Why are we blogging?

We thoroughly enjoyed the blogs from those on the World Cruise 2010. They were so useful and some were also very entertaining and so we we started our own, late 2010, ready for the 2011 cruise(s).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gulp, just 4 weeks to go!

Watching that countdown clock has been a mesmerising experience of late.  When I first started this blog there were well over 300 days to go and the movement was quite slow, but as you get closer to sail away day, each day seems to slip past in a blur and the list of jobs to be done doesn’t seem to shrink fast enough.  Now with just 4 weeks to go, a degree of urgency has crept in, not to mention an increased level of excitement – and more than a little panic if truth be told.  
I started a spreadsheet ages ago listing everything we had to do (or take) and a completion day for each task.  Some items were easy to bowl over early, such as Paula’s passport renewal and getting the visas for India.  However, as time marches on, the list doesn’t appear to shrink too much and that is mainly due to the obvious long list of last minute tasks such as switching off various appliances on the day we leave.  Much of it is automatic of course but remembering to switch off those personal appliances on standby such as TV, towel rail, digital clocks etc., unlikely to be used by the house sitter, plus garage doors etc., need to be on the list, as once that shuttle van appears outside, we are OFF!  
The critical thing is in fact drawing up the list early and then completing some of those tasks as early as possible but with such a long trip, the packing list is important too, particularly when it comes to electronics and ‘gadgets’. Once upon a time you took your wallet/purse and your Box-Brownie or Instamatic camera and a couple of films. Now it is a compact camera  - with charger, flash card(s) possibly a spare battery and computer connection leads; plus the mobile phone (with charger); lap top computer – with charger; video camera – with charger and spare battery; possibly a full sized SLR digital camera – with charger, more flash cards, telephoto lens, not to mention USB drives or DVDs to store and transport images and files.  Others have i-pods, i-pads, i-phones etc with the same pile of accessories. 
We almost need one bag for the electronics alone.  The Sydney shuttle from the airport charges an extra $10 per bag over and above the one per person! A bit mean as the Auckland Shuttle we normally use doesn't seem to have any restrictions as they use a trailer. 
The pile of what we now consider essential luggage on a trip has gone way beyond a few changes of clothes, swim togs and your wash gear and a pair of sun glasses with a book and a pen.  
Also critical now is informing all those well meaning email contacts to stop sending those massive files of funnies that we are happy to receive when at home on an unlimited Broadband internet connection, but definitely do not want to receive when paying by the minute whilst on-board. 
I have been busy of late adding some (hopefully) useful info onto my website for those fairly new to the technology.  That has proved to be time consuming but has also made me learn the new Web construction package I have been  struggling with for well over a year. 
So far, we are only aware of a couple of other blogs to follow (links on the left) so hopefully there will be more shortly, now the real countdown is in calendar days rather than weeks or months.  
The last major decision is whether or not to update the laptop to one with a lot more memory, so that I can make a start on video editing when we have an ‘at sea day’ and Paula is busy swimming. 
Meeting fellow cruisers in advance has been fantastic with three ‘new’ people in the last month or so and another couple shortly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A late update to the previous post....
Our name tag - designed by Packetau
I have volunteered to sort out name tags for our Cruise Critic group. Joanne designed the initial logo and I am adding the cruise critic user names, name and country of residence. After hearing that last year's "Cruise Critic" meetings were infiltrated or invaded by cruisers who just wanted the opportunity to moan, the decision was made several months ago to change our group name to 'Crazy Cruisers' - well, Joanne decided and no one has objected. 

Last year, the main grizzle was a lack of washing machines, so after several moans by the invaders, others soon cottoned on and offered to get them organised! The laundry was apparently the real hot-spot on the ship, with lurid tales of grisly deaths, plagues, thefts of outerwear (and underwear no doubt), changes to the itinerary, laundry swapped from machine to machine causing all sorts of panic, fights.  Some tales were true of course, but many were nothing more than rumours put about by those with an innate sense of fun. Oh I can't wait! 

With less than 7 weeks to go now, new cruisers are hooking in to the Dawn Princess Roll Call faster than I can get the name tags done!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just 50 days to go...

Time has really flown by recently but now the real checklists start to kick in.  Cancelling various items such as the monthly garden refuse collection, at least one or two magazines and newspapers is straightforward enough, but then a little birdie told me about health insurance vs travel insurance.  We elected to use our regular health insurance provider (Southern Cross) for an annual travel insurance policy, after doing a local internet search for the options.  We normally take the insurance that is included in our annual credit card fees, but that has certain limits, one of those is the amount of time you are away and the other is that you must pay a fair proportion of your travel using the credit card.  
These days, many companies (particularly in the travel sector) charge a 2% premium when you pay by credit card.  As with most cards, ours attracts reward points or dollars, but as the reward value is less than 2%, it was a no brainer to pay by direct bank transfer.
The annual travel insurance policy was the equivalent of a little more than 3 months regular premiums, but we were allowed to suspend it for three months – but losing our ‘no claims bonus’ of $250.  It still meant that the real cost of a very comprehensive travel insurance for multiple trips for 12 months was almost a bargain.  However, we can’t suspend it again next year as that suspension deal cannot be invoked again within the next 12 months, or maybe it was longer?
The other bit of (possibly) useful information for travellers, also concerns credit cards.  Before travelling on a  world cruise – or anywhere overseas for that matter, it does pay to telephone your credit card company with a list of countries you will be visiting.  Before you travel,  you should also validate your credit card by using it in an appropriate local ATM machine and just check your balance.  This validates your card before departure.  On your return, you should repeat the procedure, but it may pay to have a bottle of smelling salts handy.
On a more personal level, we have almost finalised all the little travel links, with just two to confirm. The first is the Shuttle from Sydney airport to the City (oh what a boon the internet is for travellers..)  and the final links are the shuttle from home to Auckland Airport and a shuttle from Miami International Airport down to Fort Lauderdale.
It always fascinates me that some companies are back to you within hours and others don’t seem  be bothered about replying at all.
We’ll leave some of the details to the actual day such as the coach details from Dover to the car hire company at Heathrow.  Not very cheap compared to the public coach from Dover to Victoria Coach Station maybe, but the chosen coach is directly from ship to the door of the hire company.
Paula has still to work through some of our side trip or tour options but we are well aware of the usual tourism 123 ABC mantra, Another B****y Castle,  Another B****y Church, Another B****y Cathedral…  Apart from maybe the Blue Mosque in Abu Dhabi (a new experience) most tours concentrating on the ABCs will be probably be given a wide birth.
Apparently the  recent troubles in Egypt may now have settled down a wee bit, so at the moment, we are skipping Port Said, but with an extra day in Istanbul – which we are happy with, but others are more than keen to do the pyramids and were bitterly disappointed with the change. Who knows? We, like many others, are quite philosophical about the potential for hiccups and as long as we can still get on in Sydney, off in the UK and back on again in Fort Lauderdale,  we’ll be happy enough.
Joanne has been busy designing our “Crazy Cruisers” logo and I have been personalising it for name tags, so at our first “Meet and Greet” leaving Sydney, those on the Cruise Critic message board roll call, will be able to speed up the friend making process quite considerably. However, I fear that the list of attendees is going to grow rather rapidly in the next 4 weeks as word gets around. 
Skyping the UK  and watching new grandson Noah grow so fast, has been a revelation and much as we are looking forward to setting off from Sydney and the various ports, I am also looking forward to that first cuddle with the only representative of the next generation of our family...