The World Cruise that Brought My Wife’s Smile Back

by Willy Stader

Willy and his wife, Fernande, smiling aboard Dawn Princess
Willy and his wife, Fernande, smiling aboard Dawn Princess

Throughout our marriage, my beautiful wife, Fernande, always shone brilliant light into my world and into the lives of everyone she knew. She spread sunshine wherever she went, through her genuine kindness and especially her warm, beautiful smile.

Sadly, in her later years, she began to suffer from dementia and a debilitating muscular disease. Our life together had definitely become much more challenging. Her difficulties made daily tasks so much tougher for her, both physically and mentally, that her smile had faded.

Still, I couldn’t possibly think of sending my bride to a nursing home, so I dedicated myself to making her as comfortable as possible at home.  I tried taking her out to see the world, but it was a challenge. However, one day I decided to take her on a short boat trip out in the harbor. I looked at my wife enjoying the sea air … she was smiling for the first time in months. Finally, I was seeing that spark in her that I hadn’t seen in so long!

I decided I had to find a way to continue this feeling for her. So, I made an impromptu decision to take her on a cruise vacation, and I’d take whatever sailing was the next available. Turns out, it was the 104-day world cruise on Dawn Princess!

This was quite a leap and I had no idea how it would turn out, but it became the best decision I’d ever made.  We had only been on the ship two weeks when I knew this was the best place for Fernande. My beautiful wife loved every moment of being on board the cruise ship. She was obviously filled with happiness and any difficulties she encountered seemed to melt away. It was like having my Fernande back again — she was happy and constantly smiling.

Everywhere we went, the ship’s staff couldn’t have been more helpful or kind to us both. We never wanted more for anything and Fernande had not a single problem while onboard. Her condition seemed so perfect that I immediately booked another cruise while still onboard. And onboard that voyage, I booked our next again.

Sadly, Fernande passed away before we could take that next journey together, but I know that this experience brightened the last few months of her life and made her a lot happier, even if just for a little longer. As for me, this wonderful trip showed me that amidst all our challenges, we were still able to find such amazing joy.

I’ll never forget this incredible experience, and I’m planning to be onboard Dawn Princess’ 75-day Circle Pacific cruise this July in memory of my lovely Fernande.

Willy lives in Cremorne Point, New South Wales, Australia. He has currently completed 160 sea days with Princess, with another 75 to come.