Qingdao

Good Morning from what is apparently the Miami Beach of China!

And what the excursion manager says is the longest walk in a cruise terminal ever!

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Aboard!

Aboard! After the longest wait ever for checking in for a Viking Cruise (8 min? LOL) we are aboard @vikingcruises Orion. I live that their ships are all the same design so it always feels like coming home! We were offered and accepted an upgrade to a Penthouse Veranda for a nominal upcharge and know we will like the extra room (see that big sofa!), the incabin booze and the ironing service! Looking forward to the next 15 days!

Visa

(Reminder: this post is being published well after our visit, we are currently in Portland Oregon until Sept 4th)

Poor Mike, last year he had to spend his birthday in the Copenhagen airport overnight. This year he had the joy of spending the day or at least part of it at the Chinese visa office in Chicago.

If you would like to imagine what it is like just visualize the worst DMV office you ever visited and make 85% of people there speak a different language and throw in a few screaming babies. The good news is they say the visas will be ready in four days. This is much better than the alternative which was to mail our passports to a service who would have them back in 4-5 weeks which meant we would not be able to travel to the Canadian Rockies as we had hoped. Oh and it would’ve cost an extra $200 per person!

We were very pleased when we returned to the DMV office on Monday morning and picked up our passports with the visas attached.

China here we come!

Booked!

Our original thought had been to book Celebrity Millennium’s transpacific cruise from Vancouver to Tokyo (15 or 16 days depending on how you count the dateline day), stay in Japan for eight days or so, fly to Hawaii and stay there a few days and then board Celebrity Eclipse and cruise back (11 days) to Vancouver. We had been waiting to book the outbound cruise until after final payment for those who had already booked in hopes that we might catch an even better deal than what was already been offered. We didn’t expect to book the return cruise until that ship’s final payment date which is next month.

After lots ( I mean lots!) of discussion and research and phone calls and emails and looking at our finances and other nashing of teeth, we booked earlier today the major portions of our Asia adventure.

But of course, something always comes along to mess with one’s plans! On Saturday, Mike got a promo email from Viking offering a good price (at least for for Viking) an upgrade and “free” airfare on their 14 night Beijing to Hong Kong cruise. That is when the nashing of teeth really started! LOL

While it wasn’t in our financial plan, after doing a major spreadsheet, we came to realize that while it was a little bit more money out of pocket than the Hawaii/cruise back plan that due to the extended length that it really wasn’t that much more expensive on a per day basis than what we were already doing.

How is that for rationalization?

We also decided that seeing China from the relative comfort of a cruise ship (especially a Viking one!) as well as the number of overnights that Viking does would be a good introduction to this vast country which frankly we are somewhat concerned we may find overwhelming.

So we bit the bullet this morning and are in the process of booking these two cruises, as well as figuring out the itinerary for the time between the two cruises. Right now we are looking at flying from wherever we end up in Japan to X’ian to see the terra cotta warriors on our way to Beijing where we have booked (at a really good price we believe) Viking’s two day precruise “extension” (seems like it ought to be called something else to me). Of course we are concerned about riding in the back of the bus from Hong Kong back to Seattle to pick up our car and continue our road trip…but hopefully we will be able to at least buy up to some extra legroom seats….fingers crossed!

I am still working on our plans after July 4th when we leave Illinois headed to Montana, Calgary and Vancouver, but now we are also starting to plan the Asia portion. Hope you will enjoy following along as we do so!

Oh yeah, I know, I know…I promise to post regarding our fun times after Columbus through our stay here in Canada…soon, no really…soon! LOL