Monday, November 21, 2011

In what language is your souvenir shopping list?

Does the souvenir shopping list for your Mediterranean cruise looks something like this?
  1. Scarf from Spain for Aunt Alma
  2. Tie from Italy for hubby
  3. Silk blouse from France for me
  4. Postcards from everywhere
  5. Jeans to replace John's that he tore while hanging out with new friends in the teen lounge.
una cravatta in ItaliaSure, many people around the world know English.  But since you are visiting their countries, it's not good (nor polite) to assume they will.  Besides, a little bit of sincere attempts at the local language can go a long way in keeping you from appearing to be "one of those ugly Americans" who thinks everything in other countries should be like it is here at home. (Which begs the question.... "why travel?") 

In your case, you need a bufanda for Aunt Alma, a cravatta for your husband, chemisier en sole for you and pantalones vaqueros from Spain (or just plain ol' "jeans" if he's ripped them just before you dock in France or Italy) for your son. 

You'll still need to study clothing sizes in other countries as well as currencies (Euro in the three countries I've mentioned), but here's a bit of a "cheat-cheat" to help you with the names of various pieces of clothing.

Enjoy your shopping experience.  Consider any language, culture and currency challenges as part of the adventure! 

By the way, if you need to buy postcards to send home to your loved ones (and to your favorite travel agent), ask for postales in Spanish,cartoline in Italian and carte postales in French.  We'll be watching our mail! 

~ Connie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Should I Get a Balcony Cabin?

I’m writing from my balcony aboard Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Silhouette. I was enjoying my novel when I looked out over the ocean and found my mind wandering to how much I was enjoying my balcony and the value of it to me. I wondered if I could share this experience with our readers. I’m going to give it a shot.

After boarding in Cape Liberty, we settled into the cabin and then went out to our balcony where we were greeted by a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty in front of the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

Later that night, while getting ready for dinner, my longtime friend and cabin mate, Trish, pointed toward the balcony, saying, “Wow! Look at the bridge!” With our curtain open, the glass balcony door was allowing us to see a stunningly lit up bridge standing out from the blackness of the fall evening. We think it was the Verrazano Bridge.

After breakfast this morning I settled onto our balcony with a cup of coffee from the Oceanview CafĂ©, my latest knitting project from our church’s prayer shawl group and my book. As much as I love the ship, there’s something peaceful about spending bits of time out here. Since everyday life is busy with computers, phones, appointments and the sounds of the suburbs, listening to nothing other than the ship slicing through the ocean is the quiet whisper I’m looking for. And with my own little “private deck space,” it’s nothing to dress as I want and grab what I need for the short walk through the balcony door.

Considering we’re sailing off the cost of New Jersey in November, it’s surprisingly comfortable out here. I found that a beach towel found in the basket under the bed that also holds the life vests makes for just enough of a “blanket” around my shoulders to ward off the slight chill from the breeze.

Looking out, the line between the water and sky is so straight that I can understand why people once though the world was flat. My respect goes to those brave enough to have sailed the oceans centuries ago. Seeing this horizon and with the limited knowledge they then had regarding the shape of the earth, I fully understand why people were afraid they could sail off the end of the flat earth.

Like with the pain of childbirth, it’s easy for me to forget the extent of just how much I value having a balcony when I’m between cruises. Sure, if I was just in an inside or oceanview cabin, I’d spend little time other than sleeping and showering in my cabin. But this little piece of real estate is just short of heaven to me right now.

~ Connie
P.S.  Our travel consultants look forward to helping you book your cruise whether your preference and budget call for a balcony cabin, inside, oceanview or suite. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dealing with Your Dirty Laundry

Because you have learned to pack lighter for your vacations, you had planned to wear these pants twice during your cruise. But…. oh no! You spilled your drink on your pants the first night wearing them.

Thankfully cruise ships offer laundry services!  Most ships offer valet laundry services (wash and press, press only, dry cleaning). Some also offer self-service “laundromats.”

Pricing to have a piece done isn't bad.  Here are some rates from the laundry service form I picked up when I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. “Pressing only” was half the cost of the “wash & press” or the “dry cleaning” costs. These prices are subject to change and our list isn’t as extensive as what was on RCCL’s form, but I thought it would give our blog followers an idea of costs.

Clothing Wash and PressDry Clean
Blouse or Skirt$4$4.50
Blouse (silk)$6
Dress (silk)$9.50
Scarf $2.75

Now, I'm not suggesting we spend our vacations in a self-serve laundry or wracking up a bill using a valet laundry service, but isn't it nice knowing there are options when you need something pressed, are trying to limit your packing or have an "oops!" while cruising?

~ Connie

P.S.  Here's a great packing tip.  Be sure to bring plastic bags.  Either reuse plastic shopping bags or bring gallon-sized Ziplock bags to bring home smelly socks, wet bathing suits, muddy shoes or anything else you'd rather not have touching the rest of the items in your suitcase.