17th May 2021
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Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 9: WTF?

cruise ship life
By Tony Yamashiro

Sunday 30, August 1998Deck 8 Aft – Dry Dock Complete – Passengers scheduled to board in two days

Even with the music blaring on the dance floor I could hear music playing in my head…the sound of a jazz clarinet…

“Maybe this time…I’ll be lucky, maybe this time he’ll stay…”

Watching Alan joining the Steiner Hen Party…I looked up at Barry and smiled…

“Maybe this time for the first time love won’t hurry away”

Barry moved his hand from the small of my back to around my shoulders…

“He will hold me fast and I’ll be home at last…”

We looked at each other and Barry leaned down and gently kissed me on the lips…

The only thought in my head, “Maybe this time”

Dear David…I haven’t seen Barry much in the past 3 days since the crew bar. As we near the end of the dry dock there is a lot to sort out before passengers begin boarding. I’m trying not to hang outside his office like a school girl, but we’ve been working crazy hours ourselves getting these 3 shows ready.

We do receive a coffee and pastry tray every morning from Barry no matter where we are working. Now that the maintenance is complete in the theatre, Thom and I are able to work in the dressing room above the stage. I get a stupid smile on my face when I smell the coffee as I open the dressing room door and just ignore Thom’s jealous tone saying, “Doesn’t he understand that no food or drink is allowed in the dressing rooms”. And I always say, “Yes Thom, I will be sure to tell him…do you want a croissant with your coffee or later?”

Today is a long day of sewing and doing notes from the final dress rehearsal for 42nd Street. The backstage traffic patterns have been a nightmare to sort out, but the design of the show to fit in this tiny space is brilliant.

There is so much furniture and suitcases in this show…it’s crazy. We are doing the reduced version of this show in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Now mind you “None” of the musical numbers seem to have been cut, but the book scenes have all been edited down. There is enough dialogue to keep the story clear and just enough to barely make the quick changes required for this show. I counted the number of costumes changes, furniture changes, and suitcase catches there are on my track sheet and I came up with 117 in 75 minutes.

There are even the female dancer wig tosses for the male dancers to do as they change since no one is free to run the wigs around for the female dancers. All the boys have body mics sewn into their costumes for the different characters they all play. It’s insane, but it looks amazing on stage.

Once “Getting Out of Town” starts, it’s a hamster wheel at top speed from there. I have my right foot 6 inches from the backstage wall as I catch suitcases and stack them between the wall and my right leg as the ladies run off for the quick change for Dames 1 and 2, at the same time as zipping up their dresses as they run past me. I then have to shift the stacked up suitcases out of the way before getting these 3-foot tall headpieces on all the ladies. Jeremy, the backstage technician stands on the backstage escape as I stand as flat as I can against the wall as each lady dressed in a huge gown stands between us to get their headdresses on. Leanne, who plays Anytime Annie has the most quick changes in the show and she is amazing, we make a great team.

She jokes when we are talking about our quick changes together to the other crew members in the crew bar…”I just stand there and Tony comes behind me and the next second I’m naked and the next second I’m being zipped up in my next costume”.

We got the Las Vegas Revue show up and it was just amazing that the show has 14 numbers in it and the dancers are in 9 of them. These cruise ships production shows are all about quick changes and random acts put together, but it does work. The show is a tribute to H2O; I never realized how many songs have the word “water” in it. There are mermaids, a rain curtain at the edge of the stage, and the gayest naval sequin costumes I have seen in my life. Just when you think there are enough sequins and rhinestones on a costume, there are the accessories and headpieces that pile more on the performers.

The main office that hired me will be boarding when the passengers arrive to give final notes as we open each show. The last show is a Cirque Style show which will be rehearsed and opened after we set sail from San Francisco heading to the Panama Canal.

After we leave San Francisco we head down the Panama Canal and then we do an Atlantic crossing to Dover, England. Then we head to the Baltic Capitals before heading to the Mediterranean. After the Med, it will be then off to Asia and then Hawaii. Nothing like a world cruise to get your life together, go to the gym, and save lots of money. I figure since the ship provides meals and crew bar is so cheap, I will be able to bank away a lot of money.

Thom and I have been spending a lot of time together with fittings, alterations, and the setup of the shows, but we have not become fast friends. He stays to himself a lot. I want to make the most out of this and I don’t understand why he doesn’t. Ah well, his loss I guess.

“Ding, Dong…Avon Calling”, came from the dressing room door. It was Alan for his daily check-in on us that we were still alive. It’s amazing to have a Production Manager that is always aware of his team and Alan is one of the best in the industry.

Noticing the breakfast tray and nicking a muffin off of it, “So…how are the young lovers?” I looked at Thom fighting with his sewing machine and I looked at Alan, “ready to go into marriage counseling”.
Alan, gave a heavy sigh, “Not her, HIM”. “Well, I haven’t seen him much since we are both busy”, I said trying not to sound too disappointed.

“I would have thought after the crew bar a couple of nights ago you would have consummated your relationship by now. Come now Tony, just think of those cover-alls they all wear, one zip and go diving”.

“Don’t think that hasn’t crossed my mind a few hundred times already Alan, but it’s a year contract and I want a roll in the hay romance. Plus, I’m not that kind of boy…what about you? I would have thought you would have had a boy on every deck by now.”

“Okay, you may not be that kind of boy, but I’m not that kind of girl…well, I am…but the only gay folks seem to be in our department. And you know my rule, no matter how beautiful or flexible you are, no crapping where you eat”. We paused for a moment and just busted out laughing…Thom got up and said he was going for a cigarette.

“Barry knows everyone on the ship, let me ask him and see if he can give me a list of names that you can track, tag, and release…does it matter crew, staff, or officer?”

“It makes no difference in how many stripes you have in my book”, scoffed Alan.

“Yes, but it may put a damper on your date if he can only serve you a meal and not actually sit at the table with you”, I threw in.

“Touche…okay, no-one below Deck 2. But, the Central American boys are my favorite…I guess we will have to keep that dating to the crew bar”, heavily sighed Alan.

“See, Alan you are already using your management skills”, I joked to a very serious-faced Alan.

“Okay, I have to go in an hour…Barry promised me a bottle of wine at sunset at Deck 8, Aft. Run along, Momma needs to finish the mending of these sequin britches before he can go on a date”.

I finished up our notes for the day and said goodbye to Thom and quickly went back to the cabin to change my outfit and head up to Deck 8, Aft. I moved through the ship and the crew were already removing the plastic that covered floors, staircases, and railings. The carpet in each section was a dazzling display of color and design. The ship’s interior design is mid 80s with brass railing and lots of pastel “Floridian” Artwork everywhere. Some of the rooms were very tasteful…the cigar bar was my favorite with all the wooden display cases and green glass light fixture shades above the bar.

I walked up to Deck 8, Aft and Barry was already there with two glasses of red wine and table setting of cheeses, grapes, and dried fruit. Okay, I’m still impressed with this guy.

“Hello sailor, can you show a boy around?” I joked as I joined Barry at the railing of the ship and he handed me a glass of wine as he kissed me. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for days Tony…to new beginnings and which are as beautiful as this sunset”. We clinked our glasses and kissed again.

“I could get used to this ship life”, I said as we overlooked the shipyard and the lovely sunset.

“Tell me Barry, how is it that a tall handsome British gentleman like you isn’t already taken?” I had my arm around his waist and I could feel his body stiffen up a bit as I said this…Uh oh…here it comes. My brain began to race…please don’t tell me you’re in the closet, completing your treatment from some STD, or worse, your religion prevents you from loving another man.

I looked at Barry and he sheepishly said, “Well…I’m not exactly…completely free…I have a wife and two kids back in Sheffield”.


Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 8: Maybe This Time

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 7: Time To Explore A New World

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 6: Release The Pigeons!

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 5: Lights Out

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 4: The Eyeballs Are The Best Part

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 3: Hello My Old Friend

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 2: The Bat Signal

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 1: Dream

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