Wonderful crew members help to make our cruise delightful

ABOARD THE EURODAM– Strong winds and rough seas canceled our visit to Grand Turk today. Ship Captain Jeroen van Donselaar decided it was too dangerous to dock so we headed out to sea again.

Eurodam Travel Guide Kelly M. Coursey Gray answers a passenger’s tour questions.

I never question a ship’s captain when it comes to changing course. And I never tire of shipboard activities and watching the ocean roll.

So, instead of writing about our visit to Grand Turk, I thought I’d introduce you to some of the wonderful crew members who are making our Eurodam cruise so delightful.

First there’s Eurodam Travel Guide Kelly M. Coursey Gray.  It seems as though Kelly is everywhere – giving lectures, answering shore excursion questions, meeting with guests at her Travel Guide table, taking tours. How did this Pennsylvania gal find her way to such a great job on the sea?

“Everything just lined up,” Kelly said. “I was very lucky.”

A former professor of Art History in Pittsburgh, Kelly has always been interested in travel and learning about different cultures. As a teacher, she began to shepherd students on Study Abroad trips to Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, Germany France, Switzerland and Great Britain.

Kelly also cruised with the Holland America Line several times and decided that combining her love of teaching, travel and cruising would  be the ideal job. But were there even positions open on Holland America?

Eurodam Cruise Director Brent Roberts presents a ship program.

“I didn’t know if there were and I knew there was very little turnover with Holland America,” Kelly said. But she went online in January and submitted an application with Holland America.

“I was hired Feb. 29 and have been here since March,” she said. “Everything happened so fast.”

What she likes most, Kelly says, is working with the passengers and crew and waking up almost every day in a beautiful new destination. “It’s my dream job.”

Then there’s Eurodam Cruise Director Brent Roberts. Don’t know when the man sleeps. His vibrant voice comes over the ship’s intercom in the morning,  telling us about the exciting day coming up.  Brent’s life has followed many paths, particularly surprising for such a young man.

Growing up in central Illinois, Brent left the farm to follow his faith and became Reverend Roberts.  Traveling the world as a youth minister, Brent eventually landed in Las Vegas where he established a real estate brokerage and has been selling homes for almost a century – while also serving churches around Vegas, performing in musicals and as a talent host.

No wonder Brent seems to have boundless energy. His motto – “Seize the day.” And Brent sure does. But he never seems too busy to stop and answer passenger questions around the ship.

Eurodam cabin attendant Peri cleans the saltwater off a cabin verandah.

In fact, Brent has some doozies in his collection of cruiser queries that he will share. One passenger, Brent says, asked him what religion it is for passengers who wear   “the little round dots” behind their ears on our cruise.  “Equeasiastical,”  Brent quips.

But, he hastens to add that the seasick-prone group is not an organization that any passenger might want to join.  It can be a very stomach-churning experience.

The last person I’d like to spotlight in this blog is also one of the most important on our cruise. Our cabin attendant Peri is top notch. He is so quietly efficient and  anticipates what we might need even before we do. From the creative towel critters he leaves on our beds to the cozy lights, turned-down beds and chocolates we return to every night, Peri is a wonder.

Always smiling, the man from Bali says he has been with Holland America for seven years. But one of my requests brought him up short.  When I asked if I could take his photo, Peri seemed puzzled as to how he should pose. “No one asks me this,” he said.

Just keep doing what you are doing, I told Peri. And he did. Polishing the ocean salt off our verandah balcony, Peri looked my way and smiled. That’s a visual memory I will keep of one of the Holland America treasures on our Eurodam cruise.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

About Jackie

Jackie Sheckler Finch fell in love with cruising 35 years ago when she rode the magnificent Mississippi Queen riverboat in its inaugural 1976 voyage. A newspaper reporter, photographer and travel writer, Jackie has cruised on large and small vessels on numerous rivers and oceans. Read more...

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