Betty Briggs


First, I must confess I am a confirmed cruiseaholic and each cruise I take is always my favorite.  However, one cruise does have a special place in my memory.  In 1983, when our only granddaughter, Missy, was ten years old, my husband and I took her with us, in our cabin, on a ten day Caribbean cruise on the Sitmar ship, "Fairwind".


When my husband first suggested this idea, I thought he must be kidding. If not, he surely must have lost his mind.  I quickly brought up all the reasons why I thought it was a rotten idea.  What if she gets sick?  What about her schoolwork?  What about our privacy?  And who will sleep in the upper bunk since she walks in her sleep?  He pointed out that cruise ships always have doctors aboard.  He argued that ten days aboard ship plus tours of the Caribbean Islands would be just as educational as ten days in the classroom.  As for privacy, it couldn't be any worse than a family camping or motorhome trip.  To top off his arguments, Grandpa gallantly offered to sleep in the upper bunk.  After thinking it over for a couple of weeks, I grew to like the idea and agreed with him.


My fear that she might become bored and restless never materialized. She entered into the children's activities provided by the excellent youth program and made friends quickly, not only with the young passengers, but with the crew and staff members.  One evening a  member from the Purser's office told us Missy had been in his office that day to tell him she worked for the ship and to put her on the payroll.  One of the girls on the entertainment staff had challenged her to tell the Purser this because she was dressed in her navy blue tee shirt and white shorts identical to those worn by the staff. 


Missy went on shore tours with us on St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, Martinique and St. John.  She took notes and gathered pounds of brochures, maps and mementos.  Guides on the island tours loved the way she hung on their every word.  Her eager, interested face inspired them to go into more detail and to add colorful tales about historic

sites.  She was horrified by the description and pictures of the 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee on Martinique that destroyed the city of St. Pierre and killed 40,000 people.


As she looked down on Falmouth Harbor, Antigua, from the viewpoint high on the hill above, her observant eye noticed interesting details we overlooked.  She announced that the harbor reminded her of Captain Hook's pirate hideaway in the Disney movie  "Peter Pan".


Missy enhanced the enjoyment of our trip.  She furnished the sprinkle of spice that gave more flavor to ordinary events.  We all laughed a lot!   Her enthusiasm was catching and her delight with shipboard living helped us recapture the thrill of our first cruise.  This cruise was meant to be an educational experience for Missy, but we found that seeing the world through the eyes of a child was an exciting and educational experience for us, too.


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