Robert and Nancy Houchens, a retired couple from Virginia, spend most of their time on cruise ships, and recently reached a milestone while on Carnival Pride: 1000 days at sea on a Carnival Cruise Line ship.
As they sailed the Norwegian Fjords, Robert asked the ship’s team to surprise Nancy with a celebration to mark the occasion. Of course, Carnival Pride’s crew members were happy to oblige.
The Houchens have been cruising for decades, so we asked them what they love about life on the high seas.
Why do you cruise?
Nancy: For us, cruising is a way of life. Our goal was to sell everything we owned and pretty much live on cruise ships. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it since we’ve retired.
When did you start cruising?
Robert: More than 20 years ago when our kids were still at home. At first, we cruised because it was a great value.
You’ve made many memories aboard many ships, what stands out?
Nancy: Carnival Pride has a lot of memories for us. It’s a very special ship. We were so lucky because we were invited when Pride came back into service from Baltimore last September. We were asked to take part in the opening ceremony with Carnival’s President Christine Duffy and it was absolutely wonderful – very emotional.
What is your favorite place on board a Carnival ship?
Robert: Serenity deck.
Nancy: Yes, we love the Serenity deck. We used to do the nightclub, partying and staying up all night, but now we like to relax. Also, the beds. You can’t sleep anywhere like you can at sea on the beds.
After spending 1000 days at sea, you must have many friends across the Carnival fleet.
Nancy: Yes, we have family all over the fleet, meaning the team members on board. They have become family to us! Now we try to figure out what team members are on a particular ship, and that’s how we pick which cruise we want to go on. After cruising for so long, we’ve got a lot of [extended] family and we love them.
Robert: People from all walks of life, all cultures, all age groups, everybody cruises Carnival. We cruise Carnival because of the people. It isn’t the destinations for us anymore, it’s the journey — and the biggest part of the journey is the people.
Would you spend another 1000 days at sea?
Nancy: If we live long enough, we will!
The Houchens are currently sailing aboard Carnival Pride in Europe on back-to-back cruises and plan to keep cruising as much as possible throughout their retirement.