Here we go again!...Booking and planning for the future...


Image result for azamara journey photo
The Azamara Journey, smaller than most cruise ships, has a maximum passenger capacity of 690.  Our recent Antarctica cruise on Ponant's Soleal has a passenger capacity of 264 (only 200 or less allowed to sail in the Antarctic).  Most of the cruise ships on which we've sailed in the past have a capacity from 264 to 4100, although some ships are larger and continue to be built for more and more capacity.  We prefer smaller ships such as this.
 "Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Frank, our resident Francolin, who's decided to make our yard his permanent residence.  Francolins are highly territorial and extremely noisy when other francolins invade his space, except of course, for Mrs. Frank.  They've been building a nest.  Francolins are monogamous and mate for life.  They nest in grass-lined low lying shallows.  The incubation period is from 18 to 21 days carried out by the female.  Once the eggs hatch both parents tend to the chicks until their first winter.  We're looking forward to Frank's and the Mrs.' chicks.
Last night, after dinner, while sitting at the big table on the veranda we called Vacations to Go on Skype and booked the furthest-out cruise we've booked to date.  With good new-listing pricing only available until June 3rd at midnight in the US, we knew if we wanted to sail on this particular cruise, we'd best book in now to ensure we could choose a good cabin.

The cruise embarks on November 10, 2020, almost 2½  years from now, a very long time away.  But, in this life of world travel, with our desires for certain itineraries, on occasion it makes sense to book a cruise, a holiday home or a tour well in advance to ensure a good spot and pricing.

This is the furthest out we've booked a cruise since we began booking cruises in early 2012, shortly after we decided to travel the world.  We weren't thrilled about the ZAR 13,874, (US $1,100) deposit required so far in advance but we had no options if we wanted to secure our preferred cabin. 

This cruise was almost sold out after only being posted online for the past week.  It's a good thing Tom stays on top of what's transpiring in the cruise world on almost a daily basis.  He's the "cruise booking" enthusiast in this family.  I'm too impatient to spend the time researching cruises as Tom does so regularly.

Why was this cruise so important to us?  It brings us back to Africa, 22 months after we leave the continent this upcoming February 2019.  We've finally come to the reality and acceptance of the fact that we can't get this continent out of our hearts and minds to stay away too long.

The cruise embarks from Lisbon and ends 22 days later in Cape Town, South Africa.  Finally, we'll see Cape Town after Louise and Danie have enthusiastically encouraged us that we "must" see the stunning city and surrounding areas. 

Finally, when the cruise ends, we'll be able to spend a few days in the sprawling tourist-popular city.  We're planning to meet up with Louise's parents, Estelle and Jonas, who live in a nearby suburb.  We certainly enjoyed meeting them here in Marloth Park during their recent visit and would love to see them again.

After a few days in Cape Town, we'll fly to Nelspruit, rent a car and once again make our way to Marloth Park, but this time for only a 90-day visit.  The visa requirement of leaving South Africa to a non-bordering country can get expensive and again, we'll have to consider our budget.

We selected this cruise not only to return to South Africa but also it will give us an opportunity to visit many other countries on the west coast of Africa where fewer tourists are inclined to visit.  Here's the map of the itinerary:
These are the port-of-calls for the countries we'll visit on this cruise.
We've never sailed on Azamara in the past.  Owned by the same corporation that owns Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, our loyalty program will carry over to this cruise, enabling us to partake of several perks we've enjoyed on past cruises.
As always, we booked a balcony cabin with cabins both above and below us to avoid noise from various venues on the ship.  Here are some details about the ship:

Azamara Journey

Ship Rating:
The Azamara Journey has all the modern conveniences that the discerning traveler demands. The Journey has an intimate atmosphere with only 690 passengers. With nearly 400 crew members, the staff is always there to offer a drink or a fresh towel. Azamara’s concept of Destination Immersion means that you’ll spend more time in ports, and when you’re on board, you’ll be able to sample the culinary classics of the ports you’re visiting. There’s plenty to do when you’re still on the ship as well, like gambling at the casino, enjoying live entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge, getting a work-out in at the fitness center or kicking back in any of the ship’s many bars. When you’re ready for some well-deserved pampering, the spa is waiting with several signature treatments. You can visit your own private spa deck, indulge in Facial Glow services, get a massage or even relax in an all-day spa ritual. The cruise may not last forever, but the memories will last a lifetime.Azamara Journey
 Ship Statistics 
Year Built2000
Refurbished2016
Tonnage30,277 tons
RegistryMalta
Length593 feet
Beam84 feet
Passenger Capacity690
Crew Size408
Total Inside Cabins26
Total Outside Cabins320
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas247
Suites42
Maximum Occupancy per room4
Age RestrictionsOne person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Open
Dining HoursDining
Dining Room Dress CodeDining
Tipping Expected?No
Tipping GuidelinesAzamara includes the gratuities in your cruise fare.
Onboard CurrencyUS Dollar
   
Services & Amenities
SpaYes
Video ArcadeNo
Bars/LoungesYes
CasinoYes
ElevatorsYes
Cell Phone ServiceYes
Laundromats (self service)Yes
Movie TheatreNo
Outdoor Movie ScreenNo
Onboard WeddingsNo
ShopsYes
ShowroomYes
Beauty Salon/Barber ShopYes
ChapelNo
Disco/DancingNo
Hot TubYes
Internet CenterYes
Wireless Internet AccessYes
Note: Available throughout the ship
Laundry/Dry CleaningYes
LibraryYes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball CourtNo
Fitness CenterYes
Golf Driving NetNo
Golf SimulatorNo
Ice Skating RinkNo
Jogging TrackYes
Mini-Golf CourseNo
Rock Climbing WallNo
Swimming PoolYes
Tennis CourtNo
Water SlideNo
Water Sports PlatformNo
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room ServiceYes
Hair DryerYes
SafeYes
TelephoneYes
TelevisionYes
Kids Facilities
BabysittingNo
Children's PlayroomNo
Kiddie PoolNo
Supervised Youth ProgramNo
Teen CenterNo
Water Playground/Splash ParkNo
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
     (private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher MealsYes
Single Occupancy CabinsNo
Single Share ProgramNo
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins6

For details on pricing for this 22-night cruise, please click here. Cruises around the African continent are always pricey.  With this much advance notice, we'll have plenty of time to budget for this higher priced cruise.

Its a long way off, but we're still excited knowing this cruise is on the horizon along with all of the other plans we have for the future.  We haven't posted a new itinerary since we were in Buenos Aires in which may be found here.  Please scroll to the bottom of this post to see the itinerary.

We still have many gaps in our schedule to fill in and we may be changing some other cruises we have booked into the future.  But this cruise we booked last night, bringing us back to Africa, will definitely stand in place.

Today, we're updating our spreadsheets with this new booking and tonight we're heading out to dinner with friends Linda and Ken who returned yesterday to Marloth Park.  Tomorrow evening, we're making "pizza night" for Kathy, Don, Linda and Ken for another great evening with friends.

Have a great weekend! 
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Photo from one year ago today, June 1, 2017:
Last year at this time we were in Minnesota for six weeks visiting family.  At this point, we continued to share more photos from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, our last stop before departing Canada for the US.  For more photos, please click here.

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