Last full day aboard Celebrity Solstice...Packing day...Saying goodbye to new friends...

At the end of the day on Mystery Island, Vanuatu, the workers return to their homes at neighboring islands.  There are no homes or overnight accommodations on this island.
Today is the last full day aboard the ship.  Its been an absolutely delightful cruise, one in which we've been socializing with other passengers day and night.  As soon as we mosey off from one venue to another, whether its to dine, buy a drink at a bar or lounge in the cafe, we've often and easily found ourselves engaged in lively conversation.

Close the islands, scenes from the ship are particularly beautiful
It continues to fascinate us how often passengers express such a degree of curiosity over our lifestyle.  Many are shocked and surprised by the length of time since we left Minnesota (almost 53 months) and others applaud us for our commitment and bravery.

Then there's everyone in between, asking many questions that, regardless of their nature, we answer with the utmost of honestly and candor.  Its not always easy explaining how and why we're emotionally able to live "in the world" as opposed to the comforts and security of living near family and friends, rooted in one or even two locations.

Tower on a hill in New Caledonia.
We'd spent the first 60 plus years of our lives doing just that and with my improved health due to a massive dietary change five and a half years ago, we happily continue on in our journey feeling confident this has been the right choice for us, although definitely not for everyone.

During this cruise we've handed out no less than 200 business cards.  We don't push them on anyone but are asked for our web address which is too lengthy to spell.  We both keep plenty of cards in our pockets, wherever we may be at any given time.

These ship cabanas are for rent at AU $265, US $200 per day on sea days, less on port days.  Very few of these were rented during the cruise.
Making friends aboard ship is the true highlight of our cruising experiences. Hearing about their lives and travel stories continue to inspire and enlighten us to new opportunities, often providing an entirely different perspective than our own. 

Its these very differences that have a tendency to interest us the most which may include never-considered locations for future travel and new insight into areas we've previously visited.

Mystery Island, a tourists only uninhabitied island staffed by sellers and servers when cruise ships arrive in the area.
Ironically, we discover over and over again, that in essence we are all alike in many ways; we revel in quiet unexciting times almost as much as our adventures; we embrace people we meet along the way; we consider good health of the utmose concern as we age.

Many can't imagine how we can travel the world with my restricted diet nor how Tom has resisted eating bread, toast, cookies and cakes during the cruise.  When we explain that we've come to accept "eating to live" not "living to eat" they often shrug at how much a sacrifice such a philosophy entails.

Sun glare on the sea at the day's end.
In reality, for us, its just the opposite...without this year's long philosophy, I may be like my dear elder sister spending 24/7 for the past 12 years suffering from the same painful spinal condition I've had for the past over 25 years.  

Now pain free (except for last June's injury, since healed) since 2011 when I adopted this way of eating, I've been given the opportunity to travel the world with my love, companion, husband and best friend.  Who's to argue with this way of life?

Cruising passed islands on a cloudy day.
When we often read the blogs or articles by other world travelers including many comments from "haters" on their social media, we are in awe of how we don't hear such negative comments.

On only a few ocassions in the long ago past did a few readers write negative comments or email us.  In both cases, we chose not to respond.  As we always say, this is not a place for us be "right," "to prove a point" or "espouse controversial views." 

An old building in Noumea, New Calendonia.
For us, this place continues to one of sharing love, joy and wonder.  After each cruise, we've added another layer to our continuing awe of this world when so many wonderful people embrace us, accept our personal choices and then, when back home, begin to "travel along with us" on our day to day journal of our lives on the move. 

For this, we thank each and every one of our readers and each and every one of of the new friends we've made along the way.  And, dear folks, hang on, much more excitement is yet to upcoming 40 nights in Sydney/Manly; a 24 night cruise to Seattle (via Hawaii); an Alaskan cruise; a nine week USA visit including Minnesota and Nevada; holiday home in Costa Rica; Antarctica cruise; a month in Buenos Aires; several South American cruises; and a much awaited return to Africa and so much more.

Grafitti on the side of a building in New Caledonia.
Thanks to new friends Sam and Phil for inviting us to "High Tea" in their Penthouse Suite yesterday afternoon.  It was a beautifully presented and hosted special event for us and seven others, adding to our diverse cruise experiences. 
Whether its a special event such as this or dinner in the included Epernay Dining Room with a couple from a small farm in Wollongong, AU, we've loved meeting all of YOU! 

Tomorrow's final cruise post will include all of the expenses we incurred on the 12 night cruise including cruise fare and extras as we make our way off the ship to our next destination.  Please check back!

Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2016:

Trish and Neil named this cria after Minnesota  in behalf of Tom since we''d watched over his birth while they were on holiday during our three months stay on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  For more photos, please click here.  In February, they named a girl Miss Jessica after me, a female birth we'd also observed, as shown in prior posts.  What a glorious experience!


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