Blog #1: It’s Getting Real

We passed a big milestone this weekend.

51 Days Before We Sail

Everything is a Go for our departure on time. The cruise company took possession of the ship they bought, right on time — the only time any “low-cost” Residential Cruising company has been able to pull that off at all. Life At Sea couldn’t do it. Victoria Cruises Line hasn’t done it, even though they continue to insist their departure date is July 26.

The Big Milestone this weekend: we shipped off all of our personal belongings (except what can be packed into suitcases). We had to pay to get them to Florida, and our cruise line paying for everyone’s stuff to be combined into a shipping container that will get to England before we board our ship there on May 15. It was still breathtakingly expensive, even though we pared everything down as much as we dared. It’s not just stuff for our cabin, but a significant amount of “office” items to keep working onboard.

Because they expect some of us will be Digital Nomads (continuing to work on board, enabled by good Internet service), one of the remodeling chores is pulling out the casino for room to create office space for a pretty reasonable cost; they said I’m the first to rent office space there.

The key for me, of course, is not just a computer, but a good-quality stand to hold it at the right distance and angle, a second monitor, a full-sized super-ergonomic keyboard, several different backup drives (supplemented by “the cloud”), and more.

It was a big job. I was a nervous wreck even though Kit did most of the work (bless her!) Now that it’s all done, we’ve both really breathed a huge sigh of relief. We start making our way east in just one month: a few days on the east coast, then we get on a cruise ship there for a leisurely sail to England.

“Resting”? In Vegas?!

Las Vegas has been …interesting. Selling and getting out of our house in a hurry while I was ill almost killed us; it was hugely stressful. We’ve thus been spending most of our time resting and recuperating, with a few stressors along the way to challenge that recovery. That included my mother’s death, then going back for her memorial, co-delivering her eulogy with my siblings. So in some ways, the delay in getting off to sea was a good thing.

Of course, I continued my weekly This is True while Kit continued her coaching work. A couple of times per week one or both of us will stumble into the bedroom exhausted to nap for an hour.

Ready to ship: our stuff. The Sphere (red and white stripes, at this moment) is visible through the window. (Photo by the author)

So we’ve done almost no shows in Vegas. Mainly, extra activities involved getting out for nice dinners once in awhile, especially when too tired to cook in our tiny apartment.

The photo here shows about half of it: the living room, which until Sunday was piled up with large duffel bags to ship our stuff to Florida. Kit kept a basic inventory of everything that went into each bag, trying to spread out weight and to wrap potentially fragile items with soft things like clothing to reduce the risk of damage.

One of the nice things about Vegas: UPS is open on Sunday!

She is partly visible, resting on the couch after zipping up the last bag. The desk and chair in the far right corner is where I’ve been writing for the past few months, loaned by friends who live here.

If you’ve been following along, my allergies have been much improved here, though with the arrival of spring they’re ramping up again. I really look forward to getting to the ship.

Blog Entry No. 1

Most of what is posted here is articles about what Residential Cruising is and how to prepare to sail on a “permanent” residence at sea. I consider this the first of a series of purely “blog”-like posts: just a status update, not an article.

There is a way for me to enable you to choose which you can subscribe to: email notifications of articles, of blog posts, or both. There is some programming involved, which I can’t do yet because I have to learn how to do that, but you’ll get to decide with a click. The default will be both, but I don’t want to presume you will want to get every notification forever, and will put that control into your hands.

I’ll let you know when you can make that choice. With any luck that will happen before we sail, but I don’t know quite how much work is involved, so I hesitate to offer any specific timetable.

30 thoughts on “Blog #1: It’s Getting Real”

  1. Have you received the $10k deposit from VCL, if not what is the latest update?

    Not yet. If they thought my article was bad publicity, and thought the article on Business Insider was even worse, they haven’t seen anything yet. There are two scenarios: as a legitimate business, they’ll be wanting to make refunds very soon. If they’re a scam, they’ll suddenly fold up and disappear. Time will tell! -rc

    • I’m about 111 days past the 90 day refund promise.

      To my knowledge they have not refunded anyone in the last 6 months. At first I was emailing them about once a month to ask for a update on my request, but I no longer even get a response at all from them. I guess we all learned an expensive lesson.

      Indeed so. But there are things going on behind the scenes that I can’t talk about yet. As to whether it’ll result in any refunds remains to be seen. -rc

  2. Congratulations, I’m happy that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us. I say us because my wife has no interest in doing this. I’m living the cruising life through you.

    Heh! Thanks, and I’m quite sure you are not alone. Be sure to follow our Instagram page, since that’s where we’ll be posting our short updates (minimum weekly once we get going). Longer updates will be here. -rc

    • As a former Navy guy…I’ve got pretty much zero interest in cruising. Wife wants to and I told her I would wave goodbye from the pier. That said…as a former full time RV lifestyle person…I could see she and I doing this part time. We would have to have an apartment someplace and head off for 3 to 6 months at a time. It would either keep swapping shops to go different places or get on some sort of extended length cruise…but until the industry matures a bit we would not want to make the same 7 or 14 day itinerary for an extended time…and would rather pay a little more per month for the ability to get on and off as we wanted instead of the write a big check and this ship is now home thing.

      Just to clarify, Residential Cruising isn’t staying aboard a regular cruise ship for long periods of time, doing the same 14-day trip repeatedly (though some folks have done that since there weren’t better options). It takes our ship 3-1/2 years to go around the world once, and we won’t repeat a port at least until then. Because it’s a much smaller ship than what cruise companies are building these days, we can get into much smaller ports, and even through many unusual paths (e.g., we’ll be sailing to Montreal), so we won’t be taking the same exact route on the second time around. Seems to me that taking “the same 7 or 14 day itinerary for an extended time” would be crazy-making, as you apparently agree! But that’s not what we’re doing. -rc

      • Neil…as a former navy guy also, it took my wife a number of years to convince me a cruise on a white ship was much more enjoyable than a cruise on a Grey ship. She was right and, the roommate was more fun….

        And even a tiny cabin provides a lot more personal space than what you had on your Grey Lady! -rc

        • True on the more fun roommate…but I’m still not interested in an ocean cruise. I did agree to take her on a river cruise in Europe eventually, but that’s really more like a driving tour than a cruise. I’m not big on casinos or nightclub acts or crowds, so being on a ship with 5,000 of my closest friends holds no interest.

          Fair enough. -rc

          • There are smaller ships — our first cruise was on the Norwegian Jewel, which has room for a little over 2,300 passengers (and 1,100 crew). It really didn’t feel that crowded at all.

            My parents aren’t interested in the new Royal Caribbean or Celebrity super-ships either, and have decided that Oceania (a slightly more upscale cruise line with smaller ships) is their thing. Most of their ships are under 900 passengers, with the latest ships delivered or on order being in the 1,200-1,250 passenger range.

          • My wife and I have done the Alaska cruise on Royal Caribbean and that was enough. The food was good, the techie tour of the ship was VERY interesting.

            But check out SilverSea… small ships, and much more interesting places.

            Our next is going to be on Silversea. A friend has done several cruises with them, and the 10-day around Iceland (Reykjavik to Reykjavik) was the most memorable and educational.

  3. I am glad there is forward momentum.

    And as you know … Kit is a gift.

    Sorry about the allergies. As I am getting older, I seem to be subject to them a bit (tho not terrible). I never had allergies before.

    I want you breathing that fresh, ocean air ASAP.

    Me too! -rc

  4. All those blue duffel bags look … systematic, or something. Were they specified/designated by the shipping company? Or did you just find a deal?

    We found a deal. I mean really, $6 each?! 🙂 -rc

  5. Hooray for you Arcie and Kit! Looking forward to more good news and True stories from around the world. I keep sharing GOOHF cards. There are lots of smiles that you have helped create. Thank you.

    Thanks for helping to spread the word, George. -rc

  6. Happy for you. Been meaning to say, as a married couple who targets retirement in 10 years, this blog has been a great resource. I’m sure it will continue to be. A lot of maturation in the industry should happen in those 10 years but appreciate your early adopter status and help illuminating the considerations of a transition like this.

    Yes, I expect quite a bit of growth in this sector, which is why I made this more of a general info site on the sector rather than an “our adventures” blog. Glad you’re finding it helpful! -rc

  7. Very pleased for you and Kit seeing all your planning and anticipation coming to fruition. A bumpy ride to be sure, but hopefully all the nonsense will be a distant memory soon. Of course, that assumes you are able to recover your deposit.

    I must ask, when you wrote “So we’ve done almost no shows in Vegas”, I assume you mean gone to see, yes? You and Kit haven’t started yet another career, entertainment, have you? LOL

    Correct. -rc

  8. Randy, so happy for you and Kit. And thank heavens your allergies are improving. It will be interesting for you to tell us if you have allergy issues at different ports. I suspect that never having been exposed to many of the areas you will visit, you won’t find many areas outside of the US and Canada that will affect you severely.

    Regarding your set up, would you please share the full-sized super-ergonomic keyboard that you chose. I finally got rid of my ancient PC and am using a new HP 17″ Envy that I am very happy with but am curious if a different keyboard might be more comfortable for long tasks.

    I must admit, I hate using the key pad on the keyboard and bought a wireless mouse but have the old mouse from my HP PC plugged in for use in my office.

    Well, you’ll freak out about my keyboard (and the price), but it’s by far the most comfortable and (I believe) least stressful choice, especially when you write as much as I do. It’s the Kinesis Advantage. Once you get used to it, you won’t want anything else. -rc

    • You had me worried for a moment — the summary calls it a QWERTY keyboard, but in the details I see it can be a Dvorak configuration. Phew!

      And for those who wonder what that is, that’s on another of my web sites: The keyboard itself doesn’t have to “be” Dvorak: the layout is built-in to Windows. -rc

    • Wow! That is really something. One assumes you will be using the Dvorak layout. Sure wish I had stuck to learning it a few years ago. Now I don’t really do that much typing to make it worth the bother of engaging my old brain.

      Well, as the guy who literally wrote the book on the Dvorak Keyboard, I indeed don’t use anything else. It’s WHY I can write as much as I do. So yes, the particular Kinesis Advantage keyboard I use has both Qwerty and Dvorak legends on the keycaps, and I presume you can still get it that way. -rc

    • I had a Kinesis about 15 or so years ago (company bought) and I did get used to it fairly quickly. Funny that the price is about the same. I also had a foot pedal mouse, and I never did get used to it.

      I used the Kinesis foot pedal for awhile to shift into numeric keypad mode. But now that credit card stuff is done all online, I don’t really need that function anymore. -rc

  9. BTW, I noticed George addressed you as Archie, because of your email address. I have always wondered how you came up with that. Am guessing the R and C are Randy Cassingham but what about the rest of it?

    Actually, he addressed me correctly as Arcie (no H), since he’s an old NASA buddy. The story behind the name is here. -rc

    • Happy to be reminded of our friend Jawn again. Linda — Jawn was a good guy. I was fortunate to meet, and work directly with him, in 1986 and Arcie in 1987. Before True got started. Lucky me!

  10. So glad you are healing, LV is a good dry place for that. Following this adventure in every way possible! and with a bit of envy. We can’t literally go as my husband had a jeep wheel bounce off his back long ago. It was propelled by a land mine in Korea. When you are 17 that stuff bounces well, but after these decades not so much. So we will figuratively go! Thank you for all the detailing steps. We get benefit from the links too, that keyboard is very interesting. Your favicons are cheerful addition to my browser bookmark row. Onward!

    🙂 I’m glad someone notices the favicons on the browser tabs. Glad you can enjoy following along. I can’t wait to be posting better photos! -rc

  11. Wow Randy, getting really close to reality for you and Kit. I sincerely hope it turns out to be everything that you hoped and planned, that “This Is True” continues for many years to come, and that all your health problems disappear. Best wishes for continuing successes.

    Thanks, John. -rc

  12. Very exciting to read about the forward momentum, Randy! I am looking forward to photos once you and Kit are on the ship and can share what your new cabin (apartment? Condo?) looks like, along with the swanky and inherently mobile office space!

    I’m looking forward to seeing it all too! We’ve seen “renderings,” but that’s not quite the same thing as being there. Glad to know you’re following along, Dave. -rc

  13. Put me down as another who’s vicariously living the cruising life through you two; while I’d certainly enjoy it, there are enough reasons why it’d not work for my wife and me.

    I’ve forwarded the Business Insider article around to a couple of co-workers who’d first talked about the whole idea a few years ago; at least one intended to follow that path into retirement but may be rethinking it now given all the difficulties you’ve been through so far.

    Do let them know about this site, too. YES there are problem companies in this brand new sector, and YES they have forced people like us to really work hard to ensure we sign up with legit companies who can and will actually get the job done. I believe they’ll see that proof in May. -rc

  14. I’m very excited that there’s forward momentum! I, too, am living vicariously through you and Kit, and am very much looking forward to hearing of your adventures! I’ve been dreaming of a world cruise since I first learned of the concept in my late teens (many, many years ago now). My husband shudders at the thought — a week is the longest cruise we’ve been on. Fair winds and following seas!

  15. Our condolences on the passing of your mother Randy. However troublesome, the departure delays seem to have been a blessing in disguise. Best wishes for your travels to England.

  16. Love the positive update! Onward, and Matt and I will be cheering you along. Definitely plan to meet you in port somewhere….

    Looking forward to it! -rc

  17. You might be interested to know that I am currently sailing on the ill-fated MV Lara, now known as the Celestyal Discovery.

    They have owned it since November and it only went into service 3 weeks ago.

    Everything is still in German. Wish I could post a photo — for a ship built in 2003 the decor is out of the darkest days of the 70s…orange and red carpets in the rooms. Ick.

    It is a very small cruise ship.

    Well, I hope the ship is not ill-fated! But yes, definitely interested. For others, Lara was to be its name when purchased by Life At Sea for their horribly inept launch — in November — but Celestyal bought it instead, presumably because they were first with deposit money.

    What I find most interesting is LAS had passengers report to Turkey for boarding even though LAS didn’t have the ship. They seem to have somehow figured they could complete the purchase, get it through any needed inspections, get it renamed, staffed, and loaded with passengers within a couple of weeks. Yet Celestyal knew it was impossible to get a ship turned around that fast: they bought it in November, and didn’t get it into operation until 22 March — more than four months later — and, as you note, they haven’t been able to get the cabins fully updated yet. No doubt they are continuing that work as you sail.

    See what I mean by LAS being inept? Even months is an aggressive timetable. A couple of weeks? Forget it! And that’s just one reason that I can confidently predict Victoria Cruises Line absolutely will not be able to sail on July 26 as promised. -rc

  18. I got worried when you mentioned UPS… But you’re shipping domestically. I would never trust them to ship internationally, they broke a lot of my stuff and then refused to do anything about it!

    If you ever have to mail large stuff internationally, I recommend Yamato Express. I had to bulk ship a lot of stuff from the US to Japan when I lost my mom — had to make a lot of those same difficult decisions you did on what to take. Just couldn’t take everything, no space!

    They shipped some very breakable antiques and a few valuable electronics (Mom was a serious techie!) halfway across the planet without even a chip.

    Now I’ve got my own home full of stuff here, but I understand if I had to pare it down again I could.

    UPS did screw up on one aspect (that we know of so far), but that is a tale for a later time. -rc

  19. When you talked about Kit keeping a total inventory of what was in every duffel bag, you made me think of Heinlein’s Number of the Beast, in which, while packing the car very efficiently, our mathematical protagonist described the exact location of where each item was stowed so that the car’s computer brain knew where everything was.

    A wonderful book by one of my favorite authors.

    It’s been SO long since I’ve read Heinlein. Hopefully once things settle down I can go back to that. -rc


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