At one point, we took the term “Group Leader” to another level. In the traditional sense, a group puts a group cruise together, and typically does the planning, research, arranges the fares and transportation, and typically benefits from the cruise line’s perks when a certain number of berths are reached. Once on board, the cruisers are on their own. In our case, we put the cruise together AND acted as chaperone for the cruise, since we were employees/representatives of the (retirement) community. Little did we know, we were asking for it!
It started small…a dish was not served to one of our resident’s expectations. Did the resident make the Maitre ‘d, or the server, aware of this? The person walked to my table, alerted me, and expected me to alert the staff! This, as it turns out, was just the beginning.
Two days later, I was sitting and eating and I heard an announcement on the ship’s PA, calling for one of our residents to report immediately to the Purser’s Desk. It turns out that her husband had fallen off of the (Cozumel) pier, into the water, dangerously close to the ship and the sea wall. A crew member saw this happen, jumped in, and pulled the man to safety. He appeared OK, but the ship’s doctor would take no chances, in the event the man had internal injuries. He was transported to Cancun, where he would board a medi-plane for a flight back to Miami. A few hours later at dinner, his wife showed up! She ate with us and then was danced the night away…while her husband was alone on his way back to Miami!!!
The next day, it was another announcement. Another announcement which included a name that I recognized. One of our residents, while walking from one public space into another, tripped over a threshold, fell, and ended up with a broken collar-bone. She was treated and remained on the cruise.
There was only one other overnight trip that was already planned after this cruise, but my mind was already made up. We would stick to the (local) day trips and leave the overnight experiences to the community’s clubs/organizations, travel agents and tour companies. It also taught us to include (in our advertising) that those who are not capable of traveling alone must pay for a companion (or aide) to travel with them. I must have carried luggage for over a dozen people before and after this cruise! Lessons learned!