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On formal nights one of the Polish bands would stroll the dining room as we ate


These fine gentleman often roped me into attending a "vodka night" in their cabin on a Tuesday night after we left Ocho Rios. I was off and their day was done by 11. Their RCCL pay was worth 10 times its value by the time it got wired back to their families in Poland. Fun people. I found myself with all kinds of nationalities as friends, but that was true to a lesser extent living in London for a total of 13 years.


The drummer Thadeus bringing up the rear with a tambourine fell from his top bunk after one vodka night and landed on his face. Off to the ship's doctor. He couldn't play for the rest of the week and the CD asked me if I could cover. Sure. So now I was playing in 2 bands and schedules were adjusted if needed.

In the same week on Tuesday the drummer in the steel band was stopped by the gangway security and found to be carrying weed he had bought in Ocho Rios. He was sent home to Barbados. The CD asked me if I could cover for him too. Deep breath-"Sure" and so now I was in 3 bands. The steel band music was fun to play and as well as playing quietly at the Midnight Buffet I got to play ferociously on deck in the sun by the pool surrounded by dancing bikini ladies and speedo men.


Some steel band players join us in my cabin in 1986 for a rum 'n Coke soiree



I was kept busy that week but my energy level was high and I was well-fed. As well as being able to eat 3 meals a day in the crew mess, I was able to have 3 in the MDR (preferred choice). As we worked until 3 a.m we had the option to eat with the pax at the pool buffet open until 10 a.m, set up on the bar top. Basic bacon, eggs potatoes, fruits and Danishes but pleasant in the sun. So that's 7 choices available. However, due to my friendship with Leif the Night Watchman I could also visit the Officer's mess in the wee hours. In the oven there were always steaks and potatoes keeping warm. I often took advantage. I finished work at 3 but often didn't get to sleep until 6 or 7 as we would go lay out in the warm Caribbean night air on the crew deck at the stern with a case of beer.

3 hours sleep then up to the pool for breakfast then back to bed for a couple of hours nap (or not)


Passengers on the SON then didn't have the multiple choices we take for granted now. No balcony cabins, no choices for lunch or dinner. MDR only but the food was decent and there was plenty of it including the popular Midnight buffet. I can recall 5 bars-one in each of the 3 showrooms I played plus a pool bar and the Viking Crown. No beverage packages. Attentive roaming waiters everywhere. Jamaicans mainly with big smiles and personalities. I never saw a face that wasn't smiling. Sun sea booze casino ports beaches food music. Those are the basics of cruising. I did hear Diamonds International mentioned many times. Over 30 years later I still hear it.


dancers brought on board in port



More later...Norris


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When I write my normal cruise reviews I am a slave to chronology but when writing about 44 cruises that goes out the window. Just random memories as each week was the same itinerary. There was a totally new 1200 passengers getting on in Miami each Saturday. Some crew got off never to be seen again and there would be familiar faces and reunions to compensate as our contracts crossed paths.


There were days when I stayed on board in port-Cayman in particular as it was just a lay on the beach day and if was too hot I liked the quiet and cool of the ship and a nice lunch in an empty MDR. When I went ashore there it was always to 7 Mile Beach...

with one of the dancers



Dunns River Falls, Ocho Rios with Cedric, guitarist/singer with the steel band at that time (July 86)

I later (1990?) met Cedric walking down the street in Old San Juan when I was on a Carnival cruise with my

then wife whom you saw earlier-one of the passengers on SON in 1985)



with John, my neighbor in 1985 at the falls



Sailing to the same places each week gives one (me!) the luxury of time. The Falls would be there next Tuesday if I didn't feel like it today. Same with 7 Mile Beach . Too hot? Too windy? Raining?-I'll stay on board and maybe catch up on some sleep.

The deck where I spent a lot of my off time, either in the sun or at night between shows was the Sun Deck



It was my preferred venue to host scrabble battles as I was a tough opponent.

Here Blake Bahner, a handsome fellow who was a Cruise Staff member whose function for much of his time was to dance with unaccompanied ladies and they weren't complaining. A very charming fellow.

Also sweating over my last word is Dave, the bass player/singer and heart-throb who flew in from Warrington. Lancashire to replace his friend Mark. 



More soon



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