“Do You Know Danny Reznich?”

Thai and Mr. Babychuk.

As a sommelier on Emerald Princess, I stop at dozens of tables on a nightly basis and talk to literally hundreds of people every day.

The majority of my passenger interactions are related to wine, but it’s not uncommon that conversation will evolve to other topics. Sometimes, travelers ask me what to do at the next port of call. Occasionally, one will take a personal interest and want to know where I’m from and why I chose a career at sea. And then, there are those rare times when a passenger stops you in your tracks and leads you to discover things you never knew about yourself and heritage.

During a cruise to Mexico, I was making my usual rounds through one of the dining rooms when I noticed a friendly looking older gentleman and his wife admiring my tastevin, the eye-catching, silver-cupped necklaces we sommeliers wear to evaluate wines.

After explaining the history of the tastevin and why I was wearing it, the gentleman, Mr. Babychuk, asked me where I was from. When I told him Detroit, he lit up and told me he was originally from Detroit himself. He asked me what part of the city I came from and that’s when we found out we were from the same neighborhood.

That prompted him to ask what my last name was, and when I replied “Reznich” he got quiet for a moment. Then, he looked me straight in the eye and with a soft, hopeful voice asked me, “Do you know a Danny Reznich?” When I told him that Dan Reznich was my grandfather he closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief.

After a moment, he looked at me and said, “When I was a young man, Danny Reznich was my best friend. We played trombone in the jazz band together.”

I leaned in to hear more of this incredible story. Mr. Babychuk told me he served in World War II as a fighter pilot and my grandfather had served as a merchant marine. When he returned home from military service, he had asked around the neighborhood for my grandfather but they never reconnected.

After numerous attempts to locate my grandfather, he gave up and assumed that perhaps my grandfather had been lost during the war. But he still couldn’t forget Danny Reznich. Last year, Mr. Babychuk happened to be visiting Detroit and returned to the neighborhood and tried to find my grandfather again, still nothing.

During the cruise, I stopped to chat with Mr. Babychuk whenever I could. Growing up, he was so close to my family. I heard stories about my great -grandfather and was charmed when he confessed his early love for my great aunt Marie, my grandfather’s sister, whom he almost married.

I got to tell Mr. Babychuk something, too. With great joy, I told him his dear, old friend, my grandfather Danny Reznich, was still alive. Furthermore, I was able to reconnect them—this pair who last saw each other when they were in their early 20s only to suffer a 60-year chasm.

As my grandfather and Mr. Babychuk catch up on decades of experiences and adventures, they prove that a lifetime apart cannot undermine a true friendship. Mr. Babychuk’s and my more fleeting acquaintance proves something else.

While our conversation could have begun and ended with what wine to order, we both took that extra effort to recognize the individuality of the other person, and in doing, we unlocked a treasure trove of personal history, profound meaning and indelible human connection.

When Thai isn’t working, he loves to explore new places but he always makes a point to visit his family at home in Michigan. He also enjoys  trying new restaurants, cooking, driving and watching movies.


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69 Comments Post a Comment

  1. Monty says... January 16, 2013 | 5:07pm

    Interesting story ! I too have met a lot of interesting crew members in my travels, and it really is the people, various nationalities that make a Princess cruise such a wonderful experience. After all, it’s a small world …

  2. Princess Cruises says... January 16, 2013 | 5:21pm

    It’s just amazing that meeting Mr. Babychuk led to the reconnection of him to your grandfather after so many years! Incredible! Thank you for sharing this touching tale on our new blog!

    • lisa r. paramore says... April 29, 2013 | 8:27pm

      God works in mysterious ways. i haven’t experienced this. the only cruse ship my husbad julian a i have been on is the canival paradise and sprit andto hawaii. my husband is fro jacksonville, fl. from 1950 at birth to 84 then to east tn. b knoxville airport. we live in greenback, tn. im from new tazewell, tn.we meet at square dance he pproposed ome and in aug. 12 we got married and tis ear will be 13 years. i wa a cupp my maiden name. we are planning a land and sea pkg. sapphire princesg. july 14 – 27, 2013 so any one taking this see ya then and God bless

  3. Kristen says... January 16, 2013 | 11:01am

    Absolutely remarkable story. Thanks for sharing. I love that we get to hear stories not only from fellow passengers but also from the crew members and the stories and memories that they carry with them as well. So glad your grandfather and Mr. Babychuk could reconnect after all this time. Made my heart smile.

    P.S. As soon as I saw your picture I recognized you from our cruise on the Sapphire in May. We took a wine tasting course and really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks Thai!

  4. June says... January 16, 2013 | 11:17am

    I enjoyed reading your story and since my memory is not the best I thought the staff on my cruise to Alaska were fantastic also

  5. Jeannine Ready says... January 16, 2013 | 11:44am

    BEST cruise story ever!

  6. Mary M from Michigan says... January 16, 2013 | 11:49am

    That was a very sweet story, thanks for sharing it. (and for being from the great state of Michigan…)

  7. Janice Carley says... January 16, 2013 | 2:56pm

    That is incredible and the two of you were destined to meet to reunite your Grandfather and Mr. Reznich. Awesome! I love reading stuff like this.

  8. Terri Rice says... January 16, 2013 | 8:33pm

    Beautiful story. So pleased they were able to reunite – brought a tear to my eye & a warm,fuzzy feeling inside. Being avid cruisers mainly with P&O/Princess we have come to realize that it is the staff on board who help to make your holiday. They go the extra mile to remember passengers names & preferences along with being open & friendly about their own lives both on & off board ship.
    We have just returned to Australia after a wonderful cruise on Grand Princess to the Caribbean to celebrate our 25 year wedding renewal vows with the captain – Anthony Herriott – & 23 of our new closest friends all whom we met on board during the cruise !!
    Some of the wonderful staff who deserve a special mention are Alex ( deck 14 pool bar – enjoy your break before joining the new ship) Alfredo ( deck 15 bar manager – wonderful memory & sense of humour ) Florene( our cabin steward who was always helpful & friendly + kept the cabin spotless) we called him 2 bob – any English people reading this will understand the reason. Carlos (maitr’d in Di Vincis restaurant) we developed a special bond because of electronic cigarettes! He always went out of his way to find where we were sitting to say Good Evening & check everything was o.k.
    Miss you all & can’t wait for our next trip – have tried other cruise lines but always come back to Princess. Our only complaint would be that there are not enough sailing from Perth, Western Australia as we always have to fly so far to pick up a ship. Thanks again for a memorable holiday .

  9. marsha sawin says... January 17, 2013 | 6:16am

    I think it is very nice to be bale to connect with all kinds of people. Some you never forget and you have that memory to help you thru the cold winters. My husband and I will be on the Ruby in April and can’t wait to see what is in store for us.

  10. Rodney dickhute says... January 18, 2013 | 7:54am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I got goose bumps when you told him he was your grandfather!! I too have looked for a friend I have not been in touch with for over 27 years since being in the Army. Your story gives me hope that he and I will also reconnect!!

  11. Jacqueline Scoulding says... January 20, 2013 | 10:10am

    This story was wonderful to read and no doubt like a few others, i became quite misty eyed.

    I enjoyed seeing Terri Rice’s response too, as my husband and i have also recently returned from the most amazing experience ever, that being a back-to-back two week cruise on the Gand Princess in the Eastern Caribbean Dec 15 to 29, and now back in Somerset in the UK surrounded by snow! It was our first ever cruise, and with a very sceptical husband, prior to the event, i was very apprehensive. Frank, like me, is now a total convert and we can’t wait to go again.

    Our fellow diners at the table we joined in the Botticelli Dining Room during our first week were all previous cruisers, and from the first night to the end of that first week, we had the most fantastic time, exchanging emails and photos at the end.

    We knew nothing of the Princess cruise line, and the fact we ended up on such a wonderful ship, with such a fabulous crew, will forever stay with me. Our steward, Jess, was amazing and it was hard for me not to throw my arms around him at the end of our time on board, for fear of embarrassing him.

    I have never ‘lived’ a holiday for so many weeks after, still in utter joy and excitement every time i go online or go through our hundreds of video clips and photos. My only one big regret is that the Grand Princess has now moved her home to San Francisco. Lucky Captain, the lovely Anthony Herriott.

  12. Anna says... January 21, 2013 | 4:32pm

    Such a heart warming story. The two were meant to meet and tell this wonderul story to warm up our hearts.

  13. Derek Kong says... January 22, 2013 | 5:04pm

    This sounds like a movie in the making. Sell it to Hollywood.

    Last cruise on the Princess was for my 50th Anniversary to the Panama Canal. My Mom was originally from Colon and talked about it so much I though I knew the place. Ft. Clayton !

  14. Constance says... January 22, 2013 | 5:53pm

    Sorry we were on a very expensive cruse last summer. I booked 12 people………never saw or met him at all. Funny…Guess it is not the ones who pay the most for sure..Bahaa

  15. carol says... January 22, 2013 | 6:32pm

    what a wonderful story. It was not a “chance” meeting, it was meant to be. God works in strange ways.

    Met Dan on the Emerald. Great service and wonderful smile.

  16. Karen says... January 22, 2013 | 6:35pm

    What a wonderful and incredible story. It just goes to show you how important those memories are and how we’re all connected. Thanks to that young man for “listening” because now he has a whole new outlook and insight into his grandfather. Blessings to you all!

  17. Mary Lynch says... January 22, 2013 | 6:44pm

    Great story – my husband and I have taken a few Princess cruise and have enjoyed them very much.

    Wonderful crew.


  18. Angelo Saris says... January 22, 2013 | 7:27pm

    God works in mysterious ways. This story reinforces my faith.

  19. Mary Stewart says... January 22, 2013 | 7:36pm

    How awesome. What a wonderful story. I always tell my children that you never know who you will meet and have a connection with.

  20. Tracey says... January 22, 2013 | 7:43pm

    I love this story! Thanks for sharing. The human quest for personal connection is one that intrigues me. How wonderful for this to have happened after all these years!

  21. Barbara says... January 22, 2013 | 8:06pm

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing with all of us readers!! This is by far one of the best stories–and I don’t usually read more than a paragraph.

  22. Barbara says... January 22, 2013 | 8:06pm

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing with all of us readers!! This is by far one of the best stories–and I don’t usually read more than a paragraph.

  23. Susan says... January 22, 2013 | 8:23pm

    I was about to turn off the computer for the night when I saw the Princess email and decided to open it now. I love reading the stories! This one was great! I, too, believe that this meeting was meant to be. Thai, thank you so much for sharing the wonderful connection you discovered you had with Mr. Babychuk.

    My husband and I will be sailing on the Coral Princess in March (going on the Panama Canal trip) to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We can’t wait to sail away on your beautiful cruise line again.

    • Theresa MAthewson says... January 22, 2013 | 8:32pm

      What a wonderful story! It gave me goose bumps.

  24. G Stan Lenko says... January 22, 2013 | 9:13pm

    A great story ! We’re now platinum “cruisers”…and will post details of of 1st one in 1978 with a great couple we met on board, and still keep in touch with.
    Our favorite line is definitely Princess: terrific staff- ships-food & entertainment! Best value on the 7 seas…

  25. Mable Rosi says... January 22, 2013 | 10:18pm

    Great story it made my heart glad that they were able to connect after so many years had passed Great story

  26. J Newton says... January 22, 2013 | 11:00pm

    I can’t begin to tell all the “small world” experiences I have had through the years because whenever I meet anyone and have more than a 60 sec conversation, I ask, “Where are you from?” and “What is your name?” I’ll bet Mr. Babychuk does the very same thing……obviously he did in this story. I have been on only 2 ZPrincess cruises, so haven’t had one yet that is appropriate for me to write you about. But I have had one as incredible as Thai’s on a tiny boat traveling from Nassau to Paradise Island. The moral of the story is to always talk to strangers…….in spite of what your mother taught you! Fortunately, my Daddy ALWAYS talked to strangers, and I learned from him that more often than not, I can find “someone who knows someone I know”!

  27. Gerald says... January 23, 2013 | 1:02am

    Great story my family went to Alaska on the Star princess last year our first cruise but not the last one we are wanting to go back princess was great from start to finish keep up the good work.

  28. peggy davis says... January 23, 2013 | 1:22am

    I, too, am from Detroit. I believe that mr. Reznich went to Cooley High School, where I attended. I graduated in 1943

  29. Carmen says... January 23, 2013 | 3:38am

    Wow… I just love to read these stories, I cannot wait for our next cruise in March travelling to Central America on the Crown princess. It is very true that the crew is extremely friendly . We have been on many cruises and I would never even think of sailing with any other cruise line, the staff and crew on Princess really care and take the time to chat with all the passengers. That is one of the great things that make us return to Princess year after year…. a true home away from home.

  30. ron wolfe says... January 23, 2013 | 4:19am

    I didn’t know these stories were posted.
    we have a person ,in our neighborhood that met his grandson on a cruise to Hawaii.
    he hed no idea he was on that cruise!

  31. Linda Green says... January 23, 2013 | 4:22am

    This is a beautiful story!!! How wonderful for the young man to be able to bring these two old friends together.
    My husband and I find so many nice people to visit with when we are on cruises. That’s one of the best things about cruising, connecting with others.

  32. Patricia Carlisle says... January 23, 2013 | 5:24am

    This was a wonderful story and just emphasizes how much fun it is to interact with passengers and crew. We normally travel in our Motorhome and have met people all over North America from Alaska to Mexico and from Labrador to Key West and all points in between. We have made many life long friendships. This will be our 6th cruise (2nd with Princess) and we look so forward to meeting new people.

  33. Jim Chester says... January 23, 2013 | 6:08am

    I just love hearing about “connection” stories like this…..on our cruises we have bumped into fellow cruisers with whom we have some sort of common grounds….friends, locations, etc…

    Cheers, Jim

  34. Stew Shore says... January 23, 2013 | 6:59am

    Great Story! We have experienced similar situations. Just the other day we had the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with friends we had not seen in over 20 years. They were visiting someone else we had met in our travels. Looking forward to our next Princess Cruise in two weeks.

  35. Robert John Harris says... January 23, 2013 | 7:43am

    I am writing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Today the temperature with the windchill is -37 Celcius. It equals -40 Fahrenheit at -40 Celcius. Boy do we need a Princess Cruise!!! There is a well-known trio who frequent Winnipeg night spots – The Dannt Reznick Trio. Could there be any connection to your story. We are platinum cruisers with Princess,everyone enjoyable!

  36. Peter Rice says... January 23, 2013 | 8:05am

    I also chatted with Thai Reznich, about Michigan wines. He and I both liked the Riesling wines of Chateau Grand Traverse on the Old Mission peninsula just north of Traverse City, MI, not viewed by many as an area that produced great wines, but it does.

  37. Lloyd Y. Flanders says... January 23, 2013 | 8:29am

    I love “small world stories” like this one and have experienced a few myself, both at home and abroad. Wonderful ending!

  38. Valerie Crilley says... January 23, 2013 | 8:37am

    This is such a sweet story. Proves that true friendships survive time and distance.

  39. Dixie Smith says... January 23, 2013 | 9:10am

    I love those stories. I hope Danny is on our cruise in March. (Caribbean Princess)

  40. Dixie Smith says... January 23, 2013 | 9:12am

    I meant to say Thai………..lol

  41. Shirley Wolfe says... January 23, 2013 | 9:28am

    I was amazed to read the story, and what a great way to start my morning. Not only was it interesting but very personal& heart warming. So many times people hesitate to open an door for you & to read what the conversation lead to & the result was truly a blessed event..

  42. Jeff Lau says... January 23, 2013 | 12:27pm

    What a touching story when the young meets the old and recalls a great friendship from more than half a century ago!
    I sincerely hope that they will cherish this long lost friendship and the good times together is about to start again.
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

  43. Alice Berntson says... January 23, 2013 | 1:08pm

    Some people would rather not talk to “strangers,” but I’ve always found that the more you talk to someone, you’ll find that you have something in common and something to share. This is a wonderful story and I will think of the two of them again.

  44. Anna Stewart says... January 23, 2013 | 2:36pm

    I really enjoyed the story about the boyhood friends from 60 years ago. How I would love to meet some of my old friends. However, I have found that cruises are great places to meet new friends and I have done that. On this last cruise with Princess I met two delightful ladies from England and was able to interact with them because I was familiar with where they live. [I have a friend that still lives in England] I hope more people will consider cruising because it is such a good experience. Not only that, when I was desperate for help with a problem in Italy at the airport the staff from Princess Lines that are there to help people with problems were fantastic, taking hours to solve my problem.

  45. Ginette Lemieux says... January 23, 2013 | 4:02pm

    Very very touching we never know where life take us.

  46. Ed says... January 23, 2013 | 4:17pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. What a coincidence? ? ? You have to ask yourself – who were the people, what were the events that brought the two of you together at that time, at that location!

  47. Judy Kazdal says... January 23, 2013 | 8:08pm

    Loved reading your story! Looking forward to my 3rd cruise with Princess on Ruby in February. Will be with friends of over 40 years! A lifetime is not too long to live as fRIENDS!

  48. Sarita Panemangalore says... January 23, 2013 | 11:29pm

    This is great story and I was so happy to read about two best friends reconnecting after 60 years on your ship– that kind of friendship never dies. My husband and I enjoyed your Alaskan cruise in 2009-thanks!

  49. Jeanette Bridgeman says... January 24, 2013 | 7:06am

    What a wonderful story…it made up my mind that the next time I make a connection with someone on a cruise I will not hold back. We met this wonderful couple on a Princess cruise several years ago, Patty and Joe. They seemed like a lot of fun to be around. Then last fall we were on a “Birthday Cruise” for my Father-In-Law with another cruise line (UGH) and as I was standing out on the balcony I looked over to the adjoining balcony and there were Patty and Joe. What a surprise! The first thing we talked about was how much we enjoyed the Princess cruises. Patty and Joe live in the Los Angeles area and were on this cruise with their friends so we didn’t want to intrude…next time I won’t make the same mistake and I will make sure to take more time to get to know them better. They could turn out to be our good friends and maybe we could meet them sometime again on another Princess cruise. You never know what life will bring you but you do have to take the first step!

  50. Beckie L says... January 24, 2013 | 12:03pm

    Love reading all the stories, it’s been almost six years since I last crusied. We use to go on annual cruises with our sister-in-law & husband, the last cruise was the New England one in 2007. Lost my husband three years ago now, we spent many happy times on Princess cruise line. I truely miss those times, we always enjoyed the crew, and made many friends. They always made us feel like we were royalty!!

  51. Mrs Dolores Bell says... January 24, 2013 | 1:06pm

    I am looking for Chris Nicoll. We did several cruises with him, first a singer, then,cruise director and I believe now in some managerial capacity at Head quarters. Every time we go on a cruise on Princess, I ask but nobody can remember Chris. I will be very pleased if I hear from him. Chris Nicoll, is originally from Liverpool UK. Regards DB.

  52. Valerie scheck says... January 24, 2013 | 2:24pm

    Luv this story & glad the old friends were alble to mee tup again. I was blessed to meet Thia & have a picture taken with him on the Emerald Princess in Nov.

  53. Luis Fernandez says... January 24, 2013 | 4:01pm

    As I started to read my email and I saw the ship’s name, Princess Emerald my heart and brain said that is the ship where Captain Giorgio Pomata performed my daughter’s wedding. As of that moment I knew that the story I was about to read would be great because only Princess Emerald and their loyal crew can make magic memories.
    Thank you Thai, Mr. Babychuk, Captain Pomata, Charlotte. Alexandra, Maria and Niko.
    Bautifull memories and unforgetable pleasures are created by people like you.

  54. Joan Scheeler says... January 25, 2013 | 8:49am

    Oh How I would love to year the story of both of the longtime friends reuniting. You know what would really be neat, If they could both get to the see the WW2 Memorial together on a HONORS Flight. That would be awesome!

  55. Patricia Haber says... January 25, 2013 | 11:03pm

    Great story Thai, Just came back from Princess San Francisco to Hawai cruise. The crew and food where Great.We like to get to know the crew also!!! The two should take a cruise together.

  56. Susan says... January 26, 2013 | 6:42am

    Thanks Thai. what a wonderful story. We sailed with you this past December on the Emeralds Christmas Cruise. You are such a delightful person and we are so glad that we had the chance to meet you and talk with you about a variety of things. We took 2 of your wine tastings and one at the Vines Bar. I am sure that you will go very far in your career.

    You are gifted at writing. Your passion for wine and travel are seen far across the room. I hope that someday you blog about your travels and the sites you have seen. They surely will be worth reading.

    Your parents I am sure are proud of the man you have become.
    I hope your Russian Girl friend appreciates what a sincere and talented boyfriend she has. Thanks for reminding me what a small world this is.
    Susan and Mom (Dee)

    • cindy says... January 26, 2013 | 4:02pm

      That looks llike you Paulu. I’ve thought about you since meeting you on the cruiz that left sanfranciso on Nov.5, 2012. to Hawaii….. send me that post card :)

  57. cindy says... January 26, 2013 | 4:01pm

    That looks llike you Paulu. I’ve thought about you since meeting you on the cruiz that left sanfranciso on Nov.5, 2012. to Hawaii….. send me that post card :)

  58. Smokey Aumand says... January 27, 2013 | 3:42pm

    What an excellant story of lost friendship and coming back together after sixty years and a few wars in between. If you are traveling (locally or far away) and have the opportunity to speak to someone, “Do it”. You never know what may come out of your conversation.

  59. joan Atkinson says... January 28, 2013 | 4:42pm

    That is a fantastic story thankyou for sharing it with us cruiser’s

  60. bj says... January 28, 2013 | 10:03pm

    Crusing on Princess is always an amazing place to make and meet new friends. As we have traveled with Princess, we have made new lifelong friends that we have reunited with on other cruises and other vacation spots. We simply have extended our range of friendships to a world wide connection.

    Congratulations Thai on reconnecting your family with their lifelong friends. Your heart-warming story only reminded me of the wonderful conversations we have had with passengers and crew members aboard the Princess fleet.

  61. Melania says... January 30, 2013 | 11:37am

    Thai, I remember when you first shared this incredible story with me and how touched I was. I am so glad with this blog you could share it with so many others.
    And even more glad that the two friends eventually reconnected!
    Smooth sailing

  62. Diane Warren says... January 30, 2013 | 11:58am

    What a truly fantastic story! It is very heart warming and especially nice to learn that all of this started on a Princess Cruise and culminated to a wonderful re-union all those years later. SO pleased for Mr. Babychuck and Danny and of course Thai, you must feel more than pleased to have been of help! We have met some lovely Friends on Cruises.We are still in contact with many of them but THIS story surely cannot be beaten. Keep the stories coming Princess! Love to read them. Happy Cruising.

  63. Richard Williamson says... January 31, 2013 | 2:21am

    Great Story, To fill in a part of the past that would never have been if their paths had not crossed at that special moment.
    They say God moves in mysterious ways.
    My wife and I cruised on the Grand Princess last year and met some wonderful friends.
    An unforgettable experience, creating memories to share with others.
    Now looking forward to the next cruise.

  64. Marny says... February 9, 2013 | 5:35pm

    What a heartwarming story! I have chills of excitement!

  65. Judy & John says... March 29, 2013 | 2:26pm

    Wonderful account to share! John and I have done many wonderfully enjoyable travels with the Babchucks and friends over the years~~~not surprising Walter would make friends and so glad he found his friend.

  66. Raquel Grinnell says... October 15, 2013 | 12:18pm

    I read every story on Princess’ “Linked By The Sea” blog and this one touched me most of all. As a cruise agent, I’ve had many clients come back to me with lovely stories like this over the years, and it really makes me believe even more in the magic of cruising. Cruisers really seem to be more open and accepting of others, kinder and more generous…. I love that this young man opened his life to this guest and that they found an amazing connection through his grandfather that this gentleman will never forget. My husband-to-be and I took our first cruise on the Grand Princess (and jumped off in St. Thomas and got married!) with our families many years ago. The “Love Boat” line holds a special place in my heart!

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