Mickey to the rescue

Posted on April 24, 2013 by Jeff

The Kerr family recently took a vacation.

This was the first time in a few years we took a family vacation. Just the 6 of us. We went on the Disney Cruise.

A Disney vacation seems like a necessity for every family, at least once. In our family, there had been a battle going on for a couple of years. Kristie was the one pushing for the Disney vacation, imagining quality family time, smiles on kids faces, dreams coming true, skipping, singing and holding hands – happily ever after. I was the one resisting, imagining heat, humidity, crabby, tired kids, long lines, fights with wife, disappointment, complaining, whining, “I’m hungry” “I’m tired” “I’m hot” “I want to go home” and the general idea of thousands of dollars being continuously ‘vacuumed’ out of my wallet from morning to night, everyday.

We decided on the Disney cruise because it’s the Disney experience, and because it’s a cruise, once you pay, most everything is covered. There’s built-in fun, activities, entertainment. There’s Disney princesses walking around the ship which the kids love, and I thought was ok as well. And all the food you could ever think to eat is included.

Disney does it right. Everybody in the family had a wonderful time. Lucy and I dominated, and brought, in my opinion, some much needed zip to the family Karaoke nights. Kristie dominated the “Mom’s Air Guitar” contest. The whole family attended the Wednesday night late night top deck dance party, and we ‘shut it down.’ We spent a day on the Disney beach, spent some time in Cozumel Mexico, ate stupid amounts of food and I got my picture taken with Ariel, the real one, from The Little Mermaid.

Good times all around. We will do this again someday.

One afternoon, as we were sitting in the Disney Theatre waiting for the afternoon show to begin, (by the way, the theatre stuff they pull off on this boat is quite amazing) the ship’s captain made an announcement: The ship had stopped because a raft had been spotted in the water, the US Coast guard had been notified and we were waiting further instruction as to what to do next.

raft 1

So Lucy and I ran out to one of the decks to see, and sure enough, off in the distance, you could see a raft. We were told there were five people on board and, obviously, ignoring them wasn’t an option. At this point of the cruise we were sailing pretty close to Cuba, so it was a safe assumption the people on this raft had set sail from there, trying to make it to… well… anywhere but Cuba. Either that, or these five people were trying to escape a nearby incapacitated Carnival cruise ship, looking for a better option.

Back in the theatre, more announcements were made that the start of the show would be delayed a few minutes because of this situation, that we would be picking up the people in the raft and holding them on board until the coast guard arrived. And then the captain stated: “But don’t worry everyone, this will not delay our arrival tomorrow morning at Castaway Quay.”

So we picked up the five people in this raft (here’s a picture)



The refugees were in rough shape. Obviously. They received much needed food, water and medical attention. We were told that had we not arrived when we did, some, if not all five people would have died.

The last time anyone on board saw these refugees was as there were being taken away in a US Coast Guard boat, smiling and waiving to the cheering crowds on Deck four of the Disney Wonder.

The show began about 10 minutes late and yes, we made it Castaway Quay as scheduled the next morning.

Here were some of the thoughts I had that afternoon:

First, I was ready to thunder punch somebody in the throat if I heard them complain about waiting an extra 10 minutes to see the matinee performance of “Disney Dreams.” The cruise director kept apologizing to the audience. “Sorry for the delay, everyone… thanks for your patience.”  I was literally looking around the theatre at anyone I could see (especially my kids) with a look that said “so help me, if you are worried about a late start to our show on our cruise ship… if you’re concerned about being 20 minutes late to your next ice cream buffet, or if you’re worried about a late arrival to Castaway Quay over the lives of these five people, I will send you out to sea in their raft.”

Thankfully, there were no complaints to be heard because when it comes to physical confrontation, I’m all talk.

My second thought was more humorous. I actually laughed out loud while standing on that deck having this thought: IF you are a Cuban refugee, floating in a tiny raft in the middle of the ocean, not sure if you’ll survive another night, is there ANYTHING you’d rather see in the distance than a huge ship with giant Mickey Mouse Ears on the side of it??? Not only were they being rescued, but rescued by a cruise ship??? Not only a cruise ship, but one that has freaking Mickey Mouse on board???? I like to imagine what was said in that raft as our ship appeared. I can’t imagine a more appropriate modern day example of the Promised Land than giant floating luxurious Mickey Mouse.

My third thought was this: How bad did life have to be for these five folks that pushing off into the ocean in THIS raft was the best option? I had a moment of global clarity and perspective. Here I was, on the Disney Wonder, with my healthy family, enjoying a nice, many would say ‘luxurious,’ vacation, while billions of people in the world suffer in a lot of serious life-threatening ways. I’m not saying we should all pledge to never take another vacation and instead give that money to World Vision. Perhaps I should be saying that, but I’m not. But at minimum, it would be a good for each of us to live each day with a decent amount of perspective. We have it good in a lot of ways. We should be more generous. We should also be much more thankful. Most of us have never had to escape something life threatening. We should all consider ourselves blessed for a thousand reasons, first of which is we’ve never had to spend a single night on the ocean in a raft like that. Instead of continuous griping about ‘the state of our country,’ we should shut up more often, opening our mouths just long enough to give thanks.

And fourth, as cheesy as this sounds… we can be Mickey. The Disney Wonder didn’t start out on a rescue mission, we simply altered our schedule a bit to give assistance to someone who needed it. It’s a simple yet profound change we can make to our everyday lives — be willing to be interrupted so we can help those who are “drifting.”