Thirty-some years ago, when South Beach was still becoming "South Beach," I lived there, in a second-floor apartment. My ground-floor neighbor was a party animal, and I'd periodically have to venture downstairs after midnight to ask him to turn the music down.
I felt I had returned to my South Beach days last week aboard the new Sky Princess, on our pre-inaugural cruise from Trieste, Italy, to Athens.
I had gone to bed in my cabin on Deck 9 after midnight, but by 1:45 a.m. I still wasn't sleeping. The music emanating from the ship's center atrium, the Piazza, made it pretty difficult.
"Hey-o-way-o-way, don't stop the party!" sang Pitbull. Apparently, DJ Mateo had no intention of stopping the party.
Even though the "Late Night Dance Party with DJ Mateo" was billed on the Princess Cruises Ocean Now app as lasting from 11:30 p.m. to 1:15 a.m., it was still going strong at 2 in the morning.
So I went down to Deck 5 to talk to DJ Mateo about turning it down. No can do, DJ Mateo said. The Late Night Dance Party was a scheduled event, and he couldn't do anything. Talk to the night guest services manager.
So I went down the hall to find him. The night guest services manager told me he could ask DJ Mateo to turn down the bass, but it was a scheduled event and out of his hands. So I went back to bed.
"Get your damn hands up! Get your damn hands up! Get your damn hands up!" was the lyric that was pounding away at 2:41 a.m. when I went out on my balcony to record the sound I was hearing at that hour.
Finally about 3:15 a.m., the dance music faded away. I had a meeting at 9 a.m., and to make matters worse we were sailing east into Greek waters, so the ship's time jumped ahead, to make it 4:15 a.m.
The next morning I tracked down cruise director Alexander Yepremian for an explanation. He said that the Late Night Dance Party typically takes place in the aft Vista Lounge, but that the cabins above the Vista Lounge hadn't been sound tested yet. He also said the party is typically over around 1 a.m.
When I told him the party in the Piazza lasted until 3:15 a.m., he didn't seem too pleased. But I wasn't taking any chances with DJ Mateo on the final night of the cruise, so I asked to be moved to a cabin far from the Piazza.
Perhaps no cruise line emphasizes the importance of sleep more than Princess. It even retained a sleep expert, Los Angeles doctor Michael J. Breus, to optimize its staterooms for a sleep-friendly sensory experience.
But that good work was for naught in my experience with the deejay cranking the tunes in the ship's atrium. Hopefully by the time the Sky Princess takes its first revenue cruise from Athens the week of Oct. 20, the early-morning sound of silence will be restored again.