Amy and Chesley Simoneaux lead interesting lives. The two former St. Charles Parish residents have been on a perpetual vacation since they retired in the late 90s.
Before they began a life of travel Chesley was a music teacher with St. Charles Parish Public Schools and Amy worked with Dow Chemical.
After retiring early, the couple, now in their late 50s, have been traveling the world and working as part-time travel consultants for an international travel agency.
Amy said the pair has been on so many cruises she is not quite sure of the number.
"I’ve lost count, but it is over thirty. We used to count, but I don’t count anymore. It’s 40 by now," Amy said.
Amy said their longest cruise lasted for 30 days.
"It was three cruises back-to-back on the same ship in Europe. Every cruise had a different itinerary. So we flew to Copenhagen and did Iceland and Norway and Ireland and ended up in Dublin. The next cruise did some of northern France and northern Spain border until we got all the way down to Lisbon. The third cruise was from Lisbon until we got all the way around the Mediterranean to Nice," Amy said. "You could have just gone on one of three. We just did three back-to-back because we figured by the time you pay airfare to go to Europe to go for seven days, unless you have a calendar restriction, it just makes more sense to tack on as much time as you can swing."
This year alone the pair have been to Europe, Central America, South America and Antarctica.
"Just this year we took a trip around Buenos Aires and went to Antarctica. We came back and then went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and then we came back and went to Panama for two weeks with friends from Luling," Amy said. "Then we went to France for a month and did a couple of river tours in Switzerland in the middle. Came back and went to Cancun for a week, came back went to New Orleans for Mother’s Day. That is just since January."
Amy said the couple took their first trip in 1987, but before that Chesley refused to fly.
"He said he would never fly. I threatened to go on a trip with his mother and bunch of ladies on a church cruise,’" Amy said. "So he decided to go and after he got on the plane that was it, he was hooked. We go to Biloxi now and he asks if there is an airport."
Ever since that time Amy said the two have been hooked on traveling.
"He’s gone from night to day and it’s been one thing after another and one of the good things is that we have the same passion when it comes to travel," Amy said. "We’re always looking for something new. We prefer a unique experience."
Amy said her travel habits have changed over the years.
"I like my trips to be organized so that I don’t spend my first day in a major city or destination figuring out ‘ok now what is there to do?’ I like to research before I go and then when I’m there I have a general idea. But it’s not written in stone," Amy said. "That is the point of traveling versus making what I call a field trip – just checking off I did this, I did this. I want an experience. I like to sit in cafes, have a coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the afternoon and people watch and talk to the waiters or people around us as much as I can in their language if it’s another country and just get a feel for that versus just checking off every major attraction or museum we’ve entered."
Amy said their favorite part of being on a trip is experiencing the local culture.
"I enjoy the local experience with meeting locals and not something necessarily planned. For instance we were in France recently and we just went to a little roadside vendor in the middle of town and he has a little kiosk and he’s making crates," Amy said. "We walk up and he says ‘Where are you from?’ and we say ‘Nouvelle Orleans’ and he says ‘Oh, I know where New Orleans is. I bought a sailboat from a guy on Lake Pontchartrain.’ I said ‘Northshore or Southshore?’ just kind of testing him and he said ‘Oh, Northshore.’ Then he turned back around and we think he is handing us a crate. He shows us his Cajun music CD that he plays all the time. He starts telling us about Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest and Mardi Gras and I mean I felt like I was talking to someone from St. Charles Parish."
Despite traveling all over the world Amy said she and her husband love to come back to their roots. Amy said the couple will spend most of their summer in Grand Isle.
"People laugh at me when I say that. I say ‘hey I look forward to that just like I look forward to going to Europe or anywhere else,’" Amy said. "And we love, love, love playing tourist in New Orleans too. If we have any friends who have children getting married or a relative getting married in the French Quarter we usually have two nights at a hotel and we play tourist for three days. We love to do that."