When Lupe King stepped aboard Cunard's newly minted Queen Elizabeth in New York for its maiden world voyage in January, not only was it the beginning of the ship's global service but also King's first day of retirement.
We should all be so lucky.
King was doing what a lot of us wish we could do, except worry about the practicality of leaving home for months at a time.
She learned that, though the desire to go to sea is impulsive, the planning can't be.
For their first globetrotting adventure, Lupe and husband Daniel prepared for six months before leaving on their multi-month sojourn, arranging for everything from automatic billing to a live-in pet sitter. Both have been teaching at a Milwaukee community college, where he continues to work as an instructor.
The Kings are but two of nearly 800 passengers on Queen Elizabeth's debut circumnavigation who will call the vessel home for 103 days while they visit 38 ports worldwide.
Compared with other world travelers, however, the Kings are just getting their feet wet. The record for globetrotting is held by a couple who have spanned the globe 25 times with Cunard and another couple who have spent more than 11 years, in total, aboard one or another of the line's vessels, said Robert Howie, the hotel manager of the 90,900-ton Queen Elizabeth.
Avid challengers to the world cup of cruising are Raymond and Leonnie Petitpren, with homes on the Gold Coast of Australia and near Daytona Beach, Fla.
They have circumnavigated the globe15 times,13 with Cunard.
For this couple, cruising is almost an addiction. When not globetrotting, they take Christmas cruises or weeklong sail-aways.
In particular, this maritime pair not only enjoy the ports, especially discovering unique restaurants at each stop, but also mingling with people of all nationalities, seeing old world-voyager friends, sharing camaraderie among passengers and crew, and, like many others, participating in the pomp and circumstance aboard Cunard's very British trio of oceangoing queens: Elizabeth, Mary and Victoria.
The Petitprens, for instance, relish ballroom dancing, a popular staple on the ship, as well as the line's many formal nights; indeed, for about a third of the evenings aboard the vessel, tuxes and gowns are de rigueur, while for the remainder suit jackets are required.
The regally appointed Queen Elizabeth struck a chord with the Petitprens.
"We think people just look better in formal attire," Raymond Petitpren noted.
The vessel embodies the glamour of high society in the 1930s and1940s. The Art Deco decor pays homage to the first Queen Elizabeth, launched in1938, with double- and triple-deck public areas and intricately detailed interiors replete with rich wood paneling, mosaics, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles.
Howie noted that the average age of world-cruise passengers aboard the Elizabeth's maiden journey is 68, and fares on the 2,068-passenger vessel for the world cruise range from about $18,000 per person to a tad shy of $200,000 per person for the upper aerie of Queen's Grille suites, including even some duplex apartments.
For the Kings, their journey on the Queen will run about $70,000 for the nearly four-month voyage, excluding the inevitable add-ons such as excursions, wines and spirits, and expenditures for souvenirs and memorabilia.
The Petitprens estimate that couples should expect to spend about another third to half of the fare on such extras.
A veteran of a dozen world cruises himself, Howie cautions couples not to plunge in without sampling voyages of two weeks or longer. The Petitprens agree.
Know yourself and make certain you won't get cabin fever gazing out to endless seas for months at a time. (Of course, if you don't want the whole she-bang, you need only book segments of the circumnavigation.) The experienced Petitprens also advise that world cruisers plan their wardrobe carefully.
Between formal nights and changing climates, you must think twice about what you will wear, they said.
Howie noted the importance of the itinerary in determining not only your garb but also in satisfying your wanderlust for exotic locales.
Howie and the Petitprens agree that it's vital to match your personality to that of the cruise line and to see if the entertainment and onboard enrichment programs suit your tastes.
With these tips under your belt, you can confidently set sail for the farthest reaches on the seven seas.
Plus, other luxe lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines, Celebrity and Crystal Cruises, among others, offer globetrotting vacations. For information contact a travel agent.
CIRCLING THE GLOBE
The Queen Elizabeth left Southampton, England, on its world cruise Jan. 5, reaching New York, its secondary embarkation point, Jan. 13. The major ports on the itinerary from there:
Jan. 29 — Los Angeles
Feb. 22 — Sydney
March 19 — Singapore
March 31 — Dubai, United Arab Emirates
April 19 — Southampton
April 26 — New YorkCopyright © 2015, CT Now