We are traveling THIS month. Now I can say that. Before September comes to an end, Kathleen and I will embark on our first major trip since September of last year, when we spent almost a month in Europe. For people like us who LOVE TO TRAVEL, this is just too long not to be on the road. I suppose I should be reminded that we did a five-day Holland America cruise in May, but I would rather forget that one; it was so bad.
Who’s going with us?
Besides us, we are traveling with a group of five that includes our regular traveling companions, my brother and sister-in-law (Steve and Jamie) and three of our best friends (Mike, Cathy and Jocelyn) as well. It should be an interesting trip as one of our party (Jocelyn) will be on her first cruise. Steve and Jamie are now seasoned international travelers, and Mike is well-known in the cruising world for his outstanding travel reviews (check them out here). He will undoubtedly do a review (with lots of photos) for this cruise after he is back home, so make sure to check his site around November 1, and you can compare his experiences to mine. I like live-blogging the cruise each and every day, so you get to read mine while it happens.
We first met Mike and the first love of his life, Carol, on a cruise in 2005, and we became close friends. The six of us (including our best buddies Bob and Judy) traveled together quite often over the years in between. Sadly, in those intervening years, we lost both Judy and Carol. We traveled with Mike alone once, but we could tell it wasn’t his best trip. Travel is something you need to do with someone. About three years ago, Mike met Cathy, and if you check out his website, you will see they are traveling like crazy.
Some of us get to have one great love in our life. Mike got lucky; he got two. Cathy is awesome, and other than when they visited us here in Redmond and when we visited them in Wellington, Florida, we have never traveled together before, so this will be FUN!
It is even more fun that our good friend Jocelyn is also joining us. It’s her first cruise. We always say that Jocelyn is the person who introduced Kathleen and I. She really didn’t do the formal introductions, but way back in November of 1997, when I was going through my divorce and feeling very sad, she came into my office in downtown Leavenworth and gave me a kick in the ass pep talk—told me to get on with my life. She told me about a dating website where she had met a nice gentleman that she had started dating. She talked me into checking it out right then and there. It wasn’t like dating websites now; it was more of a bulletin board where people posted what they were looking for in a partner. And the very first posting I saw…was Kathleen’s. The rest is history.
What are we doing?
We are doing a cruise on a brand new cruise line (for us) and a brand spanking new ship. As long-time readers of these posts know, we were very loyal Celebrity cruisers, have done a few on Holland America and gave Viking Ocean a try. But our friend Mike has been sailing Oceania without us. And he keeps telling us how great it is. So when Kathleen and I heard that he and Cathy were doing this cruise, we decided to come along. We were lucky to do that because this cruise was (at that point) sold out. We were only able to get “guarantee” staterooms. That meant we had yet to determine where we would be on the ship, but we were guaranteed to have someplace to sleep. We got the last “guarantee” stateroom about a year ago. Since then, other guarantees and stateroom reservations have been opened, so Jocelyn, Steve and Jamie could join us.
Oceania is known for having the “best food at sea,” so we shall see. I am trying to temper my enthusiasm so I don’t have expectations that can’t be fulfilled except by perfection (like I did with Viking Ocean). It may help that the ship we will sail on is Oceania’s newest, Vista. She was launched in May of this year and has been following a route from the Italian shipyard where she was built, across the Atlantic, up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal.
As ships go, she is not one of the big ones. She is slightly larger than the Viking Sky that we sailed on last September with a total of 1218 passengers as opposed to the Viking ships that carry just under 1,000. This is the size of ship we will be the most comfortable with going forward. We already have another trip planned on Viking Ocean for next June.
Where are we going?
So now you know who is going, the next question is, “Where are we going?” This is an almost three-week trip that will give us a few days in Montreal (a city we have not visited before) and then a cruise all the way to Miami. Here’s our route and stops in graphic form on this map I stole from Oceania Cruises.
We did the New England part of this cruise back in 2018, but there are some places in that region we have yet to go to, including Saguenay, Shelburne, Bar Harbor and Martha’s Vineyard. We have been to Charleston, but only on a land trip, not a cruise. Plus, we are thrilled to be stopping for an overnight visit to the Big Apple. We get to see a show (last year’s big hit, Six), and I get to do an early morning photo walk around the city!
And strangely enough, for people like us who have been on more than 30 cruises, we have never sailed into or out of Miami, one of the world’s largest cruise ports. Every time we have been to Florida, we have sailed in or out of Fort Lauderdale, a few miles up the coast. But there have been a few challenges as we are flying home from Fort Lauderdale, so we have to figure out how to get there.
When are we going?
As I mentioned—we are going this month. We fly from Seattle to Montreal on Wednesday, the 27th and board the ship on Friday, the 29th. The ship does not leave Montreal until late afternoon on the 30th, so that should give us three full days to explore Montreal. We finish in Miami on the 14th and fly home from Fort Lauderdale.
You have to ask? Because it’s been too long since we sailed on a cruise that was a true adventure. Someplace we haven’t been before. And I promise to take you along with my usual daily reports. Watch for them starting around September 25th as we pack our bags to go.
As Daddy said, life is 95 percent anticipation. —Gloria Swanson