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  1. During the time between the application being sent and acknowledgement of receipt, the passport application envelopes are probably in bins at the State Dept. facility waiting to be opened. To acknowledge receipt, they have to actually get the application out of the envelope (and cash your check) so that's progress. After ours were "received," it took less time to get through processing--but that was back in April/May so YMMV.
  2. You can check the status on the State Department website--passportstatus dot state dot gov. We sent in our renewals the second week in March. It took around 5 weeks before the status showed the applications had been received--we sent by Priority Mail so we knew they were delivered a day or 2 after they were mailed. Within a few days, the status became processed and within a week or so after that, we received our new passports. In all it took about 7 weeks. Apparently the wait time is longer now, though.
  3. Since he hasn't been mentioned, we appreciated Kevin, EXC Guide on 2 Zaandam cruises. He is from Buenos Aires so was particularly effective in talking about ports in South America. He was especially helpful in offering information for those wishing to tour independently. My husband shared guest speaker duties with Jim McParland on 2 cuises and I second appreciation of him. In addition to giving lots of interesting and informative lectures, Jim shared his knowledge of astronomy up on the top deck on many occasions. This was particularly interesting when in the southern hemisphere where we were able to observe a night sky very different from our usual northern one. I wonder if there will be any guest speakers in the future. KK, Hamish, and Bruce are also top notch as others have mentioned. I am sorry to hear about the passing of Barbara, a fixture on Amsterdam World Cruises.
  4. The Zaandam was sailing between Buenos Aires and San Antonio, Chile all winter (their summer).
  5. The continuation of the Zaandam cruise from Buenos Aires to San Antonio, Chile was a cruise from San Antonio to Ft. Lauderdale, scheduled to arrive in FLL on April 7. The Rotterdam was originally on a Panama Canal cruise headed to Ft. Lauderdale, scheduled to arrive 3/27, which ended in Puerto Vallarta instead. I took those back to back cruises on the Zaandam last year and there were people from 34 countries on board, very few from South America.
  6. And I was trying so hard to be factual😀. I should have proofread--I meant to say San Antonio, Chile, not Argentina. And, sorry if my post seemed too positive to HAL. I am sure that management wishes they could have a do-over as do the passengers who chose to sail. And, we all wish no one who had the virus got on the ship. Hindsight is 20-20.
  7. I think there needs to be a FAQ thread for this situation which only includes the facts (and quotes from the HAL blog) since there is a lot of misinformation floating around on this one. Here are some things that could be included: 1. The ship was on a 14 day cruise departing Buenos Aires, Argentina on 3/7, with stops in Montevideo, Uruguay; Stanley, Falkland Islands; and Punta Arenas, Chile as well as Ushuia, Argentina and Puerto, Montt, Chile; ending in San Antonio, Argentina on 3/21. (The ship did not go to Antarctica.) Here is an itinerary I found online: https://www.icruise.com/itineraries/14-night-south-america-passage-cruise_zaandam_3-7-2020.html 2. The ship made port calls in Montevideo and Stanley before operations were halted on 3/13--The ship was at sea on that date. The ship then made a port call in Punta Arenas (I do not know if passengers were able to tour or not so that is not a fact.) Passengers were not allowed to stay in Punta Arenas. From the Holland America blog: "Despite a positive outlook for disembarking Zaandam guests today at Punta Arenas, Chile, we were not allowed to do so by local authorities. Therefore, the ship departed the port this evening and is now en route to San Antonio, Chile, for a service call to take on fuel and other provisions. Our Seattle headquarters and the ship are working with several governments and embassies on options for where to disembark guests." 3. The ship did not stop in Ushaia or Puerto Montt. 4. The ship was allowed to take on fuel and provisions off of Valparaiso, Chile. From the blog, "The ship departed Valparaiso, Chile, today and is sailing north with the intention of arriving at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on March 30 where guests will disembark. Holland America Line is in the process of finalizing the necessary permissions to transit the Panama Canal on March 27." 5. Permission was denied for the ship to transit the Panama Canal. It is necessary for 3 pilots and numerous line handlers, and various inspectors to board the ship in the course of the transit. The Panama Canal remained open to other traffic. 6. Medical supplies and personnel were transferred from the Rotterdam to the Zaandam off Panama. Some passengers deemed healthy were transferred to the Rotterdam. It is important to note that it is not possible to disembark a ship with around 2,000 people onboard somewhere in the middle of the ocean--a port that will accept it must be found. Yes, it would have been a good idea for the cruise to have been canceled. But, at the time it sailed, and especially considering most passengers left home 2 or 3 days earlier to get there, the situation did not seem that dire, especially in South America where the 1st cases in Argentina and Chile were on 3/3. Things went downhill after that. But, once it sailed, it had to find a place to disembark which it is still trying to do. As was reported in an earlier thread by bob brown, his Hurtigurten cruise (very small ship) found itself in a similar situation but was allowed to disembark in Stanley, Falkland Islands and the guests departed on chartered flights. Not sure this would have been allowed with a larger ship. Sorry, just my 2 cents and hopefully the moderators will create an FAQ for this because it seems like we are going around in circles. We took this same cruise and the following one that ended in Ft. Lauderdale just last year so I am following this thread with great interest. We probably would have been on this one, as well, except my husband had accepted an assignment on a sister cruise line ship instead (that one was to depart on 3/15 and was canceled on 3/13). He is not a HAL employee. Some of this has probably been posted while I was writing this!
  8. The Zaandam was scheduled to terminate its cruise in Punta Arenas on 3/14 but the Chilean authorities would not allow it. They tried again at San Antonio/Valparaiso but were again denied. Trying to keep this factual.
  9. It is so easy to forget how quickly this bad situation we are in unfolded. When the folks on the Zaandam left home (probably no later than 3/5 if arriving one day early with an overnight flight) things were not looking that dire. At that point, nothing was closed and there were still very few cases in the US with most related to travel. I don't think there were any in South America. The following week things moved very quickly when it became apparent that community infection was taking place and things started closing down. I have a decent memory of that time because I was scheduled to sail on a 3/15 cruise departing Buenos Aires (on another cruise line) which was not canceled until 3/13. Until a few days before I had no concerns about sailing since Covid-19 was still primarily in Asia and Italy and had not reached South America. With 20-20 hindsight you could say that those people should have stayed home. You could especially say that the cruise lines should have stopped sailing by then. But, I don't think it is fair to condemn the passengers for embarking on this cruise--I would have gone based on what conditions were at the time. The situation is what it is and it doesn't do any good to point fingers. Hopefully it will be possible to repatriate all of the passengers without adding to the problems wherever they are allowed to land. Please have a little compassion for those directly involved in this ordeal.
  10. I wonder how quickly this will be implemented? We join a cruise on 3/15 and my husband is over 70. We have to have time to get that certification so hopefully it won't be immediate.
  11. I wish it were true that no one in the US goes without health care but sadly, that is not the case. Even those with insurance avoid going to the Dr. because they have a $6,000 - $11,000 deductible and will have to pay out of pocket for any bills. Many who have insurance have to declare bankruptcy because they cannot afford to pay what their insurance will not pay. The US health care system is a mess and the situation I have described will exacerbate the coming Coronavirus epidemic here--many people have to practically be dying before they will go to the Dr. Sorry for the somewhat off topic rant.
  12. Unfortunately, apparently most travel insurance will not cover you for an epidemic, especially if your coverage was purchased after January 21 (which mine was). Feeling a little nervous.
  13. Do you remember the cost from the port to your Airbnb? I have read that the taxis will often charge very high prices from there. Did the taxi accept USD? We will only have a very few pesos when we arrive. Thanks
  14. We are not sure if we will need a tour in St. Lucia so are not booking in advance. Is it possible to find a tour when you get off the ship if we need one? It looks like we will be docked at Point Seraphine if that makes a difference. Thanks
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