The Romance of Northern Europe (3): Cruising with the Emerald Princess

IMG_1155I’ve met a few very rich people who disparage cruise ships as “cattle haulers,” butIMG_1157for my Scottish dollar, I think cruising is an incredibly good deal  and pretty IMG_0810much like Disney World afloat…but with even more to offer for less. IMG_2289Let me illustrate this by discussing our voyage around the Baltic Sea last May. IMG_2297We entered the terminal in Copenhagen & sailed aboard the Emerald Princess,IMG_2292 a 5-star ship christened in 2007 that’s nearly 1,000 ft. long and hosts 3,080 IMG_2294passengers served by 1,200 staff from around the world—which translates into a Our Waiters whole lot of personal attention per person and an opportunity to meet people IMG_3303from many lands & cultures—even better than a trip around World Showcase! IMG_2299The Emerald Princess has 4 pools and 7 whirlpool spas, sunning decks, a library,IMG_2300shops, a jogging track and exercise gym, organized sports and games, classes,  IMG_2298various types of games, over a dozen restaurants…& mostly all complimentary. MoviesIn the evenings you can watch movies under the stars or take in one of their Entertainment live shows. One evening we heard an amazingly gifted violinist, although we IMG_3278usually opted out of the organized entertainment, preferring quiet time together.IMG_0031You can stroll around the decks enjoying the breath-taking scenery… morning IMG_0248noon, IMG_0005or evening, Fjordsand the views are ever changing and always stunning…even better than Disney! IMG_3277Well, at least most days. One day looked like this! 🙂 But remember,IMG_2794 the ship isn’t just for entertainment, it’s also for spending quality time together.IMG_2303For me, it’s like staying at an all-inclusive world class resort that also provides IMG_2326 transportation from fascinating port to port across the seas while you sleep! IMG_0069Once you’re on the ship, you never have to unpack your bags again, IMG_1171and “they” do all the driving, so all “we” have to do is enjoy the view! IMG_2301Or, if you’re in a mood for something even more relaxing, IMG_0805you can generally find some beautiful live music playing somewhere, IMG_0042although there are also many quiet lounges where you can read or talk quietly. IMG_3218There are art galleries with dazzling paintings by renowned artists, IMG_3273and art auctions where you can bid on famous reproductions as well. IMG_2796And, the food is OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD. (Yes, this was my dessert one night!) IMG_2793There are fabulous buffets (if you like) for each meal where you can choose your Breakfastown food and sit wherever you want…most always with a gorgeous view. IMG_0010You can also dress up and go out to “your table” every night if you wish, whichIMG_3285we always did, because we the loved the gourmet cuisine & romantic ambiance. SnacksFor the hungry-hearted or those who may have missed a meal, there is food Pastriesavailable I think pretty much 24/7…again, free and really appealing! DSCN8836In fact, the food was so remarkable that I might write a separate post about it tomorrow, because that’s one of the most commonly asked questions I get:    How was the food? IMG_7408The food was great! In fact, our entire trip was just incredible! DSCN8834The only thing nobody relishes is the mandatory rehearsal at your muster station so you’ll be prepared in case of emergency. Everybody has to show up with their life jacket and know just where to go and what to do in the event of disaster. IMG_0030

Having experienced the Emerald Princess, I can definitely commend her to you if you’re considering taking a cruise. May I also ask you, have you considered taking a journey that will lead to heaven? Having committed my life to Jesus as the Captain of my soul, I can unequivocally commend him to you as a pilot whose ship will never require an emergency evacuation. It will not sink, because Christ has risen from the dead as the “first fruits,” proving that those who believe in him will also be resurrected “in the last day.” It is also a ship loaded with spiritual abundance that makes the cargo of the Emerald Princess look paltry… spiritual blessings like love, joy, peace, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus provides everything for our journey, so all we need to do is climb aboard. And, the final destination is heaven through a mysterious expanse of universe that we can’t navigate on our own. Are you ready? Are you willing? Are you aboard? If you’ve got any questions, please ask. Or, read the Bible, where answers can be found!

Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you…I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there you may be also…I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:2,3,6).

Surprise! Happy Fifth Anniversary, Jen and Dan

Great friends are hard to come by, but once you find them, you never want to lose them! Kathy’s two best friends from “Diaper Days” (about 25 years now) are Jennifer and Melanie Ingland. (Jennifer is in the middle with her husband, and Melanie is the furthest on the left.) Five years ago, Kathy was a bridesmaid in Jennifer’s wedding, and that’s where she first met Carl, who was also in the wedding party for the groom!Anybody who knows our family knows how much we all love Carl, so the wedding was not only a joyous occasion, we remember the event  as a double blessing! Thanks Dan and Jen! 🙂 (That’s what friends are for, right?!!)

Well, this Sunday after church we “flew” over to Detroit to be part of a surprise fifth anniversary party for Dan and Jen…and they were realio-trulio surprised!It was so fun! Both families got involved in preparing a video of D+J’s first five years. There was a wonderful picnic, games, a dessert buffet, bonfire, and even a cake-cutting for the happy couple. What a great idea!The Ingland parents have been great friends for Alan and me all these years, too. When we lived in Marquette, they were the first family to come visit us, and they were the last family to visit us before we moved down to GR! On a Christmas gift, Dona once wrote: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” Dave and Dona have certainly been solid gold!Gene and Andrea (niece and nephew and almost like our own kids) were the photography team for both Jen and Kathy’s weddings, and they were at the party too. We got to enjoy their latest model, little Elijah Daniel, who’s as cute as a button!And, as a final, rather bittersweet part of the day, we also moved the last of Stephen’s belongings into his new apartment at MSU, where he’ll be studying music for the next three years. Stephen has a lovely apartment, a full-ride scholarship, and I’m totally thrilled for him…but all you parents know how it feels to watch your chicks flying away, even it they’re doing a great job at flying! 😦

Thank you, Lord, for all the wonderful things that are happening in our family…the kids growing up and flying away, starting their own families, and becoming who you want them to be. Thank you for friends both silver and gold! But, please, Lord…help me learn to rejoice in every season of life!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to get, and a time to lose…”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,6)