Even though the 1970s hit TV show, The Love Boat is not a documentary about ship life in any way, it did help spread the rumor that a lot of sleazy stuff happens on cruise ships.
This is true.
I’m not denying that in any way, shape or form.
Except that it isn’t Love Boat style with romances happening between crew and guests, that is an instantly fire-able offence on any cruise line. But the stories don’t all have unhappy endings.
You may have read about how to avoid ending up with a bad guy or gal, and hopefully you then also read about actually finding a good one while on a ship and you may have read about the story of Nick and I.
I wanted to go one further, and celebrate ship love properly, by showing you some of the real ship love success stories of some friends of mine. I reached out to many ship couples I know, and these are the ones who wanted to publicly share their stories.
Each of these are couples I personally know, who met their other half and sailed off into the sunset, after meeting on a cruise ship.
Read about them here:
Kristel & James
From: Kristel – Philippines. James – England, UK
Jobs when they met: Kristel – Guest Relations Associate. James – Photography Department Manager
Ship they met on: M/S Statendam, Holland America Line
Married in: May 12 2017
Together since: December 2013 - 4 years and 7 months so far
“It all started as James always approached me whenever I was on duty to ask for a British newspaper to check the status of his favorite football team.
One day, when the ship was in Corinto (a port in Nicaragua), I went out to explore the place. I saw some guests I knew, a married couple, called Mr. & Mrs. Hacker, so I started chatting with them. After a while James approached us to say hello, as he also knew the couple.
Mr. Hacker saw a potential spark, and said of James, “he’s a fine gentleman”. The couple left to go about their day, so James and I decided to go for a stroll around the town. We rode a bicycle, went to the beach, walked around, and grabbed some smoothies.
We just clicked, and from that moment I already knew it was him.
Our motto as a couple is ‘To infinity and beyond’.“
Told by Kristel.
Robyn & Kyle
From: Robyn – England, UK. Kyle – Northern Ireland, UK
Jobs when they met: Robyn – Production Show Singer. Kyle – Engineer
Met on: M/S Statendam, Holland America Line
Married in: 2016
Together since: 2012 – 6 years so far
“Another engineer we both know, told us to say hi to each other from him. We did, and that was it! We’ve been together ever since. We got married in 2016, and now also have a lovely 8-month old son.”
Told by Robyn.
Erika and Simon
From: Erika – Key West, Florida, USA. Simon – Hampshire, England, UK
Jobs when they met: Erika – HAL Cat/Band Vocalist. Simon – Deck Cadet Officer
Ship they met on: M/S Westerdam, Holland America Line
Married in: April 26, 2014
Together since: August 2012 (unofficially), May 2013 (officially) – 5 years 2 months (or 5 years 11 months) so far.
“ We met on the Westerdam back in August 2012 and started dating for a while, then officially became a couple in May 2013. I worked on the ship as a HAL Cat/Band Vocalist while Simon worked his way up from Deck Cadet Officer to currently 2nd Officer. I stopped working onboard soon before our son Ezra was born. We now live in North Carolina with our 7-month old little boy, half of the year, while also traveling to the UK and Key West to visit family. The rest of the time we cruise with Simon when he’s working on board. I’m currently writing children’s books based on Ezra’s antics, traveling and singing on land, and Simon is now 2nd Officer on board.”
Told by Erika
Ieashia & Zoran
From: Ieashia – Essex, England, UK. Zoran – Kavardarci, Macedonia.
Jobs when they met: Ieashia – Photographer, Zoran – Hairstylist and Assistant Spa Manager.
Met on: M/S Statendam, Holland America Line
Married in: 2nd September 2017
Together since: March 2014 – 4 years, 4 months so far
“We met on the MS Statendam (the love boat) in March 2014.
We actually met in port when the ship was docked in Cabo San Lucas. My friend Alex had invited me to meet him at the beach when my shift shooting photos on the gangway had finished. So, I made my way to “Lovers Beach” where Alex was. This is where he introduced me to his new roommate - which happened to be Zoran.
Whilst I was sunbathing listening to my music I remember Alex and Zoran were building shapes out of sand. They had made a giant love heart and Zoran told me to sit next to it and smile for a picture.
I said no, but he was persistent. I posed for the picture and that’s when our story started. We had our first night out in Lima in Peru, followed by many beach days in Hawaii, with our first official date being in Juneau Alaska.
I do believe the Statendam was nicknamed “the love boat” by many other crewmembers for good reason, as our paths would never have crossed if it weren’t for her.
We fell in love pretty quickly, but Zoran wanted to test me. For my birthday, in June, he wrote in my card in his language Macedonian. In the message he said he loved me, but he wouldn’t translate what it meant, and only said “If it’s important to you, you’ll figure it out”.
Fast forward 4 years and we are living on land in Essex and happily married.
We had been together about a year when Zoran proposed. We can never remember the date we became a couple exactly, it just happened. We married in Macedonia on the 2nd of September 2017 in the most beautiful venue.
I truly believe if you fall in love and are able to make it work and stay together while you’re on a ship, then that is true love and you can make it work anywhere.”
Told by Ieashia.
Paul & Victor
From: Paul – England, UK. Victor – Brazil.
Jobs when they met: Paul – Deputy Cruise Director. Victor – Watch Specialist.
Met on: Grand Princess, Princess Cruises
Married in: 2018
Together since: 2014 – 4 years so far.
“We actually first got talking on Facebook after Victor posted in one of the Princess group pages, saying that he would be joining the Grand Princess one week after me. We were talking for about 3 weeks before joining.
The day he joined, he came to my cabin with his suitcase - we had never met face to face- and by the end of that night his bags were unpacked in my wardrobe!
Together we decided we wanted to start a life together away from ships. 2 years after we met, I left, while Victor stayed onboard.
We then did one contract together as Shopping Experts to save money for our wedding, and now we’re applying for his spouse visa so he can work in the UK!”
Told by Paul.
Kelley & Andrew
From: Kelley – Florida, USA. Andrew – England, UK.
Jobs when they met: Kelley – Event Manager. Andrew – HAL Cat/Band Drummer.
Met on: M/S Oosterdam, Holland America Line.
Married in: November 2017.
Together since: December 2015 – 2 years, 7 months so far
“We met while working on the Oosterdam. I was a new Event Manager and he was a drummer. We hit it off one night about a week or two into my contract in the officer’s bar, on the bow of the ship, during a meteor shower. We started seeing each other, but his contract was going to be over about two weeks later.
After he left, we kept talking to, and getting to know each other, chatting via Facebook messenger, email and Face Time, and we made plans to see each other again five months later.
I finished my contract (and an extension to it), while he took a contract on another ship, and we still kept in contact every day.
When his contact ended, he came to sail with me for two weeks, sailing from Florida though the Panama Canal and ending up in California. We then disembarked the ship in San Diego and spent a few nights there. Next, we drove up to LA and spent a few nights there, visiting my brother and another friend who lived there. After that, we flew to Boston to see some of his friends who he’d gone to school with. Then, we took a bus to New York City to see some friends. Following that, we flew to Florida for a few days where he met my parents. After that, we flew to England for a few days where I met his whole extended family. We then spent a weekend in Paris. Then we attended a wedding of one of my friends in Italy. Finally, we went back to England, before I flew home.
The whole extended trip lasted about five weeks - and then we were apart again.
I took another contract, and luckily it overlapped mostly with Andrew’s. We sailed around Canada and New England where we got engaged just shy of a year after we’d met.
We spent the holidays with my family that year, and then I took a contract at the start of the New Year. The company didn’t have a contract for Andrew at that time, so he spent of a month sailing with me while I was working. After that the cruise line has been really good at aligning our contract so that we’re working and living together, which honestly makes it so much better. We got married last November in Florida, and have continued to work and travel together, before we’ll ultimately settle on land somewhere.
I do think that being apart so soon in our relationship did ultimately do us well, since we have to get to know each other on many levels, that weren’t just physical. I also think living and traveling together has made us very close and know each other very well, mainly because we get very little personal time or space! Ha Ha! But I wouldn’t trade our little love story for the world!”
Told by Kelley.
Daniel & Shelly
From: Shelley – USA. Daniel – England, UK.
Jobs when they met: Shelley – Cruise Director’s Staff. Daniel – Fourth Officer.
Met on: M/S Statendam, Holland America Line.
Married in: 2006.
Together since: 2001 - 17 and a half years so far.
“We met on the Statendam when Shelley was working as Cruise Staff and I was Fourth Officer. We’ve been together for over seventeen years now and have two lovely children. A favorite motto of mine is; ‘There is nothing -absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats’.”
Told by Daniel.
Josselyn & Hans
From: Josselyn – Holland. Hans – Bali, Indonesia.
Jobs when they met: –Youth Program Coordinator. Hans – Housekeeping Attendant.
Met on: M/S Noordam, Holland America Line.
Married in: September 28th 2015
Together since: Summer of 2013 – 5 years so far.
“We met on the Noordam in the summer of 2013. We met in the crew laundry room. I was folding my underwear when he just randomly popped up in front of me and said “I’m Hans, who are you?”
A couple of days later we met again at a Birthday party in the Petty Officer’s Bar, where I was dressed up over-the-top as Adele! (It was a themed party). We’ve been together ever since that pop star party night! Now we live in Holland with our lovely little boy.”
Told by Josselyn.
Melodye & Tom
From: Melodye – New York City, USA. Tom – Cornwall, England, UK.
Jobs when they met: Melodye – Culinary Art Center Host (then Location Guide). Tom – 2nd Officer (now 1st Officer).
Met on: M/S Eurodam, Holland America Line.
Married in: Not married, but are life partners.
Together since: November 2014 – almost 4 years so far.
“It's thanks to the nosy matchmaking of others that we're together. I was brand new to ships, and my first week onboard was Thanksgiving. I met Tom sitting at a large table in the ‘fishbowl’ (area of the guest buffet restaurant, where crew sit – like a fish bowl, as everyone peers in) for dinner. The Culinary Arts Centre Host and Youth Program Coordinator were both American and dating a Kiwi and a British deck officer, respectively (both couples are now married!).
After only a few days of being onboard, the girl who trained me (to be her replacement as Culinary Art Center Host), wanted to know whom I was interested in. When I casually mentioned I thought Tom was cute, they immediately set out to set us up. One of their beaus was on watch with Tom, so he was tasked with passing along the message. Apparently Tom had taken notice of me as well, and he called to ask me to dinner (to one of the specialty restaurants on board, Tamarind or Pinnacle - my choice). He was such a gentleman, he even showed up at my cabin to "pick me up!" We hit it off quite well, but I was only onboard for a week of training, then we were apart for 2 months. However, when he returned after vacation, I was back on Eurodam, and we have been officially together ever since!
We aren't yet married... yet. But I got a spouse/partner visa in October 2017, and we live together in our home in the UK.”
Told by Melodye.
Ramsey & Lorraine
From: Lorraine – England, UK. Ramsey – USA.
Jobs when they met: Lorraine – Spa Manager. Ramsey – Show band bass player.
Met on: Celebrity Mercury.
Married in: May 20th 2005, and have 3 children.
Together since: 2003 – 15 years so far.
“We got together because she confided in one of the dancers on the Mercury that she was attracted to me, and he told me. I proceeded to spill my drink on her twice on our first date, in the crew bar. We’ve been married for 13 years now and are lucky enough to have three beautiful children.”
Told by Ramsey.
Stephanie & Christian
From: Stephanie – England, UK. Christian – Philippines.
Jobs when they met: Stephanie – Front Desk Supervisor. Christian –Security Patrolman.
Met on: Crown Princess, Princess Cruises.
Married in: 2016
Together since: February 2013 – 5 years, 5 months so far.
“I’m Stephanie from England and I worked onboard a Cruise Ship within the Pursers’ Department. I met my husband, Christian from the Philippines, working onboard the Crown Princess. I was the Front Desk Supervisor and Christian was a Security Patrolman.
We meet in October 2012, whilst dealing with the passengers delayed luggage from the airlines.
We went on our first date ashore in February 2013, to Tulum in Mexico, and we have been together ever since. We both love to travel and learn about new cultures, which was perfect working on a cruise ship, as we were able to travel around the world together and visit many fascinating places (Alaska, New Zealand, Panama Canal, Japan & Thailand just to name a few).
Working on cruise ships and having a committed relationship is hard due to working different shift and contract lengths or even being placed on different ships, but if you truly love someone then the long distant relationships can last, as long, as you both put the effort in. The longest amount of time that Christian and I were apart was 9 months and that was a hard time, as we were on different ships, in different time zones and started our contracts at different times.
We married in the Philippines in 2016 surrounded by our family and friends. We no longer work on cruise ships and are building our shore life in the UK and still exploring new exciting destinations.
Princess Cruises is truly the “Love Boat” company, where many of our friends have met onboard and have continued to have an amazing life together on land.”
Told by Stephanie.
Mollie & Ger
From: Mollie – Seattle, USA. Ger – Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Jobs when they met: Mollie – Digital Workshop Host. Ger – Engineer.
Met on: M/S Maasdam, Holland America Line.
Married in: Not married yet, but we are each other’s person & live together in their place in Holland.
Together since: December 2016 – 1 year and 8 months so far.
“Ger and I were instantly connected through our love of dance and music. We met at a crew party and danced the night away.
But, he had a girlfriend. I was so attracted to him being the center of attention and lighting up the room. For some reason, he thought I was out of his league! We spent the next couple of nights as friends together dancing in the bar. The more time I spent with him, the more I fell for his charm and charisma, and after a few more dancing sessions, I ended up going home with him. (He broke up with his girlfriend soon after).
It’s not really a storybook love story of finding each other. I guess we are a more “typical Ship life” romance!
We have a passion for people, culture and travel. All of which has led us to vacations around the globe following festivals and making close friendships. We both try to give out the same energy we want back, and encourage each other to live independently in our relation together. Life is one giant party and we live it everyday grateful, in love, and at sea! When we are not sailing the 7 seas, we are living in Nijmegen and traveling between Seattle and any other destination we want to explore.”
Told by Mollie.
Jamie & Scott
From: Jamie –USA. Scott – England, UK.
Jobs when they met: Jamie – Youth Program Coordinator. Scott – Casino Dealer.
Met on: Zaandam M/S, Holland America Line.
Married in: August 2015 (and again with the big wedding in April 2017).
Together since: 2013 – 5 years so far.
“Scott and I met during our first year (of three each) working on ships. When we met, the Zaandam was in Alaska doing the two-week runs. And Scott was seeing someone else….
The first thing he said to me was that I looked like Wednesday from the Addams family!
The friendship developed and the first time he kissed me, I ran away from him because he was my only friend on the ship at the time, as the others had disembarked! Obviously that didn’t matter later on though.
After we left the Zaandam, I flew to England to be with Scott for 5 days. After that, we both pretty much knew this was it! From there we both did a few more contract over the next two years. It was easier for me to jump between ships with my job, so I followed him around everywhere he went!
After our second cruise together he came back to Toledo Ohio to meet my family, then I took him to Pennsylvania to meet my mom’s side of the family. Then we went to England and I met his mom, brother and grandparents.
When we decided to leave ships, we chose to live Florida, where we both are now. Scott proposed in our bedroom at my parent’s condo, after he got back from England and about 2 months later we went to the courthouse by ourselves and got married (mostly to start and speed up the visa). That backfired on us a bit and he had to go back to England for a year while they processed the visa. I went to England for Christmas and in September to bring him back. So for the first year of marriage we were together probably a total of only three months.
When he came back we finally got to schedule a date for the wedding. This ended up being April first, and that was fitting because we did had three other dates for the wedding that we had to keep changing!
Now we both work for Publix and live in Sarasota. He’s been back for 2 years.
We aren’t completely finished with the visa process but we are almost done. We’re just waiting on a receipt for the condition on the visa to be lifted, and then he’ll be a permanent resident for 10 years.”
Told by Jamie.
Abigail & Michel
From: Abigail – South Africa. Michel – Holland.
Jobs when they met: Abigail – Spa staff. Michel – Officer (now Staff Captain).
Met on: M/S Veendam. Holland America Line.
Married in: November 3rd 2007 - and have two lovely children.
Together since: 2005 – 13 years so far.
“Michel & I met on the Veendam in 2005.
I was standing in the Officer’s Bar while waiting for my laundry to finish. The corridor I lived in was flooded, as a pipe broke in the ceiling and everything was wet, so I had to wash all my clothes that had been soaked. Michel was standing at the bar, and we got chatting as I waited. He asked me to have a drink in the bar with him, and watch a movie later in his room. I think I fell in love that night.
Michel said he knew we were going to grow old together the day we met. He said he loved me because our love and faith together helped him be a better man. We got married on November 3rd 2007.
I love him because he is a loving, kind, generous, soul, and he loves me as he sees these qualities in me too. He has a very big heart and it is so easy to be with him.
The unconditional love we have is unbreakable. We’ve been married for 11 years and known each other for 13 years. Our relationship is always challenged with distance, but we always work to build a better and stronger relationship. We have many cherished memories together, and I will love him forever. We have two children together and I know nothing can separate us. We know we will be together for life.”
Told by Abigail.
Shelly & Darcy
From: Shelly – Vancouver, Canada. Darcy – Port Alberni, BC, Canada.
Jobs when they met: Shelly – Youth Staff. Darcy – 1st Officer.
Met on: Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Married in: 2009, and have two lovely fur babies.
Together since: 2005 – 13 years so far.
“In 2005 Darcy and I had both been working for Royal Caribbean for several years. We are both Canadian, Darcy is from Port Alberni, BC and Shelly is from Vancouver, BC. Darcy was working as a First Officer and I was working as a Youth Staff onboard the Brilliance of Seas in the Mediterranean when we met.
Ships can bring people together and we found we had friends in common on board that introduced us. This gave us the opportunity to spend a bit of time together in the ports. Eventually the romance of the French Riviera, Spain, Italy and Greece worked its magic and we started dating. We worked for two more contracts together before we returned to land to live in Vancouver. We got married in Vancouver 9 years ago, with no end in sight, and are now living happily ever after!”
Told by Shelly.
Nick & Karen
From: Karen – Scotland, UK. Nick – England, UK.
Jobs when they met: Karen – HAL Cat/Band Vocalist. Nick – Pianist and Band Leader of the HAL Cats/Band.
Met on: M/S Volendam, Holland America Line.
Married in: August 20th 2017.
Together since: August 2015 – 3 years so far.
“We met while working on the Volendam, but I’d actually spoken to Karen online before she joined the ship. We’d talked on a special Facebook group for musicians working for the cruise line. I asked on the group if anyone was going to be on Volendam in the next few months. Karen replied, saying she would be the next singer there, and that she was looking forward to working with me. I replied, saying I’d just been made the new bandleader, so would be her boss, so she had better be nice to me. (So her first impression of me from this was that I was a bit of a tool - she didn’t know at the time that I was just a sarcastic Brit).
When Karen joined the ship, I was to the one to show her around. However, I’d been drinking the night before. When I met her and offered to give her a tour, she said no thanks as she’d been on this class of ship before – much to my hung-over relief, as I then went back to bed. But I later realized this was probably because my breath still smelled of beer.
Surprisingly, after this less than stellar start, we spent time together as friends. A few weeks later, we went out in port for lunch and ate a bunch of crab together in Skagway (Alaska). The fun of ripping the crabs apart together and sharing the messy experience is when I realized I liked her as more than a friend.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and a couple of weeks later, I got the courage up to tell her my feelings - and kissed her. After a couple of false starts, we got together, had many silly escapades, and a couple more ship contracts together later, I asked her to be my wife. We enjoy being silly together and have our own special little world. I love being married to her and feeling like I’m a part of something – our team.”
Told by Nick.
That is the story and testimony of 16 ship couples, in their own words, about how they found their one on a ship.
After going through my Facebook friend list, trying to count all them all, I think in total, I know 58 couples that ended up with partners they met on ships. (There may be a few more I missed).
I must be fully transparent with this, and say that two of the couples that ended up together and got married didn’t make it, and have since broken up.
However, if you look at the world average of divorce rates currently at 41%, 2 out of 58 couples - 3.4% is very low (but this is of course just from people I personally know, and I am not in any way suggesting that this represents the entire average statistics from ship marriages).
I think this is because, as it is very difficult to make things work when you meet someone on a ship, if you make it to the point of marriage, you’ve already been through most of the dramas that could break you up already.
There are so many hurdles; having time together with conflicting work schedules, having privacy together if you have a roommate, getting contracts together, physically where you’re both from in the world and how far that is from each other, visa issues, the list goes on.
So basically, it is tough to make it work, but if you can get through that, then you are a very strong couple, and not much will faze you.
As my friend Ieashia said,“If you can make it work on a ship, you can make it work anywhere.”
I’d like to say a big thank you to all my friends who agreed to share their story to be part of this. I really wanted to share your romantic tales, as I’ve found them inspiring, and hope they will be to others too.
Long live (ship) love!
This is the last article in my four part series about love on a ship. To read the rest please click below: