Episode 139 – Where’s Waldo?

Martin Handford’s books used to be just a game. Now they’re real life!

I’m in a Facebook group called “Senior Nomads”, where folks like us who have divested themselves of all (or most) of their possessions share their photos, stories, questions, and hints for living life as permanent travellers.

Of late, with many people still not back on the road beyond their home country, group members have been sharing photos with just the caption “Where in the world is this?” It has me inspired to get out and start seeing new places and learning about other cultures again.

We’re now 99% certain (barring a shocking Covid pre-flight test result) that we’ll be departing on December 24th on our almost 5-month long world cruise. Just this week, we received yet another version our “final” itinerary, which has changed significantly from what it looked like over a year ago when we booked the cruise.

We’ve been prepared for the need to be flexible. Things change when you’re looking at visiting 26 countries. COVID19, of course, has had a huge impact on where we can go, but so has the shifting political climate around the world.

Our original cruise would have spent almost all of February visiting multiple ports in Australia and New Zealand. A couple of months ago we learned that neither of those countries will be open to tourism by then, and instead we’d be spending more time in the Hawaiian islands, the South Pacific islands, and Polynesia. No problem!

Last week we found out that the planned days in the Hawaiian islands cannot happen, since Hawaii, unlike the U.S. mainland, is not reopening to international tourism.

We were also scheduled to spend time exploring the wonders of Myanmar, which unfortunately is currently a civil war zone, and not even remotely safe to visit.

Malaysia has closed, opened, and closed again to tourism. Vietnam was on the original itinerary, and is no longer. A couple of weeks ago Norway, our ship’s home port, closed to North Americans. It’s a “fluid” situation for cruise ships! (Bad pun)

I do not envy the Viking staff who have had to find alternatives that would still appeal to travellers wanting to see the world, but we’re quite excited about the cruise anyway, especially since it will include a number of places we would never get to when travelling on our own. (And this is a good place to give a HUGE shout-out to our Expedia Cruises travel agent – and my friend – Carol, who has put in countless hours helping us create this once-in-a-lifetime experience… an even more daunting task after we decided in September to add an additional 18 day leg to the beginning of the cruise.)

BUT WAIT! Today we received the good news stemming from all Viking’s hard work, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the extended time in both French Polynesia and in the Middle East, especially the chance to visit Cairo, Alexandria, and Dubai!

The maps below show our trip as it now stands. Keep in mind that anything and everything can change as countries open, close, and re-open due to COVID19. We’ll be aboard what many fellow passengers are calling the “Viking Magical Mystery Tour”, where our motto will simply be the words of the Viking Star’s Captain Lars Juel Kjeldsen, who is renowned for saying (in his lovely Norwegian accent): “it is what it is.”

You’ll just have to watch for blog posts to see where we end up!

Leg 1 (map below): Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles

Leg 2: Los Angeles to London (destinations on map below confirmed just today):

Los Angeles; Nuku Hiva French Polynesia; Tahiti; Moorea; Bora Bora; Fiji; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown and Langkawi Malaysia; Phuket Thailand; Chennai, Cochin, Goa and Mumbai India; Doha Qatar; Abu Dhabi and Dubai UAE; Muscat and Salalah Oman; Jeddah and Yanbu Al-Bahr Saudi Arabia; Aqaba Jordan; Sharm El-Sheik, Luxor, Alexandria and Cairo Egypt; Ashdod (Jerusalem) and Haifa Israel; Rhodes, Ephesus and Athens Greece; Istanbul Turkey; Sicily, Naples and Rome Italy; Monte Carlo Monaco; Barcelona and Cartagena Spain; Lisbon Portugal, Portsmouth and London England, and then (for us) on to Bergen Norway

Clearly, there will be lots of photos, and lots of blogs. Thank goodness for sea days, when I can distill my thoughts and impressions into the memories I most want to keep… while also drinking wine and staring at the ocean.

I’m still not always sure where Waldo is, but WE are going to be on the Viking Star this winter and spring. I hope you’ll follow along!

6 comments

  1. Best wishes for a safe, healthy & exciting travels ahead. I’m looking forward to sharing your blogs as you circle around the world. Jasmine

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I am soooooo excited! And I’m not even going anywhere!
    You two are just going to have so much fun. And I totally love the title for this blog entry, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Life is an adventure and gets better with no snow to shovel, your own butler at your beckon and 5 star meals prepare for your satisfaction. Enjoy reading on your sunny seaside villa and meeting new friends on your 141 day odyssey..

    Like

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