It took us a long time to do it, but we finally made the decision to take this cruise that we booked way back last September. There was no real rush, I guess, as we don't have to make final payment until mid June, and up till that point, our $100 deposit is fully refundable. We waffled about the trip and were on-again, off-again more times than I could count. The final deciding factor was whether we could get our flights using Aeroplan points. As this is a transatlantic cruise, ie we board in Southampton, just outside of London, England and disembark in New York City, our flights need to be 1 ways. To fly to London, England one way is just about the same price as flying return, so using Aeroplan points seemed like good value for our money. Especially when the routing for the Aeroplan ticket is no different than what you would get if you were paying full fare. No milk run, which is a real bonus. Anyone that's booked a reward ticket will attest to the fact that you rarely get anything remotely resembling a direct flight. Although it took 30,000 points for a flight and around $250 in tax per ticket, we decided it was a good savings of over $1000 each to use our points. Our return flight out of New York was a pretty good deal as well. After switching our credit cards to the new TD Aeroplan Visa, we were each given a 2 for 1 short haul flight. Lucky for us, New York, and specifically Newark, NJ are considered short haul flights from Saint John. So, another Aeroplan flight. Unfortunately our return isn't quite as direct as we have to overnight in Montreal. Still, when we crunched the numbers, it was still a savings to use points. So, when our flights came together with relative ease, it was really the deciding factor to "go all in" on this 26 day transatlantic cruise.
To no one's surprise, I'm sure, the planning has already begun. Well really, it is only a little over 19 weeks away. Some would say we're a bit late to try to arrange some tours. The itinerary of this cruise includes stops in England, Ireland, Scotland, Paris, Norway, and Iceland with a last stop in St. John's, Nfld, before finishing up in New York City. A couple of the ports of call are ones that we've already been to. Belfast is one that we've seen and done all that we care to see and do as tourists there. Fortunately my good friend Stuart is picking us up to take us out to visit the McLaughlin's for the day. The other stop in Ireland that we've pretty much seen all of is Dublin. I may have 1 or 2 little things I want to see there, but it certainly won't be a busy day of sightseeing. The one stop that will no doubt stand out as my favourite will be when we arrive in Liverpool. What are we doing there? Well, I can assure you that it will have NOTHING to do with the Beatles. In fact, we are hopping a train and heading inland for 40 minutes to Manchester. There, I have obtained 2 tickets to tour the old Granada Studios where my all time favourite show, Coronation Street, was filmed for 50 + years before they just recently relocated to brand new studios in Trafford. Just like Monte Carlo was the Mecca of our last cruise, Manchester, and specifically the Old Granada Studios will be the pilgrimage that we must make this trip.
One last thing I am trying to organize that will make the trip complete is for our stop in Le Havre, France. We're not going to make the 2.5 hour train ride into Paris. It's just too long. Instead, I want to arrange transportation from the port up to either the beaches at Normandy, or Vimy Ridge. I thought renting a car was going to be the way to do it most cost effectively, however, we are in Le Havre on a Sunday, and low and behold, most car rental places in this port are closed on Sunday. Oh well, there will be other options, I'm sure. I'm not worried....still lots of time to sort it out.
And there are still cabins available...so come on along!!
Friday, April 11, 2014
Quispamsis, New Brunswick, Canada