Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Downtown Sedona

TRAVEL THERE: ROLLING UP THE SIDEWALKS

As we made our way from Oak Creek Canyon to Downtown Sedona, I have to confess that Google was not much help.  Perhaps they need me there to help them get on Google My Business or maybe they just don’t care.  Anyway, what was listed was either fast food or pizza.  In self-defense, we chose pizza.

Sedona Pizza and Pasta

It was only about 6 PM, but they really were rolling up the sidewalks.  There was one jewelry store that seemed to have some activity, so we strolled in.  Everything cost the world and the proprietor was an as er… a jerk.  We didn’t stay there long.

Across the street was a little plaza where there were a couple of restaurants open.  The sandwich shop had big plate glass windows featuring the view, but it was virtually empty and the light was fading fast, so the view wasn’t going to be visible in the next few minutes.

We opted for Sedona Pizza and Pasta.  The prices were more than we would have expected for a casual dinner, but we didn’t have a choice.  So, we ordered up and watched the guys behind the counter cooking up and serving meals.  When our pizza was delivered we were disappointed.  We already knew it was going to be a thin crust pizza, which is not our favorite, but we’d never seen a crust so thin.  We’re talking paper thin.  The service was good, it was clean and the staff was really nice, but we really can’t recommend a pizza place that virtually puts their pizza fixings on paper.

Back at the Adobe Village Inn

We stopped by a convenience store on the way to the Inn and picked up a bottle of wine.  Back at the inn we chose some free DVD’s to watch – a documentary about Sedona and High Crimes with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. 

We also took advantage of the Inn’s hot tub.  We’d let the manager know we were interested and he had it all cued up for us.  It really was quiet nice.

After the hot tubbing and a shower, we crawled into bed and watched our selections.  After all the activity we had in Scottsdale and Phoenix, it was nice to take it easy – and after all the challenging driving we’d done during the day, we were pooped.

Up and Out

Breakfast was served from 8-9, so Bill could not linger in bed.  The Adobe Village Inn’s website is very proud of their breakfast tradition.  As soon as we made our reservations, they emailed to ask about food preferences.  I confessed to my prejudice against eggs and that resulted in a breakfast that was way too sweet for both of us.  I mean, in small bits, all of it was delicious, but breakfast is an important meal and we needed something besides carbs, sugar and fruit.  I’m betting if you didn’t tell them no eggs, you could get something absolutely perfect.

Our target for the morning was Tlaquepaque, but we took a driving tour first.  Come back next week and join us!

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, TRAVEL, United States

Adobe Village Inn

TRAVEL THERE: IN THE SHADOW OF BELL ROCK

This was the view from our window.  Though not immediately identifiable from this angle, with the trees in front of it, the formation to the left is Bell Rock.  On the right is Courthouse Butte.  We were very happy with our accommodations!

It Looked Good and Got Better 

When the GPS told us we’d arrived at Adobe Village Inn, we patted ourselves on the back.  It was located right smack dab in the middle of the most awesome scenery.  From outside, the inn was a lovely adobe home with gardens.  Fountains, a tile roof and various statuary said this was going to be good.  We were greeted by a gentleman who looked like he belonged in a setting just like this and he welcomed us into the home.

We should have taken more pictures.  The living room was spectacular.  Expansive view, tile floor, lovely patio, charming decor and more and more and more.  We were so excited we were almost giggly.

The nice gentleman who looked like he fit right in was actually the manager, not the owner, but he gave us a nice tour and let us to our room.  Our room was great – if not perfect.  There was a fireplace, but it was crowded into a corner.  The only way to get cozy with it was a love seat, crammed into the same corner.  On the other side of the entry was a huge space that was a sort of dressing room/closet combo with bathroom.  I would have preferred more space around the fireplace, but they didn’t ask me.  I’m thinking many of their patrons do sporting things and the big closet space is for storing their equipment.

Further in the room, past the storage/bathroom there was a large piece of furniture, like a sideboard with coffee and such.  On the facing wall was the TV and other electronics.  Then the room opened up to embrace a king-sized bed.  Theoretically, you could watch the TV from the bed or love seat.  In reality, you weren’t there to watch TV and it wasn’t great viewing from either spot.    

They get an A for hospitality.  Snacks were available, the fire was going and nice music was playing.  I gave it a 9.5.  We retrieved our luggage and got settled in.  There was a patio, but the sign said we weren’t supposed to go out there.  Another window, next tot he bed gave us the view above.

In our discussion with the manager we discovered the Inn really was a village.  Besides the several rooms in the home, there were several casitas just up the hill a few steps away.  Wedding ceremonies are often held on the lovely patio and the wedding party stays in the casitas.  Up from the casitas are other full size homes and several of them belong to the inn to be rented out by larger groups.  I highly recommend this facility for a wedding or family reunion or even your next getaway.

The day was getting warmer and the sky was clearing of any threatening clouds.  We climbed back into our Jeep for our next adventure.  I’d seen something on the map that had caught my attention, “Schnebly Road Requires High Clearance Vehicles.”  Our guided 4-wheel expedition may have been cancelled, but we were going to see if we couldn’t find our own adventure. 

Please join us next week for some fun and sun! 

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Vacation Club Intro

TRAVEL THERE: SAYING NO AND MEANING IT

Our extraordinary bargain came with a caveat.  We had to give them a couple of hours for a vacation club introduction.  It was the first time for a “vacation club.”  Other similar experiences were offered as a time share.  We’ve been through some elbow twisting in our travel adventures and we hoped we weren’t in for another.

Starting at Mickey D’s

To fuel up before the sales pitch ordeal, we opted for McDonald’s.  It was just around the corner and we grabbed several meals/snacks from there.

On this particular morning I had the obstacle of 10K runners and the policemen directing traffic had no sympathy for an out-of-towner.  While I’m trying to negotiate the runners, police, roads and parking lots, I had Bill frantically texting me to be sure I got pepper to go with his order.   I may have cussed a couple of times.  

Checking Things Out

After breakfast we had a little time before our vacation club appointment.  We headed over to the pool and entertainment areas to see what they offered.  We’re not really resort people.  Flying across the world to hang out by a pool, play golf and enjoy the spa is really not our kind of vacation.  We understand why people with kids would do it, because Lord knows they need a break, but we go to an area to see it and one resort looks pretty much like another.  Besides, while a lot is included, it’s not all-inclusive.  A golf game here, a spa appointment there and a few drinks by the pool and you can be spending some serious dough.

As resorts go, the Westin is a nice one.  We checked out all the pools, the golf course and various entertainment venues where games and classes are offered.  When we reported for our appointment, we were anxious to get it behind us.  In fact, we were early.  They sent us to some lounge area with a fireplace to wait our turn.  Anxiety was building.

The Dreaded Appointment

All in all, it wasn’t so bad.  They introduced us to our guy and took us to his office.  He chatted us up a bit to get our measure and then took us to view the available floor plans.  They have something they call the Two-Bedroom Lockoff Villa, which is really two One-Bedroom Villas, which can be used separately or in tandem.  Our room for the stay was a One-Bedroom Villa with a kitchenette, about 530 square feet.  Were we to actually invest in the property, we would want the One-Bedroom Premium Villa with a full kitchen and about 870 square feet. 

Then there was the pitch, which we softly but firmly tossed back.  We explained I was a devoted cruiser and that the timing wasn’t right for us to invest (not that it would ever be the right time), even if we were interested.  Our guy happily turned us over to the closer.  She was ready to wheel and deal, but Bill said if we were to buy-in, it would be with cash, not financing.  That took the wind out of her sails and her sales.  They wanted to sell it to us like a car – so many dollars a month for the rest of our lives.

Then we were released.  We’d lived through yet another timeshare vacation club sales pitch without signing on the dotted line.  I must say this.  Were we actually good candidates for this product, a two career family with four kids, three dogs, two cats and some extended family, I would think this was a deal.  They showed us some magic we could pull off with my Marriott credit cards points, but we don’t do points, we go for the 2% rebate on another card.  They knew as well as we did that we weren’t going to buy, so they saved us and them a lot of effort.

Oh look!  It’s time to go golf.  We ran to a Chipotle for lunch and then drove to the golf course. Come back next week for a round of golf at Dave Valley Ranch.

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Bagpipes in the Desert

TRAVEL THERE: WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT OFFERS UNIQUE ENTERTAINMENT

Remember how I was reeling from lack of sleep when we got to the Westin Kierland Resort, but all the staff was trying to welcome me with more information than I could grasp.  Well, I figured I had misunderstood them when they told me I could go hear a bagpiper at the Dream Weaver Canyon on various evenings, but they do in fact have a bagpiper that comes and plays their bagpipe.  It was actually pretty cool.  Let’s go!

Farewell Phoenician

It was almost as hard to quit taking pictures at The Phoenician as it was to say, “No, thank you, we don’t want anymore, tea or dessert.”  We backtracked out of the resort through the golf courses and made our way back to the Westin.  Along the way we stopped to pick up another gallon of water.  You have to stay hydrated in the desert.

The Bagpipes Are Now!

Getting back to the hotel via the grocery store took a little more time than we anticipated, so we screeched into the parking lot and trotted into the hotel, hoping we could find the Dreamweaver Canyon.  The canyon is actually a patio outside the hotel and by the time we got there, all the good seating was gone and lo and behold, as advertised, there was a kilted bagpiper entertaining with his bagpipe.

It really was a cool experience, but it was also quite incongruous.  The Dreamweaver Canyon area is by a small man made lake beside a golf course.  In the lake is modern non-figurative sculpture.  There’s also a fire-pit.  What that has to do with kilts, Danny Boy and the theme from Outlander beats me.

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Since seating was at a premium we found ourselves wandering around taking pictures from every possible angle and then just for the heck of it, we took pictures of each other.  I will also admit that while I like bagpipes, I’m really only interested in hearing a song or two.  This guy played for what seemed a long time and the more he played, the more people started wandering off to other places, so by the time he quit, there was actually room to take a seat around the firepit.

Photo Safari  

After the last lonely note had sounded over the fairway, we took a little photo safari around the lobby.  We were all done with our photo taking until we walked out the front door and were overwhelmed with the sunset. 

You might think we’d already done enough for one day, what with shopping at the Quarter, having tea and the Phoenician and then hearing the bagpipes, but no, the day is not yet over.  I was as surprised as you are.  Mr. Bill was ready for action and I had done my homework, so as soon as we got back to the room, we reorganized for another adventure and headed to downtown Phoenix for yet another adventure.

Enjoy these photos from our photo safari and then come back next week to enjoy the Phoenix First Friday Art Walk.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, United States

Hit the Pause Button on Perfection

Here’s one room you don’t want at the Kierland Resort!

TRAVEL THERE: NOT THE VIEW WE EXPECTED

Having been up since since 2:15 AM, when 4:30 PM rolled around I was ready for a nap – especially since I woke up on Texas time and was living in AZ time. However, we were in the lobby of the Westin Kierland Resort and they were doing everything they could to prove to us they were glad we were there.  I just wanted to lay down.

How Does This Look?

The check-in desk was a little overwhelmed when we got there, but the staff didn’t want us to think we were being overlooked, so they were trying to chat us up about any number of things.  They were giving us all kinds of brochures and maps, marking off the things we’d be most interested in and telling us how lucky we were to be there.  I just smiled and nodded.  There was no way I’d remember any of it told to me in my catatonic state.

Finally, we got to check in and I got the definite impression that the cleaning staff hadn’t managed to keep up with the demand.  We’d been pre-assigned one room, but they were hustling to get us into something else, because it was not done.  Bill let them know I was about to pass out in the lobby.

The desk clerk wanted us to be perfectly satisfied with our room and he was a little concerned we’d be unhappy with seeing a little of the parking lot from our balcony.  So he showed us a picture from the room and asked, “How does this look?”  It looked fine, because it wasn’t a live shot and it didn’t have that green container with all the trash bags in it.  He went about checking us into that room.

How Does This Look Now?

Here’s the funny part.  If the clerk had not made such a big deal about the view, chances are we would have gone into the room and directly to bed.  What lay out our window would have been the least of my concerns.  Instead, since he’d made such a big deal about it, I walked to the balcony and whipped open the curtains – and look what was there!

Bill immediately wanted to get another room, but I knew that if I didn’t lay down, I was going to fall down.  I was actually trembling from exhaustion.  I let him go to the lobby and laid down.  All I wanted to do was get a few moments of rest.  Instead I fell dead asleep and my precious husband wouldn’t allow anyone to disturb me.

Hours later I came awake and my first thought was, “Where the hell am I?”  Bill was anxious to go check the room they were ready to move us to.  I was still a little groggy, but totally appreciative he’d let me get my nap, so I was willing to do pretty much whatever the man wanted to do.

A Better View

We checked out the new room  and gave it our seal of approval.  The first thing I wanted was a bath.  After that I unpacked and got our suite organized.  I figured the day was over and we’d just grab a bite at the resort.

Au contrare! Our little nap time and the chance to get all cleaned up had re-freshened Mr. Bill and he was all for heading out again.  One part of me thought, “Are you crazy?” But another part of me was like, “Alight, alright, alright.”  My inner Matthew McConaughey won the day.  I got cute and headed out into the world with my marvelous husband.

 

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

We Can’t Resist a Bargain

Arizona, Scottsdale, Westin Resort
Westin Kierland Resort

TRAVEL THERE: WESTIN MAKES AN OFFER WE CAN’T REFUSE

We’d talked about it.  The Anniversary Cruise had eaten up more than its fair share of our budget.  We needed to give traveling a break.  Then we got the invitation from Westin.  Come take a look at our Vacation Club it said.  Stay four nights for $299 it said.  Had they been offering a trip to anywhere else, the invitation would have gone into the trash, but they wanted us to come to Arizona.

I’m Just Leaving This Right Here

I opened the envelope, read the offer and then shuffled it around on my desk for a few days.  As I moved the offer around on my desk, I started making a case for the trip.  While the Anniversary Cruise had been expensive, I’d done a multi-year cost analysis and we’d stayed within the allotted amount.  We just didn’t have anymore right then.  However each month the travel budgets accrues a little bit…and we didn’t have to make the reservations until September sometime…and then we had a year to take the trip.  It was at least worth running by Bill.

I went down to his office and made a disclaimer, “This showed up in the mail and it was too good to just throw away.  I’m going to put it here in your mail pile and you can take a look at it if you want.”  I think he probably moved it around on his desk for a day or two.  Then he said, “What’s the deal with this trip?  I don’t want to read the whole thing.”  I cheered inside.  The question was almost as good as a rubber stamp of approval.

I explained just how amazing the offer was.  It wouldn’t be our first trip like this.  We’ve been to Hawaii, Branson, Palm Desert and a number of other places, visiting time shares on the cheap.  Bill hates the sales pitch, but he loves the price.  And we love Arizona.  I got the green light.  We discussed potential travel dates and decided on February, because the real estate market would still be cool and we wouldn’t miss a bunch of shoots.  Bill even said, “Why don’t you also look into a visit to Sedona?  We love that place.”

And We’re Off

I called up the Westin, picked our travel dates and started dreaming of desert nights.  But I didn’t just dream.  I went online and ordered up free travel guides from Arizona, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Sedona.  As the guides arrived in the mail I started poring over them, turning down the corner of pages and highlighting the good stuff.

Then one day, out of the blue, I get an email from Southwest Airlines.  We haven’t flown with them in decades and I’m not on any of their mailing lists, but there it was.  They wanted to sell me some cheap air fares.  I jumped on it with alacrity.  It seemed as if the travel gods had sanctioned this trip and were doing everything they could to make it wonderful. 

Come back next week and I’ll share how I put the trip together.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

The Long Stretch Home

a luggage conveyor inside airport
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

TRAVEL THERE:  BACK TO DFW EVENTUALLY

So after a very long wait in Montreal, we took off for Toronto.  We were almost home.  Just one easy overnight layover and we’d be there.  Only it didn’t turn out exactly like that.

Late Night Luggage Woes

We arrived in Toronto much later than our original 9:32 PM ETA.    I can’t remember ever being so zombie-like from travel.  We disembarked and made our way to baggage claim, but there was no baggage to claim.  The carousel went around and around and occasionally an odd bag would show up, but no one from our flight got any luggage.  Since it was just a commuter flight from Montreal, most of the passengers trotted away with their carry-ons.  We were all so tired it took us awhile to comprehend what was was going on.  We were at the right carousel, because the sign on it listed our flight, but nothing from our flight was showing up.

Bill got in the lost luggage line and as we waited, I made an inventory of the entire baggage claim area, just to be sure we were in the right place and weren’t missing anything.  How does an airplane even fly without having anything in the cargo hold.  There was only one Air Canada employee in sight.  They were behind the lost luggage counter and the counter was besieged by customers, so there was no chance to pop in and ask a question.  I also noticed there seemed to be a lot of luggage just sitting around, some looking as if it had been lined up and organized, but other piles looking as if it had merely been tossed there and forgotten – decades ago.

The line took forever.  The employee said nothing was arriving from Montreal that evening and our luggage would be delivered to our home.  Bill explained that Montreal was not home and we would be traveling to DFW in the morning.  The guy said, “Great, just come back here in the morning.”  Had we had our brains screwed in properly we would have recognized a problem with that, but our brains were as lost as our luggage.

Best Laid Plans Go Awry

So our plan for saving money had been to spend our layover at a bargain suite hotel.  The room for the three of us would still leave us with a significant savings on the airfare, but that savings was getting less valuable as the troubles added up.  If things had gone our way, we’d have caught a little of the hotel’s happy hour and gotten a great breakfast buffet.  As it was, we got perhaps four hours of sleep, but we all needed at least twelve.

Back at the airport, it was one headache after another.  We stood in a lot of lines that morning and none of them helped at all.  We would stand in one line and they would send us to another.  Finally, after hearing our luggage woes, someone sent us back down to baggage claim to get some document we should have received the night before.  Have you ever tried to reach the arrivals baggage claim area from the departure area of the Toronto airport?  Just give it up.  It ain’t happening.  It took most of the airport to get us back there and when we did it was a total fail.  The morning staffer was overwhelmed by the mess he’d been left with by the night crew and our problem was the last one he wanted to handle.  We did however end up with the requisite piece of paper and a lot of free time.

Needless to say, we did not connect with our luggage in Toronto and actually wouldn’t see it for days.  We could have gotten a few more hours of sleep if we’d known that in the wee hours of the morning, not so long ago, but we weren’t given any good breaks along the way.  We actually had to wait quite awhile to even check into our flight.  Since there weren’t any other bags to worry about, we checked our carry-ons so we wouldn’t have to mess with them.  We didn’t care about anything we owned at that point.  We just wanted to be home.

Home

The flight itself was uneventful and our checked carry-ons arrived without any trouble. The Park & Fly Shuttle took us to our car, which was intact, right where we left it.  We dropped Deb off on our way back to Heath.  And then we were home.

Bill got right on the luggage thing once we were home and the next week would have been funny, if it were happening to someone one else.  I’m not even going to bother you with it all, because I don’t even want to think about it.  The only good thing to come out of it for me was that while we were shopping for some replacement items we had to buy, to get the maximum reimbursement, I found a great after-5 dress that Air Canada ended up buying for me.  It’s the least they could do after what they put us through.

After it was all over – the year of planning dominated by a remodel gone wrong, the highly active and not at all relaxing travel, the beautiful vow renewal ceremony, all the amazing times we had, all the incredible things we saw,  the hassle over the photos and the hellacious trip home – for about 10 minutes, I thought, “This is just too much damned trouble.  I never want to travel again.”  Then I came to my senses.  That’s when we got a letter from the Westin offering us a bargain vacation to come check out their property in Scottsdale AZ.

So, come back next week and we’ll head to the Westin’s Kierland Villas!  See you, then!

Accommodations, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Missteps in Monaco

I love to travel, but I’d be the first to admit it can be stressful and falling out of step with your traveling companion is not all that hard to do.  On most of our trips, we can point to the place where things did not go as smoothly as we might have wished.  On this Mediterranean Marathon, Monte Carlo was our trouble spot.

Imprecise Planning

For days now, we’d been working hard on having a good time.  I had anticipated, by the time we reached this mid-point of the cruise, we’d be in dire need of an easy day.  We’d gone back and forth several times on how we should spend the our time. 

For the sake of our finances, I had suggested we just do Monte Carlo on our own, since it was a pretty small place.  Then, perhaps after dinner, we’d check out the possibility of going to the Casino.  Yes, that Casino, where James Bond and various other movie characters so often hang out.

However, Bill always prefers to have a guide for the sake of security.  So, we booked a nice bus tour that would end up in Eze, a medieval hilltop town someone had recommended to us.  Then, we unbooked it, because an evening event was offered that we couldn’t pass up.  We were back to seeing Monte Carlo on our own, if we were going to see it at all.

We decided to play the rest of it by ear, which is always a dangerous thing, but I didn’t know exactly what else to do.

An Easy Morning

Things started out quite well.  We slept in a little, enjoyed the buffet for breakfast and then went on a photo safari.  This is usually one of our favorite things to do on a cruise.  We spend most of our days at sea covering every inch of the ship we have access to, taking lots of pictures and nibbling throughout the dining rooms.

This photo safari started like many others, but we weren’t at sea.  We were moored in the harbor of the beautiful principality of Monaco.  The gorgeous city of Monte Carlo was beckoning to us.  We just weren’t sure what to do about it.

The Dissonance Begins

Suddenly Bill wanted to go ashore.  I wanted to accommodate him, but I didn’t have so much as a brochure or map when he began to pepper me with logistical questions.  All I could tell him was we were supposed to go to the photo studio in about an hour to see our ceremony pictures and that the evening shore excursion would start shortly after 3:30.  He didn’t care about either of those and I didn’t even know exactly what time it was to guess how much time we’d have.

He decided we should go to Guest Relations and see if we could sign up for a shore excursion or get some information.  We were standing at the elevator to go up to Guest Relations when I heard a familiar laugh.  The door opened up and there were all our friends!

Being Spontaneous

Our friends were headed down to catch one of the tenders and go ashore.  Bill and I looked at each other and jumped on the elevator.  About all we had were our room cards.  I had on what might loosely be called lounging pajamas, a pair of flip flips and not even a touch of makeup.  I’d pulled my hair back into a ponytail.  Bill had on standard tourist gear and thankfully had his billfold in his pocket.

I tried to get a message to the photographer that we had been kidnapped, but communication is not easy on a cruise ship.  Back at the room I might have been able to find a number for her, but we didn’t go by the room.  I also had a guide book for Monaco in the room, but it wasn’t doing me much good there.

We were off with nothing that even looked like a plan.  I was immediately aware that we were headed for trouble, but I didn’t know of anyway to head it off.  Come back next week and see how things pan out.

Accommodations, Cruising, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Bridal Dinner in the Normandie

TRAVEL THERE: THE FUN JUST DOESN’T STOP

It was over.  The Vow Renewal Ceremony I’d been planning for so long was now in the review mirror.  With that behind me I set out to enjoy the rest of our cruise, beginning with dinner in The Normandie.

The Normandie

Dining on the Celebrity Edge was fun.  With four complimentary dining rooms to choose from, rather than the usual one, you had variety, but what you gained in variety, you missed out on personalized service.

The Normandie was touted as the cream of the crop with a French twist.  I can’t think of a single thing that was wrong, besides the anonymity of it all.  We showed up and they had the usual flurry of figuring out our beverage plans.  The menu was divided into the three sections the other menus had.  I don’t remember being wowed by any of the offerings, nor do I have a clue what I actually ate.

Except for dessert.  I do remember dessert! The Aisle to Isle package offered a small cake for the bride and groom, but I had them upsize it to include plenty for everyone.  Like many wedding cakes it was more beautiful than it was delicious.  Fondant makes for pretty cakes, but is there anyone who actually likes to eat it?

The Company

While I might not have a lot to say about the restaurant, the company could not have been better.  I sat there at that table feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.  I feel that way often, but rarely with so many reasons.

We were on an amazing ship, headed to incredible destinations, with the best of friends.  We were celebrating a wonderful 25 year marriage and had pledged to continue to keep the promises we had made so long ago.  I am married to the handsomest man in the world and he loves me, in spite of all my flaws.  And did I mention what great friends I have.

Just as I can’t remember exactly what I ate this evening, I can’t recall exactly what we talked about around the table, but I know it was seasoned with a lot of laughter.  The picture of us all gathered around that table will forever stay in my mind.  The actual photos we took don’t do the evening much justice, but I’m adding them so you can enjoy them.

Turning in for the Night

There’s one more picture to show you before we move on to the next day.  Cruise ship towel animals might not seem like a big deal to you, but among the many cards spread about the room, explaining what things were, what was complimentary and what we’d have to pay for, one card explained why Celebrity no longer entertains their passengers with towel animals.

I’ve written cards and letters like that before.  When we were forcing technology down people’s throats, we used to start all the letters with, “To serve you better…”  Only we didn’t care whether it served anybody better or not.  It was just what we said.  The letters should have said, “Hey, we’ve found yet another way to cut corners, but there’s no way we’re going to pass any savings on to you, so get ready for this new thing we’ve dreamed up.”

Celebrity’s note about the towel animals began with “In order to preserve the planet…”  That’s the new phrase they came up with that everyone seems to buy into.  The towel animals were cute, but it did just sort of become yet one more schitick, and it had lost its luster.  If we had kids, towel animals might be more interesting, but I really didn’t need a new version on my bed every time I returned to the room.

However, with the absence of nightly towel animals and being made aware of Celebrity’s desire to save the planet, we were quite appreciative that they broke their own rules and gave us a couple of swans that evening.

And that’s where I’ll leave you.  We’ll be up early the next morning for Florence, so be sure to come back next week.

 

Accommodations, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Falling Through the Cracks

Aboard Celebrity

TRAVEL THERE: AN UNCOORDINATED EVENT COORDINATOR

Among the craziness of my first few hours on board the Celebrity Edge was a telephone chat with their Event Coordinator.  She insisted she only needed about five minutes to meet me and confirm things for my vow renewal ceremony.  That seemed fairly inadequate to me, but I thought just maybe they were that coordinated.

Bridal Hysteria

Well, to begin with, Ranee Tin wasn’t where she was supposed to be at the appointed time.  I gave it a few minutes and then let a crew member know.  The whole meeting was only supposed to last a few minutes, according to her, and my friends were waiting on me in the restaurant.

When she showed up, she had some pieces of paper and a demeanor that said she didn’t have a clue about what was going on or what was supposed to happen at my vow renewal.  To be fair, my hysteria had been mounting before I ever got on board.

For months the planning had gone swimmingly.  The descriptions of hair appointments was rather confusing, but the ladies in the Celebrity Wedding department were swell.  I was a little freaked out that nothing could be confirmed until 10 days before I sailed, but I bought into their assurances.  The Edge was a new ship and nothing was routine about events, yet.

It was still so outside of the norm 10 days before the cruise that absolutely nothing was confirmed.  The afternoon before I left I got an email that almost sent me into convulsions.  The letter wanted me to fax them a signed form and I didn’t have a fax machine.  The letter also said without the form there would be no ceremony.  After a few minutes of complete freak out, I read back through the email which contained the letter and discovered I could actually email them the signed form, but by then I’d already had several heart attacks.

It was only at that point that I discovered when and where my ceremony would be.  It was scheduled at a location that hadn’t even been mentioned throughout the entire eight months we’d been planning the event.  At that point is was too late to fret.  The die was cast.  They still couldn’t tell me what time our salon appointments would be.

Just Long Enough to Freak Me Out

Were I to have it all to do over again, I’d fork at $275 for a “Test the Waters” package that gave you

  • Pre-inspection arrangements
  • Site inspection with wedding coordinator – Total time: 90 minutes onboard
  • 30-minute tour of the wedding and reception locations
  • 30 minute consultation regarding wedding props, site photography, set-up, and any additional questions
  • 30-minute open buffet lunch

As it was, a very casual event coordinator tried to convince me in just a few moment that she had everything under control.  It wasn’t long enough.  She was asking all kinds of questions that were already answered on the pieces of paper she’d given to me.  Her biggest concern seemed to be what would happen if they couldn’t get blue ribbon for the bouquets.  I was more worried about the logistics of the whole thing.

I was in tears and trembling when she was through with me.  I’d only just managed to get the salon appointment times out of her.  About the only thing she did that gave me a warm fuzzy was a promise to iron my gown for the ceremony.  One small worry resolved, about 15 new worries to confound me.

Everyone was waiting on me for dinner, so I made a bee-line to the Cyprus restaurant.  come back next week and I’ll let you know how good that was.