Sightseeing day!..Stop back tomorrow for photos!…Paying upcoming balances for cruises…Fares for seven upcoming cruises…

The sign at Savusavu Hospital reads, “Harvest the Wellness Within You!,” a good motto to follow. Many Fijians suffer with diabetes with a diet rich in sugar and high amounts of starchy foods.

Cruises have become an integral aspect of our travels. It provides us with an opportunity to visit more countries and their points of interest than any other means of travel.

Also, as we’ve attempted to avoid the “big bus” experience with a preference for the six or eight-person van excursion, it’s given us a better opportunity to make new friends during a day’s outing and to see the sights with more ease and level of enjoyment.

On some cruises, we’ll continue to attend group excursions such as next year’s Mekong River cruise where all excursions are included in the cost and others, when safety in numbers may be advised.

As we look over our upcoming cruise list, we’re enthusiast over the wide range we’ve selected to ensure we’ll have seen most of the major cities in Australia, New Zealand and many islands.

Each cruise is unique in its own way, although there are a few repeated ports of call from cruise to cruise, locations we’ll have already visited, unavoidable when attempting to circumvent the huge continent of Australia and its surrounding islands. For an example, a few of these cruises, have the port city of Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji as a port of call.

The entrance to the hospital in Savusavu.

After four months in Fiji, we may not be interested in touring Suva when its a city we’ll be visiting biweekly for shopping when we move to Pacific Harbour, Fiji, located on the main island, an hour’s drive from the house we’re renting.

Nadi (pronounced “nan-dee” in the Fijian language), where the airport is located, won’t necessarily be on our radar either with its increased levels of crime and population as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

During those repeated ports of call, we may decide to stay onboard the ship to enjoy the glorious quiet while many passengers have gone ashore to board those big buses for excursions and shopping.

Following is the list of upcoming cruises, the number of days of the cruise  and dates for which we’re booked all the way into 2017:

 Sydney to Aukland            USD $4,771 14 1/5/2016 1/19/2016
 Sydney to Singapore         USD $3,869 14 4/16/2016 4/30/2016
 Sydney to Perth                 USD $4,557 16 10/31/2016 11/16/2016
 Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  USD $6,597 15 7/8/2016 7/22/2016
 Singapore to Sydney         USD $4,144 14 10/31/2016    11/14/2016
 Sydney to Sydney              USD $4,820 12 3/1/2017 3/13/2017
 Sydney to Seattle              USD $5,995 24 4/22/2017 5/15/2017

It may seem that 2017 is a long time away, especially when we arrive in the US in May, 2017. But, its only 19 months from now until we land on US soil at the port of Seattle, Washington to make our way to Minnesota and Nevada to visit family and friends.

The total cost for all of the above cruises (for two, in select balcony cabins only) is USD $34,753, FJD $74,037, undoubtedly a huge chunk. Based on our budget, we tend to look at this total on an annualized and monthly basis which in doing so, averages at USD $1,819, FJD $3896 per month.

On a more remote island one may worry that their aren’t readily available medical services. We’re always pleased to discover hospitals, ambulances and adequate medical care in case of an emergency.

Based on having selected this vast number of cruises, we’ve been extra careful in selecting vacation homes, car rentals and general expenses to ensure “doing what we love” (cruising) doesn’t create any undue financial stress in going over our budget.  In no case, do any of these cruises result in a deficit impacting our quality of life.

Without a doubt booking this number of cruises has a bearing on the vacation homes we select. However, we tend to stay in a general range for each location based on our needs, practicality and budget. 

We don’t require a luxury four-bedroom house with a full staff, although at times, we’ve been fortunate (and will be so in the future) to have negotiated a price befitting our budget for such types of vacation rentals. 

Here in Vanua Levu, Fiji at USD $2,000, FJD $4,260 per month, we have all we need or want while we’re able to maintain our average monthly/annual cost to offset the cost of the cruises.

Yesterday, we paid the balance of USD $3,871, FJD $8247 of the first cruise on the above list, after paying a deposit of USD $900, FJD $1,917 when we booked it some time ago.

Its that very cruise that ends in Auckland, New Zealand on January 19, 2016 where we’ll stay for 89 days, renting a car in Auckland to drive to the north island city of New Plymouth where the farmhouse awaits us, again an affordable property.

Several emergency vehicles were on the hospital property. Locals don’t hesitate to call in an emergency and feel the local care is adequate for many conditions.

Typically, final payments for cruises are due 80 days before the departure dates. Vacations to Go (still our preferred cruise booking agency) keeps a credit card on file for us, using it automatically to make the payments when due. 

When booking multiple cruises such as the above, we consider the spacing and the dates the balances are due.  Our next cruise final payment won’t be due until January 23, 2016.

In most cases, we’ve paid the required USD $900, FJD $1,917 deposit at the time of booking the cruise with our preferred cabin number. If its a ship we’ve never sailed in the past, Tom reads reviews on cabin numbers in Cruise Critic and other resources while looking at the posted “deck plan” listed in the Vacations to Go website.  Selecting the right cabin is vital to a good experience (more on that later in a future post).

On certain cruises, we’re able to purchase “deposit vouchers” for USD $200, FJD $426, that can be used in place of paying the USD $900, FJD $1,917.  Why would we want to cruise line to be holding that sum of our money for these extended periods?  If we can pay a smaller deposit, it is preferred.

Of course, there’s always the added “bill” we get at the end of each cruise for any extras: Internet access, cocktails for Tom, specialty restaurants and a rare  purchase in the shops. 

Many times tips and alcoholic beverages are included in the fare when offered as a special promotion. We’ll share the inclusions and extras as we cruise on each of the above.

Then again, we often pay huge deposits on vacation homes booked way down the road. Its the nature of the beast, a constant outflow of cash paying for services well into the future.

In reality, its not unlike the lives of many of our worldwide readers who pay monthly for rent or mortgage payment, utilities and maintenance. The only difference for us is the fact that we pay for all of this well in advance. In Fiji, until January, when we depart from Sydney for the first listed cruise, our rent and airfare is already paid in full.  We continue to pay in advance for the many upcoming months and often, years.

As “they” say, “it all comes out in the wash.” It works for us.

Shortly, we’ll be heading out for the day with Rasnesh for photos of more beautiful scenery in Vanua Levu, ending up at the end of the day for our usual shopping: Vodafone kiosk, the pharmacy that has everything (one only need ask), the Farmer’s Market, New World Market and Fiji Meats where Helen has a order we placed awaiting our pickup. 

The sun was shining when we awoke but the clouds have rolled in as I write this. If it rains, we’re still going! Over the past few days, it’s been hot, hot, hot. The mozzies and ants are on a rampage after the weeks of rain but we’re handling them. Our Internet is working well. Lots more new photos coming soon. We’re feeling great and life is good.  Hope its the same for all of you!

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2014:

Tom was looking for the daily visit of sea turtles at the shoreline outside our condo in Maui. The skies had begun to clear and we looked forward to walks along the shore, whale watching  and hanging out at the pool. It was on this date a year ago, that I drove a car for the first time in two years. I was still the same awful driver I’ve always been! For more details, please click here.

Comments and responses Sightseeing day!..Stop back tomorrow for photos!…Paying upcoming balances for cruises…Fares for seven upcoming cruises…

  1. Staci Finch Thompson

    Hey there, hope you had a fun sightseeing day! Are you all no longer on the 11/16/16 Perth to Sydney cruise? Always enjoy the daily posts, just loved the photos this week!

  2. Jessica

    Staci, we had a fabulous sightseeing day! The story and photos are coming shortly. We are still on the 11/16/2016 cruise Perth to Sydney. Are you still on that one, too? Was there a problem you heard about it?

    Thanks for writing!

    Jess & Tom

  3. Staci Finch Thompson

    No, I just didn't see it on your list, so I thought I would check. We are still on that one as well!

  4. Jessica

    Gosh, I must have accidentally left it off of the list I posted yesterday. I'll go back and correct it when I done posting today. Thanks for the heads up! How easy it is to make an error, writing everyday.

    Have a great day!
    Jess & Tom

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