Posts Tagged cruise

Live from Carnival Glory

As you are probably aware, I do my fair share of karaoke. Ok, maybe even more than my fair share! So when I heard there was live band karaoke on our boat during the Magic Cruise, I was all for it. The first night it happened, I was tied up with configuring Faceboat, but I resolved to join the others for singing times later in the week.

On Thursday, we went over and grabbed two large booths. A bunch of us signed up, including the Seattle karaoke regulars. Live band karaoke has a somewhat shorter song list than regular karaoke, obv, because it’s songs the band has the sheet music for. (Also potentially the license, not sure.) Luckily, they had a song listed I was happy to do!

Ke$ha – Tik Tok
I love this song because it was basically our dance anthem on Magic Cruise 2, and I love this one the most of all of Kesha’s insane sing-a-long pop songs (see also: Die Young, Your Love Is My Drug, Blow, etc.) As I do when I’m about to sing a song *I* can’t help but sing along to, I stated “This one is kind of a singalong” at the start of my live karaoke act. Afterward, the MC/band singer remarked on how she thought I meant some classic rock or something.

“That must be how you guys do it in Seattle, huh?”


…more on this lovely singer later!

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Unexpected Party

I was on the Carnival Glory, and we had set sail (after an arduous safety briefing). Our group of Magic players and significant others were set to meet in the conference room (Green Room) on the 4th Deck. To get to it, I decided to walk through the bar on 4, the Ivory Lounge. When I came through the doors, my keen sense of observation immediately detected something amiss:

The place was packed with 200-300 men and women, all sitting, standing, talking, all of roughly college age.

I have never seen that many people packed together in one place on a boat, except maybe the first day on the top deck, and the safety drills. Baffled, I walked through until I caught a young lady’s eye. I asked, “So, are you all part of one group, or…?”

“Oh yeah,” she replied. “It’s this group of 300 singles, and this is our first meet-up.”

My jaw dropped a bit, but I recovered and made a cool exit. “Cool! Well, I’ll hopefully see you guys later!” I went through into the Green Room, met all of the Magic folk, and then went wandering.

After some hours at the martini bar (man, best bar ever), I went up to the top deck with friends for some 24hr pizza. Up next to the pool, about 100 of these singles had arrayed a circle of chairs and were playing some sort of crazy game. “Get in there, Dave!” said Amanda B and Lee. Yeah yeah, ok. I pulled up a chair, and immediately found out what was going on from my neighbors: Never Have I Ever Musical Chairs.

(Aside: What a wonderful merging of two well-known games! In Never Have I Ever Musical Chairs, there is 1 fewer chair than participants, so 1 person is always standing in the center. That person states a thing they have never done – “Never have I ever smoked pot” – and then each participant who HAS done the thing gets out of their chair and finds a new one to sit in. Whoever is left standing at the end states the next thing!)

It was during this game where I chatted a bit more with some of the friendly singles and found out that they were all Mormon. So, our ship had been invaded by a group of singles, which seems awesome, but they were all Mormon, which seems slightly less awesome in the drinking-and-debauchery sense. They were having a good time, though, and it was infectious!

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Port Authority

Now that I have been on a few cruises (this was my fifth Carnival cruise, so I leveled up from red to gold ship card :o) I feel I can speak with some reasonable knowledge of some of the cool and not-so-cool things I have done while off-boat in port.

  • Cool: Going on active excursions. I really enjoyed zip lining and rock climbing, and snorkeling as always (although I had the same drowning reflex I always have when I put my face underwater)
  • Cool: Doing literal anything with friends is 1000x better than doing any activity alone. Had a delicious lunch in Grand Cayman with folk and it was a ton of fun
  • Not So Cool: The extremely touristy town next to the piers. I mean, I get this, but after the true-city feel of Juneau and Victoria on our northerly cruise, I am sick of them.

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There and Back Again

Just got back to Seattle from a week-long trip on the Magic Cruise. It’s unsurprising that a combination of floating hotel, drinks with friends, dancing, Magic, other games and tropical vacation has been the best trip I have taken each year for the last 5 or so. Woooo! This post will be pretty stream-of-consciousness because maaaan I’m tired.

  • I found myself getting a little tired of Magic at points on this Cruise, but since tablets and phones are now ubiquitous, I could always get a game of Solforge or Stone Age in between drafts.
  • Martini bars are the best bars!
  • I should bring two suits next year, so that I can suit up at least twice as much. (So basically every day.)
  • Faceboat was a success! A moderate one, since the signal range was awful, but luckily the next project in the works (codename: Facebuoy) will be able to address these shortcomings.
  • I should probably take an extra day off after the cruise next year 😉

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Ever get a moment where you have kind of been deep in the trenches ignoring a big thing about to happen, and then all of a sudden something clicks, and you have a realization about how CLOSE upcoming events are?

Yeah, that happened to me yesterday. I was at a work conference helping out /observing folk, stress-fully checking lists of work things to do before I leave Friday and in my head I heard this voice, “Wait, Friday? That means we’ll be on a boat in only a few days!”


I felt a lot less stressed after my brain made that little connection, and it was easier to get things done in a sane, less stressed manner. I mean, after all, I’m going to be drinking the drinks, gaming the games, and friending it up on a cruise in only a few days.


(p.s. I should have posted this last night but again my blog was misbehaving and omgomgomg)

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Faceboat, Redux

A few years ago, before I went on the Magic Cruise, I envisioned a digital bulletin board we could use on the boat (without actual internet access!) that would allow us to plan and meet up when it’s been historically kind of awkward to roam the ship for people. I dubbed this tool Faceboat. I made a pretty reasonable v1 of it, but when I tried to get it to work on the boat, I failed. (I hadn’t really tested the network connectivity stuff. Oops!)

Now as the fifth Magic Cruise approaches (getting super excited!) I’d like to reexamine the goals of Faceboat and see if there’s a way to make something simpler that satisfies my goals for it.


  • Something digital
  • Each person can use it to communicate with any other person on the boat
  • Must work without cell service or internet (local wireless is fine)

I’m thinking that the SWEET version would be a self-contained app that you leave running and that pops a notification if you get within range of the hub and someone left a message for you.

The LESS SWEET BUT STILL PRETTY COOL version is a simple webpage with a comment form that you can filter by poster, in order to find messages left for you.

I wonder if I have time between now and next weekend to make a sweet iPhone/Android app…

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Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and it screams to be free and in the world.  This isn’t as easy as it might appear, as some ideas are not satisfied with being spoken – they must be made real in the form my imagination fits to them.  In this case, I had an inkling of an idea when I found out my new HTC Evo phone (which is awesome, btw) could be a wireless access point.  What if I could host an application on my phone, where there was no Internet?  “No Internet?” you scoff. “Where exactly is that going to apply?”

On the Magic Cruise, that’s where.

I have been developing a local-area-network version of Facebook (*much* reduced in capability) for use on this cruise a bunch of nerd-friends of mine are taking next week.  I call it Faceboat.  Faceboat will do a few things for us that may or may not be useful:

  • We can check-in from various parts of the boat, in case anyone was wondering where to find us
  • We can set up rendezvous plans without needing to be in exactly the same place at the time of the plan
  • We can put our room # up, available to friends, for reference

I’ll be honest – it was fun to release the creative desires that led to the imagined reality of Faceboat, but we may find it is completely unnecessary once we embark on the cruise.  Still, totally fun to do!

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Amanda Bornhofer

I met Amanda on the second Magic Cruise, while we were out on the Pub (not public) crawl of Key West. It did not take long for us to hit it off, because we had an excellent time bar-hopping, visiting and conversing (rather than playing Magic) many nights while on the boat. Amanda’s the kind of person who you can just as easily to talk to about any subject as you can just sit next to and remain happily silent just people-watching or listening. She and I and Mick and Patrick ran around late laughing our heads off, trespassing in various restricted sections and generally having a wonderful time making mischief – a tradition that to this day is accompanied with fingers up like horns next to the head and a “Pirates!” exclamation.

Amanda and I had a great talk or two on that cruise, about various subjects – Magic in the classroom, making friends, balancing work with going out – and then I had the opportunity to see her at a number of events throughout the year thus far, in San Diego, San Juan and U.S. Nationals. Amanda is a good person, who cares so much about the well-being and disposition of her friends, her family and her wards in the classroom that she often stresses herself out – and that’s just my observation from the small amount of time she and I have had chats together online! Honestly, she is a wonderful, caring, beautiful person, who is currently at the top of the list of my friends who can easily convince me to go out and do crazy things because it means I’ll have more time to hang out with said friends. (I even finally made a real weekend visit to the Midwest to see her, Steve and Lindsey, Danner, Alayna, Lems and a host of other awesome folks – which was as much them as her, but her awesomeness as part of this group cannot be denied!)

Despite getting to know each other so recently, Amanda and I get along so well that I count her among my closer friends. It helps that we think so alike in many ways, and that she’s smart, sassy and hilarious. :)

One more thing: I can’t talk about Amanda without talking about her laugh. It is unfortunate that I don’t have a recording I could embed here to share its majesty with the world, so my poor words will have to do the best they can to describe it. You know when you are near powerful speakers and the pressure of the sound they produce can make you feel like your heart is syncing up with the beat? Amanda’s laugh is like that – it doesn’t matter how I feel or what’s going on, when I hear it, the humor-pressure-wave rolls over me and I can’t help but smile!

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Teresa St. Arnauld

When I met Teresa, she had just said “yes” to Dwayne’s marriage proposal, on the first Magic Cruise.  Now, I understand this predisposes them to have been friendly to me (and in fact, I think I had met Dwayne at local Seattle Magic events previously), but even so, they were quite nice and easy to talk to.  Teresa, not being a Magic player herself, and I, not really able to play tournament Magic and looking for cool people to hang out with, ended up chilling together (with Jess, Rachel and Shannon) a bit on the rest of the cruise.

Teresa shares my affinity for corralling/organizing a bunch of gamers to go out together for dinner/etc.  She’s also quite good at it when she puts her mind to it.  Like many of my socialite-type friends, she’s very good at being inclusive in conversations, which I really admire because I feel awful when friends are left out of each other’s space on a full group outing.  Teresa and Dwayne’s wedding was wonderful, and it was Teresa’s idea to have Joe Rick Roll the audience – truly a genius masterstroke, and also hilarious.

Teresa and I aren’t hanging out all the time, but the time we do get to hang out together – Monday night karaokes, after long Magic events, etc. – is definitely much better for her presence.  She even found a sweet Thai place after an event here in Seattle that didn’t spice me to death – big thumbs up!

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Ya Mon

Our last port of call was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  Mick and I signed up for a combo excursion – Zip Line and River Tubing!  How could you go wrong?  The main problem with the day’s adventure is that the previous night’s adventure was a bit taxing and man-was-I-tired.  Since I was a little out of sorts in the morning during breakfast, I forgot my beach towel in the room and had to mad dash down to the bus to meet everyone.  I also forgot my sunscreen so both of us were dreading the harsh misery of the Jamaican sun.

Fun facts about Jamaica:

  • Their drivers are about as aggressive as Italian drivers.  When we were driving up the mountain to get into the canopy, and the single-lane road became steadily narrower (trapped between a cliff-face and a drop-off), there were numerous times another vehicle would honk-honk-honk and zoom by us.  Ridiculous.
  • Since tourism is their #1 industry, their social norms have modified accordingly.  At the end of our excursion, I had some shady dealings with one of the photographers to get some photos of the river tubing – he pointed at the $60 price tag for 18 photos, then agreed to a “deal” of $35 for the set… as long as I paid $25 to the register and $10 to him.  Shady!
  • Most of the people I talked to were both grumpy and friendly.  It was sort of odd; my guess is seeing so many clueless American tourists each day was a major factor.

The zip line portion could have been longer – it was three too-quick lines between platforms.  Mick even suggested we ask to do it again immediately afterward (after all, we already had the gear on).  I had tons of fun whooping and zooming down from the high point to the first tree-platform… but the process of zip lining is very much an unstable balance equilibrium problem.  The more you consciously try to adjust your position / rotation on the line, the harder it is to keep from twisting.  By the time I realized this, I was already heading down the last part of the line.

By contrast, the river tubing was relaxing and fun, but a tad too long.  The best part of that were the rapids (obv) but there were only three real white-watery sections.  The plus side (for our poor sunscorched heads) was that over 75% of the river tubing was under canopy cover and quite cool.

Even despite (or maybe due to) almost-drowning in Grand Cayman, I preferred it to Ocho Rios – possibly just because it wasn’t as “in your face” about the tourism.

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