This ended up being a super-long post. Sorry about that.
My friend RubyVita e-mailed me and told me she had a gift certificate she needed to use for a Pizza Cruise put on by Paradise Charter Cruises – would I be interested in joining her? Dur. I do love pizza and if you add happy hour and paddleboats to the mix, there’s nothing to add that would make it any more awesome (besides boobs, of course). I hopped on the website and made reservations for myself on one of the nights they weren’t sold out. Yes, I said sold out. I wasn’t sure how many people these cruises held, but three weeks in a row, they were booked solid. This sounded like it was going to be out of control.
I had no idea what to expect with this whole thing. Was it a booze cruise? Was it going to be like MTV Spring Break? Beer bongs? Frat boy fights over scantily-clad whores? Or was it going to classy and refined wine and cheese (and pizza) with tuxedos and snooty people? No photos on the site, so ZERO indication of what might happen.
I parked in the lot at Boom Island Park – this is where the cruises begin. There’s a parking pay station at one end which will run you 75 cents an hour. There were two girls in front of me complaining that the machine didn’t print their parking stub for the dash board. They used a credit card, so I suggested I’d use my cash and see what happened. It took my money, but printed no receipt for the dash. Nice. The girl called the number on the pay station for when you have problems. Not only was the place closed for the night, the voice mail box was entirely full so she couldn’t leave a message. We stood next to it and told people that came up to pay. Some people didn’t believe us and tried anyway, but we warned them. We all ended up putting notes on our dash board that said we paid but got no receipts.
The Captain popped on the loudspeaker and told us he’d be checking people’s names as they got on board (which was good since I didn’t bring any confirmation at all). One of the shipmates (I won’t call him a seaman, despite my 12-year old mentality encouraging me to) handed us a card that said 2-for-1 drinks. I followed RubyVita past this gentleman and to my delight, she headed straight to the bar. First ones there! Suck on THAT, frat boys! Actually, there were very few frat boys on this cruise, so it ended up being alright. About 70% young-ish people and 30% older people. And no beer bongs.
We grabbed some drinks – Capn and coke for me, since I was on a ship; vodka diet with grenadine for RubyVita – and walked around the boat. It was a quick trip since the upper deck was just a skinnier version of the lower deck, but had an outside seating area at the back. We headed back downstairs so we could be closer to the bar and grabbed a table. We talked about music and movies and all kinds of stuff while the captain (of the boat, not from my drink) told us about the buildings we were passing and the history of the river channels.
We headed downstream first and went into the lock system there. RubyVita said, “Uh, we’re getting kind of close to that wall” and “Why does it look like we’re sinking?” I will hearken back to my previous post from San Antonio when I mocked people for not being familiar with the lock and dam systems that I grew up with. So I got to play science teacher and explain how it all worked. Thank you 8 years of lock and dam #15 visits. I just looked it up and the St. Anthony Falls Lock is the first one on the Mississippi. Wurd.
The boat didn’t go very far south on the river before we spun around and headed back into the lock. We grabbed a couple more drinks – I got a Gilligan’s Island from the fancy drink menu – and since they were 2-for-1. It was pretty peach schnapp-y though; I’ll pass next time on the GI. Then they opened up the pizza buffet. People swarmed (there were only like 30 people on board, but it SEEMED like a swarm. I asked the bar tender where they got their pizza from. I won’t reveal to you what she told me but it rhymes with romino’s. She said they used to have a mom and pop shop make them all but they went out of business. Bummer. However, the cruise people made every effort to thwart naysayers by putting the pizzas out on large wooden pizza paddles as servers – fresh out of the oven, right? Good idea, but it still tasted like the company we aren’t mentioning.
They also had signs up that said we were limited to 2-3 pieces per person. Seriously? I could have sworn I saw something that said unlimited, but apparently, I was wrong. So I grabbed a few pieces and started chowing down.
RubyVita hates having her photo taken. Too bad.
Once everyone was through the line, I hopped back up into line again to do my janitorial eating maneuver (I’m all about the clean-up).
Since I didn’t get yelled at for that, I ate those and then went up again for more (and ordered another girly drink). In your FACE, Paradise Cruises!! Yeah, I’ve been known to put back a slice or two in my day.
The drink I had was odd – sounds like it might be good, but wasn’t great. Disarono Disarita (basically a margarita with amaretto in it). Neither the pizza nor drink went to waste. And apparently, the 2-for-1 drink tickets are only good for two drinks, not unlimited. Super bummer. I thought this was Amurka – home of unlimited ridiculousiosity.
We watched these older people bust out this soft-sided cooler with salad and pasta and fruit to accompany their meal. Ah, old people. I’ll be there soon, but it will probably be a cooler full of bacon and pineapple-mixed drinks. I wonder if they got that cooler ok’d by the Captain. Makes you wonder what else you could smuggle onto the river boat – like the old days.
We hopped out on the deck and took some snapshots of the Minneapolis skyline (which didn’t turn out well), and then headed back to the docks to make sure our cars weren’t all towed because of the broken pay station.
Alas, our cars were still there when we arrived. RubyVita tried tricking me into going out for additional drinks and maybe some Thai food (did she not see me eat 9 pieces of pizza?) at this new place she found in North East. I had considerable homework to do, so I did the responsible thing and headed home to read about financial accounting. Lame.
The cruise was pretty boring, but thankfully I had good company to talk to. Otherwise, it would have been a bust. This cruise might be fun if you got together like 20 of your friends and got all crazy, but short of that, I’d probably not recommend it to people under the age of 60.
Top 5 things about the Pizza Cruise and Happy Hour
1. I love to do fun spontaneous quirky things like pizza cruises
2. Hanging with RubyVita is always fun, especially when she’s concerned she talks too much
3. I super exceeded the standard pizza allotment (but considering where it was from, it might not be a top 5 item)
4. The Minnesota Queen (the boat, not RainbowBryte) is a pretty slick little paddleboat (if you watch carefully, the paddlewheel spins the opposite direction, defying the laws of physics)
5. Dropping 30 feet in a lock is way different than dropping 12 feet in a lock. Pretty slick, especially when I got to be all Mr. Science-guy and explain it all to RubyVita
Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd and I talked about doing a dinner cruise when we first moved here. She would have been amused by this little venture. When we floated by the Federal Reserve Bank, I did get pretty sad, since that’s where Gerd worked…
2. Domino’s pizza is NO MATCH for Carbone’s, which EyeHeartPizza, Trash, and M.Giant had while I was on the cruise – jerks
3. I’m not sure what I expected by way of entertainment, but there wasn’t much
4. 2-for-1’s were not unlimited
5. Music selection on board