As I write this little story, I have a smile on my face. I feel so happy and so very fortunate. My husband and I recently returned from the cruise of a lifetime—two days in Venice, followed by a 12-day cruise of the Greek Isles aboard Crown Princess, ending with 3 days in Rome.
It was a trip filled with a trio of magical moments, each brought about by the fact that my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary during this trip. This vacation had been a dream of ours for many years. Well, actually it was my dream to see the Mediterranean, and I would tell my husband, Glenn, about it over the years.
So much of life can go by in a blur of work schedules and family commitments. Since our three wonderful children were now grown and we were grandparents to six, spare time was back on our schedules. Still, it took a few glasses of wine over dinner with some friends to get Glenn, who is not the traveling type, and me to actually take such a big trip.
It also helped that our dinner partners ran a travel agency, Winchester Travel, which packages cruise vacations. Over that dinner, we convinced Glenn to go. Our friend quickly put together a package and in all, 30 people from our part of Ontario signed on, including another friend who happens to be a judge. We’d make the trip even more special by renewing our vows!
We spent a few days in Venice before boarding the cruise ship. Our vow renewal was scheduled for our first day on board. I didn’t have time to get nervous in the rush of transitioning from land to sea.
I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting. We renewed our vows in our corner balcony suite. Outside, the sun was setting as we sailed down the canal from Venice. Inside, the room was decorated with white streamers and accordion-folded wedding bells that I’d brought from home. We also brought along some pretty, blue champagne flutes for champagne on the balcony.
It was an intimate affair with only six of us: while the judge did the honors, his wife and our travel agent friends served as witnesses.
That day, my husband surprised me with a diamond anniversary band, which I have worn with my wedding ring every day since, and I returned his original wedding band to his finger. Glenn had not been able to wear his band for much of our marriage, as a lineman, he could get caught on a wire by his ring.
Still, our vow renewal wasn’t complete. We are devout Catholics and a blessing was in order. More magic was in the air. At a stop in Ephesus, Turkey, we traveled to Mary’s House, a sacred place that some Catholics believe was home to Mary after the crucifixion. We attended a private mass, arranged for Princess passengers, with 50 of our shipmates there.
Before the mass, we were able to tell the priest, a Hungarian, that we had just renewed our vows and asked him to bless our renewal. Not only did he do that, he shocked us by dedicating the entire mass to our union.
For the rest of the trip, we were congratulated whenever our fellow congregates ran into us.. We didn’t know them, but we couldn’t have felt closer.
I have one more magical moment to share. During a stop in Santorini, Greece, we made the famous trek up the hills by donkey. The view of the shimmering Aegean Sea and the Crown Princess in the distance inspired us to take a leisurely stroll back down the steep mountain path.
We’d spotted some taverns along the way up, so on the way down, we stopped in a few and enjoyed the local wine. We savored the descent and our 35 years together during that trip down the mountain. This trip was just what we needed to celebrate our shared history and dreams about the future.
Thirty-five years is an accomplishment. We feel truly blessed that we were able to take the time to recognize that and remember the incredible moments of our lives together. We also made another vow on that trip, to continue enjoying each other’s company, at home and hopefully aboard some more Princess cruises.
LeaBeth is from Perth, Ontario Canada. She’s cruised with Princess five times.