First-ever ‘O&AN’ cruise sails on the Costa Mediterranean

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For Brian Williamson and Christopher Mohnani, it was an adventure that couldn’t be missed.

Neither of the Nashville Ballet dancers (who are also partners) had been on a cruise before, so when the winning entry was drawn for a free cruise at the Nashville GLBT Chamber Life and Business Expo last November, and the Nashville Ballet booth was announced as the winner, Mohnani jumped at the chance.

"I was working the booth with Randall Voit, director of the ballet’s sales and marketing team," Mohnani said. "I of course said that Brian and I would love to go."

And so the two set sail in late February as part of the first-ever Out & About Newspaper and Inside Out Nashville cruise on the Costa Mediterranean. They were among the 2,700 guests on the ship, which was also hosting a country cruise and a large group from Europe

"It was a fantastic trip and won’t be our last cruise," Williamson said. "My favorite part of the cruise was the food. There was always something to eat, something different, every night and really every minute of the day."

Williamson said he gained eight pounds on the trip.

That’s not surprising – dinners on the ship were glamorous six-course events prepared by European chefs, who are members of the world-famous Chaine des Rotisseurs.

"If you didn’t like something, you could easily ask for something else," Williamson said.

The seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise departed from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday, February 25. Ports of call were San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Catalina Island, Dominican Republic; Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic and Nassau, Bahamas.

"My favorite stop was Catalina Island," Williamson said. "It was just so relaxing to be on the beach, people watch and enjoy the sun."

Mohnani said he was impressed at how much there was to do on the ship.

"The ship was very much like a city," Mohnani said. "There was just so much to do. We could swim, play sports, go to the casino, shop, enjoy a show in the theater and eat at any time. It was just surprising that you never run out of things to do or enjoy."

Both enjoyed the casino, where Williamson won more than $600 to bring back home.

Mohnani said his favorite stop was St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

"It was just so beautiful there," he said. "But I enjoyed all the stops and seeing new places and new countries."

But both dancers were happy to return home after the trip, and have been busy preparing for the Nashville Ballet’s "Swan Lake." The performance will be held at Andrew Jackson Hall at TPAC on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m.