I remember my very first Caribbean cruise like it was yesterday. In fact it was about 18 years ago.
That first one however was a real eye-opener for me. I was about 40 at the time and it was early in the first day of the cruise that I realized that I was one of the youngest passengers on the ship. Actually, during that entire trip I only saw about five people that appeared to be younger then I was.
I remember someone telling me before I left on that first cruise that most passengers on cruise ships were “newly wed or nearly dead.” Of course I laughed it off, but soon came to realize that he was pretty well right on. Except for the newly wed part. On this particular trip I didn’t run across any of those.
There were about 1300 passengers on the ship and I’m sure about 100 of them were in wheelchairs. Two people died during that 10 day cruise.
Of old age.
I know that’s true because I saw them take the bodies away by ambulance at two different ports. Later I found out what had happened. One stroke and one heart attack.
Its safe to say that most of the people on the ship were retired. They had probably worked most of their lives in order to enjoy going on cruises and other holidays once the working years were over. Many of the ones I talked to were on their first cruises. Some were on their very first real vacation.
To me there is something really wrong with that picture. Of Course people who are retired deserve great holidays. They’ve worked hard and saved their money for that reason. But to me it seems that leaving the fun times until you retire is not necessarily the best thing to do. You are gambling that your health will still be good when its time to put up your feet.
My approach is quite a bit different. It was actually that very trip that convinced me that I was not going to wait until retirement to travel and take in the world. Since then I’ve been on 11 more cruises. By the way, I found out later that the cruise line my agent chose for me that first time catered to the over 50’s. Since then I have found the cruise line of choice for the younger partying crowd.
I’ve also been to 4 Club Meds, Vegas 6 times, Hawaii twice, and to Switzerland and Cuba. I still work full time and probably will work until I’m 65. My theory is to do all my holidaying now while I’m in excellent physical condition. Its much more fun to arrive at a Caribbean island, put on your backpack and go exploring on foot then it is to have someone push you around in a wheelchair.
Of course all this is expensive and I’m not able to save too much for retirement. I’m prepared to accept that however. If I can’t afford to travel when I retire, then that’s fine. I’ll do the things that don’t cost much. I’ll go for long walks along the river, write a book, learn how to fly fish or volunteer somewhere.
Life is extremely unpredictable and I have no desire to work for 50 years and gamble that I will still be alive or in good enough health to take advantage of all the spare time that retiring will leave me with.
Traveling had become a hobby to me at one point and nothing gives more pleasure than a trip down the countryside or to the nearest hill station to make you feel good. I still want to run atop the hill or mountain as I am young at heart, unfortunately my health does not keep up with me so I want to have limbs that are functioning till my last breath and not dependent on anyone. I call over friends for company and we have a list of the best AARP senior tour travels in 2020, though of course it won’t be as gala as the previous ones as age won’t permit any of us.