Friday, April 24, 2009


April 24, 2009


So, the first week back from our cruise comes to an end. I did well in breaking the way too much to eat habits. I only ate 5 times a day instead of 10! Kidding. A little. Having gained 9 pounds since Brett's bar mitzvah, I lost 4 back this week just by eating normally. But have beeen unable to get to bed early. Next week, its back to disciplined sleep habits or bust! No more late night tivo, blogging, scrabbling, facebooking, chatting etc. Need more sleep to be sure!

Now, where was I in crusieland? More highlights, review style:


We played bingo one game. It was a B&O column game. We bought 18 cards for $55 (as opposed to 6 cards for $45 -- see, a "bargain"!). What made the experience truly interesting was that we didn't get actual cards. We got a handheld "bingo machine." Looked like some sort of ATM machine for your hand and it electronically tracked and gave you stats. A first. I kind of like finding the numbers myself and circling them. This is like auto-scoring in the bowling alley. Takes some getting used to for sure!

I have played bingo periodically over the last 35 years on random getaways. The Catskills. The corny place with the heart shaped beds Dawn and I like when the kids were in camp in Pennsylvain. Have never won. I mean literally ever. I am left wondering what I could have done with the bingo losses, the losing lottery tickets had I never played. College tuition? A nrew car? A trip around the world? Probably not. Presumably i would have lost that money in blackjack, poker etc! Anyway, Dawn I kid you not hits the first 7 "calls" and we immediately need only 3 for the Carribean cruise for 2 giveaway. But alas the Kornfeld kiss of death at bingo gene kicks right in o ntime. We go cold on the next 3 calls and on the 11th call some sheepish, 14- year old kid gets up one away, is roundly booed and on the 12th number hits the bingo! And is roundly booed then politely applauded by the 250 plus losers who apparently I poisoned with the dreaded bingo curse! They had bingo on the cruise at various times but we only played once. For the big enchalanda. That's like, we only play the lotto or megamillions when it is 150m or more, since at 100m it isnt worth our time! Speaking of which the funny little megamillionsman was on last night, over 150m, I will get our tickets later . . .


We walked through it a lot. It was pretty. Was only a tad smoky so not awful. It was the quickest way to the photos. Coincidence? I think not says the paranoid conspiracy theorist! Anyway, I played 100 bucks worth of blackjack, played two shoes and walked away with exactly 100 dollars. Pretty impressive! Interestingly, whereas in most casions there is always craps noise and action, onthe ship no one, literally, no one played craps. Blackjack and roulette. I also did not play the two texas hold em tounraments. They take up too much time theoretically but next cruise, I am playing.


3 comedians. One, Bobby Collins from NYC was hilarious. Another was being inadvertently hecklrd by a loud 2 year old girl who scream-laughed at every sentence the guy spoke. He couldn't even set up the joke without here from the balcony scream-laughing (new word alert -- scraughing). At first it was funny but after the third time people were literally glaring at the parents who brought their 2 year old to the 9 pm comedy show, and who would not stop talking so loud throughout it was actually distracting.

One production show ("Marquee") -- good not great (Broadway tribute). The funniest night -- Love and Marriage -- take off on the Newlywed Game. They chose a newlywed couple, whose combined age happened to be almost 180! The older man of course unbeknownst to the audience who selected them to participate could barely hear which inadvertently made the whole thing funny for the audience and nearly impossible for the cruise director. As an aside the cruise director was hilarious and energetic and distinctive in his own right that he actually made the shows fun on his own. Anyway, back to Love and Marriage -- they picked a couple from NC married 15 years (they were very funny and reminded you of one of the couple that would actually be on that game show! laughing, arguing, ribbing, etc.) and finally a couple married 50 years. That couple looked incredible! Tanned, rested, impeccably dressed. The man in this couple on stage looked like Hesch, the counsel/bookie for Tony Sporano (i.e. the actor now playing the chief on Rescue Me, or for a movie reference, the gentleman who courts Shirley McClain at the retirement home in the "classic" movie "In Her Shoes, which stars among others the legendary Cameron Diaz, the woman who is the lead on United States of Tara (and played Alice's obsession, Dana, the professional tennis player who dies a shocking and quick death during the L Word), and whose husband in In Her Shoes was played by the "good" Republican on Ways and Means during the Season 2 hearings into Bartlett's failure to disclose his MS, who helps Leo avoid having to publicly testify to his pre-election relapse in the hotel room while trying to raise last-minute money for Bartlett in flashback scenes . . . -- [This my friends is a true stream of cosnciousness entertainement filled references diversion from the original story!] The wife (back to the Love and Marriage thing) was polished. And they as a couple were adoreable. Questions about bra sizes, first dates, the first thing the man touches in the morning besides the alarm clock, movie that best describes their love life etc etc. Room was packed and it was howlingly funny! The poor Cruise Director couldnt help but laugh when the newlywed man, who was a ham, could barely hear a thing.

Throw in the human contortionist acrobat couple, more comedians, some magic (wea kfor me), and the evening entertainment was quite enjoyable. The Crusie director doing his Evolution of Dance imitation/rendtion was priceless. And should have made YouTube.

And of course, despite asking them every night the kids opted out of being with their folks after dinner. Every single night. They went to the Living Room, the Sports Court, did pajamas movie night, capture the flag, night clubbing, and other teen activities at Pharoh's Palace and The Crypt (adult club). Dawn and I had drinks all over the ship, outside the pub (who had a great bar singer who got audience participation in drinking songs), in the jazz club, etc. Live music all over the ship is a huge bonus. Creates a buzz. Fun. We didn't participate in the all ship parades, 70s night, etc. Not our thing even though it looked funny. We did go dancing one night ourselves briefly which was also a lot of fun.

We did Sports Trvia one night in advance of the show. Team Zen. We finished respectably. One funny note -- before the contest, the kids were "prepping" and they asked me the name of the 4 nba teams whose last name does not end in S. And wouldn't you know that the bonus trivia question was that exact one. Pretty incredible. P.S. For those curious -- Jazz, Heat, Thunder, Magic.

RCTV -- Royal Carribean TV -- hilarious. Got Foxnews, a CBS mixer channel, and 4 movies that played over 8 channels in 5 different languages (Iron Man in Portugues, French, Spanish for example), plus the cruise ship channels where you could watch the shows, the promenade entertainement, people walking by etc. Brett took a liking to Sean Hannity, which scared Dawn!


We had the Main Seating for Dinner at 6 pm, our waiter of course loved the boys and was exceptionally attentive, the bread and drink man (the kids did all you can drink soda package) performed little magic tricks, Dawn bought the chef's cookbook which the waiter had the executive chef, himself and the assistant waiters sign, etc. The food vascillated between ok, good, great and exceptional.

My pet peeve -- not enough sweet, chocolatey desserts that were NUT-FREE!!! I am hell bent on opening some sort of eatery which does not have nuts. Of any kind!! I only had dessert in the dining room once because the only non nut thing was usually cheesecake! I thought the lobster/shrimp night was outstanding. The bread was great as were the salads. Appetizers were usally very good. I thought the steaks/lamb were good not great. When I went a little off center the food was just ok. On balance very good. Over 6 meals exactly what you would expect. We had one nice dinner at the steak house on board Chops. Kids loved it. As did I. Nice presentation, service etc. of course, if memory serves, no dessert for me! Not that I need it.

Breakfasts -- we did dining room twice where we met other folk, we did buffet twice, did room service once. We also did the buffet lunch the first day on the ship. We also tried all the other goodies. Seemingly every snack in the coffee shop, burgers onion rings and shakes at johnny rockets, ben and jerrys, fresh feta and good pizza at sorrentos, daquiries, and fun drinks by the pools and so on and so forth.

All in a foodfest as expected.


Off the ship, to repeat hated Labadee (waste of money), barely anything really in Jamaica, modest shopping in Caymans, and awesome shopping in Cozamel. Kids bought tshirts, doodads, knick knacks, chatckes, or what Dawn and I used to affectionately refer to as completley useless objects. Moraccas, flute with name carved in it, stupid/funny t-shirts, hats, I bought a 3 Amigos sombrero (see the pisctures posted on facebook), we bought every hustler's picture request pretty much (these are super fun), baseball caps, Dawn bought great jewelry, sterling silver, etc. Whereas dawn and the kids like "negotiating" I find it tiring. Dawn does well in these barters. A master at work.

On the ship, we got a great necklace as a rememberance, some funks liquor chocolates, and many, many, many, many photos!


Ok, this is where we go nuts. Free champagne, raffles, plus looking at art. We have gone to two auctions and we love looking at galleries. I know nothing of art the way people who study do. I just like it. Anyway, we take leave of our senses here, but did buy two really beautiful pieces. We showed rerstraint not buying an original we loved, or the memerobilia art signatures of Ali and Frazier, in favor or true art. It was a lot of fun ans the lovely couple from Park West did a nice job. Of course then they call, slip stuff under the door every day. Once they hook you it is all over! We will need to make room in our ever shrinking house space.


Mentioned them in last blog. But to repeat, the whole snorkeling thing scared me. Made me literally sick. I simply couldnt get past it, started having all types of morbid thoughts and flashes. So staying on boat, lying in sun made more sense. I got wicked red the first day, played it safe on other days, laid out most of last day, came home with uneven burn/tan which faded nicely in time for this weekend's 80s plus! Kids look great. Plus the whole Flor Rider experience captured on video. Good stuff (even the falls, flops and head bops).

I am sure there is much much more I am forgetting. It was an action packed, fulsome, diverse trip. Exactly as it should have been. The kids loved it.

. . . . . .

But of course, it wouldnt be us if some sort of drama did not ensue. In addition to the random kid stuff, Brett being a witness to an assualt by an adult on the basketball court where he had to give a report (and track me down during love and marriage), Brett leaving us hilarious voicemail, sarcastically complaining one night that he couldnt reach us by phone or text (of course not our fault as at that time, no service), getting charged for a pay per view movie that never came on, getting charged an extra 40 bucks instead of discount price for the metabollism, stomach shrining detox treatment I did on last day (Dawn got roped in for all types of skin stuff for her relaxation stuff, whereas I smartly resisted spending 3 thousand dollars for a year-long algae detoxification program despite the excellent presentation by the nice therapist from South Africa), some other service issues, Dylan being overtired on occasion from too much action, not enough sleep, too much food, heat, long bus rides, me almost losing my wallet in the Dunns River Falls, Dawn getting wicked sun burn from her snorkeling/stingray experience, the kids getting a little too much in each others' faces in the room on occasion, brett hurting his finger playing air hockey (contact sport apparently) and sleeping away much of the last day from exhaustion, Dylan having trouble getting into the night club on last night, the downlight (new word alert) (as opposed to highlight) was the return trip. But not for the normal end of vacation, who wants to go home blues reasons one would expect.

No, no -- my son of course (he has my genes in there for some of the bad stuff) sadly, forgets, misplaces, loses his laptop either in Miami, on the plane, in LaGuardia at the pretzel place or the bathroom. He was rightly inconsoloable. Only realized it was missing at baggage claim. We spent an extra 90 minutes checking, rechecking the plane, our steps etc. As of today, no luck finidng. I wanted to be super mad, but since I can see that being me, and he was truly heartbroken, it served no purpose but to add flavor to the story of what it is like to be in our circle of drama!

A great trip, lousy return! In a nutshell. Future random tidbits as they come to me.


Who thinks there was a reason Detroit cut Sheffield? Put differently, he cant hit anymore and is huritng the Mest along wit hthe terrible rotation and alineup of nobodies. They will compete due to pen Santana and the 4 studs but note to Omar, this team is not built well enough to win yet.

Who thinks that the Susan Boyle story is the breath of fresh air desperately needed in a week of sick human tragedy?

Who thinks that Dunkin Donuts may be geeting (new word alert) Starbucked, in terms of food service? In other words, maybe they should just stick to donuts and coffee?

Who thinks the good weather may finally be here to stay?

Who is now a cruise travelling convert?

Happy weekend one and all!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


APRIL 21, 2009



Hey all. Needed a full day to recover before blogging our Carribean cruise. Off the charts good. I am suffering from Cruiselag. That is, the desire to eat 7 times a day, charge everything to a card, eat at midnight, shop relentlessly, lay in the sun, swim, not work. Jetlag without the exhaustion. Weening off life on a ship is no small feat! Trust me. The kids stomachs expanded and mine exponentially. Getting used to human portions, rain, commuting, being entertained, working etc is a whole decomprerssion experience for which someone should run a seminar!

The cruise was packed. The ship massive. Over 1400 kids alone. Our kids would have dinner with us and then would not be seen until close to the 1 am curfew. They too are suffering Cruiselag with the return to bedtimes more akin to that of a 13 and 11 year old.


I did not get seasick. And got progressively better as cruise went on. Last night at sea was rough. Biobands on wrist plus the patch. Kids were great as was Dawn.


5. The "Bread Man." At every dining room dinner, the bread man comes with rolls. Sour dough. Corn muffins. Rye. Banana. Poppy seeds (bite sized). Croissants. We had on average about 35 pieces of bread at every dinner! I was partial to the Wednesday banana bread -- the only night they had it. Poppy came in second. Negative? "The Bread Man" -- At every dining room dinner the nice assistant waiter would come by repeatedly with tons of rolls and we would happily oblige. This is not good for the waistline, the carb thing, etc etc.

4. Free Desserts. Every night without fail, after having stuffed our face with salad, bread, appetizers, entrees and the dessert of the night (as an aside cool dining room "stat" -- they served over 100,000 plated meals on the cruise to the more than 5000 people) we would be inspired to go to the coffee shop for a plate of additional treats. Lemon Poppee loaf, chocolate brownie, some chocolate thing I cant pronounce, etc. This was awesome. Negative? Every night after dinner we would after stuffing our face inevitably add a plate of desserts . . . . You get the picture.

3. Doubles -- two lobsters, two appetizers, two entress. The all you want mentality is cruising. Postive equals a negative!

2. Photomania -- Positive -- pictures by the multiple dozens. On the boat, off the boat, formal, casual, playful, with hats, in front of signs, with locals, without locals, in bars, in restaurants, in front of the ship, not in front of the ship. Mkaes incredible memories. The negative? Hundreds of photos, relentless, costs a zillion dollars, kids get whiney when forced to pose etc etc. This is far more of a positive than a negative when you choose the pcis each day to purchase for the scrapbook master of our domain, Dawn!!

1. Kids on their own -- Kids freedom meant adult time every night. Casino. Shows. Shopping. Walking. Art. Coffee. Etc. Negative? Really first time we "stayed up" waiting to see if our kids :made curfew" (1 am). Plus them being out later than us confirms the aging process. Positive equals a negative too!


Glcihes -- There were some gliches of course. For example, we set up a flo rider private lesson. The first day we tried, they said all booked. Next night we set it up for 745. Strategically planned. At 550 right befor eour dinner they cancel due to only the 2 boys. Being Father of the Year I agree to pay for 4 so the kids arent disappointed. Dylan was very sad when they cancelled. The ship handled that very poorly. They never said minimum of 4. And to do that but then say pay for 4 and we will do it, was poor client service. That said turned into huge positive. Kids had whole thing to themselves to boogy board and get surf lesson, and drew a massive crown opf onlookers who were supremely jealous. Plus the lesson giver was fun with them so it worked out well.

There was apparently an incident at the basketball court involving a rambunxious adult and some kids., Brett was a witness. The lack of ship personnel near the court at night was not great. Also, found it weird pool would be open 24 hours but never any staff there to supervise -- in essence, all at your own risk.

Labadee Haiti. Great beach but crazy crazy scorching hot. And the shopping was insane. The merchants who want to sell you boxes, masks, moraccas, engraved stuff, beads, whatever are not just relentless. It is charming to be huslted for about 2 minutes then it is just downright nuts. Artisans, flea market -- couldnt walk 5 steps without being attacked. After being mauled non-stop we surrendered. The best moment for me on this excursion? A one hour nap in the hammock on the beach after a cold beer. My personal least favorite stop. In fairness though the lunch and the show on the beach were fun. But the shopping ruined it for me.

Ocha Rios. This trip was jammed. Buses, tractors. Saw the Jamaican plantation, learned about sugar canes, pineapples, the histroy of Jamaica's independence, and the country's obsession with phrase "YeMon and "No Problem,." Lunch on that trip at a beautiful beach was also great, but the timing was compressed. The higjhlight was climbing the Dunns River Falls. Was actually scary. A little crazy. Got soaking wet. Almost lost my wallet (forgot to take it out of course). Took a near header at the end. Dawn hurt her Knee but we survied it. Was worth it. I was way out of comfort zone. Loved the plantation surprisingly and all in although very "busy" fun.

Caymans -- boat to middle of gorgeous water. Kids and Dawn snorkel and swim w stingrays in stingray city. I wimp out. Fear of the snorkel equipment, ear of drowning, pit in my stomach, not being comfortable breathing with the equipment, etc etc. I opt for the boat and some sun. Kids love it, we get in some good shopping after lunch at one of 10 greatest beaches.

Cozamel -- boat to ocean for 105 ft beneath the sea submarine dive. Very cool. Then drinking eating and funning in Cazamel. Great shopping. Three Amigos and Senor Frogs.

Amazing excursions.

Tomorrow -- bingo, art auction, sports court, sunburns, the pool, the Cruise Director, the shows, the ice cream, the food, the shopping, the room, the showers, the loss of the laptop, the itenerary daily, RCTV, Iron Man, Indian Jones, 21, different languages, our head waiter, service issues in and around us, the steak house, the illusoryness (new word) of the "seapass"


Wonders if he always has bad random luck (picking the wrong security line, picking the wrong lane at the toll, etc)?

Wonders if people who pay things with a card think they dont owe the money?

Wonders if the smell of Ben and Jerry's is the best smell in the world?

Wonders if he can ever have a piece of technology work at its most basic level

Wonders if Sean Hannity and Keith Olberman should get into the WWE in a Last Man Standing Steel Cage Match

Wonders if he should buy Senor Frogs and live on the beach?

Wonders if there is a recession based on the recent cruising experience and the fact that the Treasury hasnt spent all of the bail out money yet?

Wonders if the video was broken on that play in Yankee stadium?

Wonders how it is possible to lose only 3 pouns in 2 months working out eating healthy and getting sick but gaining 9 pounds in 14 days eating like the end was near?

More cruising musings tomorrow.