A CRUISE REUNION
As one gets into the Golden Years, the desire to reconnect with the past seems to capture one’s fascination, so with that in mind, some of my UC Berkeley friends have decided to hold annual reunions. This year, our New York sorority sister, Marie Chan Lee planned a Fall Foliage cruise on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship so we Californians: Louise Look, Elaine Chew, Muriel Kao, Dali Jones. Gloria Hom and myself, jetted to NYC to catch this 3,000 passenger ship. Although we had all visited its destination ports of Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, St. John and Halifax years before, the ship’s Shore Excursion Manager, A. J. Singh had planned such a variety of tours at each city that there was always something new to see and do during our short seven day cruise. A.J.’s smiling face greeted each tour guest as they left the ship to board gleaming comfortable busses, and was amazingly there at the end of the tour day to welcome everyone back on ship, making sure everyone was happy with what they saw that day. Born in the Philippines of Indian and Filipino ancestry, A.J. has been the only Asian Shore Manager on Princess’ many ships for the past three years, but I suggest if Princess Headquarters can find other Asian clones like him, get them on board right away as all the passengers loved his energy and friendly manner. A.J. speaks four languages – English, Indian, Pagallo and Spanish – and one can easily see he loves what he is doing, which, to quote him, “is to provide the best vacation sightseeing trip for all of our destination areas.”
Through his guidance to our group, the historians were thrilled to see and learn about the turn of the century grande Newport mansions, the history of the Concord and Lexington battles that started the Revolutionary War and Canada’s oldest settlement of St. John, discovered in 1604. For nature lovers, they were driven to the colorful forests, the rocky cliffs, and the sparkling lakes of the Acadia National Park, neighboring areas of Bar Harbor, and all around the eastern coastline sights, including the migrating whales and old time lighthouses.Enjoying the ports and the many amenities on the ship were our fellow companions:Mona Eldridge – London; Pat and Bill Bryant from Bakewell, England, Doris & Joe Pummil – Berkeley, CA and Ann Yu Rigby- Stamford, Ct. Sophie Lou of Fort Lee, N.J celebrated her 80th birthday on ship with her brothers and sisters Tony & Pearl from London, Peter and Ruby, N.Y. and Richard from Palo Alto, CA. joining her for the celebration with three nieces.
Caribbean Princess Captain Marco Fortezze was a gracious host showing us the wonderful view from his Bridge and its navigational equipment, and every night we enjoyed the shows Cruise Director Neil Roberts offered, whether it be the splashy colorful song and dance shows, the clever magic and hula hoop demonstrations in the Piazza, the staff Karaoke contest or the music offerings in the many bar areas for dancing, or listening. And one can’t forget that cruising is definitely an adventure into eating at all times of the day, and whatever your heart desires. On deck outdoor movie screen allowed one to relax in lounge chairs while watching movies on the baolmy days. Over 30 year veteran with Princess Lines, Maitre d’Hotel Giorgio Pisano is a host extraordinaire, not only taking time to greet each Dining Room guest nightly but preparing special pasta appetizers to our liking. He surprised Marie Lee and me with a birthday cake one night although our birthdays had happened the week before boarding. Hotel General Manager Claudio Mazzoni summed it up nicely saying that their goal is to help patrons escape completely their everyday life and experience the vacation of their dreams. For this 50 year reunion group, as well as many many other Asian Americans on board we met from Europe, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines, a week on a Princess Cruise Line provided a memorable vacation, no matter what age, interest or desire. Bon Voyage and let’s meet again for another adventure on the high seas with Princess.
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS HERE AND ABROAD
Sylvia Young, returned from her travels in China, in time to celebrate her Dragon Day birthday in Honolulu with a typical Hawaiian/Chinese buffet with ukelele music and merriment. Sylvia is an international flea, flying to Hong Kong and China at a moment’s notice, this year accompanying gracious veteran movie actress Lisa Liu on her many film assignments and honors programs. Californians flying over to celebrate with Sylvia included the Joe and Cathy Wus, Larry and Helen Chews, Roger and Sylvia Engs. Howard and Pat Lums and Don and Jeanette Wong.
Husband Calvin was surprised with a humongous birthday cake ordered by our favorite tour guide, Frank Chang at Beijing’s trendy Da Dong Restaurant last month. At this farewell dinner of our tour visiting Jiuzhaugou, Chengdu and Zhangjiajie, the 18 members of our group all proclaimed him to be the strongest and active of the group, in spite of his age, because he climbed the 999 steps to the grand circle type opening at the top of Tianmen Mountain where airplanes had flown through before.