Planning ahead for the future...An ongoing process that never ends...Planning the future end of our time in the South Pacific...


We looked online but can't seem to find the name of this grass or weed. This is commonly found along the highways and country roads in this area and for all we know, other areas of Australia.
With a plan to post and then head out sightseeing we realized we had to change our day when rain is pelting in buckets.  Of course, the weather here can change on a dime so we shall see how the day rolls out.  At the moment, the clouds and fog are so thick, we can't see much further than beyond our house.

As I've mentioned recently and in the past, Tom is the official cruise planner in this family.  He loves spending endless hours online calculating every option, pricing and itinerary. 

Since my hands are full with other tasks, namely sitting at my laptop every morning posting and dealing with hundreds of photos, record keeping and my share of the many tasks associated with simply living life; household tasks including laundry (which I like doing) and cooking.

Sunny day at the beach.
Tom does his share of tasks including handling the investments, heavy lifting, all the kitchen cleanup, trash removal (which requires a drive down the steep road) and his endless pursuit of the next cruise or cruises.

Together, we totally clean the house once a week, tidying up daily and every other week Andy comes and vacuums and washes all the floors.  Its a perfect compromise of tasks and responsibilities with neither of us ever feel we are doing more than our fair share.

Plus, Tom drives me everywhere I want to go, nary with a complaint.  I could never drive here, sitting in the right side of the car, shifting with my left hand (not coordinated) and maneuvering all the roundabouts. 

The boat launch at Holloways Beach leading to a river that heads to the sea.  That's not an animals hanging from the tree, just an unusual root clump.
Oh, good grief.  Even when I'm the passenger I keep thinking he's going the wrong way, when in fact he's going the correct way.  I'd end up going the wrong way on the road, risking life and limb.  I keep my mouth shut to avoid startling him. 

Its a good mix, us two.  But, when it comes to cruises, he's on his own.  I only care about the price and the itinerary.  He's perfect at the rest including figuring out the dates that fit within our already set itinerary.

We've been using Vacationstogo.com since we booked our first cruise.  We adored working with our former rep, Joaquin, who later left the company.  Since then we've moved around a few times to different reps, never quite getting that same kind of relationship we so loved with Joaquin.

This sign painted on the paved road at the boat launch says, "Be croc wise in croc country."  It would be rather terrifying to encounter a croc while launching a boat into the water?
Preferring not to switch companies, we wrote to Anna, a manager, requesting a few things; one, find us a new person we can work with long term and two, we need them to match cabin credits we've noticed offered by some other online cruise booking agencies at times. 

This is not to say that we've haven't felt that we've received overall great pricing.  We're not foolhardy and won't necessarily pay higher prices for loyalty on a regular basis. 
Any suggestions on the name of these flowers?
We look at the overall picture.  Did they give us a special break on the last cruise that was beyond what anyone else may have offered?  It all comes "out in the wash."  We keep good records making it easy to look back and see what we've paid each and every time.

But, now as Tom regularly checks cruisecompete.com who actually has numerous companies "bid" for our business, we wondered if perhaps we can do better elsewhere.

This morning, we heard back from Anna and she's agreed to allow our new rep to match any published pricing we find online including cabin credits.  With this information, we look forward to a relationship with our new person and the best possible pricing in the world.

The pile of huge rocks appeared to have been placed at the edge of the rainforest to keep people out. 
After all, in the past 33 months, we've sailed on 11 cruises, have four more booked and have an additional three we hope to book in the next week.  Why do we like cruising so much?  Its a chance to see more of the world in a shorter time period and we love the people we meet aboard ship.  Its too much fun.

No, we don't like the lines, the waiting to board and disembark and the occasional "cruise cough."  After mentioning this to the doctor the other day, she explained that it's not that we particularly have weak immune systems. 

The cough is a by-product of being in a "crowd" day after day in air conditioning and tight quarters. We've had the cough a few times out of the 11 cruises but have avoided the Norovirus entirely.

A pretty house as we drove along the beach.
We've also become infected with colds and flus while sightseeing in a crowded venue, while not on a ship.  I suppose most people around children and crowds get a cold or virus once or twice a year.

While we were on the last cruise from Honolulu to Sydney on May 24th, arriving on June 11th, Tom had visited the future cruise booking department while I sat in the bar doing the day's post. 

When he returned to the bar he was frustrated when he explained that he was unable to purchase any future "open bookings" using their usual USD $100, AUD $134 per cruise per person, enabling us to avoid paying a total the larger deposit of USD $900, AUD $1207 deposit to book any one cruise for two. 

This root laden tree is unusual, reminding us of Banyan trees in Hawaii although with smaller roots.
Why should we lay out that much money often as much as two years in advance if we don't have to?  By purchasing these "open bookings" we only pay USD $200, AUD $264 per cruise, paying the balance 90 days before we sail.

Over the past several days, he'd been in touch with Royal Caribbean explaining he'd been refused an opportunity to purchase any open bookings (meaning no specific cruise is selected yet) on the last cruise.  They profusely apologized and agreed to book three "open" cruises for us using our credit card on file.  We were thrilled.

The outlay of USD $600, AUD $805 instead of USD $2700, AUD $3621 was a great relief.  The transaction was completed.  We worked things out with Anna and now we're ready (Tom's ready) to book three future cruises, the last of which will take us out of the South Pacific entirely, a long term adventure finally ending.

Trees with unusual roots growing along the beach.
Once these three cruises are booked we'll share where we'll be going on the third cruise, which may be surprising.  However, we prefer not to mention a future booking until all of the details are firmly in place.  Hopefully, over the next week, we'll be sharing this information.

Tomorrow and the next day, (for us, Saturday and Sunday and for others, Friday and Saturday) we'll be posted our long overdue wildlife photos which we can't wait to share.

Have a terrific day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2014:

It was one year ago today, July 10, 2014 that we firmed up our booked for the house in Bali where we'll be heading next April 30th.  For more details and photos, please click here.

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