Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bits and Pieces and Cabin Crawling…

38 days! Well, really it’s 53 days until we leave on the ship but we are leaving home on May 2 so I count that at 38 days until our vacation starts even though that’s not the days until our cruise leaves.

I can’t help but feel a wee bit of competition with the 2011 World Cruisers and the amount of messages that are happening on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. We have more messages going back and forth and around than the 2011 cruisers did at the same relative time before sailing. So far.

Several cruisers are talking about having a “cabin crawl” after the New York embarkation, around July 23rd or so. Hard to believe we are planning that far in advance!

Even further (farther? I never have gotten the distinction straight) in advance, I am planning a small group (no more than eight) in Papeete, Tahiti, on August 17th with Patrick Adventure Tours. He comes highly praised by Joanne & Garry from the 2011 World Cruise (you can read about their soggy but fun adventure here). No sooner had I put it on the Roll Call than I had four of the six I need. I’ve emailed Patrick to reserve the tour and asked him if we could find some Tahitian dancers to watch. Three guesses which gender requested that. And the first two don't count!

I still don’t have any takers for my tour of the Beaches of Normandy but I’m pretty sure they will come. It just that the Sun is an Australian ship and not too many Aussies care about the Normandy beaches.

Oh, yes, what’s a cabin crawl? We start in the bar and wander around the ship going to cabins whose (temporary) owners have agreed to open for viewing. I suppose it might actually turn into a real “crawl” since we start in the bar, but generally it’s just a great excuse to see how everybody else has arranged all the stuff we’re mostly all going to take with us and what the different categories of cabin look like. Kind of like shopping for the cabin you want on your next cruise. Sounds pretty cool to me!

Another totally useless but fun website is How Long Will You Live? I’m going to live to 93 and Randy to 94. Since he’s a year older than me I think that means we’ll die together. Hopefully as our last check bounces.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Our back yard Mar 19
Three days ago it was 82F (28C), today it's 39F (4C) and this is what it was doing about 5 minutes ago! And a week ago we were getting sunburned at the baseball game!

Our front gate Mar 19, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Take me out to the ballgame...

Many of you have no idea that my husband and our son are rabid San Francisco Giants (baseball) fans. So rabid that Randy almost  bought The Jacket in the video. It actually is even more flamboyant in real life than in the video!

We had a wonderful time in Phoenix with both our children and their spouses. We went to the Giants/Brewers game and the Giants won, 13-3! Yay!

Check out my daughter’s blog for a longer description of the weekend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

50 days and counting down...

Oh, my gosh, it is getting close! We’re leaving on May 2nd so that means it’s only—ONLY—seven weeks + one day away. 50 days! Where has the time gone?

I went to look on the Epiphanie website for a girly-looking bag for my camera and my favorite is on backorder until “early May.” Unless I order it in black. Why would I want black? That’s what ALL camera bags look like! Bummer. There are other sites that have feminine camera bags, like Kelly Moore’s 2-sues bag that’s pretty cute! It says it’s out of stock, but Adorama has it in stock in red and grey so I may go that route. She (the designer, Kelly) has a great marketing tool on her website, a video of her and the bag and how to use it. It’s very effective! Of course I haven’t actually bought one yet so it’s not that effective!

I really, really need to look at my clothes and start sorting out what I might be bringing with me. And continue learning how to use the new video camera. And try to get Randy to learn how to use it as well —that may be a losing battle! At least it has a manual. He likes it when things have manuals. He probably wishes I came with a manual!

Another item of clothing I was reminded of by a Cruise Critic friend is shoes. I have a few shoes but I thought about trying to get a pair of high heeled shoes and if I do, I’ll need to break them in a bit. I haven’t worn high heels in years but I know Randy would love it if I would. At least once on the cruise.

Although I won’t be bringing much jewelry with me, what is a formal night without at least some jewelry? Even Randy has some nice cufflinks to bring—assuming I get him that new formal shirt!

Today was the first day in decades that I bought new suitcases. Always before we have used just carryon bags—even for our round the world flight many years ago and our three and a half month Australia trip four years ago and our 60-day cruise a few years back. I’m just getting too old to have to worry and cram and tuck stuff into a carryon! So for the first time in our lives, we now have full sized suitcases!

I still have more readers from Finland than any other country but the US! And I only have 12 unique visitors from Canada but they generate more pageviews than all my American visitors. I love statistics!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finland, why art thou?

It has occurred to me that many of you may have no idea who or what Cruise Critic is. If you go to you will see a not very elegant interface (at least using Firefox; with Internet Explorer it looks a lot better!) and a wealth of information about ports, ships, news—you name it to do with cruising. And nary a critical entry anywhere, never mind the name “Cruise Critic.”

You can find reviews—most by real people, not professional reviewers—of ships and of ports; you can buy a cruise or plan a cruise; there will be news articles, often as the cruise-related news is happening—that’s how I found out about the Costa Allegra; and there are “Boards” or forums where you can share ideas or plan to meet on board your ship with like-minded people; There is an area for new cruisers; there is an area for your specific ship and for the part of the world you’re cruising to; there is a special interest cruising forum; if you want to know what cabin B433 on the Sun Princess looks like, there may be a picture of it. There is even a thread about weird things seen on a cruise ship. You do have to join the website, but it’s free and so much fun! Even if you’re not going on a cruise, it’s fun to daydream about going.

If you’ve looked at my checklists and thought I was nuts, I have a friend who just emailed me his spreadsheet for his two-month trip to China. I am so jealous! He is absolutely meticulous and thorough with his planning and he puts me to shame. I think I’m going to brazenly copy from him. I can hear my husband already, hitting palm to forehead and saying words to the effect of, “what is she going to think of next??!!” Of course later he thanks me for getting him into various interesting (my word, his is “weird”) situations.

Our ship is based in Australia, as you probably know by now, and so Australian customs are in order. One is no tipping. Well, what that means is that the tip is not added to our shipboard account as it is on most other cruise lines ($10-12 per person per day). For us, on a 104-day cruise, approximately $2,288 (funny, that's almost exactly equal to the onboard credit we have in our account). I won’t go into the Why-don’t-they-pay-them-a-living-wage argument, but what I am interested in is, How much should we tip? I don’t want to tip too much, but I also want to reward good service. I’m not Australian so it’s difficult for me to know exactly what to do. On an American ship I would tip the $2,288, distributing it to people who served us. I actually LIKE having the tip put on my shipboard account because I know there are lots of people I never see who take care of my needs behind the scenes and that way they will share in the money. And I don’t have to get those little envelopes and lots of cash and try not to miss anybody on the cruise who assisted me in any way.

A last thought: What is it about Finland folk who are apparently searching out my blog in droves? I do not know a soul in Finland but I have, depending on the day, more people viewing my blog from Finland than any place in the world other than the US. Finland and Australia viewers are pretty much tied. Today there have been 175 Aussie viewers and 171 Finish viewers. Don’t get me wrong, I love having lots of people view my blog, but I am so curious as to why, Finland?