Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Voyage has Begun!

It's been an extremely busy couple of weeks, but it all has finally culminated in our
boarding of the RMS Queen Mary 2 in NYC and setting sail to England.

About a year and a half of planning....
I've booked:
 over 30 rental homes in 8 countries...
4 Castles...
4 leased autos, 2 limo services,
round trip passage on the QM2 (with kennel reservations)
A train reservation from England to France...
Vet visits scheduled on 2 continents...
Reservations for Downton Abbey & The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

And so much more...   whew!

Looking at it all in print,  it sounds a bit like Planes Trains & Automobiles!
Lets hope that our travel is a bit smoother than Steve Martin and John Candys trip was!

One of the biggest hurdles in preparation for our trip was completing the dogs paperwork
so that they would be allowed entry into the UK and beyond, and one of the purposes of
my writing this blog is to hopefully help others follow the trails that we blaze
so please bear with me as I go thru some of the details.

A lot of people think dogs going to the UK need to go into Quarantine, but that is no longer
the case.   The rules have been streamlined all thru the EU.

To bring the dogs from the US we must:
(In order)

1. Have an ISO Microchip implanted
2.  Receive a rabies vaccine AFTER the microchip is implanted.
3.  Have a Third Country Health Certificate filled out by a USDA certified Vet
(the above no more than 10 days prior to entry into the EU)
4. Have the USDA-APHIS Office Certify the above Health Certificate
5. If going to the UK -  have a tapeworm treatment administered by a vet.
(the above must be no more than 120hrs and no less than 24hr prior to entry into the UK)

For the dogs paperwork purposes,  boarding the QM2 is considered as our entry into the UK.

There are many more details to the above processes, such as the requirement that
all certificates are originals, stamped by the Vets, and signed in Blue Ink
but the list above outlines the basic steps.

I started the dogs process back in October when we were in McMinnville Oregon where
we had the dogs re-microchipped with the world standard 15 digit ISO microchips.

The dogs always had microchips, but the US does not conform to the rest of the planet so
new ones were inserted, and then as required, they were revaccinated for rabies.

If your dogs already have the proper microchip you do not need to have this done.

Then, last week, (9 days prior to boarding) we visited The Lawrence Animal Hospital,
in Princeton, NJ.  to have their Third Country International Health Certificate 
completed by a USDA licensed Vet, and stamped with the vets info and signed IN BLUE INK!

I'd been communicating with this Vet since July when we were in Seward, Alaska to
arrange for this visit and discuss the paperwork and requirements.

About a dozen emails back and forth over the 10 months - it felt like we knew each other.

Well when Kate and I walked in with the Doodles  - it turned out that everyone was
excited that THIS WAS THE DAY that the people traveling in the RV with the dogs who were
going on the Queen Mary 2 were coming in for their paperwork.

The Gang (cat included) at Lawrence Animal Hospital Princeton NJ

Everyone in the office had been anticipating our visit for months!
You see - Its not every day that you get to meet the world traveling Doodles.

We were warmly greeted by everyone and treated like Kings & Queens!

What a great practice and wonderful group of people.
Dr Walker was very knowledgeable with the process and I knew we were in good hands!

Kate & Dr Walker

Leaving their office with our paperwork in hand - (all 7 pages) it now was overnighted to the
USDA Export Office in Albany NY for their official stamps.
This last step is critical to make the document valid for travel into the EU.

The paperwork overnighted included the Health Certificate, original rabies certificates,
a completed checklist, a pre-paid return overnight mailer,
and a check payable to USDA

At about 10am I received a call from USDA that there was a minor problem with the
paperwork.   It seems that not only did they want to know the manufacturer and lot number
of the Rabies Vaccine - but the specific product name of the vacine.

So first I was on the phone with the Vet in Oregon who emailed the information to USDA.
Then... about 10 minutes later I received another call from USDA that I needed the
Vet in NJ to give them the OK to make the update to the paperwork.

So another phone call and some further emails and the information was submitted.

I am thankful that the folks at USDA would call rather than just send the paperwork back.
Kudos to the folks at USDA-APHIS-Export in Albany!

This is a time sensitive and nerve wracking process and its nice to know that they realize
that and help do what it takes to keep the process moving along.

Once completed, this certificate is only valid for 10 days prior to arriving into the Euro Zone
(which in our case is boarding the QM2)  so the timing of the paperwork is critical.
If you do it too soon it would expire prior to your arrival.

Failure to follow all of these procedures to the letter and you will be denied boarding.

Another chore during the final week was a last minute trim and clean up of the Doodles.
After all - they are traveling on the Queen - so they should look like Princesses!

We found a nice self service place in Brick, NJ by the Jersey Shore called Wash Your Paws.
They have the Hydrosurge dog wash system that we really like.
It makes it super easy to give them a great down deep clean.
So we took them there Monday afternoon for a final scrub down.

Gracie in the shower

Lucy gets her turn too
About an hour or so later we left with two mutts ready to meet The Queen!

Another requirement of entry into the UK is that the dogs receive a tapeworm treatment.
This must be done no more than 120 hrs (5 days) prior  - and no less than 24 hrs before entry.
So again timing was critical, and we visited the vet on Tuesday  about 48hrs prior to boarding.

On Weds - the day before boarding, it was time to close up the Party Bus,
get the rental car, park the truck and bus in the storage area, and
head to Princeton, NJ to our Air BnB rental for the night.

We ran into a snag with our storage area.   It turned out with all the rain that had been
falling, the field where I was to park looked too muddy for this bus driver.

Last thing I needed was to be stuck in the mud in a 34,000 lb Party Bus a day before the ship left.
So it was time to find a new place and quick!

Turned out I found a GREAT place in Toms River NJ.
Brand new covered storage with electric for 2 hrs a day..   and for $100 less per month
than the the mud pit where I was going to leave it.

We picked up the rental car before we dropped the bus off.
It was nice to move all the luggage under the cover and out of the rain.

I disconnected the truck battery and stuck a small 15w solar panel on the front windsheld
which was pointing to the south.
I should come home to fully charge vehicles.

Around 3pm we said good bye to our rolling home and finally began our journey.

About 4pm we rolled into Princeton for the night and entered our first
AirBnB of the trip.  A studio flat on Palmer Square a block from Princeton University.
I had hoped to walk the beautiful campus, but the Northeast weather was not cooperative.

Air BnB is all new territory for us and our first stop was a pleasant intro.

Our studio apt.   Clean & Cozy
The view of Palmer Square from our porch
We decided to keep the rental car till the morning and meet the driver at Enterprise.
That way we did not have to move all the luggage into and out of our apartment.

After a good nights sleep, our driver met us on time and we settled into the drive
to the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal.

Arriving at the Terminal, our next home, The Queen Mary 2, towers over everything.

Arrival at Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal

Our limo Service - First Choice Limo was superb.
Al the owner insists on talking to all customers first and he set me at ease
that they would be on time....  and they were.

If you are looking for a Limo Service in the NYC area - you cant go wrong with them

Our Driver

Exiting the Limo - Porters immediately carried away our luggage and we began the
process of checking in with 2 humans and two dogs.

Everyone wanted to pet the dogs
I will tell more about the QM2  boarding process with dogs in our next post from England.

Our Dog Paperwork is checked line by line

Our Kennelmaster Oscar led us to the kennels while walking Lucy

Our Stateroom   6247 on Deck 6 Starboard side

I might compose some posts off-line while we travel and upload them upon arrival...
Or maybe I'll simply park myself in a hot tub and sauna and enjoy
my first 7-day uninterrupted stretch of pure time off from work in years.

Deck 7 Promenade

View of Manhattan prior to departure
I had to rush the last part of this blog so as to get it done prior to losing cell service.
So if there are typos or sentence fragments...  that's why.
No time to proof read.

We also just finished up the lifeboat drill and now must go to the kennels
to meet with the kennel master and go over the dogs feeding requirements.

For now - its time to finally unwind...  my paperwork is done,
the dogs are safely tucked away in their kennels, and its time for a 
an adult beverage and settle in for our 7-day crossing.

Tally Ho.   Next stop England in 7 days.


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