A Ship Load of Fun!

Story by Gwen Roberts// Photos by Gwen Roberts
October 1 2009

Like many rallies and events you rarely get to personally meet the organizers and rarely have nothing in common with them. Meeting Dean and Debbie Anderson on the other hand is like meeting old friends and they are probably going to be two of the first ten people you will meet when you arrive for your HOHS rally.

Debbie and Dean are both motorcyclists and this rally is their creation. They are the sole developers, the chief, cook and bottle washers of this event. They will be out and about at every event or party you attend during the cruise. Personally I don’t know when they sleep.

With our yearly trade show season starting in early December and drawing to an end in mid-April, we are really drained by the end of it. It was at this time that there was another High Seas Rally planned on the Mexican Riviera. As enticing as that sounded, it meant I would miss the last two Toronto shows and the rest of our team would have to pick up the slack. Knowing how much fun these rallies are, I got over the guilt very quickly.

Joining me on this High Seas Rally would be my 16-year-old daughter. I felt this would be a good bonding time for Emily and I…you know; a mother and daughter trip, lounge on the deck chair, read a good book, get a tan…yes it all started off fine and dandy just as I imagined.

We boarded the plane and in no time it seemed we were flying over the Grand Canyon and were genuinely excited about this bonding time together—well, I was.

Arriving at our hotel in Los Angeles and checking our schedule of events, we realized we could squeeze in a quick trip to Hollywood on Sunday morning prior to getting on the ship. What a fun experience that was, especially checking out the handprints and footprints of the stars at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I took a moment and stood and reveled in Red Skelton’s footprints—one of my favourite comedians and artists.

With our four hours in Hollywood coming to an end, we took a quick trip back to the dock and boarded the Mariner of the Seas, our home for the week. It was the same ship I had been on in November so I kind of knew my way around…or so I thought.

I was noticing more and more bikers and worried that Emily might not have such a good time hanging out with us old folks, since the average age of a HOHS rally is 52, but I was confident I could keep her occupied. Then I noticed more and more teenagers…ummm ‘spring break’ I thought.

Before the ship left the dock I now realized that our bonding time was on hold—what was I thinking? Emily had her own agenda and it didn’t include me—instead, it included about 250 other teenagers.

Well, I could either stay in my cabin, relax on a deck chair or better yet, wander up to one of the 16 bars on the ship and make some friends, which was exactly what I did.

In no time Karen, Robert (B for short), Joyce, Shorty, Mike, Heather, Chuck and Linda included me in their group, and the guys became Emily’s ship dads helping me keep an eye on her.

I really can’t say enough about these rallies. They are so well organized with daily prize-give-a-ways from on-board motorcycle related vendors to cabins raffles on other HOHS cruises, 50-50 draws, poker walks, plus every person who purchases a HOHS rally ticket has a chance to win a bike at the end of the cruise. This year it was a Triumph Bonneville Limited Edition #38 of 650, and the winner was Michael Sweringen. It was his second HOHS rally.

There are many crazy contests and games during the week that range from ‘best beard’ and ‘biker-bingo’ to the ever popular ‘belly smacker contest’—which has been won by women a few times. These are all part and parcel of what makes this rally so unique and helps brings everyone together.

I was fortunate to be invited for a tour of the ship’s bridge, to see what goes on behind the scenes.

The on-shore party stops are one-of-a-kind. On this rally we set sail out of Los Angeles with our first stop at Cabo San Lucas where we partied at Cabo Wabo (Sammy Hagar’s bar). The following day we were in Mazatlan at Steel Thunder Outfitters for an all-inclusive beach party. Donkey races, live bass in the swimming pool, parasailing—it was a huge party and our group had a most entertaining ride back to the ship in the back of a pick-up truck. Day five we landed in Puerto Vallarta and Carlos O’Brians was the place to be. The on-shore parties are loads of fun and don’t worry about losing track of time, Dean and Debbie even check the washrooms at the end to ensure they don’t leave anyone behind.

Roy Riley provided us with non-stop entertainment keeping everyone smiling with his colourful jokes and anecdotes.

As with any cruise there are also many opportunities to book excursions. On shore in Mazatlan, Emily decided to try a zip line through the jungle which also included a tour of a Tequila factory.

The moment you arrive you are greeted and handed a welcome HOHS custom embossed keepsake folder containing a pin, crest, passport holder, temporary tattoos to get you in the mood, customized plaque for your door and upon entering your room—a bottle of Champaign awaits you. Nothing is second-class at this rally.

The dress code aboard this ship is motorcycle attire—even the waiters during dinner wear motorcycle t-shirts.

As Debbie and Dean put it…our goal is to provide the most fun you can have at a rally. By keeping our rally size small in numbers (under 3,000) you will meet and make friends with more motorcycle enthusiasts at our rallies than any other.

I personally have to say that I have kept in touch with people I have met at both rallies I’ve attended. Lea and Brandon and Scott and Laurie were friends from the first rally and now the gang from Arizona. We look forward to the day we can actually meet on solid ground and go for a ride together.

Dean and Debbie…you put on a great event and should be very proud of how many dialysis patients you have helped out. It really makes you feel good when you hear first-hand from the dialysis patients on-board how thankful they are for the opportunity to travel.

The only thing missing on the Hogs on the High Seas Rally is more Canadians—I did meet some of our readers from Ontario, BC and the Yukon at this last rally but there are a lot more of you out there and whether you book this rally as a dialysis patient or as a HOHS ‘crew member’ you will have a ship load of fun and see the results in person.

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