Twenty days…Leaving Boveglio…Future travel plans…

The archway in our yard that ventures out to the winding, hilly roads, kept locked for privacy.   these small villages in Tuscany it is difficult to determine where a house and yard begins and ends with most houses “stuck together.”

It’s hard to believe in less than three weeks we’ll be leaving Boveglio to drive to Venice to fly to Kenya the next day, the 3rd. 

We’re reminded that fall is near, by the pumpkins and gourds in our yard.

It will be the beginning of almost a year of living in Africa, ending with two and a half months in Madeira, Portugal, an island located off the northwestern coast of Africa.

A pepper plant growing in the lower garden. These are most likely too hot for our taste buds.
With an open space in time from August 1, 2014, until November 30, 2014, Tom has been busy searching as to how we’ll fill this gap in our travels. At this point, the biggest challenge we have in booking this gap period is the result of a few crucial factors:

1.  What are the most enjoyable and sensible means of us traveling back across the Atlantic Ocean toward Hawaii when we’ll be getting together with our adult kids and grandchildren at our upcoming rental house in Kona, Hawaii at Christmas time in 2014?
2.  With the added expense of airfare for 13 family members, how can we spend this period most economically to perhaps offset a portion of the cost?
3.  Do we want to stay in Europe until December 1st when our rental begins in Hawaii, as we end the upcoming one year stint from Portugal?
4.  Are there cruises available to use as a means of travel, which we prefer?

The doorway and patio of a house below us where we heard cheerful Italian chatter last night.

Tom has been spending considerable time at Vacations to Go and Cruise Critic in an effort to determine our best options. Once we pin down possible cruises, we’ll contact our representative, Joaquin at Vacations to Go to book our chosen cruises. 

How dry and brown the yard is becoming with a lack of regular rain.

The further we continue into our world travels, we’ve determined that we love cruising for several reasons:
1.  Cost-effective in many cases with housing and meals included.
2.  No enforced luggage restrictions.
3.  Ease of living:  no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry (although it does pile up)
4.  Meeting new people almost every day while meandering on the ship and during meals.
5.  Date night every night with the option of ordering included room service. (After eight cruises, we’ve yet to order room service).
6.  Opportunity to visit many countries in a short period of time with the numerous scheduled ports of call.
7.  Movies on board. 
8.  Exercise facilities on board.
9.  Often interesting classes on board.
10. Chefs on cruise ships make every effort to accommodate my restrictive diet. Although boring and bland at times, it’s much easier than trying to communicate my restrictions in a new restaurant with possible language barriers.

The herb garden in the yard, separate from our patio garden.

After extensive research these past days, we’ve finally come to the conclusion that we’ll wait until the 90-day ticker begins (until sail date) with discounted cruise fares for 2014. In reviewing the ticker for cruises in the next 90 days we’ve seen how beneficial it is to wait with discounts as high as 82%. 

Impatiens growing in an old wooden barrel in the yard.

Yes, by waiting we run the risk of a particular cruise being sold out. Willing to take this risk, we accept the reality that if our means of transportation by cruise is sold out, we can always fly to our next preferred location.  In a rare position for this flexibility, it makes sense for us to proceed in this manner.

A cozy corner of one of the covered garden areas.

With most of our first two and a half years traveling well planned in advance, we now feel experienced and confident enough, after almost a year to attempt last-minute planning. Doing so opens the opportunity for us to experience cruises normally priced beyond our budget, at suddenly lower pricing.

The morning sun filtered through the covered garden.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Vacations to Go has a policy whereby they will honor price reductions on cruises up to 90 days before sailing. If one watches the pricing on their pre-booked cruises, one can request the reduction which becomes effective immediately which will be guaranteed through sailing. However, neither the cruise lines nor Vacations to Go will watch this for a customer.  One must do this on their own.

Few roses remain as summer winds down.  Often, I wanted to make a bouquet for the kitchen table, deciding against it, knowing it would attract bees indoors.

Learning the nuances of enhancing the quality of our travels is an ongoing process. Many have asked us why we booked so much in advance for the first two and a half years. The answer is simple. 

Last year, we left Minnesota to begin our travels on Halloween.  It seems so long ago.

As neophytes, if we weren’t able to find and book the next desired leg in our travels, we may have become frustrated questioning why we ever took this enormous life-changing challenge.  With bookings planned and deposits paid, we were committed which proved to bring us comfort, excitement, and peace of mind as we learned the ropes.

These variegated green and white leaves are vinca vine, always a favorite of mine when planted to hang over a rock wall.


This planted shoe could easily have been in this yard for over 100 years.

Now, it is becoming clear to us that we can patiently wait.  Unless, of course, some amazing opportunity presents itself that we cannot turn down. 

After all, the world is a big place.

Changes of our future plans…Covid-19 rules the travel industry…

A helmeted guinea-fowl and her chick, looking for pellets at the edge of the veranda.

This morning we received email notifications from Celebrity Cruise Lines that two booked cruises in and around Japan in 2022 have been canceled. The first sailing and the third of these three cruises we’d booked in this area will be canceled shortly. Now, we are down to five booked cruises instead of eight, all due to Covid-19.

We had planned to fly from Florida to Singapore a few weeks after our friends Karen and Rich’s wedding on February 11th. With all three of these cruises canceled, we’ll need to find where we’ll go when we leave Florida. Tom is currently researching our options., considering other potential cruises to fill the gap.

A giraffe was taking a rest.

Here again, Covid-19 is the determining factor on where we’ll go and what we’ll do. With the Schengen visa, we are only allowed to stay in most European countries for 90 out of 180 days. Also, we’ve already spent a lot of time in Europe in our past travels. Our current interests don’t necessarily lead us in that direction.

For now, our inclination is to travel by sea as much as possible, so that is the path we are researching at this point. But, due to Covid-19, many countries have instituted many restrictions impacting ports of call during cruises. There’s no doubt in our mind that the Japan cruises were canceled due to fears of infection in and around a country of such a vast population.

A male duiker, photo taken during the summer when the vegetation was lush and green.

Are we worried if continuing our world travels makes sense at this time? Not really, However, we must consider the risks each country presents whenever and wherever we travel, including our upcoming trip to the US, which has the worst Covid-19 statistics of any country in the world.

As of yesterday, here are the stats for the US from this site:

Total Cases: 42,479,780

New cases: 164,509

Total Deaths: 685,023

New Deaths: 2282

A dung beetle pushing his ball of dung on his search for a mate to join him.

Statistics show that 54.7% of Americans are fully vaccinated, the highest globally. Yet, they have the most, newest cases and deaths of any country in the world, based on information from this site.

You may ask, why are we going back to the US right now? For several reasons. But our biggest motivator is attending our friend’s small wedding in February. Since we were going back for that, we decided to spend more time with Tom’s siblings in Arizona and for me to meet up with my sister Julie who lives in Los Angeles, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A few months ago, a mom and baby bushbuck when there was still some green vegetation in the bush.

During this US visit, we won’t be visiting Minnesota. It will be winter there, and neither of us cares to tackle the cold, the ice, and the snow. Once we know more about upcoming cruises, we’ll plan another time to be in Minnesota and Nevada to visit mine and Tom’s family, which surely will be during fall, spring or summer.

For now, we continue to consider where in the world we long to visit and how and when it will be possible based on current travel restrictions due to the pandemic. We’ll have plenty of time while in Arizona to work on this further.

Enjoy the day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day # 177. Sunset view from the third floor of Hans’ house (owner of the house we rented next door) in Diani Beach, Kenya, in 2013. We were thrilled to take photos of the progression of the sun’s setting on the horizon. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

Yesterday, we not only booked the cruise on the Black Sea but also booked the “back-to-back” (the next cruise, on the day of arrival), which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Tomorrow is a travel day for us as we make our way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, where we’ll spend two days in a hotel.

I will certainly use the workout facility.

As for the itinerary for this ship, see below:

Azamara

11 Nights – Azamara (Istanbul – Round Trip)

Cruise Line: Azamara

Ship Name: Azamara Onward Not Yet Rated

Cruise Length: 11 Nights

Departure Date: 06/29/2022

Embarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Return Date: 07/10/2022

Disembarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Sailing Itinerary

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure

06/29/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM

06/30/2022 Varna/Bulgaria 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/01/2022 Burgas 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/02/2022 Constanta 07:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/03/2022 Odessa/Ukraine 09:30 AM

07/04/2022 Odessa/Ukraine 08:00 PM

07/05/2022 Cruising

07/06/2022 Sochi 08:00 AM 09:00 PM

07/07/2022 Batumi 08:00 AM 05:00 PM

07/08/2022 Cruising

07/09/2022 Istanbul 08:00 AM

07/10/2022 Istanbul

Once we arrive back in Istanbul, Turkey, we’ll move to another cabin on the same deck but on the opposite side of the ship for better viewing for the upcoming itinerary on this ship’s next leg for another ten days, July 10 to July 20, 2022, ending in Athens, Greece. We’ll include our costs for the balcony cabins for both cruises and the second leg’s itinerary in tomorrow’s post.

The theatre for nightly shows.

As for today, our last family day in Minnesota, Tom will be joining his family for the Thursday barbecue at his sister Mary’s home, while tonight, I’m going to a movie with Greg’s family. At 11:00 am this morning, we’re heading to visit our dear friend Sue, former neighbor and widow of our beloved, since deceased friend Chip, who passed away five months before we left in 2012. We hadn’t seen Sue since we were here in 2017 since she spends the winters in Florida. It will be wonderful to see her again.

This morning, Tom took our vaccination certificates to Office Max and had them make copies to be laminated and kept the originals to be amended for boosters in the future if required. Oddly, Office Max didn’t charge to do this. Go figure.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow, perhaps later in the day, completed after arriving at our hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2020:

Some flowers are continuing to bloom through the summer season, as is the case in this Alstroemeria. For more photos, please click here.

Planning for the future…Uncertainty in times of Covid-19…

It’s surprising how well they get along when sharing the raw scrambled eggs.

Ah, it’s a new day, and it’s more perfect than it’s been in a while. The sun is shining. The temperature is moderate with low humidity. Late yesterday, our site was down for a few hours but now it is working again. Why this happens is beyond me. All I know is our web people quickly respond to resolve it.

My question? Is WordPress unstable? Is our web hosting company Hostinger, a huge worldwide provider, unstable? I can’t seem to get a definitive answer to these questions. But, this continues to happen from time to time. If you see we’re down, please check back later, knowing our web people are working to find a permanent solution. We always know when this happens, since WordPress sends me a message. Immediately, regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, we report it.

Our site is huge with well over 3000 posts and 40,000 photos. This may be a contributing factor. One may say, well, Amazon is a thousand times larger than us and they don’t go down. Well, they are spending millions of dollars a year to maintain their site. Obviously, we are not. Since we make so little revenue from our site, recently we added more advertising in an attempt to offset some of our web-related expenses.

This mongoose must have stared at us for an hour, watching our every move.

Also, we are in the process of monetizing our YouTube page. We’d hoped we’d never have to do this, but with all these added web expenses we had no choice. Of course, none of this impacts our readers, other than an occasional click to rid yourself of the necessity of viewing an ad. You aren’t obligated to use our advertisers, (but we appreciate it if you do) nor do you have to pay to access our site. This won’t change.

You can access our YouTube videos at this link. It’s easy to sign up if you’d like to become a subscriber. You may enjoy going back and seeing our old videos from all over the world. In the future, we’ll be making a concerted effort to try to upload more and more videos.

Right now, as I prepare today’s post, Tom is researching flights for our exit on April 9th for the much-needed visa stamps when our current visas expire on April 12th. We have to leave a few days earlier than our visa ends, since the car rental facilities at the local airport, Nelspruit/Kruger/Mpumalanga, are closed on the weekends. Thus, we’ll leave before and after a weekend.

Tom brought out the pan with the raw scrambled eggs and of course, they gobbled them up in a matter of seconds.

As for what we’ve chosen to do when required to leave South Africa, by tomorrow, we should have a plan in place and we’ll share all the details here.

As we’ve sat here over the past hour, the sun has become hidden behind white fluffy clouds. It may rain after all. We’ve been watching the weather and the condition of dirt roads in order to embark on a drive through Marloth Park and eventually to Kruger National Park.

The outdoor restaurant at Lower Sabie, the Mugg & Bean has been closed for the past few months. When traveling to Kruger it’s a practical spot to stop for a bathroom break and brunch. There are no public restrooms in the park other than resorts, camps, and restaurants. To spend several hours in the park without a bathroom break can be a challenging premise.

They are so cute, playful, and funny, we always enjoy their visits. Besides, they are a deterrent to snakes since they may attack them and are resistant to the venom.

Plus, it’s awfully fun to be on a self-drive in this massive national park and be able to stop at a restaurant overlooking the Sabie River, often rife with wildlife, a view to be savored while dining. Photo ops are abundant in this area. Soon, we’ll go on a day’s outing, as the dirt roads dry up more and more, not only here in Marloth Park but also in Kruger.

Today, we’ll spend the bulk of the day booking plans for April 9th, firming up all the details. A vital aspect of booking any travel plan at this point is to become well aware of Covid-19 requirements and restrictions. No traveler would want to discover, upon arriving in another country, that a 14-day quarantine was required. This would be a fiasco.

They tend to rest piled atop one another with an occasional little head peeking out from under the pile.

Otherwise, all is well. We’re cheerful, although zeroed in on booking the upcoming travels and will feel a great sense of relief once we’ve completed booking every aspect of this upcoming trip.

Enjoy your day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2020:

The bulky gaur, a rare type of buffalo, found in India. For more photos, please click here.

Medical Issues for World Travelers…A Comprehensive Synopsis…

This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.
This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.

Traveling for extended periods always raises concerns over medical issues for world travelers. Particularly, seniors and those with existing health conditions, regardless of age, have asked themselves if traveling for months or years makes sense when at any time, especially in remote locations, a flare-up of any underlying condition or injury can elicit worry, concern over a life-altering illness, or even death, let alone panic in some situations.

Today’s 2000 word post entitled, “Medical Issues for World Travelers” will include suggestions as to how we’ve managed such circumstances, as world travelers for the past eight years. Below are the most commonly asked questions when discussing medical issues for world travelers for those considering long-term world travel:

  1. How will I receive my prescription refills and also, for some, “store insulin and other medications that require refrigeration?”
  2. What do I do if I run out of medication while traveling?
  3. How will I be able to receive my necessary prescriptions?
  4. What immunizations/vaccines will I need in order to travel the world?
  5. How do I handle everyday aches, pains, injuries, and illnesses, that in my old life, may have prompted me to visit my doctor?
  6. What do I do about dental care, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other recurring medical tests?
  7. What shall I do for medical travel insurance?
  8. How often should I seek a physical exam if my health is good and I’m feeling well?
  9. What do I do if a serious illness or injury occurs while I’m traveling? Do I return to my home country for surgery or treatment?
  10. How will I handle my personal protection in avoiding contracting COVID-19 and other such viruses that may be or become prevalent while I’m traveling?

During our past years of world travel, each of the above questions has been forefront in our minds at one point, or another. Today, following in the above questions as highlighted headings below, we will address each of these questions. As time passes, some of our suggestions along with solutions for our own personal situations may change as more and more travelers consider long-term travel, once COVID-19 is more under control.

Regardless of our past experiences and observations, it’s imperative to discuss your health conditions or potential age-related conditions with your physician and/or medical professionals before embarking on any trip, if for a week, a month, a year, or longer.

We also suggest you assign a family member or close friend as your medical advocate, in the event you as an individual or a couple are in an accident that may leave you unable to manage your care during serious medical treatment and recovery. It makes sense for couples to leave easily accessible notes on a smartphone with any medical particulars that may be crucial in their partner’s care (such as allergies, medications, conditions, etc.).

It’s surprising how often a spouse, companion, or partner may be totally oblivious to the health issues of their traveling companion. This may be one of the most important medical issues of world travelers. So, let’s start working our way through the above 10 questions. If, at any time, you have questions on topics we haven’t covered, please feel free to comment at the end of any post. You may do so anonymously if you’d prefer. Here we go:

How will I receive my prescription refills and also, for some, “store insulin and other medications that require refrigeration?”

One of the most frequent medical issues for world travelers is the ability to not only carry sufficient supplies of necessary prescription medicine but also in getting prescriptions refilled in other countries. Of course, the ideal scenario is to determine how long you’ll be gone and carry all of those prescriptions with you in a secure carry-on bag with copies of the prescriptions from your doctor.

Unfortunately, many traveler’s health plans do not allow a prescription for longer than three months. The workaround that we chose when we first left the US, was to pay for the prescriptions ourselves without making a claim on our insurance. We’d even be able to negotiate the costs of my three prescriptions from a few pharmacies, who were happy to give us a year’s supply at negotiated rates. We’d asked our doctor to write the three non-narcotic prescriptions for one year each.

As it turned out, our cost of the prescriptions was compared to the co-pays we’d have paid for the medications using our health plan. However, even if it had required more money out of pocket, we’d been willing to pay considering the convenience. If you plan to return to your home country for a visit, once a year, you can repeat the same process. Since we didn’t return to the US more frequently than once every two years, we had to come up with another plan.

At the beginning of our travels, while in Belize, we met a couple and the wife suggested we contact ProgressiveRX, a company we’ve worked with these past eight years, except for those times, we could purchase my medication at a pharmacy without a prescription, which is possible in many countries. This information is available online. For example, here in India, where many US medications are manufactured, we don’t need a prescription for any non-narcotic drugs, none of which we use. One needs only to write down their medication, dose, and quantity they’d like to receive for most prescription medications.

As for storing medications that require refrigeration, the most logical solution is to carry a long-lasting cooler block and a small cooler bag to keep the medication cold during long flights. Since most hotels and holiday homes include a refrigerator, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s imperative, regardless of the medication, not to leave them in your checked baggage. We have what we call a carry-on “pill bag” which includes copies of original or recent prescriptions and pills in their original packaging which we don’t let out of our sight.

What do I do if I run out of medication while traveling?

First off, if you plan ahead, you can avoid this situation while on longer trips by ensuring you have an adequate supply of medications you’ll need, including a few weeks of extra doses in the event of unforeseen delays. If you’re traveling for years as opposed to weeks or months, it is imperative you decide on how you will renew your prescriptions when most countries that require prescriptions will not allow you to use your home country physician’s prescriptions. It’s important to check this information in advance of traveling.

In the worst-case scenario, which we’ve accepted as a part of our travel responsibilities, is to make an appointment with a local doctor, bringing along your existing prescriptions and/or containers, and ask the doctor to write new prescriptions for you, for at least six months, a year if possible. Doing so is not as inconvenient as you may think.

Ask your landlord or hotel staff for the name and number of a local clinic to arrange your appointment and subsequent filling of your new prescription. Keep in mind, in many countries prescription drugs are named differently than in your home country. Sure, this becomes a part of medical Issues for world travelers but doesn’t usually require more than a few hours of your time.

If you are on a cruise ship (hopefully possible again in the future), the ship’s doctor generally has the most common medications on hand. However, the cost to see her/him can be expensive. Being prepared before embarking on a cruise is imperative.

How will I be able to receive my necessary prescriptions?

Using such prescription services as ProgressiveRX may end up taking months to receive in regular mail. If you are staying in one location for many months, this may be possible. Also in some countries, depending on mail services available you can request expedited service in some countries for an additional fee. This may be the case for most online pharmacies that are willing to use an old prescription as proof. In no cases, will narcotic drugs be mailed in any country?

For those with chronic pain issues, traveling long term may be a part of substantial medical Issues for world travelers. The only way you’d be able to receive such medications would be from a visit to a hospital, urgent care facility of a doctor with you providing accompanying paperwork from your home physician describing your condition in detail, and your need for narcotic medication. Since we don’t use pain medications, other than those over-the-counter, that’s our best suggestion.

What immunizations/vaccines will I need in order to travel the world?

One of the many concerns over medical issues for world travelers is the necessity of immunizations before embarking on a journey that will include countries where certain diseases are rampant. Most medical clinics or groups have a travel clinic you can visit. It’s imperative to bring a list of the countries you’ll be visiting, illnesses, medications, allergies, and previous inoculations to your first appointment.

From there, a nurse practitioner along with a doctor will determine what immunizations are recommended for your upcoming travel. We arranged for this appointment a few months before we left to ensure there was ample time for any necessary spacing of the inoculations. In all, we each had about 15 immunizations in total. I won’t mention them here simply based on the fact your locations and personal health may be entirely different than ours. Also, the fact we planned to be gone for years, not months, we needed additional inoculations.

The travel clinic will know exactly what you need, but it’s your final decision as to which, if any, you are willing to accept. We accepted all recommendations. While in South Africa in 2018, we presented our immunization record to our local Dr. Theo and we had boosters as needed. Our only reactions were from the yellow fever vaccine, leaving me feeling flu-ish for a few hours and Tom, lightly, over a weekend.

It is during this appointment, you may choose to get prescriptions for malaria pills. There are two types of these. The more expensive have fewer side effects. See your doctor for recommendations.

How do I handle everyday aches, pains, injuries, and illnesses, that in my old life, may have prompted me to visit my doctor?

Another major concern over medical issues for world travelers is for those who may have visited their family practitioner on a regular basis, often monthly, for blood tests, exams, medications, and treatment protocols. If this process has been prevalent in your personal care, long term travel may not be ideal for you. Perhaps, shorter trips would be more appropriate.

Otherwise, we have learned to self-treat minor injuries, aches, and pains with ice and hot packs and over the counter medication. We’ve had flu, bad coughs, and viruses throughout this period, but in most cases, managed on our own. This may not be appropriate for many travelers, requiring visits to local doctors. I’ve had a few injuries become infected. In those cases, we sought medical care.

What do I do about dental care, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other recurring medical tests?

In the beginning, before we left the US we had many medical tests to ensure we were good to go. Once we started traveling, it was almost 2½ years before either of us made an appointment for a check-up and blood tests. Contrary to most medical advice, we decided to forgo colonoscopies, instead, conducting the home fecal monitoring tests checked by a lab. I haven’t had a mammogram since we left, but do self-exams regularly.

As for dental appointments, in our old lives, we each had our teeth cleaned every six months. Now, we’re lucky to have this done every two years. Not every country is suitable for dental appointments. Of course, normally in the case of an infection or abscess, dental care would be necessary.

Based on having had emergency major open-heart surgery in South Africa in February 2019, dental care was ill-advised during the 12 months after the surgery. Once we return to South Africa, we will visit our favorite dentist in Komatipoort for cleaning and other dental care as needed.

While we were in Minnesota in November 2019, I visited a highly regarded cardiac facility to be checked after heart surgery. It was recommended I return next time we visit the US which I’ll surely do. Of course, if any heart-related issues presented I’d immediately seek appropriate medical care.

What shall I do for medical travel insurance?

Overall, the most frequent question regarding medical issues for world travelers is travel insurance. We have written dozens of posts on this topic which can easily be accessed by typing “travel insurance” in our search field on our home page. For purposes here today, I’ll briefly review our experiences.

When we began our world travels, we signed up with a worldwide travel insurance company, Healthcare International, based in London.  As typically the case, worldwide travel insurance doesn’t cover the traveler while in their home country unless willing to pay a much higher rate.

We had opted out of Medicare Part B since it nor its supplemental policies at the time covered medical issues for world travelers, like us. There was no point in paying for Medicare Part B or a supplement, as much as an additional several hundred dollars more each month, to cover us outside the US or even while in the US, when we were visiting for such short periods. If we needed medical care while in the US, which we have on a few occasions, we paid out of pocket.

We paid US $4000, INR 291,844, per year for the policy and never made a claim until in February 2019 while in South Africa, I had to have emergency triple coronary by-pass surgery. To make a long story short, the insurance company refused to pay and we had no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for the expensive four surgeries, including three weeks in the hospital, that was ultimately necessary.

They claimed I had a preexisting condition. I had no idea I had heart disease. But to force them to pay would have required years of legal expenses and time, with the possibility of losing the case. We had no desire to make our lives all about a lawsuit, especially if we could lose the case.

From there we researched online for a US company and found UnitedHealthcareGlobal that has no pre-existing conditions policy other than no major medical treatment in the past six months, for which we qualified by the time we purchased the policy. There are more nuances of the policy, but I won’t get into that here. Click this link for more details. (Due to COVID-19, one must call for a quote, but recently, from here in India, we were able to renew our policy without a problem.

Since we travel full time, our needs are different from short-term travel policies. Also, now as time has passed, there are supplemental travel policies available to US citizens, but not applicable to us since we don’t have Medicare other than Part A.

Often, your travel agency, cruise company, or other travel-related businesses offer short term travel policies. In light of COVID-19, we encourage you to do your own research for such policies for short term travel. Plus, many of the travel business policies are more expensive than you may find on your own.

How often should I seek a physical exam if my health is good and I’m feeling well?

It is important to discuss your medical issues for world travelers with your physician before embarking on a year’s long journey. They will recommend, based on your current conditions, or lack thereof, how often you should arrange a check-up from a qualified medical professional in the countries you will be visiting. Also, they may suggest tests that are important for your state of health.

For us, every few years has prompted us to have a basic exam. It was only in South Africa that I had jaw pain precipitating an additional visit to Dr. Theo, whom we had already seen for exams and vaccination boosters, which under normal circumstances would never have predicted my cardiovascular issues when I had a normal EKG and heart sounds during the basic exam.

It was months later that I visited Dr. Theo, who suggested I have an exercise stress test when I was experiencing weird jaw pain. If he hadn’t done that test on me, I may not be here today to tell the story. It was his determination that sent me to a cardiologist and thoracic surgeon only days later for immediate open-heart surgery. We are so grateful to him for “catching this.”

What do I do if a serious illness or injury occurs while I’m traveling? Do I return to my home country for surgery or treatment?

This is a common concern and medical issues for world travelers. I suppose my case was a perfect example. There was no time for me to return to the US for emergency surgery, nor would it have been safe for me to fly back to the US in my dire condition.

Also, if we returned to the US, the cost of the four procedures would have been around the US $1,000,000, INR 72,961,200. Medicare would only have paid a portion and we’d have been left with much more out-of-pocket expense than the entire bill we’ve had to pay in South Africa. In the end, it all worked out for the best.

However, many less serious conditions can make a traveler worried and stressed as to appropriate action for a travel-related illness or injury, not requiring urgent medical care that may be available by quality professionals in some, not all countries. One must access the situation carefully and make a determination as to the safety of treatment in their current condition.

If anyone would have asked me if I could have recovered from open-heart surgery and three other procedures, for three months in a holiday home in the bush in South Africa with no air-con in the living areas with temperatures in the 104F, 40C range, day after day, I would have said emphatically “NO!!!” But, with Tom’s attentive and loving care, we made it through. One never knows their strength and resiliency until faced with situations beyond their control. I wasn’t allowed to travel for three months and could not have returned to the US to recover.

How will I handle my personal protection in avoiding contracting COVID-19 and other such viruses that may be or become prevalent while I’m traveling?

There are monumental medical issues for world travelers in today’s world is COVID-19. What do I do if I become infected while traveling? Based on the infectious nature of COVID-19, returning to one’s home country would be impossible and risky for others if somehow you managed to get through the priority checking procedures at most airports.

If one becomes infected, it is imperative to immediately arrange for a test to confirm infection and to contact the local health authorities for contact tracing if you are indeed positive. At that point, you’ll be advised as to treatment based on the severity of your symptoms. If you are only a carrier without symptoms or very mild symptoms, you will be required to quarantine for a definite period of time, most often for two weeks.

Some countries may require quarantine at a specific location, although the majority will allow quarantine to transpire at a holiday home or hotel, never leaving the facility during the required period. If symptoms are escalating, a hospital or urgent care visit may be necessary. The local health authorities will advise you in either case.

It’s important to notify the property manager so the holiday home can be properly sanitized after you leave if leaving immediately after the quarantine ends. If you are staying for an additional, extended period, it may be possible for you to sanitize the location upon full recovery since the virus only lives so long after the infection has ended.

Here again, investigate this with the health authorities and the property owner. Hotels do this type of cleaning after quarantined parties are able to vacate. We see the special cleaners in the corridors every day, although we aren’t aware of any cases in this hotel.  But, it is imperative you let them know once you discover you are infected so they can commence proper protection for their staff and other guests.

Taking a test after recovery is equally important to ensure you are no longer infectious. In some cases, a positive test may be present longer than the two week period. As always, wearing an appropriate face mask, social distancing, and washing hands frequently always remain good safety measures.

In conclusion, regarding medical issues for world travelers…

It would be possible to write an entire book on this topic. I have well surpassed the 2000 word requirement at well over 3500 words. In each case, we suggest you contact your doctor(s), your pharmacist, and a family member as an advocate before embarking on a years-long world journey.

Even those, in the seemingly best of health, may fall prey to a serious, and often life-threatening condition while traveling, especially for those in later years. No one is exempt from such issues, regardless of great health at the beginning of their travels.

Of course, living a healthful life while traveling, although no guarantee of avoidance of medical issues for world travelers, it certainly is an important adjunct in predictive outcome in many cases.

Avoiding worry and concern is certainly an important aspect of enjoying world travel. Being educated on all of these topics, carrying appropriate medical information for health and prescriptions, and researching medical care in each country before visiting can play a vital role in ensuring a safe outcome in the event of an unforeseen injury or illness while traveling.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2019:

Shirenewton, Chepstow, Wales, the holiday property
In Shirenewton, Chepstow, Wales, the holiday property, we rented is called The Studio, but is larger than a studio apartment. The main floor consists of a living room, kitchen, dining area, and bathroom. The master bedroom is upstairs on a mezzanine level, a small loft room with a futon bed. For more photos, please click here.

The engrossing work in planning for the future…Do we use a travel agent?…

Oughterard Shrubbery is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy nature.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“A
law was enacted in 2009 that makes it illegal to be drunk in public in Ireland.”

                         _____________________________________
As we conduct research for visiting our next country, we’re amazed over how much more work it is now compared to almost seven years ago when we first began traveling.

This is a stream in Oughterard Shrubbery.

Why is this the case?  It appears there is 10 times the number of websites advertising the same information for the same venue.  Sorting through them to ensure we’re in the correct place with the best pricing, requires diligent efforts by both of us.


Once we get on a specific site simultaneously from each of our laptops and carefully peruse it, we’re more able to determine if we should seek out another site.  

Steps to the stone footbridge over the stream.

It’s a time-consuming process, often taking several hours a day for a week or more, to decide on what we’d like to do, which site we’ll use, reviews from other users, and the details of the booking, it’s only then, we’ll go ahead and book the venue.


It’s not as if we have a travel agent.  With the complication of the nature of our lives, it wouldn’t be prudent to leave the many facets of our travel in the hands of a stranger.  

As in most areas of Ireland, there is a tremendous number of stones.

Yes, we use Vacations-to-Go for most of our cruise bookings after having worked with them since mid-2012 when we booked our first cruise.  We’ve been shifted from one rep to another over the years, as they’ve come and gone or been promoted in the company.


In a few cases, we felt the rep assigned to us couldn’t handle our needs leaving us to diplomatically contact a manager for a suggestion for another more experienced rep.  Right now, we’re very happy with Heather at Vacations-to-Go, our knowledgeable rep with years of experience.
Pretty flowers in the park.

Now, as we research plans for early 2020, we’re finding the best route is to use a travel agency when we know so little about the country and the places within that country that appeal to our tastes.  Even so, this still is a complicated process.


At times, particularly on cruises, other passengers have described how much work they put into booking a single cruise, considering transportation to and from the airport or pier, public or private transportation while in the country, tipping policies, hotel bookings, and the many nuances of the cruise itself.

It’s interesting how most of us are drawn to water scenes.

When booking a cruise, the cabin number and its location within the ship can require hours of research and contemplation, let alone the choice for dining times; excursions either through the ship or privately; WiFi availability and costs; drink packages and the various pricing;  pre-booked spa services, if desired; and specialty restaurant packages often offered before sailing.


For an inexperienced traveler, this task can be daunting, if not overwhelming.  For us, it was a trial and error process since we were traveling non-stop. For many travelers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-a-year trip, for which they expect relative perfection.

An onlooker on the bridge over the stream.


Nothing is more frustrating than discovering a cabin is located above or below the disco (this happened to us once and they moved us after three days of requesting a change).  I could hear and feel the vibration of the music in my pillow at 1:00 am.  (The disco often stays open until 3:00 am).  Early on, we certainly learned a lesson after this experience.


But, these particulars are often unknown to the average traveler and we often see long lines at the ship’s customer service desk with disgruntled passengers wanted to change to a different cabin.  Additionally, more experienced cruisers will wait in this queue for hours to request a free upgrade.

Sheep running away when we stopped for photos.

There’s no way we’re interested in standing in line for two hours to upgrade our cabin.  We strive to book the best possible cabin for our budget, thus far always with a balcony (this could change down the road) and if everything is working, clean and safe, we’re happy to stay put.


So now, as we work to book the next country we’ll visit, we do so with the utmost of care and consideration.  Soon, we have some details to share.

May your day be filled with wonders.
__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2018:

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post. Please click here for the one year ago post.




Filling in the gaps…It was about time to start booking for the future…

Louise and her adventurous son Jandre (who recently returned from an exciting two months in Thailand) stopped by for a visit and sundowners last night.  There was a bowl of nuts for the humans and a bigger bowl of carrots and apples for the wildlife.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After Louise had seen our photos of Little coming up the steps to the veranda, we all laughed out loud when he did it again while they were here.  

In years past, six to be exact, we always stayed on top of filling in gaps in our itinerary. As a matter of fact, during the first few years, we were always completely booked for two years in advance.

As time has marched on we’ve found it isn’t necessary to have every gap, every hotel, every vacation rental, every car rental, and every flight booked so far in advance. 

However, we’ve found it necessary to know where we’d prefer to be in the upcoming two years, enabling us to research. Also, we never show up in a country without reservations for a hotel or holiday home. We have no interest in “winging it.”
We’re always thrilled to see giraffes in Marloth Park.

Traveling the world has been a learning process. When we started in 2012, there wasn’t a training manual on how to do this. Over the years many travelers have asked us for advice and we’ve been delighted to share our best tips for those considering embarking on this lifestyle.

Recently, we read that over 1,000,000 Americans are traveling full-time. There were so few when we started six years ago. At this point, we often wonder how many have been traveling, without a home or apartment or, motorhome without storage, or without a car, who’ve been traveling for six years or more.

If you’ve been “out there” for longer than five or six years, we’d love to hear from you and compare notes.  We’ve met many who’ve traveled in a motorhome for decades. To us, that’s a home of sorts and generally, those who’ve made this choice, generally stay on one continent, most often their home country to avoid immigration issues.

They often stop eating to check us out.  Once realizing we’re aren’t a threat, they return to eating the leaves on the tree tops.

Many years ago, long before we ever decided to travel the world, we discussed the idea of owning a motorhome and traveling the US, but dismissed it entirely when the discussion came up in January 2012, of traveling the world.  

We didn’t want the responsibility of owning “stuff” packed into a “moving home” nor did we care for the idea of the upkeep, maintenance, and daily management a motorhome requires. For many, they do this with ease and enthusiasm.  t just wasn’t right for us.

Oddly, as world travelers, we aren’t that big on long road trips.  We never have been. This fact has inspired us to find countries, towns, villages we’d like to visit and stay put for a month or more as we make every effort to learn the culture, adapt and blend in.

At quite a distance, a hippo we spotted yesterday on our usual drive.

From this perspective, we’ve gleaned the best experiences we could ever expect and we look forward to the future as much now as we did in the beginning. Plus, in the process, we’ve learned to “live in the moment” wherever that may be.

This one year stint in Marloth Park will be our last long-term stay (beyond three months). It was only this magical place that inspired us to stay for such an extended period. When we return in December 2020, we’ll only stay in South Africa for 90 days, avoiding any potential immigration hassles.

It wasn’t that we haven’t loved every moment in Marloth Park. We’ve had a fantastic experience that ends in a mere 61 days.  It will be hard to leave our human and animal friends.  

But, it will be time to move on and resume our continuing travels throughout the world, not staying too long in any one location. There’s still so much world left to experience. Health provided, we’ll continue for as long as we can.

Recently, we’d considered going to Rwanda to see the gorillas. But after careful review of our budget and upcoming expenses (many flights, two cruises and the balance on the amazing Kenya tour in February), we decided we needed to hold off on that adventure until we return to Africa in 2020.

A pair of cape buffalos grazing at the river’s edge.

These decisions aren’t always easy but practicality must prevail in our lifestyle if we intend to be able to continue on indefinitely at this point. We are not wealthy people, as some world travelers, we’ve encountered along the way.  We must remain frugal and sensible at all times.

But, in the process, we’ve learned how to find great holiday rentals, at prices affordable for our budget. Of course, pricing is often subject to how long one stays and of course, the good exposure the landlords acquire from our online promotion of their rental properties. These two facts alone have played a big role in making this work for us without sacrificing living in nice properties.

With the Kenya tour beginning on February 22, 2019, and the South Africa visa requirement that we depart on February 15, 2019, suddenly we were looking at a week we had to fill between these two dates.

The question became, how expensive could we make this week and still stay within the budget. Hotels and resorts in Kenya are expensive considering the quality we prefer.  

A four elephant family spending time together at the river.

Since we’ll be embarking on the extensive and expensive Greg Harvey safari photographic tour (click here for details) for 15 nights beginning on February 22nd and after all the safari and wildlife experiences we’ve had in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana over the past year, we decided to keep costs down and spend a quiet week in Nairobi, Kenya.

We won’t be sitting around the hotel day and night. There are several sightseeing venues we’ll explore while there which we’ll share with photos along the way.

Last night, we booked the hotel, close to the airport where we’ll leave the bulk of our luggage when we take off on the 22nd and return on the last day, according to the itinerary of the tour. This way, we won’t have to move all of our stuff leaving us more time to do what we’d like during the one-week stay.

We booked the Four Points by Sheraton near the airport at a cost for seven nights of ZAR 22764 (US $1582) which includes breakfast, wi-fi, and a king deluxe room. Our additional expenses will be tours, transportation, tips, and the evening meal. (Neither of us eats lunch or snacks during the day based on our way of eating that totally eliminates daytime hunger).

A mom and youngster at the Crocodile River.

We also booked a hotel in Nelspruit, fairly close to the airport, for one night on February 14th since our flight to Kenya departs early in the morning. With the over an hour drive from Marloth Park to the airport with potential road delays we’ve experienced in the past, we decided to take no risks and stay overnight in Nelspruit.  

Next, we’ll be getting to work on booking our flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Santiago, Chile on March 7th or 8th.  The Kenya tour ends on March 7th, (which is the date of our wedding anniversary) and we haven’t decided if we’ll stay one more night in Kenya or head directly to South America the same day. We’ll know once we check out flights in the next few days.

So there it is folks. The beginnings of filling in the gaps in our itinerary over the two years, all of which we’ll continue to post here as we go along.

Tonight, we’re dining at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with Rita and Gerhard and Kathy and Don, who are returning to Marloth Park for the holidays. We have lots of exciting plans with our friends over the holiday season and for Tom’s birthday as well on December 23rd.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2017:

Note the snow-covered pointed peaks in the Chilean Fiords. For more photos, please click here.

Dealing with “stuff.”…Can’t escape certain issues while traveling…More astounding visitor numbers!…

After our recent record-breaking 20 kudus in the garden, we were flabbergasted when 25 showed up all at once a few days later!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

I believe this is a hadeda bird who makes exquisite sounds flying overhead at dusk.

There’s the issue with our package. It was sent by US Postal Service on May 28th and has yet to arrive. The cost for insurance for the contents was over ZAR 5754 (US $400). We didn’t want to pay this added amount and decided to take the risk. Never again. Not doing so was a big mistake on our part.

We must have gone through 10 kg (22lbs) of pellets while they visited.

In the future, all packages we ship from the US will have to be sent via UPS, FED EX, and DHL while we succumb to paying the outrageous costs for expediency.  In the interim, we continue to track the package which last arrived in Johannesburg where it’s been stuck since June 6th.

After waiting a while for more pellets which we wanted to save until Thursday when we shop, they began to wander off.

Louise, who’s an absolute miracle worker in all areas, hasn’t been able to pin it down to get it here. I called Louise’s contact again this morning pleading for help and offering to pay a fee to have the package brought to us. This may work. We shall see.

“No more food?  We’re off to the next bush house!”

Apparently, there was a post office strike months ago and they still aren’t caught up at the processing center. The box could easily be in a shipping container, yet to be unpacked. Oh, good grief.  

When wildlife, such as these wildebeests lie down in the garden like this, it may indicate they feel comfortable and safe enough to rest for a bit.

Life on the move is often a mishmash of extraordinary experiences interspersed with problematic situations and challenges, some of which can be resolved with persistence, coupled with a degree of patience.  

These could be a mating pair.

This sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not. Kindly persistence is crucial. There’s no room for angry outbursts or threatening tones in one’s voice. As for being patient, once we’ve done all we can do, we must wait.  

A young wildebeest made himself at home in the garden resting after a pellet frenzy.

We remind ourselves, this is Africa, not the US where even there one can encounter endless cases of incompetence and lack of desire to get the job done proficiently. Not every worker is like many of us in our fields of endeavor as we strived to “get the job done” as seamlessly and quickly as possible.

But, expecting such degrees of competence and motivation is not always easy to find and when we do, it’s more glaring than those who aren’t competent. The competent become the anomaly.

Wildebeest Willie hung around for several hours, resting and eating a few pellets from time to time. He makes good eye contact, letting us know exactly what he wants.  Do I detect a morsel of love in those looks? Could be.

Now, as we struggle with our immigration issues we can only hope and pray that as we finalize future plans we can count on the people at the other end who will ultimately be responsible for our comfort and convenience. That’s a big bill to fill.

We often comment to one another how fortunate we’ve been during this past almost six years (upcoming anniversary of travels in 63 days) when each time we’ve paid for and arrived to rent a holiday home, it’s been mostly as described.  

The kudus and the wildebeests get along well.

The only exception to this was the very first house we rented in Belize which turned out to be a fiasco. There was only running water a few hours each day and many more issues. We left in seven days and lost our money. To this day, we don’t know how we didn’t turn back and say we didn’t want to do this after all.

However, without complaining to one another, we carried on as we do now, with the postal service issue, immigration issues, and whatever transpires from here.  Whoever may think that traveling the world full-time is easy is kidding themselves. Like everyday life, wherever you may live in the world, life isn’t easy.

We can choose to embrace it all, figuring out solutions along the way, always striving for resolutions, and also preparing for disappointments.

May your day be filled with happy solutions!

Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2017:

From this website: “The owl butterflies, the genus Caligo, are known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls‘ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly at dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods; caligo means darkness.” For more photos, please click here.

Here we go again!…Booking and planning for the future…

Image result for azamara journey photo
Most of the cruise ships we’ve sailed in the past have a capacity from 264 to 4100, although some ships are larger and continue to be built for more and more capacity. The Azamara Journey, smaller than most cruise ships, has a maximum passenger capacity of 690.  Our recent Antarctica cruise on Ponant’s Soleal has a passenger capacity of 264 (only 200 or less allowed to sail in the Antarctic). We prefer smaller ships such as this.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Frank, our resident Francolin, who’s decided to make our yard his permanent residence. Francolins are highly territorial and extremely noisy when other francolins invade his space, except, of course, for Mrs. Frank. They’ve been building a nest. Francolins are monogamous and mate for life. They nest in grass-lined low-lying shallows.  The incubation period is from 18 to 21 days carried out by the female. Once the eggs hatch, both parents tend to the chicks until their first winter.  We’re looking forward to Frank’s and the Mrs.’ chicks.

Last night, after dinner, while sitting at the big table on the veranda, we called Vacations to Go on Skype and booked the furthest-out cruise we’ve booked to date. With reasonable new-listing pricing only available until June 3rd at midnight in the US, we knew if we wanted to sail on this particular cruise, we’d like the best book in now to ensure we could choose a good cabin.

The cruise embarks on November 10, 2020, almost 2½  years from now, a very long time away. But, in this life of world travel, with our desires for specific itineraries, on occasion, it makes sense to book a cruise, holiday home, or a tour well in advance to ensure a good spot and pricing.

This is the furthest out we’ve booked a cruise since we began booking cruises in early 2012, shortly after we decided to travel the world. We weren’t thrilled about the ZAR 13,874 (US $1,100) deposit required so far in advance, but we had no options if we wanted to secure our preferred cabin. 

This cruise was almost sold out after only being posted online for the past week. It’s a good thing Tom stays on top of what’s transpiring in the cruise world on almost a daily basis. He’s the “cruise booking” enthusiast in this family. I’m too impatient to spend the time researching cruises as Tom does so regularly.

Why was this cruise so important to us? It brings us back to Africa, 22 months after we leave the continent this upcoming February 2019. We’ve finally come to the reality and acceptance of the fact that we can’t get this continent out of our hearts and minds to stay away too long.

The cruise embarks from Lisbon and ends 22 days later in Cape Town, South Africa. Finally, we’ll see Cape Town after Louise and Danie have enthusiastically encouraged us that we “must” see the stunning city and surrounding areas. 

Finally, when the cruise ends, we’ll be able to spend a few days in the sprawling tourist-popular city. We’re planning to meet up with Louise’s parents, Estelle and Jonas, who live in a nearby suburb. We enjoyed meeting them here in Marloth Park during their recent visit and would love to see them again.

After a few days in Cape Town, we’ll fly to Nelspruit, rent a car and once again make our way to Marloth Park, but this time for only a 90-day visit. The visa requirement of leaving South Africa to a non-bordering country can get expensive, and again, we’ll have to consider our budget.

We selected this cruise to return to South Africa and allow us to visit many other countries on the west coast of Africa where fewer tourists are inclined to visit. We’ve never sailed on Azamara in the past.  Owned by the same corporation that owns Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, our loyalty program will carry over to this cruise, enabling us to partake of several perks we’ve enjoyed on past cruises.

As always, we booked a balcony cabin with cabins above and below us to avoid noise from various venues on the ship.  Here are some details about the ship:

Azamara Journey

Ship Rating: 5
The Azamara Journey has all the modern conveniences that the discerning traveler demands. The Journey has an intimate atmosphere with only 690 passengers. With nearly 400 crew members, the staff is always there to offer a drink or a fresh towel. Azamara’s concept of Destination Immersion means that you’ll spend more time in ports, and when you’re on board, you’ll be able to sample the culinary classics of the ports you’re visiting. There’s plenty to do when you’re still on the ship as well, like gambling at the casino, enjoying live entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge, getting a work-out in at the fitness center, or kicking back in any of the ship’s many bars. When you’re ready for some well-deserved pampering, the spa is waiting with several signature treatments. You can visit your own private spa deck, indulge in Facial Glow services, get a massage or even relax in an all-day spa ritual. The cruise may not last forever, but the memories will last a lifetime. Azamara Journey
 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2000
Refurbished 2016
Tonnage 30,277 tons
Registry Malta
Length 593 feet
Beam 84 feet
Passenger Capacity 690
Crew Size 408
Total Inside Cabins 26
Total Outside Cabins 320
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 247
Suites 42
Maximum Occupancy per room 4
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Open
Dining Hours Dining
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Expected? No
Tipping Guidelines Azamara includes the gratuities in your cruise fare.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
Services & Amenities
Spa Yes
Video Arcade No
Bars/Lounges Yes
Casino Yes
Elevators Yes
Cell Phone Service Yes
Laundromats (self-service) Yes
Movie Theatre No
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing No
Hot Tub Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available throughout the ship
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court No
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool Yes
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting No
Children’s Playroom No
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program No
Teen Center No
Water Playground/Splash Park No
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 6

For details on pricing for this 22-night cruise, please click here. Cruises around the African continent are always pricey.  With this much advance notice, we’ll have plenty of time to budget for this higher-priced cruise.

It’s a long way off, but we’re still excited knowing this cruise is on the horizon, along with all of the other plans we have for the future.  We haven’t posted a new itinerary since we were in Buenos Aires, which may be found here.  Please scroll to the bottom of this post to see the itinerary.

We still have many gaps in our schedule to fill in, and we may be changing some other cruises we have booked into the future. But this cruise we booked last night, bringing us back to Africa, will definitely stand in place.

Today, we’re updating our spreadsheets with this new booking, and tonight we’re heading out to dinner with friends Linda and Ken, who returned yesterday to Marloth Park. We’re making “pizza night” for Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for another great evening with friends tomorrow evening.

Have a great weekend! 

Photo from one year ago today, June 1, 2017:

Last year at this time, we were in Minnesota for six weeks visiting family. At this point, we continued to share more photos from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, our last stop before departing Canada for the US. For more photos, please click here.

A new future booking…A change in our itinerary…It pays to be frugal…

?

It’s great that we can make itinerary changes whenever we deem it necessary, for cost-saving or befits our desires. The exception in doing so is often predicated by the fact that we may have already paid non-refundable deposits or full payments such as for flights, vacation homes with a no-refund policy, and cruises after paying the final payment 90 days prior to sail date (partial refunds may be applicable).For the remainder of our itinerary, we have the option of changing our minds, finding better deals, and instituting price reductions, particularly on cruises. So far in our travels, we haven’t made any major changes, other than for a few cruises.

As Tom continually peruses our existing booked cruises, of which we currently have seven (with more to come), he’s always hoping to find price reductions that may suit our needs. After considerable research over these past few days, he found a change for a cruise we’d considered changing at some point anyway.

We spotted these flowers in many areas of Tasmania.

We’d booked a cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile while aboard a prior cruise in order to lock up the offered low down payment of AU $274, US $200 (for two), including several perks and cabin credit. 

When booking onboard a ship, our cruise rep still gets “credit” for the transaction and continues to handle the booking. At any time prior to final payment, we can transfer the low down payment to any future cruise, with the same cruise line.

When we booked the above-mentioned cruise, at the time we anticipated we’d never keep the booking for two reasons; one, it was the reverse of an itinerary on which we’ll have already sailed; two, the total cost for the cruise was more expensive than we preferred. Tom watched and waited.

Wildflowers along a country road.

Finally, in the past few days, as more and more cruises became posted, Tom found a replacement for the more expensive, “reverse repeat” cruise that will be much more suited to our future plans to try to visit family in the US every two years.

The fare for the cruise we canceled yesterday was AU $10,960, US $8,005, as mentioned, way more than we prefer to pay for a 14-night cruise (the exception to this is the upcoming pricey cruise to Antarctica in less than 13 months).

Instead, after speaking with our cruise rep Shanon, aka Brooklyn, at Vacations to Go, we moved our deposit over to the following cruise in its place (see below for itinerary):

Charges

Cruise (includes port charges) 3,198.00
Price Match – 200.00
Government Taxes*    452.68
Pre-Paid Gratuities    405.00
Total Sale (US$) $ 3,855.68


*Subject to change by the cruise line.

Payments

Paid To Type Amount



Celebrity Paid Direct 200.00

Total Payments (US$) $ 200.00
Balance Due (US$) $ 3,655.68


Final payment due January 1, 2019.

The total fare for this new cruise, including prepaid gratuities and taxes, is AU $5,278.90, US $3,855.61 which based on the above other cruises, constitutes a savings of AU $5,681.16, US $4.149.39. 

We didn’t have to think twice about this, especially when this new cruise is an easy means for us to return to the US for a visit slightly less than two years from our upcoming visit in May 2017. 

Here’s the itinerary for the new cruise:

Celebrity – Celebrity Eclipse, departs 3/24/19, 15 nights

Day Date Port or Activity Arrive Depart
Sun Mar 24 Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile 9:00pm
Mon Mar 25 La Serena, Chile 10:00am 6:00pm
Tue Mar 26 At Sea
Wed Mar 27 At Sea
Thu Mar 28 Lima (Callao), Peru 7:00am 5:00pm
Fri Mar 29 At Sea
Sat Mar 30 Manta, Ecuador 10:00am 6:00pm
Sun Mar 31 At Sea
Mon Apr 1 Puntarenas, Costa Rica 7:00am 4:00pm
Tue Apr 2 At Sea
Wed Apr 3 Huatulco, Mexico 10:00am 8:00pm
Thu Apr 4 At Sea
Fri Apr 5 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm
Sat Apr 6 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm
Sun Apr 7 At Sea
Mon Apr 8 San Diego, CA 7:00am

Once we arrive in San Diego, we’ll begin the process of visiting family in San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Henderson, Nevada, and then on again to Minnesota.

We noticed these wildflowers on the roads from Hobart to Penguin.

Those of you familiar with our upcoming itinerary may ask, “Why are you going back to South America, after spending many months in Africa?” The answer is clear for us…we’ll return from Africa to head to South America since the proximity makes sense (although it’s still very far away).

This plan provides us with about a combined year to spend in Africa and South America (during the second visit to the continent) which we’ll continue to plan as we go along. While in Tasmania at this time we don’t feel any pressure to pin down specific details. 

Once we have pinned down more of the above plan, we’ll update our itinerary and post it here accordingly.  Overall the last itinerary we posted while in Bali, still is accurate except for the change of cruise and time spent in Africa and South America. Please click here for the link to our most recent itinerary which was posted on October 14, 2016.

Bushy looking plants.

In any case, we haven’t booked this new cruise a lot earlier than many other cruises we’ve booked in the past.  Using cruises for transportation has always been our objective when neither of us cares for the commotion at airports, baggage issues, and uncomfortable seating on flights.

This morning, as we reviewed the figures we’re posting today, Tom discovered price reductions on other upcoming cruises. Once our rep returns to work on Monday in the US, Tuesday here in Australia, we’ll call her and update our pricing to save even more. 

So maybe today, we aren’t out sightseeing on this cool and windy day (8.3C, 47F) but instead we’re staying indoors saving money. That’s not a bad way to spend a day!

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2015:

There are rows upon rows of exquisite colorful Hindu gowns in a store in a mall in Sava, Fiji, worn by Indo-Fijian women on special occasions. For more details, please click here.