Cruise ship passengers lock inhibitions in cabins

Chris Orr and Sarah Gaul, from right, join the rest of the contestants who were willing to endure the embarrassment of swapping clothes in the Quest adult scavenger hunt on the Norwegian Star.

JERAMY GAUL | Special to the Times

Chris Orr and Sarah Gaul, from right, join the rest of the contestants who were willing to endure the embarrassment of swapping clothes in the Quest adult scavenger hunt on the Norwegian Star.

The MC of the Norwegian Star's adult scavenger hunt called for a man and a woman from each of the 23 teams in the contest to join him on stage.

Before he finished the sentence, Sarah Gaul, a 29-year-old married mother of two from Alaska, was next to him, joined by teammate Chris Orr, 29, of San Diego. After learning their task — to swap clothes — they sprinted from the room.

Fleeing in fear?

Nope. Looking for a place to change. When the duo returned, they proudly strutted their stuff, although Orr had a little trouble with the high heels and bra.

The effort helped their team finish third, which earned the group an inexpensive tote bag filled with small ship souvenirs.

It was another sign that a boatload of inhibitions are left behind each time a cruise ship sets sail.

"Everyone is on vacation and just having a good time," Orr explanation.

Cruise director Paul Baya is used to the phenomenon. He never knows who will volunteer for one of the crazy activities, like a contest that had a woman maneuver a lime up a man's pant leg and then down the other side.

"You can't judge someone by their initial appearance," he says.

He recalled the night a woman in her 60s had to sing a rap song by Tone Loc. The woman had never heard the song, Baya said, but she gave it a shot, adding her own rap style. She won.

"It's the first time I was laughing and actually tearing up," Baya said.

He understands why people do it.

"There is no other area where people can be what they want to be other than in Vegas," he says. "No matter what you do, you won't see anyone again."

Don't tell that to Barb Hoehn, 52, of Virginia. Her husband, Jerry, is usually knee-deep in the action, especially karaoke, where he routinely kicks off a week of performances with the Troggs' Wild Thing.

"We were on a cruise one time and somebody came up to my husband and said, 'Weren't you Monica Lewinsky in the men's beauty contest?' " Barb Hoehn said. "Another time, we heard somebody on another cruise shout, 'Hey, wild thing.

"I guess people just have their guard down when they're far from home and drinking a little. It is pretty fun to watch, though."

The karaoke crowd enjoyed watching Pete Yan, 31, perform a song by rapper Vanilla Ice with three friends handling the backup vocals. The four friends from San Diego, and the audience, had plenty of fun.

"He's really shy and then he gets on stage and he's a showman," Amanda LaCross, 29, one of the backup singer, said of Yan. "You get on stage and it's like there's nobody out there. Then you get back to your seat and you say 'Oh my god, what did I just do.'"

"You know when you get up there that no one is going to judge you or boo," said Kerri Lazrak, 30, another of Yan's friends.

Gaul expects her two young sons, Frank, 5, and Sean, 2, will learn of her clothes-swapping antics. Even if it doesn't show up on YouTube, her husband, Jeramy, 33, was snapping pictures.

"We will tell them Mommy and Daddy were on their first cruise and having fun with friends and playing a silly game," she said.

Later that night the couple tried karaoke.

"I figured what the heck, I'd already embarrassed myself," Sarah Gaul said.

"You're only young and stupid once."

Times Staff Writer Kyle Kreiger can be contacted at kreiger@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8565.

Cruise ship passengers lock inhibitions in cabins

03/11/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:21pm]

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