Ilene Weiner has travelled the world aboard Princess cruise ships for the past 30 years. In fact, she’s been on 282 journeys with the line, logging 2,500 days or more than 6 years at sea.
That makes her the cruise line’s “most travelled guest.’’
In that time, the incredible 81-year-old has said goodbye to her husband, met a new companion and circumnavigated the planet.
“We’re incredibly honoured to have the loyalty and passion for Princess Cruises that Ms. Weiner exudes as our most-travelled guest,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.
It all began in 1989 Ilene and her husband, Howard, set sail aboard Fair Princess to the Caribbean and fell in love with exploring new destinations, connecting with locals and fellow guests and the onboard facilities.
The cruise line marked the 81-year-old’s milestone with a 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific cruise on the Golden Princess.
Ms Weiner, who lives in Highland Beach in southern Palm Beach County, recently celebrated the holidays and New Year on the ship with her companion Carl Cutting, 76.
Here are her tips and advice:
From all your cruises with Princess, what is your favorite destination and why?
Without a doubt … Australia! No matter how many times you go, there is always something new to see. This past year was my first time visiting Western Australia, which is very different than my previous visits to East Coast and Northern Australia.
If you had to pick one city to visit with Princess, what city would you select?
St Petersburg. I just completed my fourth visit this past summer and I’m still amazed that each time I find new sites to experience and meet the most interesting people.
What is your most memorable experience ashore? Any insider tips to share on must-do activities?
I recently visited Petra in Jordan and found this to be a memorable shore excursion. Gazing at The Treasury, I just imagined the archeological marvel that was upon me and was filled with wonder knowing it was built thousands of years ago. During that same trip, I did an evening Jeep Safari in Dubai to a Bedouin Camp. WHAT FUN!
What is your favourite port to sail in or out of?
Sydney Harbour … spectacular every time. It’s different when you sail in early in the morning and experience the quiet calm of a sleeping city. When you sail out of Sydney, it’s alive with the hustle and bustle of locals and tourists alike. And, I can’t leave out Ft. Lauderdale since that’s where I’m from.
Where was your most memorable sunset?
Last December 29, 2017 sitting in the Crown Grill Steakhouse aboard Emerald Princess, sailing between The Falkland Islands and Puerto Madryn, Argentina and our window seat gave us a spectacular colourful pink and blue sunset.
Where and what was your most memorable meal?
In Aruba at the Flying Fishbone Restaurant – I had the freshest seafood I’ve ever tasted, caught that very morning. I’d heard about it on a cruise and booked it the next trip. I was in Aruba when the ship stayed late enough to go to dinner. My favourite meal on a ship was aboard Royal Princess at the Chef’s Table – spectacular food and ambiance with the crystal curtains.
What is your favourite souvenir from your travels with Princess?
When I was aboard Pacific Princess upon reaching my 250th cruise, the officers and captain surprised me at the champagne waterfall with four-stripe epaulettes, the same as worn by the Captain. The picture they gave me of this event is my favourite souvenir.
What is next on your bucket list?
Africa is first on my bucket list. I have seen very little of that continent and would like to explore there more and see the countryside, wildlife and meet the locals.
What destination would you suggest to a first-time cruiser?
For a first cruise, I would suggest going to the Mediterranean. It’s both beautiful and historical with so much to see and taste!
What destination is the most romantic?
After my husband Howard passed away in 2014, I continued to cruise on my own. Sure enough, I met my partner, Carl, on a cruise aboard Crown Princess heading from Scandinavia to New York. It was a true “Love Boat” experience and still is today. For me, the Princess ships are the most romantic destination – so many possibilities and endless activities to truly connect with someone special. And, you can even watch “The Love Boat” in your stateroom!