2 Months Down, 4 to Go

Day 60 (!) – Sailing the North Atlantic – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper

Having reached the 60-day mark of our 180-day round-the-world adventure, it’s time for an update on whether and how we are surviving co-habitation in a 215-square-foot room at sea. To that end, we again dedicate an edition of Partout to five observations and three surprises from the so-far-so-good department. The comments are illustrated by a few of artist Louis’s random artistic shots that might otherwise not find their way into a blog.

This would be the artist with art we saw in the Afro-Brazilian Museum of Salvador, Brazil.

5 Observations

#1 – The trip continues to exceed expectations. 

We have now met a few passengers with complaints about some aspect of the cruise (e.g., the quality of the green beans) but not many, and we are not two of them.

We are still enjoying the circumnavigation even more than we expected, and we expected to like it a lot. The itinerary has yet to disappoint, and we have no complaints about the green beans. Hardly a day passes without some sight (or, okay, some dish) that doesn’t awe us. This is the mosaic of rooftops in Iquique, Chile, shot from the descent into town following an outing in the Atacama Desert.

#2 – Port arrivals are an unfailing source of delight.

Neither Louis nor Doris expected to be captivated by arriving in new ports, but we are. Because the ship always sails overnight and docks or anchors in daylight, every arrival day finds Doris awake before dawn, positioned in the ship’s bow to see what new gift the sunrise will unwrap. Will we dock in a snug bay, a clamorous commercial port or a verdant estuary? Will the landscape be flat or soaring? Will the shoreline be lined with gleaming skyscrapers, makeshift shanties or something else? Will we spot unusual ships or cargos, sand dunes or palm trees, or something we hadn’t even imagined?

At the two-month mark, we find it hard to imagine anything topping Rio de Janeiro, but time and another 60 or 70 ports on three continents will tell. Even Santos, the port city for Sao Paolo, Brazil, is pretty dazzling at dawn.

#3 – We are sailing on the Good Ship Gratitude.

Everyone knows the stereotypes about cruise ships being filled with old people, and we’re here to tell you … yup, they’re true.

We have speculated that the median age on board might be around 75, but we also heard fairly reliable reports it is closer to 80. Wheelchairs and motorized tricycles can be found parked outside staterooms and at the doors of the dining rooms, and other assistive devices (canes, braces) are not uncommon. Only two months in, at least three people already have died on board.

Sound like a formula for grim passage? Au contraire. Maybe it’s a post-pandemic effect, or the temperaments of this particular crowd, or maybe it’s just that – at this advanced point in life – people are relieved and thrilled to be here at all. The words “We are so lucky” are on just about every guest’s lips, and it is refreshingly uplifting to live in close company with so many grateful, grinning people even if we have all seen spryer days.

#4 – We have never been on a more multi-cultural trip in our lives.

Insignia’s crew includes members of 52 nationalities. The passenger profile changes with each cruise segment but typically runs to 15 or 20 nationalities hailing from every continent except the penguin one. People have flown from Europe, Asia and Australia to join us.

This means we are living in close quarters with citizens of more than one-quarter of the world’s nations. Never in either of our travel lives have we been in so many conversations with so many people from so many cultures so regularly. And that’s before we go ashore in one of our 90+ ports to mingle with locals the way we did in Ecuador where we watched the misnamed Panama hat being hand-made.

#5 – Cruising the world with this bunch is a load of laughs.

Pack a boat with world travelers who have led interesting lives, give them all a lot of free time to swap stories and some alcohol to loosen their lips, hand a microphone to a comedic cruise director, and you are in for a lot of laughs. Belly laughs. Laughing-til-you-cry laughs. Laughing-til-it-hurts laughs. We laugh every day. A lot. There’s just so much happening to put smiles on our faces.

3 Surprises

#1 – All of the above!

Well-prepared as we thought we were for our adventure, we never saw any of the above coming. One of the surprises of the trip is that something surprises us practically every day.

#2 – Ocean depths

At sea (about one-third of our cruise days overall), the captain comes on the loudspeaker every day at noon sharp to report our position, speed, air temperature, wind and wave magnitudes, weather conditions and ocean depth. Non-marine member of the duo that she is, Doris is surprised and impressed by the extremes and variation of the ocean beneath us. As she types, the sea depth is18,000 feet but, one recent day with no coastline in sight, it was 130 feet. In the ocean! And there was a day in the Antarctic when the captain told us in a personal chat the clearance between our keel and the sea floor would soon be 10 feet.

#3 – Habituation to ocean motion is a real thing.

Having never ever spent an unnauseated hour on a boat without the help of a motion sickness aid, Doris is startled and thrilled at the two-month mark to find herself over all that. To be fair, Insignia has mostly sailed in calm seas. But still. We are talking about a woman who has gotten seasick just watching movies set on ships. She has habituated. That’s not just a real thing, it’s a great thing. Cue the gratitude!

Another Question Answered

Carolyn asked, “Are you able to practice your respective languages (other than English) with any of the guests, crew or chefs?” 

SI! OUI! JA! Language is such a wonderful bonding material. Louis’s bonding with our French chef started with speaking together in French. We have both bonded with Spanish-speaking staff by always talking with them in Spanish. Among the guests are French speakers from Switzerland and Quebec who speak little English; Louis no doubt brightens their days by speaking up in their shared mother tongue.

Unfortunately (unaccountably), staff name tags do not bear nationalities, so everyone is always asking where people come from. When someone identifies themselves as … Serbian or Indian or Balinese or Nicaraguan, we find common ground talking about their homelands if one or both of us has visited there.

We do the same with other guests, of course, but the diversity is greater among the personnel. We know some of you have questions about the jobs and lifestyle of the multitudes who keep the ship running and us fed. Rest assured, a Partout dishing the details is in your future.

Coming Soon!

Dazzled by Brazil

6 thoughts on “2 Months Down, 4 to Go

  1. I love your sense of awe and wonder and to hear about the joviality! As we grow older awe seems like it is harder to find but oh boy when we are!


  2. Once again, a winner of a post! I am very curious about your trip across the oceans– to Africa next? How long will you be out of sight of land? What do you notice when you have no buildings and shorelines to distract you? Will you see more birds and sea life?


  3. Love this crazy-quilt grab-bag of observations two months in. How delightful it ALL sounds. Thank you again for letting me come along for the fun! I always relish seeing PARTOUT in my in-box! Godspeed and thanks again!


  4. Another really beautifully written installment of Doris does the universe .
    We are so happy to open each new chapter .


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