We just finished our last study session aboard the MS Amsterdam as we sail from Portugal's Madeira Islands toward Fort Lauderdale at the conclusion of our fabulous 111-day Grand World Voyage. Today's session was entitled, "16 Sabbaths at Sea: Questions and Answers." At the final Friday night service I told everyone to bring a pen and paper to this session so we could play a version of one of their favorite games, trivia, very popular aboard cruise ships (along with bridge). So, at this morning's class I asked a series of short-answer questions based on my 12 and Patti's 3 Friday night presentations, which included sermons, lectures, discussions and also, a delightful mid-Passover children's story about how the dolphins helped our ancestors cross the Red Sea (a personal elaboration on Rabbi Marc Gellman's original). We had a good turnout for the story that particular Sabbath as it came on the heels of our joyful seder, attended by 162 standing-room-only passengers (and a few crew members as well), so I figured everyone would remember the story and, sure enough, they all answered that question correctly.
In this final study session today we reviewed each of the 15 presentations in order, gave handouts to those who boarded mid-voyage or missed a service or two, and tied up a couple of loose ends. Toward the end of today's class I said, "There are only two copies of my book left in the gift shop and I really don't have room in my suitcase to take them home. They'd make wonderful gifts for your children and grandchildren and I will personally inscribe each copy." And guess what?! Right after class they sold out and one person who didn't get to the gift shop on time promised they would order it online!
I went around the ship telling everyone that "the book has a little bit of sex and some violence in it, so they've placed it in the gift shop next to the liquor and the cigarettes," which is true. That line seems to always get a laugh.
This voyage has been a real successful experience for us and everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, have said they will give us great reviews and would we want to come back next year? All we have said is that we like next year's Grand World Voyage itinerary (sold out even before we concluded this year's) very much so we'll see what the future might bring. It's been good to get back in the Rabbi saddle once again but as the voyage progressed the demands on our time increased so it reminded me of why I was so eager to retire as early as possible!
We will be back home in four days and hope to see you on land!
RD and Company