ARMENIANS WORLDWIDE CRUISE ARMENIAN STYLE
BY: BARBARA HAROUTUNIAN
ARMENIANS WORLDWIDE CRUISE ARMENIAN STYLE
BY: BARBARA HAROUTUNIAN
Armenian Heritage Cruise XVIII, sponsored by the Armenian Cultural Association of America Inc., sailed from Miami, Florida on January 17-24, 2015 for a seven day cruise. Away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, almost 1000 Armenians boarded MSC Divina. The Divina is family owned, and has been in the shipping business for 300 years. As soon as each guest boarded the ship, they were greeted with traditional warmth of Mediterranean hospitality. The Armenian cruise is a unique opportunity to sail on a beautiful ship while enjoying Armenian entertainment. Seven days of visiting tropical islands, seven days of cultural programs and seven days of top Armenian entertainment on the “Hye Seas”. Who could ask for anything more!
The destinations of the cruise included, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Mexico and Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas. With bags packed and smiles on their faces, Armenians came from all over the world; Armenia, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Turkey, and Venezuela. The United States was also well represented with passengers from seventeen states.
Each guest received an AHC tote bag from the ACAA and Travel Group International and a tri-color ACH cabin key card; this card granted each guest entry into all the special Armenian activities for the week. Without the AHC card no entry to any Armenian event was allowed.
On board was The Most Rev. Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, Primate Emeritus of the Western Diocese of the United States. Each day a morning service was concluded.
Two days were spent relaxing at sea. It was the perfect time to enjoy the numerous activities and the many entertainment options organized by the ship. Others listened to Armenian lectures or watched Armenian movies.
Each morning there were ARMENIAN CONVERSATION CLASSES conducted by Dr. Berjouhi Aivazian. Margo Kaftajian taught ARMENIAN DANCE CLASSES. Guests could register for BACKGAMMON AND BELOTE TOURNAMENTS under the direction of Antranig Boudakian and Hampar Vartanian. There was a table set up for the ARMENIAN HERITAGE TOUR 2015 with Maro Asatoorian, the ACAA liaison. Here people had a chance to register for a tour to Armenia and Karabagh from September 17 – October 1, 2015. The ACAA HOSPITALITY DESK was open every morning to assist passengers. The athletically inclined joined THREE ON THREE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT under the direction of John Jerkikian. With so many activities it can be difficult to decide what to do. Armenian Heritage Cruise XVIII had something for everyone.
As the sun set the evenings were filled with dancing and listening to two great bands. Onnik Dinkjian, John Berberian, Steve Vosbikian, and Band, and Aruthur Apkarian and his Band.
The first night there was a welcome reception hosted by Maria Tavitian and Margo Kaftajian. The highlights of the week’s activities were announced, and this was followed by a musical program.
On Sunday evening there was a SINGLES NETWORK CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION. This provided a great opportunity to make new friends and network with single Armenians from all over the world. For the first time there was an Armenian Business Network Champagne Cocktail, where Armenians could make new business friends.
Wednesday evening there was an ACAA GALA COCKTAIL PARTY sponsored by Travel Group International and the ACAA Armenian Heritage Cruise Committee. Those in attendance enjoyed complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. That evening there was an Armenian dinner along with complimentary wine which delighted the palate and the Armenian soul.
Early Thursday morning Barbara Haroutunian and her committee organized the ARMENIAN FESTIVAL POOL PARTY. Prizes were awarded for the best Armenian tri-color outfit, red, blue and orange. Along with face painting, Margo Kaftajian’s dance class performed the Shouch Bar. There was an Armenian dance contest with prizes for the best traditional dance. This has become an annual event and people came prepared with original outfits and special dance steps to compete in the contest. To add to the festivities the ship prepared a delicious Armenian menu for lunch.
Each day there were speakers about relevant Armenian subjects:
• MISSION OSTEOPOROSIS ARMENIA; THE FIRST NINE YEARS – CREATING A PROGRAM OF AWARENESS AND EDUCATION. Presenter: Dr. John Bilezikian
• ARMENIA ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY – Presenter: Osep Sarafian
• LIFE OF AN ARMENIAN SOLDIER – Presenter: Gevork Yeganian
• ARMENIAN GENOCIDE EDUCATION – Presenter: Roxan Makasdjian
• “ARMENIA TODAY” – Speaker: Ambassador Armen Yeganian, Ambassador to Canada for the Republic of Armenia.
• ANCA TEA RECEPTION – What comes after the 100th Anniversary of the Genocide? Speaker: Ken Hatchikian
• COMEDIAN KEV ORKIAN entertained his audience with a one-man, piano comedy performance. His porgram was filled with cultural satire that made him a favorite all over the world
• ARMENIAN PATRIOTIC SONGS – Arthur Apkarian and his band performed
• FULLER CENTER ARMENIA – BUILDING HOUSES IN ARMENIA – Presenter: Gohar Palyan
• KNIGHTS AND DAUGHTERS OF VARTAN RECEPTION – Celebrating the memory of Hrant Dink. Presented by: NAS Bob Barsam and Hokie Hankist by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian
• ARMENIAN RELIEF SOCIETY TEA RECEPTION
• BOOK PRESENTATION – “Choose, To Thrive” – Presenter: Dr. Berge Minassian
For the 18th consecutive year, the Armenian Heritage Cruise has been sailing the Caribbean in “HYE STYLE” and this year was no exception. From all over the world Armenians came together to experience an action packed week on the Hye Seas, an atmosphere of being Armenian and a sense of Armenian pride. This is the fulfillment of a mission “to foster better relations for the Armenian people”. Proceeds from the cruise are given to the Armenian Cultural Association of America Inc. a 501©3 non profit organization that primarily assits in Armenian research, cultural events, and especially provides assistance to Armenian language newspapers. The Armenian Cultural Associaltion Inc. continues to create a venue where all Armenians of all persuasions come together in a luxurious setting. For one week, Armenians from all over the world are given a unique opportunity to come together to learn about each other, our heritage, political and religious differences and come toegether as ARMENIANS to support one nation, one purpose – “a free and independent Armenia, with all its privleges and responsibilities as a new democratic country in the world of civilized nations”.
We recognize the importance of a culturally vibrant and successful Armenian community, so – GET READY FOR ARMENIAN CRUISE XIX 2016, sailing on Saturday, January 9 – Sunday, January 16, 2016 for an 8-day cruise on the new and beautiful ROYAL CARIBBEAN, “NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS”. For reservations and information about Armenian Heritage Cruise XIX 2016, contact TRAVEL GROUP INTERNATIONAL at 1-866-447-0750.
COMMENTS FROM A FEW PLEASED PASSENGERS:
”For 14 years we have been cruising with the Armenian Heritage Cruise and our dear friends the Barsams. This cruise is an unbelieveable experience! Hundreds of Armenians sailing for a whole week together harmoniously is heaven for us”.
Nerses and Marousha Artan
Los Angeles, California
”Sailing a little Armenia, this is what I would call the Armenian Heritage Cruise. It is wonderful to see how this cruise brings Armenians from all over the world together to socialize, sing, dance, and listen to lectures. All of these things are combined with beautiful islands and lots of laughs, smiles and fun. This was my second cruise, and both times I had a great time”.
”This is our first cruise with the Armenian Heritage Cruise; we have been pleased with the spectacular shows and programs. The lectures were very informative and pertinent on up to date topics on our homeland and the 100th anniversary of the genocide. Furthermore, the camaraderie with people from all over the world has been wonderful. We have met childhood friends and classmates. Everything has been excellent and we would definitely recommend this cruise to everyone”.
Yervant and Mary Bedikian
Beverly Hills, Michigan
“Our 10th trip on the Armenian Heritage Cruise was exciting and full of happiness and surprises. Every day we were meeting old friends and school mates from all over the world which made this week a memorable one. Congratulations to the organizing committee and hoping to see everyone next year”.
”The cruise was fantastic. We loved the excursions, lectures and Armenian music. It is a great opportunity to relax, visit with old friends, and make new friends. See you next year”.