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"not Elvis" Themed cruise!

So the reason this title is "not Elvis" is because the real theme is "Tribute to the King" This was a themed cruise I went on recently. Apparently the Presley Estate doesn't give out the rights to Elvis easily. Which I thought was funny because no matter how you wordplay it people are going to say Elvis. Check out the video and then come back to read more.  https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=7nbcLL6xmY8 I got on this cruise in a weird way... I thought I was on to play, and then found out there wasn't enough room for me, basically hearing that I am confirmed and then on a waiting list about 5 times... and then basically it worked out, although I wasn't there to play music, I was there to make a video of my experience for promotion on P&O Australia. This might sound like I'm complaining but really it was a great chance for me to check out other acts on board and it was really cool to see people diving in to being "Elvis"  Backstage getting pictures of the performers one of the impersonators was talking to me with a thick southern American Accent and then a flip of the switch had a super thick Australian accent. That blew my mind how well they get into character. The cruisers were also doing their part, dressing up, and screaming like teenagers at a real Elvis concert like the KING himself was singing in front of them. It was a really good experience. I am excited that P&O will be doing more themed cruises and cant wait to share more stories of these. Next cruise in 2 weeks is a full on comedy cruise! So stay tuned and keep cruising!
 

SHIP LIFE Q&A

I opened up my facebook and instagram to anyone with questions about ship life.  I got some great questions, and some silly questions, and of course questions that had nothing to do with ship life. So I made this video to answer those questions including... "do they have a morgue?" The biggest question of all is when people watch this video and they want to work on ships, I am a big fan of anyone wanting to work on ships because this has changed my life in so many amazing ways. So if you are interested or have a family member that might be interested don't hesitate to ask and I would be happy to point you in the right direction. Also if you have any questions yourselves please ask and I will do my best to answer them. enjoy  

A Peek Inside Carnival Horizon

I had the honor of being invited to the naming ceremony of the Carnival Horizon! Carnival Cruises newest ship is 133,500 GRT and holds 5,056 guests. She will sail from New York City to Bermuda and the Eastern Caribbean before repositioning to Miami, FL to sail Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean.    SMLXL You think you know Carnival? Think again! Once you step onboard you will think to yourself "Wait, this is a Carnival ship?" The Carnival Horizon is the new flagship of the fleet and it is bringing a new name to Carnival. The Horizon does not boast non-stop crazy party and drinking for young adults no instead you see families, young couples, friend groups, older couples and yes, a lot of kids.  With 17 dining options, 13 entertainment venues, the first ever Dr. Seuss Waterworks, a sports complex complete with Sky Ride and three pools this Carnival ship has taken things to a whole new level.    The Horizon is the BEST Carnival ship that I have ever had the pleasure of boarding (even if it was just for the night). The service, food, entertainment, accommodations and venues are second to none I will even say I believe it is the best mid-size cruise ship afloat. Carnival Has absolutely outdone themselves! 
So let us talk ship!
The Atrium:  
Very similar to it's "Sista Vista" the Horizon's atrium spans three decks (3,4, and 5) has an incredible lounge and bar, that, might I add, serves some of the best drinks onboard, has "mall style" shopping on both deck 4 and 5 with the first-ever Victoria's Secret at sea and access to all other areas of the ship! A few other places you will find in the atrium are guest services, carnival adventures, fun hub, and of course Cherry on Top! 
The Upper Promenade: SMLXL   Take a stroll through the upper atrium and find the first ever"Guy's Pig  & Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse" that features incredible small bites, craft beer including four new specialty craft brew beers brewed right onboard and Incredible cocktails! You'll also find some Carnival classics such as the Alchemy Bar, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Java Blue Cafe, Shake Spot, the Havana Bar and of course Pixels Photo Gallery, Dream Spot and the Internet Cafe. Lastly, enjoy the first ever onboard a Carnival ship "Bonsai Teppanyaki" restaurant located mid-ship upper promenade!    The Lower Promenade:   Now, of course, how can you have an upper promenade without a lower promenade. You might find yourself here late night way after dinner to put a few dollars in the slot machines, or on the Blackjack table in the Casino, catch a comedy show in the Limelight Lounge or cheer on your favorite sports team in Skybox Sports Bar!    The Lido Deck: SMLXL   Deck 10 the most iconic deck on a cruise ship awaits you here, the Lido deck! Step out to the Beach pool, grab a lounge chair then head over to the Blue Iguana or Red Frog bar before relaxing for the day under the sun! If you opt for a more relaxed quiet area head to the very aft of deck 10 and find the Tides Pool. This area is complete with a full bar, a full-size pool, whirlpools, Pizzeria Del Capitano, Seafood Shack, endless amounts of loungers for you to relax, and a stunning view!    Sports & Activities Deck: Deck 11  Now here is where the fun is, where children of all ages, looking at you baby boomers, can experience the true fun that Carnival offers. Take a ride down one of the two full-size waterslides but be careful not to be caught by Thing 1 or Thing 2 and beware of the GRINCH! Head to the aft of deck 11 and take a ride in the sky with Carnivals Skyride, climb through the ropes course, get a hole in one with mini golf, or make new friends and play a game of basketball!    The Serenity Deck:   
This is for all of those adults who are traveling without kids or are choosing to leave their children at the kids club all day! Enjoy oversized loungers, a full bar, healthy eating alternative, whirlpools and amazing views that look out over the Horizon!   Meridian Restaurant:  One of the main dining rooms onboard is there to impress. The chic design of Meridian sprawls over two decks boasting a calm atmosphere and cuisine that will leave you pleasantly surprised. If you're lucky you can get a table right in the center under one of the incredible color changing chandeliers or maybe one in the very aft next to the back windows! Be prepared to eat and enjoy because Carnival does not save the best food for the specialty restaurants they make sure all guests have a meal unlike any other!  Welcome home for the Summer Carnival Horizon! Check out cruiseshipcrayz.com for more! 

JSinapijr

JSinapijr

What is your favorite port to LEAVE?

So there have been a lot of magical sail aways ports... Venice, Antigua, Auckland, Messina, Athens, Singapore, and probably even more that I haven't done yet. Today I wanted to talk about Sydney Australia. I have sailed away at this port over 30 times and it is always something amazing... Going under the Sydney Harbour bridge and passing the opera house. I posted a couple of cool video of the experience... Before you take a look at those, I would just love to know which are your favorite ports to sail away from? This one is edited       this one is an actual 360 video that you can move your cursor or phone around and see it like it is.        

Fort Lauderdale - Beyond the Beach

I had the good fortune to visit some great places and experience new activities while on a recent visit to Fort Lauderdale for an event hosted by the Florida Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many of us who live in colder climates come to Fort Lauderdale for its pristine beaches and charming intercostal waterways. In fact, we had the opportunity to view several beachfront hotel properties in town including Sonesta, the W, Westin and the B Ocean - all of which have their own identity, style and budget, and all of which I would highly recommend to anyone who wants the full beach experience. Indeed, the Fort Lauderdale Beach is where it’s at! However, Fort Lauderdale is more than sun, sand and surf. If you're not a big beach person, in town for a day or two before or after a cruise, or just looking for a way out of the sun for a while, here are a few interesting places I discovered on my visit. Flamingo Gardens - Botanical Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are into gardens, this is your place. You'll find exotic trees with names like "pink trumpet tree" and "Panama candle tree" and some gorgeous gardens including a butterfly garden, hummingbird garden and a children's fragrance garden. Getting married? There's a wedding gazebo to make your special day special! Be sure to check out the many beautiful peacocks that freely roam the property. This 60-acre oasis also features a wildlife sanctuary with alligators, otters, lots of birds, bobcats, turtles and, of course, pink flamingos! Our group had a special visit with Josh the Bear, where, with the help of his kind-hearted and informative handler, we had the opportunity to feed this beautiful animal which the facility rescued in 2013.  Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. What a surprise this special place is! Sitting just off the beach and surrounded by shopping plazas, restaurants, and luxury hotels is the last remaining preserved piece of serene property dating back to the late 1800s when Ft. Lauderdale was just wetlands and dunes. The home, formerly occupied by late artists, Frederick Bartlett and Evelyn Lilly, is loaded with odd, yet interesting collectibles from all over the world. The gardens are beautiful, though seemingly overrun with iguanas, and the property is also rented out for weddings and events. Before Evelyn died in 1997 (at the age of 109!), she had the good sense to give Bonnet House to the Florida Trust, with the express provision that the land be preserved and enjoyed for future generations. Sawgrass Recreation Park. Sawgrass is a family run business primarily featuring Everglades airboat rides. They offer rides for individuals, small and large groups, on airboats of various sizes. For our small group of 4, we had a private 30 minute ride on one of their small boats. It was my first airboat ride ever, and it was a blast racing over the grass-laden swamp. Wildlife wasn’t as abundant as I thought it would be, but we did stop to watch a couple of gators. Our guide was informative, filling us in on everything Everglades related. There is also a small wildlife sanctuary on site, featuring large and small endangered and exotic animals. The handlers were there to answer questions and offered visitors a chance to hold several, so it was educational and fun. Jungle Queen. The large, impressive Jungle Queen river boat has been cruising the canals since 1935. There are daytime sightseeing cruises, sightseeing and tropical isle cruises and the cruise we did - the sightseeing dinner and show cruise. Dinner and entertainment take place on their “jungle isle”, and on the way, you’ll cruise past lavish homes of the rich and famous and their mega yachts, complete with narration. Dinner is in a large covered pavilion, served family style on long tables, and consists of BBQ baby back ribs, chicken, shrimp and fries. Once you’ve had your fill, you can walk around and admire the animals and have a seat for the show. The variety show featured four acts, and they all were hilarious and fun, especially due to the audience participation. The hard seats we sat on, however, were painful. It was a fun night, though, but in all honesty, I didn’t really enjoy the dinner part, mainly due to my dislike of massive group dining experiences. But that's just me. if you don't mind communal dining in a crowded, noisy atmosphere, accompanied by an overly-loud band, then this is for you.  Fort Lauderdale Air Show. We just happen to be in town during this annual event. I hadn't seen stunt planes and since I was a kid, so this was a special treat. The weather was perfect, and our hosts provided us with a covered VIP viewing area complete with food and drinks. Obviously, because the traffic is nuts and hotel rooms are scarce surrounding the weekend of the air show, you might want to choose another time for your visit to Ft. Lauderdale. Unlike the air shows in my home state which take place over a hot air field, this one is perfectly located ocean side. Admittedly, I am spoiled now for air shows. With a private tent and section of beach, I don't think I'll want to view another air show any other way again!  Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Mermaid Show at the B Ocean, an underwater burlesque, so to speak, which takes place in the hotel’s Wreck Bar. Basically, the Mermaid Show features windows to the underwater portion of the adjacent pool which faces the bar, and pretty young women in full mermaid attire swimming around, stopping at the windows to peer in, smile, wave, and blow kisses. The later show, for ages 21 and older, goes on at 9:30, but we went to the 6:30 pm family-friendly performance. I must admit, it all felt a bit strange. With the guys hooting it up at the bar as they ogled the finned females, and the little kids loving the whole mermaid thing, it seemed like an odd mix of The Little Mermaid meets burlesque. Still, it was fun to watch. So, the next time you’re in Ft. Lauderdale, look beyond the beach for a new experience!

Jan115

Jan115

 

Typical day in the life of a ship musician

So a lot of people wonder what happens behind the scenes on ships... the next few blog posts will be dedicated to giving you some insight to behind the scenes.... First of all if you haven't seen any of my videos on youtube... check them out   So there are 5 things that musicians on ships typically do during the day...  SLEEP NAP SNOOZE HIBERNATE REST Sensing a theme? Most musician find themselves staying out late at night, doing their job and then socializing and then resting the whole day to have the energy to do it again the next night. Being a singer, I usually hide away during the day to rest my voice. Not that we typically go hard and drink the night away but being social on the ships is more fun than the alternative, but there have been times during my contracts where I got so hooked on a TV series that I would finish my set at night and then hurry to my room to binge watch until the sun came out. There have been other times in my contracts where I would stay out all night learning new songs to perform the following night. There also have been times when I wanted to be productive and get up at a reasonable time, go to the gym, be healthy and get stuff done. When I started making videos on youtube I would find myself going around the ship more and being creative. Which is a much better thing than sleeping 12 hours a day. Stay tuned for a new blog post every week !!!  Ill see you next time and if you have any questions or suggestions for blog posts please let me know in the comments 🙂      

8 years of working on ships

Since I started this blog back in 2011 working for Carnival Cruise Lines… I wanted to reflect a little about my time on ships. Although its only fair to say that over 8 years ago when I started ( Jan 2010 ) on the Carnival Freedom, I have actually only been on ships a total of 30 months ( 2 1/2 years) out of 8. The other 5 1/2 years I have been traveling and visiting all of the people I met on ships and playing gigs to cover that cost. This was my new life… driving, staying with friends/family, not really having a home. The opportunity for working with P&O Australia came in 2014 and I jumped at the opportunity to spend time down under.... little did I know it would be another life changing journey. P&O wanted to do an artist feature of me on their facebook and I made a video for them to highlight it. Check it out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzfsDd2LDn0&t You never know where life will take you... you wouldn't even believe what my life was like before ships... (and ill get to that another time)  So get out there... cruise to exotic places and invite the musician to your town to play 😄

Food on Ships!

Working on P&O Australia recently I have been promoted to a new position. I have been classified as a "fly on" entertainer now, which means I come on for 1 or 2 cruises at a time to entertain the guests, and then I go home until my next short contract. It is a great position and gives me the ability to have more guest privileges. So I wanted to check out all of the restaurants on board and try the food out. I made a video about it too. FOOD ON SHIPS <- click to watch   The take away I get from this is that people are OVERLY critical when it comes to cruise ship food. To me, anything that you get on a ship in the middle of the ocean is going to be great. Maybe I appreciate it more because I used to eat in the crew and staff mess down below and that food would get very, well lets say not the best. So running around to these restaurants and even the ones that you do not have to pay extra money for, they are doing great things and making very tasty dishes. So next time you are on a cruise ship instead of being on the side that complains about every little thing, just enjoy it and look at it from the perspective of how much goes on behind the scenes in making the food for 3000 + people every day.  

5 Ways to Survive a Port-Intensive Itinerary

A cruise with most or all of its stops spent in a new port each day can be a rewarding and enriching experience. It can also be an exhausting one. I love cruising Europe and being introduced to new scenery and cultures, but I also like my moments to kick back and relax. How does a cruiser enjoy a port-intensive cruise without burning out? Try one of these 5 remedies: 1. Instead of filling an entire day with a worldwind tour, focus on one or two particular attractions, or simply park yourself at a streetside cafe and people watch - even better if it’s an ocean view! 2. Try a half-day tour, especially if you are just looking for an overview of a new destination. 3. Take a late afternoon snooze. It will be just the boost you need to get you through the evenings festivities after a long day in port. 4. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water while out and about to prevent that tired feeling from dragging you down - especially important during the hot, summer months. 5. Go to bed early. Skip the late-night partying if you have an 8:00 am tour in the morning. Your body will thank you!  

Jan115

Jan115

Will Your Ship Dock or Tender? Know the Difference.

One of the favorite things about cruising is the ports you’ll visit, the sights you’ll see, and the new experiences you’ll gain. To access the ports and all the fun, your ship will either dock right there portside, where guests can walk right off the ship, or it will “tender” passengers to shore in small boats while the ship is anchored off shore. It’s important to know the difference so you can plan ahead, especially if you have something special planned in port.  Going ashore from the Dock is preferred because all that’s required is a walk off the ship when the Captain announces you’re clear to go. Quick and simple. Tendering, on the other hand, takes some time, and in most cases, there is a schedule or ticket process so that all passengers aren’t heading to the tender boats at the same time. Some tender operations are wheelchair and disability friendly, some are difficult or impossible. If you fall in one of these categories, it’s important to check your itinerary for any ports that require tendering and whether or not they can accommodate mobility issues. If you are meeting an independent excursion at a set time, be sure you allow time to tender ashore so you’re tour doesn’t take off without you. Consult the cruise line or your travel agent for specifics related to your itinerary.

Jan115

Jan115

Packing Procrastination

It's Friday - my day off, meaning that I have three full days before the hubby and I fly to Ft. Lauderdale for a CruiseCrazies group cruise leaving for Panama on Tuesday. My packing/to-do list is printed, waiting for items to check off. However, in typical fashion, I am suffering from packing paralysis. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up, laundry to do, and bags to pack, and instead of starting this process, here I sit at the computer writing about it. My middle name begins with "P" - really. But instead of my real middle name, let's call it "Procrastination". My inability to focus on the task at hand involves several factors: #1: My husband came down with a mild case of pneumonia, now leaving us with a big Question Mark as to whether he'd be able to go. This started turning the wheels in my scattered brain - what if he can't go? Should I go without him? What if he goes, and he he has a re-bout, thousands of miles from home? How will the rest of the Crazies get along without me? (Very well, I suspect.) Immediately, all the negatives started to outweigh the positives, and after reciting them one by one, he's now convinced I don't want him to go, that if I proceed without him, I'll have less to worry about and, yes, have the whole mini suite to myself. Okay, while there may be a tiny grain of truth in those statements, I would feel really bad leaving without him.  Fortunately, after beginning a round of mega steroids and super strength antibiotics, and the green light from his doctor, he's feeling much better, and we're confident he'll make it to the plane - and the ship! So we're back to go! #2: The desktop computer, where I spend too much freaking time. I came here to pay some bills, and got sidetracked with Facebook, Instagram, email, messages and, my CruiseCrazies blog, of course. Before I know it, half of my day will be gone, and I'll have nothing to show for it.  #3: Find the stuff to pack. If I don't wash the clothes, I'll have nothing to pack. If I don't dig some warm weather clothing out of storage, I will have nothing to pack. If I don't pull out a piece of luggage, I won't pack.  #4: Over-packing vs. Under-packing. I want to pack light, but still have yet to manage this difficult feat. It looks easy on paper, but I always end up with clothing never worn at the end of the trip. My mind is full of "what-ifs" - what if it rains, what if it's cold, what if we're stranded somewhere? I just pack it all. In my "Tuesday Travel Tips" blog, I have told others on how to save room in your bags and pack efficiently. Yet, I have yet to take my own advice. #5: Last minute re-packing. This is the worst. I decide that the bag is too heavy, I want a different bag, I need to remove some things, and on and on. So, in essence, I pack twice. I think my procrastination comes from having taken too many trips. My mind tells me - Jan, you've done this a hundred times - you've got it down. Just throw things in a bag the night before, and you're good to go. It doesn't work that way, though, because I'm bound to forget something important - like my passport, without which I will go anywhere.  Now that I've listed my packing failures, it's time for action, the first step of which is to get off this computer. Soon we'll be on our way to Panama and the Caribbean on board the Coral Princess. Be back in two weeks, no doubt with lots of photos and travel tales to share!

Jan115

Jan115

Cruise Dining: Try Multiple Entrees at Dinner

What better way to explore an assortment of culinary creations than dinner in the complimentary dining room. Nothing in the cruise contract indicates you’re limited to one appetizer, entree or dessert at dinner. Feel free to order multiple dishes. If you can’t decide between the chicken cordon blue or the beef Wellington, order both. Same goes for appetizers and desserts, too. If no entree is calling out to you, then choose a few appetizers to serve as your entree. Don’t think you can finish a second entree? Then share it with your table mate. I typically can’t eat more than one entree, but I do like to order an extra side to share with my husband. Ordering multiple menu items is the perfect way to try new dishes!

Jan115

Jan115

New Year - New Un-Resolutions

It's a new year - March, already - and a belated Happy New Year! I hope everyone here at CruiseCrazies is in good health and has at least one cruise on the 2018 horizon!  I'd like to say I made resolutions for the new year, but that would be a lie because I never keep them. However, if I could put together a personal plan - an UN-resulotion, so to speak - it would involve three components: (1) cruise more, (2) cruise more and (3) cruise more ... oh, wait, that's the cruiser in me coming out, and I'm sure that's what we all here would resolve to do. What I meant to say was (1) ORGANIZE my time better, (2) BLOG more, and (3) CRUISE more, of course!  Let's start with the first - organize my time. I am a planner. I excel at travel planning. I keep a stellar household budget. My desk, for the most part, is neat - a place for everything and everything in it's place. What I CAN'T seem to get a grasp on is budgeting my time. I have ideas in my head, but I don't write anything down. So I start one project, then start another, and finally another, all without completing any. I'm a terrible multi-tasker. Even now, I have five desktop windows and ten tabs in my browser open because my thoughts jump from one idea to the next. I overthink some plans and totally blow off others. A-D-D? Who knows, maybe. I think it's just a time management issue. My plan for 2018 will be to actually keep a written list or schedule in a reliable place, which is clearly not my head. Next - I want to Blog more. I do love to write, and while I'm not a great writer by any stretch, I do write what I love. Whether due to writer's block, lack of interesting content, or disorganization as outlined above, my blogs - my two here on CruiseCrazies - and those elsewhere, have all been sadly neglected. I think that sometimes because I haven't been anywhere or done anything exciting, I simply have nothing to share. I do have ideas, though, about many things travel related - but, again, I don't write them down as I think of them. Therefore, my Blogging plan for 2018 will be to jot ideas down on paper or note them in my smartphone, and ultimately create some profound prose.  Third and last - CRUISE more! This is far easier said than down. First, I would have to quit my main job as an administrative assistant, and this is not yet possible because I need the money to - you guessed - CRUISE! However, my boss has been very forgiving of the 3-week vacation policy, now turning into 6 weeks or more, so I'll run with it. My husband's love of slot-playing - or should I say the amount of money he has "gifted" to the local casino - has resulted in some very cheap Norwegian cruises for us - once or twice a year. This has made a big advancement in my plan to cruise more - thank you, David! However, there are still oceans full of beautiful ships and so little time, and I would like to get a cabin on as many as I can before I die. For the first time in December, I cruised alone. I didn't have to wait for my husband's limited school-year schedule for that window of cruise opportunity. I just went without him - and I had a great time. So, my third and final plan for 2018 is to hop aboard a ship, alone if I have to, tell the boss I'm taking yet another week, and set sail when I want.  So, now that you are all witness to my personal plan, or my Un-Resolutions for 2018, let's see how I go. It's a little late for announcing new plans, three months into the year and all, but better late than never, right? Who knows, maybe by June, I'll post my belated "Best of" 2017 travel moments! Happy Cruising!    

Jan115

Jan115

5 Etiquette Tips for Sharing a Cabin

I recently cruised on a seminar at sea and chose to share my cabin with a complete stranger to save money. As it turned out, we got along great, but it got me thinking - what if we weren’t compatible cabin mates? Most of the time, we share cabins with family or good friends. We know their habits and idiosyncrasies, compromises are made, and for better or worse, it usually works. But what if we’re spending a few days or a week with someone we don’t know? Here are a few tips to co-habitate peacefully. 1.  Divide and conquer. Equally share drawer, counter and closet space, and keep your stuff in your space. Not only will it keep you organized but prevent your cabinmate from re-packing up something of yours by mistake at the end of the cruise.  2.  Admit to snoring and early-to-bed or early-to-rise habits early on. Offer your mate a pair of earplugs if you are a snorer. If you like to wake up to the sun rising over the ocean, but your cabin mate likes blackout curtains, some compromises will need to be made. Learn to tiptoe and keep noise and light to a minimum when necessary. 3. Take turns recharging devices. I brought my charger - my roommate lost hers. The outlets were few and in an awkward location on our ship. We had one charger for all our electronics, but with some planning, we made it work. 4. Be aware of any perfume or aroma therapy scents and the effect they might have on your roommate. My roommate brought a supply of oils of various scents, which had my eyes watering and my head spinning. A carefully worded request to ease up on them worked, and there were no hard feelings. 5.  Bathroom etiquette. Avoid spreading your cosmetics all throughout the limited shelf space. A hanging cosmetic bag works wonders for me. I unfold it from my suitcase and hang it directly on the bath door hook. Speaking of the bathroom and sensitivity to smells, a squirt or two of Lysol will help minimize objectional smells. To take it further, you might want to agree to use a public restroom for the “big jobs”.    

Jan115

Jan115

The 12 Days of Christmas - for Cruisers

One of the great benefits of my husband’s recent retirement is his enthusiasm about making me a homemade lunch each day, lovingly packed into my L.L. Bean lunch bag and accompanied by a yellow note containing a game, puzzle, quiz or some other “assignment” to pass away the lunch hour. Today’s note contained blank lines numbered 1 through 12, headed by the title, “Name the 12 Days of Christmas.” I am nobody’s poet and not the most creative girl in the world, but I decided to give it a shot with my own twisted lyrics, sung to the famous classic tune, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”  Please be kind ...

Ready, let's sing ... On the FIRST day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  A cruise on a tropical sea. On the SECOND day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the THIRD day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Three shore excursions, Two credit cards, and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the FOURTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the FIFTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Five pairs of shoes  — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the SIXTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the SEVENTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the EIGHTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Eight airline tickets,  Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the NINTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Nine frozen mudslides,  Eight airline tickets, Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits - Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the TENTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Ten trashy novels, Nine frozen mudslides, Eight airline tickets, Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the ELEVENTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Eleven margaritas, Ten trashy novels, Nine frozen mudslides, Eight airline tickets, Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea. On the TWELFTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Twelve tubes of sunscreen, Eleven margaritas, Ten trashy novels, Nine frozen mudslides, Eight airline tickets, Seven travel buddies, Six sexy swimsuits — Five pairs of shoes — Four bingo cards, Three shore excursions, Two credit cards and A cruise on a tropical sea!
Happy Holidays!

Jan115

Jan115

Airport Security Tips for Flyers with Knee/Hip Replacements

Travelers with knee, hip or other joint replacements have another reason to hate flying: airport security.  When being discharged from the hospital after a total knee replacement last December, one important piece of advice was missing from the pile of recovery plan papers I received from the staff - how to get through airport security without setting off the alarm and the resulting embarrassing pat-down, both of which has happened to me several times in the months since my surgery. A member of airport security in Boston finally offered me some helpful advice which I hope will assist other "bionic" travelers at the airport. There used to be a time when the doctor would give you a note to show at airport security informing them of your joint hardware. This is no longer the case, and in fact most physicians rarely bother to offer a note for security clearance, as the FAA no longer accepts this type of proof. Whether you have a note or even display your surgical scar to the security agent makes no difference. When you pass through the metal detector, the alarm will sound, and you will require a full and thorough pat-down. To avoid this, try the following tricks: If there is the option for a full body scanner, choose it, as it will be much easier. There is no need to announce your artificial joint to security personnel. While metal will still be detected, the scanner will clearly show that the metal is in the bone. If a full body scanner is not present, be sure to tell a security agent that you have joint hardware BEFORE going through the metal detector. You will still most likely have to undergo further screening, but less intrusively, with either wand or a quick frisk.

Jan115

Jan115

How to Score Onboard Credit for Your Next Cruise

Do you ever wonder how some cruisers seem to get loads of shipboard credit to use for onboard purchases? For the benefit of you folks new to cruising, any added value in the form of cash for you to use on board your cruise - for things like beverages, shopping, drinks, shore excursions, the spa, and other for-fee extras - is known as on-board or shipboard credit. Some people get a lot of it, while others seem to get none. If you're looking to score maximum onboard credits for your next cruise, you just need to know where to look. Here are a half dozen tricks for finding free money for your cruise:   A Travel Agent. Don't expect an agent to fork over their whole commission to you in the form of credit so you can have a good time, but do expect them to know which cruise lines are offering some in the form of a promotion. The best way an agent can give you onboard credit is through a value-added offer (gifting you something rather than discounting your cruise), and many times this is done through group blocks the agent holds for the purpose of booking their clients. Either way, if you are dedicated and loyal to your travel agent, no doubt they will reward you.    Cruise Line Promotions. Cruise lines run deal after deal, and many of them come with a specific dollar amount of onboard credit, usually tied in with the number of days sailing or the category of cabin booked. The more money you are willing to pay for your cruise, the more credit you will receive.   Book Your Next Cruise While On Board Another. Most cruise lines have an on-board booking program, either a Future Cruise Desk or an entire office staffed by crew members whose job it is  to entice you into booking your next cruise with them. After all, this is what builds their loyal customer base. To do this, you would place a small deposit ($100 per person, in many cases) in a future cruise, and the cruise line will reward you with onboard credit, again, tied in with the number of days or category of cabin you intend on booking for your next cruise. In fact, you don't even have to decide right then and there. Instead, the cruise line will give you a year or two to think about it.   Refer a Friend. Many lines will reward you for bringing them business in the form of your friends and relatives who may be new to cruising - or a particular cruise line - and want to see what they've been missing.    Price Drops. This is hit or miss, but worth asking. If you find your cruise price dropped after final payment, the cruise line may issue you the difference in the form of onboard credit - or perhaps an upgrade.    Register a Complaint. Did you have a bad experience on your last cruise? If you had a serious issue with service or anything else related to your cruise, write a letter to the cruise line, explain what happened, and you may receive a letter of apology in return with a certificate for a discount on your next cruise or for shipboard credit. The amount would most likely depend on the severity of the complaint. Some assistance from a travel agent will help to assure your letter of complaint gets to the right people.   Not all onboard credit is combinable, meaning you may not be able to combine onboard credits received from a promotion with those received as a loyalty reward. But it never hurts to explore all the options.   Photo credit: Pixabay Free Web Photos  

Jan115

Jan115

Make Your Rental Car Theft-Proof

Nothing says "tourist" like a rental car full of cameras, luggage, maps and tour books. Would-be thieves, in fact, can spot a tourist and his rental from a mile away. Here are a few tips to prevent you and your rental becoming a victim of theft: - Don't have anything of value in plain sight while occupying the car, and definitely hide any valuables in the trunk while parked. - Look and drive like a local. Avoid having maps, guides and other touristy info out in the open while driving and when parked. - Leave glove box open to show there is nothing of value stored inside. - Watch for snatchers at traffic lights - crooks who will reach inside your window and grab your purse or camera. Better yet, keep windows closed and doors locked when occupying the vehicle. - For SUVs or hatchbacks, use the rolling cover during the day to hide any valuables. At night, remove everything, leaving only the harmless stuff, and roll the cover back so thieves will know there's nothing of value worth stealing. Jan Neves CruiseCrazies Authorized Agent http://www.sevenseajourneys.com

Jan115

Jan115

Use Your Cell Phone's Camera to Create a Visual Reminder of "All-Aboard" Time in Port

To avoid missing the boat in port, snap a photo of the "All-Aboard Time" before stepping off the ship to see the sights. It's a great visual reminder for the younger, care-free members of your party venturing out on their own. Plus, if you have a few too many shots in the local watering hole, you can refer to your cell phone camera if your brain becomes too muddled to remember what time you're supposed to be back on board.

Jan115

Jan115

See the Northern Lights Next Spring

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis? If not, then you'll have a greater chance of seeing them during 2016 or 2017 if you're heading toward the Arctic. With a forecast of heightened activity, you'll be able to view them from a wide variety of locations. For the best experience, visit during early spring, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Read the full article: Where to See the Northern Lights in 2016

Jan115

Jan115

Enjoy a Hurricane Season Cruise with the Right Attitude

Now that summer has officially arrived, so has hurricane season in the Caribbean, lasting from June through November, affecting tourists and residents from the Southern Caribbean, and on north to the coast of Maine. Should that stop you from booking a Caribbean or New England cruise in late summer or fall? No, and here’s why. Caribbean cruise rates are never better than they are in fall, especially from late August through mid-December. Crowds diminish, the kids are back in school, and cruising is generally quieter. It’s an ideal time to cruise. Chances are slim that a hurricane will affect your plans. Cruise ships use the latest weather-tracking systems to steer around the path of storms. While you may encounter some rough seas, the crew will do a marvelous job of keeping you safe and the ship as steady as possible. If you are planning a Caribbean cruise in fall, you can take a few extra precautions to lessen the chance of weather-related mishaps. Arrive at your port a day or two ahead of your sail date, especially if you need to fly. While the cruise itself may not be an issue in a storm, getting to your ship on time could be. Weather delays and flight cancellations may leave you stranded at home. If a storm does come your way, keep in touch with your travel agent for the latest cruise line updates and advice. If you are cruising during hurricane season, keep an open mind and board your ship with the right attitude. If a hurricane messes with your vacation, the ship’s itinerary may change, and you may find yourself in ports you weren’t expecting. Go with the flow, and enjoy your cruise, wherever it may take you. Jan

Jan115

Jan115

For a Quieter Cruising Experience, Cruise Off-Season

If your vacation time is flexible, consider yourself fortunate. You have the ability to choose to cruise when prices are lower and cruise ships are generally quieter. There will be far fewer children to compete with, and ship activities will be more enjoyable. In the Caribbean, for instance, the highest prices and larger crowds occur during mid summer, school breaks and Christmas week. By choosing a cruise in, say, early November, you'll save money and easily navigate the ports and biggest attractions with fewer crowds and more elbow room. For more on the subject of when to cruise where, see my article: Destinations and the Best Time to Cruise Them

Jan115

Jan115

Friday's Food for Thought ~ 5.29.15

"Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy." ~ Fanny Burney I felt the same way when I visited Europe - not just Rome, but Lisbon, Athens and Istanbul. Every other building pales in comparison. Photo © J. Neves

Jan115

Jan115

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