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Sailing the Atlantic

June 4, 2007

The plan when we moved here was to downsize our life, including our expenses. Reducing the household income by 90% in exchange for not having to work tends to focus the mind like that! That said, there has always been a budget line for holidays and we always intended to get away from time to time, in a frugal sort of way.

So, how did we end up spending two weeks sailing across the Atlantic on a five-masted luxury cruise ship? Ahh, well it’s a story that involves Mandy, a website offering last minute cruise deals and a late night sign-up to their newsletter by her alter-ego The Reverend M.

Neither of us are “cruise people”; we used take holidays in remote Scottish cottages in November where there’s no mobile phone signal. We’re not really “different port on each day” sort of people, we like peace and tranquility and a quiet life. We’re also not keen on the idea of of having to have dinner with pre-assigned strangers, neither of us is that fond of having to make small talk with people we don’t know. And we are really, really not “charades on the aft main deck at 11am” sort of people.”

But wandering through a website Mandy found a cruise company that only has sailing ships – yes, they have engines too but aim to travel under sail for as much of each trip as possible. And so we chuckled and said if we were, ever, to take a cruise it would have to be on something like this.

caribbean_under_sail.jpg

And, then we saw that they have open dining programme where you can have dinner just as a two-some or with as many other people as you like. And, ohhh, look twice a year they reposition their boats from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and vice versa. 14 days of uninterrupted sailing with no ports, no excursions, nothing but the motion of the sea.

But of course this is 5* cruising and isn’t cheap, even for an oddity like a well priced repositioning cruise.

Remember Rev M’s late-night sign up to a late deals newsletter?

The newsletter dropped into Mandy’s mailbox, along with a dozen or more random offerings she gets each day. A quick skim spotted the name of the now notorious cruise line “if we were ever to go on a cruise … “. A further look showed that they had a late deal on the West-East repositioning cruise, sailing in two and an half weeks time. The price was nice, actually the price was fantastic but of course that would just be one part of a trip. We would need a flight to the Caribbean, a flight back from Western Europe, hotels at both ends ….

From Wednesday evening, when the email arrived, to Saturday morning Mandy sat at her desk and searched and researched and cross-referenced and plotted. “It’s just an intellectual exercise” she said. “I just want to see if I could make it work”. She routed us from Cyprus to Frankfurt to London to New York before on to the Caribbean all to minimise costs. She tried to make use of BA AirMiles, American Airmiles and any other loyalty scheme we had left over from our corporate days. She read travel websites and cruise discussion boards to get the best hints and tips.

By Saturday evening there was an air of exhaustion and defeat in the house. The only way to make this work was an expensive, but obscure, routing through Germany which would use Airmiles but would leave us with less than two hours to touch down in Barbados and make it to the boat, and only then if the flights into and out of NY were on time. All of the possibilities were made more complex, and more expensive, by the fact that the Cricket World Cup was underway in the Caribbean.

We were just about to give up on this “intellectual exercise” when Mandy frowned, muttered I wonder … other ship … earlier sailing … and disappeared back to her desk.

An hour later we had a plan that involved the crossing with a week earlier on another ship from the same line. When offices opened the following day we had bookings for a cabin and direct London – Barbados flights, on Airmiles.

Of course we only had one week before sailing, and two days before we had to leave home but, apparently we thrive on these challenges and intellectual exercises!

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One comment

  1. That is a lovely boat.



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