Scary news in Egypt and Istanbul...preparations to leave Dubai...

This morning when we both logged in to our computers, we each had received email and Facebook entries about a warning from US Department of State about travelers intending on visiting the Pyramids.

Please click on this link for the news story about Egypt.  Please click on this link for the news story on Istanbul, Turkey.

Thankfully, Egypt is behind us now with no plans to return.  As for Istanbul, our upcoming cruise beginning next Tuesday, June 4th has listed Istanbul as a port of call along the way. 

With many cruise passengers raving as to how much they loved visiting Istanbul we've been excited for a day trip on our own, hiring our own driver rather than going on an excursion.  We shall see how this rolls out.

With the cruise industry on pins and needles with the many recent incidences, we doubt they'll risk any lives stopping at this port if there is danger for their passengers and ship.  Of course, regardless of their decision we will exercise the utmost of caution, deciding not to get off the ship if the unrest has continued.

People have asked us if we are able to get news. We are.  We watch English speaking news everyday especially noting news for areas we're yet to visit.

As we wind down our last two nights in Dubai, finally feeling better, the laundry and packing begins today.  Yesterday afternoon, we made our final trip to the grocery store for breakfast and dinner food for these last two days spending US $54. 

For our total 13 nights in Dubai our total grocery bill was $245, eating two meals a day, nuts and veggie snacks.  Our dining out bill was $89 for the three  breakfasts at the Tamani Hotel. 

We'd budgeted $800 for groceries and dining out during this period.  Had we not been sick, we'd probably would have gone out to dinner a few times.  We'll roll the $466 credit into this next cruise, as we realized we hadn't budget enough for the stops at many ports of call. 

Plus, on this upcoming cruise on the Norwegian Spirit, there is an automatic $24 per day charge added daily to our bill for tips.  Some of our previous cruises had included the tips in the purchase price.  We pay it one way or another with no objection on our part.  The hard working staff on cruises are paid very little and dependent upon the tips to send money home to their families.

We've noticed dozens of people in line at the customer service desk on most of our cruises to have the tips removed from their bill if they're dissatisfied with the service. 

We wondered if so many passengers had bad service when overall service was excellent on most of our seven cruises or, are passengers feeling they shouldn't have to pay tips?  Our philosophy is simple: if one can afford to go on a cruise, tipping is a part of the experience. 

We've tipped bartenders as we order drinks, finding they "load" Tom's cocktails more generously when they know a tip is imminent and we tip cabin attendants the day before disembarking. We aren't unique in doing so. This is common practice. 

So, off I go to the bedroom to make the piles of my clothing to be "sucked" with our portable vacuum into the Space Bags.  In a determined effort to be rid of two duffel bags, I've made a pile of clothing I'll say goodbye to, some I'll miss, others I won't. 

At this point, Tom doesn't have to dispose of anything unless, of course...he wants to give me a little of his space.  Ha!

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