Wednesday, February 4, 2009
While Cruising On Costa Fortuna
While cruising on Costa Fortuna Jack and I had many opportunities to interact with many people from many places around the world. First of all, this was an Italian ship that the Rehobath Beach chapter of UNICO selected for its group cruise and club fund raiser. We spent each evening meal with this fine group of folks. Besides Joyce and Jim Blakeslee and the travel agent, Frank (Ray) Cilea and his lovely wife, Josie Cilea here were the members of this Italian group:
Vita and Joe Mule'
Eileen and Renze Vivonetto
Anita and Alex Hambleton and daughter Alexa
Cindy and Ray Judway
Dr. Dennis and RoseMary Kondash
Cathy and Michael Leyden
Anna and John Smith
Mary Ann and David Waelde
Costa Fortuna had open seating for both breakfast and lunch in the Michelangelo Restaurant so this is when we had a chance to interact with other passengers on the ship. We soon learned that the Americans were in the minority on this 2700 passenger cruise ship. The majority of the passengers were from Western Europe which made for lots of interesting conversations for breakfast and lunch.
As for the American passengers most were part of a U.S. dance group that meets for national dance instruction and social interaction. This group chose the Costa Fortuna for their January social outing and believe me this group loved to dance. Jack and I enjoyed watching them perform their "dancing with the stars" moves on the various dance floors but believe me we did not hit the dance floor once with these highly skilled folks showing off their moves. We just sipped our tropical drinks and watched. One suave young man we named The Dancer and we loved watching him dance. Every dance was with a different lady which I learned is good manners with this group whose motto must be dance with a variety of partners to get good at dancing.
Another group of Americans was a large group of Hasidic Jews that I believe were from New York City. You could spot the men in their yarmulkes, rabbi hats and side curls and the women with their long dark dresses and hats or veils. When I was searching for the Catholic Chapel I discovered their prayer room where the men were reading the Old Testament while wrapped in their prayer shawls. For a girl who grew up in rural Catholic Ohio this was really interesting and informative.
Now let me tell you about the majority group on this cruise: the Europeans and French Canadians.They were mainly German, Austrian, French, English and folks from Belgium. We had such a great time interacting with all of the Europeans that we met. Jack and I as well as Jim and Joyce felt like we were back in Europe once more.
Here are some of the folks we met last week:
A couple from Bonn, Germany which was the capitol of old W. Germany
A couple from Munich, Germany
A couple from a suburb north of Frankfurt, Germany where we once lived
A couple from Paris, France
A couple from Switzerland
A couple from Montreal, Canada
A dancer with Costa Fortuna from Toronto, Canada
A couple from Heidelberg, Germany
A couple from Belgium
A couple from London
A couple from Manchester, England
Now what was the first thing all these couples would ask us once they found out that we were from the United States? "What do you think of your brand new president? " We would say that we like Obama and we wish him success thru these tough economic times and thru the dangerous political crisises going on all around the world. They would reply that they felt the same way and that they were happy that George W. Bush was no longer in power in the U.S. I was on a relaxing cruise so I tried to keep the political talk on a light note. Many of them would reply that they were glad that George W. was down in Texas now.
I must mention two couples and two single women from the U.S. who we had time to chat with on the ship. The two girls were from Salt Lake City and the one worked for JetBlue the airline we flew to Florida and the other one was a 911 dispatcher. They were enjoying a break from their stressful jobs.
Then there was Robert and Virginia Sotak from Allen Town, PA and Venice, Florida. Robert was a retired chemical engineer and Virginia was a retired forklift operator (of all things) and this was their 27'th cruise since retiring 12 years ago. They had lots of info on various cruise lines and on how to get last minute deals for cruises.
Last of all we met a couple from Lake Mary, Florida near Sanford who has known my first cousin Richard Dapore for over 35 years! This would be Ken and Doris Stutts who also take advantage of the last minute cruise offerings. We were totally astounded to find out that they paid just $235 apiece for the same cruise that we paid $950 apiece! Of course, we booked earlier and had an outside cabin.But isn't it a small world sometimes. Who would have guessed that we would have run into a couple who knew my first cousin. But Ken who is a retired Army chaplain told me that you say his name different than me. You say Richard Day Pore while I say Dick De Pore. And I said anyway you say it Richard Day Pore or Dick De Pore he is still my mother's nephew and my first cousin!
The photo below is yours truly getting ready for our mandatory lifeboat drill on the second afternoon of our cruise. It was a long, long drill that was given in many languages while we stood in lines like on the Titanic waiting with life vest on to board our lifeboat:
First in Italian
Second in English
Third in German
Fourth in French
Fifth in Spanish
Sixth in Portugeese
Another thing about these Caribbean cruises is this. When you dock at the piers you many times share a pier with another cruise line. For instance, in the photo below we are docked alongside the Carnival Freedom. Later that day we happened to be chatting to a lady from the Carnival Freedom who was a retired police dispatcher in New Orleans. Well,wouldn't you know it that we learned that her sister lives in Haymarket, VA. Again it is a small, small world just like that Disney ride claims.