Get ready folks, this is a long entry. Because of the amount of pictures, I have had to post them separately. Click HERE to view the photos with captions.
On April 29th, my daughter, Deanna, and I boarded a plane headed for Miami, Florida. We spent the night in a Miami hotel, ate at Taco Bell, and headed for the Carnival cruise ship, the Fascination.
I was invited, at the last minute, to perform for all of the families with kids on board the cruise, and was given the only available performance slot still open. With only one performance, I wanted to really meet folks on the cruise, so I did some strolling magic for the hundreds waiting to get on the ship. While I was strolling, Deanna took our luggage on board the ship, and was invited to have lunch with former Survivor star, Austin Carty. Of course, as soon as lunch was done, Deanna quickly called my wife, Debbie, at school (Deb is a Survivor fanatic, and almost got onto the show (a story for another time)) to tell her who she just had lunch with. Deb was feeling a little jealous, but insisted Deanna get an autograph. She did.
I also did some strolling entertainment, including magic and napkin roses, for the audiences waiting for concerts to start. It was a great time for me to meet with people face to face, since I was a "no name" on the cruise of many famous people.
As for music artists on the cruise, there was Third Day, Salvador, Tree63 (great concert), BarlowGirl (a surprise hit for both Deanna & I), By The Tree (another great concert), Nicole C. Mullen (the star of this cruise), Mark Harris (whom I talked with at dinner), Shaun Groves (who had a very funny sense of humor), SONICFLOOd (our favorite), Todd Agnew (who made the winning serve in our volleyball game, by sending it careening over the net and right through my legs), and Building 429 .
There were also some great speakers on the cruise, including Austin Carty, Lisa Whelchel, and a wonderfully gifted marriage speaker, Dan Seaborn.
Then, there were 7 Christian comedians aboard, who used their two performance slots to film their next two DVDs. They were David Dean (another parent that likes making fun of his kids), Bean & Bailey (a straight man/ funny man team), Rich Praytor (GMA Best Comedian of the Year), Cleto Rodriguez (makes wonderful light of his Mexican heritage), John Branyan (a high-energy, Mr. Bean-like character), and the ring leader of them all, Mike Williams (search out his inspiring Eagle Song on the Internet). Watch your stores for the soon to be released DVDs. Deanna & I were in quite a few shots, so you might even see us in there somewhere.
The destination of the cruise was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. When we arrived, we tried to do a little shopping, and that's where we met the "Muffin Man". Do YOU know the Muffin Man? This "retailer of Jamaican goods" offered us some of his "healthy" muffins. As he lifted them out of the shallow box he was carrying them in, he made it very clear what he was REALLY trying to sell us. For just below the muffins was neatly wrapped parcels of what could only be Jamaican marijuana. We passed him by, to instead shop at the flea market, purchasing a few smaller, more legal items for our family back in Minnesota.
As we were leaving the Jamaican port, Deanna & I tried our hand at mini-golf on the ship. Well, on hole #9, Deanna decided she wanted to take a new route from the tee to the hole. After 16 tries off of the tee, 2 innocent, injured people at a nearby table, some other laughing passer-bys, me running for cover, and Deanna's golf ball almost going into the ocean, she finally was able to sink her ball into the hole. When it finally went in, I think I heard a cheer go up from the folks on the upper deck that were watching.
One of the funny things we enjoyed while on the cruise, and were able to convince other cruise guests to try, was to ride the elevator down to the main floor just as the concerts were getting out, and as the doors opened, we took pictures of the folks waiting, in a startled manner, for the elevator. I have chosen not to print any of those pictures here (to protect the innocents from seeing their own surprised looks), but whenever I look at them, I still laugh out loud.
During my show, on Tuesday, Deanna took quite a few pictures, but due to the lack of bright lights, only a few turned out. If you haven't already, click HERE to view the cruise photos.
On two of the evenings, Deanna & I went into the VIP dining area to quickly eat dinner and get over to stroll before the concert of the evening. I met two wonderful wait staff, Marko (from Bosnia) and Aysu (from Mesopotamia). Marko showed me some magic tricks he knew, and I taught them some I knew, as well as how to make a napkin rose for future guests. Please pray for these two folks, that they would continue to meet other Christians in their travels, and that God would provide for all of their needs.
I would like to finish this entry out by mentioning to all of you that have kids, as well as a digital camera, that our kids love to take pictures of just about anything. Deanna especially loves to take pictures of herself. So, I have posted a few pictures that were taken on the cruise, just to show how much fun it is to hang out with my daughter for a week on board a cruise ship.
The performance times went well. The times of ministry were inspiring. The people I met were very gracious. The staff on board the ship were more than accommodating in every regard.
I am scheduled to perform again next January on the KLOVE Friends and Family Cruise, heading to Cozumel, Mexico. If you are interested in joining us, scroll down to the bottom of my blog and click on the banner you see there.
May God bless you as much as He has me and my family. There is joy in the journey.