Travel

Istarted my world-traveling by accident. Back in 2010, my life consisted of two things: boxing and writing. Early mornings were two hours of boxing workouts. The rest of the day was spent working on my books.

That February at the gym, my trainer Charlie talked to a man he hadn’t seen in years. The man said he was about to sign up for a world cruise. I’d never heard of such a thing. I thought cruises were for young people who did nothing but drink and fall over the side of the ship. But this man was my age.

I am an insatiably curious person, so I went home and began researching. A world cruise was four months long and went to places I’d only imagined.

I’d never really had the travel bug but reading the itinerary made me want to GO! Besides, Charlie’s friend was going too, so I wouldn’t be by myself. Before I thought about what I was doing, I called the cruise line and signed up for their 2011 World Cruise.

Next time at the gym, the man said he had decided not to go. For the rest of that year, I thought I should cancel. Who goes on a four-month cruise alone?

But I was so busy with boxing and writing that I didn’t cancel. I sent my passport off and got the necessary visas. I bought new clothes.

In January 2011, I went to Port Everglades near my home and boarded a big ship. My cabin was beautiful, and I had a terrace so deep that I could sit out there even in a storm.

The trip was better than I ever thought it could be, and I had a truly great time.

What surprised me was that I wrote on board. And wrote and wrote. It was like I’d caught a writing virus and couldn’t stop. Every day, I was out on my deep terrace and writing. I came up with plots for six future novels. I produced more in those four months than I had in years and I had enough material to last me for a long time.

When I got home, I put the trip behind me I’d been around the world and seen it all, right? It was done.

I spent the next few years on land, moving twice, still boxing and writing. I finished all the books I’d come up with on the world cruise. Then, in 2014, I thought, I can go on another world cruise. It was like something hitting me on the head.

One thing I didn’t like the first time around was how big the ship was. There were just too many people! I looked online at the several cruise lines offering world trips and saw that one was going to Africa. Whoo hoo! Count me in. An hour and a half later, I was booked.

So now, from January to May, every year, I go on a world cruise. I discovered that there are a lot of people who do that. Because the ship I go on is small, we have made a sort of society. When you’re together 24/7 for months, you get to know each other. You develop strong friendships Every January when we see each other again, there’s a lot of hugging and squealing in joy.

On each cruise, I write like a fiend. Unlike at home, everything is taken care of for me. Thirsty? Someone brings me a drink. Hungry? Food is everywhere. Bored? We just docked in Bali.

Everyone asks me which is my favorite country. Each time I’m asked that, my mind goes on overload. Where do I begin?

Before I started traveling, I knew everything there was to know about every country. After all, I’m an historian. I spend my life researching.

Now I laugh at my naiveté. I knew nothing about anywhere. The countries and the people are all different from what I thought they were.

When we dock in a country, we go on day-long excursions. I love wild animals and arts, so I choose them from the available list. There are also overnight land tours. I went to Beijing to see the Great Wall. I saw the Forbidden City and the terracotta warriors. I was awed by Petra and the Taj Mahal. This year I’ve booked a week in Bhutan.

All this traveling has renewed my love of photography. Trying to see the world from a viewpoint that isn’t exactly like what everyone else sees challenges me.

When it comes to my books, the question I am asked the most is Where do you get your ideas? I guess the real answer is from brain stimulation. To be able to write I need to keep my mind working. Not everyone on a cruise ship is nice. Some of them give me lots of material for murder mysteries.

Every story, every sight, every country is fodder for my books. When I started my murder mysteries, I decided to include a writer who has traveled as I have so I can include some of the things I’ve learned. Don’t be surprised if I set a novel on a cruise ship. And I know exactly who I want to kill. And boy! Does she deserve it!!!

Photographs by Jude Deveraux