Bahamas Cruise with Norm Johnson, Plus This and That

Well, gang, I’m back from my “vacation” to the Bahama’s !  Now as most vacations go there is the good, bad, and ugly to report. First off we (my friend Trisha and I), boarded a Southwest Airline flight out of Las Vegas in route to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a quick stop in Kansas City. The flight was great, the crew couldn’t’ve been better: we got all the potato chips we wanted, and the bloody Mary’s were wonderful.

 

Now the ugly: We land and go to baggage and I find a porter to help us. I wanted to get an Uber. Yeah, as if that was going to happen. The porter suggested we catch a cab as we had to go 20 some miles to our hotel in Miami. Wrong move, gang! We get in the cab and give the driver the hotel we were staying in.  Off we go on the freeway to Miami.  Within minutes the driver says he needs the address of the hotel (unfortunately for us his English was so bad we couldn’t really understand him). So, I repeat the name of the hotel. He nods and we keep going.  He pulls over to the side of he freeway, says to us “I need to pee” and gets out of the cab with a little bottle in his hand. He’s gone for a few minutes.

 

Off we go again: Now he asks us if we could locate the hotel on our phone GPS.  Of course, I respond for him to use his own phone, and he mumbles something like “I don’t have one.” Oh, boy, Trisha is trying to find the hotel address in the paperwork provided by our cruise line “The Navigator of the Sea,” one of a fleet of beautiful ships operated by Royal Caribbean. Long story short, the driver drove around for nearly 20 minutes in Miami looking for our hotel. I finally ordered him to stop at a gas station, got out went to another cab driver and asked for directions. Turned out we were only two blocks away and he had drove past it at least three times.  As I go to pay the bill with my credit card the driver says “cash…no card…”  I say “No…pay with card”  Turns out he had a machine for the card, and I tried to use it…Luckily it didn’t work as the bill was $93 plus an automatic tip of 20%. I am really upset by this time; I hand him five $20 and walk away with him screaming for more tip. I naturally gave him the famous hand signal! This is why I should’ve insisted on an Uber!

The hotel is nice. We catch the shuttle in the morning and within about 30 minutes we are walking a special gangway (we had a suite with perks) for early boarding, but of course we had to wait about an hour on the ship before the suite would be ready, so we found a nice little bar and relaxed.

 

The one-bedroom suite is absolutely wonderful. Trisha, who had never been on a cruise before, couldn’t believe how large it was. That would be our home for the next four nights. Our ship had been totally rehabbed in 2019 and was like brand new. Rodney (our suite porter) greeted us with two of our perks: two large bottles of Avian Water and a bowl of fruit.  Nice touch! We had dinner that evening at our table where we met a nice lady from Scotland (she explained this was her third week aboard this ship, and that she sails for four consecutive cruises every year). The other two ladies were from North Carolina.  And pretty soon it was like we had known them for years.  We were going to be O.K. with this group.

 

Our ship at island stop

The next day we visit Nassau.  We opted for a bus tour and I would strongly suggest this as you really get to see the good and bad of the Capital City. Our driver was super good and was well informed on its history: we made seven stops with the last one a 30-minute visit to a rum distillery.

 

That evening we had reservations for the Chop Grille. Trisha looked fantastic, dressed to the nines, as we entered the specialty restaurant.  The dinner was perfection, and the Kendall-Jackson wine was perfectly chilled.

 

Private Island Beach

The next day we spent a few hours at a private island owned by the cruise line.  Nothing really special unless you are young enough to enjoy all the rides (which neither of us were), but plenty of free food, however. That evening we joined our group again for dinner as it would be our last night with them–we had made reservations for another specialty restaurant, The Hooked Seafood restaurant.

 

Now I must say, once again my lady out-did her previous fashion statement, with a beautiful gown.  She ordered a specialty of the house: Lobster Tails.  Well, gang, when the tails arrived the plate was absolutely beautiful and filled with three huge tails, beautiful shrimps, and some other delicacies. Trisha was thrilled.  As a resident of Alaska for most of her life, she is very fond of anything coming from the sea—and especially Lobsters. Another fantastic evening.

 

Trisha at Dinner

 

My only complaint is also a very important warning.  If you deal directly with the cruise line, be aware of their cancellation policies.  I had booked through the cruise line and asked them for their fly and cruise plan.  So, they booked us on United Airlines to Miami, booked the hotel, etc.  Not one word was said to me on the phone that there would be a charge of $200 per ticket if I wanted to change our flight or cancel it.  When I got the flight information a few hours later on the computer it showed a three-hour layover in Houston, Texas.  No way were we going to sit for three-hours in an airport.  So, Trisha, got on her computer, got us booked on Southwest with a short stop in Kansas City (we stayed on the same plane during the quick stop) and a direct non-stop flight back to my little village (Las Vegas of course). And the flight was even cheaper.  So, I called Royal Caribbean same day and canceled the flight portion they had booked. I had paid for everything—Major Mistake #2.  They kept $400 as a fee for cancelling.  I tried to reach someone to complain—but got no help.  Thus, I wrote a nice letter (even read it to Trisha to make sure it was nice) and emailed to the executive office for Media contacts.  That was nearly two weeks prior to our departure from Vegas.  I am still waiting for a response.  I will, of course, send off another letter.

 

It’s too bad that they are so darn good in making the cruise seem so perfect, but they ruin the experience by charging you a fee for cancelling the flight they had booked for you: WITHOUT first informing you of the fee for cancelling. Had they informed me when I paid for everything in advance, I would’ve asked for more information about the flight especially if they had told me of the $200 per ticket cancellation fee. Of course, that never happened. Thus, they have ruined a fantastic experience for Trisha (her first cruise ever) and my first experience in years with this particular cruise line. My next will not be with Royal Caribbean.  And I did enjoy the ship, the dining and the overall experience I must admit.

 

THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:

William Byron, an up-and-coming NASCAR young gun, will take his racing talents from the track to the big screen when he appears at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor on Feb. 4. The 22-year-old, who drives the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports, will take on both fans and media members in the NASCAR Heat video game. Byron is currently the youngest full-time driver in NASCAR’s top series – he finished 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings in 2019.

 

The Charlotte, N.C., native won the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year award. In 2017, he won both the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship and 2017 Rookie of the Year. Byron, who learned a lot of the skills he uses on the racetrack by playing video games, will take on eight fans and eight media members in two races. The fans will be chosen through the various social media platforms of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event is open to the public, and runs from 2-4 p.m.

 

The Big Game Viewing Party on Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Plaza Hotel & Casino is a football fan’s dream come true offering a fun filled day of football, food and spirits for a great value. Football fans, 21 years of age or older, will enjoy a stadium food buffet and open bar at the viewing party where they will be surrounded by the Big Game broadcast on giant high-definition screens in the Plaza’s expansive and comfortable Sierra Ballroom on the third floor. Doors open at noon.

Making and cashing out sports bets during the Big Game will be very convenient as guests will not have to leave the excitement of the viewing party thanks to William Hill’s satellite betting stations located throughout the ballroom.

Tickets to the Plaza’s Big Game Viewing Party are available online for $100 per person until Jan. 31 and $125 on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. Ticket prices are inclusive of tax and gratuity and offer admission to the viewing party, including its free buffet and open bar. To buy tickets online visit https://www.plazahotelcasino.com/entertainment/the-big-game-viewing-party/.

 

Fans also can watch the game on the giant HD video wall at the Plaza’s new William Hill Race & Sports Book, which will offer more than 900 ways to bet the Big Game, including lots of different props. Back again this year will be the $100,000 Big Game Parlay Card. Bettors who pick all 15 winners of 15 Big Game props can win $100,000. The cards are $5, and there is no limit to the number of entries that can be played. Complete details are available at the William Hill Race & Sports Book at Plaza.

 

On Friday, February 7, 2020 (!), at 8:00 p.m., Ryan Baker will be returning to the showroom at the famous Italian American Club of Las Vegas with a brand-new installment of his hit show “Big Band Crooners”, backed once again by Merv Harding’s incredible 17-piece big band! This show will begin with an entire section dedicated to the life and music of one of Ryan’s all-time favorite singers and entertainers, Dean Martin (a long-time friend of this writer). Also featured will be songs made famous by Harry Connick, Jr., Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett, all presented with the classic arrangements that have become a part of our lives and played by a band full of seasoned musicians who have worked with these iconic performers, in the heyday of Las Vegas. With intimate video presentations that bring the stories behind these legends to life, plus a lot of laughs and other surprises along the way, this will be another night to remember at the IAC!

Tickets are $30 for general admission, $40 for VIP seating. To get yours, you can contact Judi Glasman at (702) 278-3611.

 

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hired Justin Shaw as its new Media Relations Manager. Shaw comes to LVMS from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he previously worked as Director of Media and Public Relations at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He also spent many years as a writer for The Gazette newspaper’s sports department.

“We’re excited to welcome Justin Shaw to the LVMS team,” said Jeff Motley, LVMS VP of Public Relations. “With his experience as a PR professional and journalist, Justin will be an asset to the speedway and should be able to hit the ground running as we prepare for our first NASCAR weekend of the year.”

As Media Relations Manager, Shaw will be responsible for writing press releases, updating LVMS.com, pitching stories to local and national media, staffing various LVMS events, assisting with event management responsibilities and providing media with assistance in covering events at the speedway. He also will assist with social media duties, work Speedway Children’s Charities events, staff press conferences and speedway events and assist in day-to-day office operations. Shaw assumed the role Jan. 6 and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 702.632.8231.

 

Well, gang, that’s it for this week. Happy to be home.

I’m outa here!

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