Our cruise bill…Our last full day aboard ship..

Based on our accumulated bill for Thursday, January 17th and expected charges for this evening, cash tips we’re leaving the waiters, cabin steward, etc., we will have spent an additional $1210 (we budgeted $1450) over and above the cost of the cruise, our balcony cabin with one queen bed, for a grand total of $6755.48. 

Our average cost per day at $450.37 for all expenses, was much higher than we’ll experience on future cruises. This Panama Canal cruise is more expensive than other cruises based on the cost the ship incurs for its transit through the canal. They estimate their bill to be between $350,000 to $450,000, due to variables Panama charges for each transit. Of course, this expense is rolled out into the fare.

We have so much enjoyed this experience that we have no regrets about the cost. When we’ll arrive in Belize in 12 days, the cost of living will be more economical over the next almost three months. The rent for our little house on the beach is only $1275 a month. Of course, we’ll report our actual costs after the cruise to Belize ends at the end of this month and our costs after our time in Belize.

It’s Wednesday night at 11:00 pm. We just arrived back at our cabin after another fun evening aboard ship.  As much as we’ve branched out, trying new things we found ourselves, like most other cruise passengers, working our way into a familiar routine which is irresistible when at sea for 15 nights.

Awakening each morning no later than 7:00, we’d shower, dress and meander to the 11th deck for coffee and buffet breakfast in the Island’s Café, an enormous, efficient, spotless, well-staffed restaurant offering a wide array of breakfast foods from all over the world.

Tom, off his gluten-free diet during the cruise (he’ll be back to normal when we get situated on land soon) loaded up on eggs, bacon, sausage, a few little Danish pastries, and a glass of much-missed orange juice.

My daily choices, limited by my continuing commitment to stay healthy, is not only a low carb gluten-free diet, but eliminates all grains, starches, and sugar.

Surprisingly, I’ve been able to enjoy many foods aboard the Celebrity Century.

These many past days my breakfast has included Eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), topped with guacamole, a side of smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers, and sliced tomatoes plus 3-4 slices of bacon, Asian garlic beef, and a plate of grilled non-starchy vegetables. 

Having checked with the chef to ensure all of these items met the criteria of my way of eating, I enjoyed my two huge plates of breakfast each day plus a three-course dinner in the formal dining room each night (gluten-free and sugar-free items are designated on the menu). Leaving the ship feeling well and nary an ounce heavier, I am thrilled they so easily accommodated me.  

On the other hand, Tom, also eating only two meals a day (no snacking), leaves the ship still wearing his size 34 pants with only a few pound gain which surely will be lost once we get to our own cooking when we arrive at our beach home in Placencia Belize on January 29th. 

Tom surprised me by ordering Oysters Rockefeller for his first course at dinner tonight, enjoying every morsel. Every night at dinner he’s tried new foods, many he had refused to try in the past.

Staying healthy and fit is vital to the success of our continuing world travels over the next few years.  As Norovirus ravaged our ship, we stayed mindful of frequent hand washing, avoided handshaking and touching public areas. 
We not only dodged a bullet without a single incident of seasickness (without medications), even in the past three days and nights of rough seas but also survived the Norovirus outbreak. 

We stuck to our plan of no more than one hour at the pool in the sun each day completely avoiding sunburns. We walked no less than 10,000 steps per day, per my FitBit pedometer. We attended no less than one educational class, more often two, each day, and managed to see no less than four movies throughout the cruise.

Every night aboard the ship, we attended the 9:00 PM entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre. The first three nights we dined alone, after which we decided it was time to dine with other passengers, sitting at tables designated for meeting new people.  Each occasion has been an opportunity to enjoy the conversation and companionship of people from all over the world. 

At the end of every evening, we’ve reveled in what we jokingly referred to as “another boring day is Paradise,” not only in quality time spent together, but in making new friends and learning the history of unfamiliar areas of the world.

It’s now 12:30 pm on Thursday. We just finished packing all of my clothes in the following manner:

1.  Clothes for the next cruise beginning on Monday, January 21st on the Celebrity Equinox for eight days on our journey to Belize, kept in a separate suitcase. Thus, my other bags won’t be opened during the cruise.

2.  Clothes to wear tonight for dinner and the show

3.  Clothes to wear getting off the ship tomorrow and over the next three days in Boca Raton, Florida.

4.  Clothes to wear to board the ship on Monday. Goodness, that’s confusing. We’re done with that.

After a break for a walk, we’ll go back to the cabin and begin packing all of Tom’s clothing plus all of our miscellaneous items and toiletries. Tonight before 11:00 pm, our tagged bags are to be left outside our cabin door, (the cruise line provided the luggage tags with instructions left in our cabin a few nights ago), clothing and toiletries set aside for the morning when we disembark at 9:30, our designated time.

Tomorrow morning, our friend Carol will pick us up at the pier in her huge SUV (thank goodness) to bring us back to her gorgeous home in Boca Raton, situated on the Inner Coastal Waterway. Weather providing, we can enjoy time relaxing by her pool after we get our laundry done and repacked. Thanks, Carol!

We’ve had one great day after another. We promised each other we will never stop being grateful, continuing to treasure each day on its own merits, as if it were the first day on a journey of a lifetime.

The Celebrity Century???  Small with 1800 passengers, a little rough at sea.  Food? Magnificent!  Service? Extraordinary! Ambiance?  Pleasant, a little dated but very nice.  Would we consider Celebrity a cruise line, we will seek out in the future?  Absolutely!

Since this was our first of eight cruises, we don’t feel expert enough to provide a comprehensive review. Once we have a few more experiences under our belts, we’ll assess all of the cruise lines and ships we’ve experienced, sharing our thoughts with our readers.
Stay tuned! Lots more to follo

Newspaper story about our adventure…

We’ve got press!  The story below was published in the Chanhassen Villager and other western suburbs publications. Some of the facts aren’t accurate, such as Tom ha two sons and my having a son and daughter, when in fact, it is the opposite. Guess that’s how media works. We won’t fuss about the details. 

The story hits the major points.  Our readership has catapulted in the past few days since the story was published on January 3, 2013, the day we sailed on the Celebrity Century out of San Diego.  Thanks to all of our current readers and our new readers for following us!  Thanks to our wonderful friend Chere Bork who was highly instrumental in getting the story in the right hands and son Greg for finding the article and posting it.

 Here’s the link to see the article in the paper.  Please give it time to load. 
Former Chanhassen couple begins worldwide adventure

Tom and Jess Lyman

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 5:06 pm | Updated: 8:15 am, Sat Dec 29, 2012.

 Bon voyage. Today, Jan. 3, Tom and Jess Lyman, former Lake Minnewashta homeowners in Chanhassen, begin their worldwide wandering. They sail from San Diego today, go through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, then sail to Belize, then Africa, and Europe and beyond. They may be gone for five years or 10 years, depending on their health and other circumstances. They don’t plan to stop until they find the destination of their dreams or until one of them is tired of living out of a suitcase or just plain wants to stop.

The Lymans won’t be on the road constantly. Instead, they’ll use a series of cruises (already booked through 2015) to transport them to and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, to South America, to Europe, to Africa, and then to Hawaii. In between they’ve booked rental homes where they’ll stay no less than one month and no longer than five months at a time. Their rentals include a condo in Dubai, a home in Tuscany, a beachside cottage in Kenya, a home in the Kruger National Park Reserve in South Africa, and a 16th-century stone house in Cajarc, France. They’ll plan on meeting their families on the Big Island in Hawaii for Christmas 2014 where they have a rental and plan to stay through March 31, 2015.
Looking toward retirement.
Nearly a year ago, as Tom Lyman looked forward to his retirement from Burlington Northern, Minneapolis, at the end of October 2012, he and Jess, his wife of 21 years, discussed what they might do once Tom retired. Jess had retired in 2010 after a career in real estate and professional management.
Tom is 60, Jess is 65. Each had been married before and divorced. When they met more than 20 years ago, they recognized kindred spirits and eventually married, blending their families. Tom has two adult sons. Jess has an adult son and daughter. Between the two, they have six grandchildren.
Like scores of other baby boomers, the Lymans considered renting a condo, townhome, or small home in Florida or Arizona in winter, spending their days golfing, socializing with similar snowbirds, relaxing, and enjoying a slower pace.
After 43 years working 14-hour days and enduring a daily two-hour commute, being able to spend more time at home with Jess and his genealogy hobby would be welcomed.
But as they talked, they realized that doing the same old, same old didn’t have much appeal. As a couple they’d spent most of their free time at their Lake Minnewashta home, working on home improvements and entertaining their circle of friends.
“It was time to step outside the box,” Jess said. “Tom and I had both married young and had children in our 20s. We always had to be responsible and our lives revolved around our families.”
Life change
As they looked at approaching retirement, they realized it would be more enjoyable if they were healthy. Although Jess was always slim and fit, she had chronic pain and had high blood sugar. Tom was 40 pounds overweight.
About a year and a half ago, the couple changed their diets to low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, wheat-free, and starch-free. Tom lost 40 pounds and Jess’s chronic pain went away.
“We’re in good health now,” Jess said. “That was our goal, to be in good health in our retirement. I could not have done this three years ago. The food thing is such a big thing. We don’t eat any grains, not oatmeal, quinoa, any beans, corn, or rice. It literally changed our lives.”
Can we afford it?
While their bodies became healthier, they had to do a similar checkup on their finances.
Jess and Tom ran the numbers. How much would it cost to do the typical retiree thing? They created spreadsheets of their cost of living if they did the typical retirement community life. They estimated their costs for housing, food, clothing, entertainment, and utilities, dental, medical and prescriptions, household goods, car upkeep and maintenance, and everything else they could think of.
And then they compiled spreadsheets of the costs of traveling. The cost of staying in rental homes, not only in the States but in Europe and Africa, food, transportation, special insurance, passports, visas, technology to keep them wired and in touch with family and friends.
“Our baseline was, ‘How much would it cost to rent a condo in a warm climate? How much would we spend a month in retirement?’ That was our magic number,” Jess explained in a phone interview two weeks before their January departure. “Could we make our travel number match that number and not tap into Tom’s pension? We didn’t want to do this and get into financial jeopardy.”
After a lot of research, number-crunching, and Internet research, the numbers worked.
But it would mean a drastic change to their lifestyle. Instead of settling into a warm climate condo to call home base, the Lymans decided they’d travel, trying out different locations and seeing the world until one of them didn’t want to travel anymore. No home, no car, few possessions except what they could pack in six pieces of luggage.
World Wide Waftage
Jess describes herself as a detail person. How detailed? Visit the Lyman’s website called World Wide Waftage at http://worldwidewaftage.blogspot.com/
It’s the culmination of online research “eight hours a day, seven days a week,” Jess explained. Their website is organized into categories: Tom and Jess’s blog posts, itinerary, travel documents, medical issues, health insurance, travel costs, smart decisions, planning mistakes, Internet access, products they like, vacation houses, cruises, retirees, baby boomers, and senior concerns.
It’s so complete it prompted the question, “Are you going to write a book about how to plan for a trip around the world?”
“I’ve always wanted to write,” Jess said. “I always thought that when I retired that I would write. But I needed to find a vehicle to inspire me. So I decided to do a blog for our family and friends to avoid constantly emailing.”
In addition to the emotional preparations the couple is experiencing — saying goodbye to children and grandchildren, selling their home, having an estate sale and the reality of living out of six suitcases, Jess writes about all the small details necessary to make such a trip as worry-free and efficient as possible; details like getting wills and living wills written and into the hands of a trusted family member, doing taxes while out of the country, explaining why a second passport is necessary for the type of traveling they’re doing, questions to ask when buying a mobile phone for international use, arranging for a year’s worth of prescription meds, what to know about health insurance, getting Wi-Fi in remote parts of the world.
“When we planned our retirement and our plans to travel, we asked ourselves, ‘How well can we do this?’” Jess said. “It’s predicated by our health. If we get tired, we’ll stop.”