Wanderung 24

Spring Fling

From March to May 2011

Monday, April 4: At Sea: Roman Night


For the first time in our experience, our ship held a SECOND mandatory lifeboat drill in the morning. The justification was that two such drills are required on cruises over 21 days, but that was quite curious, not to say nonsensical, as our cruise was scheduled to last only 19 days, and for a while I wasn't sure if that was yet another April Fool's joke. But no, this time they were really serious as I discovered when they blasted our stateroom with that 7 short blasts and one long blast of the ship's horn that signals "Abandon Ship!". We dutifully donned our lifejackets in the prescribed manner and headed up to the Caruso Theater in the bow that was our assembly station, where we were treated to yet another demonstration of how to correctly put on our lifejackets.

Afterwards we attended the morning arts and crafts session, which was painting little ceramic bowls. For practical reasons, we used acrylic paints rather than true ceramic enamels that would have to be fired in a kiln, but the paint set and dried to a nice shiny outer layer. I painted a cruise ship just off the beach on a tropical island whereas Monika went with an abstract pattern motif. I was, as usual, the only male there which always makes me a bit self-conscious, but soon I got into the swing of attempting to paint the scene.


Another sea day, some more arts and crafts. In the morning we painted little ceramic covered bowls, useful for knick-knacks.



Our tablemates all met us at 2:00 in the restaurant that was used for the afternoon arts and crafts session later on at 3:00. It was great having a table of folks who were willing and able to pool their expertise to help us all make the most out of our days in port. None of us had been to Santa Cruz, Tenerife before, so Tom and Debbie had printed out some information which Chris then took downstairs to make copies for each couple. We all talked about the possibility of "Hop On, Hop Off" buses in Funchal, Madeira, and Malaga, Spain. Monika and I discussed the "land toboggan" ride that had been recommended by our previous shipmates in Funchal and found out about a cable car ride up the mountain that seemed like a much easier way to get up than hoofing it!

We did not have the Internet information that the others provided, but we pointed out what we knew of Dubrovnik, Croatia, from our one-day visit there on a Mediterranean cruise during Wanderung 19 in 2009, and our experience taking a bus trip around the island of Madeira on our cruise back from Germany during Wanderung 15 in 2007. We all tried to share information about what to do and how to do it in each port because general "port lectures" were simply not given on the Costa Atlantica, making it quite difficult for us independent types to make our plans.

The one thing that The Costa Atlantica did do much more thoroughly than other cruise lines is having more arts and crafts sessions, typically two per sea day. I suspect that the arts and crafts cross over the different cultures better than any type of verbal activity such as word games or shipboard lectures, which were correspondingly de-emphasized on our ship. The afternoon arts and crafts session was painting a T-shirt. Costa provided a nice, high-quality cotton T-shirt just as they had provided high-quality white baseball caps for a previous session, plus the ubiquitous acrylic paints, brushes, and so forth.

Although the craftperson provided templates for different patterns for us to use, she did not demur when I proceeded to draw a free-style scene of myself roaring down a zip line from one side of a jungle canyon to the other. That took up the center diagonal of the shirt. In anticipation of seeing the volcano on Tenerife the next day, I also painted an erupting volcano down in one corner and a big bright sun up in the other corner. I had to use my imagination for the volcano, of course, as we had not visited it yet, but I just made a craggy volcanic mountain and painted a vivid tongue of orange lava flowing down one side. Not a likely scenario for what we would find on Tenerife, I admit, but vivid!


But the afternoon was the big T-shirt painting. Our whole table was planning to attend. To save the space, and since we wanted to chat about what we knew about the upcoming port stops, we had arranged to all meet on the 10th floor at 2:00PM. Sandy had printed out information on Funchal, Malaga, and Dubrovnik and Chris then proceeded to make copies for each couple. We really appreciated what everyone did.

By 2:45 the room started to fill up and we were glad that we had our places. We got our T-shirts and each proceeded with their own design. Bob did a free hand drawing of himself zipping across the jungle on a zip-line with an exploding volcano in the background (a little bit of poetic license there!), whereas I used one of Jimena's templates of a lighthouse and painted it in my somewhat slap-dash fashion. But it sure was fun.


Our tablemates all re-assembled for dinner, where we gave encouragement to Debbie who had volunteered to sing a song for the "Roman Night" talent show. Late nights are difficult for us and we had never managed to stay up late enough for one of those special talent shows, but since Debbie was going to be one of the stars we were determined to do it. Thus, I fortified myself with glass after glass of iced tea during dinner and, sure enough, the caffeine helped me avoid conking out shortly after dinner as was my usual habit.

First, we attended the "Grand Variety Show" that featured a decent juggler and a truly astonishing female contortionist. She was dressed in some skin-tight suit so you could see where all her limbs were, and she was able to put them in such odd locations that it was sometimes quite difficult to watch without wincing in sympathy.


Tonight was Toga night. Unfortunately, we did not receive the requisite sheets to make into a toga, so we wore our new T-shirts. Tom and Debbie had their togas artistically draped over them, with Debbie even having a beautiful black wig, looking every inch the aristocratic Roman. Chris and Ruth had their T-shirts painted in wonderful Roman designs while Bill's looked like a captain's uniform. So our table looked quite Roman or otherwise distinct.

Since we had time before the variety show, that came before the Roman Night, we walked on deck enjoying another beautiful sunset.



But the main event of the evening, as far as we were concerned, was Debbie participating in Roman Night. First they brought in all the guest performers roped together as "prisoners" in a Roman amphitheater. Then "Andrea Octavianus Augustus" arrived as Caesar in a chariot being pulled by some rambunctious lions, one of which we recognized as being Jimena, the young woman who guided our arts and craft activities. She and the other lion mugged it up tremendously for comedic effect and seemed to have a fun time doing it.

Each performer in turn was introduced to the audience by Caesar, after which they either sang, danced, or, in the case of the strip-tease artist and her companion, did both (in that pair one sang while the other did an ecdysiast routine, or tried to while the lions and soldiers were repeatedly interrupting!). At the end of each performance the audience was asked whether they wanted to send them "UP TO THE BUFFET!" (a thumbs-up sign and much cheering), or send them "DOWN TO THE LIONS!" (a thumbs-down sign and much booing). Debbie sang well despite being sniffed and butted by the lions while she was trying to belt out the lyrics. The first audience vote on her fate was pretty much a 50-50 tie, so it went to a second vote. On the second vote we and all our Table 222 tablemates yelled our loudest so that she was sent "UP TO THE BUFFET!".


After the show, a nice variety show, was the Roman Night - Guest Talent Show. Debbie was going to sing, so our table had to appear, of course, in toto. This was like no other talent show I had ever seen. First the passengers, who had agreed to sing or dance, were brought in as "gladiators" flanked by Roman Centurions. Then Caesar came in a chariot pulled by two lions accompanied by the rest of the cruise staff dressed as Romans and they all settled on stage. Jimena was one of the two lions.

Then the "gladiators" each did their thing. While they were singing or dancing, the lions played around or with them, the Romans on stage talked and played and all together had a lot of fun. After each act, the audience decided wether the person could go "UP TO THE BUFFET!", or was sent "DOWN TO THE LIONS!". After the first singer was enthusiastically led out by the lions, a little later, a skeleton was thrown onto the stage.


Other performers were not, however, so lucky. Several of them were consigned "DOWN TO THE LIONS!" and led offstage, after which we heard much growling and snarling. The lions would then return to the stage without their "victim" but maybe with bits and pieces of their clothing, and the show would proceed to the next performer. The whole thing was both elaborately staged and provided fantastic opportunities for ship's crew members to mug it up on stage either as lions, Roman soldiers, or Roman citizens viewing the performances along with Caesar and having a simulated orgy.

I think that the whole thing was a lot more fun for all concerned than some of the professional evening performances we had seen. It was so much fun, in fact, that I had a really hard time calming down and getting to sleep afterwards, although all that caffeine might also have had something to do with it!


Debbie sang a rather nice song in French with the lion, Jimena, cuddling up to her. It must have been difficult to keep your concentration with all that was going on in the background, because the people on stage were not exactly a quiet audience. When it came to the buffet or lion vote, it was nip and tuck for Debbie; but with a rather loud and enthusiastic yelling of table 222, she wound being sent "UP TO THE BUFFET!".

One two women act, was one of them singing rather well, the other doing a strip tease act with the Romans on stage bringing out a screen to hide her. It seemed the cruise staff had as much fun as the audience and the show ended with an orgy on stage and one drunken Centurion also doing a strip tease. I have never laughed this much at a talent show!



Copyright 2011 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt
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