Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes
Ever wonder what it would be like to work on cruise ships? Small cruise ships? For 15 years?
Elise & Tim Lentz have worked on ships big and small as cruise directors, shore excursion managers, tour directors and event managers for over 15 years. The married globetrotters are based in Florida when they’re not aboard ships, mostly small ones these days, running the small ship division for a US based Tour Operator and now for their own new company Global Tour Management. Depending on specific assignment(s), they may be on the high seas for a few weeks to a month or more at a time. Their life has been anything but boring and each day offers a new adventure.
Welcome to the first in a series of monthly installments from Elise, sharing their story.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Part 1: Elise & Tim Chuck Corporate Life to Hit the Road & the High Seas
By Elise Lentz.
How we wound up at sea is a voyage in and of itself…
We are high school sweethearts and credit our 30-year marriage to having similar goals and dreams in life. This means we got into this business because Tim and I had an early mid-life crisis together.
We were both working corporate jobs and never seemed to have enough quality time together, let alone have the time to take a true vacation. We had a nice house, cars and income — but something was missing. On a whim, I bought a book: Six Month Off: How To Plan, Negotiate & Take The Break You Need Without Burning Bridges Or Going Broke. Who knew that book would lead to us quitting our jobs, selling our house and cars, storing our “treasures,” and buying a 24-foot RV.
Phase 1 of the Plan
We started the adventure by parking our new RV for a month, and then with two backpacks, our passports, Rick Steves’ Europe through the Back Door, and a Europe train timetable, off to Europe we went. Growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania, this was a big deal for us. It was our first trip outside of the United States and once we got our passports stamped for the first time, all of the fear and trepidation of leaving our corporate jobs began to fade away. Not having an idea of what to expect made it even more exciting.
We spent one month backpacking through Europe, sleeping in hostels and pensions, and riding the rails. Of all the amazing places it was the kindness of strangers in a foreign land that was most memorable.
Phase 2 of the Plan
After our successful month taking a break exploring Europe, we were now ready to start “phase 2” — a 14-month RV journey across the USA with two mountain bikes strapped on the back. The trip surprised us with beautiful scenery and gracious people, and only a few breakdowns — the RV and once even our bed! (don’t ask).
Back from the RV tour, we realized that we loved being together and traveling, but we needed to figure out how we were going to survive at this long term. I found myself paging through the newspaper and saw an advertisement for a Windstar Trans-Atlantic cruise. Now you’re thinking “how is this going to pay the bills?” I thought the same thing, but we decided to approach this cruise as a two-week life planning session. Try to explain that as a business deduction to the accountant. We were up for two weeks at sea — with little to no TV or Internet. There would be a lot of time to reflect on what was important to us and what we wanted to do “when we grew up.”
Excited about this plan, we made the final payment on the cruise on September 10, 2001. Yep, the day before the horrific 9/11 event that rocked the world. The travel industry took a massive hit and we thought we would be getting a call that the cruise had been canceled. The ship still had to relocate across the Atlantic shortly after — with or without passengers — so the cruise line decided to bring along whomever still wanted to sail.
On a small ship that holds 148 passengers, there were 21 onboard. Needless to say, two weeks at sea with only 21 people, we all got to know each other well. Searching for our next path in life, Tim and I focused on spending time with the cruise directors. On this ship, it was a “Host & Hostess” couple, which in essence is the cruise director and shore excursion manager.
Talking with them about life onboard, we disembarked the ship with a plan. We wanted to be them….
Jumping in with both feet
First, we needed a plan to gain relevant training and experience in tour management and hospitality. Traveling to Colorado, we attended the International Guide Academy and became certified as tour managers. Armed with a certification, we then spent time working for a ski resort as mountain guides and resort hosts. With a few additional assignments in tourism, we felt ready to pursue our “dream.”
We valued our relationship and vowed to each other that whatever assignment we pursued, we would do it together. Windstar Cruises was one company that needed a team who could work together and share a cabin. As a married couple, spending 14 months full-time in a 24-foot RV, we had already proven that we could survive in small spaces without killing each other.
In life, anything worth pursuing is worth the wait. Persistence paid off, the timing was right — and we were hired.
Was it everything we ever thought it would be?
Well let’s save that for another post….
See you soon. — Elise
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Speaking of backpacking through Europe, if you’ve got plans to travel in Spain, here’s a helpful article about Safety in Spain from our friends at Alltherooms.com — Is Spain Safe?