Valentines cruise reunites couple with the ship they met on 26 years ago

Looking to relive some of their fondest memories, Vanessa and Cliff Ellams will celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary on board Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) cruise ship, Astor, this year.

While it may not seem unusual to celebrate such an anniversary on board a cruise ship, in Vanessa and Cliff’s case things are ‘just a little different’, the British cruise line, CMV, says in its release.

On February 2, 1987, Cliff and Vanessa met for the first time on the day that the Astor set off on its maiden voyage around the world, departing from Southampton. Cliff was the chief engineer on board and Vanessa was a nurse.

Their first chance meetings were far from romantic. Cliff first saw Vanessa in the engineer’s accommodation giving out condoms to engineers preparing to go ashore. The second meeting was in the corridor to the Nurses accommodation, where Cliff was talking to the first engineer as he tried to clear a blockage in the toilet’s vacuum system.

Destiny, and their responsibilities on board, brought them together again. Vanessa’s many duties included checking potable water was safe to drink and to satisfy Port Health Authorities. Then, some few months after working together, the chef de cuisine arranged for the couple to join a group of the crew to go ashore for dinner in Istanbul, but it turned out to be just the two of them, with the chef playing cupid.

The success of that first dinner date led to them going ashore together again in Venice. They both regarded their meeting on board as a ‘shipboard romance’, but by the time, they were preparing to leave the ship they had decided to stay together and were married 25 years ago, in 1989.

One of Vanessa’s most wonderful memories comes from the night when Cliff invited her to walk on the Astor decks with him. It was a lovely night with stars hanging close to the sea and the moon shimmering on the glass-like ocean. To her surprise, Cliff then took out a notebook and pen and asked Vanessa, who was anticipating a romantic stroll, to count the number of bulbs for a fresh order; he was checking lights that needed replacement on board.

Even so, the couple enjoyed life on board and made many friends around the world, two of whom are godparents to their two boys, John (23 yrs) and George (21 yrs).

Cliff and Vanessa are now looking forward to cruising on the Astor once more and reliving some fond memories. Their favourite public areas are the Hanse Bar on Bridge Deck and the Ubersee Club on the Boat Deck.

‘Astor was such a friendly ship, because of its relatively small size. You can get to know everyone and go to places where other ships are too large to enter,’ they told CMV.