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Tracy and Ben on the cruise where they met in 1998 (Photo: Tracy Miller)
Who: Ben and Tracy Miller
The Carnival Sensation (Photo: arctic_whirlwind/Flickr)
Where We Fell in Love: Carnival Sensation cruise ship
Relationship Status: We have been together for 16 years and married for 13 years. We have three children: Audrey, 10; Ty, 8; and Colt, 5.
(As told by Tracy)
I had just graduated from high school and was going on my very first cruise with my best friend and her family. Ben had also just graduated from high school and was on the cruise with his grandparents as a graduation gift.
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo: Kayla Sawyer/Flickr)
We each noticed the other on the second day of the Caribbean cruise, but we did not actually meet until the third day. Our first port was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I remember walking around in a packed market with my friend, Lisa. That’s when I saw Ben in the same store. At that time, I did not know his name, and Lisa and I had dubbed him “the cute boy.” As the night progressed, I saw Ben at just about every place we stopped. Later that night, Lisa and I were standing in one of the lounges listening to some karaoke, and Ben walked up behind me. After scaring me to death, he introduced himself and we chatted for most of the night. After that, Ben showed up wherever Lisa and I were. She started jokingly calling him my stalker. We spent pretty much every waking moment together, and before we went our separate ways at the end of the seven-day cruise, we exchanged addresses.
Soon after we were back on land, I started my first year of college at the University of South Florida, and Ben entered into boot camp at Parris Island for the United States Marine Corp. Within a week, I had a letter from him, and I quickly wrote him back. We wrote many letters and cards back and forth with each other (all of which I still have), and I looked forward to checking my mailbox at school, and eventually my email account and good ol’ AOL Instant Messenger.
I went to visit him in North Carolina over Thanksgiving break, and he came to visit me in Florida at Christmas. After he finished his school and training for the Marines, he was stationed about four hours from where I was going to school. So in between our frequent letters, emails, and phone calls, he would also drive down on the weekends to visit when he could.
Ben and Tracy on their wedding day in 2001 (Photo: Tracy Miller)
The following Thanksgiving, we were driving to North Carolina to visit his family, and we pulled over at a rest stop in Georgia so he could stretch his legs. We walked down to the edge of a lake, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He said that he was going to wait until we got to North Carolina to ask me, but the ring was burning a hole in his pocket and he couldn’t wait. I, of course, said, “Yes,” and we started planning the wedding.
We wanted to wait until I was done with school, but in February of 2001, Ben found out that he was going to be stationed in Seoul, South Korea, for a year. We decided to get married before he left, and lucky for us, everything worked out. My church was available, we found a reception site with no problem, and the florist and caterers were available.
We got married on June 9, 2001, and we had such a wonderful time celebrating with our friends and family. At our wedding, Ben’s mom told me that when he came back from the cruise in 1998, he told her, “I met the girl I want to marry!” And he did.
Ben left for South Korea shortly after the wedding, and I went back Florida to finish my classes. The long distance was hard, but we continued to write letters and emails. During the fall semester when my class started talking about final internships (I was in school to be a teacher), I started wondering if I could do my final internship in South Korea. My advisors at USF approved my request and helped me set up my internship overseas.
I flew to South Korea in December 2001 and was able to stay until May 2002. Ben came back home in June, and after I finished one more class in Tampa, Fla., I moved to North Carolina to be with him for good.
The Miller Family (Photo: Tracy Miller)
These past 13 years of marriage have been filled with many blessings, most of all our children. And we are so excited for and looking forward to what the future holds. We’ve been on many family vacations over the years, but we have yet to make it on another cruise. We are hoping that maybe we can go on another one for our 15th wedding anniversary.
But I’ll always remember that first cruise as my favorite vacation ever — because it’s where I met the love of my life.