It was at the end of August in 2001 that we sailed for the first time with Carnival Cruise Lines. Sydney and Whitney were in high school and taking the cruise then would cause Whitney to miss band practice, but we went anyway. It was a bold move on our part to go when everyone else was getting ready to go back to school, but one that would change the dynamic of our family forever.
In the newspaper business at the time, I rarely took time off of work, the last family vacation being a trip from our home in suburban Kansas City to Florida to visit Disney World. We went in June and the happiest place on Earth was anything but for two fighting sisters during a rainy week of me wondering “why did we spend this fortune to come here again?” When time allowed another trip, cruising sounded like a good idea but we hedged our bet, booking what was then called a category 12 Penthouse suite on Carnival Fascination thinking “If this ship is all full of old people, at least we’ll have a space of our own to escape to”.
That short sailing of Carnival Fascination went from Miami to Key West and Cozumel but it did not take the entire journey to count cruise vacations as a viable option for the entire family. In fact, by the end of the first day we all agreed it was the best vacation ever. By the end of the cruise the only regret we had was that it did not last longer. The rest is history as we sailed multiple times a year ever since then on nearly every cruise line.
But that first sailing of Carnival Fascination will always have a special place in our hearts. Not so much because it was our first family cruise. Not because of the way the crew of Carnival Fascination brilliantly orchestrated the experience. Not even because of how the cruise industry has enabled so many people who might not have traveled far from home with an affordable way to do so; opening up a great big beautiful world to them. It was because of a few words said by the Captain of Carnival Fascination on the last night of the cruise.
I have long forgotten his name but will never forget his words as he thanked us for sailing with him and hoped we would come back again.
“We hope you have enjoyed your cruise and the service we have provided over the course of our journey. The crew is made up of 17 different nationalities, all working together, as one, to bring what you have experienced. We think that’s the way the world should be and hope you do too“
The packed theater agreed with a cheering, standing ovation the likes of which I have not seen since.
Shortly after our voyage the tragic events of 9/11 would occur, changing the way we travel in the future forever. From that day forward, the way we sail, fly and even enter public places has been affected and there has always been a television in our home office turned on to CNN.