(April 11) The experience of a lifetime ended sooner than she preferred, but Gina Crews said she has no regrets.

Crews, 1997 national watermelon queen, was one of 16 Americans on the CBS reality show “Survivor 4: Marquesas,” which debuted on Feb. 28. Crews survived longer than five other contestants, but she was voted off the island in the show that aired April 4.

“I can only say great things about what happened,” she said April 10. “ I always wanted to have that one adventure of a lifetime, and that’s what it was.”

Crews said she is still glued to the TV when the show comes on, even after having lived it on the South Pacific island late last year. Taping was concluded before the first episode aired.

“It is so real for me because it is shown exactly as it played out,” she said. Seeing what went on in the other tribe also is fun, she added.

ISLAND LIFE

Life on the island wasn’t too tough for the nature guide and University of Florida graduate.

Among other exotic tropical fruit, there were mangoes, papayas, guava and lemons. Otherwise, crab was a big staple in the diet.

“We had an abundance of food, but we had to work to get it,” she said.

Crews said her fellow survivors had a few good-natured laughs about her watermelon queen past. Like everyone else that doesn’t understand, she told them it was a marketing job and not a beauty pageant.

After being voted off the island and losing a chance for a million dollars, the well-liked Crews got more than 15 minutes of fame.

She did interviews on a multitude of TV shows including appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and the “Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

Her public relations experience came in handy, she said.

“I wasn’t as nervous as some people might be, since I had a little bit of experience with live TV shows when I served as watermelon queen,” she said.

BACK TO SCHOOL

While her association with watermelons is now widely known — Crews recalls her time as queen as a “wonderful opportunity” — Crews doesn’t expect a return to promoting or marketing the fruit.

“They will always be my extended family, but I’d like to get back to graduate school in environmental studies,” she said.

As to rumors of a possible future in TV, Crews said in a www.cbs.com chat interview that she enjoyed being in front of the cameras and would entertain opportunities in television to help pay for graduate school.