Cruising with the Phillies

Cruising with the Phillies

Recently I had a chance to see Shane Victorino get his "sea legs" on the Phillies Phantastic Voyage. The speedy center fielder joined more than 200 Phillies fans aboard the Holland America cruise ship Westerdam. Sailing with Victorino on a tour of the Western Caribbean were his teammate and reliever J.C. Romero, former Phillies slugger Greg "The Bull" Luzinski, broadcaster Larry "LA" Andersen and the Phillie Phanatic.

Our first stop was Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by the cruise line. The Flyin' Hawaiian couldn't wait to jump in the crystal blue waters, showing he was right at home with the multicolored fish swimming alongside him. Romero hung out with his new shipmates, while Andersen just plain hung out, literally. LA found a hammock, and with a cool drink, swayed back and forth among the tropical palm trees. Back at sea, there were several planned events for the fans. A Q&A session was held in the ship's main showroom.

"I thought there might be a big crowd waiting to cheer us, but I never expected the sea of red that was everywhere you looked," Romero said after being asked about the Phillies' championship parade down Broad Street. Another fan wanted Luzinski to compare this parade to the one he was a part of in 1980. The Bull answered by saying that this one was better, only because they learned how to do it from the '80 team. Victorino talked of how the team's goal this year is to have an even bigger championship parade.

Every player was allowed to bring a guest on the cruise. The Phanatic invited his best friend, Tom Burgoyne, and someone asked him about the parade. Twenty-eight years earlier, Burgoyne said he watched the Bull and the 1980 World Series champs while clinging to a statue near City Hall. This time, thanks to his big green friend, Burgoyne had a much better location.

Everyone took advantage of the many shore excursions offered by Holland America. Romero's wife, Erin, spent an afternoon swimming with the dolphins. Her husband watched from dry land, saying that wherever there are dolphins, there could also be sharks. It shouldn't be a surprise then that Romero also stayed behind as Andersen joined fans in petting the sea creatures at Sting Ray Island, because, as Romero said, they are named "sting" rays, not "come pet me" rays.

When the Westerdam docked at Grand Turk, Victorino spent a rare day on land exploring the back trails of the island driving a dune buggy. His only complaint was that the buggy didn't go fast enough. Many of the fans got an unexpected treat when the ship docked at Grand Cayman. They were having lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville when Buffet himself popped in to give a one-hour concert. All of those tourists covered in suntan lotion went straight to their cell phones, telling the folks back home what they were missing.

Movie night on the Westerdam was a big hit, as the fans watched an instant classic. The World Series DVD played to a full house. Fans really got into it, cheering when World Series MVP Cole Hamels got a key strikeout and booing when the umpire missed the call on Jamie Moyer's great diving throw to Ryan Howard at first base. The only thing they didn't do was the wave, leaving that to the outside forces at sea.

The farewell dinner is a tradition aboard a cruise liner and this voyage set a new standard for participation. As the dining room stewards marched in with baked Alaska, Phillies fans began waving their napkins. It was rally towel time at sea, as they shouted "Lets Go Phillies!"

The Phanatic, looking on, was in his glory. Although we couldn't accommodate him with a side trip to his homeland of Galapagos Islands, he told me that just being in the islands again he felt at home. So did all of the rest of us aboard the Phillies Phantastic Voyage.

Scott Palmer is the director of public affairs for the Philadelphia Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.