This year I had a mission. There was something I wanted to see, but it wasn’t just a port of call or an artist singing my favorite song. I wanted to see the sun rise over the water. Of course, there are photos online of such things, but I wanted to experience it in person. Each evening when you return to your stateroom, Carnival provides a schedule for the next day – all I needed to know was on the top right hand corner… Sunrise: 7:16am | Sunset 6:31pm. It was settled then, Tuesday morning I would be up before seven o’clock.
However, my alarm clock had other plans.
My ipod is a device of many talents, but on this trip, I realized that automatically updating to a new time zone was not one of them. Or, it didn’t get the memo that the ship was running on Eastern Time even though technically the ship was probably sailing in the Central Time Zone. Whatever the reason, I missed the bright orange ball of fire rising over the deep blue waves that first morning at sea. But before sitting down to enjoy breakfast by a window in the Paris Restaurant, I stepped out on deck and snapped this picture…
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Based on the invitation slipped under our stateroom door the night before to join a private reception with our host group in the Leonardo Lounge, my sister and I made our way to the Promenade Deck a little before eleven o’clock. There, The Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants held a special program just for the folks who “sailed” with them.
The private event with our host (and in this case, their friends the Whisnants) is one of my favorite parts about the cruise. All the concerts on every other stage are a 30 minute set, but when it’s just you and your host, there is an hour’s worth of music and fun. This mid-morning concert began with both groups on stage singing two selections from their new Christmas CD, Home From Christmas. (Which both groups recorded together last year.) Those songs were Unspeakable Joy and the Faithful Medley. They knew that not everyone across the country was able to attend their Christmas tour last year, so they wanted to bring a glimpse of it to the cruise, even though the holiday was past. The Whisnants went on to sing three songs: He Can Move That Stone, Glorybound and their famed, Even in the Valley. When Susan introduced that last song and mentioned how special it is to them, she added that Mark enjoys the song as well. Turning around to where MTQ was seated, she asked, “Mark, do you want to sing it with us?” Aaron held out his mic with a grin and Mark sang Even in the Valley with Jeff and Susan. It was one of those unplanned moments that gave those present something unique to take home with them. MTQ then took the stage with a few tunes themselves – Don’t Stop Running, God’s Been Faithful, Tis So Sweet and I’ll Take It to the Grave. Mark quickly introduced the quartet and also brought their bus driver, Thom, on stage to be introduced to the crowd. If you know Thom’s sense of humor, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was fully clad in his Pepto-Bismol pink suit, complete with a sequence vest with matching pink flamingo print! Mark just shook his head. Jeff likewise came and introduced his family, which was also entertaining because Austin (Jeff and Susan’s son) was sitting at the sound board adding sound effects to every introduction. For example, when they introduced their bus driver, everyone suddenly heard the squealing of tires, a crash and glass shattering! LOL (They really do have too much fun!) Susan felt led to sing a new arrangement of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and then they closed with both groups singing New Day Dawning.
After a delightful lunch in the dining room, we headed up to the Lido Deck where we stretched out by the pool for a while. The Lido Deck is enclosed on all sides and blocks the wind, leaving the sun to warm those relaxing on chaises. While I enjoyed the sun’s warm rays, The Voices of Lee performed on the Lido Deck Stage (also called the “Pool Stage”). This college choir from Lee University performs all of their music a cappella and in this environment, mostly sang hymns. Some of those were How Great Thou Art and Just a Little Talk With Jesus, but they also did a Jazzed up children’s song, If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands for the children playing in the pool. Though, after some observance, I think the kids were more impressed with the water slide… LOL!
Tuesday evening was also the Captain’s Dinner. Folks dressed up a little more for this night, but there were still a variety of dress among the 2000 people who were on the ship. I did see a ball gown or two, but ladies generally wore their Sunday best and most of the men added a jacket to their button down shirt and dress pants. The menu had many delicious options, but the moment my eyes settled on the words “Alligator Fritters” my decision was made for a starter. They were a favorite last year and will probably continue to be!
After the meal, we spent a leisurely evening relaxing in the sitting area by the Christian bookstore (a.k.a. the casino). That spot proved to be one we would return to multiple times on this cruise! During the day you could look out the windows and view the endless horizon of water but at night the only thing visible was the black sky. To me, it seemed like Tuesday went by quickly – which was not what I expected from a sea day. I thought it would drag on and on…leaving me bored with nothing to do. Not so on this cruise! The activities were many and when the day ended, I marveled how I could have been on the ship all day long and only attend one concert! But such is life at sea…it always keeps you guessing!