The UK discussion continues…

Not out photo. The continuing rise in the cost of food  in the UK was one of the key contributors to December’s consumer price inflation of 5.4% © REUTERS (An article from Financial Times, with their link here.. See the article below in bold type)

A lot of our readers live in the UK. After reading our post from a few days ago stating that we won’t be staying in England during our two-month itinerary gap until the next cruise, many of our readers wrote to us, mainly those who live there. There were approximately 25% that didn’t agree with our reasons for the change in our plans, due to high prices, stating that prices hadn’t changed, but 75% said they are appalled by how much prices have increased in the UK since the onset of the pandemic.

I wrote back to many of our readers in a personal email, but when the comments were too many to reply to individually, I had no choice but to address it here. Sorry if this topic doesn’t appeal to you, but if you are a frequent, infrequent, or full-time traveler, like us, these facts will have an impact on your travels if your financial situation requires tight reins, like ours.

Undoubtedly, some world travelers are wealthy, and the cost of living in each country they visit may not be relevant to them. But, for most of us, research is imperative to budget and project future travel expenses.

Don’t get me wrong—some travelers dream of spending time in England. If visiting the island is the fulfillment of a lifetime dream that has been carefully studied and budgeted, my and our reader’s comments may be meaningless. But, we’ve already spent quite a bit of time in the UK (except for Scotland, which we’ll visit down the road), and going over budget for a gap-filling period is not what we’d like to accomplish at this time.

We love England for its deep and rich history, warm and friendly people, charming rural communities, and the modern hustle and bustle cities. Much to a contrary view by many, we’ve loved the food in England has had some of the best meals in our world travels.” Sunday roasts” are a divine experience at many establishments, resulting in dining experiences we’ll never forget.

Now, after two years of basically staying put due to Covid-19, we need “new” and unique experiences, people, and cultures. Returning to countries we’ve already explored doesn’t appeal to us. Of course, the exception has been Marloth Park, South Africa, and other parts of Africa, which always intrigues us.

Also, a new consideration right now is what’s happening in Ukraine. Does this create concern for travelers heading to Europe for their summer? If this war extends beyond Ukraine, we may choose to “hunker down” in safer parts of the world. At this point, it’s imperative to watch the news, deftly discovering reliable sources (duh) that may or may not indicate if European travel makes sense right now.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but none of us knows right now what the future holds regarding this onslaught by Putin. We have no interest in putting ourselves anywhere near a war. We love adventure but not that type. Our hearts break for the Ukrainian people, and we wish they all had the freedom to extricate themselves and their families from these horrors.

Back to the high cost of living in the UK…I research some news articles that may be reliable such as the following:

UK cost of living crisis intensifies (from Financial Times)

January 19, 2022

“Consumer inflation jumps to the highest rate in 30 years; oil prices continue to rise…

New data today showed UK prices rose at their highest rate for 30 years in December, fuelling the country’s cost-of-living crisis and putting more pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates. Consumer price inflation hit 5.4 percent in December, up from 5.1 percent the previous month, and could yet pass six percent in the spring when energy price rises take effect, just as new tax increases kick in.

Both will hit poorer households particularly hard, as will the continuing growth in food prices, one of the key contributors to December’s increase. Inflation was also running significantly ahead of earnings, which rose at just 3.8 percent in the three months to November, despite labor shortages. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, speaking to MPs in Westminster this afternoon, acknowledged that higher inflation would last longer than initially forecast. Investors now expect four UK rate rises from the BoE by November.
Pressure to increase rates to combat inflation is being felt by policymakers worldwide. In the eurozone, bond market investors are betting that central banks will speed up their attempts to withdraw stimulus programs, while in the US, investors are now pricing in up to four rate rises from the Fed this year. Fear of rising inflation has even spread to policymakers in Japan, a country that has battled against deflation for decades.
Meanwhile, oil prices continued their upward trajectory, hitting a seven-year high on Tuesday. The US has urged leading producers to speed up production to help control inflation, but Opec and its allies have stuck to their plan for more gradual increases. Bookmark this: Our global inflation tracker allows you to track data and trends by country, including house prices and food costs.”
Line chart of YoY change in consumer price index (%) showing UK prices rose at their fastest annual rate for 30 years in December

There are countless such articles online espousing the same facts. In the meantime, we are waiting to hear if our cruise from Istanbul on June 29, 2022, from Istanbul to Istanbul, Black Sea, with our scheduled sailing on the back-to-back on the same ship, Istanbul to Athens, Greek Islands. These two cruises account for 21 days at sea which we were looking forward to.

Now, we wait and see what Azamara decides to do about changing the ports of call that are scheduled to visit Odessa, Ukraine (two days), and Sochi, Russia (13 hours), among other locations not in Ukraine or Russia but located on the Black Sea. Once the new itinerary is posted, we will include it here, at which point we’ll decide if we are content with the changes.

If not, everything will change. There will be no need for us to go to Europe at this time. Our next grouping of cruises will begin in Athens and end in Athens sailing to Egypt and Israel. We hold our breath in anticipation but are not worried or stressed. Our future travels are of little significance compared to what is transpiring in Ukraine.

Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 6, 2021:

Two years ago photo when we couldn’t upload new photos due to WiFi issues. This blind priest prays in this position all day, standing outside the  Eklingi Temple in Udaipur, India. Silver was used in embellishing the interior, and it was stunning. As a functioning temple, no photos are allowed. For more photos, please click here.

Planning for the future …Error correction from yesterday’s post…Lots of boats, now and then…

Cars and trucks can easily fit inside the ferry. Prices vary by weight as shown here at the ferry company’s website

In yesterday’s post, I’d placed a caption under an ocean view photo that sleeping accommodations weren’t available on the ferry that travels overnight from Vanua Levu to Viti Levu. 

I was wrong in my assumption that there were no cabins available after hearing from locals about passengers sitting up all night for the overnight crossing. Usually, we’ll have investigated such facts and reported accordingly.  We apologize for the error.

The ferry travels from Savusavu to Viti Levu once a day. It leaves in the afternoon, arriving at 5 am.

This was nagging at me as being inaccurate. This morning, I researched online, now able to do so with a good connection, to discover there are cabins available on the local ferry departing from Savusavu as shown below with the information available at the ferry company’s website

From what I can determine, these prices may not have been updated since 2011. Please call or check further for updated pricing:

                                                            SUVA-  NATOVI – SAVUSAVU RATES
PASSENGERS    VEHILCES 
 Suva/Natovi/SSV   VEHILCE  Suva/Natovi/SSV  RETURN
CABINS SENIBUA 1 $256.00 (Ret-$512)   TYPE 1 WAY  
  SENIBUA 2 $256.00   40 Footer $1,800.00  $2,400.00
  SENIBUA 3 $256.00   20 Footer $1200.00 $1,600.00
  SLEEPER $86.00 (Ret – $172)   12 Wheeler $825.00 $1100.00
        10 Wheeler $825.00 $1100.00
        9   Ton $675.00 $900.00
        7   Ton $650.00 $850.00
        5   Ton $525.00 $700.00
        4   Ton $525.00 $700.00
        3   Ton $490.00 $650.00
ECONOMY CLASS ADULTS $55.00 (Ret-$110)   2   Ton $360.00 $480.00
19 – 25 yrs STUDENTS – UNIVERSITY $45.00(Ret – $90)   1  Ton $365.00 $350.00
14-18 yrs STUDENTS-SECONDARY $35.00(Ret – $70)   Under 1 Ton $265.00 $350.00
6 – 13 yrs STUDENTS-PRIMARY $30.00 (Ret – $60)        
3-5 YRS TODDLERS $15.00 (Ret- $30)        
2 yrs and Below Infants FREE

Most likely, locals prefer not to bear the added expense of reserving a cabin when they’ve become used to the overnight crossing in order to visit family on the main island. The above prices are for a one-way crossing. 

As shown, the cost of transporting a car can be pricey, although many locals don’t own cars, instead, using public transportation when visiting most of the villages on this island.

When we travel to Tasmania in 2016/2017, we may decide to take the ferry from Australia with or without a rental car, depending on which proves to make more sense at the time. We have plenty of time to decide.

Many boats are moored in the harbor, some for rent for tourist’s experiences.

For now, we’re thinking down the road. We’ve located a possible rental to fill the last gap in our schedule while we’re in Sydney and will share details within a few weeks. We’re still checking out a few others possibilities and hope to make a decision soon, sharing details here.

In the past, we’ve found we prefer to be booked for a period of two years. At this point, we’re discussing possibilities once we leave the US in the summer of 2017.  For most, this seems a long way off. With our way of life, booking well in advance is a necessary element to ensure there are good options available to us. 

Sailing is a popular activity in the Fijian Islands.

We’ve definitely decided on South America as our next foray into the unknown. With an endless array of options, we’ve been drawn to the massive continent for some time. After South America we could begin repeat visits to various continents but, we’re determined to explore Asia and its vast and varied options.

Upcoming next year, we’ll have a glimpse of Southeast Asia when we tour the Mekong River, a cruise we’ve already purchased and paid in full for with a two-for-one rate. Then, of course, we’re booked in Phuket, Thailand in 2016, another country in Southeast Asia.

One of the ferry boats servicing the islands.

Way down the road, we hope to find our way back to Europe and Africa with so much more calling to us. The world is a huge place. There’ll never be a point we’ll be able to say, “We’ve seen it all.” 

We face the reality that in years to come, health issues may have a bearing on this degree of travel and simply, may be too taxing for advancing age. We often mention our first cruise outside the US on January 3, 2013, when at dinner in the main dining room we met a lovely couple, well into their 90’s, continuing to travel the world.  They were both still full of life and enthusiasm. 

Captain Cook cruise ship that tours the Fiji Islands, based out of the main island of Viti Levu.

The older couple inspired us, giving us hope that with diligent efforts for continuing good health, careful planning, and a positive state of mind, we could possibly continue on for years to come. 

We remain grateful and, hopeful, as we treasure each moment, rain or shine, each and every day. Yep, it’s raining again today. But, we don’t mind at all. The nearby baby goat is making its usual plea for attention; the nearby cow is mooing, a multitude of roosters are crowing and the birds are singing.  We don’t mind at all.

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2014:

With a bad cough and cold one year ago, I decided not to go to Pearl Harbor with Tom.  I’d toured it many years ago, long before I met Tom. He ended having a great experience on his own taking, his time reading every printed word without me tagging along. For more, his excellent photos of Pearl Harbor, please click here.