Taking Up Residence on a Cruise Ship


My Aunt Cloy once told me that if she ever needed to leave her home of decades for assisted living, she’d just live on cruise ships. She’d seen a lot of the world that way already and loved everything about the lifestyle. Also, the math made sense. Cloy never got that option but I’ve always kept it in mind, just in case.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I set sail together on my first cruise. It was impossible not to imagine her sister Cloy enjoying life aboard the luxury liner. It was easily understood how she saw this as a viable option for the long-term. With every little detail taken care of, including varied entertainment, a regular supply of ice cream, and charming port stops, all that’s left is to enjoy oneself. The beautifully stocked library could keep anyone who enjoys reading busy for months, if not years. Oh, and ever-changing views, dramatic skies, shooting stars…limitless awe. The icing on the cruise ship cake is the lovely people from all over the world one meets. Enjoying meals together is such a civilized way to get to become acquainted and learn about other lives and homelands. By the end of her cruising days, Cloy had at least one lasting friendship from every trip taken. I hope the same is true for me from this voyage, time will tell.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Cloy loved her home. Widowed in the 1980s, she lived the rest of her life there, tenderly cared for by her family until just a few years ago. It was the place most of our extended family ate too much on Thanksgiving and sang carols together on Christmas Eve for many, many years.  When I think of Cloy, I think of her there. Now that I’ve been on a cruise, though, I have a clearer picture of Aunt Cloy at sea. This expands my perception of the well-worn expression, “Home is where the heart is”. It’s not just that I’m at home wherever my heart is contented. Those I love have a home in my heart; whether they live in the house I know room by room, on board a ship I’ve never seen, or in another dimension – yet to be explored.

Mom and I were on an Alaskan cruise. The second port was Skagway, where we took a full day Yukon tour. The sights were mind-bogglingly beautiful and made more so by the young woman who drove the van and offered historical/spiritual narration that kept us spellbound. As much as Cloy loved her home and her particular dailiness of living, I think she would have appreciated the wanderlust of this Colorado mountain girl who’d left Thailand for Alaska just months before and whose path is illuminated next in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands. She, too, will always have a home in my heart.

River, Citizen of the World

River, Citizen of the World

When you think about other ways to live, what do you think about? A yurt? Something more along the lines of Versailles? A sail boat or RV? Maybe you like the idea of something more traditional, like a townhouse or condo. As much as I loved my trip with my mom through Alaska’s Inside Passage to Glacier Bay, I know that Aunt Cloy’s dream isn’t mine. What I learned from hers, though, is to not be limited in my thinking and to keep my eyes and mind open for, if you’ll pardon the expression, whatever floats my boat.

Mom and me in The Yukon Territory.  Photo credit: River, Tour Guide Extraodinaire

Mom and me in The Yukon Territory.

Photo credit: River, Tour Guide Extraodinaire

Michelle McKiernan