November 09, 2015

Home for a week

I arrive home and go thru the usual routines of unpacking, laundry, looking at the pile of mail and scanning the hundreds of emails that have accumulated. Now its time to do some serious homework. I quickly discover that there are 2 world cruises leaving in January of 2016. One being offered by Princess, the other by Holland America. They both leave in January, have similar itineraries, and are 111 and 115 days in length respectively.

Why does there have to be more than once choice? I fire off an email to Kent, my travel agent, telling him that I might be interested in one of the 2 cruises and to please give me a call. There may not even be any cabins available. It is already past the date for final payment. If there is no space, I don't even need to consider all the other issues.

Next I start thinking about some of the logistics and how to handle them. What is the procedure for getting more than 90 days worth of medications? What countries require visas? Will I find the weather tolerable? Will may age and medical history make travel insurance prohibitively expensive? None of my credit cards have chip technology yet, but much of the rest of the world switched several years ago and many merchants no longer take cards that aren't chip equipped. These are all potentially show stopper issues.

I review my Medicare insurance coverage, call my prescription drug insurance carrier, and talk with my credit card issuers. I research the process for getting visas. I review all the accounts I can't set up for automatic payment. It is quickly confirmed for me that all of these issues are relatively easy to address, it just is going to take time and the paying attention to details. Yes time, time is going to be the challenge.

I begin researching the differences and the advantages of each cruise line and ship. Historically I have preferred smaller ships and have preferred Princess over Holland America. The Pacific Princess is smaller than Holland America's Amsterdam, and Princess also offers free internet and free gratuities. But Holland America has several ports where we spend 2 or 3 days like Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Holland America has a larger variety of shore excursions to choose from, and Holland America has fewer sea days in total even though the total cruise is a few days longer. Decisions. Decisions.

Only a few days before I head to Aruba and Curacao. I must make a decision soon. Doubts pass through my mind. What will the other passengers be like? Will I become totally bored after a few weeks, or even after a few months. This will be nearly four months in a little tiny cabin with no window. Four months of the same food week after week. Some people would be excited to have salmon, lobster, and shrimp frequently, but not me. I'm allergic to all those foods.

Probably half the dinner menu items would send me to Davy Jones' Locker. Is food going to be an issue? It never has before, but I have never been on a ship for four months either.

I talk with Kent. He confirms availability of cabins. I remember all the conversations with Pat, Fred and Chuck. One statement Pat made sticks in my mind. "If you have the time and can afford it, then do it." No, none of the other stuff really matters. I make a decision and book the 115 day around the world cruise on the Amsterdam with Holland America.

Some of you will wonder why Holland America when I historically have preferred Princess. It all comes down to the available shore excursions and the length of time in port as opposed to time at sea. Most cruises I take for the journey. I don't even get off the ship. But this one is different. Out of approximately 45 ports we will visit, 41 of them I have never been to before, and probably will never get back to again. This cruise is all about the destinations, the ship is just the method to get there. The ports and the excursions are what is important. I decide I can live with any of the other possible problems, well except for the lobster.

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