It's A Small World - A Never-ending Pre-trip Report

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    For the next few months, it is definitely how it feels, but I have been very much a homebody since I came back from China in December.

    I am really excited about this. 3 more sleeps.

    I am in equal amounts excited and terrified about this.

    I can't believe how close this is getting.

    Corinna
     
  2. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    The plan for today has been to post the next installment of the trip report and get the day after this typed up. I have a day off today with no plans so this seemed like a good idea. I then started to look at some things for our big trip. It is now nearly 20:00 and I typed about a sentence on the trip report.

    However, in different ways, it has been quite a productive day.

    I started out with checking the various documents for the holiday and uploading them to the website of a company that offers online printing services. While I was at it, I thought I may as well sort out my ticket for Hong Kong Disneyland so that I can add this to the documents to be printed. I ended up booking this through the same company I got my Tokyo Disney Resort tickets through. I had some credits because of the issues with the original tickets (not that it caused any issues for me beyond having to print out the updated tickets). With their discount and the credits, I saved about 20% on the ticket. That can't be bad.

    The mistake I then made is that I got side tracked looking at tour options in Hong Kong. The two full days are taken care of. On the first one I am going to Hong Kong Disneyland and on the second one, we will take to public transportation to explore the city. I have researched the ins and outs of the Octopus card, which is Hong Kong's transportation smart card and have also chosen a guide book to help us narrow down what we want to see. However, I want to do a tour during the evening of the day we arrive in Hong Kong and also in the morning of the day before we fly back to the UK. I think I have now made a decision on those, so it was time well spend.

    For the evening tour, I kept coming back to an evening harbour cruise to coincide with the Symphony of Lights show. The reviews for the Symphony of Lights show are very mixed, but I figure that this may well be our only visit to Hong Kong so we should try to take it in. I found a very cheap Victoria Harbour Cruise to coincide with the Symphony of Lights show on board a luxury yacht with unlimited beer, soft drinks and snacks. I have not been able to find out what they mean by snacks, but at a price of about $20 per person, I am not too bothered about the show or the snacks. It will give us a nice overview of Hong Kong at night.

    For the day tour, I am gravitating towards a food walking tour. This includes strolling through various food markets, 10 tastings and a ride on one of the iconic double decker trams. The tastings include 3 dim sum tastings in a Michelin guide recommended tea house, shrimp wonton in a local lunch restaurant, sugar cane juice in a scenic Tea House, exotic fruit from a local produce market, beef-noodle from an open air stall, pineapple bun and milk tea. Part of me is thinking that this would be better at the beginning of the trip, but it just fits in nicely on the last day. I keep coming back to this. I will probably book this on pay day.

    The last element in Hong Kong that has fallen into place is how we get from the airport to the hotel. There is a an airport bus that runs about every 20 minutes and takes around 75 minutes. This bus stops just around the corner from our hotel. If I can stay awake, this will give us a good overview over Hong Kong as well.

    This afternoon, I got sidetracked again. This time it was by the Philippines. A couple of weeks ago, shore excursions for Manila showed up on the Royal Caribbean website, but there were no prices attached. I went in this afternoon to see if they have now added the prices. They still are not showing, but they have added shore excursions for Subic Bay and one of them really caught my imagination. It is an excursion to Mount Pinatubo and Puning Hot Springs. Unfortunately this costs a fortune through Royal Caribbean. I spent most of the afternoon trying to find a way to book this direct, but have not had any joy. As much as I would love to do this, I am not willing to pay what Royal Caribbean is charging.

    To Do List:
    Print out graphics for magnets, laminate them and attach magnets
    Book tours for Hong Kong
    Print out remaining documents
    Get nails done
    Do online check in for flights
    Pack

    Corinna
     
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  4. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    I'm not sure how I got so far behind on this, but the T-shirts are really cute!

    You are certainly traveling a lot before your big trip! It's always fun to have another excuse to wear one of your gowns!
     
  5. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Behind seems to be my constant status at the moment.

    Thanks. I really like them.

    And this is part of the reason why I am constantly behind. One trip is behind me and the next one is just around the corner.

    Oh, absolutely.

    Corinna
     
  6. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    I still have not had the chance to share what I have been cooking up in terms of trips for the second half of the year and I think this may have to wait until I am back from the next big adventure. My ticker tells me this is now less than 2 weeks away. I cannot believe where time has gone and I will be away on the work trip from Tuesday to Friday evening. I am also determined to finish the trip report before I go. I will post an installment shortly. I have another one nearly ready and two more days to type up after this. I am hoping to finish off the partially done day before the day is out and hopefully get at least one more done while I am away on the conference while traveling and while waiting for events to start.

    On a positive note, my to do list is virtually done and apart from a few odds and ends that need completing, I have entered the phase of just waiting for things to arrive and for things to happen.

    The last time I updated, I had sent the documents to an online printing service. I had forgotten a couple and I knew there would be more down the line as I put the finishing touches on this holiday, but the bulk was done. I got the first idea that all may not be well when I had a card from the postal service advising that they were holding a parcel that does not fit in the letterbox. I for once was not waiting for anything but the documents and previously they had always been delivered in a letter size envelope. This most certainly would have fit in our letterbox. I asked for this to be redelivered on Wednesday when Graham was home. Imagine my surprise when I came home and found a huge box. Rather than printing the documents in letter size, they printed them in poster size. Not only would it be a little cumbersome to carry poster size confirmations, but for the luggage tags and everything that does have a QR code or barcode, it simply would not work. So I have now reordered the documents including the ones that I had forgotten and the ones I have received since. This time, they will definitely be the right size. The only documents still outstanding are our boarding passes for the flights and I am sure my boss will let me print those at work the day before I leave.

    The other print job that I needed taking care of are the graphics for the magnets. I thought that magnets will be slim pickings this time round as the person who normally helps me out with this is on a extended break. However, some other kind souls came to my rescue and I made a couple of very simple designs myself and I have ended up with 20 magnets again. I have again ordered the prints from an online photo processing company and once they have arrived, I will laminate them, cut them to size and add magnets. This should only take me an hour or so. Here are the designs I made:

    Word Art (1).jpeg Word Art.jpeg Crowne and Anchor.png

    The biggest of the outstanding jobs was sorting out the tours for Hong Kong. This is now done. In the process, our agenda for Hong Kong was reorganized. The original plan was to do a harbour cruise on the evening we arrive and that I would spend the first full day at Hong Kong Disneyland and then we would go sightseeing together the following day.

    While I was looking for the best deal on the the two tours I had set my heart on, I came across an inexpensive tour that sounded like a lot of fun. It is called the TramOramic Ding Ding Tour. Essentially you get a one hour narrated tour on a 1920s street car with an open top deck. The terminus for this is right around the corner of our hotel. We figured that this would be a good introduction to Hong Kong. This is part of the reason why we switched the days around. However, the main reason is that the tour comes with a two day pass for the regular street cars and Graham can make use of this when he spends a day sightseeing on his own.

    [​IMG]

    I also got tickets for the Peak Tram and the observation terrace that is on top of the Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram is is Asia’s oldest funicular railway and I can only imagine what the views are like from Victoria Peak. I think the plan is for us to head up there in time for sunset.

    [​IMG]

    Other than these two things, we have no fixed plans for the day. I really want to have a look at the Central–Mid-Levels escalators. The Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. They sound absolutely fascinating. I am also kind of hoping that a tea house will feature in the day for some Chinese tea and dim sum. If a temple would feature in our wanders, that would be a plus. I think the favourite would be Man Mo Temple, which is in the Central neighborhood of Hong Kong Island.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]\

    The next day, I will head to Hong Kong Disneyland and Graham will do his own thing. As per usual, I have chosen 4 must do attractions. This was very easy. As far as I can see, there are really only 5 (fairly) unique attractions at Hong Kong Disneyland with the remaining attractions being identical or as close to identical as makes no difference to attractions at other parks I have been to. One of the unique attractions is Take Flight with Iron Man Above Hong Kong. From what I read, this uses the same ride technology as Startours and this tends to make me ill so I eliminated this.

    My first choice is "it's a small world”. I know that the present version of this at Disneyland was inspired by the ride in Hong Kong, but in my experiences they versions in each park different enough for me to count this as unique. My second choice is Hyperspace Mountain. I believe that this is either identical or very similar to the version at Disneyland. However, as I have never had the chance to experience this, it will be new to me.

    The last two attractions are completely unique. Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars seems to be a cross between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Expedition Everest and can only be found in Hong Kong. I was in two minds about this as Expedition Everest freaks me out, but curiosity got the better of me. I have the feeling that the final attraction will be more my style though. Mystic Manor is often described as their version of Haunted Mansion. However, from everything I have read about this, it is more Adventurers Club than Haunted Mansion. The ride uses the same trackless technology that Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo and Ratatouille at Paris uses. So this should be both spectacular and great fun. This may well need more than one go.

    Hong Kong Disneyland must have the most characters of all the parks. A lot of them I have seen on a number of occasions, but Moana, Baymax and Hiro, Duffy and Friends, Groot, Iron Man, Black Panther, BB-8, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Jessie are all on my list of characters I would like to see. ShellieMay is my absolute priority though.

    I also can’t wait to see Paint the Night. The afternoon parade looks quite similar to the new parade at Disneyland Paris. If I just happen to be in the vicinity when it happens, I will stay and watch, but I will not go out of my way to do so. The springtime mini parade is a different matter. I will make a point of watching this.

    The second main change to our itineary actually happened at the end of the trip. I always planned that we would do the Victoria Harbour cruise on the day we arrive, but I also was always nervous that we would be too tired to really enjoy it between an overnight flight and the jetlag. The issue was that the cruise does not operate daily. When I went to book it today, I spotted that it also operates on the day we get back from Guilin. I asked Graham what he wanted to do and he thought it was a nice finish to the trip. So I booked it for our last evening of the holiday.

    The tour I am most excited about is a food tour and we are doing this in the morning of the day on which we will fly home. It is called the 10 Tastings Tour and is a private tour for just the two of us with a local guide. We will start at the dry seafood market and admire all it's exotic colorful products. We will learn about the Chinese gastronomic traditions. The next stop will be a Michelin guide recommended Tea House where we will get to choose oour favourite 3 pieces of dim sum with the help of our host. I see steamed pork buns in my future. We will then visit a typical Wet Market and learn all about Chinese vegetables, meat and cultural function of the building. Then it is time for some more food. We will get to taste the Shrimp Wonton in a local lunch restaurant. We will then get to sample sugar cane juice in a scenic Tea House led by a 4th generation family. At the fresh market street, we will taste exotic fruit handpicked especially ny our guide. As long as he or she does not try to make us eat durian. We then get on a double-decker tram another old neighbourhood of Hong Kong. There we get to eat some street food in the shape of beef noodles.We then finish the tour with a pineapple bun and milk tea. At that stage, we can probably roll back to the hotel to collect our luggage and make our way to the airport.

    Graham is still busily sending me stuff about things to do in Guilin. I think we could probably fill three weeks just there. The plan is still that we sort out what we do in Guilin when we get there. Speaking about getting to Guilin, there has been a slight issue with this. We had booked first class tickets for the train in both directions. Last Sunday we got an email saying that there were no first class seats available on the train there. So we are now going to Guilin second class, but are coming back first class. Actually it will be nice to see both.

    I have decided to invest in a little point and shoot camera as I don’t want to carry my big camera with me to some places were we are going, but want something more sophisticated than my iPhone. This will arrive on Saturday. I was hoping to have this in time for the conference, but left it too late.

    To Do List:
    Laminate graphics for magnets and attach magnets
    Get nails done
    Do online check in for flights
    Reactivate Chinese SIM card
    Pack

    Corinna
     
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  7. Flossbolna

    Flossbolna Sea days are just so relaxing!

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    Sounds like your trip is coming together! It all really sounds great! I know that Hong Kong will be in our near future as Michael loves it (he has worked there in the past). I am way behind on your trip report, hopefully I get to catch up there while you are away!!
     
  8. jedijill

    jedijill Chiefs fan living in Bronco country

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    Wow! Your plans sound amazing! That food tour is right up my alley!

    Jill in CO
     
  9. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    It better had. Earlier on, I was packing for a work conference. I will be in Southampton from tomorrow afternoon until Friday evening.

    Thanks.

    Graham has been before, but for me it will be the first time. It has been a long time coming.

    It will not go anywhere.

    Thanks.

    I have never tried anything like this, but I am hugely excited about this tour.

    Corinna
     
  10. Pinkocto

    Pinkocto DIS Veteran

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    I think at this point your trip is right around the corner, so exciting!!! Your plans really sound fabulous, the magnets came out great.

    How was DLP? I hope you had a great trip :)
     
  11. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    We are leaving on Saturday, which at this moment in time seems ever so slightly unreal. I am sure it will think in soon enough though.

    Thanks.

    I did enjoy it, but it was crazy busy. I inadvertently picked a week where a lot of French schools were on holiday and the Thursday was a public holiday throughout continental Europe.

    Corinna
     
  12. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    With 3 full days and 2 working days left, this holiday is definitely creeping up on me. However, progress is still being made at the rate of knots even though I was away for most of last week on a work conference. So it is all good.

    There have been a few further developments. Our plans for Hong Kong have evolved a little again. With us moving the Symphony of Lights harbour cruise to the last night in Hong Kong, we now had a completely spare day the day we arrive. We are due to arrive in Hong Kong around 10:00 on Sunday. Hopefully we will have slept on most of the flight from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong. Graham knows that I want to visit a temple and he found an absolutely stunning one on Lantau Island. Launtau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland is one end of this. The island showcases stunning natural beauty and it also is home to a giant Buddha statue and the Po Lin Monastery. Po Lin Monastery kind of reminds me of the Forbidden City. As soon as I saw photos, I wanted to go here.

    Po_Lin_Monastery_2.jpg

    static1.squarespace copy.jpg

    Lantau.jpg

    The way to get there is via a 25 minute scenic cable car ride. The cable car is called Ngong Ping 360. Some of the capsules have glass bottoms allowing 360 degree views. It also turned out that the lower station is only two miles from the airport. So the plan is that if everything goes according to plan with our flight, we will take our luggage to the left luggage office at the airport and then take the bus to the cable car. Once we have explored the village of Ngong Ping, Po Lin Monastery and the giant Buddha, we will return to the airport, pick up our luggage and go to the hotel. At that stage, I am sure we will be ready for some sleep.

    Adding this to the trip threw up a bit of a logistical challenge. You can get tickets for Ngong Ping 360 at the lower station, but the lines can be very long. You can also purchase fast track tickets online. However, as we don't know how long it will take to clear the formalities and if we are even in a fit state for this trip, we decided not to purchase tickets in advance. One tour operator that I have used before offers tickets with mobile vouchers so we can get them on arrival in Hong Kong. However, for this I need internet access. So as a result, I got a data SIM for Hong Kong. I also got a SIM card for China again so that I am not restricted by the Great Firewall of China. One thing I had not considered is that I do not actually have a spare phone at the moment as I gave my old phone to Graham. Fortunately my network unlocked my phone for me so I can now just switch out the SIM card in this.

    My magnets are now done and I am pleased with how they worked out. Everything I ordered for the trip has arrived, but I ordered a few extra odds and ends yesterday and today and hopefully they will arrive on Wednesday when I have my last day off before the trip. I have ordered a couple of nice pairs of flip flops to wear in the evening. I was not going to take a gown this time as I have plenty of beautiful maxi dresses. However, I totally fell in love with the gown that I wore for the gala night on the conference that I went to last week so I decided to take this after all.

    IMG_0804.jpg
    With the shorter hair, which will be cut again on Wednesday, I am kind of restricted what I can do with this to make it more festive so I invested in a fascinator. I cannot wait to wear this.

    71EIBikoAjL.jpg


    I am getting so excited about this trip. I will get my hair cut and my nails done on Wednesday. I am on a late shift on Thursday and will pack before work then and then I am officially ready.

    Corinna
     
  13. buteraa

    buteraa Mouseketeer

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    Love the shorter hair and that hat is amazing! You must be sure to take a picture when you have the full outfit on!
     
  14. jedijill

    jedijill Chiefs fan living in Bronco country

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    Your plans sound so exciting!!! Love the hat!

    Jill in CO
     
  15. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    The hair went shorter still today and I really like it.

    I will do my best.

    I am really happy with how this has all turned out.

    Thanks. I can't wait to wear this.

    Corinna
     
  16. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Today was my last day off before the holiday and I covered a lot of ground. I got my hair cut and got my nails done. All the last minute purchases arrived in time. I organized the car service for Saturday morning. There are huge issues with the trains to the airport at the moment and when I flew down south for the conference last week, I nearly missed my flight because of this. So we have decided to play it safe. I also reached out to the hotel in Guilin to try and arrange a pick up from the station. I am waiting for them to get back to me. I downloaded the park app and Photopass app for Hong Kong Disneyland. I was just about to purchase Photopass Plus, but I was not sure if this would not instantly activate so I will get this on the day.

    I would love to be able to say I am all packed, but that would be a lie. I however have made a start. I decided on which jewellery and make up I am going to take and have put everything that is not clothes on my desk. The plan is to pack before I go to work tomorrow and hopefully this won't take long.

    Corinna
     
  17. buteraa

    buteraa Mouseketeer

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    Good luck and safe travels!
     
  18. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    Wow I've been so behind, but it's coming right up! I love the fascinator!
    The plans sound great! Have a great trip!
     
  19. Pinkocto

    Pinkocto DIS Veteran

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    The Hong Kong plans sound wonderful. Glad you were able to figure out phone stuff.

    Sorry it was so busy at DLP, but glad you still had a good trip.

    Hope you have a magnificent trip!!!
     
  20. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Thanks.

    Thanks. My ticker makes me mildly freak out. I still have so much to do at work. Still, by this time tomorrow, I will be officially on vacation.

    Thanks.

    Corinna
     
  21. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    I had half of this type up earlier of the week, but then my computer randomly restarted to do updates and I lost everything. So here we go again:

    Our big trips has now been and gone and was nothing short of amazing. So I can now concentrate on upcoming trips. I had meant to update this before we left for this trip, but it turned out to be a blessing that I never had the time as those plans have already evolved again.

    Two things happened in early May. My boss pointed out some cheap rates on a 2 night mini cruise on Norwegian Jade in August to me. When we first had started cruising, we wanted to see what other cruise lines had to offer and did a back to back cruise on Norwegian Jade. Let's just say, this was bot really for us. It took us over 6 years until we were ready to try another cruise line again. However, since then the Norwegian Jade had an overhaul as did the NCL business model. So I was open to give this another try, especially as I do sell NCL quite regularly. I wanted to discuss this with Graham, but my boss said that I could just go and book this once I had spoken with Graham. This is just what I did. The biggest part of the reason why the original cruise did not work out for us was that there was chaos at dinner every night with huge long lines to even get a pager every evening. I was delighted that you can now do dinner reservations online before the cruise in much the same way as you can on Royal Caribbean. As we have two nights, I made one reservation for each of the two main dining rooms.

    The second thing that happened in early May is that I spotted a really good deal on tickets to Los Angeles at work and I put them on hold. This year is a special year for us. It was our 20th wedding anniversary in February and Graham will celebrate his 60th birthday in October. The plan had always been to go back to Aulani this year. As this is such a long way for us, we were planning to break the journey at Disneyland in both directions. When we went to Aulani in 2014, we did the same. We also booked tickets from Manchester to Los Angeles and then got separate tickets between Los Angeles and Honolulu.

    The first indication that this trip may not be meant to happen was when I realised that Allegiant no longer fly to Hawaii. I had counted on this. So I had a look at the other airlines that operate this route and the domestic flights were more than the international flights. I also checked if it would be cheaper to book this as a through ticket and even without the stop in Los Angeles, but the cost was ridiculous. Still, I was hoping that the price would come down nearer the time.

    The next hurdle was that our window opened for Grand Californian and there was no availability. This was not a big deal and I had half expected this. I waitlisted the nights I needed and I have enough points to burn that I can use them at Paradise Pier or Disneyland Hotel.

    The next thing that happened is that just before we were due to go on our last trip, there was a schedule change on the flights I had held to go to Los Angeles. The flights were via Frankfurt and the outbound connecting time was always the bare minimum that is realistic for this airport. I grew up in Frankfurt and I am familiar with how this airport works. The first flight was put back by 30 minutes, which means that the connecting time was now just the bare minimum for a legal connection. That is if the first flight is on time, which it rarely is. If we were even 5 minutes delayed, the likelihood would be that we would miss the connecting flight. If we were to miss that connection, we would lose a whole day. I have to admit at this stage I spat out my dummy and threw the toys out of the pram. However, I did not mention this to Graham. I was crazy busy in the run up to the holiday and just did not want to have to deal with this before we went.

    While we were on the cruise, we had a chat and it turned out that as much as we both love Aulani, our hearts were not really in this trip. We decided that instead we would return to Hong Kong and China at the end of November and add a short cruise out of Shanghai. I will share some of the plans in a separate post when it is not nearly bedtime.

    Something else evolved while we were on the cruise, although in all honesty, that processed had started long before. After we had to cancel our Dubai to Singapore repositioning cruise for earlier this year, we had loosely planned to do this cruise next year. The sister ship to my two favourite ships is coming into service next spring. The ship is built at the same shipyard in Germany that built the Dream and the Fantasy and is destined for China. So we said we would do the cruise on this ship. Earlier in the year it became apparent that the ship we were on for the the Transpacific last year was returning to Europe. So we potentially could do the cruise in reverse, but when the itinerary was released it was awful with very few ports. So this brought us back to the original plan.

    The two possible release dates for the itineraries for the new ship came and went and nothing was released. Instead there were persistent rumours that the ship would sail empty to China. My boss mentioned at some stage that there were some really good prices on a Baltic cruise out of Southampton on Explorer of the Seas, which is the ship that we did the Transpacific on and is Graham's favourite ship.

    I had my heart set on a Baltic cruise since 2008 when Disney announced the inaugural Baltic cruises for 2010. However, once the prices were released, we had one look at this and decided against it. The pricing was crazy. Instead we booked the Westbound Transatlantic for 2010. The reason why I even looked at other cruise lines was that I realized that the only way I would get to do a Baltic cruise was by jumping ship. Still, even when we tried Royal Caribbean and fell in love, we had other priorities.

    However, this itinerary really spoke to me. It is a classic Baltic itinerary on the way out, but on the way back it includes some ports that you normally only get on a Norwegian fjords cruise. At to this that not only was the pricing pretty sweet in its own right, but it also included the deluxe drinks package and the gratuities. I told Graham about this and he was all over this. So we decided that we would book this on our cruise. I got the leave signed off before we left. We got an even better deal for booking on board and are paying less than £100 per person per night including gratuities and drinks. That is what I call a deal.

    Shortly after we got back, the itineraries for the new ship, Spectrum of the Seas, were finally released and there will be a Dubai to Singapore repositioning cruise, but the itinerary is nothing to write home about. So we made the right decision. There are only three ports on this itinerary apart from Dubai where is starts and Singapore, where it ends and they are Muscat in Oman, Cochin in India and Penang in Malaysia. This did not appeal to either of us. Spectrum will be home-ported in Shanghai so we can always visit her there.

    There are another few smaller things to report, but they are still very much pie in the sky so they will wait for another day.

    Corinna
     
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