In case you are wondering if it's really possible to meet a person in CruiseMates and then connect in "reality time" -- don't you just love this new silly net lingo? -- and actually become friends, here's my personal account. It started by putting a few postings on message boards and winding up with hundreds of new friends.
I started with creamsicles, my personal (don't ask!) recipe for a fantastic cocktail. Just like many of mom's old cooking recipes, this may not be that simple to put into black & white. The most important ingredient is CruiseMates. Without the people there's simply no need for umbrellas for the drinks.
My very first "Creamsicle Bash" was put together by myself and some internet friends. The vast majority of us had never met. Some of "the group" had got to know each other in advance on the "net", and decided to cruise together aboard Holland America's Veendam in June, 1998. As we "chatted" amongst ourselves and our "net buddies" the idea was hatched for everyone who could, or was interested, to meet a day prior in Ft. Lauderdale, the port of embarkation. From that initial moment none of us had any idea just how far this little thought was going to grow. All I knew was we were going to call it the Creamscicle Bash, and that wherever it was held, they were going to have to learn to make my favorite cruise drink; the Creamscicle.
A couple of our Florida "net buddies" set about scouting location for "the event". In very short order our friend Simi discovered the outdoor patio bar at Ft. Lauderdale's Marriott Marina. This was a perfect location since the hotel is active with cruisers staying for a pre-cruise hotel stay.
Simi started cooking up all sorts of plans for a fun evening. We all set about inviting every "net buddy" we knew, and the BASH was born. Gail, from New York, put together a list of people who said they were going to be coming.
She then took it upon herself to be the welcome wagon for "the Bash". Showing a flash of creativity she created miniature life preservers on a rope necklace for each person. She personalized each one with everyone's name and screen name, so they were not only great souvenirs, but served as nametags too.
Ron, from Las Vegas, collected photos of attendees via e-mail, and used a photo program to place the photos like caricatures aboard a cruise ship. These became greeting signs for those entering the premises. Linda, from Boston, put her multitalented crafting abilities to work and made cruise theme picture frames for everyone to save their favorite photos of the upcoming event, and a special formal thong for me, which I gladly modeled (over my clothing to avoid ending the party). Simi, with help from the Marriott, found us a one-man band, and a group of us agreed to split the cost.
This had really grown from a simple, let's meet for a pre-night drink, to a serious BASH. As we discussed this more on the net, we discovered that some of our "net buddies" were actually going to fly in just to join us for the evening. Add these folks to the forty of us that would be cruising on the Veendam the next day, as well as other Florida residents who had decided to join in -- some driving across the state -- and VOILA.....
The night of the Creamscicle Bash we had nearly 100 strangers, joking, dancing, and acting like old friends who were delighted to see one and other again.
I wore a blonde wig to do my Anne Campbell impersonation and brought some Canadian T- shirts to hand out and everyone had a ball. Strangers I met that night are now my lifelong friends. Some even flew to Calgary to attend my son's bar mitzvah. I've since cruised with many of who attended the party but didn't sail on Veendam with us the following day. Large portions of those from that original bash are now off together this September for an 11-night cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu. We're all set to relive, once again, the glory of that first BASH, and create new memories while sipping Alohascicles.
These BASHES are a wonderful way to extend your cruise vacation by an extra day, and get an early start on that lifelong friendship. It all started with a simple drink recipe -- and CruiseMates, of course.
First use CruiseMates Match to find your fellow CruiseMates, then use the CruiseMates chats to prepare and plan. Then you list your group in the Group message board, and before you know it you have the key ingredients for your own Creamscicle Bash! And I won't even charge you a franchise fee as long as I'm invited.