When people asked why Mom and I were going on a Mediterranean cruise, we told them we were celebrating my graduation from college. However, we both knew it in our hearts that it was much more than that, making this cruise vacation more special than I ever could’ve imagined.
I grew up in Arizona, but when I was 18 years old, I left for four long years away from my family to attend college in Indiana. At 18, the thought of leaving home was exciting, but when I finally graduated, I looked forward to returning to the Southwest and starting a career as an actuary.
But you never know where life will take you, and somehow I ended up accepting a job in Ohio, a long way from the sunny Arizona desert. I was young and needed a job, so I followed the opportunity, even though it broke my heart to be so far away from family and friends.
I did a lot of growing up in those years. I was away at college, and one of the biggest changes was in my relationship with my mom. She went from an embarrassing nuisance when I was in high school, to my greatest confidant and my best friend. She became my backbone, the first person I’d call if I had a great day … or a bad day.
So when I had to choose one person to go on this Mediterranean cruise with me, I knew I wanted to take my mom. I could finally repay her for all of the unconditional support and love she’d given me my entire life. Of course, she immediately said yes and it was all we could talk about leading up to the cruise – what would we pack, what shore excursion we’d take, what we’d do on board. The planning was almost as fun as the cruise itself!
We spent 16 glorious days together exploring the fantastic sights in Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. Cruising with my mom meant we could indulge in those interests the rest of our family didn’t always share with us. We toured beautiful cathedrals and palaces, admiring the rich décor and priceless artwork. We shopped to our heart’s content, buying leather handbags in Florence, perfume in France, and spices in Istanbul, to name a few.
After long days of walking the streets of Europe, we relaxed in the thermal suite of the Lotus Spa together- something we had never tried before when cruising with the whole family. I even won the spa raffle and got a generous discount on a much needed hot stone massage! We often ordered different meals at dinner and offered a taste to each other so we could try as many of the delicious offerings as possible. I tagged along for my mom’s favorite sea day activity- the art auction, and she came with me for my favorite activity- the deck party. And we never missed a production show in the Princess Theater, something we both enjoyed.
There were so many things that made this trip special for me. It was my first time traveling outside of North America, it was the first time I was able to pay my own way, and it was the longest cruise I had ever been on.
One day I will probably find a wonderful man to share the greatest experiences of my life with, but until then, I will cherish the time I get to spend with my mom. Even though at the end of the cruise I knew I would return to Ohio and Mom would return to Arizona, I had 16 incredible days of photos and memories to keep with me, and those will last a lifetime.
Nicole lives in Columbus, Ohio and her mother, Laura, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Nicole has been on two Princess cruises, while her mom has been on four.