TRAVERSE CITY — Laura Steinberger ate seafood at sea. To the breaking point. She ate so much seafood during her 99-day Alaskan cruise that she begged a friend to meet her at the airport with Thai takeout as the deck cadet raced from one freighter to the next. 

Meredith Floyd scarfed a quart of blueberries and big salad after two months on the State of Michigan training ship.  

"One can only eat so much iceberg lettuce," explained Floyd, a second-year deck cadet. 

A ship's tour and interactive simulations help the Great Lakes Maritime Academy's Captain's Dinner show off a slice of shipboard life, only with upgraded menu options. The April 11 benefit at Lobdell's features a gourmet three-course pasta dinner prepared by Great Lakes Culinary Institute chefs to raise money for the academy's student organizations. 

Steinberger and Floyd are members of Women on the Water, which divides proceeds with the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and the GLMA Sailing Team.

This is the second year for the dinner, brought back by a combination of success, curiosity and community intrigue.

"A lot of people know the academy but not exactly what we do," Floyd said.

Dinner guests can walk through the training ship — an opportunity only available a few times a year — plus try the training simulators that mimic being on the bridge in all conditions and running ship communications.

It's also an opportunity to chat with people considering a career change as working on the water "opens so many doors," Floyd said. And the food onboard can be quite delicious depending on the shift and proximity to the next grocery resupply, Steinberger said. The occasional Cocoa Puffs dinner is a small price to pay for the thrill and challenge of working on big water.

"I just love the feeling of waking up, not knowing exactly where you are," Steinberger said. "It's a great feeling."

The GLMA Captain's Dinner is April 11 with two seatings: One, a 5:30 p.m. dinner and 6:30 p.m. ship tour, and the other a 5:45 p.m. tour and 7 p.m. dinner. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at https://www.nmc.edu/maritime/cadet-life/captains-dinner.html or by phone at (231) 995-1021. 

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