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500 Newfoundlanders wound up on the same cruise and it turned into a rocking kitchen party

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -

A Celebrity Apex cruise to the Caribbean this month turned into a rocking Newfoundland kitchen party when hundreds of people from Canada's easternmost province happened to be booked on the same ship.

By a strange stroke of luck, 250 couples from the province, as well as kids and grandparents and even Newfoundlanders living in other parts of the world, were all on the same cruise, said Mark Hiscock, who sings and plays banjo and accordion in the popular Newfoundland-trad band, Shanneyganock.

There were we so many Newfoundlanders on board, the company roped off the main pool deck one night and hosted a party exclusively for passengers from the province, Hiscock said.

"You had to show your ID, that you were part of the Newfoundland contingent," the musician said in an interview. "I ran up and sang 'The Islander' and 'I'se the B'y' and everybody was going cracked."

About 3,000 people were on board when the ship set sail for the Caribbean on April 6. Pamela Pardy bought her ticket in November and soon began seeing social media posts from friends and friends of friends saying they, too, would be on the cruise.

Her travel agent then confirmed that 250 couples from the province, excluding kids and grandparents, would also be on board.

"Plus, when we go on the ship, there were all these people who don't live in Newfoundland but are from Newfoundland," she said in an interview. "So Newfoundlanders from around the world, literally, who were, by fluke, on this same cruise."

Pardy said she and her fiance have been on many fabulous cruises -- they often take two a year -- but sailing the seas with all those fellow Newfoundlanders was uniquely special. There was a connection between the passengers, and people felt free to strike up conversations with friends and strangers, Pardy said. She and her fiance would drape a Newfoundland and Labrador flag over the deck chairs as an invitation for anyone looking for a chat.

"Being in an elevator on a cruise ship is not usually a social event," Pardy said. "But when you're from Newfoundland, and you hear, 'Come on in, my ducky,' or 'What floor are you going to, my trout?' It was just so endearing."

The non-Newfoundland passengers were also included; the open, chatty atmosphere extended to them, and they were welcomed to witness what Pardy called "Newfoundland hospitality." She said she spoke with several people without connections to the province who were now interested in visiting.

On the last night of the voyage, many of the Newfoundlanders gathered again on the deck to take a group picture and sing the Ode to Newfoundland, the province's official anthem.

"You felt part of something bigger," Pardy said. "That's the only way that I can explain it."

She said she hopes Expedia Cruises will offer another cruise full of Newfoundlanders -- this time on purpose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2024.

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