Journalist Dies Before Taking Dream Cruise

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A freelance journalist who’d spent over 30 years in the business, and whose dying wish was to go on a cruise, passed away Saturday. Sadly, he never made it aboard a ship before terminal lung and brain cancer claimed his life.

His Dying Wish

According to First Coast News, 57-year-old Derek Kinner of Jacksonville, Florida, had opted not to undergo surgeries in favor of choosing quality of life. Knowing his time was limited, he reluctantly sought help in making his lifelong dream come true. “I am astounded at the outpouring of support since my diagnosis,” Kinner wrote on his Go Fund Me page. “Many have offered to help make my final dream come true — taking a Caribbean cruise and looking at the water in the middle of the ocean from the deck on a hopefully moonlit night.”

Crowdsourcing was not something Kinner took lightly. “Many have urged me to start this fund,” he wrote. “I feel kind of guilty about it, but what the heck. I am not and never have been a mooch. Your donations to my medical fund have almost literally saved my life thus far, through the continuing diagnoses have gotten worse and worse. Please don’t give me anything you don’t have. Your support and love has meant more than you’ll ever know.”

Why He Couldn’t Cruise

Eventually, Kinner was able to get clearance from his doctor to sail on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas. Unfortunately, he did not have the proper documents necessary to board the vessel on the day he was to set sail. Kinner proved more worried about those who had paid for his voyage than the fact he was unable to take it. “Everybody knows that I am going to die,” he said, “and I have gotten so much support from so many people. That’s really my biggest concern, quite frankly, is them. They pitched in to do this and get it done. And I can’t get it done.

Although Royal Caribbean did everything possible to get him on a future sailing, that ultimately proved impossible. Shortly thereafter, however, the Apryle Showers Foundation was able to arrange for Kinner to take a trip to the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, and a complete stranger named Joshua Farid arranged for the reporter to enjoy a three-day stay in a deluxe suite at the Ritz.

“Maybe I Did Something Right”

According to an obit from, Kinner said during his final days, “So many people have reached out and let me know how I affected their lives. Maybe I did something right. It’s like Tom Sawyer being at his own funeral. And if you go quickly, you never get to hear that.”

Kinner’s sister, Karyn, says that Derek will be cremated and his remains scattered on the beach.

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