JoCo Cruise Crazy

We had been considering a couple cruises, but the choice was made easy when one of them became free. So I bought plane tickets, and we flew down to Miami Sunday, January 2nd. So nice to be hot in jeans again, and the transit was not too bad to Ft. Lauderdale. I’d managed to not pack shorts, so we actually did a bit of shopping, then got on the ship. We joined our fellow geeks on deck as we left, then there was a cocktail party, then dinner (the food on ship wasn’t that great, except for the places you paid a premium for). No events Sunday night, which was fine as we were wiped and headed for bed.

Monday we stopped at Half Moon Cay. It’s a private island for Carnival/HAL so it’s an extension of the ship – we tendered over and had some of the BBQ lunch, then laid out on the beach for a while. That afternoon was the first concert (they generally ran from 5 to 7:30). Up first was Wil Wheaton reading several stories, then Paul and Storm came out and did their usual thing, ending of course with Wil on stage and an epic The Captain’s Wife’s Lament. That night was the Paul F. Tompkins Memorial Mustache Formal (memorial because he was supposed to be on the cruise and wasn’t), and everyone had on false mustaches.

Jill and Wil

Tuesday we were at sea, but didn’t do too much, other than JoCo’s Q&A. That afternoon was the Jonathan Coulton and John Hodgman show, that started with JoCo (bringing up Paul and Storm), then Hodgman joined him. Hodgman did his judge thing, then JoCo came back to finish up. He played so much, I wondered how Friday was going to go.

Wednesday we went to a place I never want to return to: Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Jill and decided to check out the shopping, but didn’t have much of an appetite for it after running the “Do you need a taxi?” gauntlet (still picked up a sculpture and a hat). We went quickly back to the mostly deserted ship and found good spots up on deck. That afternoon’s show was RiffTrax (ex MST3K), Molly Lewis and Mike Phirman. The RiffTrax guys were just as fun as the other ex MST3K guys, and Mike Phirman is hilarious, both as a stand up comic and musician. That night we had dinner at one of the “restaurants” that you pay extra for, “Le Cirque”. Better food than the dining room, but we wouldn’t do it again.

Thursday was our favorite stop: George Town, Cayman Islands. It was like night and day compared with Jamaica, plus we got our best meal of the trip. Last cruise we had stayed in Miami the night before it started, and had an amazing meal at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. I discovered they’d since opened a location in the Cayman Islands, and it was close by, so I made a reservation for lunch. It was located in Camana Bay, a new upscale shopping area. We were early and we did some shopping (including a great Charlie Brown Christmas decoration on clearance) before heading over to lunch.

I started with the chile chicken wings and Jill had the house greens. She had the pulled pork sandwich and liked it, but loved the thick cut potato chips with pan fried onion dip, and I enjoyed my pork chop. I was deprived for beers since the cruise had a lousy selection, and they delivered, but the best part was the bourbon ice cream for dessert. After that we relaxed for a while and used their WiFi (the WiFi aboard ship was like trying to suck a golf ball through a straw), then walked across the main road to the Royal Palms and used their beach (where all the cruise ship passengers are dropped).

That afternoon’s show was Peter Sagal, Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse and John Roderick. Jill was looking forward to Peter Sagal, who read several of his short pieces; Stepto was funny, but the revelation was John Roderick, entertaining and soulful.

Friday we were at sea, still got up somewhat early to catch some of the quiz show. That afternoon was the JoCo request show, a great selection of old and new songs and eventually all the performers showed up to cover Sloop John B. Dinner that night was at Tamarind, the Asian styled restaurant, and my favorite on ship (never had a duck or lobster spring roll before, very good). Finally after dinner we had an unplanned gathering where we got autographs and pictures.

JoCo and Jill

Saturday morning the 8th it was time to leave the boat. We got breakfast right before they shut down, then left, picked up our luggage, and caught a cab to the airport. Too bad we couldn’t leave – we got there at 10 and our first flight didn’t leave until after 4. Good thing I had a lot of internet catch up to do. We had lunch at the Chili’s there right before we could check in – I must admit my jalapeno burger was very good (and Jill loved her fajitas). I think that tells you something about the quality of the cruise ship food right there.

When we checked in and got to the gate, I looked for a place to charge my phone. There were exactly two outlets in that wing, and you had to sit on the floor to use them (and folks already were). I still needed a fix, and sat there until close to boarding time. The flight was ok, and we soon got to Charlotte, where we had an hour layover (and another lack of outlets). We landed in Dulles a little after 9, and were home by 10.

New Year’s

Wednesday Jill’s dad and his wife came to stay with us. She went into DC with them, then she made Caesar salad for dinner and I grilled some steaks. They were on their own Thursday as Jill was working late and I was pretty late, got home at 8:30. They were fine with that, went to Cheesecake Factory (their favorite). On Friday, both Jill and I were off, so we went into DC with them, went to the Ellipse to see the National Christmas Tree and all the state trees. We had made dinner reservations at the new Rustico location in Ballston, and had a very nice dinner there. Everyone got pizza but me, and I had the cheeseburger (it sounded great and it was), plus we got some free beer (ordered something on the menu they were out of).

We stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home for cupcakes and ice cream, then went home and watched Toy Story 3 (and now I’ve watched two of the movies on the top ten lists). We flipped between annoying New Year’s shows at 11:30, then all headed to bed once the ball dropped. Today they hit the road before we got up, and we were up pretty early for us (around 9). We had to drop Illa at the kennel, and then Jill suggested Eggspectation for breakfast. I was surprised by the lack of crowd, but didn’t have a problem digging into my crepes with egg and ham (Jill had Eggs Benedict). I spent most of the day organizing the library and laundry room and listening to the complete Jayhawks discography. I jazzed up the fettucine alfredo that had been left behind for dinner, then we watched some of Being Human (Season 2 has been sitting on the DVR for a while).