This is kind of a "bonus" report from our November 2, 1997, inaugural cruise on Celebrity's Mercury. Most of the highjinks which are reported here had nothing whatsoever to do with the ship, so I felt it better to leave these items out of the regular review, for the most part, and put them in a separate report, so those who are interested only in the ship won't be bored with our juvenile actions. To see the larger photo select the smaller photo contained within the text.
We have subscribed to the Prodigy service for 5 or 6 years now, and had corresponded over many of those years with Mary Batterson, who is also active on rec.travel.cruises. Mary's alias is Mary B. All criminals have aliases, don't they?? Please note the red nose on Mary B. And she CLAIMS that she doesn't drink much. (Or maybe is it that she doesn't drink very well???) Mary was instrumental in getting us booked on the inaugural of the Mercury and also helped us get suite amenities, including the services of a butler, which our cabin category would not otherwise have entitled us to. A couple of years ago, we had booked a suite on Carnival's Sensation and had posted a note requesting info as to whether Carnival offered any suite amenities, including evening canapes, etc. Well, our friend Mary Batterson replied that we might get 'A CAN OF PEAS', but were unlikely to get any canapes. Well, I USED to be a Republican (not sure what I am these days) and elephants supposedly remember everything, so when we ended up booking this cruise together with Mary B, an idea was born!! We decided that we needed to have Mary and Bruce Batterson receive our own personal CAN-O-PEAS, courtesy of us!! Eric worked diligently for a couple of days, grabbing a picture of the Mercury off Celebrity's home page, and then designing a label for a can of peas which basically said Mercury Can-O-Peas, Mary and Bruce Batterson.
After we got onboard the ship, we had to decide how to deliver the can-o-peas. We thought Mary and Bruce were in their cabin, so we called our butler, Richard, and asked him if he would deliver the peas for us. Richard is a very good egg, and he agreed to do it for us, even though Mary and Bruce's cabin were not in his area. He found a silver tray and white napkin and knocked on their door. Unfortunately, they weren't "home". He left the tray and can-o-peas on their bed. Actually, if worked out better, as we found out later. We hadn't left a note as far as who it was from, and Mary and Bruce stewed for a while, trying to figure out who had left the can-o-peas, as they thought they had been Boberized!! (For those unfamiliar with this term, it refers to a person on a previous cruise who was presented with a toilet seat by an infamous fellow named Bob, and there are photos to prove it).
Our first evening at our dinner table, we made friends with some of the wackiest people on the high seas. We had a table for 8, which included Gary and Eleanor (a couple around our age from the New York area), Allen and Marilyn (an older couple from Florida) and Michael and Richard (two brothers about our age). On the first night, we set an unfortunate trend for the week, as the Allen and Marilyn ordered wine and shared it with the table. This was the beginning of many bottles of wine and champagne for the week and three bottles for this evening alone. On Sunday evening the wine steward attempted to ignore our table. After Sunday, he was smarter than that.
The table was a varied group of people, but we just seemed to hit it off the first
night. Kind of symptomatic, I suppose, is that we didn't have the standard table
conversation--"what's your name, what do you do, how many cruises have you been
on?" type stuff. We just went straight to having fun. I still don't know what Gary and
Eleanor do for their "day jobs". They are both involved in the theatre part time, and
have the kind of "big" personalities associated with the theatre, as well as wonderful
singing voices. Allen is an author, who I have promised myself to look up on the
internet one of these days, as I bet he writes very interesting books. Michael was the
outgoing brother and the author of "the great monkey caper". More about that later on!!
Richard was the quiet one at the table. Actually, I should say, "comatose". It was
pretty funny actually--the whole table was laughing uproaringly from the first night on,
EXCEPT Richard. I don't think that he smiled ONCE during the week. He only spoke
rarely, when he was directly spoken to, and twice he spoke to me to ask me for the
cream for his coffee. Otherwise he almost never spoke all week. It doesn't take too
much looking at the table picture to figure out which one was Richard!!
On Monday night, Allen and Marilyn started up with the pick a number between 1 and 4 game. Not sure that I should give away THAT one, other than to say that I was not among the SCHMUCKS, although Eric, Gary, Richard and Michael, as well as our head waiter, Patu and the maitre d' were!!
Our head waiter Patu was our favorite target for the week. On the first night,
Patu came over to our table to introduce himself. I guess based on the raucous
laughter which had already been emanating from our table this evening, he introduced
himself as follows: "My name is Patu. I am from New Zealand, where men are men and
sheep are SCARED". Unfortunately for him, our table was not full of sheep!!!!
Monday night at dinner also started the real fireworks, as those troublemakers, Allen and Marilyn, taught the whole table how to hang a spoon off their nose. We were all sitting around the dining room, hanging spoons off our noses and drinking a couple of bottles of champagne. Life is good!! After he saw us hanging spoons at the dinner table, Patu came by with a soup ladle for his nose! We had made a pact that all of us would hunt for LARGE spoons in Mexico, but everyone but Marilyn and Allen were unsuccessful. By Wednesday night, they produced a HUGE ceramic soup ladle, which Marilyn said was going to hang on their kitchen wall from now on.
Allen and Marilyn had booked one of the Royal Suites on the ship and graciously decided to share it with us for a party on Tuesday night. We were surprised when we got back onboard in Calica to have a message on our voice mail in the cabin from Allen, inviting us to a party in his suite that evening. We certainly never minded showing up for such a party but were kind of surprised that Allen had our cabin number. We showed up OF COURSE, along with Gary and Eleanor. (Richard and Michael were no-shows). Allen said that he had been talking to the restaurant manager about getting our cabin numbers to invite us to his party and had been getting nowhere when Patu showed up. Due to security concerns, I guess they don't give out cabin numbers these days. However, Patu said "Oh THAT table, give those people whatever they want!!" We downed copious amounts of caviar and appetizers, as well as (I think--it's hard to remember!!) 2 bottles of champagne and a large bottle of white wine, as Allen regaled us with stories of his travels and bargaining for a leather coat in Africa.
The Royal Suites are nice accommodations, fully furnished. We thought it was pretty cute that the outside light on their deck was in the shape of an X. As we were just getting ready to head down to dinner, Gary excused himself to go to the bathroom and shortly thereafter, the phone rang. We could hear Gary's voice on the phone "Did you know there's a phone in your bathroom??" Well, maybe ya had to be there!! Marilyn asked him if all his plumbing was OK there in the bathroom. Whereupon, it was time to go to dinner!! Since we were all sufficiently LIT by this time, we decided to make a grand entrance into the dining room, especially since we were 15 minutes late already. We entered on the top level and went down the stairs six abreast, getting dirty looks all the way round, I'm sure. After a couple more bottles of wine with dinner, it's a wonder we made it out of the dining room that night.
We decided on Wednesday night that we would like some bananas foster for dessert one night. (For those that don't know, bananas foster is basically bananas in some liquor, set on fire and generally served with ice cream. Nothing too complicated.) Well, Patu said that they didn't DO bananas foster and besides they were short of bananas.
Since Patu didn't seem to be inclined to be too accommodating, we decided to take matters into our own hands. On Thursday night, our table met at the champagne bar before dinner to plan "the great banana caper" (As well as partake of some champagne and caviar--it was just THERE, you know!! G!!) Allen and Marilyn provided bananas, along with Bruce and Mary B, plus we brought our bananas from our fruit basket, to contribute to the cause. That evening Mary and Bruce Batterson had been invited to dine with the hotel manager. We hunted down Patu during dinner and Eric and Eleanor practically begged him to make a delivery to the captain's table for us. Patu whimped out on us though and refused to deliver a banana to Bruce and Mary B at the captain's table. Would have been such great fun!! G!!
As it came time for dessert, everyone at the table took out his or her banana and placed it in their champagne glass. Then we put two matches in each banana, lit them and called Patu over to check out our masterpiece. We then broke into a beautiful chorus of "YES, we have some bananas!!". Patu only wanted to know where we got all those bananas from!
Anyway, Mary and Bruce came over after dinner and Bruce received his "honorary banana" from Patu, which made him an honorary tablemate. Thereafter, Bruce told Patu he was on his own and booked out of there! Chickensh__!!
Thursday night, as on most of the other nights, we were some of the last passengers out of the dining room, and I think that night, THE final ones. We walked up those wonderful stairs, four across, singing a chorus of Day-O. I am only a moderately OK back up singer and Eric can't carry a tune in a bucket, but Eleanor and Gary and Allen and Marilyn have wonderful singing voices. Several of the waiters and busboys hung over the rail from the balcony as we were coming up and applauded our singing.
On Friday, we had a little party in our cabin with Bruce and Mary B, with some nice hot hors douvres, and several bottles of liquid libation. Richard was very helpful in delivering our hors douvres and procuring extra glasses, napkins, etc. We would have had a larger party, as we have had on several cruises, but the size of the cabin just wouldn't allow it. We had allowed the bottle of champagne to get a little too warm, I suppose, as when Eric "popped the top", the cork went sailing about 40 feet straight up into the air! I suppose somebody was pretty surprised to walk out on their balcony and see a champagne cork!! We toasted a wonderful cruise. And what was the most wonderful thing is that after the party was over, somebody ELSE did all the cleaning up!!
We decided at dinner, either Tuesday or Wednesday, can't remember which, that a "formal" spoons picture would be ultimate best memento of our cruise. So, "all the usual suspects" met before dinner in the champagne bar on Friday night so we could proceed to have a formal portrait taken, including spoons. I'm sure that we got some very weird glances while we were having the pictures done, as we had one "straight" picture and one "cutlery" picture taken.
Saturday we went in search of the spoons picture, with great anticipation. Looked ALL over--NO spoons picture!! We found our very nice "straight" picture, so we decided to buy that. We half figured maybe somebody at the table had bought all the copies of the spoons picture, and that's why there were none. We met up with Gary on deck and he said that he had talked to Allen. Allen had said that they had bought the spoons picture and that there were two other pictures left when they bought theirs. We later met up with Richard and Michael, who said they hadn't bought the spoons picture either!! We met up with Allen and Marilyn at the champagne bar before dinner so we could all check out the spoons picture and decide how hard we needed to press the photographers to make more copies. Eleanor's first view of the spoons picture was a classic!!
So, Eric and Gary had to go to the photographers and ask them to make two more copies of the picture. (Which of course they were happy to do, since they were making $25 a picture.) According to the photographers, it was the best CUTLERY picture they had ever seen. What I REALLY can't figure out, though, is that since there were originally three copies of the picture there when Allen and Marilyn bought theirs, there were apparently two people onboard the ship who thought enough of this picture to spend $25 for it, and they weren't even in it!! We figured either these were people in serious need of a LIFE, or maybe somebody who was at the table next to ours had bought it so they could take it home and stick pins in it, as we were the people who ruined their cruise!!
Saturday evening was the final coup de grace for Patu. He SHOULD have just
given us our damn bananas foster!! It would have been so much easier for him.
Michael had decided, (all on his own, without any help from the rest of us!!) that he was
going to pull a trick on Patu by pretending that he had bought a monkey in Grand
Cayman and smuggled it onboard the ship and that he was going to take it into the
dining room the last night and release it to run around the dining room. Michael had
been cultivating one of the bar waitresses all week, who was to be the "inside person"
on the scam to get Patu. She was to be the one to plant the story of the monkey with
Patu. Michael met us before dinner in the champagne bar, carrying his box. We were
sitting on the bottom deck of the mini-atrium there, being watched by a member of
security, who kept looking down at us and talking into his walkie-talkie. A little later,
Michael had disappeared somewhere and Patu came out of the dining room in a
PANIC. He approached Eleanor and myself and said that he heard about Michael's
monkey and that we had to convince Michael not to bring it in the dining room and that
there was a $100,000.00 fine for bringing in a primate into the country without
authorization. Eleanor and I actually considered telling Patu it was all a joke, as he
seemed so stressed out. Shortly after Patu had left, Michael reappeared and the
security guy showed up and demanded that Michael open the box to show what was in
it. Of course, there was nothing in it. At least, until we got into the dining room! Once
we got into the dining room, we all put our tip envelopes (for Patu) into the box. Then,
of course, we remembered that we hadn't provided our "monkey" with anything to eat.
So, we sent Eric back to our cabin to grab a banana for the box.
Of course, since this
was the last night, they had taken away all the fruit baskets. Eric had to hunt down
Richard and have him produce another banana! A perfect butler is always
prepared....................We presented Patu with the box, but by this time, he had
apparently found out that the deal was a hoax, as he was considerably less spooked
Eric decided he needed to do a kamikaze photo run on the last night, so he
snuck up on Bruce and Mary B at their dinner table. It was a perfect hit and run, as he
snuck up to their table and yelled "Photographer" and snapped the best blackmail
picture I have ever seen. Bruce has that classic "deer in the headlights" look and Mary
B has that "Tablemates-Excedrin Headache Number 1200" look.
(The Kamikaze Photo first started with a questionaire, asking whether to "POST" or "NOT POST"
the photo. Mary B. has kindly consented -- and she swears it had nothing to do with the overwelming
responses to post the photo -- to the posting of this wonderful picture. However, she has
And our waiter, Claudio, after having been terrified of us all week, finally joined in the fun on the last night, setting up Eleanor perfectly and then walking off, and then "hanging spoon" as one of his last official acts. He was finally an official table member!!
Ah, but Bruce and Mary B were to have the last laugh!! After we had basically finished our dinner, our waiter came rushing up and said that he had another special dessert for us. He brought Eric and I each a Rice Krispies treat--courtesy of Bruce and Mary B!! A perfect end to a perfect cruise!
And, that brings us to the end of this epistle. So, what is the moral of the
parable? Having great food (which we did) and a wonderful ship (which we did) makes
for a lovely cruise. Having great FRIENDS to share it with make it a cruise of a lifetime.
Carol & Eric
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