A Premature End to our 23/24 Viking Neptune World Cruise

 

When most of us make exciting travel plans, we tend to focus on the wonderful things we want to see and do; we rarely plan on a premature end to any trip.  But times like these remind us of the importance of trip insurance, a safety net we were grateful to have.

How Did We End Up on a Viking Neptune World Cruise?

It all started with a spontaneous decision on a Viking River Cruise in 2021; while having a fantastic time, we received a timely email from Viking announcing the 23/24 World Cruise itineraries. We briefly discussed it and then called our travel agent, Carmen Palogruto, to start booking the cruise aboard the Viking Neptune. Bob and I were excited about booking our dream voyage on the Viking Neptune World Cruise, departing on December 23, 2024, from Ft. Lauderdale.  The anticipation was palpable as we spent two years planning every detail, from thrilling shore excursions to great rounds of golf and once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving trips, all topped off with a grand finale in London.

Preparation Blitz:

With our house rented out and our bags packed, we were ready to set sail. But fate had other plans. A routine mammogram threw a wrench into our carefully laid plans just nine days before departure. Suddenly, we were thrust into a whirlwind of medical tests and uncertainties. We were so lucky to have the help of the fabulous diagnostic team at Baycare Health, who helped me complete weeks of tests in just a few short days.

Facing the Challenge:

Amidst the chaos, we explored every avenue to salvage our trip. Could we delay our departure? Unfortunately, international manifest laws dashed that hope. With time ticking away, Bob worked tirelessly to secure a consultation with a breast surgeon in Los Angeles, at the City of Hope hospital just a few miles away from where our ship was docked for a long day in LA.

A Bittersweet Decision:

The consultation brought clarity but also disappointment. While the news wasn’t what we hoped for, we were grateful for a referral to an excellent surgeon, Dr. Laura Kruper, at Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa. It meant a premature end of our journey and tackling the challenge head-on with a good plan and great support.  Dr. Kruper’s first available appointment was on February 26th so we could enjoy five more weeks of sailing west aboard the Neptune before returning home.

Making the Most of It:

We returned to the ship with a revised plan, determined to savor every moment left. Thanks to the incredible support from the Viking staff, our remaining weeks aboard were filled with laughter, adventure, and unforgettable memories. We cruised west to Honolulu and south to Tahiti and New Zealand before ending our trip to Sydney, Australia.  We packed in some golf, lots of scuba diving, a trip to Hobbiton in New Zealand, visited with an old friend in Tauranga, NZ, and saw Leafy Sea Dragons and Little Blue Penguins in Australia.

The Journey Home:

Passing under the Sydney Harbor Bridge at night aboard the NeptuneOur time abroad came to a premature end, and we returned home with mixed emotions. Yet fate seemed to smile upon us once more. Our renters’ unexpected departure aligned perfectly with our need to return for treatment. This meant we would not have to stay with our daughter for several weeks, which was appreciated by us all. We were only able to enjoy 57 of the 137 days of the total trip, but we were thankful for the fabulous bucket list places we did get to go to.

As it turned out, the Neptune had to alter course to avoid the Suez Canal and Middle East challenges and was forced to head south around South Africa.

A Positive Outlook:

Thanks to timely medical intervention and unwavering support, I underwent successful surgery, and the prognosis is bright. Our journey, though fraught with challenges, reminded us of the importance of preparedness, gratitude, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Lessons Learned:

Our story serves as a testament to the incredible kindness of healthcare workers, the unwavering support of loved ones, and the necessity of comprehensive travel insurance. And, perhaps most importantly, it underscores the critical importance of regular check-ups and early detection in facing life’s unexpected twists and turns.”

Special Thanks to:

  • The wonderfully caring team at Baycare Healthcare scheduled me for the required diagnostic tests so quickly. You worked miracles—thank You!
  • The fantastic staff and crew of the Viking Neptune, with a special shout out to Ronald and Mira, the ship’s Hotel Manager and Assistant.
  • Thank you to Dr. Faysnod of the City of Hope for agreeing to see me for a consultation and referring me to Dr. Kruper.
  • Dr. Kruper’s wonderful bedside manner is surpassed only by her excellent surgical skills. The Moffitt Breast Cancer staff has also been exceptional during this process.
  • My husband, Bob, was unbelievably supportive and loving through all of this.

Final Note:

We never expected a premature end when we booked our cruise, but the experience has taught us a lot.  We have already booked several new adventures for the upcoming year, although not for as long as the world cruise.  We will head to Indonesia and Asia in December and return to Europe next spring.  Because of the excellent care I received, I’ll be around for many more memories and, hopefully, no more premature endings.