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Review of TCM Classic Cruise

TCM Classic Cruise: Sun, fun, films . . .
A vacation and film festival rolled into one

The TCM Classic Cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman islands on board the Celebrity Reflections in January was fun-filled and very different from TCM's yearly classic film festival in Hollywood. One difference is that there are fewer film choices—22 for the cruise and an overwhelming 75 in Hollywood. However, just because there are fewer movie choices, it doesn't mean that you never have to sacrifice seeing one movie for another. It's just easier to accept compromises when you can look out anytime and see the beautiful ocean.

Usually, there are no more than two movies shown at each time slot. But, wait. There is a myriad of other interesting or fun TCM activities beckoning you, such as panel discussions, talks given by special guests and the trivia contest. Since the ship’s size is much smaller than the area in Hollywood for the film festival, walking to the theaters and activity locations is much shorter and it’s easier to be on time or early.This is a plus for the cruise.

When considering the space for movies and events, the festival in Hollywood wins out because of the availability of so many fine theaters. The ship only had one large theater and a smaller cinema facility. Some of the movies were shown in lounges or other spaces. It was very crowded when we went to listen to Rich Little talk about his experiences impersonating stars and was unable to even see him in the horseshoe-shaped lounge. But with an impersonator, all you really need to do is listen!

On the ship, you may occasionally cross paths with a celebrity. Once, while I was waiting for an elevator, I turned around and there was Mickey Rooney. However, TCM is protective of the celebrities and dis-courages autograph seekers.

Other famous faces on board to introduce their movies were: Arlene Dahl, Sally Ann Howes, Norman Lloyd and Debbie Reynolds. Alex Trebek of TV's Jeopardy was in charge of the trivia contest.

I love to dance so I always took the dance lessons offered in the mornings. My sister, Linda, who traveled with me, chose other activities. The lessons were taught this year by the Hollywood Hot Shots, who specialize in preservation and teaching of historical and contemporary dance, including jazz. They taught the Charleston and threw in some Swing, too. This was perfect for “The Jazz Age” theme night costume party, complete with a "Speakeasy."

Some nights, the Hollywood Hot Shots gave Charleston exhibitions on the dance floor in one of the lounges. The Hot Sardines also performed in the lounge and their hot, foot-stomping jazz music reminded me of New Orleans. The lead singer Miz Elizabeth (Bougerol) was exceptional and sang in a rich style of her own, with a voice that was either mellow or highly energetic, depending on the tune. A very good rhythm tap dancer, "Fast Eddy" Francisco sometimes performed with them.

The Hot Sardines were so entertaining that on a couple of occasions I forgot about the movies! I'd walk through the lounge on my way to a movie, stop to listen for just a moment and end up staying until the lounge closed. Of course, I would miss a movie I really wanted to see. The movies that I strayed away from were: Saboteur, the first Alfred Hitchcok film set in the U.S.; and a newly-restored version of the 1927 silent film, Metropolis made from an original cut discovered in Argentina in 2008. I really regret missing these movies, but I don't regret the time spent listening to the Hot Sardines, either.

The movies that I saw were: Strike Up the Band (Mickey Rooney); Journey to the Center of the Earth(Arlene Dahl); Some Like It Hot; The Catered Affair (Debbie Reynolds); and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (Sally Ann Howes).

On the mornings when the ship docked at Cozumel and Grand Cayman, TCM screened three movies each day for passengers who did not want to disembark. These were movies that played at other times during the cruise and proved to be popular.

My sister and I had been to the beach in Cozumel on a previous trip and this time we chose to go shopping and then to the city’s museum to find out more about the island’s history. We had never been to Grand Cayman, so when the ship docked there, we chose to go to the 7-Mile Beach that is known for its beauty. The water was clear and a beautiful blue. The shoreline at 7-Mile was very clean and did not have any broken shells or even seaweed. I’ve never seen a beach so perfect. It was actually too perfect for me. I like nature and missed seeing the broken shells! A new friend from the ship went with us and we enjoyed swimming, talking and sunning. It was quite a change from the hectic TCM schedule on board ship.

                                                                                                    —Mary McCord  

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