Brigadoon - An Occasional Corner on the Internet
Designed by Mark Little
South America January to April 2017
Not only that, side trips to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, as well as Iguazu Falls (one of Alexa's must-do places) were very expensive and very brief optional extras. A bit of Internet searching found much cheaper alternatives to the cruise line excursions to those places.

That led to a series of stalling tactics by the cruise company to discourage us from booking these excursions ourselves. All of the obstacles brought up could be overcome with some effort (on our part). The attitude of the cruise company was, as they say "the straw that broke the camel's back" and we pulled out of the cruise, deciding to plan the entire trip ourselves to maximise our time in South and Central America.

In the end, Mark and Alexa did book quite a few cruises, but only to achieve objectives that would have been too hard to do ourselves. They included, rounding Cape Horn, traversing the Panama Canal, cruising the Galapagos Islands, river cruising in the Amazon Basin, and finally cruising to Sun Island in Lake Titicaca. Planning the trip this way, greatly reducing the number of "sea days" where one would just look at the horizon - not a favourite activity of theirs.
Mark and Alexa's planning for the South America trip began back in 2014-2015, but Mark's unexpected stay in  a Intensive Cardiac Care ward with severe Atrial Fibrillation, put flying on hold.
The Devil Was In The Planning Phase!
Another troubling issue was that there seemed only a relative small chance that passengers would be able to disembark on Easter Island - one of Mark's "must-do" places.

Incredibly, Mark was only in hospital a couple days - and only that long because the discharge  wasn't signed until the day after he could go home. A few weeks later everything was back to normal.

After that, all went well, so come January 2017, it was on the plane to Sydney to start a journey of a lifetime!
Mark's routine check up resulted in a liver scan because of a reading that was very slightly out of its normal range. An ultrasound found that the liver was fine, but a shadow was detected on one of Mark's left kidney. A CAT-scan came back with the bad news - CANCER!!! There as a rush to a Urologist and couple of weeks later it was into hospital get the kidney out.
Not only that, they were able incorporate a trip to Quito, Ecuador. A place that Mark said he would visit when he was on Sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) in the mid-70's. It may have taken 40 years to get there but it was eventually on his travel plans.
The trip was further expanded to include a week in Florida and few days in California. This enabled Mark to complete an another essential bucket list objective of visiting all continents.
The expanded trip unfortunately totalled more leave than was available to Mark, so he told his then employer (BAE Systems) that he was going to retire
to go on this trip as planned. He was convinced not to retire and allowed to go into "negative leave"  and still be paid while on leave.

It seemed then that all was set for the trip in January 2017, but alas there was one additional obstacle that would pop out of the blue in September 2016 to threaten their plans
However, a 3-month South American cruise was found that did not involve long flights - a form of travel not recommended by the Cardiologist. However, as the condition improved, a more critical look at the cruise showed that of the approximately 90 days of the cruise, only about 19 days actually involved being in South America and even then most of the time for only a half-day tour.