Thank you Susan and Patricia.
About 30 minutes before boarding time we made it over to our gate. As it turned out all passengers who had connected on other flights had to present documentation at the check-in desk. This included our passport, another showing of our COVID-19 test and presentation of our vaccination cards. Interestingly enough at one point they made an announcement that they had seen 80% of the passengers which fulfilled the requirement and anyone else in line could take a seat.
Shortly before takeoff the local agent came on the speaker to say Delta was very sorry and a credit would be issued to passenger accounts. As it turned only those in first class could utilize the entertainment system and everyone else could not. We could although Anne Marie read her Kindle Book and Keith surfed the Internet and worked on our Blog. In fact he's been writing portions of today's Blog on our flight
The good news is our flight from JFK to Reykjavik left on time as did our first flight to JFK.
We took off at 10:30 PM for our flight to Reykjavik. The aircraft was on the older side and the dinner was, well, quite different than a dinner on our go-to-airline. With that said, with our upcoming cruise coming up on Endeavor we have plenty of great meals and cuisine to look forward to. The flight attendants were professional and friendly and we made it to Reykjavik in one piece.
The good news is we debarked the aircraft about 30 minutes early. Unfortunately, getting through immigrations and customs took about close to 90 minutes. This is what happened.
Upon landing we made our way to immigration. Unlike our recent experience in Nassau where we made it through immigration in minutes this one was not so easy. After leaving the aircraft we walked towards baggage claim and immigration. We had to walk down a flight of steps which was challenging with two carry-ons and two backpacks as the escalator was not working. Once downstairs there was confusion where do we go with hundreds upon hundred of people queued up. As it turned out this was the line which took you in various directions. It was Disney World without anyone directing you. We weaved back and forth until we got to a flight of steps where we walked up to the next level. We continued to weave back and forth on that level until ultimately we went through passport control, then we think we went down again to baggage reclaim. It was a long process because the carousel was very long. Keith found one piece but then time went along and he didn't see it on the carousel but eventually spotted it on the floor on the other side of the carrousel with some other bags. With luggage in hand we got on a other line and ultimately we went through a check to verify passport, covid test and proof of vaccination. For those not tested we saw one family along with a couple of other people being tested.
The good news is our driver was waiting for us as soon as we exited the final check point and the walk to the vehicle was brief. The drive into the City took about 45 minutes and we were taken to the Reykjavik Residence Hotel. The Hotel is comprised of eight different buildings all within walking distance of where we checked-in. Originally, we had booked a day room with the possibility our room would not be ready until 3:00 PM or later. The good news is we were told if we waited 30 minutes our room would be ready and we would be charged for the day room. We did this.
After getting our room cards we walked no more than two minutes to the building our room is located in. When we say the room we have a two bedroom apartment. There are six apartment in the building on three different floors. The room has two bathrooms, a living area and a kitchen with oven, stovetop, refrigerator and dishwasher along with sufficient items to cook if one wanted to do just that. Keith selected this with COVID-19 in mind even before the variant hit. We wanted a place where we didn't have to go through a lobby filled with lots of people, not to mention the elevators.
The hotel is conveniently located to several attractions and also a nearby food store and plenty of restaurants, and stores.
They had asked us if we wanted a breakfast for our arrival and we said yes and we made it into a breakfast and a light lunch.
After breakfast, we walked some including a visit to the food store. We asked about a wine shop and since today is a National Holiday it is closed and the same is true for tomorrow. After we got back to the room Anne Marie started to unpack while Keith went back to the grocery store to get some additional items. We decided to have dinner in the room and get to sleep at a reasonable time since we had very little sleep.
Keith went back out on a mission to find wine. LOL. He spoke with the person who registered us and he confirmed wine stores are closed. He looked at a website where we could order wine for delivery but that seemed to complicated. Keith had passed a restaurant where he noticed patrons having lunch accompanied by wine and beer for some. He asked the hotel person if restaurants could sell wine for take-out. His answer officially no but sometimes they will. Keith went inside the restaurant and asked if they could sell wine and the answer was, technically know but he would. LOL. With two bottles of wine in hand he made it back to the hotel where we had a light lunch. No wine. Too early.
Following are some photos of our room and a couple near the food store.
The past 24 hours+ involved travel. Tomorrow we will start to explore.
Many thanks to Susan, Betty, Gill and Rocky & Dave for your good wishes and thoughtful comments and to those of you we have heard from via e-mail.
Our excitement builds, as today marks the start of a new adventure.
We were picked up at our home and driven to our local airport to check in for our flights. We had the same driver as we did when we were picked up for our flights to Nassau 31 days ago.
We are flying with an airline Keith hasn't flown since he worked and sometimes would use them and we are not sure Anne Marie has flown. Check in was easy and we did have to show them our negative COVID-19 test results. The TSA line was extremely long but the Pre TSA Check was very short and we breezed right through security.
We went to the Airline lounge and it is modern looking and more impressive than the one for the airline we usually fly with. The personnel are very nice and helpful and the food selections better and many items are touch less.
The first flight took us to JFK airport. After arriving we made our way to the JFK International Terminal. The terminal was a zoo with even more people than we imagined as is the airline lounge.
There is an irony to being at JFK airport on this day. Thirty-four years ago we were married and by early evening we were checked in at a Hilton which was located near the JFK airport. The following day we were to fly to Bermuda for an amazing honeymoon. We remember July 31, 1977 as if it was yesterday.
We are posting this from JFK airport where this evening we fly to Reykjavik, Iceland. Our next post will be from Iceland.
Anne Marie & Keith
In the past we have found the key to a successful adventure is all of the planning, research and preparation which go into each trip.
This includes flights, hotels, excursions and other touring, along with equipment and clothing and other accessories.
Talk about a major contrast between our recent Bahama Cruise and this adventure. The Bahamas were "Hot", "Hot", "Hot".
Iceland even in the Summer will be on the cooler side with a good chance of some rather windy and rainy days. Put away the shorts and other summer clothing and bring out clothing to keep us dry and warm.
Crystal provided a link to the company which is providing an outdoor jacket to each guest along with loaner boots. The company also had a comprehensive list of items to consider bringing for this trip. Between this list and our experience preparing for the Northwest Passage cruise we took on-board Crystal Serenity in 2016 we had a good idea as to what we should bring with us.
This included waterproof pants and jacket, clothes to layer, hats, gloves, neck gear, hiking shoes, long johns and a few other clothing items. We also are taking hand warmers, waterproof backpack, and waterproof case for our smart phones.
We booked Crystal excursions. They offer a mix of complimentary excursions along with ones which include a cost.
Shortly after booking the cruise we made our flight and hotel arrangements and since then we have researched the ports of call we will visit.
Very recently, Iceland made the decision all visitors arriving by flight must get a COVID-19 test 72 hours or less from the time they check in for their first flight. This put us on the cusp as most places do not perform COVVID-19 tests over the weekend which is what we would have needed. Some do but some of them do not comply with the testing requirements of Iceland. We tried to push out our flights but couldn't get the class of service we had booked so we ended up pulling up the flight by two days meaning we are spending more time in Reykjavik than originally planned. Yesterday we took a Covid-19 PCR test and when the results came back last night they were negative. We also filled out the pre-registration form for arrival to Iceland on line which cannot be submitted until you are within 72 hours or less of arrival to Iceland. The approval comes via e-mail in a couple of minutes or less with a bar code which we will show at arrival.
A week ago on a Thursday, we received in the mail from Crystal Cruises a cover page with each of us including a bar code which will be used to check-in for the cruise. The package also included luggage tags. Similar to the ones we received for the Bahamas cruise these tags are pre-printed. The difference is they don't require a short string to fasten them to the luggage but have adhesive when removed allows you to easily put them around the handle. These are similar to some of the other luxury lines however these stand out more with the teal colors. Prior to that we received an electronic vacation guide.
Luggage tag with suite number and last name removed from the photo. Another set of tags were included with Anne Marie's name on them.
As this adventure begins we have many people to thank. This includes many from Crystal Cruises on land and at sea who have been very helpful assisting us in cruise planning. Special thanks to our outstanding Travel Specialist Gerri and to her outstanding assistant Gabby. One of many things the Pandemic taught us is how people react in adversary and when things go terribly wrong. While some agents abandoned their customers when cruise and other travel was shut-down, Gerri and Gabby were there for us every step of the way and for their other clients. They had our backs the entire time and we will never forget this. Our thanks for all of their help with this and our other travel plans and for all they do.
Anne Marie & Keith
Endeavor is an expedition ship which will sail many special itineraries. They classify her as a polar class yacht featuring 100 all balcony suites. She features six dining venues and an extensive spa and fitness center.
The ship can carry up to 200 guests with a 206 member crew. This is over one crew members per guest.
Endeavor has a gross tonnage of 25,000. Endeavor is considered to be the world's largest and most spacious mega yacht.
She will have many special features including two helicopters and landing pads which will be used for flight expeditions as well as two seven person submarines. She also carries eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis wave runners, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, a recompression chamber and a multi-person all-terrain vehicle. (ATV). NOTE: Helicopters and Submarines are not available until later this Fall)
Her spa totals 10,000 square feet of sheer bliss including service spa, yoga, pilates, a salon, a wellness centre and jacuzzis. She also has an infinity pool and the base of it can be converted into a dance floor or an open air dining space.
Endeavor has a 200 seat theatre, a cinema, a card room and a computer centre.
Before COVID-19 hit, we had booked the second voyage of CRYSTAL Endeavor for August of 2020 which was a round trip Tokyo for a visit to several ports in Japan. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be and the sailing was cancelled.
Fast forward to August of 2021 and we are taking the third sailing of Endeavor. This sailing along with the two which preceded this voyage along with three subsequent voyages all circumnavigate Iceland. The leave and return to Reykjavik, Iceland.
We have only visited Reykjavik on two prior occasions. The first time was in 2004 on-board Crystal Symphony sailing from Dover, England to New York City. Ten years later sailing from Southampton to New York City on-board Crystal Serenity we stopped at Reykjavik for our second and final time.
Originally, we were to arrive to Reykjavik on August 3. However, Iceland has introduced new requirements for Covid-19 testing prior to checking in for the flights and due to the timing of the flight we had to change it. We attempted to fly later in the week but there was no availability on one of the flights for the category of seat we desired nor on any flight with the airline. Our only option was to pull up the flight.
This time we spend five nights in Reykjavik, sail Endeavor for 10 days, and spend one night back in Reykjavik before flying home.
The itinerary follows.
August 1 Reykjavik
August 2 Reykjavik
August 3 Reykjavik
August 4 Reykjavik
August 5 Reykjavik
August 6 Reykjavik (Overnight) - Board Endeavor
August 7 Reykjavik
August 8 Flatey Island/Latrabjarg Cliffs/Patreksfordur
August 9 Isafjordur/Vigur Island
August 10 Siglurfjordur
August 11 Crossing The Arctic Circle, Grimsey Island
August 12 Vopnafjordeur, Hafnarholmi
August 13 Seydisfjordur
August 14 Djupivogur
August 15 Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Scenic Cruising
August 16 Reykjavik
August 17 Fly Home
We often book cruises two to three years in advance. In this case we booked the cruise three and one-half months ago on the day the cruise opened for sales.
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Words cannot describe how excited we are about boarding Endeavor for this adventure.
Keep checking back for more updates.
Anne Marie and Keith