Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Day...

Thanksgiving was a busy day on the ship.

It was a sea day so I got up early and worked out.

After that, I had a bowl of Cheerios, put on a suit and went upstairs to help host the "Live at 2:00" show that's broadcast to all the staterooms on the ship.

The show is a live talk show and we gave away prizes and interviewed entertainers on the ship and some of the guests. It turned out to be a lot of fun.

When that was finished I quickly changed into my Cubs baseball jersey and sat down to watch football. It, of course wasn't on. For some reason, they couldn't get the feed all day long. So, no football on Thanksgiving. So, so sad.

Around 5:30 the entire Second City cast met at the Venetian Restaurant to have Thanksgiving dinner.

A REAL THANKSGIVING MEAL!

Now, there were some odd things on the menu as well, but they did a pretty good job supplying us with a Turkey Day Meal.

They had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, mashed potato's and pumpkin pie cheesecake.

For appetizers they had a Bacon Wrapped Salmon Medallion as well as Apricots Stewed in Earl Grey Tea. They also had Prosciutto Stuffed with Arugula.

After dinner we had our only Scriptless improv show of the week. The theater was packed and was full of kids. Every time we asked for a suggestion there was a wall of yelling children shouting back to us. It was fun hearing them. And, it turned out to be a fantastic show.

After the show Jeannie and I called our parents and talked to our families. It was also my sister Pam's birthday so I got to talk to her for a few moments as well.

It turned out to be a pretty great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tortola...




I'm on my own today. Jeannie stayed on the ship.

Here's what it would look like if she had come to the little internet cafe here in Tortola.
We have not ventured too far from downtown Tortola. Apparently they have fantastic, gorgeous beaches everywhere here.

Downtown, all we've seen is the house of fashion.
Look closely and you can see the sign.

Tonight, for the first time, we will be doing 2 show in the Stardust theater. This is something I've been pushing for for the past 3 months. We have a great "Best of Second City" show and it'll be nice to do it twice in one night.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

St. Thomas...

It’s Thanksgiving week so that means there are tons, TONS of families on board. That means the roving packs of teenagers have returned.


Yea!


It’s so nice to have the surly malcontents back on board.


The seas have been a bit rocky the past couple of days. It’s not New York to Bermuda rocky, but it’s tossed us around pretty good.


Yesterday we were in Samana, Dominican Rupublic. We were going to go Cayo, the private island, but just as we arrived in the port the rains came crashing down. It rained steadily through the day and into the night.


This morning Jeaannie and I got up early and bolted off the boat to go to St. Thomas. Across the street from where the ship docks, there is a coffee house called “The Barefoot Buddha” that has good pastries and decent internet.


We had a lot of errands to run so we wanted to get in to use the internet before the rest of the crew members got off the ship and clogged up the wi-fi.


To our amazement, the coffee shop was completely dark. I walked in and talked to the manager and she informed us there was some kind of fire or explosion at the power plant and the electricity was out all over the island.


Yikes.


The passengers on this ship are none too happy. A tropical rainstorm yesterday and no power on the island today! The apathetic teens are extra apathetic today!


Businesses were still operating and selling things, as long as you paid in cash. So, we walked over to the greeting card store and each of us bought some tropical Christmas Cards.


I think mine is pretty funny. I’d love to show you what it looks like, but technology being such as it is, I’m afraid I’m only going to be able to show you by mailing one to you. I’ll, of course, need your address to send it to you and the only way I’ll be able to get that from you is if you send me a Christmas Card with your return address on it.


After we went into the card store we walked down to the K-Mart and were excited to see that they were operating on generator power so they had full electricity. I really had nothing to buy so I wandered around the store for an hour wasting time.


Once we were finished we walked back toward the ship. I noticed there were a few more businesses operating on generator power so we headed to my favorite place on the island, Pizza Amore.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give the pizza a score of 7.5. I like going there because the smell inside the place reminds me of pizzerias back home.


After that, we walked over to the tiny gourmet grocery store next door and grabbed supplies for the next couple of days. Seeing that Thanksgiving is on Thursday and the ship doesn’t have any type of Thanksgiving menu planned, we bought some special Turkey Day treats.


In fact, we may have smuggled an extra special Thanksgiving treat through security this afternoon.

Don’t tell.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Miami...

This past week we had 1000 Jazz musicians and Jazz lovers on the ship.

The theme of the cruise was "Jazz Floats".

The Jazz concerts were reserved for members of their group, but because I had to go in and out of the theater to go the cruise director's office, I was able to listen to a few of the musicians. They were fantastic.

I'm not very knowledgeable about Jazz music, but I know there is a significant connection between Jazz Improvisation and the Improv Acting that I do.

This week we experience our first holiday on the ship.

Somehow, we're going to have to find a way to smuggle an entire turkey on the ship. Where we're going to find a turkey in British Virgin Islands, I don't know.***

I just discovered this week that on Jan. 21st and Feb. 11th, our ship is going to be in Tortola at the same time as the Gem. That means we'll be able to see Brett, Larrance, Jen, Rance, Deanna and Mike Shreeman!

That makes me VERY happy.

Brett doesn't update his blog very often, but if you check out Rance's blog on my blog links, you'll hear snippets about how he's doing. If you go to Rance's flickr page, you'll be able to see Brett, Jen, Larrance and all our friends on the Gem.

Look at how skinny Brett is getting!

They just finished traveling through Italy and are headed back for the winter to cruise through the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tortola...

We're in Tortola today. It's a British Virgin Island.

It's a funny little place. I expected it to be like St. Thomas,but it's a little more like St. Lucia.

We're at a little nook cafe called Serendipity. It's a funny little coffee place directly over the top of a funny little bookstore.

Today is the first day that the cruise ships have come to the island so it's the first day the cafe is open. Because of that, there's no food and limited drinks.

We also have a little problem in that no place seems to take credit or debit cards and ATM's are an endangered species here.

Hilarious...the woman running the shop just informed us that she's going to be in the back room and if any more patrons come in we need to ask them to take a seat and then go knock on her door to let her know. She has a newborn baby back there and needs to take care of it.

Also, not surprising, it's scorching hot here.

****

Now, onto something different.

It's quite a treat to receive mail on the ship. It only happens once a week and we get excited thinking there might be a letter or a package waiting for us.

However, there's usually no reason to send us mail when it's easier to send e-mail.

...except....for Christmas time.

So, I'm asking...no begging...for you to send me a Christmas card. If you're reading this blog, it would warm my heart to receive a card from you.

Let me appeal to the softer portion of your heart. On Christmas day I will be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, far away from friends and family. I won't even be able to call them. It would lessen the homesickness if I could turn and read glad tidings of yule tide cheer in the form of a greeting card.

Now, let me appeal to your competitive side. Jeannie thinks she's going to get more Christmas cards than me. I'd really like to beat her. Feel free to mail her a Christmas card too. But, if you do that, please send me 2 cards to make up for it.

Now, let me appeal to your compassionate side. For the past 3 months, Jeannie has sworn off chips and I have sworn off candy and chocolate. Whoever gets the most Christmas cards gets to partake in their forbidden item. Your Christmas card will allow me to eat a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.

Here's my address on the ship:
Jeff Griggs
Crew Staff
Guest Entertainer/Second City
NORWEGIAN DAWN
FIRST CLASS CARGO
c/o MRZ
P.O. BOX 02-6085
Miami, FL 33102

Please, please send me a Christmas card. Even if you don't normally send cards, send me one. Even if I don't know you, but you read the blog, please send me a card.

If you do, I'll return the favor and send you a card from one of our many exotic locals. You can hang on your mantle a fabulous Christmas card from the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola or Miami.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Miami and Samana...

Last week Jeannie, Tim and James took part in the Galleria Fashion Show on the boat.









They were stylin’.




On Saturday we arrived at our new home port of Miami.

It’s very nice and we’re going to like being there every Saturday. New York was fantastic, but sometimes you just need to go to a Best Buy, eat at a Pizza Hut, and shop for two hours in a Target every once in awhile.


In Miami, we were able to do all of those things.


There’s also a large mall next to the Target and Best Buy, but we spent so much time in those two places that we didn’t have time to go to the mall. I also ate a lot of pizza at Pizza Hut. Yum.


In the next few weeks we’ll go to South Beach and see all the Miami sights, but we need some Target and mall time.


The port we’re docked at is pretty cool,…but not for the reason you might think. It was featured quite prominently in the movie Miami Vice with Collin Farell and Jamie Foxx.

This little tidbit means nothing to most people. However, Matt Craig (he borrowed my DVD copy of the movie) and KPR (I saw the film in Toronto 2 years ago while visiting Kevin Patrick Robbins) will appreciate it.


Today were in the Domincan Republic and Jeannie and I went to the private island with our castmates Tim, Joe, Eileen and Stacy Ward McAdams, one of the lounge singers on the ship.

I got a Coco-Loco. It was a giant drink served inside a real, giant coconut. I actually watched him chop up the coconut with a machete.

I have no idea what the drink was and couldn’t describe the flavor. It was mixed with coconut milk, coconut cream, grenadine and some odd, generic liquid.


I snorkled for a long time and saw some cool things in the water. Several feet away from the shore, in pretty deep water there were tons of starfish. I also saw a fish that crawled along the bottom of the water with his flippers. He didn’t swim. He crawled!


I also spotted a few Sand Dollars in some pretty deep water. It took a couple attempts, but I managed to dive down to the sea floor and grab one.


I remember when my sister Jenny (before she changed her name to Jeni) and I were in Jr. High my parents drove down to St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island in Georgia. There were Sand Dollars all over the beach and we grabbed them and took them home.


This Sand Dollar, which I captured in the deep waters in the Dominican Republic, now sits on my desk next to my computer here in my room.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time and again...

On July 8th a did a blog post about "Time" on the ship.

In it, I said:

For some reason, time moves faster than normal on the ship. I’m not saying that figuratively, I’m saying that literally. For some reason our alarm clocks all move at an accelerated speed when they’re plugged in to the ship’s outlets. We didn’t realize this for a long time and were showing up to things anywhere from 5 to 55 minutes early.

Well, things have changed.

Now that we've switched to the Caribbean, the alarm clock in my room is now losing time. We're now showing up to things anywhere from 5 to 55 minutes late.

Luckily we now know the time is screwy so we're never too late.

Also, we're still on Atlantic time down here.

And yet....

...I'm still converting everything to Central time. I've been on this ship for five months and I still considering that I'm living on Central time.

I woke up this morning and my alarm clock read 8:00am. I immediately went back to sleep because I didn't feel like I should be waking up at 6:00am

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This afternoon we docked in Willemstad, Curacao.

Curacao is located just to the North of Venezuela.

Of all the places we’ve gone in the Caribbean, Curacao has been my favorite. It’s a gorgeous, colorful place.
It’s a former Dutch province. You can tell. The buildings all look Dutch.
We stopped to eat, but couldn’t find an indoor restaurant in the downtown plaza. We ate outside at an Italian restaurant. It was nice, but it was a balmy 92 degrees.
There’s a cool floating bridge in the center of the city.
There’s also a floating market. Here’s the front of the market.
Here’s the back of the market.

Curacao is great.

I wish we were coming back here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barbados and St. Lucia...

Saturday we were in Barbados.

A rain storm blew through the island in the early morning, leaving it amazingly hot and sticky all day long.

Jeannie and I walked from the ship to the downtown area of Bridgetown, Barbados. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was a sweaty one. We looked for some where to eat, but the only restaurant’s we could find were KFC’s. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that there were KFC’s every 2 blocks. The only other eating place we could find was an odd little restaurant called “Bump-n-Wine”.

The food was “blech”, but they had Rihanna’s senior photo framed above the cash register, which I thought was funny. Rihanna is from Barbados, so they’re pretty proud of her there.
Our bill for a salad, chicken sandwich, crab dip and 2 sprites was $148.00! That’s Barbados dollars, not US dollars.

After lunch we walked over to the public market.

It was pretty crazy. We were the only “non-locals” there. Apparently, tourists stay away from the public market. In fact, they pretty much stay away from the city altogether. There are beaches and resorts all over the island and that’s where the tourists go.
Not Jeannie and I. We waded through the middle of all of it.

We stopped at a local market and Jeannie bought a “chubby”.

She had them when she was a kid visiting the Caribbean and was excited to see they still had them.

It was sweltering as we walked back to the ship. I was so dehydrated that as soon as I got back to the ship I fell asleep.


***

On Sunday, we were in St. Lucia.

While most of the passengers and our fellow castmembers and friends have been traveling all over the islands visiting the attractions, Jeannie and I have been content to walk around on our own to visit the city areas of the ports.

On Sunday morning, we decided we’d had enough of island city life. We picked up a guide book and sat on a park bench to decide where we wanted to go. As we sat there a little old St. Lucian man appeared beside us and beckoned us to get into his cab and he would take us anywhere we wanted to go.

We haggled with him a bit and he agreed to take us to Marigot Bay for $25.

The drive took us 30 minutes to get there and we were fortunate to get an amazing view of the tropical St. Lucia countryside. It was gorgeous.

Our cab driver asked us if we were from New York and I said no. He asked where in America we were from and I said “Chicago”. I smiled as I told him because I knew how he was going to react when I said it.

“Chicago?” he yelled as he threw his hands up in the air. He then began yelling, “Chicago! Chicago! Oba-ma! Oba-ma! Oba-ma!”

He told us that when CNN had announced that Obama had been elected president, all the people in St. Lucia had run outside and danced in the street.

I knew he was going to react that way because everywhere I’ve gone this week, whenever I tell people I’m from Chicago, they all cheer and chant “Oba-ma! Oba-ma! Oba-ma!”
It’s very funny. A homeless man hugged me yesterday when I told him I was from Chicago.

When we finally arrived at Marigot Bay we walked around and looked for somewhere to eat. Margoit Bay is a beautiful little cove on the West end of the island.
We found a fantastic restaurant in the Discovery Resort. To our surprise, a half an hour after we ordered our food we were joined by our castmates Tim and Eileen and by Shannon, the sports trainer on the Dawn and by Grant, one of the principal singers for the JARS.

They sat next to us and we had a spectacular afternoon eating lunch together.

Aside from us, the little cove was completely deserted. It was nice to get a little piece and quiet for a change.
We strolled around and went into the shops to kill a little bit of time. We also stepped down toward the water to inspect the famous black sand beaches.

Amazingly, I have now seen the pink sand beaches of Bermuda and the black sand beaches of St. Lucia.

The six of us then hopped into a cab and took the extraordinary drive back to the ship.

For the rest of our contract we will not be visiting Barbados, Antigua or St. Lucia. I’m glad we were able to fully experience all 3 places.

Friday, November 7, 2008

St. Thomas and Antigua...

Yesterday we were in St. Thomas. It's one of the US Virgin Islands.

It's a beautiful place.
It's also very "crew friendly". That means there's a K-Mart, good internet, good cheap food and lots of ATM's.

Today we're in St. John, Antigua.

Antigua is precisely what I envisioned all the islands (including Bermuda) would be like.
There are shops and stands on the narrow roads with street vendors everywhere hawking their wares. It's exactly like the places I would see on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations". I mean, there's dog sleeping in the streets here.
There are also some nice shops here and some nice restaurants. This sign is advertising a little food stand, but it also asks the question I think everyone has been asking...When will the gravy return? You'll notice under the sign they are selling Barack Obama t-shirts. In the past two days, everywhere I've gone, everyone is talking about Barack Obama. All the locals on the islands are celebrating his election.

It's a beautiful fascinating place.

They also have great internet. We're at an outdoor restaurant on the water and the speed of the wi-fi is blazing fast. I'm finally going to get the full second season of Mad Men completely downloaded.

It's also scorching hot down here. I'm not sure what I thought it was going to be like, but it's much hotter than I anticipated. Hot and humid. It's 88 degrees, but it feels like it's 100 degrees.

I like St. John, Antigua.
Antigua means ancient in Spanish and was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 after a church in Spain. It was known as Britain's gateway to the Caribbean. Sadly, it also became a hub for slavery until 1834.

This outdoor market was formerly a slave trading post.
This is our only trip into Antigua and I feel very fortunate for having come here to see it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Samana, Dominican Republic...

We got on the wrong boat...

...again.

This time, however, it was a good mistake.

We thought we were getting on a tender boat to take us to the town of Samana.  Inadvertently, we got on a boat with the Shore Excursion Staff and ended up on the private island of "Cayo Levantado".

Samana 0361

It was a beautiful island.

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The beach was fantastic.

Samana 0101

While we were in Bermuda Jeannie on several occasions had attempted to get a drink served in a pineapple.  She got one at Snorkel Park, but it was pretty lame...and expensive.  It cost her $18 for a pre-made virgin pina colada.

Here on Cayo, it cost her $5 and it was the real deal.

Samana 004

To Jeannie's utter glee, she ordered a virgin pina colada and a little old lady pulled out a machete and chopped off the top of a pineapple.  With the machete, she hallowed out the pineapple and handed Jeannie the fruit inside.  She then grabbed a coconut and chopped it open with the machete.  Within seconds, Jeannie had her pina colada. 

She let me taste it and it was pretty amazing.

After that we had lunch at a delicious outdoor BBQ.  We had chicken skewers and corn on the cob.  Again, it was fantastic.

Samana 015

When we were finished eating, Lee from the Shore Excursion Staff came and told us that their was a presentation for all ShoreEx staff members, if we wanted to attend.

For those who don't know, the Shore Excursion Staff are the people who book tours and special events on the ship.  That way, people on the cruise can book everything through the cruise staff instead of trying to find it on their own.  It's usually cheaper and safer for the passengers that way and it's much better organized. 

The ShoreEx staff was on Cayo Island to get better acquainted with the features that they would be recommending and booking for the passengers.  They also had a new feature that they were trying to sell to the passengers. 

Since we had become stowaways on their boat, we were invited to watch the new presentation. 

To my excitement and to Jeannie's horror...

Samana 016

...it was a Sea Lion show. 

Samana 024

The little show was presented in a 5 foot by 5 foot beach area in a small corner of the island. 

In between each of her tricks the sea lion walked up to us so we could pet her and tell her "good job".

Samana 019

We even got to go up and feed her.

Samana 020

While Jeannie was initially pretty scared of the sea lion, she quickly fell in love with it.  She even was able to get a kiss from it.

Samana 023

It was very cool.

After the Sea Lion show we spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach.

Samana 0141

Samana 0281 Samana 0301

We accidentally had ourselves a pretty eventful day.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day...

Happy Election Day Everyone!

I love, love, love election day. It's like the ultimate sporting event.

This Tuesday, like every election Tuesday, I will be eating Dorito's and ordering a pizza (from room service) and watching the election results on CNN.

I can't wait.

The experience will be tempered quite a bit because the pizza is not going to be from D'Agostino's in Chicago and because I'm going to be 40 nautical miles off the coast of Cuba...but it will still be great.

I did my civic duty and sent in my absentee ballot 6 weeks ago.

Hooray America! Hooray Electoral Process! Hooray 18 hours strait of watching CNN and FOX News!

While you're waiting for the results to come in, watch this funny video that Ron Howard made:
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Goodbye NYC..

Today is our last day in New York City.

Today we begin a "reposition cruise".

That means we're relocating and will now be based out of Miami for the rest of the winter.

This reposition cruise will be 13 days long and will take us to a few places that we're only going to be visiting once.

We'll be going to

Samana
Antiqua
St. Thomas
Barbados
Tortola
Curacao
Great Stirrup Cay
St. Lucia

It should be quite an adventure.

Goodbye America. See you in 2 weeks.