cruiseThey are so different. An elderly well-dressed woman, who believes that cleanliness is next to Godliness. And a tween girl, whose room could be declared a health hazard and wears whatever is found on the floor. The one thing they share besides genetics and love is their travel lust, especially when it comes to cruises. Our family named them the “Cruising Duo”.

My mother and daughter – grandmother and granddaughter began going on cruises about 13 years ago. Grammy was 69 and Alicia was 11. I was a single mother, who worked a lot to afford what we needed and couldn’t take time off for vacations. So Grammy treated Alicia. She took her on her first cruise and many more after that.

They got to know each other even better on their trips, as they shared a room, ate meals together, and took shore excursions together. Grammy taught Alicia about manners while dining, appropriate clothing to wear, and to enjoy the finer things in life. Alicia helped Grammy let down her hair, got her to wear a bathing suit after years of sitting by the pool fully dressed, and got her interested in learning about the culture of the places they visited.

The Cruising Duo made friends on each ship, including the staff and other travelers. They tried new food, enjoyed high tea, played bingo, had their hair done on board for formal dinner and photos, took classes on napkin folding and enjoyed each other’s company in a way they hadn’t before.

With each new cruise, they became accustomed to their differences. Grammy picked up Alicia’s clothes from the floor without complaining. Alicia sat back while Grammy told the room steward to be sure to clean behind the bed. They shopped for clothing, jewelry, perfume. And Alicia began to see how lovely she looked when she put some effort into it. She saw that she was growing up and began accepting responsibilities. Grammy stopped getting nervous when Alicia went to the teen center alone. She realized that Alicia wasn’t that little girl any more who needed to be constantly watched.

Their last cruise alone was about 7 years ago. Grammy had to rely on Alicia more this time. Her health was giving her some problems. But, Alicia took it in stride. After all, she learned so much about traveling and being responsible from her grandmother.

Later on at the age of 22, Alicia took a job with a cruise line in their call center. She was quickly promoted. She worked on a ship, where she researched how customer problems were handled on board. She was able to take two preview cruises and go on a cruise for her honeymoon. To this day, she thanks her grandmother for bringing about her love of cruising, for the closer relationship they formed, and for the life lessons she learned.

Connie Roberts is a professional blogger who makes it her mission to advocate for people with medical issues. Travel with a disability is not a struggle, but an opportunity to see the world and let others see that it’s possible and a lot of fun. Tweet with her @ConnieFoggles.