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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Giant Cruise

"Old and young, we are all on our last cruise."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Okay, so this was ages ago now but better late than never, right? That is well and truly becoming something I say far too often. I'll probably end up having it on my headstone. Anyway! Way back in April, on the 18th, the Belfast Giants had a mini cruise. By mini cruise I mean leaving from Belfast to Cairnryan, sitting in port for about an hour and a half before sailing back to Belfast. Staying on the boat the whole time. It's a cruise I had done a few times in the past as part of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's Christmas party. But this time I was older. And by older I mean legally allowed to consume alcohol. All round it seemed like a fun event so naturally I signed Eva and I up! It was £19 each to go. I was slightly nervous because in my teenage years I developed sea sickness. I had managed a few sailings without any sickness in my twenties, so I hoped I was over it.

My aunt Karen had agreed to leave Eva and I to the port as my dad was working. I felt bad she wasn't coming with us because she's a hockey fan too, but I thought she might be uncomfortable with the alcohol etc. As it was, she had an appointment for her dog to get groomed anyway. Luckily she was able to get us to port before and be back in time for the appointment. We arrived on time to go straight to boarding, despite getting lost and almost being run off the road twice.


It didn't take long until we were on board. We passed a couple of the Giants on our way on. It was all a bit surreal once we were on. Especially because it was just Eva and I. We met up with my friend Sara and her friends pretty quickly. I thought it would be difficult to find them on the big boat. Eva and I had skipped breakfast so we left Sara and her crew to go see what we could get to eat, hoping it would be as easy to find them the second time round.


It was quite a breakfast, more like a brunch even though it was only around 11am. I also got a cup of tea for £2.50. Crazy price for a cup of tea but the thing is it's uhm... all you can drink? I ended up keeping the cup with me all day, but I still didn't feel like I'd gotten my money's worth. Eva felt a little anxious so she ended up buying cigarettes and going out on deck for a smoke before we went to find Sara and such again. She uses a vape usually, but I guess for her level of anxiety she felt the real thing would be better. I was a little bummed I couldn't get out on deck as I was in my electric wheelchair and there was a lip out. It wasn't a regular step which I probably could have gotten up.


Since I was missing out Eva took some lovely photos on my phone one of the times she'd gone out for a puff. I think it was while we were docked in Cairnryan. As lovely as they are I wasn't happy to hear she'd held my phone over the side of the boat! I mean, Eva is known for breaking stuff at the best of times. 


We got a lovely day and the water was as calm as anything. I was thankful for that as I hoped that would mean I could get away without any sea sickness. My friend Sara was also thankful for that as she's terrified of boats. She got over her phobia well! After Eva's smoke we went to find Sara and such, they were still where we'd left them. They'd nabbed themselves a great little sofa area right by a window. It also happened to be right by the dance floor where they had told everyone there for the Giants cruise to meet, over the tannoy. I was wondering how they were going to round everyone up. First they gave everyone a t-shirt each. That was a nice, unexpected surprise! Luckily we didn't have to queue as Sara's brother and friend got ours for us. There was so many people. After that we had a little bit of a wait until two Giants, Adam Keefe and Calvin Elfring, came down to do a signing. Everyone queued up but we didn't bother. We just watched like creepers from our seat nearby.


A while later two more Giants came down to join the signing. I'm not really sure why they did it like that. I guess they wanted to spread it out so it would give people something to do but personally I just felt sorry for the people who had queued already and only gotten two autographs. Some people were also a little disappointed that there weren't more Giants but personally that didn't bother me. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting there to be after seeing a lot had already returned home. Or maybe it was because some of my favourites had turned up. Mostly I was just there for a fun day. It beat a regular Saturday. Kukri Sport was also there with merchandise with 40% off. I was really happy when I seen they had a t-shirt that I'd been meaning to get before the off season but hadn't gotten around to.

Top one is the t-shirt I bought and the bottom is the one I got for going to the cruise. 


At some point during the day they told everyone where was going to be a group photo on the 10th deck but when we went up Eva and I realised that I couldn't get out, just like on the lower decks. It hadn't even occurred to me. I was a little embarrassed but people had tried to help to get staff to assist us. They were very apologetic and tried there best. However by the time the boat staff got there the photo had already been taken and we were on our way back down. 
Later on the also had karaoke. A little girl sang the obligatory Let It Go which was really cute, and obviously we all joined in. More people had a go than I would have thought. I kind of wish I had that much confidence! Or I was that drunk. I was a little disappointed none of the Giants gave it a go. Now that would have been something to see! In actual fact we didn't see much of them throughout quite a bit of the cruise. I guess they were maybe in the Stena Plus lounge. Can't say I blame them, since it gives out all you can eat snacks and wine. Again, it didn't really bother me but I think it bothered some others. I was happy just chilling with Eva and our friends. The times the Giants were about they were being followed by hoards of children and such, so I can see why they needed a break and a place to hide out.

Eva and I had an awkward moment when I needed the bathroom. The wheelchair accessible bathroom had an electric door. Eva pressed the button to open the door and it slowly opened to reveal a woman taking her two little boys to the toilet! We stood their dumbfounded, waiting the 15 seconds it took the door to close itself again. Longest. 15. Seconds. Ever. We went off to see if there was another disabled toilet to save us having to face them, but there wasn't. We only realised after we got back to the original toilet we had no idea if they had come out or not. We stood around a bit before Eva braved pressing the button once more. Luckily they'd vacated the toilet by that point.

Later on Eva and I went off to get dinner. I got pie and mash and Eva got a open prawn sandwich thing. I really enjoyed being on the boat. It's always great for people watching. You could imagine being on board that whole time it could get boring, but I was happy as Larry.


By the time we got back to everyone after our food they had begun a quiz. The Giants had joined random teams and the team beside ours had the coach, Steve Thornton. It was good craic and everyone was a little merry by this stage. The banter was flying with the table beside ours. I wish I had gotten more photos of the others!



When the quiz was over the Giants began to kind of mingle with everyone. Then this photographer came over and asked could I turn around because the players were going to come over and have their photo taken with me. It kind of went by in a blur. They made Eva and my friends move out of the way. I had no idea why it was happening, but Eva later told me the photographer mentioned it was because I hadn't gotten out on deck for the group photo! I felt a little bad because Eva had missed out on that too because of me so she should have been in the photo with me. I wish I had that photo to include in this blog post, but I don't. I imagine I probably looked like a deer in the headlights. Sara and such took the opportunity to ask things signed. At first I was too shy to ask for my autograph book signed but as I shyly passed it up Sara took it and passed it behind her. So I finally got my autograph book started. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day because it meant I could tick something (other than a cruise) off my bucket list.



I got Steve Thornton's and Adam Keefe's as well as Jeff Mason's and Stephen Murphy's, who Adam Keefe announced earlier in the day would be returning next season. I also got someone's chocolatey finger print... After Steve Thornton asked me had I gotten everyone that I'd wanted, and I said yes. It was only after that I realised he must have been referring to the fact I hadn't gotten Calvin Elfring's autograph. I was a little bummed as it might have been my last chance, but oh well. I was happy to get the ones I did. By then we were almost back to Belfast, so it was a really nice way to round off the day. 

By the time we got off the boat Eva and I were both shattered. I rang my dad and he hadn't even left to collect us yet! So we had to wait for him. Eva almost drifted off to sleep in the process.


I have to say all in all it was a bit of an odd day. It was both long and tiring, but also felt like it passed really fast. I know that doesn't make sense. I really enjoyed doing something a little different, the atmosphere and spending time with some awesome people. Again, it reinforced how much I am looking forward to next season and seeing more of them! Hopefully we'll organise something for over the off season too. September feels so far away right now. 

So yeah, that's how the Belfast Giants mini cruise went! I can't believe how long ago it was now. Still, I wanted to write about it so I could look back on it. Hope you enjoy reading it too.

2 comments:

  1. I don't know why but the pictures you posted on Facebook, I thought you went on a drive (cruise) even though I should have went with my first thought, but you know! I'm glad you got to go with Eva. I don't think Blondie and I could be that responsible to do something like that. Lol

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    Replies
    1. Aha! Sounds like something I would think up! Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Eva and I are hoping to go on holiday soon together. We'll see how responsible we are then! :D xo

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