Here I am today, nearly eight years later, turning 88 in May, sailing to Sydney. I’ve been on this 12-year-old vessel longer than almost all of its 655 crew members. At the captain’s cocktail parties, I’m often honored as the passenger with the greatest number of Crystal cruises (400 altogether, including 15 world cruises).
I rarely go ashore nowadays because I’ve probably already been there several times. When most everybody else goes, it‘s so quiet, and I have almost the whole ship to myself. I’ll read, watch a movie, continue my needlepoint work or just take a nap.
What most I miss, of course, is my family. I manage to get my mail and keep in touch with my three sons and seven grandchildren with my laptop. I’m also blessed with a 2-year-old great grandson who’ll be getting twin brothers in July. I hear from a family member almost everyday, and visit with them whenever we dock in Miami. Last year we docked there five times.
Cathy Lee, my daughter, died five years ago at age 59. Most of my close friends in Florida are also gone. Now, as a longtime cruiser, though, I get to make new friends all the time.
Three other women live on the ship like I do, but none for nearly as long as I have. Perks come in the form of nice floral arrangements, occasional shipboard credits and actual cash rewards upon reaching high-level cruise number milestones.
About $450 is my daily average cost. It’s pricey, but luckily my husband was an excellent provider.