I had this idea. I would take all the cruise assignments I could in one year, rent out my condo, give my car to my son, and “live travelly” for that year. I reached the one-year mark in March 2019, and had a packed second year of cruise assignments, so I just kept going.
Since I have no more assignments until April 2020, I will be completing year two when I reach the end of my current assignment on Feb 1. That means the ship I am on has become the venue to reflect on what all of this living travelly adds up to, and what is next.
I have now visited 97 countries, about 30 more if you use a list that treats non-contiguous parts of countries, like Alaska and Hawaii as their own entities, and not really what we mean by a trip to the US. A few in Europe and the Caribbean I had visited before I started cruising, but most I have visited at least once again, so about 90 or more of that list came to me as a result of the blessing of this job. I have at least set foot on every continent except Antarctica.I have no idea how many ports I have called at, or how many sites I have visited, except it has to be several hundred
The map below shows in orange the countries I have visited. The big holes now I could reach by ship are coastal Africa, plus Japan and the rest of Northern Asia, which now define my bucket list.
My guiding principle for my life has been to ask,”what are you doing that makes you feel as if you are still growing, and what doesn’t feel that way anymore?”. Until recently I’d have answered unequivocally and resoundingly that cruising had a powerful growth trajectory but I am not sure how I feel now. Yes, I still love every minute of being in new places, or revisiting favorite ones, and the social aspects of life on board are still full of possibilities. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe I am more marking time at this point than adding value to my life at the rate I used to , or perhaps even hiding out on ships from what might be more growth oriented for me.
I haven’t gone much further in my thinking than to allow in that niggling thought about how maybe I am hiding from my future at this point. My life story up to now would suggest that thoughts like these tend to burrow in and fairly quickly sprout into huge blossoms if anything is to come of them at all. Suddenly, in what feels like scarcely overnight, I realize I am done with something and ready to move on.
I doubt it will be that dramatic with cruising, since I just can’t imagine saying no when there’s an opportunity to go somewhere interesting. But there are changes afoot that make me pretty sure I will be cutting back substantially in 2020 and perhaps beyond. More about these changes in a future post.
I do know a couple of things: when I get back in February, I am moving back into my condo and getting a car. I am also close to certain that my former San Diego life won’t hold me for long. What then is anybody’s guess but 2020 is shaping up to be a year of big decisions for me. A little less living travelly, perhaps, but hopefully a little more living meaningfully and excitedly.