Senior Travel: Is this a cruise senior singles would enjoy? And, visiting Fiji

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – December 7, 2018

by Tom Blake Columnist

Senior travel: Is this a cruise singles would enjoy? And visiting Fiji

Champ Wayne asked, “Is the cruise you’re on one that singles would enjoy?”

My partner Greta and I are in the final two weeks of an 82-day cruise visiting the Pacific and Far East. We return to the port of Los Angeles on December 21. Our ship is the Holland America ship ms Amsterdam. I’ve thought about Wayne’s question often on this 82-day cruise that Greta and I are on. We are nearing the end with only two weeks remaining.

The first answer that comes to mind is: It depends what a single is hoping for when he or she signs up for the cruise. If the purpose is to meet a potential mate, I don’t think it’s the right cruise for that, although it could happen.

Why? On this cruise there are about 850 passengers. I’m estimating the average age of most passengers is 75. I’ve only seen a couple of singles under 50 on the trip. A few times per week, there is a “Singles & Solo Travelers Meet” event listed in the daily calendar, which is placed in each stateroom.

Greta and I attended one of those events, an afternoon gathering, and there were 22 women and eight men (besides us) who attended. That isn’t too bad of a ratio for senior singles events—about 3-to-one, women to men. The average age for that event was closer to 80.

But, from what we observed, we didn’t see any potential couples forming at that event. And, as women often say to me regarding singles events, some of the men were not relationship material.

Granted, couples may have met on this cruise that we don’t know about. But after 82 days, you develop a pretty good idea who is hanging out with whom, and we didn’t notice any newly formed couples.

That doesn’t mean older singles never meet on cruises.

We’ve met five or six couples, usually at dinner, who met on previous cruises and now travel together.

How about the cruise positives for a senior single who isn’t hoping to meet a mate on board? There are many:

  1. The incredible service and food. On this cruise, we’ve been treated like royalty by the hard-working staff. The food: mind-boggling
  2. Events around the ship: movies, lectures, happy hours, morning trivia and evening trivia, a walking deck of about 1/3 of mile, afternoon tea, cocktail parties, workshops, exercise classes, dance lessons and computer classes, and nightly live entertainment, which has been fabulous, with no driving home afterwards.
  3. Fascinating ports of call. Cities such as Tokyo, Tianjin (Beijing), Shanghai, Hong Kong, Keelung (Taipei), Ho Chi Ming City, Singapore, Bali, Darwin, Cairns, Mooloolaba, Sydney, and about 20 lesser-known ones.
  4. Friends you make on board. Many couples have traveled on previous cruises with people they are traveling with now.

True, if a cruise ship doesn’t have a single supplement, the cost for a single can be the same as for a couple, or double. That can be a huge drawback. To my knowledge, singles paid full fare on this cruise.

If singles want a little more singles-type action, there are other cruises that would be more suited to that. Plus, at 82 days, if you’re looking for love, you might take a considerably shorter cruise because once you’ve met everybody on this cruise, you will still have a lot of days with the same people left with no new prospects. That could be a bummer.

Part 2 – “Bula Bula” and “Fiji Time”: A description of the ship visiting Fiji

After three days visiting New Caledonia, the ship made two port calls in Fiji.

On Wednesday, the ship anchored at Port Denarau, which serves as the port for Nadi (pronounced nandy). When Greta and I got off the tender boat that brought us ashore, we didn’t have a plan for the day other than to visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, Fiji’s largest orchid collection. On the way there, we passed sugar cane fields near the Nadi International Airport. I took this photo through the front windshield of a truck carrying sugar cane.

     Sugar cane truck in front of our taxi 

The garden was founded by actor Raymond Burr in 1977, who wanted a place to keep his own orchids. The garden was a 20-minute ride by vehicle from the port. We ended up hiring a guide with a taxi for a three-hour visit, including the garden plus some other highlights in Nadi.

When our taxi didn’t arrive at the scheduled time, our guide, Peter, explained to us the term “Fiji Time.” He said, Fiji is a relaxed, laid-back society. If something didn’t happen as scheduled, it was “no worries, life is good, we’ve still got the earth and sky, and beauty all around us.” As we passed the Nadi International Airport, I wondered if they operated on “Fiji Time,” but didn’t ask him.

I did, however, ask Peter if he played Rugby. I was only guessing, but at about 6’4”, 250 pounds, he looked like he could play the part. He was so big he could barely fit in the front passenger seat of the taxi. He smiled and said yes. Then, he proudly told us about Fiji winning its first Olympic gold medal in 2016, for its Ruby 7 (7 players) team. He said, “The government printed a special $7 bill to honor the team.”

I have a friend from New Zealand who is a rugby nut. Loves his New Zealand “All Blacks” rugby team. I said to Greta we’ve got to get one of those seven-dollar bills to tease him a bit. New Zealand and Rugby are big rugby rivals.

Suva Fiji

The second term we learned in Fiji was “Bula, Bula.” That means hello or good-bye or both. That was especially apparent to us in our second day in Fiji when we docked at Suva, the capital of Fiji, a five-minute walk to one of the largest fruit, vegetable and seafood markets we’ve seen in our lives.

From our stateroom on the ship, I counted at least 30 buses parked in the lot next to the market, and another 10 or more waiting on the street to come into the market lot until another would leave. People arrive by bus from all around the island to pick up their produce for home. From what I could see there is no rail system in Fiji, a sharp contrast to the major cities we had visited earlier in the trip.

Everybody in Suva says “Bula” or “Bula Bula.” I mean everyone. And as we walked beyond the market to the heart of downtown Suva, the natives, probably recognizing us as foreigners, love to say Bula. I think Fiji is one of the friendliest countries we’ve ever been to.

And yes, in Suva, we went into a sporting goods store and asked if they had a $7 rugby bill. They did. I bought it. Cost me $5 USA. I’m gonna surprise my buddy with it.

The Fiji seven-dollar bill honoring the gold medal 2016 Olympic Champions for Ruby 7s

Geographical diversity of our Champs

The comments I received in response to last week’s eNewsletter reflect the diversity of the our Champs

An invitation from Alaska

Champ Bobbi emailed, “Greetings from Alaska. I have been a recipient of your candid newsletter for some time, and thought, “Why not write you with the offer to you and your Champs for me to be a free guide on the Kenai Peninsula this summer! I have lived here for 11 years, formerly from Minnesota.

“I work fulltime, a divorcee of numerous years, age 64, with a bounce in my step and a zest for ‘showing off’ the Peninsula, as I truly enjoy the area, minus the higher cost of living.

“Summers on the Kenai Peninsula tend to be gorgeous with temps ranging from the 50’s up to 80’s, with low humidity. Each summer season being unique of course, with no guarantees as it can be with lots of sunny days intermixed with rain, or more rain than we’d prefer.

“The sayings here are: ‘Drive five miles and the weather might change,’ and, ‘wear clothing layers as in five minutes, the temperature might change.’

“From where I live, three hours south of Anchorage, there are gorgeous mountain views of Mt. Redoubt, Illiama and Spur.

Skagway, Alaska sign: Which way is Anchorage?

“It would be enjoyable meeting others visiting my area in Alaska, offering suggestions for sightseeing, even being included possibly for an excursion, offering encouragement as we go forward on our life journeys.

“Share my email address as spring has sprung, the snow is slowly melting, and the leaves will be budding in April.”

Bobbi’s email address:

  • Responses to last week’s “Senior Romance on the back of a Harley” newsletter

Nancy, North Carolina, “I too get quite a few responses from men online who proudly show off pics of their bike. I have stated in my profile ‘no bikers,’ perhaps I should change that to ‘no motorcycles,’ as many motorcycle riders, don’t consider themselves ‘bikers.’

“It’s not that I don’t have an open mind about them as a person, it’s just that I do not like motorcycles, will never ride on them, and find them dangerous. So, (with me) motorcycle people would never have someone to go on rides with. I try to keep an open mind, but there are a couple of things that I will not accept. One is smokers; the other is I will not ride on a motorcycle.”

Champ Terry and his wife, Daeng, Thailand, “Harley Davidson Company is moving their factory from the USA to Rayong, Thailand. That is only a few miles from where we are presently on holiday.

“There is a huge market for high-end motorbikes in this part of the world. Triumph moved here from England, also. They are doing very well.

“Presently, we are in the holy city of Pattaya, Thailand, on holiday. We are here for the sun, sand and food. Here is a song and video about Pattaya:

(Comment from Tom: I enjoyed watching the video about Pattaya)

  • On senior singles opening their minds to meeting a variety of people

Inez, Virgina, emailed, “Cast your net very wide–and find true love. In 1991, I left my office job to go back to school for a year of intense training in the operating room of a local hospital. Divorced for eight years and raising a ‘tween,’ my vision of the right man for me to meet, date and perhaps marry, was quite fixed on a white-collar professional type.

“I enjoyed a successful dating and social life, but no sparks. A friend fixed me up on a blind date with her former husband’s best friend, a country boy by birth, machinist by profession. I accepted the date as a favor to my friend and met this man on a Saturday night in April,1991.

“We were together for 19 wonderful years (married for 15) until his death in May of 2010. We had a glorious relationship, much to my surprise initially. He was loving, smart, funny, handsome and kind beyond anything my heart had ever experienced.

“So, take a chance!  I shudder when I remember how I tried to create a lame excuse to back out of that date. He gave me a life experience and a shared relationship that most women pray for!”

  • Our Champs Chris and Tina were featured in the March 22, New York Times article, “When Your Parents Remarry, Everyone Is Happy, Right?” which included, not one, but two photos of them.

Here is the link to the very interesting article:

  • Seeking input for next week’s eNewsletter: Single senior loneliness

I read an article in a major United States newspaper about how loneliness can increase the possibility of heart disease, stroke and can even accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease. It might be as bad on health as smoking.

The article mentioned that about 30 percent of people older than 65 live alone and by 85 that percentage exceeds 50 percent. The article stated that the Surgeon General of the United States is declaring loneliness a public health epidemic.

What is your opinion regarding this senior single loneliness issue for people in our age range and what can be about it?