From Russia (and elsewhere) with love!

Anyone who knows us, knows that the two of us like nothing better than walking into a bar or restaurant, and feel like we are with friends.  We love that feeling you get when the person behind the bar looks up, smiles, and says “Hello Sue and Frank”!  While lots of people will constantly try new places, we love going back to places where we are known quantities, and where we can be with friends.  People like our long time bartender friend Ralph at the Eden Lounge at Harrahs AC, or Dennis, the bartender at St. James in Mineola, that we spent so many “Nail Nights” with!  Or our friend Sue Waniak, who befriended us at Charlies when she was a waitress, and has now turned into a genuine family friend, as has the rest of the Waniak clan!  We’re still doing it, like on our weekly visits to Angelo’s in AC and our favorite bartender/waiter Michael!

 

Based on our history, is there any reason to think we would have done otherwise during our recent 2 week cruise with Kenny and Chris on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas?  Ha Ha…I don’t think so!  So this is a tale of 5 young ladies, who enhanced our cruise via their friendship!  Some on the Liberty and some off.

The R Bar

This is the 4th cruise we have taken on the Liberty of the Seas, thanks to contracts the boys have gotten to perform on the ship.  The first time was out of Bayonne, New Jersey when we sailed to Bermuda, and the next 3 cruises were out of Galveston, Texas, heading to the Western Caribbean.  To say we are familiar with the ship would be more than true, and as such, we realize that when folks board on deck 4, and want a drink, the first place they see is Boleros Bar, just next to the gangway.  However, as seasoned travelers on the Liberty, we know that just one deck up, in exactly the same place, is a nice, quieter bar called the R Bar!  This is our favorite place to hang on embarkation day till the cabins are ready.  This is our standard MO, and one we followed this year, and there we waited for my cousins Jeanne and Walt to join us, while taking advantage of our drink package!

That first day, Joey was behind the bar, and he was both welcoming and easy to be with, and so the R Bar went to the top of our list of possible hang-outs during our 14 days on the ship.  Then we met the girls!  Neither Susie nor I have a clear memory of first meeting them, but we’re pretty sure we met Irena first.

Irena is a Russian young lady in her mid 30s.  Her command of the English language wasn’t the best, but then my Russian is non existent, so no complaints here.  She soon learned our names and what our drink of choice was, and she was always very welcoming when we walked into the R Bar.  The first week, when my cousins were with us, she always wanted to know where Jeanne and Walter were if we went in alone.  Soon she wanted to know where Kenny and Chris where if we showed up without them!  During our two weeks with Irena, we learned that she had studied to be a Criminal Lawyer in Russia, and upon completion of her studies, had practiced for exactly one month, as she didn’t like being involved with people who were “trying to hurt others”.  We also found out that before she signed on the Liberty, she had almost no command of English.  

62DB0789-FB6D-4D61-91C1-FD8A20BD4C4CShe would often times squat next to our chairs and talk to us when the bar wasn’t busy.  We discovered that she had a sister and mother in Russia, and two nephews she was very proud of.  We also found out that she had a boyfriend on the ship (another bar server from the Philippines) and that she liked pocketbooks (an immediate connection with Susie…the Queen of Pocketbooks!).  We also found out that she and Shannelle were roommates!  Oh Boy…trouble!

Shannelle was another one of our R Bar friends who we got to know very well during our two weeks on the ship.  From Jamaica, Shannelle is in her first contract back from a Maternity Leave, and is the Mom of a little one year old boy named Xander.  Because of the itinerary the ship is on, she gets to see him every other week when the Liberty ports in Falmouth, Jamaica, and for this she was very happy.  She obviously loved seeing folks on the ship with young kids (especially those close to Xander’s age), and both Shannelle and Irena seemed to have a real rapport with some of the kids on the ship!  Shannelle is a young lady who knows how to have fun, and honestly, we never saw her without a big smile on her face!  She told us about her family in Jamaica, and of course about her son, and beamed all through it!  By the end of our two weeks, she was calling us Mom and Dad!  What a sweet, wonderful person, and how lucky were we to get to know her!

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The third lady at the bar was Kisa, the bar manager.  She is from Granada, and was at the end of her contract, and signed off when our two weeks were over on October 6th.  We didn’t get to know her as well as Irena and Shannelle, because she always worked the bar, but the night the girls had us join in singing Happy Birthday to her, cemented our relationship with her.  After that, there were hugs and hellos, and she worked very hard to make several special drinks for Susie! 

The last night of our two weeks on the Liberty were very sad.  We were sad to go and Irena and Shannelle were honestly sad to see us go (Kisa was sad, but since she was leaving, it was not to the same level as the other two), as we felt we were leaving friends!  

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Just before our final hugs, Irena and Shannelle gave us a package, and told us not to open it till we were back in the room.  Two sweet young ladies that we were so happy to get to know, and become friends with!  Here’s the note they gave us…

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I’ve already mentioned Joey, but can’t forget Jay at the Casino Bar and Mo the first week at the Hoof and Claw, and the second week at the Schooner Bar.  All great folks that enhanced our stay on Royal’s Liberty of the Seas!

Captain Jack’s Roatan, Honduras

The forth young lady was not on the ship, but rather a “friend” from the island of Roatan, Honduras.  When we were on the cruise in 2016, the boys took us to a little shack called Captain Jack’s Ceviche Bar and Grill.  Hanging over the water, just outside the port, we had some great drinks and some very freshly cooked seafood, and loved every minute of it.  

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When we were back in March, the plan was to once again hit Captain Jack,s, but the boys told us that there had been improvements to the place since our last visit!  Boy, they were not kidding!!  It had doubled in size, the bar was bigger and in a new place, and it even had bathrooms!  Even better, it had a young lady holding court behind the bar named Babe, and it didn’t take us long to fall in love!!  We had a wonderful afternoon with great drinks, some delish “Babe Shots” and the best Coconut Shrimp and Conch Fritters in the world!  When we left, there were hugs and kisses all around and we told her we were looking forward to seeing her again when we returned in the end of September.

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On its current itinerary, the ship visits Roatan about once a month, so the boys get to visit Babe and we get to hear stories.  On their last visit, they told her we’d be there the first week in October, and when she saw them that day, the first thing we heard from her was, “Where’s Mom and Dad??”  Both Susie and I got a bear hug that we weren’t sure was going to ever stop, and we knew immediately we were in for a glorious afternoon!  

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Her given name is Darcia Johnson, and when Susie told her that her maiden name was Johnson, Babe started calling her her “sister from another Mother!”.  We once again had a great time, again the best coconut shrimp, conch fritters, and fried plantains in the Caribbean, and many special “Babe Shots” (first a pink one, then a blue one, then a green one, then an orange one).  It was an afternoon to remember, and a Facebook friend we will always hold dear to our hearts!  Love you Babe and thanks for the hospitality!!

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Patrick’s Bar – The Strand, Galveston, Texas

The fifth young lady is someone we have heard about for years from the boys.  As I mentioned, this is the third contract they have done on the Liberty, and the second with it porting in Galveston full time.  Way back in 2016, they wandered into a bar on The Strand on one of their Sunday turn -around days to get a beer.  They got a beer, and so much more!  They met a friend!

We have heard about Sophie for over 3 years, and although we’d never met her, we felt like we knew her.  Her boyfriend Carl (a Galveston Fire Fighter) would hang out at the bar on Sundays whenever he wasn’t on shift, and the boys loved hanging with them just before they returned to the ship.  There were lots of sad eyes when their contract ended just before Christmas in 2016 and they were forced to say goodbye to Sophie!

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Last February, when the boys returned to the Liberty, on one of their first Sunday turn-around days, they once again wandered into Patricks, and suddenly almost 3 years of separation faded away!  Sophie and Patrick’s was always their last stop before heading back to the Liberty for another week.  Sunday is their only day in the United States, their only day off in Texas, and there are always things to do like shopping, picking up mail, and of course having a cocktail or two.  One thing they didn’t miss was a visit with Sophie if she was working!

Susie and I tried to meet her last March when we went on the ship, but she wasn’t working the Sunday we were in port. This time she was, and we finally got to meet this lovely young lady.  She is everything Kenny and Chris told us about her, and someone who is no longer just a bartender, but someone who has become a good friend (hmmm…does that sound familiar?)!  So much so, that when the boys sign off the ship early next month, and travel back to Nevada, they are going to meet up with Sophie and Carl in Las Vegas and celebrate Kenny and Sophie’s birthdays together! So thanks Sophie for taking care of Our Boys on a lot of Sundays, and for being a good friend to our two wandering minstrels!  

So there you have it, our tale of 5 young ladies who were a big part of the enjoyment we had during and just after our two weeks on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas!  Susie and I always love getting to know people and getting to cross that bridge from server to friend, and I suspect we will continue to make friends in bars and restaurants wherever we go.  It’s just who we are!!!

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