About a year ago Randy came into my office and laid down a sheaf of papers announcing: Legendary Journeys Presents our exclusive “Once in a lifetime Oasis of the Seas Cruise Tour”. The package included a 42 day cruise that included port stops in Malaga, Barcelona and Vigo Spain, Rome and Naples, Italy plus a 16 day-15 night escorted bus tour of Europe that included stops in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and England.
After I read the packet I thought it was a very ambitious undertaking. We had only been away from home that long back in 2000 when we took a 7-week motorcycle trip around the US and Canada visiting many national parks and stopping to see family and friends along the way.
We had been on many cruises but this; this was a trip that would take us across the Atlantic Ocean to the continent of Europe. The trip was unique because it actually incorporated five cruises. The first was a 12-day repositioning cruise, the second and third were 5-day cruises to and from Barcelona, the fourth a 7-day cruise to Rotterdam. The fifth and last portion of the tour following the land tour would be a 12-day cruise back to the USA.
I was curious as to why Randy was considering this particular cruise and tour and asked, “What exactly is that attracted you to this trip?”
It was obvious from his answer that he had given a great deal of thought to this venture and that the trip had strains of nostalgia running through it going back to the late 50’s when Randy and his family lived in Naples, Italy for several years while his father, a Lieutenant commander in the Navy, served at NATO headquarters in Bagnoli, Italy.
“I have always wanted to return to Naples to see how the place had changed over the past 50+ years. Also, to see if the city and the surroundings that I saw through the eyes of a 15-year old teenager were similar to the eyes of an adult. I want to see my old school, the apartment where my family and I lived and maybe where my family used to go sailing,” Randy said.
Randy and his family made the trip to Naples in 1957 on the SS Constitution and he said, “I am also anxious to see the differences in crossing on the Oasis”.
“I remember crossing on the Constitution being very rough and getting sea sick and, I did not want that to happen again. I remember how cold it was and, the winds. We were in an inside cabin all together. On this trip you and I will be on the outside with a balcony. WOW!” Randy said excitedly.
Then Randy looked me in the eyes and said, “The biggest reason I want to take this trip is to see the excitement in your eyes when you see things that you have only seen in books or movies. Doing this together is something I am really excited about”.
That cinched it! We signed up and spent the year making preparations for this once in a lifetime adventure.
Two things we had to take in consideration as we prepared for the trip was my apprehension of being on the water for so many days and reaching the level of diamond on the Royal Caribbean cruise line before we sailed.
So, we set about taking a 21-day cruise on the Star Princess to Hawaii in February and learned that one day or 5 days being on the sea was great so nine days would make no difference. Then we took a 7-day cruise in May on the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas to the central Caribbean and achieved our Diamond status.
Before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags, make arrangements to get to the bus that would take us to the pier and say goodbye to family and friends.
Tomorrow we board the Oasis.