“Test Drive”

After having to jump through some medical hoops and in anticipation of working on board ships this summer, I thought it might be a good idea to take a “test drive” on board a cruise ship, particularly one in a warm and sunny destination, one much different than the frigid, dark Pacific NW which is our new home. (“How much different than Panama can one get?”) So I jumped at a last minute opportunity to be part of a one-week Central American cruise on Oceania’s INSIGNIA.

Of all the cruise ships I have been on, my favorites are what are called the “R-Class” ships that were first built for Renaissance before that company went under. At one time Princess had five of these “small ships” that hold about 650 guests and 400 crew. I did a World Cruise on one, took another around Africa, spent 4 months on one doing the Holy Land & Egypt. In my book they are the perfect size large enough to have amenities like multiple dining venues, pools, etc., yet small enough to be intimate and luxurious. I knew INSIGNIA had been reworked and renewed but I was shocked at how stunningly beautiful it is. I couldn’t find a single surface that hadn’t been redone. There wasn’t a single bit of rust anywhere. The rooms including the showers and fixtures were all knew. Stunning new crystal chandeliers decked out the public rooms. Oceania is an upscale product owned by NCL and INSIGNIA certainly lives up to the Oceania reputation.

Since it was a short 7-day cruise we only had two sea days, which are the days when I can work. I had prepared two talks, one on Central America and the areas we were visiting, and especially some of the Mayan background, and the other was about our relocating and living 18 years as an expat in Panama, something which is becoming more and more popular not just for retirees from the US, but also those from Canada, the EU and South Africa.

Now, after the Covid cruise shutdown, and my own medical challenges, it was wonderful to be back in the saddle again. The Oceania audience is well-read, well-travelled, and made up of folks who have had interesting life experiences … my kind of audience. So we had a great time together. Everything went well and I loved the opportunity to be back sharing the adventure with like-minded folks.