seven days at sea

Resources Mentioned

Holland America Westerdam deckplan
Our floating home for two weeks.

Google Flights
For quick searches for cheap flights.

Cruise Compete
Get competing quotes on the cruise of your choice. Insane deals!

How to begin a journey around the world
The first post in this travel series, in which I expose my optimism and best laid plans. Ha!

(OR... How to travel full-time for less than the cost of living in a US city!)

Seven days at sea. Not at all like the steamship crossings of Hemingway and Twain, where attendants empty daily chamber pots and passengers were offered "cocaine lozenges" to ease the symptoms of seasickness.

We travel in remarkable luxury, despite our cut rate deal. We enjoy a well-appointed stateroom and private bath. The front desk staff disperse sea sickness patches as though they were communion wafers. The dining staff stocks the buffet with lobster, fruit and an ever-changing selection of sweet delights.

While we may enjoy extravagant song and dance shows in a tall theatre, swim in our choice of heated pools and chat with our far away family and friends via video calls, we still spend much of our time exactly as the transatlantic travelers of yesteryear did. We read. 

We read and read and read.

The highest deck on the Holland America’s Westerdam holds a rounded, windowed area on the bow called the "crows nest". One side offers a sophisticated bar and lounge, next to a scattering of lounge chairs positioned to watch our ascent on the eastern horizon. A library fills the opposite side of the crows nest. 

Shelves and shelves of books display tomes of fiction, history, travel, science, classics, biographies... any type of read you may fancy. Along the starboard side, red leather recliners with matching footstools tempt readers to sink into their embrace with book and cup of tea, to watch the view of the ocean pass by over the top of your pages.

I've spent hours here. Afternoon and late in the evening. Most often the place is practically deserted, especially in late hours. My fellow travelers retire to lower decks in the evenings, where there be fine dining, live entertainment and clinking drinks.

In this paradisiacal perch, I've devoured four books so far, and written over 15,000 words in letters and fictions.

WRITERS: Get yourselves a long cruise ASAP!

Indulge in intellectual play while capable crew attends to your every needs. The buffets, restaurants and room service provide food whenever you have even a suspicion of hunger. No need for you to follow up with the dishes. Or make your bed. Or wash your towels. When you need a break and some physical activity, you might run round the promenade on deck 3, just above the breaking waves. Or swim laps in the spacious pools, or soak in the jetted tubs under the stars.

With the business of living taken care of for you, you are free to read and write for hours on end. Decline the unlimited internet promotion and seep yourself even deeper in your work, divinely disconnected from distractions domestic and career. 

And if you have little money? If you are student, or retired, or single mother, or overworked and underpaid, dare you think such a fantasy remains solidly outside your realm of realistic possibilities?

Ha! The entire cost for my daughter and myself for our 14-day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome came to just over $1,100. This includes all our food, fees and entertainment for two weeks, as well as stops in Portugal and Spain.

Think about that for a moment. How much do you spend on rent, foot, gas and entertainment per month? Compare that to the $300 per week per person cost of luxury living we're enjoying right this moment. OMG, am I right?


  • We had only a general idea of where and when we wanted to go. We just wanted to get over an ocean. Any ocean really. We were flexible.
  • We wanted a long cruise to balance out the cost of airfare from the lovely United States to basically anywhere else.
  • We booked the cruise about a month before departure, qualifying us for "last minute" rates.
  • Google Flights found us the cheapest air possible to the departure port. ($250 for two from Seattle to Florida)

  • This is key! >> We used to get multiple quotes from various travel agents.

  • Instead of booking direct with the cruise line, we booked through an agent we found on Cruise Compete that was able to give us perks and a better deal through her bulk reservation discounts.
  • We left our room assignment up to the cruise ship, which meant that we got an interior room. Have you ever slept in a total blackness with a gentle rocking motion? My daughter and I slept 13 hours our first night on the boat. We LOVE our interior cabin, our perfect lair for sleeping and retreats to watch movies and order room service.

Now, I know cost isn't the only factor when considering if you can travel for a couple weeks, let alone months and months. Traveling may work out to be cheaper than staying home, but you still have to WORK, right? 

Right. I solved this quandry through a combination of online courses, freelance clients, and speaking engagements. Sound difficult? Well... less so than you may think. I'll be covering the business of making money as you roam the far reaches of the earth in later posts. Goodie!