welcome to our archives of heart-warming stories from the world of cruising...compiled each issue from readers' contributions...

november 2002

look behind you

This is one of those “I don’t believe it” stories, but trust me – it’s true. And I should know, because I was there in the internet cafe aboard Adventure of the Seas when it all happened.

I was e-mailing my son in Toronto, a regular daily event to remind him that he wasn’t to trash the house. Next to me was an elderly gentleman who was having some problems with using the mail system.

He wasn’t used to computers, he said, so I helped him a little, and we got chatting and I discovered that he was e-mailing his daughter. She had sent him and his wife on the cruise as a surprise anniversary gift and he wanted to let her know what a wonderful time they were having.

But I could tell that it really wasn’t that wonderful after all.

This was the first time he and his wife had been away at a time the family traditionally spent together, he told me. His wife was missing the family and the grandchildren, and reading between the lines, I guessed that, grateful though they were for the trip, they would much rather have celebrated it at home with the family around them.

The next day, in the late afternoon, I found him there again. He was looking a little puzzled, and he showed me an e-mail message from his daughter. She had written to him with very specific instructions that he was to be in the internet cafe the next day, their anniversary, at exactly 3pm, with his wife, to await a message from her.

The next day, though I had already sent my daily warning of dire consequences to my son if he should even think of throwing a party for his college friends during our absence, I turned up in the cafe at 3pm to see if the couple needed help. I sent another message from my own computer next to them, and looked across to see how they were getting on.

They were both sitting there, staring at the screen, in the e-mail program, waiting for the message and looking more than a little worried. We waited for a while. Nothing happened. I reminded them to click the refresh button. We waited again.....and then there appeared the awaited message.

It was very short. All it said, was “Look behind you!”

We all swung round, and there, through the door emerged, a young woman, surrounded by a babble of youngsters and what seemed to be her husband and an assortment of adults all looking very similar. It was the whole family.

She grinned and said simply “Hi Mum, Hi Dad!” and all the kids rushed forward. “We knew you didn’t want to be alone today, so we decided to join you for the rest of the trip!”

If that’s not heart-warming, I don’t know what is!

And for those who want to know – yes, it was me who sent the message! The anniversary couple’s daughter works in my Fort Lauderdale office. All it took was a little planning, a little imagination, and a whole lot of love.

september 2002

reality check

Sailing from island to island in the tropical magnificence of French Polynesia, lolling about the deck of our cruise ship, sipping exotic cocktails and being spritzed with Evian water as we lay baking in the sun, it was just all too easy to get caught up in the magic of it all, and forget that the realities of life were only a few feet away.

It took a wonderful couple, Betty and Hank Freedman, on our last cruise from Tahiti to remind us of true values and this heart warming story is dedicated to them.

On a stop at one of the magnificent Tahitian islands on a Sunday morning, a handful of cruise passengers followed the directions of a few locals to a church service. The hall which served as the church was crowded when they arrived, but room was quickly made for them, the locals bunching up together. The singing was magnificent but the real charm of the service was that it was a family outing, with people coming and going and children playing in the aisles.

As they left (amid smiles and waves from the locals), one of the passengers, Betty Freedman from Florida, spotted a note pinned on a message-board appealing for clothes for a local family who had lost all their possessions in a disastrous fire.

On the return to the ship, she and her husband rallied their fellow cruise passengers, bullied us out of our complacency and within an hour or two had collected five bags of practical clothes from fellow cruisers which they then delivered to the church. They only made it back just in time before we sailed for our next destination.

It was the best moment of the cruise.

Thank you, Betty and Hank, for reminding us of the joy of giving. It was far more therapeutic than any number of exotic cocktails, being spritzed with Evian water or enjoying hours lolling about the deck.

july 2002

SeaEscape crew saves overboard passenger

For all of us who have stood at the rails of our cruise ship and wondered what wold happen if we fell overboard, this double heart warming story from Richard Barrow tells the tale of a man rescued at sea and the recognition his rescuers received for their quick thinking.

The crew of SeaEscape, a day cruise sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, recently honored two crew members for their quick actions in saving the life of a 46-year-old man who climbed over the railing of the ship and either jumped or fell into the sea.

Elsie Libre, an accountant, and Yeoman Francisco Fernandez were in their office on the boat deck when they saw the passenger climb the railing and go overboard. They immediately threw the man a lifeline and quickly informed the captain.

While the man clung to the lifeline, other crew members lowered a lifeboat and the man was rescued only nine minutes after going overboard. He was examined by a ship's doctors and went home with friends.

"The quick thinking and reactions by Elsie and Francisco saved that man's life," a SeaEscape executive told us here at Prow's Edge. "No doubt about it."

A reassuring tale for all of us.

SeaEscape is a day cruise that sails 13 times each week out of Port Everglades aboard the M/V Island Adventure, a 512-foot ship that carries more than 1,000 passengers. The five and six-hour cruises sail
every afternoon except Monday and every evening. SeaEscape cruises feature a full Las Vegas-style casino, live entertainment in the show lounge and on the pool deck, an extensive free buffet, and upgraded gourmet dining and service.

For more information visit the website at www.seaescape.com

may 2002

miracle mutt rescued at sea

UPDATE: June 23rd, 2002: : Hokget, the dog rescued in April after being abandoned at sea for nearly a month, is reported to be healthy and happy at the Kaua'i Humane Society where she is in quarantine quarters for the required amount of time until Michael and Helen Kuo, a Honolulu couple can officially adopt her and play out the end of this heart warming rescue story. See below for the full story of Hokget's amazing rescue.

miracle mutt rescued at sea

While en route to Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati from Kona, Hawaii, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star observed a distress flare from an Indonesian fishing supply ship with twelve people onboard

The ship, INSIKO 1907 from Jakarta Indonesia, was adrift 220 nautical miles South West of Hawaii after experiencing an engine fire that left it disabled and without power, or any means of communication.

Crew onboard Norwegian Star initiated a rescue operation using one of the vessel's rescue boats.

Of the 12 people onboard INSIKO 1907 there were 11 survivors and one deceased, a crew member killed during the engine fire – and sadly - one crew member left behind – Forgea, the captain’s dog.

On hearing of the plight of man’s best friend, the Hawaiian Humane Society mounted a huge rescue operation to locate the tanker and rescue the dog, but no trace of the vessel was found - until a US Coast Guard plane spotted the INSIKO 1907 a few hundred miles from the islands of Hawaii.

Catching sight of the missing dog, the plane flew low over the ship and dropped their packed lunches onto the deck, and within hours, the crew of a nearby fishing boat boarded the vessel and rescued Forgea, now known to all as "Miracle Mutt".

Continuing their valiant efforts, the Hawaiian Humane Society was able to arrange for the successful rescue of the dog and Pamela Burns, president of the Hawaiian Humane Society, says the white mixed-breed terrier is doing well.

“Never before in our experience has a single dog captivated the attention of animal lovers from all over the world. We are very thrilled and so relieved that Forgea is safe. We are very grateful to the U.S. Coast Guard, American Marine Corporation and the crew of the American Quest, and to The Humane Society of the United States for their assistance in this rescue. We also want to acknowledge the many good wishes that we have received. Mahalo and thank you all for all your support.”

The Hawaiian Humane Society is a private, non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of more than 10,000 individuals who support the care of neglected and homeless animals in Hawaii. Your gift of $15, $25, $50 or more will make a difference for Hawaii's animals.

Click here for more information

april – 2002

(A true story from our reader and subscriber, Mary Rydell, proving that every now and again, strangers can get together and do something truly wonderful for each other.)

With a little bit of help from total strangers...

Anyone who has had to sail away on a cruise with their baggage still stuck somewhere on route in a far away airport will know how easily this can ruin a vacation. But for Mary Rydell, on a cruise to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary, the experience turned out to be one of the most heartwarming moments in her life.

Three hours out of Fort Lauderdale on her Caribbean cruise , Mary discovered that her luggage was not sailing with her. There was no record of it and it seemed unlikely that it would be found and delivered to the ship in time for the special anniversary dinner in three days time.

It was a huge disappointment for her. Both she and her husband had been saving for this trip for many years, and the pride of the occasion was going to be the new gown she had bought - a luxury she could not really afford but which she had been persuaded to buy to mark the event. But now her gown and the rest of her luggage were still missing.

Despite her disappointment, Mary did her best to remain cheerful, making quips and jokes about her now very limited wardrobe with her fellow passengers and endearing herself to everyone around her. She brushed away their concerns with a smile. "I'll win the bingo jackpot" she told them with a twinkle in her eye, "and then I can afford that blue gown in the boutique!" She had seen the gown the day before - almost a replica of the one she had originally bought. Her husband suggested they buy it - but she knew they could not afford it. "Not for one evening," she told him. "I was silly to buy the first one – and look – I was proved right!"

The journey carried on, Mary and her husband made more friends, and were widely admired for the way in which they were both determined to make the best of things. But still the luggage did not arrive.

Just after lunch on the last day, the day of the special evening, despondent though she had tried not to be, Mary made her way back to her cabin, opened the door and looked across to the bed – and gasped in surprise: not her luggage - but the beautiful silk gown from the ship's boutique, all wrapped in cellophane and sparkling in the rays of light from the porthole. The card attached said:

"Happy Anniversary - with love from your fellow passengers!"

february – 2002

Bringing the family together...

A California man granted his wife the 50th birthday wish of her lifetime by bringing together 40 family members from four states for a "royal" birthday and holiday celebration onboard Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, departing from Miami on December 23 for a seven-night holiday cruise.

Patricia Malmed of Pleasanton, California was joined by eight of her nine siblings, their 13 children, her parents, in-laws, several nieces and nephews, and two four-year old grandchildren to celebrate her golden milestone, which fallson Christmas Day.

"This year, more than ever, I wanted all my family members together in one location, and my dear mother not to have to make special preparations this holiday season," she said.

According to Malmed, it has been 12 years since the entire family was together for the holidays, and the first time she and her siblings have taken a vacation together since they were kids.

december – 2001

Never Afraid!

A California family of five drove over 6,300 miles to sail on Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, departing from Miami, in an extraordinary response to the September 11 attacks. The Nieto family of Fairfield, California were booked to take a long-awaited cruise aboard Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas on September 16, 2001. When it appeared that airline schedule disruptions might prevent them from air travel to Miami, the Nieto's decided to "pack it all in" and make the roundtrip journey to Miami by car. The family of five's motivation wasn't solely that of a vacation. They wanted their family experience to be a lesson learned from the tragic
events of only a few days before.

"As a family, we didn't want terrorists to deter us from our plans," said mother, Charlene Nieto. "We wanted our kids to learn the example of not being afraid."

october – 2001

Beatrice Muller - Never Far from her Husband

Our enthusiastic contributor, Doug Yochim is proud of his three Atlantic crossings aboard the famous QE2 and he doesn't need much coaxing to show you his framed certificates or the Waterford Crystal Ship's Bell he was given on the special Atlantic crossing celebrating Cunard's 250 years in service.

But he has a long way to go to beat some of his fellow passengers, like the Rosenbergs from the Isle of Man, who have recently booked their seventh cruise, or the American widow, Beatrice Muller, who has crossed the Atlantic no fewer than 30 times aboard the QE2.

And that's not just a tall story. Our contributor, Doug, has met the now famous American widow - at the crack of dawn and in the most unlikely of places : the laundry room aboard the QE2.

Packing the machines and waiting for the dryers to do their smalls, Bea told him her story.

Her tale begins on a world cruise aboard the QE2 when tragedy struck and Bea's husband died at sea. Knowing how much he loved the ocean, and cruising, Bea decided to have him cremated and buried at sea – and, well, basically, Bea has hardly ever left the ship again.

But this is not a Miss Havisham type story. No cobwebs or clocks stopped at a certain time. Bea's philosophy is that life is to be lived, and that the costs of this amazing lifestyle is no more than she would pay at a good retirement centre somewhere on land.

She is active and popular aboard ship and is constantly making new friends she visits again when she hits their ports! But the warmest part of the story is, perhaps, that she wherever she goes, she is always on the ocean - and she's never far from her husband.

If you have any heart-warming tales to tell - about cruises or fellow passengers - drop us a line here at prow's edge and join our competition