My Final Year Of Travel?

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  February 6, 2012  |  14 Comments
Insert Drawing :)

I’ve had an unsettling feeling for a while. It was on the back of my mind for most of 2011 but I haven’t been able to articulate it until recently: I think I need to have roots again.

Working on cruise ships is fun. You get to travel to lots of places. Most of those places are pretty good. Even the shitty ones are pretty good. And there are lots of other perks too. It’s socially acceptable to drink and smoke every day. It’s a wonderful environment for carbohydrate and sodium-addicts. Libertine behavior is laughed off as a systemic by-product of “ship life”. It’s also great if you’re a minimalist because you don’t need much stuff on-board. And of course, my personal favorite reason for working on cruise ships – long vacations.

However, there are some negatives as well. For one thing, it doesn’t feel like real life. It feels more like United Colors of Benetton wrote a soap opera about people who get drunk a lot, and then cast slightly less good-looking people and a disproportionate number guys. And we repeat the same episodes every 10 or so days. Even with new ports, after 2 years of this it’s getting a bit old.

Well okay, I’m being overly dramatic.

The thing is, when I started my travel-minded lifestyle in 2004, it was all about seeing as many places as possible. I would get excited every time I “ticked” another country off the list, fantasizing that I would visit every country in the world one day. But very quickly, I realized that places were just scenery – and that I preferred slow travel, as it allowed me to connect with awesome people. (Which is also why, the Couchsurfing community resonates so well with me.)

You would think that if you saw the same people everyday while traveling for 6 months, you’d get pretty close to them wouldn’t you? Strangely enough, on cruise ships that answer is often no. It’s very hard to break the “colleague” shell and even when you do, it’s usually requires copious and sustained amounts of alcohol. But maybe it’s better that way. Why invest so much energy into a relationship with a contractual expiry date, when it’s so much easier to have a cordial, albeit superficial one. A facsimile of friendship is a safer way to go through life without missing anyone. But is that a quality life?

I guess that requires spending quality time with people, which ultimately goes back to having roots in once place for a while in order to develop genuine relationships. To be fair, my approach with working on cruise ships has been a little unorthodox. I haven’t had a real mailing address in 2 years. In between ship contracts, I’m effectively homeless. I roam from country to country, like a modern-day gypsy, until it’s time to return to the ship. And why not? Why wouldn’t I maximize my long vacations to gallivant around the world, visiting old friends, making new ones and seeking adventure?

That’s not the issue, however. Spending 6 months at a time, with your life on hold seems like too big a sacrifice to do long term. Who knows, I may change my mind. But at the moment, I’m convinced that this will be my last year at sea. I have some ideas of what I’ll do next but I’m keeping it under wraps for now. Partly because it’s better if it’s a surprise but mostly because I tend to change my mind at the spur of the moment!

About Me

I'm a wanderer, couchsurfer, writer, illustrator, uncoordinated dancer, unwitting minimalist, party enthusiast, free hugger and now a crewman. Follow me @roymarvelous .................................................................................................................... Also, find out how to work on cruise ships. Or check out the new T-shirt & Card store.

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14 Comments for My Final Year Of Travel?


Thinking of moving to Latvia Roy?:) I hear it has that effect on people!

    Roy Marvelous

    If not for their winters….!

Cathy Sweeney

It'll be interesting to see what your next step will be. I'm sure you'll keep us posted. I think I'd want a change from cruise ships after a few years, too. Besides, you can always go back.

    Roy Marvelous

    Yeah, just because you do something fun doesn't mean you have to do it forever!


Don't think of it as the end of the road but as the beginning of the next chapter of your life! Always good to choose a new path when an old one becomes too familiar. Good luck Roy!
My recent post Brighton Rocks

    Roy Marvelous

    Thanks Liv!

Noch Noch

stumbled here, and absolutley LOVE it, esp the illustrations – do you draw them yourself?
i have moved around a lot for work, but never really a nomad like you, i always needed to be in a country for at least a year just to feel likei have a life
awesome what you are doing
i hope your journey continues somehow 🙂
Noch Noch

    Roy Marvelous

    Yes, I draw them 🙂
    I rather live somewhere for at least a year too! Definitely.

No Vacation Required

I think it is very important to have a sense of place. Kent and I very much appreciate having a home base – a place to come to and recharge.
My recent post A Travel Dream – Show Up at the Airport and Go Anywhere.

    Roy Marvelous

    Yeah. Maybe I've taken the minimalist thing too far… 😉


"United Colors of Benetton wrote a soap opera about people who get drunk a lot, and then cast slightly less good-looking people and a disproportionate number guys" bwahahahaha!
I love slow travel…only problem is there is not enough time to see too many places, so at least you have your whirlwind cruise ship experiences to balance that if you choose it… Can't wait to see what you are up to next!
My recent post What the heck is this?

    Roy Marvelous

    agree, there are definitely pros & cons to both 🙂


Roy! I have no idea what I was searching for when I stumbled across your site. But, I saw your name and remembered that two years ago you surfed one night at my place in Salt Lake City. That place no longer exists for me as I have taken on the nomadic mantle myself, sold everything, and am now couchsurfing the world. Well, the past 15 months in South America so far. Heading to Europe next month. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Roy Marvelous

    Great to hear from you Scott. Hope our paths cross again!