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WEDNESDAY 22 & THURSDAY 23 February – Air Travel
Although we had done a lot of preparation, today was finally the first day of a big adventure that we had not planned on doing. That is to say, Nancy (of Paul and Nancy) had booked one of the 2-bedroom Haven suites on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Joy for a 15-night, 16-day cruise from Los Angeles, California to Miami, Florida by way of the Panama Canal. They invited us to come along, and it did not take long for us to accept the invitation. We had to pay the “added passenger” fees that covered food, entertainment, and gratuities, as well as any shore excursions or specialty dining we wanted to do, but that was still an unbelievable bargain for us.
We left early in the morning and drove to our daughter’s house. We left our F-150 there and she drove us to the airport. Our flight’s departure was a little delayed, which was not a problem for us, but did get us out of the Detroit, Michigan area just ahead of a brewing winter storm. The flight was uneventful, but a major storm was affecting much of California, and we arrived in Los Angeles to very strong winds. Heavy rain was causing flooding in Ventura County, just north of LA, prompting evacuation orders, and higher elevations all over the state were getting large quantities of snow. All of this precipitation was easing or erasing serious drought conditions that had developed, in some places, over the last 20 years. It was serious weather situation for much of the state, but it was still nice to be in So-Cal at this time of year.
This was a trip of firsts for us, starting with ordering an Uber to get us to the Staybridge Suites in Long Beach where we were sharing a 2-bedroom suite with Paul and Nancy. Their flight from Orlando, Florida had arrived during the morning, and they were already checked into the room by the time we arrived. Embarkation for the cruise was on Friday the 24th, but we had all flown in on the 22nd just to make sure we (and our luggage) were there before boarding the ship. That gave us two nights to relax and adjust to the change in time zone. We had pizza and salad delivered for dinner on Wednesday, and used the restaurant in the Holiday Inn next door for dinner on Thursday.
On the 23rd, Paul and I walked to the nearest CVS, about a mile from the hotel, to pick up some water and other last-minute sundries. When we got back from our quest, we could tell that Linda and Nan had been up to something. Neither of them is very good at keeping secrets, so we quickly learned that they had booked us on yet another cruise, this one on the MSC Magnifica. It would depart from Genoa, Italy on January 5, 2025 and return there 116 days later (May 1, I think), having circumnavigated the globe, with much of that time in the Southern hemisphere. It’s a long trip, with a price attached, but they booked it because the price was incredibly reasonable for what was on offer. But more on that at some point in the future. As of this moment it is not a certainty that we will actually go on this journey, but our deposits have been paid (they are refundable).