sportstravel & foreign lands

Out to Sea, Day 1: Backing the Blue

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NOTE: I’ve never been been one for blogging while on family vacations, not wishing to publicize how far I was from home, and how empty said-home was. So my ‘cruise posts’ over the week ahead – mockumenting the adventures of a West Texas desert-dweller in the middle of the biggest dang lake he ever saw – will be appearing one week after-the-fact.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 12 –The port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is slowly slipping from view, and we are now getting a chance to explore what will be our home over the week ahead. Plenty of topics for discussion among our new-found friends and acquaintances aboard the good ship Carnival-Freedom … “Where you from?” … “Is this your first cruise?” … “Do you get seasick?” … and, “Who’s going to win the NBA title?” Carnival Cruise Lines offered what I though was a splendid way to show our support, and I was sure to show my support for the Dallas Mavericks, early and often.

Just belly-up to the bar, and cast your vote. Easy enough to do, really – there are a LOT of bars, lounges, etc. scattered around the ship, offering a variety of settings – some noisy and some quiet, some heavily-trafficked and some out-of-the-way – where you can enjoy your favorite alcoholic beverage, by yourself, or with a hundred-or-so of your closest friends. Many of these bars offered a chance to let your beverage do the talking on the subject of who would win Game 6 of the NBA Finals, taking place that very moment, just over the northern horizon.

Backing the Blue

A special blue punch for the Dallas Mavericks, or a special red punch for the Miami Heat. Meanwhile, the game was broadcast live on the ship’s Seaside Theater, a giant outdoor video screen and audio system in the pool/party area, top-deck, mid-ship, open to the sky and filled with very vocal fans for both teams. Me? I was a few decks below, in the Millennium Lounge, showing my support for the Mavericks – multiple rounds of support, actually – and getting my liquor tab going with a jet-assisted takeoff, and prompting the entertainer performing in the lounge that evening to note that his loudest, most enthusiastic applause came from “that guy over there, drinking the Windex.”

But, hey … IT WORKED. The Dallas Mavericks knocked-off the Miami Heat by ten points – IN MIAMI, no less – winning the 2011 National Basketball Association Championship … HOO-rah! And I’d like to tip my hat to whoever at Carnival Cruise Lines, came up with this idea. It was fun, and it certainly got a ship full of strangers interacting. Sure, there was some trash talk, but most of what I heard was offered and accepted in good spirits … though maybe what I heard was filtered by the good spirits in me at the time.

I’m wondering about the spirit punch promotion, and the Seaside Theater broadcast – was this just on Carnival ships from Florida, Texas ports that evening, or was it fleetwide? I’ll ask that question of John Heald, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Senior Cruise Director, and proprietor of the very entertaining John Heald’s Blog. If I get an answer, I’ll let you know.

There's a saying around here, something like, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" That's me. I'm a 'dang Yankee from back-east' who settled in the Lone Star State after some extended stays in the eastern U.S., and New Mexico. I worked as an archaeologist for a few years before dusting off my second major in English, and embarking on a 25-year career in journalism. Since then, I've embraced the dark side of the force, and now work in PR for a community college in Midland, Texas.

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