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In southern seas with Southern rockers

February 27, 2007|by SALLY NEWLIN

Are you a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan? Do you like Southern rock and a little .38 Special?

Then the Gimme 3 Days cruise is for you. I know because it was great fro me and my family.

The cruise's name is taken from the Skynyrd song "Gimme Three Steps." The current members of Skynyrd were aboard the cruise ship Carnival Fascination with us in January for a three-day round-trip cruise from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas.

Other musical acts on the cruise included Sister Hazel, Zac Brown Band, Blue Dogs and the Travis Mitchell Band. Passengers could talk to any of the members of any band on the ship. Some of these guys love talking to their fans. Some were difficult to find. My parents talked to musicians a lot. My sister and I only talked to one guy, Skynyrd drummer Michael Calfone, because he was signing autographs.

The Carnival Fascination is huge. It has three outdoor pools, two hot tubs, two concert halls, and tons of restaurants, bars and casinos. There was an outdoor venue set up for daytime performances.

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Every night during the cruise there was a concert or someone playing in one of the many bars aboard the ship. On the first night of the cruise, bands such as Sister Hazel and Drivin' N Cryin' performed. There were lesser-known bands outside near the pool and hot tubs.

The first thing we did when we got onboard was a safety drill. Then we got to do whatever we wanted. But I didn't get to do much on the ship.

The cruise ship featured mostly activities for adults. There was a baby-sitting program for kids, but we obviously didn't want that. So my 12-year-old sister, Marilyn, and I roamed the ship with other teens or hung out with adults. We weren't allowed to drink, but we could swim in the pools.

The ship has a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet that's free. If you like soda, you can get a card to get free soda and drink as much as you want. It was perfect for me.

In my room, there was a towel on my bed folded like into an animal or some other shape. During the cruise, I got towels folded into a swan, a heart and a dog. Everyone got something different. And before bed, I got chocolate on my pillow. How awesome is that?

Besides the buffet by the pool, the Fascination has two fancy restaurants where passengers can get a full meal. The dress code in the restaurants is fancy, but you can dress casually Saturday and Friday. On Sunday, it was leather and lace day.

On Saturday, we went to the Bahamas and visited for a while. The ship's crew took us to a boat, gave us colored wristbands and took us to Blackbeard's Cave, which is one of many tourist designations in the Caribbean. If you had a pink and blue wristband, you got to do the treasure hunt - snorkeling for gold-colored coins that could be redeemed for prizes in Nassau - and got to play with captive stingrays. If you had just a pink or a blue wristband, you either got to play with the stingrays or go treasure hunting. We only had pink wristbands, so we only got to go snorkeling.

We were only on the beach for an hour or so. After we got back to the city, we were swarmed by vendors and people who want to sell us things. We roamed around until the ship was ready to leave again.

On Saturday night, Skynyrd and .38 Special played the first of two concerts on the cruise. I went Saturday but got there late and didn't get a seat.

On Sunday, the last day of the cruise, the first 100 people who signed up for the cruise got to go to a question-and-answer session with Lynyrd Skynyrd. They picked out the best questions and you got to ask them. Luckily, my family and I were picked, and I asked what they thought about the use of "Free Bird" during the violent scene at the end of "The Devil's Rejects." They said they preferred that the song be used in a positive way.

At Sunday night's concert, there were fewer people in the audience and more room for me to get up front to see the show.

We made friends, and I had a blast.




About 'Leh-nerd Skin-nerd'



Lynyrd Skynyrd played Southern rock and had a string of hits such as "Free Bird," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Gimme Three Steps." The band formed in the 1960s and burst onto the scene with its first album, "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd," in 1973.

The band has had more than its share of tragedy. In 1977, three band members died in a plane crash. Guitarist Allen Collins was left paralyzed by an automobile accident in 1986. Recently, Ed King was exiled from the band.

Today, Lynyrd Skynyrd still rocks out with new and old members. They were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

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