Right now, I am passport-less. It’s not a good feeling, especially since I know that I’ll be traveling around the world in a (very short) month from the day I am writing this article.
My passport is with a third-party vendor who gets visas for travelers. They are called expediters. I need visas for my visits in Brazil and India, which can only be obtained through the embassies in advance of the trip.
I understand that if I did this myself, I would fill out the visa application form, drive to D.C. to the country’s embassy, wait until my number is called and give the application to the country’s representative for processing; then, about 10 days later, drive back to Washington, repeat process and receive the completed visa.
So, suffering “passport-less-ness” for four weeks doesn’t seem so bad after all (and yes, there is a fee for the service, in addition to the cost of the visa).
Visas for other nations, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, are available (again, with a service charge) onboard the ship. I can also get a “quick stamp” visa for Egypt on board. I think I need a quick stamp for Australia, but I should be able to get that when I arrive in Sydney or online.
I’ve read the literature from my cruise line about overland excursions. I’m going to Cambodia to visit Ankor Wat. The third-party vendor recommended that I talk to the cruise line about the visa … and, of course, the cruise line suggested that I check with the third-party vendor.
So I went to the Kingdom of Cambodia web site for information — and the beautiful page was written in Cambodian. There was a tab about visas and it appears that I can get one at the airport in Thailand, as I depart Bangkok while traveling from Hong Kong.
This all sounds so exotic. I can hardly believe that I’m doing this.
I checked in on Sunday and printed my official boarding pass, then I had a small meltdown. What am I doing going away for 112 days? I am really a home-loving person. I will be alone for 82 of the days. A dear friend will join me from Sydney to Mumbai — a total of 30 days.
But that still means I am by myself for a very long time. I have pledged to get to know all of my fellow travelers, write a blog, paint a minimum of 50 paintings, finish my novel, walk a mile every day and exercise in the fitness center, among other plans.
With “smart casual” dinners, 19 formal evenings and all my plans, I am wondering if I will have any time for “Nook-ing” or simple relaxation.
How does one pack for such adventure? The climate will vary from tropical to arctic (yes, I’m going to Antarctica), so I need the entire spectrum of warmth or not so warm clothing.
One bedroom in my home is dedicated to the trip. Silk socks, heavy wool socks, swimsuits, evening wear, shoes for walking, etc., abound. The cruise director suggests bringing specialty items for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, a Masquerade Ball and other themed events. What a wonderful challenge.
Here are some business considerations: If you own stock in the cruise line, there is a special onboard credit. Since my portfolio includes 100 shares of Carnival Cruise Line stock, I won’t have to shell out additional funds for laundry and dry cleaning bills. And because my cabin has a window on the Promenade deck, Holland America will ship my luggage from my home to the ship.
There aren’t many financial perks, but I’ll take them.