In May of 1864, my great-great grandfather Francis Cundick departed Liverpool, England on the General McCelland for the United States. He left his job working in the mines in Wales to start a new life in America. 153 years later, I departed Dublin on the Azamara Quest excited to watch the British Open. I thought that would be the highlight of my cruise. Little did I know, The Open would be just one of many wonderful experiences on my British Isles cruise.
Rob and I started our trip early with a few days in Dublin, Ireland. After flying on a red-eye, we needed to stay awake to avoid the jet lag, so we started a tour of the city upon arrival. Of course, pubs were on every corner and colorful flowers seemed to be below every window. Coming from the hot red rocks in the desert, we really appreciated the lush green foliage and bright beautiful flowers. We saw Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and charming architecture throughout the city. The tour ended at the famous Guinness
Storehouse and it was worth waiting for. If you drink beer or not, a visit to the storehouse is a highlight in Dublin. We booked a special connoisseur experience, which only allows 50 visitors each day. We skipped the long lines and were treated to a special tasting tucked away behind a secret door in the historic connoisseur bar. The walls were the traditional dark wood and were covered with photos of the Guinness family, trophies, and other memorabilia. We learned a lot about Mr. Arthur Guinness and I was very impressed with his sense of business and all that he did for Dublin. We had to learn how to properly pour a Guinness before we could leave for the Gravity Bar, offering a 360-degree view of city skyline. It was the perfect way to end our first night in Dublin.
Once we boarded the ship, we spent another day in Dublin and then we were off to Wales. To actually see where my great-great grandfather once worked and called home was an incredible feeling. The emerald green countryside was covered with more sheep and cows than I could count. Maybe this explains why my grandfather became a dairy farmer.
Our country drive was spectacular as the waves crashed into the rugged cliffs. The next day, we continued to Liverpool and I would have given anything to have my mom with me when we arrived near the same docks where my great-great grandfather sailed from. My day started with The Beatles Experience tour (one of my mother’s favorite bands and the soundtrack of my childhood). I learned all about John, Paul, Ringo and George. We saw their childhood homes, Penny Lane, and Strawberry Fields. I discovered some interesting facts about their lives and the inspiration for some of their songs. We continued to the museum filled with memorabilia. My favorite room was John Lennon’s where his famous round glasses sat on a beautiful white piano. The lyrics to my favorite song “Imagine”, were on the wall and the song played as well. Tears rolled down my eyes as I thought about how relevant this song is today. We finished at the famous Cavern Club where it is said the Beatles played over 292 times. That evening, Azamara Club Cruises treated us to a special concert in St. George’s Hall. It is one of the most beautiful music halls, I have ever visited. We enjoyed opera music, symphony music, and of course Beatles music with everyone dancing, singing, twisting, and shouting. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks display over the water as we departed Liverpool.
As we began to leave port, I could not help but think about my family heritage and what it would have been like for a very brave Francis to leave Liverpool for America. I am quite certain he did not have the luxurious accommodations and gourmet meals like mine, or stop in charming ports of call along the way. Although I loved watching Phil Mickelson at The Open and it was a highlight of my vacation, this cruise gave me so much more than I expected. I left with a greater appreciation for my ancestors and their sacrifices once I saw where they lived and where their journey for a new life began. As the saying goes, “Travel Changes You” and I know it changed me.
By Celece Seegmiller written for the St. George Spectrum