The Sea Brought My Wife’s Smile BackWilly and his wife, Fernande, smiling aboard Dawn Princess.
April 17, 2012
by Willy Stader
Throughout our marriage, my beautiful wife Fernande always shone brilliant light into my world, and into the lives of everyone she knew. She spread sunshine wherever she went, through her genuine kindness and especially her warm, beautiful smile.
Sadly, in her later years she began to suffer from dementia and a debilitating muscular disease. Our life together had definitely become much more challenging. Her difficulties made daily tasks so tough for her, both physically and mentally, that her smile had faded.
Still, I could not possibly think of sending my bride to a nursing home, and I dedicated myself to making her as comfortable as possible at home. I tried taking her out to see the world, but it was a challenge. However, one day I decided to take her on a short boat trip out in the harbor. I looked at my wife enjoying the sea air … she was smiling for the first time in months. Finally, I was seeing that spark in her again that I hadn’t seen in so long!
I decided I had to find a way to continue this feeling for her. So, I made an impromptu decision to take her on a cruise, and I’d take whatever sailing was the next available. Turns out, it was the 104-day world cruise on Dawn Princess!
This was quite a leap, and I had no idea how it would turn out, but it became the best decision I’d ever made. We had only been on the ship two weeks when I knew this was the best place for Fernande. My beautiful wife loved every moment of being on board ship. She was obviously filled with happiness and any difficulties she encountered seemed to melt away. It was like having my Fernande back again — she was constantly smiling and happy.
Everywhere we went, the ship’s staff could not have been more helpful or kind to us both. We never wanted for anything and Fernande had not a single problem while onboard. Her condition seemed so perfect that I immediately booked another voyage while still onboard. And onboard that voyage, I booked our next again.
Sadly, Fernande passed away before we could take that next journey together, but I know that this experience brightened the last few months of her life and made her a lot happier even if just for a little longer. And for me, this wonderful trip showed me that amidst all our challenges we were still able to find such amazing joy.
I’ll never forget this incredible experience, and I’m planning to be onboard Dawn Princess’ 75-day Circle Pacific cruise this July in memory of my lovely Fernande.
Willy lives in Cremorne Point, New South Wales, Australia. He has currently completed 160 sea days with Princess, with another 75 to come.