Stories from the ship around Africa

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Halloween! (November 1st)

Ok, Halloween was celebrated a day late, but I think everyone was too exhausted from their safaris in Kenya to celebrate on the 31st! Our first day at sea was a fun one! The festivities started around 7pm with the kids' Trick-or-Treating. We have 11 kids on the ship ranging from 8 to 16 years old. Everyone who wanted to participate in Trick-or-Treat Street put a small ghost decoration on their cabin door (provided by Karen Flora, the Kids' Coordinator) and awaited the arrival of the kids. They started up on Observation Deck and worked down, so I was one of the first ones to see them. Unfortunately, Brian had to work in the lab, so he didn't see them until later. I grabbed some candy we had purchased in India and gave them handfuls (as I'm sure everyone did!). I can only imagine how much candy they ended up with at the end of the night! They were really decked out in costume - I have to commend them and their parents for their creativity! If it would have been our children, they probably would have had our bedroom sheets with eye holes cut out (sorry, but my lack of creativity was definitely inherited!!). :)

The Masquerade Party started at 9pm and lasted for several hours. I was really surprised at how many students dressed up! And…so many of them were so well thought out! I don't even know where to begin on describing the costumes, so you'll have to check out the pictures to see for yourself! Yeah yeah yeah…and you may have already noticed that Brian and I are not in costume. Again, lack of creativity on our parts! It also didn't help that we didn't have much time to prepare after just getting back from Kenya (ok, procrastination got the best of us!) and I wasn't feeling great that day. We were off to a pretty rough start on our day at sea, so my headache was going pretty strong until mid evening. We did end up regretting that we didn't put more thought into the night though as many students seemed disappointed that we hadn't dressed up! :( The music was great, the beer was flowing and the dancing continued well into the evening…a very memorable Halloween!!

Sea Olympics (November 3rd)

Brian and I had decided to sign up to be part of Sea Olympics, rather than just be judges. They assigned 4-6 staff/faculty/family members who wanted to be a part of Sea Olympics to different resident "Seas" for the competition. We were assigned to our friend, Julie Ciccarone's sea - the Ionian Sea - along with Tom and Paul Bloom (the other I/T Coordinator and his son). We had a few meetings before the big event to learn about the competitions that would be included this day as well as sign-up for events. Brian signed up for the basketball game, we both signed up for Skin the Snake (the race includes about ten people lining up facing the person in front of them and then each person has to crawl under everyone's legs) and then I signed up for Pass the Orange (neck to neck). We also signed up for a few others, but the organizer's of the Sea had to make sure everyone was involved. All Seas were given colors (Brian was less than excited to find out our color was pink!) and had to come up with Sea names and a cheer. Our Sea had decided on the Pink Panthers! The festivities actually started the evening before. We all met at 8pm in the Union for the Opening Ceremonies of the Sea Olympics! The Union was roaring by now. Everyone was chanting and clapping…it was really a site! As the competitors were all decked out in their respective Sea colors (I was able to scrounge up a pink shirt and actually got Brian to use some pink crate paper as a headband) and were given an area of the Union to rally - it was truly a sea of colors! The opening ceremonies began. Every sea gave their chant…and of course, ours was the best! The Pink Panther Theme was as follows: Everywhere we go People wanna know Who we are Where we come from So we tell them We are the panthers The mighty pink panthers Then they wanna know Why we're so mighty So we tell them We are the champions From the Ionian And then they ask us Where's the Ionian So we tell them We don't have a clue But we'll beat all of you Oh you'll hear it through the halls Who is gonna win Because no one can beat The Ionian!!!!! (ok…it chants better than it reads! Ha ha) After the spirit rally (which I must say, I think the Ionian Sea won it hands down!), we all watched each Sea perform in the lip synch contest. This was the only competition tonight, yet scores were definitely counted. All of the lip synch skits seemed to be getting better and better! At one point in the Mediterranean Sea's skit, our friend Tony Kearney (the Sea's RD) came out in drag! He looked so damn good that it took us all a few seconds to realize who it was! By now, we were all rolling!! I think this Sea shared the first place award for the lip synch competition with the Bering Sea who was also phenomenal! The Bering Sea had five guys in different outfits singing to many different well-known songs. Their skit turned out to be choreographed by one of the student dance instructors, so as you can imagine, it was awesome and had us all entertained! All in all, the Sea Olympics were off to a great start!!! The morning of the Sea Olympics (Nov 3rd) started off with a boat drill just after 8am to get everyone up for the day. Each Sea had a kid representative who ran through the halls around 9am, ending up at Prom Deck for team cheers again. Competitions ran all day long and were pretty much contained to the Pool Deck, the Rec Deck (where the VB and BB court is) and the Union. At 10am, Brian was in the BB tournament. Unfortunately, Brian's team didn't have as much talent as many of the other team's did, so they didn't get very far in the tournament. :( As you all know Brian's competitive side, he wasn't exactly thrilled with his performance or the outcome! Synchronized swimming also started at about this time. Ok…this event was really fun to watch. I was able to film a lot of it, so everyone will soon be able to see why! Teams were made up of 4-5 people. Most of them started "dancing" to their chosen songs outside of the pool and then all proceeded into the pool for some very "pathetic" synchronized swimming. As the ship was swaying a little, the movement in the pool was enough to add to the entertainment! Some of the next events were "strip and swim" (the participants were dressed in layers of clothing, had to swim through the pool and then strip the clothes off so the next person in the relay team could put them on and swim through the pool), peanut butter dodge ball and diving for coins. Brian and I took the opportunity to relax out in the sun for a while during some of these events. I was then involved in "pass the orange" at 1 pm. I don't think our group did too great, but we certainly weren't last. Next up were the obstacle course, Sea Feud (like Family Feud) and stupid human tricks (which was less entertaining than we had hoped). Then at 4:30pm was the eagerly anticipated male bikini contest! You better believe I grabbed my camera and camcorder for this one! :) ha ha There was much more "exposure" than I had expected - nearly half of the 16 contestants (two from each Sea) had some sort of g-string bikini going on! These guys really had the crowd entertained! Following the male bikini contest, Brian and I went off to join the Skin the Snake competition. At the last minute, Brian got the boot as we all decided we needed some shorter people for the relay. After we came in nearly last place in this relay, we all realized we needed taller people with longer legs! No one could get through several of our short legs… especially Paul's legs (age 11)! Oh well, it was fun anyways. In the evening, Brian and I played volleyball with the gang up on Rec Deck. We managed to make it back to the Union for the end of the slideshow and then the Awards Ceremony at 8pm. To our amazement (since our group seemed to do pretty poorly except for the spirit competitions!)…we actually came in 4th (again, out of eight Seas)! We were really surprised at this! Second place went to the Mediterranean Sea (Tony's Sea) and first place went to the Bering Sea (Sunny's Sea)! The winning team will be the first group to get off the ship in Ft. Lauderdale, the second place team get a Sea party and the third place team gets pizza and a sleep-out on the deck. As for us, well….we got nothing! But we still had lots of fun anyway.

Basketball/Volleyball Tournament Update

The night started off great…our team was pumped, ready to win and playing with all of our strength. The team we were playing was definitely the team to beat! Unfortunately, both of our teams were on the same side of the tournament bracket, which was a bummer, as we were by far the best two teams in the tournament. Our team had been put together completely at random, which was a huge accomplishment to end up playing so well together! Nonetheless, the game got going around 7 pm…we were to play three games for the match. As we were ending the first game, you could see the bad weather approaching. The clouds barely let us finish our game before the rain started falling. We had barely lost…13-15 was the final score. The game was very competitive and everyone felt great! I really think if we would have kept playing we might have won the match, but when the deck gets wet, it also gets extremely slippery. We called the game and decided to finish up the match on the way to Brazil (next available time). The ship really started rocking around midnight. I found it extremely hard to sleep as the swaying of the ship was really bad. Around 3:30 in the morning, we heard a crash…a glass in the bathroom had fallen into the sink and broke. The next day proved to be our second roughest day at sea (although, many seemed to think it was the worse)!

Captain's Dinner (November 5, 2002)

The day before, we found an invitation to the Captain's Dinner placed under our cabin door. The invitation was addressed to "Cheey and Brian Shepherd"…talk about typos!!!! Brian and I laughed at this for days! (Still can't figure out how they got "Cheey" when everything else that is printed from the ship has my name correctly spelled!) As it turns out, it is an honor to be invited to dinner with Captain Ryan and his officers. On most voyages, SAS makes sure all the staff, faculty, family members and adult passengers are invited, but for some reason on our voyage, Captain Ryan decided he was going to invite whom he wanted to (which is his prerogative, I guess). He schedules these dinners throughout the voyage and does probably manage to cover most everyone. We got all dressed up (Brian in his new suit tailored in Vietnam) and headed down to Classroom #7, just off the main dining room, around 7pm. We had no idea who had been invited along with us, but we were both pleasantly surprised to see another staff member (Eric McElroy from the Field Office) and a few faculty members (Mike and Jo Ellen Pearson and Claudia Bing). In addition, the Captain had invited around five students to the dinner, two of whom have grown to be good friends (Aaron Lavee and Kate Morgan). And then of course, there was Captain Donal Ryan, Staff Captain Harry Silvestor and Chris Mead, Hotel Manager. The food was excellent! We had several courses including an appetizer, soup, salad, one of our first steak dinners in months (very nicely prepared) and an awesome chocolate dessert. As if dinner wasn't enough, they had champagne for us when we first arrived and probably filled our wine glasses 2-3 times during dinner! It was truly a treat to be there and be waited on by our gracious stewards! I sat next to Brian and Chris Mead. Chris's cabin is actually next to my office on Main Deck, so I see him fairly often. It was really nice to finally have the chance to spend some valuable time talking to one another though. Brian was sitting next to some students and across from both of us was Captain Ryan, so we also got the chance to talk to him a little. Oh yeah…and we finally got a good picture of him! :) All in all…a quaint setting, an excellent dinner and an awesome mix of people!