We make friends easily. On every cruise we meet at least one couple who become long term friends. The pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into keeping up relationships, but has also opened up lots of opportunities.
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- Our biweekly e-mails. We have about 20+ “cruising friends.” Usually we send a Christmas card and a chatty e-mail every three months. During the pandemic we moved to a biweekly frequency. We tell them what we are doing and send a photo.
- Responding personally. The e-mail I send might be boilerplate with a little customization, because otherwise I would be typing all morning! People send back “letters” that are very eloquent. We make it a point to reply to those with detailed, personal messages highlighting points they made. Those replies add a personal touch.
- News from the front lines. These biweekly e-mails get responses. Some come within seconds. (You know who has too much time on their hands.) Others respond every time, some intermittently. Since they are spread around the world, we get a great picture of how lockdown restrictions are being eased or reimposed in different countries. We learn about their future cruising plans.
- The funny videos. We aren’t fans of finding stuff on the Internet and passing it around. We don’t need another virus in addition to Covid. Other friends take a more relaxed approach, sending us frequent, funny videos. They “curate” the ones they receive or find on their own. They send jokes around. It brightens the day.
- Let’s buy you dinner. Friends in the UK have been having a difficult time. In London, apartments tend to be smaller with no outside space. We send flowers. We called up a restaurant and booked a table for them (via a gift certificate) for the first day outdoor dining was permitted. The day it restarted, we heard, tables were booked almost two months in advance. It cost little, but it meant a lot.
- Weekly Zoom calls. None of my pants fit anymore! Put another way, they are very tight! This ties into our four night a week schedule of calls. Some are conventional phone calls. Others a weekly event via Skype. Some are spontaneous. It’s like having these folks as neighbors, or travel companions in the next cabin. We tell stories. One couple bought a camper van. Another does their 10,000 steps walking through London with a friend every day.
- When will we see you again? We are all looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. We have told our UK friends the plan is to fly over when the US/UK borders reopen for tourists, then rent a car and drive around the British Isles having lunch or dinner with different friends each night. We plan on staying at local Marriott’s, but some friends will likely insist we stay with them.
- C’mon over here! It can work the other way around. We tell our cruising friends they are welcome to come visit us, staying in our guest bedroom. We tell them where the nearest airports are located and we would collect them upon arrival. We hope a few of them take us up on the offer, but not at the same time.
We don’t know exactly when we will all be back at sea. This approach helps keep these friendships alive!
Cover photo: Ships departing PortMiami’s ship channel taken from South Pointe Park tip of Miami Beach ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews