After watching the news about the chilling freezing weather in the northeast of the USA, we are not complaining too much about our cold snap. But we are sure looking forward to the warmer, balmy temps in Florida in a few days. That is part of the reason we enjoy leaving on a vacation this time of year. Hard to believe that around this time a year ago, we were wishing for rain. And rain we got….too much. And here we are once again – waiting for the rain to begin and soon.
Our plans for this world cruise of 113 days were set a few years ago. We were quite happy to learn that the itinerary would include Africa, with some new ports for many of us. It seems that this cruise was most attractive, because it sold out rather quickly, and remained that way we understand. As well as Africa, we will be going through the Caribbean, then the Panama Canal, then head southwest to French Polynesia. New Zealand and Australia are back in the mix with many stops.
The largest population of the crew members are very happy that we will have stops in their homeland in Indonesia and the Philippines, where many will connect with family and friends.
Then we will be off to Hong Kong, Vietnam, and one of our favorite places in the world – Singapore. With only one port in Thailand, we’re off to Sri Lanka. No India this year, unless you chose to do an overland there. The Seychelles is one stop we remember well, as it can be extremely hot there, but beautiful. Many folks were excited to see Madagascar, but since a plague broke out there recently, it was cancelled. Instead, we will make a visit to Reunion, a little French island.
The first stop in Africa will be the country of Mozambique, and the drop-off point for several safari overland adventures. We will be among those departing from there to our favorite camp in Sabi Sands, part of Kruger National Park. Turns out it was not so simple to pass through Mozambique to leave for South Africa either by car or air. Getting a visa was a headache we hope to never repeat. Yes, we could have taken our chances, and lined up to buy the correct visa after we were cleared by the authorities. But this may have not be so easy. And with a flight at 11:30am, we chose to get a special visa ahead of time. Long story short, we are set to go without lining up (we hope). It was pricey, but our choice to eliminate any anxiety. And to complicate matters, Mozambique has decided to re-vamp their process, actually having ships leave their port due to complications. Why we could not have gone to Durban, South Africa, where no visas are required, we will never know.
We shall rejoin the ship in Cape Town, then continue to Namibia. Angola, Gambia, and Senegal will be new ports for us. A few years ago, we did have stops scheduled there, but the deadly ebola virus prevented our visit. Cape Verde was substituted, and we will be going there as well this time.
Puerto Rico will be our very last port, where, if all goes well, the ship will be cleared for our entrance into the USA. Wonder what we will find after the devastating hurricane did so much damage last summer? The Amsterdam will be back to Ft. Lauderdale on April 28th, then will go to the Bahamas for a 12 day dry-docking. We intend to hang around until she re-positions to the west coast in May, making this trip a particularly long one for us…….almost 5 months. Another adventure…..
We were pleasantly surprised to receive the holiday gifts from Holland America Line’s Mariner’s Society, a reminder of all the nice things to come as members of the President’s Club. The gifts were two lovely Waterford bouquet vases. Some of our good friends will be inducted on this upcoming cruise, and are sure looking forward to it. So are we.
Our four bags were gathered by Fed Ex, and on their way to Florida on December 18th. Then the fun started here with the last minute stuff to do such as mail holds, prescription filling, bill paying, and yard maintenance. Good thing we keep a detailed list, or else we might forget a lot of things-to-do. As many times that we have gone through this process, it seems that this year what could go wrong…did. Little bumps in the road, and sometimes unavoidable, or out of our control. Add Thanksgiving and Christmas to that mix, and needless to say, we were never bored.
We’ll be heading out quite early Monday, New Year’s Day, when most everyone will be snug and cozy in their warm beds. The next time we write, we should be enjoying some of that Florida heat
Wishing everyone a most wonderful Happy New Year! And stay tuned…..
Bill & Mary Ann