I lived in San Diego while Kathleen lived in Chicago. We found each other on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
Neither of us werelooking for love – we were 20-year-old college students and she had a boyfriend at the time. But that cruise on Emerald Princess became our personal episode of The Love Boat.
Despite the distance separating us, our shipside friendship grew to love. Four years after we met, we made it official. Emerald Princess was indeed our Love Boat and it would take us on our honeymoon.
We can vouch that a cruise vacation is not only a great place to meet someone special, it’s a perfect place to honeymoon, start a new life, and “come back new.”
Back in 2007, Emerald Princess staff was working their magic, facilitating meet and greets among every age group in every part of the ship. The teens were congregating at the video arcade, the kids in the Pelican club. As for the hard-to-classify 18-20 year olds – barred from the 21+ life but no longer kids – the crew congregated us at Skywalker’s Nightclub.
That’s where I met Kathleen. I thought she was amazing but she had a boyfriend at home, a high-school sweetheart, so we hung out as part of a group. Everyone clicked. Playing cards, at the pool, meeting up for Princess Pop Star and singing karaoke, and dancing at Skywalker’s where – no kidding – Kathleen and I would laughingly order Shirley Temples with extra maraschino cherries.
One night, we pretended we were at a prom and posed for pictures in the Gallery. I don’t think we realized how great we were getting along until the last stop of the cruise. In Venice, touring around with our respective families, we saw each other in crowded St. Mark’s Square. We ran towards each other, so happy at the coincidence.
But in Venice, we parted ways, Kathleen to Chicago and her boyfriend and me to San Diego. Was it telling that both of us were to develop big Venice fixations?
Our 18-20 group kept up with each other on Facebook. Because it was two hours earlier in San Diego, Kathleen started calling me as she walked home at night after working at a Chicago theater. I was her long-distance protector, if something dangerous happened.
After she broke up with her boyfriend, our relationship took off. I went to Chicago, she to San Diego. We were a long-distance couple and, eventually, one of us had to move. Finally, when her career in theater company management took her to San Francisco, we had our chance. I relocated to be with her and was soon working in local theaters as well. Together we toured the country with a theatrical production of “Peter Pan.”
Hints of our Emerald Princess beginning touched our lives. Our apartments were decorated with posters of Venice, and when I proposed, I found a beautiful vintage ring whose setting resembled Venice’s graceful Rialto Bridge. At our wedding, our special cocktail was the Dirty Shirley, with cherry-infused vodka spiking the original. As for our honeymoon, the moment we realized Emerald Princess would be embarking on a Southern Caribbean cruise, we booked it. Our story would come full circle.
Wow, did we ever need that relaxing honeymoon cruise!
Not that planning and staging a large wedding isn’t hectic enough, in the week between the wedding and the honeymoon, Kathleen and I packed up our place in Chicago where our tour had ended, put things in storage, drove for three days to San Diego where we were to start our married life, checked into our new home and flew to Fort Lauderdale, where we finally and gratefully staggered across the gangplank of the cruise ship.
Instead of running around with the 18-20 set, we enjoyed the luxuries and life of a happily newly wedded couple. Our balcony stateroom was our oasis. We snuggled together and caught up on all the movies we’d missed while we were busy touring with the show. Some evenings, our movie dates occurred with “Movies Under the Stars,” where we relaxed side-by-side in the warm Caribbean night air.
Some days, we were up for adventures and found them riding underwater scooters, snorkeling alongside shipwrecks in Aruba and river tubing in Dominica. We were particularly nostalgic to visit Skywalker’s. Kathleen and I couldn’t resist ordering Shirley Temples again.
The honeymoon cruise was my opportunity to court Kathleen anew. Because our relationship went from long distance to working nights with the show, we didn’t have the traditional routine of going on lots of dates. I turned our honeymoon into a series of date nights.
Each day, I’d book a reservation at one of the ship’s restaurants, spur of the moment when we knew what we felt like eating. We’d see shows, go dancing and stop by the lounge to catch a comedy act.
At the lounge one night, a waiter brought us two drinks. At first we refused them – it had to be a mistake. Then, we were introduced to a couple a few booths away. Turns out, Kathleen and I reminded them of their earlier days, when they first married 25 years ago.
We took that gesture as a happy sign for our future, one of many we found on the ship that had brought us together. This time around, Emerald Princess was even more romantic than we remembered and as thrilled as we were to relive our first memories, even more importantly the ship was the perfect place to celebrate this new start to our lives together.
Drew and Kathleen live in Alameda, California and have enjoyed two Princess cruises together.