The best thanks for a lifetime of support: an AmaWaterways river cruise.

For travel advisor and loyal guest David N., AmaWaterways has become a second home. So there was no question for him as to how to thank his fourth grade teacher and her sister for a lifetime of friendship and support: he would take them on board an AmaWaterways river cruise. Here, based on his own words, is David’s unconventional story of love for the women who became his second "moms."

The Best Teacher Ever

When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a bone disease called Leg Perthes, which caused me to wear a brace up my leg and over my whole body. Joyce was the teacher in charge of the new inclusion program in which special needs students were integrated into regular school classrooms and this is how we came to know each other. I was in the 2nd grade. Later Joyce became my teacher for 4th grade.

I was, shall we say, rather hyper and a talker and Joyce had her hands full with me, but she was (and is) my all-time favorite and best teacher ever. In 5th grade, my father got transferred from Philadelphia to Orlando. Joyce became my pen pal and I would regularly send her postcards from Disney. Whenever we would visit Philadelphia, my first stop would always be to see Joyce.

A Long-Distance Friendship Continues

When I began university, we lost touch for a while as my head was filled with the typical college concerns. One day in between classes I was watching Oprah and the episode was about your favorite teacher, which of course prompted me to call Joyce to catch up. We laughed about how fast time flies and our mutual love for Disney and everything picked up where it had left off.

Over the next two years a lot happened. My dad got sick with cancer. I called Joyce. I was blackmailed out of the closet. I called Joyce. Issues with my love life. I called Joyce. Issues with my family. I called Joyce. I left school and moved back to Orlando from Tallahassee. I called Joyce. The lines were burning.

One day Joyce mentioned that she would be in Orlando for a teacher workshop given at Disney World and meeting there became an annual tradition for a while. Then Joyce and her sister Arlene started coming to visit me and my then partner and became substitute "moms" over the years.

Home is Where the Heart Is

In 1997, I moved back to Philadelphia to work for a major cruise line and of course, I moved near Joyce and Arlene. They were quite dubious two years later when I told them I had met a German in the Caribbean, started Trans-Atlantically dating, and then moved to Germany a short time after.

Over the 20 years that I’ve lived abroad we’ve stayed in touch with regular phone calls and I used to visit each year up until around 2012 when I discovered Ama and started organizing groups on their ships. It is hard to find time to go to America when you are on an AmaWaterways ship practically every eight weeks!

When it turned out that Joyce and Arlene couldn’t come on our wedding cruise being held on the AmaKristina in June 2019, we were disappointed, but determined.

A Ship Becomes a Second Home

Then I had another idea, which actually worked out better: we invited them to be our guests on my April Tulip Time sailing and it turned into one of the best trips ever. Suffice it to say, not only did they love their AmaWaterways cruise and find it superior to their prior river cruise with another line, they never got off the ship! Each morning before the tours, Joyce would think about going, but she loved the AmaPrima and the crew and the ambience so much, the sisters chose to spend each day on board and loved it. They’d reply, "Well, we really thought about it, but today we decided to just take a short walk and get back to the ship to enjoy Elena and Mirko.” They adored the Hotel Manager and the wonderful Elena in the bar.

At the end of the week they had this to say: They have never laughed so much in their lives. The food and service were divine and for them, having already been to most of the places, they felt that the ship was such an inviting and pleasant atmosphere that they loved being on board. For them, AmaWaterways was "fantastic and a cut above."

Most importantly, we spent so much quality time together. It was our absolute pleasure to bring them as our guests and a very meaningful trip. Since neither my husband Thierry nor I have very supportive families, it was special for him to meet two people who have been with me on my journey since I was little.

"Ama" Means Love

I remember calling Joyce and coming out to her. Her reply: "My dear, I have known this since you were in the 4th grade. This is not news to me, but what should be news for you is that we have always loved you just as you were, so we are here for you."

These are not words I hear very often to be honest, which is why it was so important to me to have this cruise with Joyce and Arlene. I have finally found happiness with someone, and also professionally, and I wanted them to see my life here in Europe. This was the highlight of many highlights and something truly special and unspoiled that I will take to my grave.

It would not have happened had I not formed such a close partnership with AmaWaterways – and this makes the memory even more special to me.

Thank someone special in your life by bringing them on one of our incredible sailings in 2021!

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