A retired couple from Virginia is celebrating a major cruising milestone this week — they’ve officially reached 1,000 days at sea with Carnival Cruise Line.
Robert and Nancy Houchens have been cruising for decades, and are currently aboard Carnival Pride in northern Europe for back-to-back sailings. As they sailed in the Norwegian fjords, Robert asked the ship’s team to surprise Nancy with a celebration to mark the occasion. The crew, of course, happily obliged.
Since they’ve been cruising with the line for so long, Carnival decided to do a Q&A with the couple and ask them what they love about life on the high seas.
Carnival: Why do you cruise?
Nancy: For us, cruising is a way of life. Our goal was to sell everything we owned and pretty much live on cruise ships. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it since we retired.
C: When did you start cruising?
Robert: More than 20 years ago when our kids were still at home. At first, we cruised because it was a great value.
C: You’ve made many memories aboard many ships. What stands out?
N: Carnival Pride has a lot of memories for us. It’s a very special ship. We were so lucky because we were invited when Pride came back into service from Baltimore last September. We were asked to take part in the opening ceremony with Carnival’s President Christine Duffy and it was absolutely wonderful – very emotional.
C: What is your favorite place on board a Carnival ship?
R: Serenity deck.
N: Yes, we love the Serenity deck. We used to do the nightclub, partying and staying up all night, but now we like to relax. Also, the beds. You can’t sleep anywhere like you can at sea on the beds.
C: After spending 1,000 days at sea, you must have many friends across the Carnival fleet.
N: Yes, we have family all over the fleet, meaning the team members on board. They have become family to us! Now we try to figure out what team members are on a particular ship, and that’s how we pick which cruise we want to go on. After cruising for so long, we’ve got a lot of [extended] family and we love them.
R: People from all walks of life, all cultures, all age groups, everybody cruises Carnival. We cruise Carnival because of the people. It isn’t the destinations for us anymore, it’s the journey – and the biggest part of the journey is the people.
C: Would you spend another 1,000 days at sea?
N: If we live long enough, we will!
Similar to Robert and Nancy, many people from across the world live full time or nearly full time on cruise ships. Perhaps the most popular example is “Super Mario” Salcedo, who lives on Royal Caribbean ships. Salcedo, who is a financial advisor, began his full-time cruise ship living 23 years ago, and — aside from the pandemic shutdown — hasn’t left the seas since.
Super Mario spends most of his “office” time in the outdoor smoking section of the ships. In fact, the Royal Caribbean crew made a sign, given to him by a captain years ago, that says “Super Mario’s Office” that hangs behind him on the deck.
He spends around 10 nights in his Miami condo per year, but the rest of his days are spent on one of Royal’s ships.
Many others who either live on ships full-time like Super Mario or spend a good chunk of the year at sea like Robert and Nancy, say they do it because it’s cheaper or a similar cost to a retirement home; they essentially don’t have to do any chores, and they get to see the world at the same time.
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