Friday, January 25, 2013

The Sea Escape

The Sea Escape during her glory years.

What is it about being twenty years old that makes you want to drink?

I had just moved to California the year before, so this would be around 1980.  I was planning a trip back to Miami to visit family and friends.  Truth of the matter is, much as I loved California, I was homesick.  I got on the phone with one of my best friends, Debby.  I called her from the 800 number - the WATS line as it was called in those days - from my desk where I worked at Monex International in Newport Beach.

"Jen, I have this really cool thing for us to do when you visit Miami,"  said Debby. There's this new boat that goes out of the port in Miami called the Sea Escape.  The commercials on TV show huge buffets and night club shows.  It goes to Freeport for the day."

"Wow, that sounds like so much fun.  We can get really tan on the beach and drink beer," I said.

Debby's sister Laura - Travel Agent Extraordinaire - booked the tickets for us with her Travel Agent discount.  It was all set.  Debby, Laura and I were adventure bound!

The Sea Escape was a one day cruise that boarded in the morning, then you ate and drank under the hot sun while speeding across the Atlantic Ocean.  The boat docked in Freeport where - if you had a penchant for gambling - you could lose all your hard earned money on the poker tables and slot machines since Freeport in the Bahamas had gambling.  This was prior to the days of Indian Reservation gambling like the Hard Rock Casino in Ft. Lauderdale.  The Sea Escape was quite popular for this reason.

But Debby, Laura and I were not interested in gambling.  Our interests were pretty simple in those days.  Eat, drink, lay out in the sun and flirt with the boys.

We arrived at the port in Miami quite excited for our adventure.

From left: Me, Debby and Laura

The Sea Escape was a large, clunky rust bucket with lines of people waiting eagerly to board, then get to Freeport and gamble.  Remember that show Jerry Springer?  I think that every single person who had ever been on that show was on the Sea Escape that day.  The buffets were overflowing with copious amounts of food featuring copious amounts of mayonnaise.  The lounge chairs for laying out on were the kind made of cheap plastic webbing.  We loved it.

Me and Laura on the deck of the Sea Escape

"Where's the bar?" I asked as soon as we had settled ourselves on the cheap, rusted plastic deck chairs.

It wasn't long before we had the attention of several of the cute young dudes who worked on the Sea Escape.  I don't really remember what their jobs were but I'm imagining something in the vicinity of cleaning out toilets or busing tables. The nice thing about being cute young chicks is that all your drinks are purchased for you.  One of the guys who was hitting on us was the resident comedian.  And I'm not trying to be flip here.  He really was the night club comedian of the ship whose claim to fame was that he also happened to bear a passing resemblance to Tom Selleck.  He tried out some of his jokes in progress on us.  He wasn't that funny.

When we arrived in Freeport, there was another long, excited line of people waiting to unload the ship for an afternoon of drinking and gambling.  Debby, Laura and I boarded a big yellow school bus that was headed for the beach.  The ride was long, hot and bumpy.  The three of us girls were giggly from our adventure - and all the beer.  We were shrieking in laughter at everything.  A skinny, mangy feral dog crossed the road with a McDonalds bag in his mouth.  We laughed.  From our vantage point on the bus, if we looked in the drivers visor rear view mirror, we could see one of the Jerry Springer refugee's - a woman who looked like she had gone on his show to discuss her addiction to Twinkies.  But the only part of her that was visible in the mirror were her ample breasts and cleavage, swaying and bouncing with every bump in the road.  We shrieked with laughter.

"Which beach you guys wanna go to?" the driver asked.

"Whichever beach gets us out into the sun sooner," said Debby.

We laid out in the hot Freeport sun for hours and drank more beer.  Laura tried convincing us to go shopping at the Duty Free shop next to the casino, but Debby and I wanted to get more sun.  Our dermatologists would thank us in later years as this enabled them to put their children through expensive colleges.

This was in the days prior to our use of Age Correcting Moisturizers

You're probably wondering if we had any energy left by evening.  Of course we did - fortified by more beer.

We made ourselves beautiful after showering and applying Cover Girl makeup in our luxurious room.  We had the foresight to have reserved a room on the Sea Escape - not required for a one day trip.  I'm thinking that criminals in Alcatraz probably had a room similar to this: Bunk bed, metal sink and shower stall.

We went to the nightclub for the evening festivities and watched the not funny comedian make us not laugh.  But we laughed anyway.

Finally, we made it back to Miami to stand in more lines, including the customs line where we almost got thrown into the pokey for mouthing off to one of the customs officials.  Drinking too much beer will do that.

We had a great time together that day. The Sea Escape enjoyed a long life. The ship was renamed a couple of times but came back to South Florida where it sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas every day (except Wednesday) as the Discover Sun until September 6, 2011 when it was sold and broken up into pieces.

One thing I did come away with in the years to come - I gave up beer drinking.  Now my beautiful friends Debby, Laura and I drink fine wine together instead.  When is the next cruise to the Bahamas scheduled?

All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup.