Sir Stryker  |  Los Angeles, CA  |  Singer Songwriter / Pop / Inspirational
Members: Stryker


 

NEWS
*DUE TO A PROBLEM WITH EMAIL SERVICE, THIS STRYKER REPORT IS IN PLAIN TEXT WITH LITTLE FORMATTING. Hopefully this will be resolved by the next issue.   ~stryker

 
THE STRYKER REPORT
CRUISING THE WORLD WITH PIANO ARTIST, STRYKER

 
THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES, Part I
 July 23
rd - August 3rd 2013
Aboard the Holland America ship, the ms Noordam
 

 
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A NOTE FROM STRYKER

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS STRYKER
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THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES, Part I
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~ A NOTE FROM STRYKER ~ 
I’ve had a short but fun vacation with my family. I wish it were longer but I am an entertainer and the show must go on. In the 2 1/2 weeks with the family, I had a few ups and downs.  I paid off my Mazda Miata Convertible (YEAH!!) only to have the clutch go out the next morning (BOO!!) and incurred a towing and repair cost of $400. I had a great day with my mom, sister, niece and nephews at Playtime Pizza, a children’s place with go-carts, laser tag, miniature golf, bumper cars, arcade games and, of course, pizza.  On another day I took the nephew’s to see a movie called Pacific Rim (in the same vein as Transformers).  My last day with the family was spent at a theme park for my nephew’s (Bentley) ninth birthday....they grow so quickly. We had an amazing day together (especially after all me and my family have been through this year). When I am down because my career is not moving ahead fast enough or I find myself without a person with which to share my life and love, I remember that I am blessed with an amazing family that triumphs together through the obstacles life throws in front of us.
 
~ WHERE IN THE WORLD IS STRYKER ~
If you’d like to travel with me in the future, here is my itinerary.  And, of course, let me know if you are coming aboard!  I would love to see you in my piano bar; so if you have not scheduled your cruise for this year, come and join me! (subject to change):
 
Noordam - Mediterranean July 24 - Sept 6
Amsterdam - Grand Asia/S. Pacific Sept 20 - Dec 4
Rotterdam - Mediterranean/S. Asia January 8 - May 10
NOTE: Dates and ships are subject to change at HALs discretion or Illness/Injury. 
 
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THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES, Part I
 
 
JULY 22: Travel to Barcelona, Spain

As many of you know (who follow the Stryker Reports), travel is always an adventure for me...especially airports. Sometimes it’s my error (late to the airport, etc); but, more often it is thrust upon me and out of my control. So goes the start of this adventure.

The luggage was in the car and my dear mom drove me to the airport. She dropped me off at the curb and headed for work. I dragged my two large suitcases, a carry on and my “man-bag” up to the self check-in kiosk (I tried to check-in online yesterday; but, for a reason to be revealed, it would not let me). I looked up my ticket and it said I had to go to the agent to receive my ticket....and so I did. It’s a small airport and I had ample time (about an hour) to get my ticket, go through security and arrive at my gate with plenty of time to spare. I waited about 10 minutes until it was my turn to see the agent.  I put my first piece of luggage on the scale as she ran my information. Then she said, “I’m sorry, but your ticket has not been purchased.” “What? I have the information right here” (a copy of my itinerary printed from the computer), I told her. “That is only a reservation...you have not actually paid for the ticket,” she replied. OMG, now that 50 minutes ticking away didn’t seem like such a long time; and, if I miss this flight then I’ll miss my flight to Barcelona and eat up all the spare time I have planned there to spend with David and Sue (who are flying down from England to visit me) and to enjoy the nightlife.

I immediately looked up the emergency number supplied by HAL and pulled out my iPhone. It so happened that the person responsible for booking tickets was the one who answered the phone at HAL.  I explained the situation and she responded, “I’m sure it’s paid for.” But after looking it up, she then let me know that somehow my ticket was overlooked. She immediately electronically paid the ticket and in a moment, the ticket agent printed my boarding pass and accepted my luggage. I only had about 25 minutes left to go through the TSA checkpoint (which took me 15 minutes) and arrive at the gate.  I walked right on the plane, strapped in and breathed a sigh of relief. Then, I thought, “How do things like this always happen in my life” and smiled over an inner burst of laughter.

As usual, I was fast asleep before the wheels left the runway and when I woke, we were 15 minutes out from Atlanta, Georgia.  There, I had a short layover and then, without incident, boarded the plane for the nine hour flight to Barcelona. I sleep well on planes so I would nap until my ears heard the rattle of the food cart; then, I would quickly wake to eat and watch a movie until I fell asleep again. To me, a nine hour flight is only about two hours of awake time....lucky, I guess.

JULY 23: Barcelona, Spain

My flight arrived at 8am this morning. I grabbed a taxi and in 10 minutes was at the checkin desk at the Hotel. It was too early to checkin so I parked my luggage and was ready to go to the restaurant for breakfast when I ran into Ron, a HAL travel guide, with whom I have sail before. He knew of a local convenience store with a small cafe; so, we walked over to the store, ordered coffee’s and danishes and sat and chatted for a bit. I realized there was nothing here and we were far from the city.  My excitement for having extra time in Barcelona was now diminished as travel to and from the city would be timely and expensive.

When we returned to the hotel, a room had come available.  I moved my luggage in and soon I received a text on my phone.  It was from David and Sue who had just made it to their hotel. I began to calculate my next 24 hours. A taxi ride into the city to spend the day with David and Sue would be sixty Euros round trip; then, to return to the city to enjoy the nightlife would be another sixty Euros; and, the trip to the ship in the morning would be another thirty Euros...not to mention the amount of time I would waste in a taxi. After a brief discussion with David, he reserved a room for me at the hotel in which they were staying, right in the heart of Barcelona.  I grabbed my luggage, drug it down to the taxi and headed into the city.  A thirty minute ride (which would have been a total of 2 1/2 hours if I stayed by the airport) and I was hugging my dear friends and checking into the hotel. While I waited for my room to readied, the three of us had cocktails and and enjoyed each other’s company. We spent the day together exploring, taking pictures and eating. It was a great day with my British friends.

Spain is known for late club times (or actually early) with the dance clubs not filling up until after 1:00am.  I headed out to the nightclub scene and the first place I stopped (around midnight) only had 10 people in it. I headed to another bar and waited there, meeting a new acquaintance and returning to the packed dance club (the first one I tried) after 1:30am.  It was a night of dancing, drinks and loads of fun as I enjoyed my last night before joining the ship.

JULY 24: Barcelona, Spain

David, Sue and I met for breakfast and I did a little shopping for earrings (I lost an earring and needed to replace it) and a fan for my piano bar.  Then, it was time to head for my new, temporary home aboard the ms Noordam.

I arrived on the ship and faced the stressful day that is usually associated with the first day on the ship. Safety meetings, drills, rehearsals, unpacking and setting up my piano bar. It was all made better when I finally got to see my dear friend, Jodie O’Shea (HAL Cats singer), who will be sailing with me for the next three weeks. I took two naps to try and catch up on sleep and then it was time for my first night’s piano bar performance.

The schedule is a bit different on this ship as HAL has introduced new 35 minute cast shows that will stage three times each night: 6:30, 8:00 and 10:00pm.  So, my piano bar will open 30 minutes earlier than on the other ships, at 8:30p. Tonight, however, there is only one show, a welcome aboard show, that showcases all the entertainment on the ship, entitled Listen To The Music. I opened my bar at 8:30 and within 15 minutes it was packed. WOW, what a great first set. I ended the set at 9:15, rushed to change into a flashier outfit, and headed backstage for the 9:30 show.  My performance of Shout went well and the audience was full of energy with applause and cheers.  This is a younger, mostly European crowd and the energy shows it. 

I returned to the bar and immediately after the show, my piano bar was so packed that people were standing in the hallways and trying to get a glimpse of the pianoman through the entrance doors (this piano bar is in a room that has two, double door entrances....quite cramped). It was awesome and I’m looking forward to what is to come on this cruise.

I had planned to go back into Barcelona after work; but, I was just too exhausted. I spent some time in the Officer’s Bar with Jodie and met her friends. It was great being reunited with her and I look forward to getting to know some of my new friends better.

JULY 25: Barcelona, Spain

I woke this morning and made my way off the ship to meet up with David and Sue. We spent the morning together, once again, exploring and finding a place with ample food and drinks. It was soon time for our sad goodbyes; yet, with the joy to know that soon, we will meet again. I am so humbled that they would spend the money and time to fly from England to Spain, just to see me.....how awesome is that!

I returned to the ship and slept through much of the remainder of my day. Then it was time for Sing-along with Stryker in the piano bar. With the new schedule, I perform from 8:30 to 10:00 (that’s a long set without a break); then I take a break during the 10p show and return to my piano at 10:30p and play until 12:30 or 1:00p. That’s a two to two and a half hour set....way too long and exhausting; but, if I split up that time with a break, say at 11:45p, many guests will leave for bed and I will return to a half-empty bar. So, I just don’t take a break.

Another night in the officer’s bar. Another night with Jodie and friends. Another night of exhaustion and much needed rest.

JULY 26: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

I woke today feeling so unorganized.  Usually by day three I have everything unpacked, suits pressed and I'm ready for my contract.  However, for some reason, I am still not completely unpacked, my suits are in a stack on my couch, my room is an unorganized mess (as opposed to an organized mess) and I feel as though I am running behind on everything.  This is probably a result of being docked in Barcelona the first two days with late nights (well, early mornings) keeping me too tired all day to accomplish my tasks.  

So, last night Jodie asked me to join her and a couple of the cast, at the beach for a relaxing day.  This morning, however, I thought that I should just stay on the ship and get my room unpacked and organized so I could just get on with my life on the ship.  Well, when the call came to meet on the gangway, I gave in and decided to go ashore.  I've never visited this port and won't be returning; so, I better take advantage of it.  Besides, tomorrow is a sea day and I can take care of everything then.

Jodie, three of the cast dancers (one male, two female) and I met on the gangway for our trip to the beach.  For some reason, we decided to ride the local bus.  That was a pain in the, well, you know what I mean.  It took forever for our bus to arrive and then there was standing room only.  People were shoving and it was so packed, we had to stand the entire time.  But, after about a half an hour, we arrived.  I quickly bought some flip-flops and sunscreen, then we hit the supermarket for sandwiches and beverages and headed down to find a spot under an umbrella (for a fee, of course) on the beach.  We broke out the sandwiches, mixed some cocktails, watched the variety of beach combers, and told stories.  It was a great time and I was so happy to be reunited with my dear friend, Jodie O'shea.  Plus, as and added bonus, I have added three new ship friends.  It was very hot, but tolerable, today. I kept hidden under a beach umbrella with a cool cocktail in my hand...what a tough life. 

Much sooner than I wanted, the time had come for me to return to the ship.  It was a late night port (we didn't sail until midnight) so the cast was in no rush to return to the ship and Jodie didn't perform until 9:30p (so, she had an extra hour since I started at 8:30). I needed, not only, to clean up; but, also, to try and sleep off one too many cocktails.  I made it back to the ship around 6:30, showered and plopped down on my bed by 6:45, woke at 7:45, dressed and was down in the piano bar by 8:30 to begin my evening. 

The bar was totally empty at 8:30; but, as soon as the show let out, it quickly filled beyond capacity.  It was another loud, energetic night.  As a matter of fact, it was so loud I started getting noise complaints from the guest rooms on the deck below the piano bar.  The bar server came over to me and said, "We're getting noise complaints from the deck below, can we bring the noise down a little?"  Really?  A bar that seats 60 guests, with about 80 guest packed in the room and I'm suppose to keep it quiet?  Well, it wasn't quiet and it remained that way until I closed the bar (to the boos of the guests) at 1:00 am.  I was suppose to do a name-that-tune; but, the bar was hopping and we were having a great time so I didn't want to slow it down with a game.  It was another long day, long night and now it's time to head to the officer's bar to hang out with friends.  Tomorrow is a sea day so I can sleep in! Yea!

JULY 27: At Sea (Mediterranean)

It's a sea day and I finally got my room organized, clothes pressed and feel like I'm settled into my home of six weeks.  I put my CDs in the shops and had the EM (Event Manager, my supervisor) get some workout mats from the fitness center to place under my piano stool and to cover the exposed floor under the piano with the hopes of muffling the sound and the stomping of my foot that caused the suite below to complain last night.

I watched a portion of the new cast show tonight.  The vocals are brilliant and the show is dressed with beautiful staging and costumes.  HAL is trying a new format of shows. Each show is only 35 minutes (compared to 45 minutes, previously) and there are three shows each night: 6:30p, 8p and 10p.  It seems to be working well for me with the exception that it makes me work longer than I'm use to.  I know, I know, you think I don't work that much; however, singing for four hours at 100 percent performance level every single night is way too much on a singers voice.  Even Elton John doesn't have to perform like that....and he makes a slightly bigger salary than me....LOL.  If you add it up, with the extra hour of vocals each night, I will be performing an extra 46 hours in six weeks; or, an additional 12 days.  But, the show must go on and I'm loving the energy level and standing room only crowds (well, actually, there isn't even standing room some of the time).

Tonight was the first formal night of this cruise.  Of course, as always, it was my Broadway night with "Hits of Broadway" at 8:30p and "Showtune Sing-along" at 10:30p.  Both were packed and I gave it my best; but, my voice cracked a few times and there were songs I just avoided singing all together.  

The highlight of the evening was Ray.  Ray is a bartender that was the first to perform in my piano bar when I took the position in 2009 on the ms Rotterdam.  He was so funny (and a decent singer) that the guests absolutely fell in love with him....as did I.  I begged the beverage managers not to rotate him out of my bar while I was on that ship (the bar staff rotate to different bar areas each cruise to give them all a chance to make better tips in the more active bars).  They complied and Ray was in my bar during my whole contract.  I haven't sailed with him since I completed that contract in early 2009 and was so surprised and elated when I saw him on this ship.  So, I called him up to the piano and handed him the mic.  It was like we had been working together all along. He brought the house down with "Help Me Make It Through The Night."  The clock then struck 12 midnight and it was one of the guest's, Karen, birthday.  Her husband reminded me and we all sang Happy Birthday to her....she was so surprised that I think she was tearing up.  Her family have attended my bar every night.

I had to close early, even though I had a nearly full house, to protect my voice. So, to the dismay of my guests, I closed at 12:30a.  I then went to the OB (officer's bar) to see if Jodie or any of my new friends were there; but, they were not so I retired to my room after another great night in the piano bar.

JULY 28: Marseille, France

Marseille....a place often heard of as a sought after tourist destination in the French Riviera. So, as I finished breakfast on the back deck, I walked to the rail to look upon this place of beauty.  WOW, was I sorely disappointed. From the deck, all I saw was a huge port, scattered beige buildings and beige dirt landscape (with a few trees) as far as my eyes could see.  I pondered, for some time, of not even leaving the ship.  But, I decided that I'm only scheduled here once and must, at least, ride the shuttle into the city and give the place a chance.

My voice is almost gone this morning; so, I had two cups of green tea with honey and lemon.  I will do as little talking today as possible (which is difficult for me) and hope I can perform well tonight.  The first three nights of this cruise have been high energy, packed room and 4.5 hours of performing with only one 20 minute break.  I should pace my voice; but, I have a difficult time not performing at 100 percent and giving my best when the guests are so into the show. I know, however, that if my voice is this stressed after four days, what will it be like after six weeks....ugh.  The only saving grace is that it is Guest Talent Night tonight and hopefully there will be a lot of guests performing and I won't have to.

After traveling down the gangway, I signed my room number to the clipboard on the shuttle bus that allows them to charge me $16 (US) for a round-trip ticket.  I rode the 20 minutes into the heart of the city where we passed an old, beautifully striped, cathedral.  Other than that, the entire trip was through road and building construction....not a pleasant sight.

The shuttle dropped me off in the city center by the harbor.  Of all the days to choose to go ashore hatless, I would pick the windiest day we've had.  My hair was dancing on top of my head like a Cirque du Solei show. The harbor was filled with sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes.  Across the harbor and high on the peak of a hill was a cathedral that towered over the city.  It was the "other" famous Notre Dame.  This is the third "Notre Dame" that I have seen and yet I still have never seen the "hunchback."  Disappointing.  But, the cathedral, with the large golden statue that seemed to keep watch over the city, was absolutely stunning.  I happened upon a small tourist train (ran on wheels, not tracks) that toured the city and climbed up to Notre Dame; however, the line was so long that it would probably steal, at least, an hour or more of my day.....so I opted to just walk around the harbor area.  My goal was to find a coffee, crepe and wi-fi.  I found all three; but never all three in the same place.  The harbor area is quite nice but I don't believe the people here believe in color.  Every building was light earth-tone colors....no variety.  It is an artsy place, however, with crafts stands, artists and brightly colored animals (statues) spread across the walkways.

I finally found a place where I just had a coffee, looked over the harbor at Notre Dame and typed this entry into the Stryker Report.  I will save the tour of the famed cathedral for my next visit.

(NOTE: As I am typing this, several men in black and yellow costumes, took to the center of the street and began performing a martial arts routine...capuella)

Tonight in the piano bar was a little slower (though a full house) than the past few days.  It seemed that this group of guests are not as excited about the Guest Talent Night and listening to their fellow cruisers,  We did have two guests that carried the night: Terry and Sue both gave great performances.  I had to end the night early (12:30 am) again due to my voice not holding up.  I think it's throat infection #5 of the past 18 months.

I hung out in the officer's bar where I found out we have an Entertainment Department meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30a. Jodie, Michael and I made big plans for tomorrow (we all love Monte Carlo); and, I decided not to make it a late night in the OB to get rested up for tomorrow.

JULY 29: Monte Carlo, Monaco

HELLO MONTE CARLO....goodbye Monte Carlo.  Jodie, Michael and I had plans to eat breakfast, attend our Entertainment meeting, then quickly head off ship, to enjoy a full day in this amazing port.  However, before I even saw them at breakfast, the announcement came over the speakers that we would not dock in Monte Carlo.  I looked out the window and we were aside the dock.  Monte Carlo was practically in arms reach; however, the winds were picking up and making it dangerous to keep the ship in the harbor.  Furthermore, the weather forecast for the rest of the day predicted strong winds.  As we left the dock, the winds hit gail force status at 58 knots. That's hurricane force.  I sat on the back deck watching chairs and tables being blown over and dragged across the deck.  A pontoon boat in the harbor capsized, guests were loosing their hats and I was afraid I would see someone get picked up and thrown overboard (thank goodness that didn't happen).  I received word later that a tornado hit a hotel in Nice (just a few miles down the coast).  I feel fortunate to cruise with a company that won't take chances and chooses to keep us safe in all situations.

So, today became a sea day and I took the opportunity to get my throat checked out at the infirmary.  And, as I guessed, it's another throat infection.  I guess it's time to get my tonsils yanked out. The doc started me on an antibiotic "Z-pack" which actually made my stomach slightly sick.  I spent a lot of time talking with guests on the back deck and typing this Stryker Report.

Tonight was "Stryker Goes Country" and as soon as the 8:00 main show let out, my bar packed to standing room only.....for "country" night.  I put my best effort in to singing the country songs but the voice was almost gone.  I transposed several of the higher range vocals to a lower key so I could at least get through them.  The 10:30p set was full at the beginning but dwindled down to about 2/3rds full by midnight.  My energetic Dutch and Belgium guests were rockin' the night.  We even did several songs (popular in Holland) that I picked up while visiting Rene and Natasja Froger.  They were the highlight of the evening and helped give my voice a rest.

After closing at 12:30a (not because of a lack of guests, but because my voice just couldn't handle anymore abuse) I went to the officer's bar and chatted briefly with my dear friend Jodie.  But, I knew I needed to rest and returned to the room, ordered room service and watched a movie. 

JULY 30: Livorno, Italy (Florence/Pisa)

Today is IPM (in port manning) for me so I can't get off the ship.  It is a bit disappointing as I had hoped to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa today....one of the few world renowned iconic sites I have yet to see; but, I must stay on the ship...besides, I need to rest and heal my throat.  I will, however, return here in January and can hopefully see it then (if I don't have IPM).

We had an Entertainment Meeting (that was postponed from yesterday) this morning at 9am.  It was uneventful.

I spent most of the day in my room; however, in the evening I spent time chatting with my Dutch/Belgium couple from last night and we were joined by another couple that have been consistently in my bar each night.

Despite the fact that my throat is a mess and I can barely force out the vocals, it was another rockin' night in the piano bar.  Fortunately, it was "Sing-along" all night so I passed out the books, would get the song started and then let the guests sing while I kept my mouth closed and just played the piano.  With a standing-room-only crowd already filling my bar, the 
sanctioned "Pub Crawl" (with about 30 guests participating) crammed in my bar for three songs.  The bar was stuffed like a can of sardines for about 15 minutes and three songs....then they crawled along to the next bar.

Before my night ended, my throat was burning, I cracked on several notes; but, my guests stayed with me until the end and even then didn't want me to close.....neither did I; however, I can't keep pushing my voice or it will take forever to heal and I don't want to go through this for the next six weeks.

For those of you who read the Stryker Report often, you probably wonder why I go to the officer's bar so often on this ship and not so much in the past.  Let me explain...on this (a Vista Class) ship, the officer's bar is just down the hall from my room and opens onto the bow of the ship (where we can sit on the bow at picnic tables under the stars).  On the other ships, the OB is down on the crew deck with no outside access.  So, it's not about going to the bar, it's about relaxing on the bow of the ship after an energetic night in the piano bar.  After I closed the piano bar, it was a quick stop at the officer's bar and then back to the room for a room-service cheeseburger, a TV show and a good night's sleep. 

JULY 31: At Sea (Mediterranean) 

It's just a sea day (not many of those on this itinerary) and time to relax, sit on the deck talking with guests, watching some TV and typing this Stryker Report.

Formal night tonight and my tails didn't return from the dry cleaner in time for me to wear it.  So, I sported my black tux, white pleated shirt, lavender bow tie/cummerbund combination and a black, sequined hat.
  
Tonight was another packed house in the piano bar as I performed "Oldies, but Goodies."  My throat is the worse it's been and I'm on day three of my Z-pack.  I hope it lets up soon because it just burned through my four hours of performing.  Fortunately, it was "Showtune Sing-along" tonight so I was able to let the guests do more of the singing. No matter how badly I feel, my core group of Dutch, Belgium and German fans keep my spirits up and help me get through the night.

After the piano bar, it was back to the OB for a quick drink, some chatting and making plans to go to the beach tomorrow.

AUG 1: Cagliari, Italy 

Well, today is my first day for some relief from my throat infection.  I am, by no means, cured; but, I can feel that I'm now headed the right direction.

Today we were suppose to port (according to the original itinerary) in Tunisia. However, with the current atmosphere in that part of the world, HAL has changed, not only our trip to Tunisia, but also, our trip to Egypt (which was replaced with Israel). 

I waited for my friends to call so we could head out to the beach; but, the call never came.  I just ended up heading ashore myself (later I found they went to the beach and just forgot me.....not unusual).  It was a typical Italian port: old buildings, narrow winding cobblestone streets, small balconies with flowerpots and small cafes everywhere. 

I walked up the main street from the port and found a small plaza with several cafes.  There I had a coffee, orange juice and spent some time on the internet.  After that, I walked through the streets and alleyways absorbing the the sites and culture and snapping lots of photos. After some time I returned to my home on the seas and prepared for my night ahead.

Tonight, Jodie scheduled a dinner for four of us in the Canaletto (the Italian restaurant on board the ship).  We had a great time together; however, the dinner was at 7p and I work at 8:30p.  So, I had my appetizer, a few bites of my main course (cheese tortellini) before I had to excuse myself to get down to the piano bar.  The food and company was great! 

It was "Guest Talent Night" in the piano bar and quite a few guests performed.  I took my  break at 10p and returned, at 10:30, to an empty room.  This was the first time guests were not waiting for my return, which was probably the result of the "Dessert Extravaganza" tonight....never try to compete against sweets.

Once the show let out (about 10:40), the room filled up for "Anything Goes."  Several guests sang and we had a great surprise.  One of the guest entertainers onboard, Hayden Smith (who does a music show in which he plays several instruments and sings), was sitting in my bar; so, the guests and I encouraged him to perform.  He ran to his room and brought back his saxophone. We performed "Fields of Gold" and "Desperado" with him backing me up with his sax. It was great! I handed my iPhone to a guest so she could record it for me.  I will post it on YouTube for you to watch (go to www.youtube.com/strykerae to see my videos).  Later, my friend Jodie stopped in and we sang "Endless Love" together; and, she also performed "Greatest Love of All."  It was a great night and the guests wouldn't let me end at 12:30a like I wanted to (due to my throat problem); so, I pushed it to 12:50a.

After I closed the bar, I spent some time chatting with Hayden, another guest entertainer and several co-musicians; then, I headed down to the crew mess to hang with some of the bar staffers and a couple of people came back to my room to hang for a while....well, until 5:00a.  We're planning to go to the beach at 11:00a; so, I may need a nap tomorrow.

AUG 2: Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Once again, no beach.  Everyone decided to sleep.  I actually didn't wake up until 11:00 myself.  I decided to just walk in town for my traditional coffee and internet.  I threw on my shorts and tank top, grabbed my bag (with iPad mini in it) and camera; then, headed down the gangway.  After a 10 minute walk into town, I saw a magnet I wanted and realized I didn't bring my wallet.....no money. Ugh! I headed back to the ship and decided to just stay on board.

After napping (for about 20 minutes) and a bite of lunch, I decided to try going into town again....this time with my wallet.  I walked around for a bit, bought my magnets and decided it just looked like the other ports in Italy (except a bit dirtier); so, I went back to the ship to hide from this blistering sun.  It's only in the 80's; but, direct sun is unbearable. The locals are saying this is really cool for this time of year.  I heard a rumor it is suppose to be in the 90's tomorrow; so, lots of sunscreen and water.

Ronald and Karen (guests from Belgium) informed me today that they have booked a cruise to be in my piano bar again in March.  It is so humbling to think that people will spend money, travel and take time out of their lives just to see me.....who the heck am I to deserve that kind of attention so often by so many?

I finally attended a cast show at 6:30. Tonight I saw the cast show "Droom."  It staging and costume were spectacular.  I love the new shows as they have brought the level up quite a few notches. Don't really like the three shows a night as the early show only has about 100 guests in a showroom that seats 900....not a good audience size to bring out the best performance.

Tonight was formal night with "Showstoppers" as my theme.  The room took a while to fill up and then it was barely full.  The second set had great energy but, again, the room was not packed tonight.  Not sure why. 

No OB tonight....just went to my room for a cheeseburger. 

AUG 3: Naples (Pompeii), Italy

I was getting my coffee when the announcement for all crew to go to their stations came over the loud speakers.  It was a general drill....that I forgot was this morning.  I rushed to my room, put on my life vest (and traffic directors hat and poncho) and ran to my station.  It was a short drill, thank goodness.

Jodie and a couple of others and I headed off ship after the drill and sat at a sidewalk cafe all day using the internet. I Facetime'd mom (video chat) but the net was acting up so we didn't get to talk very much.

Some of you may remember my Stryker Report story of Naples from a couple of years ago.  This is where I bought the iPhone that was a piece of wood once I had it in my hand.  Short story, I got people arrested and made and extra $30 after all was said and done.  Well, when I got off the ship, a guy approached me to buy an iPhone or an iPad Mini....to which I respond, "Get away from me!" 

I was asked by the cruise director to be a judge for the "Dancing With The Stars" finale.  Jodie was also a judge.  Of course my extensive knowledge of Ballroom and Latin style dance comes only from the many hours I have watched "Dancing With The Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" with my mom on American TV.  So, I just took it upon myself to try and be funny, rather than a serious judge (that was Jodie's role) of the actual dance moves.  It was a whole lot of fun and I kept the audience laughing.

It was the final night of this cruise and though the crowds were somewhat smaller, my hardcore fans were there closing the bar with me.  It's been a great cruise and I have met some new fans that may prove to be some long-term friends.  On top of that, one of the guest put a beer glass on the bar and encouraged guests to tip me....I ended up with 150 euros.....awesome way to end a cruise.

IN CLOSING

This cruise has been so very exciting, so very exhausting and full of great adventures. And, yet, I am even more excited about the next cruise which has several ports that I have never seen before...including the reason for joining this ship, Venice, Italy! You’ll hear about that in PART 2 (of 4) of the Stryker Report, coming soon to an email box near you!

~Stryker


 
~ STRYKER VIDEOS on YouTube ~
If you haven’t checked out my videos you can simply click on the links below.
 
Access to ALL videos: www.YouTube.com/strykerae
 
   Feelin’ Good      http://youtu.be/dt6Fw-aYZFM
   Cabaret               http://youtu.be/H-ERDm-CB7Y
   You’ll Never Walk Alone      http://youtu.be/kB3w_LqIZec
   Can We Make Love Tonight      http://youtu.be/5OjQaojjDbA
   Entertaining Angels              http://youtu.be/nWAlPxLxiKk
   When I Fall In Love                http://youtu.be/gnCwK_5k0os
(with Holland superstar, RENE FROGER - 2012)
   STRYKER Promo ’09            http://youtu.be/QN1rDH_9xiA
 
 
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MUSIC

PRESS
"The love-child of Elton John & Liberace" -- Piano Bar Owner * "A Genius!" -- Rene Froger, Dutch Superstar * "I put you up with Victor Borge" -- Lester Hamilton, Borge Stage Mgr. * "You are an excellent entertainer and deserve a bigger stage." -- Lorna Luft * "I feel privileged to once again stand next to Stryker's piano and hear his amazing music" -- Lt. Col. Oliver North  — Multiple


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