Hot Fun in the Summertime

Pat Hagan, Singles Editor

Some 200 singles, including a number of CruiseMates readers, boarded Carnival's Imagination in Miami on July 4 looking for fun, sun, romance, and excitement. Many found all that and more--but then, Carnival's weekend cruises always tend to be a little on the wild side.

Several weeks before the cruise date, participating singles' e-mail addresses had been sent out to the group, and friendships began to forge. Many of our singles showed up for a large gathering in South Beach the night before sailing that went on into the wee hours, so most were already in a party mode at embarkation.

Singles came in various ages, but with an even balance of the sexes. Most were in their late thirties and early forties. The oldest cruiser--Maurice, at 80+--had more fun than anybody. Posing for photos with bikini-clad girls, he kept the dance floor hot; even falling down once and giving everyone a scare did not slow him down. He got right back up, hardly missing a beat.

The onboard social schedule included cocktail parties and games, games, and more games. Some were absurd to the point of being ridiculous--such as singles gyrating their bodies suggestively to pop balloons; teams threading a spoon beneath their clothing to win a medal; and a new version of musical chairs--gals racing to plop down on guys' laps when the music stopped and vice versa. These "ocean Olympics" were coordinated by Carnival's cruise staff, who are probably required to take a course in "Silly 101" to come up with such antics, but it was all in good fun, even though there were more observers than participants.

And, of course, there was romance. A few couples seen holding hands at the beginning of the cruise were still snuggling at the farewell cocktail party. One woman from Texas had a great time with the onboard golf pro, and the two were making plans to meet post-cruise. A conversation was overheard between a female passenger and a crewmember as he swore he had never, ever, felt that way about anybody and never, ever, got involved with passengers. Then there was the amorous guy from another ship in port in Cozumel who met a girl from our group on the beach, and, after an evening of passion, tried to slip onboard to finish his cruise with her. Security measures, of course, prevent such antics, but the two swore it would not be a one-day stand.

Barry Helfanbein, cruise coordinator for Discount Travel, and his assistant, Rosemary Nestle, did a superb job of trying to address the needs of so many diverse personalities. They met cruisers at Jimmy Buffet's Margueritaville in Key West and at Carlos & Charlie's infamous bar in Cozumel to make sure everyone had a great time. They also manned the hospitality desk daily to answer questions and try to handle any problems that arose.

But, as happens, things sometime got a bit too wild and wooly. A normally sedate sixtyish woman had too much to drink at the Captain's cocktail party on formal night and had to be taken from her table via wheelchair. More wheelchairs were requisitioned to transport several guys from Carlos & Charlie's bar back to the ship, since they had trouble walking after partying a bit too hearty.

But, all in all, other than the usual "how-do-I-explain-this-tattoo-to-the-folks-back-home," a few looking like lobsters from too much sun, one case of cooties from hair braiding dockside, and too many "what-the-hell-did-I-buy-this-for?" souvenirs, most singles left the ship with lots of happy memories, already making plans for their next cruise.

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