I need your visa(s)!
Day 9/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise
To keep track of what day we are on I have been counting on my fingers to count the days out. So if we left last Thursday December 22, 2022, then today must be day 9. Simple right? The problem with this method of counting our days on this 138 days cruise. as you can well imagine, is that after tomorrow, I will need to start counting on my toes, and then….well you understand. So the simple way of remembering what day it is, is to look at yesterday’s blog where I’ve captured what day we are on at the top! So there is a method to my madness on why I put the day at the top of the blog!
It is starting to feel like my former boss Ron used to say when he first retired from the Bank. ”Ask me what day it is?” And his answer would be “DECEMBER“ since he knew that he would get the month right, but the rest of the information on date and day of the week was superfluous! So I’m counting this way instead….by turning on the TV in our cabin. It’s brilliant actually because we don’t really need to know the day or the date….
Today is “At Sea” which is highlighted on the screen, and we have no bookings or obligations.
Tomorrow is Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica.
And you can see what we have planned for tomorrow. Richard will be going to the gym first thing in the morning and then chilling with his Swedish Mindful Massage for 50 minutes. He then plans on heading into the port city to walk around and see what he can see. I’ve asked Richard to please buy me a sweatshirt in town tomorrow. Unfortunately I did not bring enough warm casual layers to wear on the ship where the air conditioning is very cold. I brought lots of wraps and fancy sweaters for the evenings, but not enough casual warm tops and I’m really missing my ROOTS cozy sweatshirt to wear with leggings for sea days! It will be very interesting to see what he finds for me tomorrow. Shopping is not Richard’s ‘thing’ but I’m sure he will do a great job, because he knows I don’t like being cold! The good news is we still have L.A. and Santa Barbra with recognizable stores and sizing to be able to stop and pick up any clothing we feel we are missing or just cannot live without, before we head off into the rest of the world.
Last evening we arrived back to our cabin after spending dinner in the World Cafe and drinks in the Living Room, with Mike and Sharon, to find a card on our bed.
Simple right? I don’t wear a watch and Richard’s watch was not keeping time before we left Florida, so he isn’t wearing a watch either. We didn’t bring any alarm clocks because we always use our phones as our alarms and if we are going somewhere with an early wake up call, we will both set an alarm, just to be certain we don’t miss a flight for example. So we went to bed and did nothing with our phones. Both of our iPhones are set to automatically change when we travel from one time zone to another. In fact last year at this very time we were travelling from Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island to Plant City, Florida in our 40 foot diesel pusher RV which we affectionately called “Newman” (aka “Hey Newman” from Seinfeld). The trip took us 30 days to complete, and every time we knew we would be crossing from one time zone to another, “VOILA!” we would watch our iPhones switch to the the new time zone. So, having done last year’s big road trip we woke up this morning and carried on with our day as if our phones had changed to Central Time. What did we forget though?……..
Our data and roaming is off! We are strictly on wifi on the ship, and so our phones didn’t change time for us, even though they are set to automatically change time zones!
I woke up at 7am (so I thought) and was at the very crowded gym by 7:20am (so I thought). I could not get an exercise bike, so I did a very extensive 50 minute floor routine of strengthening as well as light arm weights. After finishing that routine, I saw there was a recumbent bike available and I went and did a further 25 minutes on the bike.
I quite enjoyed the recumbent bike today. My first time riding it. I did the leg routine and it was fabulous!
Richard was taking care of doing some laundry, while I worked out and when I got back to the room, I said we had better hurry, the World Cafe closes for breakfast at 9:30am (my mistake it closes at 10am), and thinking it was already after 9am, we needed to hurry up and get to breakfast. We walked up from our 4th floor cabin to the 7th floor to the World Cafe and quickly got our breakfast before we thought the buffet would be closing. We couldn’t understand how people could still be arriving at 9:40am for breakfast when the buffet was supposed to be closed already.
Being a sea day today, it was time for me to go and play Mah Jong at 10am. I arrived in Manfredi‘s at 10am (so I thought), to find only one other person ready to play Mah Jong. We tried to play 2 handed Mah Jong, which wasn’t very fulfilling and at around 10:30am (so I thought) one other player showed up and said “You guys must be real keeners, to be here so early and playing two handed Mah Jong, because its only 9:45am! Finally the penny dropped! I guess me and Richard were not the only ones who hadn’t changed our phones over to a manual time change!
Mah Jong today felt like an eternity since I was so early! Luckily one of our players had to leave around 11:10am (the real time), so that was my reprieve from playing more Mah Jong. The game is really good for my brain because its stretching it by making me think, and I’m not going to give up on it, but so far NO Mah Jong’s for me and I was not up for more than 2 hours of Mah Jong today!
I felt my phone vibrating as Mah Jong was finishing up and Richard was texting me to meet up for trivia on the 7th floor Explorer’s Deck. I had to enlighten Richard at this point that he had a full hour still before trivia because we were still on the wrong time! In fact as I’m writing the blog today on my Ipad I noticed that I needed to change the time on my Ipad too!
Heh! I just gained an hour more time this afternoon! And now I have updated both my iphone and my ipad to manual time changes, so the next time we get a card in our room for a time change, we will be on it, and not ‘rookies’ like we were today! We are experienced travellers, but we forgot that we don’t have cellular data or roaming on, so there was no way our phones would know to change over to the new time zone!
Yesterday between the Gatun Locks and the Pedro Miguel locks while we were in Gatun Lake, I started to look into responding to the paper that had been left in our cabin when we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale.
The paper is a little wrinkled, but I’m sure you can read it.
Viking needs a copy of all of our visas on file so they have them to provide in advance to the countries that we are visiting who have visa requirements. I’m going to digress here and tell you a story about travel visas that will hopefully help any people travelling on next year’s World Cruise.
Viking uses a company in Washington D.S. called ‘Gen Visa‘ who will obtain all required visas for the cruise. We received an email from Viking ~September 19th, 2022 letting us know that the Visa package was ready to be completed. It is a time consuming process to complete the visas for each country, since some countries wanted last name first, and others wanted it first name, last name, and the same situation with the order for the birth dates. I completed all of the visa forms, Richard drove to Buffalo to a Fed Ex office, used the prepaid mailing label provided by Viking and sent all of our visas applications off to Gen Visa in Washington for processing. We expedited our visas because Gen Visa could not obtain ‘e-visa’s’ for India, because India had cancelled the ‘e-visa’ program for Canadians. We received our physical visas for New Zealand, Australia, and Saudi Arabia, along with our passports back within 15 days from Gen Visa, with a note saying that Gen Visa would send us emails for our electronic Sri Lanka and Vietnam visas at a later date. Now that we had our passports back in our hands, we drove 2 hours from our home in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada (across from Buffalo), to Brampton, Ontario, Canada and waited in line, in the cold from 6:15am til 11:15am at the Indian visa office to once again leave sight of our passports, to get actual physical visas for India placed in our passports. We received our Indian visas and our passports back on November 3, 2022. The costs for our Indian visas and out of pocket expenses for expediting visas, mileage, toll costs and Indian visas have all been refunded to our onboard ship account by Viking today, after we provided Viking’s Guest Services on board with the emails we sent to our travel agent in Canada regarding the different process for Canadians to obtain Indian visas, and in addition, our travel agent’s emails to Viking Canada, along with our original receipts. To say that the process of obtaining Indian visas was easy, would be a lie. I would say that trying to get the Indian visas, given the timing of when we were leaving Canada for our home in Florida (November 4th!) was a very stressful situation! And the very ironic part of this story I haven’t told you yet! On December 22, 2022 when we were getting ready to catch our Lyft to Ft. Lauderdale cruise port, to board the Viking Neptune, Richard received a phone call from Gen Visa saying that India had just opened up the process for Canadians to get tourist visas using the ‘e visa’ process. Imagine! The day we are to board, suddenly everything becomes uncomplicated! Kudos to Viking though for taking care of us and refunding us all of our expenses to obtain the Indian visas. We have never travelled with Viking before, (I’ve never cruised before at all), but we had heard that Viking would take care of us, from past Viking World Cruisers and Viking came through as promised. We feel pretty good today on how seamless the process was onboard with Viking’s Guest Services and how well we have been taken care of over something that is frankly out of Viking’s control.
So now back to the original story. Yesterday when I had some free time in between Lock photography I pulled out my detailed folder where I have labelled all of our visas by country and took photos of them all and tried to send them in one email to the 2nd purser as instructed in the form that Viking had left in our cabin. I got busy again with photography in the Panama Canal and didn’t check my phone, and sure enough, the emails didn’t go through, because the file was too large. I finally decided last night when we got back to our cabin that I would send multiple emails and see if that worked. Thankfully the purser’s office acknowledged receipt of my emails so I could see which once’s they were getting. This morning I woke up to another email from the purser’s office to say that our photos on our Saudi visas were not clear, so could I please send another email with those photos as an attachment, instead of a photo. I sent the email, the purser has acknowledged it and now all of our visa requirements should be satisfied for Viking! PHEW! A process that started with the Viking Visa package ~on September 19th, 2022 is completed on December 30th, 2022. For Viking World Cruisers next year, especially from Canada, don’t wait until 90 days before the cruise to start the visa process if there are any countries which are not issuing e-visas for Canadians. As a head’s up, the e visa country by country process is something to monitor or have your travel agent monitor, in the months before the visa package is sent out by Viking.
Yesterday when we were finally going through our last locks at Miraflores, our wildlife guest lecturer, Robin Petch who was on the Explorer’s Deck at the front of the ship, pointed out that there was an osprey on the port side as we were traversing through the locks. I unfortunately had the wrong lens with me on my Fuji XT-4 to fully capture the osprey, but luckily our friend Mike was in his cabin on the balcony and caught this great close up of the osprey.
Osprey near Panama City captured by Mike Schofield, from Thorold, Ontario, Canada.
We finally made it to trivia at 12:15 today after our time zone mix up. Our team thought we were having a good day, but only managed 12/15 unfortunately to lose to a team that was almost perfect at 14/15.
I mean who knew that David Robert Jones was really David Bowie? And that the capital of the Faroe Islands is named “Torshavn” which is also the name of the nightclub on Deck 2 that we still have not been able to get to since we boarded last week. One of these days we will make it to Torshavn and not in the Faroe Islands!
It is a beautiful sunny day in the Pacific Ocean with the temperature a very warm 81F or 27C. The sun is streaming in our cabin and I think its time to relax on our balcony before our 4:30pm port talk on Costa Rica. I’m very excited for my excursion tomorrow because it will be a photographer’s delight. I’m going to be packing the right lens for my trip which will be a long day for me! I’m going to take Mike’s advice and find some oranges for the journey, as well as pack my NUUM hydration tablets I brought with me to make sure I don’t get dehydrated from the heat.
I’m not sure if there will be a blog tomorrow, but stay tuned for the day after when I’m sure the photos will be stunning from Costa Rica!