When my husband retired, our grand plan was to take a cruise every year and explore the world. I was heartbroken when he died suddenly, and I thought I would never travel again. My best friend, Gladys, finally convinced me to book a one week cruise with her around Italy. I was looking forward to it with excitement, but then she broke her leg a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave. Her doctor insisted she could not travel, so I was on my own. Getting on the ship was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I am so very happy that I did.

Gladys is married, and she has a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren. I knew she was only going on the cruise for me, so I felt fine leaving her in their care. I wanted a travel companion, but they are so difficult to find when friends and family are all happily married and leading busy lives. She was willing to go only because we’ve been so close for years, but she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. I have now found a new travel companion who is perfect.

One of our first stops was in Venice, and I chose to explore the city on my own. When I stopped for a late lunch, I knew I would have to eat quickly to make it back to the port before the ship left. A man I had seen on the ship asked if he could share my table, and I agreed because it was better than sitting alone. We began talking about the trip, and he told me his wife had passed away the year before.

He wasn’t interested in finding a new wife, but he was looking for an occasional traveling companion. We spent a good deal of the cruise together, and now we’re emailing back and forth to begin planning next year’s cruise. I am so happy I’ve found a new friend who is interested in exploring the world with me.