1 Month Down, 5 to Go

Day 32 – Ushuaia, Argentina – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper

Today marks the beginning of our 2nd month at sea, the 1/6th point of our 180-day around-the-world adventure. Because we know enquiring minds want to know, we are dedicating this edition of Partout to five observations and three surprises from our first 31 days. 

Rather than try to illustrate ideas, we are sharing random shots Louis took as we left Punta Arenas, Chile, at sunset last night and approached Ushuaia, Argentina, this morning. Fyi, tomorrow we head into the Drake Passage to the Antarctic seas. It’s anyone’s guess when we will materialize again.

5 Observations

#1 – The trip is exceeding expectations. 

The world cruise is everything we hoped in terms of travel and comfort but better than we dreamed in terms of unwrapping the world at leisure – the terrain, the ports, the communities and cultures, the history and prehistory and all the rest.

Have you seen the recent reports about the role of awe in health and longevity? We figure the awe factor of world cruising so far has extended our lives by at least 10 years. Now there’s a happy thought.

#2 – 215 square feet of living space is plenty.

We had no trouble unpacking and neatly stowing our 200 pounds plus carry-ons. We never feel confined and only rarely find ourselves vying for the same few square inches. Nor have we (yet) wanted to wring one another’s necks. If we feel squeezed, which we haven’t, we can always step onto our veranda into scenes like this one. (Veranda = ESSENTIAL!)

#3 – We did not overpack (with one possible exception).

With the route throwing us everything from the tropics to the Antarctica in the first month, we have already worn nearly every item of clothing and shoe we brought, at least once and generally more than that. The possible exception relates to a certain toiletry of Louis’s that will go unnamed until we see if time proves he did not overestimate his need for the unnamed as wildly as it currently appears he did. (Hint: It is not shaving cream.)

#4 – Our traveling companions are highly companionable.

Many of you have asked questions about our fellow passengers. Consider this a developing story. At some point, when we know them well enough to ask a few to sit for photos and interviews, we will profile some of them. Doris is particularly interested in the 89-year-old fashionista who is on her 107th cruise. Louis is especially delighted to find us traveling with a journalist who a distinguished journalist who anchored the news for a French-language network in Canada for 40 years

For now, overall, we can say we are traveling with a diverse and interesting lot. We’ve been told something slightly north of 50% of the passengers are from the US, another 15%-ish from Canada and the rest from other countries. Most are retired but not all; some are working, or at least reporting in, from the ship. The oldest cruiser we have personally identified is 94; the youngest are teens in a family that joined us in Chile for the Antarctic leg. Most are couples, but there are 20 or 30 singles aboard as well as some elderly parents accompanied by almost-elderly adult children plus assorted siblings, cousins, friends and other pairings. We are the only first-time cruisers we have met; many fellow passengers have already circled the globe multiple times.

There is nobody (yet) we would change directions to avoid meeting in a hallway or cringe to see on an excursion bus. Conversly, there are at least a dozen people we find simpatico enough that we have shared meals and excursions with them. We would not be surprised to leave the ship with some lasting friendships. 

#5 – Boredom is not a danger.

If anything, it’s the other “b” – burn-out – that looms as a possibility. We have trouble fitting every activity that appeals to us into every day and still leave time for a nap to recharge so we can start all over again. We no longer know what day of the week it is and would not know the date if our watches did not remind us. Our week is divided into “sea days” and “port days.”

3 Surprises

#1 – The ship creaks!

Okay, laugh at Doris for being surprised, but it never occurred to her that a great big structure like an ocean-going cruiser would creak as much as Louis’s 31-foot sailboat did. But it does! She feels like she is living in the soundtrack of a movie set at sea.

#2 – The crew are companions, too.

The ship’s general manager told us Oceania “recruits for attitude and trains for skill.” The attitude we find in the vast majority of the ship’s staff and crew from 30 different countries is friendliness, cheerfulness and a sense of humor. They are simply not like any other hospitality workers we have ever encountered.

Each crew member is expected to learn the names of at least 50 passengers so we are constantly greeted, “Hi, Mrs. Doris! Hi, Mr. Louis!” (No, we have not mastered that many passenger names ourselves.) Mostly in their 20s and 30s, they feel like adult kids – sufficiently younger that they are not peers but connected enough to feel like fellow travelers. They joke with us, they kid us, and they mostly seem genuinely pleased to see and engage with us. We will be profiling some of them and their stories, too, as we go along. They are amazing.

#3 – The ship is a micro-universe.

Again, this might seem self-evident, but just about everything that happens on land at home happens at sea on the ship, and we didn’t see that coming. Illness and death, love and marriage, grief and joy, excitement and ennui. Name the experience or emotion and, maybe with the sole exception of birth (which would be a miracle in this demographic group), it happens in our population. We are a small world. 

Another Question Answered

Vicki (who was standing in an airport line at the time) asked, “Do you have to wait in lines as you disembark/embark for excursions?” 

Basically, we don’t wait in lines for anything – excursions, food, service, whatever. Of course, there’s a brief line for the single-file gangplank, but it’s nothing compared with a Costco line at lunchtime on Friday during football season. 

Our guess would be this is partly because our technically “mid-size” ship is carrying a few hundred passengers instead of the thousands on big ships, partly because the high crew-passenger ratio means a crew member seems to materialize the instant you even think about something you need or want and, maybe, in part because of the Insignia’s size. We normally can dock, which means we can walk off and on the ship at will rather than being anchored and waiting for a tender to shore.

Coming Soon!

To the End of the World (and Back?) 

14 thoughts on “1 Month Down, 5 to Go

  1. Fascinating and insightful about the dynamic of people relations on the cruise. Amazing how you stay so enthusiastic about your daily travel opportunities and views. Cool about the Canadian news anchor.


  2. I’m loving following “Partout!” I wondered what have you enjoyed most and least about your adventure? What stop made you want to return the most, possibly only on land?


  3. I’m enjoying your cruise updates, photos and insights so much! Thank you for sharing! Chile has been on my bucket list for a long time…everyone I know who has visited there describes it as an amazing country. Mimi and I are on the Caribbean side of Mexico for two weeks, then back to Mazatlan. I’ll visit Nancy in Zihuatenejo at the end of March. So happy to be in sunshine and warm breezes! Bon continuation! Denise


  4. Terrific! I remember the night you unveiled this idea of six months at sea and how I feared for your sanity — the woman who couldn’t sit through the movie Titanic and not because of the iceberg — because of your mal de mer. thanks for keeping us current. Tom is stalking you constantly, looking for wave heights, wind direction and force, etc. From Rossland, BC at the moment, Karen & Tom


  5. I LOVE this post! So much wonderful information and I’m so happy you are truly enjoying this trip so much. I love Louis’ dramatic photos and I can’t wait to find out what he may have brought too much of😊. Am also really looking forward to your interviews and portraits. That will truly be a treat. The crew and other passengers sound marvelous and I’m sure, as you said, you’ll make lasting friendships as a result of this trip.


  6. Delightful revisit of your first month. But honestly, the thing that stands out is how beautiful your skin is — both of you — in that first picture.


  7. I’m excited to see your profiles of fellow passengers! In the meantime, can you give us a typical day at sea–When do you get up? What do you usually eat for breakfast? Classes (what kind? Is there a schedule?) Exercise? Do you have routines, or are you enjoying being routine-free?

    Doris, do you remember my apartment on 74th St–that was only a little over 300 sf–the outdoor terrace made all the difference, even in the winter!


  8. Can’t wait for your post about Ushuaia, Drake Passage and going ‘round the Horn! So glad you are continuing to experience awe while cruising. We experienced that sense also — at least for our first 20-some cruises, although some of the gold plate wore off eventually. We are back to normal after our rough trip home, and beginning to prepare for our own Antarctica journey. Hugs from both of us for both of you, Ruth



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s