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Old January 2nd, 2007, 03:05 AM
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Jan. 1 - First Day of a New Year

At last a sea day! A morning with no wake up calls, and if you so desired, a day to sleep in late and just relax, and we did! Mrs. Kuki and I got up on deck by about 10 A.M., had some breakfast on the deck at the Sunset Bar, where we met up with a bunch of the group. Then moved over to poolside for a couple of hours to enjoy the sunshine.

There were crew members poolside removing towels from loungers that were obviously just being held for later, and making them available to other passengers.

After some “baking time� we retreated to the Sunset Bar area once again. There’s a canopy covering the majority of that deck area, supplying shade. This seems to have turned into a daytime meeting area for quite a number of people in the group. We spent most of the afternoon here socializing, with various CruiseMates coming and going, before we headed inside for an afternoon nap in preparation for the group cocktail party at 5 PM.

The cocktail party was TERRIFIC!! Mike welcomed everyone, and then Trip, made a presentation to our very veteran CruiseMates Ray and Helen, who are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. A HEARTY congratulations to a truly wonderful couple, who are so obviously still in love!

In preparation for the cruise Trip had welcomed people to make small donations in advance to go in on a gift for Ray and Helen. So many CruiseMates, including many not even cruising with us, chipped in that Trip was able to purchase quite an assortment of gifts for them. Ray and Helen were truly touched, and it was another VERY SPECIAL CruiseMates moment!

RollerDonna wrote a wonderful “Cruisemates song“, set to the tune of Sloop John B,
and the lyrics were printed out and given to everyone. She did seem a bit taken aback when I asked her to come lead the group in singing it, but after some wrist twisting she led us in a fun song, and kudos for her for writing it and singing it beautifully!! GREAT job Donna!

That wasn’t the end of the singing either. A sort of CruiseMates group cruise tradition has been to sing the theme song for Gilligan’s Island, or a reworked CruiseMates version of the tune on many of our group cruises. I had wrote an “updated� version, and Donald (Run514) who has been on probably the 2nd most of our CruiseMates group cruises, led the gang in the 2007 version.

We then had some fun awards and prize giveaways, courtesy of the brewery who used to supply my bar… and by then it was time for early seating dinner, as well as the beginning of scheduled dining times in Muranos for the group… which continued throughout the evening. And everyone will be happy to hear that at the cocktail party I kept my pants on… so everyone left with appetites in tact.

Mrs Kuki and I were scheduled for Muranos at 8:30 P.M, so when the cocktail party ended at 6 P.M, a bunch of us still had time to catch the 7 P.M show, Matilda (billed as the most popular comedienne in Jamaica). Matilda is dummy (literally), and a very cute ventriloquist show. It started out a bit slow, but got me giggling as the show went on.

Afterwards we headed to Muranos for a superb evening. On the first day of the cruise I had met with Dominique Gamba, the Maitre d’ of Muranos to go over the reservations for the group for both days that I had reserved the restaurant for. He was excellent to work with; a true professional, and we easily made the adjustments necessary to make our reservation work.

From the time I requested the original reservations (back in early November) there had been some miscommunications between us, the people at Celebrity who Nancy was working with to get us confirmed, and the ship. Thankfully, it all got sorted out just prior to our departure for the cruise. However I was sad to have learned that since Captain’s Club hadn’t been notified very early on that the restaurant was reserved, they had still been taking reservations from passengers outside of our group. Celebrity did notify people, either before or onboard that their reservations had to be moved, or cancelled, and some of these passengers were quite upset. We felt very bad about this ourselves, for both the passengers who’s reservations had been cancelled, and Dominique and his staff who had to deal with all their complaints.

As to the restaurant experience itself, certainly everyone from the group who I spoke with tonight enjoyed the experience, and it seems most everyone agreed the restaurant is worth the $30 per person surcharge. Combine the attentive and artistic butterfly service with wonderfully prepared foods, surrounded by good friends, and it was tough to have anything but an outstanding evening. Many pictures and stories will follow I’m sure!

Tomorrow, a port of call in Grand Cayman.
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