Friday, September 11, 2009

Reflections on 9/11

May We Never Forget

September 11, 2001 is a day that we will never forget. It was our 25th wedding anniversary. We were on Norwegian Sun's maiden voyage which started the day before in Southampton, England for a Path of the Vikings Transatlantic voyage. The Sun was docked in Le Harve, France and we had taken a shore excursion to Paris. What could be more romantic than spending your anniversary in Paris, France?

We had a lovely lunch on a river cruise. We had done some shopping and toured the sites of Paris. It was now time to board our motor coach for the trip back to Le Harve to rejoin our vessel. While in one of the local shops, we'd heard some buzzing as the news of the days events had started to trickle in.

One of the passengers asked our French-speaking bus driver to turn on the radio. What happened next, I'll never forget. He started to make dive-bombing motions with his hands, trying to tell us about a plane crash. Even though we couldn't understand his speach, we started to understand that something tragic had taken place.

He changed the radio station and found one that was broadcasting in English. A pall fell over the bus as we heard the news. Most of the passengers were from the New York area since the cruise was to end in New York.

Back onboard the Sun, security was tightened and CNN was on all television sets throughout the ship. The mood went from festive (celebrating the new ship) to very somber.

The captain was one of the best we've had. He directed the staff to open the phone lines and internet for 48 hours so that every passenger could call home to check on loved ones. It was a very organized process that was implemented without any prior planning. Later in the week we learned that our disembarkation port was changed from New York to Boston and once again everyone was allowed to call home to inform family and friends of the change.

There were festivities planned for all our ports of call. In most cases, those still took place, but the opening remarks were concerning the attack. Every country we visited had their flags at half-staff in memory. All of the tour guides began their introductions by expressing condolences.

We had ports of call in New Foundland and Halifax, Canada. There we met folks that had taken stranded air passengers into their homes and fed them when the planes were grounded. Clearly the world had united in response to the events of 9/11.

Eight years have passed since that terrible day, but the memories are fresh as yesterday. We sailed out of New York on a couple recent cruises. We visited the site of the World Trade Center and saw the rebuilding and the various memorials. Reflecting on the past with a hope for a new rebuilding is perhaps the best way to remember.

When we pulled into Boston harbor at the conclusion of our maiden voyage, we were greeted by U.S. Coast Guard gun boats which escorted us safely into the harbor. It was good to be home but it was strange to have the military presence. The escorts continue to this day as the cruise lines and the government attempt to keep us safe from harm. It is everyone's duty to be watchful so that the events of 9/11 don't occur again.

Each of our cruises are memorable in some way. It seems that some cruises are remembered more than others. The maiden voyage of Norwegian Sun will remain one with very vivid memories.

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