Saying Goodbye to My Dad, Captain Parker

“He has always been the adventurer in my life,” says Parker. “As a single father, he taught me to be brave and adventurous from day one.” A week before his death, Captain Parker spent time with his daughters sailing across the Atlantic Ocean for an unforgettable adventure that will stick with them forever.

Captain Parker’s parents were killed during a robbery. The robber was never caught and Captain Parker had to say goodbye to his parents.

Some of my earliest recollections are of traveling from Jacksonville, Florida to Grand Turk aboard a tug boat. Captain Douglas Parker, my father, a captain with Crowley Maritime, was in charge of the boat.

Those early days at sea created the template for what I’d be doing years later, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. 


My father wanted to spend more time with us as we grew older, so he filed for his first-class pilot’s license on Florida’s St. John’s River.

It wasn’t an easy exam. He had to learn every tide, as well as radar navigation, cross currents, and river shoals.

My father was adamant about passing the exam, and he did so with flying colors. He ultimately obtained the position and worked as a river captain for nearly a decade before retiring. 


In downtown Jacksonville, Dad boards a cargo ship.

I used to go up and down the river with him as a youngster and into my early adulthood. If he was aboard a ship, he felt completely at ease.

He, like his father and brothers, was drawn to the water from an early age.

Being aboard a ship with both my father and grandfather, three generations — two guys doing what they loved and one youngster in awe of both of them — is one of my favorite memories. 


At the Blount Island Marine Terminal, my father, grandfather, and uncle.


A Love for the Sea

My father introduced me to cruising when I was a teenager. Our first cruise as a family was on the Carnival Fantasy, which left from Port Canaveral, Florida. The voyage lasted three nights and included a day at sea and a stop in Nassau.

Before the Atlantis resort was completely completed, cruise passengers were permitted to swim in the pool without being sent away.


When my father was in Grand Turk, he was telling about the time he sailed into the harbor.

I’ve had the pleasure of taking my father on a few cruises throughout the years. We sailed on Carnival Freedom in 2014, Carnival Sunshine in 2015, and most recently, for Father’s Day, we booked him on the maiden sailing of Mardi Gras.

We watched the sail away from Nassau from the Serenity deck of Mardi Gras, and he refused to go inside until the harbor pilot was removed off the ship by the pilot boat. On a ship, he felt totally at home.


On August 5, 2021, sail away on Mardi Gras from Nassau.

It’s difficult for me to express how wonderful my father was while I sit here writing this. He taught me a great deal.

He used to have me do yard work when I was younger, and I’d always speed through it in a careless manner. “If you do things correctly the first time, you won’t have to do it again,” he’d constantly remark. As an adult, I’ve carried those fifteen words with me and applied them to every aspect of my life, and it turns out that he was correct. 


My father was the most generous person I’d ever encountered. He’d pay bills for those who couldn’t pay them, he’d send kids to church camp who couldn’t afford it, and he was unbelievably kind. He donated in the dark since he didn’t like being the center of attention.

While he was far from flawless, he was the ideal father. Growing up, my siblings and I were quite lucky and privileged. 


A few years ago, I had a birthday meal with my father.

A Final Farewell

My final encounter with my father occurred on the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. We were discussing our vacation to Asheville and how he was considering booking a cruise for early next year. He was in high spirits and was giddy with anticipation about the VIFP cruise offers he’d seen on Carnival’s website.

I returned to the studio after supper to record an interview for the show. When I’m recording in the studio, my phone is always set to “Do Not Disturb.”

As I was turning down the light, I saw a text from my father saying, “I was just thinking about you, love you.”


My father is not a texter. In fact, it is the first time I’ve ever received a text message from him on my phone. So, on my way home, I dialed his number. He said he was on the sofa, looking at cruise offers. 

My father told me how proud he was of me and how much he loved me before we hung up. He claimed he’d contact me the next day. 

Occasionally, tomorrow does not arrive. The next day, I got another phone call. My sister informed me that my father had taken a sleep before supper and had not awoken.

On November 29, 2021, he died peacefully in his sleep. 


When I bought the Carnival Fantasy life ring last year, I had no idea I’d be wearing it a year later.

My sister, brother, and I were very fortunate to have him as our father. He had a huge influence on my life. And I hope I made him as proud of me as I was of him. 

Dad, I adore you and miss you terribly. One day, I’ll see you again.


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Captain Parker’s father died when he was just a child. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for that loss, but in the end, he had to say goodbye. Reference: how did peter parker’s uncle die.

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