Bridging the Generation Gap on a Cruise to Mexico

by Dylan Schulz

Miranda, right, with her grandparents, Laverne and Jim, aboard Sapphire Princess
Miranda, right, with her grandparents, Laverne and Jim, aboard Sapphire Princess

For anyone who has ever known a teenage girl, getting one to do something she doesn’t want to do is nearly impossible. And should you succeed; a hefty price will be paid in long sulks and lengthy complaints. This was the scenario last year as I told Miranda we’d be taking a Thanksgiving cruise to Mexico with my parents.

“They’re old and uncool, and I’ll die of boredom,” Miranda said. But it was very important to me that Miranda know her grandparents. Unlike her older brother, who grew up near them, we moved when Miranda was two. She rarely saw my parents. A cruise vacation on Sapphire Princess seemed just the thing to make a genuine connection and bridge a 50-year generation gap.

The first few days of the trip, Miranda did her own thing. She’d join us for dinner each night, but would gobble her food and ask to be excused to go off to the teen club. She’d stay out late, sleep in and then lay out by the pool to get the tan she’d told her friends would be the only worthwhile aspect of the trip.

Meanwhile, my parents and I were having a wonderful time. We filled our onboard activities with trivia games, cooking and mixology demonstrations and our evenings with production shows and playing cards in the game room, enjoying each other’s company.

On the third day, Miranda surprised us by coming to morning trivia. Little did she realize that while she was sleeping in each day, her grandfather was tearing it up. “How did you know the capital of Albania, Grandpa, without Googling it?” she asked. My father tapped his head and said, “I use this Google.” Our team won the trivia contest and we all received a Princess Cruises lanyard, which was a perfect prize for Miranda since she kept misplacing her room key.

That afternoon, Miranda saw her grandmother in a new light. In the main pool, amid people half her age, grandma was participating in pool games. Miranda grabbed her iPhone and began recording grandma perform a synchronized swimming routine. She jumped up and down, loudly cheered her on and praised my mother when she returned to her deck chair with a gold medal around her neck.

That day, Miranda stayed with us and she was much more animated at dinner. Instead of taking off for the teen club after dinner, she decided to join us for a newlywed game show. She laughed so hard at the embarrassing questions; we all happily agreed that none of us were contestants.

The thaw had arrived. The rest of the cruise was marked by great fun for all of us. Miranda, my mom and I took a raucous banana boat shore excursion in Cabo San Lucas that had us screaming in exhilaration. She couldn’t believe her grandmother would do such a thing.

That night at dinner was so wonderful. Miranda seemed to have forgotten how miserable and bored she was supposed to be. She sat next to her grandmother and was genuinely enjoying herself. She admired my mother’s knit shawl and asked what else she could knit. My mother asked her what she wanted and Miranda told her about these headbands she had seen at Abercrombie. The two of them goofed around all dinner and even put on a little puppet show with the clamshells.

The remaining days were absolutely priceless. Miranda was so pleasant and engaging that I almost forgot she was a teenager. The cruise vacation had done the impossible–it had bridged the cavernously wide generation gap and brought our family together.

As we said our goodbyes, my mother handed Miranda the headband she had quickly knitted for her. Miranda was impressed! “How did you do that so quickly? My friends are going to be so jealous.” Miranda dove into my mother’s arms and hugged her goodbye. “We need to do this again,” she said.

A huge grin came across my father’s face as he announced, “I’m glad you think so because I took the liberty of booking our next cruise on board. How does an Alaska cruise sound to you pumpkin?” Miranda delightfully nodded her head and exclaimed, “That would be awesome!”

While we look forward to that summer cruise, I am happy to report that Miranda and my parents remain in close contact. My mom opened a Facebook account and she is getting a huge kick out of reading Miranda’s posts. Hardly a day goes by that Miranda and her grandfather don’t talk. Grandpa is a retired math professor. He and Miranda go over her advanced calculus homework and prep for her AP exam.

I benefit, too. To see my daughter and my parents forge a relationship based on love and friendship and not routine family responsibility, is truly a beautiful thing to behold.

Dylan lives in Temecula, Calif., and she’s enjoyed two Princess cruises. Her parents have cruised with Princess 10 times for a total of 81 days.