Blog #3: On Our Way!

Yesterday evening, we started our journey.

See Update

So far, everything is on schedule for our ship to sail on time from England, and we are now on our way to England.

“So Far”?

When I say “so far,” that means we’re prepared for contingencies. Our ship was held up from its departure to dry dock, where the ship is getting a new paint job and significant interior upgrades — by some paperwork problems. The company turned in all the paperwork, but, well, bureaucracy. Then, once they got everything in order, was “bumped” from their dry dock spot, but at least only for a couple of days.

The Odyssey entering dry dock. (Villa Vie Residences)

And when I say “so far,” that more importantly means our Residential Cruising company is prepared for contingencies. I won’t lay out the specifics, but the bottom line is, they want the dry dock plans to be completed — the upgrades, the inspections, the paint job, and more. So if there is a delay, they’ve told us what will happen: they will be taking care of us, putting us up in lodging, taking us on sightseeing trips, etc.

We are well satisfied with the plan they laid out. Hopefully we leave exactly on time. If not, then plans are in place. Hell: we don’t know exactly how long we’ll stay on this ship, but the minimum is 3-1/2 years, and more likely around 10. Maybe more. A day or two of delay, even if it happens, is not a big deal. It’s all part of the adventure.

Already At Sea

As we were leaving, this nice lady was waving at us, making us both feel pretty good. (Randy Cassingham)

Meanwhile, our adventure has indeed begun: we are on a “regular” cruise ship to get us to our Residential Cruising ship, and were bid farewell by a special Franco-American landmark.

This same ship has more than 20 of our future shipmates aboard, all doing the same thing. We had brunch with one couple today that we had already met, and will soon meet more.

And we are thrilled. Tired as heck from the final packing up and travel to New York, but now we rest for a couple of weeks as we take a leisurely trip across the Atlantic. The adventure has begun.

Update April 30, 6:00 p.m. EDT

An Update, already?! Indeed. I hit Publish just before going to a Zoom meeting with Villa Vie Residences, who is running our ship, the Odyssey.

The great news is, they closed on their debt instrument to pay for the dry dock updates, have received the operating capital they need, and they are in that dry dock, which is draining as of now. Work is scheduled for 24 hours a day by hundreds of workers — which is typical for dry dock operations.

The bad news is their entry into dry dock was delayed because the ship that was in there before them needed extra work, and left late.

They have thus made the decision to slip the launch departure date from May 15 to May 30 to make up for the dry dock delay and add a couple of contingency days.

We have multiple options available to us on how we can spend the time, and each passenger gets to decide what path they will take. They are covering our hotels and other expenses. Kit and I agree that a delay is absolutely the best decision: it’s far better to take the time to do the work fully and competently than rush through it.

We are happy, having fun, and continuing our adventure!

Last Updated April 30, 2024
Originally Published April 30, 2024

49 thoughts on “Blog #3: On Our Way!”

  1. I have to admit, a part of me envies your sense of adventure. Should be quite an experience — hopefully you’ll keep sharing along the way (some pics now and then wouldn’t be unwelcome). Bon voyage!

    • Part of _me_ is absolutely aghast at the whole concept of voluntarily incarcerating yourself in a floating prison for even a week. Obviously everyone has their own tastes and preferences but I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do less — especially after all the negative publicity that cruise ships received at the start of the pandemic.

      I’ve been following Randy’s mounting excitement — and disappointment — since his first announcement of their plans, with bemusement. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of fun, at least at first, but it’s absolutely, definitely, and for certain not for me.

      A cruise ship isn’t a “prison” anymore than a hotel is. If you’re seeing “mounting disappointment” in me, then you’re simply projecting your own feelings, since that is not my attitude (nor Kit’s) at all. -rc

      • Sorry, badly worded. I was referring to the disappointment of the letdown resulting from the first ship’s cancellation. The mounting excitement is evident and no, I’m not projecting anything at all 😉

        I do however feel that any place you can’t leave any time you like is a prison. It’s a floating hotel, sure; but if you experience a need for (say) the feel of dry land under your feet while in the middle of the Atlantic, well tough luck. So from that point of view it definitely is a prison… Not to take anything away from your experience, I know lots of people love the whole lifestyle, but it’s definitely not for me.

        OK, thanks for the clarification. We’ll be in port 2/3 of the time, so we can get plenty of dry land time in. All that said, I definitely understand it’s not for everyone, and that’s OK: most of the southern U.S. isn’t for me, as I don’t like heat very much. Vive la difference! -rc

  2. Bon Voyage! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    Best way to pack for a trip is to take an empty suitcase and buy what you see the locals wearing at your destinations.

    We won’t need an extra suitcase since we’re not coming back (anytime soon, at least). I indeed didn’t bring very many pairs of shirts or pants, figuring I’ll buy as I go, just like I’ve been doing at home. -rc

  3. Bon voyage! Welcome to England. I am sure you’ll get a good welcome, an interesting stay should you have to and a great send-off once you are underway on your new life afloat.

    Meanwhile I am still doing baby steps with my water-averse husband. We have done a few river cruises now including the Mekong. July sees a round Hawaii trip Honolulu-Honolulu (no 3-days each way to LA). If we (he) survives the creep around the islands, I can perhaps progress him to creeping round countries or even continents. Not sure we’ll ever cross an ocean.

    • Sounds like Pride of America in July? That’s both a great way to see a lot of Hawaii, and a great first ocean cruise for your husband. I just took my partner on that one earlier this month. My second time on POA in Hawaii, her first cruise and first Hawaii visit. There’s more potential for rough seas (of course) than on a river cruise, but you’re not at sea for days — just overnight between islands.

      Rachel’s very interested in river cruises, and we’re also looking at Alaska next summer.

      We loved our Alaska trip. The PoA trip sounds really cool too! -rc

  4. Congratulations both! My fingers are crossed for a timely ‘final’ embarkation!

    Timely enough! (See update.) -rc

  5. I saw your comments in This Is True yesterday. You are on a Norwegian vessel, and you complained being “nickel and dimed” for things at every turn. I feel your pain, Randy. I am rooting for you and wishing you everything good when you actually get on your destination ship.

    I went on my first Norwegian cruise in May ’23. I agree with you about the “nickel and diming”. It’s really awful. Easily led me to decide that my first Norwegian cruise will be my last Norwegian cruise.

    We went to Antarctica on Celebrity in February ’24. An altogether better experience!

    This being the Social Media Era, companies that have competition need to learn that Word Gets Around. People read about the problems in TRUE, they read about it here, and they lose business. They need to quit being so greedy and get back to providing great service at a price people agree to. -rc

  6. It is really happening! I’ll be looking forward to updates even more now. It does sound like your “hosts” have considered everything and are planning to make sure their guests have a top-notch experience. My granddaughter is completing a college term in London. She loves England, and wants to eventually make London her home. I wonder if, in your journeys, you will visit that one place that clicks with both of you and you might decide, post-ship, to make that your home.

    We have thought of that possibility already. We actually did that to choose our previous home (rural western Colorado), so the precedent is there! -rc

  7. Transatlantic crossing? Nice way to start your life at sea, even if it’s not in your longer-term accommodations. How’s the internet?

    Decent, but not fantastic: I don’t think they have enough bandwidth. That can be cured with more terminals. The thing is, one of our companions who has been onboard for much longer than we have said they just upgraded their bandwidth and it’s now much better! Well, IMO they didn’t upgrade it enough — especially considering they’re charging top dollar for it. -rc

    • If they just upgraded, it was to Starlink, which likely is quite a bit better than what they used to have. But I imagine it’s still pretty variable since the entire constellation hasn’t been launched yet.

      Worse, once the novelty of cruising wore off, more and more people were using the still-way-limited bandwidth, and there were times that things came to a standstill. The only time is was “good” was very late at night, and when at port and people were out touring. But yes, it was Starlink. Just not enough terminals to serve the demand. -rc

  8. So very happy for the both of you.

    We are, my wife and I, on the last leg of our 21 day cruise from For Lauderdale to Vancouver. In San Francisco today and the port of Vancouver on Friday.

    Happy cruising to both of you, Kit & Randy!

    Would like to be there with you. One day!

    Well, you’re subscribed to the right blog! -rc

  9. Yay and whoopee and congratulations! A cruise to meet the cruise [chuckle] so fitting.

    We thought so. 🙂 -rc

  10. Outstanding, Randy! Good for both of you. It has been a long haul so far but there is a glimmer of hope.

    I told my suitcases that we aren’t going to take a vacation this year. Now I am dealing with emotional baggage….

    Heh! Keep an eye on them: they may go somewhere without you! -rc

  11. Bon Voyage!

    Can’t wait to hear your stories and see pictures of your travels. I’ll get to see what it’s like to cruise. All without suffering from the inevitable seasickness that I have never been able to evade when I get on a boat.

    Happy Sails!

  12. You’re off at last!! Bon voyage, Buon viaggio, and Lekker trek!! Looking forward to all your travellers’ tales — and pictures! Go see some cricket when in England — it’s the right season!🏏 Or if your time allows go to Paris for the Olympics! How lovely to have time to kill and all expenses paid!🤩

    Well, not all expenses paid: excursions ARE extra. (And cripes: just found the Hop-on, Hop-off bus in Halifax is US$65!) -rc

    • Yes, I was unpleasantly surprised by how expensive the Hop-On/Hop-Off buses have become during a trip to Greece a month ago. We opted not to.

  13. Congratulations. You’re on your way! I am so green with Envy. Eventually we hope to join. In the interim will be looking forward to your stories and advice.

  14. I’m so excited to be vicariously starting your journey with you.

    Glad to have you looking over our shoulders, Jim. -rc

  15. I’m happy for you both and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

    Sorry we never connected in Ouray.

    Yeah, me too. Our decision to leave was rather abrupt after consultation with my doctor. I was fighting a losing battle. (Feeling MUCH better already, but still some time to go to completely clear my system.) -rc

  16. Your trip is just fantastic! I hope the cruise to the cruise goes without a hitch. I’m on my own trip, tonight in El Paso. I’m skipping Las Vegas and heading to Phoenix, then Winslow, then on to California. I’ll be catching up with your blogs and news. Bon Voyage!

    Have fun! -rc

  17. I’ve only been on Norwegian Cruise Lines twice; one as my first cruise (3 days out of Los Angeles; way before their Freestyle thing) and a seven day one to Mexico. It’s been some time since I’ve traveled on them, mostly because other lines better suit my lifestyle and interests. I would sail on them, but it would probably be based a specific set of destinations they serve better than other lines. My main gripe is that I ate dinner alone every night, as they don’t handle solo passengers in the dining room very well.

    From my experience, the downside of transatlantic from North America to Europe is losing hours due to time zone changes (my second trip I went the opposite way). I recall that during the crossing from Bermuda to Portugal four of the five days lost an hour, and the other one… they moved morning trivia up an hour. Then my deck had a passport control time for UK immigration set at 8:00 a.m….

    I’ve heard from several sources that solo cruising is much better these days, with solo cabins (much cheaper), etc. -rc

  18. If you’ve never been to the British National Museum (not sure what it’s officially called), I hope you can make time to go during your hiatus between cruises. The Rosetta Stone is there, along with a lot of other really cool stuff.

    The British Museum is in London, and we won’t get there during the brief hiatus as we’re going to Ireland instead. But indeed that is on the bucket list. -rc

  19. We are friended on FB, that is how I finally found your blog. As a full-time RVer for 10 years who also loves cruising, I am going to love following along. We did our first transatlantic cruise last fall, Florida to Barcelona, then did a Mediterranean cruise out of Rome, spent time in Scotland, then back to Barcelona for another TA back to FL. So glad to hear things are moving along and that the cruise line is covering your added expenses.

    That sounds like an amazing trip! -rc

  20. Looking forward to hearing about daily life on your long-term cruise. I just wonder how you can live in only ~200 sq. ft. of living space. You wouldn’t even have room for souvenirs after a few months. I’m looking forward to seeing how you handle it.

    First, by not buying souvenirs! We realized early on in our relationship that even fun shot glasses quickly take up a lot of room, and that was when we lived in a pretty big house with a 3-car garage. Remember that the cabin is really just a bedroom and bathroom: we have the rest of the ship to move around in. I will also have an office (extra cost, but reasonable). More details in upcoming articles and posts. -rc

    • We buy magnets as souvenirs — in your case you can stick them on the walls. 🙂 They averaged about 1-3 Euros on our most recent trip (the 20Euro hand painted one from Mykonos was an outlier).

      I actually hung sheet metal on a couple “between doors” sections of hallway for our collection. Between the two sections in use I think we’ve got about 7 vertical feet about 6 inches wide covered so far.

      I bought (strong) magnets to hang things on walls. A few for decoration to prompt good memories could be fun too. -rc

  21. I’ve spent about a week in Halifax two different summers (2010, 2012), and got around town fine just walking. You might find better ways to spend $130 than with a bus, especially if NCL gets a cut and it’s US$.

    If you have research time and know your walking pace, choose the stops you want and which can fit in your allotted time. Odyssey should have Halifax on its itinerary as well, yes?

    Didn’t know (never asked) you had health problems in CO. Glad to hear they are clearing up!

    Details on that are in my main blog. -rc

    • Recent conclusions:

      * my house is historic (99 years old) but will not survive me (even though it’s mostly original construction Sears Roebuck, its age and current condition combine to make it a tear-down)
      * de-cluttering is a PITA
      * serious downsizing is even worse
      * NOT seriously downsizing is much worse if I really want to travel
      * The Cloud and a state-of-the-art Kindle will have to replace most of my library in the process
      * if I really want to explore the world, I should start/continue ASAP
      * imminent health care should include both a dietician and an allergist

      Thanks for your help in reaching these conclusions, Randy.

      They sound like reasonable conclusions, yes. -rc

  22. Bon voyage! 一路順風

    I just wondered one thing. What would happen in case of computer problems? Will you bring a spare? Will there be somebody on the ship that handle technical issues?

    谢谢 !

    Excellent question. Kit has the exact same model as I have (I do that every time, for backup reasons). Also brought my previous computer as a spare. In case of a big failure, I’ll probably just buy another at the next port, if available. I also have three backup drives that have full image backups, and rotate through them with incrementals. -rc

  23. Just curious, didn’t you send the bulk of your remaining possessions to Miami? If I’m understanding correctly, how did those duffle bags get to Villa Vie? Lots of questions about this whole process for you, Mr & Mrs Pioneer.

    We couldn’t send everything ahead since we needed to send it weeks before we left. I needed a lot of stuff to keep my business running, plus clothes, toiletries, etc. The stuff we sent ahead went to Miami, where it was combined with other cargo and shipped to England. -rc

  24. I loved the few cruises I’ve been on. The idea of fewer allergens is definitely intriguing. I get mild sea nauseous. I wonder if it would decrease over time? Once I fully retire I will have to book a longer cruise to test. Until then I enjoy reading and learning from your experiences.

    I’ve never been seasick, so I’m hoping it will stay that way. That said, I think yes, it should decrease over time. -rc

    • My experience that for most people, motion sickness decreases over time, especially time spent continuously at sea. (I’m retired from the U.S. Navy. Those ships roll a lot more than most cruise ships.)

      We’re currently in 10-12 ft seas in the open Atlantic. We’re rocking, but pretty gently.

  25. A cruise, some quality time in UK, and a new home on the water … wonderful! I will be sending you good karma, especially the last two weeks of May while they get your new home as perfect as she can be. You must be both wildly exhilarated and scared to death!

    I don’t tend to be the nervous or excitable type; I’m not sure if that’s because of my years as a medic, or if that’s a quality that made me suitable to be a medic [¯\_(ツ)_/¯]. But we’re certainly pleased to get going soon. -rc

  26. We’ve just returned from our first transatlantic crossing (on a cruise ship). Thus, the delay in my reading and responding to this blog entry. We also took a “two week digital detox,” using the cruise to completely unplug from the grid. I know that these days it’s possible to stay connected at sea, but well — we didn’t want to!

    You can guess that at times during our voyage we discussed residential cruising.

    Not a shock. Yes, we’re online, but then I’m continuing to run an online business! -rc

  27. “Part of the adventure”, yes. I remember feeling that way the first time an airline canceled my flight. They didn’t leave me stranded; they put me up in a hotel for the night, gave me a meal voucher and got me into another flight the next morning. Adventure! I get the impression they don’t necessarily do that nowadays, but then I’m not flying these days either so all I have from those days (and it happened more than once in the two decades I traveled a lot) are adventurous memories.

    Go advent, Randy!

  28. Your attitude is a reminder not to sweat the stuff we cannot control. And your residential cruising provider appears to be top notch in having contingency plans for the hiccups that inevitably happen. Safe travels to you and your shipmates, crew, etc. I look forward to reading about the experience of residential cruising as much as about the places you’ll visit.

    Exactly! Too many get worked up about things they can’t control. I can control my reaction, and my knowledge that this is new territory and there WILL be hiccups. The question is, how are they handled? They’re handled more quickly and easily if people aren’t freaking out. -rc

  29. I was flipping through the topics on ThisIsTrue and was curious about Recommended Products. I clicked on the “most recent” — cold brewed coffee. The link, as many do, goes to I wondered a few days ago if Amazon delivers to cruise ships?! Leave it to Jeff. Maybe there will be a way for the great Amazon to deliver in the middle of the ocean!

    Yes and no. You can ship in care of the Port Agent in whatever port you want to pick up the package(s), but the fee from the Agent can be pretty stiff. But your Residential Cruising company may have other arrangements to get packages without those fees, and our company is doing that for a very minimal fee so far.

    • Goodness, I had not thought about this issue in a while. I lived outside the US for 12 years, and I remember now what a hassle it was to order things to be delivered. Most (all?) US companies just throw up their hands and refuse orders which do not go to US addresses. Usually, you just cannot do it. I think Amazon could be tweaked somehow to deliver outside the US, but at a price.

      Then I discovered that New Zealand Post offered a service that one could sign up for which they provided a US address which you could order to be shipped to, along with an account number that could be included in the address as a Suite number. When they received the item at that address (which was in Oregon), they then forwarded it automatically to the NZ address registered to the account number — for an additional fee. This turned out to work very well, and made it possible to order all kinds of things online for home delivery. Before I found about that, ordering online was a nightmare.

      I am enjoying keeping up with your progress via all the comments.

      How cool that NZP did (does?) that!

      Amazon does have online “stores” for many countries, and presumably does deliver in those countries from local warehouses.

      I finally had to stop shipping outside the U.S. after a one-two punch: mailing costs went sky high, and (worse) so many countries started to require foreign countries (such as USA) to collect taxes on those purchases. As a tiny operation, I could not even consider affording the cost of figuring out what the tax should be and collecting it, filing those tax returns, and remitting the payments. Governments effectively favor large companies by imposing such onerous requirements. -rc

  30. In the last few days a series of “articles” have been in my newsfeed about Villa Vie, their Endless Horizons offering, and how wonderful it and the company are. Perhaps Villa Vie recently increased their advertising spending to coincide with the impending ship departure; or perhaps the reason is more dull — targeted marketing data now have the company as a topic for me.

    I don’t think they’ve increased ad spending, but their announcement of their ‘pay once, live there forever’ plan certainly spurred a lot of press coverage. As for you, I’m sure Google knows you’re too young to retire! -rc

  31. It just occurred to me: how are you going to obtain visas for the countries that require them?

    There aren’t that many, and most allow you to get a Visa in advance online, or right there as you get off the ship. There are a few special cases, most notably China, that I’ll write an article about later. Naturally, there is someone on the ship crew who specializes in Visa requirements that will brief us in plenty of time to get what we need. -rc


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