. Dil-emma? Hey, what about Emma? Our niece Emma just happened to be out of school the entire week of Thanksgiving. We found a last minute deal on a cruise aboard the Celebrity Century and booked it! The tour group became larger as Emma wanted to bring an entourage (her parents and her grandmother), but what the heck?

Emma and her parents flew Air Tran to Fort Lauderdale. We decided to take the risk and fly stand-by (as we always do). The Miami flight left a little too late to keep us in our comfort zone, so we decided to fly to Fort Lauderdale on an earlier flight, arriving around the same time as the other Morrises. The Non-rev Gods were very good to us! After the gate agent verified that we were dressed appropriately, Tony and I were given first class seats, something that rarely happens these days. Tony's mom, Dorothy, travels on her late husband's retiree passes (a lower priority) so we were not surprised when she was seated in coach. We wanted to swap seats with her, but she insisted on sitting in her assigned seat. Shortly before take-off, she was paged and brought up to the last empty seat in first class!

We enjoyed the reconfigured SONG aircraft with its in-seat video games. We even won one round of the trivia contest despite the fact that neither of us are big trivia buffs. In Fort Lauderdale, we collected our bags and found the Air Tran Terminal where we hooked up with Emma and her parents, Tim and Barbie. They had decided to fly home on a buddy pass, but there had been an issue with the credit card so we had to find an agent to try to resolve it. It took about 45 minutes, but we think the agent finally got them listed on a flight. We're pretty sure there'll be some duplicate charges that will have to be resolved later. Tony decided to go ahead and get the rental car while Barbie and I resolved the ticket issue.

The ride to the Port of Miami was smooth, if a little crowded, with six of us in a full sized car, but it was the least expensive option and it was a short ride. Tony had gotten directions from one of the cruise agents to go to Terminal G for the Celebrity Century. Another agent told Tim to go to Terminal J. We rode around the port a couple of times and asked a policeman who finally gave us the correct information and directed us to Terminal 10.

Check In was almost a breeze. Emma and Dorothy got checked in without a problem. Tim and Barbie got checked in without a problem. Since Tony was not there yet, our agent Wayne (or Jack, depending on which nametag you read) explained that he could not check Tony in yet. Then Wayne/Jack swiped BJ's passport while he had Tony's reservation displayed. This changed the name on the reservation to BJ, resulting in two BJ's in the room. There was nothing Wayne/Jack could do to fix it and he couldn't find anyone else who could fix it either. Finally he resolved it by swiping the copy of Tony's passport that BJ had. Then he instructed us not to tell anyone that what he had done and to have Tony come to see him to get his boarding pass for the ship.

Tony, meanwhile, had returned the car to National, resolved a dispute about the gas, and caught the FREE Alamo shuttle back to the port. We called to tell him to go see Wayne/Jack and then boarded the ship. Except for the Wayne/Jack thing, this was the most relaxing stress free boarding of a cruise ship we had ever experienced. Onboard, we were greeted with a glass of champagne! We each went to our stateroom and agreed to meet back at the lunch buffet.

We were all very pleased with our rooms! They all had flat screen TVs, roomy bathrooms and big comfy beds.

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BJ and Tony had splurged and gotten a balcony room in the Concierge Class which was about the same size as the other cabins with a small balcony. There was a bottle of champagne and a basket of fruit awaiting our arrival.

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The lunch buffet was adequate although not particularly notable. Emma and Tim enjoyed the ice cream stand. Soon Tony made it back to the boat and joined us for lunch. After lunch and a little exploring, it was time for the lifeboat drill. Our muster station was in the theater. In a real emergency it would be interesting to see if people move as slowly as they do during the drill.

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When we got back to our room after the drill, Martinz, our room steward, had left us a nice selection of canapés. We invited the rest of the group up to enjoy the canapés and champagne as we sailed away from Miami. Surprisingly there was enough room for all six of us to crowd onto the balcony.

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Dinner in the main dining room was delightful.  We had a lovely centrally located table at the bottom of the Grand Staircase.

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We met our waiter, Handel from Jamaica and his lovely assistant Marcella from Romania.

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The Assistant Maitre 'D who looked like Pee Wee Herman came by to introduce himself. Most of us enjoyed a selection from each of the categories. BJ went with the chef's recommendation of a mushroom pastry appetizer, roasted tomato soup, salad and Hake while Tony selected the prime rib.

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Dessert for most of us was a most delicious Creme Brulee. Tony was tempted by the chocolate mousse with the almond crust, but it looked much better than it tasted.

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Everyone was tired from the travel day so we made it an early night.   Martinz, our cabin attendant had turned down our bed and left a chocolate on our pillow!

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Sunday BJ woke up around a quarter to seven and headed for the health club. She was able to get on an elliptical machine, but by seven, all of the elliptical machines and treadmills were in use. The treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes all had television screens! Back in the cabin after BJ's work out, she found Tony up and showered. BJ got cleaned up and we met the others in the Island Cafe for breakfast. The servers were very generous with the bacon!

Tim and BJ signed up for the afternoon Texas Hold-em Tournament, then Tim, Barbara, Emma, BJ and Dorothy went to the Culinary Demonstration by Executive Chef Thomas, Master Decorators, and Pastry Chef Stephan. A man whom we assumed to be a Sommelier with a very thick accent told us about the wine that was available on board. The audience was invited to taste the demonstration food and given their choice of a melon or apple martini (well, except for Emma).

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We agreed to meet for lunch out by the pool, but the rain drove us inside. Tony was suffering withdrawal from Diet Coke deprivation so we purchased a soda package for him. It was reasonable ($5/day plus 15% gratuity) but a bit annoying in that he could only get his sodas in the souvenir cup.

Lunch was in the Island Cafe (buffet) again. We ate hurriedly so we could make it to the Texas Hold 'Em Tournament. Tim came in second, taking the prize of $150!

We celebrated at the Sherbet Parade and watched the Ice Carving demonstration out by the pool.

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BJ, Barbie and Dorothy went to the Holiday Crafts demonstration by Elizabeth Sheeran from Boston. Elizabeth was teaching how to make "Beaudacious Bows".

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BJ stopped back through the casino to try to win back her investment in the earlier tournament but only succeeded in losing another $10.  The climate was nicer outside than it was in the casino so it was time for a little fresh air.

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After exploring the ship, the family met in our room to enjoy the complimentary canapés and a glass of wine (well, except for Emma) before dinner. Tim told us an amusing story about running into the man who had described the wines to us at the earlier demonstration. The conversation went something like this: Tim: "Aren't you the Sommelier?" Answer - very thick accent, indignant: "No, I am the Selamasta!" Tim: "The Salamander?" Answer - very thick accent, very indignant: "No, I am the Cellar Master." The Cellar Master told Tim that he was in charge of all of the Sommeliers and all of the wine aboard the ship. We got a big kick out of pointing out the Salamander every time we saw him from then on.

It was formal night, so everyone was dressed in their finery for dinner.   We descended the Grand Staircase to give everyone a chance to see our formal attire.

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Everyone but Tony, the non-participator, attended the Captain's Gala Toast followed by the evening entertainment in the ship's theater. The dancers and singers were excellent. Dorothy and Emma went back to their cabin while BJ, Tim and Barbie made their way to the Cova Cafe to hear the A Cappella group, "The Cat's Pajamas". Then it was time for bed.

On Monday, BJ did her routine in the fitness club, then met the others for breakfast in the island cafe. Bacon, bacon, bacon!  We watched the approach to Jamaica from our little balcony.

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BJ and Emma went to the card room and put together a jigsaw puzzle while they listened to the announcements for the crew safety drill. Team Trivia was supposed to start at 11:00, but the crew safety drill was still in progress. The Morris team out-waited the competition and then sent Dorothy out in search of the Activity Staff. When he finally showed up, he organized a male Morrises against the female Morrises game. The males won, but we all got prizes!

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We had decided on lunch in the main dining room, but it was closed since we were in port, so it was back up to the Island Cafe for another buffet lunch.  We had an impromptu napkin folding demonstration by Marcos, one of the waiters.

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It was raining, but the ship had supplied umbrellas so we decided to go ashore in Jamaica.

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We stopped at the first bar we found and had a Red Stripe (except for Emma). We enjoyed watching the tourists bargaining for beads and other items on the beach.

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A quick tour through the gift shop at the end of the dock and we were back on the ship in time for the afternoon Team Trivia game. This time we were not so lucky and we had competition. We got an embarrassing score of 10 our of 20. No prizes for us this time!

We played a little shuffleboard on the deck, being careful not to send any of the playing pieces overboard!

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We met in our room for canapés and wine (except Emma) before dinner.

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BJ had the tiny partially deboned baby chicken for dinner while Tony had the vegetable curry. Tiaramisu was among the dessert choices!

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BJ, Barbie, Dorothy and Emma went to the Captain's Cocktail Party. They were a little confused when they were introduced to "The Marshall" but finally figured out that he was the Captain.

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Complimentary cocktails were served to everyone (except Emma who had a coke). Barbie had what we think was a Manhattan, but tasted more like a fireball.

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The captain proposed a toast and then introduced the three couples who had done the most traveling on Celebrity.

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The first couple had been on 32 cruises. The second couple had been on 38 cruises. The third couple had been on an unbelievable 74 cruises! I expected them to be too large to fit on the dance floor but they were surprisingly thin and fit looking.

Showtime featured Jamaica's #1 Comedienne Matilda (who turned out to be a ventriloquist's dummy.

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The opening act was Adage Duo David Lange and Ester who did amazing gymnastics.

The Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Show revealed WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION! And based on one of the couples' answer to the "Strangest Place You've Ever Made Whoopee" question, I'd advise future guests aboard the Century against sitting in the third row of the theater. One of the contestants said that his favorite condiment is "Trojan".

It was a stormy night. The ship rocked violently all night. It would have been REALLY bad if we had had to abandon ship and get on one of those lifeboats! We were really surprised when we woke up in calm water of Grand Cayman.

Tuesday we met for breakfast (BACON, BACON, BACON) and discussed our plans for the day. Tim and Barbie had picked out an excursion to a hotel with a beach but the excursion staff said it was a rocky beach. We decided to either go to Cemetery Reef, a more deserted beach or Seven Mile Beach where there were more shops and amenities. We boarded the tender for shore and were disappointed to find that once we landed we were nowhere near George Town.

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The Disney cruise next to us was giving its passengers a free shuttle ride into town but our cruise was not offering transportation. Tony and Dorothy took the next tender back to the ship. BJ, Barbie, Emma and Tim asked one of the tour operators about which beach would be preferable for snorkeling. She said the seas were too rough for snorkeling so if we went to a beach, it would just be to sit on the beach. We elected to take the $5 per person ride into town and do a little shopping. Del Sol was our favorite shop with items that change color in the sun.

We noted that the tour operator had been right.  If we had tried to snorkel, we would have been beaten to death by the waves.  They were crashing on the rocks so hard that they were sending spray across the street and onto the porches of the shops.

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After a bit of wandering around, we stopped at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for the $7.50 "Perfect Margarita" (except for Emma). They should have titled it "The $7.50 TINY Perfect Margarita". It was delicious though.

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We enjoyed seeing the parrots and other animals around Margaritaville.

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We rode the tender to the ship and were back in time for lunch.  

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We tried out the wrap buffet and the burger grill. Naptime by the pool was the next activity for BJ while the rest of the family dominated the "Name That Tune" contest and took home winning visors.

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Catchphrase was the next activity. It was a lot like Password except the password was a common phrase. There were no prizes for this activity so we moved on to the next one which was "Fact or Fiction". The Morrises dominated once more and won luggage tags for the entire team.

We invited everyone to our room for an Anchors Up party with more of those pretty little canapés and wine (for everyone but Emma).

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It was Lobster and Prime Rib night in the main dining room, followed by Baked Alaska on Parade!

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Following dinner, Dorothy, Emma and BJ went to the "Dance Around the World Show" while Tim played in the Texas Hold 'Em tournament.  He took third place, but it didn't come with a prize.  Tonight BJ and Tony slept with the balcony door open to enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Wednesday, BJ hurried to the fitness club so she could get back to the cabin in time for the breakfast we had ordered to have sent to our room. By the time breakfast got there though, BJ had succumbed to the rocking of the ocean and didn't feel like eating. Tony polished off 2 servings of bacon, 2 servings of sausage, a bagel and hashbrowns.

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BJ felt better in time for the Catchphrase activity where she and Dorothy and Emma won more ID holders. There was just enough time for a game of Scrabble before lunch. Tim and Barbie were the winning team. We decided to have lunch in the main dining room for a change. We learned that we prefer the buffet.

BJ won the first round of the blackjack tournament turning her (fake) $500 into (fake) $1900, but lost out in the final round where she only won one hand. Tim won another Texas Hold 'em tournament though, adding another (real) $175 to his winnings.

Since we were disappointed with the lunch choices in the main dining room, we stopped by the buffet for a second lunch with dessert.

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We went to the Crystal Room to watch the Junior Cruisers Talent Show. There were some pianists, a vocal percussionist, some hula hoopers, and tongue tricks.   We didn't see any decorating at the Family Cookie Decorating Activity, but there were cookies on the buffet, so we helped ourselves.

We met in our room for a glass of wine before dinner (except Emma) and then back down to the dining room for the final formal meal of the trip. Entertainment for the evening was Noodles Levinstein, a comedian. BJ wanted to stay up for the "Ship Kicking Good Time" they were going to have at the Country Music Dance, but she was too tired.

We spent another night with the door open so we could hear the sounds of the sea as we slept and awoke to the sounds of the luggage being unloaded in Miami. We met for one last bacon loading session before disembarking. We all commented on what an easy relaxing disembarkation process the ship had.

We found a taxi that could take all six of us back to the airport for $24 - a better deal than the $9 per person shuttle ride. Tim, Barbie and Emma stood by for the earlier flight to Atlanta and almost got on, but a few last minute standbys got on the list ahead of them. BJ, Tony and Dorothy decided to take the leisurely route and wait for the later flight.  The Non-rev Gods were smiling on us again as all six of us were seated in first class for the ride home!

Slightly Heavier BJ and Tony