Finding Friendships in an Empty Town

Male, Maldives
May 31, 2011
It serves as a reminder that when you are open to new people, places and cultures, you open yourself up to new friendships, memorable experiences and great memories. And things happen!
Finding Friendships in an Empty Town Stephanie enjoying her quiet day in Male.

My husband, Mike, and I are two of a kind. We both love to travel, and we make a point of getting into the thick of any place we visit. No staying on the ship for us while in port – we disembark, are always ready for adventure, and somehow it always finds us.

Besides our family, travel is a major focus of our personal lives. We designed it that way. Early in our marriage, Mike had established an executive search firm – recruiting upper management executives for national companies.  I was working for a small technology company. I remember us driving in the car one day, listening to Jimmy Buffett on the radio, when Mike began urging me to find a job in the travel industry and said he’d help me “market” myself.  ”It’d be exciting,” he said, and we’d get to travel in our spare time.

Mike’s strategy turned out to be a good one. Before too long, I was happily working at Sitmar Cruises, which later became part of Princess Cruises, where I now hold a regional sales position.  In addition to a challenging career in an industry I love, we’ve certainly embraced the travel opportunities we’ve had. We’ve been to Beijing and Bangkok, Vietnam and Russia, across Europe and the Caribbean and up and down the coastlines of North and South America. Read More

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Thoughts About Memorial Day

Posted by Alan Buckelew
May 24, 2011

Posted by Alan Buckelew
President & CEO
May 24, 2011

Alan Buckelew, President and CEO of Princess Cruises.

When I was asked to contribute to the Princess blog last year, I thought long and hard about whether to share my experience returning to Vietnam.  I decided to take a chance and tell my Vietnam story.  I was completely overwhelmed by the responses of those who read my blog, so I have decided to share some additional thoughts as we celebrate Memorial Day 2011 in the U.S.  As a combat veteran, Memorial Day is very special to me.  As we are involved in three different conflicts in the Middle East this year, it’s a day all Americans should hold solemn.  While this is a U.S. holiday, the sacrifices made for freedom have not been confined to national borders.  The responses to my blog and the blog about ANZAC Day remind me that Memorial Day may be a U.S. holiday, but it is also a day of remembrance for all those lost by all nations in the protection of freedom around the world.

Memorial Day is the traditional beginning of summer for most Americans and is a time of picnics and family visits.  While that is certainly true of the holiday weekend, it should not be the case for Memorial Day itself.  We should all take some time to look backward, reflect on our history and remember our country’s traditions and values. We should honor those who gave their lives for the ideals laid out so brilliantly in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

More than a million American service members have died in the wars and conflicts our nation has fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775.  These brave soldiers, sailors, fliers and marines died protecting their country and what it stood for. They died defending a way of life that they felt was worth fighting and even dying for.  While many joined the military for Country and Flag, when put into combat those ideals quickly take a back seat to the desire to fight for one’s team.  The bond between combat soldiers is unique, powerful and is the glue that keeps fighting units together.

On Memorial Day we honor our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, not war itself.  We honor not a political ideology, but rather those who have given their lives so others could live and flourish.  As President Kennedy once said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Memorial Day is a day we should honor and remember those men and women who gave their lives in battle.

It is easy to confuse honoring our military dead with honoring war itself, as we tend to glorify our war victories when discussing our fallen warriors.  I hope we have learned not to confuse the warrior with the war.  We made that mistake during the Vietnam War and millions of service people suffered accordingly.  I know it affected me.  In thinking about how to make this point, I am reminded of the inscription on the memorial to Confederate soldiers in Arlington Cemetery, one of the very few monuments to a vanquished army.  While this memorial was built to remember the fallen Confederate soldiers, it easily applies to all who serve in the military.  It says simply:

Not for fame or reward
Not for place or for rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Sacrificed all
Dared all–and died

It is tempting to become a little melancholy when contemplating all those who have given their “last full measure of devotion,” as President Lincoln so eloquently put it.  But as General Patton said, “Thank God that men and women like these lived, rather than regret that they died.”  So with that advice I suggest we honor our fallen for their sacrifices, but also celebrate their lives.

While my Vietnam unit had a fantastic record of success, never losing a single soldier to enemy action in the year I served, we did however lose one of our team to friendly fire.  I will be thinking of him and his family on Memorial Day.  I am close to his family, particularly his sister, and my thoughts will be with all of his family on this most difficult of days for them.  This Memorial Day weekend will take me to Washington, D.C. as my mother-in-law is laid to rest with her husband in Arlington Cemetery.  While there, my family and I will have the honor of visiting the Vietnam Memorial and observing the Rolling Thunder “Ride to the Wall,” a motorcycle ride to support POW/MIAs.  One of my Fox Force teammates will be riding in that wondrous event and I look forward to seeing him as well as any other of my old teammates who may be in town.  I will be wearing my red scarf to honor my old team.  It is always a moving experience for me to visit the Vietnam Memorial or “the Wall” as it is called.  I suspect it will be doubly moving on Memorial Day weekend, when I view the name of my fallen team member on that somber wall.  While Memorial Day is for those who died in combat, I can’t help but think of all the thousands of service members who were wounded while serving, as in my mind this is their day too.  I am lucky to have escaped any injury while serving in a combat unit, but many were not so fortunate; many are reminded every day of their sacrifice and I think we owe them a special debt, not easily repaid.

For those who have never had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and its many memorials, you may have been fortunate enough to see the traveling version of the Wall, a half-scale version called The Wall That Heals.  Well, it will be in Orange, California the weekend of June 17 -19th and I have been asked to speak on the 18thThe Wall That Heals is funded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which manages the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. as well.

Also in Orange, the group will be collecting photos of the men and women whose names are on the Wall.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is working to gather all 58,272 photos of those with names etched into the memorial to make sure no face is ever forgotten – nearly 19,000 have been collected so far.  If you have a photo, please bring it with you to Orange so you can scan it to be shared on the memorial website’s Virtual Wall and in the future Education Center to be built on the National Mall in D.C.  You can also submit a photo online at

It is a great honor for me to be associated with this wonderful group that is safeguarding the memories of all those killed in Vietnam. I look forward to this event and invite you to drop by and witness this very moving memorial.

Read Alan’s story about his return to Vietnam, A Soldier Returns …. as a Tourist.

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A Crossing Between Worlds

Transatlantic Crossing
Posted by Michele Bosco
May 17, 2011
With nothing but deep, blue water and sky in the background, sunrises and sunsets took on a whole new dimension of beauty and majesty.
A Crossing Between Worlds A sunset photo I took during my crossing - so beautiful!

I remember when I arrived in the United States for the first time, with excitement in my heart … and a small ache in my back from being crammed into an airline seat for the long flight between Milan and Miami. I was on my way to Fort Lauderdale to start my new life working for Princess Cruises.

Fast forward more than 10 years and finally I was able to make the reverse trip in considerably better style – by ship. I set off across the Atlantic aboard Emerald Princess, my first ocean crossing.

Transatlantic sailings have been legendary since, well, at least the time of the Vikings. Still today there’s something momentous about crossing the incredible expanse of the Atlantic Ocean by ship. Regardless of which direction you go, this journey from one vast continent to another, between the New World and the Old, is filled with great lore, history and adventure.

I dreamed about travel adventures for most of my early life. I was born in the small village of Dervio, which sits on Lake Como, in north central Italy, close to the Swiss border. Read More

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Homeward Bound – Aloha Style

The Hawaiian Islands
Posted by John Chernesky
May 10, 2011
As we walked up to the Missouri, I was overtaken with a sense of pride for not only my father but for the countless sailors who devoted so much of their lives to this incredible battleship.
Homeward Bound – Aloha Style Here's my family - my wife, Kristi, and sons, John (left) and Michael (playing with his shark tooth necklace instead of looking at the camera), overlooking Waimea Canyon, truly one of the most spectacular places on earth.

A trip to Hawaii is always a sort of homecoming for me. Although I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 20 years now, Hawaii was the place of my birth (and yes, I have the birth certificate to prove it!). If you’ve ever flown into Honolulu and looked up to the hillside to see an ugly pink building reminiscent of a resort trapped in a bad time warp, that’s the site of my birth: Tripler Army Medical Center.

Living in Hawaii for the first seven years of my life was (particularly in hindsight) a gift from the heavens. My father was in the US Navy and worked on diesel submarines, thus we lived in Navy housing with Pearl Harbor as our backyard. Although my youth has long since drifted away, I still have glorious memories of my formative years, most of which I recall spent at the beach or climbing the banyan tree in our front yard. I guess it was the thing to do, but my sister and I didn’t exactly have Nintendo or Facebook to keep us otherwise occupied. Just running around in the tropical heat, watching our dog chase after the family of mongoose that had built a labyrinth of tunnels in our yard, was good enough for us.

Anyway, back to my homecoming trip. My wife, Kristi, and I love to travel and the thrill of scuba diving has taken us to exotic locales such as Australia, Fiji, Tahiti, Palau, Yap and the Galapagos Islands…just to name a few.  Then, one of both of us decided it would be a great idea to have a kid.   Read More

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The City that Knows No Age

New York, New York
Posted by Karen Reich
May 3, 2011
Here was the same view that greeted my grandparents as they embraced a new future – that inspiring first glimpse of Lady Liberty led to a better life for them, as well as for my parents, me and my children.
The City that Knows No Age Karen and her kids, Greg and Val, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My son first “visited” New York back in 1998, when I attended the naming ceremony of Grand Princess, which was then debuting as the biggest cruise ship in the world.  As part of the festivities, the ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty for a spectacular fireworks display.  Since I was pregnant at the time, my son was with me for the emotional moment as “America the Beautiful” resounded throughout the ship.  (Naturally, today I have no problem remembering the age of Grand Princess!) At that moment, I thought about my unborn son and dreamed about the day I would take him to see the “Big Apple.”

Ten years later we decided he, and the rest of our family, should really experience what New York has to offer.  So we set off, a family of born and bred Californians, including my husband Jon, son Greg, and daughter Val, headed for a place that often seemed as foreign a location as any country we have visited.

Even from that first drive into Manhattan from the airport, it’s clear that New York is an intense concentration of people and energy.  But with so many things to see and do here, it was obvious that we needed a plan. Read More

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Remembering Gallipoli

ANZAC Cove, Turkey
Posted by Osvaldo Tinacci
April 25, 2011
As the choir sang “Amazing Grace,” I was able to take a look at the shoreline off the side of the ship. I was struck by how quiet a place it is now, so peaceful. I found myself contemplating the futility of war, saddened at the number of lives lost in this very place.
Remembering Gallipoli ANZAC Cove, off the coast of Turkey where in 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I, the Allied troops made this area their main base.

ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on April 25 every year to honor members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. This week our blog expert, Osvaldo Tinacci, shares his story about visiting the historic site.

The military played a big part in my early life.  I suppose I even owe my existence to war, as my Italian father met my Scottish mother when he was a POW in England during World War II.  As a student, I attended military school and once I graduated I served in the Italian Army.  But I moved away from that world once my career transitioned to cruise ships, and my days became about taking care of my passengers.  Little did I know that one of the most moving experiences I would have in my job would be organizing a memorial service to remember veterans from a land far away from my own.

In 2009 I was proud to be part of the team to take Dawn Princess on her first world cruise from Sydney.  In looking at the itinerary we knew we would be passing by a site of great importance to people from Australia and New Zealand – ANZAC Cove on the coast of Turkey.   Read More

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