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kylenyc

Review: Ben the Bendy Man's Stellar Star Adventure Sept 23 - Sept 30, 2012

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Hi everyone!

 

I'm Ben the Bendy Man and I've just returned from beautiful sunny Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Star. This is my first review and I'll try to be mostly fairly imbalanced yet objective where it matters.

 

This is the second time I'm traveling "solo" (albeit with the assistance of my photographer, typist, and part time dancing banana kylenyc). I had a fantastic time aboard the Star where I met the friendly folks from the Cruise Critic roll call and even made some wonderful new friends aboard the ship. Thank you Cruise Critics for being so helpful with your reviews and answering questions. Without you this trip wouldn't have been so memorable and so much fun.

 

I hope you find this review slightly entertaining and maybe even helpful.

 

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This is my first review and I'll try to be mostly fairly imbalanced yet objective where it matters.

 

Much better to be imbalanced than UNbalanced!!:D

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Ooooh..this is going to be a fun one!!! :)

 

Can't wait for more!

 

I agree! Looking forward to reading it!

 

coka

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88

 

Prologue

 

It was late July and Ben hadn't taken a vacation since last year. Sitting atop a bookshelf, prodding his typist 6 days a week at all odd hours day and night, Bendy Man's frown was no longer upside down. He desperately needed a vacation and needed one soon but his usual traveling companion (the typist's dear mother) couldn't get away.

 

With much trepidation, Bendy Man decided to travel alone and so booked an "emergency vacation" - A short 3 day cruise in August out of Miami aboard the Norwegian Sky... to test the solo waters. Ben wasn't fond of the idea of "solo" travel but much to his surprise, he had a very pleasant trip. When he returned from the cruise de-stressified and smiling once again, he quickly instructed his executive assistant to book a longer 7 day cruise on the Norwegian Star, began obsessively reading the Cruise Critic - Norwegian Cruise Line message board, and joined the "roll call."

 

Day 1 - Sunday, September 23, 2012

 

Ben abruptly woke at 10 AM after a scant 4 hours sleep. He had been up doing the pre-cruise happy dance jiggity jig, compiling a list of attractions and maps of Bermuda, printing out receipts and boarding docs, and addictively still reading Cruise Critic discussions. By Noon he had finished packing.

 

Yes, you read it correctly... Showered and packed in 2 hours and yes we know Bendy Folk with XY chromosomes might have it a little easier when it comes to washing, dressing, and packing. Being an experienced Freestyle Cruiser also helped knowing he could pack light and dispense with the tux, cumberbun, and wing tips. Still he knew he was cutting it a little close so he was out the door in a whoosh while dangling from a Dakine backpack. Rumbling down the stairs and shuffling around the corner, he caught an MTA bus to the Roosevelt Avenue / 74th Street station where he could take a subway into Manhattan.

 

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It's peanut butter jelly time!

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Ding! Stop Requested

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Roosevelt Ave and 74th Street Station, Jackson Heights, Queens

 

After a short bus ride, he was through the turnstile and hopped onto the first arriving train... headed in the wrong direction! Ben's (distracted and self-amused) photographer, in an excited rush, stepped onto the subway towards JFK! Fortunately, the mistake only cost 20 minutes. He was able to exit at the next station, walk easily over and across to the downtown platform and take the E train into Manhattan.

 

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To add to the confusion, the subway map shows Ben "EREH ERA UOY"

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Ben is mesmerized by some haute couture "Op! Op! Oppa Gangnam Style?!?"

 

(continued)...

Edited by kylenyc

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Much better to be imbalanced than UNbalanced!!:D
Ben got to be pretty unbalanced on the cruise too. More to come...:D

 

Thanks teeny25, coka, NYGirl1002. It's Ben's first review. Yikes. No pressure.:eek:

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

 

After a short ride, Ben arrived at the 50th Street and 8th Avenue station. It was about a 3/4 mile walk from here to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal - Pier 88.

 

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50th Street and 8th Avenue station, Manhattan (Does not smell like Old Spice or Teen Spirit)

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E train departing

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What's that moving in the shadows?

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Fresh air and a brisk walk.

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Pier 90. Getting close! Huff! Puff!

 

(continued)

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

 

As Ben shuffled towards the Hudson, he was getting increasingly anxious to see the ship, get on board, relax and have fun. Walking west on 50th Street, Ben arrived at Pier 90 and proceeded to walk south under the overpass to Pier 88 and the Star.

 

A passenger/freight elevator operated by a friendly woman took Ben to the upper level. Upon entering the terminal, no pictures or cell phone use was allowed. Passengers arriving by car or bus are also dropped off on the upper level (by entering the terminal heading southbound on 12th Avenue near 56th Street).

 

Within 15 minutes of entering the terminal, Ben was on board the beautiful Norwegian Star! Security was a breeze, there was no one in the check-in line, and there were many check-in staff! There was an open counter at VIP Check-In and even though Ben wasn't living the VIP "suite life", he was swiftly waved over by Sheila who gave a friendly welcome and checked us in. This was a marked improvement compared to the staff at the three Norwegian cruises he took out of this terminal last year.

 

Editor: Ben was actually tucked away in my back pocket once in the terminal. I didn't want to bet on the US Customs or Port Authority's sense of humor. Also, I arrived later than I wanted and wonder how check-in was for people arriving earlier or later.

 

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Walking from Pier 90 to Pier 88 and the Norwegian Star

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Pier 88

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Exiting the passenger check-in and towards the boarding ramp

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Oceanview Cabin, Category OA.

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Ben couldn't wait to kick back and relax

 

(Continued) Tomorrow: More of Day 1 - Oceanview cabin pictures, Cruise Critic informal meet and greet, Bier Garten, Sail Away Party, and Sailing Solo Get Together at Gatsby's.

Edited by kylenyc

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More more more please! This reminds me of the cruise we took Flat Stanley on! He was kidnapped by pirates (but that's a long story!)!

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More more more please! This reminds me of the cruise we took Flat Stanley on! He was kidnapped by pirates (but that's a long story!)!

 

OMG!! pirates!?!?!! pirate.gif

 

I am enjoying this review, so keep your fingers nimble and continue! I'm sure Bendyman is prodding you as well.

Edited by Sauer-kraut

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Subscribing to this immediately . . . not only for the wonderful humor, but I anticipate it'll be a great resource for my Bermuda venture next Fall on Breakaway :D

 

.

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I guess Ben didn't realize he could have transfered from the E train to the M50 bus right outside the 49th Street subway exit and saved himself the walk to 12th Ave. Likewise, after the cruise upon exiting the terminal he could cross 12th Avenue and get the M50 bus on 50th Street which would take him back to the subway. Oh, well, for next time.

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Ben got to be pretty unbalanced on the cruise too. More to come...:D

 

Thanks teeny25, coka, NYGirl1002. It's Ben's first review. Yikes. No pressure.:eek:

 

 

kool review so far... waiting for more...:p

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More more more please! This reminds me of the cruise we took Flat Stanley on! He was kidnapped by pirates (but that's a long story!)!

really?? LOL...:D.. has he been found yet???

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Quick intermission and Thanks!

 

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. Ben and his typist are so glad you're enjoying this.:o

 

After returning from his first solo cruise, Ben got so excited after reading some Cruise Critic reviews... way to many to list and people to thank but some especially made an impact...

 

Monique's photo album of Ben the Bendy Man. This isn't a CC review but it got Ben really excited about being used for "focus testing" and bringing along a photographer.

 

DGP1111's review of his solo trip on the EPIC which gave Ben some fresh enthusiasm about NCL (and the new megaships) all over again.

 

TerpGirl77's review of her solo adventure to Bermuda aboard the Star which really got Ben excited about solo travel and exploring Bermuda.

 

xenagurl's blog and her DH's video of the Bermuda Railway Trail

which sadly Ben didn't have time to do but was inspired to do some nature hiking and exploring which he did. With so much to enjoy in Bermuda, he'll just have to go back!

 

Kyle this is great! It was really nice meeting you too!
It was so nice to meet you in person to! And pssst I won't tell anyone you're a fab dancer and she won the dance contest!!!:D I hope you got some pics to share! Go Cruise Critic xenagurl woot woot! :p

 

More more more please! This reminds me of the cruise we took Flat Stanley on! He was kidnapped by pirates (but that's a long story!)!
LOL! Ben's shy and often easily hid in his typist's back pocket.

 

I guess Ben didn't realize he could have transfered from the E train to the M50 bus right outside the 49th Street subway exit and saved himself the walk to 12th Ave. Likewise, after the cruise upon exiting the terminal he could cross 12th Avenue and get the M50 bus on 50th Street which would take him back to the subway. Oh, well, for next time.
Great tip. Ben forgot about it but luckily he was hitching a ride with his typist who only had a backpack and shoulder bag. This is definitely something to consider for anyone with a roller carry-on or larger although still walkable if you're not in a rush. Edited by kylenyc

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Sounds good that dancing thing will be our secret! LOL

 

Looking forward to reading more of your...I mean Bendy Man's adventure!

Edited by xenagurl

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

Oceanview cabin, Category OA

 

When last we saw Ben, he was resting on his beautifully made queen size bed (after jumping up and down on it doing the happy dance jiggity jig). The bed was comfy but there's little room along the sides. In fact, his clumsy typist hit his head a few times on the folded third bed attached to the wall.

 

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Extra bed attached to the cabin wall. Watch your head!

 

Now Ben wasn't sure he wanted to share this next picture as he didn't want you dear readers to get the wrong impression. Ben is not... he repeats... not... a party figurine and his smile is all natural straight from the toy factory (not 80 proof triple distilled spirits). And the Mardi Gras beads was his Cruise Critic roll calls idea! Still, he was happy to see that his Bon Voyage liquor was waiting for him in the cabin. As for what happens to the bottle? To be continued...

 

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Canadians, stay tuned as Ben the-really-not-a-party-figurine tries a Bloody Caesar. Really, he's not! He just likes to be prepared.

 

Tips:

Bed configuration - Cabins with twin beds may be configured a queen. Ben guesses you can call your PCC or TA to specify your preference before embarking. Be sure to check deck plans and cabin layouts.

Bon Voyage liquor (and gifts) can be purchased from NCL but only prior to sailing. A bottle of liquor comes with a choice of beverage and garnish. Prices start at $80 for 1L of Smirnoff Vodka plus $3 gratuity. It can't be purchased once on board. Any liquor you purchase in the duty free shop is held until the last evening.

• A wine package is also offered and it did seem well worth it and convenient. After one of Ben's new friends enjoyed a glass or two of wine, the waiter would cork the remainder and give her a receipt which she presented on subsequent nights to the waiter to retrieve her bottle.

Bringing your own wine or champagne - NCL charges a corkage fee starting at $15 for a 750ml bottle if you wish to bring your own wine or champagne on board. Beer and spirits may not be brought aboard and will be confiscated but returned to you at the end of the cruise. You may however bring your own sealed bottled water and soda.

 

(Continued)

Edited by kylenyc

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

Oceanview Cabin, Category OA

 

Now Ben's heard rumors on Cruise Critic that some other cruise lines have larger cabins. Still, he found his cabin to be overall comfortable, nicely furnished, and efficient organized with more cabinet and closet space than he needed. The toilet and shower stalls did feel cramped despite his slender figure. It's hard to imagine an oceanview or inside cabin sleeping three or more comfortably!

 

The Norwegian Star was launched 2001 and refurbished in 2010. So Ben did expect differences compared to newer ships such as lack of LCD TVs and fewer electrical outlets. However, the cabin was as comfortable as those on the newer Jewel-class ships and Epic, and Ben enjoyed nearly all of the public spaces and venues aboard the Star.

 

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Even more storage inside the closet

 

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Ben was bothered by creaking from the bathroom door. So he wedged the corner of a wash cloth between the door and frame before closing it at night.

 

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Bendy man's photog is also invisible!

 

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Test the water temperature! The water can be mighty hot!

 

If you like soap that lathers, bring your own. The shower has a body wash gel and hair shampoo dispenser. The gel barely lathers but it did make Ben feel squeaky clean.

 

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Desk with hairdryer and electrical outlets.

 

Ben didn't look closely but he only saw one 120V and one 220V outlet on the desk. You may want to bring a power strip if you bring many electronic gizmos.

 

(Continued)

Edited by kylenyc

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Methinks "Ben the Bendy Man" is the reason you are traveling solo. lol

 

(Just joking).

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSuPT1DGJQV9fF35lquBsk50nMjlM7ez0IhVVmQcLdsMGeO78fHYCfpbQ

Edited by Sauer-kraut

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

Cruise Critic Informal Gathering, Bier Garten, Sailaway

 

"Ding dong! Attention passengers, a mandatory safety drill will be conducted at 3:30 pm." So it's time for our protagonist to head to his designated assembly station comforted by the fact that NCL takes passenger safety seriously. The announcer and crew members throughout the ship helped direct Ben to his assembly station which was in the ship's main dining room, the Versailles, where he's seated by awaiting crew members.

 

Tip: The Versailles main dining room is open for lunch on the first day from 12 Noon to 2 pm (with white tablecloth and wait service. Casual, shorts, sneakers are okay for lunch). Other dining venues are main buffet, poolside buffet, two specialty restaurants, and a poolside BBQ sailaway party.

 

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(Foreground) Displeased crew member

(Background) Displeased crew member pointing finger at Ben's photographer

 

Food, beverages and "entertainment devices" are not allowed during the safety drill. Since Ben's documentarian was clearly taking pictures in the pursuit of investigative journalism, he took liberties with his camera and was summarily chastised and instructed to stop. Good thing it wasn't Sean Penn or Alec Baldwin!

 

The safety drill was over in 15 minutes and so off Ben went to meet fellow Cruise Critic members for an informal gathering at the Bier Garten (Deck 13 Forward). Overall, Deck 13 is an ideal location for the sail away where you can view the poolside sail away party with unobstructed views of the New York City Skyline, Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and watch as the ship passes under Verazzano Narrows Bridge. Sailing from New York is simply fantastic and the weather was gorgious.

 

While heading upstairs to the Bier Garten, Ben was a little concerned that his bright complexion, enthusiastic smile, and accompanying paparazzi might frighten away passengers and fellow Cruise Critics alike. So he hid in a pocket while his photographer mingled and instilled a false sense of security to those he met. Stay tuned for... Bendy Man Returns.

 

For the solo travelers (and couples too), it was good that we planned an informal gathering on the first day. We got to plan for dinner and meet other solo travelers later that night. Bendy Man didn't want dine alone! It was wonderful meeting so many friendly people from Cruise Critic and spending time together throughout the cruise.

 

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Bier Garten

 

Smoking is allowed at the Bier Garten but it's still an ideal location for a gathering and people watching especially while standing upwind with a steady ocean breeze. You can also bring your lunch from the buffet. Friendly staff are there to clear your plates.

 

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Bier Garten

 

Ben's photographer brought his lunch from the buffet up to the Bier Garten a few times where he enjoyed the view, planned his time in Bermuda, and shared drinks with friendly people like Guy & Lora, Valerie & Lou from the Jersey Shore (Ben didn't want to scare off his new friends so stayed out of sight.)

 

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Bier Garten - Overlooking descending rows of loungers and the pool deck

 

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Bier Garten - Port view

 

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Bier Garten - Port view

 

(Continued)

Edited by kylenyc

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

Sailaway

 

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The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (two blocks south of Pier 88). The grey dome is the pavilion housing the new Space Shuttle Enterprise exhibit.

 

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One World Trade Center under construction.

 

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Ellis Island

 

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Lady Liberty

 

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

 

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

 

(Continued)

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I am glad to see Ben the Bendy Man is not related to SNL's Mr. Bill. If he was, he might have been the bathroom door stopper instead of the wash cloth...

 

Still laughing out loud and enjoying you pics and review!

 

 

coka

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Day 1 - Ben takes New York City mass transit to Pier 88 (continued)

Sailing Solo Get Together

 

Ben's photographer left the Bier Garten after meeting friendly folks from the roll call like Virginia & Pat from Jersey and making plans with Regina (another solo traveler) for dinner and the evening show. After finishing his traditional sailaway pina colada and taking pictures around the ship, Ben reappeared and returned to his cabin to freshen up before heading to the Sailing Solo Get Together at 6 pm.

 

The get together was at Gatsy's Martini Bar where Ben would spend most of his evenings. When he arrived, he looked around and was disappointed to see there were no solo travelers... or were there?

 

The Sailing Solo Get Together is listed in the ship's daily newsletter and was every night at 6 pm in Gatsby's. However, it's not a hosted event. Ben would later learn it's best to simply ask everyone at the bar and figure out who was there for the gathering. Although on this night, he probably wouldn't have gotten an honest answer.

 

To occupy his time, Ben posed with drink in hand and had some pictures taken. Little did he know there were in fact solos there... and watching...!!

 

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Ben has it on good authority that it's precisely what that woman was thinking (Famous last thoughts as you shall later see...)

 

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Ben wonders where the other solo travelers are but soon puts it out of his mind

 

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Gatsby's - Piano lounge

 

After listening to some piano tunes and finishing his drink, Ben headed back to his cabin to freshen up and meet his new friend for dinner in one of the Star's main dining rooms - The Aqua Restaurant. Still not wanting frighten new friends, he tucked himself in a back pocket. Patience padawan.

 

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Cabin picture window at sunset

 

Ben's photog didn't take any pictures in Aqua because he was having such a great time with Regina. Isn't it how it should be anyway? The Aqua is the more intimate of the two main dining rooms with contemporary theme and artwork. He had the ribeye steak which was deeeelish. The service was friendly and fast and we made the evening's show with time to spare. Food porn later there will be.

 

The Welcome Aboard Showtime show was wonderful and was a preview teaser of the different acts we would see in future shows. After the show, passed by Gatsby's for some cocktails, and said good night with plans to meet again tomorrow.

 

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Cabin picture window at midnight

 

(Continued) Next up: Day 2 & 3 at sea - Bier Garten, Poolside, Cruise Critic Meet and Greet, Latitudes Party, Versailles, Stan Styx and Gatsby's.

 

Edited by kylenyc

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement. Glad you're still enjoying this.

 

Thanks for sharing... I am really enjoying reading this. It makes me smile :)
Yay. Ben's smile is contagious. :)

 

I am glad to see Ben the Bendy Man is not related to SNL's Mr. Bill. If he was, he might have been the bathroom door stopper instead of the wash cloth... Still laughing out loud and enjoying you pics and review!

Oh no! I wouldn't do that to Ben but he did get a little scuffed up later in the journey.:p

Edited by kylenyc

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