We’re going on a World Cruise and you can follow us here. Welcome to our Journo!

Less than 2 weeks until embarking! To do list includes last minute shopping, tying up loose ends, choosing which clothing items get to go, and learning how to use this app so I can blog!

Tidal Currents Ln

Thought I should put Mount Pleasant on the map! Let’s start at the very beginning...

Whoooo hoooo \240I just paired my new Bluetooth keyboard to my iPad and this is so much easier now! Look out - I might just get a little more verbose...

Weekend packing update: Mike got the snorkeling and fishing stuff packed as well as most of his dress shirts, shoes, and our traveling pharmacy. A couple of my clothing items got voted off the island, to make room for something new that I’m surely going find and to want to bring home with me. I replaced one of my favorite sweaters that didn’t make the cut with a new one just like it, and I picked up a beautiful pink cashmere wrap.


Our job this week is to make these heavier. Don’t judge- we’re gonna be gone for three months! (By the way, the beautiful painting was done by my dear friend, Dianne Barnett Lough. Yeah I know - words are useless sometimes.)

I’m a softy for soft stuff.

Here is an overview of where in the world we’re going. To put it in perspective, it will take us almost one month to get from Los Angeles to Auckland, NZ!

I’m going to miss her so much. Thankful for video chat!

Charleston International Airport

O.M.Gosh this is happening! Hey World here we come!

CafΓ© Intermezzo

So apparently folks in Atlanta dance like our son, Geoff!

Let the fun begin!!

Los Angeles

On the way to L.A. I was thinking some quality entertainment would be nice and Mike found this..as if he said, ‘as you wish’ 😂

Los Angeles

Our overnight in L.A. was almost as brief as this dance move! 😉

Los Angeles

Waiting for shuttle!

Los Angeles

On the Crystal Serenity!

North Pacific Ocean

First day at sea. Starting to recover from yesterday’s unpacking which almost undid me. 😬 So thankful that we only do that once...a real incentive to travel this way. The staff promised me that today would be better and it is. Whew. And...We’re already smarter because bridge class is soooo good! One side note...if we’re gonna rock I would prefer a chair or loud music...just sayin.

Sadly, one of our fellow passengers is in need of some significant medical attention, so we are in the process of making a big detour to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The passengers are all very understanding, of course, knowing that anyone would want the same treatment for their loved one.

We had our first formal night last night and I’ll post a pic or two from that, (you won’t see my shoes because the first pair got put into timeout after dinner... ha) I’ll also include a video of what really fun dancing looks like! This cruising couple wins the contest hands down thus far!

Tip of the day - if you don’t like waking up early, just keep heading west - morning gets pushed an hour later each day!

Now I’m off to the spa....

Looking good!

Playing dress up

Now this is some fun dancing!

North Pacific Ocean

Still in the North Pacific due to our detour but today it feels like we’re smooth-sailing with warm ocean breezes. Absolutely perfect.

North Pacific Ocean

Mike’s favorite soup in the whole world. Even when we have no idea where in the world we are! 😂

And these new favorite earrings were made just for me by my dear friend, Robin Fisher! 🥰

Happy Birthday Sean! Tell Wrigley not to worry. 🥰 Love and miss you!

Southern North Pacific Ocean

Good morning!

Southern North Pacific Ocean

I think we are still barely in the North Pacific but not for much longer. It has warmed up a lot and sure feels like summer now. Mike won the first table tennis challenge but it was a good match. For me, any time I can be outside playing a racquet sport rather than in the gym it’s a win. If you know us at all you know that I hate the gym almost as much as Mike loves it.. So even if I never win a challenge (pffff) I still win. Next time it will be a win-win! 😉 There are lots of folks who like paddle tennis on the ship also, which is great! We had a little tropical rain today, though, so those courts were wet. I have to do something to burn some calories or...well it would be ugly. Mike works out at 0530 every morning while I’m still dreaming! Bridge continues to be amazing, and we are in class for two hours a day on sea days. (Every day has been a sea day so far.) We’ve met some lovely folks...some of whom are going all the way to Rome with us, some who are leaving in Papeete or other stops. The ship, the staff, the food, and the service are just as great as we remembered, so all is absolutely wonderful. Of course we are broken-hearted as we read terribly sad news (Kobe forever in our hearts,) and worrisome news (seriously go away Coronavirus!) But right now it would simply be wrong for us to miss this opportunity to enjoy our days, so we must.

Until next time... 🏓🛳💌

This morning I want to kind of capture the events of yesterday. Not because they were anything mind-blowing or extaordinary, as compared to other days at sea on this beautiful ship, but simply to help me remember how wonderful even just one day can be. It would be cool if you all could see the other gazillion activity options that we didn’t choose...maybe I’ll snap a pic of the activities schedule and include it. Anyway, Mike woke up early as usual and was finished with his workout by 6:30 or so, after which he stopped by the cafe and picked up some coffee. I woke up around 0700 and called Pavel, our butler, to let him know that I was ready for my breakfast tea with hot milk. So the morning began, as usual. Then we went to breakfast upstairs, which we enjoy even while avoiding the decadent stuff. Mostly fruit for me and an egg-white omelette for Mike. At 10:00 we attended the advanced beginner bridge class and sat with the same lovely ladies that we serendipitously met the first day...Joyce and Gail. \240Yesterday we were studying responding to minor bids and communicating with attitude. Then we stayed for the intermediate class, where we learned about defensive leads in the middle of the hand... called BOSTON. After bridge we ran upstairs and watched the traditional fish-kissing ceremony at the crossing of the equator. (Look up pollywogs and shellbacks.) Soon we were in shorts and tees and played paddle tennis, both singles and doubles, for over two hours. Then we were hungry again and grabbed a light lunch and sauvingon blanc, followed by showers and naps! We chose the main dining room for dinner, which was absolutely perfect, and then we went to the show, where were mesmerized by an indescribably talented violinist and entertained by a hilarious comedian. We resisted the urge to play blackjack or some version of poker and headed back for much deserved sleep.

I promise not to give you these kinds of details very often, but felt that it might help answer the question that we often get from folks...’how do you not get bored?’ One would simply have to try to be bored, I think.

Tomorrow we arrive into our very first port called, Nuku Hiva, in French Polynesia, and tomorrow night we need to adjust our clocks by 30 minutes. Whaaaat? You can’t make this stuff up.

I am all too aware of how slow these posts are to update. I wish I could fix it, but everyone on the ship is sharing the satellite WiFi, and turtle speed would be welcome right now. I think we’re at glacier speed. Hopefully eventually you’ll get this.

Nuku Hiva French Polynesia

Ahoy matey Land Ho!!

After having been at sea for seven days, we woke up this morning anchored just off this tiny island in the French Marquesas. Nuku Hiva is the largest of ten, and home to around two thousand locals in the town of Taiohae. The Marquesas are so remote that they have their own time zone! The closest neighbor is Tahiti, which is a 3 1/2 hour flight southwest.

It’s a gorgeous day here... heading out to explore!

Today is this little bundle of dynamite’s birthday!! Happy 3rd birthday, Evvy! We love and miss you!!!

Nuku Hiva

Welcome to Nuku Hiva!

Nuku Hiva, as I mentioned already, was a welcomed sight. And it so didn’t disappoint! We went exploring with two other couples who were so much fun! All Brits...although David and Dawn live in Australia, while Dennis and Gayle hail from London. Dennis found us a great driver named Brian, who showed us the island from top to bottom. It was a hot day but we were lucky to get a little cloud cover and even a sprinkle now and then. These rather well-fed French Polyesian folks have a very laid-back, friendly manner, and why not? They seemingly haven’t a care in the world, living their lives in such unspoiled beauty in the middle of nowhere. Just like the rest of us, many families had dogs, but unlike many of us, they also had a horse tethered to a tree next to the road in front of their homes. \240 It baffles the mind to try to make a comparison between their daily lives and those of New Yorkers or Londoners or even Charlestonians. We really are in such a hurry to do everything, aren’t we?


la vue est magnifique

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The worst day in Bora Bora is still better than the best day in....yep...anywhere 😉 The story here is day two of cancelled tours. Our jet skiing didn’t happen yesterday and this morning catamaran and snorkeling didn’t happen. We’re barely hopeful for a noon attempt, because the forecast is trying to rain on our parade. But don’t feel too sorry for us. I’m on our veranda and this is my terrible view. Meanwhile, our fall back plan for this afternoon is Super Bowl LIV on the big screens. Not a bad back up.

Yesterday we walked around town a bit and took it easy otherwise.

At 5 PM \240we were treated to the most amazing up close and personal magic show by John George and after dinner we clapped and cheered the very talented pianist, Ashley Carruthers. The talent on this segment has been extraordinary.

This guy was using the wake from our tender boat to have some fun!

Bora Bora

😆 okay never mind...how about the best day in Bora Bora?

Obviously the weather improved!

Yes. We swam with stingrays and sharks. 😬 The sharks were not real big but there were lots of them and they were sharks! Completely bonkers. But the rays were so sweet and friendly and soft. And the sharks didn’t bite anyone. Yay. Meanwhile...the clear, blue-green water. Just like in the travel magazines. Incredible.

We made it back to the ship in time to see the last (and arguably the best) nine minutes of the Super Bowl.) Congratulations to the KC Chiefs!

Papeete, French Polynesia

Well the good news is that we’ve been having so much fun that I’m behind on my journal. Well, also these posts aren’t visible to anyone yet, which has been discouraging. But I must believe that one day they will sync. So I press on...

The past three days in French Polynesia have included tender boats, catamarans, snorkeling, swimming with stingrays and sharks, laughing with new friends, going to shows, riding through rivers and downpours, seeking out waterfalls, taking lots of pics and videos, \240continually receiving, ‘good morning,’ ‘good afternoon,’’ ‘good evening,’ ‘may I get you anything,’ etc., etc., with heartfelt smiles from staff, taking the stairs every chance we get, eating, sipping (sounds so much more sophisticated than drinking-ha,) working out, (okay that’s just Mike, but I considered not falling out of the 4wheel drive vehicle today a work out 😉), and one amazing nap on a cabana sofa near the pool. \240#runonsentencesareawesome

Just driving around in Tahiti 😂

Cook Islands

Well I suppose if you’re going to miss an entire day of your life, it may as well be a Monday, right? Today is Sunday, February 9, and because we cross the international date line tonight, tomorrow is Tuesday, February 11! How crazy is that?

Meanwhile... these six people had just eaten more sushi than should be legal when David said something so funny that the instant, synchronized, outrageously loud, raucous laughter erupted like Mount Vesuvius and flowed for a solid hour, followed by another hour of small outbursts, chuckles, and suppressed giggling. I feel sure that the six of us are bound together for life by this hilarious accident and if you know me at all, you know that in my opinion this is serious business, because.... FUN MATTERS!!! (Thankfully it’s was late and the only other humans who had to suffer the obnoxious six of us were the staff.) I would try to tell you the joke but it just hardly ever works, so just remember a time when you and your friends were snorting and falling out of your chairs and you get it.

Forever Friends: Charlene, Gayle, Dennis, David, Dawn and Mike

Forever doomed to be held responsible for accidentally giving the worst compliment in the history of the world. That napkin may be the one I threw at him from across the table!

Today is Saturday, February 8. I had to look it up, no kidding. I woke up this morning as we were approaching Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands. After much debate we had agreed to go on a hike in the rainforest, but just after Mike snapped a little photo of the island from our balcony, the captain’s voice came over the speakers explaining that we would not be anchoring, because the swells were too rough for the tender boats. So off we went for three more days at sea! Thankfully for us, we have lots of days and lots of stops and we truly enjoy our days at sea. The bridge instructors whipped up some great stuff, and by 10:00 AM we were sitting with our friends, the Jacobsons, discussing what do do with the cards in front of us.

It appears that I haven’t posted any pictures for a few days, so here goes!

Near Cook Islands, South Pacific Ocean

Look who was hiding on our balcony this morning! Far away from land, we don’t know how she came to be there. \240For me it was love at first sight. \240I named her Brownie and we were quick friends. But alas she had to be rescued by the staff and I have since vowed to avoid duck consumme 😱😬😉

Near Nuku β€˜Alofa, Tonga

Trying out Silk’s new menu...And not a bad view.


Valentines Day in Fiji was fabulous! The weather was everything from hot and sunny to pouring rain and we loved every minute of it as we sailed and snorkeled. The hosts managed to cook a delicious lunch and served us wine while we sang along with the guitarist playing Beatles songs.


Bulla! And Welcome to Fiji!

Fiji said yes! (Tonga said no yesterday.)

Hot, humid, and loads of fun

Outdoor massages with only \240the sounds of birds singing and distant thunder. The slight breezes were much appreciated.


Our wonderful captain, Birger Vorland

Paihia, New Zealand

We’re in New Zealand!!! 😀Today we explored a cave with glow worms, visited the most photographed toilets in the world and ate lunch with friends outdoors in 75 degree temperatures. This. Is. Amazing. And we have more events with friends planned for this evening because some of them are leaving us tomorrow in Auckland 😢 How wonderful to make such fun and meaningful friendships, though. Just think... we didn’t even know each other a few weeks ago and now there will likely be tearful goodbyes 😊

My first glimpse of New Zealand at around 0730

The early bird captured the sunrise.

Gorgeous Day for a selfie 😊

Glow worms are in that cave

Mr. Hundertwasser wanted the passers by to stop in their town so he designed these artistically interesting toilets!

On our balcony just as we were leaving port for Auckland.

Auckland, New Zealand

Hello Auckland!!

One of the things we love about cruising is that we go to sleep in one place and wake up in another. We’ve been looking forward to visiting New Zealand for a long time and now here we are! Tuesday was so great- cooler, more refreshing air, friendly Kiwi folks and beautiful vistas. Yesterday we went to Waiheke Island by ferry and totally could understand why it is such a popular vacation spot. We tasted wine and olive oils and had a beautiful alfresco lunch while overlooking the bay.

Outside the restaurant and winery called Mudbricks


Breathtaking views

This smile did a disappearing and reappearing act later this day because my phone fell out of my pocket on the ferry and I didn’t realize it until back at the ship!!! 😱😰😩 But the most amazing thing happened! They found it and it was back in my possession within a couple hours. Yay for the Kiwis!! 🥰☺️

Sushi for dinner at Umi Uma on the ship

Tauranga, New Zealand

After years of exciting anticipation, it was difficult to maintain an aloof aura as we found our seats on the coach. I believe that it would be nearly impossible to exaggerate the number of times my immediate family has read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, watched the movies, listened to the soundtracks, read the fan-based discussions, watched the extended editions, and otherwise gobbled up any additional information obtainable pertaining to the books by JRR Tolkien, and the movies bringing them to life by Peter Jackson. Yet, here we were in Tauranga, New Zealand and on our way to the movie set of Hobbiton, the land of the hobbits... the shire....a fictitious place, to be sure, but very real in our hearts. It was the home of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippen, and Rosie Cotton, and where we met our favorite wizard, Gandalf, who led us through an extraordinary adventure full of wonderful and terrible choices and extreme emotions. This was the place where it all began – where life was simple and good, and the place we all identified simply as ‘home.’ Even though Hobbiton was not meant for humans, for each home was actually just a hole in the ground, after all.

Napier, New Zealand

Napier, New Zealand! Art Deco Feetival!

How fortuitous that we came to Napier on this day! The Art Deco festival was a wonderful surprise- like we traveled via time machine back to the 1930s and someone took all of the cares away from those of us lucky enough to attend. Men and boys in suspenders and hats, ladies in flapper dresses and feathers, musicians and entertainers everywhere, kids running, riding scooters, napping, and everyone simply having a great time. Oh... and the cars! Oh my they were all so shiny and new-looking!

Craggy Range Winery Napier, NZ

Napier- day two- Hawks Bay Area wine tasting. We liked the wines from Craggy Range.

Wellington, NZ

Wellington! We went to the Weda workshop and learned a lot about the creativity behind the scenes of some of our favorite movies, including LOTR, Avatar, Chronicles of Narnia, and tons more. \240Very interesting! They are currently working on Avatar 2!

We also saw some of the filming locations from Fellowship of the Ring...

And grabbed a yummy lunch in town! We loved this blustery little capital of New Zealand!

We have a note! (Cue Phantom of the Opera music)

I promise to go back and highlight some of the days between Wellington and now...including a disappointing day of fishing, while barely making back to the ship on time, a long ride to and from Middle Earth, wine tastings in Marlborough, weathering over 100 knot winds and huge swells at sea, more great bridge lessons, delicious meals on the ship, dressing up, sleeping in (only me, of course,) hair appointments, dreamy spa treatments... and the updates...and more updates...and changes to the itinerary, including missing Doubtful and Dusky sounds and Hobart, and then getting to see breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound...and more updates, including learning that we would not be going anywhere in Asia. The Coronavirus, although not physically on our ship, was going to have her way. Then the new itinerary, which would add more of Australia and lots more days at sea before making only one stop in India...in Mumbai. It was nobody’s fault, but the folks at Crystal offered to let us bail in Sydney. So... what to do? That was the million dollar question.

Tasman Sea near Sydney, Australia

Our last night at the Churrascaria! Yummmm.

Tasman Sea Near Sydney, Australia

There and back again...

We love days at sea, so that wasn’t really a deterrent. We discussed our options. Stay or go. If we get off, should we go home or do something else? We had a mental whiteboard with ideas 💡 and we discussed all of these for a couple of days. The thing is...Mike hasn’t had this much time off since he was 14 years old. So it occurred to me that maybe we should just find a way to turn a Corona into a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc!

So we made a decision... and we are thrilled with it! We’re getting off in Sydney, flying to Queenstown, renting a car, and road-tripping it to Auckland. We will get three weeks to play and explore New Zealand on our terms. Driving on the opposite side of the road is the only thing that really scares us.

Sydney, Australia

Hello Sydney!!

Manly, Australia

Three years ago we were on a fantastic voyage on our favorite ship, the Crystal Serenity, (yep the same one!) We traveled from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires via Antarctica, and on sea days, we decided to try to learn bridge. By God’s good grace we were seated with David and Auriol, a delightful couple from Jersey. They were so patient with us, and the next thing we knew we were not just bridge friends, we were friends. Here’s a happy memory from February 2017

And this was us having lunch in Manly with Auriol and her daughter, Claire, today! Auriol is in Sydney visiting her kids and grandkids who actually live in beautiful Manly. She took the ferry over to Sydney in the pouring rain this morning and we walked to the Opera House, where we had tea and tried to catch up on hugs, kids, grandkids, travel, and just enjoy one another face-to-face. Then we all took the ferry to Manly for a fabulous lunch with Claire. It was almost perfect. The hard part was that David was not with us... something Auriol and her family have had to face every morning, noon and night since last June. We didn’t know David Keevil very long, really, but he was the kind of man one could never forget. He was simply lovely, if we can use that description for a man, and I am very grateful for having been considered his friend.

Charlene, Mike, Claire and Auriol just outside Hugo’s at Manly wharf.

Claire, Auriol, and me with humidity hair!

Manly beach

Shops between wharf and beach at Manly.

Outside Sydney Opera House

Photo bombed by the Serenity!


The Serenity stayed docked at Circular Quay until yesterday evening. Mike and I both got sad as we waved good-bye to our friend, Mary Ann, who waved back from her balcony on deck eleven. We wish her and her husband, Carlton, happy and healthy travels as they carry on.

Our favorite ship. We love the people who work on it, our old friends, our new friends, the food, the service, and, well, the hard-to-describe warmth that we feel when traveling on her. It’s just a happy place. So saying good-bye is always hard.

Farewell for now. 😢


We said good-bye to our friends and to our ship and in a few hours we will bid Sydney and Australia a fond farewell. This part of our journey is coming to an early end, so the name of the journey had to change too. It no longer made sense to keep the title, ‘L.A. to Rome in 89 days.’ I think if we tried to entitle the chapters of our lives ahead of time, we would be constantly erasing and starting over. For example, when I was an 18 year-old music major at Marietta, College, I had no idea that five years later I would be graduating from nursing school and already married to a guy I had never heard of at that point!

Sydney has been a delightful surprise, even with the uncommon late summer rains. We will definitely want to come back here.

The most famous opera house in the world.

Queen Victoria Building

Just peeking

A guy and \240tree near Circular Quay 😉

Yummy dinner at this place in Barangaroo

Night stroll

Lunch for dinner at Pendolino