Wednesday, March 2nd
Hello Family and Dear Friends! We leave this evening for a LONG flight to Singapore via Taipei, Taiwan. This will be our first time using EVA Airlines and I am curious to see what we think of them. They have been rated quite well on Trip Advisor and on Airlineratings.com they got a top 7/7 score on both product and safety.
Leaving late Wednesday evening from Los Angeles, it will take us 20 hours and 35 minutes to get there if everything is on time. Since we are traveling half way around the world, with the time zone changes, it will be midday on Friday the 4th (Singapore time) when we arrive.
On this journey we will be gone a month. Here’s a recap of what we were supposed to be doing:
SouthEast Asia ~ Upon arrival we will spend a couple of days getting acclimated and do a little sightseeing on our own. I booked the Carlton City Hotel in Singapore for two nights before and two nights after our cruise. We will board the Sapphire Princess on March 6th, for the 11 day Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam Grand Adventure cruise.
Embarking in Singapore, our stops will include Ko Samui and Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Singapore; Penang, Langkawi, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; then terminate back in Singapore. We plan on spending two more nights in Singapore after the cruise and then will fly from there to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on March 19th. I have booked two nights at the Ohana Phnom Penh Palace Hotel.
But – STOP THE PRESSES…
Just five days before we were scheduled to depart, I got a phone call from Princess Cruise Line’s Headquarters with the interesting news that our 11 day cruise was oversold. They were looking to find a few people who were flexible with their travel time, who could reschedule. They made us, as the say, “an offer too good to refuse”.
It was called a “move over deal”.
In a nutshell, here is the content of the email sent to us and what we agreed to:
Princess is extending a special offer to guests booked on the Sapphire Princess departing March 6, 2016 and are able to move to any 2016-2017 Princess voyage up to 21 days (or combination of cruises of their choice totalling 21 days).
Guests also receive:
* A full refund on the March 6, 2016 sailing of Sapphire Princess to be applied as a refundable onboard credit on the future cruise selected
* $500 pp to cover out of pocket expenses ($1000 per cabin)
* Free cabin upgrade, if available
* Air change fees covered up to $500 per person (Princess Air is protected)
Tim thought that getting a balcony cabin on two cruises (a 10 & 11 day cruise OR one 14 day and one 7 day cruise) OR getting three 7 day cruises OR any combination up to 21 days, for FREE sounded like a pretty good deal indeed!!! Plus getting paid $1000 for our inconvenience. In addition, they will cover any expenses I am out for rescheduling such as air fare change fees and hotel cancellation fees.
Pretty sweet deal, but it left me scrambling to come up with some alternative plans for March 4th – 21st.
Here’s what we came up with:
I kept the hotel reservation for our first two nights in Singapore. We will then fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and take a 14 day “Best of Cambodia Tour with Intrepid Travel. This will allow us three additional days at Angkor Wat that I am very pleased with, as well as giving us the opportunity to see Cambodia in much more depth.
This tour runs from March 6th through March 19th. It ends back in Phnom Penh, on the exact date to coincide with the two nights I had already booked there at the Ohana PP Palace Hotel. This tour fits like a glove with what I had already prebooked.
Since the changes are all last minute, everything was “on request” status and would not be confirmed until two days before departure. That is cutting it close!
Now back to the part of our trip that remains unchanged…
We will meet up with our first Gate 1 tour of the year (15 Day Cambodia & Vietnam) in Phnom Penh on March 21st.
The highlights of this tour (per the Gate 1 website) include:
- View the impressive Silver Pagoda on the grounds of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
- Stand in awe at the architectural masterpiece of Angkor Temple Complex
- Ox cart ride in the lush farmlands and visit the National Museum, Siem Reap
- Ho Chi Minh City Tour includes the Notre Dame Cathedral, City Hall and the magnificent Saigon Opera House
- Old City of Hoi An a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Tour of the Imperial City and the 19th century Citadel, Hue
- Sail on Halong Bay, one of the most breathtaking places on the planet
- Visit the Museum of Ethnology and attend the world-famous Water Puppet Show, Hanoi
We fly home from Hanoi on April 3rd.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am limbering up my trigger finger, getting ready to take a multitude of photos! I’m suffering from photography withdrawals, and can’t wait to get out there snapping again. I’m so excited to be back on the road and hope that you will join us as we get to explore more of SE Asia…