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Tanya and Josef Zaufi met while working on a cruise ship.

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Who: Josef Zaufi, 50, works in public health. Tanya Zaufi, 47, office assistant and author of All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny.

Location: Kelowna, B.C.

Relationship status: Married since 2007 with two children, 11 and 12.

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Man the life boats

Tanya: It was the first cruise ship I’d ever worked on and I was in guest services. The first day I was asked to take part in a lifeboat drill.

Josef: I was a pastry chef and was normally excused from the drills. But my manager told me I had to go to this one. There she was in her uniform and a life jacket, and I was like, oh, look at her.

Tanya: It was my love-at-first-sight moment. We started dating and would meet in the crew bar. Every time we went ashore, we did something fun like scuba diving in Curacao, snorkelling at Coki Beach in St. Thomas, and we swam with the dolphins in Acapulco.

That ship sailed

'It was my love-at-first-sight moment,' says Tanya Zaufi.

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Josef: My contract was for eight months and Tanya’s was for just over six. When the boat docked, we were like, now what do we do? I went back home to my village in Austria.

Tanya: He called me one day and said he’d bought a one-way ticket to Canada. We decided to go on a camping trip but got into an accident.

Josef: It wasn’t really an accident, per se. I was sucker-punched and my jaw was broken.

Tanya: He was in Canada less than 30 days and then went back to Austria because his tooth was infected and he needed more surgery. We kept in touch with postcards and letters. It was still snail mail back then.

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Finding firm ground

Tanya and Josef Zaufi at their wedding.

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Josef: By 2003, I decided we had to figure out where this was going and I applied for permanent residency in Canada. I was short a few points and was denied.

Tanya: I moved to his small village for six months and worked at a trendy sporting goods store. Then my work visa ran out and I came back to Kelowna. We could have solved our problems by getting married, but that didn’t sit well. We wanted to be sure we could make this work.

Josef: We never gave up on each other. I finally received my immigration papers in 2005. I sold my restaurant and packed up.

Tanya: We were engaged in 2006 and had two weddings the following year. The first in Canada, and three weeks later, in Austria.

Josef: It was the best decision we ever could have made. It shows you true love is out there. It just comes down to how bad you want it.

Tanya: I believe it’s much better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that.” than to say, “I wish I’d done that.”

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