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.
. Image via Pexels
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
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
I asked Judi to talk about how she gravitated away from big mainstream cruise ships to her predilection for smaller vessels. “Somewhere along the line we discovered Pandaw Cruises. We went on a Pandaw Cruise in Myanmar. It was our first small-ship cruise—it had 16 people on it. And that’s when we absolutely fell in love with small vessels. We loved it. It sailed a short stretch of the Irrawaddy River between Mandalay and Bagan in Myanmar. We landed in Yangon, Myanmar, and then flew to where we were going to board the vessel. Our first sight of that boat, the Pandaw Kalaw—it was so simple, a two-deck river boat. And the crew, and an onboard guide who accompanied us on our adventures off the ship at each stop was so welcoming, so genuine, we knew that we were going to be looked after well. It was just wonderful how they ran everything. Two excursions a day; if you wanted to stay on the ship to relax and read you could, but if you wanted to leave you could get off the ship twice a day. The adventures that we shared were into the smallest remote villages along the Irrawaddy. It was such a memorable experience.”
So small ship cruising seemed to appeal to Judi right away. I asked her how soon after the Kalaw did she do another small vessel. “Immediately; we got off that and then we took our kids, as well as two of our friends on the exact same itinerary with Pandaw the following year. And then we went back with the kids only and we did Vietnam and Cambodia with Pandaw.” Judi’s first three small ship cruises, done in succession, were with Pandaw. A new passion was born. Judi has essentially done almost exclusively small ship cruising since, ranging from very small ships barely holding double digits of passengers, to the 100 passenger Akademik Sergey Vavilov, a former Russian scientific vessel converted to an expedition ship to Antarctica, and up to luxury ships like Crystal Serenity which holds about 1000 passengers. By the way, of Judi’s many small-ship cruising lasting memories is a less than wonderful one an otherwise wonderful cruise on the Vavilov, operated by One Ocean Expeditions. “I really enjoyed the Vavilov; the cruise was fabulous, everything was first-class; seeing Antarctica, spending time with the penguins, learning as much as we did was a tremendous opportunity. I will add probably one of the most memorable—maybe not in a good way—was crossing the Drake Passage. It was rough, it was crazy, and my husband gets seasick in a bathtub,” Judi laughs.
Yet Lawrence loves to cruise. “He loves to cruise. He knows there is a price to be paid, but he is prepared to do it. I asked him if he would be willing to go back to Antarctica and he said, ‘I’d go in a heartbeat.’ He considers crossing the Drake a rite of passage.” That actually wasn’t Judi’s first experience crossing Drake’s Passage. She had done so prior to becoming a small-ship cruising aficionado on a cruise on Celebrity Infinity. That cruise on the Infinity—wonderful as it was—as compared to Judi’s small ship experience starkly depicts the contrast between big ship versus small ship cruising. “It is very different whether you go on a small or big ship—no less beautiful, but different. Our first cruise to Antarctica was in 2013. It was a wonderful experience. Celebrity Infinity departed from Buenos Aires and took us down through Argentina, Venezuela, a stop in Ushuai, and then into Antarctica. But we were sitting on the deck on a big cruise ship. Because the Infinity was larger, we could not get off the ship and explore. We crossed the passage, we went into the Antarctic Circle, and we saw all of these other people on Zodiacs and small vessels, and then going to land and hiking. Lawrence and I looked at each other and both said, ‘We have to do that. We need to come back here and do that.’ We knew we wanted to come back and do it in a more adventurous and immersive style. So in four long years, we did.”
Read the entire chapter, Traveling Judi, Cruisers Just Like You and Me...Sort Of, Cruising Interrupted (Coming Soon)
“…We packed up the dog and whatever we could load into the car and headed to Florida…and everything was perfect. I started blogging more. I had been blogging quite a bit up north, but just didn’t have the time to put into it. I had started doing things for Google. For Google+, I was an early adopter and a power user in Philadelphia, and they rewarded me by putting me on a follow list with Emeril Lagasse, Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, Rachael Ray; so here were all these huge chefs, and me!”
At this point, Chef Dennis was not a travel blogger but rather a food blogger who travelled with a live show. That was about to change in a big way. I asked, “How did you become a travel blogger?”
“I’ve been called the accidental travel blogger. My career as a travel blogger began in 2017 when I was asked to apply for a stay at an oceanfront motel that was looking for bloggers. I was a food blogger not a travel blogger; nevertheless I applied, and they asked me to visit. I was picked, and was given a not-so-great room on the third floor; it was a little old, twin beds. However, they had just installed these nine foot floor-to-ceiling sliding glass balcony doors facing the ocean. So I just stood there overlooking the beach, looking out at the ocean. At that point I decided, I could be a travel blogger!”
“…The Viking cruise on the Forsetti was along the Danube. And when I say the Viking cruise was magical—the wonderful aspects of my first brand ambassadorship started even before the cruise. First off, I asked them what they wanted me to do. They said, have a good time! There was no expectation of social media posts—although I did posts anyway. We boarded and they told us we upgraded you to a suite, we hope you don’t mind! And we couldn’t pay for anything either; even all of our excursions were taken care of. The trip was amazing; we made some really good friends. The hotel manager would sit and chat with us, the cruise director was wonderful. We made a number of lasting friendships.”
So began Chef Dennis’ brand ambassadorship with Viking, as well as similar relationships with several other luxury cruises lines. He told me, “With that initial relationship where nothing was expected of me, that started a series of opportunities that have enabled me to cruise all over the world. After getting started with Viking, I went to work learning how to be a better travel blogger and how to become an asset to the brands I worked with.”
As a brand ambassador, Ask Chef Dennis has been fortunate to sail some exotic itineraries on incredible cruise ships. For Viking, Chef Dennis cruised Viking Danube Waltz river cruise June 2017; Viking Bordeaux Chateaux & Wines river cruise July 2018; on Viking Portugal River of Gold river cruise. On European Waterways, Chef Dennis went on a Northern Burgundy Barge Cruise on La Belle Époque in 2018.
In 2019 Chef Dennis continued his impressive foray into small ship luxury cruising with Crosi Europe, sailing a Barge Cruise on the Seine in August on the MS Deborah. In December Chef Dennis and Lisa brought in the New Year on a UnCruise Sea of Cortez on the Endeavour.
Read the full story of how Chef Dennis transitioned from chef, to food blogger, to travel blogger, to luxury cruise influencer, in Ask Chef Dennis, Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of, Cruising Interrupted (Christmas)
There is no one better to lead off this section, The Globetrotters, than @MrScottEddy, as he is known on social media where he is the world’s most popular travel personality. Scott epitomizes a Globetrotter. In fact, he is the star of the new Lifetime television series VideoGlobetrotter, which premiered May 2020.
Scott Eddy has taken somewhat of a circuitous route to arrive at his current designation as one of the top travel influencers in the world. A Forbes Magazine profile stated that Scott Eddy “is consistently rated as one of the top five luxury travel influencers in the world.” Yet, travel wasn’t even Scott’s first career, although he traveled quite a bit with his family in his youth. I asked Scott to take me back to the route he took that culminated in his current standing in the industry and his own television show.
Scott was born in Michigan. Scott’s father’s side of the family was American. His mother’s parents were from Lebanon, and then moved to Jamaica to be entrepreneurs, and Scott’s mom was raised in Jamaica. Scott’s father, who was in law enforcement, first raised the family in Michigan where he was a state trooper for 11 years, and then moved them to Florida where he was a Fort Lauderdale police officer for 11 years. So, growing up all of Scott’s travels were either to Michigan, or in the Caribbean to see his family on his mother’s side. Consequently, the Caribbean travel enabled Scott to do a fair amount of cruising as a child.
“Back in the old days when Carnival Celebration, SeaScape, and NCL were all leaving out of Fort Lauderdale, it was super easy to do cruising to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico; those three or four days, sometimes we would do a week—it was very cost-effective travel for a family. It wasn’t a big family—my sister, parents and me—we weren’t a big family but costs add up and we weren’t wealthy; we only had one salary. My dad was a cop and my mom didn’t work. So affordable cruising was a good way to go.”
While certainly those experiences cruising beginning at about 10 years old perhaps laid the foundation for this globetrotter to see the world, they did not spark a motivation in Scott to pursue a travel career as he entered the work force. In fact, a travel career was nowhere on the horizon for Scott. The script for Scott’s life was that he was supposed to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
“My middle school and high school was familiarity with the police station. I went on ride-a-longs, learned to administer a polygraph exam when I was 12. I took my driver’s license test in a police car. I was destined to graduate from high school, enter the police academy, become a cop, and retire as one. That was the life plan. Three weeks before my graduation from high school, my father was killed in the line of duty. He was a detective, and was flying to Tallahassee to get a confession from a suspect who was already in jail. On the way back to Fort Lauderdale, there were some fires in the Everglades, a lot of smoke, and as the plane turned towards the commuter airport, it went down in a tailspin. Changed my life forever; went from having a perfect childhood, about to become a cop, to not knowing what I wanted to do but not wanting to be a cop anymore.”
On somewhat of a whim Scott moved overseas. He ended up living in Europe and Asia for the ensuing 17 years. Scott made the move with about as much forethought as he did when starting a career as a stockbroker. And, just as he learned sales as a stockbroker, a skill that would serve him well, the move abroad was a fateful one that introduced Scott to a new skill set that would change his life.
“My friend’s friend was an ex-pat living in Thailand. My friend said to me. ‘Bro you’re 29; you’ve never been to Europe, never been to Asia. What’s wrong with you?’ So, I bought a two-week ticket to Bangkok, and after four days I just could not imagine leaving there. The people were like the finest people in the world. I couldn’t imagine coming back to the US where everybody is so…entitled. I just…it really changed my life. I ended up living in Bangkok for 11 years. While living in Bangkok, I started one of the first digital travel and tourism marketing agencies in Southeast Asia, and it remained one of the biggest ones in the region for five years. After selling the agency and spending some time in Europe while building my personal brand, I now travel full-time, while building digital strategies, speaking at conferences, creating video packages and consulting for the world of luxury travel.”
Between Asia and then Europe after that, Scott lived abroad over 17 years. Today Scott lives—well, everywhere. I ask Scott, “where are you based?” Before he could answer, I said facetiously, “the world, right?” He told me, “That’s actually accurate! I technically don’t have a home. I rent a room from a friend to keep my clothes, but I literally travel full-time. And I love it this way. Most people they want a house. I just want to keep going; I love it. I think it is the greatest thing in the world. It’s fuel for me. I got rid of my things a long time ago. I own nothing…I don’t have a bed, couch, TV.”
I responded incredulously, “No television, and you are about to launch a television show?”
Read the rest of Scott’s story in Cruising Interrupted, Christmas 2020.
I imagine that for many cruisers, the notion of “living the life” on the ocean--being personally served virtually around the clock filet mignon, lobster, and chocolate covered strawberries, drinking martinis, fine wine, and champagne, relaxing and luxuriating in suite accommodations with an unparalleled view of the ocean from your veranda on a six-star cruise line—is an occasional fantasy. A relatively small percentage of cruisers get to experience some aspects of this on their luxury cruises. That was Doris Vasconcellos-Bernstein and Doug Bernstein’s experience around the clock for 12 straight days. Sounds glorious, except Doris and Doug had no input to this real life fantasy except whether to order Lemongrass Beef Nam Tok Nua, or Lobster Thermidor, or Milk Fed Veal Escalope. And, it took place at a time that outside of Doris and Doug’s suite on Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow—from which they could not leave—the world was grappling with a raging pandemic.
.......We came back to the ship to have lunch. Before we left the cabin to go to a restaurant, the Captain made an announcement over the PA system: someone had been taken off the ship sick and they had to follow some international protocols and asked us to stay for the moment in our cabins.”
That “for the moment” became 12 days. It became obvious that the “moment” was going to turn into something longer when shortly thereafter Silver Shadow Captain Gennaro Arma directed all guests to immediately return to their room and not leave. Doris and Doug never again saw any part of the Silver Shadow beyond their cabin until they were led off to be flown home. At that point, little did the guests
realize that not only were they confined to their cabins, but that the Silver Shadow would not be departing Recife that night en route to their next destination of Fortaleza, Brazil. Pending test results for the passenger who was taken off the ship with a cough, fever, and respiratory symptoms, Silver Shadow was held at Recife
Port. Port management even prohibited discharge of Silver Shadow’s garbage. Furthermore, the pier that the ship was docked on was ordered isolated.
Two days later, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises parent company, released a statement to the media: "Two guests aboard the Silver Shadow have been medically disembarked in Recife, Brazil, and one has tested positive for COVID-19." The 79-year-old man who tested positive died a couple of weeks later in a
Brazil hospital. The second person removed tested negative.
It was not clear to the Silver Shadow guests when Captain Arma made his directive, of the extent to which the Brazilian authorities had exerted control over the situation. At the time, Brazil had reported 37 cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths since the outbreak began. It would become a lot clearer in the ensuing
couple of days.....
Read the full story of Trapped In Paradise in Cruising Interrupted, Christmas 2020!
1st post in awhile. My passion of cruising is sidelined; annual July grandkids cruise canceled. We canceled our Med cruise for November—Italy won’t be ready for Americans! My writing passion—also derailed. More Joy of Cruising was half-written when the pandemic hit; then I became adrift (see what I did there). Fortunately, my spirits were buoyed on social media and blogs and via the vast network of passionate cruisers who can’t wait for cruising, and it looks like the industry is cautiously bouncing back.
I am finally over being down😢 and am excited to complete the book😎! I have restarted writing and feel like “a kid in a candy shop.” (Or, a passionate cruiser about to board a cruise ship!) The tenor of the book will change somewhat but still be fun and upbeat. I will acknowledge and reflect on the pandemic’s impact on cruising. And the title will change to Cruising Interrupted! Excepts coming soon. Stay safe. #WeWillBeBack