No. of Recommendations: 4
It has become a tradition for me to post the progress I’m making when we take one of our longer trips. While this one, at a bit over three months, is not the longest we’ve taken, this one includes the longest on a single cruise ship (our previous longest was about 70 days).

Because the first week of our next long trip starts on January 3 and is spent on a ship without intermediate ports of call, and because I try to post on a weekend (so as not to clutter up the board’s “work” during the week), the next update of our status could be as soon as January 13th from Lisbon, but because we probably wouldn’t have seen very much by then (except maybe Stonehenge if timing works out), it may have to wait until we are on the other side of the Suez Canal (this would mean breaking the weekend rule and posting on January 24 – the planets are just not aligning properly for a rational posting schedule).

I am calling the coming trip “Jeff goes East” for obvious reasons (though later on, we make a U-turn and return). We are again crossing the Atlantic by ship to get to England, but due to schedule issues will be flying back. We lucked out in that Cunard Line’s Queen Mary leaves from Red Hook Brooklyn (a 15 minute cab ride from where we live) and docks in Southampton, UK on January 10 about a mile from where the Holland America Line MS Rotterdam leaves the same evening for the balance of our trip.

While we tend to pack lighter than most because we are used to lugging our stuff with us (like on last summer’s trip), we now have the ability to take what seems like an unlimited amount of stuff. The trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary was incredibly cheap when we snagged it (not much more than flying in coach), so we splurged a bit for the return trip and asked for business class. Cunard put us on Virgin Atlantic in something like “upper crust” class which allows us to take three 75 pound suitcases and two carry-ons each back home (and of course, there virtually no limit on what we can take with us on the outbound ship). We will likely drag less than half what we are allowed (unless we buy something like furniture along the way : - ).

I received a robo-call yesterday from Cunard that boarding will be four hours later than originally because the ship’s passengers have been hit by a highly contagious gastro-intestinal virus and they need the time to disinfect the ship before we board. Because this is our first time traveling on Cunard, I called them up to find out what time we should come and they said 5PM and that the ship will depart at 9PM. Apparently the ship will still get to Southampton on time because it only needs five days to cross, but they take seven days to save fuel (and increase revenue?). Early this morning, my telephone bells went off (I set them at a volume designed to wake the dead – me as well) as Cunard sent a fax at 3:20AM to inform us of the same thing, but listing 5PM as a departure time. While I don’t want to waste time milling around a crowded terminal (especially with no elite status on this line), I also don’t want to be left behind, so after speaking to them again, I guess 5PM is the best time to show up.

We will be embarking on another adventurous (I hope) voyage trip of a bit over three months, which will start near home in Brooklyn, N.Y., cross the Atlantic by ship, head through the Straits of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, around the coast of India (with a few days of going AWOL to see the Taj Mahal), and onwards to Singapore and a week bouncing around Indonesia.

The return voyage will bring us into the Persian Gulf on the way back to Southampton in the UK. We will be hitting quite a few places in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There will be a number of iconic spots that are “must see’s” that we will probably bypass because we have seen them before (and the side trips are long and expensive to sites that haven’t changed much in hundreds or thousands of years). At those spots I will point out what we are missing (though I would recommend seeing if you’ve not been there in the past) and move on to what we will be doing instead. At the end, sort of as a desert, we will be seeing ”The Book of Morman” in London before spending some time with our traveling companions of last summer in preparation for the flight home on April 10.

If anything is worth doing, then it’s worth doing to excess.

We will be stopping at a number of the PIIGS (a few stops in Spain, a few in Italy, a couple in Greece and one in Portugal, but repeating it on the round trip). We will be hitting a few countries which participated in the Arab spring, with a stop in Tunisia, a couple in Egypt and one in Salalah, Oman (as well as a number of other stops in North Africa and the Persian Gulf (and presumably a trip through both pirate country and the Israeli bulls-eye). In fact, I just realized that, with our stops in Indonesia and Malaysia, we are probably visiting about a half of the Moslem nations of the world.

1. Applied for Visas.
We need Visas for:
Sri Lanka

I decided to pick up only Indian visa (10 year, multi-entry as I suspect we will return in the future), and Oman prior to departing. You can receive the other Visas onboard the ship. Luckily, I live in NYC which has just about everyone’s consulate so this can be set up without the help of an expeditor. Basically it generally requires a filled application, along with photos and payment. Some applications have a sense of humor when they ask that I list EVERY country I have been to in the last 10 years and give space for six or seven.

2. Extra passport pages.
We recently renewed our passports and again got the 48 page versions to give a little extra room for visas, stamps, etc..

3. Get immunizations.
There are no required inoculations for the countries we’re visiting, but we have current:
Yellow Fever
Hepatitis A and B
Tdap - Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis
Flu Shot

We are taking some 100% DEET, but will be taking some anti-malaria pills for India and Indonesia.
We considered polio boosters but elected to pass

4. Finalizing the excursions.

There have been many people aboard who have organized tours in the different cities and I have asked for us to be added to these various tours (I set up the Taj Mahal, Wadi Rum (Jordan) and Sicilian excursions for five of us on the first and eight on the second as it they were a bit complicated and I didn’t want to trust the planning to someone else). One benefit of these tours is that you are going with a very small group of people on a self-organized tour that costs a fourth of the cost of the Holland America excursions. The negative is that the ship could leave without us if our tour group does not return to the port on time! Yer pays yer money and takes yer choice!

So what do you pack?? So I have made lists and lists and even more lists!

We have

The Essential List - which includes everything I couldn't live without on this trip, like our passports, a first aid kit, anti-malaria pills, a tuxedo/gown and a case of good wine.

The Electronics List - chargers, laptop (a replacement of the one busted on the last trip – actually a cannibalized combination of that one and another similar one picked up on E-Bay), high gain folding 802.11n antenna, unlocked GSM cell phones, Kindle (replacement for the one that crapped out on the last trip – this is a backup to the laptop as it can use the internet in a pinch), camera (small Nikon AW-100 rugged, built-in GPS and submersible), TomTom GPS with maps for most of the places we are hitting, Samsung 7 inch Tab 2 (rooted, of course), pocket binoculars, etc.

The Clothing List - this one is not as long as it is for most people as we tend to travel light!

The Cosmetic List – Wife’s job – I still can’t figure out why this has to fill a shoe box sized space (though I just got her a small set of electric rollers which she explained was a good investment – her perception of investing and mine are apparently different : -)

The Medical List - for emergencies - hopefully there will be none – includes stuff for all sorts of stomach maladies, antibiotics, first aid stuff, etc.

The Leaving Home Checklist - reminders and things to do before leaving home, such as file an extension on my taxes, turn off the electric, remove my battery cable in my care, etc.

The Miscellaneous and Extras List - duct tape, extension cord, snorkel/goggles/fins, bubble wrap, surgical tubing (tourniquet, gas tank syphon), water purification tablets, jeweler’s loupe, bungee cord, waterproof matches, magnesium ribbon, hemostat, Leatherman, Swiss army knife, decent cork screw, a few small tools, Spiderco folding knife and so on... the just in case things!
I will try to cover not only the usual travelogue stuff, but my perceptions of the economic, political and social issues which are important (as well as any ramifications to us in the States).

Our schedule:

Date Port
10-Jan-13 Southampton (London), England
11-Jan-13 At Sea
12-Jan-13 At Sea
13-Jan-13 Lisbon, Portugal
14-Jan-13 At Sea
15-Jan-13 Malaga, Spain
16-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
17-Jan-13 La Goulette (Tunis), Tunisia
18-Jan-13 Valletta, Malta
19-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
20-Jan-13 Nafplion, Greece TR
21-Jan-13 Piraeus (Athens), Greece
22-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
23-Jan-13 Enter Suez Canal at Port Said CO
23-Jan-13 Daylight transit Suez Canal CO
23-Jan-13 Exit Suez Canal at Suez CO
24-Jan-13 Safaga, Egypt
25-Jan-13 At Sea
26-Jan-13 At Sea
27-Jan-13 At Sea
28-Jan-13 At Sea
29-Jan-13 At Sea
30-Jan-13 At Sea
31-Jan-13 Dubai, United Arab Emirates ON VX
1-Feb-13 Dubai, United Arab Emirates VX
2-Feb-13 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate VX
3-Feb-13 At Sea
4-Feb-13 At Sea
5-Feb-13 At Sea
6-Feb-13 Marmagao (Goa), India VX
7-Feb-13 Mangalore, India VX
8-Feb-13 Cochin, India VX
9-Feb-13 At Sea
10-Feb-13 At Sea
11-Feb-13 Port Blair, India TR VX
12-Feb-13 At Sea
13-Feb-13 Porto Malai, Malaysia
14-Feb-13 Port Kelang, Malaysia
15-Feb-13 Singapore
16-Feb-13 At Sea
17-Feb-13 Tanjung Priok, Jakarta VX
18-Feb-13 Semarang, Java, Indonesia VX
19-Feb-13 At Sea
20-Feb-13 Tanah Ampo, Bali, Indonesia ON TR VX
21-Feb-13 Tanah Ampo, Bali, Indonesia TR VX
22-Feb-13 Lembar, Lombok, Indonesia TR VX
23-Feb-13 Komodo Island, Indonesia TR VX
24-Feb-13 Ujung Padang, Indonesia VX
25-Feb-13 At Sea
26-Feb-13 Probolinggo, Java, Indonesia TR VX
27-Feb-13 Surabaya, Indonesia VX
28-Feb-13 At Sea
1-Mar-13 Singapore
2-Mar-13 At Sea
3-Mar-13 Penang, Malaysia
4-Mar-13 Phuket, Thailand
5-Mar-13 At Sea
6-Mar-13 At Sea
7-Mar-13 Colombo, Sri Lanka
8-Mar-13 At Sea
9-Mar-13 At Sea
10-Mar-13 Mumbai (Bombay), India ON VX
11-Mar-13 Mumbai (Bombay), India VX
12-Mar-13 At Sea
13-Mar-13 At Sea
14-Mar-13 Muscat, Oman ON VX
15-Mar-13 Muscat, Oman VX
16-Mar-13 At Sea
17-Mar-13 Salalah, Oman VX
18-Mar-13 At Sea
19-Mar-13 At Sea
20-Mar-13 At Sea
21-Mar-13 At Sea
22-Mar-13 Aqaba (for Petra), Jordan VX
23-Mar-13 Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
24-Mar-13 Enter Suez Canal at Suez CO
24-Mar-13 Daylight transit Suez Canal CO
24-Mar-13 Exit Suez Canal at Port Said CO
25-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
26-Mar-13 Piraeus (Athens), Greece
27-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
28-Mar-13 Messina, Italy
29-Mar-13 Naples, Italy
30-Mar-13 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
31-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
1-Apr-13 Alicante, Spain
2-Apr-13 Almeria, Spain
3-Apr-13 Tangier, Morocco
4-Apr-13 Cadiz (Seville), Spain
5-Apr-13 Lisbon, Portugal
6-Apr-13 At Sea
7-Apr-13 At Sea
8-Apr-13 Southampton (London), England
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