The freedom to choose...Tom trying new things...

At dinner last night, he really stretched himself trying and very much liking this liver pate, another first for him, saying it reminded him of Braunschweiger.
With five more upcoming Australian cruises in the next 15 months, we don't feel compelled to get off the ship at every port of call on this cruise.  The nice part about cruising is we can do whatever we want.  There are no schedules we have to follow.  Our dinner reservations can be "whenever" we'd like. 

With a variety of functions in which we can choose to participate, most can easily be attended with a last minute decision.  Most often there's room for two more. 

We love this freedom to decide.  In part, this sense of liberation and lack of feeling of being encumbered, owning "stuff," had been instrumental in our decision to travel the world.

Tom, for the first time ever, ordered a Caramel Macchiato and liked it very much, ordering another while we sat in the Café el Bacio again today preparing today's post.
Now, aboard this ship, we're totally entrenched in this feeling of choice and freedom, exactly how we feel when we're settled into a vacation home for a few months or more. 

There is no feeling of entrapment, no schedules other than those we freely choose with no obligations than those in our little world except for the responsibility to our health and well being, taking care in the houses we're renting, fiscal responsibility, record keeping and future planning.

As for the "responsibility" of taking photos and posting each day, its done  without any sense of obligation or pressure.  It almost feels as if I have a remote in hand each morning and I select "play" as the process flows through my fingers with ease and purpose. 

If someone would have ever told me I'd have to conceptually write an essay everyday of the week, 365 days (or this leap year's 366 days) including adding new photos daily, I'd had said , "Bite me! I'm not doing that!"

His next "outside the box" new drink, a Café Diablo with Courvoisier VS, Grand Marnier, Sambuca and hot coffee.
And yet, day after day, without stress, without boredom, without "writer's block" it all comes easily to me.  Motivation is a powerful thing.  Documenting this year's long journey, having the ability to look back and see what we've done day after day, sharing it with family, friends and the people we don't know throughout the world has been all the motivation we've needed.

On board the Celebrity Solstice now for the past 48 hours, we've already had more fun, met more people, engaged in more lively conversation as we've wandered about the ship thoroughly entertained together as a couple as companions, shipmates and lovers.  Without even trying, cruising is romantic in its own unique way. 

Last night, as we sat on bar stools at one of the popular bars, The Ensemble Lounge, with a jazz band playing in the background, we were not only reminded of times long past but, of past cruises when conversations on a bar stool are especially memorable. 

Tom was drinking his usual Courvoisier with Sprite Zero while I sipped on plain bubbly water in a tall glass with lots of ice, a lime and a straw.  I miss drinking alcohol but my health is better without it.  Last night, my glass looked like a "cocktail" while I almost felt a pleasing buzz from the power of suggestion.  High on life? 

A few years ago while on a cruise, he tried frog legs, enjoying them again as an appetizer at last night's dinner.
From meeting new people while sharing our mutual stories, a unique connection aboard ship is generated hour after hour.  We spend little time in the cabin.  At the moment we're situated in comfy chairs in the Café al Bacio, our newly discovered coffee/tea bar.

On our last cruise on this same ship, we rarely lounged in this area while posting instead spending time outside in warm weather.  We'd never tried the coffee or tea.  Tom has since tried a few coffee drinks as shown in today's photos in his attempt at "trying new things." 

It was exciting to find they offer my favorite oolong tea which I can drink all day when every beverage and sweet treat (for Tom only) they offer in this area is included in the two drink packages included on this particular cruise via a promotion through Celebrity:  free gratuities (usually charged at US $13, AUD $18 per person per day), free classic drink package for two (Tom's cocktails, specialty coffees, imported teas, and a wide array of bottled beverages which is usually US $59, AUD $83 per person per day), and a cabin credit of US $100, AUD $141 to be used however we'd like.

Once on the ship we immediately signed up for the unlimited Internet packages which doesn't allow sharing unless one goes offline while the other is online.  This plan, at US $244, AUD $345 per person (if we didn't want to share, which we don't) resulted in our paying a total of US $488, AUD $690 to ensure we both could be online at the same time.

Tom's dinner was less adventuresome, tournedos of beef with red wine reduction with potatoes, green beans and carrots. He found the entire meal and beverages to be pleasing to his limited palate. 
With Tom enjoying time online while I spend the better part of each morning preparing the post, sharing is not an option for us.  Plus, while I prepare the post, he assists with exchange rates, searching for links and researching pertinent information while I'm in the process of posting.  Having to go offline after each of my many questions I not for us.

Most likely, our final cruise bill will only include the above wifi fees and a few odds and ends for any purchases we may make. The almost dried out Max Factor mascara I'd purchased in Sydney made me drool over the prospect of purchasing a three pack of Lancôme Definicils, my old US favorite for US $72, AUD $102.  Gee...I haven't purchased something this pricey and extravagant in a long time. 

I've gone back to the ship's cosmetic store a few times looking at this potential purchase hesitating to buy it when for the past three plus years I've used what I could find at a local chemist or supermarket. 

My "girlie" mentality hasn't entirely wafted away while living this life and I'm glad for it.  Whoever said I had to give up everything?  No one.  The freedom to choose is outrageously gratifying. 

No, I don't own a handbag.  I have only two pairs of jeans and five total pairs of shoes. We make do with what we have.  An occasional splurge now and then reminds us that we do have the freedom to choose and that most often, we choose that which is relatively frugal and practical.

Today, we decided to stay onboard the ship.  We're currently docked in Melbourne (pronounced "mel-ban" here in AU) until 5:30 pm.  We may walk off the ship or we may not, since we're certainly enjoying the quiet while other passengers are off the ship shopping, riding in full buses and sighseeing. 

We'll be back here on another cruise in November.  Knowing this, its easy to choose to stay onboard, simply because we feel like it.  There are two upcoming ports of call for which we've booked all day small group tours.  That's enough for us.  We had no commitments for today.  When we return to Melbourne we may plan a small group tour or take a taxi tour.  However, today, we'll take a number of photos of Melbourne to share here tomorrow. 

So please check back, if you choose to...
Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2015:

When daughter-in-law Camille and granddaughter Madighan stayed behind a few days before returning to the mainland, Madighan and I made the gingerbread house we'd been too busy to make before Christmas.  For more photos, please click here.


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