EXPERIENCEFans cruise with idolBy Kathy...

A MEMORABLE

October 24, 1999

A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE

Fans cruise with idol

By Kathy Davis

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

How often does one get to spend three days on board a ship with the grown-up version of your teen idol? Not often. But this past January, I got that chance. It was a Caribbean cruise with ship's headliner Peter Noone -- or as most people know him -- Herman of Herman's Hermits. I joined a group of 15 fellow "Noonatics" from all over the country to spend this time getting to know Peter.

The ship left Miami and headed for Labadee, Haiti. We first met Peter aboard in the evening and spent most of the time pinching ourselves. How could I be sitting there talking to a man who once had thousands of girls screaming and fainting at the sight of him? We missed dinner because we didn't dare pass up the opportunity to chat with this very likable Brit. Instead, we ate late in the Windjammer Cafe with Peter at the table chatting away. A late evening turned into early morning and we were off to bed.

Monday morning brought breakfast in the cafe. Because it was a day at sea, we had the chance to sit and chat, share old concert pictures and albums, as well as get an autograph. That evening, we were invited to a private party with Peter. Once again, Peter was gracious in posing for pictures with the group. After a formal dress dinner, we ventured off to claim our seats for his two concerts. A late night again -- talking to Peter until early in the morning. We were all exhausted, but somehow it didn't matter. What the group had discovered was that we had much more in common than just Peter Noone.

Monday brought Labadee, rain and our group's first shore excursion. Some went snorkeling, some exploring and some shopping. Peter walked the island with a group of us, showing us the sights and just talking. He was as interested in finding out about us as we were about him. The topics of conversation ranged from computers to the environment, and even the American education system.

Rain drove us back to the ship and we spent the next couple of hours preparing for the evening's festivities. Peter was leaving the ship Tuesday. And we were getting ready for our first non-Peter activity -- climbing Dunn's Falls in Jamaica. Could we continue that closeness without Peter there as the common thread?

Success! The cruise ended with all of us looking forward to our next gathering. Before this adventure, most of us had never met each other, except through the Peter Noone Web site. Today, we are no longer strangers. It was definitely more than I had ever expected from a cruise: friendships, good times and a lot of memories. It was a dream come true for all of us.

Kathy Davis lives in Ellicott City.

MY BEST SHOT

Boy meets frog

By Marion D'Lugoff, Baltimore

This summer, my son Danny, his friend Alex Borinksy and my husband, Burt, and I toured the rain forests of Costa Rica. In Tortouero at Mawamba Lodge, I snapped this shot of happy Danny eye-to-eye with one of the many fabulous creatures of the forest - a red-eyed tree frog.

READERS RECOMMEND...

Idaho

Winnie Carpenter, Monkton

"Seven of us traveled to visit a friend. We shared a tepee, strolled through acres of lava fields at the Crater of the Moon and explored the caves beneath, camped at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley Lake, rafted the rapids of the Salmon River, visited ghost towns, rock-scrambled and gingerly climbed to magnificent Goat Lake, even dipped (ever so quickly) in glacier lakes."

Galapagos Islands

Jerry Diaz, Baltimore

"The pure black sky, awash with millions of stars, and seen 600 miles out in the Pacific Ocean, was alone worth the trip to the Galapagos. The Milky Way was etched on a velvet canvas. The only sound was the swish of our boat as it cut through the water toward our next island. We were in a dreamland created by nature where humans were merely part of the landscape, and ignored by the animal inhabitants."

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