It was embarkation day on Emerald Princess. At the Lotus Spa, we were holding our passenger open house, when a courteous British man asked me for a pass to the thermal suite.
At least I thought he was British.
His name was Steve Berger and he was taking a three-week Mediterranean cruise and transatlantic crossing with us. Daily, he’d zip into the spa after his workout, wearing a windbreaker jacket and matching nylon pants, sunglasses swinging from a cord around his neck. He was really funny and I enjoyed hearing his accent and those unfamiliar British words and phrases he’d pepper through his speech.
That’s why it was so completely strange and disturbing when mid-cruise, he spoke to me in an ordinary American accent. He walked into the spa and said, “Hey, what’s up?”
I was shocked, thinking to myself, “What the heck is going on with this guy?”
Steve laughed and said he had been messing with me all those days. After a while, I saw the humor in that, too. I got to know the real Steve and I liked him. He turned out to be a life coach from California, and, yep, a quirky guy with an eccentric sense of humor.
A year later on Star Princess, I was now assistant manager of the spa. I was hosting the spa raffle, and as I was observing the room, I noticed an unmistakable face walking towards me. From the windbreaker suit to the sunglasses, it was Steve.
“Oh my gosh, it’s you!” I exclaimed. At first, he didn’t recognize me but once he did, he raised his sunglasses and broke out the English accent. We had a good laugh about how he had me so fooled.
On this cruise, Steve and I became true friends. He’d come by the spa every day to joke around and talk. During my spare time, Steve and I would hang out on the deck and take excursions during ports of call. We went snorkeling and hung out on the beach in American Samoa.
I introduced him to many of my crew friends and as he was traveling alone we took him under our wings. Steve is a really great life coach and he was motivating to a lot of us.
Steve encouraged me to pursue my love of singing. He gave me the boost I needed to get up and join my friends in the band at the Wheelhouse Bar for a number or two. He sat front row center in the Princess Theater at each crew talent show, cheering me on as I sang “Hit Me with Your Best Shot!”
I was truly sad to see my friend disembark in Los Angeles after our 60 days at sea. But this time, we exchanged contact information.
In the four years since that cruise, our lives have changed. I got married, had a son and live in land-locked Oklahoma. Steve married a beautiful Russian woman he met on a subsequent cruise. They just had a baby this summer.
He is still my quirky, funny friend and my invaluable life coach. He’s one of the first people I think of when I have a big decision to make. Currently, it’s whether or not to take ownership in a local spa.
From weighing risks and rewards, to pure encouragement and a good laugh, the real Steve is a wonderful friend. He is great enough to rival any man in Britain or beyond.
“The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” — Amelia E. Barr (British novelist)