In September, my husband, Will Swenson, and I were asked to be two of the performers on Playbill Travel’s Broadway on the Mediterranean cruise. We had a whole crew: We took along my 5-year-old daughter and were joined by my sister-in-law and some friends and their 4-year-old. The cruise started in Rome and went to Barcelona, and in between we stopped at incredible places like Sorrento and Valencia, but the highlight, by far, was Malta.
We hadn’t planned ahead enough to book any of the excursions in Malta, but my husband had heard that you could just find someone at the port to take you out on the water. Of course, I had seen too many episodes of Forensic Files to think that was a good idea, but my husband insisted: “It’s going to be fine!” When we got to the port, there were all of these cab drivers holding up signs with pictures of where they could take you, and my husband asked if any of them knew a guy with a boat. Finally one lady was like, “Yeah, I could call a guy,” and the next thing I knew we were all in the back of a van driving to meet a total stranger who was going to take us out on the ocean. The whole time I was thinking, This is where we meet our end…
We got to where this guy’s boat was docked, and we waited. And waited. I was furious and fuming, ready to kill my husband—if he didn’t get killed by this captain first. But then, all of a sudden, the most gorgeous man in the history of history walked up to us. He had the most beautiful, piercing blue eyes, and he was ripped, tattoos everywhere, dressed in flip-flops and shorts and a tank top. He said in this very sexy, low voice, “Seven people for a boat?” And we were like, “Yeahhhhhhhh.”
It ended up being the most magical day. Besides being a gorgeous god of a man, he was also an amazing captain. He had life jackets for the kids, and he knew everything about the island. He would point out little things that only Maltans know: “Here’s where they filmed this part of Game of Thrones… This is where Gaddafi had his summer palace, and as soon as he was overthrown, everybody went and broke it apart.” He said the most popular areas for swimming had too many jellyfish, so he took us to this secret spot with a grotto right off the rock y coast that didn’t have any jellyfish because of the way the current was going, and we all swam in the gorgeous, clear waters of the Mediterranean. We could see all the way down to the ocean floor.
We hadn’t thought to bring any food, but he said, “I’ve got sausages. I’ll feed you.” Swoon. While he was barbecuing them, he accidentally dropped his tongs overboard. I squealed, “Oh no!” But he calmly said, “It’s OK,” pulled off his shirt, put on some goggles, and just dove in and swam down to the ocean floor—which I guess wasn’t that deep, but still!—and grabbed them. I don’t know how I failed to take a video. I wasn’t the only one mesmerized by him. All of us—men, women, children—were completely besotted by the guy. We didn’t want the day to end. Eventually, though, we said goodbye and headed back to our ship. Our last night on the cruise was very stormy. After my concert, I had gone to bed, but I was awoken by the thunder and lightning. My husband and daughter slept through the storm, thankfully, but I opened the window and watched the lightning show, which was enthralling but also scary. I sat there thinking, Wow, I thought I was going to meet my end in Malta, and I didn’t. So I doubt I’ll meet my end today. That couldn’t have been the end for me, because if I know one thing, it’s that I am going back to Malta.
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald is starring in the Broadway premiere of Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders, now in performances at the James Earl Jones Theatre.