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.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Museums, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Back to Naples

Happy nappers on the way back to Naples

TRAVEL THERE: WRAPPING UP THE DAY

Our ten and a half hour baptism by tourism was drawing to and end.  We were treated to one more shopping opportunity.  This one had to do with Limoncello liquor and came with another restroom visit, but this restroom required an entry fee.  Bill didn’t realize that when he he headed up the stairs.  A small personal drama ensued.

Lost in Pompeii

So, we heard all about the wonders of Limoncello and several people bellied up to the bar to take some home.  Bill headed to the restroom, but I didn’t need to go, so I browsed around the little shop near the bottom of the stairs.  Bill was supposed to get me on his way out, but somehow a restroom that required euros damaged his thought process.  He headed out of the place and forgot all about me.

After I’d looked at everything in the store about 75 times I started to wander around a bit.  I had someone check the restroom to see if Bill was inside.  I walked every inch of the building several times.  I kept telling myself that he wouldn’t have left without me, but it became apparent that he actually had.

The ‘being lost’ rule in my family had always been, stay where you last saw someone, because if you start wandering around you’ll never be found.  The lesson had stuck with me and even though it was apparent Bill was nowhere in the building I kept walking around looking for him.  Problem was, Bill was not in my family of origin, so he didn’t know the rules.

I finally worked up my nerve and wandered outside to look for him.  He was nowhere in sight.  I finally saw some people from our bus, but no one that I knew.  I strolled over to chat them up, hoping my desperation didn’t show.  Before too long other people from our own little group began to show up, but none of them was Bill.  I was relieved, because others had seen him since I had, but I still wanted my husband.

He showed up happy as a clam unaware that I was on the edge of being distraught.  He hadn’t missed me, didn’t realize he’d abandoned me in the shop and he felt no remorse about the terror I had been dealing with.  It was all well and good to tell me everything was alright, but it wasn’t doing anything for the adrenaline pumping through my veins.

We climbed back on the bus to go back to Naples and I tried to get back into the rhythm of having fun, but it had been pretty upsetting. I did eventually get over it, but if you’ve had a similar experience, you know that you really, really want to be mad at someone for something, even though you know there’s really no need for your angst.

Back on Board

Once back on board the ship, some of our group visited the always-open Oceanside Buffet for an afternoon snack, but food didn’t even sound good to me.  I went back to the cabin and got gussied up for the evening.

Bill and I love on board entertainment, so we caught an evening performance in the theater called Kaleidoscope.  It was much better than the Whitney Houston thing – very Cirque de Soleil.  I know the Bagleys were still very much involved in the whole Art Gallery scene.  They were always showing up at the last minute saying they’d been there picking out frames or arranging shipment or whatever.  I’m not sure what the girls got up to, but they really liked having drinks and people-watching.

Dinner was at the Tuscan Restaurant, which meant we ate Italian.  Exhaustion had set in and I couldn’t tell you what I ate or whether I liked it or not.  My journal says we had a perfectly lovely evening, so I’ll have to leave it at that.  After the meal, some of us went to Eden to see something called Revelation, but it was late and we were tired, so we didn’t stay long.

The next morning was our day at sea, the one in which we’d celebrate our 25th Anniversary with a Vow Renewal.  Come back next week for that for sure!

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, International, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Pushing on to Pompeii

TRAVEL THERE: FINALLY POMPEII

A short bus ride from Sorrento took us to Pompeii and you guessed it, another shopping opportunity.  This time it was cameos and they had my attention, but first I had to visit the restroom.  On the way out, I did peek at a few of the price tags.  I quickly realized the amount represented was one I was unwilling to pay for more jewelry.  I love the stuff, but I have so much of it I go years without wearing some the pieces.  Others in our group did submit to the temptation of the beautiful pieces of handiwork and I’m glad they did.  Obligatory shopping out of the way, it was time to visit the ruins of Pompeii

Paolo is wearing the white hat and blue shirt near the center of the photo.

Best Guide Ever 

So far, besides the heat, crowds and seasickness (none of which Paolo had any control over) we’d had a pretty good day of touring.  I’d figured out that we had a pretty darned good guide.  He had a great personality.  He spoke impeccable English.  He actually cared about his tourists and was proactive about seeing they had a good day.  Obligatory shopping was available, but not shoved down our throats.

So far, there hadn’t been much in the way of historical information to pass on, but what he had shared was at least reliable and polite.  However, it wasn’t until we actually entered the ruins that I figured out just how extraordinary he was.  This guy was a professor teaching Italian history at some Italian university.  He could have had us calling him Dr. Paolo, but he just wasn’t that pretentious.  It was sort of like we were a group of American acquaintances and he was showing us around for the sake of friendship.

As soon as we entered the ruins, it became something completely different.  We were in a place that he loved and was very knowledgeable about.  He shared his information with us like a boy proud of scoring in futbol.  I heartily wished I had a whole day to spend with him at this site, rather than just time for a quick stroll through one section.

How amazing this place is!  You must go.  It’s not like Capri – get there if you’re nearby.  No, this is put-it-on-your-bucket-list good.  Start making definite plans to get there.

I wish there was a way to share just how good Paolo was.  He made the place come alive.  He explained what a building was used for.  If it was a home, he described the sort of person who would live there, what his schedule for the day would be, what he would wear, what he would eat, who lived in his home with him, how to know whether he was important or not, who came to visit at what time and where the owner would go when he left his home.  He talked about the kind of food served in cafes and the bread baked in the bakery ovens.  He pointed out architectural advances and items we use in our buildings today.

I soaked it in like a sponge.  I wish I’d thought of recording him so I could listen to all he said again.  I loved walking around the city and though it had died many centuries ago, it still seemed to vibrate with energy.

I’m rambling now.  I will show you some photos from the ruined city to spark your imagination.  If you join us next week, I’ll get us back to the boat for some Italian food.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, International, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Giardini di Augusto

The Farglioni from Gidini di Augusto

TRAVEL THERE: A MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEW

I couldn’t find much back story to Giardini de Augusto.  A rich European industrialist is responsible for its creation and it is the primary attraction in the town of Capri.  History is not all that makes a site worth visiting.  I’m glad I went.  If you get the opportunity, you should, too.

Watch for It on the Left

If you go on your own, you can probably just follow the crowds across the town to get from the Piazza Umberto I.  In the final stretch you will need to be a little more careful.

A Lemonade Stand on Capri

There’s a perfumery on this path and not far from it, this lovely lemonade stand.  Can you believe the size of those lemons?  I was told they are organic and they are the size of a grapefruit.  Once you see these two landmarks, keep a close eye on the left.  A very small entry way and an equally small bule tile sign are all that warn you that you have arrived.  I’m quite sure the small street continues to who knows where, but you want to stop at the garden.

Views to Die For

The three stone in the picture above are the Farglioni or Stacks, as seen from the Augustus Garden.  It really is an outstanding view – one you could spend a day enjoying, but it’s not all that’s there.  It’s nothing grand and expansive like Dallas’ Arboretum & Botanical Garden.  Just a verey well kpt little garden where tourists come to take pictures.

Once again, I wished to be there without the tourists.  Even though I am not a fan of lemons, I was tempted to try Capri’s version of the concoction and perhaps shop in the perfumery.  It was nice to contemplate sipping on a refreshing drink and enjoying the view.

Here’s what I mean.

More Crowds

Back to the Piazza

Paolo had cut us loose in the garden with instructions to be back at the Piazza at a certain time.  We’d lost Deb and Vik somewhere along the way and we couldn’t find them in the garden anywhere, so we had to assume they’d already headed back.  Bill and I took our leisure strolling along with the Bagleys.

We began to appreciate Paolo more and more.  We’d wondered why he’d raced at such a pace across the island, but it soon became clear.  For one thing, this sidewalk had not been nearly as crowded as we made our way to the garden.  For another, the temperature was rising with great speed.  It was downright hot.

The crowds are concentrated at the gardens and in the Piazza.  Between the two points we were able to stroll along in relative peace, even if we were very, very hot.  The town of Capri is lovely.  I wanted to linger, buy a gelato and do some shopping, but my companions just wanted to get back to the Piazza.

The line for the Funicular was still daunting!

At the Piazza the Bagleys peeled off in search of adult beverages and public restrooms.  Bill and I went to the assigned meeting spot and enjoyed the view.  Eventually, everyone was back together.  Paolo showed up with our return tickets for the funicular and told us what time to meet him at the ferry for Sorrento.

Once down at Marina Grande, we split up again.  The Bagley’s were still interested in adult beverages and I believe the girls were shopping.  Bill and I wandered down a side street and got some great pictures.  Below you’ll see a mixture of the photos we took in the Piazza and some from the charming side street.

Next we’ll take the ferry to Sorrento, so come back next week.

 

 

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Getting to the Isle of Capri

Welcome to the Port of Naples

TRAVEL THERE: THE HURRY UP AND WAIT CONTINUES

While cruises provide many wonderful memories, there is also a lot of mundane rigamarole in between those memorable moments.  This is especially true on big ships like the Celebrity Edge.  You can’t just leave your room, grab a quick bite and start your tour.  That’s one of the reasons I prefer river cruising.  In an hour you can get up, have breakfast and be on your way.  On this particular morning we’d been going since 6 AM and hours later we were just now leaving our elegant boat.  It just takes time to process all these people.

Heading Ashore for Another Boat Ride

Our shore excursion group trotted off the boat and across a parking lot to a ferry pier.  Our guide was a jolly sort, but at this point we had no way to know we’d happened upon the best guide for the trip Paolo of Aloschi Brothers .  In fact, he was the best guide I ever had.  I’d like to hire him for the rest of my travels for the rest of my life – but we didn’t know that then.

As we entered the area for boarding the ferry, Bill revealed he didn’t have his Dramamine.  He said he didn’t realize we were going on a boat ride.  Hadn’t we sat there in Montreal’s airport bar and discussed just that thing.  Hadn’t he been the one who listed off all the forms of transportation we’d be taking for the tour?  Not much we could do at this juncture.

Bill is highly susceptible to seasickness and it has ruined many a shore excursion for him.  If I were him, I would have the Dramamine with me every second I was on a cruise, but Bill believes on traveling light and only carrying what you are absolutely going to need.  That he didn’t have Dramamine was somehow became my fault, though he didn’t say that outright.  I was sorry for him, but a little ticked at the same time.

I had another responsibility, too.  As soon as we hit shore, my 4G network international phone plan kicked in and all the Instagram post notifications for the day were dinging at me.  A part of me was grateful for the technology allowing me to do my job on the other side of the world, but the other part wished Instagram was a little more cooperative.  Having to post from my phone at the given time, rather than automatically as the other social channels allow, bugs me when I am at home in my office.  To interrupt my vacation for it really chafed.

All Aboard the Jet Foil

Boarding the jet foil which would ferry us to Capri, our companions went up to the top deck, but Bill felt he’d do better at fighting seasickness downstairs.  He sat down, closed his eyes and focused on not being sick. I’m not sure what I expected of the watercraft.  It had sounded quite exciting in the brochures, but was really just a ferry.  It was fast, but stuck under the deck, I couldn’t tell much about the journey.

Bill was successful in his battle against seasickness, but few others were.  About halfway through the 90 minute ride, the vomiting began all around us.  I noticed the greatest number of passengers with us below were Asians and they all seemed to be sick, to a man, so much so that the crew ran out of the ability to keep up with it.  I’ve never been so glad to get off a boat.I was near to becoming sick myself and it had nothing to do with seasickness.

Finally, we were on the Island of Capri.  Certainly things were about to get better, weren’t they?  Come back next week and find out.

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Our First Celebrity Shore Excursion

Shore Excursion Ahead

TRAVEL THERE: THE HURRY UP AND WAIT OF IT ALL

Six AM comes early, but when you have a ten and a half hour shore excursion planned, that’s when you have to get up.  We had breakfast at the buffet and I thought we were right on schedule, up until the time Bill decided to hit the buffet one more time.  While he ate his French Toast, I fretted a bit – unnecessarily I might add, because Bill and I were the first of our group to show up at the meeting point for shore excursions.  Deborah and Viktoriya were right behind us, but no Bagleys?

Where Were the Bagleys?

The way things were set up on Celebrity Edge, there were multiple groups going on the same shore excursions.  So, a representative of your small group had to go to a table at the front of the room with all of your tickets to be put in a shore excursion group together.  We couldn’t just go and say, “There will be six of us.”  You had to have the tickets in hand.

If I were fretful at the breakfast table as Bill enjoyed his French Toast, then it would be fair to say, I was having a panic attack now.  You’re always worried about people who aren’t where they are supposed to be, but then there’s also a level of irritation, too.

When we all signed up for this shore excursion online, the Bagleys ended up being scheduled for the same tour, but a different time.  We’d kept badgering away at our various travel agents to get on the same tour time and something had eventually worked, because the week before we left, we were all assigned the same time.  Now all that work had been jeopardized.  The staff was announcing, repeatedly, that spots were disappearing and we might not all get in the same excursion group.

Jim and Melanie huffed and puffed into the room ten minutes late.  Bill grabbed their tickets and hurried down to the shore excursion table.  The problem was a fairly normal one for cruises.  Something was lost.  The cabins do have a lot of storage, but it’s drawers over there and a closet here and a cabinet over there.  You unpack between activities and it is easy to forget where something is.  The something lost in this situation was Melanie’s meds, so it wasn’t like she could just wear another outfit or go around without a particular color of lipstick.  She had to have the meds.

Everything’s OK

Bill came back with the colorful stickers which designated all of us to the same shore excursion group.  Hooray, Bill!  Again, all my worry had been for naught.  When am I ever going to learn that!

The hurry up and wait syndrome had been repeated.  We’d hurried to make their deadlines and now we were stuck sitting in a theater, waiting for a signal to start our fun.

The Cruise Director showed up and began to engage the restless crowd.  He started with that annoying game which looks for the loudest group saying good morning.  Why do people do that?  We go through it at church some Sundays and I want to punch someone.  On this particular morning I was full of spit and vinegar, so I roused our group to make as much noise as we could.  Had there been a prize we would have won.  The Cruise Director was somewhat taken aback.  He said he’d never quite heard anyone as loud as us.

Soon we were on our way to the gangplank, but the hurry up and wait continued.  Come back next week and let’s go to the Isle of Capri.

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

The Celebrity Edge Cyprus Restaurant

On Board the Edge

TRAVEL THERE: BEST RESTAURANT ON BOARD

The presence of multiple dining opportunities you don’t have to pay extra for was nice and seems to be the going trend on cruises, but I still like traditional cruise dining, where you are assigned to a table and a time for the duration.  We’ve tried the specialty dining you have to pay for and found it to be much ado (and expense) about nothing.  The Celebrity selection of complimentary (as if anything were actually complimentary on a cruise) restaurants was nice and the staff was wonderful, but it just wasn’t the same as having your own table and your own waiter for the duration.

The Menus

In each restaurant the menu is divided up into three sections.  The first selection of meals are specific to that particular restaurant.  As far as I was concerned, they could have done away with the other two sections and expanded this one.  During our first visit to a restaurant, we’d select our favorites from this specialty menu, but when you returned to that restaurant, the menu had not changed.  You’d already had your favorite choice and the others might be items you have no interest in.  So for me, this was a fail.

The second section is Celebrity Classics – meals Celebrity serves across their fleet.  The third section featured dishes specific to the Edge, but available to all the restaurants.  I still would have preferred to have an extended choice in the specialty section.  If they wanted to offer options, then the Celebrity Classics would have fit the bill.  The other choices were unnecessary, in my opinion.

Cyprus – Greek Seafood

We loved the Cyprus Restaurant.  Greek food is a favorite with us, as is seafood, so how could we lose.  Well, a bow renewal bride-to-be can be having a well-served case of pre-wedding jitters, but we’ve already covered that.

Our whole crew had dinner together this evening.  We figured out how our wine programs were going to work and made our way through the menus.  I chose the moussaka as an appetizer.  It’s usually an entree choice, but the Cyprus version is a very small serving, so it would not do as entree.  This is perhaps the best dish I had on board.

For an entree I had sea bass and it was delicious.  The dessert was another disappointment.  We discovered the buffet had amazing desserts, but the restaurant desserts were disappointing, every single time.  By the end of the cruise, we were having all our desserts in the buffet.  This particular meal had some kind of fuzzy chocolate thing with blueberries.  Downright weird.

We were very impressed with the way the Wine by the Bottle program worked, even if we were a little disappointed in the wine selection.  You could have as many bottles going as you wanted and they were available to you wherever you were on the ship.  We never tried to access them in a bar, but it worked well at whatever restaurant we landed in.  The Bagleys paid extra to get the premium wine choices and I couldn’t tell that their choices were any better than our standard program had.

After dinner we all went our separate ways.  Bill wanted to see what the entertainment was like.  The highlight show that evening was a tribute to Whitney Houston.  We’d just watched a documentary on Whitney Houston and while she was certainly a musical virtuoso, I walked away from it disappointed in the life she lived.  Unfortunately, the artist covering Whitney’s songs didn’t deserve much praise for her singing either.  She was a pretty good singer, but not good enough to attempt Whitney’s signature songs.

From there we checked out a performance in Eden.  It was a couple doing gentle covers of Beatle love ballads.  They weren’t too bad, but it was late and the music put us to sleep.  Time to call this one a day!  We arrive in Naples next week, so don’t miss it!

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.

 

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.