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Dynamic Dining Issues

Written by: Kuki

Just a few weeks ago, in this space, I wrote about Royal Caribbean’s announcement of the “Dynamic Dining” programs which were going to be introduced on their upcoming new ships, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.

In that blog I theorized “Dynamic Dining” would be the next step toward the eventual disappearance of the ”traditional”  large cruise ship dining rooms on the majority of mass market cruise ships. I rather enthusiastically endorse the growing idea of having more dining variety choices on ships. However, the systems are going to have be worked through in order to assure efficiency.

And though it’s probably too early to predict - and too early to criticize RCI’s yet, since these ships are not even sailing yet – there are some issues already being reported and discussed on our message boards (by people already booked on these ships). These reports are stating that, though months away from their sailing dates, many people are unable to find space available in the restaurants onboard is already limited to the less desirable dining times.  On some sailings, in the cost included restaurants, there are already no dining times available until after 9 P.M., and in some cases even later. Not only are these dining times not attractive to a vast majority of cruisers, but they are apparently also concerned because of the apparent conflicts they will create with the entertainment schedules.

RCI has yet to make public if more popular dining times are not available for reservations because they are keeping open a large percentage of those times for booking once onboard. Though they have released statements that they will work with “groups” to assure they are dining together… which also is going to require some tricky balancing with smaller dining venues, even if there are more of them.

But, it does at least appear for now, that if you’re booked on the Quantum or Anthem of the Seas, you had best book your dining reservations as soon as you are eligible to do so, or you may be faced with some very limited choices. And those who don’t even think about making their dining reservations in advance, may be faced with a true dynamic dining dilemma – being left with no choices.

As the system is introduced and further developed, RCI may come through with some quick stepping, quick thinking remedies to these perceived issued.  They had better, because if not, the “dine in whatever restaurant you want, with whom you want, when you want, with an abundance of choices” philosophy will quickly fall flat and those tremors can quickly have a significant impact on it’s customer base.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: June 9th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Who’s A Cruise Expert

Written by: Kuki

It amazes me how so many people can tell you exactly how many cruises they’ve been on.

While they may not be able to tell you the birth-dates of their children, they can tell you how many cruises, which ships, and what type of cabin they had on each – sometimes, even recite the various cabin numbers.

I’m not one of those. I can’t tell you the birth-dates of my children, nor can I tell you exactly how many cruises I’ve been on. Somewhere over 60 I think. Does that make me an expert? No, I don’t think so. It only makes me lucky.

Over 60 is a lot of times to repeat any activity. Yet, if I said I’d done over 60 driving vacations, or been camping over 60 times, no one would care.

I love cruisers. Overall, when you’re on a ship, the people are friendly, looking to have a good time, and have a relaxed attitude. But, the one area where we’re weird is when at the first opportunity in the conversation we’re inclined to tell the people we’re talking to how many cruises we’ve been on.

In “days gone by” if you had been on many cruises it may have meant you were wealthy; because cruises used to be quite expensive, and generally only the wealthy cruised.

But, in today’s world, where cruising is inexpensive enough that it’s available to “the masses”, people who cruise often are just regarded as cruise enthusiasts; old – with lots of time to cruise; or unemployed – with lots of time to cruise (well, ok maybe not the unemployed, because it does take money).

It is getting much harder to find first time cruisers on board, that you can impress by telling them how many cruises you’ve been on, and that you are basically now an expert on the subject of cruising.

In fact, on the contemporary cruise lines, you’re just as likely to meet people who have been on more cruises than you, as you are meeting first timers.

Why, I remember meeting some people who’ve told me it was their 19th cruise on the same ship. Say what? (Now that’s a hard one for me to understand).

These days the truly devoted “cruise trackers” keep count of how many days at sea they’ve sailed. They feel it’s “unfair” to include the short cruises to boost your ”cruise expert cred”, so they found a way to do an end around by counting days. It actually impresses me that they can count and remember all those days at sea, when I can’t manage to count the days left until the weekend.

But really… if we’re going to go that far, shouldn’t we also be noting a differential between days at sea, and days in port. Do we deduct for those odd overnights in a port of call?

So, who’s opinions should you trust? Who should be recognized as a cruise expert?

Several years ago, Gene Sloan, who writes the Cruise Log for USA Today, referred to an article I wrote for CruiseMates. He referred to me as an “industry watcher”. I kind of liked the tag. But, I guess that means I’m no expert. And I admit, I am no expert.

But I have been able to keep track of the fact I’ve been working on writing this blog for 3 days – and there’s 3 days left until the weekend. Of course that depends on which days you count.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

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Posted: June 4th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Cruising’s Intoxicating Moments

Written by: Kuki

While every type of business depends on repeat business, I believe there are few with a loyal customer base as cruising. On virtually every sailing of every ship, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who’ve cruised before; at least several times; often many times.’

Fact is, it is very infrequent occurrence that passengers disembark a ship feeling as though they didn’t get great value for the money they spent. Aside from the feeling of good value, there is an intoxicating factor.

How often does one step into a hotel room, and feel they are “home”? Oddly perhaps, it rarely takes long for a cruise ship passenger to enter their cabin, and not have that feeling of “being home” swell. The feeling is not easily defined, nor is it easily explained in words, or scientifically proven. It’s at least partially explainable because when you arrive, and unpack your belongings, you’re making it “your space”, because, though you are traveling, you know this is your home base for the duration of the cruise.

Cruises are made of a number of “moments”. And so often many of those moments become life long memories which bring a smile to your face each time they cross your mind.

The moment might be a dinner service that goes so smoothly you think you’re dining in your favorite restaurant; or a moment during the meal where you share a taste of a delicious plate of food with your loved one, while sharing a warm, loving and knowing smile. The moment may be during a comedy show, where, while as you are laughing hysterically, you glance over to see your friend, or mate enjoying the time as much as you are.

When you are relaxing on your private balcony, or standing out on an open deck, stairing out for miles into a calm and endless sea, on a star filled night, suddenly it dawns on you… that is the feeling everyone could feel if there could ever be world peace.

These moments and memories can be different for everyone. It can be everything from your falling asleep during a Broadway-style show, to zip-lining above a rain forest in a port of call, to your team wining a trivia contest on board, to the wonderful night’s sleep you got as the ship rocked back and forth as it cut through the water.

While cruising may not be right for everyone. The majority of people who try it, do have a desire to do it again. And it’s most likely the urge will come later, when the memories of those moments pop into your head, and bring a smile to your face; and you again feel intoxicated by the joy of it.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: May 27th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Restaurant Row

Written by: Kuki

Right off the bat, let’s make it clear, this piece is not talking about how you’re going to have to row to help power the ship, while you’re dining.

In pretty much every city in the world, there are “restaurant rows”; streets, or blocks of an area, where one can virtually go door to door to many different restaurants.

Last night we went out for dinner with friends, at a restaurant on one of these restaurant rows in our city.  It might seem counterintuitive that it’s a good idea to have so many competitors, in the same business, located right next to each other. But, back just a few years, when I was in that business, my philosophy was - “people beget people”; drawing more people to the area, perhaps creating a larger base of potential customers.

Traditionally cruise ships have offered more limited dining options. Less than a decade ago the standard for cruise ships was to offer a main dining room, a buffet restaurant for casual dining, and perhaps one, maybe two, alternate restaurants which were more “upscale”, and for which they charged customers an extra fee.

This past November I wrote about the more recent movement to offering more dining choices,  and how successfully this transition is being accepted by cruisers. cruisemates.com/blog/201311124

This was a path first ventured into by Norwegian Cruise Line, and extended even further once Epic, Getaway, and Breakaway began sailing. With those ships, the traditional cruise ship dining room has begun to disappear.

Now, with Royal Caribbean’s recent announcement that their newest ship. Quantum of the Seas, under construction (and due to sail next fall) will have no main dining room (as we’ve been used to), it appears the path set by Norwegian’s moves is going from path to a likely road map that more cruise lines will follow.

I don’t think any of us should be surprised to see, as more new builds come out of shipyards, and more older ships undergo significant upgrading, that dining rooms will slowly fade away. More and more, we’ll see land-like restaurant rows appear on ships.

There was something comfortable about the traditional dining room system, where your assigned table and service team were waiting for your arrival each evening. With the changes coming, just like on land, you’re going to have to do some meal planning; choosing restaurants, making reservations, or taking your chances on walking in the door, and perhaps  waiting for a table at the more popular restaurants.

And, of course, as you’re walking to your restaurant of choice one evening, you’re likely to see some others that seem a more popular choice, because they are packed with people.  Then, you’re going to want to try and get in to that one for your next meal.

The choices available will be very impressive. But, giving thought to, and making reservations in advance will definitely become a more important part of your pre-cruise check list.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: May 20th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 1

Don’t Allow Your Brain To Go On Vacation

Written by: Kuki

In 2011; 66-year-old Oscar Antonio Mendoza, a passenger from the Celebrity Solstice, died from injuries incurred as a result of a mugging, while he was strolling near the port in Naples, Italy.

This man died because a criminal spotted the Rolex watch he was wearing, and attempted to take it from him. Yes, the port area of Naples does have a reputation for being rife with criminal activity, but many of the major tourist sites in Europe are also well known habitats for professional thieves and pickpockets.

However crime is not restricted to “well known” areas of Europe, or anywhere else in the world.  Crimes can occur even in “the best areas”, and to “the best people”. It is not however human nature to allow fear to deter people from leading their normal lives. If it were, no one would leave their homes.

Generally we try to reduce the risks of the things we’re afraid of by managing our lives as well as we can; we call that using “common sense”.

So, let’s look for some recommendations for “common sense behaviour” while you’re cruising.

-Don’t look like a target –

When preparing to step off the ship in a port of call remember the story of poor Mr. Mendoza. Leave all of your jewellery in the safe in your cabin. Even faux jewellery, if it looks like it could be expensive, could draw unwanted attention toward you. While you may want to dress up on the ship, it’s abbetter idea to dress down during a port visit.

Ladies; wandering down a street you’re not familiar with, even if it’s busy street, with a Coach, Louis Viton, or similar, bag hanging from your shoulders is a bit like walking around with a spotlight pointing at you.

Backpacks may seem useful, easy to carry, and can certainly serve their purpose. Just be sure to keep nothing of value in them; not digital cameras, cell phones, your cruise card ID, or worse yet, any cash or credit cards. The straps on your backpack can be cut, and the bag gone before you can even turn around. Some people will say the safest way to carry a backpack is reversed, with the bag in front of you, clutched towards your chest. In my view doing so points out to potential criminals that there’s something in that bag that you value. Wearing the back pack reversed is certainly safer than wearing it normally. But for a shore excursion, or if you’re touring on your own, I recommend a simple looking beach bag, or shoulder bag. It won’t draw any unwanted attention in your direction. In fact, your goal should be to look just like everyone else.

-Don’t carry a lot of cash –

Even if you feel you are carrying your cash in a safe spot, like a zippered pocket, if you make a purchase, you’re going to have to take the cash out of its “safe place” to pay. When you do that, there may be someone nearby watching the transaction, and watching as you place your cash back in its (no longer) safe place. Carry a small amount of cash, and only one credit card, along with your identification. Place these items in a front pocket, along with a number of coins. This makes it much more difficult for even the best pick pockets.

-Be aware of your surroundings –

Don’t allow fear of what might happen to dictate your activities; to end your sense of adventure and exploration. Just do what you  do with your brain turned on. You can rely on your brain to direct you and keep you safe in most circumstances, if you keep it working, and pay attention to what is going on around you, and what the people around you are doing.

-A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: May 14th, 2014 under Paul Motter.
Comments: 5

Tips For Currency Conversion

Written by: Kuki

The spring/summer cruise season has begun. Ships are or have been repositioning to where many will be sailing itineraries not usual to those they sailed during the winter months.

If you’re going to be amongst the millions preparing to cruise you’ve no doubt given some thought to your spending on that cruise, and with that, thoughts of currencies accepted in the countries you’re going to visit.

On itineraries through the Bahamas and the Caribbean currency concerns are somewhat simplified because U.S. dollars are widely accepted. However, it’s still going to be necessary to know the rates of conversion to the local currency, to know just how much you are paying for any item purchased.

The same is true through much of Europe, if you’re sailing a European or Mediterranean true, where rather than the U.S. dollar the Euro is the widely accepted currency. But, there as well as in countries which use their own currency, there’s a real need to understand the rates of conversion.

Prior to leaving for a cruise I used to research and  write out a “cheat sheet” listing the current exchange rates of all of the countries I’d be visiting which used their own local currency, and I’d carry that with me. Then, I’d attempt to do quick mental calculations in an attempt to calculate exactly what I was paying.

Today smartphone technology makes that unnecessary. There are many choices of apps for your smartphones to choose from (many of them free) that give you the exchange rates and do the calculations for you. And, of course an added benefit is the exchange rates you get are current.  One such app I like is http://www.xe.com/apps/iphone/ .

Wherever in the world you’re traveling that uses currencies different from your country of residence, you are faced with these issues. But, in the majority of cases you’re also most likely to find a need to use a combination of actual currencies, a credit card, and ATM/debt card. And this is when things can get tricky, and cost you money, if you don’t at least have a plan for dealing with those transactions.

In my view, it matters not where you are traveling – even if you’re only in port for a few hours – you are going to have a need for at least some of the local “hard currency”.  The answer for that is somewhat simple, with a bit of advance planning; ATMs.

My best advice is to go to your bank and set up a separate “travel account”, with limited funds (not linked to your other accounts) and get an ATM/Debt card specific to that account.  While setting up this account, ask about the cost of transaction fees. Most banks will offer free transactions if you use machines on their network, but you may want to do a bit of bank shopping to find the best deal.

If, for some reason that travel account card gets compromised, the only funds at risk will be those in the account.

Then, as you travel only use bank ATMs. ATM machines are very commonly available; some that are not a part of your banks network may charge a transaction fee, but if you use bank ATMs as opposed to ATMs located in retail merchants, hotels, etc. you’re going to save money. And under no circumstances (other than dire emergency) do you want to use commercial currency converters. If you do, you’re basically assured of paying the highest fees; even if their posted exchange rates might appear to be attractive, they will get you on the service charges.

You aren’t going to want to get extremely large amounts of hard currency wherever you visit. This just leads to another transaction fee when trying to convert that currency a second time.

Paying for a purchase with local currency, also leads to you receiving your change in local currency. If you can, limit the amount of currency you have after leaving a port of call to small amounts, one nice thing you can do with “left overs” is  give it to some of your favorite staff onboard, as they are likely to be able to use it, as their ship is very likely to return to the ports of call on that itinerary.

Earlier in this piece I recommended using a credit card wherever possible. There are some pitfalls possible, but a credit card still has many consumer protections for you as well. One thing - you do want to make certain is you get a card that offers no foreign transaction fees! If your  present preferred credit card does not offer free foreign transactions, get one that does.

Here’s a site that may be helpful in the search for such a credit card http://www.cardhub.com/credit-cards/foreign-transaction-fee/#searchid=2r0:11c1:v082101.

Of course, one should always verify the amenities and services a credit card offers, with the issuing bank. You also want to choose a card with no annual fee, as the savings of the free foreign fees may be lost on the annual charge for the card. Though I’m not one to advocate using a lot of credit, you may not be able to afford, as long as you’re prepared to pay off the complete balance when due, it’s not a bad idea to have a separate credit card specifically for travel, as I recommended for an ATM card.

It’s also wise to see if the credit card you’re going to use has the computer chip, with PIN number as opposed to those with just the magnetic strips. It once again offers more protection, and in many countries ATMs accept those more readily than they do those with magnetic strips.

Whichever credit card you intend to use during your travels be sure to advise the distributing bank of your travel plans, as otherwise they could flag and disallow charges you attempt to make because they are uncommon to your  standard spending.

- A View From The Kuki of Cruising -

Posted: May 6th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 2

Mental Health Concerns

Written by: Kuki

Back a few months, in December ’13, a couple on the Celebrity Millennium, cruising in Australia, were put off the ship in Cairns because a woman with dementia had been left aboard alone while her husband took a tour.

The manner with which  Celebrity cruise line reacted to this situation drew reactions that ran the gambit, from appalled, to startled, to applauded.

In his initial response to the incident (as reported in the story by the Cairns Post) the couple’s nephew said ” This is disgusting way to treat an elderly couple, without even trying to resolve the issue at hand”. While it seems easy to sympathize with that position, and feel for the couple who found themselves put off the ship,  I do think it is necessary to examine the situation a bit more thoroughly, because it involves the disease of dementia.

Dementia is a disease of the mind  that little is known about, and which has no known cure. And, as well, the general public has very little understanding of it.

Sadly I have quite a bit of personal experience with this subject. Over the past 5 years I have witnessed the deterioration of my mother’s mind, due to her dementia. As my father had previously passed away, and I am her only child living in the city, the responsibility of assuring her care and well being fell to me.

It is also the reason I have just taken a month’s leave from writing this blog, as her situation required much more of my attention. And, though I considered writing about this situation when it occurred, I avoided it, rather than face it.

No two people suffering from dementia suffer from it in the same way. Indeed, there’s all variety of how drastically the disease affects the individuals behavior as it progresses. What is true is that it most commonly attacks the elderly, and normally the elderly have other medical conditions that can complicate and compound the effects of the dementia.

Following medical advice from geriatric and dementia specialists, we have kept my mother in her own home, rather than any type of live-in facility. We were advised that keeping her in her home, in familiar surroundings, and in familiar activities, would most likely assist somewhat in staving off the full blown effects of the disease. Her health care professionals suggested that taking her out of her own home would in fact likely shorten her life.

At the present time my mother has almost zero short term memory, and we recognized several years ago, that she was in a position that she could no longer be left alone, even for a short time. I was incredibly lucky to find, and be able to afford, wonderful 24 hr. live-in caregivers for my mother.

I understand in many situations, the care for those afflicted with this disease are their spouses. And, I certainly understand how that responsibility can be a heavy weight to bare, and incredibly stressful for those spouses in that position.  No doubt, in this situation, Mr. Arnold was attempting to do what he thought best to care for his wife, and to do what he thought would bring his wife some happiness. That is exactly what most families faced with the care of dementia patients do.

With so few facts available to the public it does raise some questions in my mind; first of which is whether Mr. Arnold consulted with Mrs. Arnold’s medical advisors before even begin planning this cruise.  I also have to wonder how well Mrs. Arnold could care for herself at home.

The report stated Mrs. Arnold was found on the ship, disoriented, and crying and she could not find her cabin. Mr. Arnold had departed from the ship to tour  Cairns. After Mrs. Arnold was discovered by staff, and taken to the medical center, the ship attempted unsuccessfully to contact Mr. Arnold on shore.

There were probably several options for the cruise line to handle the situation presented to them. And perhaps they could have found a more sensitive solution.

However, as much empathy as I have for Mr. Arnold’s situation, it was indeed his responsibility to provide the care for his wife once he had made the decision to take her on a cruise. To me it is unfathomable how he could then leave her on the ship, while he went touring, without assuring she was cared for the entire time he was away.  Frankly, there was so much more that could have gone horribly wrong in that situation. The Arnold’s were actually lucky more didn’t go wrong.

What bothered me, reading all the reports of this incident at the time, was that Mr. Arnold never stood up to accept his share of the responsibility, at the time.  His actions set in motion a series of events which would have never occurred if he hadn’t left his wife, suffering from dementia, onboard the ship on her own. I would have to guess that his wife had some other medical issues which prevented her from going on tour with her husband. But that only amplifies the egregious decision Mr. Arnold made.

I honestly, very well understand Mr. Arnold’s motivation to take his wife on a cruise. I myself have seen other people, with even more serious medical conditions go on cruises to satisfy a loved one’s request, or in at attempt to share happier moments. But in those cases, those accompanying those sick people made all necessary arrangements in advance to care for and deal with critical situations, if they arose. They didn’t leave it to the cruise line to assume that responsibility.

I am not saying that people with health concerns shouldn’t cruise. I do however believe they shouldn’t expect the cruise lines to be, or replace, their caregivers.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: April 29th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 4

Mistakes To Avoid

Written by: Kuki

Ship happens but there are a few simple things you can do to avoid the most common blunders.

# 1 – The most common mistake can occur at the moment you decide to book your cruise. DO NOT pay the deposit you make to book your cruise, or make your final payment, using cash or by writing a check to a travel agent!

While the vast majority of travel agents are honest, ethical, and trustworthy, their financial circumstances can change, and if the agent you are using finds themselves in difficult circumstances, there can be a serious temptation for them to use your monies for things other than to pay the cruise lines the money you have trusted in them to pay for you.

And you may not know this has happened until months later,… or worst case… until you try and board the ship.

You wouldn’t be the first for this to happen to you. It has indeed happened previously, and on occassion to large groups traveling together.

Pay for your deposits or cruise fares using a major credit card, and then verify that said charges on your card are made directly to the cruise line.

You can verify this immediately with your credit card company, as well as checking the booking reference number you are given when booking online, at the cruise line’s web site.

# 2 – Just prior to embarking on your cruise, during the check in process, you are required to supply payment information guaranteeing your responsibility for charges you incurr on board. Cash deposits are accepted, and then once on the ship, if you’re closing to reaching the amount of deposit you’d left you’ll be required to deposit more.

The most commonly used method of deposit used for on board spending is by use of a credit card (also the best). However, as Debit Card use is becoming more common, many people have turned to using these same debt cards to guarantee their on board charges. This is a mistake!

The method banks use for debt card transactions is different than that used for credit card transactions. A credit card can pre-authorized, but the monies are not charged against it until the final transactions are processed at the end of the cruise. When using a debit card however the pre-authorization is withdrawn from your account at the moment it is processed.

This makes that amount of funds from the debit card account at your bank unavailable to you for other use. When your final tab at the end of the cruise is calculated the amounts are corrected to reflect the actual charges. However, until those corrections (and credits if they are due) are calculated you could find that the withholding made leave your account short of being capable to cover charges you want to use the debt card for.

Use a credit card to secure your on board charges and you are safe.

# 3 – Choosing the location of your cabin on a ship can be a bit of a minefield. Ideally, you want to be sure that your cabin is not directly above or below any of the ships busy public rooms and areas. That can be accomplished relatively easily by examining a ship’s deck plan, and choosing a cabin with passenger decks above you, as well as below you.

Your not likely to enjoy a cabin that is directly above or below the ship’s main showroom, dance clubs/discos, or the ship’s galleys. The noise at odd times of day and night may be disturbing to you. Cabins directly below the pool/lido deck and buffet restaurants may also be less desirable to you, as crew will be moving furniture and setting up quite early in the morning, and you’ll be very likely to hear it.

# 4- Don’t assume the cruise line is solely responsible for your good time. The cruise lines do a wonderful job of supplying the environment, activities, and atmosphere for you to really enjoy your experience. But that is truly only 50% of the equation.

You are the final determining factor. You get to make the choices of how many, or how few of the activities and amenities available to you you’ll use to make certain you enjoy the experience. And, inevitably there are going to be a few small glitches along the route. How much you choose to allow them to impact your experience is, in many ways, up to you.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: March 25th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

“How To Be A Cruiser”- Training Now Available

Written by: Kuki

It is with intense pride we announce the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a four day seminar designed specifically to make you a qualified cruiser.

Have you ever stepped onto a cruise ship and felt that you simply don’t fit in?

Have you stood around aimlessly, wondering how you are going to find your room?

Have you felt the stress of a waiter hanging over your shoulder, as you feel lost trying to decide what you are going to eat?

Have you called your cabin attendant Captain?

Have you wondered how all the people around you are all having a great time?

Help is now available!

Through four short, yet intense, days of training with me, you’ll never again have to ask yourself, “where is the dining room”.

For only $999 plus airfare and accommodations you will be able to confidently say, “I’ve never been able to drink that much in my life”.

Upon completion of this training you’ll have renewed patience for people who act like idiots, and those who seem to complain about everything.

You will understand full well why you don’t want to use the jacuzzis after they’ve been used by children and old people.

You will have a full understanding of why you should avoid the karaoke lounge, when you can’t sing.

You will know how to ride in tandem down the water slide, on your bellies.

You’ll be trained in the art of allowing people to get out of an elevator, before you get in.

You’ll finally understand that the staff and crew of a ship work 24 hours a day to make your experience a pleasurable one. (And you’ll understand that means collectively, not that each one works 24 hours a day).

You will learn that the most important factor leading to the enjoyment of your cruise is you.

You will come to understand that instead of attending my seminar, you should have spent $999 on a cruise.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: March 18th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

The Cruise Countdown

Written by: Kuki

Whether you’re a first time cruiser, or an old salt regular who cruises often, one of the most exciting parts of your cruise experience is the cruise countdown.

It might seem odd that I refer to the countdown as a part of the cruise experience. But it certainly is, and the main reason it is, is that the planning and anticipation normally runs on much longer than your actual time on the ship.

The tingling sensation starts even before you book, and then continues to build in veracity as your sail date nears.

There’s an initial excitement, mixed with a bit of apprehension, as you sort through all the options and make your decision on which ship to sail, and which cabin to book. Then there’s a period of calm once the decision is made, and you’ve put down your deposit.

It all starts to build again as you visit your cruise line’s web site to fill out all the online documentation required before you cruise. It’s all suddenly becoming more real.

You can’t help it; your mind begins to be filled with images of smooth sandy beaches, or frozen glacial formations, or historical sights, depending on which itinerary you’ve chosen. The urge to research and get into more detailed planning becomes almost overwhelming, and your time spent online doing so, increases three fold.

As you do so, more questions pop into your head.

What should we do in port? What should we pack? How much money should we bring? How much are my favourite drinks going to cost? What colour shoes do I need? …and on and on. And your time spent online increases X 2.

Once your final payment is made, and you know it’s real, your heart begins to beat just a little faster. You realize that after all the research and all the questions you’ve had, it’s getting very close to the time you have to make some decisions on the answers you’ve found, and that just leads to more questions.

It’s not that it’s really that complicated, it’s just that now you are approaching full countdown mode.

You proceed to book some tours, finalize dining time options; putting all your final plans into place, and rather than it all having a calming effect, you find you’re getting even more excited (if that’s possible).

Then you realize you’ve forgotten to put a countdown clock in all the messages and questions you’ve bee posting on the Internet message boards.

You find, and insert a countdown clock into your message board signature file, and suddenly your countdown is real.

You check it every day, to see exactly how many days are left until you cruise. Silly! …like you didn’t know.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: March 10th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 2