Another birthday has passed, but instead of feeling celebratory, you’re feeling down. As you think about your future, you realize that not much excites you anymore. If you are in the midst of a midlife crisis, you don’t have to feel stuck forever. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you break out of this trap.
Consider Changing Careers
Perhaps you chose a particular career path back when you were in college, and you’ve stuck to it ever since. But recently, you may have been feeling like you’ve outgrown your current job. It’s okay to change careers midlife. You might be surprised by how many transferable skills you’ve developed throughout your roles! Choose a new professional path that feels truly fulfilling.
When you’re dealing with a midlife crisis, you might feel like you’re grasping for answers on what to do next. A therapist can help you identify solutions. Finding the right therapist takes time. Very Well Mind suggests seeking out recommendationsfrom your friends or doctor, and finding a therapist who focuses on the specific issues that you want to address. Thankfully, with online therapy, you’ll have access to lots of different licensed professionals at lower rates. Most will offer free consultations so that you can ensure you’re a good fit before moving forward.
Eating healthier meals can dramatically affect your mental and physical health. There are a number of kitchen products that can help you cook healthier meals. Vegetable steamers allow you to cook vegetables without using any oil, making them a healthy and low-fat option. Food processors can be used to create healthy and nutritious soups and sauces, as well as to prepare fruits and vegetables for salads. Finally, crock pots allow you to slowly cook meats and vegetables, resulting in tender and flavorful dishes. Before purchasing any kitchen products, read reviews to determine their quality and effectiveness.
Choose a New Hobby
Many people experience a midlife crisis because their day-to-day life feels stagnant. Sometimes, simply mixing up your routine can be a breath of fresh air. If it’s been a while since you’ve learned something new, it might be time to pick up a new hobby. Check out the course offerings at your local community college, ask a friend if you can accompany them to an activity group that they are a member of, or take on an art project without judging yourself based on the quality of the final product. Learning a new hobby Isn’t about being great right away. It’s just about getting out of your comfort zone and recognizing that you are capable of more than you thought.
Meditation, practicing yoga, journaling, and other forms of mindfulness can all be highly beneficial. Everyday Health statesthat meditation can enhance your ability to regulate negative emotions, keep your stress levels under control, and alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. If you have struggled with meditation in the past, you may want to consider taking a meditation class or downloading an app where you can access guided meditations.
Moving can help to reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, and increase overall happiness. In addition, moving can provide a sense of accomplishment and a new sense of purpose. For people who are struggling with mental health issues, these benefits can be extremely valuable. Moving also offers the opportunity to meet new people and explore new places. This can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Consider renting a new home—when you rent, you won’t have to commit to a long-term move. When you’re ready to explore your options, look through online listings to find a rental with the amenities you desire.
Travel the World
Nothing changes your perspective on life like travel. If you’ve been proactive about saving money, this might be the perfect opportunity to use some of those funds and book a trip to somewhere that you’ve always wanted to visit. Traveling somewhere new can introduce you to new lifestyles, cultures, and sources of inspiration. You might come back home feeling like an entirely new person!
When you’re faced with a midlife crisis, it’s easy to think that your best days are behind you. But chances are, you haven’t reached your full potential yet, and you have no idea how many beautiful things are waiting for you just around the corner. By taking steps like relocating, finding a more fulfilling career, and practicing mindfulness, you’ll feel like you’ve taken out a new lease on life!
Photo via Pexels
Life of Iris
In the community that comprises onboard life, Iris MacBeath is a dual member: first, she is a longtime crew member on various ships for a major cruise line ship; she recently started a new role as a Media Manager. Before her new position, Iris worked in a series of youth activities positions. Secondly, Iris is what is known in cruise ship parlance as a “traveling spouse,” or a “Spouse-On-Board,” which is the term used by her cruise line. Specifically, Iris’ husband Stuart is a ship officer, and Iris has lived on the ship with him for a total of around 350 days. Those distinct vantage points afford Iris a unique perspective of onboard life, and she chronicles that on her blog, Life of Iris. …Life of Iris was conceived in early 2020 as a way for Iris to document her reflections as a Spouse-On-Board on the Grand World Voyage on which her husband Stuart, a 1st Engineering Officer was assigned. “I wanted to keep track of what we were up to; basically, because going around the world is pretty cool.”
Iris surmised this was a good time to dive into this endeavor—three months of sailing around the world and not having to work. It was a good time. The Grand World Voyage had started uneventfully, departing Port Everglades on January 4 for a four-month voyage that was meant to visit 48 ports in almost 30 countries that was to be highlighted by stops in Rio de Janeiro, Tahiti, Antarctica, Singapore, and Kenya and returning to Port Everglades. Iris and Stuart boarded the ship before Tahiti in Lima, Peru. Their travels to get to Lima had been fine; Iris recalled they were questioned en route as to if they had been to China in the past 14 days. There had been rumblings about some virus, but it was confined to China.
As the ship made its way across the Pacific Ocean, there were reports that ships from various lines were being diverted from some Asian ports. Then Iris learned that a ship in her
cruise line fleet was getting turned away from its Asian ports. After 14 days of the sister ship trying to dock, Iris’ cruise line canceled cruises on that ship for a month. Iris and the crew members were aghast. “We are like ‘A month? That’s a lot! What’s going on here?” In the cruise industry in normal times, if a cruise line has a choice between a nine-day dry dock and a ten-day, they want nine days because they want a ship to be out of service for as few days as possible. So, for them to cancel a month of cruises….”
The crew members rationalized that the disruptions and cancellations were in the China region, and the rest of the world was normal. They were still cruising along in an entirely conventional fashion. “We went to Tahiti, New Zealand. Then there started to be some modifications to our itinerary. Seychelles was one of the first countries to decide not to let cruise ships dock. Our itinerary kept changing; it was like we are just going to adjust and keep sailing.”
I asked, “At this point were the passengers mindful at all that something was going on?”
“Yes. The ship had access to the BBC and MSNBC—they are the main television news channels. So, we had access to the news. We saw other cruises were getting canceled. But we just adjusted. We had to avoid some ports, but we thought that we would be able to get to enough places that would comprise the rest of the cruise. I think everyone accepted that the rest of the cruise wasn’t going to look the same, but it seemed like there was going to be a remainder to the cruise.”
“I think it was March 6 and 7, we were in Sydney, Australia; we were there for an overnight. Everything is open. I get off the ship, I go to the Sydney Opera House. l take a ferry across to a nice little beach area; everything is still normal. Then the next day it started to change, and it progressively changed very quickly. Countries were just turning cruise ships away. A couple of days later it was announced we would be done as a cruise.”
On March 12, 2020, the cruise line announced a suspension of sailing, and a week later the ship Iris was on disembarked all passengers in Fremantle, Australia as cruising globally ground to a halt. The Grand World Voyage had traversed half the world.
“While we were making our way to Perth, Australia, to the harbor at Fremantle, and we’re working frantically to get all the passengers flights home from Perth, Australia suddenly was saying they are closing. ’But you told us we could disembark there!’ There was so much information, and misinformation whirling around. Sometimes the information was valid, sometimes it was a rumor that had gotten exaggerated. Like so many countries around the world, Australia was nervous; I think they had some cases. Luckily, the issues were worked out and we were able to dock in Fremantle and disembark all the passengers.
I asked Iris to talk about what transpired after the ship disembarked all the passengers. I assume the crew had jobs to do. I asked her to talk about what that time on the ship was like for her.
“I was on board with my husband and all the crew, just sailing back and forth across the Indian Ocean trying to find a place for crew members to go home. I did this until June, so I was stuck onboard with all the crew members for the first three months of the pandemic. I stayed for 100 more days after we disembarked the passengers until I flew home from the Philippines in June.”
“It certainly was a very different cruise experience. On one hand, even though the ship went from having a few thousand people on board to only having 600 crew, you had everyone that kept going with their normal jobs: engineers, deck officers, and most culinary/housekeeping. Then you had people from the shore excursions and the entertainment team—they went from having passengers to serve to having no passengers to serve. So, you had a crew that was still working their normal jobs, and then you had others that were hanging by the pool each day because they didn’t have to do that much for their jobs. It made for a very interesting social experiment. For everyone, it was challenging; no one knew what was going on, no one knew when they were going home. And then on top of that uncertainty, the entertainment, shore excursion and most of the hotel department didn’t know if they would lose their jobs. There were a lot of unknowns floating around, and you kept hearing that another country had closed. When we left Australia, we thought we were headed back to Florida—that was the goal. We had the passengers luggage on the ship, so when we got to Florida, we were going to ship it to their homes. Then we heard that the CDC had closed off the States to cruise ships—it wasn’t an option for us to go back there.”
What a way for the Life of Iris blog to present itself to the cruising community.
Read the rest of Iris’ story in The Joy of Cruising Again, including how she went from the biggest crisis of our time, the dawning of Covid-19, to the poignant story of her intimate involvement with another crisis—Ukraine.
How to Plan Relaxing, Stress-Free Travel
If you’ve ever felt like traveling is stressful, you’re not alone. There’s so much to plan and do! Plus, the idea of travel can cause some anxiety. This can be compounded if you’re in a leadership position at work that makes it tough to even think about taking time off. It’s enough to make you want to scrap the idea of a getaway altogether. But it’s these types of extremes that keep people from using up those precious and well-deserved vacation days. That’s why The Joy of Cruising is sharing some tips for easing your mind and truly enjoying your next vacation.
Taking a Real Break
When you’re overdue for an escape, it’s time to make time off a priority. And there are ways to limit the overwhelm. For example, if you want a simple, affordable getaway somewhere secluded, look for a cabin on a lake. Or if you want some time at the beach, find an amenity-laden vacation rental smack dab on your favorite coastline. If work is the underlying issue, all you need is a vacation strategy to prepare yourself and your team for your absence. They just need enough guidance so that you can fully unplug and immerse yourself in whatever adventure awaits. Vacation and work are incompatible, so you’ll need to make an effort to set business aside until your return.
On the other hand, you can save money and turn a business trip into a real vacation. Ideally, you won’t cram vacation activities between work commitments. Instead, try to extend your stay and dedicate those extra days to relaxing. But if you’re self-employed or a business owner, you can expense many costs on a trip where you will do some business. Things like hotel rooms, car rentals, and even airfare can be expensed, which cuts out a lot of the financial hit of a personal or family vacation.
Traveling with Pets
There are a few extra considerations you’ll want to make as a pet owner. The biggest decision is whether to bring your pet. This might come down to whether or not your vacation destination is pet-friendly. Not all major airlines, hotels, or vacation rentals allow pets. Bringing your pet can be a lot of fun, but it also dictates a lot of what you can and cannot do, so consider these options before you decide to bring Fido along.
If you make the difficult decision to leave your pet home, you might consider getting a pet sitter (whether you ask a friend or hire a professional) or place your pet in a boarding kennel. That way, you can relax on vacation while knowing your beloved pet is in good hands back home.
Coping with Stress While Traveling
Of course, there are never any guarantees that you won’t encounter unexpected stressors while on vacation. One way to deal with stress while also enjoying a quick mental health boost is by spending some time in nature. Nature has been proven to reduce stress and promote mental health. Try enjoying local hiking trails, ski slopes, visiting a nearby park or having a picnic. If you’re unable to go outside, bring a book or crochet supplies with you wherever you go. That way, you can still take your mind off of any stressful events and gift yourself a few minutes of self-care.
If money is a major concern, you can find ways to tuck away money before your trip. Start by cutting down on unnecessary expenses, such as trips to the movies or fancy lattes. Put the money you’ll save toward your travel. Depending upon how disciplined you are, you should be able to save enough funds to cover at least a small trip or weekend getaway. That way you won’t feel guilty about the cost of your time away.
Traveling with Chronic Illness
Chronic illness is a vicious cycle. It has been shown to trigger depression in many people, notes the National Institute of Mental Health, which itself has been linked to a variety of additional health conditions. Luckily, it’s possible to travel with chronic illness. In fact, some forms of travel may actually help those with chronic illness by improving brain function and mood while decreasing stress and anxiety. As it turns out, taking a vacation could be just what the doctor ordered!
Once you’ve decided where to go, the fun begins. When packing for a trip, there are some considerations you should make if you have chronic illness. For instance, you may need to call your insurance company ahead of time for prior authorization of medications if you’ll be traveling for more than a couple of weeks. This is especially true if you’re traveling overseas, as pharmacies typically will not fill foreign prescriptions. Any liquid or gel medications will need to be properly packed according to security regulations, and you may need a signed note from your doctor before bringing medications aboard an aircraft.
Take all these considerations to heart and watch the anxiety about traveling melt away. Once you’re at your destination, remember that this is “you” time, so maximize your self-care whenever possible, from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until you’re under the covers at night. All the planning is worth it!
…Neil arrived in Anchorage. After a night in a hotel there, along with other Princess employees about to join Coral Princess--many like Neil on their first contract—they boarded a shuttle bus to the pier. “What were your thoughts as you were on your way to board the Coral Princess? Were you anxious about seasickness?” I inquired.
“I was excited. I didn’t have any anxiety about seasickness or anything. I hadn’t thought about it because I didn’t have a clue about what I was getting myself into. I was looking forward to it. Just amazed at the size of that ship as you came around the corner and saw it for the first time, docked against the backdrop of the mountains.”
Neil really didn’t have a clue of what to expect or what was going on. He told me an anecdote about a person who as they were getting off the bus noticed Neil’s shirt, which was the jersey of the Everton Football Club in Liverpool. The individual introduced himself to Neil; he was also English and told Neil that the Everton Football Club was his favorite team. Later Neil found out that this guy was close to the most important person on the ship. But that day on the bus Neil told me, “I didn’t have a clue.”
Neil asked him what he did on the ship, and he told Neil that he was the cruise director. Neil said, “So what does that mean?” The cruise director laughed, and it was the beginning of a bit of a kinship. The cruise director would have the Everton matches sent to him every weekend and when he was done, Neil would go and collect the tapes from him….
While much of what Neil experienced early on seemed to whiz by because of the pressures of his work schedule and trying to get up to speed in terms of being a videographer for Princess Cruises, that doesn’t mean Neil was not enjoying his new job. Neil said, “A few days after boarding Coral Princess, I thought to myself ‘this is what college would have been like had I gone away to school.’ And it was obvious what things were going to be like right from the start. You know you’re joining a good ship when everyone in your new department is hungover as shit the first time you meet them because there’s just been a big party the night before for the person you’re replacing!”
Of the dozens of cruisers that I have interviewed for The Joy of Cruising, Cruising Interrupted and The Joy of Cruising Again! most of them listed a Panama Canal cruise as among their most memorable past cruises, on their bucket list for future cruises, or both. On his first contract, Neil was able to cross the Panama Canal every 12 days for the season that Coral Princess repositioned from Alaska. While visiting the same ports every week or so and filming passengers doing the same things on the same excursions over and over could become repetitive for Neil, the Panama stop was different. With all Coral Princess’ destinations and excursions, Neil lamented that he could not video documentary-style focusing on the location—particularly the sheer technical magnificence of the locks system at the Panama Canal. But the videography department’s reason for being was to get passengers to order videos, and the key to making that happen was for them to see themselves in them. So that meant not only shooting the ship traversing the locks but importantly capturing the passengers waving from the balconies and decks. Nevertheless, Neil didn’t mind the routine of the semi-weekly visit to the Panama Canal, although he learned on his first time filming the Coral Princess traversing the locks, that preparing for the long day ahead was akin to some James Bond role-playing:
After just about waking up (sobering up) we had to climb down a rope ladder and jump onto the pilot boat that would take us ashore while the ship went through the locks. This was seriously some action movie shit; you had to pass all your equipment and make sure your life jacket was secure. It’s still crazy to think that I had to jump from a moving cruise ship onto another smaller boat after about three hours of sleep while it was still night outside; in your twenties, you do not question any of it and you jump when they tell you! Once on land, a jeep was waiting to take us to the locks where we would film the ship going through; from an artistic point it would have been great to focus on the mechanical and technical aspects of the ships transit; however, the main reason for us being ashore was to take pictures of the guests waving at us from their balconies onboard. —Cruise Ship Diaries
…after experiencing that every couple of weeks, Neil and the photographer who accompanied him on the shoot decided to shake things up a little bit. Their driver/bodyguard (yes, he was armed) would normally take them to the Melia Hotel for a few hours and then he was supposed to take them to the second set of locks and drop Neil and his assistant at the terminal for the rest of the afternoon to wait for the Coral Princess to come in.
Instead of taking us to the locks, our driver took us to a tiny industrial area where this tinker toy-looking death trap was waiting for me and Christian, our assistant manager. At this point, I'd never even been in a helicopter before let alone tried to operate a camera in one! I was also slightly unnerved by the fact that our pilot didn't seem to speak any English and myself and Christian didn't speak any Spanish. Of course, these are trivial concerns when you realize the helicopter has no doors! Yes, admittedly great for filming but also THERE WERE NO DOORS! And one tiny seat belt that went around our waists. With the adrenaline fully flowing the pilot then decided to take us over Panama City on the way back to the airfield which gave us some amazing shots of the city’s skyline. —Cruise Ship Diaries
...the photography department had appealed for funds to film the Coral traversing the locks from the sky, that is, allow them to do a helicopter shoot of the canal. The idea was to package and sell the helicopter footage as extra cost additional content—passengers are going to buy a video of their ship going through. Princess had funded the expense of a helicopter in the past but on a sporadic basis. Neil got his opportunity to lead the shoot on his first contract, and it was a success. I asked Neil if he had any lasting impressions. “The photography department realized a surge in Reflections video revenues on that sailing; and oh yeah, THERE WERE NO DOORS!”
Read the complete Cruise Ship Diaries in the section, Ship Life, in The Joy of Cruising Again, available in Spring ‘23
The Joy of Cruising Again
My passion is cruising on the ocean. The only pastime I enjoy nearly as much as cruising is writing about cruising. I have written a couple of cruise books, The Joy of Cruising and Cruising Interrupted. The books are fun collections of cruising narratives, compendiums of profiles of cruisers who are passionate, have interesting stories and perspectives, and embody the joy of cruising. Some are well-known, even celebrities (Grammy Winner, TV Star, Poker Hall of Famer—each with a fascinating cruising narrative); many are like some of you, “ordinary cruisers” with extraordinary stories! One story that I call a modern-day fairy tale: a United Kingdom woman who had never cruised before, chosen to be UK's first non-royal, non-celebrity cruise ship Godmother! Even if you have never cruised but aspire to cruise, or simply enjoy storytelling, the books are a fun read.
I am currently writing The Joy of Cruising Again—a fitting end to the trilogy celebrating the return of cruising post-lockdown. The Joy of Cruising Again will be published in Spring 2023 following a couple of bucket list cruises I will be sailing: the Mediterranean on Celebrity Beyond in October 2022, and The Smooth Jazz Cruise in January 2023 where I plan to interview some of the performers.
When complete, the three books in the series will have featured 75 individuals, couples, and companies from all over the world ranging in age from 2-96. The Joy of Cruising Again continues in the tradition of fascinating stories about individuals passionate about cruising. Two Guinness Book of World honorees! And we’ll be bringing back regular sections like “Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of” with features like Bucket List Publications and Living On Cruise Ships; or, “Cruising’s Young and Restless” featuring Gen Z cruisers you want to get to know (because you will probably be hearing from them in the future); and, a new section called “Ship Life” featuring previous and current cruise ship crew members with each one representing a unique cruising story, like The Singing Maitre D’ or Cruise Ship Diaries or The Captain.
Imagine a fun story about a mom who cruises within months of each other with her two small children on the new Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas, and the Disney Wish—when she is not busy cage diving with great white sharks, driving Formula One race cars, flying biplanes upside down, or jumping out of perfectly good ones! No, I couldn’t imagine it either—until I had a blast writing about it in The Joy of Cruising Again.
Coming soon excerpts at https://www.thejoyofcruising.net/blog
Paul C. Thornton
As a 737 Captain for Alaska Airlines, Steven Kriese sees the world. As creator and host of DCL Podcast, Steve and guests talk about seeing the world from the perspective of a Disney Cruise.
Steve is relatively new to cruising. His first cruise was in 2014—a seven day cruise out of Venice, Italy aboard the Norwegian Jade. It helped that his first cruise was a Mediterranean cruise; certainly a wonderful way for cruising to make a first impression. The seasoned traveler was hooked right away. I asked Steve what influenced him to try a cruise. “So, our friends had cruised several times before and they really enjoyed it. They kind of talked us into doing it. Like many others I never had a huge desire to go cruising. I didn’t know what to expect, but when we sailed on our first cruise from Venice and were able to experience so many exotic ports and sites, it was amazing and I was hooked right away. We stopped in Croatia, Greece, and Turkey. I learned that nothing beats a relaxing day at sea with friends and family, and good food. As an airline pilot, I also have become fascinated with the navigation and logistics of sailing a ship from one port to the next. Jade was originally built to sail out of Hawaii, but after the economic downturn in the late 2000’s, demand dropped there, so they sent her to the Med. It was kind of humorous sailing around the Med in this over-the-top Hawaiian themed ship. The ship had artwork and statues themed for the Hawaiian Islands; there was a large statue of King Kamehmeha in the main dining room. They have since re-themed her.”
A Mediterranean cruise as the first cruise! That’s on my bucket list. While a Mediterranean cruise contains a lifetime of memories for many, perhaps one memory of that first cruise Steve holds on to the most is his encounter on the water with George Clooney. Yes, that George Clooney. Steve told me, “Our ship cut off George Clooney’s wedding party as they were taking motor boats out of the grand canal to their wedding reception. We departed Venice around four. We sat out on our balcony as Jade sailed past the Grand Canal. We saw a bunch of small boats and commotion coming in and out of the Grand Canal.” Flying back home, Steve sees this story online about how some giant cruise ship had cut off George Clooney’s wedding party. Clooney and his wife Amal had the wedding and they had all gotten in these small boats, trailed by paparazzi, headed to the reception. Accompanying the story was a photo of the Norwegian Jade juxtaposed against the small boats containing the wedding party and paparazzi—with Steve’s balcony in the shot.
Less than a year later Steve introduced his sons to cruising and tried his first Disney Cruise. They cruised on Disney Wonder to Alaska. “My wife wanted to try a Disney cruise, and my parents wanted to go to Alaska. Our kids were five and nine at the time. We had heard good things about the Disney kids club; we knew on a Disney cruise the kids would be entertained.”
Almost all of Steve’s cruises subsequent to that first one on Jade have been on Disney Cruise Line. Steve has cruised on each of the ships in Disney’s fleet: Disney Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy. I asked Steve if that first Disney cruise to Alaska on Wonder made Steve and his family loyal to the Disney brand. “I think it did. Disney had this thing called rotational dining where you meet your servers and then they go with you to the three dining rooms on the ship. Our head waiter started giving my mom a hard time but in a playful way. She’s sort of a ‘stick in the mud’ about food but he could see he could play with her, and it was fun for us to watch. Then he started doing magic tricks with the kids. The kids were just enthralled. I have a video with my youngest son and his eyes get so big; he can’t believe what he saw. And this was only the first night. And it just went from there. Another server, his name is Tiger Tom—he’s now the head waiter on the Magic—but at the time he worked in the Cabanas which is the buffet on Disney, he came up to my son and started playing a game with him with the back of my son’s hoodie. And my son who was a little tired at the time just totally turned his spirits around. We’ve since seen Tiger Tom a couple of times on subsequent cruises and he remembers us. It’s those little touches like that. I think you could probably find that at other cruise lines too, but those are the kinds of things that hooked us to Disney.”
After three consecutive Disney cruises following Jade, Steve returned to Norwegian Cruise Line in 2017. He and Ahnawake, with friends and no kids, did a nine-day Baltic Cruise on Norwegian Getaway highlighted by St. Petersburg, Russia which Steve recalls as amazing. “We visited the Amber Room and palaces of the Czars in St Petersburg. Some of the most over the top wealth I’ve ever seen.” After Getaway Steve returned to Disney Cruise Lines and has gone on all Disney cruises since.
After 10 cruises, Steve has seemingly experienced enough cruise highlights and memories to last a lifetime. It helps that his very first cruise was to the Mediterranean. Beside disrupting the George Clooney wedding party, I ask Steve for a few highlights. “Oh man; there’s so many good memories…” I could sense his hesitation to pick one great cruise over another. (All cruises are wonderful!) I suspect he was “fast forwarding” through scenes from various cruises in his head. I said, “Pick a single day. If I could write only about one experience you got the opportunity to realize on a cruise, what should It be?
“In 2016, when we sailed to Norway on Disney Magic, the northernmost port we sailed to, Geiranger. Sailing along the coast of Norway—my mother’s home country—and exploring the amazing coastal towns we stopped at. Sailing to the head of Geiranger Fjord—a UNESCO Heritage site—and visiting a small farm which sat above an adjacent fjord. We met this Norwegian farmer and his wife. They raised sheep but couldn’t make a living on that alone so he also brewed beer and made cheese. So Ahnawake, my parents and I had some beer and cheese with him and while we were doing that the kids went with his wife. She had a business where she made metal stamps you ink and make impressions onto fabric; she sold these stamps all over the world. The kids each got a piece of fabric stamped and my mom made them into pillow when we got home. Just that whole day; the farmers, the beauty of this fjord, the beauty of the view from this farm. You walk out their door and you look out over the mountains and down into the fjords with the ocean and everything below you. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.”
Read about the other beautiful views Steve gets to experience not just on cruises but everyday as a pilot—like the one below! DCL Podcast, The Cruise Communicators, Cruising Interrupted, available now.
Courtesy of EatSleepCruise.com YouTube channel and featuring many of the passionate cruisers featured in Cruising Interrupted
.....Erin went to Disney World once as a child, and then several times as a young adult, and when her first daughter was a toddler, Erin wanted to introduce her to Disney. She told me, “I was in elementary school when Disney World opened. A lot of my friends’ parents were taking them to the park and they would come back to school and tell me these incredible stories. I was fascinated, and remember thinking, ‘How do you make a world?’ I was totally sucked in by those stories, The Wonderful World of Disney on TV, the gorgeous commercials. I was so freaking jealous. I vowed, even as a 10-year old kid, when I grew up I would take my children to Disney World as often as possible.”
“So, while I was staying home raising my daughter, I wanted to introduce her to Disney World, and we started going on Disney vacations. I had a research background and I started doing copious amounts of research on how to plan the best possible Disney vacation. The other moms in the neighborhood would tap my expertise. I was a go-to resource, and over coffee or lunch we would just talk for hours about how to plan a Disney trip. In 2007 Disney started the Disney parks Moms Panel, and I had basically been doing what the Moms Panel does on my own for several years. So I pursued it. To get the first round of panelists, Disney ran a contest. Several rounds of written questions and then phone interviews. I answered their questions, made it through the interviews, and of the more than 10,000 people who applied, I was one of the 12 who were selected.”
“Over the years I have answered over 11,000 guest questions about literally every aspect of planning a Disney World vacation. Anything from ‘my kids are afraid of bugs; my child has an allergy; what ride should I not go on; where should we stay; I am on a limited budget, what are some cost savings tips—really anything. Over time, I became more and more aware of things and enhanced my expertise and got quite adept at explaining how to do Disney......”
....The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line by Erin Foster with Len Testa and Ritchey Halphen describes Disney’s ships and itineraries, restaurants, children’s activities, and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.
Erin has sailed over 20 ocean cruises, all on Disney Cruise Line, and has done two river cruises on AmaWaterways through Adventures by Disney. Erin’s first cruise was in 2003 on the Disney Wonder, a four-night Bahamas cruise stopping at Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island.
I asked Erin if anything in particularly prompted her to go on a Disney cruise since she hadn’t cruised before and had not yet begun working with the Walt Disney Parks Moms Panel.
“We were just fans of Disney and were looking to do something different with our kids. At the time my twins were about three and my older daughter was six. Disney seemed like the logical place to start cruising.” I asked if she had any apprehension leading up to her first cruise, like fear of seasickness, concern that she wouldn’t like it, worry that it might be boring. Erin replied, “Honestly, I didn’t love it. I wish that I had more apprehension about seasickness leading up to the cruise. I was very sick on my first cruise, like clutching the bed seasick. One of the reasons we chose a Disney cruise is because it had a great reputation for little kids. One of my daughters happened to be in a phase of separation anxiety. So, she would be clutching to my leg while I was seasick. She didn’t want to go to the kids club and I hadn’t considered that and brought any toys or other things for us to do, and I was not feeling well anyway. So, the first cruise was kind of a disaster. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t cruise again for eight years.”
Who would have predicted—if you were a fly on the wall in that Disney cruise ship cabin observing this deathly seasick mom, dragging her toddler clamped around her leg—that years later that mom would be the author of The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line. “Exactly! When I look back on it it’s really actually pretty amusing. I didn’t go on my second cruise until 2011. Had a much better time then and have been cruising regularly since.”
I was curious what prompted Erin to try cruising again given the unfortunate circumstances of the first one.
Read about Erin’s follow-up Disney cruise and the rest of Erin’s story in Cruising Interrupted, available now!
I first encountered Christine Beehler when we became kindred spirits, so to speak. We were among a group of cruise enthusiasts interviewed by CNN.com during the pandemic for an article about our interest in cruising as soon as possible, “Cruise Fans Explain Why They Can't Wait To Cruise Again,” by Francesca Street (July 24, 2020). All of the cruisers interviewed were “off-the-charts” eager to get back on the ocean again; well, all except yours truly! I came across as the most cautious of the bunch, in stark contrast to Chris. The article began with a depiction of Chris’ last cruise which took place in March 2020 on the ill-fated Princess Cruises Coral Princess, which was denied docking during the pandemic declaration and then was stricken with a Covid-19 outbreak. That opening to the article immediately caught my attention; then it said, “…Beehler returned home on April 6; she also tested positive for coronavirus. Beehler is 72, with a partial right lung. She also suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema..…”
Most remarkable of all: Chris can’t wait to cruise again!
..... Chris initially planned a 14-day cruise departing San Antonio, Chile, rounding Cape Horn, and then up the east side of South America and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she would then fly back to the US. Ultimately, Chris decided to extend her time on Coral Princess, and booked the 32-day cruise itinerary where the cruise continued on from Buenos Aires to Fort Lauderdale.
I asked Chris if she had any apprehension about returning to Coral Princess at that time in the face of the burgeoning coronavirus story abroad. “No, I wasn’t concerned. The coronavirus was confined mostly to China and Italy. There was only one reported case in South America at the time I left New Hampshire. A good friend suggested I not go. I downplayed her concern. I said ‘It’s South America. I’m going to be fine, they’ll take care of us.’ I did, however, during the days leading up to the cruise have fleeting thoughts about the news out of China—that if I ever did catch the virus I might have a hard time. I probably would need a ventilator. I might not make it. Yet I got on that airplane with complete confidence that nothing was going to happen.”
“On the plane over to Chile on March 3rd, word spread regarding a second case reported in South America—this one in Santiago, which was our destination. You could sense a bit of panic on the plane. The thinking back then was that this was a virus that was just connected to China and Italy. Even the one case in South America was supposedly someone who had come back from Italy. And there were a few cases on the west coast in the US that had kind of escaped. The concern level rose—even though it was only two cases on the entire continent—especially when we got to the airport in Santiago and they were taking a lot of precautions: the airport workers were in Hazmat suits, we had to complete multiple health forms and have our temperatures taken. It was nothing like that when I left Boston. At the port the personnel very deliberately went through our passports to make sure we hadn’t been to China or Italy, and then we boarded the ship.”
The cruise was uneventful for the first week.....
A few weeks later.....
..... That evening, the first of quarantine, March 31, Coral Princess stopped in Barbados for what Princess referred to as a service call. Chris said, “We had to detour to Barbados for what we were told was to pick up medical supplies. It was so interesting going into Barbados because there were all the empty ships with crew only anchored at the port. It was pretty eerie—distressing. At Barbados we saw an ambulance at the dock and someone was taken off the ship. Supposedly, he was airlifted to Florida. After we returned home I heard he passed away from the virus. So now things moved from stressful to ominous. We were confined to our cabins, and then we see someone taken off the ship.” A couple of days later, Princess reported publicly that Coral Princess test samples processed in Barbados confirmed 12 positive cases of coronavirus. On April 2, the Captain informed the passengers of the results. That same day, for reasons not entirely clear, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it would not allow Coral Princess to dock in their home port of Fort Lauderdale on April 4 as scheduled. Chris told me, “Two infected Holland America ships were just ahead of us and were docking the day before us. We heard that Fort Lauderdale didn’t want additional Covid-19 cases to take up their medical facilities.”
On April 3, Coral Princess met up with its sister ship, the Regal Princess, in the Bahamas to pick up additional medical personnel and supplies. There were no passengers on Regal Princess, just crew. Said Chris, “At this point we had been turned down by several places. There was a collective sense that nobody wanted us. So when our sister ship met us, we received a wonderful welcome from the crew on the decks of Regal Princess and in tenders.. They started their horns and the Coral Princess and the Regal Princess were communicating with each other, playing The Love Boat theme. When Princess ships leave port, their horns usually play out The Love Boat theme. It was…oh my gosh…I think everybody out on their balcony was crying......”
Read the entire stirring chapter in Cruising Interrupted, available now!
“Are we there yet?” After 40 minutes or so, and yet another “how close are we,” in the distance the mighty
Harmony of the Seas cruise ship came into view as we approached Port Canaveral. Up until a little over a year prior, Harmony of the Seas was the world’s largest cruise ship; it was indeed awe-inspiring and immediately captured LaKi’s attention. Perhaps the only thing LaKi likes more than getting in the water is being on the water on a cruise ship. The beach outing was a fun subterfuge; in reality we had decided to celebrate LaKi’s birthday with a cruise. She loves cruising; this was going to be the 5th cruise we have done with
LaKi in the last 4 years—most recently the previous Christmas on Anthem of the Seas, the culmination of The Joy of Cruising. A broad grin took over LaKi’s face as the ruse about the beach became clear; the grin did not disappear for the next eight days!
Harmony of the Seas was all we had hoped for and more. Besides the many highlights of Harmony, it was also our first visit to the newly imagined Royal Caribbean private island, Coco Cay. The private island had recently re-opened as Perfect Day at Coco Cay, a $250 million transformation of Royal Caribbean’s picturesque beach playground into a more kid-friendly space with a water park and hot air balloon rides adjacent to the beach, and theme park style eateries replacing the private island standard picnic style buffet. Oh, and
a newly constructed dock enabling cruise ships to anchor right at Coco Cay instead of requiring ship passengers to be transported to the island from the ship via a tender, a small boat only capable of moving a finite number of the ships passengers at a time and subject to safety issues related to the weather and getting on and off the tender.
Cheryl, LaKi and I had a wonderful time at Perfect Day at Coco Cay despite a fair amount of trepidation as to whether we would get to experience it at all. During breakfast prior to disembarking, a downpour started, and it did not appear our day at Coco Cay was going to be so perfect after all. When the Cruise Director came on the public address system and announced several additional on-ship activities, it brought to mind my dreaded experience on Anthem of the Seas just six months prior. (On Christmas morning on Anthem, right before we were due to stop at Coco Cay, the Captain announced it was too windy to tender and we had to skip the stop.) This time there was a happy ending: the weather cleared, sun came out, and Perfect Day at Coco Cay was wonderful. LaKi loved the water park and the Up, Up & Away balloon ride with me; it offered great views and a wonderful vantage point for photos. My wife and I enjoyed a shady spot to sip our Miami Vices while LaKi was on the waterslides, and we sampled the nearby wave pool.
The second cruise I booked post-The Joy of Cruising was also chosen directly as a result of writing the book. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, or Indy, as it was affectionately known to Brits after it was launched and based in UK in 2008, had a significant role in The Joy of Cruising. A popular feature in The Joy of Cruising, was “The Godmother: Elizabeth Hill,” which was about the first non-royal, non-celebrity person in UK chosen to serve as a cruise ship Godmother, of then new UK-based, world’s largest ship Independence of the Seas. Known as Cruise Like A Godmother on social media, Elizabeth’s story of being plucked from relative obscurity as a leader of a charity working with children on a working farm, to be named the Godmother (she had never been on a cruise before!) of the at-the-time, world’s largest cruise ship, was like a modern-day fairy tale....
In The Joy of Cruising I included a photo of The Godmother standing next to her portrait which is permanently displayed on Indy. My plan was to take a photo of my grandkids next to the The Godmother’s portrait for inclusion in this book.
Yet another cruise chosen as a result of my of my involvement with The Joy of Cruising, was our first Mediterranean cruise, booked for NCL Epic November 2020. I asked each of the passionate cruisers profiled in The Joy of Cruising about their most memorable cruises as well as cruises they have on their “bucket list.” A number of destinations showed up repeatedly: Alaska, Panama Canal; Galapagos, and of course, the Mediterranean, and, several cited Barcelona, Spain as among their favorite ports. Speaking to seasoned cruisers from around the world led us to broaden our horizons instead of always cruising to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. So, the Mediterranean cruise is our first step in that direction and we looked for an itinerary that included Barcelona. For our 28th wedding anniversary we will be spending a few days in Barcelona, and then on November 1 cruising from Barcelona to France, then Italy, and then back to Barcelona. In 2021, Alaska here we come. You know, research!
Alas, our 2020 cruise plans fell victim to the pandemic. It was going to have to be More Joy of Cruising…deferred!
Read the rest of More Joy of Cruising in Cruising Interrupted, available now!