Kinfolks load the boat’

Soon after the clocks were sprung forward, we sprang for Galveston, ready to join the spring break bunch for a cruise to the Caribbean.’Duty calls to make sure the water is still wet, the sun still hot’ and to check on chefs (175 of them) ‘at the ready’ to prepare about 100,000 meals for guests and crew that totaled almost 5,000 on the packed vessel. Happily, the report is “A+” from all generations.’ We were aboard Carnival’s Conquest, one of the world’s largest cruise ships (110,000 tons) and the largest sailing from a Texas port. ‘ At least a half-dozen weddings were conducted on board, and literally dozens of large family groups made me realize that many family reunions have taken to the water.’ It was common to see 20 -30 diners at big tables, with four generations gathered round. I’m thinkin’ that lots of grandpas and grandmas with ‘great’ in front of their names offered to pay for the cruises and found many takers. * * * * * Some teens were ashen-faced upon realizing that cell phones, glued to their ears during most waking hours, would be useless on board. Phones were holstered, some of them still smoking. Soon, though, the smiles returned. They quickly learned that there were people to meet and things to do on the mammoth ship’ * * * * * ‘ It’s amazing, really, how quickly cruise guests ‘catch the spirit’ of an international crew, all of whom seem to have the same convivial spirit as late entertainer Minnie Pearl-‘just so proud to be here!’ The crew includes citizens of 40 countries who speak a total of 58 languages. One officer said they could swear in 80 languages and dialects, with ‘gusts to 100.’ Most of them are working hard to get just the right pronunciation twist on ‘y’all.’ * * * * * A decade ago, Carnival brain trusts had no idea the ‘y’all thing’ would ever come up.’ After all, Texas had no cruise ports.’ Most Texans viewed the gulf as a place for beach fun and deep-sea fishing.’ Where rivers go for ‘time-out.’ Port of Galveston folks made big promises at the tail end of the 20th century, and Carnival folks said ‘we do.’ Learning that port improvements totaling nearly $50 million were assured, Carnival assigned its 1,486-passenger Celebration for 72 cruises annually’ * * * * * The rest is history.’ Boardings reached 34,000 that first year, and just six years later, 617,000 cruise guests flocked to Galveston.’ Percentage increases have been in the double digits every year, moving Galveston up to No. 4 among U.S. cruise ports, headed only by Miami and two other Florida ports. Multiple cruise lines serve Galveston now, offering a total of 252 cruises annually. And all of them are quick studies concerning the ‘druthers’ of Southwesterners.’ For example, they learned that we like our tea in big glasses, with ice.’ Tea served at room temperature in small goblets was replaced in the early going’ * * * * * I digress-‘again. My plan was to profile several guests met on board.’ Thankfully, it’s not too late. There was Jeff, a roly-poly Kansas Citian who sang an Elvis number on amateur night.’ He claimed to be a ‘professional eye-closer.’ Pressed to explain, he claims employment in a sardine factory, where his job is to make sure all the fish eyes are closed before the cans are sealed’ * * * * * A woman named ‘LaRue’ from Oklahoma City confounded a shop-keeper in Cozumel.’ ‘LaRue,’ he repeated.’ ‘I’ve never ‘listened’ to that name before!’ Then, she rattles off her sisters’ names:’ LaNell, LaVon, LaVonia and LaVoy. ‘My brothers are Leemon, Limon and Loman,’ she added, confessing quickly that she made these names up.’ She has no brothers’ * * * * * Finally, Kristi and Spike Hubbs, a Texas couple who were married 24 years ago, decided they wanted children ‘about two years apart.’ Travis, their first child, is now 20.’ He was born on Sept. 20, 1986.’ His brother, Andrew, was born exactly two years later on Sept. 20, 1988.’ And their sister, Madison, came along three years later.’ Yes, her birth date is also September 20, and yes, they were all normal deliveries’ * * * * * Cruisers enjoy countless conveniences, including ‘sign and sail’ cards for purchases on board ship. One guest, admitting an ‘excessive fondness of the grape,’ ran up a big tab. ‘My ‘sign and sail’ card became my ‘drink and sink’ card,’ he lamented’ * * * * * On the final sun-splashed day, a 97-year-old retired naval officer awakened from a poolside nap. ‘I had a wonderful dream,’ he told to all who’d listen.’ ‘I dreamed of spending retirement years here on the ship.’ It’s much cheaper than a care center, the food is great, they clean up your room every day, the entertainment is fabulous and the doctor is no more than five minutes away.’ Who can argue with that’ Dr. Newbury is a speaker/author/columnist in the Metroplex.’ He welcomes inquiries and comments.’ Send email to: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872′ His website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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