Welcome to the Family – Gonzalo and Elizabeth Dream Vacations

Welcome to the Family

It’s been over a year since my husband and I opened our independently owned and operated CruiseOne franchise in order to share our love of travel with the world by helping others (and as of April 5, 2016 we’re now re-branded as Dream Vacations!). It made perfect sense to us to combine our talents with a passion we both believed strongly in. And what a journey it’s been! Of course, it seems like it gets more interesting at every curve in the road as we head into year two. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Our personal story started in Austin, Texas after my father passed away and Butch (Gonzalo’s nickname) had just moved to Texas. We met through the Lone Star Gator Club (yep, the Gator Nation is everywhere…); I was selling raffle tickets that day and didn’t even realize he was actually asking for my phone number. (I’m way better at travel planning than I ever was at dating, don’t worry.) We went out for drinks at a local bar off 6th Street the next day and have been pretty inseparable – except for previous work – ever since.

One bucket list item that we’d never fulfilled independently prior to getting married was getting our scuba certifications. So we made a pact that on our honeymoon in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, we would go diving and, thus, finally get our Open Water certifications. It was January in Austin and the water temperature in Lake Travis was in the 50s. Let me say that again. The water temperature was in the 50s. Viz was so bad, I wouldn’t even say there was visibility. But we did it. We got our certs. It was so worth it. And let me tell you, dear readers, we have the ultimate in appreciation for warm-water scuba diving after that.

Neither of us are slouches when it comes to education. I completed my Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the University of Florida with majors in Environmental Management in Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering, respectively, with minors in Agricultural Law and Education and Communication. Butch is a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering. Education is a lifelong process and we are constantly intrigued by something. Lately, it’s been blogging and SEO followed closely by some of our partner travel suppliers’ continuing education. *shrug* Go ahead. Call us nerds, but we love to learn.

Not being all that into the technical engineering piece, I headed into public service as an emergency management and homeland security professional. You’re probably thinking that means I worked in a hospital ER or I patted folks down in an airport. Nope. You know those disaster headlines you read that talk about the response to a hurricane or people being rescued off a mountainside from an approaching fire? All the planning, expertise, and training that goes into those operations is what I did. And did it for well over a decade in various incarnations. I still participate on a consultant and volunteer level today because I just can’t quit it. I help people (and their animals, but that’s probably a whole other blog post!). It’s ingrained in me.

Butch, on the other hand, embraced the engineer in himself and traveled the world starting in college as a cadet and following up as a merchant marine. He’s seen the inside workings of many cruise ships and visited tons of cultures while working on engine overhauls. From Hawaii to Italy and Australia to South Korea, he’s globe-trotted to places many folks only dream of. Heck, even I was a bit jealous of the places he’d been when we first met! The traveling was great up to a point. That point was when you realize that having any sort of meaningful relationship is nil because you’re never home long enough. Our first years together were a challenge balancing travel schedules, my disaster work not always being 9-to-5, and whether satellite would work to hold an evening call. Then, it happened.

Butch was offered an opportunity to join a company that contracts Port Engineers for the U.S. Navy – and he’d get to be home. No more several weeks gone. But with every plus, there’s always a minus. The minus was me leaving my career and us both moving back to Florida. It was a rough first year back in Florida, I’m not gonna lie. It takes time to change everything you knew for almost 8 years. We started soul searching what made sense for our situation and knew that our entrepreneurial spirit was growing, waiting to be tested and unleashed. Our combined talents lit up the possibility of specializing in travel. So, we jumped in with two feet and started to swim…

And here we (and you!) are! As we tell all our clients, welcome to the family! The primary purpose of our tales herein are to share more detail on our scuba diving trips and expeditions, offer tips, and provide reviews on places we’ve been (both resorts and cruises). Facebook and Twitter only get you so far. So, for you scuba fans, there’ll be plenty to tempt you. Looking for luxury scuba options? Done. Got friends or family that don’t scuba dive, but you do? Yeah, we’ll cover that. Like to see many countries on a trip, but unpack only once? We’ll talk about that as well. Heck, even if you don’t dive, but are infected by the travel bug you’ll still find plenty to whet your appetite and keep you entertained. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line, give us a call, or comment on our posts. We welcome the interaction and feedback!

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