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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 • Posted March 25, 2009

Column #308 for Release Saturday, March 21, or Later

A decade up the road, citizens of Galveston will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of their island by Spanish Conquistador Juan de Grijalva. A decade ago marks the date it was “discovered” by Carnival Cruise Lines as a viable port for sea-bound vacationers.

Now, Carnival has two vessels operating there year-around, and two other cruise lines have been added.

Looks like forward-thinking Texans “had it right” in their dogged pursuit for Galveston to become a major cruise port….

  • * * * *

Those who pushed for a cruise port probably had the kind of hometown pride that author Fannie Flagg wrote about in her novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. In it, she observed of Whistle Stop:

“Just think. Now you can mail a letter and get your hair done, all on the same block. All we need now is to have a picture show open up, and none of us would ever have to go to Birmingham again.”

That is the mindset of many cruisers when they set sail from Galveston today. Now that we have a cruise port, we’ll never have to fly to get on a ship again….

  • * * * *

My wife and I cruise frequently and have grown to expect the pampered treatment. Others feel the same way, since most clientele have cruised on multiple occasions.

It is fun to board a beautiful vessel like the Conquest, notepad in hand, confident that accounts worth sharing will emerge on the other side of the gangplank.

Typically the stories don’t concern screaming headlines, planned activities under the bright lights or folks behind the grease paint. Neither are they often included in literature provided daily to the 3,500 guests….

  • * * * *

Fellow guests and a crew of some 1,200 provide a “can’t miss” collection of heart-warming stories.

On our most recent cruise, we watched a four-year-old who couldn’t stay awake to eat her hot dogs during dinner, heard a wonderful vocal group from Baylor University, and met a San Antonio couple who wanted to be married on a beautiful Grand Cayman beach.

Included in the wedding party were their minister and 35 other family/friends, some from as far away as Minnesota. The groom’s mother and the bride’s grandmother were both in wheelchairs, anticipating surgeries. The celebrants, Mr. and Mrs.Jeffrey Bober, are from San Antonio, where he is a pro golfing aspirant, and she is game operations crew rep for the San Antonio Spurs. They dated for six years, and he popped the question on an Ecstasy cruise out of Galveston last fall…

  • * * * *

The four-year-old who chose a hotdog for each evening meal was Stacey Love of The Woodlands. Involved in Camp Carnival, a fun-filled activity program for children by day, she just couldn’t stay awake to complete her evening meals. Or maybe an excursion to an exotic turtle farm and a sand bar rendezvous with stingrays in Grand Cayman did her in.

As Stacey drifted off at dinner, Iryna Gaber, team head waitress from Ukraine, knew instinctively what to do. Placing two chairs together, she helped situate the youngster into a reclining position. Then, she removed the silver from six napkins, using them as a make-shift coverlet, in case there was a nip in the air.

This exercise was repeated nightly, while the rest of us ate “high on the hog,” consuming delicacies of every description. Her dad passed on hotdog remnants, but did finish Stacey’s chocolate milk with gusto….

  • * * * *

The Baylor kids, called “ShowTime!,” were special.

The 15 youngsters, winning auditions for assignment to the group, were on a spring break cruise.

Wholesome, clean-cut and talented, they sang hits from the 50’s, as well as numerous Broadway songs….

  • * * * *

Back on dry land, we have thought often of the little girl who couldn’t finish her hotdogs, the beach wedding and a bunch of college kids, most of whom were on their first cruise. One couldn’t believe that someone would clean his cabin every day.

We smiled at the thought of the bride’s grandmother, now 83, who abandoned her wheelchair long enough to wade out into the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Finally, we’ve dreamed about the smiling faces of crew members. And I overheard just one comment concerning the current recession. It was uttered by a woman as she pushed her chair away from the cruise’s final sumptuous meal. She wondered if they have take-home boxes….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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