Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 25, 2015

Transatlantic Crossing

No, this is not anything close to the Titanic. Just the opposite.

After hearing about a re-positioning cruise that our dear friends, the Sankurs, had taken, I knew this was a trip I wanted to experience. I thought about doing the same crossing as they had done - from Southampton, UK to Ft. Lauderdale.

But how could I do this without giving my wife advanced notice?

You have to understand my better-half. You see, she is a perfectionist and if I told her, she would start planning things down to the minutest detail.  Sometimes, she drives me crazy with her detailed perfections, but, I love her none-the-less.

When I finally decided to tell my wife about my wanting to make the crossing by ship, she immediately went into overdrive, looking into and booking all the cruise details. Even though she has retired from Delta Air Lines, she has retained the Delta family mentality and spirit.

She is always proper and neat, always dressed well, and always worries about us "getting a seat on the flight," or what is referred to as non-rev travel. I thank Delta for that, but I believe all airlines do the same for their employees and retirees. When it comes to travel, that is just the way she is.

In fact, I wrote a fictional story about her entitled, "Joana Miller" which is included on this blog.

For this trip, she booked a re-positioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Malaga, Spain with port stops in the Azores, Lisbon, Cadiz and Gibraltar. Instead of our usual travel plans to non-rev on Delta, my wife decided to buy tickets on Virgin America, nonstop from LAX to FLL.

In her foxy way, she knows how to please her man.

I have always wanted to travel Virgin, just to see what eccentric Richard has done with the airline business. And, we were pleasantly surprised with a comfortable, smooth flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We spent the night at a hotel close to Port Everglades, stocked up on bottled water and wine, and tried to get a good night's sleep.

The next morning we boarded the Celebrity Equinox. This, my friends, is not just a ship, but a high-rise floating hotel on water. I mean to say, I wrote about navy carriers with three-and-a-half acre decks from which the fighter jets landed and took off in Murder on the Naval Base.

But this one is something else!

The Equinox is entirely self-contained, crossing the Atlantic in six days before reaching the Azores, then another two days before reaching Lisbon. My wife's detailed planning made the trip total bliss. We had a state room overlooking the water, our own balcony, and two cabin attendants that met our every need.

Each day our cabin was made up impeccably, including fresh flowers and fruit.

We have found that when on a cruise, one meets a variety of interesting characters, some who seem to have never learned about the things that matter in life, others seemingly still struggling to figure it all out.

Some of the cruisers are the 'been there, done that' kind of people, talking about fifty-grand here and a hundred-grand there; always trying to make an impression on others.

In other words, what they are trying to say is, "I am a big shot, pay attention to me."

To those who have experienced life's tragedies, it is rather sad, if you know what I mean.

Our dining table, a table for ten, sat in the exact center of the Silhouette dining room under an immense crystal chandelier.

Our waiter, Metin, a Turkish national, was, I have to say, possibly the best waiter I have ever encountered. I was so proud of him and the way he handled himself.

Our wine steward, Yan, from China, was a beautiful girl and reminded me of my dear friend Laura, who recently passed away and so I called her Laura and she called us Kaya.

I must admit all of this must have been serendipity. Besides our efficient waiter and wine steward, we made friends easily with the other four couples.

One couple, Rosemary and Michael, were retired bankers from Germany. They were a most enjoyable couple to talk to. Rosemary was a thin woman and seemed overly concerned about how much she ate. She always left something on her plate for her husband, Michael, to finish.

Then again, I must say I have done the same thing many times over.

No matter how small of a portion my wife has on her plate, she will leave something. Usually I finish everything on my plate and anything left on her plate because, in the back of my mind, I still hold on to my childhood memories that I will never have another dinner like that for a long time.

Another couple was from Philadelphia. Sharon loved to talk about all her extensive, and I mean extensive, travels and her husband is retired and now volunteers in a hospital two days a week.

Major "Dutch" and his wife Barb have a ranch in Arizona right on the Mexican border and oh, the stories Dutch could tell. His wife, Barb, is a petite, bubbly woman. This is their second time around in matrimony and it is quite obvious how happy and devoted they are to each other.

The first night we dined together was a formal night and Dutch proudly wore his medals.

One that caught my attention was the Purple Heart and he explained how he had earned it during the Vietnam War after stepping on a land mine. I immediately thought, oh, there is a story here to tell, and wanted them to know I was a writer.

The next night, after discussing my books and writing, I offered to write Dutch's story. I gave him my card to check out my writing, but he humbly said that his story was not anything special. I beg to differ, but that is how he felt.

The fourth couple, Steve and Bonnie, are also from Arizona, but live in Phoenix.

They immediately became our favorite couple and we sat and talked and talked each evening.

They are several years older, but seem much younger, happy and full of life and are proud to say they have been married over 52 years.

Steve makes jokes about everything and Bonnie has a very gentle spirit. Both have retired from successful careers; have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On the last formal night I brought my camera to take pictures, after which I asked Metin and Yan to stand behind my wife and I for more pictures. We all exchanged e-mails and Facebook names. And, as with most encounters, promises were made and some quickly forgotten.

But the shared experiences and lovely dinners with such wonderful people will stay with us for a very long time.