The Wedding – March 10, 2008

Romance came into full bloom on the ship. Kirsten is an Australian of German origin, and is a teacher on the ship. Giovanni (Gianni) is an Australian of Italian origin, and he came as her fiancé/guest. They spent hours on the internet trying to figure out a date and place for a wedding that would allow their various families (including scattered children from earlier marriages) to attend, but nothing worked. At first, they almost decided to just go to a registry office at some port or another. Then, as the ship worked its magic, they realized that this felt like home, and the people on the ship felt like family, so decided to get married aboard ship with all of us taking part. The Captain would take care of the civil part, and the Academic Dean (a Buddhist nun), David as a Christian, and various student groups would add an eclectic multi-cultural, multi-religious and mad element to the ceremony. Soon there was no-one on the ship who was not involved.

It started the week before with a festival of wedding-related films and occasional bursts of music through the on-board sound system. The small group of wedding planners had loads of lists, and the intranet (Zimbra) was full of requests to help with this and that. The day before dawned bright and clear but not too warm. People went through their normal classes with planning committees meeting everywhere around the ship. The movie that night was “Casablanca”. The atmosphere was totally electric.

March 10 dawned bright and clear. After breakfast the decorations committee (including Elizabeth) met in the Student Center to prepare balloons and garlands for Aloha Aft where the ceremony was to take place. We deconstructed dozens of cloth leis Kirsten had bought in India to select only the flowers that fit with the red color scheme for Aloha and the blue decorations for Lido (where the dinner was to be). We blew up 270 balloons, give or take a few, and attached them in groups of 3 with garlands hanging from them. We broke for lunch, and then tacked up an Indian batik quilt on the binnacle box (a 5 foot high, 3 foot wide wooden box on the stern of the ship just in front of the flagpole) that was to be the backdrop for the ceremony. A couple of crew members made a huge kite out of black plastic garbage bags and sticks. It’s still flying behind the ship 3 days later like a guardian spirit..
The Kite

We covered the sides of the stairs up to Lido with saris — three in complementary colors — got the white rug from the contemplation space to put on the deck. With the fresh flowers (in the fridge since we left Cape Town), it looked very festive. The Lido deck, where they cut the cake after dinner, was similarly decorated in a blue and green scheme. Since the cake cutting happened after sunset, lights were added as well.
Dana, Sara, Amy, and Susan

At 5 p.m. the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the wedding was about to begin on Aloha aft. Everyone had been notified that the dress was semi-formal or national, and a wonderful array of caftans, gallibeyas, one kilt, cheosams, and cocktail dresses appeared. Of course the Captain and the ship’s officers were in full uniform. Driss, who gave the bride away, wore a Moroccan gallibeya and a fez all in white, David, who read a section of the Song of Songs, wore a blue patterned African shirt, etc. Frank played his trumpet with a guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard band. Yas and Amanda sang. All was ready. Frank gave a flourish with his trumpet and Kerstin from the right and Gianni from the left came down the stairs. Gianni was wearing a red-orange African shirt and a red fez. Kerstin’s gown was a Vietnamese cheosam in a bright print of red, pink, orange and yellow. It was glorious, set outside on a day that had turned a little cool for evening.
Gianni & Kerstin

After the ceremony, we repaired to the Lido Deck for a fantastic turkey dinner. It was served buffet style to everyone but the head table. We had turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, noodles fried in garlic butter and served with white or red sauce, vegetables of all kinds, potatoes, rice, etc., etc. A very talented member of the crew carved lovebirds for the head table out of a watermelon and some carrots. It was amazing. I can’t begin to remember it all. Afterward, we went to Lido aft to see a huge wedding cake, 5 or 6 layers, up against the windows of the Student Center.
Cutting the Cake

We stood around while they cut the cake and then there was music for Kerstin and Gianni to dance. After that we split out to our individual parties, one for the students in their Center, one for the staff in the Starlight Lounge, and one for the crew in the mysterious regions below. The staff party was great — we had a band from among the crew, who are very good at oldies. There’s one dining room server who has a voice just like Vic Damone. And the new navigation officer offered a little more current music as well. Since the majority of the profs are female, we all just went out on the floor and danced for hours. Wonderful fun. And there were enough slow numbers to get the few couples out on the floor. The Ship’s officers were at our party and seemed to have a good time as well. The only problem was the volume — those who didn’t dance found it difficult to talk. Another excuse to spend the whole time dancing.

Finally, a special benefit was ordered: we all got to set our clocks back an hour to recuperate from the party. The other reason for the change was that the sun had been rising after 7 a.m. and nobody wanted to get up for morning exercise classes. Until Cape Verde, we will gain an hour every few days. Then we start losing time until we get to Istanbul and turn west again. It’s always interesting.

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