Reflections on a 𝐅𝐀𝐌ily – Greece Revisited

I’ve watched the ebbs and flows of IWorld of Travel’s business throughout my life. I experienced the impact of its legacy, my grandfather’s passing in 2016, this company passing with him, and its recent rebirth. I would have never expected to see IWorld of Travel flourish again after its heart and soul could no longer partake in business, but I’m happy to say I was proved wrong. Experiencing a complete turnaround in 5 years, operating in more than 80 countries, and fostering a sense of community and family within the travel business—carrying forward Ady Gelber’s vision—is nothing short of extraordinary. It is truly something that would make my grandfather proud. My uncle, IWorld of Travel’s now CEO Michael Gelber, is one of the most strong, intelligent, and inspiring men I know. Taking this company over was a slippery slope and as he stated before in previous articles, he has never been (and never had an urge to be) in the travel industry. Everything accomplished now was never for self-gain; it was purely to keep the legacy alive of his father, my grandfather. I’m eternally grateful that my mom gets to see not only her family’s company live, but also her father live through her brother.

When I was invited on this trip (30 Perfect Strangers, Season 7) to photograph and document, I immediately knew this would be an experience of a lifetime. I would visit seven islands in seven days on my first trip to Greece. The itinerary included a tour each day, multiple opportunities to embrace Greek culture, breakfast daily on board, several swim stops, fascinating archaeological sites, and more. If that wasn’t enough to impress me, the originality of this 25-cabin ship docking in spectacular harbors throughout the Greek islands was. This is something so special that no one currently is able to achieve. My point here is to not sell you on the Elysium, or this trip, or any possible travel package you could create (though I definitely could after my experience). This is solely my attempt to convey how I perceived those seven days. My wish is for you to view this trip through my eyes, to look through my memories as if they were your own; imagine the feeling of your family and friends sharing moments like these. Strangers accompanied me on this trip; women with daughters my age, people who own their travel agency, individuals who live across the coast, people with whom I would have never imagined developing such a connection and friendship.

That’s where my realization began: my newfound overwhelming sense of unity is what we strive to achieve. When booking a trip, travelers consider what will be the most enjoyable, what sites they want to see, what boxes they want to check, what’s been on their bucket list. Some seek to learn about foreign cultures and to live as the locals do, embracing as much authenticity as possible. Yet I now realize, the deep-rooted feeling that every person shares is the yearning to feel connected. It’s truly a beautiful thing, and it inspires me. We are all more alike than I realize; it’s easy to forget we all share the same human nature. Personally, I have always traveled in a small group with my parents, sometimes accompanied by my grandmother. I’ve never been on a trip with so many people before, especially not strangers from different generations. Both experiences stuck with me in unique ways: one more relaxed, filled with memories of what my mom and I did, what we ate, and saw together with my family; the other filled with knowledge, cultural appreciation, and outstanding newfound experiences I didn’t know existed. 

I understand why my grandfather was who he was and why my uncle is who he is. If you’re reading this, I hope you now have somewhat of an insight. It is easier to convey the beautiful views and experiences through photos and videos than the feeling of being behind the camera. The Gelber name lives on as innovators and successors in the travel industry, and the reason is the selflessness they possess. They want everyone to feel the joy, have the memories, and experience the sense of community they’ve cultivated. Traveling will, of course, consist of imperfections and the unexpected, such as life. On this trip, the Elysium wasn’t fully ready for the world yet; there were certain issues that came about as time went on over the week. However, I felt so unfazed by them because of the attentiveness of my uncle and his team. How my uncle embraced and welcomed input, listened, responded, and reacted, was something I rarely see in this world where people seem to deflect responsibility or ownership. My Uncle has said many times, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, to listen twice as much as you talk.” And now, I am witnessing via videos and images, the complete renovation of this ship and seeing all the improvements suggested to elevate the guests’ experience; he really does walk his talk, something I also recognized in my grandfather–must be a Gelber thing. I’m proud to be learning and growing alongside family and friends who lead by example with ease. I believe every person should experience a trip like this in their lifetime, and not just to see your family through the eyes of family members, but through the eyes of others. Bring your family and loved ones, book a solo trip, create a unique travel experience for yourself! In the end, we only regret the chances we don’t take. If I leave you with one thing, it is to not let life’s greatest adventures pass you by. As my Uncle preaches daily, #diewithmemoriesnotdreams.

Junior Designer
IWorld Regions
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