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Discover 7 Continents with Bill & Mary Ann as we sail on the 2012 World Cruise

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Report # 1 December 23, 2011 Thursday Preparing for the 2012 World Cruise

 

Well, here we are once again, packing the last of our things to be shipped next week for the 2012 Holland America Line Grand World Cruise, titled "Seven Continent Discovery". You would think we would be pros at this task, but believe, us, it is one heck of a stressful job. This trip will mark our 9th world cruise, not all with HAL. There will be a reward at the end of this hustle and bustle time, and that will be when we actually board the MS Amsterdam, to sail not only for the 112 day journey, but also continue onward for another 15 days through the Panama Canal to San Diego. That reward will arrive on January 6th in the port at Ft Lauderdale, Florida. We leave from San Francisco two days prior to sailing for a stay with our rather large travel group. With a cocktail party and a delicious dinner, we truly look forward to seeing our many new and old friends who will share this exciting experience with us.

 

To backtrack a bit, we thought you all may be interested in the booking process of this cruise. The initial deposit was made in late April while we were on the 2010 South America/Antarctica on the Prinsendam. That gave us the choice of our stateroom, and the lowest price HAL offered. They were happy with $100. deposit per person, whereas if we had waited after the cruise, the deposit was substantially larger.

 

A further small deposit was required two months later, in June of 2010. This was all that they needed until the balance was due either in May 2011 (with a 3% savings), or September of 2011. The 3% savings was way more than we could have made with the bank's interest.....yeah, that's a joke! Now the rest of the smaller details were ahead of us.

 

Since HAL does not include complimentary air anymore (boo-hoo), we needed to book our flight from San Francisco to Miami in May 2011. Finally, we had more than enough earned miles to get first class tickets for this flight. Hurray! The HAL personnel will bus us to Ft. Lauderdale no matter what time we arrive. We don't even want to think about weather delays. It is what it is. Then, for our short flight from San Diego to SF, we booked that in August 2011.

 

The trip became more of a reality when HAL sent their first mailing, which included their shore excursion booklet (prices were not included), passport information, and the luggage shipment details. The first thing we did was call the number for the luggage pickup, and get our names on their list. Their scheduled pickup date would be December 27, 2011, and we qualified for 4 pieces of luggage. That is ample for us, since we utilize large duffel bags. Truthfully, in the past, we have brought much more, especially when we were allowed unlimited luggage. That is nice, but unless you book the master suite, you will have no room to store all that stuff. Been there....done that! Every year we try to cut back, and we thought we had, until we noticed that our entire living room was covered with space bags full of clothes and supplies. In the end, it all fit, miraculously.

 

The passport info concerned having passports that did not expire 6 months earlier than the trip ended. This way, you would have plenty of time to send off for new ones, or extra pages for your existing ones. The visa info would come later in the year.

 

We had to go online to get all of the pricing on their tours. Why these are not posted in their catalogue is beyond us. They used to be. Guess that way, the prices can change, usually higher. Since we had already downloaded the entire shore excursion book and prices earlier in the summer, we were ready to book these tours prior to sailing. For us, we prefer to pay for these in advance, and not charge it all to our shipboard account. In some ports, we did not book anything, and may or may not book on the ship. Also, our travel agency will have tours for sale, but these will not be available to book until October. Even though the tours are really HAL tours, our group will be isolated from the other passengers, having our own buses and going to different restaurants, if lunch is involved. And they are a few bucks cheaper. For that reason, we held off booking until we had all of the information in front of us.

 

Like it or not, the insurance was due in September 2011. We always buy it, because you would be fools not to. It includes many things that would be covered if things go wrong. Knock on wood, we have never had to use it, but we know many folks who have. Glad were the insured people that had to be flown by helicopter to hospitals, or miss your flights, or have to pack up and go home due to emergencies or bad health. Yes, we have seen it all, and the insurance, although pricey, gives you peace of mind, just like the commercials on TV say.

 

By the middle of October 2011, the visa information and vaccination requirements were sent to us from HAL. This trip required that we have an Indian and Brazilian visa. Lucky for us, we have both, due to the fact, we paid for 5 and 10 year visas not many years ago. Since we are not leaving the ship for an overland in China, we did not need the Chinese visas. Australian visas could be bought by our travel agency, even though, we could have gotten them a bit cheaper by going online to buy them. The rest of the required visas will be bought by the Amsterdam folks and charged to our shipboard accounts. They are able to provide blanket-type visas at a much better price, for the most part, than we can do by ourselves. It is just that easy. And for some reason we miss some of those ports, we do not get charged for the visas.

 

Usually the yellow fever vaccination is required for some countries such as Brazil and their connecting countries. As of now, they have lifted that requirement. We do have those certificates, which are up to date, and will take them along. If things change while you are on the cruise, they may be required again. And if you left those certificates at home, you will be forced to take the shots again. Ouch! Painful and quite expensive. Other medications to prevent malaria are up to the individuals. If we were going overland like in India, Cambodia, or Brazil, we would take malerone, for example. We are not, so we bring plenty of insect repellant (high deet count).

 

In late October, we chose all of our tours carefully, and booked and paid for them. We can adjust or cancel the HAL tours if we decide not to do them, but the ones with our travel agency are not refundable. The only one we are concerned about is our much anticipated tour to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. On this year's world cruise, we opted to cancel the tour due to the scary unrest in Egypt. We sure hope things will calm down at least for the one day we visit there.

 

The final cruise docs came from HAL (via our travel agent) on December 1st. Now this is getting exciting. They offered many package deals that we could order prior to sailing. The main ones for us are the internet, daily water bottle, and some Pinnacle Grill dinners. We could also order these onboard, but it can be a hassle, with hundreds of others trying to do the same thing on day one. Like we said, it will be paid for and done.

 

The final payment was needed for the Panama Canal sailing, immediately following the world cruise. Technically, it was due in January, but we paid it early in December. So now we are set to go.

 

And that brings us to today, stuffing the last of the things in every available corner of those duffels. A long "to -do" list will keep us busy for the rest of this month. And that doesn't even account for the fact that we are in the middle of the holiday season, enjoying making plans and preparations for Christmas and New year's dinners.

 

So with that, we wish you all a very wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

 

To be continued.......................

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thanks so much for doing this thread. I love hearing all about your travels and you telling the good and bad along the way.

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Thank you for taking with you again. We wish you a Merry Chistmas and a greaat New Year!!!

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Thank you for taking the time to post your travel experiences. Since, I will not be able to do any kind of a World Cruise until retire which will be a LONG time. So, I can read your post and it does seem like I am there, and I thank you.

 

David

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You were very lucky re the Chinese visa situation We watched a lady refused embarkation on one of our cruises although she said she would not even get off the ship in China - she had thought her Hong Kong visa was good for both and did not get the Chinese one However they would not even let her get on the ship and leave it in San Francisco which would have been long before the Chinese ports.

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All the best to you on your world cruise and I am looking forward to your reports on this adventure.

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Wow.....you're going to take everyone on your cruise again!!!

 

What great information you have started out with. It's so smart if you think you are going to take a long cruise to have a future cruise deposit down. Plus, like you said, you can pick your cabin.

 

Have a great Christmas and can hardly wait until we all board-I mean, you board!!! :rolleyes:

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Looking forward to your reports, please add in your review some info as to the Christmas celebration onboard the ship.

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I followed your posts daily on the 2011 World Cruise and am so looking forward to your 2012 reports. Reading your blog is A wonderful way to pass the time during the cold, dreary Midwest winter.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Have fun and thanks for taking us along!!:)

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Bill & Mary Ann: Thank you for starting your posting again for the upcoming World cruise. It is wonderful to follow along and see what you have done in the ports. Have a wonderful holiday time before your cruise starts.

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I've followed your last couple of cruises, and look forward to this one also! Enjoy your cruise, and thank you for blogging along the way for those of us not able to go yet!! :)

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I'm ready, been looking for your post to start. Although sadly I'm literally not going, at least I don't have to worry about all that packing!

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Have a wonderful cruise. I will be following along just like in past years.Thanks for doing this for all of us.

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Mary Ann & Bill,

 

Thank you so much for once again taking the time (and spending the money) to create an ever so interesting ongoing report of your trip. I am so happy to be able to go "along" with you once again. Best wishes for a safe and fun journey.

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I so enjoyed following your blog last year and learned a lot about world voyages. I'm pleased to see that you have this year's up and running. Only one difference this time (for me anyway): I won't be able to follow it quite as easily as I'll be on the ship also! :D

 

I may not get to follow your blog as closely this time, but it will certainly be fun to read when I do have a chance!

 

(I do think I could have used some packing tips - I think I've way over-packed! Maybe next year...)

Edited by bet410

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Bill & Mary Ann -

 

I always enjoy following along with you. Your generosity of time and resources to keep us all up to date is very much appreciated. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Bon Voyage!

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Thank you so much for posting this valuable information. We will be following your blog as we have several friends that will be cruising with you on this magnificient grand voyage. Have a safe and fabulous journey. We are very envious.

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I too will be following you along you way. Friends of ours, Greg and Heo are inboard. I think you know them from last year. Have a great time.

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I'm so excited to be 'tagging along' again. The most important thing I learned following along last year was the need to be flexible during the trip. Never having been on such a long voyage, it just hadn't occured to me how many times things change, and that thoughts and plans need to change right along with them. Thank you for that insight.

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Wow! You two are at it again! How nice for you and how very nice for us that you will allow us to share a bit and to tag along. Your threads are always interesting. Happy holidays, safe travels and enjoy your cruise:)

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I was hoping you would be travelling again this year. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts last year. Have a wonderful trip and thanks for "taking us along".:)

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Anxiously reading (and waiting for more posts) on this one! Color me dumber than a bag of hammers, but it never DAWNED on me that we could get visas through the ship. That was always one of the sticking points for us... that and the required PTO from work!

 

Can't wait for more!

 

Derek

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