Wearing a kilt outside of Scotland is an icebreaker for any occasion.
That’s how I got to know Princess Cruises’ Maitre d’ and friend, Generoso Mazzone. I wore my kilt to a formal dinner on Emerald Princess’ cruise to the Caribbean, where Generoso asked me those questions we kilt-wearers expect. While he said he’d never wear one, we did chat about Scottish trews, the traditional tartan trousers, and how one day he hoped to own a pair.
About a year later, my wife, Donna, and I ran into Generoso again, this time sailing the Caribbean aboard Ruby Princess. He immediately recognized me as the man in the kilt and we caught up on the latest. From there, we evolved into a friendship that continues three years on.
Generoso and I come from different parts of the world, but we share in common a love of travel. As Donna and I take up to two cruises a year, we have gotten to know plenty of crew, some of them former shipmates of Generoso’s. Like the ringleader at a family reunion, I’d find myself updating Generoso on how his friends were doing on the other cruise ships, and telling them about their fellow crewmate.
It helps that I’m one of those people who will strike up a conversation with anyone. From commodore to stevedore, I want to know how you’re doing. Same goes for Generoso. A consummate host, he is also a genuinely kind and considerate person.
Alas, how he’d prove that to us! A few months ago, Emerald Princess docked for the day in Greenock, Scotland, about an hour from my house. Generoso’s wife was on board. The plan was for Donna and me to pick them up, take them around the area and go shopping for those long-awaited trews.
He quickly gave up his opportunity to do so and did something so incredible for Donna and me instead. That very day in Greenock was also our 16th wedding anniversary. So instead of hosting Generoso in Greenock, Glasgow and environs, he said he’d host us for an intimate (and surprise!) vow renewal.
Generoso knew the story of how Donna had turned me down once before, when I wanted to renew our vows during a cruise. She preferred to do it on our actual anniversary. So we traded emails about staging a secret ceremony.
We arrived at the ship after going through the different levels of security and met Generoso and Commodore Giuseppe Romano in the atrium. We all had coffee and took a quick tour of the ship, landing on deck 16, where the wedding chapel is located. A number of officers were present, wearing dress whites, and Donna remarked that someone must have just gotten married.
As we approached the chapel, she was handed a bouquet of flowers. The pianist started to play the wedding march, the doors were flung open and we were beckoned, holding hands, toward the Commodore to renew our vows.
The Princess photographer snapped away to record the event and our friend Generoso, stood to the side, beaming. Halfway through the event, he was handed a box of tissues as a tear or two glimmered in his eye.
Afterwards, we had a great lunch of Italian food with the Executive Chef, the Commodore and Generoso joining us. We talked about past cruises, how much we loved the sea and just enjoyed one another’s company. As the meal winded down, presto, photos of the ceremony arrived.
Donna had been completely taken by surprise and so had I, even though I was in on the secret from the get go. Generoso had enlisted staff—on a port day that could be spent catching up on work or on break—to stage such a lovely day for us.
He is the epitome of a true friend to me. I eagerly await his next tour through Greenock so I can take him trews shopping and begin to return the hospitality.
Steve resides in Stirling, Scotland. He and Donna will have enjoyed 20 Princess cruises by the end of the year. You’ll find Steve wearing his kilt aboard the inaugural voyage of the new Royal Princess on June 16, 2013! When not cruising, he can be found playing or walking his Samoyed dog, Shogun.