B.C. at Sea: Cruisin' on Sea Trek '97

In the event that you didn't know it before, let me be the first to confess that I'm a bit of a geek. I've watched a lot of Star Trek in my life, and I go to sf conventions. Last year, at the tenth anniversary of Toronto Trek, I was looking at a retrospective display, and I realized that I had been going to Toronto Trek for eight years (in fact, I've just come back from my ninth Toronto Trek)!

Sea Trek '95

In 1994, my partner, L, and I spotted a vendors table at Toronto Trek 8, and discovered Sea Trek. We had been talking about a cruise for a while, and combining a Carribean cruise with a Star Trek convention seemed like a really good idea. So we signed up for Sea Trek '95 on board the Carnival cruise ship Celebration and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Sea Trek '95 was great fun, and it hosted such guests as Tim Russ, Robert Picardo, Walter Koenig, Robin Curtis, Eric Menyuk, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Armin Shimmerman, Rene Auberjenois, John Colicos, William Campbell, and Michael Ansara. What a line-up!

In a bizarre twist, the week after we had our cruise, the Celebration broke down at sea, and was adrift without power for several days. Oh well.

The next Sea Trek was scheduled for '97, and, as a change, was destined for the Mexican riviera. We saved our pennies, and signed up.

Embarkation: "I have Too Much Corned Beef in My Garage"

We flew in the day before embarkation, because a special gala dinner had been organized, with Ethan Phillips as the speaker. Other guests attended for the dinner: Marjorie Monahan (from Babylon 5), George Takei, Penny Juday (the set decorator from DS9 -- and a Sea Trek '95 guest), Lolita Fatjo (Head Script Writer for Voyager), and the woman who played Col. Wilma Deering from the old Buck Rogers TV show. We were waaaaaay back at the back, and because one of the Sea Trek organizers was at the table beside us, people kept squeezing by to talk to him. Sigh. But it was fun, nonetheless.

Ethan Phillips is a good speaker -- he's a complete motor mouth, and just babbles on, with no real destination in mind. At one point he told us that he had no idea where some of the things he was saying come from. He felt he could end up saying anything: "I have too much corned beef in my garage." Personally, I think Ethan has a corned beef fixation, because earlier he immitated Tuvok saying "There's a corned beef sandwich on deck nine." Hurm. I don't think that's a real Tuvok line.
Boarding the ship

My partner and I have just checked in, and are about to board the ship. This is what they call a photo opportunity. Cheese!

So, bright and early Sunday morning, we boarded a bus for the pier, and went aboard the Carnival cruise ship Jubilee. Getting on and off the boat are the worst times of the cruise; Carnival employees with no ability to project their voices tried to give everyone instructions on how to get into line, but it was utter chaos. We waited in line for about 15 minutes before we noticed that there was an almost empty line for non-US citizens. Doh!

Minutes later, we were in our cabin. I immediately sat in the window and looked out at the water. Then we went up onto deck and chowed down. One thing you can never do on these boats is go hungry. At around 4, we started to set sail, toward our first destination: Puerto Vallarta.

Sea Trek '97 had a bit of a problem keeping their guests this year. Before the cruise, cast members from Voyager had to cancel because of a change in the production schedule. I'm not complaining, because they got Jerry Doyle and Richard Biggs (from Babylon 5) as replacements. But because of last minute conflicts, both Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Lolita Fatjo had to miss the cruise. Furthermore, Richard Biggs couldn't sail out with us, and he had to join us in Puerto Vallarta. Other guests included William Campbell, Robin Curtis (with her husband Mark Ryan, from Robin of Sherwood), Cirroc Lofton, Chase Masterson, Robert O'Reilly (aka Gowron) and George Takei. Karen Westerfield, a make-up artist from DS9 also came along -- she'd had to cancel Sea Trek '95 due to pregnancy. There wsa also some professional basketball player on the ship. Go figger.

At sea the next couple of days, I got my first sunburn of the year. L gave me heck for being out in the sun so much on the first day. But you see, just before the cruise, I'd bought a new bathing suit, and I had to try it out!

Sea Trek booked one of the dining halls and reserved it for all us trekkies. We had arranged seating, and L and I were seated with Regina, a woman from New York, and some other guy. I don't remember his name, but after the first night, he disappeared, and never ate with us again. I think Regina scared him away, because the first night she started talking about how lucky she was to have been rooming with another born-again Christian, and how she was looking forward to having a Bible study together later. After the first night, she mellowed a bit, on that first night, she was a little preachy. L and I avoided mentioning that we were a couple.

We decided to skip the first formal dinner, and had dinner in our room instead. Many of the Trekkies went to the formal dinner in costume; one woman we'd met at the gala, Donna, had recreated Nana Visitor's costume as the Intendant from the Mirror Universe. She looked great! The photographers had set up things to take portrait photos of everyone, so even though I wasn't dressed up, I decided to get my picture taken.

Ports o' Call: "I make these myself"

Puerto Vallarta

L and I arrive in Puerto Vallarta. Look! Another photo opportunity.

Puerto Vallarta was hot. And sticky. Hot and sticky. Really hot and sticky. I'd bought a straw hat on the boat to keep the sun off my head, and it was a good thing, too.

I realized quickly how much of a tourist I really was. When we arrived in downtown Puerto Vallarta, I was surprised at how small, and dusty, and run down everything seemed. I was somehow expecting glass shopping malls and skyscrapers. What a tourist I am! Mexico is apparently where everyone goes to get jewellery, because there isn't a whole lot else to buy there (well, except for T-shirts). We did find one little shop (run by a woman who had lived for a while in Hamilton) where they were selling hand-woven vests and bolero jackets. There was a black and rust-coloured jacket that I fell in love with, and I repeatedly tried to convince L that she wanted to buy it. No dice. So I let it pass. That afternoon, I tried to find the store again, and wasn't able to locate it.

The thing about being a tourist in Mexico is that all kinds of people are trying to convince you to buy things from them. People on the street would show you a handful of silver bracelets, each with the claim that the bracelets were hand made by the merchants themselves. But all these peddlers had the same damn bracelets. There were also hucksters trying to sell boat tours; they'd try to engage you in conversation to get you to stop walking past them. And, stoopid me, I thought they were just being nice.

When we were tired out, we went into Planet Hollywood for lunch. (yeah, yeah, nothing like tasting the local cuisine :) Oh well. We tried to walk along the beach back to the boat. Walking on the sand in sneakers was a little awkward. We gave up eventually, and took a taxi.

The next day, we arrived at Mazatlan. Mazatlan is a bigger city than Puerto Vallarta, but like Puerto Vallarta, I get the strong sense that it's really suffered some economically bad times. Shops were closed, buildings were left half constructed, and there were many homeless people. It was kinda sad-making.

The taxi dropped us off at the touristy part of town, and once again, it was all silver jewellery and T-shirts. Oh, yeah, there was also a place to buy tacky items made out of sea shells. So L and I wandered off into the city. One of the waiters on the boat told us to go to a place called Senor Frog's, and since we'd seen it on the taxi ride in, we decided to walk. We saw a lot of the city on that walk: some nice areas, and some really run down areas. We also saw an enormous beach with crashing waves, like we see on television but never see on Lake Ontario. We'd earlier tried to go down to the beach, but we saw this enormous crowd of people trying to sell us Batman dolls and frog hats, and we didn't feel like running the gauntlet.

Senor Frog's was a lot of fun. The waiters were comical, and they'd turned the dining experience into a spectacle. There was a guy selling Jell-O squares made with vodka instead of water, and another guy would pour you tequila shots and then shake your head back and forth while you drank it. (You kinda have to see that to understand why it was cute). L and I ordered stawberry daquiries and they were practically served in fishbowls! They were huge! They had congo lines, photographers, and lots of really bad music, but it was a riot. Back on the boat, Richard Biggs told us he'd been drinking quite heavily at Senor Frogs and almost slept through a panel he was supposed to do.

It's funny how the Trek guests behave on the ship. Jerry Doyle spent every evening at the blackjack table with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Richard Biggs, Robert O'Reilly and Chase Masterson danced with the trekkies in the Oz lounge (yes, it looked like the Emerald City). And Bill Campbell was always sitting on the promenade deck talking to someone. Usually old movie "war stories". Like the time he was signed to be in a picture with John Wayne... Who was the most interesting guest? My vote would go to Karen Westerfield, who was extremely funny, personable, and made an effort to meet everyone. (Although I think the cruise should have tried to get Mark Ryan more involved...)

Because the boat only stopped at Cabo San Lucas for the morning of the next day, we decided not to go ashore. I think this was a mistake, 'cause we could see the beaches and the ski jets and other water sports going on.

The Love Boat

The Jubilee

Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance!

Dinners on the ship grew increasingly bizarre. L kept telling me that the waiters were flirting with me. I dunno; I'm pretty stupid about that kinda stuff.

Jorge, our busboy, kept teasing me by pretending to almost spill things on me. And then there was Larry, who wasn't our waiter, but the waiter from a table beside ours, who kept coming over to talk with us. On Friday night, at the second formal dinner, we were hanging around after our meal and Larry started professing his love for me. Extremely awkward moment! L and I hadn't really been behaving like a couple on the ship (it causes too many raised eyebrows), and people seemed to assume that I was single. Next cruise, I'm wearing a wedding band!

Saturday night was even worse because Jorge had seen Larry holding my hand the previous night, and he kept teasing me. Every time he came by to pour some water, he'd be singing some silly love song (you'd think the people would've had enough of silly love songs!), and he hinted that Larry was going to move to Canada to come after me. Larry kept behaving like a little kid looking for attention; I guess after the previous night, he wasn't sure how I was reacting to him. I tried to be nice to him, but it just wasn't in the cards for us :)

Our friend Charissa fared much better on the ship; she managed to pick up a coupl'a toy boys, and she showed them off at the Oz dance lounge. Imagine trekkies doing the macarena.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the boat made a hard turn to avoid a fishing boat, and L and I woke up as our beds were sliding across the floor. We got back into Los Angeles a bit late on Sunday morning, and for some reason U.S. immigration was taking its time about letting the ship back into the country. We made it to the airport about ten minutes before our plane took off, and then, only because we insisted on getting on one of the buses that was leaving early, rather than the bus designated for Air Canada passengers.

So there were awkward moments, unhappy-making moments, and both L and I started the vacation with really severe colds. But these moments were more than offset by the fun we had. The guests were great, and the pina coladas kept rolling in! The next cruise is Sea Trek '99 -- going either to Alaska (brrrr) or other side of Mexico (where the Mayan ruins can be found). My vote is for the Mexican ruins, personally. I'd probably do more sight-seeing than shopping.

See you at Sea Trek '99!

Copyright © 1997 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated August 1st, 1997.

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