Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back from Celebrity 'Constellation'


Back home after two weeks on board the beautiful cruise ship Celebrity Constellation and, with the suitcases now unpacked, I wanted to start posting a synopsis of the trip and acknowledging some of the people that made it such a terrific experience. This 14-day, 3,400-nautical-mile cruise made nine ports of call, including Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba(seen here is Constellation from near the port area); Willemstad, Curacao; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George's, Grenada; St. John's, Antigua; and Phillipsburg, Dutch St. Maarten (to see synopsis of all these ports of call, go to Cruising the Southern Caribbean on the Celebrity 'Constellation').

I served as one of the “Beyond the Podium” speakers on board the vessel, where I gave presentations on “Blockade Running During the Civil War,” “The History of St. Maarten,” “The ABCs of the ABC Islands,” “Exploring the Bermuda Triangle,” and “Ghosthunting Florida.” The other speaker, Chicago lawyer Peter LaSorsa, gave great talks on both baseball and forensics.

Thanks to the great staff and crew who made this cruise possible, including cruise staff Rich Clesen, Mike Gibbons, and Mike Siebenthal, and all the terrific passengers who have taken the time to chat, drink, and otherwise interact with me and my wife Diane! Thanks also to the many passengers who took the time to come to my talks and chat or have a drink with me after them; good turnout and attendee interaction are what make a program like this a success and we had plenty of that.


People we especially enjoyed spending time with included our tablemates Helmut and Gaby Proske and Frank and Mel (seen here with us in a picture sent to me by Gaby), our drinking buddies Karel and Koen, cruise commentator Richard Wagner, art auctioneer Tommy Varzos, comedian Jason Chase, our waiters Carlos and Nixon (the picture below by Gaby is of Diane harassing them), and the sommelier chicks at Cellar Masters and the main dining room!


Very special thanks are also due to Charles and Teresa Baltzell from the Acupuncture center! I injured my foot a few days before we headed out for the cruise and was in a lot of pain my first day on stage and their treatments made the rest of the experience much more enjoyable for me, both because I could stand comfortably and was able to easily walk around our various ports of call. They are also both terrific people, with a great philosophy of life and a generous nature, and Diane and I were grateful for the time we were able to spend with them. We certainly hope to cross paths with them again one day in Texas.

6 comments:

Clasina said...

Celebrity's Constellation is a beautiful ship indeed! Having sailed on her before the renovations, the changes are dramatic but her warmth and charming character remain very much intact. Connie is, I think, my favourite ship, in large part because of her warm and friendly crew.
We were on the TransAtlantic voyage just before yours. The speakers on that trip were wonderful, but how I wish I could have heard your Caribbean lectures! We lived in the Windward Islands for a couple of years -- Saba, the big green gumdrop just off St. Maarten. It's a fascinating part of the world, and I'm sure your "Beyond the Podium" presentations greatly enhanced peoples' appreciation.
Thanks for your post!

MICHAEL J. VARHOLA said...

Clasina, my wife and I spent a week in Philipsburg, Dutch St. Maarten, a few years back so that I could do research for my lectures and other projects. If we went back there again, we would certainly opt to go to the French side of the island -- which is much more like a "real" place than the touristy Dutch side -- or Saba. What a great experience living there must have been for you!

Clasina said...

Ah yes, the French Side was our holiday place! And we loved Saba, although life on a small, isolated island -- even in paradise -- has more challenges than you could imagine. The rewards are many as well: we made many lasting friendships there, and learned a lot about life in the tropics. Truly a life-altering experience! And it was while we lived on Saba that we took our first Celebrity Cruise, to prove to ourselves that we wouldn't like it. LOL!

Clasina said...

East is East ...
Going trans-Atlantic on a ship is wonderful: we've done it twice on on Connie, as a matter of fact. Once eastbound and once westbound. We also did an eastbound on the QM2. Westbound is better, in my opinion. Husband Dennis was toying with the idea of an eastbound in the spring, but I nixed that plan for two reasons:
1. The impact of jet lag is lessened by spreading it over five or six days, but on the eastbound, when each successive day is an hour shorter you still notice that! And after several days, I didn't like having to choose between breakfast and lunch. Going westbound, the 25 hour days make life so ... so ... leisurely. I could go to bed late and still wake up early!
2. On the eastbound, you have a lazy week, and then port-port-port before starting the land portion of your holiday. The westbound is opposite, so after doing the land portion and port after port, you relax on lazy sea days and arrive home rested.
JMHO!

Abellagal said...

My husband Shelly and I enjoyed your "Beyond The Podium" talks. We both believe that ghosts are with us one form or another and plan to do a bit of ghosthunting here in Washington State.

Gaye

MICHAEL J. VARHOLA said...

Gaye, thanks for your comments and I'm very glad you enjoyed my presentations! I actually thought the ghosthunting one was the best of the bunch, in part because I enjoy the subject so much. You should also check the America's Haunted Road Trip site, http://www.americashauntedroadtrip.com, where I post about my paranormal activities. I am also a monthly guest on a radio show called Psi-Fi Para Radio that broadcasts from your general area, in Oregon.