The Woodyren's 2022 wanderings. Maldives Mallorca Malaga Mykonos and the Matterhorn plus many parts/ports in between.

woodyren

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Prologue.

Getting an early start on a trip report for our upcoming long awaited and in parts many times cancelled 10 week trip. In anticipation of many potential bumps in the road with the high numbers of flight cancellations, delays, luggage issues, strikes, covid issues etc it maybe a disjointed trip and subsequently the TR might ebb and flow as we also try to go with the flow as we meet any issues.

Background.

This trip grew from a few different directions.

While I have decent records some of these booking timelines are from memory but the general gist remains the same.

We had a Trans Atlantic cruise from Barcelona booked pre covid for Nov 2020 on Allure of the Seas. It was booked at an incredible price. We had also bookings for a few Caribbean cruises along with J awards bookings on Singapore Airlines to Barcelona and J awards on Eva Air from Houston to Hong Kong after some time in the USA. The Hong Kong flight was to link up with a few more Asian cruises at the time.

I work casual had planned to do a lot of travel during 2020/21 and hopefully onwards. With the arrival of covid I ended up working continuously for that period and the travel war chest grew accordingly.

Once the full impact of virus was evident cruise lines were cancelling and offering various incentives for those passengers affected. This helped cruise companies retain funds or accrue as much future revenue as possible. We almost exclusively cruise on Royal Caribbean and their main two offers during the disruptions were 125% Future Cruise Credits (FCC) and the ability to lift and shift any current of future bookings forward to similar length sailings if Royal cancelled the cruise.

As an avid reader and student of AFF I have leaned to try to take whatever advantages are possible out of many situations. Of course leaving money with a cruise line that potentially could go belly up was a risk but with as much information as possible we decided to roll the dice.

When the first cancellations started happening early 2020 they were still allowing bookings for late 2020 European Med and Europe cruises. They were on an older ship with covid emerging and were far less expensive than normal. At the same time the schedule and much more expensive bookings for late 2022 were becoming available. I deliberately booked the three late 2020 cruises foreseeing that they would almost certainly be cancelled and hoping that I could then shift them to the much more expensive ones at another time.

As hoped I successfully shifted all the cancelled 2020 Med bookings to three B2B2B Med sailings in Junior Suites in 2022 on Odyssey of the Seas. The itineraries are almost the same for the 3 cruises but we like the idea of having three different days in each of the ports. That worked a treat and we have three Junior Suites where the total cost for two people on each is around the current price for one passenger.

Once we had shifted to these cruises the Trans Atlantic 14 night cruise was cancelled. They gave a variety of options with the only criteria being the same cruise length + or - one day and the same cabin category being available on the selected ship. Total price for our Trans Atlantic for 2 pax was a huge bargain at $1725 USD for a balcony cabin. In the new release of UK cruises a rare 14 night itinerary to Spain, Portugal, Spanish Med Islands etc became available. We successfully shifted the TA to that cruise and retained the price.

We also had some other cruise bookings from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore at various times in 2020/21/22. I paid full payment early knowing we would get a 125% credit if in all likely hood they were cancelled. Payment in full also allowed me to meet sign up bonus spend for the many credit cards I managed to get approval for in the last two years due mainly to my unexpected salary. All those cruise credits have been been applied to other future cruises affectively reducing their cost.

From another angle we decided to treat ourselves to a bucket list stay at the Pullman Maamutaa Maldives and planned to link that in with some of the Asian cruises in mid 2021. I paid for almost the whole price of the Luxury Escapes deal with LE gift cards on a 30 x WR points deal generating quite a few FF points for the booking. We cancelled the trip booking and deferred it early 2021 when it became obvious we wouldn't be able to go.

So that gave us a firm booking for the following cruises which were locked in by mid 2021.

August 14th 2022. Anthem OTS 14 night cruise from Southampton.

Sept 11th 2022 till Oct 7th 2022. B2B2B Med cruises on Odyssey OTS from Rome( Civitavecchia).

There were still some conflicting open bookings on China cruises but they were refundable for at least a FCC if we cancelled or a refund or 125% FCC is Royal cancelled. They obviously were not happening anyway.

Then the search for flights began. Plenty of QFF and KF points to use.

First flights I found were SIN-MLE flights on August 5th along with a MLE-LHR on August 10th . All in J saver through KF on Singapore Airlines. I quickly rebooked that date for Luxury Escapes Pullman as well as the flights.

Later SYD-MLE J saver flights became available through KF so I cancelled the SIN-MLE leg and booked the SYD-MLE ones. They get us to MLY a day earlier than out Pullman booking but that allows us a little bit of contingency plus and early arrival at the resort rather than a potential late evening one.

Still to plan at that stage getting home from Rome and what to do between August 28th when we disembark Anthem in Southampton and boarding Odyssey on Sept 11th in Civitavecchia. More research was required.

Coincidently around that time a friends Facebook memory posts of his trip through Switzerland started popping up. Piqued our interest and started focusing research onto the possibilities of spending time there between cruises. Train travel through the region looked spectacular but at times quite expensive. Eventually we settled on rail travel between Southampton and Civitavecchia and purchased a multi day 1st class Eurail Mobile Pass to cover our travel. Working out how to plan the itinerary was reasonably simple at times but became a little more complex when some trains and routes required mandatory seat reservations. These reservations sometimes need to be made through other rail websites or third part rail operators and can't be done directly from the Eurail Rail planner app. I joined an Interrail travelers group on Facebook and the assistance found there proved invaluable.

Last piece to the puzzle fell into place when QFF released quite a few Qatar Airlines reward flights from Europe to Australia. Booked J reward flights from FCO to Syd for October 9th. Not Q suites unfortunately and taxes were high but still great value when you have a lot of QFF points accumulated during lockdown.

Full itinerary.

3rd August SQ232 SYD-SIN. J saver Singapore Airlines
Overnight on the chaise lounges in the SK lounge Changi.
4th August SQ432 SIN-MLE J saver Singapore Airlines.
4th August Umina Grand hotel Male.
5th - 10th August Pullman Maldives resort
10th August SQ437
11th August MLE-SIN SQ 308 SIN-LHR
11th August -14th August Intercontinental O2 London. Lounge access included.
14th August - 28th August Anthem OTS Mediterranean beaches cruise.
  1. SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND
  2. GIBRALTAR, UNITED KINGDOM
  3. MALAGA, SPAIN
  4. VALENCIA, SPAIN
  5. PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN
  6. BARCELONA, SPAIN
  7. IBIZA, SPAIN
  8. LISBON, PORTUGAL
  9. LISBON, PORTUGAL
28th August. Train Southampton to Frankfurt.
28th August. Tokyo Inn Frankfurt Station. Cheapie as just a sleep.
29th August Train Frankfurt - Zermatt.
29th August- 31st August Hotel Butterfly Zermatt. Gornergrat railway to Matterhorn.
31st August Glacier Express Zermatt- St. Moritz
31st August - 2nd Sept Hotel Arte St. Moritz. Hopefully a train trip St Moritz - Tirano on the Bernina Express route.
2th Sept Train St. Moritz - Interlaken.
2nd Sept - 5th Sept Interlaken Hotel Rossli - Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Jungfraujoch
5th Sept Interlaken - Train Interlaken - Lake Garda Italy.
5th Sept - 8th Sept Hotel City. Day train trip to Venice.
8th Sept Train Lake Garda - Florence.
8th Sept - 11th Sept Florence 7 B&B Day Train trip to Pisa.
11th Sept Train Florence - Civitavecchia
11th Sept - 7th Oct Odyssey OTS Med cruises.
  1. (CIVITAVECCHIA), ITALY
  2. NAPLES, ITALY
  3. ATHENS (PIRAEUS), GREECE
  4. SANTORINI, GREECE
  5. MYKONOS, GREECE
  6. EPHESUS (KUSADASI), TURKEY
  7. CHANIA (SOUDA), CRETE, GREECE
7th Oct Train Civitavecchia - FCO Airport.
7th Oct- 9th Oct Hotel Tiber Port of Fiumicino.
9th Oct- 10th Oct FCO-DOH-SYD Qatar Airlines J rewards QFF.

Rough costs in AUD if anyone is interested. Some costs in other currencies so it just ballpark AUD figures. .

Flights
375,000 KF pts plus $400 taxes
318,000 QFF pts plus $1800taxes

Cruises
$15000.
All cruises come with 5 daily drinks each, a few free internet days each and other perks as a result of loyalty status. Total of $1600 USD on board credit from various sources including $550 USD as a result of owning 100 RCCL shares.

Trains
Eurail 1st class 15 days in two months pass $1700. Around $250 extra for seat bookings and surcharges on Eurostar/ Glacier Express/ ICE/ Italian express trains.
Still to pay for Gornergrat and Jungfraujoch high mountain trains.

Maldives Luxury Escapes
All inclusive $7500

Other hotels.
20 nights. All with breakfast (and maybe lunch that falls into a handbag lol) $5000
Booked with Booking.com via a 16% cashback offer from Shopback.
All refundable up till a few days before arrival. Every one of the bookings have only risen in price since booked.

Connectivity.
Airalo E-Sim $50 USD 90 days 50 GB data. First time trying an E-Sim. Hope it works.

Insurance
CBA Diamond Award card free insurance with an extra premium to cover my pre existing conditions. Does not cover covid.
ANZ Credit Travel Adventures card free insurance that covers covid.

Total around 30K

Now to hope for a great deal of luck. Of course we want everything to go to plan but considering the potential threats of covid, airline delays or cancellations, rail delays, missed connections, strikes etc that are above and beyond the regular issues that can pop up from time to time when you travel we are going with an open mind and prepaired to just deal with any roadblocks or detours that may come our way when/if we encounter them.

Pictures to come from next Wed if all goes well.

Cheers the Woodyrens




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Last edited:

Happy Dude

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Rough costs in AUD if anyone is interested. Some costs in other currencies so it just ballpark AUD figures. .

Flights
375,000 KF pts plus $400 taxes
318,000 QFF pts plus $1800taxes
This bit stuck out as it speaks volumes :eek:

A great looking itinerary! Healthy dollop of trains too.
 

drron

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What an epic. We are in a similiar boat -pun intended. I worked casually and 2020/21/22 were atready booked for a lot of bucket list travel but I ended up like you working full time. Built up the travel chest but I know that physically I am not as good as I was 2 years ago. C'est la vie.
I hope you have a wonderful time. We leave on Tuesday and will be cruising the Mediterranean at the same time but our ships won't pass in the night.
 

woodyren

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What an epic. We are in a similiar boat -pun intended. I worked casually and 2020/21/22 were atready booked for a lot of bucket list travel but I ended up like you working full time. Built up the travel chest but I know that physically I am not as good as I was 2 years ago. C'est la vie.
I hope you have a wonderful time. We leave on Tuesday and will be cruising the Mediterranean at the same time but our ships won't pass in the night.
Ditto to hoping you have a wonderful relatively incident free time. It will be dueling trip reports for the second time this year after our Singapore excursions a few months ago. What ship are you on in the Med?
 

woodyren

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First leg in J on SQ232 to Singapore successfully completed. Excellent service as usual. Regional seat configuration but that was perfectly fine for the flight.

Now for the 17 hour layover in the SK lounge. Blankets and pillows available. We are camped out on a sofa and the sleeping pods are not full so all should be fine.

Air tags showing our bags are at Changi.



First time I have tried this drink. Choya Umeshu. Japanese fruit liqueur. Really liked it.

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Air tags working well.
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Steak and 2015 Bordeaux.
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woodyren

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Excellent flight SIN-MLE. The business configuration in the 737MAX is a great hard product for single Isle. Sevice was top notch.

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Touched down in Male and transferred to our local hotel. We booked an inexpensive Male City hotel as a contingency in case our flight was delayed but also to give us the earliest possible flight to the Pullman on check in day. Luggage arrived with us which is a win.

Just received email confirmation from the Pullman. We have snagged the first flight tomorrow. 1015 so the plan has worked well.

The Unima Grand is fine for the price. Small clean rooms with a view over the beach and the local mosque

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Went for a walk while Mrs Woodyren took a nap. Came across the Maldives pro bodyboard competition.

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Now for the challenge to find some dinner in Male City.
 

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woodyren

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It's quite overcast and showers. Hopefully it will clear later.

 

woodyren

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One hour flight to Kooddoo on Maldivian Airlines. It's my first ever flight on a prop aircraft. These Inter island flights run on a as needs basis with no set schedule.

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After cloud was forecast the weather cleared making for great views of the stunning array of atolls and islands on our route.

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Flying over the Pullman as we approached Kooddoo airport.

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Kooddoo airport.

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Please don't show the luggage handling to Qantas as it may give them more restructuring ideas.

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Stationary luggage claim areas. Mrs Woodyren still can't stay behind the yellow line.



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Off to the Kooddoo arrivals lounge.

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woodyren

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Arrived by speed boat at Pullman Maamutaa resort. Greater and given an island tour before being shown to our overwater pool villa. Resort is spread out over the whole island and feels very uncrowded.

Arrival and a few villa pics. PXL_20220805_071637126.jpg


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Our room is the 3rd one along on the sunrise side of the island.

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View from the room.

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Some sort of strange sea creature under the see through villa floor
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