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The Star Princess cruise ship is shown anchored off Avalon, Catalina Island. Photo: Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

Last February, San Juan Capistrano travel agent Ann Ronan, asked if I’d be willing to host a four-day “Tom Blake Loving Life after 55 Cruise.”

On Life and Love After 50 By Tom Blake
On Life and Love After 50 By Tom Blake

There was one stipulation: I’d have to give a seminar at sea.

My partner Greta and I love cruises; we thought it would be fun. Besides, it was a long time till November and I’d have plenty of time to prepare for the seminar.

And then November arrived so quickly. On Thursday, November 12, Greta, her daughter Tina Skelton of Murrieta, and I boarded the Star Princess in San Pedro. Tina is younger than age 55, but she and her husband Tod just sent their last teenager off to college so she wanted to have some fun and ensure that we older folks took full advantage of all of the ship’s activities. Her energy kept us moving.

This was one large cruise ship: 952 feet in length (more than three football fields), 17 levels, three swimming pools, 3,000 passengers and a crew of 1,100.

The group of older singles who participated in the “Tom Blake Loving Life after 55 Cruise” shared their experiences with dating, friendship and love during the cruise. Photo: Tom Blake
The group of older singles who participated in the “Tom Blake Loving Life after 55 Cruise” shared their experiences with dating, friendship and love during the cruise. Photo: Tom Blake

There were 13 in our group on the cruise, mostly strangers to each other. On the first night, we met before dinner to introduce ourselves. Over the four days, I realized how unique and interesting each person was. At the seminar, everyone had a chance to speak. Here’s a sampling of what was learned:

Travel agent Ann and her husband Ted on the glue that brought them together: Both are avid Boston Red Sox fans.

Kathy, a widow from Dana Point on first dates: “I now limit them to a walk or coffee.”

Phil from Anaheim: “I’ve been on and two other sites. Of the last 15 dates with different women, only one looked as advertised. The others’ profile pictures (were) way, way off.”

Marie of Dana Point: “I was married for 65 years. I am now 94 and still driving. I was the first woman secretary at the Pentagon.”

Ceil and Stuart, not married but in an exclusive relationship: “We live in the Washington, D.C. area but in different states, and met online. While we live close by but with the traffic around D.C. it can take a long time to get to each other’s houses.”

Lela is from Idaho Falls, Idaho but winters in Mesa, Arizona: “Dating in Idaho is difficult, particularly when I was caregiving my Mom.”

Iris, also from Idaho Falls and Lela’s friend in her post-cruise email to me: “I want to tell you how much I enjoyed the cruise and loved meeting everyone. I have made some lifelong friends.”

Lillian, Orange County: “In online dating, you’ve got to have a thick skin. Don’t take rejection personally.”

Tina, the youngster of the group, kept us active: “Come on guys and gals, let’s take in the evening entertainment shows, even if they start at 10 p.m. You can sleep in tomorrow.”

Greta and I (Dana Point) shared: “We met at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli when Greta ordered a fresh carrot juice. While she was waiting, I asked if she’d like to have dinner. She replied, ‘That would be lovely.’ That conversation took place June 24, 1998. We’ve been together ever since.”

The group agreed that the most important factors to look for in a relationship are honesty, truthfulness and a person who sincerely wants a mate.

Older singles need to get out and enjoy life. This group did that for four days.

To see cruise photos, and to read my cruise blog, visit

Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. His latest book can be found online at See his website at (Yes, after 60. Time rolls on). To comment:

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