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M/V Mercury (Bahamas)

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Icono Clast

Apr 27, 2004, 4:34:01 AM4/27/04
[Although this was my seventh sea voyage, it was my fifth cruise. I
was aboard the all-first-class Matson _SS Lurline_ for its first
post-War voyage (it had been a troop ship during The War) to Honolulu
from San Francisco, thence to Los Angeles where we boarded the Lark
(Southern Pacific's sleeper train) home. Nine days aboard ship, three
in Honolulu.
[I took Holland America's _SS Maasdam_ from Manhattan to Le Havre
and, 8½ months later, Zim's all-kosher _SS Jerusalem_ from Piraus to
[(From: Icono Clast - Subject: Carnival Cruise Lines' _MS Holiday_ -
Newsgroups: - Date: 1998/12/13)
[Was on a dance cruise in the Caribbean and another up the West Coast
of the USA on the _Norwegian Sky_.
[I mention the prior sailings to establish creditentials for the
comparative comments that follow.]

Spent the nights of Sunday through Saturday on the 77.7 ton,
866x105-foot, German-built 1997 subject vessel being among about 1,800
passengers served by a crew of more than 900.

The only thing I can unreservedly praise is the impeccable service. It
was always, in every way, very professional, courteous, and suitably
friendly. I cannot imagine any better service in bars, restaurants, or
lodging than what we were provided. ¡Bravo!

The line of the _M/V Mercury_, Celebrity, is reputed to have great
food. I found the food to be quite ordinary. Best of all were the
simplest of dishes: steaks and roasts. She says "I don't agree with
you there. I thought the food was fine."
On other ships we always had access to food, on one just pizza and
hot dogs at late hours. The _Mercury_ did not provide even that. I
don't know what time the food was removed but it was certainly not
available much after Midnight. Oh, yes, I was able to prepare bedtime
herbal tea or "chocolate" from a packaged (by a company I'm
boycotting) mix prepared with hot water (couldn't find milk at that
time or a way to heat it) but that was just about it.
Early evenings there was a nice selection of sushi. One night, at the
pool, there was very good barbecued chicken and ribs and rice
accompanied by a nice selection of fruit. That was a lovely treat.
There was also a junk food and pizza stand with sausages, ground
meat, buns, and French fried potatoes (I was appalled at the adults
killing children in their company with those fries). Sometimes it had
more healthful faire such as turkey and other meats' sandwiches and
interesting vegetable dishes.
We don't know about the regular breakfast or lunch faire but we
presume an omelette chef, pancakes, French toast, mush, and other
popular breakfast items. When we arrived for breakfast, there was only
the usual medley of fruit, sausage, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Our
fault, not theirs. If breakfasts or lunches were spectacular, we
didn't hear.
There was also a multi-flavored cold bar with ice cream (some of
which we witnessed being served to babies!), sherbet, and frozen
Although we could have, we did not avail ourselves of room service.
We presume it would have been just as excellent as all the other
service rendered.

In the "Subject: Carnival Cruise Lines' _MS Holiday_" referenced above
I discussed shipboard prices. I'm still appalled by their apparent
600% mark-up on alcoholic beverages. In the old days, alcoholic
beverages at sea cost about a third to a half of what they cost
ashore. Just as corporate bottom-liners in Nevada have learned they
don't have to give away anything, so have the ship owners. Their
passengers will pay what they must regardless of whether the sellers
are making unfairly exhorbitant profits.

I don't know whether fat people have a tendency to go on cruises or
people who go on cruises have a tendency to be fat. Whichever, the
proportion of fat people on this ship was extraördinarily high when
compared with what one usually sees in Coastal USA.
One evening we dined at a table with one of them, a very pleasant and
charming person of distinctive appearance to whom I commented "I've
seen you somewhere but can't place you". Before the cruise was over, I
knew exactly: we had passed each other on a NorthWestern street last
May 8.

The daily information boilerplate provided about the ports and other
things were abominable. They appear to have been written no fewer than
ten years ago by a person whose original language is of the Slavic
group. There were non-facts, out-dated facts, countless mis-spellings,
indecipherable grammar, odd syntax, and mis-used words. Yes, we're all
guilty of such things but we don't have editors, fact checkers, or
proof readers. The _Mercury_ ought!

Each of the shows we saw was pleasant but not outstanding.

"The Winners" (I think that was its title) was songs that had made it
to the tops of the Pop and Country/Western charts, not the Jazz,
Blues, or R&B charts.
"Swing Train" was a musical mix an evening before dinner and humorist
Noodles Levenstein after. Noodles' observations about what happens
during a cruise were sharp, perceptive, and very funny. She thought
him "hilarious".
If I remember correctly, Jordan Bennett played Jean Valjean in the
Los Angeles production of _les Misérables_. He sang, accompanied by
the septette and his own piano, and was absolutely terrific, holding
the audience for the full length of his solo performance awarded by
some with a standing ovation.
"A Touch of Broadway" featured vignettes from a variety of shows
including some Sondheim and Fosse (OBoy!).
The "Farewell Variety Spectacular" was also pretty good with some
interesting costumes and choreography. Noodles Levenstein and Jordan
Bennett had encore appearances.

The list of movies was excellent. We'd already seen a couple of them
but would not have gone even if we hadn't. They included "Chicago",
"House of Sand and Fog", "Matrix Reloaded", "Runaway Jury", "Eli",
"Finding Nemo" and (I think), "In America".

If they didn't know it before setting sail, they sure knew within a
few hours that dancers were aboard. We had a great deal of difficulty
with the so-called dance floors on the ship.
Rendez-Vous Square has a round, two-postage stamp sized, wooden
floor. It was fine for five couples in travelling dances, perhaps
seven for slotted Swing. That meant that we had to dance off of the
floor, on the carpet, which is always difficult and dangerous for
joints, particularly knee.
The Pavilion's floor is much larger and of similar quality. Its
surface was fine but there was seldom suitable dance music there. It
also had theatrical lighting illuminating, and heating, the floor.
The Navigator's floor is steel. Steel floors can be quite good (a
fine example is at Crocodiles in Sacramento) but the _Mercury's_ has
numerous ridges to catch shoe edges. Those ridges delineate lights
under it. We had to fight with the DJ to turn off those lights as they
threw off our timing and balance. A few of us couldn't dance at all
when they were flashing about with no relationship to the music.
Others had great difficulty with the strobe lights for the same
reasons. We all had trouble with the hot and bright theatrical
lighting that blinded us thus causing collisions. I don't know that we
all hated it, but I'm quite sure that most of us did. Yet that's where
we were compelled to do most of our dancing.

We were extremely pleased with the house septette. They played good
music excellently. They were also the show band. Unfortunately, they
weren't available to us as often as we would have preferred but they
had rehearsals to attend and shows to do.
Most of the dancers were also pleased with The Black & White Duo that
consisted of a singer playing guitar, a reed/keyboard man, and a
machine in lieu of a rhythm section. I liked their music but I
profoundly disliked the lengths of their numbers caused by not
stopping when they got to the ends of numbers. They had obviously not
read "How to Play for Dancing" at the site at Left in the sig. The
septette played not only as if they had read it but also understood
Axis was billed as a "party band". I have no idea what that is. It,
too, played very long numbers most of which were unsuitable for
dancing. But they appeared to be a great hit with the non-dance
majority indicating they must've been doing a good job.
The Martini Quartet, piano and strings that played nightly in the
dining room and occasionally in the atrium, was excellent. They did
not pretend to play for anything but listening and listening to them
was always a pleasure.
So was soloist Manon Robert who sang in the atrium while playing
piano and using a mechanical rhythm section. She was a consistent
Worst of all was the DJ in the Navigator. Having obviously never read
"It's Too LOUD/Ears About Pain" at the site at Left in the sig, he had
the volume at a deafening level even when asked to turn it down.
Further, he rarely looked at the floor to see whether anyone was on it
or what they were doing. He let long numbers go to the end when there
were as many as three and as few as none on the floor. Fully aware
that we dancers were there, he could have alternated music for the
jumping jiggling gyrators and for us dancers but, blissfully unaware
that anyone was displeased, did not. When he did play music for us,
his selections were excellent. But playing several in a row displeased
the jumping jiggling gyrators just as most of their music displeased
us. He really needs to read "How to Play for Dancing" but probably
won't because he believes he knows.

Did we have fun? Of course! It was a pleasant thing to do on a
pleasant place to be.
Did we gain weight? Fortunately, no. Had we not been in the company
of other dancers, though, we probably would have.
Do we recommend the _M/V Mercury_? Not before, or after, any other
ship. Some of us will always be able to find things wrong even though
we might find other things right. Pointing out those things we think
right and wrong might be helpful to the decision making of others.
The experiences and opinions of others differ from ours, as they
must, and provide differing, perhaps similar, influences from
different angles.
A San Franciscan in (where else?) San Francisco
ICQ: IClast at SFbay Net

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Icono Clast

Apr 28, 2004, 4:33:08 AM4/28/04
Michael Sierchio <kudzu@*.com> wrote:

> Icono Clast wrote:
> > Spent the nights of Sunday through Saturday on the 77.7 ton,
> > 866x105-foot, German-built 1997 subject vessel being among about 1,800
> > passengers served by a crew of more than 900.
> 77.7 ton? The engine weighs more than that.

Whoops! Make that "77.7M tons". Thank you.
A San Francisco glutton who says: "You serve it, I'll eat it!"

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