Even though I am originally from Boston I dislike very cold weather. I even dislike medium cold weather though I do delight in seeing the snow falling and the winter wonderland after the snow. Then comes the melting, the slush and mud. On top of that I have to wear my heavy coat, gloves, hat…well, you get the picture. Last year we didn’t have any trips planned for the winter and that was a first in a number of years. This year I again craved the warmth of the sun on my body with visions of turquoise waters surrounding me.
Blogger Hubby wasn’t interested in going on a trip so instead I asked a close friend if she would possibly be up for a trip to somewhere warm. Lucky for me she quickly agreed. She began the ball rolling by sending me an ad from American Americans for a vacation package in Aruba. The problem was that it needed to be booked by Christmas Eve and already it was December 22nd. Obviously that was a no go but it did kickstart me into finding somewhere to go. I began looking at all-inclusive resorts but for what we wanted, they seemed a little pricey except for the Cancun area and we were just there two years ago. Additionally, did we really want to sit on the beach day after day. Yes, we wanted the beach but not all day long every day. We needed to be able to go somewhere as well.
I followed in Blogger Son #2 footsteps and looked at renting a home through VRBO, Home Away and AirBnB. He was able to snag a beautiful home (not condo) in Aruba with a private swimming pool, and a very short walk to the beach by the Ritz Carlton for a bargain price. He also booked his flights through Chase for a discount. All this for Christmas week . He had been checking airfare to Aruba for several months and he jumped when he saw a price he liked. Me, I couldn’t do it. His place was all booked up for the rest of the winter and other places were either condos (which would have been okay) but I did like that he had a private home. I looked at other islands like Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin. Nothing seemed to float my boat.
I then looked at last minute cruises on the individual cruise line web sites. My traveling partner was fine with a cruise but she did ask that we not go to the same islands that she had been to before a few years ago. That proved to be a challenge since she had been to St Martin and Puerto Rico. Seems like many cruises go to these islands.
But then I saw a real possibility. On Saturday I was on Holland America website (yes, I do like it), and they had an eleven night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to their private island of Coco Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Columbia, partial transit of the Panama Canal, and then Costa Rica. There were a few staterooms available as the sailing was nine days but it made for really inexpensive fares. Rather than being on the 1st deck and feeling the engines, we chose to have an obstructed Ocean View stateroom. I know what you are thinking but at $800 for an eleven night cruise, and one that I have been on before on the same ship, this cabin would be good enough for us. Port charges are about $330 which is a lot but that is because of the high passenger charge imposed by the Panama Canal.
Can you tell that I am stoked about this trip? I have already booked my canal excursion. My regret from the previous cruise is that I stayed on the boat while in Gatun Lake (part of the canal) and I never saw more of Panama or of the canal. This time I was going to correct that mistake. Today I booked an excursion from the cruise line (only cruise lines offer excursions from their ships while in Gatun Lake since they have to tender you off). We will be riding the rails to Panama City, spending some time at the Miraflores Observation Tower and then taking a coach bus back to Colon, Panama where we will rebound the ship.
Now to plan for the other stops. Aruba – perhaps the beaches. Curacao – maybe a walking tour. Cartagena – I don’t know what. Costa Rica – my friend is looking at tours there.
Have you planned a trip with about a weeks notice? I’m finding that I’m not stressing as much as when I have a lot of time to prepare yet I am also trying to tie up loose ends. Canceling and rescheduling doctor’s appointments, getting prescription refills to take on the trip. The other good thing, according to Blogger Hubby is that I’m so busy trying to do all these other things that I’m not out shopping for this trip.
Stay tuned for more updates about this last minute trip.