Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

The Vow Renewal Excitement Builds

The Celebrity Edge Pool Deck

TRAVEL THERE: BRUNCH, THE SALON AND MORE

Eventually, we did leave our cabin on our special day at sea.  First stop was the buffet, where we found Deborah and Viktoriya.  I was a nervous wreck and absolutely nothing looked good to me, but since we planned to have champagne later on in the salon, I had to eat something.  I know I was acting weird.  Deb and Viktoriya were afraid Bill and I had a fight, but nothing could have been further from the truth.  I was just tied up in knots.

Things Begin to Come Together

My gown made it back to our cabin.  We had a meal.  The vow renewal countdown began.

While we’d been having brunch, the bed had been made and the cabin had been put in order, so I began to lay out all the paraphernalia for the ceremony, both Bill’s and mine.  Bill was antsy to get out and start enjoying the pool, so I released him, but not before I had quizzed him mercilessly to make sure he knew when he had to be back to the cabin.

Next, it was time to take my shower.  At least I didn’t have to try to do my own hair and make-up.  I was nervous as a cat.  After my shower and toiletries I sat down to read, but couldn’t comprehend anything.

Finally, I gave it up and decided to do my waiting in the salon.  I grabbed my bag of hair ornaments and jewelry and made tracks there.  The salon didn’t help, because none of the girls were there yet and the people who worked in the salon had no clue I was coming apart at the seams.  Anyone who knew me would have been able to tell, but strangers couldn’t.  I should have called one of the girls and told them I was in desperate need of hand-holding, but I knew at least one would show up soon, so I waited.

Let’s Have Some Fun

Finally, my bestie showed up with a bottle of champagne and suddenly everything was OK.   She was right on time for her 3 PM appointment, but I felt like I’d been waiting for ages.  The champagne was a perk we earned with our Concierge Class cabin.  There was a flutter of activity, because there weren’t any glasses in the salon, but that was soon remedied.

I have a suggestion for Celebrity.  You need to make drinks a little easier to obtain in the salon.  I’d planned on adding a bottle or two to the one Deb had brought along, but there was really no way for that to happen, without going to a bar, so we just made do with the bottle among the four of us.  Thankfully, Viktoriya wasn’t partaking which make the bottle go a little further.

They started on everyone else before me.  That made sense, but it left me with nothing to do and you don’t want an already nervous person not to have anything to do.  Soon, however, the champagne took effect and we were reminiscing about all the years we girls had been together.  Melanie and I had been roommates in college and I’d met Deb in my twenties, so we had a lot of reminiscing to do.

Let’s Fix the Bride

At 4 PM I climbed in the salon chair for my “bride’s hair” appointment.  It still appeared to be the very same thing the other updo girls were getting, even as it was happening.  So, if you do indeed, ever have a ceremony on a Celebrity cruise ship and you get your hair done in the salon, don’t pay extra for bride’s hair.  I’d asked for clarification seven ways from Sunday, but couldn’t get a straight answer for the extra cost.  Here’s the answer: It’s just another updo.

In the end, I loved my hair, but I felt as if Melanie actually had the most elaborate do.  She had braids!  I had wanted braids in the beginning, but after I bought my dress I felt a sleeker look was more in tune, but I was still a little jealous of Melanie’s braids.

Deb and Melanie headed off once they were all gussied up. Viktoriya and I had our make-up done together.  I had only teared up once and that was because there were so few of us.  I had hoped more friends and family could come along.  I understood why they weren’t there, but a part of me wished for that backyard ceremony I had originally dreamed of.

The Dream Begins

Released from the salon chair I went back to our cabin and was greeted by my very handsome groom.  He was already in his tux and he helped me get into my wedding finery.  Together we made our way to Eden for the event we’d been planning for a year.

Come back next week for all the details!

 

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

A Late Start to a Big Day

TRAVEL THERE: OUR BIG DAY AT SEA

Usually, when I think of cruising, I think of leisurely days spiced up with exotic activities.  That’s not at all what this cruise looked like.  We’d been at a dead run since before we left and even though we’d only made it to one of our ports of call, before this day at sea, the 10.5 hour shore excursion had taken a toll on us. 

Mr. Bill Sleeps In

Though he’d been a good sport so far, I realized I had used up a lot of my vacation-stress banking account with my husband.  He needed down time and alone time – or at least alone with me time. 

I am an early riser, regardless of when I go to bed or need to wake up.  Mr. Bill is not. On a routine day at sea, I go to the gym, stroll around the decks and perhaps check out the buffet, before I come back to see what Mr. Bill is up to.  Since this was not a routine day at sea, I opted to catch up my journal and do a little reading.  Only it turned into a lot of reading and as Bill continued to sleep soundly, I began to get nervous about the how the rest of the day would turn out.

A Nervous Bride

As I lounged around the room I began to enumerate the many things that could go wrong.

  • The meeting with the event coordinator had not gone well and I already doubted she understood all the details I wanted.
  • I turned over the beautifully hand-lettered pages with the vows, scriptures and lyrics for the ceremony to her.  What if she misplaced them or forgot them.
  • They had come,  as promised, to take my gown to be pressed, but as of yet, it had not returned to our cabin.
  • I had a list of all the appointments we girls had in the salon, so I felt confident they would happen, but what if the stranger messed up my hair that I had left long just for this event.
  • What if the make-up artists made us look like clowns.

Thankfully, Bill woke up before I was able to get too crazy, but with him awake, now I had to hide just how worried I had become.  He  decided he wanted to lounge around some more before going to the buffet for a meal.  I was desperate to escape the cabin, but cooled my heels and pretended all was well.

Not Loving the Endless Veranda

On any other cruise, much of this angst would have been resolved by going out on the balcony.  I would slide open the door and be in my own little space.  My Celebrity Concierge Class Cabin came with what they called an Endless Veranda, which is supposed to be a wonderful innovation, but in truth is really no veranda at all.

To give them their due, it does make the living quarters a little larger, but if you really enjoy your balcony, as I do, then it’s not going to cut the mustard.  The Endless Veranda is a large floor-to-ceiling window at the end of your room.  The top half can be raised with the push of a button.  However, when you push that button, the window takes a while to raise and all the while, it is making a noise to match its effort.  Definitely not a good thing to have happen while your husband is sleeping, just a few steps away, on the day of your much anticipated and very expensive vow renewal.

With a sliding glass door, I am quietly in and out before hubby even has an opportunity to be disturbed.  In lieu of my sliding glass door, they did have a sort of room separator you could use, but that raised yet another problem.  The furniture they installed next to the floor-to-ceiling window was so large, there is no way to close the separator without doing a whole lot of furniture moving.  I have been told by their local rep that they got new furniture which negates this problem, but it was a big problem on this particular day.

We did, eventually head to the buffet, but I will tell you about that next week.

Accommodations, ART, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

Embarkation Events

The gangs all here!

TRAVEL THERE: GETTING SETTLED ON CELEBRITY EDGE

Over a year of planning came to fruition.  We sailed through customs almost too quickly to believe, thanks to the Celebrity App.  Viktoriya was there to greet us.  We threw our luggage in our stateroom and started enjoying our cruise.

Embarkation Luncheon

With all my cruising, it was actually only a few years ago learned about embarkation buffets, but I’ve developed a love hate relationship with them.  My first, on Norwegian, was memorable.  We boarded too late for the Viking buffet.  Then on the Royal Carribean cruise in 2017, the buffet was so bad, I felt like I was supposed to finish up all left over of the previous cruisers.

I expected more from Celebrity and they almost rose to the occasion.  Concierge Class passengers on the Celebrity Edge are treated to a special luncheon in the Cosmopolitan Dining Room.  I confess it wasn’t exactly a culinary triumph.  I had Chicken Paillard, but the Home Chef version I’d made myself was better.  It was served with French Fries. French Fries?!? Then the chocolate something for dessert was unremarkable.

Melanie was glad to be there!

Deborah, Viktoriya, Bill and I took our seats around the table and had just begun to order our meals, when to our utter delight I received a text letting us know Jim and Melanie had arrived at the dock.  They weren’t expected for hours yet, but they’d decided to skip their morning excursion and join us on the ship instead.

I was so happy I was almost in tears as I sat at the table and observed the people who had paid so much and come so far to help me celebrate my special occasion.

A Whirlwind of Activity

The next few hours were insane, which means choosing to forego a tour of Rome had been a good idea.  We did some reconnaissance around the ship, went to our rooms to unpack, did battle with the reservations people, had a lifeboat drill, checked out the sail away and generally tried to get plugged into everything so we could leave early in the morning on our first shore excursion.

The unpacking proved to be fairly pleasant.  There was room to stow away all our belongings, even if my gown for the ceremony did take up an unreasonable amount of the room.  Surprisingly, we had all kinds of gifts waiting for us in our cabin – flowers, wine and tapas from Rick Eberst, the Dallas-area sales rep for Celebrity, and chocolate-covered strawberries from our travel agency, CTC Travel.

There was a problem with a special meal the Bagleys and Viktoriya had booked.  The evening of the meal had been changed for weather issues.  They’d also been put on separate dining times by the ship’s crew and that just wasn’t right.  Viktoriya nearly went ballistic on them, but Jim managed to calm her down and eventually everything worked out.

I imagined Concierge Class would include a concierge somewhere on our own levels who was available 24/7.  Au Contrare!  He had very limited hours and you needed a degree in spelunking to find his “office,” which was actually just a room of desks which were shared by several services.  We had dinner reservations for the first night, but I had hoped to make reservations for the rest of the trip with our concierge – obviously it didn’t happen.  My only other interaction with the concierge was daily phone calls to give us the weather, which might or might not be accurate, and to inform us of the hour (yes, hour) our concierge would be available to us up in that little room.  None of his times of availability ever coincided with a time I was able to utilize.

I communicated with someone named Ranee Tin, the event coordinator.  She wanted to meet me before dinner to discuss the arrangements for the ceremony.  I should have known to worry when she acted as if it was no big thing.

The Sail Away was a non-event.  Other cruise lines make a bigger deal of it and quite frankly, Civitavecchia is a pretty boring port.  Somewhere along the way we visited the Art Gallery.  It was the only visit I would make on this cruise, which is odd for me, because I usually attend several art events when cruising.  It just wasn’t that sort of cruise for me, but Jim and Melanie almost lived down there and came home with several pieces of art.

Bill slept through most of this.  Eventually, I returned to the room and got dressed for our 8:30 dinner reservations.  Come back next week and we’ll have dinner in the Cyprus Restaurant.

 

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

Welcome to Concierge Class

Celebrity Edge
Celebrity Edge

TRAVEL THERE: THE SECOND MOST EXCITING DAY OF MY CRUISE

I’ve already told you about the most exciting day of my cruise.  That’s when Jim and Melanie told me they had already booked their cabin.  It was because we hadn’t and staterooms were filling fast.  By the end of the day, we had our Deluxe Ocean View Staterooom 1B with Veranda #5578.  The second most exciting day was when they assigned me to Concierge Class.

Concierge Class

I may never know exactly what happened with Celebrity, but I’m guessing my upgrade to Concierge Class had more to do with CTC Travel than it did with my social media footprint.  One day I was going to have to pay $100 per person not to look through an over-sized porthole and the next I had a free upgrade to Concierge Class.  I tell everybody, all the time, DO NOT take a cruise without a travel agent.  Let my upgrade to Concierge Class stand as evidence of my reasons.

I’m going to tell you a little secret though.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.  The Celebrity brochure promised “from the moment your Concierge greets you for priority check-in” I would be in for a treat.  Only there was no Concierge to greet me and no one had any idea of where to go for my priority check-in.  That wasn’t really a big deal, because I had the Celebrity App, which actually was a big deal and check-in was such a breeze that it might have well as been priority check-in with a Concierge.

My only interaction with said Concierge was a telephone call I got from him each day, where he’d give me the weather report for the next day (often inaccurate) and tell me the HOUR, yes the one hour, that he would be available the next day.  It was never an hour that I would actually be available to talk to him.  I was hoping said Concierge would help us out with dinner reservations, because we had found it particularly difficult to book shore excursions together, since the Bagley’s  had booked with another travel agent.  My brochure had assured me my “own dedicated Concierge” would be just steps away.  HA!  He was over the river and through the woods from our room, if he actually existed at all.  We stood in line with everyone else to square away our dinner reservations and I’ll just say it didn’t go well.

Other Amenities

But there was supposed be even more treats to come – like a destination seminar. Never a word about that on board.  We were also supposed to “open our door to a beautiful array of fresh fruit and a chilled bottle of Blanc de Blancs.”  Yeah, that was an exaggeration, too.  The local Celebrity sales rep, who I’ve gotten to know through CTC, did send us some hors d’oeuvres, some flowers and a bottle of pinot noir.  CTC gifted us with some chocolate-covered strawberries.  But fruit from the Concierge? Nope.

We did get a bottle of champagne, but it was quite a challenge.  On the first day, I told our room steward to go ahead and deliver it, because we had a frig and I could keep it cold.  As it turned out, we got it on the last day, not chilled, to bring home in our suitcase.  Not exactly as advertised.

They also promised afternoon delicacies, which they did deliver every afternoon.  We’d come in after an all day shore excursion and voila, we’d have a four-sectioned, covered plate waiting for us.  In each section would be a tiny sample of something odd.  We could rarely tell exactly what it was, which was better than the days that we could.  For instance, one day there was a teeny tiny little shrimp tooth-picked to a piece of bread.  Only our covered plate was not on ice or refrigerated and we had no idea how long it had been sitting there.  I’ve had food poisoning from seafood – no thank you very much.  One thing I never need more of on a cruise is food.

There was a pillow menu, but the pillows on the bed suited me fine and I wasn’t going to chase down any others.  The promised Hansgrohe massaging shower head was quite nice, however.  No complaints there and I’m not even the showering sort.  There was also a Welcome Luncheon for Concierge Class passengers which kept us from rubbing elbows with the likes of those who were staying in the Deluxe Ocean View Staterooom 1B with Veranda I’d first been assigned to and it was quite nice, but I’ll save the details about that until embarkation.

I guess I’ve fussed a little about about the short-comings of Concierge Class, but before they write about it in the brochure, they ought to do a little fact-checking.  I loved my stateroom, but the not the mostly unavailable Concierge, his destination seminar, fresh fruit, chilled bottle and daily delicacies.  As it was, I’d gotten a free upgrade, so who was I to complain.

Getting upgraded to Concierge Class proved to be more exciting than actually being in Concierge Class, and that’s too bad.  However, we’re getting closer to our departure, so come back next week and let’s talk about the gown for my vow renewal.