Have you ever made plans, and built relationships, only to have them change? Of course you have – Anyone over two years old has experienced that. Tina Turner just died this week – and regardless of what you think of her music or of her – she had a very difficult life. I love her quote “The older you get, the more you realize it’s not what happens, but how you deal with it.” From my 73-year-old perspective, she nailed it.
Last week, on Tuesday evening, the outgoing CEO of Life At Sea Cruises announced that he and almost the entire crew of the venture were essentially out of a job (directionally – I can’t speak for legally) and that Miray Cruises has taken over the operational management of this cruise. Whoof – unexpected news indeed. And the transition has not been without trauma, to put it mildly.
Of course, there has been the usual degree of anxiety, misinformation, and general kerfuffle that accompanies something like this – for sure including some elements of the media, and the residents, being so anxious to provide titillating news and comments that they don’t get the facts even close to right even when they were available. Rumors were “reported” (or at least repeated) as fact, personal viewpoints bolstered by exaggerated or made-up justifications so people could justify personal actions and decisions. All too human, and all too predictable. In the middle of all that, Miray Cruises has (in my opinion) done its utmost to provide information, actions to match words, and responses within the realm of possibility to alleviate fears and concerns amongst the residents(passengers) for the safety of their money and what can be expected on the cruise in only five months.
I don’t pretend to have the “true” facts, but I can tell you where I ended up, based on everything that’s gone down and been discussed. I am staying on the voyage and feel very comfortable with Miray Cruises as having operational control over the venture. Impressed so far, even.
Changes in management and business decisions happen all the time and are seldom undisputed. My own feeling is that all one can do as a “consumer” (in this case, someone buying a cruise product) is to give my thoughtful input to whoever makes the decisions and then make the personal decision to buy or not to buy based on my own gut feeling in the long run. So far, with six or seven live webinars in three or four days (depending on how you count each), Miray has proven to me that they have our best interests at heart within the structure of running a business. Not everyone agrees with me, and that is just to be expected. Maybe I’m wrong – I could be. Maybe the passengers “jumping ship” are wrong – that could be. We’ll see, but I am betting that it will work out more than OK, and that I am going to end up having one more life-changing adventure that has every possibility of being a complete hoot. I will be on the ship to tell you about what happens, as it happens.
One of the things that got blown completely out of proportion by some is the fact that Miray is considering whether to change ships and not use the MV Gemini for this trip. I won’t try to summarize the issues here, but we may end up on a different ship. We have a pretty good idea of what it will be, and it is being put forward as a better, bigger ship. Personally, I’m not at all sure it would be the right choice, but that’s only one man’s opinion. Regardless of what is chosen, I’m going to walk aboard it and stay there for three years! (With occasional shore leave of course, Actually 381 short leaves at last count!)
One thing I am sure of just because “it always happens” – some things happened in the background between the original group running the cruise and Miray Cruises that at a minimum the other side considers reprehensible. And perhaps some of them, on both sides, were objectively bad. That’s real life in this world. And I don’t know and don’t need to know or judge the specifics. Nor will I speculate publicly, or privately.
So to be humorously trivial in the face of so many MUCH larger issues: one of the Miray group is checking to see how I can have a water heater (kettle) in the room that is “Marine Safe” and certified for use aboard a cruise vessel. Yea! I may be able to have my morning espresso after all! Almost all electrical equipment with heating elements is prohibited on cruise ships due to fire hazards. Almost all cruises advertise simply “no kettles”, period. Same with anything that could possibly cause a fire. But the Miray managers are trying to provide a (short) list of water heaters that can be used. I hope they find some! The guy I communicated with seemed optimistic, so I choose to be optimistic also. He knows a LOT more about cruise ships than I do – I’ve never even been on one. Maybe spending three years as my first cruise is a bit extreme – what ‘cha think? At least I’m not the only one!
I’m also starting to get a feel for the personalities and attitudes of some of the booked residents. I’m becoming convinced that there will be many people on this voyage who share common values with me and who will be great conversational partners. And that is what excited me about this trip to begin with. In some senses, it will be a great social experiment – probably at least 700, maybe up to 1100 (I hope not), people being on a ship together for three years. Many of them have arranged to be on for a year and have someone else aboard for the last two, etc. But there will be a “core” of folks (like me) who plan to stay aboard all three years. I’m hoping to be able to create some kind of a resident “steering committee” of a few people to have the specific goal of building a community. While I’ve already floated the idea with Miray, it’s too early to tell if it might happen. Or it might happen a different way than the way I envision – nothing wrong with that! There is so much that can happen…
One other matter of personal preparation that became a reality today is the need to PAY for this whole thing. Some people are selling their homes to be able to afford it. Some already have. In my case, I’m liquidating ALL of my meager retirement savings and pledging ALL of my social security payments for the next three years just to pay for the trip. That means I must, emphasize MUST, come up with some kind of income generation to pay for excursions and miscellaneous things aboard the ship. Those will not be trivial. Fortunately, I don’t drink much, and that will “save” a lot of potential expenses. But I absolutely have to make some money to be able to visit the things you all will want to hear about in the ports.
So, if anyone has any great ideas about how I can make some money before and on the ship I would welcome it. Maybe if the subscriber list, and my writing quality, justify it after a while I’ll be able to “monetize” this blog. There are no plans to do so at the moment, but it may come up in the future.
I’ll also be able to offer services that I can do remotely. I’m looking at that, and also at providing services to other residents that aren’t being provided by Miray or their contractors on board. I might offer Excel programming help, for instance. I literally made a living depending on Excel for 20-30 years and am a “no kidding” expert with it. There is probably not much use for a business consultant on board, and that was my major career focus (although applying the word “focus” seems like a non-sequitur in my case). Oh well. I’m not sure being a customer service rep is a real possibility, depending on the speed and reliability of the internet when we’re underway, but I’d consider even that. Unfortunately, I doubt if I could get paid as an actor on board! LOL.
I’m not holding out any real hope, but if anyone feels particularly generous and wants to donate to my personal fund for visiting onshore locations and blogging about them, contact me on the “Contact Me” page with a direct, confidential, message. I’ll be so grateful I will dedicate the article to you for whatever I’m able to visit with your help!
It is more likely that one of you can give me a suggestion for what to do to earn some money online while underway. There are sometimes oddball jobs for an unusual person (ummm, that would be me!) that come up. Please let me know.
And all of this is part of preparing for this trip. My local grocers and friends are donating solid cardboard boxes for me to store my stuff in when I leave town for three years and are providing space to keep the stuff in a secure location. That is actually a very valuable and thoughtful offer and I am immensely grateful. I just need to find a place to store my car, on blocks (non-operational status) somewhere in Oranjemund. But we’ll figure that one out also.
Oh, and I have to find a property manager to take care of my house with a three-year contract to someone as a rental. Oh, and …. The list goes on, and on, and on. You know, “minor” stuff like that yet to take care of.
Ah well, it will all work out, I just don’t know what that means yet!
Please remember to SUBSCRIBE and recommend LifeAtSea.Blog to your friends. It will help to have lots of subscribers, and I intend this to be full of reporting and photos. I’ll get better at the writing part – be patient with me!