I can trace my lifelong wanderlust to a song. In 1962, when I was 12, the Duprees sang their version of “You Belong to Me.” I was way too young to appreciate the lover’s sentiments, but everything about me perked up at the places mentioned in the song.

See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the sun rise on a tropic isle
Just remember, darling, all the while
You belong to me

See the marketplace in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
But remember when a dream appears
You belong to me

I’ll be so alone without you
Maybe you’ll be lonesome too, and blue

Fly the ocean in a silver plane
Watch the jungle when its wet with rain
Just remember till youre home again
You belong to me

Of course I had to grow up first, and when my first idea for a career, becoming a “stewardess” (as they were known then) was emphatically kaboshed by my mother (along with becoming a tap dancer and a palm reader), I dutifully went off to college.

Other than a year on education abroad in Edinburgh in 1969-70, my travel dreams went entirely unfulfilled for several decades, but when I found myself single again with no minor children I began pursuing travel opportunities like crazy. In fact, for a couple of years, while I was still teaching full time I managed to be out of the country more than I was home, by juggling education abroad teaching opportunities, sabbaticals, and travel write offs doing research for my numerous school library books on modern nations.

I didn’t see it at the time, but everything from teaching humanities to writing books was preparing me for the life I have now.

Six year ago I got my first lecturer assignment on a cruise line, and I haven’t stopped since. Twelve-year-old Laurel is now more than half a century older, but still every bit as excited about being in new places and returning to old favorites. Now, as my tee shirt says, Home is where the anchor drops.”

Pyramids? Tropic isles? Old Algiers? Jungles? Oh yeah, sign me up! The girl with the transistor radio glued to her ear is still right here.


Amazon Afternoon

Gave my first lecture last night. One would think that 6:30 is a bad time for a lecture, but Seabourn makes it work beautifully by having bar service during the lecture. Come spend happy hour learning something! It’s a concept! Attendance was fantastic. I figure if 10 percent of the passengers are at my lectures, that’s pretty good, but las night my guess is it was over 15, so yay!

The subject was the Amazon , touching on the massiveness of the river (its volume is higher than the next 7 biggest rivers in the world combined), the ancient civilizations in the area (the real ones, not El Dorado) and contemporary issues like deforestation.

I really enjoy being on the Amazon. It’s earthy, and authentic in a way cruise destinations often destroy over time. We are a very minor thing happening today as people go about their business in Santarem. I like it that way. It’s not all about me and my dollars. In fact, most people scarcely pay us any mind. They have better, or at least more pressing, things to do. I have left them to it, and am now ensconced on the ship, ready for a relaxing afternoon, falling asleep over my audiobook by the pool.


Easing in

Regardless of how much I have streamlined the process of setting up my little abode on a cruise ship, it always takes a day or two to feel in the groove. Where in the world did I put A, did I forget B, what time is C, on what deck is D? Then, little by little everything falls into place. I have my routine. I know where I am going. I have a sense for the rhythms of the day.

Today is for easing in. We are anchored off Parintins, Brazil, on the Amazon. Outside my window, the muddy water flows past, carrying the occasional tree limb, or floating island of foliage, down towards the ocean. Even at anchor, the ship has a wake, due to the relentless current. The sky goes from blue and sunny to dark gray and pouring down rain in minutes, and as I scan the horizon (which is in this case the far bank of the Amazon),I can see pretty much every kind of tropical weather happening somewhere.

Since I have been to Parintins twice before ( and have the beaded jewelry an tee shirt to prove it!), I am skipping taking the local ferry in to shore ( that’s what is pictured in the photo here). Jane has claimed her chaise lounge near the pool and back here in the room, if my droopy eyelids are any indication, we will both soon be doing the thing that most clearly shows that we have eased into a lower gear—taking a nap!

Sent from my iPad


My Year of Living Travelly

When I was nineteen , I set off on what would prove to be the biggest travel adventure of the next half-century of my life, when I flew off to Scotland for a junior year abroad at the University of Edinburgh.

I am posting this as I sit at the gate at the San Diego airport, waiting to depart on the biggest travel adventure since then. I am calling it My Year of Living Travelly. I have posted before about the planning that has gone into setting up the opportunity to use my Silversea and Seabourn opportunities to patch together a continuous year of travel, and it looks as if I have managed to set it in motion. So far, so good at least! It is all planned, and now it is up to the cooperation of bigger powers than me.

First up, I am taking a red-eye with my friend Jane, to the east coast, from which we will fly to Manaus, Brazil, 900 miles up the Amazon, and halfway across the continent. Our cruise on Seabourn Quest will take us down the Amazon (my third time!) and across the Atlantic to Cape Verde, which has been on my bucket list since I first heard Cesaria Evora’s smoke-and-honey voice. Then on to a couple of stops in the Canary Islands, and a day in Tangiers before the cruise ends in Monte Carlo.

I will be staying in the Med through mid-June, then set off for a few weeks in the Baltic before heading home in July.

And that’s just the start. I will be cruising in Alaska later this summer, then heading to Montreal for a few fall foliage cruises before a breather in San Diego, after which I fly to Singapore to begin about five months exploration on land and sea of Southeast Asia.

I will spell it out: L-U-C-K-Y and B-L-E-S-S-E-D !!!!

I will be posting diary entries and photos regularly, and it would be nice to know you are checking in from time to time. If you want to know where I am, or where I am headed at any given time, every cruise is listed in the calendar here on my website.

Thank you all for caring and supporting me. Arrivederci!


Pedal off the Metal

Put the pedal to the metal—gotta speed up, hurry, hurry!  The last few weeks, actually months, have been that way for me as I get ready to leave for a series of cruises. So much to do! So many new lectures to prepare. So much to think about to be ready to be gone for several months.   Today, however,  I got that lovely, familiar sense of easing up on the gas and Feeling the beginning of a coast.

I leave Friday night for Manaus Brazil, in far better shape than I could have predicted in terms of lectures prepared and things ready for an absence at home, and in far worse shape than ever, physically. I try to lead a life balanced in body, brain, and spirit, but lately I haven’t accomplished that. It was just too easy to keep working.

Funny how I think of cruising as an escape from the normal and typical, but now I very much want that normalcy back, in the form of more attention to that healthy balance in my life. I’m glad I  kept that pedal to the metal until now,  but it’s time to slow down and let the rest of me catch up.