He ordered romance with all the trimmings – the stateroom door decorated with balloons inscribed with “Happy Anniversary;” a bouquet of red roses, a bottle of champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate placed in their cabin.
Wesley and Tracy Williams also had romance on their mind. For their 15th wedding anniversary, they too would sail away onPrincess, but their goal was to bring home more than a Hawaiian lei. Their dream was to mark the occasion with a piece of art bought at one of the ship’s fine art auctions.
Melodie and Eddie Carswell are crazy about wine and fine dining. To celebrate everything, they signed up for wine tastings to educate their palate and their wallets about the best wines to compliment a splendid dinner party.
The Nashs, Williams and Carswells are just three of the tens of thousands of couples who book a Princess cruise each year to celebrate their love and often to renew their wedding vows. Withsome 90 excursions to four Hawaiian Islands and Ensenada, Mexico to choose from, each of these couples could design their dream date in a very individual style.
Structure Spiced with Spontaneity
To Tracy, the perfect recipe for romance was a combination of structure spiced with spontaneity, not something the couple often has time for at home in Cedar Rapids where they balance time for each other with her career as a freelance web designer and his job at General Mills.
On January 27, they woke up early for what they thought would be a short but memorable lesson in American history – an excursion to the USS Arizona Memorial and city tour.
It was one of those lazy gorgeous afternoons in Honolulu when the sun seems to heighten the color and shapes of the flowers; the trade winds were blowing, perfuming the air sweet with the exotic perfume of plants and salt sea. Intoxicated by the sheer beauty of it all, they felt too restless to return directly to the Golden Princess after the USS Arizona visit. Driving through Chinatown on the bus back to the ship, they were intrigued by winding streets filled with curio and food specialty shops pretty foreign to life in Iowa, so they asked the driver to drop them off so they could explore.
Hand in hand they wandered through the neighborhood, stopping in at different shops to ask about displays they saw in the window. Wes suggested lunch at one of the little Chinese restaurants, and they spent the next hour sampling dishes they’d never tasted before.
Heady with the success of lunch and a little lit from the Chinese beers they’d shared, the couple prowled the market stalls in the city center, looking for the perfect souvenir to bring home in addition to the greatest buy of all – a signed and numbered special edition print they had purchased the day before at an art auction aboard ship.
“Wes had me wait while he we shopping on his own,” said Tracy. “When he returned, he had this cute little green sundress that he thought would look great on me. Sometimes he really has an eye for a good fit. One time he bought me a pair of shoes that I was sure would never fit or be comfortable enough for dancing. But they were just one of the best pairs of shoes I ever had, just like the dress. Getting a little surprise present like this was just so romantic!”
Feeling they never wanted the day to end, they spotted a sorbet café and popped in for desert.
Back on the ship, there was a phone message waiting from a couple they’d met suggesting dinner at Duke’s back in Honolulu.
“We sat at a candlelight table on the beach having drinks,” said Tracy. “It was a sparkly night, and all the tension from working so hard and being so busy just melted away. It was just the four of us on the beach counting the stars and thanking our own lucky stars for the night, the cruise and just everything!”
Living on the Edge
From the moment Melodie and Eddie Carswell of Charlotte, NC spied the pirates and the photographer laying in wait for them asthey boarded the Princess, they decided their dream date would be to ham it up and do all the wild and crazy excursions (plus anything to do with gastronomic excess) that Princess had to offer.\
First stop – retail therapy. After all, how can you enjoy your very first helicopter ride unless you’re tailored to perfection – in this case, a shirt for Eddie and a dress for Melodie made from matching Hawaiian fabrics, snared from a charming little island shop?
And then the main event – a helicopter ride over the island of Hilo. “We had never taken a helicopter ride before,” said Melodie. “Eddie was the brave soul; I was a little nervous but got over it quickly. The absolutely breathtaking views of the flowing lava and fire were truly one of the most amazing, thrilling and adventurous experiences either of us have ever witnessed. The volcano erupted just three months ago so we were able to watch the red molten lava flowing under the ground with black wall on the top. It was just amazing to see the volcanic black lava tumbling over the cliffs into the ocean to form its own island, just like watching the Discovery channel in the helicopter. “
But the Carswells’ dream date didn’t end on Hilo. There was time for another edgy adventure, this time in Kauai.
“We snorkeled in Kauai and swam beside sea turtles,” said Melodie. “After we got back in the boat, our snorkeling guide took us to an area where whales were swimming just 15 feet away from us. We saw them jumping out of the water, flipping their tails! There were a total of seven whales about 40 feet long swimming all around our boat. ”
Their dream date ended with a celebration in the ship’s specialty Italian restaurant, Sabatini. “We have dined all over the world in many of the best restaurants, but nothing could top the service we experienced,” said Melodie, patting her tummy with satisfaction. “The food just keep coming and coming – 18 courses in all. After all that I still had dessert – tiramisu which was very delicious.”
The final touch to their Cinderella date was a total surprise to Melodie – Eddie presented her with a stunning diamond pendant, a circle of stones glittering like a meteor shower against a black sky.
A Little Night Magic
All Vicki and Rodney of Palm Springs needed for a dream date – beside each other – was a little bit of magic. Rodney had always harbored a secret fascination for hypnotists and the chance to walk on the wild side as a subject. He was really looking forward to watching hypnotist and mentalist Joshua Seth perform in the Princess Theatre.
When Joshua picked him out of the audience to participate in the show, he was stunned. “I’m a former Marine and don’t think I’m hypnotizable,” he said.
Ten minutes later Rodney’s eyes were closed, and under Joshua’s expert direction, he felt himself going deeper and deeper into a trance.
“You’re in your dream car speeding down the highway going 100 mph, then 150, and you’re feeling so cool and sexy like you’re the hottest guy in town,” the hypnotist told him. “But suddenly in your rear view mirror, you spot a black and white behind you with its lights flashing. You’re going to get the speeding ticket from hell when that cop pulls you over. What good is having a dream car if you have your license suspended for speeding?
“But wait. The cop is the sexiest babe you’ve ever seen. She’s coming toward you, pulling her ticket book out of her pocket. You have a minute to think. What can you say that will get you her phone number instead of a speeding ticket?”
Rodney lowered the sun visor, finger- combed his hair, then gave himself a wicked smile of approval.
“The cop is right beside you now,” said Joshua. “She wants to know what you were doing going 150 mph.”
“Babe,” said Rodney, looking out at the cop. “I was just waiting for you!”
If You Go
For more information on booking a romantic cruise with Princess, visit www.princess.com
Sheila Sobell and Richard N. Every are professional travel writers. Visit them at www.writersobell.com .
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