Pre-trip report

Written by Kev

This holiday came about in a rather strange fashion. During our last holiday in Florida in 2017 we decided we would return in the not too distant future and I suggested we all put money into a savings account on a monthly basis and this would add up to going a long way to paying for everything. October 2021 was the month we decided on and flights and accommodation were booked accordingly. At this time it hadn’t really occurred to me that we wouldn’t be able to go. Spring of 2021 was looking hopeful on the Covid front and I was sure that we would be allowed back into the US by October. Silly me.

As the date drew closer there was no movement by the US government on removing restrictions. Eventually Mr Biden decided that fully vaccinated UK travellers would be allowed back in from November 2021. After 4 years waiting and planning we missed out by 3 weeks! Oh well, best laid plans and all that.

The Florida trip was postponed until May 2022, but we all now had 3 weeks off work with nothing to do. There was much toing and froing with ideas and possibilities, but nothing quite seemed to work out for all of us. Georgia and Charlie had just moved to London and sensibly decided that another holiday was probably an expense too far and they would wait until next year for their next big adventure.
That left me, Tam and Inds and I found a cruise that looked hopeful. All the cruise lines were doing incredible deals as they fought to at least part fill their ships again. The one we chose was a 10 night Med cruise on the NCL Getaway. NCL were giving 35% off the cruise as well as the third person in the stateroom going for free. On top of this you could pay 99 and get a drinks package, 120 minutes of free internet, $50 for a shore excursion in every port and 3 free speciality restaurants. With all of this the 10 night package worked out at approx. 700 per person.

We had to get our own flights in and out of Rome, but these were fairly cheap so it worked out to be a really good deal.
Things got even better as we got near to the cruise date. NCL have an area on the ship called The Haven. It’s a sort of ship within a ship with its own bar, restaurant, pool and sun deck. Of course this is usually much more expensive than the normal staterooms. NCL have a procedure where they e-mail you a few days before the cruise to sell off any remaining inventory they have by allowing you to bid for an upgrade. Now the ship was running at half capacity anyway (approx. 2,000 passengers instead of nearly 4,000) and there would be no children on board as you had to be double vaccinated and very few children were at this point. We decided to put in a bid on a 2 bedroom Family Suite without any confidence that we would get one. Basically you put in the amount you are willing to pay and there is a little dial that moves between ‘poor’ and ‘good’ depending on your chances of success. Suffice to say our bid never even moved off ‘poor’.

3 days before we were due to fly Tam got a message from American Express to say that a payment had been made from our account. Sure enough we had been given the upgrade. Tam was jumping about in excitement as there is no way on earth we would ever pay the full price for this. I estimate it should be in the region of 12,000 for 3 people on a similar itinerary. We paid a little over a quarter of that.
The 2 bedroom suite was a good idea for us as India would now have her own bedroom and we would all have a lot more space. Oh yes – we would get our own butler too.
We were due to fly on Sunday 24th October, so India came to our house the night before. We showed her a video of The Haven and the 2 bedroom suite before telling her that we were staying in one. Let’s just say that a celebratory drink or two was in order.

This isn't going to be a day by day account of the trip - rather an overview of the ship and a page for each port we visited.

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