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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 • Posted August 11, 2010

Good News from the Gulf…

A cynic whose name "makes no never-mind" predicted one decade ago that this could be "one of those centuries when everything goes wrong."

He (or was it she?) has been right far more times than we’d like to admit, but on one issue—whether Texans would support a year-around cruise port in Galveston—"wrong" misses by a country mile.

Back in 2000, Carnival Cruise Lines committed to serving Galveston, and vacationers have taken to cruising like, uh, ducks to water….

* * * * *

Pledging to pass on possible potential purloined puns in pursuant paragraphs, I’ll let the facts speak for themselves. All cruise stats have zoomed upward, and within a matter of days, the four-millionth cruiser of the decade will board in Galveston.

The port, steadily upgraded, has moved up to number four in boardings at U.S. cruise ports, and Carnival folks have been in "hurry up" mode throughout the decade to accommodate growing market demands.

And, there’s big news for the future. Come November 2011, the spanking new Carnival Magic—the line’s largest ship—will replace the Carnival Conquest for seven-day cruises throughout the year. Now under construction, the new ship will exceed the Conquest in weight, (130,000 tons-120,000 tons); in length, (1,004 ft.-952 ft.); in cabin space, (3,690-2976); crew, (1,369-1,160), and in decks, (14-13)….

* * * * *

My wife and I have enjoyed the Conquest on multiple occasions, most recently in July.

We joined a capacity crowd noting "amen" responses to a sign in the terminal. It reads: "Say goodbye to your worries. Not out loud. That would be weird."

Some guests cheered out loud anyway; others "high-fived" their affirmation of the admonition….

* * * * *

As might be guessed, oil spill conversations were rampant. We looked for stains on the ship’s bow and turned anxious eyes on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

No evidence of an oil spill was noted.

Not until the third day, anyway. Then, we were awash in rumors (OK, "punnage" is hereby banished to time-out) that there’d been an oil spill on board. Pulses returned to normal quickly when we learned that the spill was in the massage spa, quickly cleaned up with a couple of swipes of a hand towel….

* * * * *

Perhaps our only frustration with cruise vacations is that there’s simply no way to cram in more than a few of the countless ways to leave worries behind.

Major appeals are, of course, in dining options. As usual, the food is, uh, to live for!

We enjoyed our extra-special meal in the world-class supper club. I felt a bit guilty, though, eating so sumptuously while watching joggers on the surrounding deck track. They were sweating off pounds on their side of the plate glass while I was adding them in the supper club. (One guy asked me if I jog for exercise. I explained that I get my exercise serving as a pallbearer for my friends who jog.)…

* * * * *

As usual, simply "people-watching" was reason enough to cruise yet again. One couple, still in attire worn for their beach wedding at one of the Caribbean ports, wondered how many ceremonies had featured a 75-year-old flower "girl" and an 82-year-old ring-bearer—the bride’s mom and groom’s dad.

On the dance floor, a three-year-old girl kept pace with her dad, the ship’s chief engineer, by planting her shoes on his. The family was spending vacation time with him at his work place!

New to us were the nightly outdoor movies under the stars. Current movies are shown on a theatre-size screen, and an inviting aroma of popcorn wafts across the deck. Watching so many folks enjoy the outdoor flicks brought old memories of drive-in theatre employment during my teen years. I thought of the occasional low-riding cars with teens crammed inside car trunks to avoid paying admission. (And if those freeloaders got popcorn, they had to pay for it.)...

* * * * *

As for the Conquest after the Magic arrives, no tears need be shed. It remains a classy vessel, and will still be in the "memory business" upon reassignment to New Orleans late next year.

New Orleans deserves some good news, too.

It may soon take more than the Magic and a sister ship, the Ecstasy—as well as other cruises offered by competing Royal Caribbean Cruise Line—to meet ever-growing cruise popularity in the Lone Star State….

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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