As the tour host, I feel that one of the best evening’s on a cruise is the group dinner. It’s a time when travelers from the University of Illinois have an opportunity to visit in a more formal setting than some of the prearranged cocktail receptions. It's a chance to get together and share stories about their time at the University and since they’ve left. Last night we dined with 32 members of the University of Illinois Alumni Association tour and had a wonderful time. Some of the things we learned included:
- The majority of our travelers on this trip have all traveled with the UIAA EXPLORERS Travel Program before and have been to such places as Budapest, Vienna and the Yucatan. Two couples even traveled together on a prior EXPLORERS tour and were enjoying the bonds of their previous tour.
- Several of our travelers were part of fraternities and sororities when they were on campus, and while none of the Greek organizations represented were the same, each told of how much their time on campus shaped who they are today.
- All of our travelers are enjoying the calm and relaxing atmosphere that comes from cruising around the Caribbean!
The UI travelers on this trip are smart, well-traveled and successful in so many ways. They celebrate each other’s accomplishments and tell tales of all the fantastic experiences they’ve had throughout their lifetime. Thinking back to my own experience as the student advisor of the Student Alumni Ambassadors on the Urbana campus, it is what our students truly believe. While classes get competitive and the job market is fierce, fellow students and alumni always celebrate each other, and it's evident that it carries on throughout one’s entire life.
I'll sign off with some great quotes from my fellow travelers:
“I heard it was two degrees back home today. Tooo bad our friends can’t be here to enjoy the 80 degree weather.”
"This is the time of the cruise where I wish I could stay on forever. Warm sun and great food sure beats 20 inches of snow at home."
"I know I should probably check in back at home to make sure everything’s going okay, but I keep forgetting after spending great days in port."
"It is so nice to reconnect with someone we’ve traveled with before. The Yucatan tour was such a great tour. It’s nice to enjoy another one together."
“Chi Omega is still the best sorority." (Said with a wink.)
"For most folks on board today, it’ll be another day of beautiful beaches, rum punch with a dash of nutmeg and a warm sun to warm the bones while docked in Tortola."