Luggage picked up

Wednesday I checked our Holland account and we finally have a cabin – 6210. I was so excited to have a cabin before we had to send the luggage off on Friday. I printed all the luggage tags and boarding passes.

Thursday I checked our Holland account again. We have a different cabin – same floor a little more toward the middle of the ship. So all the luggage tags I printed Wednesday are wrong. I’m waiting until Friday just before the luggage leaves to print the new ones. Who knows we could move again!

Everything leaving today was packed and ready for FedEx this morning. Three tags outside and one inside in-case all those are lost.

Should I put a tag on Benn and send him with the luggage? Think I’ll keep him!

Our FedEx lady was right on time. Next time we see the luggage will be in our cabin.


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More packing

Clothes, shoes, and miscellaneous stuff.

This part is much easier. Just pack for a 2 or 3 week cruise and do laundry as needed. Most of the trip the weather will be warm – well hot. Just the last month will be cool. So leave those clothes in a suitcase under the bed until needed.

Clothes for the days are easy — shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits, clothes to wear ashore. For evenings, black pants and a variety of tops ranging from dressy to casual. For Benn, pants and a collared shirt for nights. Holland is as dressy or as casual as you want. Long cruises like this tend to be dressier, so we’re taking some fancier duds.

Holland sends out a list a themed nights — Black & Gold Gala, Black & Silver Ball, Valentine’s Ball, and so on. It’s up to you if you want to participate. Most of the time we’ll join in. After searching the closet, there was nothing gold or silver, so some shopping is in order — must be able to be worn with the black pants.

Holland will have FedEx pickup our luggage on Friday — yes, this Friday. For our cabin category, we can send as much as we want. Other categories get 2 bag per person. But of course, all this stuff needs to fit into your cabin! We told them we’d have 5 bags. Everything is gathered in the guest room. Now just to get it into suitcases — tomorrow.

We’ll take the things we can’t send FedEx with us to Ft Lauderdale — meds, liquids (didn’t want shampoo opening in the FedEx truck all over the clothes), cameras, and stuff we still need the next 12 days. We’re driving to the port, so no problem.

Communication – Technology

113 days is a long time to be away with out being able to contact your loved ones. That’s the reason this blog started in the first place. We were going on a 6 month RV trip and we wanted our families to know where we were and that we were OK.

Cell phones — last year we switched to T-Mobile. Our plan includes data and text in most of the countries we’ll be visiting. Worked great in Europe this past fall. Phone calls are $0.20 per minute or free with wifi calling if we find good wifi.

We’ll update all the software and backup our PCs before we leave. Also update all the apps on our phones.

Shipboard internet — Holland is offering an unlimited plan for $799 for the cruise. I know that sounds expensive but it works out to $7 per day. Their old plans were per minute. The best price was $0.20 per minute. When the internet is painfully slow, knowing that you’re paying by the minute is torture. The unlimited plan includes one device at a time. That’s a potential problem. Benn and I logging on to the system and kicking each other off the internet! We considered getting a small hotspot router. Other cruisers are using them with no problems. But we decided to try the mobile hotspot that’s included with Windows 10. You connect a PC to the internet and then connect all the other devices through that one PC. We tested it at home and it seems to work well. We’ll let you know later how it works on the cruise.

Other stuff — 2 cameras (one water proof), Kindle, Nook with lots of books loaded, and a laptop for each of us. Oh, one more thing — I got Benn a mini-Nintendo NES. It’s loaded with 30 classic Nintendo games. Should keep him from going crazy with all the days at sea.

If you want to get in-touch with us, email will be the fastest way. There will be times when there’s no internet on the ship — it’s a satellite thing. Text is next best. We’ll have text in most ports – Tahiti is only place I know we won’t have T-Mobile.

We’re packing next week. So next clothes ……

Packing – or what to take and what to leave home

How much shampoo do you use in 4 months?  Conditioner?  Bath soap?

Lots of cruisers use the toiletries that the cruise line provides.  But I’m allergic to them.  And if Benn uses them, I’m allergic to him!  We don’t want that for 4 months in a small cabin.

Think about the things you use day to day.  Add it to the list.  Toothpaste, floss, contact lens solutions, hair brush, meds, lotions, potions, and on and on and on.

Now think about all the things you MIGHT need in the middle of the ocean on day #77 or in a foreign port on day #94.  Sun lotion, laundry soap, backpacks, walking sticks, all kinds of meds in case we get some strange ailment.  After the cold we got on the last cruise, I’m going way overboard with the meds.

I know, I know, I’m obsessed.  I hate to forget anything and I don’t want to spend time in port searching for something.  I’m relying on Benn to rein me back in.  He’s already vetoed a few items.  Well anyhow, you take all this stuff into the guest room and hope Benn doesn’t do inventory!

Next, time to think about clothes …..

Our home for 113 days

MS Amsterdam compared to other cruise ships is relatively small.  It holds 1380 passengers but on our cruise there will probably be less because of single cruisers.  We’ve never sailed on her before but we’ve spent 42 days on her sister ship and co-flagship, the Rotterdam.  Amsterdam was built in 2000 but when to dry dock for an update this past spring.

We like that the ship is small.  Every cabin has a couch or loveseat.  Our cabin has a small fridge.  It still has a self-service laundry.  Most ships are doing away with laundries.  Even though we get free laundry service, there are still some things we don’t want to send out to be washed in hot water and dried on high heat.

There are two pools – one outdoor and one with a roof that can open.

There’s a fitness center that we’ll need to make use of if we want our clothes to continue to fit.  And a theater for movies and cooking demos.

Holland America will have a wide variety of activities to keep us busy on sea days.  There will be instructors for arts & crafts, tai chi, watercolor, dancing, and bridge.  There is a digital workshop and culinary demos, along with shows each evening.  Benn and I don’t normally partake in these activities but this is a long cruise.  So we’re going to try to see a few shows and learn tai chi.  We’ll let you know how that goes later.

Holland America supports Project Linus with yarn.  Passengers who want will knit or crochet blankets that will be given to children in need through Project Linus.  I’m taking a cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for 2 years — well I’ll have the time maybe I’ll finally finish it!

Next time, PACKING  …..


Cruise Documents!

Those of you that cruise know that cruise lines no longer issue cruise documents and luggage tags.  Just like the airlines you now print you own boarding pass and flimsy luggage tags.  But for Grand Voyages, HAL and Cruise Specialists sends a packet of information.

Luggage ID tags, info on themed nights, hotel info for the night before the cruise, boarding passes, etc.  There’s really not much here we didn’t know but it’s still exciting.  No cabin number yet … Maybe a Christmas gift??? 

Preparing to leave home for 4 months

For some people this is very difficult.  But for us this isn’t really a big deal.  No kids, no pets, no plants.  We’ve left home for months on RV trips for a few years.  Now we’re in a house instead of the condo, we have a few more things to add to our list for the house.

We have a list of things to do to the house — turn off the water, set the thermostat, unplug everything that’s not necessary, turn off some breakers.  Check that twice because last time we almost turned off the refrigerator!  We have good neighbors that keep an eye out for us, as we do for them when they’re away.

Taxes.  No sense trying to get them done before we leave (don’t think it would be possible anyhow).  File for an extension.  Just do a quick estimate to make sure we’ve paid enough.

Next is bills.  They’re already setup to paid automatically.  Just a few to pay ahead of time — lawn maintenance, car insurance.  We can put our cable in seasonal mode.  It’s designed for snowbirds that live up north in the summer.  But it works for us, too.

Mail is forwarded to my sister.  Thank you!!  Please throw away the junk mail.

We take a copy of our passports just in case they get lost or stolen.  Same thing with credit cards.  I load up my Nook with books, update all apps on our phones & backup my PC.

Next, info on the MS Amsterdam ….

So many ports, so little time

26 countries, 46 ports, 7 overnight stays.  We’ll be leaving the ship overnight 3 times to see Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, and Petra.  Other ports on our bucket list are Easter Island, Komodo Island, and the Suez Canal. 

We’ve booked a few tours with the cruise line.  But we’ll mostly be doing private tours we found online or with other passengers we “met” through Cruise Critic.  We really don’t know them yet but we’ll be spending 113 days with them.  We like a small group of 8 or less.

I’ve added a link to the blog that you can click on to see where the Amsterdam is any day.

You’ll notice there no February 21st.  We loose a day crossing the international date line.  Don’t worry, we get it back 1 hour at a time as we gain an hour with each time zone traveling west.  Here’s our itinerary:   

DateArriveDepartPort
1/21/2019
Hotel in Ft Lauderdale, FL
1/22/20198 pm
Ft Lauderdale, FL
1/23/2019At Sea
1/24/2019At Sea
1/25/20198 am
5 pm
Santa Marta, Columbia
1/26/2019Noon5 pm
San Blas Islands, Panama
1/27/20195 am
8 pm
Transit Panama Canal
1/28/20195 pm
Fuerte Amador, Panama (overnight)
1/29/2019At Sea
1/30/2019At Sea
1/31/20197 am
5 pm
Salaverry, Peru
2/1/201910 am
Callao, Peru
2/2/20196pmCallao, Peru
2/3/2019At Sea
2/4/20198 am
6 pm
Arica, Chile
2/5/2019At Sea
2/6/2019At Sea
2/7/2019At Sea
2/8/2019At Sea
2/9/2019At Sea
2/10/20198 am
6 pm
Easter Island, Chile
2/11/2019At Sea
2/12/2019At Sea
2/13/20198 am
NoonPitcairn Island
2/14/2019At Sea
2/15/2019At Sea
2/16/20198 am
Tahiti, French Polynesia (overnight)
2/17/20198 am
5 pm
Moorea, French Polynesia
2/18/20198am11 pm
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
2/19/2019At Sea
2/20/2019Cross International Dateline
2/22/2019At Sea
2/23/20198 am
5 pm
Nuku’alofa, Tonga
2/24/2019At Sea
2/25/2019At Sea
2/26/20197 am
6 pm
Auckland, New Zealand
2/27/20197 am
7 pm
Tauranga, New Zealand
2/28/2019At Sea
3/1/20198 am
11 pm
Wellington, New Zealand
3/2/20197 am
2 pm
Picton, New Zealand
3/3/2019At Sea
3/4/2019At Sea
3/5/20197 am
Sydney, Australia (overnight)
3/6/20196:30 pm
Sydney, Australia
3/7/2019At Sea
3/8/2019At Sea
3/9/20198 am
5 pm
Townsville, Australia
3/10/20199 am
7 pm
Cairns, Australia
3/11/2019At Sea
3/12/2019
Scenic Cruising Torres Straight
3/13/2019At Sea
3/14/20198 am
6 pm
Darwin, Australia
3/15/2019At Sea
3/16/2019At Sea
3/17/20197 am
4 pm
Komodo Island, Indonesia
3/18/20198 am
11 pm
Bali, Indonesia
3/19/2019At Sea
3/20/20197 am
5 pm
Java, Indonesia
3/21/2019At Sea
3/22/201910 am
Singapore (overnight)
3/23/20196 pm
Singapore
3/24/2019At Sea
3/25/2019At Sea
3/26/2019At Sea
3/27/20196 am
6 pm
Colombo, Sri Lanka
3/28/2019At Sea
3/29/20198 am
6 pm
Cochin, India
3/30/2019At Sea
3/31/20197 am
Mumbai, India (overnight)
4/1/20196 pm
Mumbai, India
4/2/2019At Sea
4/3/2019At Sea
4/4/20198 am
6 pm
Muscat, Oman
4/5/2019At Sea
4/6/2019At Sea
4/7/2019At Sea
4/8/2019At Sea
4/9/2019At Sea
4/10/20198 am
Aqaba (Petra), Jordan (overnight)
4/11/201911 pm
Aqaba (Petra), Jordan
4/12/2019At Sea
4/13/20196 am
6 pm
Transit Suez Canal
4/14/2019At Sea
4/15/2019At Sea
4/16/20198 am
6 pm
Naples, Italy
4/17/2019At Sea
4/18/20198 am
6 pm
Barcelona, Spain
4/19/2019At Sea
4/20/20197 am
5 pm
Cadiz, Spain
4/21/20199 am
6 pm
Lisbon, Portugal
4/22/20198 am
4 pm
Porto, Portugal
4/23/2019At Sea
4/24/20197 am
5 pm
Cherbourg, France
4/25/20198 am
5 pm
Zeebrugge, Belgium
4/26/20198 am
6 pm
Amsterdam, Netherlands
4/27/2019At Sea
4/28/20198 am
5 pm
Copenhagen, Denmark
4/29/201910 am
6 pm
Oslo, Norway
4/30/2019At Sea
5/1/20198 am
6 pm
Flam, Norway
5/2/2019At Sea
5/3/20198 am
6 pm
Isle of Skye, Scotland
5/4/201910 am
11 pm
Belfast, Northern Ireland
5/5/20198 am
10 pm
Dublin, Ireland
5/6/201910 am
11 pm
Cobh, Ireland
5/7/20198 am
5 pm
Bantry, Ireland
5/8/2019At Sea
5/9/2019At Sea
5/10/2019At Sea
5/11/2019At Sea
5/12/2019At Sea
5/13/2019At Sea
5/14/2019At Sea
5/15/2016At Sea
5/16/20197 am
Ft Lauderdale, FL

Next time, preparing to be gone 4 months ….

Passports, visas, and other necessities

Lots of things are required for a world cruise.  If you don’t have them, they won’t let you on the ship.  We’ve heard horror stories about people being denied boarding or being kicked off the ship.

Of course, we have passports but they have to be valid for 6 months longer than the cruise.  Benn’s is good but I had to get a new one.  I did that before the river cruise – didn’t want to chance not getting it back in time.

Lots of countries require a visa to be obtained before you arrive.  Some will issue a visa on arrival.  Before this cruise we have to get a visa for Australia, India, and Sri Lanka.  Luckily these can all be done electronically.  Some countries require you to send your passport into an embassy.  That’s always scary – what if it gets lost in transit.  No problem with that this time!  The cruise line will get all the other visas we need for us – Jordan, Indonesia, and Oman.  

Australian visa was easy.  Applied for both Benn & mine at same time.  Came back by email in 12 hours.  Indian visa was a PITA.  Four pages of data, questions that I didn’t understand (do I have any identifying marks??), photo uploaded that must be a certain size in .jPeg, copy of passport page must be .pdf.  Then payment wouldn’t go through.  Took about 4 hours.  I don’t know what the technically challenged people do.  But it’s done and we’re approved.  Have to wait until January for Sri Lanka.

Inoculations.  Thank God none were required.  Our doctor recommended tetanus.  Will get that on my next visit.

Next, planning for all those ports …..

Around the World in 113 Days

World Cruise Map

I’m still finding it hard to believe that in 50 days we’re leaving on this cruise around the world.  Benn saw the itinerary in May 2017 and knew it was perfect for us.  At first, I thought he was kidding but a few minutes later we were calling our travel agent and the next day we were booked on this fantastic voyage.  The planning started immediately.  Waiting has been … well at least we’ll be busy the next 50 days and they should fly by.

We booked a guarantee  Vista Suite — that means we won’t know what cabin we’ll get until a week or two before the cruise.  With a guarantee there’s a possibility that you can get a better cabin (but not very likely on this cruise).  Our cabin should look like this –

amsterdam-vista-suite-110117-room-detail-c027.jpg.image.520.350.high

Of course that’s before we “invade”.  My worry is we’ll take too much “stuff”.

3d-schematic-amsterdam-vista-suite.jpg.image.520.350.high

There’s 4 small closets and 9 drawers in 295 sq ft.  That’s about the size of Silver Girl (and she had a kitchen) so we should be fine.  At least someone else will be driving and cooking.

Next planning for ports  ….