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Lego Latest Lure To Go Cruising

It was just a few years ago that we bought Lego for our eldest child for Christmas. So it’s “just a few years” later that we’re buying Lego for our granddaughter for her birthday this month (but don’t tell her).

Is there anything in life that’s more permanent and more durable than Lego?

That’s what makes it such a safe bet for MSC Cruises. And that’s why all 12 MSC ships (plus two more by 2017) are being out-fitted with Lego play areas in this cruise line’s Sailor Walkaboutrather clever attempt to attract families. The play areas are ostensibly for kids, but how many adults do you know who still enjoy building things with Lego?

The refurbished MSC Armonia will be the first ship to acquire what MSC calls its Renaissance Program when it emerges with the first Lego stations after a couple of weeks in dry dock this month. Children of ALL ages will compete in Lego-themed competitions on a designated day during each cruise. They’ll earn “junior master builder diplomas”…even if they’re seniors. They’ll meet the resident mascot, whose name — Sailor Walkabout — is sure to become better known, especially since it’s barely known right now.

There’s no charge to play Lego on MSC ships, and areas will be designated for kids under three, and for kids six to 11. No mention of where kids far into the double digits will be allowed to ply their Lego skills.

Now, MSC is an Italian cruise line that dabbles in waters all over the world, including North America. Invented 65 years ago in Denmark by Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego is played all over the world, as testified by the 600 billion pieces of it currently in circulation. It’s been known to be passed down the generations like heirlooms and jewelry.

And yes, cruise passengers will be able to buy it at the Lego Corner at the ships’ shops.

It’s only a matter of time until there’s a Lego cruise ship toy — bearing the MSC logo, of Armoniacourse — created by a privately-owned company that has morphed its plastic blocks into movies, games and theme parks. MSC hopes the participants in this new venture will build more than toys and skyscrapers and animals.

The cruise line would like its customers, young and old, to build memories, because anybody who doesn’t already have a Lego memory should.

Today at portsandbows.com: Something new at Silversea?

Celebrity Millennium
15 nights
September 11, 2015
Vancouver, Dutch Harbor, Tokyo, Kobe, Shanghai
Inside: $849
Cost per day: $56
www.celebritycruises.com

Meeting of Love Boat Captains

Several months ago on this blog, we introduced you to a Love Boat built with Lego® and the man who had no life…er, the man who built it. His name is Ryan McNaught and when he put a quarter of a million little Lego pieces together he produced a remarkable model of TV’s most famous ship.

He is from Australia and a few weeks ago he took his masterpiece all the way to Chicago, by sea of course, for the annual Brickworld Convention, where people who have no life…er, wonderful skills…gather to compare Lego abilities. For the occasion, Princess (the Love Boat was the Pacific Princess) brought in the TV captain, actor Gavin MacLeod, or Captain Stubing.

It was more than a nice touch. It was also a nice surprise to Ryan McNaught, whose encounter with the captain was posted on YouTube. It’s worth three minutes of your time to watch it (click here), whether you’re interested in cruise ships or old TV shows or Gavin MacLeod.

When the 80-year-old captain saw his ship in Lego for the first time, he resisted the urge to break champagne on its bow. instead, he autographed the hull.

Tomorrow: Deal of the Day!

The Love Boat and its 250,000 parts

See this ship? Nice model, right? Pretty cool. Kind of makes you think of The Love Boat, the cruise ship that more than anything introduced we who are Baby Boomers to the possibility (dare I say fantasy) that one day maybe we could go on such a vacation. Love or not. TV cameras or not.

For me, this model is more personal than just a memory of a TV show that ran on ABC for more than eight years. Because, if you look closely, it’s made of Lego®.

I hate Lego. Well, maybe hate’s too strong a word. I do not have a passionate bone anywhere in my body when it comes to building things with little plastic pieces. And if I’d ever attempted to do something like this, the last thing I’d wind up calling it is a Love Boat. Even if it was.

As my kids will verify, I was never able to build anything resembling a canoe with Lego. Or a paddle. Or a simple, rectangular dock, even though it didn’t have to float. The fact is I never built anything with Lego. Never tried. Never had the urge. Never regretted it.

My wife was better at it and I let her take one for the team. She admits now to being able to build a small village with our granddaughter. Good for her. Better her than me. I’m thrilled. I’m also filled with admiration but (and she will forgive me for this), not as much admiration as I have for the man who built that Love Boat replica.

I wonder where he got the skill. When Lego talent was passed out, I didn’t even get the Tinker Toys or Mecanno genes. I had enough trouble with the pieces. I also wonder where this man, Ryan McNaught, gets the time. Last night I spent hours trying to assemble a desk that seems to have 10,000 parts…but I’m not from Australia. He is, which makes me if building a ship with a 250,000 Lego bricks is a new path to fame Down Under. What ever happened to wanting to grow up to be Greg Norman? Or the Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin? Or Keith Urban?

The Love Boat was the Pacific Princess, or the Pacific Princess was the Love Boat if you prefer, on loan from Princess Cruises. This model of it is about 10 feet long and 5 feet high — the picture up there is the exterior. The other side is a cutaway with tiny people, LED lights and little motors that make the propellers and elevators move. It was on display at Australia’s Lego Convention this month and it’s going to Chicago in June, for Brickworld. Who knew there was a Brickworld?

McNaught is one of the 12 certified Lego builders on the planet. No, I have no idea how you become a certified Lego builder — except that you have to have a lot of time on your hands — but I do know there will never be one in our house.

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