An Australian Engagement Cruise: A Diamond for My Princess

by Mark Ferres

Barb and Mark got engaged aboard Diamond Princess
Barb and Mark got engaged aboard Diamond Princess

It sounded like a great idea. Buy engagement ring, fly to Auckland and cruise to Australia on Diamond Princess, and somewhere on the ocean, propose to Barb, the girl of my dreams.

Problem 1: Smuggling ring out of the country without Barb knowing. Where should I hide the ring so Barb doesn’t find it? Well it’s only a ring, it’s not like I’m trying to hide an elephant! After hours of contemplating, I decide to hide it in my money belt. All packed, taxi arrives and off we go to…

Problem 2: Airport security. We check in and pass through security. “Excuse me sir, is that a ring in your money belt?” My heart rate goes up 100%, I turn bright red and Barb standing next to me wonders what is going on. I tremble, opening up the bag in front of Barb and wonder what to say — should I drop on my knees and propose now at airport security? Well, it would be original, but not exactly what I had in mind. My romantic plan seemed to be blown on day one. I peer in the bag and see my house keys on a key ring. I hopefully pull them out of the bag and show them to the security officer. “Do you mean this ring?” I say to the officer. He did and I’m free to go. I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Problem 3: Customs. After a fantastic flight, we arrive in Auckland. Waiting at the baggage carousel for our luggage, a customs sniffer dog comes by and sits down next to me. I have seen enough “Border Security’” shows to know this is not good. ‘Has he smelt the diamond ring?’ I wonder to myself… Sure enough within a few seconds, a customs officer comes by and starts interrogating me — asking difficult questions like “Have I had a sandwich in my bag?” You would think they would straight out ask “Have I got a diamond ring in my bag?” but they don’t.

I have a serious debate with myself about getting down on my knees and proposing – I don’t see how I’m ever going to make it on board the ship without suffering a heart attack.

At the dock, boarding was efficient and no problems arose at security this time.  I had successfully boarded Diamond Princess with the ring!

We went about exploring our cruise ship and marveled at her beauty and size. During our exploration, we came across the ship’s wedding chapel. I pointed it out to Barb and she said, “As if we would need that!” I laughed — if only she knew….

The next day was a sea day, so no distractions — I had a proposal to organise. First off, let me admit that I’m terrible at remembering dates. To avoid trouble in the future about forgetting anniversary dates, I wanted a date that would be easy to remember. I was originally thinking 26 of January, as this is Australia Day and also a public holiday. So I would have no excuses for forgetting that date. A couple of problems however:

Problem 1: 26 of January was a whole week away, so I would have to keep the ring hidden for another week

Problem 2: I’m not the most patient person in the world and therefore today seemed better than a week’s time.

Problem 3: Tonight was formal night and the 26th was a casual day. I thought as it was a big occasion that it should be a formal night.

So today it was then! Now, how to propose?

All along I had thought I would do it at dinner: give the ring to the waiter and have him put it in the dessert dish. Then have Barb discover it and propose. Thinking it through though, I was worried that Barb would swallow the ring! Also I didn’t really want to propose in front of 500 people and create a big fuss. So a new plan was required…

Um… blank. Yes I spent the whole day thinking and came up blank. The 26th was looking good after all!

We spent the day lounging by the pool with me getting increasingly nervous. I was sure Barb must realize something was up.

As it was formal night, we spent some time getting ready. Barb looked stunning. She always looks stunning, but particularly so tonight. I made up my mind there and then — I would propose on the back deck of the cruise ship at sunset (which was around 9 p.m.). I slipped the ring in my pocket and we went down to dinner.

After dinner I suggested to Barb we take a walk on deck. This was it!

I opened the deck door and it was a little windy. Barb looked at me and said she wasn’t going outside — she didn’t want her hair messed up! Well, I’ll tell you this was not part of the plan!

I knew it had to be tonight and I was NOT going to propose at the door of the deck. I told her it was only windy here, but the back of the deck would be fine. I grabbed her hand and virtually dragged her through the door.

Thankfully it was less windy on the aft deck and there was no one around. We had the deck to ourselves. The time had come…

I reached into my pocket and holding the ring tightly, I asked Barb to marry me. She took light years to answer (well, it seemed like light years, although it was probably just a nanosecond). I saw the total look of surprise on her face. She said that she would love to marry me.

I pulled out the ring I had worked so hard to get here, and carefully slipped it on her finger. We kissed and hugged and watched the sun set over the ocean in a perfect romantic moment. What had I been so worried about?

Mark and Barb are now married and live in Brisbane, Australia. They have been on two Princess cruises.