Chapter 4: The French One

In summer of 2015, my parents were set to go on a cruise to Iceland with my grandma and my aunt. Unfortunately for my aunt, she realized that she would no longer be able to go on this cruise because of a work commitment. Fortunately for me, my parents found out it was easier to change the name than it was to remove someone, so I got to go to the land of fire and ice instead. So, in August, we flew off to Iceland ready for a week long cruise. 

For a bit of a refresher, this was shortly after my involvement with Christian began. I hadn’t seen him since my Spring Break (not a funny story, so that will not be shared here), but was set to be going back for another internship at Disney right after this cruise – I had even requested to work at his location in my interview (to be fair, I also just really wanted to be back in Epcot because they had the longest lunch breaks, and I wanted to be indoors). I was still very much hung up on him and had zero expectations of anything exciting happening on this cruise. Little did I know, the universe had another idea in store. 

It’s also important to note that I was the only single girl between the ages of 18-50 on the entire ship. Seriously, there were a couple of younger girls and boys with families, but the majority of the population on this fairly small ship was the Early Bird Special demographic. So, basically, as a not too bad looking 23-year old American girl, I was about to learn that I was a bit of a hot commodity to the mostly male European crew.

The second night of the cruise, I walked down early to grab our table while my parents and grandma made their way down, and as I was stumbling my way through the restaurant on the heels I rarely wore, suddenly a tall, dark, and handsome Frenchman appeared at my side, saying, “Mademoiselle, I just wanted to tell you that you look very beautiful tonight” and then promptly ran away. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night beaming and looking around trying to figure out who this mystery man was. 

The next day, I saw him at lunch where he convinced me to try smoked salmon for the first time (when a hot French guy tells you to do something, you do it) and then again at dinner where he slipped me the note he’d wanted to give me at lunchtime. I remember it had a flower drawn on the front and that it said I looked so pretty that day, and that he had found out my name and written it (in his beautiful handwriting), signing it with “Bises” which means “kisses” in French. Seriously, swoon, right? By this point, I had figured out that he was the maître d’ of the restaurant, but still did not know his name. Unlike him, who had access to seeing passengers’ passports, I didn’t have a database of names at my disposal. 

That night, we were to be docked at one of the ports overnight, meaning that the crew could leave the ship. The cruise director, Rolf, invited me to go off the ship with him claiming that we’d hang out with “so many of the other members of the crew.” In my head, this meant Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome would be there so obviously, I went. But, he was not there. In fact, no other crew members were there. It was just me and Rolf, a 40ish-year old German man who I’m still not sure if he was more into me or my mom. So, it was not the night I had planned.

The puffins were so cute.
Photo by Till Rottmann on

Apparently it wasn’t the night my mystery maître d had planned either, because the next night at dinner as I walked out, he slipped me yet another note telling me that he wished he’d have asked me to hang out off the ship first, but that he hoped I had a good night, and asked if I’d join him for wine the next night. I also finally found out this name, Pierre. I ran back to the restaurant, finally spoke more than 3 words to him where I confirmed that yes, I would meet him the next night, and told him I only went with Rolf because I hoped to see him there, and then went to bed pretty stoked that I was getting the kind of vacation romance I’d only ever seen in Mary Kate and Ashley movies. 

Our note passing continued the next day, and honestly, I’m sad that I didn’t keep them because they were pretty cute. I’m sure that at this point, pretty much everyone who worked in the restaurant knew something was going on, but I didn’t care. He met me that night at 10:30, I helped him close up the restaurant, and he took me over to a table where he had champagne, fruit candies, and music ready for me. We talked, we laughed, we kissed, we almost got caught, and it was a really wonderful night that made us decide to do it again the next day, but that time, with gin. I learned that he was 29, born and raised in France, a Taurus, and had an older sister.

The next night, as I got ready to meet him again after the restaurant closed (we couldn’t go anywhere open, and both our rooms were off limits since crew/guests weren’t allowed to fraternize) I told myself probably about a dozen times that I wouldn’t sleep with him. Well, after lots of gin (and pistachios), talking, and laughing, one thing led to another, and you can probably guess what happened seeing as he’d been on a ship with very few females his age for months. Luckily, we were smart enough to move into his office first, where afterwards he gave me a few Ladurée macarons that I still think about because they were so delicious. 

The second I woke up the next day, I was in a panic. Again, read between the lines and remember that I was not expecting to meet anyone on this ship, and he knew that this cruise line was very popular to the senior crowd, so neither of us were very “prepared,” and I was extremely nervous that I didn’t remember the night as well as I thought and I could be at risk of getting pregnant, so I needed some emergency contraception. Given that I couldn’t go to the ship infirmary because they would know it had been a crew member (no male passengers my age, either) I was involved with and I didn’t want to get him in trouble, I knew I’d need to get some when we got off the ship, but I couldn’t do it alone, which only meant one thing – I had to tell my mom.

I remember going and knocking on her door and asking her to come over while my grandma was in the shower, sitting her down, and promptly bursting into tears as I asked her if she’d always love me, no matter what. When she finally got it out of me, all she said was, “Well I didn’t think you were a virgin.” Thanks, mom? (Just kidding, I love you, mom). I told her what I needed, and she said okay. Unfortunately, the city we were stopping in that day didn’t have any pharmacies near the port. Neither did the city the next day. It wasn’t until our disembarkation day two days later when my dad was distracted with a watch store in Reykjavik that I ran ahead into a pharmacy, bought it, and took it in the store when I told the pharmacist how close I was to the 72-hour period. Thank God for Iceland not being liberal with that sort of thing.

Pierre and I left on good terms. The last day, we got caught by a family as well as another crew member as we did our daily note exchange at lunch and dinner, but neither of us cared. When I went to meet him that night, he announced to everyone inside the restaurant that he was having a guest for dinner, and we ate and drank with the sommelier. We talked a lot, I cried, we exchanged contact information, he was so sweet to me that night, probably the nicest I’ve ever been treated by a guy was Pierre. He was exactly the type of smart, handsome, funny, and romantic French gentleman every girl hopes to meet while on vacation. 

The day we got off the ship, he told me where to see him before I left. He said goodbye to my parents, and after they left he risked his job by giving me one last goodbye kiss right in one of the hallways. Overall, he was a really good guy. Exactly what I needed at that time – honestly, I really think if he didn’t work on a cruise ship, and if I wasn’t at the peak of my struggling with some insane Catholic guilt for having premarital sex (and about to go back to Disney to be further manipulated and emotionally abused by Christian), we would have met up again in the winter like we’d said. And maybe things would have been different. We did send emails back and forth for a while, but then we both just sort of took longer and longer to respond.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls.

I still occasionally get Facebook messages from him saying hey, but when I answer, he doesn’t respond. Maybe this is just me but I feel like if I worked on a cruise ship for as long as he did I’d probably be in a bit of shock back in the real world, so who knows, maybe that’s what happened. But, “Pierre,” if you happen to find and read this, I hope you’re doing well!

I feel like most of the time vacation flings aren’t meant to last, and that’s okay. Pierre taught me how I should be treated by a guy, and considering we barely knew each other but he was intent on treating me like a princess, that says a lot. I still think he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve been involved with, and at the end of the day, I think that was his purpose – to show me what I should have been looking for instead of clinging to Christian. Either that, or he was meant to help me learn that my mom is even cooler than I already knew she was. Regardless of his purpose, I just know I’m really glad that my aunt couldn’t go on that cruise. 

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