The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Friday, December 26, 2014

Planning Stage

It is almost Christmas and we are about finished with the planning for the second try at the itinerary. Just have one set of tickets to buy and one hotel booking to make. I am also still working on a driver for a tour day in Bali and a hotel transfer and tour in Mauritius. However sometimes things just aren't meant to be...especially with travel.
Early on, we each got a second passport when we were still working on our first itinerary that included three cruises on the Ocean Princess booked way back in May of 2013. This version of the itinerary was almost 5 1/2 months of travel and included 112 days on five cruise segments: San Francisco to Sydney for 23 days on the Queen Elizabeth; Sydney to Singapore to Cape Town to Dover for 82 days on the Ocean Princess; then the Queen Mary II's 12 day TransAtlantic 175th Cunard anniversary. The rest of the time was filled with traveling over land in Australia and Great Britain. We were concerned with the tight window to get the Burma visa and were not willing to risk something happening to our regular passport with the hard to get 10 year India visa. That bit of caution later turned out to be a good decision when we had to redo the back end of our trip 

What happened to cause us to change our itinerary? Well Ebola happened in one of our ports and the countries surrounding three other ports in West Africa! So the cruise lines canceled all stops in West Africa and added stops in the Atlantic islands and Med. Then it was announced that the Ocean Princess was for sale and shortly afterwards that she was sold for delivery to NCL the end of Feb 2016.

We were very unhappy with the changed itinerary after Cape Town. Princess could have changed to much more interesting ports including another night in Cape Town, in Walvis Bay and in Casablanca to allow time a trip to Marrakech! Plus we know from experience that once a ship is sold the interior ship maintenance slips badly.

So I began searching for a better option for our trip. I had already been looking at canceling the Sydney to Singapore segment and going over land from Australia to Bali for a few days then on to Bangkok so we could work in a river cruise in Burma before meeting the Ocean Princess in Singapore for the remaining 62 days od that long cruise.  

After looking at various options including continuing with the original plan, we canceled all the Princess cruises and the special Queen Mary II cruise and booked the Queen Mary II Cape Town to Southampton 15 day cruise, the last leg of her 2015 world cruise. It leaves Cape Town on April 18 and arrives in Southampton, England a month earlier than originally planned on May 3. Then we booked an eight day Queen Mary Transatlantic leaving Southampton for NYC on May 27.

To get us from Australia to Cape Town, I booked flights to Bali fro a short stay, then to Bangkok where we will do a round trip flight to Burma for an over land trip from Mandalay to Yangon including a river boat trip. 

From there we have decided to divide the time between stops in the Seychelles, Mauritius and a driving tour from Johannesburg to along the Wildcoast and the Garden Route to Cape Town including self drive safaris in Kruger National Park, St Lucia Wetlands and Addo National Park.

This actually worked out great because it didn't change any plans through the end of our time in Tasmania and along the GOR. PIus I was able to move all the Great Britain bookings from June to May and our Zulu Battlefield private tour from May 1 to April 10

An added plus is we will still make a stop at Walvis Bay in Namibia. The trip is now just 4 months, but we are still visiting places on our original bucket list so it is a win win deal. 

Later this month we will send off our new passport for the Burma visa and take our regular passport into Houston for the Bali visa. Our travel agent is handling our Australia visa free. We will get the visa for South Africa, Thailand, Seychelles on arrival. South Africa still requires 4 clean pages! There are not nearly as many visas required for this trip as there were in 2009. Plus they are definitely not as costly.

The Clock is Counting Dowm!

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St Nicolas would soon be there."
Christmas 2014 has come and gone. We had visits from our daughter and oldest son and their families on Christmas Eve and then had Christmas dinner at our daughter's home. The whole family was together earlier for the Thanksgiving Holiday at Nana and Papaw's House. 

Now, Dick and the boys are camping and hunting until New Years Eve. I am having a girl's weekend with my daughter and her daughter.
All and all we are having a great end to 2014 and are really looking forward to our 2015 trip around the world.

Over the next few days, I will check all the reservations and deposits to be sure the itinerary is actuate as far as money due on reservations. Dick needs to take care of financial issues and get some foreign currency. We do not like to always be at the mercy of finding an ATM as soon as we land. Also I am making a list of things I still need to do.

Come January 1, we will get serious with packing and getting the visas. The last 4 plus weeks will fly by. Our goal is to have all the details taken care of and everything packed by Feb 1, a few days before we leave. We will see how that works out! For the record, it is a great plan but hasn't worked out in the past!