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John and Diane's Latest Adventures - 2020

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4 hours ago, Stratheden said:

Thank you John and Diane for allowing us to travel with you on your cruise.  You are such a positive traveller.  Very much a glass half full person.

agree

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Here is a picture of UA 870 taxiing and taking  off from Sydney.    John and Diane should be onboard!!!   We are in the hotel taking the same flight tomorrow.   1:38 pm local time 24 March. 

 

 

F71E2CE4-B2B1-4F5F-B94F-0F9F790E4D95.jpeg

D2DC1B59-9146-45C4-B99A-3784DB7EB428.jpeg

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, The-Inside-Cabin said:

Here is a picture of UA 870 taxiing and taking  off from Sydney.    John and Diane should be onboard!!!   We are in the hotel taking the same flight tomorrow.   1:38 pm local time 24 March. 

 

 

F71E2CE4-B2B1-4F5F-B94F-0F9F790E4D95.jpeg

D2DC1B59-9146-45C4-B99A-3784DB7EB428.jpeg

My sister took that flight home last week from Sydney. I enjoyed your blog!

 

Cheers, Denise

Edited by dchip

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Not only were we on that flight, but the night before we exchanged miles, some $$, and our firstborn for business class seats.  Not only were we extremely comfortable, but the "pod" seats kept our "social distancing" in effect. 

The 13 hours flew by!  I'll be writing a final post as soon as all the paperwork gets finished.   

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3 minutes ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Not only were we on that flight, but the night before we exchanged miles, some $$, and our firstborn for business class seats.  Not only were we extremely comfortable, but the "pod" seats kept our "social distancing" in effect. 

The 13 hours flew by!  I'll be writing a final post as soon as all the paperwork gets finished.   

But still a good investment no doubt.  

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2 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Not only were we on that flight, but the night before we exchanged miles, some $$, and our firstborn for business class seats.  Not only were we extremely comfortable, but the "pod" seats kept our "social distancing" in effect. 

The 13 hours flew by!  I'll be writing a final post as soon as all the paperwork gets finished.   

 

Flad to know you had comfortable seats.

Look forward to your final report.

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Monday, March 30, 2020 - Quarantine Day #7

San Luis Obispo, California (Home Sweet Home)

 

It's strange that one can be on one side of the globe one day and, 36 hours later, on the other side.  That's the way our (partial) round the world adventure ended, and we consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have it end the way it did.

 

The first time we had any inkling of a problem was actually in Tonga, when we found out that the government there had refused to dock two passenger ships before us because of Covid-19, and I believe we were the last ship to dock there to date.  In New Zealand, everything seemed perfectly normal, as it did in Sydney, Townsville, and Cairns - but then the rumors began.  There was everything from "the ship is going to turn around and go back to Ft. Lauderdale across the Pacific" to "we're OK, since we're all in our safe little 'cocoon' here."  We paid close attention to the most reliable-seeming rumors and decided our course.  

 

The day after Cairns, we were told that we would not be allowed to dock at Darwin, as passenger ships were forbidden from "in-transit" stops.  That meant that if we weren't all permanently disembarking, we had to skip that port.  We not only missed Darwin but also Broome, Geralton, and one other, whose name I can't remember.  Those ports on the west coast of Australia had been added on to "kill time," since we had to replace Sri Lanka, which wouldn't allow cruise ships, and Mumbai, for which we could not get a blanket visa to cover all passengers.  

 

We received letter after letter, from HAL headquarters as well as from Captain Jonathan.  The one that most people thought was the most interesting was the compensation letter.  We learned that, based on our full cruise fare (deducting travel agent commissions and port taxes), we would have a choice:  we could either opt for a 125% future cruise credit or a 50% refund and a 50% cruise credit.  We've made our decision and have submitted our paperwork.  

 

Shortly after passing Darwin, we estimated that we would arrive at Fremantle on March 21 instead of March 24, as had been planned, because of missing those aforementioned ports.  The only worry was whether the Aussies would actually let us disembark, along with the half dozen other ships that were arriving there within about a 3 or 4 day window.  Because of our lucky guessing, we booked a hotel for two nights in Perth and a flight to Sydney on March 23, where we'd stay for four nights at a Darling Harbour hotel, flying to the West Coast via Delta Airlines on March 27.  

 

The first shock we had was when we found out that Delta was cancelling all flights to and from Australia on March 22.  That required a quick reservation on United Airlines, non-stop from Sydney to San Francisco on March 24, since we realized that we'd better get out while the getting was good.  

 

On March 21, upon arrival in Fremantle (a wonderful small town, if you ever get a chance to visit), the plot thickened.  We all had a choice of disembarking on March 21, 22, or 23, with the ship sailing with NO passengers on the evening of March 23.  Passengers argued and argued to be able to stay on board, but to no avail.  We wanted to have a "sea day" in Perth, so the 21st was our choice, and we were told that our window for disembarkation was from 11:00 to Noon.  That time was set back twice before the real hammer fell.  Apparently the local government would not allow anyone to disembark unless they were going straight to the airport to fly home.  No hotel stays were allowed.  That decided us, so we made ourselves comfortable, had a Dive-In burger for lunch and realized we'd have to stay onboard until Monday, the 23rd, our departure date from Perth.  

 

I realize that not all stories have a happy ending, but an hour later, Captain Jonathan came on the speaker and said that the federal government had overruled the local government, and we could actually stay in hotels.  Since we were all packed and ready to go, we headed to Deck 3, checked out, and amazingly enough, found a bus ready to take us to Perth - for free.  I knew that many people had paid the $59 for a transfer to the airport or a hotel, and here was this bus, just sitting there for free.  We disembarked at the Novotel, and since we were staying at the  Doubletree, we jumped in a cab and arrived at our hotel ten minutes later.  Talk about a stressful day; I think my blood pressure must have gone soaring.  As long as HAL had shipped your luggage to the Amsterdam, we were to leave it in the cabin, where it would stay until the ship arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, when it would be shipped to us.  Since the ship was sailing with crew only first to Durban, South Africa, for provisions and fuel, and then to Ft. Lauderdale, we estimate it will take us six weeks to receive our luggage - but I really don't need any formal gowns or "pillow gifts" for now, anyway.  

 

We cannot say enough about Captain Jonathan and the way he handled this crisis.  He was calm and collected, dealt with an ever-changing HAL office in Seattle, and even though he was getting virtually no sleep and was under incredible pressure, he was pleasant to everyone and patiently answered all questions - reasonable and not - put to him.  The crew deserves  every kudo I can give them.  Not knowing what was happening to them, they still dealt with the passengers with grace and courtesy.  I know that many passengers are quite vocal about their "terrible" treatment on the ship; we  found that many of these people were negative throughout the cruise.

 

A young man whom John had in class as well as on his tennis team had married an Aussie, and the two gentlemen had decided between them to get together for dinner.  They met us at our hotel and led us around a couple of corners to a cute little spaghetti restaurant where the tables had been placed 10 feet apart - as required.  We had a lovely time, meeting Neel's wife and catching up.

 

The next day was our "explore Perth" day, and six miles later, we had walked down to the waterfront, through several parks, to the Bell Tower, and finally back to our hotel, where Rich and Ginni had just checked in.  Since it was time to put up our feet, a sidewalk table at the hotel's bar was a good place to catch up on ship activity and what we had done.  Rich is always looking for a good pub, and a block and a half later we'd found a great one.  We sat together at one of the 10-feet apart tables outside and had some excellent fish and chips, beer and cider.  This was to be "The Last Hurrah," though, since all bars and pubs were to shut down the next day at noon.  Sound familiar?  

 

On Monday it was flight day, so we called an Uber, loaded our one bag each, and headed to the Perth airport.  The Virgin Australia flight was right on time, and five hours later we were in Sydney.  Our Aussie friend Greg had told us to book our overnight at Rydges Hotel because it was right across from the International Terminal.  I'd expected "right across" to mean a major highway was in between, but it turned out that there were fewer than 200 steps to the terminal.  The hotel's restaurants and bars had closed down, so we found some takeaway at the airport and brought it back to the hotel for dinner.  

 

Knowing that our flight, while nonstop, was 13-1/2 hours, and that we have a plethora of United miles, we waitlisted ourselves for an upgrade to business class.  The next morning, when I tried to get a boarding pass online, it turned out that we HAD been upgraded.  Hallelujah!  Our friends Leslie and Handler were in Economy Plus, not too far behind us, but poor Rich and Ginni were stuck in coach.  We loved our flight; I watched a couple of brand new movies, took a short nap and it seemed that suddenly we were in San Francisco.  

 

While we were on the ship, we had seen horrific photos of mobs of people arriving from overseas at coastal airports, so we were quite apprehensive.  The reality was amazing:  we were the only flight arriving, and because our luggage had been marked for business class, it came out first, but there was NO ONE in the immigration line.  We have Global Entry, and that made it even faster.  There was no line, so we just put our passports on the glass, our fingers on the screen, and we were OUT!  We'd already said our goodbyes (without six feet of space between us), so we hopped on the "monorail" to the rental car building (where we were the only customers), picked up our car, and drove four hours home - with no stops.  

 

Yes, we DO realize how fortunate we are.  Our ship was virus-free, we stayed two days in what seems now like a pre-apocalyptic Perth, we arrived home safely - but to a new reality, with which you all can identify.  We've now completed week one of our quarantine, thanks to good friends who brought us groceries, brought us take-out dinner, and have made us more offers than we can accept.  Yes, it's strange to "attend" church online, and when our friends bring offerings they stay six feet on the other side of our garden gate, but we're here, we're healthy, and God-willing, we'll get to the end of this horror story soon.  

 

Take care, stay healthy, and STAY HOME!  It's not just our lives that are in danger; it's also our entire medical community and our at-risk citizens.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Monday, March 30, 2020 - Quarantine Day #7

San Luis Obispo, California (Home Sweet Home)

 

It's strange that one can be on one side of the globe one day and, 36 hours later, on the other side.  That's the way our (partial) round the world adventure ended, and we consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have it end the way it did.

 

The first time we had any inkling of a problem was actually in Tonga, when we found out that the government there had refused to dock two passenger ships before us because of Covid-19, and I believe we were the last ship to dock there to date.  In New Zealand, everything seemed perfectly normal, as it did in Sydney, Townsville, and Cairns - but then the rumors began.  There was everything from "the ship is going to turn around and go back to Ft. Lauderdale across the Pacific" to "we're OK, since we're all in our safe little 'cocoon' here."  We paid close attention to the most reliable-seeming rumors and decided our course.  

 

The day after Cairns, we were told that we would not be allowed to dock at Darwin, as passenger ships were forbidden from "in-transit" stops.  That meant that if we weren't all permanently disembarking, we had to skip that port.  We not only missed Darwin but also Broome, Geralton, and one other, whose name I can't remember.  Those ports on the west coast of Australia had been added on to "kill time," since we had to replace Sri Lanka, which wouldn't allow cruise ships, and Mumbai, for which we could not get a blanket visa to cover all passengers.  

 

We received letter after letter, from HAL headquarters as well as from Captain Jonathan.  The one that most people thought was the most interesting was the compensation letter.  We learned that, based on our full cruise fare (deducting travel agent commissions and port taxes), we would have a choice:  we could either opt for a 125% future cruise credit or a 50% refund and a 50% cruise credit.  We've made our decision and have submitted our paperwork.  

 

Shortly after passing Darwin, we estimated that we would arrive at Fremantle on March 21 instead of March 24, as had been planned, because of missing those aforementioned ports.  The only worry was whether the Aussies would actually let us disembark, along with the half dozen other ships that were arriving there within about a 3 or 4 day window.  Because of our lucky guessing, we booked a hotel for two nights in Perth and a flight to Sydney on March 23, where we'd stay for four nights at a Darling Harbour hotel, flying to the West Coast via Delta Airlines on March 27.  

 

The first shock we had was when we found out that Delta was cancelling all flights to and from Australia on March 22.  That required a quick reservation on United Airlines, non-stop from Sydney to San Francisco on March 24, since we realized that we'd better get out while the getting was good.  

 

On March 21, upon arrival in Fremantle (a wonderful small town, if you ever get a chance to visit), the plot thickened.  We all had a choice of disembarking on March 21, 22, or 23, with the ship sailing with NO passengers on the evening of March 23.  Passengers argued and argued to be able to stay on board, but to no avail.  We wanted to have a "sea day" in Perth, so the 21st was our choice, and we were told that our window for disembarkation was from 11:00 to Noon.  That time was set back twice before the real hammer fell.  Apparently the local government would not allow anyone to disembark unless they were going straight to the airport to fly home.  No hotel stays were allowed.  That decided us, so we made ourselves comfortable, had a Dive-In burger for lunch and realized we'd have to stay onboard until Monday, the 23rd, our departure date from Perth.  

 

I realize that not all stories have a happy ending, but an hour later, Captain Jonathan came on the speaker and said that the federal government had overruled the local government, and we could actually stay in hotels.  Since we were all packed and ready to go, we headed to Deck 3, checked out, and amazingly enough, found a bus ready to take us to Perth - for free.  I knew that many people had paid the $59 for a transfer to the airport or a hotel, and here was this bus, just sitting there for free.  We disembarked at the Novotel, and since we were staying at the  Doubletree, we jumped in a cab and arrived at our hotel ten minutes later.  Talk about a stressful day; I think my blood pressure must have gone soaring.  As long as HAL had shipped your luggage to the Amsterdam, we were to leave it in the cabin, where it would stay until the ship arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, when it would be shipped to us.  Since the ship was sailing with crew only first to Durban, South Africa, for provisions and fuel, and then to Ft. Lauderdale, we estimate it will take us six weeks to receive our luggage - but I really don't need any formal gowns or "pillow gifts" for now, anyway.  

 

We cannot say enough about Captain Jonathan and the way he handled this crisis.  He was calm and collected, dealt with an ever-changing HAL office in Seattle, and even though he was getting virtually no sleep and was under incredible pressure, he was pleasant to everyone and patiently answered all questions - reasonable and not - put to him.  The crew deserves  every kudo I can give them.  Not knowing what was happening to them, they still dealt with the passengers with grace and courtesy.  I know that many passengers are quite vocal about their "terrible" treatment on the ship; we  found that many of these people were negative throughout the cruise.

 

A young man whom John had in class as well as on his tennis team had married an Aussie, and the two gentlemen had decided between them to get together for dinner.  They met us at our hotel and led us around a couple of corners to a cute little spaghetti restaurant where the tables had been placed 10 feet apart - as required.  We had a lovely time, meeting Neel's wife and catching up.

 

The next day was our "explore Perth" day, and six miles later, we had walked down to the waterfront, through several parks, to the Bell Tower, and finally back to our hotel, where Rich and Ginni had just checked in.  Since it was time to put up our feet, a sidewalk table at the hotel's bar was a good place to catch up on ship activity and what we had done.  Rich is always looking for a good pub, and a block and a half later we'd found a great one.  We sat together at one of the 10-feet apart tables outside and had some excellent fish and chips, beer and cider.  This was to be "The Last Hurrah," though, since all bars and pubs were to shut down the next day at noon.  Sound familiar?  

 

On Monday it was flight day, so we called an Uber, loaded our one bag each, and headed to the Perth airport.  The Virgin Australia flight was right on time, and five hours later we were in Sydney.  Our Aussie friend Greg had told us to book our overnight at Rydges Hotel because it was right across from the International Terminal.  I'd expected "right across" to mean a major highway was in between, but it turned out that there were fewer than 200 steps to the terminal.  The hotel's restaurants and bars had closed down, so we found some takeaway at the airport and brought it back to the hotel for dinner.  

 

Knowing that our flight, while nonstop, was 13-1/2 hours, and that we have a plethora of United miles, we waitlisted ourselves for an upgrade to business class.  The next morning, when I tried to get a boarding pass online, it turned out that we HAD been upgraded.  Hallelujah!  Our friends Leslie and Handler were in Economy Plus, not too far behind us, but poor Rich and Ginni were stuck in coach.  We loved our flight; I watched a couple of brand new movies, took a short nap and it seemed that suddenly we were in San Francisco.  

 

While we were on the ship, we had seen horrific photos of mobs of people arriving from overseas at coastal airports, so we were quite apprehensive.  The reality was amazing:  we were the only flight arriving, and because our luggage had been marked for business class, it came out first, but there was NO ONE in the immigration line.  We have Global Entry, and that made it even faster.  There was no line, so we just put our passports on the glass, our fingers on the screen, and we were OUT!  We'd already said our goodbyes (without six feet of space between us), so we hopped on the "monorail" to the rental car building (where we were the only customers), picked up our car, and drove four hours home - with no stops.  

 

Yes, we DO realize how fortunate we are.  Our ship was virus-free, we stayed two days in what seems now like a pre-apocalyptic Perth, we arrived home safely - but to a new reality, with which you all can identify.  We've now completed week one of our quarantine, thanks to good friends who brought us groceries, brought us take-out dinner, and have made us more offers than we can accept.  Yes, it's strange to "attend" church online, and when our friends bring offerings they stay six feet on the other side of our garden gate, but we're here, we're healthy, and God-willing, we'll get to the end of this horror story soon.  

 

Take care, stay healthy, and STAY HOME!  It's not just our lives that are in danger; it's also our entire medical community and our at-risk citizens.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Home.  Glad to hear you had a good trip home.  What an adventure you had.  Luck was with you, Captain Jonathan and Amsterdam, as Townsville and Cairns, your last ports of call, had people infected with the corona virus.  (Queenslandcoronavirustimeline)  You can check your dates to see whether there were 14 days from your last port of call without virus to Fremantle.

Western Australia, which is a State, accounts for 33% of Aust continent.  WA is bigger than Western Europe and four times the size of Texas.  Perth, which is the Capital, is local government.  

Australia is a Federation of States.  The Western Australian State Premier wanted to protect the local population by having overseas visitors stay on the ships and transfer direct to the airport.  The Prime Minister overruled the WA Premier, hence the confusion about whether passengers could stay in hotels. 

Things have moved so fast since you left.  the numbers of people with the virus have increased so much all states have now closed their borders.  If you look at the Australian thread on CC, you will see there were recently three unscheduled ships off Fremantle.  As Vasco da home ported from Fremantle, it was allowed to disembark passengers. Currently its WA passengers have to self isolate in units on Rottnest Island for 14 days, whilst passengers from the Eastern States have to self isolate in Perth hotels. People cannot leave their units nor their hotel rooms.  NZ Govt arranged for Kiwis to be flown to NZ.  Not sure of arrangements made for Brits.  

The majority of recent people in Aust with the virus have come from cruise ships or overseas travel from US (inc returning Aussies)

Latest news as I type 6 Qantas baggage handlers have been tested positive with the virus (a flight is returning to Adelaide).

Australia, as we knew it, is no longer.  But we still have beautiful bright blue skies and cool sea breezes. Each day brings more restrictions introduced to try to keep people safe.  Many  people are self isolating by choice or by regulation if they are from overseas.  

Everyone is offering to help out.  People are more creative and nicer.  In Brisbane, we had Pub Choir (which was cancelled like all  live entertainment) - now it is Couch Choir on the Internet. Enjoy!

I'm worried for my friends in Manhattan, upstate NY and Boston/Florida.

Keep well and happy and stay inside.  Serenity Prayer

Marion

 

Edited by MMDown Under

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Glad to hear you guys made it home safely.  We were a day behind you in getting out and it felt like doors were slamming behind us at every stop. Very scary and we came very close to not being allowed to leave at all. Also very weird arriving at major airports in US and seeming to be the only humans around.

 

Our first week of self quarantine is ending today and we also are blessed with wonderful friends and neighbors who stocked our place with food and will include our needs when they go shopping.

 

It was a pleasure getting to know you at "our" table in the back of the library. Good place to draw. Hope our paths cross again.

 

Rich 

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14 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Monday, March 30, 2020 - Quarantine Day #7

San Luis Obispo, California (Home Sweet Home)

 

We cannot say enough about Captain Jonathan and the way he handled this crisis.  He was calm and collected, dealt with an ever-changing HAL office in Seattle, and even though he was getting virtually no sleep and was under incredible pressure, he was pleasant to everyone and patiently answered all questions - reasonable and not - put to him.  The crew deserves  every kudo I can give them.  Not knowing what was happening to them, they still dealt with the passengers with grace and courtesy.  I know that many passengers are quite vocal about their "terrible" treatment on the ship; we  found that many of these people were negative throughout the cruise.

 

While we were on the ship, we had seen horrific photos of mobs of people arriving from overseas at coastal airports, so we were quite apprehensive.  The reality was amazing:  we were the only flight arriving, and because our luggage had been marked for business class, it came out first, but there was NO ONE in the immigration line.  We have Global Entry, and that made it even faster.  There was no line, so we just put our passports on the glass, our fingers on the screen, and we were OUT!  We'd already said our goodbyes (without six feet of space between us), so we hopped on the "monorail" to the rental car building (where we were the only customers), picked up our car, and drove four hours home - with no stops.  

 

Yes, we DO realize how fortunate we are.  Our ship was virus-free, we stayed two days in what seems now like a pre-apocalyptic Perth, we arrived home safely - but to a new reality, with which you all can identify.  

 

Take care, stay healthy, and STAY HOME!  It's not just our lives that are in danger; it's also our entire medical community and our at-risk citizens.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Diane and John, for saying what we felt. We too considered ourselves, the lucky ones. We also used air miles for business class seats. And luckily we didn’t have one cancellation. I was dreading LAX, but we were the only plane arriving from Tokyo. Very few Americans onboard. No Global Entry. Not even needed. We walked right up the agent!!!

 

I have read the rants by some of the passengers on the Amsterdam. Hard to believe, we were on the same cruise with them. Every time, I saw the line at the Front Desk, I wanted to cry. The staff were working unbelievable hours trying to smile and be pleasant despite some passengers who yelled and screamed at them. The Shore-Ex team and Glenn-Michael (our port guide) pitched-in to help. We thought Captain Mercer deserved a better ending to his long career than have his last his last cruise end so abruptly. I thoroughly second your comments about him. And I am thankful to him that we ended in Perth as our arrival at LAX was so good. We had friends who flew from Muscat back to Chicago on March 14. And they were greeted by a line that they stood in for FOUR HOURS! So glad you arrived home safely with not too many hiccups and are still well. Stay safe! Stay well!

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17 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Monday, March 30, 2020 - Quarantine Day #7

San Luis Obispo, California (Home Sweet Home)

 

It's strange that one can be on one side of the globe one day and, 36 hours later, on the other side.  That's the way our (partial) round the world adventure ended, and we consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have it end the way it did.

 

 

 

We cannot say enough about Captain Jonathan and the way he handled this crisis.  He was calm and collected, dealt with an ever-changing HAL office in Seattle, and even though he was getting virtually no sleep and was under incredible pressure, he was pleasant to everyone and patiently answered all questions - reasonable and not - put to him.  The crew deserves  every kudo I can give them.  Not knowing what was happening to them, they still dealt with the passengers with grace and courtesy.  I know that many passengers are quite vocal about their "terrible" treatment on the ship; we  found that many of these people were negative throughout the cruise.

 

 

 

Yes, we DO realize how fortunate we are.  Our ship was virus-free, we stayed two days in what seems now like a pre-apocalyptic Perth, we arrived home safely - but to a new reality, with which you all can identify.  We've now completed week one of our quarantine, thanks to good friends who brought us groceries, brought us take-out dinner, and have made us more offers than we can accept.  Yes, it's strange to "attend" church online, and when our friends bring offerings they stay six feet on the other side of our garden gate, but we're here, we're healthy, and God-willing, we'll get to the end of this horror story soon.  

 

Take care, stay healthy, and STAY HOME!  It's not just our lives that are in danger; it's also our entire medical community and our at-risk citizens.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your great post.  It was so nice to follow along with you on the World Cruise. You were always so upbeat and positive and that continued to the end.  Thanks for your closing words.  Even now people are continuing to ignore how serious this is and endangering not only themselves, but also the lives of others and potentially overwhelming our medical community.  Hope to maybe meet you on the 2022 World Cruise. I had planned to do the 2021 but decided against it for health and financial reasons. 

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Thank you for sharing your journey with us, the good & the bad.  Your positive attitude throughout is admirable.

 

(We met very briefly on the last day of the 2019 GWV, we chatted a while in the Ocean Bar, while we were getting ready to disembark.  I think you were staying on to go back through the canal to California)

 

At any rate, wishing you safe travels, whenever they resume!

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