I live downtown, so the idea of being at sea with no land or other ships in sight inspired the perfect mental and emotional escape from reality. Even though I shared the ship with hundreds of people, I was struck by the feeling of isolation, especially at night on the top deck of the ship’s bow with the sensation of a 40 knot wind along with the backdrop of the darkness of the sea and the sky at night. As often as we deal with our hectic world, there were moments on the cruise that reminded me that we share a big and beautiful planet.
As a talk show host, I pay attention to the news every day and all day and I research topics I’m talking about on the show. But with very limited TV and Internet service, and with no cellphone service on the cruise, I actually allowed myself to not focus on the many controversial issues I deal with on a daily basis. Taking a break from our routines gives us a mental and spiritual break that allows us to step back and consider if our patterns prevent us from seeing the ‘big picture’ in life.
The staff on the ship, the Carnival Elation, was excellent and many went to the extent of remembering your name, which made their service seem very personal. But it was the people on the ship that made this a most memorable experience.
First of all, I got to know the members of the band Groovy 7. I have seen them perform at weddings, in clubs and at festival event and I have always considered them to be a fun and talented band. But getting to know them on the cruise showed me the wonderful people and professionals they are. Their dedication to details, like their harmonies, is impressive and they did have our group and the ship rockin’ and dancin’!
Secondly, I really enjoyed meeting the people who went on our cruise – those who were part of our group and those who were from the New Orleans – Gulf Coast region. Listeners often tell me when they meet me that they can now ‘put a face with the voice.’ Well, it works that way for me, too. When I meet you, I get to put a face, personality and life stories with the people who listen to the show. When discussing topics that involve the human factor, I never feel like I am alone in the studio – I always envision the people I meet.
On this brief cruise, I heard many wonderful stories about people’s lives and I also heard of great struggles. I will mentally reference all of those people and their stories when I talk about related issues on the air. So, when you hear me say something like, “I met this couple (or this mother or father)” who was going through ‘whatever’ I’m talking about on the air – those are my sources when talking about issues and topics – real people and real stories about real life! And that goes not just for those I met on the cruise – that happens whenever I meet those who listen to the show.
When G7 would play a slow song and I would watch couples dance and it was heart-warming to recognize those couples that had been together for years and knew each other’s moves on the dance floor – and I’m sure in life as well. With so many failed marriages around us, it’s comforting to appreciate and give great credit to those couples that are still together and loving each other and life – and that goes for the couples that are younger, but appear to have solid marriages based on love and respect for each other.
My first cruise was more than an escape from the stress of doing a talk show every day – meeting the people I met and hearing the stories about listening to me now on WWL and over the years made me so grateful that what I have done through my career has really touched people. There were no political discussions – only shared experiences and I shared aspects of my personal life that I don’t always share on the air.
I often hear people say they saw me somewhere, but didn’t want to bother me so they didn’t talk to me – if you ever see me and want to say something – please do – it is an honor for me to meet you!
In many ways this cruise was a working vacation, but I was reminded that for me there is no difference between work and play. I am honored to be in the position I’m in and never take it for grant it.
As I say at the end of every show – “Love you, New Orleans (and surrounding areas)!”