Planning the Vacation of a Lifetime ~ Cruise, Hotels, Renewing Wedding Vows!

This July will be our 40th wedding anniversary. Wow! I have the challenge of planning the vacation of a lifetime to celebrate this event. You might find yourself in a similar situation. How are we going to do it?

My wife and I are fortunate. We get to take cruises and fly to exotic places, esp. before the pandemic. How can this anniversary be made special?

  1. Looking forward to each day. The challenge with going to a resort is the trip peaks on arrival, then the days following are pretty similar. Once your stay is over, you fly home. Flying can be a less than pleasant experience, especially if there are crowds. The ideal vacation has you waking up saying “Wow! Yesterday was great!  How can today be even better?”
  2. Sailing home. We live 70 miles from NYC. Since Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 sails back and forth across the Atlantic, that becomes a highlight to look forward to returning home vs. flying on a crowded plane.
  3. Treats aboard the ship. Life aboard a cruise ship is pretty special, but how do you add peaks to an otherwise luxurious experience? Formal nights come as part of the cruise. Other peaks we could add would be flowers in the cabin at an unexpected time, dinners in the specialty restaurants and caviar in the champagne bar.
  4. Renewing your wedding vows. This is something that’s been done on cruise ships for years. Although 40 years is a big number, I don’t think I can persuade my wife she wants to do this again. We’ve done it twice already, as I recall. She has explained we aren’t batteries needed to be placed in the recharger from time to time!
  5. Eurostar. The channel tunnel train is still a novelty. It started carrying passengers in November 1994, almost 28 years ago. It featured in the 1996 Mission Impossible movie. That allows us to include London, Paris and Brussels as the obvious cities along with Lille, Lyon, Avignon or Marseille too. Paris is most logical.
  6. Hotel in London. Continuing with the wow factor, we would probably choose a hotel within the Marriott family. Ideally it’s a famous one. Grosvenor House, the Park Lane and the Bulgari hotel are in the family.
  7. Hotel in Paris or Brussels. This might take us outside the Marriott family. The George V is a Four Seasons Hotel. The Paris Ritz is outside the Marriott family too. The discounts or perks available through American Express should help.
  8. Eurostar lounges. You might travel on a luxurious train, but you still need to wait for it. London and Paris both have Eurostar Lounges. As I recall, the Amex Platinum Card gets you access. As an FYI, I think the London side of Eurostar also has the longest champagne bar in the world, located in the St. Pancreas Hotel. Thankfully, it’s a Marriott.
  9. Renting a car in England. Thanks to our many Cunard crossings, we have many friends in the UK. We could spend a few days driving around the countryside having lunch or dinner with them, staying at local hotels. That might occupy three nights.
  10. Meals in famous restaurants. If we spent a couple of nights in London and Paris, we could fit in a lunch or dinner at a few Michelin starred restaurants. Lunch is a far better option! We could bring menus home as souvenirs!

We are still in the planning stages, but the trip of a lifetime might include flying from New York to Paris, (1 night, overnight flight) staying two nights in the City of Lights, Eurostar to London, two nights in London, then three days driving around the countryside (3 nights) and finally returning the rental car in Southampton and sailing home on the QM2 (7 nights). Total number of nights: 15 nights.

Cover photo: Suez Canal at Ismailia Crossing with Suez Ferry, north bound Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, and mosque – ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews

All Things Cruise Official Photographer, Dennis Cox – All Things Cruise

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