Finding Home Sweet Home on a Cruise to Europe

by Brian Rohloff

Alanna and Brian aboard Star Princess in Khios, Greece
Alanna and Brian aboard Star Princess in Khios, Greece

When you travel for work 80 percent of the year, where exactly is home? My wife, Alanna, and I are on the move so much of the time that it makes no sense to buy a house or rent a condo. Who would cut the grass and feed the proverbial cat?

As work puts us on the horizon, less road for months at a time, we have decided to set up house at sea. Princess Cruises is our domicile of choice, our home sweet home.

Alanna and I help produce some of the world’s most incredible events: the Olympics, the Super Bowl, World Cup soccer and Formula 1 racing. It’s an adrenaline-packed life, filled with late hours and bursts of extreme pressure, but it also rewards us with up-close access to newsworthy events.

In the past, we’d fill our occasional downtime with a land-based vacation. Or we would couch surf with Alanna’s family in Winnipeg or mine in Jackson, Minn. After a week of that, we’d feel like we were taking advantage of our families. We also felt a bit old to be relying on our parents since I’m in my 40s and Alanna is in her 30s.

It took a Princess Cruises cruise director to suggest an alternative, that a cruise ship could also be a home.

We were on a two-month break and had decided to take our “homeless” selves on an official honeymoon cruise on Star Princess, followed with some backpacking through Europe. We boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale and were scheduled to disembark in Rome for a month of backpacking.

On board, we became friends with Sammy, the Star Princess cruise director. She’d been a good source of information about what to do and see at the various ports, and how best to enjoy our time on board. We told her about our nomadic lives. Living much of the year at sea, Sammy immediately got our situation. She knew we had a few weeks of backpacking coming up, but picked up on how comfortable we had become on the ship. She dropped hints about the great ports after Rome and how relaxed we seemed.

We started to weigh the pros and cons of whether to continue with our backpacking plans or whether to stay aboard the ship. Backpacking can be stressful, as you’re always working out the next leg of the journey, how to get there, where to sleep and where to stop for food. Cruising had been wonderful. In no time, we made our cabin a home with toothbrushes by the sink, clothes in the closet and a shampoo bottle in the shower. That’s big for us as we don’t bother to unpack at work unless we’re staying somewhere longer than two weeks.

Then, there was the daily routine. Sleeping in, followed by breakfast in bed, a visit to the gym (a must as Alanna was an Olympic-caliber gymnast in Canada and we both love our cardio), quiet musings about what to have for dinner, what show to see, what excursion to book. Life at sea was pretty amazing. What would you choose?

With the help of the onboard staff, we were able to stay aboard and Sammy was overjoyed when she heard the news. Not only did we love the routine, in our month together, the crew and fellow passengers felt as close as neighbors. We ended up spending 43 days on board before we had to jet off to our next assignment.

Princess Cruises was not a one-shot home. We recently spent a two-week layover aboard Coral Princess, cruising through the Panama Canal before setting up for the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Now, we’re figuring out where to go on our next work break.

We’ve traveled to over 60 countries together and have always been on the go. We’ve been called jet setters, adventure junkies, gypsies and globetrotters. Are we homeless? Nope! We like to think of it as home free, with the freedom to hop onboard the next Princess Cruises ship for a bit of adventure with lots of rest and relaxation.

Maybe cruise ships are a well-kept secret among my peers. We tell them there are all ages and personalities on board and with a variety of shores excursions, it’s as adventurous as you make it.

Most of all, it’s nice to feel like we have a place to call home. A Princess Cruises ship is the place we go to relax and unwind, sitting in front of Movies Under the Stars with a pina colada in hand.

If the day comes that we have a family, maybe a moving ship won’t be our permanent address. But for now, and for us, there’s no place like our Princess home.

Brian and Alanna travel the world for work. They’ve enjoyed four Princess cruises and are Captain’s Circle Platinum members.