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Cruising with Hattitude

April 27th through May 2nd, 2004

(Updated with additional photos June 3rd, 2004)

Gail Fluskey (Jill's photos, row 1, photo 1, on left), Queen of the Vancouver Violets, arranged a wonderful five-day cruise for approximately 90 red hatters.  There were three hats from Oregon - Donna Everett of the Sparkle Sisters (See Donna Everett's photos, row 1 with red hat)Jill's photos, row 6, photo 3), and me, Queen Jill.  Joan surprised me with a fabulous red hat cat (Jill's photos, row 8, photo 4).   Thank you, Joan, I love it!

The cruise originated at San Pedro Harbor in Los Angeles.  We boarded the Norwegian Sun April 27th and cruised for two days before arriving at our first port, Seattle.  As always, it is such fun to be around red hatters.  Though we just met, it seemed like we had been friends forever.  In a couple of cases, it was like we had been friends or sisters in a previous lifetime.

What fun to have twin red hatters on board - Velma and Verna from the Cherry Tarts in California (Jill's photos, row 1, photos 2 & 3).  They definitely doubled our pleasure.  Desiree (Jill's photos, row 1, photo 2) not only was celebrating her birthday month, but was instrumental in arranging card and board games for the after midnight crowd.

One thing I especially liked about this cruise was the "freestyle dining."  We didn't have to eat at a scheduled time or place, unless it was a pre-planned red hat dinner.  We could eat anytime we wanted, in any dining room we wanted.  There were two main dining rooms and about seven specialty restaurants.  I dined in one specialty restaurant - East Meets West, which served incredibly delicious Asian cuisine.  And I had a most charming and interesting dinner companion with whom to share it.

We had some rough seas the first couple of days.  I believe it was the first evening when about 30 hatters were seasick and couldn't make it to dinner.  

Our second port was Victoria, B.C.   I was so excited to finally have the famous high tea at the Empress Hotel (see Donna Everett's photos).  Gail Fluskey and I had planned to take a taxi from the ship to the hotel, but when Gail saw the antique Ford, that was it.  (See Gail Fluskey's photos, row 2, photo 2)  We had so much fun waiving at people along the route, as they scurried to take our picture while we were still in view.  We later heard that all of Victoria was talking about the two of us and were wondering who we were.

Every night there was a show going on in every showroom.  The main Stardust showroom had very talented and professional acts ranging from comedy to big production numbers.  In two smaller, intimate lounges, there were singers and pianists.  In Dazzle, a fun nightclub/discothèque, they had a 50s and 60s party and played games such as the Not So Newlywed Game and other fun and games.

My favorite spot was the Observation Lounge on Deck 12.  Every night I went up to listen to my favorite duo, Twice as Nice, an extremely talented married couple.  I became their number one groupie.   Westley Stevens, the husband, was formerly with The Commodores and The Stylistics in the 70s, two of my favorite groups.  He is brilliant on the keyboard and the electronic sound effects.  I learned that he wrote the hit song for The Stylistics entitled "You Make Me Feel Brand New".  It was one of my favorites.   His wife Shelly Dartez has the most amazing voice.  She has definitely become my American Idol.  (See Jill's photos, rows 7 & 8).

I missed the PJ party and the Chippendales take off - Ship'n'Males(See Gail Fluskey's and Sue Macleod's photos below.)

Here' s a quote from Sue Macleod:  " Such a good time was had by all....the shrieks of laughter and hand clapping encouraged by the court jester, the world's youngest bosun, the virility of the younger members of the crew, all I can say is "Wow!!!"   Thank you Lord for the opportunity to remember what young and virile looked and felt like.....to touch those firm muscled bodies did my heart good.  The pictures reflect the emotions of all that enjoyed the show. My greatest fascination was with the sea of Red Hatters that held no restraint to their desires.  I will never look at "crew' in the same way again - I will always think "Hmmmph - I wonder what they look like with their clothes off!!"

And here is a quote regarding the Ship'n'Males from Marie Miller of the Red Queens in Chatsworth, CA:  "The evening started out harmless enough...  Everyone had their options to go to the early production show or the late, eat where they wanted, just peruse all available entertainment or eateries on the ship.  Then many of us went to the 'disco' area, where there was a karaoke set going on, very entertaining, lots of great talent.  My friend and I decided not to stay for the Ship'n'Males.  Just didn't think we wanted to see that type of show.  We are from L.A., not prudes by any stretch of the imagination, but it just didn't seem like something we would enjoy."

"But our Red Hat 'sisters' corralled us as we tried to leave after karaoke, and they said 'Oh no, stay because the fun is about to begin!'  So we found seats in the middle of the audience, where we wouldn't be too close and could make a getaway if we were so inclined.  We didn't have any real money with us, just our cruise ship cards, so we definitely did not plan on being participants in this event.  But then the show started...and it was a real hoot!  The guys were all employees from the ship, one was the DJ, a couple were stewards, a few were waiters...all very cute and very entertaining!  The ladies went wild, and money was seen waving throughout the room.  Needless to say, we did not leave that show before its conclusion.  The guys were adorable, and the ladies enthusiasm added to the entertainment."

"And our seats weren't as "safe" as we thought, because at one point one of the dancers danced his way into the audience, hopping from chair to chair, and ended up on my friend Emily's chair, right next to me, giving her an up close and personal dance.  I haven't laughed that much in years!  He took her red hat off her head, put it on his and stood in her chair, with her still in it, dancing and gyrating.  The room went wild! And as my friend was laughing and saying my name.  I had my head down and my eyes covered!  It was too funny.  I know there were cameras flashing, so if anyone caught that picture I would love to see it!  We had so much fun, and meeting all the wonderful ladies was just spectacular!  Hope to see you all soon!"

Our last port was Vancouver, B.C.  We disembarked in the morning, and many of us took a motor coach tour of that magnificent city and historic sites beyond.  Some of us spent the night at the Holiday Inn, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and final conversations with our new red hat friends.  The next day we headed home - either by plane, train or bus.

We can't thank Gail Fluskey enough for planning and arranging this fantastic cruise for us.  We'll be looking forward to what she comes up with next year!  

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)


These photos courtesy of Queen Jill of the Crimson Crones, Portland, Oregon.

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These photos courtesy of Gail Fluskey of the Vancouver Violets, Vancouver, WA.

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These photos courtesy of Evelyn Bordon of the Mad Hatters, Woodland Hills, CA.

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These photos courtesy of Donna Everett of the Sparkle Sisters of Oregon.    
May 10th, 2004

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These photos courtesy of Wacque Jacque Chambers of the Magic Hatters of Idaho.    May 17th, 2004

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These photos courtesy of Sue Macleod of the Vancouver Violets, Vancouver, B.C.   June 3rd, 2004

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