From the US to Turkey and back ... trips that were realized ... trips that had to be shortened ... trips that were canceled. All during a year that saw the world dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Day265

    Oceania Pays Up Again!

    November 17, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    Our international jaunts "wallet" has once again been made whole — with a 25% bonus — for the cancelation of the cruise we would have embarked on 23 November had Oceania not canceled it back in October.

    The 125% FCC for the cruise fare was posted to our O account on 23 October. I've already transferred it to the 2022 sailing we've had on the books for a while now. What with the vaccine news and all, we're hopeful that cruise will be a go 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

    The taxes and fees for the canceled cruise posted to the original form of payment as cashback today. For some reason, a small portion of that amount was credited back to another credit card ... still good, but I had not used it to pay for this cruise. Doesn't matter, really. We got it all back. That's what counts.

    This footprint officially wraps up our "International Jaunts 2020" FindPenguins trip. Hopefully, 2021 will prove to be a better travel year internationally.
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  • Day222

    Another One Bites the Dust

    October 5, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    Another cruise bites the dust!

    Not that the news of the suspension of cruises by Oceania through November came as any big surprise. We’ve been waiting for the announcement to be made for a few weeks now.

    When we booked this cruise earlier this year, we knew it was a risky proposition. We knew that the chances of the sailing going ahead as planned was nil. But the low-cost — and O’s Traveler’s Assurance Program — made having a Caribbean getaway on the books worthwhile.

    O is offering a 125% FCC [future cruise credit] or 100% full refund back to the original form of payment. As we did with a previously canceled cruise, we’re going to take the FCC and apply it to a 2022 cruise reservation we’ve had on the books for a while now.

    This cancelation pretty much puts paid to any international travel this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly won the battle in 2020. 🤞🏻 2021 will be a much better year to travel internationally.

    In the meantime, we’ll continue traveling with the motor home this year to scratch our travel itch.
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  • Day163

    Itinerary Change for Nov Cruise

    August 7, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

    I’d be lying if I said that the itinerary change came as a surprise. It didn’t. After all, nothing is certain in these pandemic times. But frankly, I wasn’t expecting to get a change so soon after making the final payment on our November Caribbean cruise.

    One of the new-to-us ports — Puerta Plata in the Dominican Republic — has been removed. The reason is given as “… delayed berth construction in Puerta Plata.” The new itinerary moves our last day at sea up to 1 December. And instead of a day at sea cruising the Atlantic on 2 December, we will be stopping in Nassau, the Bahamas. It’s been a few years since we’ve been there, so I’ll need to do some research on things to do. But not until I know the cruise is a definite go.
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  • Day162

    Riviera Final Pmt ✔︎

    August 6, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

    A few days ago, we got a notice from O extending our final payment due date for the November Atlantic & Amber Gems cruise to 24 September.

    We decided not to wait until then. I made the payment today. It's a small payment and is risk-free. Under O's COVID-19 Traveler's Assurance Program, we technically have until two days before the cruise to cancel for 100% FCC.

    By making the full payment now, we're thinking we might actually get a 125% FCC instead of just our deposit back should O cancel the cruise before the new final payment date. That would be a good return on our small investment ... and we can apply it to one of the other bookings we already have on the books.
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  • Day114

    Cancelation of Plans for 2020 ✔︎

    June 19, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    It took a while — from 14 March when our 2020 overseas travel plans fell through until 19 June when the last of the refunds for our canceled plans posted to the credit card — but I'm now able to put a checkmark next to the to-do list for this most unpleasant tasker.

    Our 2020 plans included:

    * two cruises — one of which took us from the US to Spain; the other one was eventually canceled by Oceania Cruises.

    * seven flights — two of which took us from Barcelona to İzmir; and three of which took us from İzmir back to Denver; the remaining two flights were eventually canceled by the carriers ... SunExpress and Norwegian Air.

    * one bus ride — which was eventually canceled by the operator .... National Express.

    * sightseeing passes in England and Spain — both of which we canceled once the cruise was no longer possible.

    All of our unused tickets/fares were refunded back to the original form of payment ... in most cases with no hassles. Even the miles for the flights we had to rebook at the airport in Istanbul (because IAH in Houston doesn't have COVID-19 testing facilities) were redeposited and fees refunded ... no questions asked.

    Oceania gave us the option of a full refund for our canceled cruise, or a 125% future cruise credit on the base fare and a refund to the CC for the taxes and fees. We opted for the latter and plan to apply the FCC to a 2022 cruise that's been on the books for a while now.

    SunExpress was the only company that insisted they would only give us a voucher or rebook us for a different flight. So, we initiated a dispute with Chase, which in turn prompted the carrier to refund the full amount back to our credit card.

    They say patience is a virtue. Practicing that virtue paid off for us. By waiting for carriers/operators to cancel sailings and flights, we reduced the hit to our wallet. Our $ loss for all of our canceled plans — $82.66 — was due entirely to exchange rate differences from the time when those plans were made (over a year in some cases) and when the refunds were issued. Unavoidable ... and an amount that we can live with under the circumstances.

    We're itching to travel overseas again, but I don't think it's going to happen any time soon. At least not until fall or winter. In the meantime, we'll continue to make use of our RV to explore our home state.
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  • Day85

    Crazy for Booking? Perhaps!

    May 21, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    I'm sure that's what anyone who reads this footprint will say ... that we are crazy. But the price for a late-November 10-day cruise to the Caribbean on Oceania's Riviera was just too good to pass up ... especially since we managed to snag one of the cabins with an extended veranda.

    The plan — if all falls into place — is to sandwich this cruise between an RV trip from Colorado to Florida and back.

    If we actually get to go on the cruise, we'll be celebrating our 39th anniversary in Gustavia, St Bart's. If not ... well, we'll have some more FCC to apply to the 2022 cruise we've had on the books for a while.
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  • Day58

    European Quest No More

    April 24, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 55 °F

    Back in mid-March, COVID-19 had begun exploding as the Coronavirus spread across the world like wildfire. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that traveling was going to be severely impacted. Within hours of our arrival in Turkey, we decided to cancel the balance of our 2020 travel plans and return home. By March 20, we were self-quarantining in Colorado Springs.

    Our now-canceled travel plans included some small-ticket items, as well a couple of big-ticket ones ... such as a short cruise along the coast of France on Oceania’s Marina.

    The cruise line had already announced favorable changes to its cancelation policy. Knowing that we now had up to 48 hours prior to embarkation to cancel the cruise, we decided to bide our time and wait before taking any action. After all, the chances of the cruise sailing as expected was less than nil. And if Oceania canceled the cruise before we did, we would likely have additional remuneration offers to consider.

    March passed into April. Cruise lines, including O, continued canceling sailings in increments. European Quest, expected to sail on 25 May, remained a go even though all of the ports on the itinerary were still closed to cruise ships ... and expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future. It was tempting to cancel and be done with it. But we persevered. Patience was the name of the game.

    Well, today it happened. I received an email notification bright and early that advised us of the cancelation of all O cruises through the end of June. European Quest was officially a no-go.

    We have two options to consider now. Leave the money with O and receive a future cruise certificate for 125% of what we paid for the cruise. Or, receive a 100% $$ refund back to our original form of payment. Hmmm!

    The smart money might be to take the cash and run. But we don’t have to make the decision immediately as there is a grace period until 8 May to advise O if we want the $$ refund.

    I have some niggling questions that need answering before we make our decision. I’ll be calling O on Monday to seek those answers.
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  • Day23

    Home Sweet Home

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 36 °F

    It sure felt good to see the house when the Uber driver turned into our cul-de-sac around 5:00p. He made excellent time getting us home from DEN. I’ve got to hand it to CDOT ... they know how to clear the roads after a snowstorm.

    Mui had adjusted the thermostat remotely from BOS, so the house gave us a toasty welcome ... good under the circumstances as it was only about 26F outside.

    Leaving the bags in the garage — to be disinfected tomorrow before we start unpacking — I headed inside for a hot shower to get rid of all the travel grime. Mui hopped in the car and went to Walmart to provision us as best as he could until he can get to the commissary tomorrow. We mostly need fresh goods, milk, etc ... canned and dry stuff is already in the pantry. And we have plenty of TP and a Toto bidet ... so no worries 😉

    The plan is for us to self-quarantine for the next 14 days ... just in case.

    That doesn’t mean we’ll be in solitary confinement. We plan to take advantage of the warming temps forecasted for next week to take some long walks here in our community. There’s a nice trail that runs by our house that will make it easy for us to get some fresh air ... while we continue to distance ourselves from others ... even after our self-quarantine is over.

    Though the trip is over, I’m going to keep writing. Maybe a “mock trip” on FP ... “Life During the Coronavirus Crisis” ???
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  • Day23

    Landed and On Our Way Home

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 27 °F

    It is done. UA652 landed on time just before 2:30p. We were off the plane within 15 minutes and on our way to collect our bags ... that took another 10 minutes. By the time we arrived at carousel 11, our bags were already on the belt. Yay! Smooth ... easy peasy.

    We’re now on our way home in an Uber that picked us up from the DEN arrivals terminal within 10 minutes of calling for a vehicle.

    It’s obvious from all the snow on the ground that Denver was slammed by a snowstorm. But the roads are mostly clear ... a little slushy in a few places. I don’t anticipate we’ll have any issues getting home.

    I think I’ll try to catch up on some online reading for the rest of the ride home.
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  • Day23

    Social Distancing Phobia

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 50 °F

    By phobia, I don’t mean being afraid to social distance ourselves. Quite the opposite ... I mean the phobia that is making some people take the concept of keeping space between oneself and others to extremes.

    I get that people are afraid of the coronavirus. Rightfully so. I am too. We should all take it seriously. Washy washy hands with hot water and soap — frequently — as well as disinfecting when water is not available is key. Putting space between ourselves and others is an excellent precaution as well.

    Why am I writing about this? Because there’s a passenger on this aircraft who was taking the social distancing to an unhealthy extreme while we were at the gate awaiting the call to board. This increases the stress level unnecessarily ... not good for our mental health, which is essential in combatting the coronavirus.

    Here's the story ...

    When we arrived at our gate at BOS, we happened to take two seats across from said passenger. WHO says to keep a distance of 3 feet with others ... 6 feet is recommended by some organizations. There was far more than 6 feet of separation between us and this woman ... we at one end of a row of seats and she at the other end of the row of seats across from us ... sitting catty-corner and not even face to face.

    She immediately berated me by saying that we’re supposed to practice social distancing. To which I politely responded that I was doing just that by not sitting next to or immediately behind her. I also mentioned that there was about 10 feet between us. Huffing, she told me that I was so smart. I don’t think she meant it in a nice way.

    When Mui sat down next to me, the woman gathered her stuff, told me that “I’m just like all the other Bostonian liberals,” and moved all the way across the waiting area. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had only been a Bostonian for a few short months ... and that was when I was born in one of the suburbs of the city 60+ years ago! Best not to engage further.

    Guess what? Minutes after she moved, newly arriving passengers started taking seats near her ... always with plenty of distance ... definitely more than 6 feet apart. She put on gloves and a surgical mask and moved away again. Eventually, there was nowhere for her to go.

    And now ... here she is in the first class cabin with 15 other passengers ... with no social distancing whatsoever for the next 4 hours and 19 minutes. Even odder, she doesn’t seem to have any qualms standing by the bathroom to chit chat with others in much closer proximity than she ever was to us or the passengers around her at the gate prior to boarding. By my count, there are at least two crew members and another passenger standing with her in the tiny space between the bathroom, galley, and the cockpit door. Go figure!

    I’m sad for this woman. I get her fear ... I really do. I even gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps she has an underlying medical condition that made her more cautious. That thought went out the window when she forgot all about social distancing and engaged people in close proximity ... as she is doing even as I write this.

    The stress of the circumstances we find ourselves in these days can be alleviated by educating ourselves on what is right and wrong ... what to do to protect ourselves ... what to do to protect others ... what not to do because it has no practical benefit.

    Keeping as positive an outlook as possible under the circumstances will help our mental health. And will go a long way towards helping us get through these difficult times under which we must continue to live our lives.

    Stay safe ... stay healthy ... remain upbeat!

    (More info about social distancing and other preventive measures at this link, which is one of many one can goggle on the web ... https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-social-distancing-and-self-quarantine)
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