An outpouring of love from around the world…

This has been the best test kit we’ve used. They retail for about $25 at most worldwide pharmacies. To perform the test, you download an app, Navica, to your phone and a live rep will walk you through the test to ensure it’s done correctly. DO NOT OPEN THE BOX PRIOR TO FACE-TIMING WITH THE REP OR THE KIT WILL BE INVALIDATED.

We cannot express our appreciation for the response and outpouring of love after the Garage Logic podcast last Friday and now continuing with well-wishes for Tom after his Covid pneumonia diagnosis described in yesterday’s post here.

We have been so fortunate to receive such positive feedback from our readers. There have been only a few occasions where a reader may send us the equivalent of “hater” emails about our travels and life events. Why read about our story or the stories of others if one finds the content objectionable in one way or another?

However, those scenarios are far and few between. Instead, as we enter one phase of our world travels to another, many loyal readers write to us expressing their concern and prayers for our well-being. At times, there are more email messages than we can respond to.  We try to respond to each one, but we sincerely apologize if we’ve missed you.

With little else to do, we’ve been able to stay on top of it. But, now, with Tom’s busy medication schedule, it may become more difficult. On the free family calendar app we both use, Cozi Calendar, which may be found here, today I entered ten events regarding Tom’s medication dosing schedule, starting at 8:00 am and ending at 10:00 pm.

I am so grateful that I am feeling so much better. My only symptoms now are a loose cough, an occasional headache, and a stuffy nose from time to time. My energy level has returned, and I no longer feel tired and lethargic. Hopefully, Tom will reach this state of improvement soon. We both continue to test negative.

Today, we have to go out to get food for dinner. The Cub Foods, less than a mile away, has some chicken wild rice soup Tom finds he can eat. Otherwise, he has had little interest in food. I’ll find something for my dinner in the market as well. I don’t feel like cooking in the small kitchen, but surely, I’ll find something easy to put together.

Our grandson Miles is still testing positive for Covid. Next Sunday, we are scheduled to leave Minneapolis only five days from today. We have no idea if we’ll be able to see any of our family members before we depart Minnesota or if we’ll be able to see our son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, where we will be for one more week until we leave for South Africa on May 22nd.

It will be good to be back in South Africa in two weeks. Our new house will be ready for us, which we know Louise will have “perfect,” awaiting our arrival. She’s insisted on grocery shopping for us. How much of a list we’ll make is based on how Tom feels in two weeks. If he’s well, we’ll only ask Louise to get enough groceries to last for a few days, longer if necessary. If he’s better, we can head to Komatipoort to grocery shop.

We’d like to have Dr. Theo check us both after this big ordeal with Covid. His office is down the road from the Spar Market, and we’ll schedule appointments to coincide with our shopping trip. It will be lovely to get back into our usual routine of wildlife watching, taking photos, cooking fabulous meals on the braai, and eventually, socializing.

We’re looking forward to feeling well enough to sit on the veranda, sipping on sundowners, and watching “visitors” stop by to see if pellets are on the happy hour menu. Most assuredly, they will be.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2021:

Seeing the porcupines on the trail cam gives us a strong incentive to continue to check out the garden at night. For more photos, please click here.

Late post…Tom had to go to Urgent Care…Not a good diagnosis…

My guy, only a few days before Covid hit on the ship.

When we rent a car,  the rate doesn’t include the spouse or family member as permitted to drive the vehicle. Last year, we decided it wasn’t worth thousands of extra dollars a year to pay for me to be able to drive rental cars, so basically, I stopped driving. I can’t drive a stick shift vehicle with my left hand or drive safely on the opposite side of the road I was used to in the US.

Besides, I am a lousy driver. If there is an emergency, I can drive.  I will keep my driver’s license up to date when it’s often used for ID in our travels. If I were to drive the rental vehicle when I wasn’t included in the contract, the insurance would be negated. It’s not worth the risk. Thus, around the time of my 73rd birthday, I gave up driving.

In the US, with a car rental contract not including me, Tom, while sick, has had to drive us to Urgent Care. I felt so bad about this when he was “coughing up a lung.” On Sunday, we made the 10-minute drive to an Urgent Care facility, MedExpress, which we had used when visiting the US in 2017, and found the care and service good. But there was no x-ray tech on duty so we had to return today.

Well, a lot has changed since 2017. One doesn’t simply walk in the door of an Urgent Care with a mask on and meander over to the reception area to check in. Each prospective patient must do the following to be seen:

  1. Using one’s smartphone, scan the QR code on the notice on the front door
  2. Gain access to the clinic’s WiFi system to register for the appointment
  3. Complete about ten pages of questions
  4. Read all the HIPAA documents (patient privacy) and sign multiple documents in the box that appears on the phone.
  5. Submit the documents
  6. Wait for a phone call from the reception area, asking more questions. 10 to 15-minute wait
  7. Provide credit card number, expiration, and PIN for them to process the basic US $149.99 fee. Additional fees may apply.
  8. Hang up and wait for a call back to be allowed to enter the facility. 30 to 45-minute wait or longer if they are very busy
  9. Receive the call asking for detailed symptoms and the reason for the visit. Then, get informed to enter the building. Sit in “chairs” socially distanced while waiting to be escorted to a treatment room.
  10. Wait in the treatment room for 10 to 15-minutes for a medical professional to enter and examine the patient.

After all this and Tom’s detailed description of his symptoms, x-rays were ordered. Then, we waited for about 40 minutes for the x-rays to be read by a radiologist at another location. The PA came back into the treatment room to explain that Tom has Covid Pneumonia and would need a considerable treatment regime including six medications; two antibiotics, two different inhalers using the electric nebulizer we purchased in India in 2020, a cough medicine in a capsule form and cortisone tablets, not to be started until May 12, having given the antibiotics time to kick in.

Covid pneumonia appears as honeycombs in x-rays, a rare phenomenon of the many peculiar symptoms of the dreaded virus. He is supposed to return to the clinic for a check-up before leaving for Nevada next Sunday. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better, and we’ll be able to fly out.

We were given a stack of papers with written instructions and Covid precautions, much of which we already knew. Of course, during the entire duration of Covid, I spent hours researching how and why Tom’s case manifested as Covid pneumonia. It happens to more people than you’d think, and the recovery can take weeks, if not months.

The PA called in the six prescriptions to the Walgreen Pharmacy across the street from the clinic. We checked out of the clinic after paying the extra US $50 for the x-ray. In moments, we were at the drive-through window at Walgreens, only to be told to return in an hour. The prescriptions weren’t ready.

We returned to the hotel, and Tom jumped under the covers for a 45-minute nap. He awoke in time for the hour to have passed, and once again, we headed back to Walgreens. It was at least a 45 minutes wait once I checked in with the pharmacist. I wanted to speak to the pharmacist personally to review the drugs, ensure we had everything prescribed, and ask a few questions.

The drive back to the hotel was hard for Tom with his constant coughing. Again, I begged him to let me drive, but he refused, knowing we didn’t need any added stress if something happened. We returned to the hotel to find the cleaners had yet to clean our room. We waited in the lobby for 30 minutes while the room was serviced.

Finally, we made it back to the room, and again Tom got under the covers. I went through each medication and gave him everything he needed, including his first breathing treatment, which required set-up and subsequent cleaning. The total cost for all of the meds was US $300.24. I set up reminders on my phone for each of the medications, ensuring we don’t miss a dose.

At that point, I took a huge plastic bowl to the building across the driveway to an ice machine on the second floor. The ice machine in this building hasn’t been working since we arrived eight days ago. I filled the ice cube trays with water, and between the big bowl of ice from the machine and the trays, that should get us through a day or two.

Then, the toilet overflowed. I don’t need to get into details, but you know how that happens. I then went to the front desk and got a plunger and extra towels. I wanted Tom to be able to sleep and not have to worry about maintenance coming to the door. In minutes, I unplugged the toilet, cleaned up the floor, returned the plunger, and bagged up the wet towels.

We had no idea, but our former next-door neighbor and friend, Nelleke, is the x-ray tech in the facility. We have stayed in touch, and she reads our posts regularly. It was wonderful to see her but sad under the circumstances. We hope to see her and Dave and our other old neighbors/friends when we return next time. We’ve all stayed in close touch.

So there it is folks. It hasn’t been fun since we disembarked the ship in Southampton, missed our next cruise on the Queen Mary 2, spent ten days in England trying to recover, and now over a week here with ongoing symptoms of Covid, Tom’s case has been much worse than mine. I feel pretty good except for an annoying cough now and then. Good thing I am well enough to help him get through this.

Sometimes, being nomads is not fun. But, if we had a home somewhere, we could still be in the same situation. Except under these circumstances, I don’t have to clean, vacuum the floor, take out the trash or mow the lawn. We can focus on getting well and soon be on our way.

Please continue to do everything you can to avoid getting Covid. For us, it’s been a lot worse than a “bad cold.”

Take care.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2021:

This male must have been the dominant male. He came right up to the table to ask for more pellets. For more photos, please click here.

What is our experience having Omicron?…Testing later today…

A bartender in the Martini Bar entertained guests with clever juggling and tricks.

Many people are tested positive for Covid and have no symptoms. Others may experience a headache, sore throat, aches and pains, exhaustion, and coughing. Everyone is different in how they respond to testing positive. Today’s post is about our experiences and maybe entirely different than others. Please contact your medical professional if you need support and assistance.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Tom was the first to experience symptoms. But his were vague and certainly didn’t cause us to suspect he was infected. He was coughing a lot from acid reflux when he consumed sugar and bread, which for days he had done, with the bread basket served at dinner and the desserts with ice cream he ordered each night after dinner.

If I got sick from food, I wouldn’t eat it, but apparently, Tom’s desire for certain foods supersedes his desire to feel well. I keep my mouth shut, and he decides for himself. But, the coughing at night was keeping me awake, and I asked him to reconsider his food choices. He did stop the bread but not the desserts. He continued to cough,

At that point, about seven days into the 13-night cruise, we became concerned but didn’t for a minute think it was Covid. After all, Tom has smoked off and on during the past 9½ years of world travel, and I do not influence his decision to quit entirely. Only he can make that decision.

Over a few days, his nose ran off and on. Here again, we both have allergies and can easily suffer periods of runny noses and frequent sneezing. Besides, I felt fine. Isn’t Omicron highly contagious, and if he had symptoms, wouldn’t I as well?

But on night #10, I had that bout of high blood pressure and excessively fast pulse. I attributed this to the two glasses of red wine I drank during the silent disco and an amount of dancing I hadn’t done since I had open-heart surgery in 2019. Dr. Google confirmed that the blood pressure and fast pulse could easily have resulted in those two reactions.

How wrong I was to make that assumption on that stressful Monday night! I was experiencing the beginning symptoms of Covid that may or may not manifest in a person with cardiovascular disease. Ah, Covid is still mysterious in how those with comorbidities can react to its ravages. These types of uncertainties allow the virus to spread among others wildly.

On Tuesday, Tom’s coughing was subsiding. After Monday’s fitful night, I felt tired, and we went to our cabin right after dinner by 9:30 pm. I fell asleep by 10:00 pm, thinking a good night’s sleep would make me feel great in the morning. But I did not. I awoke with a sore throat, feeling achy and utterly exhausted. Then I knew.

Immediately, I headed to the ship’s medical clinic wearing my military-grade mask and was told to head back to my cabin and wait to hear from the doctor, as described in detail in the post a few days ago. Tom was advised to join me in the cabin. As you know, we both tested positive.

Now, here we are, taking an at-home test today at 3:00 pm that most likely still be positive and we won’t be able to make tomorrow’s Queen Mary 2 cruise, or even board a plane, to anywhere. After all, it’s still only been three days since our positive tests on the ship. But, it may actually be day #5 for me and day #10 for Tom. We will test me today. If I am positive, there’s no point in testing Tom until such a date when I’d test negative.

I began coughing fiercely for the past few days with a horrible dry cough. But yesterday, I realized I had brought along an electric nebulizer and medication for it that we’d purchased in lockdown in India, anticipating such an experience. What a lifesaver this has been. It has helped me tremendously in the past 24 hours, especially since I have asthma which is always an issue when I get a cold or flu. I feel like I am on the upswing, although I am still fragile and exhausted.

This afternoon at 3:00 pm, when I take my first test since I was diagnosed as positive. Then, I’ll do another test tomorrow. At this point, we have considered several options. We will decide what we’ll do and share the details with you here in tomorrow’s post.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2021:

Lots of zebras in the garden were eating pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…You can run, but you can’t hide…We couldn’t escape it!…

We still are experiencing symptoms of Covid, but in the past 24 hours, we have noticed a vast improvement. We no longer have headaches, brain fog, sore throats, and coughing. We both still feel tired, but a quick nap now and then seems to help. Hopefully, by tomorrow, we’ll both test negative and can proceed with the upcoming cruise as planned.

Tom suggested we wait to document our potential backup plans should we test positive on Saturday and Sunday. Thus, we haven’t planned what we’ll do if the Sunday test is positive. It will be over a week for Tom and one day short of a week for me, so we are hopeful.

At this point, Tom is trying to stay optimistic that we’ll be able to board the ship, while I am not so sure. Having to change everything would be time-consuming and frustrating. Nonetheless, we both are hopeful we can proceed with our plans.

While in Southampton, we’d intended to meet with friends/readers for dinner, but now she has Covid and has been suffering from similar symptoms but is also on the upswing. Based on my pre-existing cardiovascular disease, my biggest concern was that it may hit me hard. That concern has dissipated as I am feeling on the mend.

Since I don’t eat fast food, finding a suitable meal was tricky. Last night for dinner, we ordered takeaway food from Deliveroo, a food delivery service here in England. Tom’s food arrived from TGI Fridays without issue. Deliveroo failed to deliver my meal from a different restaurant.

I contacted Deliveroo to explain that my food hadn’t arrived, and they said the driver waited at the hotel for nine minutes and we never came down. I instructed the front desk to call us when the food arrived. Either the driver didn’t come inside, or the reception desk staff didn’t contact me as required. Now the company will not issue a refund. This frustrates me.

For my dinner, I ordered food from the restaurant/bar in the hotel, which proved to be an excellent meal, albeit pricey. But, after yesterday’s delivery fiasco, we’ve decided to eat in the hotel this evening. We wore our masks to breakfast and will do the same for dinner if we choose to eat in the bar at a distant table. The incubation period for Omicron is about three days, which we have passed, but still, we are being careful to avoid others.

In contacting the corporate office, supposedly, they are working on a resolution. If I don’t hear back today, I’ll have no choice but to get the credit card company we used to see if they can do something about it. Most often, they can. We’ll see how that rolls out—another minor annoyance to address.

Of course, while we are here in Southampton, we won’t be doing any sightseeing as initially planned. There’s no way we are feeling chipper enough to venture out, nor would we under the circumstances. We’re comfortable in this hotel room and only hope our last night here will be tomorrow.

So that’s it for now, folks. We won’t know our test results until tomorrow night when we do the test, but we will report the results here as soon as we know them.

Thanks to our readers who have written to us with the warmest of wishes for a speedy recovery so we can continue with our plans in the future. There aren’t many photos to share right now, and honestly, I do not feel up to taking any right now.

Be well.

Big Daddy is such a handsome animal. Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2021:

We purchased six of these two-test self-administer kits using our unused cabin credit while on the ship

Part 1…You can run, but you can’t hide…We couldn’t escape it!…

The chef was generous with my lobster portions, considering that’s all I ate, no starters, no salad, no starchy sides, and no dessert. It was delicious.

No, we didn’t wear a mask while aboard the ship. But, we never went into an elevator with more than a few people. We never attended the nightly entertainment shows or daily seminars. We sat at the dining tables for two. However, we did converse with other passengers nearby.

We made many friends and sat next to them at night in the bars, often deep in conversation. We danced, laughed, and engaged in fascinating and often lengthy discussions. We had a fantastic time. We were about to classify this cruise on Celebrity Silhouette from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton as one of our most socially fun and memorable cruises in the past 9½ years since we began our world travels.

It was cruise #25, indeed a worthy milestone, but now, with great disappointment, we’ll remember it as our first cruise as the pandemic was losing ground. Would you believe that we tested positive for Covid on the final day at sea yesterday?

We had a few warning signs but dismissed them, thinking, “Oh no, we don’t have Covid.” First, Tom was eating a lot of bread and often gets acid reflux when eating any foods with gluten. At night, his coughing would stop when he took an antacid, so we never associated it with Covid. He quit eating bread and seemed to improve significantly. We never gave it another thought.

We both often get allergy symptoms with repeated sneezing and occasional runny noses. Again, we thought nothing of it. We felt fine otherwise, especially when it would stop after a few minutes, as it often did.

After dancing at the silent disco on Monday night, we headed to our cabin around 1:00 am. I felt shaky, as if I had high blood pressure. Most people don’t get symptoms when their blood pressure is high, but I do. Plus, recently, Dr. Theo in Komatipoort, South Africa, put me on a newer medication that didn’t keep it as low as my prior medication, which I’d taken for 20 years.

I shouldn’t have switched to the new drug until after we returned. I started it about a month before we left, and all seemed fine, but I was experiencing occasional spikes and planned to discuss this with him upon our return. When I checked my blood pressure on Monday night, it was through the roof, and my pulse was very high.

I tried to relax to get the numbers down, but they were too high for comfort, even after a few hours. Luckily, I’d packed my old medication and took my old dose. Everything was normal again a few hours later, but I didn’t feel like myself. I barely slept a wink that night.

Of course, I was anxious about this weird event and attributed it to an excess of dancing and the two glasses of red wine I’d had that night. In South Africa, I only drink very-low alcohol wine produced in South Africa, none of which they had on the ship. But I’d spaced myself and hoped it would be ok. Apparently not, I surmised. Later, I read that Covid can cause a spike in blood pressure and pulse rate in those with cardiovascular diseases, such as me.

Tom’s Baked Alaska made my mouth water, but I didn’t taste it. He enjoyed every morsel. I am always content to “look at it,” so Tom calls me a “food voyeur.”

I awoke early after the awful night, feeling exhausted from not sleeping, attributing my lackluster demeanor to sleep deprivation. On Tuesday evening, I only drank Sprite Zero, and we headed straight to our cabin after enjoying dinner with a lovely couple at the following table, three feet (one meter) from us.

My Fitbit indicated I slept for eight hours on Tuesday night which generally would be sufficient to make me feel great. Wednesday morning, I awoke with a horrific sore throat. It was then that I told Tom I needed to get tested for Covid since the sore throat was a red flag. I headed to the doctor’s clinic on deck 2 wearing my mask.  When the nurse spotted me and asked what my issue was, I explained I needed a Covid test. She sent me back to our cabin and told me to wait until the doctor contacted me by phone.

A short time later, Tom arrived, and I explained we both needed to be tested. Shortly after, the doctor called, asking how we were feeling and our vaccination and booster status. Since July, we’d had both when we returned to the US for a month to see family and be vaccinated.

A few months ago, we were able to get boosted in Komatipoort at the booster station outside the Spar Market. We both felt at ease that we were well protected. But were we?

The doctor arrived at our cabin, fully decked out in PPE, and took the painful swabs of our nasal passages. Tom had the antigen test, and I had the PCR test. At this point, Tom had no symptoms, but I was feeling quite unwell. The doctor called to tell us we were both positive and stay in the cabin an hour later. Guest relations would contact us next with instructions.

They called, telling us to pack everything in our cabin within the hour. We were moved to quarantine level six with all the other Covid patients. I was feeling awful. Packing wasn’t easy, but I muddled my way through it, and an hour later, three fully protected attendants arrived and moved us to another balcony cabin. We walked through the “bowels” of the ship to avoid being near any passengers. It felt weird.

Once situated in the new cabin, which was sparse with the usual toiletries and items we enjoyed using in our prior cabin, the challenge of food and beverages began. It was a total fiasco. They said they didn’t have any Sprite Zero left on the ship. We even had trouble getting sufficient water bottles and ice to get us through the night.

This morning, the coffee and food orders were wrong. Room service couldn’t get our food orders right, and we were sorely disappointed. I wasn’t hungry but knew I needed to eat. Tom was feeling fine. His food order was also a mess. We were ready to get off the ship and to our hotel in Southampton.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll share what we plan to do if we still test positive on Saturday, the day we’re required to take a Covid test before boarding the Queen Mary 2. If that’s the case, it will be quite the challenge to see if and how we can change everything. Oh, dear. This situation is indeed a challenge.

We plan to spend the next few days in our hotel room in Southampton (hmmm…sound familiar?) while working on our recovery, eating good food, drinking lots of water, resting, and staying in touch with all of you. We are sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for a possible four hours to get checked into our room. Almost two hours have passed so far. But, as always, we are hopeful.

I am looking forward to lying down. But I put the time to good use, writing today’s post.

We avoided Covid for over two years. Considering the amount of travel we’ve done, we’re lucky it didn’t get us when it was the Delta variant. Now, with Omicron, whichever variant we may have, we hope to recover soon.

Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2021:

Many zebra butts were facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden. For more photos, please click here.

Covid protocols while out to sea…

Port Everglades as the ship began to journey out to sea.

It’s going well. We are enjoying the cruise, meeting people, and dining last night with readers Nancy and Bill in the Cuvee Main Dining Room. It was delightful to chat with this lovely couple, frequent travelers and cruisers who served as an inspiration for us.

Nancy and Bill are more than 12 plus years older than us and are mobile, active, and fit seniors who continue to thrive as travelers and property owners in the Villages senior community in central Florida. It was interesting to hear about their lives in the massive community geared to active, social seniors with ease of living with everything right at their fingertips.

Although we listened attentively to the nuances of that lifestyle, we realized it is not for us when the time comes that we may need to settle down. But, we were thrilled to know how much they are enjoying their lives, taking advantage of many experiences generally associated with the younger generation.

This young woman has a beautiful voice and offered pleasing entertainment in Cafe al Bacio while we worked on yesterday’s post.

By 10:00 pm, we were back in our cabin. I’d slept poorly the previous night, our first night at sea, and desperately needed a good night. There was nothing about the ship or sailing that kept me awake. Most likely, my excitement to be traveling again kept my mind spinning at a feverish pace. Covid has undoubtedly impacted our travels over the past few years.

Now, back out to sea with minimal Covid protocols, we are experiencing an entirely familiar perspective from a few years ago, long before the pandemic. Less than one out of 50 passengers  (from what we can determine) are wearing masks. All staff, including entertainers, are masked at all times.

Last night, Tom’s apple crumble dessert in the Cuvee dining room on deck three.

We can only pray that no one gets sick on this ship, but like many other cruise ships at sea at this time, there is often a breakout at some point. We are as careful as possible, avoid group events, do not shake hands or hug, and frequently wash and sanitize our hands.

There are sanitizing stations at the entrance and exit of all restaurants and entertainment venues and two little bottles of hand sanitizer in each cabin, one of which we carry with us at all times. Elevators are limited to four occupants, but that’s easy to accomplish with the small number of passengers.

This little bottle of hand sanitizer left in our cabin is small enough to fit into a pocket. We carry it with us everywhere we go; we wash our hands frequently. My cup of herbal raspberry tea and my eyedropper bottle of liquid sweetener is to the right.

We have peace of mind with only 1288 passengers aboard this ship, which usually accommodates 2886 passengers, with a crew of 1250. It’s no wonder we are getting such exemplary service when there are almost as many crew members as passengers.

There’s been no mention of onboard Covid tests, which may occur further into the journey. We’ve only been sailing for less than two days, with 11 more to go. But, as is the case for most cruises, the time flies so quickly that suddenly it’s over.

A typical morning at Cafe al Bacio on deck five, where we always sit to do the post and research each day while sailing on this class of ship, referred to as Celebrity Solstice class. Although this is the Silhouette, its design is identical to several other Celebrity ships, making the layout very familiar to us.

We wouldn’t be interested in sailing permanently, which we’re often asked. We wouldn’t want the novelty to wear off. The occasional cruise keeps the experience fresh and anticipated on every occasion.

Today is another sea day as we make our way to Bermuda, arriving tomorrow morning. The seas are a little rough, but no one seems worse for the wear and is walking and active about the ship. As always, both Tom and I revel in each other’s companionship and cheerful dispositions, making cruising all the more pleasurable.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll be posting the detailed list of every cruise we’ve been on since the onset of our world travels in 2012.

Thank you again for all of your kind wishes and supportive comments. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without all of YOU!!!.

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2021:

We shot this photo from the veranda of the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park. Mom and baby elephant are munching on the vegetation. For more photos, please click here.

Cruise check-in during times of COVID…Bermuda crazies…

Our balcony cabin while still in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Note; The WiFi aboard the ship is very slow. At this point, we aren’t able to add many photos. We will try to do so for tomorrow’s post late tonight or early tomorrow morning when fewer passengers are online.

By the time we arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, it was close to noon. The drive went quickly, especially when we entertained ourselves by making a list of every cruise we had taken since we began this journey 9½ years ago. As it turned out, this is cruise #25! Tom remembered every cruise. In a few days, we’ll post the list.

For some reason, I’d thought this was #27, but over the years, there were approximately eight cruises that were canceled, only three of which we chose to cancel; two of which we canceled due to my heart surgery in 2019, and one, that we canceled recently, when the itinerary changed from Russia and Ukraine to areas we weren’t interested in visiting at the high cost of the cruise.

Here we are, perfectly content on the Celebrity Silhouette, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, currently sitting at Cafe al Bacio enjoying tasty, frothy mugs of Caramel Macchiato (mine is sugar-free decaf, using real cream, not milk). Delicious!

We were shocked by the easy check-in process. Once we dropped off the luggage at the port and then dropped off the rental car and made it back to the port by taxi, it was 1:30 pm. We produced our ID and cruise confirmation on our phone, and we were asked an important question, “Did we have the approved Bermuda Authorization form?”

Immediately, we provided our authorization approval on my phone, both of which came through on Thursday night while still at Karen and Rich’s house, just in time for Friday’s cruise. I hadn’t mentioned much about this form when we were worried it wouldn’t get approved in time for the four final days in Apollo Beach. What was this form all about?

It was a recently required visa and health document that Bermuda imposed on all visitors to their country, requiring a $40 fee for each applicant. They designed this process to reduce some of the country’s losses due to the loss of visitors during the pandemic.

The painstaking process of completing and submitting this mandatory document was awful, with slow response times, login issues, and general website glitches. I thought we’d never get it done and approved. When we hadn’t heard back since our initial submission on Tuesday, I sent an email with all of our attached documents once again, requesting they speed it up.

Celebrity stated that if a passenger didn’t have this form approved by the time of boarding, the passenger(s) would be denied entry to the cruise. As it turned out, Bermuda couldn’t keep up with the processing of over 2000 forms that couldn’t be finalized until after each passenger submitted a negative Covid test which couldn’t be done more than two days before departure. What a mess!

Finally, our approval came through after sending the email. We found out that many passengers didn’t get the approval in time. Celebrity decided to let them board, but they probably won’t be able to get off the ship in Bermuda, our first of very few ports of call.

Once we entered the cruise terminal, it took no more than 10 minutes for us to be checked in and make our way to the ship. In the “old days” before Covid, champagne (sparkling wine) was served upon boarding. But, that is no more. But. we were thrilled to be on the ship.

We were told our room keys were in the mail slot outside the door to our room. Neither key worked and our excellent cabin steward, Push, took the keys to the front desk while we waited for him to return with two working key cards. The line at the customer service desk required a two-hour wait when hundreds of passengers’ key cards also didn’t work. All we had to do was ask.

Immediately, we got the WiFi working which was included in the cost of our fare, by using a barcode sign in our cabin. In no time at all, we were online. However, this morning, I decided to check our account on the TV to see we were charged almost $400 for WiFi. I called customer service to get this resolved, and it was promptly removed from the bill. Also, two drink packages and tips were also included in our fare.

Our bags came to our cabin, and before we left for dinner, we had unpacked and felt content and settled, knowing we’d certainly enjoy the upcoming 13 nights.

Tonight we will be having dinner with a lovely couple who approached us after breakfast, saying they knew us from our blog. How fun is that! They had been reading and found they were sailing on the same cruise and looked forward to meeting us. Of course, as always, we are flattered during such encounters, if not a little shy about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back sharing the Covid protocol on the ship, some expected and some surprising. We’ll see you then!

Be well, and thanks for sailing along with us!!!

Photo from one year ago today, April 9, 2021:

“This is a good place to rest my head.” For more photos, please click here.