I’m having a really hard time writing about my impressions of the cruise, so I am just going to do a stream-of-consciousness, question and answer type post relating to it. There will be at least one more post on the cruise. In it I will tell you about my excursions and give you my final impressions.
Q. What do you think of Florida?
Since my mom has been retired there for over 10 years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Florida visiting with her. It has its own beauty, but it doesn’t really appeal to me. Having grown up in Alaska, I need mountains to feel comfortable. Since the highest point in Florida is 300 feet I don’t enjoy it here. And then there is the heat! I only visit in the winter and spring, but even so it has been hotter than I could handle a few times. And it is packed full of senior citizens. So everywhere you look you see older people. I’m 58, and I am young person here!
There is one thing that stands out to me though, and that is how happy many of the retirees are. As much as I argue against the “normal” American Dream type of life, I must tell you that here you see its success stories. People come here, relax, move into nice houses and enjoy life. These are generally active, happy people. I rarely see anyone who is sitting in a rocking chair waiting to die. They are busy doing many things, but shopping and eating out is the main thing they all do! Just try to get into Walmart during the day or into a restaurant in early evening!! Good luck! But they do much more than that; they go on cruises, play golf, have hobbies and socialize. Laughing and smiling are common here.
So does that change my mind about my general view of Western Civilization? Not at all!
- First, bear in mind these are the very earliest of the baby-boomers and the way the economy is going in a few years there will probably be very few people left who can retire with this kind of wealth and luxury. I think they are the very end of the golden age of America. And even now for all these people who retired to wonderful lives, there are many other Americans who have retired to poverty with nothing, or simply can’t retire at all.
- Second, look at what they had to pay to get this wonderful retirement; they worked 40 years to get 10-15 great years–if they are lucky. To my mind that is much too high a price to pay. A few of them were lucky and worked at jobs they liked, but most of them probably just tolerated their jobs and endured them. Trading 40 years of barely acceptable life, for 10-15 years of the good life is a terrible bargain! If I had it to do over again I would reverse it. All my websites and writing are dedicated to this idea!
- Third, many of them are living in large part off of government money. As more and more of us baby-boomers enter retirement, the burden of paying for them is going to fall on fewer and fewer workers. Now that isn’t a complaint aimed at the baby-boomers they paid into social security all their lives and they are simply getting out what they are owed; but it is a simple fact that the government already spent all that money and now the burden will fall entirely on those currently working. It’s hard for me to see how it can be anything but a disaster waiting to happen.
Q. Did you get seasick?
A. While I was constantly aware I was on a moving ship, it was never even the slightest problem. Generally the movement is so small you barely know the floor is moving and even at its worst it’s not a problem. I’m told that in really rough seas it can be an issue, but that’s hard for me to imagine. I did have to take a ferry to the mainland of Mexico for an excursion, and that trip was very rough with the boat bobbing around quite a bit. That wasn’t an issue for me but I guess for some people it could have been.
Q. Is it mostly old people?
A. Absolutely not! I am blown away by how many young people are here. I’d say one third of the guests are 20-40, another third are 40-60 and the rest are over 60. There are even lots of families with young children from infants to teenagers. It reminds me of when I was younger and had a family. My wife and I both worked at jobs we didn’t like for a few years and then finally saved up enough money to go on a great vacation. We spent all our savings for a week or two of pleasure and then started all over again. I suspect that is exactly what is going on here. Again, to me that is a terrible trade: giving away a year or two of your life in order to get one wonderful week.
Q. Is it mostly couples?
A. Yes, it’s almost all couples. I have spent most of my adult life as a single man. I’ve been an adult for 38 years (from 20 to 58) and I was married for 18 of those years. I have never liked being single, in fact most of that time I hated it. Mostly I have longed to be married or in a relationship, but simply didn’t know how. I was not good at being married, and I don’t seem to be good at being a boyfriend. The part of you that makes connections with other people doesn’t seem to work right in me, I’m pretty sure it’s because of fear.
I read and hear other single people my age saying they have accepted being single and aren’t even a little interested in finding a life-companion, but that isn’t true of me; I would really like it if that happened. But, I have finally come to the point where the urge for it is not so strong and driving. I have finally accepted that I may be alone for the rest of my life and that might very well be the best thing. I have a purpose and goal in my life (helping people by telling them about mobile living and boondocking) and it brings me a huge amount of satisfaction. Maybe that will just have to be enough. BUT, ladies, I’m still interested!!
Q. What did you like best on the cruise?
As weird as this sounds, my favorite thing was walking on the jogging track. Now that is truly weird! My happiest moments are ALWAYS when I am active in nature and walking on the jogging path was as close as I could get onboard the ship. I tried to walk every morning, but twice I couldn’t because I had to leave early for excursions. I walk every night at sunset and I have really enjoyed that. The jogging path is at the very end of the ship on the top deck so it has a great view and generally only other runners or walkers are there so it is a pleasant time. I find walking in circles boring but being on the ship makes it easier.
Along most of the jogging track I can look down at guests and do some people-watching. I could tell you that I am too old to be interested in all the pretty girls in their bikinis but I try not to lie to you!! So the truth is I just think of looking at scantily clad, beautiful women as enjoying one of god’s gifts in his beautiful creation and discreetly give them a look-over. Just like god made beautiful flowers, lakes and mountains for us to enjoy, he made beautiful people for us to enjoy looking at. So it is my spiritual duty to stare!!!! I hope that doesn’t make me sound too much like a dirty old man and you aren’t too terribly offended!!!
Q. Was the cruise ever boring?
It would have been very boring if it hadn’t been for the excursions. Seven days on this ship would have been torture for me. But four out of the seven days we were in port so each of those days I went into town and did a tour of some kind. There is a huge variety of tours available but the majority of them were for water sports of some kind which I don’t enjoy. But there are many others available so I didn’t have a problem finding ones I wanted to do. This is what I did every day of the cruise:
- Saturday (4-22-2013): We departed from Miami at 4:00pm and there was a huge party on the main deck so it very high energy and exciting.
- Sunday (4-21-2013): This was a day at sea, sailing from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico. It wasn’t boring at all because everything was new and it was fun learning and exploring the ship. That night my mom and I went to our formal dinner and afterwards watched the singing and dancing troupe at the theater.
- Monday: (4-22-2013) I took a ferry from Cozumel, Mexico unto the mainland and then took a bus to a Mayan Temple for a tour.
- Tuesday (4-23-2013): In Belize City, Belize my mom and I took a horse and carriage tour of the town.
- Wednesday (4-24-2013): On Mahogany Bay, Isle Roatan, Honduras I went to Gumbalina Park and saw Monkeys and McCaw parrots in a beautiful park setting.
- Thursday (4-25-2013: On Grand Cayman I took a cruise on a Pirate ship!
- Friday (4-26-2013): This was our final full day and it was spent sailing from the Cayman Islands back to Miami. There wasn’t much going on but we had to pack for departure in the morning and I wrote and then published this blog post, so the day went well.
- Saturday (4-27-2013): Early tomorrow morning we will dock in Miami and debark the ship at 8:00 am. Then we take the bus back to my mom’s house in Lady Lake, Florida.
With all that activity I never had a chance to get bored!
Q. How did you get into port?
A. At two of our ports of call we were able to tie up to a pier so we just stepped off the ship onto the pier and walked into town. But at two others had to “Tender” into port. That means the ship couldn’t pull right up to the dock or pier, it had to anchor out in the bay. Then we had to get off the Cruise Ship and onto small boats that ferried us to port. Of course that was all new to me and didn’t sound easy, but it turned out to be no big deal. This is one of these times when a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are pictures of how we Tendered into port: