Harsh reality…Big disappointment…

A hornbill was sitting on the barbwire fence overlooking the Crocodile River.

I don’t know how to begin today’s post other than getting right to the point. We are sorely disappointed to have had no choice but to cancel our triple back-to-back cruises for 42 nights, beginning on November 8 and ending in Cape Town on December 20, 2022.

Azamara Cruise Line was vague about how we were supposed to get visas for the cruise. After numerous calls and email messages, we were directed to Visa Central, which handles acquiring visas for cruise passengers. But, for us, we ran into a huge obstacle.

Another hornbill.

Passengers can use Visa Central, living in the US and other countries. Still, to acquire the several visas needed for this long journey, they must send in their actual passports, which will be snail-mailed back to them when the visas are issued, with the passports stamped by the various embassies.

After considerable research, we found the facts and how they would apply to us. We cannot mail our passports to the US while living in a foreign country, leaving us without passports in our possession. This is foolhardy and impossible for us, especially during these trying times. One never knows what could happen, and we’d be left without our passports for over a month. No way.

A hornbill with a left wing askew.

On top of that, the snail mail process from South Africa is cumbersome and unpredictable. Sure, we could use FedEx or DHL, but that wouldn’t solve the problem of being without passports in our possession while here. The only alternative is to return to the US and stay there while the visas are processed and the passports are returned to us.

We aren’t interested in returning to the US right now, especially when the average cost for us to stay there is about US $10,000, ZAR 167992, per month with airfare, hotels, car rentals, and dining out. Plus, with our recent bad experiences, we just aren’t ready to return at this time for this purpose.

Two giraffes on the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Thus, we had no choice but to cancel all three cruises. Last night we spent over three hours on the phone with Costco Travel, who called Azamara, and there was no solution for us other than to cancel. We’ll lose the US $300 for admin fees for the two cruises and nothing on the third, most recent upcoming cruise, which we already paid in full.

Getting the cash back for the cruise we paid in full is impossible. We have to apply it to a separate upcoming cruise in August 2023, which they’ll do without penalty. Even though Azamara’s website claims, “Cruise with Confidence,” it isn’t as confidence-inspiring as one might think when there are admin fees we have to pay.

This Cape buffalo was out like a light.

We had inquired about getting the visas a long time ago when we first booked the three back-to-back cruises. But, Covid-19 repercussions were still prevailing, and answers were vague and unsatisfactory. We figured we’d wait it out but never figured we’d ultimately have to cancel.

We are very disappointed. This was going to be one of the most exciting cruises out of the 27 cruises on which we’ve sailed over the years. Plus, we loved the idea of keeping this house for the six weeks we’d be gone and returning to Marloth Park on December 20, 2022, only three days before Tom’s 70th birthday.

Another Cape buffalo in deep repose.

Now, we’ll have to come up with a new plan to be able to get yet another visa stamp for that period. We’ve started researching other places in Africa we can visit when we need a new stamp in November. Also, we may decide to file for another extension using the law firm. We’ll see how things roll out. With so many flight cancellations right now, we have to give this some serious thought.

All of this can be directly attributed to Covid-19. Several countries we were scheduled to visit on the cruises previously had e-visa options for travelers. Now with all the issues due to the pandemic, many countries are reverting to more stringent requirements for tourists to acquire visas to visit their countries. Once again, we are caught up in the mess, costing us money and plans.

Two Cape buffalos were lounging on the bank of the river.

Looking on the bright side, we couldn’t be in a better place to figure this all out. We love our house, our friends and the amazing animals visiting us daily. We’ll continue to look to the future to see where and when we can travel. The challenges? Well, they just “go with the territory.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2021:

Tom’s new Samsonite leather computer backpack that he purchased a year ago while we were in the US. For more photos, please click here.