Monthly Archives: November 2010

Travel Disasters…Look at the Bright Side!

Half the fun of planning a dream vacation is “looking forward to it” & “looking back on it”.  What happens on the actual vacation…that’s the other half. Sometimes the best planning can’t avoid the unexpected pitfalls…..

True story – My husband, Frank, and I planned our Dream vacation for our 10th Anniversary.  As big fans of St Marten (Orient Bay) we meticulously planned our  3 week Anniversary trip like we were producing the perfect Feature film…

Location – Villa Coccinelle , Orient Bay .  A luxury 4 bedroom Villa with a breathtaking infinity pool overlooking Orient Bay.

IS this heaven or what!!

Cast – Our family of 7 + 14 (Names have been changed to protect “hurt feelings!)

Timeline

  • Frank and I would arrive 5 days ahead to “set up ”  Villa Coccinelle & play house! (HEY, it was our Anniversary!)
  • Our 5 children, sisters family  & Grandma would arrive for Christmas  (family time)
  • Extended family & friends arrive for New Years

It was a dream.  Everything was even better then we thought it could be.  Christmas Eve at Cherri’s, Christmas day on the beach.  Every night, Frank and I would go to bed thinking “This is so awesome!  We did such a great job planning this!”  and then…..

The day after Christmas, while on a family morning jog (sounds nerdy, but true!) Frank rolled his ankle.  A moment in time that he wishes he could take back…but as his ankle ballooned to elephant proportions, he realized he was screwed! And he was in PAIN!  We could have ended it right there and returned home…but with so many family and friends depending on us, Frank decided to make the best of it.    Alot of ice, a pair of crutches & an endless supply of Grey Goose and Frank could make it through!  (Let’s toast to that!)

Just when we all got used to the “altered state” of our vacation, a one in a million event occurred (NO, we did not hit the St Marten Lotto!)…..

His sisters family, returning to their resort one evening, encountered a crazy patch of mosquitos.  Unfortunately as they entered the buzzing fog they realized the windows were down.  6 humans versus a million mosquitos.  Who wins?  The 1 little bug that bit “Ann”.  And a few days later, it was confirmed…she had Dengue Fever.  Yes, she contracted a third world country disease.  (R U KIDDING ME!!)

Again, we made the best of it.  How could we not?  We were in beautiful Villa Coccinelle, lunching at our favorite “Cocos” on the beach (with Sophie) everyday, dinner at our favorite La Cigale” with Olivier and “Marios Bistro, we had great weather and were with our closest friends and family.  Life was good.  But what we didn’t count on was the occasional “clash of the idiosyncrasies” amongst our guests…

Can’t we go to a different restaurant tonight?” “I went to the store yesterday, why should I go today?” “How did your 4 Pina Coladas end up on my bill?” “THEY LEFT FOR THE BEACH WITHOUT ME!!” “It’s your turn to buy the next bottle of Grey Goose!” “Who gets Grandmas Bedroom when she leaves?”  “Who left the mess on the counter?” “Can’t Frank go to the doctor on his own? He is infringing on our beach time!”  And when “Sam” said to “Carol” – “Why do you take so freaking long to do your hair when it looks the same as it did an hour ago!!” … I sensed the tension (okay, so that is an understatement!)

We asked ourselves, was it worth it?  And the answer is a resounding YES!  In fact, those moments of disaster seem to bring about the best memories. WeDoug always knows how to make us laugh! crack up when we think about  night the boys almost ran out of gas, when Doug served Champagne like a Chippendale dancer on NY Eve, when we imagine “Carol’s” face after we left her (tired of waiting), when our 6 foot tall sons jumped on the bed petrified of an island spider, watching Frank struggle in the waves after thinking he could body surf with one foot!  And yes, we even laugh hysterically when we picture “Ann” with bruises all over like she had been poked by a thousand people!

If you ask my kids, they will tell you it was the best vacation they ever took.  If you ask my friends, they would go again in a heartbeat.  Even “Ann” & her hubby got an extended vacation (Doctors wouldn’t let her fly) when Grandma flew home with her kids! And us…of course Frank would have preferred to have had both feet working, but in our heads, we are always planning another dream trip to Villa Coccinelle.

So have fun “looking forward” to your dream vacation.  Laugh your head off sharing memories afterwards.  And in the middle…make the best out of it, and remember, those unexpected moments can end up being the best memories!

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For more info on Villa Coccinelle CLICK HERE.

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AHA Moments on The NCL Epic…

Give yourself the gift of Time and Memories for the Holidays!!

 

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Destination Weddings in Paradise!

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I have spent hours watching  “Say Yes to the Dress” “Four Weddings” and other reality Bridal & Wedding shows.  I understand tradition, but I am amazed how Wedding traditions have made weddings so repetitive.

To me, weddings have become very “generic”.  Sure, Wedding Dresses can be different, Cakes unique, venues styled differently…dress it up in different ways, it still follows the same plan.. Blah Blah Blah!  And the worst is – Poof! Thousands of dollars gone in 5 hours!  Seriously…it all comes down to those 5 hours!  In a perfect world, the amount spent would last at least 5 days!

My kids are getting to the age where soon be getting married and I really hope that they do something to step out of the box.  Make that special day of celebrating love & life an intimate memory.  So many weddings I have been to have a guest list that includes some people that the Bride & Groom don’t even know!  How many times have you been to a wedding and didn’t have more then a few minutes to spend with the cousins you haven’t seen in 2 years?  Back to that ridiculous 5 hours…. barely enough tie to talk to the wedding party.

The solution – For the same amount of money (within ANY budget) you can break outside that “generic” wedding box.

Make it an event where people truly spend time with “the Couple”. I Love the idea of Destination Weddings!  What ever your budget, there is an exotic, exciting Destination for you.

An Island destination oozes romance. Sunset catamaran for 50 followed by a beach BBQ for a rehearsal dinner.  Vows shared with a gentle breeze. Dancing under the stars with your feet in the sand.  And best of all, Time to enjoy this moment in time…the Happiest day of your life with Family and Friends.  Not just 5 hours, but days to celebrate and reconnect.

Do you have to spend a fortune for a Destination Wedding? NO! There are Island resorts to suite any budget. From Sandals Martha Stewart Weddings to Caneel Bay Rosewood Resort (above photos)…the pricing includes “Celebration, Time & Romance”. (I will be blogging about Sandals Weddings soon!!)

But don’t let you’re “out of the Box” thinking stop there….Ever consider a “Wedding at Sea?”  A wedding on a Cruise Ship is true romance.  What could be more Romantic, Intimate & fun for the Bride, Groom and Guests?  While at the same time offering so much for such a great value.  Choose to say your vows on the Ship or at port…whether it’s a stunning cliff-top ceremony in Greece or an elegant affair onboard a luxurious ship, love is best served with a perfect experience.

Variety of Cruise Lines for every budget:

Luxury – Sea Dream Yacht, Paul Gauguin, Windstar – charter the WIndstar with 130 guests!

Large Ships – Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity – Accommodations  to fit every budget on one ship.

Now, some of you might say  “But what if some guests can’t afford to travel?”

If you plan ahead, it will give everyone plenty of time to save. Easy payment plans are available with CruiseOne.  And for those guests that choose not to travel, plan a small celebration or cocktail party upon return.

Why cram the beginning of your life into those 5 short hours of stress and anxiety!  What better fun then to have quality time with close family & friends, relaxing, reconnecting, creating long lasting memories and celebrating your love!  A Destination Wedding and a Wedding at Sea will take you right “out of the Box” and start your new life together in a Unique, Memorable Celebration.

Bon Voyage!

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Port of the Week – Grand Cayman

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Grand Cayman is known around the world for Diving & Banking.  Personally, I don’t Dive & I don’t have millions to bank, but I still love Grand Cayman!  The island is beautiful & rich in so many other ways.  It is definitely a favorite Western Caribbean port.

I don’t really care to spend time in the town of George Town (I could shop at expensive stores in NJ!).  I just feel that with such beautiful beaches & crystal clear waters I would have to be nuts to just shop!

Beach lovers will think they died & went to heaven on 7 Mile Beach!  The sand is so white & soft you might think it is actually baby powder and the ocean is a shade of aqua that only exists in dreams.  Clear waters that just say “JUMP IN!”  It is breathtaking.  Great resorts line the beach & can be the perfect landing spot to grab lunch & rent beach chairs.  But don’t get too comfortable, because that amazing water is a playground in the sun!

7 Mile Beach is a perfect beach for water sports – Windsurfing, kayaking, jet skiing, Waterskiing, Hobie Cat sailing, Parasailing, Banana Boat rides and more!  I highly recommend Red Sail Sports for all of your water activities (diving, sailing etc).  They are very reputable, friendly and dependable.  Taxis are readily available at the cruise ship pier. The approximate cost to Red Sail watersports centers on Seven Mile Beach is $20.00 one-way. It’s about a 10 minute drive.  A great idea is to just spend your whole day there!  But if you did, you would be missing out on the most amazing experience Grand Cayman has to offer…Swimming with the Stingrays!

We have done this a few times, but never as a Cruise Ship excursion, we have always booked separately through Red Sail Sports for the simple reason that the Cruise Ships excursions all go to the same general area and it is crowded!  For me, that takes away some of the natural beauty of the experience.  Red Sail will take you to another location where it feels more intimate.  Cost is about the same.  Red Sail even does a Stingray & Rum Point Catamaran trip that is awesome!  Or you may opt for a Stingray visit and then spend the rest of the day on 7 Mile beach.  (by the way, that is why it is so important to use a travel agent when planning your trip, we know these little secrets!)

Swimming with the Stingrays is just plain awesome! The first time I did this, I was truly amazed at these beautiful creatures gliding through the water.  I couldn’t believe how friendly they were.  My kids became like mermaids (or should I say “mermans”), swimming around them like they were fish themselves!  Definitely one of the most memorable things we have done.  It should be on everyones Bucket List.

I might not be a Diver and I might not have a need for international banking, but when I drift on a float in that heavenly water, I feel like a gazillionaire!!!

I am actually heading to Grand Cayman on one of my GirlsonaCruise.com Girls Getaways January 22 – 27, 2011 onboard the Celebrity Century. I am so excited to show the girls this island.  And YES, we will be arranging activities through Red Sail Sports!  (There is still space if you would like to join us!).

Okay..one thing I have to warn you about is that if Grand Cayman is on your Itinerary, there is always a chance you might not make it there!  I have heard rumor that 50% of the time, ships cant make the stop due to weather…not sure if that is true, but it has been for us!  In Grand Cayman, ships are required to tender passengers to the island and often the currents change making that process dangerously rough, so ships opt out for safety reasons.  It sucks..but Safety always comes first!

PS…if you do pre-book an activity with Red Sail Sports, they are aware of this issue & are very understanding should your ship not stop.

Make your dream trip to Grand Cayman come true!

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Cruise Trailer…. on the @NCLFreestyle

Cruise Trailer…. on the @NCLFreestyle Epic (I amde it!!!) very short and sweet! http://ow.ly/3d4h8 #TT

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Here is my video tour of the @NCLfreesty

Here is my video tour of the @NCLfreestyle Epic We had so much fun on this ship! http://ow.ly/3d4cb #cruise #travel

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Does the TSA really want to “Touch His Junk”?!

 

Fly Safe...

POP QUIZ…

Question :

Where was John Tyner when he said “If you touch my junk, I will have you arrested”!

A. – At the Collingswood Flea Market

B. – At the Jones’ yard sale in my neighborhood.

C. – At the Airports’ TSA security line.

If you guessed “C” then you guessed right (and that means you aren’t living under a rock!).

OMG!  This is all I have heard about today!  Like this is something new?  Just last month my husband got the “Pat Down”  at the Airport & I have seen hundreds of other people experience this…yet today, this is the hottest news to talk about?!  I thought this was old news!

So here is what happened:

This John Tyner was at the Airport, going through TSA security checkpoints and he refused to go through the new body scanner that they are using.  As protocol has it, if you refuse to go through the scanner, your option is to get a “pat down” (as seen on cop shows since the Dragnet days!).  Well, this John Tyner wasn’t happy about that! So as the TSA agent was giving an explanation of how he would be “Patting him down” he said “If you touch my junk I will have you arrested”.  The TSA Agent informed him that he needed to call a supervisor since he made that statement (OF COURSE!  that statements says “I am going to sue you and have your job”, so he had to protect himself!).

Long story short…John Tyner never went on his trip. TSA is pretty straight forward – If you don’t go through security, you don’t get on the plane!  I personally like that rule.  But apparently there are many people who disagree with me.  Here is my case…

I fly often and have been very inconvenienced at the TSA security.  I too have bitched & moaned about the time delay (it’s just human nature to complain). And through it all…I am so happy that they are there doing their jobs.  I gladly take my shoes, belt, sweater &  bracelets off.  I gladly pull out my laptop, ziploc filled with liquid items & electronics.  I gladly step aside to be searched more thoroughly when it is requested of me.  I actually get excited, because to me it means that they are doing their jobs!

They are not there to get their “Jollys”.  TSA is there to protect the people, the planes & America from another tragedy.  I say “Thank You” and I gladly oblige.  The day I stop believing this, is the day I stop flying.

John Tyners’ first problem is that he didnt want to go through the Body Scanner.  Me?  I kinda agree with that.  Not because I am worried about someone seeing an image of my body…but because I am not convinced that the radiation is safe.  (Although, I think people wearing burkas or other large garments that could hide so much should HAVE TO be scanned.  That is just common sense!  Cut the “I don’t want to profile and hurt anyones feelings” crap, because this is about safety, and safety supersedes political correctness!)

So I would agree to be patted down.  I have nothing to hide.  I sacrifice a little inconvenience for the safety of all.  I am getting on a plane with many other people, and that is a privilege, not a right.  And everyone else on that plane deserves to have the comfort that I am not hiding anything.  I personally don’t want to get on a plane & worry about someone having circumvented TSA!

John Tyner needs to get over himself and start thinking about the collective good for Airline travel and that is preventing terrorists from attacking us again!  Does he really think that TSA agent wanted to touch his junk?!

I remember when everyone was freaking out that their pocketbooks and carry-ons were being scanned.  I remember when everyone was freaking out about having to take off their shoes!  I remember when people were freaking out about not bringing liquid or sharp instruments through security…and now this is the new thing.  TSA security keeps evolving & changing due to threats and concerns that we (the general public are not even aware of.  As Americans, we need to kinda “go with the flow” as it is a learning process for all of us, and totally for our own good!

Sure, could the process be improved?  Yes.  Is it flawless? No. Are there always a few bad eggs in ANY job place, that abuse authority and should be fired? YES. But I believe that the TSA is doing the best they can to keep America & Americans safe.

So if the TSA agent accidentally touched this guys junk, I say “Who freaking cares!”

It is simple to me…If you want to fly, you have to follow the rules…or don’t get on my plane!

Just my opinion…..What’s yours?

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Girlfriendology.com & GirlsonaCruise.com Getaway to BErmuda!


Relax, Reconnect & Laugh!
Call your Mom, Sister, BFF!
Traveling Solo? NOT ANYMORE!

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Airlines – New “Cuddle Class”?

"Cuddle up and Fly"

Cuddle up in Coach Class"

The biggest complaint that Airline passengers have is “Lack of space”.  I feel that it is almost inhumane to expect people to travel in such extremely tight quarters for flights over 3 hours.  I sometimes wonder how the airlines can get away with it!  What would it really cost for them to take 2 rows out and give everyone a bit more leg room?

For those who have flown cross country, it can be torture!  Now, Air New Zealand  has come up with a great idea that they will be including on their new 777’s…”The Sky Couch”.  The “Sky Couch” will turn a row of 3 seats into a bed by raising a footrest that becomes a platform extension, creating a lengthwise bed.  I think that is a GREAT idea!!!

If you are willing to buy the extra seat in the middle (still much cheaper than first class), you have the ability to transform the basic economy seat, into something you can cozy up on.   You still don’t have all the bells and whistles of First Class…but at least you can “cuddle” up and sleep through your long flight! Continental Airlines …”Are you LISTENING!!”?

I hope that other airlines follow suit and make arrangements for more comfortable, humane ways for people to travel in flight.  I give Air New Zealand a big “Thumbs Up”!

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“Aha” Moments onboard the NCL Epic

Ever Cruised? Sure, Cruising is about relaxation.  But what I love about cruising is that it is the perfect mix of Relaxation and FUN!  And the Epic has it all…for EVERYONE!

I have cruised many times over the years.  I have cruised all the major Cruise lines and have definite opinions on them all.  And now I have an opinion on the NCL Epic!

My first impression was “WOW”! The Epic is definitely a beautiful ship!  Total “eye candy”.  But what makes the Epic stand out in the sea of Cruise Ships is the vibe of FUN on the ship and the variety of FUN on this ship to please every type of cruiser.

For me, there are 3 types of “cruisers” – Couples, families and singles.  The Epic has them all covered. (I know these 3 types, because I have BEEN all of them!)

Solo Travelers have the best of everything with The Studios and Lounge – exclusive to solo travelers at special “single” cruise fares!  (See previous post “Single Traveler Heaven”)  This urban style complex is your home while the Epic is your playground!  Chill out in the Svedka Ice Bar, laugh at the Second City comedy troupe, go bowling with new friends or just relax by the pool! (My first cruise was as a single, I would have loved The Studio complex!)

Families – Parents will truly be able to relax with great accommodations in the Family Staterooms & Suites.  Not to mention the special clubs for kids of all ages!  Teens gather in “Entourage”…with a staircase warning adults to “enter at your own risk”!  And younger children are excited when parents drop them off at “Recess”, a gigantic area exclusive to kids and tweens!  Relax on a lounge chair, hit the spa and Hydrotherapy Courtyard, dine at one of over 14 restaurants in peace (including Cagneys and Teppanyaki), see the shows you have always wanted to see without interruption & party like a ‘Rock Star”  at one of the many exciting bars on the Epic.  And your kids will never realize how much FUN you are having, because they are having their own! (I raised 5 kids and KNOW how important that is!)

Couples – This ship is huge, but small enough to feel intimate & romantic.  The innovative staterooms even have a “sexy” curvy feel!  The nightlife (more than 14 bars and lounges!), casino (there is even a poolside Casino!) and entertainment (Blue Man Group!!!) is exciting & bold.  Join the NCL Pub Crawl and sample the diverse “Maltings” – Whiskey and Beer Bar, “Fat Cats” – Jazz & Blues lounge, “Headliners” – Howling at the Moon & Second City and “Cascades” – Casino Bar.  Feel like dancing?  Head over to “Spice H20”, “Ultra Bliss” (stayed way too late at these clubs!). And what could be more romantic than Dinner & Dancing at the “Manhattan Room” (Dancing with the Stars never had it so good!).  (Oh! I know…shopping in the Promenade for the perfect bauble for your wife!)

One of the coolest things about the Epic is the iTV in your stateroom.  It is your virtual control center for your Cruise.  With so much to do on the Epic…it really became my lifeline.

Did I forget to mention the outdoor activities? Epic has the 1st ever rappelling / Rock Climbing  Wall at sea!  The Epic plunge is the grand daddy of all water slides and did tempt me…(I chickened out!).  There is also a full court Basketball / tennis court.  But you can also work out in style at the Pulse Fitness Center (awesome classes and equipment!). (I am exhausted just thinking about it)!

It was a great week on the NCL Epic…so for now, I will just sit back, close my eyes and remember what that breeze felt like………

YOU? Take a tour with me in the Video below, then call me at CruiseOne to book your NCL vacation TODAY!!


Teens warn parents "Enter at your own risk!"

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