Cruising the Caribbean with My Hero

by Tanner Bowman

Together aboard Island Princess last year
Together aboard Island Princess last year

When I was six, my grandfather took me on a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean. The first thing I thought seeing Emerald Princess was “Wow, what a big cruise ship!” Then I saw the food. I loved all the food on board.

I am 12 now and I took four cruise vacations in all with my grandfather. If it hadn’t been for him, I would not know what it was like to be a traveler. I was only three weeks old when we took our first trip. My grandfather picked me up in his motor home and off we went.

When I was little, I’d hear people call him Arnie, so that is what I called him, too. Arnie was basically my hero. He was a marine, he was tough and he was a war hero.

He was also my buddy. I think we were truly happiest together on the cruise ships. We took four cruises together, fitting them into my school vacations, always on Princess Cruises. The first two were to the Caribbean; then we took an Alaska cruise and last, we went on a Panama Canal cruise. Together, we explored Emerald Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess and Sapphire Princess.

We loved Movies Under the Stars and having burgers by the pool. I’d go swimming, then eat, back and forth. Probably our best times were sitting on the deck, talking to my favorite person and watching TV in his stateroom until bed time.

My grandfather always made me feel special. When he took me on a cruise, he’d let me pick the shore excursions and he’d go on them, too, no matter what I picked. He never looked at the price; he’d just look at my face to see if I was happy.

I didn’t always realize that sometimes I’d pick shore excursions that could be tough on him, but my grandfather never complained. He loved all kinds of adventure.

On our last cruise together, we were on Island Princess. I picked excursions riding a raft in Jamaica and a train ride along the Panama Canal and another through a banana plantation in Costa Rica. Arnie had just had a knee replaced and was using a cane, but he still went on those excursions with me. I get emotional when I think of the things he’d do for me.

On his last cruise, even though it was cold and rainy and he was struggling with illness, he took a taxi 80 minutes round trip from Grand Princess to the Maritime Museum in Southampton to get me a model of the Titanic. We used to love to talk about ships and he would buy me model ships from all over the world. Looking at that Titanic ship on my book shelf after he died really broke me up.

When he died, on December 5, 2012, all I could think of was my best friend was gone, my traveling buddy was gone. There would be no more sitting on deck talking, no more planning the next cruise.

We’d already booked our next trip, March of 2013, during my spring break. My grandmother thought about canceling, but everyone told us to go. It was a cruise to the Caribbean on the Emerald Princess, where it all began. We went and toasted him.

If it weren’t for my grandfather, I wouldn’t be interested in ships and traveling the way I am.

He has inspired me to be like him when I become a grandfather. I am going to take my grandchildren on cruise ships just like he did with me.

I will always remember my best friend, my grandfather, Arnold Rosenberg, Korean War veteran and Elite Princess Cruises passenger.

Tanner Bowman, now 12, has taken five Princess Cruises.  His next one will be a transatlantic crossing on Royal Princess in October, to fulfill a promise his grandfather made, to take him to Europe when he turned 12.