Cruise Blogs.

The SS Furnessia, the ship that carried my grandfather away to sea .

“Will this be the ship that carries me away?”  It’s a question my grandfather asked himself as a boy in Ireland.  An uncle had sailed away to America.  He earned enough to afford to return home, cabin passage, on fine large ship.  He erected a cairn of stones on the road between Greencastle and Moville, paced off the length of the ship, and erected another cairn of stones.  He took anyone who would follow him to pace the distance between the cairns while he talked about this wondrous ship.   My grandfather was hooked.  After school he sat on the shores of Lough Foyle watching ships sail out of Derry, around Inishowen Head and into the North Atlantic asking: “Will this be the ship that carries me away?” One day he got on one of those ships, the Anchor line’s SS Furnessia out of Derry, and ran away to sea, to work as a steward.

When I was a kid my grandfather and I sat on the fire escape of his third floor walkup in Jersey City to watch ships sail past the Statue of Liberty.  He taught me to recognize the livery on the ships’ funnels.  Red white and blue for United

RMS Queen of Bermuda, Three funnels!

States Lines, yellow, green and white for Holland America, and red and black for Cunard.  As we watched grandpa would ask “Richard, will this be the ship that carries you away?”

My Grandfather made sure that ships carried us both away together.  First it was the Hudson River Day Line then, in 1958, on the three funneled Furness Liner, the Queen of Bermuda.  In 1961 we sailed red white and blue on the SS United States (the “Big U”) to his boyhood home in Ireland where we looked in vain for those cairns and sat where he sat as a boy watching ships leaving Derry.  We returned home on the SS America (The ship in the picture at the top of the page.)

I was hooked.  Suzi and I sailed to our honeymoon on the “Big U.”  We were both exhausted from the rush of graduation and getting married, receptions in Minnesota and New Jersey.  I look like it, Suzi looks like nothing could phase her.  Glad I had 5 days on the ship to recover.

Since then we’ve taken coastal steamers up and down the Coast of Norway, a Canadian freighter along the BC Coast and whenever life seemed to get too hectic rode the Alaska State Ferry on a “poor man’s cruise.”

SS United States “The Big U.”

We raised our kids and when they went to college we started more than 20 year careers as foreign aid workers. Working in places like the Balkans, Middle East and Africa we didn’t have much time to cruise.

But in 2014, after we returned to the US we got a brochure from AMEX tempting us with a cruise around South America and to Antarctica on Prinsendam.  It hit too many of our hot buttons, Antarctica, the Panama Canal, Carnival in Rio, and a trip up the Amazon.  We tried to talk ourselves out of it but couldn’t.  Besides I had covered the sinking of the First Prinsendam in the Gulf of Alaska in 1980 and sailing on her namesake gave me a certain ironic pleasure.  I produced a radio documentary about the rescue.  We were convinced this would be a one off.  We were wrong.  We’ve done a cruise each year since then.  Here are our cruise blogs.

My First Cruise, The Queen of Bermuda, 1957.

Boy was I seasick, but ultimately I came back for more.


A crossing is not a cruise.  I know that.  But where else do I file these posts?

2015 Grand South America — Antarctica  MS Prinsendam

“We thought this would be a one off, we were wrong.”

2016 Cuba Cruise,  Fathom’s MS Adonia

“CU in C.U.B.A.”

2017 Iceland, Greenland Explorer, MS Prinsendam

“See it quick, before it melts.”

2018 Grand World Voyage, MS Amsterdam.

“Around the World at 19 miles an hour,”

2019 Celtic Explorer.  MS Prinsendam

The “Celtic Fringe” of Great Britain

2019 Norwegian Fjords Explorer, MS Prinsendam.

Our last cruise on MS Prinsendam

2020 MS Amsterdam Grand World Voyage

The World  Cruise that wasn’t quite as advertised — half the world, twice the adrenaline and a world pandemic. 

2021 Alaska Dream Cruise.   

This weeklong cruise took us through Northern Southeast Alaska from Juneau home to Sitka on a small ship.

2023 MS Zuiderdam Grand World Voyage:

Our attempt to complete the 2023 Grand World Voyage that came to a crashing halt in a Mauritius Hospital.   

A Twenty First Century Crossing.

Crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s QM2 with two grandkids.

The Great Koningsdam Solar Eclipse and Repositioning Cruise

We finally get to see a solar eclipse, and visit Mexico and Hawaii to boot!

Memorial Day Shakedown Cruise

We take Alaska Dream Cruise’s Chichagof Dream for a test spin.

2 thoughts on “Cruise Blogs.

  1. Followed you on your “almost“ World Cruise, and I’m now enjoying your blogs at home. I really enjoyed your pictures of the glaciers as they reminded me of our Alaskan cruise for our 40 anniversary, oh dear that was 19 years ago this month. It’s time we went again. Perhaps for our 60th.
    Thank you for your writing skills. I hope you and your wife have good reports on your medical. Stay safe in this crazy time of COVID-19.

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