The Couple that Sells Everything to Live a Sailing Life

By: Ronnie Tal | Last updated: Feb 14, 2024

Meet Ellie and David, a Colorado couple who decided to shake things up. They ditched the mountain life, sold everything they owned, and decided to hop on a cruise ship to explore the world. But this isn’t just a story of adventure; it’s a tale threaded with unexpected twists and heartfelt connections to the sea. You’ll be surprised to find out what made them uproot their comfy lifestyle. It’s not what anyone would expect. 

As we dive into their journey, we’ll uncover a touching revelation that transformed their pursuit of happiness into a tribute to a loved one’s dream. This story is filled with the unstoppable spirit and resistance that makes life worth living. It is this persistence, care, and passion that pushed this family to sail into the unknown, carrying a dreamer’s legacy on to the high seas.

New Year, New Me

What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Is it getting in shape, or maybe spending more time with family and friends? Whatever it is, chances are you were not sitting around at whatever party (or cozy evening at home) with a glass of champagne and proclaiming “This year I’m going to go live on a cruise ship for the rest of my life!” But for this couple things were different. Suddenly things seemed so small and grand at the same time and they just looked at each other and knew something drastic had to be done. 

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Source: Illustration Purposes / Travelfiber

It sounds crazy, right? Well, this is exactly what this lovely couple from Colorado decided to do, and the reason for their life-altering decision will leave you in tears, both happy and sad. With great pain can also come something beautiful. Life can be a mixed bag sometimes, more than you want it to be. This couple turned their tears into something that they will remember forever and hopefully inspired others in the process, although that is not what they originally set out to do. 

A Picture-Perfect Life Turned Upside Down

In the heart of Colorado, beneath the breathtaking expanse of azure skies and nestled between the towering peaks, lived Ellie and David – a couple whose story transcended the ordinary. As high school sweethearts, they lived through lots of life together and knew each other better than most. This was one of the perks of their relationship, they were so intuitive of each other and could easily make decisions since they were often on the same page or could understand the other’s concerns on a deep level. 

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As retired educators, Ellie and David’s passion for crossing the sea to find adventure was ignited when they stumbled upon the idea of a nomadic life aboard a cruise ship. They both loved the ocean, David, a former marine biology professor while Ellie an oceanographer and previous swim coach. They bonded over the idea of crossing uncharted waters and pushing their boundaries. 

From the Mountains to the Ocean

The decision to abandon the familiar seemed reckless to friends and family. However, Ellie and David were driven by a thirst for the extraordinary, a desire to escape the monotony of everyday life. They thought that there was more to life than the same old routine and that the ocean had a special place in their hearts for more reasons than one. Their first date was aboard a boat when Ellie visited David’s summer home with her family. They fell in love when David took Ellie kayaking that same year and their love story only continued to unfold amongst the ocean tides.  

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So, when things took a devastatingly unexpected turn they sold off their earthly possessions, bidding farewell to the comforts of a traditional home, to pursue a dream that beckoned from the vastness of the open sea. This time it had more purpose than ever before. 

There Were Suspicions

It took them less than a year to find a family that would buy their beautiful home, even if said family initially thought (understandably one might add) that there was something suspicious about this seemingly lovely couple. Despite having so many memories with their family and history that they remembered fondly they simply couldn’t live there anymore. 

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Source: Freepik

Potential buyers just couldn’t think of a reason that would explain why someone would want to get rid of such a place to go live at sea, but for Ellie and David, there was more than met the eye. If you knew the whole story it would have made more sense than one would have thought, but Ellie and David loved their privacy. They decided to keep their real reasons secret from everyone else although those closest to them could guess, and quite accurately, the real reason for their desire to change their life in such a contrasting fashion. 

Their Journey Begins

And so it was that on January 1st, Ellie and David had their cargo packed, and their tickets at hand. They were now ready to go aboard the ship that would mark the end of their life on dry land.

Source: Illustration Purposes / Travelfiber

But what might be seen as a childish idea, something that would be more fitting if the couple were in their 20s, actually had a secret behind it. It was something that save for their two little granddaughters, no one else knew.

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A New Way of Life

The first weeks at sea were a whirlwind of excitement and discovery. Currently, Ellie and David’s life is organized in monthly segments as they move from one ship to another. Their schedule is packed, and they already have plans in place up to December. However, a significant change is on the horizon.

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Source: Wikipedia

They’ll soon be settling into a more permanent lifestyle a residential cruise ship that stands out as one of the first of its kind. On this unique vessel, up to 30% of the passengers will be calling it their permanent home.

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A Home For Themselves

As they immersed themselves in new experiences, Ellie and David felt a profound connection to the vastness of the ocean. The ship became their home, its corridors echoing with laughter, its decks witnessing countless sunsets and sunrises.

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The couple formed bonded with fellow passengers, creating a floating community bound by shared stories of wanderlust.

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Too Good to be True?

It wasn’t just their wanderlust that made the trip so enjoyable, as the conditions onboard the ship itself are, to put it simply- fabulous. Their main challenge on board? Well, it’s a battle against the temptations of overindulgence.

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To counteract this, they’ve adopted a habit of walking extensively around the ship. On port days, their exploration can stretch to cover up to eight miles.

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Joy in Every Port

In a delightful twist, the ship extends its stays in ports, ranging from three to five days. For this dynamic duo, there’s even the option to prolong their land adventures.

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They can opt to linger in a port, fly out to meet the ship at a different location, and seamlessly continue their unique floating lifestyle. And oh boy did they travel! Each stop on the way held the promise of a new adventure, and they felt like they had an obligation to enjoy it to the fullest.

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The Beauty of Patagonia Took Ther Breath Away

Down in the far end of South America, Ellie and David found themselves in the wild wonderland of Patagonia. Picture massive mountains, giant glaciers, and lakes so clear you could see your reflection.

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Crunching gravel underfoot, they felt like the only souls in this vast, untouched paradise. Patagonia’s raw beauty hooked them in, and they left with a backpack full of memories.

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At the Edge of the World in Antarctica

So, the next stop was Antarctica – the icy kingdom at the bottom of the world. The cruise ship sailed through freezing waters, showing off colossal icebergs and animals that seemed to thrive in the cold. Penguins did their waddle dance, seals sunbathed on floating ice, and whales put on a show in the freezing sea.

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Ellie and David, bundled up like the lovebirds that they are, couldn’t believe they were standing in the middle of this frozen wonderland. Antarctica, with its crazy landscapes and polar party of animals, was like nothing they’d ever seen.

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The Wild Wonders of South Africa

Now, South Africa was a whole different vibe. The ship parked by the famous Table Mountain, giving Ellie and David front-row seats to Cape Town’s craziness. From thumping local tunes to chowing down on some seriously good South African grub, they soaked up the lively culture.

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South Africa threw everything at them – from lush vineyards to the rugged Cape of Good Hope – making Ellie and David feel like they were on a non-stop adventure

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The Stars of the Cruise

Other passengers were eager to talk to Ellie and David, as the couple’s warm disposition and lovely personalities were easy to get attached to. Their sunny personalities are what other passengers gravitate towards while on the cruise and they never would have guessed what Ellie and David were secretly dealing with behind the scenes. 

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They all noted, however, something that they all saw happen on the day when the ship embarked on its journey, on the first day of the new year.

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A Ceremony for the New Year

As the ship sailed into the New Year, Ellie and David decided to mark the occasion with a symbolic gesture.

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As the sun was going down, marking the end of the first day of the year, Ellie and David went to the upper deck, and when the sun disappeared beyond the horizon they threw a bouquet into the ocean and toasted with a glass of champagne.

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The Confused Crowds

To people who were looking from the outside, this gesture might seem a bit strange. Maybe it was their family tradition? Maybe it was their way to say goodbye to the year that’s just ended? It could have been several reasons but the passengers on board despite an inclining to ask, felt too personal and everyone refrained. Instinctively it felt like they were looking in on a hidden gesture that was meant for only the couple’s eyes. The fact that there were others around seemed to fade into the background. 

Source: Illustration Purposes / Travelfiber

Turns out, if someone thought that, they were actually not entirely wrong. Ellie and David’s little ceremony was their way of remembering the reason that made them go on this voyage in the first place. The reason they uprooted their entire life for a dream lied in such a ceremony or rather what it symbolized. 

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A Very Snowy New Year’s Eve

It happened on New Year’s Eve just one year earlier. David and Ellie were sitting at home, preparing to celebrate the evening with their family- their son, two daughters, and grandchildren. The house was full and the excitement of the new year was underway. Ellie and David could not be happier to have their children around to mark another year around the sun. 

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It was a very snowy December night, and almost everyone was accounted for. Everyone, except for Emily, their youngest daughter, had to work late that day. They waited for her in order to begin the festivities especially since Emily was the glue that held them together. She was the adventurous spirit of the family, the one who’s smile was infectious and despite being the youngest was secretly the person who inspired everyone else to be their best selves. 

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A Knock on the Door That Changed Everything

Emily’s husband and their two girls- Maya and Sopihe, were already there, and the girls were hyping everybody up, going around saying that their mommy had a really big announcement to make once she got there.

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It was starting to get late, and just 30 minutes before midnight, some knocked on the door. But it wasn’t Emily. Two police officers were standing at the door, and they gave the family the terrible news- Emily’s car had slipped on ice and crashed, and she was rushed to the hospital.

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Their World Fell Apart

Ellie and David drove to the hospital with Emily’s husband, leaving their grandchildren, Maya and Sophie, with the rest of the family. When they got there Emily was in surgery, but two hours later, unfortunately, they received terrible news. The surgery did not go as well as the doctors hoped and her injuries were too critical. Emily sustained deep injuries to several main arteries and severe head trauma.

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 The family was heartbroken when they were informed that Emily did not make it. It took them all a few weeks just to try and understand why and how this terrible disaster fell upon them all of a sudden. Ellie was especially devastated and refused to get out of the house entirely, let alone her bed. Luckily David was there to lean on for support although he also had a difficult time coping. Emily was the daughter he was closest to despite never admitting it. Two months later, Emily’s widower and the girls came to visit them and things took a turn.

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A Glimmer of Hope

Amidst the pain of loss that left Ellie and David shattered, her daughters Maya and Sophie, were one of the only things that brought them a shred of joy, and they would often ask their father to send the girls over for the weekend. Ellie and David loved spending time with their daughter’s daughters because it made them feel like part of Emily was still with them and they loved swapping stories about their dear Emily making sure she was always remembered. 

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One such weekend, the girls and their father came over looking different. They were less sad and seemed almost… excited. They had some big news they wanted to share with them and they seemed like they were bursting at the seams to share what they were holding in for so long. They weren’t sure how Ellie and David would react so they wanted to make sure that it was the right time, but there never really is a “right time” for such things, especially after such a tragic event.

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A Beautiful Revelation

When they sat together in Ellie and David’s living room, the couple couldn’t help but ask what was going on. That’s when Emily’s husband smiled at the girls and encouraged them to tell their grandparents the deep-sea secret that they have all been keeping since that fateful New Year’s Eve. The girls were hesitant at first because they knew it was a sensitive subject but they hoped that this would bring some light into what was otherwise a gloomy time for all of them. Readjusting to home and school life without their mother was not an easy thing by any means.

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The granddaughters told Ellie and David that Emily, their mother, shared with them that they were about to embark on a new adventure. It was no secret that Emily was tired of and unhappy at her current job and she was desperate for a change. Emily before her untimely death, suggested that the family take a break, sell the house, and go travel the world for a while, and home-school their kids at sea. Emily like her parents always loved the ocean. She thought that giving their kids some real-life experiences and culture throughout their studies was infinitely more valuable than anything they could learn from a textbook. 

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They Did Not See This Coming

Emily and her husband Dean, finally pooled together their finances and decided to do what Emily dreamed of. They decided to tell her parents and family on New Year’s Eve once she had gotten there, but she never made it. Of course, no one had thought about this plan again after Emily’s tragic death. Her husband quickly abandoned the idea, wanting to keep the girls in their home and as close to how things were with their mother as he could muster. He hoped it would create some stability for them. 

Source: Illustration Purposes / Travelfiber

But then, when he was going through his late wife’s bag, he found Emily’s notebook, where she was writing down her plans for the trip, and on the last written page, she added a small sentence: “Add mom and dad(?). This was when he knew, Emily wanted to suggest that they join her on the journey. “We wanted to share with you what Emily wanted,” he told them.

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David and Emily Had a Choice to Make

In the wake of this revelation, Ellie and David were left speechless. Although David’s first thought was to thank Emily’s husband, but refuse the offer, he looked at Ellie.

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Her long days cooped in left their mark on her, and he understood that taking on their daughter’s dream, crazy as it may be, would be their way to find some solace in the idea of honoring their daughter’s memory. So, on January 1st the following year, they officially bid adieu to the concept of a traditional home, embracing the boundless horizons that lay ahead.

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They Wanted to Fulfill a Promise

As Ellie and David continued their maritime odyssey, their lives became intertwined with the lives of their daughter’s children—Ellie and David’s granddaughters.

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The couple felt like Maya and Sopihe’s dream was taken away along with their mother, so just before they left, Ellie, David, and Emily’s husband agreed that the girls would join them on the ship on holidays, wherever it was docked.

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A Life of Adventure

Sophie and Maya, curious and adventurous like their mother, began spending school holidays aboard the cruise ship. The ocean became a playground for the granddaughters, and the ship, a floating classroom where lessons were not confined to textbooks but unfolded amidst coral reefs and ancient ruins.

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The couple reveled in the joy of passing on their love for exploration, knowing that in doing so, they were perpetuating Emily’s dreams through the younger generation.

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Endless Love

The sunsets aboard the cruise ship took on a poignant significance for Ellie and David. Each evening, as the sun dipped below the horizon, casting hues of pink and gold across the endless sea, they felt an indescribable connection to their daughter.

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The ocean breeze whispered tales of love, loss, and resilience, encapsulating the essence of a family that had found solace in the vastness of the world.

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Their Gaze is Set to the Future

The couple discovered that the world was vast, and within its embrace, they found healing. The ship became a floating sanctuary, where memories of Emily intertwined with the ever-changing landscapes outside their cabin window.

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Life aboard the vessel was a testament to resilience, a celebration of love that persisted even in the face of loss.

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The Magic of the Sea

As the ship sailed through the years, Ellie and David continued to explore, their hearts filled with a mix of joy, gratitude, and a gentle sadness that lingered like the sea mist.

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Yet, the love they felt for their daughter, the lessons learned from their adventures, and the laughter of their granddaughters served as a beacon, lighting their way through the vast expanse of the ocean.

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Ellie and David Became an Inspiration

Their story echoed across the ship, inspiring fellow passengers to embrace life’s unpredictable currents. The cruise ship, once a vessel for two souls seeking solace, had become a floating community of dreamers, adventurers, and resilient hearts.

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 In every sunrise and every starlit night, Ellie and David found comfort, knowing that their decision to sail away from the familiar had not only healed their wounded hearts but had also allowed their family’s dreams to live on. They looked up at the sky and saw the hearts in Emily’s eyes as she always seemed to have love and excitement radiating from her face. 

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The eternal cruise continued a testament to the enduring power of love and the boundless possibilities that unfold when one chooses to set sail into the vast unknown. With so many more places to see, explore, and share with their family, Ellie and David are without a doubt a shining example for turning grief into hope, and we all are waiting to see how their journey turns out!

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In the face of adversity, Ellie and David had chosen to embrace life rather than succumb to grief. The cruise ship, once a vessel of escape, had become a vessel of hope, carrying the dreams of a departed loved one into the future. As the granddaughters grow, the couple will witness the legacy of Emily unfold in their laughter, inquisitiveness, and the spark of adventure that gleaming in their eyes. The voyage once embarked upon to heal, had evolved into a journey of familial resilience, love, and the profound beauty that can emerge from the depths of loss.

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