The Big Decision

While on our last cruise (Mediterranean 2015), Clayton and I decided to “invest” in future cruise certificates.  The program works something like this:  you purchase a certificate for a deposit for a future cruise ($250), and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) then rebates you part of the cost in On Board Credit (OBC).  We had decided to purchase 2 certificates, and would get back $250 of the cost in OBC.  So, we decided to start looking at what upcoming itineraries were available.

Clayton has had a hankering to go to Vietnam, so we started by looking at a cruise that stopped there.  We quickly found an 11-day cruise that had a couple of stops in Vietnam.  But, it seemed like an awfully long way to travel for an 11-day cruise.  We then started looking at the cruises immediately before and after the 11-day trip.  The cruise immediately following replicated several of the ports, so we decided against that one.  We then looked at the cruise preceding it, which was a 21-day trip that started in Dubai and ended in Singapore (the embarkation port for the 11-day cruise).  That one looked pretty exotic.  We were interested in Dubai because our friends Amin and Zahra had piqued our interest in that city.  Amin had been raised in Dubai and said it was a “not to be missed” place.  From Dubai, the cruise stopped in 4 ports in India, and then places such as Thailand and Sri Lanka.  As I said, very exotic!  We decided to book that cruise as well.  We were now up to 32 days of cruising.  We knew we were up to the task since we had just completed a 28-day cruise.  But, were we shortchanging ourselves by only cruising for 32 days?  Yes, we decided.

We needed to look at adding another leg to our trip.  The only option was a 20-day cruise that started in Istanbul and ended in Dubai.  Other than Istanbul itself, this trip did not replicate any of the ports we had just seen, which was a point in its favor.  On the negative side, some of the ports we would be visiting seemed a little dangerous to me.  Egypt?  Are you crazy???  Jordan?  Are you crazy???  Israel?  Not as crazy, but still!  Clayton was all ready to commit to this itinerary, but I had some serious doubts.  On the other hand, we were hoping that the cruise line did take into account the risk of terrorist activity, and if things got too “hot” before the trip, would re-route or cancel any ports that were risky.

So, we ended up buying three future cruise certificates and booking a 52-day extravaganza that started in Istanbul and ended in Hong Kong!

As soon as we booked, my little brain went into planning mode.  Probably a danger from all of those years of teaching; I just can’t help myself!  I started by creating a spreadsheet of all of the ports we would be visiting.  There were right around 30 total.  We didn’t have access to the internet while on board (too expensive at 75 cents per minute!) but did have access to the NCL intranet.  This provided some port information. . .just enough to overwhelm me!  All of the currencies!  All of the different cultures!  And, the expense of it all!  How on earth were we going to pay for this trip?  We don’t believe in paying for travel by putting ourselves in debt, and since we were both retired (me very recently), we were living on a reduced (and fixed) income.