When I see a really tall woman in a dress, I often guess it’s a Read more →
Updates from Randall Shirley RSS Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
When I see a really tall woman in a dress, I often guess it’s a drag queen. Well, the woman in the middle of New York’s harbor doesn’t have any girly or boy parts under the dress (as far as I know), so who knows?
The good news is that this national American treasure–and one of the world’s most recognizable symbols–has now reopened for tours. Apparently she required repairs after Hurricane Sandy. Info below is from the official boat company that takes NY visitors to the lady’s island. Note that you can also get excellent views of the statue, free of charge, from the Staten Island Ferry (but you can’t get to the statue’s island that way).
New York, NY – May 8, 2013 – In preparation for the celebratory reopening on July 4th, Statue Cruises announced today that tickets for the Statue of Liberty National Monument will go on sale on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Visitors will have access to The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island for the first time since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012. Visitors will have access to the Statue of Liberty’s crown, pedestal, observation deck, museum, and grounds. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to welcome visitors back to Lady Liberty,” said Mike Burke, COO, Statue Cruises.
Visitors will have limited access to Ellis Island and further details about Ellis Island will be announced in the next few weeks.
Tickets will be available through September 2, 2013 and can be purchased online at http://www.StatueCruises.com or by phone at (201) 604-2800.
Prior to the July 4 reopening, you can only get relatively close to the statues via a boat tour (Statue Cruises offers those) a helicopter tour, or the FREE Staten Island Ferry.
Anyone who’s been on a mainstream cruise knows that while the main theatre entertainment is usually pretty good, it’s generally just a bunch of young performers who haven’t made it to Broadway yet, and are cutting their teeth by working on the ships instead of summer stock or Disney parks. Indeed, seeing a big Broadway name on a ship is a rarity previously reserved for special “theme” cruises.
Celebrity Cruises has just changed that, and your Broadway-loving editor couldn’t be happier about the May 2, 2013, announcment from Celebrity:
“Celebrity Cruises announced an exclusive partnership with Manhattan’s noted “54 Below,” which will bring guests on Celebrity’s newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Summit the industry’s most comprehensive, direct-from-Broadway entertainment experience while sailing to the pink-sand paradise of Bermuda.
54 Below – ensconced in a cool, cozy cellar space beneath the legendary, disco-era “Studio 54” – has been dubbed “a throwback to the heyday of authentic New York nightlife,” and “the hot new stage attracting Broadway’s brightest stars.” Now, those stars will light up the stage of Celebrity Summit during its Bermuda vacation season from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ, from this Sunday, May 5, through October 2013.
“‘We are incredibly excited to partner with 54 Below, offering our guests a unique theatrical experience featuring world-class Broadway talent in cabaret style performances,’ said Celebrity’s Director of Entertainment Eric Bohus.”
As of today Celebrity’s planned “Below 54″ schedule are those listed below. If I were booking, I’d be glad to hear any of them, but personally I’m especially keen on Faith Prince, Darius DeHaas, Tom Wopat (well howdy, Luke Duke!), and Marin Mazzie. At this time, the schedule of dates and performers is not available, but Celebrity has confirmed that there will be a performer on each sailing through the specified period. Who would you be excited to hear?
- Faith Prince, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys & Dolls
- Donna McKechnie, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical in A Chorus Line
- Anthony Rapp, best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in Rent
- Jarrod Spector, who starred as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys
- Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Next to Normal, and also has appeared in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard
- Telly Leung, star of the hit TV show Glee (“Wes”) Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Rent and Godspell;
- Andrea McArdle, the original “Annie,” who went on to star in Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Beauty & The Beast
- Christine Andreas, three-time Tony Award nominee recognized for her roles in Oklahoma and On Your Toes
- Elizabeth Stanley of Company, Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet
- Shoshana Bean, whose credits include Hairspray and Wicked
- Darius DeHaas of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent and Carousel
- Tom Wopat of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, City of Angels, 42nd St., Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Sondheim on Sondheim
- Brent Barrett, whose credits include West Side Story and Chicago
- Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated for her role in Swing
- Liz Callaway, nominated for a Tony for her role in Baby, and who also performed in Cats and Miss Saigon
- Gregg Edelman, a four-time Tony nominee, including nods for Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels
- Marin Mazzie, three-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Passion, Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate
- Karen Mason, who has appeared in Mamma Mia and Hairspray and is best known for her portrayal of “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard
- Emily Skinner, whose credits include The Full Monty and Billy Elliot
Additional acts will yet be announced.
Who from the list would you be excited to hear? Who’s the most amazing performer you’ve ever heard on a ship?
It seems just about every cruise ship that heads to Alaskan waters will visit Ketchikan. On our first Alaska cruise, Ketchikan was simultaneously one of our most- and least-anticipated port stops. I was excited about it because it sounds exotic, plus one of my university crushes was from there and I hoped to catch a glimpse and see if his hotness remains. It was least-anticipated because my husband grew up in nearby Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and basically figured Ketchikan would be just like Prince Rupert.
Turns out, it was our favorite port of our entire Celebrity Millennium cruise during August, 2012. Why?
1. The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary – Bear tour. This is among the coolest things I’ve ever done, anywhere. Wandering into woods filled with black bear mamas and their cubs seems a foolish thing to do, but the guides from the sanctuary gave me the confidence that they could keep us safe, and they did. This is a phenomenal operation. And yes, we saw plenty of lovely black bears and cubs. At right, you can see a photo of Denni on one of the viewing platforms (between platforms we were often on trails, complete with bear scat!), and below that is a video:
2. The totems. I’ve seen the totems in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but in Alaska they seem to belong even more. We enjoyed wandering amidst the totems at the Totem Heritage Center, about a 20 minute walk from downtown and the cruise pier.
3. The amazing “chef’s table” experience at the Alaska Fish Co., as detailed in a previous posting here. If you’re as
lucky as we were, owner/fisherman Chuck Slagle, seen in the photo here, will be your “lunch guide,” sharing the stories of the region’s seafood bounty and history.
4. Gallery strolling. Mind you, it often rains in Ketchikan, so it is an ideal port for shopping. We particularly enjoyed the art and the crafts at a shop called Coho Soho, which features many fabulously fun pieces by Ray Troll. This gallery is in the “Creek Street” area, which is basically structures built above a creek—once home to many seedy elements of the port city. Fun stuff!
Note: As is customary in the travel writing industry, the author visited as a guest of Celebrity Cruises and the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, who arranged the experiences mentioned. None of these travel/experience providers has reviewed this text/photos, and the opinions are purely those of the author.
With the upcoming gay film festival at sea, called Pride of the Ocean, just over three months away, I’ve been thinking a lot about movies and ships, since we’ll be watching a number gay-themed films onboard the Norwegian Pearl.
But beyond gay films, I’ve been thinking about movies I’ve seen that take place primarily on a ship. Surprisingly, my list is very short, and both are tragedies:
- The Poseidon Adventure
Both of them, of course, are memorable for so many things. Shelly Winters’ death scene in The Poseidon Adventure, after she’s done the big swim through some impossible underwater labrynth, is among my all-time fave drama moments.
But this little exercise got me thinking about other entertainment forms that have used ships as an important part of the story.
On TV, The Love Boat is a shoe-in. But I often giggle about Further Tales of the City when Deedee Halcyon Day sends her mother and the twins on a cruise to Alaska. If you’ve never seen the Tales series, find a way to download and watch it (better yet, read Armistead Maupin’s marvelous books!).
On the live stage, we have the always delightful Anything Goes, and the lesser-known Dames at Sea.
What are your favorite films, TV shows, or theatre that involve a ship? Comment below!
Anyway, dreaming of watching the glaciers and the movies on our upcoming cruise. I have received the planned outline of festival films and activities, and it looks to be a really interesting, fun time! I’m very excited to meet Greg Louganis—the biopic about him will preview on the ship.
There is still some space for festival attendees on the boat, if you’d like to jump aboard and sail with Denni and me, and the many other LGBT film festival-goers sailing from Seattle on August 18.
Note: As is customary in the travel journalism industry, the author will travel on Norwegian Pearl as a guest of Pride of the Ocean organizers. Opinions about the experience, shared on this blog, have not and will not be approved by the travel providers.
If only they could promise certain characters would be, um, available, this interesting cruise would sound even better. Who wouldn’t enjoy a roll in the hay with Thomas Barrow?! Or the chance to flirt with Tom Branson?!
The following is from a provided press release announcing this unusual and interesting river cruise (note that there is nothing gay-specific about this itinerary):
WEXFORD, Pa. — Sail on the Royal River Thames to Downton Abbey aboard the 8-passenger hotel barge, Magna Carta. Frontiers Travel has announced two departures, August 25-31, 2013 and September 8-14, 2013 with new excursions to Highclere Castle, the setting for period drama, “Downton Abbey.” The hugely impressive Victorian castle sits on a 1,000 acre estate, and is the iconic home of the fictional Crawley family on the show. The actual Downton Abbey has been owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679, where Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live today.
For film lovers the cruise itinerary features a private tour of Dorney Court, a beautiful Tudor home on the banks of the Thames, where “Elizabeth,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and Agatha Christie’s series “Poirot” were all filmed. Guests also visit Hampton Court Palace, one of the locations for the award winning film “A Man for All Seasons.”
Celebrating her 12th year, the attractive 8-passenger Magna Carta is an ideal vessel for both first-time travelers to England as well as veteran cruisers. Based on the Thames River, she cruises the pastoral English countryside from Hampton Court Palace to classic Henley-on-Thames, famous for the Henley Regatta. Sights are visited with a private guide, featuring several optional special-interest itineraries such as English Gardens, Murder and Mystery, and Countryside Walking.
Modern amenities onboard include heated floors and TV/DVD players, while the deck boasts beautiful teak furniture and a large Jacuzzi. Captain and co-owner Dominic Read is happy to customize the itinerary to the interests and objectives of his guests. This is an exceptional cruise, gliding past the world-renowned landmarks that line this bucolic, “Wind-in-the-Willows” section of the Thames River, with plenty of cycling available along the riverside bike route.
To learn more, click here. Prices from $4,190 per person.
As state capitals go, Juneau is both a tiny one, and a huge one. It’s tiny in population—just over 32,000 people—but huge in land area, covering 3,255 square miles, the second largest in America.
Our ship, Celebrity Millennium, docked right at the downtown pier, and as we disembarked Denni and I noticed a guy with a “Jesus saves” sign, so we took hands and shared a kiss with hopes of reminding him that Jesus, from what I was told in Sunday School, loves everyone.
Mount Roberts Tramway.One of Juneau’s top tourist attractions is located, literally, at the port, the Mount Roberts Tramway.
On a clear day, the view from the top of this steep tram ride is a stunner: you can see all of Juneau and Gastineau Channel, along with the area called Douglass across the water. There are some excellent hiking trails at the top, along with a restaurant and a raptor discovery center where you can see a wounded bald eagle.
Tip: do this first thing when you get off the ship—your ticket is good for repeat rides during the day if you choose to go up the mountain again.
Wandering town. Grab a visitor map, and walk off a few ship-food calories as you explore the downtown area of Juneau. It’s got a bit of wild-west/goldrush vibe to it, alongside the modern trappings of a state capital city. Don’t miss the 49-star flag that still flies over the city museum, the Russian Orthodox Tlingit church, and the totem pole at the governor’s mansion, which tells the story of the mosquito. When you’re hungry, Tracy’s Crab Shack is a must try, down by the cruise pier. There’s also a funky coffee and lunch stop called Silverbow Bagels with outstanding cookies.
Tip: Juneau gets over 100 inches of rain a year…carry an umbrella!
Learn about salmon. For those who like to learn about the food we eat (and we all should), the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery is a fascinating stop for about 30 minutes. This non-profit facility releases some 115 million salmon into the wild each year, and about 2-10% return to spawn—despite the fact that their birthing area is pretty much made of concrete.
Tip: If the salmon hatchery is included as part of a ship-purchased shore excursion that includes other elements like the glacier, it’s worth your time; if not, you need to really be into fish and biology to make this worth your time.
Glacier education. The Mendenhall Glacier, a few miles up the road from Juneau, is a famous one. The UF Forest Service has built a very informative visitor center there, and since most of the other major glaciers you’ll see on an Alaska cruise will be viewed from the ship, this is a great chance to learn from informative exhibits and a film. Meanwhile, the glacier itself is a testament to the unfortunate realities of global warming—it has receded nearly 2 miles since 1958.
Whale Watching. Juneau offers some excellent whale watching. We went out with Dolphin Tours, and totally enjoyed the experience—as much for seeing the magnificent scenery as for the handful of orcas present that day. The tour was informative and a lot of fun. This company offers a combination tour which will swing you past the Mendenhall Glacier so you can easily combine the two activities.
Note: As is standard in the travel journalism business, the author’s shore day in Juneau was hosted by the Juneau Visitor’s Bureau and complementary admission and meals were provided. The views expressed are the author’s own, and no one has reviewed the above content prior to publication.
Carnival Cruise lines seems to finally be realizing they’ve got to do something about their repeated shipboard problems. While I personally have never sailed them, the problems they’ve encountered in recent memory have made me less and less inclined to ever consider a vacation on one of their ships. This April 17, 2013, press release, exceperpted below, does give me more hope for their future. What do you think? Comment below!
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES ANNOUNCES FLEETWIDE $300 MILLION PROGRAM TO ENHANCE OPERATING RELIABILITY AND GUEST COMFORT
Carnival Cruise Lines, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), today announced that it has implemented a program to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, introduce new fire safety technology, and improve the level of operating redundancies across its entire 24-ship fleet. This enhancement program will cost more than $300 million, and rapid upgrades have already begun.
The actions by Carnival Cruise Lines will expand the availability of hotel services for the comfort of its guests in the rare instance of a shipboard event that involves the loss of main power. In addition, the plan will reinforce key shipboard operating systems to further prevent a potential loss of primary power. The improvement plan is the result of a comprehensive operational review, overseen by parent company Carnival Corporation & plc, initiated immediately after the Carnival Triumph fire in February 2013.
Read the full press release on Carnival’s website, here.
Paul, Jeff J, and Roger Evans are discussing. Toggle Comments
On cruises, there are few topics we gay travelers seem more interested in than the quality of the food on board. But during a 7 night cruise, I like to bring home more culinary memories than those created on the ship—I like to sample good eats on shore.
And if you’re a seafood lover, there is arguably no better place to eat ashore than the ports of Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, both of which are included on almost every Alaska cruise itinerary. Both of the options below are solid for lunch.
Alaska Fish House, Ketchikan. Tiny Ketchikan delivered one of the best, most-memorable meals of my life. The Alaska Fish House appears to be mostly a fish ‘n chips joint. But by planning ahead, and with a minimum group of four persons, you can be guided down a hallway into a back room, which happens to be a small dining room with postcard-perfect window views of Ketchikan’s harbor. The meal is $99/person, and worth every dime. It’s a multi-course, all seafood extravaganza, and the best part is that all the seafood you’re eating was pulled out of the water nearby, with the exception of the King Crab which comes from farther north. The meal is accompanied by a local fisherman (the restaurant owner, when we were there) who shares loads of interesting information about the fish you’re eating, where it’s caught, why it’s important to the local economy, etc. Meanwhile, the chef comes in with each dish and explains the preparation. The highlight during our visit was the luxuriously delicious black cod. Truly a special experience, and an excellent shore activity especially with a group of friends. It must be pre-booked, and you’ll need a minimum of 90 minutes in the restaurant, ideally a couple of hours. More information at Alaska Fish House.
Tracy’s King Crab Shack, Juneau. This joint is exactly what the name says: a shack (trailer, actually) near the pier that sells the most amazing crab I’ve ever tasted. Tracy herself will likely be there, and she’s a character…one of those people who told the corporate world to kiss off, and used her connections to fishermen to snag the best King Crab on earth. Beyond the King, she also serves up a kick-ass bisque, amazing crab cakes, and a handful of other items. Since you’re likely not starving (what cruise passenger is, really?), my recommendation here is to share one of her combo plates between two people, which will allow you to sample a variety of items. All of the items mentioned above, plus rolls and butter, come on Combo #1 for about $35. Tracy has spread her crab business beyond the shack, but the shack in Juneau is the original. More at the shack’s website.
Note: the author was a guest of both food establishments mentioned. The opinions expressed are his own, and have not been approved or reviewed in advance by the eateries or their representatives.
With so many things going wrong for Carnival Cruise Lines recently (engine problems, passengers robbed at gunpoint during a shore excursion, and that pesky Costa Concordia, owned by Carnival Corp.), it only seemed appropriate to visit a museum-style exhibit dedicated on the ultimate passenger ship tragedy: Titanic.
It’s on display in Las Vegas, which is hardly a place you’d associate with ships and ocean travel, other than the boats in the the Treasure Island lake (then again, the cruise industry likely wouldn’t want the long-running exhibit in Miami or New Orleans).
But Vegas being the planet’s quintessential destination for warped reality, it doesn’t surprise me that Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is now a few years into it’s stint under slanted roof of the Luxor Hotel pyramid. My husband and I bought tickets ($22 on discount from tickets4tonight, Vegas’ same day cheap ticket service) and spent 30 minutes wandering the exhibits, which include may items hauled up from 2.5 miles below the North Atlantic.
My gay sensibilities were, of course, intrigued by seeing the china patterns used by the various classes and the magnificent recreation of the famed grand stairway. They’ve also just opened a small room featuring several pieces of jewelry lifted from the ocean floor, including a gorgeous diamond ring and an exquisite filigree pendant from the era.
The highlights, however, were the rooms dedicated to what went wrong—including one room with a huge mock iceberg made of real ice, and the reminders of what corners were cut in getting Titanic to sea in the first place. Shockingly, the watchmen charged with scanning for icebergs didn’t even have binoculars. The exhibit ends with a large actual panel from one of Titanic’s sides, several feet high and wide, followed by a listing of all passengers’ names, by class, and by survival or not. Each visitor to the is given the name of an actual Titanic passenger at the beginning of the exhibit, and at this final display you can learn if your person survived or not. Mine did; Denni’s did not.
Overall, it’s an interesting Vegas diversion for those of us who love cruise travel, as well as a great reminder of the importance of being prepared for shipboard safety. And I’m thinking it wouldn’t hurt Carnival’s senior management—or any cruise line for that matter— to check it as a reminder of how important it is to build and maintain ships that are safe.
UPDATE to this case is at the bottom of this story.
Well here’s something new in my personal email inbox: an email from Holland America Line, which was sent to me and the other 1,500+ passengers who sailed the Oosterdam a couple of years ago on the Mexican Riviera. There was quite a large gay contingency on that ship, with very fun gay socials hosted by the inimitable Randall Powell (the ship’s piano bar entertainer, at the time).
Anyhoo…seems someone on the ship got injured and has sued the cruise line, and her s lawyers have now forced Holland America to provide them a list of every passenger on the sailing, which included me and my husband. The email reads:
Dear Valued Guest,
First and foremost, we want to thank you for sailing with us.
We are writing in relation to your sailing aboard the ms Oosterdam in early March 2011. A guest on that cruise has commenced a lawsuit against Holland America Line in regard to an accident she had on board. As part of that lawsuit, her attorneys requested contact information for certain persons thought to be witnesses. Holland America Line provided that contact information. The guest’s attorneys then requested contact information for every passenger on the cruise.
Holland America Line values its guests’ privacy and argued against providing private contact information for every guest on the cruise. Nonetheless, a local judge has ordered Holland America Line to provide the information. We must comply with the court’s order, and so will be providing the name, address and phone number of all guests on the cruise. No other personal information will be provided.
As such, you may receive a phone call or letter from attorneys representing the guest [name blocked here for privacy], to discuss her injury claim against Holland America Line. It is entirely your choice whether to communicate with the guest’s attorneys.
We would like to thank you once again for joining us aboard the ms Oosterdam. We greatly appreciate all of our guests and hope that we may welcome you aboard another sailing soon.
Holland America Line
I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and god knows the cruise industry hates this sort of thing.
Have you ever been injured on a cruise and blamed the cruise line? How did it turn out? To you lawyers out there, how do you predict this passenger’s suit will go?
UPDATE. This note came from Holland America just one day after the original. IMO sounds like some serious miscommunication between their legal and customer relations departments that allowed the letter to go out in the first place. Nonetheless, I’m interested in your thoughts on injuries and such at sea.
Dear Valued Guest,
We are writing to follow up on an advisory you received from us recently regarding your ms Oosterdam sailing in March of 2011.
We previously advised that Holland America Line had been ordered to produce contact information for every guest on this sailing in response to an ongoing lawsuit. We are pleased to report that the suit was settled only a few days before our deadline to produce the guest contact information. As such, your contact information was not released and you should not expect to be contacted by any attorneys in relation to this matter.
Again, we thank you for your patronage, as well as your understanding. We look forward to being given the opportunity to sail with you again soon.
Holland America Line
Note: the author traveled as a guest of Holland America Line on the above mentioned cruise. The cruise line has not reviewed this content, and the author’s opinions remain his own.
- compose new post
- next post/next comment
- previous post/previous comment
- show/hide comments
- go to top
© 2009-2013 Meet Me On Board, LLC. All rights reserved.