Guest Blog by Kevin G. Chapman[i]
None of us can take a cruise these days. We all wish we could. We can share memories of cruises, pictures from our favorite ships, and videos of our favorite karaoke performances. Or, we can take a virtual cruise.
Here’s your “Daily Navigator” – the itinerary for yourself and your cruising companions. Get 2-3 of your best friends/couples, make sure somebody has a video conferencing account (e.g. Zoom), and plan out your virtual cruise day together. Sure, you can do it all by yourself, but it’s way more fun with a group! It’s time to do some pretending (for a good cause – your sanity). Your specific schedule may vary, of course, and you should substitute your favorite cruise ship activities, but here’s my itinerary:
9:00 a.m. – breakfast. Pre-prepare for yourself a favorite breakfast. (Get your spouse or child who is now living at home during the pandemic to be your Cabin Steward for the day. Your Steward should prepare your breakfast and be your attendant during your virtual cruise. If you don’t have a Steward, try to make all your arrangements in advance so you don’t feel like you’re working.) Stroll to the dining room and enjoy your day-starter. Buy some oranges and make fresh squeezed juice. Get that special coffee. Take your time with it.
10:00 a.m. – lounging by the pool. If you have a pool, and it’s not too cold, then by all means lounge by your pool. No pool? No problem. Let’s face it, on a cruise ship, you didn’t really go into the pool much, if at all. What you need is a lounge chair (get it from the garage), a big, soft towel, a heat lamp, and a fan. Set yourself up in a quiet place (or put on the sounds of children playing in a pool), sit back, grab a good book (or audiobook), and lounge. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, have your Steward bring you a mimosa, made with that fresh squeezed orange juice. If you have a jacuzzi available, take a dip in that every half hour or so. Remember to wear your swimsuit, with or without your favorite coverup, even if you don’t get wet.
12:30 p.m. – lunch. Change into something fun and casual (after a shower, if you insist) and have something brought in from your favorite casual restaurant. Pair with a frozen strawberry daiquiri or a pina colada martini (recipe below). Again – take your time. Enjoy. Bring your book, or listen to your iPod while you eat.
2:00 p.m. – afternoon trivia. Set up with your friends online and play a trivia game. Pull out the old Trivial Pursuit game. Fire up your home game of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, or Jeopardy! If you’re really ambitious, have each participant come up with ten trivia questions to pose to the group. Good with audio files? Mix together a set of ten or twenty music clips and have your friends try to guess the song and artist. Give away cheap, irrelevant prizes! Fun for everyone. (I’m not a Bingo guy, myself, but if you love playing Bingo, then set up a game and go to town.)
3:30 p.m. – Karaoke! The most fun of all. Cue up your favorite karaoke song (they are all on the internet) and take turns with your friends. Everybody sings along (mandatory). Make a video on your phone (then burn it). Try an online duet if you want a challenge. (Can be moved to late-night activity at your discretion, in which case, substitute a different activity here, or return to lounging by the virtual pool and reading more of your good book.)
5:00 p.m. – Cocktails. You have the unlimited drink plan, so use it. Dress for dinner, then meet up with your zoom friends. Use a fun virtual background, or the most fun location inside (or outside) your home. A pina colada martini is great here, or your favorite scotch or cocktail. Put it in a pretty glass, and bring along a refill. Chat it up with your friends and have everyone show off their outfits. Have a joke-telling contest (everyone plan ahead).
6:00 p.m. – Photo. You’re already in your best formal night outfit, so take a photo (with or without your significant other). Get the best background you can manage, or use a green screen and a virtual background if you can manage that. A glass of champagne as a prop is always nice.
6:30 p.m. – Dinner. Bring in the fanciest meal you can get from a local restaurant. Your Steward/child can serve you (in a tux, if possible). Use your best china and silver. Get some flowers for the table. Pop a bottle of your best bubbly or wine, set up your laptop with your zoom friends so they can see you, and enjoy a leisurely meal. Over the meal, share stories of your favorite vacation spots with your dinner mates. Don’t forget a sinful dessert!
8:00 p.m. – Comedy Club. Arrange with your virtual friends to all watch together a favorite one-hour comedy special that you can all get on Netflix, DVD, or have someone cast the show onto the Zoom meeting for everyone to watch. Connect your laptop to your biggest TV if you can. I recommend Iliza Shlesinger, but your taste may vary. The point is to have everyone watches together and laughs together. Have your Steward bring you a drink while you watch. (You have the unlimited drink plan, remember.) Or, maybe this is a good time for a seltzer to hydrate.
9:00 p.m. – Final toast. It’s been a long day, or you can feel free to plan other evening activities and stretch it out. Whenever you’re ready to call it a night, gather your friends, refill your glass, and have one final toast to your virtual cruise day.
Do no dishes. Do no cleaning. That’s what your Steward is for. Enjoy yourself – it’s a cruise. It may be as close as you can get . . . for a while.
Pina Colada Martini
1½ oz. pineapple rum
1½ oz. coconut rum
½ oz. pineapple juice
Combine in a shaker with ice,
then strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with pineapple chunk and a cherry
If you’re looking for a good book to read by the virtual pool . . . or if you can’t manage all the set-up to take the above virtual cruise . . . you can simulate the experience by reading a good book about a cruise:
“Take a six-night cruise to Bermuda from your couch. If you like cruising, you should get yourself a copy of Lethal Voyage. I loved it!”
— Bruce Frommert, Travelling With Bruce YouTube channel.
Lethal Voyage is book #3 in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series, but a fully stand-alone story. NYPD Homicide detective Mike Stoneman and medical examiner Michelle McNeill make a new friend, Shirley Bloom, on their first night on a cruise ship vacation. The next night, Shirley falls to her death from the balcony of her stateroom. Michelle thinks it’s no accident, and Shirley’s philandering husband, Max Bloom, is the prime suspect. Max has a lame alibi and a million reasons for killing his rich wife. Instead of a relaxing vacation, Mike, Michelle, and Mike’s partner, Jason Dickson, get caught up in a murder investigation. They get no help from the ship’s chief of security, who wants to call it a suicide. When another body turns up stabbed to death, however, even the security chief can’t deny that there’s a murderer on board. The second victim was killed in Mike and Michelle’s stateroom! Now the chase is on to find the killer before anyone else dies on this Lethal Voyage.”
You can pick up your copy of Lethal Voyage on amazon.com HERE. [link: http://getbook.at/lethal_voyage]Available as a Kindle ebook, paperback, or audiobook. If you want a personally autographed copy for yourself or as a gift, contact the author at https://www.KevinGChapman.com.
[i] Kevin G. Chapman is an attorney specializing in labor and employment law and in independent author. His current project is the Mike Stoneman Thriller series. Righteous Assassin (Mike Stoneman Thriller #1), was named one of the top 20 Mystery/Thrillers of 2019 by the Kindle Book Review and is a finalist for the Chanticleer Book Review CLUE award. Kevin has also written a serious political drama, A Legacy of One, self-published in 2016, which was short-listed for the Chanticleer Somerset Award for literary fiction. Kevin is a resident of West Windsor, New Jersey and is a graduate of Columbia College (‘83), where he was a classmate of Barack Obama, and Boston University School of Law. Readers can contact Kevin via his website at www.KevinGChapman.com.
Looking forward to seeing photos from other people’s virtual cruises!