My husband Laurence, and I are seasoned travelers.
We are proud to call ourselves “Cruise Junkies”.
Our love for cruising began in 2007 and over the years we have since sailed on 12 (and ½) cruises covering Southern and Eastern Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Paris, Brussels, Norway, Asia and South America. We have always loved traveling and exploring new counties, meeting people, and the anticipation of learning about different cultures, food, undiscovered terrain, and history. We have bonded with fellow Cruise Mates from across the world and maintain invaluable relationships sharing each new adventure.
On Monday 9th January 2012, we embarked on the Costa Concordia in Barcelona, excited with the anticipation of fulfilling our lifelong dream of cruising the Western Mediterranean.
On Friday, January 13, 2012, day 5 of our 7-day cruise itinerary, just a short distance out of the Port of Civitavecchia (Rome), the ship ran aground off the Island of Giglio on the Tuscan coast spilling 3200 passengers and 1,000 crew members into the dark waters of the Mediterranean. Thirty-two people died and many more suffered physical and emotional scars that are still healing.
Unfortunately, we were unable to find space in a lifeboat and along with others, had to swim for our lives as the 2000-foot-long ship was rolling over on top of us. Freezing cold and petrified, after hours of trauma on this sinking vessel we were left with no alternative.
Filled with raw emotion, I focus on sharing the chaotic events of that night from the overturning dining room to the open deck full of panic and confusion, the decision to jump into the black waters and swim to a rocky shore, and the painful hike over coral rocks to safety.
We were lucky to witness the warm hospitality of the local Islanders who rescued, fed, and clothed the survivors and the waiting world who prayed for news of our safety.
A mere 6 months later, Laurence and I returned to Giglio where we visited the scene of this wreck and met up and reunited with our rescuers and the committed Islanders. We heard their story of this night, followed by the devastation and the lifelong changes to the economy, tourism, and ecology of the Island, and the evolving changes to this small island community. As well, we heard and saw the progress and plans to eventually refloat and remove this horrendous wreck.
Immediately following this visit, on our journey of healing and recovery, we once again returned to the sea and sailed on yet another cruise ship – this time out of Amsterdam. Initially, we were fearful and traumatized which became our turning point. The magnitude of this disaster became an incredible journey to discovering a path of healing, recovery, and gratitude.
In the months that followed after our return and our reunion with family and friends, an overwhelming drive became my determination to document this terrifying journey and to leave a Memoir for our children, grandchildren, family, and friends, as well as so many millions of interested and supportive people around the world.
The astounding curiosity of so many people has encouraged me to present Keynote Addresses, talk at corporate, medical, travel, educational, and fundraising events, sharing our recount of this life-altering Incredible Journey.
I am a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and have presented numerous National and International talks and Keynote presentations on this topic as well as powerful motivational lessons learned, and the rewards of the Power of Resilience.