Questions from a long time reader…

Old-fashioned community washing pool, where locals gathered to do their laundry in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. The larger pool is for washing. The smaller sink is for rinsing. Of course, they’d bring their laundry home to dry outside their windows. For more photos, please click here.

Today’s photo is from our three-month stay in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the post here.

Yesterday, I received the following message from a long-time reader, Pam,  as follows:

“Dear Jess & Tom,

My husband and I are 70, and I’m beginning to think that cruising may be our best travel option as our mobility is becoming more limited. The research and planning are also mostly done by me, which can be a bit exhausting. We flew to Vegas in April and rented a car for an 8-day road trip to Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon. We saw some amazingly beautiful sights, but walking even short distances was very difficult for me, especially in the higher altitudes. We spent much time just touring from the car and the tour buses. So I think that cruising may be easier for us. We have only cruised twice. The first time was 1999 (eek!!! Really that long ago?) Western Caribbean, which we aren’t interested in doing again. The second was in 2012 (wow, time flies!) to Alaska, which was wonderful. Both on NCL. We aren’t fancy and kind of like their freestyle cruising.

I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me? We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.

Just wondered if you would be willing to share your thoughts. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Happy sailing!


Thank you, Pam, for writing! It’s lovely to hear from you, and we’re thrilled to hear you are considering cruising again. I am relisting your questions below (for ease of reading), and we will answer them individually.

  1. I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line.

Answer: We prefer using Costco to book cruises and car rentals. (Annual membership is required). Their prices and perks for cruises are the same as most other cruise booking agencies. However, through Costco, you will receive gift cards (shop cards) each time you book a cruise, which motivated us to use them. Unfortunately, reaching them by phone to book a cruise or ask questions subsequently is awful. You can wait on the phone for an hour or more; contacting them by email is sketchy at best. This fact alone prompted us to return to Vacations to Go, which we’ve used for years. Our rep is Heather. She can be reached here:

“Heather Thompson
Master Cruise Counselor, Luxury and Multi-Cabin Specialist
Vacations To Go (16 Years)
My office hours: Mon-Fri: 11 am-8 pm (US Central Time)
US and Canada: 1-800-338-4962 ext. 7317
For toll-free numbers from other countries, click here.”

With us booking cruises while out of the country with huge time zone differences at times, having easy access to our booking company is important to us. Heather is very responsive and quickly responds to emails and phone calls. Please tell her we sent you. We don’t receive any remuneration for referring you to her, but we love sharing good service with our readers.

We’ve never used United Cruises and rarely have booked directly through a cruise line. They are also hard to reach and don’t have better pricing or service.

2. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me?

Answer: Mainly, Tom has used at this link that takes you directly to their cruise roll call, where you can enter the cruise you’ll be taking and see if there have been price drops. If there is a price drop (only applicable to passengers from the US and Canada), only prior to the final payment, you can find the information there and then contact your cruise booking company and ask them to lower your price. This has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. But you must carefully analyze if the price drop is beneficial for you since you may lose some perks if you take the price drop. Your booking agent will provide you with this information

(You must sign up for a free account at Cruise Critic here to see the roll call for each cruise. It’s straightforward to do so).

3. .We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.

Answer: We sailed in the Mediterranean on three occasions. At many ports of call, walking can be long and up and down hills at times. However, many easy-access “Hop On Hop Off” buses are available at the various ports, taxis, and vans you can arrange to take you to see the highlights. It’s essential to negotiate a price for taxis before you embark on such private means of transportation. “Hop On, Hop Off” buses have a fixed price for passengers, which is usually reasonable. In these cases, you can decide if you want to get off the bus or taxi and walk around or not. You will still see plenty.

We hope these answers help you decide what may work for you. Please feel free to contact us at any time with more questions. We’re always happy to help!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 19, 2013:

The flowers of Tuscany never ceased to amaze us. The colors, the smells, and the varied designs make them appear more artistically rendered than real life itself. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1….Two new exciting bookings…

We’re so excited to have booked another “visa run,” but this time, on November 26, 2022, we’re flying to Seychelles.

Image result for the seychelles
Country in East Africa
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It’s home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, nature reserves, and rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to Victoria’s capital. It also has the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park and beaches, including Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka.”
The ship, the Pegasos, can accommodate 44 passengers. Basically, it’s a luxury yacht suited to this number of passengers. In light of Covid-19, they likely won’t be booked to capacity, as has been the case for many cruise ships, big and small, worldwide since the onset of the pandemic.
Passengers are tested twice daily during the seven-night cruise, which gives us peace of mind considering our last cruise experience of contracting Omicron and becoming very sick, especially Tom, who ended up with Covid-19 pneumonia. This smaller ship particularly appeals to us. Below is a photo of the ship:
Note: It appears they spelled both “Pegasus” and “Pegasos” based on English and Greek.
“M/Y Pegasos offers five- and eight-day cruises around beautiful Seychelles, with each option departing from Mahe. Both cruises visit the former leper of the colony of Curieuse, now uninhabited by humans and home to many giant tortoises, Cousin Island, known for its bird life, Aride, and St. Pierre Island. Swimming, snorkeling, guided walks, and an al fresco BBQ are all activities you can look forward to. The shorter cruise ends in Praslin, while the more extended voyage returns to Mahe via Felicite, the charming La Digue, and Moyenne Island.

Renovated in 2016, the M.Y. Pegasos has 21 cabins that can sleep a maximum of 44 people. The twin-hulled vessel has plenty of open space to enjoy the views, sea breezes, and sunshine, and the onboard leisure facilities make it easy to relax and unwind or mingle with other travelers. Sip a drink in the stylish lounge bar, select a book from the library, relax on the sundeck, and rejuvenate in the mini spa. The swimming platform makes it easy to enter the water for a swim. Paid internet access is available. When it comes to enjoying the chef’s tasty culinary creations, you can choose between indoor and outdoor dining areas. Special events, such as a Creole night and live music, add to the fun. Each spacious en suite cabin has a window, air-conditioning, satellite TV, centralized music, and a mini safe.”

A typical cabin aboard the Pegasus.

We won’t need special visas to enter the country but will require a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before arrival on the ship. This won’t be a problem since testing is still offered in Komatipoort at the lab across the street from Dr. Theo’s office.

This cruise wasn’t as expensive as we thought it could have been, considering the small size of the ship, but it was pricey nonetheless. But each time we leave for a new visa stamp in our passports to be able to return to South Africa, we realize there is a certain expense associated with it.
We selected the second category, not the highest since we spend little time in our cabin and prefer to spend our time mingling throughout the cruise with other passengers while enjoying the surroundings and amenities that appeal to us. The cost for the cruise, not including WiFi, is US $7280, ZAR 120861, about US $2000, ZAR 33260 less than many sites listed. We booked it directly through Intrepid Travel at this link. Airfare and tours are extra. We can decide while on the cruise which tours appeal to us.
The dates for this cruise are from November 26, 2022, to December 3, 2022. We paid a deposit of US $1200, ZAR 20099, and will pay the balance on October 1, 2022. Upon return, we’ll have another 90 days until we have to leave the country again, and most likely, we will do an extension at that time. After that, we’ll figure something out.
We are excited about visiting Seychelles which we’ve discussed over the years.  Also, we love being on the water.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with information on another booking we wrapped up last night. Tonight, Jabula with Rita, Gerhard and Lee!
Have a fantastic day and evening.
Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2021:
The Imposter, a smaller version of Tiny, who’s yet to appear, is ingratiating himself with us, showing up several times a day. For more photos, please click here.