Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Day -68, Grand Asia 2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 — Chicago:

Perhaps I have lost my mind, but I’ve just signed up for Holland America’s 2018 Grand Asia cruise that leaves this fall. As readers may remember, I sailed on this cruise last year and blogged daily. The cruise has expanded to 82 days, skips New Zealand and adds Taiwan, Okinawa and more South Pacific islands.

I know I said last year’s 80-day Grand Asia cruise was my “cruise of a lifetime.” I guess it was just my “cruise of 2017.”

Why am I taking this cruise again? A confluence of factors:

  • I’ve spent the last month editing my 80 blog posts from last year’s Grand Asia cruise into text for a series of photo books. It’s left me feeling nostalgic for the countries we visited, the leisurely days at sea and the friends I made aboard the MS Amsterdam.
  • I took my introduction to watercolor on last year’s cruise to heart and have expanded into urban sketching. In fact, I’m taking an intensive course in it at the Art Institute of Chicago next week. My goal is to document my travels by sketching and water coloring along the way. I just needed the right trip – and this is it.
  • When Joyce texted me that she was thinking about going on the cruise again this year, I decided the signs were piling up. We met on a 2011 cruise, and I talked her into going on last year’s Grand Asia. (It didn’t take a lot of persuasion.) Once I checked the roll call on Cruise Critic for this fall’s Grand Asia cruise, I saw another half-dozen friends I met last year. Now it’s a reunion!
  • Holland America was offering a good flash sale for a guaranteed cabin (they will assign me a cabin later) and my Chinese visa is still good. I didn’t have any travel planned for the fall, other than returning to Dallas from Chicago when the weather turns cold.

So when I go to Dallas in August for doctor appointments and some business, I will need to return to Chicago packed with everything I will need on the cruise.

Meanwhile I am researching new ports and new things to do in ports I already have visited. Holland America has some shore excursions posted, and my fellow Cruise Critic members are busy organizing private tours. Joyce and I agree we want to do more food tours this time around. And of course I want to make time for sketching.

Another challenge will be figuring how to vote absentee. I may need to stop in a U.S. embassy along the way to submit my ballot. We’ll see what Texas has to say about the particulars.

I know there are dozens more details that need attention, so I will be busy for the next couple of months. I’ll fill you in as I prepare.