The Family that Drinks Together, Sinks Together…

Yes, that was my grandparent’s slogan for their 50th wedding anniversary cruise.  My immediate family, aunts, uncles, cousins and long time friends of my grandparents (a party of 60 or so…) celebrated their milestone on a 7-day cruise to Guatemala, Belize, Cozumel and Costa Maya last spring break.  I know, I know… 7 days trapped on a boat with your family and a bunch of “senior citizens” you don’t know… It would probably be best if that ship just went ahead and sunk, right?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I learned very quickly that “that’s not the way the Connolly’s roll…”
My grandparents requested that we all arrive a day early to have a “practice party” in New Orleans. We spent the majority of the night running around Bourbon Street and getting acquainted before we set sail early the next morning.  
The second night on our trip we had a formal party for my grandparents.  Norwegian Cruise Lines let us rent out a lounge with an open bar to host the festivities.  First of all, you know it’s a party when there are scandalous, naked shadows doing strip teases on all of the TVs mounted on the red and pink satin walls.  Who could appreciate that more than the elderly and all of my pre-teen cousins…?  I’m not sure that NCL really understood the kind of party we were having, but I found it quite humorous anyway.  
At the party, everyone who wanted to, gave speeches to my grandparents, and they gave a speech to each other.  Let’s just say my grandpa is one with the microphone… He worked the crowd like an old pro.
The night ended with some really touching and humorous speeches and my grandma dancing on top of tables…
Group dinners were also an entertaining event… With such a huge party, we were split into 8 or 9 large tables.  At the end of each meal my grandpa would start this loud, overbearing chant with whichever table he was sitting at— “WE ARE TABLE NUMBER ONE, NUMBER ONE, NUMBER ONE, WE ARE TABLE NUMBER ONE, WHERE THE HELL IS TWO?!” and then table two would repeat it, then three and, yeah, you can probably see where this is going.  Obnoxious?  Sure… but who is honestly going to stop such a large, rowdy sea of grey/balding heads?  After that would come the dancing and parading around the dining room.  We may have disturbed a few other tables here and there each night, sure, but I couldn’t get enough of it. 
On the final night came the “Juice-a-Leering.”  I, too, was unfamiliar with this concept, but my grandpa knew quite well what we were doing.  It all started with a small group.  We would knock on a member of our party’s door and perform a little song and dance my grandpa created (to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”):
“We wish you a happy cruise, we wish you a happy cruise, we wish you a happy cruise, and a gooood time too.  The Juice-a-leers have come to wish you the best of the cruising season and we hope that tonight’s party is the best yet to come!”
Then we would give them a beer, they would join in the line, and off we went to the next cruisers room.  Walking down those cramped corridors with so many people singing and drinking was another event I am sure was wildly appreciated by “non-Connolly members,” but once again, it seems that that grey hair or receded hairline is the golden ticket when it comes to getting away with that sort of nonsense… No way would that be okay for a group of kids my age.  We were given dirty looks here and there, but most people had to resist the urge to join in.  In fact, we did pick up a few strangers along the way.
If you still can’t tell, my grandparents are extraordinary people who have had a great life filled with wonderful friends and family.  I mean, really?  Look at that crowd!  I just hope to be as fortunate in life as they found themselves to be.
(Above photo courtesy of Bevan Bell)
It was hard to say our “see you laters,” (according to my grandpa, you never say goodbye to a senior citizen…) but I can’t wait for the next opportunity for such a grand affair.
Table Number 2, signing out.

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