Everyone remembers the “Love Boat” and thinks about taking that once in a lifetime cruise. However there are some mistakes that you can make in paradise. Here’s a list of the top ten.
1. Not arriving at your departure port the day BEFORE your cruise. So much can go wrong with airport delays, interstate traffic, cancelled flights, etc. Isn't it worth the cost of a hotel room to know for sure that you will be boarding that ship before the crowds?
2. Getting too drunk. No one enjoys having an obnoxious drunk by them on the lido deck or at their dinner table. Just because you CAN drink a bucket of beer before lunch doesn't mean you SHOULD. New beverage packages make it even more tempting to over-drink. Pace yourself! Your body will thank you later!
3. Cruising without travel insurance. Cruising without travel insurance is like playing with fire. There are a wide range of policies offered that include coverage for medical (your medical insurance most likely won’t cover you out of the country), travel delays and interruptions, and cancellations.
4. Cruising without a Passport can be a disaster. If you have to fly home from any of your ports-of-call because of a family emergency or an illness or injury, you could be totally out of luck! A Passport is a small investment to insure that you can return home hassle-free.
5. Forgetting to turn data roaming off on your cell phone. Before stepping foot on the ship, you should go to the settings on your phone and make sure that data roaming is turned off. This will keep your cell phone from racking up huge charges and using data even when it is in your pocket. Putting your phone in airplane mode will also keep you from racking up additional charges.
6. Getting left behind in port. When the captain says that the ship is leaving port at 5:00, he means it. He isn’t going to wait around for those who lost track of time. If you get left behind in port, you are responsible for your own transportation to the next port or back home. The costs can be several thousand dollars each and will be even more complicated if you are traveling without a passport. Our advice? Plan on arriving back near the ship 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you are scheduled to leave. This not only gives you some time to shop in the port area, but also gives you plenty of leeway if you run into traffic or your taxi or bus has a breakdown on the way back.
7. Eating only at the buffet. While newer ships have great buffets, the best food on a cruise is almost always in the main dining room or specialty restaurants. By eating only at the buffet, you miss out on the great food and service that you can experience if you slow down and enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good buffet, however go out and try something new and different, you’ll be glad you did.
8. Stiffing the crew. While most cruise lines automatically charge a daily gratuity or service surcharge to your stateroom, you can have the charges removed by going to guest services. However, just because you are allowed to have them taken off doesn’t mean that you should. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant without tipping and you shouldn’t go on a cruise without tipping the staff that works so hard to make your trip a pleasant one.
9. Treating the crew like 2nd class citizens We all have bad days, but how many would you have if you worked 7 days a week and were away from your family for 6-9 months at a time? Kind words to the crew will go a long way. Treat them with the same respect that you give to your spouse or partner. (or maybe even a little bit MORE)
10. Booking early flights on disembarkation day – Cruise lines recommend not booking flights before noon on disembarkation day. Just because your arrival time says 7:00 a.m., there is almost no chance of catching an 8:30 flight. There have been times I’ve walked right through security, and other times it took over an hour to get through the line. Why end your vacation with a stressful travel day?
And until next time….
When someone says I want to party all night and lay on the beach all day, where do I go? I say look no further than Aruba. You can even throw in a fun day excursion to the untamed countryside.
Aruba’s lively nightlife is fun for everyone and has earned the title of Las Vegas of the Caribbean. They have a bunch of casinos that vary their closing times, and some are even open 24 hours. Did you know that Aruba claims to be the founder of many table games including Caribbean Stud Poker? Not only do they have gaming Aruba also has live shows, live bands, discos and movable parties. The DJ’s will have all kinds of music flowing in the clubs including rap, rock and roll, reggae, and even merengue. The legal age for drinking and gambling is 18, so have your id ready.
After partying the night away, the next day you will want to sit and relax on one of Aruba’s iconic beaches. Aruba has some of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean. The calmest beaches and the most crowded beaches are on the west side, and that’s where the resorts are. The east side is less crowded, however the tides and tradewinds can be strong especially in the afternoon. The northeast side of the island has the rocky beaches and they are not very good for swimming. Eagle and Palm Beach are on the northwest side of Oranjestad and are a favorite of tourists because of its powdery white sand. Druif Beach is in the heart of the resort area so it tends to be less crowded with cruise ship passengers if you are staying on the island. If you are looking for a secluded and quiet beach, look no further than Rogers Beach in San Nicolas at Seroe Colorado.
Don’t forget to go visit the California Lighthouse. The California Lighthouse is one Aruba’s most famous icons. Visitors flock to this icon for amazing views of the iconic coastline.
Stop by the Butterfly Farm to see butterflies from all over the world. Make sure to stop there early in the morning to see the new butterflies leaving their cocoons.
There are so many things to do in Barbados that it makes a perfect Caribbean holiday.
And until next time….
The Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, is a beautiful island to discover. It truly has something for everyone. Not only does it have great shopping, it has beautiful scenery, animal encounters, water experiences and great rum!
For those of you who want to go to the beach, Grand Cayman has one of the world’s most famous beaches, Seven Mile Beach. However, now it’s really only about 5.5 miles due to erosion from the tourists and the occasional hurricane. If you are looking for a quiet beach, Seven Mile is not for you. It’s the most built up beach, with resorts up and down the beach and some do charge to use their facilities.
If you want a laze the day away on the beach with a drink in hand in your hammock, Rum Beach, is the beach for you. You can also wade in it’s shallow waters. It’s about a 45 minute drive from George Town.
How about some snorkeling or a dive? You can snorkel and even drive from the beaches on Grand Cayman. If you decide to dive and see some of the cool dive sites including the shipwrecks of the USS Kittiwake and the Balboa and the Cali, we aware that the waters around the Grand Cayman are a protected marine park, and the dive boats have special moorings to prevent reef damage.
One of the most famous animal encounters on the Grand Cayman is Sting City. This shallow sandbar is the home to about 50 stingrays that are about 5 feet long and weight about 150 lbs. You get to take a boat out to them and feed and pet them. They are gentle and fun.
Another great animal encounter is the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm. This farm is home to over 11,000 green sea turtles from 6 ounces to 6 hundred pounds. You even get to hold a turtle for yourself!
And of course there is rum! Cayman Spirits Company gives a great tour of their facilities. You learn how they even age some of their rum under the sea! (I don’t want to give away too many of their secrets here!) And of course there is a tasting room. Make sure to bring home a bottle of their rum barbecue sauce, it is just amazing!
This is just a sampling of what the Grand Cayman has to offer. The Grand Cayman is a beautiful island with so much to do and see. It’s definitely a must on my bucket list to go back, and I suggest it to go on yours as well.
And until next time….
It’s no secret that I love the Caribbean. The beautiful water, the warm weather, what’s not to love?? Jamaica is a beautiful island with so much to offer. One of my favorite cities in Jamaica is Ocho Rios.
Ocho Rios would seem to be Spanish for “eight rivers”, but it is most likely a corruption of the Spanish word chorreras, which means “waterfalls”. Jamaicans refer to it fondly as Ochi. And with such a beautiful name comes beautiful scenery with ahh-mazing nature adventures for everyone.
The first is the Famous Dunn’s River Falls. It’s about a 15 minute drive west of Ochi, and it’s probably the most iconic and most popular attractions of Jamaica. With your guide, you get to make a “human chain” and climb up the cascading waterfalls and go in and out of some small caves. However, to be safe you must pack water shoes (swim socks), or tennis shoes with a gripping bottom to be safe on the rocks. If you don’t prefer to walk up the falls there is a viewing platform to see the falls. Where the river empties into the Caribbean there’s a nice beach for sunning and swimming. And at the top of the falls there is a craft village and t-shirt shops for you to shop at.
Next is Green Grotto Caves. These caves are said to have provided shelter for Jamaica’s first inhabitants, the Tainos, a haven for “runaway slaves” in the “18th Century”. In 1655 Jamaica was taken over the by English and the caves were sought after as a hideout by the Spanish during that time. Now they are an incredible 37 meter or 121 plus feet underground expedition of majestic stalactites and stalagmites, and just wait till you see the grotto with water as translucent as nothing you have ever seen before! Don’t forget to stop at their “Wishing Well”, and throw in a coin in for love…..
Last but not least….. Island Gully Falls. It is also known as The Blue Hole. It is truly a hidden treasure. You can walk on trails and see nature’s untouched beauty. Then climb waterfalls and search in hidden caves. It’s totally ahh-mazing feeling the natural rushing waters on your back giving you a natural back massage! The best part is feeling like a child again when you are playing “Tarzan” and swinging on a rope and jumping into a pool of serine blue water.
Ochi has a lot of nature to offer, and there are tours that are for everyone.
And until next time…..
Let me guess, another year and you’re thinking of skipping your vacation... again. Americans are among the hardest working people in the world…and receive the fewest vacation days from our employers. So why is it that every year Americans throw away an estimated 415 million vacation days by skipping their vacation?!! If you are in a leadership role at your place of work, not taking time off from work can prove to be more harmful than beneficial for you or your organization.
Here are four reasons why you should be going on vacation this summer.
1. Revive your productivity and with it, your team’s
We all know that small breaks throughout the day help us over the short term, but it’s vital that we take longer breaks from work to sustain and even build our creativity and productivity. Being away from your work environment for a longer period of time will help you gain a fresh perspective about your work, as well as providing you with the opportunity to pursue your other interests. By skipping your vacation, you can have a negative effect on the organization’s morale. It creates frustration and resentment and makes the rest of the team think that if the boss isn’t taking a vacation then maybe they had better not take one either.
2. Vacation time is part of your compensation; it’s not a job “perk” Remember when you applied for the job? Weren’t your allotted a certain number of vacation days per year part of the compensation package? Vacation time is part of your remuneration for doing the job; it’s not a “perk”. It’s a return on the investment of our time and expertise in helping our organization to reach their objectives. Would you not accept a monetary bonus at the end of the year? Of course, you would! That’s how we need to think of vacations.
3. Serve as a role model for others in your team
Whether you are in a leadership role or an employee, you need to take a vacation! Employees will look to their leaders for guidance on what is allowed and what is frowned upon. What you model at work will determine what your employees do. Despite the workloads that may be building on your desks, it still very important to take time off work in order to maintain your effectiveness in your role.
4. So whether you’re in Bora Bora, Paris or Hawaii, show your team they can manage without you!
While we all like to think that we’re indispensable, the reality is we need to encourage the company’s growth and overall morale. Taking time off from work will encourage team members to develop strategies and abilities that will help them learn how to effectively hold down the fort while you’re away. We need our leaders and employees to bring their best efforts to reaching the organization’s goals. And the best way we can encourage this is to make sure everyone takes their vacations so that they might bring a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to attain their shared goals.
Hopefully, this will encourage you to understand why skipping your next vacation is so not worth it! Let me help you bring fresh perspective and new ideas to your workplace by planning your next vacation today! Your employer AND your family will be glad that you did!
And until next time…
What are three things that I can do to make my honeymoon more romantic? That’s a typical question that I get. Well there are the normal things that we all can think of, like a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach, a couples massage, or a rose bubble bath, there are things that you can do that doesn’t cost you anything but time and a little creativity that will help make your honeymoon romantic and take some romance home with you. (And here’s a tip, it’s not just for newlyweds, you can do these too if you are just in love…..)
One that you can do ahead of time and take with you….. For those of us who are a bit “more mature” we will remember the mixtape. For those who are younger it’s called a playlist. It’s funny how one idea can be recycled and called something else… anyways, make a playlist or mix tape of your favorite songs that have meaning to both of you. You can listen to the songs in your room, or while taking a stroll. A bit of romance, a small dance can pop up during the stroll or wherever.
Other than taking pictures for memories, disconnect from your cellular devices! FORGET ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA!! And connect with each other. It will be there when you get back! I have to admit I’m guilty of this one. If you ask Mark, I’m always on that small rectangle device. However, when you are on this romantic time away, take it to enjoy and be alone. Enjoy a conversation, talk about anything. Just talk, and hold hands.
Now, when you do have that cell phone out, take some pictures, of each other..Or when you are out and about ask that stranger to take a picture of you two. Better yet, you can hire a photographer to take a photography session. When you get back take your pictures and make a special album to go back to and share in the memories, and print some of the pictures out to put up around the house.
One of my favorites, is very similar to the top layer of the wedding cake. You know the tradition, the one where you save the top layer, freeze it and eat it on your one year anniversary. However, each of you should write each other a love letter, on the resort stationary during your honeymoon, telling him or her how you feel. Then put it an envelope and shut it until your first anniversary. When you get to your first anniversary, snuggle up on the couch, open your letters and relive all those feelings and emotions.
As you can see there are many ways that you can create the romance on your honeymoon or romantic getaway.
And until next time….
If you have followed me you know that I’ve written before about my “girl time”. However this week, I wanted to talk about something that I realized this past Sunday evening. You see, I didn’t make it to this year’s Super Bowl Party, and I received a text. “What dates in June are you available for our annual vacation?” Now this was from family, but not from my Mom, or from my siblings. But from my “sisters”.
What do I mean? I have a group of friends who mean the world to me. I know it’s cliché, however it’s totally true. We do everything together, to the point that when our kids were younger they didn’t realize that they weren’t cousins.
Every year my friend Jodi and I vacation with our families at least once a year. This past year she had her vacations with her siblings, and a special anniversary vacation with her entire family. I have to admit it was a weird summer not going anywhere without her and her family. My kids and even Mark commented on how they missed our annual “family” vacation.
When the kids were little all of us would go up north and “camp” at a local campgrounds. Now I say “camp” because the campgrounds had all of the amenities of a resort. We would spend a long weekend together. Not just Jodi, but my friend Laurie, Shannon, and Nicki and our families. We get to be a large group however we are a fun group and one large extended “family.”
What’s great about this family is that we are there for each other in the ups and the downs. We’ve been through tears of joy and tears of sadness. We’ve watched each other get married, have babies, and even some of the babies grow up and move out on their own. We lean on each other for advice and support. We turn to each other in the bad times and we cheer for each other in the good times. Our family may not be related by blood, at least not all of us, however we are related by something more important, the heart.
We also get together for special holidays. Fourth of July is a big one for us. We get together for the fireworks, on the third and the next morning we get together for the parade on the Fourth. For me, getting up early and going to a parade is a biggie, since I’m not a “parade” person. However, going with my “family” makes all the difference in the world. It’s probably the first time I truly enjoyed a Fourth of July parade.
This spring I have my annual “girls weekend” however as I get older I am realizing that it’s even more than that. It’s more like a family reunion of sisters. When the six of us girls, Kelly, Jodi, Shannon, Laurie, Nicki and I get together it will be awesome! We look forward to it all year long. We will have a few days of scrapbooking that will be filled with sharing memories, laughter, probably a bit of margaritas, and lots of creating memories. We are sisters of the heart!
And as you can see, family does not have to be born of blood, but can be born of the heart.
And until next time….
Honeymoons are not for newlyweds. Well, not just for them. They are for the newlywed at heart. Just like youth is not just for the young, but for the young at heart. What do I mean? Well we all need a honeymoon, if you have been together for just a few days, months, or years.
This past weekend I was at a bridal show and when going past my booth I heard so many people telling the brides, “Oh this is for you, I’ve been married for so long.” My response back was, “This is for you too, maybe even more!” Yes especially for you. You do not need to be a few days from walking down the aisle to need time alone to snuggle and cuddle. You don’t need to just have said your vows to sneak in a few kisses and moments to remember.
Here’s my question to you, what makes a honeymoon a honeymoon? Okay, let’s face it, you’re blushing right now aren’t you? Yes, we know that there’s a lot of that going on, but why? When you are first married there is that excitement. You remember that. The giddy way you laughed at his little jokes, the way he bashfully grabbed at your hand. Let’s face it that’s why the Lifetime channel gets the high ratings. And when we watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette TV shows and they are flying all over the world on their “dates” in these exotic locations and you see couples on the beach or in the mountains holding hands, you know the romantic juices are flowing. That’s the time when you are away from washing the laundry, and deciding what’s for dinner. That’s the time that you are sneaking in cuddles and kisses. Having conversations again that aren’t about bills, kids, and laundry. That’s when you are just the two of you. Just like that couple that is just married. And that’s why us more “Mature” married people NEED that honeymoon!
Now, this past weekend I was telling these, “I’ve been married too long… “ couples that well, I’m on my 5th honeymoon with husband number 1! Yes, we take our romantic vacations away. And guess what, we start acting like we are "honeymooners" again. So yes, that’s our second, third, and fourth honeymoon! I’m now planning the fifth! This is the time that you need to keep your relationship going. I can tell you that we are WAY OVERDUE! Even Mark is asking, “When are we going to get some us away time?” That’s how I know I still have my newlywed. The day that he stops asking is the day that I’ll be sad. The day that I stop needing that time is the day that I’ll cry. You see, I love the fact that I’ve been married for almost 20 years and when we get away, and we are alone I feel like it was just yesterday when we said I do.
And until next time….
Facebook is great for sharing memories. And for recalling them as well. Today I had a memory come up from a couple of years ago when we were in Cozumel for a cruise stop and friends of ours were in Cancun. They took the ferry over and met up for an afternoon of drinks, laughter, and merriment.
We started the day off at an all inclusive resort day resort. And I have to admit I did enjoy the massage on the beach. And although I’m the kind to talk to anybody and I like to meet and make new friends anywhere I go, it’s like the old saying goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old one is silver and the other is gold.”
After a fun morning and early afternoon at the resort we headed back into town and met up with our friends for drinks and snacks. It was a blast. We were able to talk, hear about their vacation, and catch up. Although they were on their honeymoon and we were on our romantic third honeymoon, or as I call it our “tri-moon”, it was fun to step away from the romance and have some friend time. To let you in on a little secret, we are huge Jimmy Buffet fans, so of course we had to meet at Margaritaville. As we sat on the deck enjoying the amazing music, and having the jello shots, a Cheeseburger in Paradise, and of course Margaritas the best part was taking a break from romance and having good old fashion fun with friends. We were telling stories, jokes, and laughing.
Sometimes when taking that romantic honeymoon, tri-moon or romantic getaway, you need to take a few minutes away from romance to appreciate the romance. If your spouse is a golfer, and your not, let them golf and head to the spa. A pedicure or massage is always good for the soul. Or take a shopping trip. It never hurts to do a little retail therapy.
In the past I would NEVER go snorkeling because Mark doesn’t like to. And I have to admit it’s on my bucket list. While in Roatan, Honduras, we were on the beach and the water was CRYSTAL CLEAR. I could go out and just wade in the water and see tons of fish under me. I SO wanted Mark to come out and he wouldn’t. That’s when he realized how important it is for me to snorkel. He then told me, the next time that we are at a location that has snorkeling I must do it, and he’ll wait on shore until I’m back. Well, we are going this year and I’m going to FINALLY go snorkeling. Now, as much as I can’t wait to go, the most romantic part of this snorkeling trip is that Mark suggested that I go, even though he has no interest in it himself.
Sometimes romance isn’t always doing everything together, holding hands, and roses. It’s the fun in life, it’s the letting your sweetheart do something he or she enjoys and coming back to share that with you. It’s helping them grow as a person, so that you can grow as a couple together. It’s laughing with friends and enjoying your travels, whether it’s alone, with friends, with the family, just the two of you or a combination of all of the above.
And until next time…
The world is a big place, and I know that I have a bucket list that is a mile and half long. I LOVE to see as much as possible. As I put it before I love to cruise because I would I love to get a quick glimpse of a country and then get back on the ship and move on to the next place. Kind of a “try it before you buy it” special. However, there is something to be said about going back somewhere to explore the location ever deeper and find out what else there is to see.
One of the best examples of this is Disney World. I’ve been there more times than I can count on one hand. I’ve been there as a child, as a young adult with my friends, again with my children and with my adult family members. Each time, everything changes and I come back to explore it more and find things at a deeper level each time. There are rides that I remember as a child that I went on as a young adult with my friends. However, once I had children I saw the same rides through totally different eyes. I have also enjoyed character experiences as a child, with my children, and with my friends. When I traveled with my children I wanted to make sure that I saw everything for them. When I went this past year with my sister-in-law, we went at a slower pace and there was no pressure to see everything, and in some ways we saw more by not rushing to see it all. We went to different restaurants and shopped at different shops. We didn’t have to rush to make sure that we went on different rides and make every character greeting.
This is the same as the ports on a cruise. The first time I stop at a Port of Call, I want to see everything. What I’ve noticed is that I take a “sampling” of the area and then before we even leave I’m telling Mark, “Next time when we come back I want to do this and this and this.” A good example is Cozumel Mexico. The first time I went there we took a tour of the island. And I was hooked. We have been back a handful of times. We have done everything from taking the ferry over to Tulum to see the Mayan Ruins to spending the day at Chankanaab National Park to have a dolphin experience, tequila tasting, and exploring the park. We found a private beach club to explore and have a wonderful day at. And of course lots of shopping and Margaritaville. Although the first time at a port of call or any vacation spot is exciting to see something new, the second time around can be just as exciting or even more as you know what to expect and you can dive even deeper into that location’s riches.
And until next time….
Tina Moczynski is a member of the GTN network. And loves to travel with both her husband and her three boys.