How a Travel Industry Veteran and Author Met the Man of Her Dreams Aboard a Cruise Ship
Tanya Zaufi: “All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny.”
Looking for Love in 2021? Here’s a story to warm your heart. Join Tanya and me for a live evening chat event on Tues., Jan. 12, 2021. Get more information and register here.
I’ve never met Tanya Zaufi, author of All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny but after I read her answers to my interview questions, I knew YOU would fall in love with her heartwarming romance story.
The mere thought of meeting someone on a cruise ship might seem far-fetched but you’ll see in my interview with Tanya, love can happen in a heartbeat.
“My motto is: You only have one life to live – Live it with no regrets. I would rather look back on life and say, ‘I can’t believe I did that!’ than to look back and say, ‘I wish I had dared. I am happy to say I had dared!”
Tanya Zaufi, Author
Tanya Zaufi is a travel industry veteran who has worked at hotels, ski resorts, and aboard the ships of major cruise lines. If you’ve dreamt of meeting the dashing man or woman of your dreams while traveling the world, keep reading. You won’t be disappointed.
Author and travel veteran, Tanya Zaufi followed her friend’s advice and took a job on a cruise ship and had her “love-at-first-sight” moment on her first day on the cruise ship. Scroll down to follow her adventure.
A passionate traveler, she has visited or sojourned in dozens of memorable places from the Austrian Alps and the Caribbean to Greece and Australia—her favorite destinations. When she’s not writing, Tanya enjoys lake life, camping, hiking, cycling, and riding her ATV in the warmer months. During the winter, she skis, snowshoes, skates and enjoys relaxing in the hot tub with a good glass of wine. She lives in Kelowna, British Columbia with her husband, Josef, and their two children. Above all, Tanya said, “I love seeing the world through my children’s eyes.”
Where were you in your life when you began working on the cruise ship? Were you single? Divorced? How old were you?
Tanya: I was a twenty-four-year-old single girl living and working at a hotel in Kelowna, British Columbia. I had moved to Kelowna from Alberta specifically for the job at the hotel only to find out that I was going to get laid off after the summer high season. Scrambling and not knowing what to do next, a friend suggested applying to work on a cruise ship. I had never heard of anybody working on a cruise ship but I was game. It sounded too good to be true.
What type of work were you doing at the time?
Tanya: I was working at the front office at the Grand Okanagan Hotel Resort in Kelowna. A few years before, I had taken a two-year travel consultant program at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton. This seems to be what led me down the path of working in the hospitality industry. Looking back, it seems like it was destiny. I wound up traveling all over the map for the next 10 years. I also wound up meeting the love of my life… I talk about this in my memoir, All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny.
Are you still working on the ship?
Tanya: I worked on three different cruise ships. The first opportunity of working on a cruise ship was with Princess Cruises. From there, I went to work on a European cruise line called Renaissance, following that the last cruise ship I worked on was the Disney Magic. They were all unique in their own way: Princess – seeing as it was my first cruise ship it was a new experience; Renaissance – always reminded me of the movie Titanic with its décor, so European and the itinerary was exquisite; Disney – what can I say, who wouldn’t love to have Mickey and Minnie Mouse as your best friends, it truly was magical. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work on all the cruise ships I did, but I no longer work on them. I live full time on land with my husband and two children.
What were your thoughts back then about meeting someone on a cruise ship? Was it possible, likely, incredibly romantic, or problematic?
Tanya: I never put much thought about meeting someone on a cruise ship; I was just there for the adventure. Ironically, I had joked to my parents before I went on my first cruise ‘Don’t worry; I won’t fall in love with someone from another country.’ Well, I was wrong to say that as I had my ‘love at first sight’ moment on my very first day on the cruise ship and the handsome man was from Austria. Meeting on a cruise ship was incredibly romantic as you are living a fantasy life every day at a different exotic port of call and experiencing whatever your heart desires that day; scuba diving, relaxing at a beach, or taking a seaplane tour – the list is endless. Being in this setting seems like it makes it easy to fall in love.
Please describe the day you met him, i.e. your physical location onboard the ship, your first impression, how long the relationship took to evolve, etc.?
Tanya: I met Josef on my very first day onboard the cruise ship. My day started as soon as I crossed the gangway onto the ship, I was introduced to my Italian roommate who joined the same time I did. After we boarded, we were given keys to our cabin (which just happened to be a passenger stateroom with two portholes on deck five – as they didn’t have any crew cabins left at the moment). We were then instructed to go get our uniforms on deck two, change into the day uniform, and meet back at our work location at guest services on deck five. The SAP (Senior Assistant Purser) instructed us to get our life jackets from our cabin and go to the “crew only” lifeboat drill promptly at 10 a.m. With our life vests tied on we headed to the muster station on deck seven, a/k/a the “promenade deck.” From there, we headed over to the Vista Lounge. Upon arriving I glanced around and spotted him instantly across the room, and as I mentioned that is where I had my ‘love at first sight’ moment. He was handsome and when I spoke to him he was also very charismatic. We were both smitten right away and met up in the crew bar after hours and continued to grow our budding relationship from there by going to explore the islands together.
What makes a cruise ship the best or worst place to meet someone? What are the pros and cons?
Tanya: For me, the cruise ship was the best place to meet someone; seeing as I ended up marrying my Austrian (although, it only took us eight years with many ups and downs to live on the same continent permanently). When you are on the ship you are living a type of fantasy life onboard where every day is a different adventure. However, if you were dating someone and things didn’t go so well then you will essentially see the person all the time. There is no escaping the person and that can be taken as either a pro or a con. However, it was all pros for Josef and me. We both got paid to travel around the world, going to destinations that I normally would never have been able to afford to go to. It was a unique experience and I would certainly do it all over again!
How does the cruise ship management look upon relationships between employees and guests?
Tanya: You are able to mingle with passengers in public areas only, like the disco, lounges, or restaurants. This is only if you are allowed in the passenger areas; this would depend on your position on board. I was a Junior Assistant Purser, therefore I was allowed in passenger areas. However, there are no personal relationships allowed. There is absolutely no fraternizing with passengers and crossing that line.
How did you find time to be together while on the ship? How much free time did you have?
Tanya: I had a substantial amount more free time than Josef did on the ship. In my position at guest services, I worked approximately 56 hours a week with mostly split shifts and Josef worked approximately 100 hours a week. That’s a huge difference in hours (however, he was paid at a higher rate than I was). We would plan to go ashore around his schedule; whether we went swimming with the dolphins or to relax on the beach and go snorkeling or even out for a lunch date. We made it work. Then at the end of every day, we either met in the crew bar to be social or we would have quiet time in our cabin at night. We would mainly stay over in each other’s cabins, even though it was a bunk bed. It seems that all the above bought us that much closer, that much faster than if we had been dating on land.
Where are you today in your relationship with Josef? Are you still working on the ship?
Tanya: We (Tanya and Josef) live in Kelowna, British Columbia. He immigrated to Canada 8 years after meeting that fateful day on the cruise ship. I believe that it was destiny that brought us together. We are now married 13 years and are living our happily ever after with our two beautiful children.
What provoked you to write a book about this portion of your life?
Tanya: About 10 years ago, I was watching an episode of Ellen DeGeneres and there was a segment about people that inspire you. At that moment, I started to write a letter to Ellen and tell her how much my husband inspires me. The fact that he sacrificed everything from his home country in Austria; his business, house, family, and friends, everything he knew – he left and moved to Canada for me! He would have moved to Timbuktu if I had lived there. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that he literally left everything behind and took the leap of faith. So that letter to Ellen (that I never sent) morphed into my book, ‘All Over the Map,’ which is a metaphor for all the travel that is in the book and also the story of our relationship. I feel blessed that I was able to experience the extensive travel opportunities I have and I am lucky I was able to live my own fairy tale and write about it. Now I am able to keep reliving it through my memoir and we consider it a treasure for our family.
“Always follow your heart and dream big. Everyone has a story in them that can inspire someone else.”Tanya Zaufi
If you’re Looking for Love in 2021, I hope Tanya’s story gives you inspiration and hope that love will find its way to you. Remember, meeting the person of your dreams comes when you least expect it.
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Looking for Love in 2021? Keep reading. Here’s a companion story. What are the 5 Must-See Beaches of the World?