PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten
An hour into the race, there we were, 15 people crammed into a space not much bigger than a pair of office cubicles.
"Preparing to tack," the captain called out.
"Primary grinders ready," a crew member yelled.
"Primary grinders, first gear," came the order.
The four of us started cranking as fast as we could.
"Primary grinders, second gear."...
OLD SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
If taking a Caribbean cruise from Florida is a part of your winter routine, consider shaking things up this year. Try leaving from Old San Juan.
The convenience of the state's five cruise ports is a draw for many cruisers living in the Sunshine State. But that proximity also limits the possibilities. ...
The rumors had floated online that Norwegian Cruise Line was ready to place a ship in Tampa. But when the Norwegian Star was ticketed for Tampa in October 2011, it caught me by surprise.
I've been a fan of NCL's freestyle cruising since 2003. What's not to like about eating when you want, with whom you want, in one of 13 restaurants? And what guy wants to wear a suit on vacation? Not me. Leave it at home. Unless that's your thing. Freestyle gives you the option of "dress up" nights. ...
Reality, when you are the world's largest cruise line, can be a Dream.
Carnival Cruise Lines unveiled its largest ship, the Carnival Dream, last month in New York City. Weighing in at 130,000 tons, it carries 3,646 passengers (4,631 if all upper berths are full), about a 20 percent bump in passenger space from the line's next largest ship.
But it pales in comparison to Royal Caribbean's 225,000-ton Oasis of the Seas, which can haul more than 6,000 passengers. ...
05/05/09 Pop Culture
I see ya. Sitting over there, outside Ikea.
Camped out on the hot, hard concrete. There were 20 of you poor souls by 9 a.m. Monday.
Waiting. Dreaming. Drooling.
In a case of too much time on their hands, these true believers want to be the first people inside when Tampa's Ikea opens its doors Wednesday.
A few in line Monday came from Orlando where — I'm not kidding — they have an Ikea. ...
With the pull of the Caribbean waning after eight cruises, we longed for something different.
Alaska? Too cold.
The Mediterranean? Too far — and the dollar too weak, at least when we were booking last year.
The Mexican Riviera? Images of two world-class resort areas danced on the computer screen. Cabo San Lucas. Puerto Vallarta. ...
It took five years for friends to persuade Chuck and Debbie Knight to join them on a cruise.
The adventurous St. Pete Beach couple wasn't interested in the structured, regimented atmosphere they had heard about. Dinner at 6 or 8, followed by a show. Lot of crowds. No escape.
And dressing up on vacation? Forget it.
"You dress up at work," said Chuck Knight, 44, an architect. "When you're on vacation you want to get away from everything that's like work."...
The MC of the Norwegian Star's adult scavenger hunt called for a man and a woman from each of the 23 teams in the contest to join him on stage.
Before he finished the sentence, Sarah Gaul, a 29-year-old married mother of two from Alaska, was next to him, joined by teammate Chris Orr, 29, of San Diego. After learning their task — to swap clothes — they sprinted from the room. ...
02/24/09 Pop Culture
The rice burner came out of nowhere.
It was midmorning and I was cruising along in the second lane of Interstate 275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge. It was after rush hour, but there was plenty of traffic.
Glancing in my rearview I saw the motorcycle closing fast in the right lane. He crossed behind me and continued all the way to the left lane. Moments later, doing at least 90, he veered back to the right, across all four lanes again....
When nature called on his way to the library, Robert LaBollita stopped at the DeLand police station to use the public toilet. As he sat down, the seat shifted, pinching his, um, genitalia, according to news-journalonline.com.
DeLand fire paramedics were called to treat LaBollita, according to a police report. LaBollita, 51, said his penis was bruised and the skin was broken. The report said paramedics told LaBollita how to treat the injury and handed him a bandage....01/26/09 Pop Culture
Pity the players of the Lingerie Football League.
Ready to strut their stuff in a pay-for-view event that would coincide with halftime of the Super Bowl, they lost the Tampa site planned for the Lingerie Bowl.
Then, adding insult to injury, the event's organizers announced the game would be played instead at a nudist resort in Pasco County.
Oh, the indignity.
Some of the players quit last week. The reason, at least in part, was because the game had been moved to Caliente. ...01/17/09Travel
Long Beach, Calif.
Worn down after a cross-country flight and a 90-minute battle through rush hour in Los Angeles, we trudged into the concrete elevator building alongside the Queen Mary Hotel. When the doors opened and we strolled onto A deck we were in another era, one defined by royalty, wealth and fame.
We had booked a hotel, but we found history.
"I thought I was walking onto a movie set from the Roaring '20s," Jerry Hoehn of Lake of the Woods, Va., said. "I tried to imagine the people who had crossed that threshold before us." ...01/06/09 Pop Culture
I can't write.
My epiphany arrived over the holidays — not exactly the gift a journalist hopes to receive for Christmas.
I'm sure Mrs. McCarthy, my 10th grade English teacher who loved her red pen, is enjoying a good chuckle.
I shared the topic of this column with a colleague and her response was succinct.
"I guess it will be a short one."
Sure hope the boss doesn't read it....01/02/09 Blog
Deputies didn't need a dictionary to figure out it was time to arrest a 41-year-old Shalimar woman on Christmas Eve, according to Nwfdailynews.com.
The woman's husband stopped at her house to pick up some of his belongings and the couple, who have been married about 20 years, started to argue, according to an arrest report....12/23/08 Pop Culture
I picked up the phone and a booming voice answered my greeting.
"Kyle, it's Zell."
I hadn't heard from Zell in a while. We met more than a decade ago when Zell was helping a bunch of rich residents in his McMansion-filled country-club community fight a cell tower someone wanted to place just outside their walled-in paradise.
Zell is the Don Quixote of cell towers. He spends all his time battling the beasts that threaten to soil our great vistas....