The microphone screeched momentarily, just enough to induce winces and a few yelps from those in attendance, and then the boat captainâ€™s deep voice came through. â€œWelcome to Ft. Lauderdale! On todayâ€™s tour weâ€™ll be seeing how the rich liveâ€¦â€
This past week my husband and I flew into Ft. Lauderdale to catch a four-day Princess cruise. At least once a year I crave the sights and sounds of an ocean, and our December anniversary gives us cause to satisfy my yearnings. Heading to Florida this time was double-bonus nice because our current Minnesota winter is one of the coldest on record. Yea.
Our dilemma was what to do with our luggage once we arrived. The Princess staff is phenomenal, but even they had no suggestions given our 5:30 a.m. flight arrival. The storage option at the airport didnâ€™t open until 9 a.m., soâ€¦the luggage came with us. To kill time, my husband booked a paddleboat tour on the Jungle Queen. Our itinerary was simple. Weâ€™d coast through the canals that web the area and look at how the wealthy spend their money.
We wheeled our luggage to the ticket office of the Jungle Queen looking ridiculous, aka, as touristy as possible. The captain came by, glanced at me, and stopped in his tracks. He backed up. â€œUm, you do know this is only a three hour tour, right?â€ He nodded at my luggage. I smiled and then added, â€œWhat can I say? Iâ€™m high maintenance.â€
Once the tour was underway it was hard to wrap our reality around the sights drifting by us. The captain delighted in pointing out various yachts, homes, and their price tags. â€œThat one, folks, is what 28-million dollars looks like floating on water.â€ We gasped.
Of course those $$$ yachts were parked in front of 13+-million dollar homes. 13+-million dollar vacation homes, no less. Often the current owners purchased two or three older homes/lots for millions of dollars, and then sent in bulldozers to tear them down to build one bigger new home.
â€œThese places often get used maybe two weeks a year,â€ the captain said. â€œThen you have to factor in the $100,000 a year slip fees, the cost of staff to maintain the yachts and homes, and the high property taxes. However, most of the owners have so much money they donâ€™t even think about that.â€ My husband and I looked at each other.
â€œWell, we have our kayak,â€ my husband said. I nodded numbly. It was almost disorienting to think about the lifestyles the owners live, and probably take for granted.
We later shared our paddleboat tour story with a passenger in line to board the Ruby Princess. The woman nodded slightly and then said, â€œI feel rather sorry for those ultra-rich folks.â€ We looked at her with interest and curiosity. â€œWhat I mean,â€ she said, â€œis that it must be horrible to never want anything. If everything comes easy, what fun is that?â€ I pulled my luggage along and smirked. My husbandâ€™s words came back to mind. â€œWe have a kayak.â€ Yep, a kayak and dreams. How lucky are we?