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My name is Patrick Masterson and I live in southeast London. In May 2015 along with a group of friends, my wife Katy and I travelled to Las Vegas to celebrate my 50th birthday. A week after returning Katy became ill and was hospitalised. Ten days later on May 29th we lost her to a mystery brain virus. She was just 47 years old.

If anyone had said to me on my birthday that in exactly three week’s time Katy would be gone I would had found it impossible to believe. In an instant I decided to retire. Katy and I had planned to do a lot of travelling in retirement just as we had during our 16 years together. Her tragic and untimely death had given me an opportunity to do just that.

After a summer trip to Antigua, I began planning and in October 2015 I left the UK for an 8 week trip around the Far East, South East Asia and Australia. I visited Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia: 7 countries that I hadn’t visited before.

I arrived back for Christmas having already booked a segment of a World cruise leaving from Florida in early January. I visited Costa Rica, Panama, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji before heading home via LA and Florida. Another 7 weeks away.

The two cruises from Hong Kong to Singapore and Fort Lauderdale to Sydney had exposed me to a new type of traveller, the “serial cruiser” and many of them had visited over a hundred countries, albeit for 6 hours. My own tally for countries was 33 with 11 territories as defined by the Travellers Century Club (TCC) which lists 324 in total. After the two trips either side of Christmas my total had risen from 44 to 59 and I was ready for more. My fellow cruisers had been a source of inspiration.

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