Day #257 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Plan B is in place if South Africa won’t let us enter…

This pelican was trained to entertain tourists as the man passed around a cup.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 while visiting Pisco, Peru, as a port of call on our cruise along the coasts of South America. For more on that day’s post, please click here.

Previously, we discussed the possibility of a Plan B, in the event we can’t board the flight to South Africa for any reason on January 12, 2021, and what we’ll do from there.

Locally harvested seashells for sale along with a few pairs of flip-flops.

A few days ago in this post, in case you missed it, we’ve booked flights from Mumbai to Dubai to Johannesburg to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger on January 12, 2021, arriving in Marloth Park on January 13, 2021. But, as mentioned in prior posts, we had booked such a flight on March 20, 2020, arriving at the Mumbai Airport at 2:00 am, only to be turned away when South Africa refused to let us enter the country due to their imminent plan to close the borders due to COVID-19.

In no way are we totally confident that this won’t happen again, especially as cases continue to rise in South Africa at a very high rate. We’ve carefully reviewed and will continue to review all the conditions under which we will be allowed to enter and of course, we’ll be diligent in every aspect.

Ship sculpture made from bones.

However, typical for us, preferring to leave no loose ends in our travel plans, we knew we had to come up with an alternate plan, thus Plan B, in the event for any reason, we aren’t allowed to fly on that or a similar flight in its place. With bated breath, we hope we don’t hear from Emirates Airline informing us that the flight has been canceled.

This could easily happen, especially when we see the number of flights that are canceled worldwide on a daily basis, including many in India. The worst-case scenario in this travel plan, other than contracting COVID-19 or other health issues, is that we are turned away once again and have to return to this or another hotel in Mumbai and continue to wait.

Activity on the boardwalk in Pisco.

At this point, we’re in no state of mind to allow that to happen. The thought of returning to such a hotel room, makes us cringe. Instead, after considerable research online over the past few days, we’ve decided we’ll book a flight to Seychelles, a popular island resort country which certainly isn’t as far away as South Africa.

With a 90-day visa available at the Seychelles Airport upon arrival, we can easily find a place to stay. We’re considering, just in case, to book a room under the pay-at-the-hotel option, canceling it once we know we’ll be able to fly to South Africa. If need be, we can book a week in a hotel and then go to work to find a holiday home to see us through the next almost three months.

Various feathered friends resting on a moored fishing boat.

Of course, we can’t book a holiday home now since doing so requires a partial or full payment upfront and we would lose our money. It’s easier to book a hotel, allowing us to pay upon arrival. This is a common practice available at Hotels.com on our site with no penalty for canceling.

Plan B gives us peace of mind. Seychelles is a beautiful country with the sea as the main focal point is described as follows at this site: is an archipelago island country consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea.

A boat tied up on the beach near the pier.

“Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP of any African nation. It is the first African country with an HDI score exceeding 0.800, and therefore the only country in the continent with a very high Human Development Index. It is one of only two countries in Africa classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank, the other being Mauritius. Despite its relative prosperity, poverty remains widespread as the country has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the world and markedly unequal wealth distribution, with the upper and ruling class commanding a vast proportion of the country’s wealth.”

A pelican proudly posing for a photo.

Of course, our intent is always to maintain a positive attitude and now, with this plan, we feel we can do so. Otherwise, we’d face a sense of panic at the airport in the middle of the night as happened on March 20, 2020. We don’t want to repeat that situation, under any circumstances.

So there it is folks, a back-up plan, a Plan B, a peace-of-mind maker, and a solution to a problem that may never transpire. We’ll see how it all rolls out in 39 days. Please stay tuned.

Stay healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2019:

While visiting family in the US, last year at this time, we didn’t often take photos. Subsequently, we posted photos from older posts as has been the case in our year-ago photos. While in Penguin, Tasmania in 2017 we took this photo on our way to the town of Ulverston. Tasmania never disappoints! For more, please click here.

Antarctica – January 31, 2018…Rough seas…Balance of photos from Grytviken, South Georgia…

The sun reflecting on a glacier with King Penguins at the shore.
It’s difficult walking about the ship, more than we’ve encountered since the 17 meter, 50-foot waves on the Norwegian Epic in April 2013.   For details on that wild Atlantic Ocean crossing, please click here.

View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia.
During breakfast and lunch today, the staff had quite a time keeping glasses and dishes from flying off tables and trays.  Our own chairs and table were sliding across the floor while we all laughed at the drama. 

Doorway to the Carr Maritime Gallery (museum).
In a meeting this morning when the Captain Patrick Marchesseau announced that weather conditions are expected to improve which will enable us to get to Elephant Island by tomorrow.  Also, he mentioned, weather providing we may have an opportunity to go where few cruise ship ever go…the Antarctic Circle.

Whaling boat and a variety of whaling equipment.
However, in this part of the world weather is highly unpredictable so we can only wait and see what happens over the next several days.  The cruise doesn’t end until February 8th so we may have ample time for many more exciting adventures.

Hand-cranked air pump for divers.
With today as yet another sea day and with more photos we’d yet to post for Grytviken we decided to extend yesterday”s post with more photos from this unique settlement.  Grytviken is a plethora of historical information regarding the whaling industry from many decades ago.
Cooking apparatus and boots with nails to stabilize walking on ice, whale oil and debris.
With our passion for wildlife, it was sad to see all of the boats and equipment used in the slaughter of these magnificent animals.  The heart-wrenching experience of walking through the settlement only softened the shock by the playful Fur Seals we encountered as well as the many lounging Elephant Seals in our path that made us laugh with sheer delight. 

Navigational device.
As the cruise continues, we find ourselves entrenched in our little group of new friends, spending meals and happy hour together.  The commonality we all possess of being experience world travelers allows for some exceptional conversation.

Vertebrae from a whale.
Amid all the story-telling, the laughter flows with ease from comments made by both our new friend Marg and of course, Tom who is always quick on his feet with humorous interjections.  Add hysterically funny Marg to the mix and we’re all rolling on the floor throughout the day and evening. 

Various preserved specimens.
Marg wanted me to mention that she kisses our cabin door leaving a lipstick print when she passes by to her and husband Steve’s cabin down the hall from us.  Each day, the cleaning staff washes it off, only to have a new imprint the next day.  We howled.  We couldn’t be having more fun!

Books and local wares in the Grytviken shop.
The staff goes overboard to ensure we’re all having the utmost experience on this luxury cruise.  Unfortunately, based on their high prices for luxurious accommodation, I doubt we’ll be able to cruise on Ponant in the future.

Ropes and pulleys for the whaling boats.
Let’s face it, traveling the world full-time, now for five years and three months, does leave us in a constant state of minding the budget.  Luxury cruises such as this, although quite pleasurable, leave us in a position of having to strictly tighten our belts for extended periods.  This doesn’t appeal to us over the long haul.

Grenades and harpoon heads used to kill whales.
We’d rather live within our means and be able to choose quality experiences including vacation/holiday rentals, dining out from time to time, renting cars and overall living a little more relaxed lifestyle.

Tom thought this rock formation appears to be a turtle.
This cruise held so much appeal to us due to the itinerary which included being able to board the Zodiac boats for many landings along the way.  There are several other cruises to the Antarctic but most of these don’t allow the passengers to disembark the ship. 
An empty Zodiac boat ready to load to more passengers to take ashore.
This aspect alone was enough of a motivator to prompt us to book this expensive cruise and we’re glad we did.  Fortunately, we both accept that this upscale type of cruising isn’t the norm for us and we’ll continue to be content on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines many smaller ships. 

Example of the interior of local housing during the whaling days.
On all of our past 21 sailings, we’ve had an opportunity to visit many stunning ports of call and meet equally wonderful people, many of whom we continue to stay in touch, building lifelong relationships.

King Penguins standing in shallow water.
Last night, after dinner, we headed to deck three lounge for another fine evening with our friends, dancing (not me so much), sipping beverages (I’m still not drinking wine due to the antibiotics I’m still taking for my knee).  The captain and many other crew members joined in the wild dancing on the dance floor.  What a night!

The Grytviken shop with various equipment on display outdoors.
Speaking of my injured knee, yesterday I started another antibiotic, a French drug for staph infections.  Voila!  Within six hours, the redness and inflammation began to subside.  I have to take them for two more days and then I’ll be done, hopefully fully recovered.  It’s looking good.

What a face!
In the next hour, we all have to bring all of our outdoor clothing, gloves, and boots to the main lounge to vacuum everything to remove any potential contaminants or bacteria that may be on our clothing we might carry from one landing to another.

Two adorable Fur Seal pups enjoying the warmth of the sun.
Afterward, we have one more Antarctica seminar today and then we’ll shower and change for yet another fun evening.  Need I say, we’re having a fabulous time surrounded by that which we love: wildlife, nature, scenery and good friends.
Wi-Fi permitting we’ll be back with more tomorrow!  Stay well.  Stay happy! 
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Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2017:

Cute.  We took this photo through the glass of the window in the living room in Huon Valley, Tasmania when we happened to see this rabbit on the shore of the Huon River.  For more photos, please click here.

Day 4…Cruise to South America…Part 1, Fabulous day in Grand Cayman with new friends…

Susan and Blair, originally from Canada, have lived in Grand Cayman for the past 15 years and are about to spread their wings further, by beginning a world journey in many ways similar to ours without a home, without “stuff” and with no end in mind. 

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

A yacht in the harbor at Grand Cayman.
Yesterday, Grand Cayman was our first port of call since leaving Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.  Here’s a little information about Grand Cayman:
“Grand Cayman
Island in the Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. George Town, its capital, is home to the Cayman Islands National Museum, dedicated to Caymanian heritage. The city is also a major cruise-ship port and site of the ruins of colonial-era Fort George. Beaches and vibrant coral reefs are the island’s hallmarks.
Area75.68 mi²
Population52,601 (2010)
Largest settlementGeorge Town (pop. 27,704)
Pop. density224.6 /km2 (581.7 /sq mi)
Ethnic groupsmixed 40%, white 20%, black 20%, expatriates of various ethnic groups 20%”
Indoor seating at Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant.
On a prior cruise we’d visited Cayman Island but this time we had an entirely different perspective both from having had more experience traveling, with a  resulting keener eye.  Also meeting new friends and upcoming world travelers Susan and Blair added considerably to our second visit.
Check out this fish chandelier!

This lovely couple, about 10 years my junior, five years for Tom, are blessed with the opportunity to begin traveling at a younger age, already possessing considerable travel experience as opposed to our being relative neophytes when we began in October 2012.

A tour boat under tarps at the marina

As avid and expert scuba divers they’ve visited some of the finest waters in the world as well as spending the past 15 years living in Cayman Island, a scuba divers paradise.  Originally from Canada, years ago they made the difficult decision to move to this tropical island which we found to be exquisite and enticing.

An social event conducted on the beach.

Again, this year they made yet another life-changing decision…to sell everything they own and travel the world.  Humm…sounds familiar.  Although their travel goals may be different from ours with their passion for underwater scenery and wildlife, as we’re inclined toward about water scenery, we found we have many similar interests in common.

Recently, with the help of a competent local real estate agent, their home in Grand Cayman sold and they’re expected to leave at the end of December to begin which may prove for them, to be a year’s long journey as well.

A sprawling lawn at a luxury estate.

Sharing dreams, hopes, and logistics with them at lunch at the excellent Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club was both refreshing and exciting.


As it turns out, Susan and Blair found us online when searching for world travelers.  Over the past few years, as the decision was rolling out, they’ve found other world travelers, researching for valued information as to how to embark on such an adventure.

View of a small portion Cayman Island from the ship.


As the baby boomer population ages, many are deciding to do something similar to us, each to their own personal preferences to fulfill their dreams of world travel.  


It’s interesting to see how world travelers goals may vary.  Some may prefer to spend considerable time in Europe when they begin, as is the case for Susan and Blair while others may choose an entirely different path, as in our case.

A pretty house on the shore as our tender approached the dock.

Whichever path they choose, challenges and obstacles line they way which savvy people can handle with dignity and grace. The ability to navigate online, along with good problem-solving skills and a high degree of patience and tolerance can make this life possible for some.


Susan and Blair definitely seem to possess these skills and we look forward to following their adventures at their site found hereWe wish them the very best in safety, good health, and astounding experiences.

Tom just returned from a morning seminar, joining me at a comfy table in Cafe al Bacio where we’ll stay until we’re ready for the next activity, another seminar this afternoon.

Tomorrow, we’ll back with more photos of our time in Cayman Island with Susan and Blair.


Have a pleasing day!
                ______________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2016:

I love the look on Tom’s face in this shot.  It was one year ago today that we did the swminar on the ship.  A few days later we were asked to conduct a second seminar.  For more details, please click here.

Cruise final expenses including shopping at port and extras…Finalizing details…Favorite photos…

Mystery Island scene.

Rather than wait until the day we disembark the ship, which is tomorrow, I decided to post the final expenses and favorite photos today.  With today’s packing

Tomorrow, when we disembark by 8:30 am with a 9:00 am shuttle pickup at the Port of Seattle, we’ll have time to post until after we arrive in Vancouver later in the day.

Sun shining on the sea.

Once we’re settle in our hotel, we’ll prepare and upload a post with scenic photos of the three plus hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver which we expect will be stunning.  Neither of us have ever driven this route by car.  It should be interesting.

At 11:30 am now with another time change occuring at noon, we decided to pack earlier than usual and get it all behind us.  Tonight, the staff will collect all of our checked bags, leaving the newer duffel bag and computer backpack behind for us to keep in our possession during the disembarking process.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu beach.

Once we’re off the ship, we’ll find the remainder of our luggage in the cruise terminal and make our way to the pickup area where an SUV driver will be waiting for us for the US $550, AU $744.95 drive over the US border into Canada.

We hedged at this high cost for transportation but after careful consideration decided this was the least stressful means of travel.  We always keep in mind that keeping stress at a minimum has always been our goal and our motto.

A reminder of cannibalism in the South Pacific.

It always falls upon the fact that we can only control that which “we know” in our world travels, not which “we don’t know” which would include unforeseen circumstances over which we have no influence in our diligent planning.

Sometimes, that includes paying a little more, planning ahead and leaving ourselves free and unencumbered to relish in our surroundings and experiences along the way.

Situated in the Diamond Club lounge for the last morning of this 24-night cruise we can relax knowing everything is in place: we’re fully packed with clothing left out for tonight and tomorrow. 

King Neptune poolside celebration after crossing the Equator.

We’ve calculated our total expenses for the cruise, as shown below entering the figures into our main spreadsheet; we’ve reviewed our cruise bill for accuracy, handling any necessary adjustments; we’ve paid cash tips to our fabulous restaurant manager Belic who oversaw meticulous handling of my special meals and, over-the-top cabin steward Mira, the best we’ve ever experienced after 18 cruises.

Here are the final expenses for this 24-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas from Sydney to Seattle:

 Expense   US Dollar   Australian Dollar 
 Cruise Fare – 24 nights   $              5,955.26  $                    8,068.18
 Cabin credit   $                (280.00)  $                        379.28
 Airfare    $                                 $                                     
 Taxi    $                    50.20  $                          68.00
 Laundry aboard ship   $                    49.98  $                          67.70
 Ship Shop Purchases   $                    94.78  $                        124.38
 Tips not inc. in fare   $                   188.17  $                        254.87
 Lahaina Gap purchases   $                   106.00  $                        143.57
 Total   $              6,164.39  $                     8,349.44
 Average Daily Cost    $                  256.85  $                        347.89


 We’re please with these totals.  The daily totals are slightly higher than our usual average daily costs.  Using this cruise for transportation back to the US actually saved us money when the airfare alone would have been around US $2,000, AU $2,708.93.

During the 24-day period we would have been paying for a vacation home, groceries, transportation, etc. Adding the pure joy of spending this extended period of time with other passengers, it’s definitely money well spent.  Also, we avoided a horrendously long 14-hour flight from these distant locations.

We’ve made many new friends on this cruise and look forward to hearing from them in the future.  Who knows?  Our paths may cross again sometime in the future.

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

As we enter North America by early tomorrow morning, we’ll no longer include Australian money exchange rates for our expenses.  All expenses, during our time in North America will be posted in US dollars only.  For our Australian readers, as you know for one US dollar it is $1.35 for Australian dollar.

We won’t be posted a foreign exchange rate until August 1st when we enter Costa Rica as we continue on our world journey.

Thanks, dear readers, for your continued love and support during this lengthy cruise.  We’ll continue to post daily during the Alaska cruise beginning in three days when we’ll be visiting many ports of call for a hopefully good signal which has been lacking during this cruise.

Goodbye, Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the South Pacific for the gifts you bestowed upon us in this exquisite and fascinating part of the world.  We’ll remain eternally grateful for the experiences.

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms all over the world!  May your day be as special as YOU!

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Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2016:

This dog walked up to our villa in Bali and wandered around the pool.  We stayed seated and didn’t say a word.  Soon, he wandered away.  For more photos, please click here.

March 7th…Our 22nd wedding anniversary…History of New Caledonia…Two fun photos from one year ago…

Do you see the rainbow in the background in this shot of New Caledonia?
Today is a sea day.  The Wi-Fi signal is marginal due to the number of passengers on their phones, tablets and laptops.  I attempted to speak to my sister on Skype but I was unable to hear anything on this end although she could hear me. 

Having ended the antibiotics last night while increasing the dose of the PPI which I’ll continue to take for two months, I’ve definitely had a good result. 
I’d been suffering with Helicobactor Pylori for the past 15 months. Still a little sluggish from the meds, I’m not missing a beat of the varied activities we enjoy aboard ship, often hanging out with our new friends.


We inquired as to the cost of renting one of these little vehicles in Noumea, New Caledonia, the capital city.  At AU $132, US $100 per hour, we decided to walk which certainly was more beneficial.

Speaking of not “missing a beat” last night we danced the night away.  Tom was doing his usual “dancing to the music” for a solid two hours standing by me while occasionally I had to sit down to recover. 

The boat harbour in Nuomea.

After lounging for many months in an attempt to get well, my energy level wasn’t my usual 100%.  Tom, on the other hand, never ceases to amaze me with his relentless enthusiasm and high energy when it comes to any activity.  For a guy that likes to lounge, he sure can kick it up a beat when needed.

Tomorrow, we’ll to share a video on the post including photos and story of an exceptional night we’ll always remember, spent with many of the new friends we’ve made during this cruise.

Freighter in the port in New Caledonia.

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary.  In actuality, we’ve been together almost 26 years.  What a fabulous way to celebrate…on a ship with my renewed health as I continue to build back my strength more each day.   Happy anniversary to my lively energetic hubby who never fails to make me laugh, smile and feel in awe of our great relationship.



Local catamaran.

With a one hour time change last night (loss), little sleep from staying out late, we’re glad to have a sea day.  We missed breakfast in the dining room but will soon head in for a light lunch.  Now that I can eat a little more having two meals a day is appealing, especially while on the ship with someone else  preparing it.

Last night, the pastry chef made me a dessert..an almond sponge cake made with eggs, almond flour, vanilla, cream and chopped nuts.  It was absolutely unbellievable.  It was the first time in over five years I had a “cake feel” in my mouth with ingredients acceptable to my way of eating.  I wonder if I can get the recipe from him.

Our ship, Celebrity Solstice, as we returned from walking through the small town.

Tonight, I’ll bring the camera to dinner to take photos of our meals and my dessert.  Alfredo, a restaurant manager, has gone over-the-top to ensure I’m happy with my meals; typically salmon or chicken, prawns, spinach and mashed cauliflower. 

Views out to sea from Noumea.

I’ve avoided beef and salads while recovering to keep the volume of food and digestibility under control.  Perhaps soon I’ll be able to add a small green salad with a steak.

Below, for our history buffs in cyberspace, we’ve included some information about New Calendonia and photos we’d taken both on and off the ship.  As always thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you again tomorrow with our fun video and photo of us on anniversary night.

New Caledonia consists of several islands in the archipaelgo.

Happy day to all!
New Caledonia (French: Nouvelle-Calédonie) is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 16,136 km (10,026 mi) east of Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets.The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea. Locals refer to Grande Terre as Le Caillou (“the pebble”).

New Caledonia has a land area of 18,576 km (7,172 sq mi). Its population of 268,767 (Aug. 2014 census) consists of a mix of Kanak people (the original inhabitants of New Caledonia), people of European descent (Caldoches and Metropolitan French), Polynesian people (mostly Wallisians), and Southeast Asian people, as well as a few people of Pied-Noir and Maghreban descent. The capital of the territory is Nouméa.


History

The earliest traces of human presence in New Caledonia date back to the Lapita period. The Lapita were highly skilled navigators and agriculturists with influence over a large area of the Pacific.

Two Kanak warriors posing with penis gourds and spears around 1880.  Duh, not our photo.

British explorer Captain James Cook was the first European to sight New Caledonia, on 4 September 1774, during his second voyage. He named it “New Caledonia“, as the northeast of the island reminded him of Scotland. The west coast of Grande Terre was approached by Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse in 1788, shortly before his disappearance, and the Loyalty Islands were first visited in 1796. From then until 1840, only a few sporadic contacts with the archipelago were recorded.[ Contacts became more frequent after 1840, because of the interest in sandalwood from New Caledonia.
 
As trade in sandalwood declined, it was replaced by a new form of trade, “blackbirding“, a euphemism for enslaving people from New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, New Hebrides, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands to work in sugarcane plantations in Fiji and Queensland. The trade ceased at the start of the 20th century. The victims of this trade were called “Kanakas”, like all the Oceanian people, after the Hawaiian word for “man.”

The first missionaries from the London Missionary Society and the Marist Brothers arrived in the 1840s.. In 1849, the crew of the American ship Cutter was killed and eaten by the Pouma clan.Cannibalism was widespread throughout New Caledonia.”

For more historical information, please click here.

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Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2016:

Tom was holding a gold Oscar statue look-alike at Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake, New Zealand.  Click here for the story and more photos of this quaint movie theatre.
Sitting in the “photo booth” on our first visit.  Shortly after our first visit we returned for a second visit on a special movie night with photos we’ll share shortly as the one-year-ago post approaches.

Part 1,…Oh, What a Night!…Surprising private dinner…Who knew?…

Baby Grand player piano in the living area of the Penthouse Suite on Celebrity Solstice.
“Oh, What a Night” it was indeed! Click here for the song.”  We feel so fortunate for the wide array of experiences in which we embark along the way, especially those we least expect.

Cruise Critic members lounging in the living room of the Penthouse Suite.

Yesterday afternoon at 2:00 pm we joined a group of Cruise Critic members for an activity referred to as a “cabin crawl.”  This event is made available by Cruise Critic members who are staying in a variety of staterooms at varying prices, willing to show them off to the members.

52 inch LCD flat screen TV and sound system with a second smaller unit in the bedroom.

We were more curious to see the higher priced cabins as opposed to those comparable to ours (mid range) or the inside cabins which to date, we’ve never booked.  We like to have access to the outdoors and are willing to pay the added fare required for balcony cabins.

Appetizer spread on dining table in Penthouse Suite.

It’s never been on our radar or a longing desire to book a penthouse suite.  Although, we found yesterday’s experience of viewing the luxury cabin, not for one moment did we long for or consider doing so at any time in the future.  Based on our continual world travels such an expenditure would be highly impractical especially when priced anywhere for US $2,000 to US $3,000, AU $2,633 to AU $3950 per night.

Kitchen/bar area in Penthouse Suite well equipped for the tour.

With the enjoyment of meeting passengers throughout the day and evening, we only sleep in our cabin, shower and dress for the day and the evening.  Its a rare occasion we’ll spend more than one hour a day lounging in the cabin.  If  passengers can afford such a luxury suite, one might feel obligated to spend time inside rather than exploring and meeting others throughout the day and evening.  But, no doubt the experience would be outstanding.

King sized bed with sliding doors to the veranda.

Those who are easily able to afford the expensive accommodations, often choose the Penthouse Suite for a variety of reasons;  the lush comforts; inclusive butler and food service from any of the specialty restaurants; avoidance of dining and mingling in often crowded venues and also the vast number of inclusive amenities that we’re sharing here today including the following: 

“Penthouse Suite

Category PS

Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors; master bedroom features king-size bed, 52″ LCD TV, vanity, walk-in closet, marble master bathroom with whirlpool tub, shower stall with dual shower heads, double washbasins and 26″ LCD TV; separate living room with dining area; baby grand piano; sofa queen sleeper; full bar; lounge seating; Surround sound entertainment system with 52″ LCD TV; full guest bathroom; veranda with whirlpool and lounge seating. (Stateroom: 1,291 sq. ft.,(120 sq. meters) Veranda: 389 sq.ft (36 sq. meters).

Walk in closet in the bedroom.

When the group of approximately 30 Cruise Critic members finally gathered to explore the various cabins, we were on our way to the 11th deck where the first is our tour was the Penthouse Suite.

Shower stall with dual shower heads.

Of course, we were in awe as the lovely engaged couple graciously welcomed us at the door.  Not only had they generously offered to show their suite but they also had an elaborate display of appetizers, beverages and champagne.  It couldn’t have been more well planned and beautifully presented.

Jacuzzi tub for two with leather headrests in master bedroom en suite.

Mulling around the suite, we chatted with other passengers many of whom firmly planted themselves on the comfortable furnishings with food and drink on their laps. 

The veranda is huge at 389 square feet (36 square meters) as shown in this photo and the photo below.

In taking our photos we intended to accomplish two things; one, maintain the privacy of the suite occupants and; two, take as many photos as possible without other passengers impeding the view.  We did our best and with a bit of editing we were able to avoid most shots with the 30 plus people in the suite at one time.


Alternate view of the veranda.  I wonder why Tom was looking down.

As we were about to leave we stopped to thank the host and hostess and a short conversation ensued during which they invited us to a private dinner later that evening in their suite.

We were delighted by their thoughtful invitation assuming we’d be part of a larger group attending dinner in the luxury accommodations. Little did we know we were the only couple attending.

This is quite a plus…a jacuzzi tub on the veranda.  This appealed to me the most of all of the amenities.

The evening was delightful and memorable.  More on this story in tomorrow’s post including photos of us with our new friends. Right now, we have to get moving while the ship is docked in Nuoma, New Caledonia.  Who visits New Caledonia and what possible treasures might it behold?

Happy day!

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago, March 4, 2017:


Kitty-corner crosswalks are legal in many locations in New Zealand.  A year ago today, we purchased our current camera. For pricing and information, please click here.

Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me…Late posting unavoidable when having too much fun…



Clock tower of Lands Department building in Sydney city centre. (Photo taken a quite a distance..please excuse the blur).

We’re obviously not on a sailboat but we’re on a ship that “sails the seas.”  This song came to mind last night as we gushed with enthusiam at being on yet another cruise.

Here are some of the words from the song by Christopher Cross, “Sailing” popular in 1980 (click here for video):

“Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me”
Commuter train crossing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Its was 10:00 am when I began writing today’s post/  Tom was participating in Cruise Critic’s “slot pull” in the casino while I was comfortably seated in the Cafe al Bacio in our usual spot on this particular cruise. 

This morning we attended the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and then each took off for our plans for the rest of the morning.  Of course, I got sidetracked with people stopping by to chat and by noon when Tom returned it was time to go to lunch.
Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We do most activities together.  This morning, realizing how late it was getting after breakfast in the Epernay Dining Room engaging in interesting and diverse conversations with other passengers and afterward attending the Cruise Critic event, I suggested that I hang out in the cafe preparing and uploading today’s post.


Please don’t think that for one moment I’m not enjoying doing the daily posts while aboard a ship which in this case  happens to be the beautiful Celebrity Solstice, our 17th cruise since we began, our third time on this ship. 
The bars were all packed with passengers getting their drinks on embarkation day.
This month on March 15th, we’ll have been posting for a total of five years.  Once we transitioned to posting daily on March 1, 2013 we’ve never missed a day except when we had no Wi-Fi signal or a power outage.  In most cases, we were able to get back online and post later in the day, the evening or a day or two later, even posting on travel days from the airport.

Last night, the Solstice embarked from Sydney Harbour at 6:30 pm as soon as we were settled at our shared table for 10 in the dining room. We were so busy having fun, we hardly noticed we were headed out of the Sydney Harbour to the Tasman Sea. 
There are several of these unique benches on the upper decks.
Its no wonder we love cruising.  The commonalities that cruise passengers possess is astounding.  At times, we meet poeple who’ve been traveling all of their lives resulting in as many, if not more, experiences than we’ve had to date.

The flight from Hobart to Sydney was quick and easy arriving in 90 minutes.  The cab ride from the airport to the cruise terminal took less then 30 minutes.  Our bags were wisked away (we always keep the carry on bags with us) and found no queue required to check in for the cruise.
Packed ocean front buildings on the Sydney Harbour.
From the time we arrived at the cruise terminal to be entering our cabin was only 45 minutes, one of the quicker check-ins we’ve had.  We were pleasantly reminded of the value of the upgrade when we entered our cabin on the 10th deck.  On this particular cruise we purchased the upgraded Concierge category since it was priced better than our usual veranda category. 

With this category, we received several perks which we’ll share in a future post.  For now, we’re loving every moment.  I’m eating small meals twice a day and my protein smoothie in place of breakfast.  
Visitors walking toward the Sydney Opera House.
This plan seems to help although I’m not as free of symptoms as I’d expect after nine days of taking two types of antibiotics and the PPI.  Maybe I’ll have “safari luck” and this medical issue will be resolved by the end of the cruise.  If not, more doctor appointment may be required during the 40 nights in Sydney. 

I was almost finished with the post when it was time to head to the dining room for a light lunch.  After getting wrapped up with more fabulous people we only recently returned at 2:00 pm to our favorite spot in the cafe on this ship and I was able to complete today’s post.  Sorry for the delay.  Please expect our posts to be available three or fours later than usual.  Once we’re on land after March 14th, we’ll return to our usual time.
Sydney Opera House. We’re thrilled to have reservations for an opera on March 18th, only weeks away.
As we cruise along we’ll have more to share including many photos at ports of call we’d yet to visit.

Have a great day, “sailing” with us on this latest journey!
_________________________________________________
 
Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2017:
It was such fun to hand feed the alpacas their special grassy feed. Some were too shy to participate. For more photos, please click here.

Off we go to the ship…Long drive through the Cambodian countryside…Mode of transportation

Local danger and musicians greeted us with a ceremonial dance as we entered the hotel.
In Cambodia, US dollars are tendered for most purchases, receiving Cambodian money, the reil, for change which can be confusing especially when one US dollar is KHR $40,973.50.  The cost for the drive back to our hotel was US $3.  The driver was so grateful when we gave him a US $5 bill.  Tipping isn’t expected in Cambodia but greatly appreciated based on low wages.
Fountain in the lake at the hotel, taken last night in the dark.

As much as long drives in cars, vans and buses are not our favorite mode of transportation, I’m looking forward to the almost five hour drive through the Cambodian countryside as we make our way to the awaiting boat on the Mekong River.


As we approached the entrance to the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra in Siem Reap, Cambodia, another five star hotel.

These past tour portions of this cruise/tour has been rich in history and highly entertaining including the extra three days we spent on our own in advance of the cruise in Hanoi when we arrived from Singapore over a week ago.  I did my best to keep up, only missing a few days of touring, having participated in the remainder.


The first night in the hotel in Cambodia we were entertained with local dancers performing in the dining room.

Last night, the final night at the Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia it dawned on me that we’d yet to share any photos of this five star hotel and its surroundings.  Its been a glorious hotel stay once again, with the past two Sofitel Hotels providing the utmost in both ambiance, amenities and service.


Upon entering our beautifully decorated hotel room with a full veranda overlooking the river, the table was set with fresh flowers, complimentary linen napkins as a gift to keep, baby bananas and cookies (all of which Tom consumed).

I’d never paid much attention to Sofitel Hotels other than occasionally dining (in my old life) at the hotel’s restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota for business type lunches. 


It was a long walk from the lobby to our hotel room down several long bridges such as this over the lake on the hotel property.
Each walkway to the various buildings provided a lovely view of the hotel’s massive grounds.

Now that we’re signed up as members we’ll certainly pay the Accor hotel chains a little more attention when we’re wondering where to stay for a night or two on occasion.


A portion of the hotel’s lake.

We had the opportunity to chat with one of the hotel’s managers, Sam Sorn who along with the remaining staff have provided exemplary service and attention to detail. 

This sign is posted along one of the walkways in the hotel.

From the complimentary handmade linen napkins left in our room as a gift from the hotel, to the baby bananas, fresh flowers and chef’s perfection in seeing to my menu, the hotel nor the other two restaurants where we dined in Siem Reap, left a stone unturned. 

Its unfortunate the mosquitos are so bad and the heat and humidity uncomfortable or many guests would have spent more time outdoors.  Instead everyone stayed inside air conditioned comfort. 

From the gentle-hands-clasped-bow elicited by each Cambodian we encounter whether it was the pool man or the tuk tuk driver, each individual made us feel supremely invited as guests into their country.  I could easily return here for an extended stay although, practically speaking, it may not be possible with so much world left to see.

A bicycle rickshaw on display.

Last night’s dinner for 54 guests at Malis Restaurant, ranked #4 of 622 in TripAdvisor, excelled beyond most restaurants when they prepared entirely different meals for me than those offered on the menu.  They went as far as making a totally sugar free mousse/flan dessert than surprisingly was quite delicious without any form of sweetener.

These gorgeous flowers are commonly seen on display in hotels and restaurants in Cambodia.

Of course, the conversation was indescribably delightful as we’ve continued to get to know one couple after another, never disappointed, always enlightened by the stories of others as they freely ask question after question about our peculiar lifestyle.  I suppose if it was the other way around, we’d be curious as well.

One of several seating areas in the hotel’s lobby.

We try to temper our enthusiasm and ask about their lives.  Most of the participants on this type of cruise are well traveled with equally fascinating stories to tell.  Most of the passengers are within our age range with a few much younger and equal number, a bit older. 

A shrine in the hotel lobby.  Most Cambodians are Buddhists.

Age seems to be no barrier in keeping these adventurous folks from continuing to travel well into their 70’s and 80’s.  Some have obvious disabilities and yet forge ahead with the excitement of 20 year olds, seeking to fill their lives with new experiences. 

This talented young man played peaceful music in the lobby.

A few stayed behind like us on the more difficult excursions over the past few days while others returned exhausted and hobbling with aching joints, hips and knees commensurate with older age. 

Fresh flowers are frequently replenished.  This humid climate in Cambodia is a perfect environment for growing flowers.

As for my continuing recovery, its still a work in progress.  In reviewing the calendar we tried to recall the exact date of the injury and we believe it was around June 1st.  Most likely it’s been almost six weeks.  If I blew out a disc (or two)  or whatever, it could be several more weeks until I’m pain free once again. 

A humidor with a variety of cigars for sale including Cuban.

My only fear is that the pain won’t go away and this will be my lot in life, not unlike my life before I started this way of eating.  I will no longer be pain free as I’d been two months ago.  Could I continue on at this level of discomfort?  I think so. 

Elaborate desserts such as these are offered in the buffet as well as at “high tea” in the bar where we worked on the posts.  Tom was only interested in the doughnuts on the bottom right.

As we mentioned in the post on July 11th, “In the past two weeks we moved into four different hotels in four different countries, flown on three international flights, taken over 1000 photos and posted each and every day.

We sat at the left corner of this banquette in the bar each day while posting.

As you’ve seen, we’ve been able to continue on.  If we were living a “fixed” lifestyle and this injury occurred, I’d still have the discomfort and life would go on.  Its not a whole lot different now other than the hours of moving from one location to another which generally isn’t quite as often as its been lately.

Sam Sorn, the hotel’s second in command worked his “way up” after 16 years of employment at the hotel, originally working in maintenance.  His kindly demeanor and interest in each guest is delightful.

However, we both remain hopeful that soon I’ll be back to my “old” self once again, able to walk longer distances and manage more steps and rough terrain.  I remind myself how grateful we are that it wasn’t totally debilitating where I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) get out at all. Sheer will and determination have kept me moving. 

With rain each day, we never took advantage of the hotel’s enormous pool.  We have plenty of pool time upcoming over the net several months.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll head back to our hotel room to leave the already-packed and ready-to-go three checked bags outside our hotel room door to be picked up by staff and delivered to the two buses for both Group A and B (we’re A) and off we’ll go at 11:30 am for the long journey to the ship awaiting us in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. 

Last night on our way to dinner on the bus, we tried to take a few photos through the glass.
Once we’re all onboard and checked in, we’ll be offered complimentary welcome aboard cocktails (along with cocktails included  at no charge at both lunch and dinner) and be introduced to the ship’s captain, other officers and support staff.  Then, we’ll set sail.

Siem Reap is filled with a multitude of shopping options from expensive galleria type malls to strips centers such as this.

Many building copy the design of the Angkor Wat temple.


We’re as excited as always to be back on the water, this time on our first river cruise which so far the land portion, has proven to excel our expectations.  Back at you tomorrow with photos and updates!  Stay tuned!


The entrance to last night’s restaurant, Malis.  It was absolutely exquisite for me although Tom found some of the unfamiliar spices less appealing to his taste buds.


Have a glorious day!

Bob and Tom having a great time, sitting across from Tina and I. We arrived at the restaurant at 5:45 while it was still light.  At 8 pm, some of the group were headed to a local circus with bleacher-type seating.  Unfortunately, there was no way I could sit on bleachers for any length of time.  Instead, we had a fabulous time returning to the hotel in a local tuk tuk.



______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2015:

Holloways Beach, near Cairns Australia.  For more details and photos, please click here.

 

Living within our means…More new Port Douglas photos…

A small pier for boaters at the marina in the Port Douglas harbor.

As we near the end of sharing our photos of Port Douglas, we begin to think about where we’ll visit next.  Quickly, time is marching on as we approach our final month in Trinity Beach when our departure date is September 7th (son Greg’s birthday) and arriving in Sydney. We’ll stay overnight in Sydney, departing the next day on September 8th, (daughter Tammy’s birthday) for Fiji.

We spotted this kilometer distance meter at a scenic overlook which illustrates distances to various cities throughout the world.

If we didn’t see another tourist attraction we can leave here happily knowing we experienced quite a bit and knowing we’ll be touring the entire perimeter of the continent of Australia via six upcoming cruises over the next less than two years. 

Buoys in the water off the beach in Port Douglas.

With seemingly endless ports of call on those six cruises, we’d like to leave a few of the highlights for the cruises, especially when we usually meet people with whom we’ll most likely enjoy touring the various points of interest.

Another Banyan Tree along the beach.

Another factor we must consider at this time is the fact that we’ve had to lay out enormous sums for upcoming vacation homes, cruises, and medical care resulting in the necessity of “tightening our belts.” We’re like the rest of the middle-class world, we must monitor our spending to ensure we don’t get in a tight spot.

A view of the Four Mile Beach from a steep road we drove above the town.

Since we live entirely off of our monthly income, laying out thousands of dollars in any given month makes us very mindful the next month or so. We use credit cards for all of our payments and expenses, attempting to pay them off entirely each month. 

At first glance, we assumed the red color in this tree was flowers when in fact it was the leaves changing colors.

In the past few days, we paid off all of the credit card balances except one. Next month we’ll pay off that balance. We feel more secure when we have no balances on credit cards which occurs a few days after the first of each month with a few exceptions. Then we start charging again for all of our living expenses and future travels, racking up big balances again.

View from an overlook.

Most people don’t pay a portion of their rent or mortgage payment as much as two years in advance as we do. Often vacation rental deposits are as much as 50% of the full 90 day rental with the balance paid in full before arrival. 

Most recently, we’ve had to pay in full in advance for the river cruise on the Viking Mekong at a rate of US $6598, AUD $9440 which doesn’t sail until July 8, 2016, and huge sums for future bookings. Last month, we also paid out over US $2800, AUD $3694 for a variety of upcoming airline tickets.

Low tide changing the entire scene at the beach.

We chose to pay in full for this particular cruise since it offered a 2 for 1 sale if paid in advance which was irresistible. Neither of us could imagine laying out twice that amount for a cruise when soon we’ll start saving for the pricey future adventures we’re planning to book down the road after we leave the South Pacific.

Most piers are packed with tourists and locals enjoying the views.  We were surprised that no one was walking along with us.

When we start investigating some of the tourist attractions in this area, including train rides, gondola rides, and boat tours, we see how easily we could eat up another $1000 on only a few attractions.

The pier in Port Douglas has a stairway for boaters or an area for fishing.  We were the only visitors on the pier.

It’s the nature of the beast. We recently saw a lovely story on TV about a younger Australian couple that had been traveling for a few years, occasionally stopping to work to make money in order to continue on. Also, at times, they stayed in campsites sleeping in tents, stayed in hostels, sharing a bath, or staying for free in other people’s homes. They’re young and this works for them.

Low tide created an eerie view.

We don’t want to take odd jobs along the way, sleep in tents, or share a bath in a hostel although, we commend those who do. It’s just not for us. Instead, we prefer living comfortably, living life on our terms. Choosing to do so has a price tag attached to it which we’ve chosen to bear. 

This private catamaran was anchored in the sand at low tide.

That price tag includes us making some sacrifices and often this comes in the way of the “entertainment” category in our spreadsheet which we always include in the budget, which often is used for unexpected expenses.

In Australia, we’ve used that designated entertainment budget for all of our medical exams, dental appointments, and the prescriptions we purchased to last for an additional six months. It quickly added up.

A boat anchored in the bay.

Thus, for the remainder of our 35 days in Trinity Beach, we’re reliant upon continuing to find sites to see that don’t include fees and expenses. This isn’t too hard to do in this beautiful area as we continue our search.

We realized when we began this journey that our priority to see as much of the world as we can, for as long as our health holds out, had sacrifices associated with it, not only in what we left behind but in the quality of life we live each day. Doing so requires that we live within our means. For us, doing so is a small sacrifice in the realm of things.

So, we won’t go on a train ride or take a sunset cruise on a charter boat.  We don’t mind at all.  Each day of our lives is a treasure whether it’s last night’s moonlight, today’s Kookaburra sitting on the fence, or the simple beauty of a flower blooming. Or, for Tom, it’s beating me at Gin two games in a row!

Who’s complaining? Not us!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 3, 2014:

A smaller Statue of Liberty stands proud in Paris. We couldn’t believe that we were seeing the familiar sites we’d only seen in print. For more details and Paris photos, please click here.

The second cruise we booked on Friday…

Red berries growing on a palm tree.

It’s odd how we often book two cruises at once or I should say, Tom books two cruises at once. I suppose he decides to book two cruises when it’s related to the fact that particular promotion is taking place at the time of booking.

Celebrity has a promotion at this time, called, “1, 2,3 Go!” which includes: one, cost of gratuities; two, value of an onboard cabin credit; and three, which is the drink package for two, valued at roughly $60 per person per day.  If one chooses the “concierge class” (an upgraded cabin and location), all three promos are included. If you choose certain balcony classes, a traveler may choose one or two of the three options.

Celebrity Solstice, which we sailed on our way to Honolulu in October is the same ship for these two recently booked cruises.

We weren’t able to choose the “1,2,3 Go!” package when booking the cruise, we posted yesterday when it wasn’t available for that particular sailing.

Tom always tries to make it work that we get all three when the cost differential is worthwhile since the upgraded cabins have a higher cost. The big issue for us is that I don’t drink alcohol, juice, or sugary beverages, making it redundant for me to end up with a “free” drink package.  How much included bottled water can one drink in a day?

Here’s a link that further explains the “1, 2, 3 Go!” package.

Plus, Tom has to factor in that he only drinks a few cocktails each day. Does having a “free” drink package make him drink more? Perhaps. It would be hard to resist for any cruise passenger. Tom’s fun when he drinks, never sloppy, never drunk or embarrassing, so I don’t mind a bit.

As it turns out, based on Tom’s calculations, it made sense to upgrade to the concierge class for the cruise described here today, as opposed to the cruise info we posted yesterday where it made no sense financially, although we did book a good balcony cabin in a good location at an increased price.

Below are the many features of the Celebrity Solstice, the ship for both of these two recently booked cruises: 

 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2008
Tonnage 122,000 tons
Registry Malta
Length 1,033 feet
Beam 121 feet
Passenger Capacity 2,850
Crew Size 999
Total Inside Cabins 102
Total Outside Cabins 1,323
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 1,177
Suites 56
Maximum Occupancy per room 5
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Assigned
Dining Hours 6:15 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Recommended? Yes
Tipping Guidelines Added to onboard account. $12.00 per person, per day in staterooms, $12.50 per person, per day for Concierge/Aqua class, $15.50 per person, per day for Suites. 15% tip included on beverage orders.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges 14
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino Yes
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing Yes
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub 10
Cell Phone Service Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available in certain areas
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre Yes
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings Yes
Self Serve Laundromats No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court Yes
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 3
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 Yes
Children’s Playroom Yes
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program Yes
Teen Center Yes
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins


Soon, we’ll figure out where to live in the South Pacific during this gap in time. While living in Kauai, we’ll continue the process of figuring out where we’ll spend this period of time. The options are many based on our location at the time.

Our total cost for this cruise is $4820 which includes all taxes, gratuities, and subsequent credits. On top of this expense is the cost for the “bill” we receive at the end of the cruise including (if no drink package); alcoholic and other beverages, bottled water (tea and coffee are free),  the ship’s WiFi fees (cost per minute), purchases in the shops, visits to the doctor and cost for spa services or any other services not included in the fare.

Here’s the cruise information for this later cruise on the same ship, the Celebrity Solstice, three and a half months after the cruise we listed yesterday. We continue to book all of our cruises with vacationstogo.com:


FastDeal
12360
12 nights departing March 1, 2017 on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice
Brochure Inside $3,398
Our Inside $1,699
You Save 50%
Brochure Oceanview $3,798
Our Oceanview $1,824
You Save 52%
Brochure Balcony $4,098
Our Balcony $1,949
You Save 52%
Brochure Suite $6,098
Our Suite $3,049
You Save 50%
$$$ Book select oceanview and balcony categories, and choose one of the following offers: a $300 per cabin onboard credit, FREE pre-paid gratuities (a per cabin value of $288), or a FREE beverage package for two, which includes select alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages onboard (a per cabin value of $1,176). Book select suite categories, and receive all 3 offers:  a $300 per cabin onboard credit plus the pre-paid gratuities (a per cabin value of $372) and beverage packages listed above.
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
Important Note: Visas are required for this itinerary.
ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Wed Mar 1 Sydney, Australia 6:30pm
Thu Mar 2 At Sea
Fri Mar 3 At Sea
Sat Mar 4 Noumea, New Caledonia 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun Mar 5 Lifou, New Caledonia 8:00am 5:00pm
Mon Mar 6 Mystery Island, Vanuatu 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Mar 7 At Sea
Wed Mar 8 Suva, Fiji 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Mar 9 Lautoka, Fiji 7:00am 4:00pm
Fri Mar 10 At Sea
Sat Mar 11 At Sea
Sun Mar 12 At Sea
Mon Mar 13 Sydney, Australia 6:30am

Considering all of the above, our usual bill at the end of each cruise for 14 days, runs around $1100, most of which is for WiFi. Also, we always have XcomGlobal’s MiFi with us when cruising, at an additional cost of about $400 per month with a limited amount of data per day only working on the days we’re in port. 

Out to sea, we have no option but to use the ship’s Internet which is expensive and unreliable. I’m a cheap date on a cruise and Tom doesn’t charge more than his drinks. My drinks are all free when I only drink iced tea and coffee and the ship’s reverse osmosis purified water. I don’t care for massages or spa services and I rarely buy anything in the various overpriced shops. I do use a fair amount of WiFi when writing our posts each day but then again so does Tom, helping with research and entertaining himself while I work on the photos and stories to post.

We won’t book any additional cruises until after we purchase more “deposit vouchers” onboard our next cruise this upcoming May enabling us to pay only $100 per person deposit as opposed to $450 per person deposit. To purchase these, we don’t have to have a specific cruise in mind and these vouchers have no end date.

Yesterday, we’d mentioned listing our five booked future cruises, costs, dates, etc. However, as long as today’s post proved to be, we’ll wait and post these tomorrow. We apologize for changing this plan last minute. 

Have a restful Sunday!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 11, 2014:

One year ago we posted this photo we took from the veranda in Marloth Park. Oh, how we loved the visits from the gentle friendly zebra often arriving in all-male herds. For a funny zebra video and more, please click here.