Posts Tagged ‘Cruising’


Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Phoenix, AZ ~ It’s 2:54 a.m. and I’m wide awake on this starry Sonoran Desert pre-dawn Tuesday reflecting upon our latest ESCAPESEEKER cruising adventure on board the Paul Gauguin Cruises’ m/v Tere Moana. Our journey began on July 30th, when my traveling companions and I arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at 5:00 a.m. with the desert temperature already on the rise, and so was the excitement and wide-eyed anticipation for my two beautiful ESCAPESEEKER guests–after all this was their premiere visit to the most floating city in the world–Yes, Katy Miyasaki Craner, Christina Gee Noakes, and their  ESCAPESEEKER host were bound for VENEZIA, Italy!

The JOYS of TRAVEL is multiplied 10-fold when it is shared with your best friend!

The JOYS of TRAVEL is multiplied 10-fold when it is shared with your best friend!

My two ESCAPESEEKER guests eagerly boarded their US Airways flight, departing on time, and arriving Venice exactly as planned.  Their VIP transfer service which I had pre-arranged with the seasoned concierge Michele [Mikele] at the was there ready to assist and transport them to the beautiful private island resort.  And, thank goodness they were, and my two extremely competent travelers knew just how to navigate their way out of the Marco Polo Venice International Airport.  My Delta flight encountered some “mechanical issues” and I was put on a later flight and re-routed through Minneapolis, and Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Venice. I need to give a shout out to Mehdi and Vernon at Paris-CDG for their special “aircraft to aircraft assistance” and ensuring I made my Air France/Delta Venice connection.  And,  thank goodness, once again for the JW Marriott concierge, I, too, had been extended their VIP transfer service, and ultimately joining my patient ESCAPESEEKER group later that afternoon.

Sunkissed Welcome Brunch at the JW Marriott Venice "Sagra" Rooftop Restaurant.

Sunkissed Welcome Brunch at the JW Marriott Venice “Sagra” Rooftop Restaurant.

ESCAPESEEKERISMS:  If you really want to know a person’s heart, travel with them!

You may think you know someone, but until you travel with them, you may be surprised by what you discover.  For this ESCAPESEEKER, I quickly learned just how special and incredibly competent, joyful, über fun, extremely kind and soulful my two traveling companions would be throughout our 12-day “Land and Sea” European Adriatic voyage!  Did I forget to mention, these two young Moms had to go to great lengths to make all the proper arrangements to ensure their young children (4 + 3)  would be cared for properly during their extended absence:  Enter–two very supportive, albeit extremely busy working husbands!  As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones bonding–as the two newly made,  full-time fathers combined their parenting efforts and would enjoy several joint family pool/pizza parties while their Mommies were away! As back-up,  Christina also recruited the support of a very kind and loving sister-in-law, McKell Dilg Gee; and, Katy found two willing Church friends who jointly agreed to take turns covering her family should her anesthesiologist husband, Dr. Craner be called to surgery. Sound complicated?  Well, it is. But then again, what in a mother’s life isn’t complicated? These two are seasoned multi-taskers and their attention to details when it comes to their children knows no bounds.

Thank you Dads for being so supportive!As a Mom who gave birth and raised six children of my own, I too,  know that even though you may be physically absent, your heart is never really far from home.  This is also true with my two young Mama traveling companions. They savored all of the amazing, exclusive Yachting experiences afforded us on board our sleek m/v Tere Moana, as well as all of the postcard-perfect ports we visited along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. However, ultimately,  almost every dinner conversation would  lead to discussions about their beautiful children, their respective “awesome” husband, and how much they missed seeing them on a daily basis, proving that you can take Mama out of her beautiful nest, but her heart and mind will never really ever be far from home!


The above became another on-going topic we discussed throughout our voyage.  It is clear that it takes so much work and expense to make all the necessary arrangements for home to run as smoothly as it can–after all, what Mother doesn’t wear a dozen hats?  You’re the chauffeur, the chef, the housemaid, the referee, the peacemaker, the fitness instructor, the swimming instructor, the grocery shopper, the spiritual leader, and the wife, etc., etc. Why even go through all that work to “escape” for even a short trip with your BFF?  Here are some of the personal reasons given:

1.  Even Moms need to continually learn, so we can better teach our children.  I’m blown away by how much I’m discovering and learning on this trip about other cultures, other engaging people! (Craner)

2.  I cannot remember when it was that I actually slept through the night! (Craner)

3.  I feel so re-charged.  Traveling makes me remember that I’m also an individual, still evolving, developing my talents, and continually learning things about myself…and giving me a new perspective on the world. (Noakes)

4.  Everyone needs time to laugh, to explore, to take in the world with your BFF! (Craner & Noakes)

5.  Traveling with the right people makes all the difference in the world.  It is the most amazing experience:  mind-expanding, life-changing, soul-enriching, and most importantly, friendship-building! (Noakes)


I must interject how much my two companions continually inspired me, and everyone around them.  Their kind spirit and joyful attitude towards life, their compassion for others, their desire to learn and experience all that is good in this world was simply contagious! Let me say no more, and allow the following images to tell the story of one of the most wonderfully uplifting, truly marvelous voyages I have ever undertaken.  And, those of you who know how many voyages I’ve been on, that is saying a lot! Take a look for yourselves with a click of the thumb:  A YACHT, A HAT, AND MY BFF: Our Beautiful Voyage Across the Adriactic


Thank you Katy and Christina for being such tremendous members of the ESCAPESEEKER traveling team…for sharing my insatiable wanderlust, and most importantly, for seeing, experiencing, embracing the places we visited respectfully through our many, new-found native friends’ eyes. You touched so many hearts during our journey.  You are both remarkable, exemplary American women–outstanding ambassadors of friendship and goodwill on behalf of the country we love.  I feel very blessed to glean so much from each of you!  And, to think, I actually thought I was leading this European Summer Adventure?



ESCAPESEEKERISMS   A very special ESCAPESEEKER THANK YOU to the following:

Paul Gauguin Cruises‘ President, Diane Moore, Master Captain Rajko Zupan and Hotel Director, Nelson Trindade, and the entire indefatigable staff and crew of the  m/v TERE MOANA for creating one unforgettable  “2015 Reunion” Venice to Venice Yachting Adventure for all of us extremely fortunate, grateful guests. Your hospitality is truly legendary!

Paul Gauguin Cruises' Tere Moana TeamJW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa for the kind outstanding upgrade to our stunning “Loft”–it is absolutely perfect for gal pals who need a lot more space, especially with all the outstanding shopping in Venice! Your concierge service and Bell staff were incredibly quick to assist us in every way. Thank you Cristiano Cabutti for the wonderful ESCAPESEEKER welcome!

JW Marriott Venice Resort Loft: Our home away from home

Belmond HOTEL CIPRIANI Venice…Any day spent with you is absolutely REGAL! Roberto’s warm Italian greeting could not be any sweeter; It’s also easy to understand why Walter’s signature beverages are world-renowned; and the entire staff at ORO Restaurant, well, they made the entire delicious dining experience simply “Golden!” Thank you Laura di Bert for orchestrating our Unforgettable Cipriani Day!

Our Special Cipriani Day

Paula Parmeggiani, it meant so much to us that you would invite us into your beautiful Venetian home, and prepare the most incredible feast! What a stunning (full) moon-lit Venetian night…you are absolutely right Paula… when you told me, “Mel, why not dine at my home.  After all, I have a fantastic [birdseye] view of Venice!” Paula, you made us feel like family, living like true Venetian natives! What a beautiful welcome.  It is an evening we will always remember!

Birdseye View of Venice

Osteria IL MILION …Roberto Bocus, our Venetian visit would be incomplete without you!  With a tradition extending back more than 300 years, it’s no wonder your Osteria, IL MILION is a favorite amongst the gondoliers.  Thank you for welcoming ESCAPESEEKER back time and time again.  Grazie mille!