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DaCruzNut

A SEA OF MEMORIES - Part 11

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PART 11 – DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS

Copyright © 2004-Jeffrey R. Stern

All Rights Reserved.

I have an “older brother,†with whom I share no true blood relationship. Alan and I grew up together, in Sea Gate. His wife, Nancy, also grew up in the seaside community. We have all known each other since 1955…. (and, what year were you born in?)

Alan and Nancy have a son and a daughter that mesh, in age, with my two youngest sons. A number of years ago, we all took a cruise on the Dolphin IV.

Those of you who have sailed on the Dolphin know that the cabins tended to be on the small side. A typical outside had two portholes (there’s that funny word again…), two lower and two upper bunks. It was so tight that you had to leave the room to change the expression on your face…

A converted freighter, she was “tiny,†at 13,000 grt, and she held less than 600 passengers. But, like the Britanis, she was a ship with a soul.

As has become my routine, we went to the cabin, checked it out, and headed to the buffet. It was a bit more extensive than the others we'd been to. We filled our plates, and sat down to eat. I commented that I was very surprised, but hadn't seen any cakes, or fruit, or any dessert.

Well, we began to eat, and the food was excellent! Considering this was just the “Welcome Aboard Buffet,†we couldn't wait to see what dinner would bring!

We didn't know, at the time, but the food was also done by Apollo.

Halfway through our meal, a man walked by with a tray of desserts. I asked where he had found them, and he said, "Oh, right over there, in the dessert room...." YES, LISA63, A WHOLE ROOM FULL OF DESSERTS, with two waiters scooping out ice cream. I knew, right there, that I was in a lot of trouble... and I was right.

It was my sons’ first cruise, and they were young teen-agers. Hormones racing through their veins, I didn’t see them for the entire cruise, … except for dinner (a rule) and back in the cabin at 2:00 am (another rule).

On the next-to-last night, they served frog’s legs. My sons had never had them, tried them and loved them. They each gobbled up two orders, and on order escargot, another first. Then, came the lobster.

When the waiter took our orders, he started with Alan and Nancy’s daughter, who ordered lobster, and asked if she might have two… My older son, next, also asking for two lobsters…. The waiter just turned to all of us, and asked if we were all having lobster. We told him that we all were, and he nodded, smiled and walked away.

After the appetizers, soup and salad, the Bus Boy began to clear the center of the table, as the Waiter placed a tray, with a dozen lobsters, in the middle of the table. “Let me know if you need seconds….â€Â

It was on this trip that I was first introduced to Blue Lagoon Island, and got to meet Dry Bread…

The ship docked in Nassau, early Saturday morning. Several “party boats,†all called The Calypso (I, II, II, etc;) made the trip from Nassau harbor to Blue Lagoon Island.

On the way over, live entertainment kept us amused, during the twenty-minute journey.

I was on the upper deck, and the entertainer was on the lower. The music started, and I turned to Alan and said, “This guy is really great!†It was hard to keep still, and all of the passengers were rocking with the beat. I started down the stairs and it suddenly struck me; “Hey, that sounds like Dry Bread!â€Â

Sure enough. It was a performer I had never seen, but had several cassettes of… I love island music; soca, calypso, reggae, zook, steel pan… I had picked up two, or three, of Dry Bread’s tapes on a previous trip to the Bahamas.

We approached the island, and entered the lagoon. Back then, the hurricane had not split the island in two, and the foliage was extremely dense. After the storm, the owners decided to keep it as two islands, add a dolphin encounter, and, generally, ruin it!

On our first visit, it was one large island, with a number of beaches. I believe there were seven. As you got further from the dock, the beaches became less populated and the bathing suits more scanty. By the time you got to the sixth, it was topless, and by the time you got to the seventh…. Well, let’s just say that I have some great videos!!

But, it was the hammocks… Hundreds of extra large hammocks, in tropical wooded areas, along the beaches, everywhere. We’d always try to get one close enough to the main beach, so we could just hear the live calypso band, but far enough away to be out of the crowd…

On a subsequent trip, I was traveling with friends, Eddie and Millie, from Miami. We decided to do a little shopping, in town, after breakfast, and then catch the last Calypso to Blue Lagoon Island, at 11:00 AM.

At about ten, I told Eddie and Millie that it was time to head back to the ship, drop off my packages, and head for the Calypso. Millie told Eddie that they should be going, but Eddie said, “We’ve got lots of time. I just want to get one more thing.†They said they’d be right along. We told them we’d meet them on the Calypso…

At eleven, sharp, I was sitting in the Calypso, waiting for Eddie and Millie. The hands were untying the lines and the engines beginning to rev. We began to pull, slowly, away from the dock. Just then, we saw Eddie and Millie, running down the dock, with Millie screaming, “Blue Lagoon…..Blue Lagoon…..Blue Lagoon….â€Â

To this day, I wonder if, perhaps, this incident was part, or, possibly, all, of the reason that Eddie and Millie were divorced, several months later.

We stayed overnight, in Nassau, and, on Sunday, did the Nassau sightseeing thing.

Back on the ship, excitement was beginning to build on the pool deck…. No, not the Bon Voyage Party! A young man, a local Bahamian, had, obviously, paid off a few crew members, and been allowed to “sneak†onto the ship. This was when Security was fairly lax, and I later learned that this was a regular occurrence.

The one boy, on the ship, would stand on the railing, and collect dollar bills from the passengers. Meanwhile, a cohort, on the dock, would do the same. When they had collected thirty, or forty, dollars, the fellow on the ship would stand-up on the rail;

“One…..†(pause) “Two…..†(pause) “Three…..†and off he’d go! A perfect dive, right into the water. Gasps, screams, applause and cheers! Then, about ten minutes later, our little friend would reappear on deck, only to begin all over….

That was a Sailaway Party!

It was August 24, 1992, and Hurricane Andrew was battering south Florida with all its Category 4 force. I was too busy, running from room-to-room, dodging the sixty-foot Dade County Pines to think about my cruise, on the Dolpin IV, scheduled for less thans than a week away. It was no fun being a Single Digit Midget, even if I had never heard of the term.

Puggsley, my little fourteen people-year-old mixed breed (Cocker Spaniel/Terrier), was in a panic. I held him on my lap, and felt his little heart beating so fast that I thought it would break. After several hours of this assault, Puggsley stopped shaking, forever….

By morning, we had lost our roof, all of our windows and, saddest of all, little Puggsley… No time to think about a cruise.

A few days later, when the roads were clear and the National Guard gave the, “OK,†I was able to drive to work, and get to a telephone. It was, now, only a few days before the sailing. I called Dolphin, to see if I could salvage something; maybe a credit of some type, on a future cruise. After all, every crusie line clearly tells you that there will be no refunds given for cancellations made less than thirty days prior to sailing.

I called Dolphin Cruise Lines and spoke to a Customer Service Representative. “Hi,†I started, my name is Jeffrey Stern and my wife and I are scheduled to sail on the Dolphin IV, this Friday.†“Just a moment, please, Mr. Stern,†she said. After a short wait, the woman got back on the phone and said, “Yes, Mr. Stern, when would you like to reschedule your cruise for?â€Â

I was amazed. Imagine a cruise line that hires psychics to work in their Customer Service Department. I hadn’t told this person why I was calling, yet she knew, immediately! Now, that’s what I call service.

I asked how she knew why I was calling, and she explained that they had programmed their computers to show the reservations by zip code, noting the codes in the main hurricane-damage areas.

Optimistically, I re-booked the cruise for September 25, 1992, a month later. It was then that we took our second cruise on the Dolphin IV.

By the time a month had passed, I really needed to get away. Even if it was only a three-night cruise, it was well appreciated. You see, I was the Claims Manager for a local insurance company, and had just spent a month in Insurance Hell! I didn’t even have time to handle my claim for the damage to my house, I was so busy at work.

It was on this cruise that I set an all-time record! I won’t get into specifics, and the exact number is a not-to-be-revealed secret, I gained more weight on this three-night cruise than on any cruise I’ve been on, including all the seven-nighters!!! Apollo strikes again!

Even worse, I was scheduled to sail aboard the Fantasy about six weeks later, barely enough time to lose the weight from the Dolphin, and start the cycle over again!

I guess losing the little cruise lines, and smaller ships is a lot like losing the old mom-and-pop stores. I doubt that today’s mega-cruise lines can offer the personal service that the Dolphin Cruise Line did after Andrew.

The super markets, and department stores, offer more variety and selection, at less cost, and are extremely efficient. But, you have to sacrifice the service, friendliness, and other amenities that the small, local, stores used to offer. You can’t grab a loaf of bread off the shelf, yell, “Hey, Bob, catch you tomorrow,†and run out the door. Well, I guess you could, but you wouldn’t get far.

Anyway, the same fate has befallen the cruise industry. We have gigantic ships, all sorts of activities and entertainment, round-the-clock food, ice skating, rock wall climbing, full-size eighteen hole golf courses…..OK, not yet, but…. Even with all of this, the increased size of ships has allowed the cruise lines to keep fares level.

It’s just a trade-off.

................................................................................

......................................

(If you missed any of the preceding chapters, and wish to “catch up,†you can click on the links below….)

Part 1 – Introduction;

http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4349

Part 2 – Onto The Ship; Out To Sea

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4443]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4443

Part 3 – First, there’s The Food

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4395]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4395

Part 4 – Shooting The Dice

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4443]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4443

Part 5 – Places To Visit; People To See

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4459]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4459

Part 6 – Catching Cruise Fever

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4534]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4534

Part 7 – A Love Affair at Sea

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4578]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4578

Part 8 – Apollo Wasn’t Just A Greek God

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4604]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4604

Part 9 – Bon Voyage To A Real Lady

http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index....t=ST&f=2&t=4636

Part 10 – Olympus, To Caribe I, To rgale Empress

[url=http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4659]http://www.cruisecrazies.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4659

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Dolphin is my all-time favorite cruise line. The food, the service, the small ships, the service. The busboy who had a glass of milk waiting for me every evening after we had told him that I was three months pregnant. Cruise Director Tom Dentino, the best we've ever seen. And he learned the names of most, if not all, passengers.

But we didn't get a dessert room... or maybe I missed it as the luncheon buffet was fabulous, as you mentioned. I guess I'll never find out. Can you imagine that now? :smiley:

And Blue Lagoon Island was the best. That's where I learned to snorkel.

THank you for the memories, Jeff!

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Hey DaCruzNut,

I really envy you and Lisa63 for having had the opportunity to sail on such a small cruise liner like the Dolphin IV.

Based on your writing I can just imagine the food and the dessert room.

BTW, what happened to Eddie and Millie? Were they able to catch up with the Dolphin IV? Did they get a flight to the next island?

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They didn't miss the ship, Mebert, they missed to Calypso to Blue Lagoon Island, so they walked back to the ship, went up to the Lido Deck pool, and got drunk!

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Actually, I never got the chance to sail on Dolphin IV :cry: -- we cruised on SeaBreeze and OceanBreeze. To this day, both ships remain very special to me. (Even if they didn't have dessert rooms like Dolphin IV.) Of all the ships I've sailed, SeaBreeze is a favorite. There was just something about her...

When Dolphin Cruise Line was sold to Premier in the late 90s, Dolphin IV wasn't part of the package. Instead, she went to Cape Canaveral Cruises and continued to do 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruises. We were about to book one of these cruises when the ship needed to be taken out of service. The line folded a few months after that when they couldn't find a replacement ship.

I think they may have used the same wonderful reservation agents as in the prior days as everyone we spoke with was so helpful and apologetic. I remember thinking that was incredible, as I was only losing a short cruise -- they were losing their jobs.

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