Preparing for travel with Windstar Cruises soon, I am nearly packed and ready to go. The 14-day Best of the Philippines & Borneo itinerary sails from Singapore to Hong Kong, adding up to 21 days in total with travel time plus pre- and post-cruise hotel stays. To many cruise travelers, myself included, that’s a rather long itinerary which requires additional thought. Still, rather than reinventing our planning, packing and preparation process, we’ll tweak it a bit. The idea here: cling to the familiarity that process, proven to work well on previous trips, while framing what looks to be a marvelous new travel experience in the best possible way.
First to know: it takes a while to get to Singapore from Orlando. I’ll fly first to Dubai then on to Singapore with Emirates airlines, a personal favorite. That’s a 14-hour flight that leaves in the early afternoon and arrives in Dubai the next day, just after midnight. In Dubai, I have a 9-hour layover which is actually really good news. Layovers of 8 or more hours brings a complimentary hotel room at the airport, courtesy of Emirates. That night, I fly on to Singapore, arriving in the early morning. Total travel time: about 30 hours. On most other airlines, this would be a chore. On Emirates I expect happiness, as proven by previous experience.
Emirates is a nice surprise in these days of cramming air travelers into tiny seats like cattle in a boxcar. On previous flights, Emirates passed every test with flying colors. When with Emirates, I feel a glimmer of light/hope at the end of the very dark tunnel it seemed air travel has flown directly into. Roomy seats in economy, lots of entertainment, good food and attentive crew make a big difference on a long flight plan. Still, the airline does not tell us when to sleep. We need to think really hard about that part and make getting sleep a priority which can be elusive in the air. It’s especially difficult on Emirates because flying is fun.
Frankly, if I arrive at Star Legend unrested, there is no one to blame except myself. Two long flights and a long layover with hotel provided make for three solid opportunities to sleep. Once in Singapore, we overnight at the Westin Singapore before boarding our yacht. Yes, no excuse. Hit the ground running…which is a good idea because embarkation day is the only day we are in Singapore. The return flight plan comes from Hong Kong through Dubai again and back to Orlando. There is no point in me planning sleep periods on the return. Chasing the sun back to the United States, I won’t sleep anyway.
Tweaking our process, I’ll bring more clothes on this trip than others. 21 days away from home takes different planning. Commonly choosing to not check luggage, I use ship laundry services to save packing space. On this trip, several travel days on the front and back end demand more clothing. That this event is very photo-oriented will take more camera gear too. Checked bag land here I come.
LEARN MORE: Travel With Carry On Luggage Only: Here’s How
I’ll check one large bag and carry on one bag and a personal item (backpack). That plan brings the ability to bring along things normally left behind, with other items already onboard used to substitute and supplement. Hair conditioner replacing (forbidden in carry-on) aerosol shaving cream comes to mind. Yes, that works.
In the checked luggage goes everything I can lose and not have the trip affected in a negative way. I will drop that bag at the Emirates ticket counter in Orlando then see it three days later in Singapore. If I never see it again I will have carried on a couple changes of clothing, all medications, travel documents and electronics. The idea here is to not need anything out of the checked bag until I am on the ship. On the two flights to Singapore and during the layover in Dubai, I will work out of what I have with me on the plane.
LEARN MORE: TSA Prohibited Items Search
Our sailing is also the Windstar 2018 President’s Cruise. On board will be Windstar President John Delaney (@JohnDelaneyWSC) and travel industry icon Gloria Bohan (@gloriabohan), Godmother to our ship, Star Legend. Bohan is also President and CEO of Omega World Travel and a pioneer in the world of women-owned business. Interesting here, Windstar Cruises is doing something different with tours in the Philippines where the lions share of our itinerary will have us. Members of the largely-Filippino crew will participate in tours in a way like we might show someone around our hometown. Now let’s think about this for a moment. What cruise line doesn’t have Filippino crew members? We’ll probably need to look at the world of European river cruises to find one. There are tremendous opportunities for everyone here; the crew, cruise line and travelers.
I have looked hard and can’t seem to find where another cruise line has done this before. I think this is breaking new ground and surely has the possibility of being a game changer…but that’s not new ground to Windstar. Known as the cruise line that is 180° From Ordinary, this fits in very nicely.
Follow Along As We Travel
- Instagram– Three a day, reflecting three critical elements of luxury cruise travel: beautiful scenes not found at home, onboard ambience and stellar crew members.
- Facebook– I’ll check in at every place we visit, with photos.
- Google+– ChrisCruises posts in a different place
- Twitter– Follow @ChrisCruises and the tags #WindstarCruises, #WindstarPrez and more to be added shortly.
- Flickr Photo Albums- one for multiple photos of each onboard event, destination visited, tour experienced and more
- Pinterest– Food glorious food and only food glorious food. The culinary operation in detail.
- Tumblr- See what Lisa is doing while Chris is traveling at The World As Lisa Sees It, one post a day.
- RSS Feed- everything we post here, delivered as you wish.
- Exposure Photo Storybooks- Usually created after sailing and reflection, these full-size images provide a distinctly different view of destinations and events also depicted elsewhere. Actually, you can preview the Windstar Experience via our storybook Windstar’s Costa Rica & Panama Canal. Our first time sailing with Windstar, this is the reason we came back.