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Bxianesq

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  1. Well, I semi-retired on 3/1 and had 4 cruises booked over the next 2 years. So far, the first 2 have been cancelled by HAL (Panama Canal and a cruise out of Venice). I am not optimistic about the 3rd (SE Asia in January of 2021) given the way the virus broke out this year. While we are hugely disappointed, there are so many people who have lost loved ones, their livelihoods, and so much more, so I'm not feeling sorry for myself. Despite my semi-retirement, I have been somewhat busy with work because I am a health care attorney who represents hospitals, nursing homes and physician practices with regard to regulatory compliance and business transactions. Lots of questions, as you might imagine. I really admire my clients, who have been under a great deal of stress. My sister (a hospital nurse in NY) was exposed to Covid-19 at work and got sick-thankfully, she pulled through with mid to moderate symptoms. and recovered at home. She was terrified about passing the virus on to my BIL, who is a retired NYC firefighter who was at the WTC on 9/11 and has reduced lung capacity after working on the recovery for 3 weeks thereafter. He is fine as well. My physician thinks that I had a mild case of the virus in March, and my 91 1/2 year old mom appears to have contracted it at her nursing home. They had to put her on oxygen, but she seems to have pulled through (sadly, about 40 other residents at her facility have not). We are really grateful that she is OK. We are under a continued shelter in place order until at least June 5th in NJ. State parks and some county parks have reopened, as well as some beaches. I have only been to the grocery store once-my husband and son have been doing quick trips in full mask mode. We have done 3 takeout meals so far. I have been enjoying cooking-I used to get home so late from work that my husband did most of the weekday cooking. I have been making a game out of "what can I make today with what we have on hand?" The Budget Bytes website has featured some great recipes using pantry staples. I have also been reading a ton. I ran to the library the day before it closed and took out 14 movies on DVD-we have been working through those, as well as some on Amazon Prime and Netflix. Grateful for Zoom so that I can FaceTime with my daughter in DC and with friends and family. Even with some work, a lot of reading/movies, a decent amount of basement exercise, and a lot of cooking, I feel incredibly unproductive. I guess I was under the delusion that I would completely declutter my house once I stopped practicing law full-time. However, my wise friend who is a yoga instructor convinced me that it is ok to just "be."
  2. Does anyone know if there are indoor cycling (spin) classes on the Zuiderdam?
  3. We are looking into doing a tour with Jorge Ramirez of PortLimon.com. Several prior reviewers have said good things about his tours. I am trying to choose between a tour that stops at a cocoa farm and includes a visit to Cahuita National Park or a tour that includes Cahuita national Park paired with a canal boat ride on the Tortuguro Canal. I love chocolate, but I would also love to have a chance to see a sloth (I got to hold one at a wildlife rescue center on a recent cruise and I am smitten!) . Any advice would be appreciated.
  4. We are on a HAL cruise in March and stop in Curacao for a full day on a Sunday- 8 AM until 11 PM. Ideally, we would like to go on a morning tour to see some of the beaches, followed by a walk around town and a stop at the distillery. Are the shops/distillery open on a Sunday? Any recommendations for a 4 to 5 hour tour? I saw that someone recommended Irie-but the tour that interested me runs about 7 hours-I am afraid that on a Sunday, shops/distillery will either not be open at all or may close early.
  5. Are there any grocery stores near the port in Aruba? There is a Dutch company called Conimex that makes really good stir fry sauces-I would love to buy some if they are carried in Aruba.
  6. O Option 2: Monkey Watch and Canal Nature cruise to Colon: Join this natural adventure -- a wealth of sight and sound, combined with the thrill of speeding through the Panama Canal next to the mighty ships transiting this man-made wonder. An exhilarating 30-minute boat ride at high speed takes you right through the heart of the Panama Canal. Slow down to enter the labyrinth of jungle-covered islands of Lake Gatún. In this protected area the wildlife is plentiful, and you are likely to encounter capuchin monkeys, three-toed sloth, howler monkeys, various kinds of toucans and other bird life as well as caimans, crocodiles, turtles and numerous butterflies. This is an exceptional place to experience the sights and sounds of the jungle up close. Your trained naturalist guide will ensure that you have an outstanding nature experience throughout this jungle and canal adventure. Notes: Wear light clothing, sunscreen, a hat and sneakers or sandals. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. This excursion will depart from Gatún Lake and will end in Colón, where you will re-board the ship.
  7. We will be on a HAL Panama Canal Cruise in March (partial transit). I normally book independent excursions, but I think that I would be more comfortable booking an excursion through the cruise line for the canal area. Neither of us has any mobility issues. Advice appreciated. Here are the options that I am considering: Option1: Rainforest and Gatun Lakes and Lock cruise: Travel to the Melia Panama Canal Resort and board a tour boat for a 1½-hour eco-cruise on Gatún Lake. Gatún is a large artificial lake in the Republic of Panama. It forms a major part of the Panama Canal, carrying ships during their transit across the Isthmus of Panama. The lake was created between 1907 and 1913 by the building of the Gatún Dam across the Chagres River. The hills bordering the valley of the Chagres open up widely around the area of the lake, but come together to form a gap at the location of the dam. Glide over the water, passing lush rain forest. You're headed to a secluded region of Lake Gatún -- the perfect spot to experience firsthand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you may see in their native surroundings -- they are part of the much larger population of reptiles, mammals, insects and birds that inhabit the Panamanian forest. In fact, the more than 50,000 acres of rain forest here is home an incredible 105 species of mammals, 525 species of birds and 124 species of reptiles and amphibians. And, amazingly, this is one of the most accessible green zones in the world. Next, take a walk through the rainforest and visit the ecological trail that surrounds the lake. Your naturalist guides ensures that you have an outstanding nature experience by not only pointing out the wildlife, but also educating you about the animals and their habitat. Afterwards, re-board your air-conditioned transportation for a tour of the new Agua Clara Locks on Panama Canal.). Spend approximately one hour at the Visitor Center observing the locks in operation. Your guide explains the engineering feat required to move ships over a continental divide that separates two oceans. These New Locks give you a modern perspective of the Panama Canal as they are part of the expansion project that allows the canal to accommodate the larger neo-Panamax class of ship.
  8. These are all such great ideas-thanks! Our son lives at home now, but not sure he will be here when we travel next year. Although our kids are grown, we have never had to about these logistics before because we have not yet had an empty nest. both kids went away to college for 4 years, neither came home after college initially, but due to job transfers, layoffs and relationship breakups, each has landed at home for a while (usually not at the same time). So we are used to not having to think about these things-someone has always been here as we have moved into traveling more. We are also lucky to have wonderful neighbors-our next door neighbor often just keeps on snow blowing and does our walkway after he does ours-and friends also have high school students or young adults at home who may want to make some money taking in the mail, etc. if our son moves farther away. Our cleaning person/friend has been coming to our house for over 15 years and lives nearby-so I am sure I could ask her and pay her to do a few of these things as well. We have our lights on a timer normally, so that is taken care of-I think that I will need to make a list of all of the other great details that all of you mentioned.
  9. We have always been limited to taking shorter cruises for work reasons. Since I will be scaling back my work hours next year and mostly working remotely (if at all), we just booked a 27 day Holland America cruise in Asia. I am hoping to add at least a week pre-cruise in Singapore, at least a week post-cruise in Japan, and perhaps a few days in Hawaii or California on the way home. This means we will be gone from 6 to 9 weeks. I am a pretty seasoned travel hacker with elite status (and free breakfast/lounge access ) with several chains, and also have timeshare points to use, so I don't think that extending the trip will extend our costs very much except for the cost of food/attraction admission/local transit. We have never been away for more than 13 days at a time. I am trying to get a handle on how to plan for the logistics of being away for so long. I am sure that we can pay bills online-but what about the logistics of security? Snow removal? Toilets needing to be flushed so that the water does not evaporate? I am sure that there are a lot of you out there that are either snowbirds or long term travelers that have dealt with these issues. I am looking for ideas/checklists so we can plan for being away for a while. Any suggestions appreciated!
  10. Wow-thanks so much for all the great ideas and for confirming that my Singapore pre-cruise plan is a good idea. Saw Crazy Rich Asians-but what really made me want to go to Singapore was the Lonely Planet guide that I spied in the Oceania Insignia library on the last night of our recent Oceania cruise. Oceania has an amazing library on its ships-perhaps the old HAL (pre-dates me) did as well. As I browsed through the guidebook, I saw many, many things that I wanted to do in Singapore. The suggestions that you all have provided are great-we are foodies and can't wait to visit the hawker stands. Will look for the Food and Wine tours as well. I also have had Changi on my bucket list-my husband and I are points and miles collectors, and other "travel hackers" have always rhapsodized about the wonders of that airport. It sounds like we need 1 day just for that-although I am sure we will be quire jet-lagged when we arrive.
  11. Will do-thanks! Posted here to see if anyone could comment on the overall experience of a longer cruise in Asia. I am on the cusp of semi-retirement, and have never had the opportunity to cruise for longer than 11 days.
  12. We recently booked a 27 day HAL cruise on the Noordam which starts in Singapore and ands in Tokyo (Yokohama). We're pretty excited about it-it covers a lot of places that we have always wanted to visit. Would love feedback from anyone who has cruised in this area. Stops include Koh Samui, overnight Bangkok, Sihanoukville, Phu My, Ma Trang, overnight Hue, Halong Bay , Hong Kong, Siamen, overnight Shanghai, Nagasaki, Cheju, Busan, Hiroshima, Kochi, and Yokohama (Tokyo). We'll be on the Noordam. Hope to spend a week in Singapore pre-cruise and a week in Tokyo post-cruise if I can finagle stays with my hotel points (we have a plethora).
  13. Thanks for your amazing donations, Lourdes and Rene-it was great to meet you as well-and you had a gorgeous cabin!
  14. You need cash for any purchases on Harvest Caye-I would pack some ice and the free sodas in your mini fridge if you want soft drinks.
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