On January 2nd, 2007, Terry and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Sort of. By which I mean that we didn't really do anything to observe the actual day. We didn't even go out to dinner. I got her a rose.
Well, it was a Tuesday, and the first day back to work after the holidays. And I couldn't take the day off, because I'd installed some major software upgrades at year end, and I had to be there in case there were any issues that I needed to deal with. Which of course there were.
But the main reason that we didn't do much on the 2nd was that two days later, on the 4th, we took off for a seven day Caribbean cruise, plus a day of sightseeing in Tampa, Florida. Happy anniversary to us!
So, before we launch into the trip log, a little background information on how this whole thing got started.
There's an organization called View International Foundation . Its mission, according to its website, is "creating environments in which blind and sighted children and adults work and learn together." Robert Jaquiss, the group's Executive Director, thought it would be a good idea to put together a cruise vacation specifically designed for blind people. So he contacted his travel agent, Sue Yanaros, to set it up.
Sue researched the various cruise lines, and picked Royal Caribbean as the one that seemed to have the best awareness of disability issues. They picked a date and a destination, and started advertising. By cruise time, the group consisted of nineteen people: Sue the travel agent, her sister, thirteen blind or visually impaired persons (including Terry), three sighted spouses (including me), and one other person who was neither blind nor a sighted spouse, about whom more later.
A colleague of Terry's at her work told her about the cruise, and since it was so close to our anniversary, we decided to sign up. In all honesty - and with some embarrassment - I must admit that at first, our intention was to keep to ourselves, and have as little to do with the group as possible. We requested a table to ourselves in the dining room - the rest of the group sat together - and didn't sign up for any of the shore excursions that the group had planned.
Part of the reason for this, of course, was that it was our anniversary, and we wanted to be with each other. But the truth is that Terry is generally leery of getting together with groups of blind people. And having been married to her for 25 years, and having had the opportunity to observe many blind people, I can understand why.
The sad fact is that many of the blind have been poorly socialized. They can be loud, rude, obnoxious, socially inappropriate, and downright embarrassing to be with. Not all of them, of course, but unfortunately, a disproportionately large number of them.
Another factor is the tendency of the sighted world to "ghetto-ize" the blind. If there's a blind person in a public place, and Terry walks in, it's not uncommon for people to assume that Terry and the other blind person are together. Or if they aren't, that they want to be. Even if the other person is a total stranger! Terry, being the independent individual that she is, gets tired of that.
So as I say, our original plan was to keep pretty much to ourselves. However, we were pleased to discover that the people in this tour group were a delightful bunch of folks. We ended up going on one shore excursion with them, sitting with them at dinner two of the seven nights, and participating in the other group activities. We've also stayed in touch with everyone via e-mail after the cruise. In fact, I've sent the URL for this website to all of them, and I hope they're all reading it!
Before we continue, a brief word from our sponsor. Sue Yanaros, the travel agent who put this package together, is a gem. If I ever take a cruise again - which I probably will - I'll have her make the arrangements. Not only is she a good travel agent, but she's a wonderful person. She put up with my constant phone calls and questions with unfailing professionalism and good humor. Her website is www.escape2sea.com. If you're planning a cruise, give her a call.
Okay, that's enough rambling. Click here to start reading the actual trip log.