Six Bobs and Counting

The original 3 "Bobs" with their wives: Captain Bob and Pam, Los Altos Bob and Judy, and English Bob (or "Sir Bob") and Gwen

Bob and I took our seats for dinner. It was the first night of an Alaska cruise on Sea Princess and Bob’s first time on a Princess cruise ship. He’s a retired fishing boat captain, and had been on three cruises, so I knew he would just love the upscale glamour of Princess.

We were seated with a few other couples at a large oblong table. As is the norm, we went around the table introducing ourselves. My Bob said his name, and then the next man said, “Well, I’m Bob.” Then the next said, “Well, I’m Bob, too.” We laughed so hard–what was the likelihood of having three Bobs at one table?

We could have enjoyed the coincidence and moved on, but the Bob thing unlocked something more. Even though one of the Bobs came from England and the other from Los Altos, close to where my Bob and I live in San Jose, distance or life history
was no factor. The Bobs and their respective wives all got along great.

It turned out we were all gregarious people who loved to do the same kinds of things. For the rest of the cruise we dined together, made every show, went dancing and shut down the piano bar nightly. We only wished it would stay open later.  

One year later, we assembled again on Island Princess for a trip to the Panama Canal. I couldn’t resist bringing a girlfriend of mine into our group. She just happened to be married to a Bob. Imagine our sea days with all eight of us lined up on deck chairs and Capt. Bob pointing out the sea life.

The Bobs (and Bobettes) now have their own name tags.

The Bobs (and Bobettes) now have their own name tags.

The “Bob” thing went from coincidence to purpose. As we expanded, we attracted some attention. We acquired name badges because our Princess hostess and waiter joked about how confusing it was to keep up with everyone’s name. Then, we wives got a hold of our own badges, ours saying “Bobette.” Silly but all good fun.

There was a third cruise the following year, to Europe.  We all made that trip, and added a couple, even though his name wasn’t “Bob.”  We made him an honorary “Bob” and used his nickname, “Bumps.”  Now there were five!

On our fourth cruise, to the Caribbean, only two of the original Bobs could come. But lo and behold, who should approach our table and ask if he could sit with us? Why another Bob, of course. As if scripted by Hollywood, we all got along wonderfully with this retired lawyer from Florida and his wife.

Through the years, we’ve kept in touch via email and Skype. I’ve taken on the role of vacation planner, finding opportunities for us to reunite at sea. On our most recent Princess cruise, to Alaska again, English Bob (as we came to identify him), brought along a new couple from England, another Bob naturally. This Bob technically prefers the name Rob, but as long as it says Robert on the birth certificate, he’s Bob and he’s in.

Not every Bob can come on every cruise, but we do our best to get together once a year, most recently a group of us returned to Alaska. By now, we’ve got custom-made T-shirts and hats for all the Bobs, which make belonging to our group just that much more fun. When fellow passengers see the badges and gear, some ask what our positions are on the ship. “Ship connoisseurs in charge of having fun,” says my Bob.

The group has grown to include: Randie and Southern CA Bob,  Bumps and Margaret, Captain Bob and Pam, Gwen and English Bob, and Judy and Los Altos Bob.

The group has grown to include: Randie and Southern CA Bob, Bumps and Margaret, Captain Bob and Pam, Gwen and English Bob, and Judy and Los Altos Bob.

Over the four and a half years since this started, these relationships have become some of the closest in our lives. The “Bob” thing is a great ice breaker, but I think the longevity of our friendships can be attributed in part to the unique nature of a cruise.

When you board a Princess ship, not only are you escaping the everyday, you are embracing what you really want to be – carefree, lighthearted, free to enjoy. And that’s a great setting for making new friendships.

It goes without saying, this group of “Bobs” would never have come together on land. Distance and career paths (fishing-boat captain, teacher, agricultural company exec, lawyer, building engineer and construction professional) would have taken care of that.   

As for the wives of Bobs, a few of us happen to be retired teachers, but there’s not a Bobette or Roberta among us.  For the record, we are Pam, Judy, Gwen, Randie, Julie and Lynn. We were brought together by Bob, but held together by friendship.

Pam and Bob reside in San Jose, CA.  In her free time, Pam likes to drive to the ocean, spend time with her grandchildren, and research and plan their future travel destinations on Princess. 

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  1. Princess Cruises says... March 6, 2013 | 9:04am

    Pamela,
    Thank you for sharing your fun story of how people can be linked by a name. We hope you and all the “Bobs” enjoy many more cruises together!

    • Pamela Hayes says... March 6, 2013 | 12:53pm

      This is so much fun to read. Thanks to Princess for all the memories!

      • Randie Stern says... March 6, 2013 | 7:25pm

        Loved the story and adore traveling with the BOB’S what fun Princess has afforded for us. Life long friendships have been made with our 6 Bob’s + see you on the high seas soon we hope miss you all
        Randie and Bob thanx for the article Pam

    • Richsea says... March 12, 2013 | 11:24am

      Cruising is the best way to meet new people, learn about different cultures, & in general, just enjoy life! We also have met many people who have become friends over the years that we would have never met otherwise if it weren’t for cruising.
      I so look forward to reading these great stories every week!

  2. Mistra says... March 6, 2013 | 2:35pm

    My brother and I took a 14 day transcanal cruise in the early 80s. We were in our twenties and seated with two couples from San Jose, Ca – both in their mid-sixties. The icebreaker occurred when we introduced ourselves. As it turned out, both gentlemen shared the exact first and last names, and over the years had returned their mixed up mail to the Post Office. We had a wonderful time with them and kept in touch for many years. You never know who you’ll meet on a cruise! p.s. Their first names were Bob.

  3. Sherrill says... March 6, 2013 | 3:13pm

    What a great story. My husband & I are hooked on cruising and are currently trying to decide where next. In Feb we were on the Sun Princess on a Fijian Cruise and last September we were on the Ruby Princess going from Barcelona to Venice. Princess line is fantastic. Can’t do enough for you.

    • Joanne Tuholsky says... March 6, 2013 | 11:04pm

      I am arriving in Venice on a Celebrity cruise ship and flying out at 6:30 a.m and am concerned about getting a taxi to the airport at 3:00 am any experience with that.

      • Pamela Hayes says... March 9, 2013 | 12:12pm

        Try to see if there is a Celebrity transfer package.

  4. Karen says... March 6, 2013 | 3:27pm

    We were on the same Alaskan cruise with you last year. I set up some meet and greets but never go t to meet any of you. It would have been nice to put a “Name” with a face.

    • Pamela Hayes says... March 9, 2013 | 12:17pm

      Sorry….we were so busy with all of us that we forgot the meet and greets this time. We’ve always gone in the past.

  5. Jenny says... March 6, 2013 | 3:32pm

    Such a well written article and lovely to hear how such strong friendships can derive from serendipity. I am a daughter of one of the Bob’s and hope to meet you all one day possibly on one of these amazing cruises I hear about ALL THE TIME!

  6. Diane Walsh says... March 6, 2013 | 7:06pm

    LOOKS LIKE A WONDERFUL TIME JUST A HAVE BIRTHDAY TODAY WOULD MAKE A WONDERFUL PRESENT
    .

  7. Randie Stern says... March 6, 2013 | 7:11pm

    Great story and True I am one of the Bobbettes with Los Angeles Bob. We love our trips together on Princess and the fun we have as being part of the Bob’s. Love our travel companions and always look forward to getting together . Can’t wait for our next Princess adventure Bob’s on Cruise love you all lots . Randie and Bob

  8. Randie Stern says... March 6, 2013 | 7:17pm

    Loved the story and am one of the Bobbettes . We have enjoyed many a great adventure with the Bob’s to exciting places on Princess. Can’t wait for our next trip. The friendships we have made with the Bob’s are as strong as some lifelong relationships we already have. Love you all and hope others planning on Princessing with have half as much fun as we have . Cheers to the Bob’s. Love Randie and Bob

  9. Patricia Carlisle says... March 7, 2013 | 6:19am

    Great story. We have formed friendships like this on our many MH trips. On our second Princess cruise this spring for 27 days. Hope to make many lasting friends.

  10. Janie Murray says... March 7, 2013 | 1:55pm

    My husbands a Bob and we love Princess. How do we join your group?

    • Pamela Miller Hayes says... March 8, 2013 | 10:46pm

      Janie, perhaps you can message me through facebook. Give me your e-mail and I can reply with mine.

  11. Judy and Bob says... March 7, 2013 | 8:46pm

    Oh Pam,

    You ARE SPOT ON (got that from Bob and Gwen) with this great recap of how we, the Bobs and the Bobettes, have become the great cruisers on Princess. Alas, we will miss the Bobs et al this summer when we go back to Alaska with my children and grandchildren on the Princess Star.

  12. Bob Earl says... March 8, 2013 | 4:10am

    A very true story Pam – lets hope the planning to meet again on a New England cruise in the autumn / fall 2013 on the Caribbean or Emerald Princess comes to fruition – how do I know this? I am ‘England or Sir Bob!’ Lets go for it! The post from Jenny above is from my daughter – she has heard such a lot about you all – may bring her along on one cruise! Janie (see post above) – the interview process is tough but you are 99% there – with a Bob and loving Princess! Thanks again Pam for the memories!

  13. Joan Brady says... March 11, 2013 | 10:08am

    What a heart warming story, how glad am I that I decided to read all the messages about the Bob’s it gave me a good feeling so thanks for that, long may you all be friends!!

  14. Kristin "Ivy" Woodall says... March 11, 2013 | 2:32pm

    Pam I enjoyed reading this so much. I always have fun talking to you guys on the phone. I love the fact that I have more “behind the scenes” info now. I hope one day I can join you on your cruises!

  15. Skip says... March 22, 2013 | 3:11pm

    Pam,

    Loved your story. I hope you go on the Canada\New England cruise September 14, 2013 on the Caribbean Princess. I am going and would love to meet you, and Bob’s 1-6. BTW, Princess has a GREAT price on this cruise. Sale started yesterday. Again, loved your story.

  16. Rosina Moehlenkamp says... March 23, 2013 | 5:41pm

    I really enjoyed your story because it sounded so familiar. Our story is we were 4 couples who were very good friends when we decided to cruise together for our very first cruise. Of course, all the husbands were named Bob. The funny part is when we had stopped at St. Thomas and naturally we all trouped into a jewelery store to look for bargains. One of our group called out, “Bob, look at this.” Not only did our four Bobs turn around to look, but so did 3 other Bobs. The time, 1978, could that possibly be your group of Bobs??

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