The second evening of our 10-day Mediterranean cruise began with such promise. But it quickly went downhill when I tried to keep up with our twenty-something off-spring and party into the wee hours of the morning.
It was the first formal night aboard the Celebrity Solstice, and the entire family (me, wife Gail, and daughters Samantha and Lindsay) had been invited to join the Captain for dinner. And since it was the eve of Samantha’s birthday, we were in a celebratory mood.
So dressed in our finery (including me in a penguin suit), we made our way to a long table in the Grand Epernay dining room where we were seated with six other guests and Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis.
Dimitrios, as he insisted we call him, was born in the Greek port of Piraeus, and had been sailing with Celebrity since the nineties. More importantly, he is a very charming man with a wonderful sense of humor who had us all laughing and feeling at ease within five minutes.
Inhibitions removed, we quickly got down to the task at hand: enjoying our sumptuous four-course dinner, while desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the sommelier who kept refilling our glasses with a superb selection of white and red wines. The food was fabulous, including my selection of Seafood Salad, Porcini Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil, Chateaubriand, and Crème Brule. And our table companions from England and the United States were delightful company.
At that point, it would have been a perfect evening if we had only retired to our cabins and resisted the urge to stay up past midnight to celebrate Sam’s birthday. We had already consumed enough wine to intoxicate a small village, and I was beginning to feel I could dance like Patrick Swayze.
That’s a bad combination for me at the best of times, but even more so when I’m in the company of twenty-somethings like Sam and Lindsay who are in tip-top party shape. Gail smartly saw all the signs and went to bed. However, I decided it was time to prove that even in my sixties I am still spry enough to keep up with party people.
Our first post-dinner stop was the Captain’s “welcome reception” in the beautiful Solstice Theatre where we were served complimentary champagne as Dimitrios introduced his officers and the ship’s dance ensemble performed. Several glasses of champagne later the clock struck midnight, Sam turned another year older, and we relocated to the Sky Lounge on Deck 14 where a live band was belting out great dance tunes.
My powers of reason and recall became a bit diminished around this time, but I do remember drinking bottomless glasses of scotch and water, seeing Sam wearing my bow tie, singing Happy Birthday, posing for silly photos, and joining the girls on the dance floor for my best rendition of John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
After an hour of live dance music, we moved the party to the Quasar Disco on Deck 4 where I switched my beverage of choice to gin and tonic, and started dancing in a style that must have looked something like Michael Jackson meets Jim Carey.
After a few hours of this, the girls wisely decided to bluff their way into the VIP area of the Disco and leave me to my own devices. So while they sipped cocktails and traded stories with the officers and entertainers, I put my tail between my legs, made a wobbly retreat to the cabin, and collapsed into bed at 3:00 in the morning swearing “never again!”
It had been a great evening, and it had been a real treat for me to be part of Sam’s birthday celebration with Lindsay. However, next time I think I’ll just send a card!