When we booked our cruise we didn’t pay attention to the potential that we would be aboard ship during Christian religious holidays. But that is exactly what happened. We set sail a few days before Palm Sunday and docked back in Miami the day after Easter. We were hopeful that there would be some type of nondenominational religious service aboard ship. We inquired on day number one of our cruise and found out there wasn’t a service scheduled for Palm Sunday or Easter. And when we saw the size of the chapel we didn’t know how there could be a service anyways. It was beautiful and peaceful, but could only hold a dozen or so persons.
We were in Aruba on Palm Sunday and the island was very quiet. Our taxi driver informed us that 82 per cent of the population was Catholic and that Sunday was a day for church and family. Nearly every business was closed except a few to serve cruise ship visitors. We didn’t attend a local service, but went to the appropriately named Palm Beach and saw quite a few Palm trees.
Later in the cruise, much to our delight, we heard that there was going to be an Easter service in the Spinnaker Lounge. We didn’t know anything else, but we made our way there at the 9:30 appointed time. Jill and I had been there before for a jazz concert and ‘Bandaoke,’ which is like karaoke, but with a live band. As we sat down for the service the employees were stacking glasses and taking an inventory of the bottles of liquor behind the bar.
Then an elderly gentleman approached the microphone and introduced himself as Pastor Dave. He led us in song and prayer and the several hundred in attendance joined in both. We sang songs including ‘How Great Thou Art,’ ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Jesus Christ has Risen Today.’ The musical accompaniment was by an older woman wearing an Easter bonnet that we surmised was Pastor Dave’s wife.
In between songs, scripture and prayer, Dave told us that he was a retired preacher from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, though he now lived in British Colombia. The pianist was his wife of over fifty years. They served at a small church of only thirty members out in a rural area, so the Spinnaker Lounge held at least ten times that number.
It was an uplifting time and we were so grateful to have the two of them to lead the Easter service. Both Dave and his wife spoke to us and wove tales of their youth in Canada into the scripture readings and Easter lessons. It was an unplanned event that was pulled off by popular demand as, evidently, many cruise goers had inquired about a service and we were lucky to have the Canadian couple aboard to grant our wish. After the hour of worship it was back to normal cruise time of eating, sunbathing and gambling, but we all smiled just a bit more.