Saturday, January 26, 2019

Star Trek cruise - days 3 and 4

Another day of cruising and fun, starting with a run on the deck (well, Kip started with a run, I actually took a week off for once):

An excellent shirt choice by Rodney:

I just love that a group dressed up as Stand By Me characters for their photo with Wil Wheaton!  I lost track of their names; I'll add that if/when I figure it out:

(photo credit = someone on Facebook!)

Pretty much says it all!

There's Janeway again!  And Erin Macdonald, giving a science briefing - I so enjoy her talks, that was a highlight of the Las Vegas convention and I'm really glad they brought her on the cruise as well:

I popped in to see Rekha Sharma's donut decorating, looked like a fun activity:

And back to 13 Forward for a second science briefing, where Phil Plait had some very-recent space news - they found BB-8!

And now for one of my favorite cruise shows, Nana's cooking demonstration.  Different chef but still funny, JT trying his best to help and still making us laugh, and in the middle of the action is Nana somehow creating delicious food to share with a roomful of people:

I can't even explain what was so funny, you kind of had to be there:

And that was even before Ethan Phillips showed up unannounced!

Nana will probably want to add more when she gets ahold of the bottle...

Thank you for the food, drink, and entertainment!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Watching an ECP cameraman capture some cruise-related thoughts while he had these two together:

I didn't get a great photo, but I did enjoy listening to Mary Chieffo, Kenneth Mitchell, and Erin Macdonald discuss the science of Discovery:

Robert Picardo and Jordan Bennett told stories and sang fun songs (possibly some new ones this year), always a good time watching these two joke around:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Ethan's late-night adult comedy was a blast, and if you didn't figure out beforehand that this could be raunchy, he set the tone with the very first joke.  We were rolling on the floor starting immediately.  After the show he had a minor medical issue come up and had to leave the ship the next day; glad to find out later that he's OK!  Thanks for the laughs, Ethan!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The next day the ship was parked at Grand Cayman, and I had gotten a tip that a tour of Cayman Spirits Co. might be fun, so we trekked over to check it out - party time!

Rum tasting, a tour of the facility, peace, love, Trek, what more could we ask for?

This is more up John's alley, and we should have stopped in here because the vegan bread/chocolate place in town had a long wait for a table - next time!

Hmm, maybe John could work here for a few months...

Back on board for more Star Trek fun.  We dropped in at the "Captain vs. Klingons" tennis match and I ended up staying for the whole thing - the combination of decent tennis play, trash talking (they all had mics on and interacted with each other and the crowd) and watching Jason Isaacs take on both Michael Dorn and Kenneth Mitchell was more compelling than expected.  Plus they made sure we knew that tennis conditions were humorous - not your normal tennis court (longer, sloped up to the middle, and with a net over the top - "that stupid thing!" or words to that effect).

Distilled down, Jason Isaacs is always entertaining.

Michael Dorn serving:

Kenneth and Michael's secret strategy - hide behind the net?

Sometimes it works...

A surprisingly amusing way to spend an afternoon:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Thank goodness (and amazingly) Jason won in 2 sets, so I still had a bit of time to catch part of the Deep Space Nine panel with these fun folks:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Another highlight was the game show of the week (probably my favorite evening show because you never know what will happen).  With Ethan needing to leave, Robert Picardo and Jonathan Frakes took turns stepping in to take on Jason Isaacs and Wil Wheaton.  Lots of laughter, amusing reactions by the Brit (Isaacs) to American-centric questions, and an excellent showing by Jeopardy geek Wil Wheaton who won both rounds and seemed really excited about the whole thing.  From a fellow Jeopardy geek, that was awesome!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Yet another highlight - playing a poker qualifying round for the chance to play in the finals against Wil Wheaton.  Kip had tried once already, but the very-fast blind structure makes it much more of a "luck" game vs. needing a lot of skill.  John and I were like, "hey, we can do that", so we joined Kip and Rodney to try our luck too:

I was out early on a coin-flip hand, taking the opportunity to snap a photo of the rest of the action:

Excitingly, the last 2 players at the table were Kip and John, so Kip offered John a deal - the cash winnings in return for the final table spot that Kip really wanted.  Deal! said John, and we were all stoked that Kip would get a chance to play against Wil.  Super cool!

Poker and cruise stories to be continued...

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Star Trek Cruise! (days 1-2)

Our second Star Trek cruise!!  One of my all-time favorite vacations.  Not long ago, all that I knew about the Star Trek universe was 95% The Original Series (including reading many books) and 5% Next Generation.  OK, and I'd seen the reboot movies but it has taken time for me to fully embrace them.  Anyway, now I'm working my way through all of Voyager, we've seen pieces from every series, and we're caught up on Discovery (and enjoying it).  Oh, and we just started watching The Orville.

Not to mention I brought all of my Star Trek T-shirts and ran out of time to wear them all on the cruise...

You could say I'm hooked.  Again.

The idea that there are many people with the same love of Star Trek who also believe in its ideals (especially Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) and are so much fun to be around... yay!!

I've spent years subduing my inner nerd, but that's all out the window now.

It was with much happiness that we were back on a Star Trek ship - John, me, Kip, Siobhan, and Rodney:

Climbing up the Jefferies Tube:

Collecting our program for the week from a friendly Star Ship crew member:

Gathering around the pool for the first of many exciting events - meeting all the Star Trek actors on board with us for the week!

We got decent seats this year, amid a full complement of enthusiastic fans:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The sailing of the United Federation of Planets flag:

Cruise director JT (who is awesome!) introducing some of the ECP crew ladies:

And now it's time to meet the people who brought the shows to life!  A selection of the photos I took, starting with the suave Casey Biggs (and I'm so happy the rest of the Rat Pack will be back in 2020):

Our favorite hologram Robert Picardo and his singing partner Jordan Bennett:

Nana!  So happy you're back too!

Kenneth Mitchell, a new face this year, demonstrating his excellent Discovery Klingon speaking voice (contrasted only slightly with his pink hoodie):

The ever-delightful John de Lancie, who is way sweeter than his character Q:

Gates McFadden, with an arm injury that sounded like it could have been much worse (glad it wasn't!) (here's hoping next year the TNG crew shows up unscathed):

Our favorite Star Trek comedian, Ethan Phillips:

The friendliest Klingon ever, Mary Chieffo:

Looking forward to hearing Brent Spiner sing again:

Jason Isaacs!  What a surprise, not only funny and charming but also completely down-to-earth and seemingly involved in everything, every day of the cruise, immersing himself in the experience.  Very relatable and without a hint that big stars don't normally act this way.  Thank you Captain Lorca!

And one of the biggest reasons I signed up for another Star Trek cruise - Wil Wheaton!  I have been a huge fan ever since I started listening to audiobooks that he reads.  Ready Player One, read by Wil Wheaton, the best version of that story.  Books he wrote, mostly short stories and compilations for now but he's writing something longer.

Plus guest appearances on The Big Bang Theory, his first movie Stand By Me, and then some personal stories on his blog.

And... even better in person, heartfelt and real, humorous and geeky, quick witted and fully present.  Thank you Wil!

OK, I'll try not to go on and on and gush about everything, even though I want to.  Just the highlights!  I'll try...

A bit of Ferengi fruit carving at the buffet:

Sailing away from Miami on a lovely day:

A glimpse of Miami Beach:

OK, that's enough scenery.  Back to the important stuff.

An introduction to the rest of the wonderful crew, including writers, artists, and scientists (I love that the cruise includes actors PLUS great people like these folks):

Trek-themed vodka:

"Artifacts" from Deep Space Nine in the Star Trek museum:

Mirror, mirror:

The welcome show the first evening started off with a bang - when we were invaded by the Borg!  What?!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The Borg are apparently a group of superfans from Germany, brought in by ECP to infiltrate the ship.  Genius!  We saw them just about every day, dancing and meeting people and posing for photos.  Commitment to the role, most impressive:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Thomas Dolby did a one-man musical show where he demonstrated his amazing ability to create little tracks and loop them to overlay on each other and form a complete song in front of our eyes (and ears).  I loved his stories and photos behind the song "She Blinded Me With Science"

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Theme of the night = Pajama Party, which is a theme I embrace wholeheartedly (I may not have been the only one wearing jam jams on other evenings as well).

Late night game show - Deep Space Nine vs. Discovery in "Star Trek Feud":

Klingon vs. Bajoran, with a nod (or 2) to the pajama theme:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Somehow I made it to the top deck the next morning for yoga with Mary Chieffo (she was awake too, who needs sleep this week?) - so worth it!  Mary took us through her voice and stretch routine that she uses to prepare for a day of work, so wonderful of her to share with us:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The ship was parked at Great Stirrup Cay, and John and I intended to go ashore to explore after I booked our cabins for next year (KATE MULGREW!).  However, as others can attest, a rainstorm plus tender boats and beaches don't go great together, so we bailed (figuratively).

Back to the important stuff.

An excellent Q-and-A with the Discovery cast; even these sessions were better than at the convention, perhaps because of the more intimate venue, maybe because the actors feel more a part of the crowd instead of just popping in and out for an afternoon in Las Vegas.

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The DISCO crew was so amiable and funny!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

One of the Star Trek-themed bars on the ship:

Love the door decorations - but we ran out of time to see them all this year, dang it.

Part of the fun is people watching and T-shirt reading (and deciphering):

John de Lancie brought back his Scopes Monkey Trial reading, along with the start of a new chapter - looking forward to seeing the rest of it next year!  It amazes me what humans are capable of (and I mean that in multiple ways).

And now, for the 60's Groovydeck Party!  Kip brought his Las Vegas Marathon costume, which was a huge hit:

Siobhan working the sparkles too - I was standing next to Kip when she first walked by and neither of them recognized the other, too funny:

Elvis was interested in the KFC:

All of Gilligan's Island - including the boat:

"Redshirt lives matter"

John joined me briefly on the dance floor:


The highlight of the night - Mary Chieffo calling out "Hey, it's Elvis!" and agreeing to a photo!  Huge thank you Mary, you're awesome!

Elvis doing a bit of dancing:

And... it's a wrap:

Time to rest up for another big day!