I met Dolly in September 2023 on the Viking Kari sailing from Paris to Normandy. She was onboard with many of her family members. She is 93 years old and had never travelled to Europe before. Her brother was wounded during the landing on Omaha Beach June 6, 1944. He died in a hospital in England. Dolly came to pay homage to him because he had left everything to her so that she could survive. When I saw a picture of Dolly’s brother on the phone of her son, I asked him to send it to me and then went off in Rouen to have it printed and framed. When we were visiting the Normandy American Cemetery for their appointment at her brother’s grave, I gave Dolly the framed photograph. Later they met us for the ceremony, and Dolly helped to lay down a wreath.


Dolly also asked me to walk down to Omaha Beach with her and her son. We went all the way to the sea. She wanted to touch the water and found a mussel shell to keep as a souvenir. On the way back, I tried to take her hand, but this was impossible because she was afraid to lose the shell and holding it tightly. So instead, I put my arm in hers. Only when she was back in the coach, did she open her fist and put the new treasure carefully into a little compartment in her purse.

The background shows the two rainbows we saw upon arrival back to the ship.

2 Responses

  1. Meeting Dolly and her family was a highlight of our Viking cruise. Kudos to you, Oliver, and Viking for all you did to make this experience special for them. We’ll never think of our visit to Normandy without remembering that day.

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When I was working in the GOP Variety Theatre in Essen, Germany in 1996, Director Andrej Belinskiy and I quickly became friends. Afterwards we kept in touch, and when my wife and I were married in Rome three years later, Andrej and his future husband Rainer Koch were our best men. Later Andrej became the cruise director on a ship, the Mona Lisa, and in 2009 asked me to perform onboard. Instead of paying me money, he invited me (along with my wife and two children) to join the cruise and its excursions without charge. We embarked in the German port of Kiel and had a great time visiting Norway—Nordcap, Bergen, Svalbard, and the awe-inspiring fjords. Impressed and inspired by Andrej’s outstanding job being the face and voice of the ship, I began to think about the future possibility of doing something similar myself. He helped me get in contact with Nicko Tours, a German tour operator, and in 2011 I started working for this company as a freelance cruise director on European rivers.’