A Celebration at Sea

Eden Batki

A California woman gets a birthday surprise from her family on a cruise to Mexico.

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"My mother-in-law turns 75 right before Thanksgiving, so she's hosting a big family reunion on a cruise. We've been pondering what to give her as a fabulous birthday and thank-you present from all of us." Lorraine Fullerton, Salem, Ore.

Using our powers for the good of the people
The Fullertons had never gone on a family vacation, so when Margie Fullerton won $11,000 on a penny slot machine in Lemoore, Calif., she booked two of her children, their spouses, and four grandchildren on a four-day Carnival cruise from L.A. to Ensenada, Mexico. "Well, my 75th birthday was coming up, and I'd never been on a cruise, so this was an opportunity of a lifetime!" she explains. Her daughter-in-law, Lorraine, asked us if there was anything we could do to make the cruise extra special.

Carnival was able to offer an exclusive tour of the ship's bridge and its navigational equipment, a birthday celebration--with a humongous cake--for Margie, cappuccino with Captain Andrea Viacava, and a private towel-folding lesson. (One of the cruise line's signature housekeeping touches is folding towels into animal shapes.) The family kept the secret from Margie until the first night of the cruise; when they told her, she burst into tears of joy. "No one has ever gone to so much trouble for me," she says. Adds Lorraine: "I am really going to score big points on the mom-in-law meter!"

Many thanks to...
Carnival Cruise Lines for all the help in setting up this Upgrade. Carnival Paradise leaves Los Angeles on three- and four-night Baja Mexico Cruises year-round (888/227-6482, carnival.com).

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