Fantastic new cruise bookings…

  1.  Azamara
    10 Nights – Azamara (Athens/Piraeus – Lisbon)
    Cruise Line: Azamara
    Ship Name: Azamara Journey Star Rating
    Cruise Length: 10 NightsDeparture Date: 11/19/2022
    Embarkation Port: Athens/Piraeus, GreeceReturn Date: 11/29/2022
    Disembarkation Port: Lisbon, Portugal
Sailing Itinerary
Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
11/19/2022 Athens/Piraeus 05:00 PM
11/20/2022 Cruising
11/21/2022 Valletta 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
11/22/2022 Trapani 11:00 AM 07:00 PM
11/23/2022 Cagliari 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
11/24/2022 Cruising
11/25/2022 Cartagena/Spain 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
11/26/2022 Malaga 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
11/27/2022 Gibraltar 07:30 AM 02:00 PM
11/28/2022 Lisbon 01:00 PM
11/29/2022 Lisbon

When we booked the cruise listed below, and Tom noticed the above cruise for a back-to-back, starting in Athens on November 19, 2022, a mere 14 months from now, he suggested we also book this cruise, adding ten more days our itinerary.  It may not seem like adding ten days is a significant benefit, but with our desire to cruise as much as we can afford over the next few years, added some cruise ports we’ve yet to visit, it made all the sense in the world.

On this same ship, on 11/29/2022, we’ll change cabins and continue on the even more exciting second leg of this cruise, Lisbon to Cape Town, enabling us to return to South Africa and Marloth Park for a possible six more months with one visa stamp required for each of us, after the first three months.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this cruise, which we’d booked in the past and was canceled due to Covid-19, now has a slightly different itinerary but still fulfills our goals of visiting more countries in Africa and, above all, ending in Cape Town, South Africa on December 20, 2022, where will stay for a few nights and then head back to Marloth Park.

Here is the price summary of this first cruise. Notice the high amounts for taxes and fees.

Price Summary
Traveler 1 Traveler 2 Total
Cruise Package $3,439.00 $3,439.00 $6,878.00
Taxes and Fees $175.97 $175.97 $351.94
Total Package Price $3,614.97 $3,614.97 $7,229.94

Based on previous bookings, we’ll need to change cabins between the two cruises. This isn’t a problem for us. We can pack and unpack in a matter of about 30 minutes. Below is the itinerary for the second cruise on the same ship:

 Azamara
21 Nights – Azamara (Lisbon – Cape Town)
Cruise Line: Azamara
Ship Name: Azamara Journey Star Rating
Cruise Length: 21 NightsDeparture Date: 11/29/2022
Embarkation Port: Lisbon, PortugalReturn Date: 12/20/2022
Disembarkation Port: Cape Town, South Africa
Sailing Itinerary
Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
11/29/2022 Lisbon 05:00 PM
11/30/2022 Cruising
12/01/2022 Funchal 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
12/02/2022 Tenerife 01:00 PM 10:00 PM
12/03/2022 Cruising
12/04/2022 Cruising
12/05/2022 Dakar 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
12/06/2022 Banjul 07:30 AM 03:00 PM
12/07/2022 Cruising
12/08/2022 Cruising
12/09/2022 Abidjan 01:30 PM 07:00 PM
12/10/2022 Takoradi 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
12/11/2022 Cruising
12/12/2022 Cruising
12/13/2022 Cruising
12/14/2022 Luanda 08:00 AM 04:30 PM
12/15/2022 Cruising
12/16/2022 Cruising
12/17/2022 Walvis Bay 06:30 AM 10:00 PM
12/18/2022 Cruising
12/19/2022 Cruising
12/20/2022 Cape Town 06:00 AM

Here is the price summary of this first cruise.

Price Summary
Traveler 1 Traveler 2 Total
Cruise Package $7,439.00 $7,439.00 $14,878.00
Taxes and Fees $351.04 $351.04 $702.08
Total Package Price $7,790.04 $7,790.04 $15,580.08

This second cruise is more expensive, based on its 21-nights as opposed to the first cruise’s ten nights.

Also, for each of these two cruises, by booking through Costco, using our US $60/year (ZAR 878) membership card we’d purchased while in the US only a few months ago, we are receiving the following Costco gift cards: the first one for  US $545 (ZAR 7743) and the second for US $1210 (ZAR 17192).
So far, after booking five cruises through Costco, we’ve accumulated US $4390 (ZAR 62047). We still get all the perks offered by the cruise line as if we’d booked directly through them or another agency. The gift cards are added perks only offered by Costco. As mentioned in an earlier post, gift cards cannot be used for future cruises, rental cars, and airfare, although some package tours may be possible. We have no doubt we won’t have trouble finding products for which we’ll use the gift cards. Also, customers won’t receive the gift cards until a few weeks after each cruise has sailed for apparent reasons.
These two cruises each offer US $1000 (ZAR 14137) cabin credit to be used at our discretion during the cruises. Premium drinks are included, along with taxes and gratuities. Most likely, we’ll use a portion of the cabin credits for unlimited  WiFi for two devices.
Of course, all of the above is subject to the status of the pandemic at the time of sailing. One never can plan anything for sure during times of Covid-19.
There they are, folks, our two new bookings. At this point, we have eight cruises booked, but we are questioning if the first three cruises around Japan, upcoming in February 2022, will be canceled due to Covid-19. As always, only time will tell.
Dare to go for the adventure! We’ve all sat around too much!
Photo from one year ago today, September 9, 2020:
This photo was posted one year ago while in hotel lockdown for ten months in Mumbai, India, on day #170. This batch of vegetables was KES (Kenya Shillings) $150, US $1.72. The more we travel, the more we are amazed by, the lower cost of food in other countries compared to the US. For more photos, please click here.

A new cruise booking…

Detailed map of voyage route
The cruise itinerary, beginning in Leith, Scotland, in August 2023, will end in Amsterdam 16 days later.

Right now, for us, it seems cruises are a logical choice for much of our future travels. That’s not to say we won’t stay in various countries along the way. Again, the plan is to use cruising to get from location to location, enabling us to stay in holiday homes near the embarkation and debarkation points.

We both have been interested in spending time in Scotland. For example, this newly booked cruise in Scotland will be an excellent place to stay before the cruise. The UK allows us to stay for 180 days without a need for a visa extension. However, Norway and Europe are all a part of the Schengen visa, which only allows us to stay for 90 days.

As for the cruise ending in Amsterdam, it was in August 2019 that we were there for three or four days before a cruise. And had time to do some sightseeing. We were there six months after I’d had open-heart surgery and subsequently two surgeries on each of my legs due to an infection. I had an awful time walking the streets of Amsterdam, but somehow we managed to see quite a bit of the lovely city, including a boat ride on the canals.

We doubt we’ll stay in Amsterdam based on that visit, but many other exciting locations are within a short flight. In the future, we’ll begin booking vacation homes on either end of this cruise and the other five cruises we currently have booked.

Tom has always shown interest in this particular cruise, and like our official cruise planner, I didn’t hesitate when he suggested we book this cruise, although it was more expensive than most cruises we’ve been on in the past nine years. Once again, we booked this cruise through Costco and will receive a gift card for booking through them for over US $1280, ZAR 18451. We can use the gift cards for online and store purchases at any Costco store.

These gift cards cannot be used for future travel but certainly may be used to purchase any other products they carry, such as phones, laptops, and much more. I am sure we won’t have any trouble finding products we’ll need somewhere along the line.

The total cost of this cruise for the two of us is US $16,275, ZAR 234,559 (based on today’s value of the rand).  The cruise includes an upgraded balcony cabin on the Azamara Journey, tips, drinks, and WiFi for one device. Once we board, we’ll pay for WiFi for a second device. Shore excursions are extra.

Following is the full itinerary for this cruise:

Sailing Itinerary
Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
08/01/2023 Leith 08:00 PM
08/02/2023 Cruising
08/03/2023 Stavanger 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
08/04/2023 Haugesund 08:00 AM 02:00 PM
08/05/2023 Olden 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
08/06/2023 Alesund 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
08/07/2023 Cruising
08/08/2023 Svolvaer 07:00 AM 05:00 PM
08/08/2023 Trollfjord 06:30 PM 07:00 PM
08/09/2023 Tromso 12:00 PM 10:00 PM
08/10/2023 Honningsvag 01:00 PM 08:00 PM
08/10/2023 North Cape 11:59 PM 11:59 PM
08/11/2023 Alta 09:00 AM 05:00 PM
08/12/2023 Harstad 10:00 AM 08:00 PM
08/13/2023 Bodo 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
08/14/2023 Trondheim 01:30 PM 10:00 PM
08/15/2023 Cruising
08/16/2023 Cruising
08/17/2023 Amsterdam 06:00 AM

We are excited about this cruise. This booking added to our other cruise bookings provides us with a total of six cruises booked at this time. However, some of the cruises scheduled for 2022 may be canceled due to Covid-19. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

This smaller ship, the Azamara Journey, carries 690 passengers, as opposed to thousands on many other cruise ships. We both enjoy smaller cruise ships much more than the enormous ships on our other preferred cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

Of these six upcoming cruises, three are on Celebrity Solstice, two on Azamara Onward (690 passengers), and now the one on the Journey. These Azamara cruises will be our first experience with this cruise line. We’ve sailed several times on Celebrity Sol, a passenger capacity of 2850 but have always had great experiences.

It feels good to be booking plans for the future, although we accept the reality that anything can change with cruising during times of the pandemic. We continue to pay attention to how cruising is going throughout the world in light of Covid, but only time will tell.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 3, 2020:

DSC03394
These photos were posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #164. Tom at Stonehenge in England in 2014. For more, please click here.
DSC03395
Me, at Stonehenge England in 2014. These photos were posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #164. For more, please click here.

Day #270 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Replay of fabulous food photos from cruise…

This window box display was a part of the “Favorites” choice on the menu at Qsine on the Celebrity Infinity in 2017.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2017 while sailing on the Celebrity Infinity along the coast of South America and dining in the fantastic specialty restaurant, Qsine. For more photos not shown here today, please click here.

Sharing these food photos for the second time, under our current situation, is certainly going to be a mouth-watering experience. To think, in less than a month, we’ll be preparing and dining our meals, one of the many highlights of getting out of here.

Tom dined on one of these “Lava Crab” dishes I avoided due to the flour content. He described it as outstanding.

As we are reminded of the exceptional dinner we had on that cruise in 2017, and how much fun specialty restaurants are on cruises, we wonder when we’ll ever be able to cruise again. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine may be influential in re-starting cruises in some countries, but many developing countries won’t offer such a luxury.

If any of the cruise lines with whom we have five booked cruises into 2022 requires evidence of a vaccine, we may be out of luck. Africa will be one of the last continents to have access to the vaccine. We’ll see how that rolls out in time. If we were to fly to another continent at some point to receive the vaccine, we’d have to stay three weeks for the second dose.

Tom held his menu tablet while deciding what to order at the Qsine specialty restaurant while at sea on Celebrity Infinity. Nine Celebrity ships were offering this exceptional dining experience.

Perhaps in time, they’ll develop a single-dose vaccine that will make it easier for those in similar situations to ours. If we decide to continue on our world travels for considerably longer, we’ll have no choice but to return to the US to receive the vaccine. Maybe we can do so next time we visit family, which we’ll do once the virus settles down in the US.

This report, updated daily, the USA has 23% of the world’s cases and 19% deaths. Considering that statistics are being recorded in 220 countries and territories, this is an outrageous number. As we’ve mentioned many times in past posts, returning to the US at any time shortly is entirely out of the question.

From the “Sushi ” choice were these “lollipops.” Although we didn’t order this option, we loved this gorgeous presentation.

As for today’s photos, our topic returns to food. Yesterday, while I was working on the errors in past posts, of which I’m only one-third of the way through the over 3000 posts, I encountered comments I’d made about a reader commenting that they were sick and tired of my food comments and recipes. Hum, isn’t traveling in part about dining in one way or another?

When most of us travel, one of the first things on the agenda is checking out the local cuisine, booking reservations from highly rated TripAdvisor reviews, visiting local food trucks, cafes, and diners, and the possibility of the safety of eating street food? While dining out during a holiday/vacation, how many of us have entered a grocery store to check out the cultural differences in food, pricing, and at times, to purchase snacks, liquor, or treats?

Many items from the “Soup & Souffle” menu were served “tapas” style, small servings such as these two souffle chefs Chantal prepared for me.

That’s a big part of the enjoyment of traveling. And even with my limited options due to my way of eating, it’s still quite enjoyable to dine out, purchase groceries, and prepare our meals while living in holiday homes. Oh, well, that was only one reader, and I’m sure by now, they no longer read our posts at all, especially after our boring content over the past nine months.

If they thought “food” was boring, how about our frequent comments, whining, and observations about living under these most peculiar circumstances? As our long-term and new readers know, we strive to “tell it like it is” and not pander to those who may prefer a more “fluffy version” of our lives.

The “Taco Royale” presentation could easily have been a full meal for me with its make-your-own guacamole and beef taco salad.

Sure, this meal we’re sharing today in photos looks stupendous, and we’d love to be able to savor such a meal now. But we can’t. Instead, we focus on the fact that soon enough, we’ll be preparing big juicy rare/medium-rare steaks on the braai with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand, sweating up a storm on the veranda, batting off the flies and mozzies, and smiling from ear to ear. Hopefully, in a little over 25 days, when we depart India for South Africa.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2019:

From this site: “The famous fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona: Built-in 1970 by Robert McCulloch, the fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world! The fountain sprays water for 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute, and at its full height, it can reach 560 feet in the air. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a man-made lake. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills is higher than the Washington Monument. It is 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, 110 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, and three times as high as Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The white plume of the world-famous fountain is visible far beyond Fountain Hills. It can be seen from as far away as the Superstition Mountains, Carefree, and even from aircraft. The fountain is the focal point for community celebrations and the pride of its residents. If you happen to visit during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’ll see the fountain transform to emerald green. The Fountain is extended to its full height on special occasions. For everyday viewing, the Fountain reaches a height of 330 feet! The World Famous Fountain runs every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week! This fountain is a celebration of life and water where it is most appreciated – in the middle of the desert.” For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #261 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…”Cruise to Nowhere” fiasco…

Christmas tree in Colon Park in Arica, Chile, with St. Mark’s Cathedral (San Marcos) in the background.

Today’s photos are from the 30-day cruise (two 15-day cruises, back-to-back), partially sailing around South America on the date in 2017 when we visited Arica, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

The cruise, as mentioned above, seems to have been a lot longer ago than three years. Life was so different then. Cruising was purely predicated by one’s ability to afford it and the desire to be out to sea for socializing, myriad adventures, and sightseeing. Now, we wonder if cruising will ever be possible in the future.

Buses arrived at the port to take passengers on tours.

From today’s news story here, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas four-day “Cruise to Nowhere,” available only to residents of Singapore, had to turn back due to an onboard case of Covid-19, forcing the ship to return to Singapore on day #3.

The article reads as follows:

“A Royal Caribbean ship has returned to Singapore on day three of a four-day “cruise to nowhere” after a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The city-state’s “cruises to nowhere” – starting and ending at the same port without stops – launched last month.

Government building in Arica, Chile, near the port.

They attempt to revive the hard-hit industry, which largely ceased worldwide after outbreaks on board but has since resumed in a few places. Singapore’s special cruises were only open to its residents.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas departed Singapore on Monday for a four-day round trip as part of a “safe cruising” pilot program announced by the country’s tourism board in October.

From this site: “History goes that during the War of the Pacific (1879-1880) the Morro de Arica was taken by Chilean troops in a heroic deed after only one hour of fighting against the Peruvian-Bolivian army. This historical feat took place on June 7, 1880, and ever since has marked the northern territorial boundaries of the country. Today, over one century after such an epic event, visitors only need to go up almost 200 meters rising from the sea to behold the enormous City of Arica. Whoever hit the summit of this morro in those days would immediately gain control of the city. There were many casualties. In a matter of minutes, almost 2 thousand soldiers from both sides lost their life.”

The cruise company said it had turned the ship around after one guest tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with the onboard medical team.

“We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals has subsequently tested negative for the virus,” it said in a statement.

A view of the Morro of Arica from the Plaza Colon, where we wandered around the park.

It said guests would be allowed to disembark “after a review of contact tracing is completed.”

A raft of safety measures was introduced for passengers on the special cruises to nowhere, including coronavirus tests before boarding and after disembarking. The ships were also running at half their usual capacity for safe distancing purposes.”

In part, these cruises are intended to “test” how numerous precautions may prevent onboard cases of the virus and how they can safely be handled in the event of passengers becoming ill. But, at this point, it appears their “system” isn’t working as well as hoped.

A pond in the park is occupied by dozens of seagulls.

All passengers were tested for Covid-19 before embarking on the cruise. However, as those of us who’ve followed Covid-19 scenarios, getting a negative test result today doesn’t necessarily indicate it won’t be positive a few days later. Upon exposure, one may not exhibit symptoms or test positive for several days.

Until a more accurate/earlier test becomes available, the cruise industry is SOL in offering safe cruises anywhere in the world. Currently, we have four cruises booked beginning on November 30, 2021. The others are well into 2022, none of which we may be able to embark upon, as long as this virus continues to impact cruising.

We stopped to see a nativity scene in the park.

At this point, we are waiting for the cruise lines to cancel our cruises as they see fit and ultimately necessary. I imagine, in the future, all guests may be required to have taken the vaccine and provide a recent antibody test upon boarding to ensure their documentation isn’t fraudulent. Antibody test results are available in minutes. There are now black-market negative Covid-19 tests floating around.

Disappointing? Yes, but under no circumstances would we want to be on one of those cruises where we end up in quarantine. If we think this hotel room is small, a cruise cabin 30% smaller would be worse. Hum, 35 days and counting…

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 9, 2019:

After arriving in Nevada to visit family, we were on our way to the Vegas Golden Knights game, guest of son Richard, a super fan. For more, please click here.

Day #246 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ten reasons to avoid test cruises…

Tom’s hair was blowing with his back to the wind at Sails Restaurant in Diani Beach, Kenya. The cool ocean breeze was heavenly.

Today’s photos are from dining out at our favorite restaurant during the final few days we spent in Diani Beach, Kenya, in 2013. For more details, please click here.

Each day when I walk the corridors, I listen to podcasts on various topics. Recently, on a mission to further improve my health, I listened to podcasts from Dr. Ken Berry, Dr. Ali Nadir (cardiologist), Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Jason Fung, and Dr. Paul Saladino, and more, all of whom advocate a very low/zero carb way of eating, which with their advice, I’ve been able to lower my blood sugar and blood pressure dramatically as described in this post from a few days ago.

I equally enjoyed the cool ocean breeze at Sails. It was so hot that night. We were sweating. 

When I need a break from health podcasts, I often listen to travel-related podcasts relevant to today’s COVID-19 situation in hopes of learning something useful for our future travels. By accident, I came across Tony’s podcast site, La Lido Loca, and was fascinated to listen to his take on why it makes little sense to accept such an invitation. To listen to Tony’s excellent podcast on this topic, please click here.

Here are his ten reasons why not to embark on a free test cruise:

  1. A cruise line must have the “free” passenger sign a document accepting the potential risks of participating. In other words, if you get the virus during or after the test cruise, you will not have legal recourse against the cruise line.
  2. There is an expectation that test cruise passengers must have a doctor’s letter confirming they don’t have any pre-existing comorbidities that may result in severe cases of COVID-19 or even death.
  3. You will be virus tested at the port upon embarkation, disembarkation, and possibly many more times during the cruise.
  4. This is not normal cruising with all the fluff and activities cruisers may be used to. Passengers will be directed to activities during the cruise and subject to the guidelines and requirements that reduce the risks of becoming infected.
  5. Restrictive port experiences are unlike those typically offered by the cruise line. You will not be able to wander on your own if any ports of call are visited, nor will you be able to choose a multitude of experiences.
    Tom’s crab au gratin was as delicious as usual.
  6. What happens if you or others get the virus, either in reality or in a simulation, which may require even those without the virus to lockdown in their cabin? Cabin selection is up to the cruise line. One may end up in an inside cabin when they usually book a balcony cabin. A lockdown during a simulation could result in days in a windowless cabin when you aren’t even sick.
  7. Disruptive cruise – You may be in the middle of enjoying a meal or a drink, or an activity, required to stop immediately for health checks and other protocols.
  8. A cruise may be cut short if too many passengers become infected with COVID-19. This could happen after paying round-trip airfares to reach the cruise embarkation point, at your own expense, only to have the cruise cut short after 24 to 48 hours when passengers are reported to have contracted the virus resulting in the cruise ending early.
  9. Waiting around – For test results, for new procedures, for activities, and a variety of entirely unfamiliar protocols, passengers may spend hours each day waiting for the next activity or event.
  10. Stringent adherence to the CDC’s virus protocols; masking, social distancing, hand washing, and more. The usual socialization most cruisers enjoy will be obliterated.
    My dinner at Sails was too heavy on the oil, very different from the first time I’d ordered this entrée.

Are you still interested? Probably, not. If so, contact your favorite cruise line and see if options are available for you to participate. Most cruise lines got their authorized cruise resellers with invitations to participate. It will be interesting to see how these cruises roll out.

We’ll be watching for those results and will report back here for details.

As for us cruising in the future, hum, we’ll see what happens. Our next booked cruise is scheduled for November 30, 2021. We’ll see if that transpires and if we decide it’s safe to go if it does.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2019:

Tom’s Reuben sandwich with jumbo onion rings when out for bingo at a restaurant with friends Karen and Rich one year ago. Drool-worthy! Click here for Tom’s win.

Day #217 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fireworks last night!…Will we ever cruise again?…

Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji, continuing our past two posts from our visit to the Vuodomo Waterfalls. For more from this date, please click here.

Last night, while watching The Walking Dead, around 10:00 pm, we heard several loud blasts. Jumping up, Tom looked out the window, not expecting to see much from our poor view of an industrial/construction area. But, we were surprised when he saw a distant flash of fireworks.

Vuadomo Waterfall was more significant than it appears in these photos.

Indian people, predominantly Hindu, celebrate several holidays with fireworks. We’re a little surprised fireworks are allowed based on air pollution in India. But the devout Hindu citizens continue to incorporate the light show celebrating several holidays.

Yesterday was Dussera, described as follows:

“Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal by Hindus worldwide on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar.”

We didn’t see any other tourists walking to or from the falls.

Soon, on November 14, the five-day celebration of Dawali will commence, which is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu faith. At that time, we’ll share more information on this sacred celebration. We’ve been living in many countries throughout the world when these holidays have been celebrated, and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication exhibited by the Hindu devotees during these celebratory periods.

On another note, over the past week, both Tom and I have stumbled across numerous articles about the cruise industry and what to expect for the future. For us, our cruising days may be over when we consider the primary reason we enjoyed cruising so much was the opportunity to socialize.

An orchid was growing in the rainforest.

Sure, we enjoyed the ambiance, seeing many ports of call, the festive activities. However, everything will be different from now on, eliminating our desire to continue to cruise during times of COVID-19. If this virus and the extreme precautions are eliminated, we will consider cruising once again.

Yesterday, the CDC issued this warning at this link:

“CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships. Because of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the US government is advising US travelers to defer all cruise travel.”

The creek on the return walk.

Here is a list of some of the precautions cruise lines will strictly adhere to on future cruises from this site:

  • Passengers are to be tested for COVID-19 between five days and 24 hours before sailing. Those testing positive would not be allowed to cruise.  OK, this makes sense.
  • Passengers to wear cloth face coverings or masks on ships in accordance with CDC recommendations. This would require passengers to wear masks at all times during the cruise. The thought of wearing a mask non-stop for one or two weeks or longer, other than in our cabin, is unappealing.
  • Cruise lines only allow indoor excursions during port stops if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented. What about the cramped vans and buses transporting passengers from the ship to the point of interest? From what we’ve read so far, self-arranged tours will no longer be allowed. Only those costly tours offered through the ship will be possible. If a passenger goes off on their own, they won’t be allowed to return to the ship and will forfeit the balance of the cruise.
  • Cruise lines to modify onboard facilities so passengers can remain socially distanced in accordance with CDC recommendations (at least six-foot separation). This includes during dining and priority club free drink periods, which was our primary means of socializing.
  • Daily temperature checks for all passengers. Fine, we don’t mind this.
  • Tima and Rasnesh, long-time friends, after many hikes with tourists to the waterfall.

As you can see, these requirements eliminate all of our reasons for cruising. Instead, we’ll continue to enjoy possible future holiday homes in locations we find desirable, on or near the ocean, and in cultural and wildlife-rich areas. Only time will tell when we can pick up where we left off, with the thought in mind that cruising may not be a part of our means of transportation from one part of the world to another or a means of meeting new people along the way. Disappointing, for sure.

Stay healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2019:

There was no post one year ago on this date due to a poor WiFi signal on the ship.

Day #189 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Food photos from a Celebrity cruise, Vancouver to Honolulu in 2014…

There was no charge for a piece (or two) of this lovely strawberry cake offered on the cruise. But, none for me with my way of eating. Even Tom passed on this cake.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were on a cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu. For more on this date, please click here.

My mouth was watering when I reviewed today’s photos from a cruise to Hawaii, where we ended up staying for a total of eight months on four of the most popular islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

All of these desserts in the Al Bacio Bar are included in the fare., no purchase is necessary.  However, there is a charge for specialty coffees also available in this area. Oddly, Tom wasn’t interested in anything in this case.

In many ways, it seems like yesterday, especially when we spent the Christmas holidays with the kids and grandkids on the Big Island and, the last four months in Kauai, making many new friends and exploring the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross, which during those months, became a daily source of tremendous joy and wonder.

By the time we boarded this cruise in 2014, we’d been on eight previous cruises since beginning our journey and had considerable experience ordering meals befitting Tom’s picky taste buds and my low carb/keto way of eating. It was hard for me to resist all the beautiful desserts, one of which is shown in today’s main photo. But, never once did I order or select any forbidden desserts, ice cream (or meals) when meandering the various food stations throughout the ship.

Oh, delicious! I ended up ordering a second serving of this fabulous Pistachio Duck Terrine.

With a former sweet tooth, such desserts were challenging to resist, but by this ninth cruise, I had my attraction to such items strictly under control and rarely ever gave it a thought. When others ordered gooey desserts at a shared table, either I ordered a fresh cup of tea, or if still hungry after a meal of tiny portions, I could call the cheese plate.

In every case, when ordering the cheese plate, asking for it to arrive without fruit or crackers, almost invariably, it would be placed in front of me with fruit and crackers. After a while, we laughed. I’d remove the items and proceed to enjoy the various imported cheeses.

Tom’s escargot was green due to the use of spinach in the buttery sauce. If I told him the green was spinach, he probably wouldn’t eat it. He did!

Eventually, I stopped ordering it since the cheese serving was way more than I should eat, and it was hard to resist when it was in front of me. I’ve always been a member of the “clean plate club.” Many can surely relate to that, perhaps a by-product of our upbringing when we were required to clean the plate due to the starving children worldwide. Gosh, if leaving untouched food on my plate would feed starving children, I would have never cleaned my plate.

For many travelers, cruising is all about the food. Honestly, right now, if we boarded a cruise ship, I’d run, not walk, to the buffet to partake in the many items I can eat; eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), smoked salmon with capers, platters of chilled prawns, burgers (minus the bun), grilled fish, unlimited steamed veggies and one of the items I miss the most…a big green salad.

My dinner consisted of salmon and steamed vegetables, which was OK with adding a side dish of Hollandaise sauce. I prefer not to eat carrots since they are grown underground and high in sugar content.

We don’t order salads or raw vegetables here in India because the produce is washed in tap water which is unsafe to drink in India. Sure, the hotel probably washes it in purified water, but it most likely had been sprayed with tap water in processing for distribution to hotels and restaurants. It would only take a few bacteria spores to throw us into a bacterial infection which is all we’d need now.

We don’t worry about COVID-19 infecting our food that is served to our room twice a day. The cooks live in the hotel, as do the servers who deliver it to our room. Also, there’s no definitive research indicating the virus is contracted from food, although I’d imagine this is a possibility under certain circumstances.

Tom’s dinner of beef cheeks over parsnip puree, carrots, broccoli with demi-glace sauce which he found excellent.

That’s why we don’t order takeaway meals from the many restaurants in the area that will be delivered to the hotel, which is left at the guard gate for patrons to collect. It’s not worth the risk or the bother. Also, for my purposes, we’d have no idea as to ingredients used to prepare our meals, including toxic vegetable oils that we resist. All of our meals are designed with “real” butter instead of margarine and trans-fats used by many dining establishments throughout the world, not just in India.

Even looking at today’s photos of food I can eat makes my mouth water. Oh, well. Hopefully, this is just temporary. Every day, I think about a plate of home-made food in front of me, sitting at a table with a linen placemat and napkin, and a glass of red wine in a fine wine glass, instead of on a chair in a hotel room with the same meal night after night meal on my lap,

One of our dear readers wrote that lockdown feels like “house arrest,” and I agree, but in our case, it feels more like being a teenager and confined to our room for bad behavior. Except, that teenager could go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator filled with tasty options, and select what they found most appealing. Not the case now!

May your day be filled with taste-tempting, hearty, healthy, and delicious meals.

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2019:

This lamb, covered in dirt after it rained, on the farm in Devon, England, is half the size of the others. Renate and John, our property owners, explained she never grew to full size due to a genetic anomaly. For more photos, please click here.

Day #140 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…The continuation of the river cruise…


Our second Eiffel Tower nighttime light show after our dinner cruise on the River Seine.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from August 10, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
The Assemblee Nationale, the French National Assembly. The interior of many of these buildings is worth seeing by clicking on the links included here.

Today was a late start in working on the post. After not getting out of bed until 8:30 am and out the door for my first walk until almost 9:00 am, not returning until 20 minutes later, our breakfast had arrived.

After breakfast, I’d promised myself I’d get hold of FedEx to find out the status of the overnight letter containing our replacement credit card after it was discovered to be used fraudulently. 

The Palais de Justice, the French Palace of Justice.

Also, I wanted to check on our supplies package, which hasn’t been moving at FedEx for days, stuck in customs. I started calling several phone FedEx numbers I found online but couldn’t get through on any of them using Skype.

I was unable to use Skype to call India while in India, even using my VPN. Frustrated, I tried using the expensive room phone, but there again, I was on hold for so long, I finally gave up.

The scenery along the river was enhanced by the reflection of lights.

Then, I used my cell phone to call, which also is pricey, but after 20 minutes on hold, I gave up figuring the best method was to email an inquiry when after entering the tracking number, a message popped up that said:

“A specialized statement is required for clearance from the recipient. Call FedEx.”

Tom’s photos of me are always blurry to some extent. That explains why I take most of the photos.

Frustration was setting in, and finally, I sent an email after finding a good email address for customer service in India. I sent a clear and concise email outlining precisely what had transpired, requesting they email me the specified form to complete the delivery requirement.

In that same email, I also inquired about our package sitting in customs for the past week and what they needed from us at this point. No reference had been made to the customs fees, which we usually could pay online, most likely since they’d yet to inspect the contents. Who knows how long it will be until that process is completed?

We were nearing the end of the cruise when I took this outdoor photo of Tom.

Most likely, these delays are a result of COVID-19. When I called a few of the online FedEx India phone numbers, people answered with TV sounds in the background, causing me to assume some of their employees were working from home. Calling became pointless with no response.

Last month I sent an email asking if they were servicing this postal code in India and received a positive response a few days later. We’ll see how it rolls out. I can only hope they’ll reply to the email. Hopefully, they’ll be as timely in their response to today’s inquiry.

The moon was peeking out of a cloudy sky, the green lights, the reflections on the water…nice.

Now, well after 12:30 pm, I’m still working on today’s post, hoping to upload it in the next hour to return to my usual daily routine. Yesterday, we signed up for CBS All Access (first month free) to stream the newest Big Brother All-Stars series, which is mindless drivel, but entertaining and the latest Survivor series, again a fun distraction.

On another note, our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, a lovely couple whom we met on a cruise in April 2017, from Sydney to Seattle who began traveling the world, at times, asking us for suggestions and sources we’ve used, wrote that they are ending their world travels in light of COVID-19.

We loved this shot of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

They’ve purchased a home in Florida and will stay put, traveling from time to time as the world situation allows. One might think this might have inspired us to do the same. But, until we get out there again, flying, booking holiday homes, and living in other countries, we have no idea what the future holds regarding continuing to travel. 

This was my veal filet. I don’t usually eat veal. However, in Paris, one must try new things. I was served a delicious plate of less common sautéed vegetables.

Certainly, the option of living in three or four different countries (depending on visas) may continue to be an option for us in the future. Being unable to cruise may undoubtedly have an impact on our options in the future. 

My lovely dessert, two creamy French slices of cheese.

In some ways, it might make our travels easier when we’re not manipulating our schedule to comply with cruise embarkation and debarkation locations. 

Tom’s dessert #1, a strawberry mousse. The pink appearance is due to the red LED lights in the boat after dark.

We can only guess at this point. And, right now, our priority is when and how we’ll be able to leave India when borders open here and in another country that we’re allowed to visit in the future.

Tom’s dessert #2, a layered chocolate torte embellished with a strand of delicious French chocolate.

Have a fulfilling and safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2019:

We’d wished we could have posted the identity of all of these great highlights in Amsterdam. But, it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along quickly. It rained off and on, but we were grateful for what we were able to see. For more photos, please click here.

Day #139 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Gourmet dinner cruise on the River Seine…

Tom was carrying his dress shoes in a bag when the dress code on the dinner cruise stipulated no sports shoes were allowed. However, on a rainy night, they made exceptions when most of the passengers were wearing sports shoes.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from August 9, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
As we walked down a few flights of stairs to the boardwalk along the River Seine, searching for the dinner cruise boat we’d booked, the Bataueux Parisiennes.

Today, we’re sharing photos from Part 1 of our exquisite dinner cruise on the River Seine six years ago. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from Part 2 of the dinner cruise with more photos. 

As soon as we were seated, we were served these little French pastries and champagne. Tom ate all four of these pastries plus three of the white buns. I didn’t try the buns but took a few sips of the delicious champagne. 

Our story for the first of the two posts may be found here, and thus, I won’t reiterate what transpired on that fun, although rainy night in Paris. Due to the rain, most of our photos were taken through the tinted glass of the windows on the boat, let alone at dusk and finally in the dark. We did our best.

Dark clouds were looming over the city for days as it rained heavily off and on. 

Instead, I can’t help but focus on the “year ago photo” at the bottom of today’s post, taken on our first of two days and nights we spent in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, while we awaited a much-anticipated cruise Baltic cruise, we’d longed to experience for years.

Most of the photos shown here today and tomorrow were taken through the blue glass dining enclosure on the boat. 

Once we arrived in Amsterdam, flying from Dublin after a three-month stay, we found ourselves in a lovely boutique hotel overlooking a canal. We were in awe and overtaken by the beauty and uniqueness of this unique city. 

We passed under one of many ornamental bridges.

Chomping at the bit to get outside and walk the narrow sidewalks and streets, a wave of disappointment washed over me as I faced the reality of my situation. It had been almost six months since my open-heart surgery, and I could barely walk more than a few meters without feeling a need to stop and rest.

This foie gras appetizer was terrific. I savored every morsel along with the single perfectly cooked cold asparagus spear, lying atop a line of what tasted to be an anchovy paste.

Having been on many heart-related drugs with serious side effects, including the FDA’s designated “black box” drug Amiodarone and two others, my legs didn’t work well enough for me to embark on long walks. 

Tom’s appetizer of grilled prawns and vegetables. He doesn’t usually care for shrimp. After sharing a few prawns with me, he said, “There was nothing offensive about this.” Nice.

By the time we reached Amsterdam, I had weaned off all of the drugs. However, I was left with weakness and leg pain exacerbated by walking, which I still suffer from today, and cardiovascular disease, contributing to leg pain when standing or walking for long periods.

Some of the spires of Notre Dame.

Subsequently, my memories of Amsterdam center around the struggle to walk when there was no other way to get around the city than on foot or by boat. Not one to complain, I forged ahead while Tom patiently waited every five minutes or less for me to rest long enough to continue.

As the boat continued on the River Seine. The 2½ hour cruise eventually turned around to go back the way we’d come enabling us to see the other side.

In any case, we saw a lot in those two days, probably not a lot less than we would have under better circumstances. While walking during those few days, my mind was filled with concern over how I’d walk when we were scheduled for several walking tours at various ports of call during the upcoming cruise.

At this point, we were nearing the turnaround spot.

We’d signed up for a few small group tours before the heart surgery, and we were committed to our share of the costs. All we could do was forge ahead to the best of my ability. I refused to cancel it all.

Many dinner cruise boats on the River Seine for considerably lower prices, as low as US $51 and EU $39 per person, were less luxurious with standard fare. We’d researched extensively to decide on the Bateaux Parisiennes, which was highly rated on various websites.

As it turned out, we only had to cancel one of the two-day tours in St. Petersburg. There was no way I could keep up with the group on a second all-day walking tour. It was very disappointing, not only in losing the money, which was non-refundable but also missing the second day. 

There were many day tour boats along the river.

I felt terrible for Tom when he had so much anticipated this particular cruise, but he never complained or seemed frustrated with me. Instead, he held me up during the long walks on each tour as I hung onto his arm. 

The sight of all the well-lit boats on the river at night was captivating.

Somehow, we made it through the remaining ports of call on that cruise resulting in many beautiful experiences and photos along the way. It’s hard to believe it was only one year ago. I still struggle to walk without pain, but my current 5 miles, 8 km daily walks have been instrumental in improving my ability to walk for longer distances.

Tom was undoubtedly enjoying the included two bottles of wine plus two glasses of champagne served when we were seated.  He prefers white over red.

No matter where we end up after we leave India, I will continue to walk if safe outdoors and indoors. If I walk every hour for 12 minutes each, I could get in the necessary steps to maintain this current goal by the end of any day.

Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2019:

Arriving in Amsterdam for a two-night stay before our upcoming cruise, we looked forward to a boat ride on the canals. For more, please click here.

Day #123 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Remembering Vietnam in summer 2016…Mekong River Cruise…

It’s hard to believe that Tom managed to climb out of the tiny opening at Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam. I was concerned he’d be stuck after all the carbs he’d eaten on the two-week cruise.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 
Today’s photos are from July 21 and July 24, 2016, while visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. See the links here and here for more photos.

Amazingly, a human could fit down this tiny hole, especially Tom, who’s considerably larger than Vietnamese people.

Recalling our Viking Mekong River cruise and land tour in July of 2016 seems like a lifetime ago. Then again, many of our outstanding experiences appeared to have occurred so long ago, as we remain in lockdown at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai Airport on day #123.

Tom was sitting at the table in a meeting room bunker with several mannequins with two other passengers standing behind him.

As mentioned earlier, we had started a self-imposed lockdown during our 55-day tour of India on March 12th or thereabouts when we received an email that our cruise out of Mumbai on April 3, 2020, was canceled. 

Two of the Russian MIGs were used by the North Vietnam Air Force.

At that point, we knew we needed to hunker down and avoid any touring that resulted in getting out of the car. In total, we have been in lockdown in hotel rooms for approximately 132 days.

US Huey helicopter.

Good grief! It was only four years ago! The recent tours in India seem a distant memory, let alone the tours in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2016, which we’re highlighting in today’s photos. 

US artillery pieces and two jeeps.

Details, photos, and stories of the fantastic 15-night cruise and tour may be found in our archives for July 2016, including the above-mentioned link referencing the source of today’s repeated photos of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. 

US  rocket launchers and cluster bombs.

In any case, it was an extraordinary experience, one we’ll always treasure as our tribute to all the soldiers and civilians that lost their lives in the horrific battle in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and surrounding areas.

Horrifying bamboo spikes in ground booby traps. 

Now, in this horrific battle with COVID-19 in countries throughout the world, we have plenty of time to think about the loss of life, the illness, and the sorrow experienced by millions of people as their lives are touched by this outrageously contagious virus.

Viet Cong surgery bunker.

With no end in sight, we can only wonder how much longer the world will be impacted by this pandemic and how many more lives will be lost or impacted by its path of destruction.

Notice the sweat on Tom’s shirt. He was soaked after crawling through the narrow tunnels. This larger opening was a welcome relief. Some of the tunnels and openings were enlarged for the benefit of tourists.

Yesterday afternoon, our friends Linda and Ken, living in Johannesburg, also currently in lockdown, sent us this article about when international flights may resume in South Africa. It appears we may not be able to travel to the country until January 2021. Of course, this is subject to when India has also resumed international travel.

Tom took this photo while climbing out of a narrow tunnel by turning around after he’d already crawled through this spot.

We are grateful to be safe. Yes, the routine is mundane and repetitive, as is the food and the surroundings. But, we don’t forget for one moment the gift of safety we’ve been blessed to experience during this difficult time.

Occasionally, certain areas were lighted, as shown in this taller section.

There’s no room in our lives for “whinging” or complaining. Each day, we strive for cheerfulness and optimism as we continue to research our options when the time is right. We’re well-informed as to what’s transpiring in the US and many countries throughout the world. We’ll know the moment we can make a move.

The next day, he’s a little stiff and sore, having used muscles he hadn’t used in years but suffered no ill effects. The passengers in our group were cheering him as he entered and exited when few others dared to attempt the challenge.

Please don’t take risks. I listen to podcast news on my phone when I walk the corridors, and over and over again, I hear stories where COVID-19 patients took only one risk after which they acquired the virus; only one time at a  bar, restaurant, or gathering while not wearing a mask.

May you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2019:

One year ago today, we posted five-year ago photos when we hadn’t been out for a few days while in Connemara, Ireland. There are a few sandy beaches on the island of Madeira. Most are rocky such as this. For more, please click here.