We are on our way, free at last of our final major possession, our Toyota truck, which took us 16,000 miles around the US and Canada over the past 6-7 months. We sold it on our way to the port yesterday!…our last “chore” before setting ourselves loose in the world. As you can see in the first two photos, all we own in the world is a backpack each with some clothing, iPads, cell phones, wires and chargers, and a year’s worth of prescriptions. Someone asked if this meant that we did lots of hiking and camping around the world. Nooooo….we stay in hotels or on cruise ships every day of the year. It is just easier to get around with everything we own on our backs rather than on wheels. The stuff we carry is thus limited, and our ability to run down a set of stairs and up another to make a train, for example, is greatly enhanced. We feel very free, very light. Is it strange to go to so many exotic and unusual places in the world and not be able to shop? Yes. But we have no home or storage unit in which to place a single thing. We can only buy food or necessities. We take comfort in knowing that by being free from encumbrances, we can travel wherever we wish with no need to worry about, or return to, a home.
For a month, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Cypress, CA. It truly is “home” for us whenever we return to see family and friends. The breakfast food services team, Norma and Julie, are the finest women and workers we have ever encountered in a hotel. They are thoughtful, kind, and caring, and they keep everything sparkling clean and replenished. They are amazing, and remember our favorite flavor of yogurt, the fruit we like, and the breakfast foods that we enjoy most. They are always clearing the tables and keeping everything fresh. Most touching of all was yesterday at breakfast, our last day there before leaving for 13 months. They decorated our breakfast table with a globe and the note in the third photo. We were overwhelmed. What great, decent human beings! Believe it or not, they even used part of their lunch break to walk outside with us and wave to us as we departed. We will never forget sweet Norma and sweet Julie!
The ship we are on is the Oceania Regatta. It is much, much smaller than all the other cruise ships we have sailed….only 680 passengers rather than the usual 2-3,000…OR the 6,400-passenger Royal Caribbean ships, the largest in the world (fun in a much different way!). Check-in, which usually entails waiting in line for 30-60 minutes, took about 5 minutes, as there was no line. This cruise line “up sells” very little – just excursions and wine packages – and is very discreet in doing so. On other cruises, every corridor typically has many tables set up, with crew members selling photo packages, bingo cards, spa items and services, souvenirs, beverage packages, specialty dining meals, artwork, premium coffee packages, and even…are you ready?…lottery tickets! In contrast, this ship is very low-key, very adult. Nothing is being pushed or hawked, which is so refreshing. The food has been excellent…definitely several notches above the more-common cruise lines (Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, for example). The coffee bar is free, as are soft drinks and even bottled water. The last photo is the elegant and decadent Dessert Cart at Afternoon Tea! There are many quiet places to sit and read, a daily lecture, a daily trivia game, a classical music quartet, and a daily theater show. We haven’t yet seen anyone under the age of about 40…i.e., no children. The rest of the photos were all taken around the ship this afternoon, and it really is as tranquil as it looks.