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Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 20, 2009 8 years ago

Around the world in 114 days

by: Dora Walters Senior Editor

“The roads in the major cities in Vietnam are teeming with motor scooters going every which way. The scooters are the family vehicle, except for the very wealthy. All manner of things are carried on them, groceries, hay bales, propane tanks, suitcases and even a live hog ‘ho- tied,’ so to speak, upside down behind the driver. It is not uncommon to see a family on one …”

Recently retired in 2007, Spanish Main Yacht Club residents Jim and Connie Cameron thought about taking a cruise. They didn’t have anything special in mind, and it was a bit of surprise when Connie came home one day with brochures about a 114-day around-the-world trip. The couple says the decision to book was instantaneous.

They made an immediate commitment, but the first booking was not available until January 2008.

“My mother made the same trip in 1980, and I think that might have influenced my decision,” Connie said.

Jim spent the next year researching options for port excursions and had their itinerary planned before they even boarded the Amsterdam, a cruise ship of the Holland America line.

Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, their route took them through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean to Bora Bora, then Australia and New Zealand, over the Indian Ocean to Singapore, Vietnam, Egypt, Istanbul and Sevastopol, through the Mediterranean Sea to Venice, Gibraltar and Malta, then across the Atlantic to Bermuda, New York and Florida.

Jim kept a daily log of their adventure, and together they snapped 3,000 photos.

Their nine-story cruise liner with its crew of 633 provided for every need of its 1,600 passengers.

Stops were made at 40 ports, usually for the day. The only overnight stay off the ship was in Shenzhen, China, at a five-star hotel.

Their travel at sea was usually calm, but they did hit rough weather in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. A cyclone off the coast of Australia led to a 240-mile detour away from danger.

“The extensive smog in the China and the Philippines surprised me,” Connie said about their trip. “It really was intense.”

Although they thoroughly enjoyed their trip, both agreed it was a bit long to do again. However, Connie said many people do repeat the trip — one woman on their cruise was on her 32nd time.

The couple said they would probably plan another cruise in the future, but the next one would be a shorter cruise to two spots they really enjoyed: New Zealand and Australia.

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