Fretwell's Travel Journal: Chapter 1 -- Indonesia, Arabia, India, and Mediterranean Discovery Cruise.

It has been several years since I last posted chapters of our Fretwell's Travel Journal, largely because we have fallen into a comfortable pattern of travel to British Columbia in early Spring to fly fish for the incredible Kamloops Rainbow trout, and then to Montana to continue the fly fishing in a lake near West Yellowstone. That travel, while very interesting to me, is not to readers other than fly fishers, so I haven't written about it. I did write about our cruise from Vancouver to Bangkok in 2009, but nothing since.

Now, we are preparing to embark on a "bucket list" cruise -- one encompassing nearly one-third of a round-the-world cruise, and lasting 57 days. This one will commence in Singapore on March 14th, and end in Rotterdam on May 10th. We'll depart Phoenix on March 10th and get back on May 15th, for a total trip of 65 days. In reality, it is an around-the-world trip, but much of that is just l-o-n-g flights. (We'll really see only the part of the world we cruise to, and that just a whole series of day "teasers.") We depart Phoenix and fly west to Los Angeles; then west again to Singapore. Two days later we start the long "boat" ride, all 14,000 miles, in a generally westerly direction, ending in The Netherlands. From Rotterdam, we take a train (west) under the English Channel to London. From London, we'll fly west to Phoenix. So, for 65 days we travel westerly, and thus go around the world -- in under 80 days.

It has been one of my dreams to do this cruise for years, but Ardie's health has prevented it. Now, with her two renal arteries stented, and 2 years of improving health her doctor has declared her fit for such an epic journey, and we're "gonna do it" while we're still young enough to enjoy it. I say it is a bucket list cruise, not because we're near death, not by a long shot we hope (!), but because we recognize that you need to live your dreams while your health allows it.

Although it has been my dream, Ardie is all for it, and very excited about the adventure. She loves all travel, but cruising in particular. Planning this trip together has been much fun -- and a whole lot of details.

So-o-o, here is the long itinerary, for those who want the nitty-gritty details:

Itinerary. Itinerary. Itinerary.

I will also be posting photographs to my website, but they probably won't be there in a timely manner, because the satellite internet connection on cruise ships operates more slowly than old "dial-up" modems! It isn't slow because satellite internet is inherently that slow, it is because the cruise lines are too cheap to provide the bandwidth needed by 3000 passengers! They charge dearly for connection time, and the connections are glacially slow. So, pictures will be posted when we have time in ports where good internet connections are available at internet cafes.

Chapters of our travel journal will be less difficult to upload, so those should be available on a reasonable basis -- sans pics. I try to keep current with my writing, so it is a little each day, and posted perhaps weekly. This way I don't get overwhelmed, and neither do my readers.

The Fretwell's Travel Journal is being sent to about 35 email addresses. I have added the names of those who asked to be included (4 -- yeah, just four) and those friends I thought might be even remotely interested (31). If I guessed wrongly, just delete them without reading, send me a note to unsubscribe, or put one of my posts in your "Junk" file, and all further posts from me will go there -- forever, unless you eventually un-junk my email address.

Don't expect in-depth analysis of the countries we will visit. This cruise is just a "teaser." For example, we have only 1 day in Athens, and 1 day in Rome. One-day visits to such historic cities don't lend themselves to in-depth analysis. It is more like a wine-tasting party -- just a taste, just a teaser for more later. Nonetheless, I am not shy about sharing my first impressions, however fleeting our visits might be.

We will be out of country for 65 days, and will not be using our cell phones except for an emergency. It costs $2.50/minute for incoming or outgoing messages, and that includes all the unwanted text commercials, spam, etc. So they'll be turned off and will stay off unless we need them for emergency communications. If you need to contact us for non-emergency items, call our home phone number (480-289-9334) and leave a message. Phone messages to this number are sent to us by email, with a voicemail attachment that we can listen to. We'll respond when we can, by the best means we have at the time. I'll usually check email every other day or so, so that is when I'd get your voicemail message. In a real emergency, you can call the ship directly, and they'll forward a message. Calling from the U.S. to the ms Rotterdam, dial 011-870-764-663-213.

If you are reading this message, we are enroute. I delayed sending it until we were ready to head to the airport at 3:30 pm. We will be 25 hours enroute from Phoenix to Singapore.

-- Marvin O. Fretwell, 3/10/2014

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