An Unexpected Day at Sea on the Viking Star

Having the right travel mindset is crucial to enjoying travel when things don’t go as planned.  Today, for instance, I’m on the Viking Star, and I expected to be photographing the beautiful ruins of Selunite on the island of Sicily.  Instead, I am sitting enjoying some cappuncino and planning some cha cha lessons with my husband for later this afternoon.


View from the Viking Star as we pass the Sicily area

Last night we left the port of Civitavecchia (about 2 hours outside Rome) to travel to the port of Trapani on Sicily.  We had rough seas; I’ve got a cast iron sea stomach (as does everyone in my party) but we definitely were doing zig-zag walking all over the boat. We woke to seas that were still rough; rough enough to close the therapy pool in the spa (which we had planned to use when the spa opened at 8). We (my husband and I) instead used the steam room and snow grotto (yep, real snow!) and saunas.  We did have the place to ourselves.

After a fine buffet breakfast and two Viking talks in the main theater on the ports of Tunis and Cagliari, we were heading back to our room to get ready for our stop in Sicily, when the captain came over the loud speaker.  The news was not good…due to high Continue reading

Hurricane Matthew, Natural Disasters and Travel

Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole wind speed, courtesy of NHC

Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole wind speed, courtesy of NHC

When I book travel, I generally don’t think about natural disasters. Well, maybe a little bit. I won’t book an island with an erupting volcano (unless it’s the Big Island of Hawaii) and I won’t book a place that has just had a major natural disaster (like Nepal after the recent earthquakes). Otherwise, natural disasters don’t usually cross my mind.

Except that when I booked my recent Carnival Cruise to the Western Caribbean, hurricanes actually DID cross my mind and were a topic of discussion with the friends I booked the cruise with. We realized that by booking a Caribbean cruise in September we were booking right into hurricane season. We weighed the pros and cons. On the “pros” side, the timing for the cruise was right for us: the show I was Assistant Director for was ending a week before the cruise, and no one else was performing in//rehearsing for a show. Also, there are less children on the boat at the end of September because school is in session (we are empty nesters, so a plus for us).  Another pro was that cruises to the Caribbean during September are generally cheaper, so we could get a great deal for our booking. Continue reading

Boarding Day on the Carnival Breeze

View from the Carnival Breeze at Galveston Port Sail Away

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas at Galveston Port, seen from the Carnival Breeze after boarding.

As our fabulous cruise director Mike has said, cruising is all about Food, Friends and Fun (I knew I liked Mike When he appeared in a suit made entirely out of Union Jacks last night), and my first day aboard the Carnival Breeze did not disappoint at all.

Let me back track to the morning of boarding the boat so I can catch everyone up. We (“we” on this cruise generally refers to Mr. Travelholic and myself, and often also to our theater friends Tamra, Rhonda, Darrin and Bill who are cruising with us) opened up our eyes at the Four Points Sheraton in Galveston. Although the hotel disappointed the night before (non-working WiFi) it was hard to stay cranky when opening our eyes up to the waves and water right outside our window.  We skipped breakfast at the hotel (eating right before you get on a cruise ship seems redundant) tried the free hotel coffee (blah) and packed into our taxi for the boat at 10:00 AM.

Two tips when boarding Carnival at Galveston. You get to pick your boarding window, so pick an early one if you are like my group and can’t wait to get going, and order your taxi the night before since thousands of people will all be heading to probably more than one boat the morning of your cruise (Liberty of the Seas was also leaving Galveston yesterday).

Our hotel was very close to the port and we made it by 10:15 (boarding window 10 to 10:30). We love Carnival’s new staggered boarding procedure…there were no lines at all, and we so breezed right through the boarding process. The Continue reading

On My Way To Galveston, Texas

Galveston Pleasure Pier the night before our cruise

Galveston Pleasure Pier the night before our cruise

I’m quite literally on my way since I’m typing this on my iPad, on a United flight heading to Houston. I’m blogging off line though because United wanted $9.99 for two hours of WiFi, which I refuse to pay. I’d pay $2 an hour or even $2.99 an hour (as I’ve been able to do on some flights) but $5 an hour? Nope, I’ll pass on the WiFi and type off-line and read on my lovely, lightweight Kindle Paperwhite instead. Blog shall be posted from hotel WiFi.

I am heading to Galveston, Texas (with Mr. Travelholic and theater friends) where tomorrow morning we’ll board the Carnival Breeze for an 8 night cruise to the Western Caribbean!  Technically we could have tried to fly in early tomorrow morning and boarded the boat in the late afternoon, but we didn’t want the stress of possibly missing the boat if there was a plane delay or cancellation. Or massive traffic. Or a meteor strike.   Continue reading

Packing: The Bane of my Travel Existence

Today is packing day for my Carnival Breeze cruise to the Western Caribbean! I really love travel, but I really hate packing; this is an annoying dichotomy because of course I need to pack for every trip.  I’m not one of those people who pack a week in advance for a trip, but I”m also not one of those people who pack the morning of the plane flight (Mr. Travelholic; I’m looking at you; I wonder if most men pack at the last minute like my husband does?).

Luggage I'm Packing Today

My Delsey and Travel Pro Bags

In any event, I usually like to pack two days out which gives me enough time to make any purchases of last-minute needed items. However, today is not the first day I’ve THOUGHT about packing; there are a few preliminary things I do about a week prior to a  trip:

1. Figure out what size I am for the trip.  My closet has a full wardrobe in sizes 8, 10 and 12 thanks to fluctuations from age, dieting,  medications (prednisone, get back ye devil med) and such. For this trip, 10 it is.

2. Figure out if there are any camera-related or other items I need to order off of, and then order those items via Amazon Prime in time to arrive for the journey.  For this trip I needed a case for my DxO One (I lost my case  on a recent trip) and a couple of SD cards. And I bought a new carry-on that I’ll discuss below.

3. Figure out if I need to do any shopping out of town (which I did for this trip; see my post on my San Francisco trip).

4. Take in any dry cleaning for clothes that I want to pack.

5. Make a list of anything I need to buy locally (good DEET bug spray–don’t want Zika for this trip–and a gentle SPF sunscreen for faces); I usually make a drug store run for such things right before the trip.

So, with all my pre-packing chores done, I’m ready to pack today.  One of the things I’ve learned from years of travel is Continue reading