Retirement can be a long pleasure cruise

March 1, 2012 5:19 pm

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You almost know Shirley Gernsback is a retired teacher before she tells you. She gets straight to the point, suffers no fools, yet keeps her sense of humor.

I met her during a buffet lunch at the Masonic Village at Sewickley the other day, and when the conversation turned to cruises, Mrs. Gernsback offered this retirement plan:

Sell all your assets and go on cruises the rest of your life. It will cost no more than it would to stay put.

We were sitting at a table filled with her friends, retirees all, and none doubted her premise.

They know she and her husband, George, have been cruising for three decades, and she taught math for longer than that.

The Gernsbacks are at 39 cruises and counting, everywhere from the Baltic Sea to the Caribbean, although they always come home to White Oak.

I took notes, although I'm years from retirement and I've never been on a cruise, unless you count rafting on the Youghiogheny or a party on the Gateway Clipper.

She's 82 and George is 86, and they've been married 61 years.

He retired as a manufacturer's representative 22 years ago, and she retired from teaching from McKeesport High School about 15 years ago.

She had no plans to retire at the time, but she saw a good cruise coming up -- she thinks it might have been one around Hawaii -- and decided the simplest thing would be to take the buyout then being offered to older teachers and free up the time.

The Gernsbacks have never looked back, except to see the wake of the ships.

When I called their home the day after the Masonic Village event, she said she'd just seen a deal for a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean next January.

There would be stops at Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Martin. An inside cabin goes for $675.

Multiply that by 52 weeks and you get $35,100.

You get three meals a day, your bed made each day -- "you live like a queen."

Not that she'd ever go all-in with her idea of year-round travel.

Brian O'Neill: boneill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1947.
First Published 2012-03-01 06:03:48

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