Entries from aboard the Holland America MS Westerdam on the Olivia Leadership and Equality Cruise.

They say all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, that applies to Olivia trips as well. The good news is that disembarking was as smooth and easy as everything else on the trip had been. If you’re familiar with cruising, you know that’s not always the case. But from the moment we stepped off the boat it was smooth sailing, no pun intended.

After leaving the ship, we grabbed a cab to the Ft. Lauderdale W Hotel for breakfast with new friends Mindy and Jilda. It was a delicious breakfast. But the real surprise was bumping into an old friend, Larry Joe Campbell. In 1994, he and I did summer stock theater together in Springfield, IL of all places with The Great American People Show.

Larry’s made quite a career for himself, television and film, including starring alongside Jim Belushi in the sitcom According to Jim. He’s currently in Ft. Lauderdale shooting a film with Belushi about – get this – a bigoted dad whose daughter is a lesbian. He ends up needing a heart transplant. And the donor is – you guessed it – gay. Looking forward to finding out more for sure!

After breakfast, we said our tearful goodbyes to Mindy and Jilda and headed off onto the last leg of our adventure. We’ve learned from taking these cruises before that staying an extra night in town can make the “re-entry” process into the real world at least a little easier.

We checked into the incredible il Lugano, where a gorgeous suite awaited us. And it was even all ready for us despite checking in at 10:30am! It was basically the home away from home that you wish was home.

Full kitchen, washer and dryer, two balconies, large bath, beautiful bedroom, and chic living room/dining room. The day drifted away between taking naps; catching up on email; and connecting with family and friends we had been separated from for the week.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner at il Lugano’s da Campo Osteria. The service and the meal were beyond outstanding. Mozzarella made tableside; eggplant that this non-eggplant lover gobbled up, handmade pastas, veal saltimbocca, and a deconstructed tiramisu soufflé that very nearly brought tears to my eyes.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Nothing is like Olivia. No other company has committed itself to giving lesbians a place where they can “feel free” with no limits. Women of all ages and backgrounds and interests and races come together in what can only be described as a magical way. As their theme song says, we really are “Beautiful together.” My only regret is that it ever has to end…

Until next time, I’ll see you Around the Block,