Meeting Hague Convention Requirements

Author: Joe

By BlankMap-World_gray.svg: Original by User:Vardion, svg-ified by Simon Eugster –Simon 23:14, 1 August 2006 (UTC)derivative work: Nauka (talk), Heitordp – Own work based on: World map configurable.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperating in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) aims to protect children and their families from trafficking, and illegal and ill-prepared adoptions. 

We are traveling with a minor child with only one parent.  To ensure the child is not being trafficked, stolen or otherwise being moved for illegal purposes we needed a certification by the non-accompanying parent that the child is being moved with their permission. 

There is a form letter that the parent not traveling with the minor must sign stating they are aware and approve of the child’s travels.  It must have a photo ID of that parent and the signature notarized.  However, since the country cannot validate that the notarization was done by a duly authorized notary an Apostille Certification of the notary’s legal standing from the State of Origin’s Secretary of State.  To ensure that the Notary is a duly authorized an embossed seal (not a stamp) is required of the Notary to place on the form. If the notary is registered in a County (not the State) you must first get a verification that the notary is duly registered in the County singed by the County Clerk of the Court again with the appropriate embossed seal. The final step is to take that notarized document, the Clerk of Count verification of the notary to the Maryland Secretary of State’s Office to get an Apostille Certification verifying that the Clerk of the Court is acting as an Agent of the State and the document was duly notarized. In effect that all of the signatures and seals along the process document the legitimacy of the permission from the parent not traveling with the minor. 

In addition the relationship between the minor child and the parent traveling as well as the parent not traveling must be verified as well. Birth Certificates in Maryland are issued by the State Registrar of Vital Records. This document must also be accompanied by an Apostille that it was signed by an Agent of the State.

Are you with me so far? 

We did all this over a month ago and had in our hands the Apostille Birth Certificate and Permission to Travel letter for our first cruise that was canceled.  We had to redo the travel permission for the new cruise as the travel dates were now all different. 

So, off Chuck went on Monday to get the form notarized.  Off Katie went on Tuesday to the Frederick County Courthouse to verify the notary’s standing with the Clerk of the Court, then off to Annapolis to get the Apostille from the Secretary of State.  This was now my third trip to Annapolis obtaining Apostilles, so I knew just how it worked and where to go and it was easy.  Or so I thought. 

When I arrived, the door was locked, and a small sign read: “Due to spreading COVID-19 concerns this office is closed and only accepting Apostille certification requests by mail”.  We now only have a week and a few days including a Federal/State Holiday to get this done and mailing it and waiting for its return was never going to work. 

Fortunately, there was a phone number at the bottom of that note.  I called it and Katie called from home to beg for an exception and do this for us right away.  They agreed since we had completed all of the steps up to the apostille meeting the requirements and it was not our fault that we now had such short notice!  Thank you, Maryland Secretary of State’s Office, for helping us get this cruise, adventure, expedition back on track.

Did I mention the medical history form required for this expedition journey?  That’s a story for another day as we are still making that happen…

Packing, Packing and Repacking

January 9, 2022

Author: Joe

I was essentially packed for the first cruise which was cancelled. Now that this is an expedition ship the thought process of what to bring and how to fit it all is completely different.

We’ve ended up unpacking and repacking everything and having to go shopping again to buy the things that we need to be on the continent rather than just on a cruise ship. 

We met today with some friends that were on this same expedition a number of years ago to find out some specifics of packing and activities.  As a result, we were able to alter what we are bringing to be more casual than formal and warmer. 

While the packing list provided by Ponant was a good guide there is no substitute for firsthand experience.  We went home and began modifying our packing, bringing each suitcase down to 44 lbs and removing bulky snow clothing for lighter waterproof pants and multiple warm layers. 

We are still waiting for some final items to arrive by mail, but we are 90-percent packed.  Now comes the hard part, weight!  What can go and what must come to keep us within our weight limit of the airlines while keeping us warm and cool. 

You see we are packing for two separate environments, a week in Buenos Aires and 10 days in Antarctica with the temperature difference of 62-degrees from a high of 90 in Buenos Aries to a low of 28 in Antarctica


By Joe Annelli

Some people have questioned my sanity for wanting to go to Antarctica. But if this be madness yet there be method in it. It all started about four years ago when I was thinking about retirement. I read a book called “How to retire”. My son even questioned my sanity for needing to read such a book to know what to do in retirement. But what it did was got me thinking about what I really wanted to do because I’ve worked so much in my life. And with that thinking about my work life it occurred to me that I’ve worked on every continent except Antarctica.  So of course, what became my new goal in retirement, to travel to Antarctica so that I would have visited all seven continents.


The planning for this trip began about three years ago. I started asking our travel agent about options for trips to Antarctica. The thought of an expedition trip was very intriguing but cost and physical exertion were considerations. While Trish would love to have gone on such a trip her limited mobility would have really precluded her ability to enjoy herself on an Antarctic expedition. About a year or two went by with those thoughts in our heads when Katie the good daughter she is (we call her Julie from The Love Boat) found a cruise that would be suitable for Trish and me on Norwegian Cruise Line.  It wasn’t an expedition ship, but it did go to Antarctica.


It unfortunately was not going to allow us to set foot on the continent but simply cruise through several islands and just off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula. So, Trish was still concerned about her mobility on that one and told us she was not going to go. So, I booked the trip for Katie, Mackenzie and myself. So, it wasn’t more than a day or two later after we confirmed the booking the Trish said, “Damn it, I’m going to go” and she set her sights on becoming mobile and healthy enough to go on this Antarctic journey of mine. She was all excited to go and was doing everything she could despite her significant back pain and knee pain.  She was going to physical therapy doing her exercises and doing everything she could to be able to be as mobile as possible and enjoy this cruise.  It has stops in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and traveling through Antarctica. Unfortunately, in April a major vascular accident left her totally incapacitated and as that progressed within 24 hours was dead. Despite this I knew I needed to be looking forward and we kept our plans for Katie, Mackenzie and I to continue this adventure.


In the ensuing months Katie, Mackenzie and I continued our preparations for this adventure to South America and Antarctica. One of the early adventures of this trip was navigating the COVID-19 restrictions of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay and ultimately the United States when we had to return home. Katie and I spent a few hours reading through all the requirements and filling out a calendar of events so that we knew when we needed PCR testing when we could use rapid tests, what kind of rapid tests had official monitoring so that it would count as an official test and each country had slightly different testing requirements in terms of time.  Some were 72 hours others were 48 hours and still others were prior to departure or prior to landing so we had to work out the logistics of how to make all of this happen. Having spent weeks calculating these COVID testing requirements and preparing for wearing masks throughout the trip as required by the cruise line the airline and I’m sure the countries we were going to be visiting we felt we were all set and getting excited about our departure. Then omicron cropped up and countries began to react or should I stay overreact to a new variant. We began to worry more about whether this cruise was going to happen because of this new variant of COVID-19. As a result, we began watching the movement of the ship that we were going to be taking because it was originally stationed in in Naples Italy. Then one day we saw that it made its way to Barcelona and then Gibraltar, so we got even more excited that our ship was on its way to Buenos Aires in time for our cruise.  We continued to watch this ship’s progress as it headed south along the African coast. It then began its transatlantic journey after it passed Senegal and began to make its way to the tip of South America and on into Buenos Aires. Then one day part way across the Atlantic it made a right-hand turn and the ship’s destination now said awaiting orders. I said “Oh ****” and Katie and I called our travel agent to see if she knew what was going on.  She called Norwegian for us, but they had no new information, as far as they knew the cruise was still on but within 24 hours the status went from pending orders to destination Miami.  The cruise ship that we were going to take out of Buenos Aires must have been canceled. Within 24 hours after that we received official notification that our cruise was in fact cancelled. Having spent a year planning this and looking forward to it as a distraction from life as it had become without Trish I was undeterred by having a ship cancelled.  Like Shackleton, I began to search for a new ship and crew to continue our journey to Antarctica.


This is how we’ve come to be on an expedition ship by Penant called the l’Austral. Our intrepid travel agent took on are infectious fervor to continue this journey despite having a ship pulled out from under us with only one week left to go.  We found us a new cruise line, a new ship, a new crew and a sailing date that was only two weeks behind the one we were originally planning to go on. So, I thought we were ahead of the game.  Shackleton was delayed by months due to ice we were only delayed by two weeks due to disease. And so, our journey continues, this time even more exciting than the previous one since we can now take an expedition ship which will land us on the continent and on Antarctic islands off the Antarctic peninsula using zodiacs to transport us from the ship to the shore.  We are even going to do a sea kayaking adventure among the ice floes. 


And that’s how it all began and as we continue with this blog we’ll be sending pictures and let you know how it continues. In the meantime we have to redo paperwork because Mackenzie is traveling with only one parent and not both. We need to do medical forms now because, being an expedition ship, we need approval from our primary care physicians that we are healthy enough to go to Antarctica. And now that we will be on the continent for four days our packing needed to change whereas before a good deal of our time was going to be spent up around Buenos Aires with 90 degree weather now we’re spending most of our days in Ushuaia (u-Swhy-a) where the temperatures will be in the 40s and Antarctica where the temperatures will be around freezing. And so, the adventure continues…

Uh Oh! Time to adjust the plan

Cruise Mapper screen capture of NCL Star Movement

Grasping at Hope

The past 24 hours have been a rollercoaster! At about 2pm on Tuesday, December 4th the Norwegian Star made a sudden turn to the north rather than continuing south to Buenos Aires. It then entered into limbo as the location data changed from Buenos Aires to Waiting for Orders to Miami at around 8pm last night. At this point we were fairy confident the cruise would be cancelled. This morning the NCL website updated and confirmed our cruise was officially cancelled.


I’ve not mentioned the impact of grief on this trip. Three g travels has only one first generation listed as Wife, Mom and Grandma Trish died on April 4, 2021. Our hope on the horizon, retraining Katie’s brain through positive exposure therapy, building family connections and our something to look forward to was lost. Anniversary’s are hard and losing our hope and light on the 9 month anniversary of Trish’s death was really hard on all of us.

New Hope

We switched gears and found that the smaller expedition ships are still sailing Argentina to Antarctica. The border for foreign travelers to Argentina has not been closed. We started searching out other cruise options, last night we made a plan, identified a cruise line that still had availability. Then we waited…NCL had to cancel our cruise in order for us to get our funds back in the manner we paid for the cruise. If we went head and cancelled ourselves although allowable the funds would be tied up in NCL for use on other cruises with them.


This is now the 4th vacation we have had cancelled since March 2020.

August 2020 – Graduation Blended Family Cruise

April 2021 – Spring Break Cruise

August 2021 – Rescheduled Graduation Family Cruise

January 2022 – Joe’s Bucket List Cruise to Antarctica

Countdown Time!

Single Digits

We took a little break over the New Year Holiday from the blog. We are now 9 days away from leaving on our adventure! We will head to the airport next Tuesday spending the night before at a hotel with a shuttle to the airport in preparation for our flight out on the afternoon of Wednesday the 12th.

2 Weeks

The count down on our Norwegian Cruise Account has reached 14 days until we board the ship! We are fully checked in, have downloaded our eDocs and printed out luggage tags.

Upgrade Bids

About 8 weeks before sailing NCL sent us an email offering the opportunity to upgrade our cabin to another one for less than the cost to purchase that cabin outright. We are very pleased with our current cabin but did decide to place a bid on another cabin. Bids are accepted between 14 days and 2 days before sailing and we might receive a new cabin assignment. I wonder which cabin we will sail in on the trip, our booked cabin or the upgrade bid cabin. Now we wait to see if our bid was accepted!

Cruising Ducks!

One of Joe and Mac’s favorite activities is to play Duck Duck Jeep! Placing rubber duckies on jeeps with a little tag identifying that the Jeep had been ducked. There is a variation on this theme for cruising. Complete with its own Facebook and Instagram page for #CruisingDucks Katie found a perfect themed duck tag from an Etsy Shop and ordered the tags to place on our ducks. They were customized with our cruise line, cruise ship, date of sailing and our names. We will be hiding them around the cruise ship during our trip.

Picture has been edited for to remove personal information.

Check out CynthiaYoungDesigns on Etsy for this creative tag and many other cruise related items.

Penthouse with Balcony

Cabin Diagram from

Cabin choice is a huge decision for any cruise. We are lucky to have cruised on the Star and her sister ship Dawn in the past. When our family size was 5 or 6 people in a single cabin we really liked the Deluxe Owners Suite or the Family Suites on Deck 12. This cruise with 4 and then only 3 of us traveling we opted to remain on Deck 12. This time choosing the penthouse with balcony. There are only 4 suites with balcony’s on Deck 12 on the Star. Looking forward to the open floor plan, lots of light, a balcony and lots of storage!

This video from YouTube gives a quick tour of the cabin

It is in our opinion the Deck 12 forward rooms are perfectly located, walk down the hall and out the door to the pool deck and buffet or up the stairs and walk the jogging trail to our specialty restaurant for breakfast or lunch.

This type of room is classified as a suite which also includes extra perks such as a butler that delivers snacks in the afternoons, meals if we request them to the room from anywhere on the ship, as well as a restock on milk or apple juice in the cabin mini-fridge each evening. In addition, there is a concierge onboard to assist with our dinner reservations as well as seating at shows.

Pre-Travel PCR Test 1

COVID-19 Testing Laboratory

Joe and Katie spent hours reading through entry requirements for all of the countries that we will be visiting on our adventure. Buried in one of the pages for Uruguay entry requirements is that proof of a negative RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 test is required no more than a month and no less than 2 weeks prior to entry. The last day to test positive and be allowed into Uruguay for our trip is December 28, 2021.

Today was our first RT-PCR test for travel. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a bio-technology corridor including an industrial park near home. CTR is a toxicology lab that since the COVID-19 pandemic began has been providing extra testing capacity. We made an appointment about two weeks ago for today at 11am. We are also already scheduled for January 10th at 11am for our entry into Argentina required testing.

Mac was amazing and stayed still throughout the entire process. The sample collection tech was amazing and while the adults stood for our tests, encouraged her to remain seated and watch her video during the collection.

At 5:45pm this evening Katie received all three testing results. The lab we used has been specializing in COVID-19 testing for travel and ensured that our emailed reports included all necessary information for foreign travel including our US Passport Numbers. We each received a SARS-CoV-2 Not Detected test result!

We have officially entered a self imposed pre-travel isolation, increased mask usage to KN-95’s and curbside pickup or delivery only for the next 15 days. We will return to CTR on January 10th for our Pre-Travel PCR Test 2.

Check-In Day!

Image from NCL email on 12/26/2021

21 days before sailing the final Check-In process is available for travelers to complete. In addition to the items listed above we also needed to register with NCL’s testing partner.

From NCL registration website

Each traveler has to have their own login and password on the eurofins site as well as download the eurofins app to our phones. This is how we will receive our pre-boarding COVID-19 results.

Joe’s check-in went smoothly and he quickly had a check mark that his check-in was complete. Katie and Mac’s check-ins were completed but no check mark for being complete populated on their tabs. Turns out Katie and Mac overlooked the clock icon below.

Although when initially starting the check-in process a month ago Katie and Mac’s contact information was verified, that verification had timed our and needed to needed to be reverified. The green check mark then appeared and online check-in is 100% complete for all three of us.

In the next 24-48 hours we should receive our cruise e-docs and our luggage tags!!!

Merry Christmas!

Many of our gifts this year were themed and focused on our year of travel. In addition to the January 2022 cruise to South America and Antarctica we also have an August 2022 cruise booked to Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Each family member received personalized luggage tags with “Adventure Awaits” on one side and personal information on the reverse. As well as sleep masks to wear on the plane. The grown ups sleep masks are rather boring in appearance but big on comfort with molded cups for the eyes. Mac’s is a soft satin material and head band with Grogu.

During trips we have learned charging ports are at a premium. Each family member also received their own “4 in 1” charger with a USB-A on one end and four charging attachments that work simultanrously on the other end for an Apple Watch, lightning (iPhone or iPad), USB-C (Switch) and MicroUSB (Kindle, Medical equipment).

A favorite activity while traveling is playing games. We have learned that the Library and Card Game rooms will be closed and that games will not be available for loan onboard the ship. Katie received two Pendleton backpack game rolls that are small and lightweight. They are perfect for our trip and will allow us to play chess, checkers and backgammon.