New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Written by Harold McNeill on February 25th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Canadians Invade New Orleans: Seize Navigator of the Sea’s

 

Photo: SIC Beauty members with the Cruise Director: An important thing to do on any cruise is to become friends with the Cruise Director.

This post begins with the second part of our holiday when our twenty-two member travel crew joined forces aboard the Navigator of the Seas.  Rather than provide a traditional look at life aboard the ship, I have worked to provide a flavour of the special times and friendships that emerge when people actively seek out others to share their festivities.

There is little doubt that upon our departing from the Navigator, there will be a good percentage of the passengers and crew on board who will remember the fun-loving Canadians.  While I have drawn attention to some our antics, it was all good clean fun on this special family holiday.  

We are Lumberjacks

By the time the citizens of the Big Easy, then passengers and crew of the Navigator realized what was happening, a small group of Canadians from British Columbia and across Canada had seized firm control. After assimilating several dozens of residents from New Orleans into the Sic Beauty © way of life, word soon spread about the new order of the day.

It was not long before the young and not so young, were living in the moment. It is hard to pinpoint the exact place or time on board the Navigator when this happened, but it seems when that second Life Force, that crew Rice University in Houston, joined our ranks, it was not long before the snow bird crowd from Washington State to New York and those from Australia to Europe, picked up the flag.

While our crew never had a chance to perform their famed Lumberjack Revue (or LJC’s Rap rendition) on stage, we did manage to make the theme reverate throughout the ship and on shore leave while in New Orleans, Jamaica, Cosumel and Grand Caymen. Monty Python, as you might imagine, remains a National Hero in Canada.

The Canadian Lumberjacks Theme

We are lumberjacks and we’re OK
We flew to New Orleans for fun and play
We eat po-boy’s and drink Hurricanes for lunch
We launched on Bourbon Street on a hunch

Mounties
They are lumberjacks and their OK
They play all night and most of the day

There are, of course, a dozen more verses, but for the sake of brevity and good taste (given this is a family blog) I shall stop stop at this point.

SIC Beauty © Meets Rice

The moment the SIC Beauty © Crew met the Rice Seniors in the Dungeon, it was inevitable – the Navigator would be forever changed.  On a spring break, the effervescent Rice crew decided a ten day sociological treatise of the routines and casual interactions of the people of New Orleans and on board the Navigator, would be an excellent means to wile away their study hours. Each clearly felt this would be more intellectually stimulating than wandering around the residential colleges of Rice discussing traditional forms of gene markers in an aging population. The Rice people were certainly nice, but they did need some encouragement to break free.

Photo (Paulette Nichele):  Late evening (perhaps early morning) meeting of the SIC Beauty © Crew in the Dungeon. This meeting was held shortly before the Rice University Crew joined the ranks.
(L to R): DJ Dragon, Jay, LJC, Aly, Sean, Jeremy, Joel, Harold, Roberto

For more excellent photos by our travel companions
Paulette and Roberto, please link to the Nichele Portrait Studio Blog
(Link Here)

As far as I can recall this happened on the dance floor of the Dungeon from which point it was hell let loose under the gentle guidance of Rapper LJC and Dungeon DJ Dragon. Who could have guessed those ever so gentle southern souls from Rice could release such raw energy. Good-bye studies, hello party-central.

Photo: A few of the Rice Seniors as they looked before breaking out their togas and letting loose. In this photo, Joanne, one of the favourites in Karaoke Contest was made an Honourary Member of Rice University. The young man on the right holds her Certificate of Membership. Joanne was also adopted by the SIC Beauty Crew when she made a late night appearance in the Dungeon. Her Rap routine was awesome.

A Tribute to the Rice Seniors

Twenty one seniors from Houston at Rice
Thought a trip to New Orleans would be very nice
Once they chose to be baaad
They were doubly glad
Those twenty-one seniors from Rice

As the days flew by in the Big Easy and then on the Navigator, our numbers continued to grow by leaps and bounds as we gained converts in the lounges and on dance floors to the SIC Beauty © Lifestyle. Salsa, Rap, Mississippi Cajun, Rock and Roll, Ballroom and a dozen other dance styles all fell to the infectious interpretations presented by Lucas, Lynn Sean, Aly and a dozen others of our crew who were determined to break with tradition.

Photos: Rice University and SIC Beauty  (Link Here)
See also the Dance Scenes  (Link Here) or (Link Here) (two sets, some the same)

Navigating Life at Sea

Our evenings often began with a fine dinner spread over three tables in the dining room. With the Ricinians catching our back, it was then off to the thousand seat theatre for after dinner rinks and world-class entertainment. Never satisfied to be just one of the crowd, members of our crew often found themselves on stage. The lure of fame and fortune that awaited those brave souls, was just too hard to resist.  Brandy was among the first to test the waters.

The Crowd Favourite

There was a first lady named Brandy
Thought a trip to the stage would be dandy
When security got tight
Her partner took flight
So the crowd cheered the first lady who was handy

Photo:  Brandy and her YMCA partner Harold in happier times. Shortly after this photo was taken Harold was hauled away by security and placed in the brig. Brandy went on to complete the performance.

On another night, an amazing acrobatic/dance team from Eastern Europe called upon Lynn to assist with their routine. While acrobatics were not Lynn’s forte, her dance routine brought the crowd to their feet. When she finally stepped down the young Russian acrobat was left ‘breathless’ and his partner staring daggers.

Photos: Lynn on Stage  (Link Here)

Spurned on by her success on stage, later that evening in the Latino Lounge, Lynn unveiled her vicious Vixen routine in moves that left the crowd grasping for more. After joining her son Sean, champ of the Salsa moves, and his girlfriend Aly (Link Photo), Lynn pushed, pulled, cajoled and teased her ever reluctant husband around the Salsa floor. It was not long before the rest of the crew, sensing the draw of the raw sensual power that only Salsa can produce, joined in to provide the dozens of strollers along the Promenade with a show they would not soon forget.

Photo: Lynn managed to draw that ever reluctant LJC to the floor of the Crow’s Nest Lounge where the SIC Beauty Crew put on a performance for the crowd.  Jeremy’s hand stands on the table and chairs caused only mild concern among the patrons and staff.

The Salsa Dancer

There was refined lady named Lynn
Would dance until dawn without Gin
When the Salsa was Hot
And the weather was Not
She would take to the floor for a Fling

The Late Night Crowd

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and so it was late one evening after many of our crew decided to call it quits. It was at the very moment when Sean, LJC, Joel and the lone Septuagenarian, Harold, were just gaining their stride. After closing the Salsa floor and taking a leisurely meet and greet strole along the Promenade, the boys headed to the Cajun Lounge to help the hundred or more Mississippians get in the mood.

While the music was rocking, the dance floor was not, so the men took it upon themselves to shake things loose by randomly grabbing the ladies and bringing them to the floor to join an effervescent couple in their mid-eighties who clearly chose to spend their final years rocking on the dance floor rather than in a chair. It was not long before the entire Cajun crew took up the challenge.  Take a moment to scan the pictures and you will that special couple snuggled with Sean and LJC.

Picayune Blues

There was a young dancer named Sean
Seldom stumbled to bed before dawn
When you shook him at two
He slipped on a shoe
The other was lost in a bar in Picayune

Photos: Pardon Me, Would You Like to Dance?  (Link Here)
Dance Scenes (Link Here) (I erred and added this album twice. I will leave in as each have different photos and comments.

Birthdays

While the whole idea for the cruise emanated from Kari (as a means to welcome her 40th) it soon become evident that others would also celebrate in late February or early March – Julie, Brandy and Jeremy. Poor Jeremy, the lost soul, was born on that singular day in February that comes once in four. Always struggling to find his place in a world that was four times older than he, we now understand why so many attractive young women ask to see his ID (for an address, not age).

Photo: Jeremy, Julie and Kari at their birthday dinner with Sean (standing) Joel (L), Grayson (R) and Cathy (in background.)

On Being Forty

There was a young lady named Kari
Thought turning forty was scary
So she took a long trip
Then said with a quip
When fifty arrives I shan’t be so wary

Photo Album: A Navigator Birthday  (Link Here)
Family Photos  (Link Here)

Karaoke

Among the 3,500 passengers on the Navigator, a large number possessed amazing vocal skills. Among our crew Aly, LJC and Paulette challenged for a position among the finalists.  While they were certainly among the favourites, those selected to the finals certainly were most certainly deserving and wowed the hundreds who attended late night main stage finals. As it turned out, many of the finalists had already converted to the SIC Beauty © Lifestyle.

Photo (Roberto Nichele): Jeremy proudly looks on as his mother, Paulette, sings El Shaddai.

A Heavenly Thing

There is a classic song called El Shaddai
Tough to sing but it socks you in the eye
When Paulette came to sing
It was a heavenly thing
Her Amy Grant version of El Shaddai

 Photos: Kareoko Championships (Link Here)

For more excellent photos by our travel companions Paulette and Roberto, please link to the Nichele Portrait Studio Blog (Link Here)

The Young and the Restless

While travel with children can be taxing, not one of the four in our group posed a challenge. Each shared where they could, and when they could not, found plenty of other things to do, first in New Orleans, then on the Navigator. It was no long before they fouund the swimming pools, adventure playgrounds and a dozen other kid oriented themes that provided an endless array of entertainment. At one point 15-20 of the young ones performed in a talent with the classic coming from a little girl after her fine performance. When asked what she wanted to become when she grew up, she stated (without a moments hesitation): “A squirrel.”  She is truly SIC Beauty material.

Photo: Cole, Grayson, Christian and Audrey help Kari get started on her birthday celebration.

Visions of Sugar Plums

They was a young speedster named Grayson
Felt going to bed early just hate some
While he tossed in his bed
He drew figures in his head
He then pulled them together and raced one

Beyond the Ship

With three days to explore the sites around Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, it was a welcome relief from the hectic pace aboard ship. On shore we found surfing, snorkeling, waterfall climbing, sun bathing, site seeing, beach side bars and street entertainment. For a peek into just a few of our activities, link into any one of the following photo albums. (Photo Links below).

Photo (Barefoot Beach, Caymans Islands): Joel, Aly, and Sean (snorkel) are visited by a Beach Attendant (some kind of shark warning or something – Sean was keeping a look-out)

A few comments about our time in New Orleans appear at the bottom of this post.

It was an awesome trip that left us all slightly winded as well as four of our crew a whole year older. At some point in the next few years, perhaps we can plan a reprise. If you happen to have a Limerick, poem or anecdote about our trip, our group, or the people you met along the way, please pass it along and it will be added to this post.  Since posting yesterday, I have already heard from several people we met along the way. I hope I have now caught most of the spelling and grammatical errors.

Cheers,
Harold

Links to Photo Albums

Pardon Me, Would You Like to Dance?  (Link Here)

Welcome to Jamaica Man (Link Here)

Touring Around Cozumel  (Link Here)

A Cayman Beach Day  (Link Here)

A Navigator Birthday  (Link Here)

Family Photos  (Link Here)
(includes several shots in New Orleans)

Karaoke Championships (Link Here)

Lynn on Stage  (Link Here)

Dance Scenes (Link Here)
(I erred and added this album twice. I will leave in
as each have different photos and comments. Will fold
into one post when I have a chance.)

Friends we made along the way  (Link Here)

Rice University and Sick Beauty  (Link Here)

Link to Bourbon Street Photo Album: Click Here

For more excellent photos by our travel companions
Paulette and Roberto, please link to the Nichele Portrait Studio Blog
(Link Here)

March 7, 2013
Victoria, British Columbia
Canada

Dear Family and Friends,

Home safe and sound after barely escaping some of the difficult weather throughout the central United States and Canada West to Alberta. We were stuck in Calgary for a few hours while awaiting a de-icing truck, but better to get the ice off before we took off than to have dropped it on one of those unsuspecting oil patch millionaires. We imagine a few of you may have likewise experienced weather delays along the way.

The photo galleries and travelogue of our recent trip is currently in progress and most items will be uploaded by March 14. To get started I have added a few photos to this blog post as well as attaching the start of the photo links on the open Facebook Page.

Over the course of two week trip we were able to catch a good sampling of photos of many of the fine people we met and of the places we visited. If you received one of the McNeill Life Stories cards or have otherwise found this blog and were in New Orleans or onboard the Navigator, you will very likely find your photo in one of the ‘rouges galleries’.

The photos include people from many different States, Provinces and Countries. If you find your photo, please add your name and a few comments. We can then make contact, perhaps join each other as Facebook friends, as you never know when our paths may again cross in this very small world. Oh, and thank you (all) for being so understanding of our rather raucous Sic Beauty@ crew.

Following are two photos which include most of our immediate family and friends bound together with the Birthday and Sic Beauty@ Tour Group.

Regards,
Harold and Lynn

NOTE: Click on this story to open in Travelogue Section.

Family Day on the Mississippi Paddle Wheeler Natchez

Photo (Natchez Studio): Cathy MacGregor, Chris, Christine and Audrey LeClair, Kari and Grayson Walker, Harold and Lynn McNeill, Jay McNeill

Family and Friends on a Sic Beauty Fun Night Tour aboard the
Navigator of the Seas

(Photo by Paulette Nichele) (Bottom Row, LtoR)  Jeremy Nichele, Harold McNeill, Jay McNeill, Lynn McNeill and Lucas Copplestone
(Top Row, LtoR): Roberto Nichele, Carl and Julie Joosse, Alysha Yakimishyn, Sean McNeill and Joel Sherlock.

Missing from these photos: Paulette (always behing the lens) Nichele, Brandy Barnes (of the YMCA fame) and Paul Hetherton. The young ones, Cole and Christian Joosse were safely in the hands of one of the many fine child care workers on board the Navigator. 

For more excellent photos by our travel companions
Paulette and Roberto, please link to the Nichele Portrait Studio Blog
(Link Here)

Link to Facebook Bourbon Street Photo Album: Click Here    Chapter 1: The Story of Bourbon Street (scroll to footer)

ORIGINAL POST

Family and Friends
Birthday and Sic Beauty@ Tour 2013
February 20 – March 4, 2013

Climb aboard as our family, the McNeill’s, Walker’s, LeClair’s, and friends, head out for a seven day adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas as we cross the Gulf of Mexico and Carribbean with stops in Falmouth, Jamaica – George Town, Grand Cayman – Cozumel, Mexico as well as several days in that renewed gem of Louisiana, New Orleans.

(Note: Since posting this travelogue, we have been joined by fifteen friends of the family. An awesome group of adventure seekers.)

Post Photos: Destination photos in the post taken from the Web.  Family photo below taken by Nichele Studios, Port Alberni, British Columbia.

Following on the amazing voyage aboard the Freedom of the Seas in 2010 in which we celebrated Christine and Chris’s wedding, we have been looking forward to a return engagement, this time with Audrey, Grayson and other kids who always inspire we older folk to spend more time looking at life and the world through fresh eyes.

On the way in and out, we will spend several days soaking up the sites and sounds of New Orleans as we mosey around Bourbon Street, the French Quarter eating Cajun Food, listening to Street Musicians, sampling the Fine Wines and other exotic drinks as well as taking in many other attractions that, we are told, makes New Orleans “like no other city in the world with its history, charm and European flair.”

On board the Navigator, one of the ten largest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, we will be treated to the usual array of fine food, service, entertainment and relaxation as we make our way around the Gulf and Caribbean. There will be lots of time to wear off some of the food and drink while rock climbing, ice skating, swimming, golfing or just plane walking around that massive upper deck.

The clubs and evening theatre, with special entertainment every night, will keep everyone hopping until the wee hours of the morning (lookout Sean, you will have a lot competition on the dance floor with that young nephew of yours pushing his sixth birthday).  Oh, and speaking of birthdays, we will be celebrating a very special birthday for one young woman in our family, Kari Walker’s Big “40”.

The group booking provides prices that cannot be matched:

Superior Deluxe with Balcony: (total including all taxes/fees)
$1079 per person (3rd person   $369.00)
Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony: $969.00 p/p
Grand Suite: $1479 per person   $369 for 3rd/4th person
Ocean View and Inside Staterooms also available

Link here for Cruise Details   (May 28, 2012: Lynn is sorting out the problem with this link, in the meantime just give her a call at the office or text on her cell – numbers below)

Bookings for Air and Hotels in New Orleans can be arranged.  We will update everyone with the hotels in New Orleans that provide a central location and competitive rates.

Due to earlier life family and job commitments I had to skip an opportunity to visit New Orleans and the Mardi Gras with my long-time buddy, Herb Craig. This time, I shall not miss this opportunity.

Harold McNeill

Link Here to Lynn’s Web Site
or you may contact Lynn direct: Work: 250-656-5441; Cell: 250-893-1033

The following links were made to Web based Photos before our tour began:

New Orleans Link to information and photos

George Town Link to information and photos

Cozumel Link to information and photos

Falmouth Link to information and photos

George Town, Grand Cayman

Falmouth, Jamaica

Cozumel, Mexico

Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Toulouse and Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Street Musician

Cajun Food and Music

Chapter 1: Bourbon Street: Late Wednesday Evening

After the kids (most in their thirties) and grandkids (five and under) fell asleep following a hard day of searching for alligators in the swamps east of New Orleans, Lynn and I snuck out for a taste of Bourbon Street as we old folks must do something besides sleep (there is plenty of time for that later).

At our first stop Sean, our new bartender friend, poured a couple of stiff drinks to get our old bones working then things started to warm up as twenty or so Minnesotians and a lone Michiginian, along with a sprinkling of other late night bar fly’s from across the US and Canada, who stopped by were well on their way. It was not long before we ended up in the heart of the French Quarter on Bourbon Street.

Just saying, but Bourbon Street and the French Quarter outclasses Las Vegas by every measure. Quality bands playing in every second bar, Cajun food that that just wouldn’t quit, inexpensive drinks, along with hundreds of friendly, easy going types just soaking in the sites and sounds. Remember, this is after the Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl have managed to suck up a lot of the night life.   Oh, and by way of comparison with Las Vegas, one single clang from slot machine, no one hassling you to buy a time share or the man or woman of your choice (a kind of time share I guess), a picture of with Elvis and although he still lives in Las Vegas they do have a statue of him on Bourbon Street.

In New Orleans (perhaps all of Louisiana for all we know) there appear to be few liquor laws, nor a minimum age for purchasing liquor. People as young as our Grandson Grayson (5) could sip away on a glass of wine if his parents allowed. It seems rather telling that in every place we have visisted around the world, the best behaved people are in Countries, States, Provinces and Cities whose liquor laws are very liberal.

With the bars packed and the streets full of people carrying drinks from one entertainment spot to the next, we never once ran into an obnoxious drunk or anyone, young or old, acting in a rowdy manner. Police were present (two on horseback and four walking), which was an almost non-existent presence considering the number of people.  Can you imagine such a scene taking place in Victoria or Vancouver? The riot squad would be forming up on a side street just waiting for the word.

At some point after 1:00 am, we meandered home through throngs of people who had yet to show any sign of wanting to call it quits. Oh to be young again so that we could have stayed out a bit longer, but we knew the kids would be worried if we stayed out to late.

When we arrived at our hotel, we peeked in and the little darlings were all tucked in and sound sleep. Such good kids! We are indeed very lucky grandparents.

Link to Bourbon Street Photo Album: Click Here

Harold and Lynn

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Comments (2)

  • Christine
    February 26, 2012 at 1:12 am |

    Soooo excited!!

Leave a comment

 

Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother