It was wonderful to wake up this morning at sea. I slid open my balcony door for some fresh air, and turned on the television to see what types of activities were planned for today, since this was the day with no show taping on the schedule. Our cruise director Rich popped up on the NCL channel and began to describe the day's activities. Rich reminds me of Ross from "Friends." Not only does he look like David Schwimmer, but he also has that goofy sort of personality that made Schwimmer's character loveable (but slightly annoying) on the show. I know his name is Rich, but I keep referring to him as Ross. I just can't help it.
I had a lovely lunch at the Cadillac Diner, which is one of my favorite spots on the ship to eat so far. I'm a sucker for comfort food (and fried anything), and the decor is just plain fun -- some of the seats are actually set inside a car, and televisions along the wall play jukebox-style music videos. While I was waiting to be seated (this venue does get a little crowded at lunchtime), I met a couple from Raleigh named -- get this -- Lynn and Lynn Woodward. They said it was a source of much amusement when they first started dating, and that people would get really confused when they would call the house asking for Lynn, and their children would reply, "My mommy or my daddy?"
We decided to grab a table together, and I learned that Mr. Lynn used to work in product development for IBM, and that Mrs. Lynn is such a chatterbox her friends nicknamed her Ramblynn (cute, and apt). This is Ramblynn and IBM Lynn's first cruise, and one of their goals is to eat in every restaurant onboard. What a coincidence: That is one of mine, too, and all three of us are definitely working hard to meet our goals, however lofty.
Ramblynn won the cruise for two from her local television station, an ABC affiliate, and was happy to chat away about the contest. Viewers were supposed to keep their eyes peeled for a captain's hat that would pop up at some point on "Live," and then take note of which celebrity was next to appear on stage. Then, viewers could go online to enter their contact information (and the name of the appropriate celeb -- in her case, Ray Romano and the rest of the "Everybody Loves Raymond" cast) for a random drawing. She also told me that because she plays practical jokes on her friends and family all the time, nobody believed her at first when she called to tell them she'd won the trip! IBM Lynn and I talked about remote servers, wireless Internet and all things geek. (Hey, I can't help it -- I work for a dot-com!)
After my cheeseburger and onion rings, I tried to sneak a peek at the next family challenge, the hula-hooping competition, but only the participating families and camera crew were able to get up on the set. I guess I'll see the results on television with the rest of America! I do know that six more families advanced to the next round after today's competition.
I caught up with my new friends Steve and Terri while having a cappuccino down at the John Adams coffee bar in the lobby, which is a great meeting place and people-watching spot. The topic on everyone's minds is Regis' own show tonight -- a nightclub act kind of production -- performed with his wife, Joy. I knew he could sing, but I was curious what this "act" entailed. I was planning on heading to the theater at 5:15 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. (the show started at 6 p.m.), but at 4:30 p.m., a line was already forming down at the entrance to the Hollywood! Well, when in Rome, right? We joined the crowd.
The doors opened at about 5:15, and we set up shop several rows back from the stage and just behind a roped-off VIP section (just before the show started, Kelly slid into a seat there). The theater was packed, but there was still a sprinkling of empty seats in the back and some standing room, so nobody was turned away. Still, I'm glad I didn't wait too long to get in the line, which eventually snaked all the way through the Newbury shop area.
A woman named Suzanne and her young daughter sat next to me and we started chatting. Her daughter -- the most polite little girl I've ever met (she asked her mother's permission each time she wanted to tell me something), and so grown up with a Shirley Temple in hand -- raved about the Rascals Kids Club and how much fun she was having on her first cruise. Turns out they were up at the children's pool earlier in the day, and were delighted to see Kelly there with her kids as well. She said Kelly was extremely personable, and even bought them a drink!
The lights dimmed, and the band played a tune before Regis came out. He actually introduced himself from backstage over the PA system, which was pretty funny (where was Ross, er, Rich?). Reeg's first song was an original number that poked a lot of fun at his celebrity status, and costars past and present -- mentioning, for example, the fact that Kelly never gives him the microphone. His wife Joy then joined him onstage for a bit for duets (such as "You Made Me Love You") and jokes (Joy pondered which was worse: sleeping in the stateroom with Regis' snoring, or sleeping on the balcony with the foghorn blowing).
Completely unexpected: Regis actually asked a few women from the audience to come up on stage to "audition" to be the next Kelly when she leaves "Live," citing her rising stardom in sitcoms and cinema as grounds for inevitable departure (I have to wonder how much of this lighthearted banter is based on fact ...). Six women were called up, including Suzanne and a highly intoxicated but totally hilarious woman from Idaho.
When Regis asked Suzanne how she got onboard, she told the crowd that she almost didn't get to come on the trip, and owed it all to Michael Gelman, the show's producer-maestro, who she called St. Michael. She was supposed to be in the studio audience the day Regis and Kelly gave everyone a free cruise, but couldn't make it because she'd been working extra shifts to raise her kids and pay her mortgage. When she finally did get to a taping, she told Gelman her story, and apparently he took down her name and number, and managed to squeeze her onto the guest list. Regis named her "Miss America" and gave her a bouquet of roses (I think they were fake) -- which she gave to her daughter after returning to her seat. This mom definitely deserved this trip.
I made my first foray to the Napa Valley Wine Bar (where I inexplicably craved a gin and tonic rather than a glass of vino). It's one of the prettiest rooms on the ship, all decked out in earthy, flagstone-like decor. The Napa Wine Bar's wine list is long, as you'd assume (seven full pages) but, oddly, very few actually originate in Napa (though there were a lot from Sonoma). In Pride of America spirit, there are many wines from all over the U.S. -- California, Washington and even Hawaii (a reisling and a raspberry dessert wine).
Then I moved on to dinner at the Lazy J Steakhouse. I sat with the WPVI-TV crew from Philadelphia, who got onboard in Boston and will be getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow (they need to be up on deck by 5 a.m.!) to film clips for the station of the ship coming into port. Great company and good food; the crab cakes were tasty, and though the filet mignon was itty-bitty, it was cooked the way I like it.
The live party band migrated from their usual spot, the Mardi Gras, to the poolside stage for a special late-night event. I hung there for a little bit, and even though we were headed south, finally, it still felt just a tad chilly. I spotted one of Kelly's bodyguards -- someone pointed him out to me, actually -- but no sign of Kelly. After a few tunes, I decided to hit the hay. Tomorrow's another early day.
We arrive in Philadelphia in the wee hours, and the show begins at 9 a.m.