Bernard and Janice Caffary are loyal -- loyal to the cruise ship the Carnival Sensation. The couple from Lakeland, Fla., are currently taking their 100th cruise on the ship as it sails from Florida to the Bahamas.
Carnival Cruise Lines gave them a splashy sendoff Sunday at Port Canaveral to say thanks. No one has reached the milestone of 100 cruises on the same ship in the cruise line's 43-year history.
They were given the VIP treatment at the port with a banner to greet them and then partied on board with crew members of the 2,052-passenger Sensation.
"The crew members are phenomenal on this ship," Janice Caffary, 68, gushes. "Everyone is more outgoing, always there to greet and hug you ... when we step on this ship, it's like coming back home."
The Caffarys started their love affair with the Sensation in 2002. They most often reserve the same cabin (they won't say which one; it has an ocean view but no balcony) and they won't say how much they've spent on the cruises. (Carnival estimates it's at least in the tens of thousands of dollars.)
For Bernard Caffary, 76, a former submarine designer for General Dynamics, the journeys are about meeting crew members who represent 54 nationalities. "And they all have a story, they all work in peace and harmony," he says.
He has even created an "I Give Crew Hugs" badge that he and his wife wear on cruises. In addition to the 100 cruises on the Sensation, the couple has racked up an additional 41 cruises with Carnival.
They have 28 cruises planned for this year too, which roughs out to almost 200 days at sea.
Janice Caffary says they have finished their bucket list of about 30 or 40 worldwide locations. Their favorite place: Cartagena, Colombia, which they loved for its architecture and culture.
They've traveled so much that on their Carnival sailings over the years -- to the Bahamas, the western Caribbean, New Orleans -- that they frequently don't get off the ship. You can find them on the Sensation in their favorite place, Joe's Cafe.
They've become a bit of a sensation in their hometown too. Residents of Lakeland recognize them when they're shopping at the grocery story or at Walmart.
Carnival offers a VIFP Club (Very Important Fun Person) loyalty program that rewards frequent cruisers with perks the more they sail. (The Caffarys are at the top Diamond Level.)
Among the goodies the Caffarys received Sunday: gifts, dinner with the captain and a framed Carnival flag signed by members of the crew.