Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Day One

Left home feeling both sad and excited at the same time. Made very good time on the roads though and by 11am we had arrived in Southampton, where we waited curbside for approximately 5-10 minutes for our bags to be collected and then went directly into the terminal. As instructed we made contact with ground staff and by 12:15 we were onboard Aurora and sitting down in the buffet having a small lunch. Funnily enough whilst waiting to board we met several people from the forum who recognised us by virtue of MJ being the only child in the room. Have to admit this did have me worried that there would be no children onboard at all!!!

After lunch MJ was ready for his nap, so with him in his buggy we walked around the promenade until he went to sleep. By two pm our room was available and we started unpacking a few bits and pieces after which we went to meet the reef rangers in the children's club. Happy to say that MJ met two other children and played in there quite happily before going up to tea. Quick nip down to the room for our life jackets and then we were off to the mandatory drill where MJ decided he wanted to explore the room inside and out in the middle of the captains talk!!! After much persuasion he let me put his life jacket on then decided he had to show everyone else how he looked, so he went and stood in the middle of Carmen's dance floor with the crew. Definitely not shy this little man!!! From there we went to deck eight for a spot of dancing/ people watching by the pool before heading back to the promenade to watch the fireworks.

By 6:15 we were back in the children's club where MJ stayed for nearly two hours on his own with the rangers before heading back to our room for some dinner and bedtime!

Hope you enjoyed reading,


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Last Pre-Cruise Blog

Thanks to all who have commented on our blog on Facebook and Cruise Critic.

So excited to say that this will be our last pre-Cruise blog!!!

It feels like so much has happened since our last post. So to catch up, it has been a very memorable December. Christmas with MJ and the Family was, to put it simply, lovely!!! MJ was thoroughly spoiled by his Family both in the UK and the US.

Almost forgot to say...Happy New Year!!!

As for our cruise, we are leaving tomorrow and the excitement is palpable. We have packed our now eight cases and four Holdalls!!! Have gotten last minute things such as hair (even MJ had a haircut) and nails done , MJ had his last day of Nursery and we did the rounds with Family and Friends to say goodbye.

We are so ready to go!!!

Regards All and as usual we hope you enjoyed reading.


Monday, 17 December 2012

December Blog

Thank you to all that have contacted us and for the lovely comments, support and advice that has been offered.

To answer a few questions. Yes, as time is drawing closer the excitement is growing. We are not really sure MJ understands about the length of time we will be away, but Mum and I are doing are best to show him where we will be going and involve him in the preparation process as much as suitable for his age.

It has been an interesting and busy few weeks. MJ turned two and whilst it may seem a small thing in the larger world, it was a huge milestone for us!!! Mum and I also celebrated our birthdays, but it was celebrating little man's birthday that was our November highlight.

As for the cruise and getting ready to go we completed our shopping lists, of which there were six different types going at one point!!! Even more exciting is that we obtained our visas for China!!! The practice pack went okay, except that we are now taking six large cases, two smaller cases, two large holdalls and our carry on bags. Thank god for unlimited baggage allowance is all I can say.

So all this means that we are now ready to go with just three weeks to wait until we set sail with just a small thing called Christmas to distract us from our trip of a lifetime.

Hope you enjoyed reading and Merry Christmas All,


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Preparation Update

Have had some lovely comments on the cruise critic website so a big THANK YOU to those that have been written and I hope that you all continue to enjoy reading about our travels.

To answer a question first. Yes. We have been keeping really busy over the past few weeks. Between raising MJ, work, shopping for clothes, toiletries etc and generally getting ready for the cruise. Almost finished our shopping and to do lists. But our major accomplishment has to be obtaining our visas for India.

Only our Chinese visas to do now. Unfortunately we have been told that we can only apply for these three months before travelling to China. Having kittens about leaving our last visa till the middle of December so we even contacted the London visa office directly and queried this!!!

We received our excursion brochure and luggage tags from the cruise company this week so another thing for us to read and even better it has lots of pictures for MJ to look at.

MJ has also had a busy month between nursery, reading about other countries (currently Australia and the Great Barrier Reef), enjoying two Halloween parties and eating way too many sweets. MJ's Auntie bought him his first tuxedo for Christmas and the cruise and we are looking forward to him wearing it.

Another milestone- It is really hard to believe that little man turns two this month.

Hope you enjoyed reading.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Excursions part 2

So we have had a few changes to our itinerary...

Our first Caribbean port of Barbados has been reversed with St. Lucia and we are no longer going to Acapulco, Mexico, instead we are going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Our second port in Hawaii, Hilo, has been switched to Nawilliwilli, Hawaii. So Mum and I are currently researching these ports and planning new excursions.

Also the cruise company has released their tours and we have booked several including Beijing and the Great Wall of China and Cairo and the Pyramids for the three of us. Mum is doing to Bethlehem and Jerusalem on her own and I will be visiting Luxor and the valley of the Kings solo.

We are super excited as we continue getting ready. Off to London over the next few weeks doing visa work. Have started shopping for clothes as both Mum and I have lost two stone a piece over the summer.

As for MJ, we are reading a book about China at the moment and he loves listening to the story of the "Junk" (a type of boat) in Hong Kong. Am really hoping that when we get to Hong Kong he will see one for real!

Hope you enjoyed reading.


p.s. 75 days to go...

Thursday, 27 September 2012



So today's blog is about excursion's and which one's would be best for a toddler.

We have pretty much decided what we want to see and do in each of our upcoming ports. We have tried to balance sightseeing with fun things for MJ. Some ports we have planned to Do It Yourself (DIY), others we plan to do tours with the cruise ship whilst others we have researched private tour companies and are going with them.

Some ports are English speaking like San Francisco so it is a little easier to DIY and still keep it child-friendly, other ports such as Mumbai or Shanghai are not and can therefore be tricky to get around. A guided tour whether through the ship or with a private company are the way we plan to deal with the language barriers we will come across.

For our Family there are both positive and negative aspects to booking excursions through the ship or going with private tour companies. Private tours allow us to customize our day. We can stop for photo's and bathroom breaks and learn a lot more about the way of life in the places we are visiting. We have done private tours in Madeira and Gibraltar and saw all the same sights as those on the ship's tours at half the cost and in our own time.

The biggest drawback we have found for booking a private tour is that the ship can leave without us if we're not there by the time given for sail off, which is scary!! Only tours booked through the cruise company guarantee that the ship will wait for us if we are late back. There have been times when we have booked excursions through the ship. On our previous cruises we visited Rome, Florence, Pisa, Corfu and Venice using the ship's tour guides.

Also we have to take into account that with private tour guides we are in essence trusting our safety and experience to strangers. We have therefore researched tours guides on sites such as Trip Advisor, Cruise Critic and other sites and come up with a plan of action for the cruise. Nothing is set in stone, but we plan to DIY the English speaking ports such as Sydney, use the cruise company for the ports that are further away from our main sites such as Beijing (that risk of missing the ship) and use private tour guides for some others such as Hong Kong.

Hope you enjoyed reading...


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thank you!!!

Thank you for all the lovely messages on this site and on Facebook.

To answer a few questions.

YES we are very excited to be going.

As for what we have been up to, Mum and I are currently busy with work and getting ready for this trip. Researching our ports of call is time consuming, but oh so much fun!!!

Yes, We have begun telling MJ small bits about our trip and are showing him pictures of where we are going and the ship itself.

Yes, we have a fixed itinerary. Detailed below...

We sail from Southampton on the 7th of January, stopping first in Ponta Delgada, Portugal, before continuing on to Barbados, St Lucia and Curacao. From here we transit through the Panama Canal taking us onwards to Huatulco in Mexico, then to watch the world famous cliff divers at La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico.

Next is the USA where we travel to San Francisco for two days before heading to the Hawaiian islands for Honolulu, and Hilo. We also call at colourful Bora Bora and Tahiti’s capital, Papeete, before we arrive in New Zealand visiting Auckland, Napier and Wellington. Next up is the instantly recognisable Opera House of Sydney, Australia, followed by Brisbane and Cairns, which is our gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!!!

Our journey continues with a stop in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea which is found inside a large collapsed volcanic crater, before heading to Japan’s third largest city, Osaka and then onto Nagasaki. From Xingang, China we will visit Beijing and the Great Wall. Then its on to Shanghai and two days in busy Hong Kong followed by the Vietnamese resorts of Nha Trang and Phu My, our base for touring Ho Chi Minh City.

In Thailand, we will explore Bangkok from Laem Chabang and the island resort of Ko Samui. Next up is Singapore, then Port Kelang for trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mumbai, India, is our next port of call followed by Muscat in Oman, leading up to an overnight call in Dubai, UAE.

The Red Sea cruise port of Safaga is our entry into Egypt and Luxor. Sokhna, Egypt is before Suez, where we will disembark so we can tour Cairo and the Pyramids, while the ship transits through the Suez Canal. Onwards to Limassol in Cyprus and Haifa, Israel. Our ship next calls at Civitavecchia for visits to Rome and then to Portugal to visit Lisbon, before heading home to Southampton on the 24th of April

So that's it, our trip of a lifetime, which would not be possible without the support of a great many people. THANK YOU!!!

Hope you enjoyed reading...