one week until we sail
When I log in to the Holland America site it tells me that we sail in seven days. That means we leave in six sleeps because we have a night in Fort Lauderdale before getting on the ship. Only 6 sleeps!
I have been obsessively logging in to the Holland America site to see if we have our cabin assignment. As of 8:43 this morning, we don't. If Holland America monitors who logs in to the site and how often, they will think I'm cracked. Maybe they are playing jedi mind games with me! I'm hoping they are trying to decide which palatial penthouse suite to put us in instead of the veranda suite we booked.
We always book a guarantee in the category of stateroom we want and then we wait to see what we are assigned. When you book a guarantee you pay for the lowest cabin in the category that you are willing to accept but there is a chance that you will be upgraded. An upgrade usually means a more desirable location on the ship - not a bigger stateroom. I guess as long as we aren't sleeping under the stars anything we get will be great.
We learned last week that we will not stop in Tunis, Tunisia instead we will have a day in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. I checked the pronunciation and it sounds a lot like Calgary with an Italian accent - hear for yourself.
We've done a bit of research and the island has a lot of beautiful diversity - beaches, mountains, ancient sites, pink flamingos, wild horses, sheep, cultures & traditions and of course - food & wine. We've joined a tour with Sardinia Dream Tours and we will head to Barumini to see the UNESCO Su Naraxi (built sometime around the 12th century BC). After a scenic drive in the countryside we will head back to Cagliari for a walking tour of the old town.
I know this week will fly by because there is lots to do - house to clean, lists to make, dogs to bathe, hair to cut, toes to be painted...and work.
*I swiped the photos below from the internet and linked them to the sites they came from.
2 weeks & shopping
Two weeks from today we will be in Fort Lauderdale. Very exciting considering it's been a snowy and cold start to spring in Edmonton. I'm looking forward to sunshine and green grass.
I find that travelling makes the world seem a lot smaller. Major world events - especially the tragic ones - seem much more real when you've visited a country or are about to visit.
This morning James called to say - have you heard about Tunis? I hadn't. I Googled it. Hostages taken and tourists killed at the Bardo museum. A popular stop on many tours in Tunis. A site we were contemplating just last night. A BBC report/ video here and Wallstreet Journal report
There were two cruise ships docked in Tunis today and tour buses full of cruise passengers. People on vacation, exploring a new place, boarding a bus and going to a museum to see ancient Roman mosaics. Tourist stuff.
I'm not sure what this means for our stop in Tunis, Tunisia - a city and country that was trying to re-build democracy and improve its economy and image through tourism. I can only assume at this point that our itinerary will be changed. Regardless, my blissful travel bubble has burst...or at least deflated a bit.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the families and loved ones of the victims of the Bardo museum incident. A sad day.
planning like a six
I'm a six in the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality typing tool and I wholeheartedly embrace my six'ness.
Sixes love to worry (I prefer to call it thinking) and the best way to calm the worry (thinking) is to research and plan so mistakes* and disasters* are averted. I love trip planning and preparations. I come from a family of 'planners' so this is all very normal for me.
My biggest worry is always - who will look after the dogs? Luckily our regular dog and house sitter is available. Whew! I'll still worry about them though.
The dogs are dealt with now it's time to plan our port stops. We like to jam pack our port days - returning to the ship exhausted equals a day seized. Every cruise I take, I learn a little more. Generally, we search for independent tours - the more unique the better. Independent tours are usually smaller groups and a better deal. I use Cruise Critic a lot for information and ideas. We join our roll call and connect with others on our cruise to share excursion information. Once we are on the ship we will meet up with the people at a Meet & Greet to be held the first day at sea in the Crow's Nest. Cookies provided. The cookies on the ship are good. So is the ice cream.
This is what we have planned for this trip:
Ponta Delgada, Azores - Tour with Amazing Tours - how can you go wrong with a tour company called Amazing? We are going to see falls, medicinal mud, site of the first nunnery on the island, a tea factory and a place where the earth is warm enough to cook things (like mother nature's slow cooker) - Furnas “Cozido”. I think that means stew cooked in the earth.
Cadiz, Spain - We don't have anything planned. Most people go to Seville from Cadiz. We did that last winter on our Canary Island cruise. We loved the trip but next time we go to Seville we want to spend more time there. We may do a walking tour in Cadiz.
Malaga, Spain - We have booked a day trip to Granada to tour the Alhambra with Spain Day Tours - highly recommended by many.
Cartagena, Spain - Is a walkable port stop so we will just wander around and see what we find. Maybe some paella, sangria and sunshine!
Valencia, Spain - We have a bike, tapas tasting and market tour booked with Tours in Valencia. I am super excited about this excursion.
Barcelona, Spain - Some of the passengers will leave the ship in Barcelona and new folks will board. We have a day planned exploring the city with Barcelona Day Tours. This time we are making a point of seeing the Gaudi sites especially the Sagrada Familia and visiting Park Guell. No segway for us this time. It just wouldn't be as fun without mom and especially dad.
Tunis, Tunisia - We will probably book a ship excursion. We don't know much about this port in Northern Africa. I think there are some white wash towns, mosque and a Medina?? I have to do more research.
Palermo, Sicily - This is James birthday! Last year we were in Shanghai for his birthday. For the record, last year we went to Uncle Ed's (the restaurant - I don't have an Uncle Ed) in northeast Edmonton for my birthday. I love perogies - I'm not complaining! Anyhow...in Palermo we are doing a full day walking tour with Jackie Alio. My main goal for the day is to get an authentic, made right before my eyes cannoli. Palermo is famous for its street food.
Civitavecchia, Italy (port for Rome) - We are not going to Rome. We have joined a tour that will take us to the Umbrian hillside towns of Orvieto and Civita de Bagnoregio. Check out the video describing them. I can't wait!
Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy - We are on a day tour with the travel company we booked through. We are going to explore the Cinque Terre by boat and train...and of course have a delicious lunch (with wine). We are in port until 11 pm so we hope there is time to do some hiking between the villages.
Monte Carlo, Monaco - The last time we were in Monte Carlo the historic Grand Prix was on. Roads were closed, sight lines were blocked and it was hard to get around. Although we saw a lot - the palace and area, the cathedral (saw where Princess Grace is buried), a trip to through the riviera (saw where Princess Grace's car went off the cliff) to Eze and Nice. This time we plan on checking out the casino and gardens. Who knows, we may take the train to Nice. Or pop in to the Oceanographic Museum.
Barcelona, Spain - We have two days in Barcelona post cruise. We will head to Montserrat and tour the "champagne" (it's not champagne) caves of Cordorniu. Also included in our two extra days are meals on the Barcelona waterfront and free time to poke around the amazing city.
And that is what we will be up to on this voyage.
If you need to plan a trip, find a 'six'.
*Please note: Mistakes and disasters to a six are usually no big deal to other personality types :)
our first transatlantic
I don't have a bucket list but if I had one, a transatlantic journey would definitely be on it.
Our next journey - a transatlantic voyage will take us from Fort Lauderdale to the Mediterranean. We will fly to Fort Lauderdale on April 4 and board Holland America's ms Eurodam on Easter Sunday. The Eurodam (our favourite ship) will be our home for 21 days.
After 6 days at sea (we have put in an order for calm and warm days), we will stop in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal. Two more sea days and we are ready to take on Spain - Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena, Valencia and Barcelona. Then we head to Tunis, Tunisia, Palermo, Sicily, Civitavecchia (the port for Rome, but we are not going to Rome), Santa Margherita, Monte Carlo and we end in Barcelona. We will stay a couple nights post cruise in Barcelona.
We have been in planning and preparation mode for the past month. More on our preparations in another post.
A South America/Antarctica cruise would also be on my bucket list. I should create a bucket list.
Hello! Thanks for checking out my site. I live in Edmonton, AB and am enjoying the journey...and always looking forward to the next adventure.