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Master Table of Contents, A Tale of Three Cruises (Galaxy, Mercury and Millennium)


chesterh

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Here are three stories about cruising – well, actually 2.7647 stories. I’m still working on the last one. All were originally posted here on CruiseCritic, but were lost in the transition to the new hosting software. If you’re new around here, this may be news to you. Old-timers probably already know…

 

Today is actually the second anniversary of the posting of the opening chapter. My wife Kris and I had just returned from our first cruise, a 25th anniversary celebration. We had such a great time that I was inspired to write about it. It took three weeks to write and post 16 chapters in serial fashion.

 

Much to my surprise, a lot of people actually read the ‘review’ – a couple thousand by the time the last part was posted. Even more surprising was that they seemed to like it. As if that weren’t enough, some readers apparently called the story to the attention of Celebrity Cruises. A month after I finished posting, I received an email from Celebrity offering me a free trip. I couldn’t believe it…

 

I wrote about that second trip, too. It was a father/son reunion of sorts. A hoped-for long-term relationship with the cruise line never panned out, but our family’s addiction to cruising was firmly established. We took our third cruise this year – with teenagers. Not quite as romantic as the first, but it was certainly ‘interesting’.

 

I’ve just finished resurrecting all of the chapters in this continuing travelogue. They are on my own website, and a full index appears below. I am also way behind schedule on a project to turn the first story into a book. I’ll leave that one on-line until publication is complete – hopefully a couple of people will buy the expanded version in print.

 

First-time cruisers and veterans alike have told me they enjoyed these tales. The answer to just about any cruise-related question is probably in there somewhere. It might take several days to find, though -- there are 110,000+ words, 10 videos, and a few hundred pictures. I'm not kidding. Before diving in, you might want to read some of the comments left by readers of the first story. Many are pretty amusing.

 

Without further ado…

 

 

NOTE: Many Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on the small image. If you use a pop-up blocker, you must disable it for this to work. More videos are on the Video Page.

 

The Galaxy Cruise

After the story was published, readers asked for an epilogue. After the first part, I was contacted by Celebrity cruises and offered a free trip. Here is the text of the email I received from Celebrity.

The Mercury Cruise

 

Here is the story of the second trip. Kris couldn't go, so I took my 23 year-old son Ryan on an "Adult Escape" cruise. Somewhat ironic, don't you think?

Sorry -- Continued in following post (ran in to limit of 10,000 characters for a post)

 

 

 

chester(Mr. X)

 

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Huh. There's a limit of 10,000 characters for a post. I suppose that includes all of the characters necessary for the links. That's a pretty strict limit for someone like me...

 

To continue, here is the third story:

 

The Millennium Cruise

Our third trip -- a work in progress -- documents the experience of Cruising With Teenagers.

  • Part XXXI - Installment Travelogue: Millennium 2/22/04 – Preface
  • Part XXXII - Installment Travelogue: Millennium 2/22/04 – Choices
  • Part XXXIII - Ready, Set...
  • Part XXXIIIa - Young Men in Black

    [*]Part XXXIV - GO!

    [*]Part XXXV - Settling In

    [*]Part XXXVI - Into the Night

    [*]Part XXXVII - Formal Charges

    [*]Part XXXVIII - Celebrity Suite

    [*]Part XXXIX - Casa de Campo

    [*]Part XL - San Juan

     

    • San Juan Panoramic Photo
    • San Juan 3D Photo Gallery (PC/Broadband only -- requires simple installation of viewer plugin. You must grant permission for this. It is safe!)

    [*]Part XLa - Technology Supplement (By request. Digital photography and video, coming sometime)

    [*]Part XLI - St. Thomas 1

    [*]Part XLII - St. Thomas 2

    [*]Part XLIII - St. Thomas 3 (coming soon)

    [*]Part XLIII - Nassau (coming soon)

    [*]Part XLIV - Another Ending (coming soon)

    [*]Part XLV - Epilogue (coming soon)

The ??? Cruise

Some day... How about a theme of Cruising With Mom (and Mom-in-Law)?

 

 

 

All the best,

 

chesterh

(Mr. X)

 

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Hi Chester,

I'm very interested in reading your report on your Millennium Cruise. We are booked for Feb. 05. It is our first cruise on Celebrity, our first two cruises were on NCL Dawn and Golden Princess and we loved them both.

Nice to see another poster from Londonderry.

 

Semper Gumby

Lori

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Hi Chester--- Welcome back. I was thinking the other day and wondering if you were going to make an appearence on these new boards!!! So glad to see you did. I am looking forward to the finish of the Millie cruise story.

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Hiya Chester,

 

I had posted glowing comments on your writings/reviews on the old boards as well but wanted to add here that in addition to the text and writings, I really enjoyed the "Bridges Video" and love to watch it now and again to "re-live" my own galaxy cruise out of Baltimore and under and "over" the bridges. With the Champagne, the music, etc..., it really comes across very well done.

 

Today was the first time I had read the text of the Celeb letter offering you the free cruise and I'm soooo jealous but you certainly deserved it for all you have done.

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Lori – I knew there had to be another cruiser in Londonderry. I expect you’ll have a great time on ‘Mille’. February is the perfect time to escape from New Hampshire -- just before sanity lapses... I’ll be glad to give you more info if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the story. See you at Shaw’s?

 

Blindone, the New Hampshirites seem to be dominating the boards. Sure is quiet around here. I’m looking forward to finishing the Mille story -- it is nice to be back. I’ve had to devote all of my attention to salvaging the past works from oblivion. I can’t believe how long it took to re-post 42 chapters on my own site.

 

Thanks, imme. The Bridges video remains my favorite (or at least in the top 3). When I watch, it really conveys the 'mysticism' of the moment… Please don’t be jealous about the Mercury trip. I once made a calculation of what the ‘free’ cruise actually cost me, and divided it by the time spent writing the story. Technically, I ended up paying Celebrity about $25/hr for the privilege of taking a 'free' cruise and writing about it.

 

See you soon,

 

chesterh

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Hi Chester -- I was reading your first two experiences and was having a delightful (and insightful) time -- but then they disappeared. So, I'm happy to pick up where I left off (at the end of the Mercury). What a wonderful job -- I've sailed with Celebrity six times and going again in March. :D

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Hey Chesterh,

 

I am pleased to see you transitioned your good words over to the new boards. I did the same. However I did it on one thread instead of a link. It took 22 postings and it is now on page 10 or the RCL boards with no replies. I hope someone is reading it! Just can't tell if they like it or not. (it is tough being insecure and needing reinforcement) Anyway, glad your excellent story is back home. Good web site you have there. I should use one of my registered domains to do the same thing. (I am like the dentist who has bad teeth).

 

Derrick

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Thank you CINDON and LMKohler. With all the work that went into this project, I couldn’t let it just fade away. Hopefully some newcomers will enjoy the stories, too.

 

Derrick, I’ll scour the RCL boards for your tale. 22 postings -- isn't the 10,000 character limit a nuisance? I may be imagining it, but traffic seems to be light on the new boards. I re-posted some things on the Port boards recently, like the 'formerly popular' stingray and Lamanai videos. Hardly anybody has even opened the threads. ( OCruisers, where are you?) Get going on that website – it involves a bit of labor, but it’s fun.

 

Mike&Nancy, your hint is duly noted. I have a day at home and will force myself to finish chapter 43 before midnight today. I’m out of practice, so this could be tough…

 

All the best,

 

 

chesterh

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ChesterH - I came across your stories yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m. I was spellbound and have read all of them since yesterday morning. Now I'm waiting for the final chapters. You have a fantastic writing style. (You also really have me wanting to book that Celebrity Suite!). Please book another cruise so that there will be more!

 

P.S. Before we discovered cruising and only did land vacations, we visited NH. It is a really beautiful place.

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For the record, two more chapters were added on Saturday, 8/21/2004:

 

Part XLIII – St. Thomas (3)/Olympic

 

Part XLIV – The Olympic

 

 

Ah, gee whiz newt – you’re such a sentimentalist. It’s sad that so many familiar faces seem to be absent, but it is good to be back. Now all I need is some new material. Maybe someone would take me along on their next cruise as documentarian. Newt – how about a collaborative series?

 

Pat, I really got on a roll and wrote not one, but two chapters. Saturday was such a miserable day weather-wise, it provided the perfect opportunity to catch up a little.

 

Nancy, I missed the midnight target by just 32 minutes, but I guess you ran out of beer and fell asleep.

 

Gary, that ship sequence is reserved for just a few special souls. I wonder what’s next…

 

Elaine, I love it when someone stumbles on the stories for the first time. You’re really supposed to read just one chapter a day, though – stretch it out over 6 weeks… NH is a pretty neat place, but if we have another winter like the last one, we’re moving to NC. Keep a spot open just in case.

 

 

All the best,

 

chesterh

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Chester, a collaborative series that sounds great, you pay for my cruise, and I'll collaborate with you, I'll drink all the booze that you can buy, and I'll tell you my life story, we'll start at the begining, I was a small egg, waiting to hatch, waiting for the right man to come along........, interested?

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Newt -- sounds great to me. I'll buy your ticket and drinks, and you'll buy mine. That's what collaboration is all about. I like the opening, but we'll have to skip some details to maintain a PG rating.

 

Marbar -- Ah, the tee shirt conspiracy... It never did pay off. In the small world department, I grew up in Newington (ages 10-college). My parents still live there. Thanks for reading...

 

All the best

 

chesterh

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Enjoy your posts Chesterh,

In the real small world department, I grew up in Hamden,Ct. and our children went to Moreland Hill Prep. School in Kensington, Ct. drove through Newington everyday.. Hated the Berlin Turnpike!!!

 

Semper Gumby

 

Lori

PS: The new Dunkin Donuts is OK, still like the Green Mountain coffee at the Citgo on the corner of Gilcrest.

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It is a small world to have someone on these boards familiar with Newington and the Berlin Turnpike (icky). I am patiently waiting for the rest of your review chesterh - I am so enjoying the read! Sorry to hear that you didn't get one lousy tee shirt - the injustice of it all :-)...

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Lori – I haven’t tried the new DD. In fact, I try to minimize coffee consumption in the morning, because I never know if the commute will take 45 minutes or 2 ½ hours. Early this week a truck dumped a load of asphalt on the interstate, backing traffic up from Andover, Ma to Manchester, NH. It took 90 minutes to reach the first exit during that journey, by which time I was in extreme agony – ready to burst. I need a job closer to home, so that I can enjoy a good cup (or two or three) of java without worrying about the after effects…

 

Marbar (and Lori, continued) – The Berlin Turnpike was a Mecca during my youth. My first job was at McDonalds, turning out Big Macs in record time. My best buddy’s family owned Don’s Speed Shop, home of fast cars and other cool stuff for a 60’s teenager (the shop burned to the ground recently). Bowl-O-Rama and the golf driving range were also formative factors of my youth, and two drive-in theaters thrived during the long, hot summers.

 

Kris also has fond memories of the ‘Pike’. Every year, after school let out for the summer in suburban Philadelphia, she would be packed into the car with her parents, two brothers and whatever pets happened to be in residence. The family would drive for hours on roads much worse than the BT – this was in the age when interstate highways were still in the future – on their way to the ‘camp’ in Maine. Their routine involved stopping (the first stop, 6 hours into the trip) along the Merritt Parkway (non-commercial Siamese twin to the BT) for gas and a bathroom break (there is a theme developing in this post). Kris was fascinated by the toilets, which glowed purple under the sanitizing glow of ultra-violet lights. A short while later, the family car would pull in to the Peter Pan Diner on the Berlin Turnpike. As Kris tells it, this event was the social highlight of the year – one of two times that her family ate dinner in a restaurant. The other time would also be at the Peter Pan Diner, on the way home two months later, when summer was fading and school loomed once again.

 

Funny how time changes perspective. On the rare occasion that we drive the turnpike these days, our reaction is, “Ick”. Ah, youth…

 

All the best,

 

chesterh

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Hey Chester,

 

I was beginning to wonder if I missed anything since I haven't been on the boards as much as I used to. Glad to know that I didn't! I've been reliving my cruise with each of your chapters since we were on the Millie last November.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

Anita

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