The Springs, The Towes, and The Camerons

TFG Clients, Retirees, Cruise Connoisseurs 

Americans are redefining the word “value.” A word that once described mainly material things now more commonly describes time, relationships, experiences, and memories. For many, amassing these kinds of riches is the new American Dream. This was truly the case for three siblings in Florida, who also all happen to be TFG clients.

Dick and Arlene Spring, Robert and Nancy Towe, and Charles and Connie Cameron all retired within minutes of each other in central Florida, but even in retirement they all have busy lives to juggle. Wanting more than just a once-a-week golf outing together, sisters Arlene and Nancy, with their brother Charles, made planning a family gathering a priority. What transpired was an eight day Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean.

TFG caught up with Dick Spring, who shared the details of this special trip. “Ten years ago we all took a cruise together to the western Caribbean,” recalled Dick, “and we felt it was important to do something like that again while everyone still had their health. It’s not easy to get all the siblings in one place…the trip was fun, but being together is what made it valuable.”

Nancy and Robert Towe

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Arlene and Dick Spring

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Charles and Connie Cameron

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Mike and Annete Kane

The family was joined by good friends Michael and Annette Kane. Together they sailed to the southern Caribbean islands of Grand Turk, La Romana in the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba. And though a cruise may sound expensive, it’s quickly becoming one of the more popular vacation choices as the biggest bang for the buck. A typical day for these travelers included relaxing, eating, playing games, and watching shows – all things included in their fare along with lodging, numerous other activities, and stops at the ports of call. And if you choose to go in the off-season, such as January when they did, it can cost even less.

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Curacao welcomes Connie and Arlene

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Port of Aruba

These travelers are highly experienced in getting the most out of their cruise – the Springs alone have enjoyed at least six excursions in their lifetime. So what wisdom can such seasoned cruisers offer the rest of us?

  • Book your own mode of transportation if possible, rather than taking the cruise-arranged tour of each island. You’ll save money and see many more interesting sites.
  • Try to venture beyond the tourist areas (as long as you know the areas are safe.)
  • Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times. If you miss the ship while on tour, this could make your life much easier.
  • Go to Aruba!
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Okay, so that last tip is more of a personal recommendation, but it turns out that the Aruba stop was the deciding factor on choosing this cruise itinerary. “We visited Aruba back in the nineties and totally loved it,” declared Dick. “The key is to stay for several days, not just as a day-stop on a cruise.”  As it turns out, places like Aruba and Puerto Rico really appreciate visitors that fly in and stay awhile -- the locals are more than happy to show off their beautiful island, and you just can't take it all in during a three-hour tour. “Aruba is only about 6 x 18 miles large, but we put 250 miles on our rental car – we hit every great place at least twice during that visit.”

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Arlene and Dick in La Romana, Dominican Republic

During this cruise vacation the group may have found yet another well-kept secret.“La Romana in the Dominican Republic was a big surprise,” he recalled. “You often hear bad things about that area, but we found it absolutely fantastic. We visited a historic site, and getting beyond the tourist area was key.” Another pleasant surprise was their ease of travel. There were no hair-raising moments to tell of…even boarding the ship in Miami – usually a chaotic moment – was a breeze.

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Carnival Cruise Ship Valor at the Miami Port

A few months have passed since their voyage, but those valuable memories are still fresh. “One of my most favorite moments,” remembered Dick, “was hanging out in the hotel zone in Aruba like locals, instead of running around like tourists. We had a relaxing and enjoyable lunch together away from the cruise ship. This is what it was all about.”

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Cheers! Connie and Charles celebrating family in Aruba