Each year, a prominent institution in Canada organizes a business cruise destined for various countries in the Caribbean. Approximately 750 employees out of roughly 75,000 employees worldwide are selected for this cruise to the Caribbean. That equates to the top 1% of the corporation workforce. Candidates are selected primarily on the basis of their annual sales and senior managerial recommendations.
I consider myself to be very fortunate to be a part of this, not as an employee of the corporation, but as a guest, for the last three years. My significant other deserves all the credit for these exciting years of travel in the Caribbean. She is my lover, my companion, and my friend. Truly the joy of my life.
Travelling throughout the Caribbean has proven to be one of my favourite travel experiences. Nevertheless, it is more than sunny skies, sandy beaches, and a perpetual blue sea. It is more than the fabulous food, the delightful shopping, the sights and sounds, and everything else that is good about that particular region of the world. It is about the people.
Whether it be the international business group on the ship, or the locals I have met in various countries throughout the Caribbean, it has always been about the people. I have made many new acquaintances and even a few friends along the way.
There is one particular group of people that I am most grateful for – the crew and staff of these enormous cruise ships. Their unending dedication and commitment to first class service is unrivalled anywhere on this deep blue planet, at least in my experience. I have learned to take the time to talk with a number of these individuals who labour anonymously behind the scenes. To express interest in the lives of those who serve, to be thankful and appreciative of their service, and gracious towards those who keep this whole tourist business ticking like clockwork is part and parcel of being a conscientious traveller.
One particular tiny, and somewhat frail, young woman stands out in my mind. I saw her nearly every morning making toast in the huge breakfast buffet line. She seemed to be quite shy but was always polite and helpful. One morning, I simply asked her where she was from. Her beautiful blue eyes gazed up at me and she began to smile. She was so happy that a guest even noticed her. She proudly told me that she was from a small community in eastern Siberia. When I confirmed that I had an approximate idea of the geographical region she came from, her smile broadened. I could see in her eyes that she was lonely and, perhaps, desperately missed her friends, her family, and her home. For a stranger to acknowledge that she was, indeed, a significant person meant so much to her.
One never knows where the expression of gentleness and kindness will lead us. To brighten someone else’s day is a life worth living.
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