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Category Archives: April – May 2020 Northern Europe

Sad To Say

Well folks…it’s now official.  COVID-19 has affected much of the world and now has reached out to touch us as well.  We are sad to say that Princess Cruise Lines has suspended ALL their cruises for the next two months up to May 10, 2020.

Although it is unfortunate, from a purely selfish perspective as we (like MANY others) were looking forward to this cruise, it is also the right thing for them to do.  Not only have they had their fair share of news headlines of late, the entire travel industry has been severly impacted.  (Yes, I know it’s not JUST the travel industry, but that’s what I’m talking about here.)

To their credit, Princess Cruise Lines have very much stepped up to the plate given the impact this overall cancellation will have on thousands of their faithful cruise passengers.  As compensation, passengers now have a choice:

1)  Take a Future Cruise Credit (valid to May 1, 2022) in the amount of 150% of their exisiting cruise price   OR

2)  Take a Future Cruise Credit (valid to May 1, 2022) in the amount of 25% of their exisiting cruise price as well as 100% refund of their existing cruise price (back to thier credit card or however they originally paid).

We have elected the second choice primarily due to not really being sure how long this world-wide pandemic will last as well as personal health reasons.  Cruising is still (hopefully) very much in our future, but right now it’s up in the air as to when it will be.

We fully approve of Princess’s decision (other cruise lines have made different choices) and will continue to book with them in the future.  If any of you have considered cruising, please consider Princess Cruise Lines.  No…this is in no way a ‘commercial’ for them, nor are we compensated in any way for this (our blog readership is too small to have a serious impact).  We just want our readers to know we support Princess and encourage others to keep them in mind.

Keep watching our blog…we WILL be back.   🙂

An Overview Of Our Itinerary

The first map I had of our itinerary is…ok…but I thought I would try to recreate it with perhaps a slightly better overview.  Below is a list of our stops after leaving Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Sat, 04/11/20 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – 4:00pm

Sun, 04/12/20 At Sea
Mon, 04/13/20 At Sea
Tue, 04/14/20 At Sea
Wed, 04/15/20 At Sea
Thu, 04/16/20 At Sea
Fri, 04/17/20 At Sea

1 – Sat, 04/18/20 Azores Islands (Ponta Delgada), Portugal 7:00am – 4:00pm

Sun, 04/19/20 At Sea
Mon, 04/20/20 At Sea

2 – Tue, 04/21/20 Brest, France 7:00am – 3:00pm

3 – Wed, 04/22/20 Paris/Normandy (le Havre), France 8:00am – 9:00pm

Thu, 04/23/20 At Sea

4 – Fri, 04/24/20 Skagen, Denmark 10:00am – 8:00pm

5 – Sat, 04/25/20 Copenhagen, Denmark – 5:00am – 6:00pm

6 – Sun, 04/26/20 Oslo, Norway 10:00am – 11:00pm

Mon, 04/27/20 At Sea

7 – Tue, 04/28/20 Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany 7:00am – 9:00pm

Wed, 04/29/20 At Sea

8 – Thu, 04/30/20 Tallinn, Estonia 8:00am – 5:00pm

9 – Fri, 05/01/20 St. Petersburg, Russia Overnight 6:30am
Sat, 05/02/20 St. Petersburg, Russia – 6:00pm

10 – Sun, 05/03/20 Helsinki, Finland 7:00am – 4:00pm

11 – Mon, 05/04/20 Stockholm (Nynashamn), Sweden 7:00am – 7:00pm

Tue, 05/05/20 At Sea

12 – Wed, 05/06/20 Copenhagen, Denmark 5:00am

Fly to Berlin

Possible Changes 2.0

Having been in the tech industry for what feels like forever, I have seen a multitude of changes and reinventions and reiterations of everything from software to hardware to bloatware.  This is likely the first time I’ve had to deal with vacation changes.  In addition, they can (for now at least) only remain as Possible Changes.  One of those has happened and it has suffered defeat (mostly due to cost).  Now we’re on Possible Changes 2.0.  Now, rather than Portugal (which will REMAIN on the bucket list, as I ~have~ to get there for a more in-depth experience), we are headed to Germany.  Some of these areas are in what was Eastern Germany (before the fall of the wall).

What started out as nine days in Florence, then tried to re-invent itself into nine days in Portugal, should now be three days in Berlin, three days in Dresden and three days in Cologne.  In the grand scheme of vacation planning, this really is not a bad turnabout.  I have never been to that part of Germany.

During World War II, most of where we are going had been decimated by the bombing by the Allies.  However, German resilience and determination have resulted in not only bringing back old structures, but also ushering in the 21st Century World.

It is part of both my wife’s and my own heritage which makes it even more memorable.

After Cologne we travel to Amsterdam for another three days to finish our adventure.  That is always the harshest reality.  Fortunately, it’s quite awhile before we have to face it. 🙂

Possible changes…

The CoronaVirus issue that currently plagues the world may now have an impact on our own travel plans.  We have dear friends that had a exotic trip planned for Vietnam.  They cancelled it entirely, due to potential concerns brought about by that virus.  As it turns out, though it was not formally in the area when they decided to cancel, it now is.  So they dodged a possible bullet.  Now we face similar concerns.

We have visited Italy 4 times during our years of travel (with nary a regret, I might add!).  Each time, regardless of where else our countryside explorations there might take us, we have always managed to stop for a day or two in Venice.  On this occasion we were going to be in Florence for a few days, after leaving Copenhagen, with a day trip (by train) planned to Venice.  COVID-19 has now arrived before us.  Venice is shutting down it’s carnival two days early, as Italy struggles with outbreaks in its northern regions.

With that in mind and an ever-watchful eye on the news, Plan B is likely to become a reality.  Is that a ~bad~ thing?  Certainly not.  Florence (and Venice) will see our faces again, albeit possibly more down the road than originally anticipated.

So…just what is Plan B?  Portugal!  Being a bit of a Port aficionado and having been to Portugal (other than the Azores on this particular cruise) only once before (briefly in Lisbon), it seemed like a splendid idea to visit northern Portugal and the lovely city of Porto!  There will be more information as it becomes more set in stone (because Florence is NOT out of the question entirely just yet).  We would love to stay with Plan A as everything is set and ready for our arrival, but caution is the word of the day.

How this really plays out is yet to be determined.  Whatever the end result, however, our travels will be exciting, rewarding, and hopefully, enjoyable to read about. 🙂

Retirement and Turning 65

This past year has been one of massive change for me.  My mother passing away, dealing with everything That brought about and then ending up on long-term disability, put many things into perspective.  This blog is Not for that type of reflection.

However, one thing that also came from 2019, was the beginnings of a plan.  One that involved (health dependant!) an extended tour of lands yet discovered (by us).  The travel bucket list always seems to be similar to the honey-do list.  When one thing gets crossed off, another takes its place so the list never really gets any smaller.  However, I have never minded that problem with the travel bucket list. 🙂

We have done many cruises in the past 15 years – around various Caribbean Islands, up to Alaska, through the Panama Canal, down the west coast of South America, the west coast of North America, around the British Isles and a couple throughout the Mediterranean.  We even managed to do a river cruise that took care of another bucket list item – Oktoberfest in Munich.  Admittedly not nearly as much travelling as people we have met along the way, but certainly more than either of us ever envisioned.

The world never gets smaller (physically) but the ability to see more of it improves all the time.  YouTube (and other facilities like it) provide one method of viewing the world (albeit through eyes other than your own), but you all know it’s just not quite the same as being there yourself.  What we have found it particularly good for is finding things to do, places to go and sites to see.

Northern Europe has tempted us long enough.  Now it is time to ‘make the scene’ , find Fernando and the Dancing Queen and determine if Lutefisk can actually taste good in its homeland (I’m still not convinced my palate will appreciate any difference).