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Venture with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2013 GW Voyage "Postcards from Paradise" 115 days

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Report # 1 The Adventure Begins December 28, 2012 Friday

 

Well, here we are, once again, preparing for a journey on Holland America Line's flagship, the MS Amsterdam, that will take us (and about 1400 other passengers) around the world. This cruise will take 115 days, and will visit the Incan empires, Polynesian isles, some Asian super cities, and an African adventure. Once back in Ft. Lauderdale, we will bid farewell to our buddies, and continue westward through the Panama Canal, stopping in Central America and Mexico on the way back to San Diego and finally home. The prospects of basking in the warm sun in Moorea, or Phuket, or St. Lucia sure sounds good to us right now. The temperatures here in the San Francisco bay area have plummeted to the 30's recently, reminding us of the reason we choose to travel this time of year.

 

Here is a quick history of how we got to today, when we lugged our four pieces of luggage to the driveway to await the convenient Fed Ex pick-up, where our stuff gets shipped complimentary to Ft. Lauderdale. Despite having labored over deleting unneccesary items that we usually take, we found the duffels were still a bit heavy. We watched and listened for the truck to arrive, hoping to help, and had a moment of concern when it did not arrive as expected. In fact, Fed Ex called and asked if they could pick it up tomorrow. With the chance of rain coming at any moment, we knew we had no choice but have them come today. By 4pm, we looked out front, and to our surprise, the luggage was gone. Guess they weren't that heavy, or King Kong from Fed Ex picked them up!

 

While sailing on the 2011 world cruise, we put a small deposit on this cruise, which assured us of our deck and room choice. Three months later, HAL wanted more money to hold the suite. As always, if you pay the balance in the spring, in this case, May 2012, you save an additional 3%. Now we know that doesn't sound like a lot, but in these days of meager interest, 3% is pretty good. And besides, you are guaranteed all of the perks that come with early payment, such as free luggage shipping and shipboard credit.

 

Also while on the 2012 world cruise, we booked the 15 day Panama Canal sailing after completing the world cruise in 2013. That way, we avoid the zoo on debarkation day in Florida, delaying the inevitable until we reach San Diego, where customs and immigrations is much better.

 

We booked our flights to Ft. Lauderdale also in May, using frequent flyer miles. Nice to still get something for almost free.

 

Knowing we were going to visit South Africa, we began searching for a possible safari to take from Durban. Our very experienced travel agent recommended a company that could provide just the experience that we searched for. So with many hours spent on the computer, we came up with a five day, four night trip to a safari camp in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, bordering the famous Kruger National Park. It is here that we hope to view and photograph the Big Five of Africa......elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and the white and black rhino. We know it will be the highlight of this trip for sure. And since there are only a total of 16 guests at a time at the lodge, we put a deposit on the package in June, 2012. Two flights had to be arranged as well, one from Durban to the lodge, then back to Cape Town, so booking now was a must.

 

The best time to get a good price on flying is early, so we booked the flight from San Diego to San Francisco in July. And to cover all these expenses, we had to pay the travel insurance in August. Yes, it is expensive, but we sleep better knowing that if anything goes wrong, we should be covered for all modes of travel, baggage loss or damage, and any medical expenses.

 

In late August, we received our travel agency's shore excursion booklet. We got a nice credit towards tours, so we booked the ones that we have not done before. They did offer a better price on the overlands, but they are mostly in connection with HAL's tours, which in our opinion, are sky-high. So we stuck to half day or full day lunch tours instead. In September, we got HAL's tour book, and picked a few tours with them. But not as many as we used to take. We are finding that too many organized tours can be exhausting, and sometimes you just want to take your sweet time walking and enjoying a leisurely lunch.

 

In October 2012, we got visa forms for Brazil and China (if we were going to take an overland in China, and we're not). Since we had gotten a five year visa for Brazil four years ago, we did not need one. That was a good thing, because we heard that there were major back-up problems with the Brazilian officials processing the orders. The only visa we needed was for Australia, which was procured by our travel agency for a small fee. The luggage information came with this mailing, and we signed up right away for a pick-up on December 28th. And finally, a letter was delivered stating that we needed a current yellow fever vaccination, and a strongly recommended malarial preventative medication. Yes, we won't leave home without it!

 

After paying the balances for the safari, the Panama cruise, and a water and internet package, we got the final documents on December 14th. Better late than never, we say. The luggage shipping tags from Fed Ex arrived December 22nd, and that brings us to today, where we hope the bags were definitely picked up by the right folks!

 

Next Wednesday, the 2nd of January, we fly from SF to Ft. Lauderdale, and will stay for three nights there. Boarding the ship will take place on Saturday, January 5th, after an evening of cocktails and dining with our very large travel group.

 

Happy New Year to all, and stay tuned............

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Nice post...I'll let my friends know to follow your postings. :)

 

We look forward to meeting you really soon!

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Thank you for taking us along with you again. I always enjoy your posts of your various adventures. I will happily follow along again.

Bon Voyage.

Terri

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I am very happy to see that you will be posting about your trip again this year. I look forward every evening to sitting down at the computer to read the daily entry. I have followed you for the last two years. I miss the daily posts when your cruise is over.

 

Some day I hope to be able to take a long cruise like this, but not sure I could stand to be away from home for that length of time. After a 2 week trip I am usually so ready to be home and sleep in my own bed and drink my own coffee.

 

Thank you for bringing us along again this year.

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Thank you for once again taking me with you on your journey via this mode. I have followed you now for several years. Bon voyage - Borden

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Love reading about your World Cruise's.

day by day. So great you get to do this

each year. Bon Voyage!

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I am new to watching you going around the world and am looking forward to all the posts!

ENJOY!

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Wow! I am so excited that you are doing the world cruise again. And by the way thanks for taking us along.

 

Helen

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Safe travels to you both:) Looking forward to following along on your fabulous adventures:)

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Thank you so much for doing this again this year!! Have followed you for several years...love your reports:):):)

 

Safe travels to FLL...and have a wonderful trip!!

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We get the first big snow of the season and what do I find to help me keep from getting cabin fever? "Venture with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2013 GW Voyage "Postcards from Paradise" 115 days".Thank you for taking the time to help us who will be snowbound and cold this winter. Enjoy your cruise, I'm sure we will.:D

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Glad to hear you are all set to go. I'll be living vicariously through you and Kween Karen for the next four months. Next year, it is my turn! :)

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We will be lookiing forward to all your posts and your candid observations about this year's cruise. We will miss our chats in the Exploration Cafe this year. I am very sad not to be joining you this year and am having a difficult time dealing with the fact that we are not getiting ready to depart and see all our friends. Please say hi to everyone. We hope to join you again in 2014.

 

Judy & Glenn

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Really looking forward to reading your world cruise reports. They always seem to make the winter months pass more quickly for me - and I will especially need that this winter- as I board the Prinsendam in May for the first time.

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I've enjoyed cruising vicariously with you through your other postings so I'm looking forward to it again. I'm bookmarking the thread.

Wishing you smooth sailing and enjoyable adventures.

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I LOVE reading about your world cruise travels! Thanks so much for taking the time (and money) to do it. I really appreciate it and look forward to reading it every day. Safe travels.

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Looking forward to reading about Your Excellent Adventures again. It always makes my day when I see you have posted.

One of my co-worker and his wife from Breckenridge Co will also be joining you for this cruise. This will be there 3rd year also doing the whole cruise.

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Thank you for your coming blog I am so envious of your travels but thankful that I can follow along with your adventures :D:)

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Hope you have room for one more to come along. We won't take up much room in your suitcase. This one trip that is on our bucket list. Someday, so thanks for letting us follow your trip and dream.

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