I am delighted to welcome Doris Vasconcellos-Bernstein and Doug Bernstein this week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast. I wrote about the Florida couple in my second cruising book, Cruising Interrupted, in a feature called “Trapped In Paradise.” Interestingly, when I set out to write the follow-up to The Joy of Cruising, originally titled More Joy of Cruising, I neither knew Doris and Doug nor was I likely to learn of them. Not that they weren’t the kind of passionate cruisers I enjoyed interviewing, and emulating, as Doris and Doug have sailed to destinations and on vessels that are bucket list items for me. I like to tell stories representing cruising in all its diversity—cruise lines, types of vessels, and destinations. So, they would have been a good fit in the book if I had known of them. Halfway through the book’s completion, the world drastically changed. Nations worldwide struggled with the healthcare and economic consequences of the pandemic; cruising was suspended; writing of More Joy of Cruising—now titled Cruising Interrupted—was likewise stopped pending cruising’s return. Living in Florida at the time, I read a compelling human-interest story early in the shutdown in the local newspaper about a Florida couple, the Bernstein’s, who found themselves “trapped” on a cruise ship in Brazil. The newspaper had found out from the couple’s friends about their plight and was able to contact the couple on the ship and conduct an interview. Fascinated both by the circumstances—the Bernstein’s were forced to quarantine due to Covid in a suite on a luxury vessel—and the ‘glass half full’ outlook the couple exuded, I knew that I wanted to reach out to Doris and Doug. And I am so glad I did.
I imagine that for some cruisers, the notion of ‘living the life’ on the ocean— being personally served virtually around the clock filet mignon, lobster, and chocolate-covered strawberries, drinking martinis, fine wine, and champagne, relaxing and luxuriating in the suite accommodations with an unparalleled view of the ocean from your veranda on a six-star cruise line—is an occasional fantasy. A relatively small percentage of cruisers get to experience some aspects of this on luxury cruises. That ‘fantasy’ was Doris and Doug Bernstein’s experience around the clock for 12 straight days. Sounds glorious, except they had no input to this real-life fantasy except whether to order Lemongrass Beef Nam Tok Nua, or Lobster Thermidor, or Milk Fed Veal Escalope. And it took place at a time that outside of Doris and Doug’s suite on Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow—from which they could not leave—the world was grappling with a raging pandemic.
Cruising Interrupted was released at the height of the cruise lockdown, and it was fitting to tell Doris and Doug's story, which was titled “Trapped In Paradise.” Today, I am interested mainly in the wonderful destinations and vessels they cruise. As I said many times, a side benefit of writing The Joy of Cruising books is living vicariously through the passionate cruisers I get to interview, and I long to cruise like Doris and Doug.
Besides avid cruisers, Doris and Doug are both esteemed scholars, speakers, authors, and researchers specializing in psychology with courtesy professorships at the University of South Florida.
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