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Home > Virtual Cruises > Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out
Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out
Day 1: Embarkation in Miami, Super Bowl Sunday
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Roatan
Day 4: Grand Cayman
Day 5: Ocho Rios
Day 6: At Sea
Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay
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Day 2: Tuesday, At Sea
At SeaToday we're cruising the Gulf of Mexico on our way to Roatan, in Honduras, which is some 400 miles away. It was dark and fairly breezy when the 300 girlfriends gathered on the chilly pool deck at 5:45 a.m. to meet crews from "Good Morning America" and Norwegian Jewel.

The time was a bit too early for some of the winners, all of whom are required to be on hand on the pool deck, where segments originate. Yesterday, for instance, the GMA producers selected certain groups for different activities, like the former cheerleaders and the trapeze. Today, some groups headed to the casino to be part of a 7:30 a.m. weather segment with Mike and Gayle. "Organized chaos" is how one girlfriend described the scene. But the arrival of a reggae band, GMA special correspondent Gayle King, weatherman Mike Barz, a half dozen Victoria Secret models and the hunky Guy Squad firemen from South Florida lifted spirits dramatically and the fun began.

While we waited for the live taping to get underway, I chatted with some of the lucky contest winners. Getaway girl Peggy Tettelbach of Fairfax Station, Virginia, wrote an essay about the dear friends who are supporting her and her four children while her Navy husband spends the next two years serving in Washington State. "We're getting away from 23 kids, 9 husbands, 10 vacuum cleaners, 7 dogs and more loads of laundry than we care to even count," Tettelbach said.

In her winning essay, Jameta Jennings of Atlanta described the especially close relationships that she and her friends enjoy with their mothers. One of her best friends, Aaliyah Omar, is getting married in March, so the cruise is also a bachelorette party. The moms and daughters had organized a mother/daughter trip, but sadly, her grandfather passed away and they weren't able to go.

"My mom was never really close to her mother and she vowed that if she had a daughter, she would have a close relationship," shares Jennings. "We talk every day. Thank God for cell phones and e-mail."

Another deserving group of girlfriends from Atlanta and Orlando rallied together in times of need. In June, Tami O'Nan had an emergency C-section two months before her due date. One month later, her dear friend Kim's newborn baby needed surgery for a fused skull. Happily, both babies and moms are doing fine.

During the taping, Victoria's Secret models strutted down a makeshift catwalk in the company's latest swimwear and cover ups. "Ipex technology gives you cleavage and coverage where you need it," company spokesperson Monica Mitro told Gayle King. "This suit gives you a little bit of confidence." But not everyone in the crowd was convinced. "I'm pretty sure I looked like that 20 years ago," laughed Laura Smith of Virginia as the impossibly slender models glided by gracefully on spiky dress sandals.

At one point I found myself standing right beside Gayle this morning during a coffee break and introduced myself. But before we could talk, her handler appeared and whisked her off and suggested I contact the PR folks. As she was being led away she said, "I think it's a blast. I'm a veteran cruiser!"

The audience was smitten by the next act. "Lose the shirt!" "Take it off!" shouted appreciate girlfriends as the Guy Squad, a group of buff firefighters from South Florida, strutted their considerable stuff and showed off their 2006 pinup calendar. At this point we can't figure out how or why they're part of a girlfriends' cruise -- check in tomorrow for both a fabulous photo and an explanation but, says Mike Boyajian, a firefighter from Pembroke Pines Fire Department in S. Florida, "we've volunteered our time." The firefighters are selling their calendars and all proceeds go to Neighbors for Neighbors, a charity that promotes quality of life for future generations.

Between weather reports, weatherman Mike Barz, who's a guy full of derring-do, joined a girlfriend group of former University of Maryland cheerleaders on a flying trapeze over the swimming pool. The gutsy young women, who graduated from college in 2002, took turns flying through the air and being caught by a professional trapeze artist. They surprised their pal Sarah Wingfield with the cruise -- she's engaged to her college sweetheart, Minnesota Viking quarterback Shaun Hill. Their Baltimore wedding is set for June. "We've had a good time since we got to the airport," said Chrissy Kucharski. "We've heard we're the loudest group," she added proudly.

After the taping wrapped up, I headed down to deck 7 to ask a shore excursion question for tomorrow's port stop in Roatan. Despite the fact that all the decks are well-marked with signs by the elevator banks and corridors, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I'm still getting lost. For example, the Jewel has 13 bars and lounges. My favorite so far is Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar with its art deco neon pink sign and clear panels filled with bubbles. From there, I returned to the Bora Bora Spa for a pre-lunch French anti-aging facial. An hour later, I left feeling wonderfully rejuvenated and ready for lunch. Ruth and I met at The Garden Cafe on deck 12, where we found a table outside and enjoyed the sparkling sea and sun. The only challenge is figuring out what to eat from the array of salads, hot foods, sandwiches, and pizzas.

Right now it's about 5 p.m. and there are adult women screaming at the top of their lungs in the corridor. This usually occurs at the spotting of one of the members of the Florida firemen. Some of the girlfriends have decorated their cabin doors with signs and ribbons -- the kind of thing you do in college when it's someone's birthday. I'm wondering how normal non-girlfriend passengers feel about all this (and plan to ask around). On the plus side, the trapeze was open after the morning taping to all passengers. The downside is that you might feel as if you're missing a giant sorority sleepover.

My sister Ruth and I had a good laugh -- no, guffaw -- today over her Ionithermie spa treatment. After ionizing electrodes were placed on her derriere and thighs, the therapist re-measured and declared that in 45 minutes she had lost a total of five inches from the offending areas. My sister, ever the skeptic, asked "Where did the five inches go?" No answer, natch. In response, the therapist, in a typical Steiner-upsell, recommended a three-month, $300 detoxifying program to continue her success.

Our afternoon Pilates class held in the fitness center included 18 ladies and one brave gent. Among the students were two sleek blonde Victoria's Secret models, which Ruth and I found somewhat intimidating and perplexing. Pierre, our Pilates instructor, taught us how to find our neutral spines, target our gluts, and stretch and tone rather painlessly. You wouldn't really have known you were on a cruise ship except for the occasional rolling motion. As we left the gym, "Dancing with the Stars"' Charlotte Jorgensen arrived to teach three of the girlfriends and three professional male dancers a routine. They'll be performing on Friday.

Ruth and I caught up over dinner at the attractive Azura, exceedingly grateful that formal attire was optional. Azura is one of two restaurants on the ship that offers more traditional-style cruise ship dining (albeit in a restaurant that's gorgeous in a spare, Zen-like new-age way). Among the items available during the Captain's gala dinner were a delicious Crab Louis Salad, clam chowder from the "Cooking Light" menu and a decadent broiled lobster with asparagus quiche. The service was outstanding.

The night life was hopping between a mixer for the getaway girlfriends, a lavish musical revue, karaoke and a 70's disco groove dance party. We'll have to live with our regret in that we chose our cellulite treatment over the chocoholic buffet.
Day 1: Embarkation in Miami, Super Bowl Sunday red arrow Day 3: Roatan

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