Possible End to Liquid Limits at Airports

10, May 2022

For 16 years we have all been used to taking out our electronic devices and limit our liquids to a quart sized bag with 100 ml/3.4 oz containers.  There is now an airport in Europe that is utilizing new technology which can eliminate that requirement.  At Shannon airport in the west of Ireland, they are using computed tomography (CT) which provides a more detailed image when scanning your items.  This new technology is also available at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.  The downside is that wherever you fly to doesn’t have this new technology yet, so you will need to follow liquid limitations at the other airport.  But use of computed tomography means you no longer need to obey the limitations of liquids.

Why hasn’t this new technology caught on like wildfire across the globe?  It is very expensive.  It cost approximately $2.6 million to install at the Shannon airport in October 2021. Liquids and electronics could now remain in bags, with no restrictions on liquid volume, and cabin bags could go through scans in new larger trays.

Just as with the CT scans we know from hospitals, the security scanners at airports replace conventional 2D X-ray scanning with much more precise 3D imaging.  Shannon Airport estimates that time spent going through its passenger security screening will be halved by the new technology.

Once more countries are able to complete full nationwide rollouts of the technology, we will start to see more airport and regions start to see the ban being lifted or relaxed — but changes to regulations will not come fast or universally.

In the United States, Leidos has been awarded a $470.7 million TSA contract to deploy checkpoint screening technology in the States.  The new technology could mean more manpower will be needed. Instead of only using one operator to look at the scans, with this new technology you could have up to four operators looking per machine.  Besides less confusion, less planning, less organizing travelers should expect quicker times spent going through security.  New York’s JFK airport has been undergoing a trial using this technology as has London’s Heathrow.

It looks to me this gradual rollout of new technology across airports means within the next decade we all could see the end of the changes to airport security that was made in 2006.  Here’s hoping the changes come sooner rather than later at an airport near you.

If Ocean Cruises are Like a Domestic Cat, What Kind of Animal is a River Cruise?

11 March, 2022

If ocean cruising is like a domestic cat, what kind of animal does that make a river cruise?  A dog?  Domestic cats have a lot of independence and rely as little as possible on their owner besides keeping them safe and fed.  Same can be said of ocean cruising.  For many ocean cruises, you can do what you like, when you like.  Dogs require far more attention, including taking them out for walks.  They enjoy a routine.  River cruises have a routine.  There is not as much freedom on river cruises as there are in ocean cruises.  Everyone follows a schedule on a river cruise.  Everyone does the same types of things at the same time.  Although almost everyone goes ashore and does an excursion at the same time, different excursions are available for different interests.  Since a river cruise experience is more curated, the day is shifted earlier.  There really are no late nights.  Everyone is up and starting their day fairly early.

River cruising is an opportunity for building community.  It is wonderful for a family to build a family bond around a river cruise.  Parents can connect with their children.  Couples can cement their relationship.  Friends can become friends for life.  Between the youth programs and activities and features onboard an ocean ship, you could hardly see your children.  Not so, on a river cruise.  There is a ton of togetherness time.

The staff get to know who you are, what are your preferences, what are your likes and dislikes, what kind of traveler you are and consequently can make more accurate suggestions.  Not only does the staff get to know you, but so do your fellow passengers.  When you are talking about hundreds instead of thousands onboard, it is a different situation.  You go on a river cruise to be a part of the group, part of the program.

Because so few people are onboard, embarking and debarking is fast, simple, and easy.  Why are there so few people?  Because of the bridges the ships go under, meaning they can only have a few floors and can’t go very high.  Because of the locks, the size of the majority of river cruises are very similar.

Are you an explorer?  River cruises go through a country; not to it.  It is fantastic to see the interior of countries in a very intensive and simple way. Because of their nature, you cannot help but be immersed in your destination.  Every day, there are briefing sessions aboard to help you learn about the places and people you are about to visit.  Ocean cruise ship have much greater variety with different layouts, features, and designs.  River cruises share similar layouts and designs because of the nature of how they travel.

Ocean cruises have a sizable variety of entertainment.  They often include specialty dining, production shows, spa, shops, and a casino.  With river cruising the destination is the entertainment.  It is far more focused on immersion of a destination.  Tours are culturally focused.  Lots of biking and hiking and walking adventures that focus on the history and culture.  With all of the hiking, biking, and walking tours you will be too tired to enjoy a Broadway-style show. River cruising is very port intensive.  It is not unusual to visit multiple ports in one day.  When you do dock, you are docked into the heart of the action. You will just walk off into the middle of everything.  The distance you cover is much less than by an ocean cruise, so it is an intensive look at a region. 

River cruises parallel park next to each other.  When not parked next to another river cruise ship, the views keep changing, instead of looking out on a vast ocean, it is various scenes of different countrysides

Stateroom Cat. AA – Room #326 – Deck 3 Portside AmaMagna – Amawaterways

There is no chance of getting sick on the river cruise.  There is barely any motion or movement on the rivers.  Consequently, there is no medical center unlike ocean cruise ships.

Both types of cruises have theme cruises.  You could experience an 80’s pop music cruise or a Broadway show tune cruise on an ocean cruise.  River cruises have food and wine tours or Christmas market tours.

River cruises tend to be more expensive.  Why?  These are smaller ships; you can’t amortize the cost as much.  You are paying to have a more intimate experience.  Also, more is included including excursions, Wi-Fi, and transfers. Between the more inclusive experience and the more curated, highly organized tour experience of a river cruise, the river cruiser makes very few decisions.  What is your daily life like?  Are you in the medical field, where your decisions are life or death?  Are you a business executive where your decisions impact the livelihood of families? Do you run your home and family?  Sick of always having to make a decision?  River cruising could be the welcome respite you need.

Trav’lin Light

11 February, 2022

No one to see…I’m free as the breeze…No one but me…And my memories

Those words of Johnny Mercer describe my method of travel, especially since I often travel solo, there is no one to take up the slack.  I need to be nimble since I could journey via plane, train, lyft, bus, and taxi.  You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap.  Pick two.

Traveling light is a philosophy. It isn’t for everybody. That is fine. This is what works for me. The biggest key is to LOVE all of your clothes that you bring, because you will be eliminating choices. You aren’t bringing a closet with you. You need to be okay with not having choices when you travel.

My self-imposed limit is 25 pounds in a 9 x 21 x 14 carry-on bag (that’ll fit overhead on a trans-Atlantic trip) and a personal bag to squeeze under the seat in front of me.  After all, I need to bring a laptop to have access for work.  After you enjoy the mobility and freedom, you’ll never go any other way.

When you carry your own luggage, it’s less likely to get lost, broken, or stolen.  When I landed in Rome, I was on my way while everyone else was staring at the luggage carousel.  When I flew home after a twelve day trip, I was the first to climb into bed.

These days, you can also save money by bringing less.  You’ll likely pay a fee for checking a second bag.  Now with financial crunches of the airline industry, it is not uncommon to be charged for all checked luggage.

How do you fit a whole trip’s worth of luggage into a small bag?  Oh, that’s easy!  Bring very little.  Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario.  Pack for the best-case scenario and just buy yourself out of a possible pickle.  On a cruise, between the ship and the ports, you’ll be able to purchase anything that’s critical.  We won’t be sailing to the deepest part of the Amazon.  If you can’t find one of your essentials, ask yourself how on Earth can the locals live without it? 

What if it is a long cruise?  As you are traveling, do one of two things.  You can bring laundry soap and clean clothes and hang dry in the room or pay to have them laundered.  Often times cruise lines have some laundry special during your voyage.

Pack your bag only 2/3rds full to leave room for souvenirs or bring along an empty featherweight nylon bag to use as a carry-on for your return flight, then check your main bag through. 

Keep it Tight!  Keep it Right!  Keep it Light!

What Kind of Traveler Are You?

4 February, 2022

Who are you? 

Over the millennia, people have been put into different groups because they share similar characteristics. Some are based on research and study while others don’t share the same rigor. Granted, I give you a framework of types of travelers which is based on anecdotal information. However, knowing this information can help you decide on what cruise line or tour company would be the best fit for you. It could also give insight into what kind of excursion to choose. It might make the difference between an outstanding versus a dud of a trip.

Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects. Information can be gleaned based on where and when you were born.  Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from where it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects.  I am an Aquarius with an Aquarius rising.  At least, that’s what I was told when a former roommate did my astrological chart.

There are different types of people.  It’s the reason why those Myers-Briggs Personality profiles are so popular. There are 16 personality types according to Catherine Cook Briggs and her mother, Isabel Myers.  They looked at where do people get their energy from.  Do you gain energy from being around others or from being alone? On the other hand, do you construct your world based on outer or inner information? This is labeled Extroversion (‘E’) or Introversion (‘I’). How do you perceive information? Do you collect information based on your five senses? Conversely, do you observe patterns and trust your gut? This is labeled Sensing (‘S’) or Intuition (‘N’).  How do you make decisions? When making decisions, do you look at logic and human values? Or, do you go by your own emotions about things? Scientists label this as Thinking (‘T’) or Feeling (‘F’).  How do you view the world? In daily life, do you enjoy a more structured existence? On the other hand, are you more of a “go with the flow” type? Researchers label this as Judging (‘J’) or Perceiving (‘P’).  Are you an ENTP or a INTJ?

Some folks subscribe to the theory that we are all one of nine enneagram types.  The enneagram is a system of personality which describes people in terms of nine types, each with their own motivations, fears, and internal dynamics.

The Enneagram is an emotionally focused system of understanding people — honing in on one’s core emotional motivations and fears. Each of the nine personality types has its own driving force, which is centered around a particular emotion.

Some Enneagram types experience strong emotions, while other types aim to avoid emotions in one form or another. However, whether running from emotions or diving into them, each type describes some aspect of emotional experience.

Similarly, I believe that there are different types of travelers.  Which one are you? 

TRAVELER TYPES

Are you the Relaxer?  The Relaxer in their daily life is a busy bee.  Some might call them a workaholic.  When it comes time to take time off, they want to make as little decisions as possible, because making decisions is how they earn a living, and they need a break.  Constantly on the go while on vacation is not their cup of tea.  Lounging on a stone thermal bed in the spa would fit this traveler as all the aches and tension of their ordinary life slip away.  They love to participate in a yoga class. Or maybe a HIIT workout would drive out all their demons.  A dive into an aroma therapy room could be just what the doctor ordered to de-stress.  A perfect excursion is lying on a beach chaise lounge chair enjoying a frosty cocktail.

The Social Voyager is open-minded.  They like to learn new things through meaningful experiences.  While they want a trip to relax, they also want to be active at times also.  The Social Voyager prefers a casual low-key vacation. For cruisers, they are going to make the most out of onboard amenities.

The Discerning Recharger expects a high level of service with great value.  They have a bucket list, and their vacation is often used to check items off.  The goal is having a unique travel experience but is ready to rest.

The Learning Family is looking for enrichment.  Each vacation they would like to go to someplace different.  They hope to enjoy activities together as a family.  One of their biggest desires is to learn about the world.  The Learning Family attempts to embrace the unfamiliar and new.

Which one do I fit into?  None of them I’d say.  I am the Adventurous Explorer.  Interested in other cultures and want to learn and engage.  The Adventurous Explorer wants to learn new things and likes the idea of something that differentiates them from their friends.  I value experiences more than material things and make travel a priority.  The Adventurous Explorer seeks authenticity.  I believe that travel can transform one’s perspective on the world.  See how another culture tackles the same issue but in a different way than one is accustomed to.  Entertain, enrich, enliven, and enlighten your life in an authentic and meaningful way through travel.

Knowing the type of traveler we are, can help us choose which cruise or tour is the best fit for us. It can also help narrow down our choices when it comes to choosing excursions. It can make the difference between a dud of a trip to one that is cherished in our memories.

What kind of traveler are you?

Flight Hacks

28 January, 2022

This is not a complete exhaustive list of how to travel while in the air, but maybe you’ll pick up an idea or three here.  Air travel is stressful and these tips should alleviate that situation for you.

Most airports do have charging centers, but they also have televisions, and most televisions nowadays have USB ports that you can use to charge up your cell phone battery.

Get to the airport early.  You never know what you might encounter.  Of course, nothing will beat the long lines through security that I had to deal with a couple of months after 9-11, but queues at the airport are not uncommon.  No one wants to miss their flight.

Airport parking is becoming overwhelmingly confusing, cost prohibitive, and limiting. Do yourself a favor and hire a Lyft or a towncar service because your buddy really doesn’t want to drop you off at the airport.  He really doesn’t.  Airports are always out of the way.

When flying, the atmosphere can become warmer or colder depending on where you are, the altitude, and how many of your fellow passengers have turned on – or off the air. So, to stay comfy, it’s best to dress for the trip and wear layers. 

Here’s something you can try to avoid that seat – head over to Expertflyer.com and create a seat alert. If somebody on your flight changes or cancels their flight, they’ll notify you, and you can switch your seat for theirs.

Original flight got cancelled?  Instead of waiting for hours on end only to very likely be disappointed by the fact that the next few flights are already fully booked – just call customer service instead. They’ll book the flight for you, and you won’t need to wait in that awful queue all day long.

The ice is brought on board and is ordered from a caterer. But the food carts where the ice is stored might be unsanitary, be careful ordering ice on flights.

If you’d like to protect yourself from germs as much as possible during your flight, then it’s best to keep the a/c above you on full blast – even if it does get a little bit chilly. The air actually helps to keep germs away. 

Another germ awareness tip, always remember to pack some disinfectant wipes, like a Clorox wipe, to clean your seat, and surfaces you’re going to be touching during your flight to make sure you’re always protected.

Instead of indulging in a glass of Coke, try drinking water or juice for the duration of your flight and save the fizzy drinks for when your feet are on the ground. That way, you’ll have less discomfort and embarrassment if your body needs to deal with some added gas.  Don’t bring liquids with you, the airport won’t let you.  Just bring an empty water bottle.  More and more there are water filling stations at the airport.  OR you could ask someone on the flight crew to fill up your water bottle for you.  I recommend an insulated one that can keep your hot beverages hot and your cold drinks cold.

If you are traveling as a pair, book the aisle and window seat. If your flight happens to be under-booked, it is improbable that someone will pick a seat between two people that they don’t know – so your chances of having some extra space are at least a little bit greater.

If you’re prone to ill feelings from turbulence, remember to pick your seat with this in mind. Choose a seat above the wing of the plane and avoid the back as that’s where you’ll feel it the most.

Doing in-seat stretches and making sure that you are getting up and walking around the plane when you have a chance will help your blood flow a little more and help you avoid the swelling.  Additionally, get yourself some compression socks to wear on flight days.

Set an alarm on your phone for a little before your boarding time.  No matter where you are in the terminal it will alert you and you can head over to board your plane.  No missing your flight!

I recommend packing some noise-canceling headphones and silicone earplugs – even the reusable ones – to block out the noise and try to enjoy your time in the air as much as possible.

Want to maintain social distancing at the airport?  You don’t necessarily have to wait for your flight at your gate.  Scope out the other nearby gates.  Is there a gate with hardly any people in it?  You could always wait there.  Pay attention to the announcements for your gate so you don’t miss out on queuing up for getting onto your plane.

All you need to do is pop a few dryer sheets into your bag. The sheets will absorb those unwanted smells and help keep your clothes smelling a lot cleaner and fresher.

Before you leave home, open up Google Maps on your phone and download offline maps for your destination. You’ll have easy and internet-free access to maps, and you’ll be able to find your way around far more easily.

If you’re a germaphobe or someone likely to catch an infection, it’s best to avoid using the blankets you receive at the start of your flight. Aside from when they come in a sealed bag, it’s highly likely that they aren’t perfectly clean.  If you want, you could always pack a small microfiber towel in your personal bag to act as a blanket.

The longer your flight, the more entertainment you’ll need to prepare to keep yourself busy. Download movies, bring a book or two, and if you enjoy journaling, that’s also a great way to pass the time and not go stir-crazy.

The solution? Portable fragrance bottles. They are smaller, easier to carry around, and far less likely to break. Most pharmacies should sell them at a reasonable price. So next time you are packing, don’t forget to transfer some of your favorite scent to a portable fragrance bottle.

People tend to turn towards their dominant hand – and because the majority of people are right-handed, the queue on the right will likely be longer. Save yourself some time and turn left – you might just skip most of that line.

Here’s one for razors.  Do yourself – and your fingers – huge favor and get yourself some binder clips. They’re a great substitute for the plastic cover, and it’s a less expensive solution than buying a new razor every time you lose the cover.

We suggest scanning your passport, ID, and any other important documentation and emailing it to yourself or saving it on your device – that way, if you do become the unlucky victim of theft or loss, you at least have an easier way of trying to get a replacement.  You’ll still need a passport, but it will make getting its replacement easier.

Did you know that due to there being less moisture way up in the air, your body tends to dehydrate faster than it would on the ground? That’s why it’s super important to keep hydrated, especially on a long, international flight. It is recommended to drink at least one cup of water every hour of your flight.

So, instead of spending a lot of extra cash on some water or tea, just pack an empty travel mug or flask and some teabags. Then all you need to do is ask one of the employees in a cafe or a member of the flight crew for some hot water, and you’ll have a much more affordable beverage.

Packing some of your favorite snacks from home means you’ll save money because everything is far more expensive at the airport.

A power bank is a portable charger that you can use to charge your phone, tablet, and other devices.  I never leave my hometown without one.

instead of having to check for an update on your flight constantly, just download the Flightboard App into your smart device and keep an eye on all of the arrivals/departures without having to leave your seat every few minutes.  It’s also very possible that your airline carrier’s app will have this same information.

If search engines or airline’s websites see you’ve searched for a particular flight before, they might just hike the prices up simply because they know you want to book your trip. So, to make sure you aren’t paying more than you should – search your flights in an incognito window that doesn’t track your cookies.

All you need to do is line the inside of your bag with cut up garbage bags, that way, you’ll avoid the misfortune of your things getting wet – and all you’ll need to do is let your suitcase dry out in the sun when the sun comes back out to play.

Just like you would at the airport, check if the TV in your hotel has a USB port – most of them do. You can use the TV to charge your device until you’re able to get to a store to replace your charging port.

Should you choose to check luggage, mark your luggage as fragile – not only will this ensure that your property is taken care of, it will also mean that your luggage will be placed on the top of the pile – meaning you’ll also be one of the first to get your things from the carousel.

Morning flights tend to have less turbulence as the heat of the day has not yet risen – the heat, which causes storms and wind, ultimately causes turbulence on planes. So, if you want to avoid turbulence, your best bet is to book an early morning flight. Also, the first flight of the day tends not to experience late departures, as the day progresses things can get backed up.

Be nice.  Be nice to your flight crew.  Honey always works better than vinegar.

Good news for those that follow this blog, you got the jump before everyone else. Follow the blog and receive more hacks, tips, tricks, and advice for when you travel the world to your next favorite destination.

Hopefully, you have found all of this helpful.  Have a great trip and if you want to go to Universal Parks and Resorts or experience having your room, food, and entertainment all with one fare, contact me to chat about cruises.

Part III and Finale: Call Me the Emily Post of Travel

21 January, 2022

These are the last ten out of thirty guidelines for travel etiquette. Etiquette promotes kindness and consideration, giving us the confidence to deal with different situations in life. It is how we are able to navigate being with others, especially ones who come from different backgrounds and cultures. It is a life skill. At the end, enjoy a wonderful, new announcement.

  1. Don’t let your young children go running around the ship unattended. A large ship is like a city, and it still presents hazards for unaccompanied minors.  Other cruisers might get annoyed if you let your children run around unsupervised near the pool, movie theatre or other play areas. Keep your kids in line for their own safety and for the cruising pleasure of all aboard.
  2. If you are a smoker, check in advance where the designated smoking areas are on your ship – and stick to them.  Nothing creates more fear than a fire on board.  Don’t be the cause of a fire due to smoking in unauthorized areas, like your balcony.
  3. No touching others in the bathroom in any form.  No hugs, no handshakes, nothing.
  4. Always face towards the front doors of an elevator.
  5. Hopefully you will feel at home on your cruise but that’s no reason to act like you are at home, with the curtains shut and no-one but the cat to see you.  Wandering between cabins in dressing gowns, going for lunch topless (men) or in bikinis (women), or wearing extremely revealing swimwear should be avoided. Consider your fellow cruiser.
  6. Always be on ship time.  Your cruise ship must stick to its schedule, so if you are late for embarkation, the ship may leave without you.
  7. In a buffet, keep your hands to yourself.  Do not touch the food.  Do not touch anyone with your tongs.
  8. They are at the beach. They are on your cruise ship too. Chair Hogs! They are evil! Some people get up early and put a towel on a recliner in a prime spot of the deck, either by the pool or by the bar. Then they go off and enjoy breakfast, or the spa, or other activities, all while hogging up the chair so no one else can sit there.  Please do NOT do this.  This makes me angry so much that if I notice you are nowhere near by and have left your belongings on a lounger for longer than 20 minutes, I may move them to another spot or bring it to the attention of the crew and have the crew handle it.
  9. Don’t be that guy.  The ship may seem large, but we all can’t escape.  Conduct yourself accordingly.  Have real conversations.  Be someone I would want to be engaged with.
  10. In general, you are not alone on this ship.  Be mindful of others.  Be kind. Be generous.

Destination Douglas is now a Universal Parks and Resorts specialist. In addition, to cruises I can guide you through the maze of a Universal vacation. Just shoot me an email at douglas@reachforthemagic.com or call me at (267) 475-4676. Coming very soon I will be handling Princess Cruises. Shortly after that, I will be also happy to help you with Ama Waterways and Holland America cruises. In the meantime, I’ve got to think of what to discuss next week.

Part II: Call Me the Emily Post of Travel

14 January, 2022

The second 10 guidelines of travel etiquette. Next week are the last etiquette guidelines.

  1. Please do NOT be a hands-off parent.  Do not let your child run wild throughout the ship.  I’m not blaming the children.  Just because you are on vacation, doesn’t get you off the hook for being in charge of your family.  Don’t shift the burden of parenthood onto others.
  2. Do not flip your long hair behind you over your chair on the airplane.
  3. Be on time picking up your children when the Youth Club is closing. The youth counselors may well have other duties they need to get to after their shift is done. Babysitting during the evenings very likely will entail extra fees.
  4. Respect others’ privacy.  Do not lean over.  Do not read their reading materials or watch their device.
  5. Every ship conducts a muster drill.  Take care of it as soon as you are on board, then you have the rest of the cruise to enjoy your time.  Every cruise holds a training session on the first day which shows you where to find the lifeboats and how to conduct yourself in case of an emergency.
  6.  Be mindful of how thin the walls of your hotel or stateroom are.  Keep your voices to a low level so as not to disturb your neighbors.  Remember, there are people inside these rooms you have decided to have a conversation outside of.  Use a hallway voice and don’t stop outside of a stateroom to have a conversation.  Be mindful of your voice volume level in the hotel hallways and stateroom decks.
  7. When you are in a theater be mindful of your fellow guests and don’t conduct loud conversations, use your electronic devices, act like being still out on the pool deck.
  8. Babies and toddlers who aren’t potty trained cannot usually go in the ship’s swimming pools, for obvious reasons. And if they do and they cause a mess your fellow passengers will never forgive you.  If a line accepts young passengers, chances are they can use a splash area on board.
  9. Do not scroll through photos on another’s phone.  Just view the picture you were invited to see.  Scrolling may result in some surprising photos and prove to be embarrassing to the two of you.
  10. Don’t stop and take pictures clogging up a line or walkway.  If there are other people around, take one picture only and move on.

Check back next week for the last 10 guidelines of travel etiquette

Call Me the Emily Post of Travel

7 January, 2022

30 Guidelines of Travel Etiquette

That’s right. We’re right back into another multipart series. Today will start Part I with the first 10 tips for travel etiquette. You probably could skip reading these guidelines of etiquette if you just remember to be kind and courteous and think of your fellow travelers besides yourself. But just in case, you might want to review these guidelines. If you manage to slog through all of that, there is a big announcement at the end.

Guidelines of Traveling Etiquette

1.  If you are on a plane, and you have a 2-year-old child in front of you, you answer their toy phone.  You play along and play back with the child.  A happy entertained child on a plane is more enjoyable than a crying 2-year-old throwing a tantrum.

2. Tipping is an American custom.  American cruise lines expect you to tip your crew.  All of the cruises I deal with add an automatic daily tip added to your onboard bill or have the tip included into your total fare (like Celebrity and Virgin Voyages). The funds are pooled and then divided amongst cabin stewards, dining crew, and housekeeping staff.  Should you have a beverage package, the tip is included into the price of the package.  While on the ship, you only should tip for service that is above and beyond what is expected.  However, this is not needed.  It is a way of showing your appreciation.  Waiters are not the only people who may help to make your cruise pleasurable. There are masseuses, entertainers, babysitters, tour guides, and crew members such as the laundry staff.

3. Treat the crew with respect.  Always make requests with a nicely formed question.  Good cruise ship etiquette means taking a deep breath, remembering you’re on a beautiful ship in the middle of a gorgeous ocean, and relaxing. It means remembering that your problem is likely minor in comparison to the people back home who had to go to work today.  Refrain from chewing a crew member out.  Calmly and politely explain your concerns.

4. Drink responsibly.  Do not be the town drunk.  I know many of you have a drink package and want to make the most of it.  But really, monitor your consumption for the love of your health and your fellow passengers.

5. Wash your hands.  Be respectful of the health of others, if not just yourself.

6. We all share the hallway.  Cruise ships try to make the most of the space that they have, consequently these hallways are narrow. Please do not hog up the entire hallway and be oblivious to others around you.  Please walk in a single file.  Taking up the entire passageway is rude to your fellow passengers.  Your moseying behavior and chatting away with your companions may drive your fellow passenger crazy. 

7. Be nice to the photographers.  A polite no thank you will do just fine, if needed.  I’m a narcissist so this is never an issue for me.

8. In the post-pandemic world handshakes are OUT.  Tap the elbow instead.  Should your hand transmit germs/viruses, you won’t be touching your infected hands to your face.

9. When you are on a plane, if the cabin lights are all on, then move your seat into an upright position.

10. Even if you have a suite with a balcony on a non-American cruise line, it’s recommended that you err on the side of caution and leave your nude sunbathing habits at home. You are sharing a relatively small space with a large number of people with disparate customs and standards. Try to be respectful of others, even when their customs are different from your own. 

Yay! You made it to the end. Announcing that starting today, MSC Cruises have been added to the portfolio of vacations offered by Reach for the Magic Destinations and I will be happy to discuss with you this Swiss-Italian global cruise line making a surge into the North American market.

Fear is the Flip Side of Getting Out

5 January, 2022

The whole article deserves to be read, not just a click bait headline. This is such an important topic; I’ve decided to publish an article in addition to my regular once a week schedule. Please check out this article by fellow blogger, Matt Hochberg from Royal Caribbean Blog.

Top untrue myths about Omicron variant and going on a cruise ship right now | Royal Caribbean Blog

Part II: 17 Ways for Better Cruise Photography

3 January, 2022

This is the second of a two-part series. This post contains nine tips for better photography, not just for cruise ships, but for all types of travel. I must admit, some of these tips I co-opted from the Wandering Ambivert. For more clear and concise tips for photography follow their blog, Wandering Ambivert (wandering-ambivert.com).

  • Shoot through something.  Adjust your aperature to a very low setting like f/3.5.  Shoot through leaves, through flowers, etc.
  • Don’t disregard bad weather.  Capture unique moments.  Clouds soften the light.  Cloudy days can make for great pictures.  Create interest by having a variety of lighting conditions, if possible.  Pick the time to shoot.  Best light is at either sunrise or sunset.  Don’t shoot into the sun.  Keep the sun at your back.  Always make note of your light source.
  • Prove you’re on cruise ship.  Shots of uniquely cruise ship events/things/places.  Shoot a row of lifeboats.  Shoot that life preserver.  Shoot the atrium stairwell.
  • You do need to account for movement of your camera.  Excessive movement will lead to blurry photos.  Without equipment, use your nose, nature’s tripod to steady your shot.  Lean against a railing or banister.  Use your arms close to your body.  Check out Gorillapod.
  • Make a plan.  What do you want to capture?  Smiling faces?  Ship architecture?  Cuisine/drinks?  The scenery/landscape? Culture/history?
  • Go closer.  Shots of architectural detail such as doors, carvings, etc. work well.  Colorful items in markets or close ups of food are excellent subjects.  But be careful – avoid zooming in too much.  This could lead to very pixilated shots.  Zoom in slightly.
  • Hold down the shutter a little longer will get a second photo which may be sharper than the original because you are more stable.
  • Don’t forget your travel mates.  You are trying to capture memories.  What would your memories be without these awesome subjects?  Don’t be shy about asking people to take your picture.  Look for someone who looks like they enjoy taking pictures.  This way you will avoid BIG errors being made.  Offer to do the same in exchange.
  • Always back up everything.  Either synching a phone, copying to an external drive or sending them up to a cloud could be your back up solution.  Using multiple memory cards is an option.

Most importantly have fun while capturing memories. Remember, like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get.

Adventure Awaits!