Taking a break from the virus, lock-down, Quarantine Diaries and everything involving it to write about our last vacation.
At this point, our trip seems as if it happened centuries ago, but it has really only been a couple of months. Please forgive any typos, run-on sentences or just utter incoherence as I seem to have lost all ability to concentrate on any one thing for any length of time during this quarantine.
Those of you that have been here a while, already know that this post is partially a ploy to make you look at my vacation photos. 😉
For those of you new here; this is partially a ploy to have you look at our vacation photos but also it is written with a dash of autism and DC’s perspective (or my perspective of DC’s perspective) of the trip. Do not panic, it looks like a very long post, due to all of the photos – it really is not that long at all.
DC was very excited all month to be going on the Star Trek cruise, but in true DC fashion he was already starting to get anxious about when we were coming home before we had even left home.
He remembered the schedule I put on his phone during one trip a few years ago (which helped during that trip but not so much during the next) and asked for a “phone list”-
So that is what I did on he way to the airport.
This time, the list worked perfectly. I did not have to repeat the schedule over and over again (we did have to listen to him recite it to us a few times). He took it out and read it whenever he felt the need to. What a difference this list made!
In the airport.
DC (yells): I’m getting very nervous about this plane!
This plane does not look very safe to me!
(Line from: Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves)
Because he randomly blurts out movie lines, I always have ask him (when it could be a problematic line for the circumstances) – rather loudly so everyone in earshot can hear…..
“What movie is that from?”, so he can answer just as loudly, “Honey We Shrunk Ourselves” (or whatever movie the line happens to come from).
We arrived in Miami the day before the cruise. We always try to arrive a day early, just in case. I remember a cruise about 15 years ago that was leaving from San Juan . We arrived a day early because I love Puerto Rico and we wanted to spend some time there. There just happened to be a storm after we left home all up and down the east coast (it was January). Flights were delayed and many passengers did not make the boat. Many had to fly into some of the ports where were were scheduled to stop to get on the ship – missing days of their cruise. Since then, we always arrive a day early, no matter what.
Boarding was quick and easy.
We looked around the ship a bit waiting for the drill and the opening ceremonies.
We were able to get into our room beforehand and DC set up “His Spot”. The spot where we had to climb over him all week, but he did not care.
After the safety drill we went to the pool for the opening ceremonies. DC was pretty excited. I don’t know if it was because everyone else was excited or because he spotted Nana Visitor and Brent Spiner, but he was cheering right along with everyone else.
I had just read the headline that morning in the airport about Kenneth Mitchell’s ALS diagnosis. I did not have the chance to read the article because we were boarding the plane. I assumed he was newly diagnosed. I was shocked and saddened to see that he was already in a wheel chair. I have been a fan of his since Jericho and was happy to see him cast in Discovery in the first season and as I predicted in our Discovery podcast, there was no way they would hire Kenneth Mitchell for one season and just a few episodes. I was correct and they had him back playing a different character in season two.
As I said, DC was really looking forward to seeing Nana Visitor again. You might remember his reaction to her from Star Trek Missions NY (and a Little Bit of Reading Rainbow), but our first photo op was Jeffrey Combs (a favorite of mine). We happened to be in that area of the ship at our scheduled time, so we were there early enough so the line was not bad at all.
We had not gotten our bags yet, so DC was still sporting his “Eureka” shirt (shameless plug: Yeah, That Can’t Be Good: A Eureka Rewatch Podcast)
Nana Visitor was the first of the many long lines he had to wait in that week. He got used to the waiting eventually, but because it was the first line, by the time he made it to her, he was over it and not his excitable self. He was excited, but not AS excited as he would have been. He would get a second chance when it was autograph time later in the week.
My surprises of the week were how much DC enjoyed meeting Ethan Peck and Wilson Cruz. He started his week excited about Nana Visitor and Brent Spiner but ended it by adding two new favorites to his “list”.
There were signs all around the ship, especially in the photo/autograph lines that read – “No handshaking, Vulcan Salutes and elbow bumps only” – DC took that to mean, at the beginning anyway that he needed to do a salute for each photo. That came in handy when Ethan Peck noticed him trying to do one and asked the photographer to take a second picture.
DC was able to talk with him a few more times during the week; once outside of one of the shows (I let him say hello. I did not want him to bother people when they were out and about, or eating, but I did let him say hello.) He did not seem to mind and did try to get some conversation out of DC, even though it was apparent that DC has a difficult time with conversation (he is on my nice guy list now as well). The next – at his autograph table, where he again went out of his way and took the time to try to get some conversation out of DC.
Wilson Cruz was very personable and high energy, which DC loved both times he met him (once for the photo and again for his autograph). DC was wearing a multi-colored, very bright, paint-splash kind of shirt for the autograph session. Mr. Cruz told him how much he liked his shirt and if you know how much DC loves compliments about his clothing, then you know that “The Doctor” now has a fan for life.
He wore his Captain’s shirt for his photo with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and I actually got to attend, on my own (which never happens), a recording of Anson Mount’s podcast, The Well. I have been listening since the beginning and it was nice to be able to watch it live. I missed the first scheduled date due to DC’s photo op schedule so I do not know who the guest was, but I was able to make this one with his guest Kenneth Mitchell.
DC announced to all in the elevator “I cut my toenails all by myself!”
Failing to acknowledge the torture that his cheering section had to endure while he was doing this earlier in the room.
There were plenty of other things to do besides standing in line for photos or autographs.
There was music and dancing. We all know how much DC loves to dance!
Voyager Panel – DC was pretty good at sitting though the panels. Historically he falls asleep on my arm but he stayed awake for all of the panels we attended.
A pajama party with Chase Masterson.
As you might imagine, going out in one’s pajamas confused DC a bit but I was really surprised at how quickly he adapted..
He got a kick out of the “Rat Pack” show.
He did some swimming: DC has not been swimming since he had his first seizure back in 2015. Me, being me and a stickler for “the rules”, after his second seizure, when he had to be put on medication, was told by the ER doctor that I should not let him swim or even take a bath. I kind of “get” this. He is a big guy (he was much heavier/bigger then) and if he were to go under, we not only had to worry about the seizure going on at the moment but “dry drowning” later. DC who always loved swimming seemed to be moving away from it and refusing to go in the water at camp or anywhere else over the previous couple of years anyway, did not seem to mind this at all…
he did not mid at all until he knew we were going on a cruise, that is. He wanted to go swimming. I sucked it up and made Doug promise that he would go into the water with him and stay with him (I haven’t owned a bathing suit since 2005, so I was OUT for the pool). He did and DC was thrilled to go swimming just about every day. I was worried about how I was going to handle camp this year with his renewed love of swimming but as it stands with the virus, there will probably not be camp this year, so I am safe for now.
If you happened to be passing by the
Windjammer buffet at lunch-time yesterday, I was the one screaming “no, no, no!” as DC jumped up out of his seat to take off his shirt and switch it right there when he realized his shirt was inside out.
We watched Star Trek Squares:
I know that DC doesn’t get all of the jokes (and at times that was a good thing) but he seemed to enjoy watching all of these shows and games.
Watching the Make-Up artists (they were pretty impressive!)
Oz, Star Trek Style: You all know how DC feels about the Wizard of OZ!
Garrett Wang Stand Up Show.
I think DC’s favorite show of the entire trip was the script reading of “The Devil in the Dark”. He laughed and laughed. Ethan Philips played the “rock monster” and DC got such a kick out of some of the sounds he was making. Of course the cast included his beloved Nana and his new favorite, Ethan Peck so we really couldn’t go wrong, there.
Me: DC, what was your favorite part of the show?
DC: The Fart! hahahahahahaha
(The noises The Rock Monster made)
We made a nightly visit to Qapla”where DC had his fill of Shirley Temples (they gave him extra cherries there) and I could have a Kahless’s Martini. We went there after the show and DC saw Nana Visitor come in and sit down at a table. No, he wasn’t allowed to bother her and I didn’t want him to yell across the place, but he was happy just to see her there (I mention this for a reason).
The following day was his scheduled autograph session with her. He was more excited than the day of the photo op because he was now used to waiting in these lines. Doug prompted him to tell her that he liked her in the show the night before. She thanked him and told him that she had seen him (I imagine in Qapla”) right after the show. He was a thrilled about that.
Unlike some of the others who were too busy to even say hello (we’ll get to that later), I was impressed with Brent Spiner.
First, some backstory from the “Everything is Related Series” – Everything is Related: Star Trek and Geppetto – October 2019
Last night we happened to be watching an episode of TNG.
The beginning credits were running. I was not really paying attention when DC said:
“Brent Spiner. Not Stromboli in “The Wonderful World of Disney’s Geppetto” (we must always recite the entire title of any movie, book or television series)
When DC tells me that someone is NOT a character, what he is actually telling me is that the actor IS the character; in this case “Stromboli” in the movie he just mentioned but he is not playing that character in this movie or television series we are watching at the time.
DC has been watching his Geppetto DVD … um, excuse me: “The Wonderful World of Disney’s Geppetto” for many years. I had never seen it, but I looked it up and he was correct!
Apparently, DC had not ever recognized him as Data, but he did recognize his name in the credits, because he does know the name of every person who has ever played or lent their voice to any Disney character.
Of course I was going to get a ticket for a photo op and autograph for Brent Spiner! How could I not?
As you might imagine, Brent Spiner had one of the longer lines of the cruise. But still, he took the time to talk to DC a bit during the photo op and when DC called him Stromboli, he looked confused for a moment and then broke out into a Stromboli song! I have no idea if it was an actual song from the movie or if he made it up right there, but needless to say, DC was thrilled!
A few days later we when we went for his scheduled autograph session with Mr. Spiner, the line was just as long as it was for the photo op, so I did not expect much.
But once again, I was impressed.
We had an old Disney promo photo/description for – say it with me – “The Wonderful World of Disney’s Geppetto” for him to sign. He read it, we talked about it, he wondered why Disney Plus does not carry these older musicals, he showed it to Gates McFadden who was at the table with him and pointed out (something that I hadn’t noticed before because now that DC watches his DVD’s on his laptop, I no longer have to watch these things over and over and over again), that Rene Auberjonois was also a cast member.
(Photo edited to disguise DC’s real name)
The cruise was fun and I really had no complaints about the way it was run. There were a few issues, though.
The way that the tickets were sold really needs to be modified for the next time around.
We purchased our photo-op and autograph tickets months before the cruise date. We bought our tickets for specific people.
When we received our tickets on board, they were not for specific people, but for specific “levels”.
We bought a ticket for a photo-op with Kate Mulgrew only because it was a Voyager anniversary cruse, so how could I not?
Kate Mulgrew was a “Gold Level Ticket”.
If memory serves, the celebrities who fell under the Gold level were:
- Kate Mulgrew
- Jeri Ryan
- Rom and Leeta in full costume.
- The Captain who shall not be named***
The problem with this Gold, Silver and Bronze system is that the tickets are interchangeable. I fully understand the intent; there is a lot going on and one may find themselves with a conflict of some sort at the time of your scheduled op. BUT… it also creates a false expectation of the line size for the organizers.
This is in no way a complaint about the length of the line, it is a complaint about how the celebrity was treated by the venue and the interchangeable tickets and in turn the way DC was treated by the celebrity.
While we were in line but still out in the lobby I heard a group of disabled individuals complaining to their support person/group leader about their experience with Kate Mulgrew (I am a people watcher so I pay attention to everything especially if I think there is a problem that will effect DC). I could not hear their complaints but I did hear the group leader talking to one of the event organizer crew. The event organizer apologized for whatever happened and went on to explain that “Ms. Mulgrew is a very smart and savvy woman who knows exactly what her contract states and exactly the hours she is required to take photos and sign autographs”. I don’t know what she did. Maybe she left and took a break, maybe she was not very pleasant. I don’t know, but I knew there was a problem.
That made me nervous. I started having anxiety that we would be standing in this line forever only to have her leave. That would not have gone over well with DC. We hadn’t had all that many melt-downs during the trip and the ones we had were minor, I did not want him to be disappointed or have a meltdown if something like that happened.
Most of the photo-ops were scheduled around dinner hours meaning that the people with the later dinner time could go to the 6:30 op and those with early dinner times could attend the 8:30. I believe there probably should have been a break for the celebrity in-between ops, but there were so many people in line that I am sure that one op lead right into the other. There were so many people in line, that I am sure her photo op went far beyond the time allotted as well. I understand. That is a long time to expect someone to sit there and take photo after photo.
We have been to many events like this in the past and we know that a photo-op was not the place for conversation and as I said earlier, I was impressed at the number of celebs that did take a little bit of time to converse.
When it was DC’s turn for a photo, she did not even look at him. DC, being DC knows he should be polite and say hello. He tried and tried, but she would not even look at him. He tapped her on the shoulder, just to say hello and still she would not even look at him.
Yes, he smiled for the photo, because any time there is a camera in sight, he will stop whatever he is doing and smile (which is why I cannot ever get a candid shot of him)
He tried to say good bye after the photo but she still would not even turn her head. After we left, DC would not stop insisting that he had to go back and ‘a-polo-gize’ to her because he was convinced that he had done something wrong. It took us a while to make him understand that he had not. DC is not always one to notice when someone is ignoring him (usually because I try to cover it up for him), but he noticed and it made him feel bad.
I never ask for or expect special treatment for him due to his autism, but I do expect him to be treated with common courtesy and he was not.
The next “issue” had nothing to do with the interchangeable tickets, it was just rudeness.
We were in “line” for Jeffrey Combs (there were two people in front of us and NO ONE behind us). We watched him sign and converse with both people in front of us. When DC got to the table and he started signing his photo, his assistant/wife or whoever she was, come up to the table and said “Excuse me one moment”. He turned around and they had a conversation as he pushed the signed photo towards us with out ever turning around again.
Again, THERE WAS NO ONE BEHIND US! This could have waited. Understanding that we were being dismissed and he was not going to turn around again even to say good-bye or thank you, I, rather loudly said good-bye, in a not so friendly fashion. He turned around quickly and said “Oh! Goodbye”.
Casey Biggs, who was at the table with him, noticed this and was nice enough to jump in to thank us for him (even though we were not at his station).
When we left the table – There was still NO ONE behind us.
Doug, who never notices anything (he will tell you that himself), asked me if Jeffrey Combs has been added to my “turn your head and spit” list.
The jury is still out on that one.
I was kicking myself for not bringing DC’s “Lizard Spock” costume with us, when we saw “Gorn’s Galactic Gala”. Me, thinking myself very clever found a Lizard costume years back and because DC absolutely knows Mr. Spock AND loves the Big Bang Theory; especially Rock, Paper Scissors, Lizard, Spock, I thought it would be hilarious for him to dress as “Lizard Spock” for Halloween. Unfortunately, I only succeeded in cracking myself up because no one got it. People who knew Star Trek thought he was Gorn and everyone else just didn’t know at all. DC and I knew, so that was all that mattered.
He would have fit right in…..
As you would find on every cruise – there was the standard towel animal on the bed every day when we came back to the room. DC cannot leave these alone. He just can’t stand that the towels are not in the right place and has to take it apart THE MOMENT he walks into the room.
It was entertaining to see how long it would take for him to notice it and take it apart. It was usually immediate.
I believe this was the last night on the ship. I don’t recall the name or the theme.
DC wanted to see Brent Spiner again, so we went to his show… Inside the Actor’s Studio. We did not know who the guest would be and unfortunately as it turned out, it was The Captain who shall not be named***. Brent Spiner talked for a good long while before announcing who his guest would be and before bringing him out, so DC got his last “Spiner Fix” and we left when the guest came out.
We had a really nice time and I would LOVE to do this again! I don’t know if I will ever be able to talk Doug into it again – he’s not a Star Trek fan, although he did have a good time too. Don’t let the face fool you.
Oh! We did stop in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John too!
It seems so long ago now. Two weeks after we returned home the whole country shut down. It gives me pause to look at these photos and the crowds.
Do you find yourself having anxiety when watching characters on television shows opening mail, willy nilly (where did THAT word come from?) hugging or shaking hands or is it just me?
I fear nothing will ever be he same again. I hope I am wrong.
*** The Captain who shall not be named
I did not write this but I have shared it many times over the last few years as the best explanation I can find…