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(CNN) When Sharon Lane heard of a cruise line offering a three-year round-the-world voyage, she immediately started fantasizing about life on board.
Life at Sea Cruises is selling seats aboard the MV Gemini, which will set sail from Istanbul on November 1 for an epic global journey that will call at most major cruise destinations on the planet.
Lane, a 75-year-old retired California teacher, is a travel enthusiast. In the past he taught foreign languages and loved to take his students on trips to Europe. In the 1990s she moved to Cape Town, South Africa for two years of adventures.
More recently, Lane has converted to cruising, not just because of the opportunities it offers her to see the world, but because the feeling of being adrift at sea is one of her favorite sensations.
“I actually prefer ocean days, when we sail or cross oceans, it excites me,” Lane tells CNN Travel.
While it has long been Lane’s dream to live on a full-time cruise ship, the high cost has always been a hindrance. But when Lane learned of the three-year journey from a friend on a Friday night Zoom call, she hung up and spent the rest of the evening researching and budgeting.
The cheapest rooms on the MV Gemini cost around $30,000 a year, including a solo traveler discount. Lane figured this cost was manageable and decided to take the plunge.
“By midnight that night, I had done enough research to book a room,” she says.
Now, Lane is busy preparing for the November landing of the MV Gemini. He is selling most of his possessions, giving up the rent and preparing for a long stint at sea.
“The logistics are crazy,” says Lane. “It’s a leap of faith, but I know there will be a place here when I get back. Or maybe I’ll end up living in another country. I don’t know, the sky’s the limit.”
Preparation for a new life
Lane opted for one of the cheapest staterooms onboard, what Life at Sea Cruises calls a “Virtual Inside” room. The 130-square-foot cabin has no windows, but guests have been promised a screen that will broadcast live footage from outside the vessel.
“It literally shows what you would see outside your window if you had one,” says Lane. “And that’s enough for me, it really is.”
Lane insists that the prospect of living in a room without natural light for three years isn’t daunting. She plans to treat the cabin like a bedroom: she’ll sleep there, but otherwise won’t be spending much time there. During the day, she will be relaxing elsewhere on the vessel, strolling enjoying the ocean view, or she will be busy enjoying exciting excursions.
While he plans to sell “95 percent of his possessions” before setting sail, Lane says he’ll bring along some family photographs to make the cabin his own. She has a favorite photo of her now adult grandchildren when they were kids and she took them on a whale watching trip.
“I’ve laminated it and I’m going to get some magnets and stick it to my door for two reasons,” Lane says. “One, I get to see their faces every time I walk in, which is always fun, and the other reason is that it makes it really easy to know which door is yours, because you have your grandkids smiling.”
Lane has not yet told her daughter or grandchildren that she will be embarking on the cruise. “I don’t want them trying to talk me out of it,” she says. Lane thinks they’ll support her decision, but three years is a long time and chances are she won’t see much of her loved ones on dry land as she circumnavigates the world.
But Lane is eager to video call family and friends from faraway places and is excited to make new connections on board. He has heard that there will be many solo travelers on the trip and believes they will be eager to socialise. In fact, the cruise company has already connected many of the guests via an app, Lane says, and “it’s already a good time.”
“We’ve known each other before, we’ve already volunteered to help each other, brainstorm ideas, answer questions, and make plans. It’s already fun.”
Lane has been happily single for a long time and dismisses the notion that she might find romance on board.
“It’s not going to happen. It’s completely out of my mind. I have no interest. I want to make friends,” she says.
Plus, when she was making the decision to book the three-year cruise, she found herself extremely grateful for her independence: She’s spoken to people who have said they want to sign up, but their partner or spouse isn’t interested, so she’s not staying. happening.
“I don’t have it,” he says. “I can stay home if I want. I can go somewhere if I want. The only thing stopping me from doing things is my health. As long as I check I’m fine.”
Lane suffers from a lung medical condition which she says makes her more susceptible to the effects of Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses. She has rarely left the house, let alone on vacation, since the pandemic took hold.
But rather than worry about boarding a cruise ship, Lane suggests she’ll be more comfortable aboard than ashore: She’s confident in the cruise’s Covid measures and the medical facilities available on board, and she also plans to take your own precautions.
“When I’m on the ship, when I’m in a place where there are other people, I wear an N95 mask, a surgical mask and goggles,” he says.
Lane will not land the ship in certain destinations, such as Antarctica, where the cold air could aggravate his lungs. But she is highly excited for much of the ship’s itinerary, including stops in Scotland and Ireland, places she believes her ancestors are from, but which she has never visited before.
Life on board
In total, MV Gemini will call at 375 ports over her three-year voyage, 208 of which include overnight stays. The vessel will call anywhere from India to China, the Maldives to Australia, with some calling over multiple nights.
Lane is excited to see the globe and glad travelers will have time to enjoy each destination, but she thinks she’ll be spending more time aboard ship than many of her fellow passengers.
“For me, the ocean is the thing,” she says. “The ship itself in the ocean, that’s the attraction.”
Lane plans to blog about her experience: “My goal is to write something every day,” she says. She hopes the blog, which she writes under a pseudonym, will allow her to savor the journey and share her adventures with her loved ones at home and with strangers.
Lane hopes her dispatches can inspire others to take risks and push themselves out of their comfort zone. She still regrets the years spent in middle age, putting off travel.
“I think I’ve always waited for the perfect time to go when everything is right in life, when the money is right, when the dates are right, when other people want to go,” she says.
“Don’t stay at home,” she encourages. “Home could be where the heart is, home could be where you hang your hat – hang your hat and then get on the boat, get on the plane, get in the car, go somewhere.”