Since the onset of the slaughter of the citizens of Ukraine, many of our plans have been up in the air, not unlike the uncertainty we all experienced after the start of Covid-19 in 2020. We strive to ensure our safety. Somehow, in these next many months, we’ll discover some resolutions to itineraries that no longer are safe on the many cruises we have booked into the future.
It’s not as simple as canceling the cruises. The cruise lines in the process of changing their itineraries still have restrictions on how and when we’d be refunded or credited. They may determine that we must use the funds for other cruises. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get the money back that we’ve already paid in full for the cruise scheduled to go to Russia and Ukraine.
For us, this doesn’t present a problem when six of our cruises are with Azamara, the remainder of which we haven’t paid in full as yet. Those payments are due several months from now. In any case, we have to play it by ear to see what they offer as an alternative.
The Black Sea cruise to Russia and Ukraine was more expensive than, let’s say, cruising the Greek Islands. It wouldn’t be “apples to apples” if they rerouted that particular cruise to the Greek Islands and expected us to have paid the higher amount. We should be hearing about that cruise in the next 30 days or so.
We’ve been in a quandary over where we’ll go when we get to the UK via the Celebrity cruise. We are faced with a few challenges such as:
- If we proceed with our remaining cruises (once the Black Sea issue is resolved), we have to be mindful of the Schengen visa rules for Europe. As mentioned in prior posts, only certain countries in Europe and surrounding countries aren’t part of the Schengen, most of which are Russian-influenced countries. Do we want to spend time in any of those countries in light of the war in Ukraine? Probably not. Everything could change in a day, and we could end up stuck in a war-stricken country. We hear about such cases all the time, don’t we?
- If the Black Sea cruise is rerouted to our liking and pricing is determined accordingly, we need to be in Istanbul, Turkey, by June 29th to board the cruise. Turkey is not a Schengen country, so we could stay there before the cruise. However, holiday home options are limited and extremely expensive. Nor can we book anything until we know what is happening with the Black Sea cruise.
Based on these frustrating facts, we decided to return to the US to apply for expiring replacement passports while waiting to find out what transpires. We’ll still take the cruise to Southampton, England, and planned to fly back to the US. However, when we started pricing flights from London Heathrow Airport, after considering the cost to get to London from Southampton, the cost was over US $1000, ZAR 15046 per person, plus another US $200, ZAR 3009, for the shuttle. We’d spend no less than US $2200, ZAR 33101, plus baggage fees.
I came up with what sounded like a hair-brain idea at the time…let’s cruise back to the US! The cost to sail on a seven-night Cunard cruise from Southampton to New York on the Queen Mary 2 was US $2200, ZAR 33101, for two passengers. But that includes housing and feeding us for seven days! Besides, we’ve heard so much about these “fancy” cruises. We may as well experience one now at this reasonable price.
We went ahead and booked the cruise, which sails on April 24. That will leave us with three nights to spend in Southampton where we’ll do some sightseeing. We stayed there a few years ago at a lovely hotel where we’ll visit again. We realize the added cost for the hotel, meals, and sightseeing, but it will be a worthwhile excursion. Another additional cost will be the flight from New York to Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is under US $200, ZAR 3009, each, where we plan to stay for two weeks to visit family.
We’ll need to purchase a few clothing items for the Queen Mary cruise since it’s dressier than most cruises. While we’re in Florida, we’ll do some shopping and buy Tom a suit and tie and a few dresses for me. He needed a suit for the upcoming dressy nights on the Azamara cruises as well, and I can always use a few dresses. I won’t buy evening gowns, as some wear on those cruises, but I will wear long dresses that can be dressed up with a few accessories. That will be fun!
Here’s the cruise information. We booked it through Vacations to Go since they had the best prices. See below:
“Vacations to Go, FastDeal # 22813
7 nights departing April 24, 2022
Cunard ❘ Queen Mary 2
Brochure Inside $1,459
You Save 52%
Brochure Oceanview $2,949
You Save 24%
Brochure Balcony $1,859
You Save 46%
Brochure Suite $5,179
Our friends Linda and Ken often cruise on Cunard, and they love it. We selected a balcony cabin which we have no doubt we’ll be happy with. We feel comfortable we’ve made a good and will prove to be an enjoyable decision.
After two weeks in Minnesota, we’ll head to Nevada and finish any paperwork we need to accomplish in our “home state” and also see son Richard and his girlfriend, which is always delightful. During those few weeks visiting family, we’ll surely know what’s transpired with the Black Sea cruise to determine where we’ll go from there.
Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2021: