Someone should publish a book about preparing for a long holiday. Our experience has been rather different from that of young people, including our daughter, who do little more than book flights and go for their year off. We have found there was a lot to do and sometimes one or two problems to overcome. Our house insurers for the past 12 years – and from whom we’ve never claimed – told us that they would not insure us if our home was unoccupied for more than 60 days (our Queen Mary journey is 120 days). We assumed that we would manage that by getting our adult children to have the occasional weekend here. But the insurers were adamant that we, personally, could not be away for more than 60 days. So we are newly insured – albeit not at any significant additional cost.
We have had conflicting advice about whether or not to leave the heating on or turn it off and drain the system. We are opting for the latter. Getting medicines – which Jan needs – for four months has not been straightforward and has taken quite a lot of energy to organise and has necessitated a private prescription for one month because of an apparent NHS limit on prescribing for more than three months at one go. That said we realise how lucky we are. Those without the NHS and travelling on the same cruise will either have had to pay increased insurance premiums or had to buy their medication. whereas our costs have been zero. But we have had to pay extra for travel insurance and for me the combination of a 120 day absence, coupled with the fact that it’s less than five years since I had cancer, meant that my complimentary travel insurance from our Bank would not suffice and I’ve had to pay an additional one off premium of £350.
Mail has been straightforward – everything will be re-directed to our daughter. But for the last twelve months we have also sought to put every possible transaction online; gas, electricity, phones, Council Tax, motor and home insurance as well as banking.
And then there were Visas. Generally, things have been straightforward, our journey mostly takes us to places which don’t require a visa for UK travellers or where visas are granted on arrival. We do require Australian visas but their excellent online system granted each of us those within 12 hours. The problem, of course, has been India. We love India and have holidayed there on four occasions, staying for a total of about ten weeks. But we were told by Cunard, some months ago, that we needed full visas, rather than E visas, for our single stop in India, in Cochin. The cost of a full visa is pretty steep at around £175 each (including fees charged by the specialist visa company). But it’s the bureaucracy in the application process and the documentation required which irritates. And Cochin, which we’ve visited before, is unexceptional. So we decided that we shall stay on the ship for that day. Nevertheless, CIBT Visas, Cunard’s specialist visa provider, encouraged us to believe we would still need an e visa because we’d be entering Indian waters. It’s not so – and CIBT should know that. We’ve now had confirmation from The Indian High Commission, via Cunard, that if we don’t leave the ship we do not require a visa. It’s clear that a number of other passengers will be staying onboard as well.
Nine days to go. I’m not yet fully confident that something won’t happen to thwart our going. But I’ve thought that during most of the last two years when we’ve been planning the trip.