The cruise is crammed with all types of activities from early morning workouts to late night concerts. This year I attended some of the seminars during the day such as financial planning offered by Nationwide and Tavis Smiley's town hall meeting. Tavis made everyone bring a copy of his book, Covenant with Black America, to his meeting so that he could point out some of the key points he wanted us to concentrate on when reading the book. It was a nice seminar but of course J. Anthony Brown had the line of the day when he joked, 'Tavis is the only person I know that will come on a cruise and assign homework'.
Traci enjoyed the morning workouts with fitness experts like Donna Richardson Joyner, Ryan Gentles, and Dr. Ian from Celebrity Fit Club. I did manage to roll out of bed one morning to go to Damon Mackey's Ab class but that was the last I saw of the fitness center for the rest of the cruise.
morning exercise class
Traci also enjoyed the fashion show. She was going to participate but she said the rehearsals would take up too much of her day. There were many other activities happening on the ship but we paced ourselves this year and did not make it to many of them.
Traci and I ate most of our meals in the main dining room. The hosts would seat people at tables with other passengers. So each meal we dined with different people. Everyone we met on this cruise was so easy to get along with that by the end of the meal we felt like we were old friends. We would talk about the concerts, celebrity sightings, hometowns, the long concert lines. Sometimes the conversations would even venture into ideas for dealing with social, economical, and political problems. On our first evening, Traci and I ended up getting seated at the same dinner table as a former Dean of the Foreign Languages at Hampton University. I was wearing my Hampton University T-shirt for Represent Night, so the topic of conversation immediately became about our good'ol Home By The Sea.
Occasionally, it took a few minutes before someone broke the ice and got the conversation started. There were two times that the ice breakers were so far from anything I would have ever imagined that Traci and I found ourselves talking about it later on during the cruise. The first memorable ice breaker occurred one evening at dinner. We were seated with a group of people who just happened to be from the Philadelphia area like us. We were all having a good time talking about the cruise. A few minutes later, the host seated another guy at our table. He pretty much kept to himself while the rest of us were laughing and chatting away. And then, out of nowhere, one of the girls at the table asked him, "Excuse me. Are you one of those brotha's on the DL (Down Low - men who have a relationship with a woman but secretly sleep with men)?"
Whoa! Where did that question come from? She didn't even know this guy. One of the other guys added, "You kind of look like the guy in the R. Kelly In the Closet video."
I wasn't sure if he was trying to mitigate the situation or if he was adding fuel to the fire. Fortunately, the man was cool with the question and assured the girl he is not on the DL. He told us his 20-year marriage had ended in divorce and that this was the first time he has taken a vacation by himself. Somehow, after we all got over our disbelief that the girl had the nerve to ask a stranger such a personal question, everyone loosened up and we had a great time. During that week, anytime we ran into anyone who was seated at our table that evening, including the guy who bore the brunt of the interrogation, the DL question from the girl from Philly always came up.
The second memorable ice breaker occurred at dinner on the last night of the cruise. For me, the 'last supper' is normally the most depressing part of the cruise because I know following the meal we have to pack our bags and leave them outside our cabin in preparation for disembarkation the next morning. There were 8 of us seated at a table for 10 and my guess is that everyone was feeling the same way I was. After introducing ourselves, we all sat quietly looking over our menus. After a while, we began to hear giggling coming from all over the dining room and it was getting louder. We looked around and finally found the source of amusement. It was Toga Night and many people participated. However, there was an elderly man wearing a straw hat and a toga sheet wrapped around him like a diaper. He was confidently strutting behind the host who led him straight to our table. I don't remember his name but I do remember he was from Louisiana. He was very nice and a lot of fun to be around. In fact, his personality and costume totally changed the mood of our table to festive.
What a memorable night. What a memorable cruise. We've already signed up for next year.
Toga Night Louisiana style
Magnet Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)Entire fridge magnet collection...