At 8:30 a.m. we were still pulling into Norfolk, which I thought was a little close for comfort considering that the show airs live at 9 a.m.! But sure enough, Pride of America was snuggled up against the city's waterfront just in time, and Regis and Kelly began their third show onboard in the nation's oldest naval base.
Today's audience was energetic, and Regis and Kelly were on top of their game, and really friendly with the audience. During a commercial break, Reeg came down the aisle that separates the left and right halves of the audience, shaking people's hands and patting kids on the head. One woman had his CD with her, and he offered to sign it for her, handing her his half-empty "Live with Regis and Kelly" coffee mug so he could grab his pen. He walked away without his mug afterward, and when she called out after him, he yelled back, "Keep it!" She joked that she was going to sell it on eBay, but I bet when she gets back to work on Monday, it'll be on her desk.
Michael Bolton was the crowd favorite today. He came out and sang a song I didn't know, probably from his new album "Vintage." I almost didn't recognize him without the crazy hair; Bolton's really cleaned up! I think he actually looks younger with this new, shorter cut. I was impressed by the sound quality outside, too, and it was fun to see some entertainment other than star interviews. I looked for the woman I'd heard squealing earlier in the week about Bolton, but couldn't find her. I hope she got to go to the taping.
On that note, I must say that I'm almost scared at how star-struck I've become. I never considered myself to be a big pop-culture junkie, but during the short few days I've been onboard, I have become a camera-snapping, celebrity-chasing loon. Today, I wanted nothing more than to catch a glimpse of Sam Champion, the easy-on-the eyes weather forecaster for WABC-TV in New York. Sam's onboard to film a few clips from the ship for the nightly news.
I made my way up to where the camera crew was stationed, overlooking the ship's wake, and quickly realized I wasn't the only Sam groupie -- four other women, all from New Jersey no less, were waiting with cameras in hand. Three of them were from Paterson, near my old stomping grounds, and the other (Nancy Romano, who was up on stage with Regis the other night) actually went to the same high school my parents and I went to, and graduated only a year after my father (she didn't remember him, alas). Small world!
After Sam delivered his weather report, he came over and took pictures with all of us, and we also got to greet his mom -- his guest onboard! How sweet is that? We also got a good look at Kelly, Gelman (shirtless) and tomorrow's guest John Leguizamo hanging out at the pool one deck up (Kelly actually ran down before the segment -- barefoot -- to jump in front of his camera as a joke). As we walked away giggling and passing digital cameras around to see who got the best shot of Sam, Nancy put it best: "We're such Jersey girls."
The big event this afternoon was the Chocoholics Buffet, for which NCL is famous. Of all the buffets I've gone to at sea, the line to get into the chocolate bonanza in the Skyline Restaurant was the longest I've ever seen. By the time I got inside it was too late to take pictures because people were digging in, but let's face it: I was here to eat. It was unbelievable: tables overflowing with brownies and cheesecakes and mousses (oh my!), plus stations set up with unbelievably delicious ice cream and all the fixings, and skewers of fresh fruit to be dipped in warm, melted chocolate, milk or white. There was also a table set up with chocolate martinis and champagne with chocolate-covered strawberries (this was the only for-fee option). Waiters sat us (though take-out was available), and coffee was offered.
"Seinfeld" trivia up in the Gold Rush Saloon was also a hit. Regis is a self-proclaimed "Seinfeld" nut, so I was not surprised to see him sitting at a table in the corner playing along. And though word has it that he even beat Jerry Seinfeld himself once at "Seinfeld" trivia, Regis was not the highest scorer in the room today! He earned over 20 points, but was a good sport when other cruisers broke 30. As an aside: After the game, I asked Ross, er, Rich the cruise director, who emceed the event, if anyone had ever told him he looks like David Schwimmer. He assured me that "I get that a lot." At least it's not just me.
Back down in the John Adams coffee bar, I received some bad news -- my Canadian pals, the Mathesons, who I'd met on the cruise's first day, were eliminated yesterday from the family challenge. They didn't seem to mind though: With less to worry about, they could spend the rest of their time onboard living it up. All 20 of them were hanging out here and Johnny was parading around in a sash that read "Mr. Knobby Knees," a consolation prize he apparently snagged at the "Mr. Sexy Legs" contest by the pool this afternoon. His family egged him on as he posed for a few photos for me (and a few strangers).
Johnny's sister Laurie told me that tomorrow's her 32nd wedding anniversary ... and that her husband is home. "So let me get this straight," I asked her. "You'd rather come on a free cruise than spend your anniversary with your husband?"
"After 32 years? Yes!"
I laughed. The Mathesons are such fun to be around, and I'm going to miss seeing them every day. When they all piled onto the stairs for their professional photo, I crouched down next to the professional photographer and snapped one for my own album.
After scavenging for a quick bite at the Aloha Cafe (there was no room for a big meal after stuffing my face with sweets), I met up with Terri and Steve again (well, really Terri, we had to drag Steve) for tonight's production show, Song of Life. It was ... interesting. Not bad, not great, just different. The dancers and singers were exploring the "circle of life" if you will, from birth through school, work and marriage to having children of your own. More interesting was that I sat in the same row as Johnnie P. who is just about the friendliest dude onboard (every time I see him, he is chatting with passengers). He snuck out before I had a chance to ask his opinion on tonight's show's choreography.
For now it is off to bed -- tomorrow the friendly folks at "Live" are giving me a backstage pass to see the show pieced together in the aerobics studio-turned-control room!