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Sailing Away

Their adventures included ziplining in Costa Rica, whale-watching and sampling tequila in Puerta Vallarta, and snorkeling with sea turtles and visiting an ostrich farm in Curacao.

Last month, twenty-seven residents of Monarch Landing senior living community in Naperville took a trip of a lifetime as they sailed on Holland America’s cruise ship Rotterdam on a 16-day Panama Canal excursion. It was the latest in the dozens of trips coordinated through the resident-run travel committee. “We’ve gone to the Greek Islands, China, Hong Kong, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, South Pacific islands and more,” said Nellie Lannin, who heads up the group. Residents throughout the community sign up for whichever trips interest them, and often even suggest dream destinations.

“The trips are lifetime experiences,” said Monarch Landing resident, Jan Parks.

This was especially true for the Panama Canal trip. “This trip allowed us to experience one of the seven wonders of the modern world; the awe-inspiring nature of the canal and being able to transit it personally actually touch the walls of the locks. The ship was only a few feet less wide than the canal so people on deck could literally reach out and touch the wall as we passed through. There was not one of us who was not impressed with the magnitude of what was accomplished over one hundred years ago, done without our modern technology,” said Nellie. “This was the reason most of the group want to take this cruise. It was a destination most requested to the travel committee.”

The enthusiastic voyagers from Monarch Landing include individuals who have been lifelong travelers, those who waited until retirement to explore the world, and everything in between. The commonality is the fact that they now all have the time to travel, and the ability to do so easily without worrying about their homes…no freezing pipes, piled up newspapers, or putting a hold on their mail.

“One of the nice things about living at Monarch Landing is that we can just pack up and go,” said Jan. “One of the main reasons we moved here was because we wanted to travel and not worry about it.”

Furthermore, the existence of the travel group guarantees that no one has to take trips alone. “There are couples that travel, but there are also a lot of singles, and they’re able to travel together if they want to,” said Monarch Landing resident Kay Lick.

Jan said that she’s taken two trips without her husband. “He didn’t want to go, but I was still able to go on the trips and not be alone. I still experienced the comradery.”

“When you travel with our group, you always have someone to talk to. No one is really alone,” said resident Margaret Stanisz.

“It’s more fun this way,” added Sharon Snader. “Travelling together brings a family vibe to the group and allows people to get to know each other better. Because of the diverse interests of individuals, people also socialize with other passengers, not only with their fellow residents of Monarch Landing.”

Cruises are an especially popular form of travel for the residents. “People are able to pick and choose the activities in which they participate,” said Nellie. “They can select whatever land tours they want to do, or they can decide to never get off the ship.”

Additionally, cruise lines are very attuned to the senior market. “They treat seniors very well,” said Kay.

In her role of heading up the resident travel committee, Nellie helps to identify potential trips, coordinates the paperwork, liaises with the cruise representatives, and makes arrangements for airport transportation.

When cruising, Nellie also arranges dinner tables for whichever residents want to eat together. “I reserve some tables, and everyone can circulate,” she said.

“The residents may have gone their separate ways during the day. Then dinner is a good time for them to get together and compare notes about the things they did, and what they bought,” Sharon added.

Upcoming trips to which residents are already looking forward for this year include a cruise to Norway, Iceland, and Greenland, and a cruise to Japan and Vancouver in 2021.