Travel Blog

Cruising through retirement

Cruising through retirement

by Rhonda Owen on April 30, 2013

When Bobby Kirk retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2011, he and his wife, Debra, wanted to celebrate this turning point and the world of possibilities it presented. The youthful couple also wanted to see the world.

“It was our first big post retirement trip and we wanted to do something really special,” says Debra, who retired from the LAPD seven years earlier. A 10-day Oceania cruise to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities captured their fancy. 

“It was our first actual overseas trip,” she says. “We’d never been out of the country before and it was just fabulous.”

The cruise took them to Italy, where days in port were spent exploring Italy — Rome, Florence, Pisa, Tuscany and Amalfi. They also had time to take in Katakolon, Nauplion and Athens, Greece.

No worries

Having never been on an ocean cruise, Debra says she worried about having enough to do on the ship. Once aboard, her concern quickly evaporated. On or off ship, “there was never a day when we didn’t do something exciting and interesting.”

Bobby says he loved the personal service and pampering he received from the ship’s crew. “The best thing about the cruise was that the help was spot-on all the time. It was cool that once you left the room, the first person you met — no matter who it was, steward, mechanic, food server — would turn and talk to you. They were so friendly.”

Added adventure

While planning the trip, Debra says Castaic Travel owner Sherri Rost suggested they not merely fly into Europe, get on the ship, then fly out at the end of the trip.

“Sherri’s idea was to add on mini vacations with two days in Rome before the cruise and two days in Athens afterward,” Debra says. “It was wonderful. Sherri took care of all the details. We didn’t have to worry about anything. She booked a Rome highlights tour for us, and a tour of Athens, too. We got to have a beautiful cruise experience and explore these cities on our own. It was the perfect combination.”

In Rome, the Kirks were delighted that they could walk from their hotel to some of the city’s most memorable sights, among them the iconic Coliseum. “Our hotel was within a 2-mile radius of everything,” Bobby says. “We took a six-hour tour of the Vatican and once we got out of there, we were able to walk to the Coliseum. When you can do that, it makes the experience more relaxed. We never felt rushed.”

Attention to detail

Since that first cruise, the Kirks have turned to Castaic Travel to plan other trips, including a 5-day Princess cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. In October, they traveled in a group led by Sherri and John Rost to Europe for a seven-day cruise on the Rhine River. Before the cruise, they spent four days exploring Paris; after disembarking in Amsterdam, they enjoyed a couple of days seeing the sights there. In April, they went on a seven-day Castaic Travel-hosted vacation to explore the wonders of the Western Caribbean aboard the Crown Princess. They went cave-tubing in Belize and swam with dolphins at Cozymel.

“I love it that Sherri figured out a way for me to add Paris to our Rhine River cruise. I’ve always dreamed of seeing Paris,” Debra says. “And I love the attention to detail that Sherri provides. She doesn’t leave anything unresolved. She always makes sure everything is done. I just don’t have to worry about it. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that she’s taking care of every detail.”

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