Encore’s Singing at Sea Journey 2010 was a huge success. Travelling on the Celebrity “Mercury”, 43 singers departed from the port of Baltimore on a very cold and windy January 2, hopefully bound for warmer weather. Warmer weather was not to be found on this cruise, but a grand time was had by all and the singing was fabulous. Singers represented the Encore Chorales of Langston Brown, Lorton, Potomac Academy at George Mason University, Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Bailey s Crossroads and the Smithsonian. Singers ranged in age from 56 to 90.
Jim Seeley, of Fun & Fitness and Travel, put together this wonderful cruise. His attention to the Encore singers was wonderful and he also sang with the chorale. He truly made everyone comfortable and content.
The first two days, Saturday and Sunday, were at sea which allowed for two rehearsals until the first destination of Charleston, SC. on Monday. And it was a very cold Charleston. But the singers enjoyed the beautiful city and its lovely architecture and fascinating history.
After Charleston, the group had another full day at sea en route to Key West. After the day at sea rehearsal, singers could indulge in a totally lazy day, or they could take a dance lesson, do water aerobics, read, study a language, watch a movie, or simply sit and talk. All the singers really enjoyed one another. Many would meet before dinner at one of the lounges for drinks and dancing and there was some fabulous dancing, notably husband and wife team Susan Loritz Winter and Mike Winter. The food was excellent and plentiful. Dinner was always a highlight, especially the two formal nights. After dinner, there was a wonderful show of dancing and singing in the theater. The entertainment was excellent.
The ship arrived in Key West early on Wednesday and it was not balmy as Key West should be. The ship was in port all day, so everyone went ashore and enjoyed the Key West ambience and all the shopping. Some rented bikes and soprano Jeanne Heather swam with the dolphins. She said it was the experience of a lifetime…..a very cold one, but a fabulous one!
Back on ship, the singers gathered for a rehearsal, knowing they would not be rehearsing in Nassau, the port for the next day. The ship arrived in Nassau on Thursday and it was still cold! Sixties. Not Bahama weather. But the singers explored Nassau and Paradise Island, by boat and scooter and walking. Back on board for a wonderful evening with dinner and show, everyone was hoping for warmer weather in Cococay, the next day's stop.
Cococay was fabulous. The ship anchored off of the island and a large commercial tender ferried the passengers to shore. The island is a private island owned by the cruise line and it is stunning……… palm trees, beautiful beaches, great shells, wonderful swimming and lots of lounge chairs to people-watch. The crew magically supplied a marvelous Caribbean lunch on the island for all to enjoy. Some of the singers snorkeled and enjoyed seeing a manatee family off the shore. Alto Sara Lovinger parasailed! Another lifetime experience. Everyone returned to the ship for a late afternoon rehearsal. The ship pulled up anchor at 4:30 and began steaming back to Baltimore.
Saturday and Sunday were another two full days at sea. The next two days of rehearsals were important because the group was informed they would be performing in the main theater of the ship on Sunday at 4pm. The Encore Chorale concert was listed in the daily ship newsletter. The singers had a lot of final preparation for this big concert. The pressure was on!
Sunday at 4pm arrived and the singers were elegant in their formal concert attire. The ship had never presented a chorus made up of passengers in their main theater. The singers were thrilled to be performing in front of over 500 passengers. The singers gave a fantastic concert. Repertoire included Together Wherever We Go from the musical Gypsy by Styne/Sondheim, Embraceable You by Gershwin, Another Op’nin, Another Show from Kiss Me Kate by Cole Porter, America the Beautiful, arranged by Buryl Red, and I Cannot Count the Stars by Eugene Butler. Heather Haughn played beautiful violin obligato for America and I Cannot Count the Stars. The singers performed beautifully and the audience loved the performance. During dinner that evening, audience members kept coming up to the singers to congratulate them. It was a magical ending to a most memorable Singing at Sea Journey.
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