There is 17,000 feet of blue water below us. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds us on all sides. Surveying the horizon, nothing appears for the entire day. The slight sea swells gracefully rock the ship, hypnotically making us want to nap frequently.
Today we have participated in quoits and five-pin bowling. Royal Dutch High Tea involved swan-shaped cream puffs, white-chocolate covered strawberries and cucumber sandwiches. Walking laps around the Promenade deck, followed by a relaxing soak in the hot tub and sunbathing on the deck #8. It is easy to lose count, but we think this is day six of our ocean-going voyage.
We are sailing to Europe, but this is not just another cruise for us. We are a couple in our forties, with solid careers and jobs we liked in Seattle. Less than two weeks ago, after several months of preparation, we left our jobs, put our keepsakes in storage, and said good-bye to friends.
First we drove more than 2,000 miles from Seattle to Missouri – via Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Iowa — in a packed Subaru Forrester, to drop our car and spend a few days with Janis’ parents.
Next, we flew from Kansas City to New York with four bags weighing 50 lbs or less. Getting each of the four bags to each weigh 50 pounds or less has been one of the toughest challenges to date for this journey.
After spending a night near Wall Street, we boarded Holland America Line’s elegant 793-passenger ms Prinsendam for the next 39 days, ending in Athens. From Athens we have no definitive plans, other than exploring as much of Europe as we can before depleting our budget.
When we told our colleagues and friends about this adventure, they’re response was generally “Oh, that’s wonderful!“ and “We’re jealous.” Often followed quickly by “You are so brave.” “What will you do when you come back?“ and “Where will you live and who will you work for?”
We don’t know the answers to these questions. What we do know is that we enjoy travel and discovery. Luckily, we are debt-free and have somewhat portable careers in IT/project management and advertising/marketing. And, our only dependent is a precocious (read: spoiled) gray and white tuxedo cat named Princess Gracie who is residing in and ruling a Missouri Victorian farmhouse with Janis’ somewhat reluctant parents.
We do know that that this break will provide adventure, discovery and personal growth. And while we are now traveling on a ship with well-traveled clientele (most of who are 20 to 30 years older than we are), we are confident that our journey will not be a boring or predictable one.
A number of online travel critiques and blogs have inspired and vastly enhanced our prior travels. We will share our insights from this journey here as our way of contributing.
Quoits, by the way, on the ms Prinsendam, consist of tossing rounds of rope on a shuffleboard grid. If you hit a line, you don’t get the points. Five pin bowling involves throwing a foam dice cube and a soccer ball at five bottles of drinking water and trying to knock them down. We aren’t very good at either, but these activities generally draw other interesting guests, and participates are rewarded with DAM dollars. Oh, and Jeff doesn’t want anyone to know that he participated in quoits, so don’t give him a hard time about it.