We all have friends from our personal life and friends from our work life, but for those of us who sail the seas, we also have Cruise friends. What makes these friends so unique is that we first meet as sea, away from our everyday comfort zones. And chances are we would never have met under any other circumstances.
Many of these people are fascinating, with occupations and interests I might never have known of otherwise.
There was the Englishman whose usual occupation is chauffering tourists. However, when the Queen is in his area of southern England, his job is to open the automobile door when she exits, and open it again for her return. Only that, nothing else.
There was a Scotsman who creates the formulas for the paint on the outside of cruise ships. This also includes guarding the secret recipe for Cunard Red.
Have you ever sat on the deck of a ship in an industrial area and watched the machines that resemble Star Wars characters attach giant magnets to the tops of shipping containers and then move them from one stack to another or delicately and precisely drop them onto a flatbed truck? I met a man who does the computer programming in container ports that allows that to happen accurately.
One of my all-time favorite moments was sitting on deck with the late mystery writer, P.D. James. When I asked her how she became interested in what the British call ‘crime writing’, and Americans call mystery books, she said “When I was young and learned about Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall, my first thought was ‘Who pushed him?’”
We dined for a week with an elderly woman who was Paul Newman’s babysitter and taught him how to swim. And another time, shared a table with a honeymooning couple in their late 80s who were late to dinner most nights for, in their own words, “the same reason any honeymooners are late to dinner!” More power to them.
On a two month South American cruise, developed a friendship with a doctor from Taiwan who had been a personal physician to Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.
On the same cruise, we met a Guest Chef on a an excursion to a hacienda in Ecuador that grows cocoa beans. That grew into a holiday card friendship. But after we met again two years later at sea and discovered we both love the same brand of French shoes, we truly bonded .
A shore excursion to watch penguins in the Falkland Islands led to a longstanding friendship with a First Officer and his wife. We have promised to sail on his ship when he becomes Captain.
And a game of bridge became a twenty year relationship with a British judge at the Old Bailey and his wife. Never did I think I would watch someone don a powdered wig!
My husband entered a cooking competition with two women, one from Arizona and one from Sweden. We have been on three subsequent cruises with each couple, and we will be sailing around the World in January with our Swedish friends.
We have even become friendly with a travel agent and his wife, and now I am happy to collaborate with him to enhance the cruise experience of his clients. You guessed, that is Ken!