Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Star Trek cruise - day 6 (last one!)

Lots going on today, no time to dwell on the fact that this amazing experience was almost over.  Well, I did think about that in our spare moments.  All the more to appreciate it.

Siobhan picked up her photos taken with Brent and Levar - awesome!

We all got photos with George Takei (YAY!) and when we receive our digital copies I'll add them here.

Update - here they are!  Thank you George, it was fantastic to meet you!

The Star Trek folks were so gracious and nice and engaging.  Even when we accidentally walked through Rene's photo area (so sorry!) or kicked John de Lancie (so sorry!), they said "no worries".  A nod and a "Hi" while walking down the hall.  Staying after their talk to answer more questions, sometimes gathered in the hall after getting kicked out of the room for the next show.

On top of that, I don't know if I've ever met a nicer crowd of fellow cruisers.  Everyone was so polite.  People went out of their way to help each other.  No cutting in at the buffet, no elbowing to get better access to the stars.  Smiles, hellos, meeting fun people.  And you kind of got the impression that everyone appreciated not just science and science fiction, but diversity and the best interests of humankind.  It was akin to arriving at college and feeling like "we're all in this together."  I loved it.

OK, on to the agenda!

We caught the beginning of Armin's 2nd Shakespeare talk and would have loved to listen to it all again, but Astronaut Rick was talking about the future of human space exploration.  Rick looks great in his blue jumpsuit - and it kind of makes some of the deck hands look like astronauts too.  He had lots of thoughts on what might be possible in the future, quite interesting:

We missed the ship building contest and tap dancing with Gates McFadden, just too much overlap in all the happenings (is "too much awesomeness going on!" a valid complaint?).  We also picked up the "Search for Spock" scavenger hunt clue sheet from Robb Pearlman but really didn't have time to go hunting around the ship in the middle of the day.

Instead, we headed up to 13 Forward to hear astronomer Phil Plait talk about the planets and missions to explore objects in our solar system.  Lots of great stuff.  He was excited to explain some things about Pluto, but ran out of time.  So Rene finally decided it was time to take over the stage, with help from his Deep Space 9 cohorts.  Phil tweeted a fun photo about the incident - he got a kiss on the cheek from Nana for it and didn't seem too upset!

I had fun listening to the DS9 crew talk for 30 minutes, then went to grab a quick bite from the cafe.  On the way I found one of the scavenger hunt items - Duck Spock!

The big event of the afternoon - the Klingon Pub Krawl!  We were excited to score tickets for this, it wasn't easy to get into.

Robert O'Reilly as Chancellor Gowron was hosting, and he was in full costume and makeup.  He gathered us together in the Klingon Karnivoria restaurant to kick things off:

Several other Klingons in attendance:

We moved down to Bar City for our next drink options and a round of learning the song "We're the Klingons!"

Siobhan with a bit of 2-fisted drinking while sporting a most awesome T-shirt - Geordi LaForge as Reading Rambo!

Last stop in the Krawl - the Atrium, where Gowron spoke again to his loyal crew, inspiring cheers, singing, and toasts.


Next up - George is back!  George Takei and his husband Brad took the stage to tell stories, answer questions, and playfully pick on each other like an old married couple.  It really was awesome being on the same cruise with them.

We missed the main entries in Riker's chair mounting competition (hosted by Jonathan Frakes, of course), but at least we saw the "run-off" and the winner - a guy with two women assisting, quite funny.  I think you had to be there.

The entertainment for the evening was Robert Picardo and his friend Jordan Bennett, singing songs and explaining some of the hijinks of their youth.  They were fun to watch together, and wow, Jordan can sing Broadway as well as (dare I say better than?) Robert can sing opera.  Quite entertaining!

It's not often I get to watch a podcast being taped, so I listened in as Jordan Hoffman interviewed Armin and Ethan for the "Engage" podcast.  Those two are always fun to hear anyway, and Jordan asked good questions.

One more trivia contest - with Connor Trinneer, yay!  John and I were surprised to get a reasonable number of answers right, but it's never going to be enough to win a Star Trek trivia competition around a bunch of Trekkies.  I was mostly there to watch Connor anyway  :)

And...that's a wrap!  We had to drag ourselves off the ship and back to real life the next morning...

Thanks for following along as I relive this amazing journey.  It may not surprise you to hear that we're signed up for Star Trek Cruise III next year - hello Wil Wheaton!

Come join us!

I also decided I should go to the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August, in the name of research.  It can't possibly be anywhere near as awesome as the cruise, but I will go check on that and report back  :)

Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Star Trek Cruise - day 5

Today we docked at Costa Maya, Mexico.  Siobhan, Rodney, and Kip went on a shore excursion to see Mayan ruins, showing us a photo of the steep stairs they were allowed to climb if they wanted to (looks pretty steep!):

John and I opted for a more leisurely morning, recharging for the last bit of excitement ahead.  We were happy to have time to check out the remaining hallways with decorated doors.  Here's a colorful United Federation of Planets flag:

He he...

I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I really like this Vulcan motto:

A neat piece of art:

Wow, this is extensive - our cruise route, depicted in Star Trek form (they also had a poster with the cruise ship schematics).  Not sure how they created it all, but it's pretty amazing and detailed:

This one lights up  :)

Well played:

More funny memes, and I especially like the Sulu one in the lower right:

The one on the left made me laugh out loud:

Yesterday, all my tribbles seemed so far away...  also note "Spock's shoulder and neck massage":

A brief diversion on deck 7 - the game room, finally with time to stop and look at everything.  Check out the 3D chess board!

Oops, more diversion, somehow we managed to eventually break away before it was completed:

Even the ship's sushi menu has been updated for this week, including Hikaru Sulu's "I Was Born There" Roll:

OK, back to the doors, let's finish these up!  Wow, that's creative:

Nice use of the peephole:

We always took the stairs (had to get SOME exercise) but I couldn't resist one ride on the turbolift to take photos:

John and I still had time to walk off the ship and look around the tourist area briefly:

The ocean is quite pretty here, beautiful blue and with waves crashing on rocks over yonder:

I've never seen this before!  Tiny piranhas that nibble on your feet - and people pay for this because...?  I guess if I really wanted to know I could have asked, but I was happy they didn't mind me taking a photo of their feet:

View of the little village, including the pole where they perform an acrobatic show like Mom and I saw in Mexico City (which is super cool, if you ever get a chance to see it):

The colorful tower we climbed up for the view:

We happened by a little booth where I caught a glimpse of a Star Trek symbol and had to go back to check it out.  They were taking Mexican coins and creating designs, and normally I wouldn't think much about it.  But the previous week one of the passengers told them about the Star Trek cruises (there were 2 back-to-back this year) and the guy took the idea and ran with it.  He told me that Star Trek fans spend money like no other tourists - that could be true!

So now I have this wonderful necklace:

Back on the ship, ready for a full evening of activities!

John went to see the Scopes Monkey Trial since he missed it the first time, and I sat in for a while and appreciated it all over again.

Then up to 13 Forward to listen to Max Grodenchik tell some stories.  The best part was when he coaxed Armin Shimerman to join him on stage for a rendition of the Ferengi's "Rules of Acquisition".

Someone captured a version of this duet previously:

The highlight of the evening - Brent Spiner sings!  He was amazing - I had no idea he was that good.  We waited in line to get front row seats, and it was so worth it.  I basically sat with my mouth open for a few minutes before I realized I should close it.

We knew he could sing, and here's my favorite Star Trek clip to demonstrate:

His performance on our ship was even better, and watching it in person was very special.  Thank you Brent!

Jeffrey Combs, Phil Plait, and Robb Pearlman starred in a game show called The Liar's Club where one person gave the correct definition of a strange word and the other two made something up - and the audience had to figure out who was telling the truth.  Three comedians playing off each other, it was funny (and I suppose I might have learned a bit of vocabulary, except the only thing I remember is that one word was related to an eskimo).

Ethan Phillips did another standup routine, tossing out jokes with his hilarious, somewhat halting, delivery.  He got some help from his friend Robert Picardo (the singing doctor) and a few people from the audience doing callbacks to a Rat Pack joke about Hortense that had gone wrong the previous night and also yelling "9:30" whenever Ethan asked what time it was (the show started at 9:30).  All in all, lots of laughter and giggles.

It's disco night and look who dressed up for it!  Nicely done, y'all:

Towel monkey, yay!

Bedtime - not too late for once - get some sleep to be ready for one last big day at sea!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Star Trek Cruise - day 4

Harvest Caye (also called Risa in the Star Trek vernacular), quite lovely.  I believe Norwegian Cruise Line owns the little island off the coast of Belize, so everything is geared toward cruise passengers.  We looked forward to a bit of roam-around time and a scavenger hunt.

Another leisurely morning.  If it wasn't for the late nights, we'd be getting lots of sleep.  As it was, I had decided to pretend I was still on California time so I could stay awake for the midnight (and later) events.  Anyway, it was a beautiful day, let's get walking.

What??  The first place we walked into had a Star Trek actor on the wall, but we're pretty sure he wasn't planted there for this cruise.  Just random coincidence.  Hi Chris!

The sign says "Free chocolate samples inside" - why yes, don't mind if we do.

Probably less of a coincidence:

Scavenger hunt scouting and a nice place for a group photo:

The nature center has a butterfly house, small but quite wonderful, with the highlight being the blue morpho butterflies (brown on the outside, bright blue inside):

This one looks like it's reading about itself:

The box where they hatch:

So beautiful, like the blue sky:

Another species, also colorful:

Such a picturesque island.  You can't even tell in this photo that the lighthouse is actually part of the zipline experience.  Yeah, touristy but still pretty.

Another fun activity:

Central American lizards are quite something to see:

Siobhan and Rodney checking out the beach:

More wildlife - this one was a bit camera shy (well, I probably ran up to it too quickly), so here's a zoomed-in picture:

Nice carving of manatees:

That sculpture was part of the scavenger hunt (although I can't remember how they worked Star Trek into that one), and we had done a decent job of scouting before the hunt started.  No, Chris Pine and Mr. Spock weren't part of the answers.  But we had a bead on the rest of it.  Just had to locate a few more things.  We turned in our answers and waited a couple days to find out if we got them right and who would win the random drawing from all the correct entries.

Apparently we did OK because Rodney and Siobhan won the scavenger hunt - congratulations!

Checking out the sand castle building contest - I think this is a Borg cube getting fired on by a starship (someone more "in the know" can tell me what type of ship that is):

My favorite!  Awesome idea and well made.

This one went for size, not bad:

We tracked down a 2-for-1 deal and shared some fruity drinks, yum:

Another excellent towel animal - plus a notice that there were a few tickets now available for the Klingon Pub Krawl.  Sweet!  We had tried to sign up before the cruise but they quickly sold out.  Another chance tomorrow to try to score some spots.

The highlight of the evening - Star Trek Squares!  With George as the center square, of course.  And the Gorn made an appearance!  The Gorn was funny, making noises and gestures and actually trying to answer the questions.  The rest of the stars were also hilarious.

I realize now we could have gone back to the 2nd showing to see if seats were available, since each show was completely different.  Next time!

We listened to Robert O'Reilly talk about his 3 sons and his life growing up in NYC.  Quite enjoyable, and I could picture a lot of the places in New York that he talked about.  It's neat getting to know some of these actors in ways you'd never see on television.

The Tribble Toss on the pool deck looked like fun (but quite challenging).  We might have also heard a bit of karaoke this evening, I can't recall for sure.

I did find out later that there was one super awesome karaoke performance on the ship, posted on Instagram by astronomer Phil Plait.  Thanks Phil!

One more time with The Rat Pack!  I couldn't resist.  They make me laugh.  They're adorable.  They're creative and musical.  They're cool and nerdy at the same time.

Thank you Armin, Ethan, Max, Jeffrey, Casey, and Vaughn!

It was worth staying up late for.  Again.