Day 132 – ancient Hoi An, Vietnam – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper
Insignia technically carries close to 700 passengers, but paying passengers seem to number more like 600, plus 400 crew. About a thousand people in all. That makes for a lot of potential friends and acquaintances to meet on a six-month cruise around the world.
From the beginning, faithful friends and followers have asked over and again Who are those guys?
After more than four months, we finally have met enough of these guys to tell some stories. Think of this edition of Partout as a book forward. Over our remaining weeks on board (we are down to weeks!), we will sprinkle a few of the individual stories among our travel reports.
Who Are Those Guys?
We know from official reports the average age on board is currently 70, and the median age is 72. Three teenagers and four 20-somethings bring the curve down a bit but, with 289 passengers in their 70s and 68 more in their 80s, this is definitely a mature crowd.
Most of our fellow travelers are Americans, but more than 50 are snowbirdy Canadians, and there are also showings from Australia, New Zealand, South America, Africa and Europe. About 400 of us are world cruisers; the rest are people who join the ship for one or maybe two segments and then are replaced by a new set of segment travelers.
Information about the pre-retirement careers of the passengers has not been shared officially (and might not even be known to the ship). Our impression is that a plurality probably come from some sort of corporate or entrepreneurial life – bankers, executives, business owners. There also seems to be a decent showing of lawyers, a few physicians, some retired academics and a handful of journalists, counting us. We met one retired Catholic priest, but he was on board for only one segment. To be honest, our former careers are among the least interesting conversational topics. The most? Travel, of course!
Most of the people we have gotten to know personally are those who travel the same circuits we do. Doris met the triathlete and a genealogist in the deserted lounge where she welcomes the sunrise most days. Louis knows a batch of early-bird fitness buffs because he works out at 6 am. Doris is on at least a first-name basis with more than 60 people who take bridge lessons or play the game alongside her. Louis has gotten to know most of the enrichment speakers because he attends lectures while Doris plays bridge.
This pretty much means we don’t meet people on different circuits. Because we get up early, we rarely go to the shows that start nightly at 9:30, much less to the late-night music and dance sessions starting at 10:30. You won’t find many night owls in our circles. There are also regulars in the bars, at afternoon tea, in the casino, on the dance floor and in the needlepoint and art classes, but we aren’t among them. We don’t play cribbage or mahjong either so we know only those devotees if they have crossed our paths on one of our other circuits.
There is also some grouping around nationality, language, even state and county. The Francophones (Quebecois, French, Swiss) can often be spotted together at meals. Ditto the Hispanophones. There’s a bridge foursome from Orange County, California. Texans have occasional meetups. One Canadian couple has been organizing a monthly happy hour for fellow Canadians, who make up maybe 15% of the ship’s population.
Eat, Play, Hang
But probably the biggest sources of new friends have been meals and outings.
When there are no two-tops available, or we are spoiling for company, we sometimes meet new people by sharing tables. Mealtimes are also where we settle in for deeper conversations with people who have crossed our paths and we would like to know better. Sometimes happy hour leads to a happy gang trooping to one of the dining rooms to continue the fun together, as illustrated below. (And, yes, that is green cake they are raising, but that’s another story.)
Overall, we probably eat at least half our dinners and almost half our lunches with others and, yeah, that’s kind of like eating half your meals at dinner parties. Because breakfast is when we check in about our schedule and plan for the day (and because there is a limit to how much socializing even a golden retriever can do), we usually eat that meal alone.
For the first half of the cruise, we often got to know people by spending the day on ship-sponsored excursions with them. Since then, Doris has decided she can come up with better outings for less money than the ship and has taken to organizing private excursions for a fluid set of 10 or 15 “usual suspects,” with whom we spend more time than with because of our outings.
More questions about the crowd or socializing with them? Ask away!
Another Question Answered
Bkcam wrote, “I am curious if you don’t have moments where you feel homesick? You are coming up to the time of the year when you would be at your beautiful home by the lake.”
Neither of us would say we long for home at an intensity we would label “homesick,” but the list of things we miss is definitely growing in our fifth month. We miss being able to talk to our kids and grandkids whenever we want; the time differences now make conversations few and far between. We miss reliable, strong internet to do things like … back up data to the cloud, synch our devices, stream a friend’s testimony before Congress, even be online at the same time. None of these are possible from the ship. Doris really hates being so unable to follow the news that she can’t take the New York Times News Quiz on Saturday mornings.
But, Bkcam, you have hit the nail on the head about our home by the lake. The first time on the cruise we specifically longed for home, even momentarily, was when we started getting getting photos of the blooms in our Sandpoint yard. Spring in Sandpoint is such a joy. Cruising the world is a consoling joy, but we do miss our tulips and irises, sleeping with doors and windows open and all the other pleasures of a Sandpoint spring and summer.
4 thoughts on “Fellow Travelers – An Introduction”
Doris: These updates are amazing. Thanks so much to taking us along.
Tell me something … I am reading your “compte rendu”.
I am wondering how it has an effect in beetween people and on you, to be on a boat for so long, “a small island”.
I’ve been following you on the entire cruise via Partout. Highly entertaining! Question: Will you be riding gigantic waves created by Super Typhoon Mawar? Tz
Doris, you have always been a great organizer !! Love it!!👍