Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cruise Planning and Organization

So many people have asked me thru the years how I keep things so organized and how do I keep track of every thing.

Many years ago a good friend who also loves to cruise showed me her Cruise Binder and I have done something similar but tweaked it a bit to more of my needs.

Here is a short video I did up about my cruise binder on my Youtube Channel.

Make sure to check it out and share it with your cruise friends.

Link to Youtube video

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trip to South America - Florida

With the trip coming up I wanted to let you know a bit about our pre cruise information and details.  I decided to write this blog before we left so I can link the hotel website, car rental, port details etc.

First we should start with the fact we are flying to Florida from Vancouver, yeah!!!  I can't remember the last time we flew from Vancouver to Florida.  Well I can remember it was when Princess use to do our air and they would put us up in a hotel the night prior for free.  That was like our 1st, 2nd and 3rd Princess cruise, and that was a long time ago.  But back then when Princess organized the flights we use to have to fly East to Toronto or Montreal then South to Florida.  We hated that itinerary, we encountered flight delays and missed connections because of this routing.  Soon we started planning our own flights and with that it was always more economical to fly out of Seattle.

So back to this trip.  

Quite a few months ago we booked this air with United.  We leave at 6:24 am and get into Fort Lauderdale around 5:30 pm, which is really 2:30 our time.  We have a one hour connection in Houston.

We decided to rent a car in Fort Lauderdale cause there are so many trips in port leaving that weekend that hotels were very expensive.  Hotels that we normally pay around $75 a night were asking over $200 a night.  I don't think so....  

So we booked a car for $15 a day thru Priceline and got Alamo, we decided to upgrade to a full size vehicle for a nominal fee since we will spend the next day with our friend Barb and Craig.  

We finally got a hotel that we were able to book thru Priceline about two months ago.  We knew because we had a car we could look further afield.

We won a bid at the Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek.  It is about a 12 minute drive from the pier.  We got it for $90 a night and that includes Wifi, and free parking and the rooms are very large with numerous amenities.

We have never stayed at this hotel before and I am sure it will do the trick for the two nights we are in Fort Lauderdale.

The next day Craig found an Everglades tour for just the four of us.  Everglades Safari Park is the company and we are going on a one hour private air boat ride for $250 total.

After the tour we will get some lunch and then head to a local Target to pick up some sundries that we will need for the long voyage.  We decided to not pack so many of the toilitries, but to buy then when we get there.  The list includes; moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, hair mousse, bars of soap, wine and whatever else we feel the need we can't live without.

A nap will probably be in order and then evening will be a lovely night out with our friends to celebrate a wonderful Valentines Day.  Don't know yet where we are going but will post where we end up.

For embarkation day we will probably head to the pier and drop off our bags then head back out to meet up with a friend who is a comedian on board and will be getting off the Crown and then getting on the Ruby (sad we won't see him perform) but glad we will get to see him.  

We may look at trying to fit in a pedicure too this day.

We will take the car back to the airport and then catch Alamo's free shuttle back to the pier.  We are not in a rush to get on, I am okay with waiting till 2 or 3 to board.  Plus we will have 49 days to be on board so we can wait.

I hope you stay tuned to follow our adventures.  

And check out my Facebook Fan Page for more details and personal answers to your questions.  Cruising Princess Cruiseline With Vickie Page

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Must Haves To Take On A Cruise

So many people ask me all the time what are some of the items you take on a cruise?

Or they see pictures of our cabin and see an item or two in the picture and ask about it.

So even though I have an album of pictures of those special items on my facebook page Cruising With Princess Cruiseline with Vickie I decided to do a short video on my Youtube channel to share it for anyone who wants to learn more about the items.

This also gave me the opportunity to explain why we take each item.

Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My To Do List

Okay how many of you do to do list?  Come on admit it?  

Where do you write these list?  

For me I write them almost everywhere.... on a post it, on my iphone, on my tablet, on a blank piece of paper in the kitchen, and then they get written on the real list in a spiral notebook.

I have to admit the list thing has become more of a necessity as I have gotten older cause well I forget things.... now what was I saying?

Also the other reason is there are so many things I need to do before we go that it occupies my thoughts and unless I put it down on paper I will obsess (yeah obsess, just ask my husband) until I write it down.  Cause I will forget it.... now what was I saying?

So since I am pretty sure some of you go thru this too, here is my list so you can obsess along with me.

  • pay cities utility taxes (cause they are due while we are away - this involves calling City Hall to find out how much they are cause the bill doesn't even come out till late Feb).
  • pay all bills in advance
  • program PVR for shows we just can't miss - Yes I need to find out who Juan gives his final rose too (don't judge me)
  • clean house (I can't leave a messy house)
  • put together list of things for house sitter
  • inform Strata that we are away, and let neighbours know too 
  • wash car (don't know why but the car needs to be clean for when we come back)
  • buy chocolates for crew as little treats
  • do up business cards (cause so many people we meet on board ask) with my info on it with, Youtube channel, my blog (you are reading it right now) and facebook page --- WHAT you don't know about my cruising facebook fan page, well here it is.  Cruising Princess Cruise Line with Vickie
  • Hair cut
  • Pedicure/manicure
  • Pull out clothes and try everything on to make sure it fits and it is practical and so I don't bring five black tshirts.
  • Iron all the above - I know how weird is that, I never iron, but for some reason things need to be ironed before I throw it in a suitcase and squish it and make it wrinkled.
  • Update Ipod with songs, playlists etc
  • Add books onto Kindle so I will not run out of books while away, heck I can never have enough books
  • Charge all batteries, camera, fitbit, ipods, laptop
  • Add movies to laptop to watch while at sea relaxing in the cabin.
  • Send out birthday cards to those whose birthday falls while we are away.
  • Get US money
  • Confirm all the tours
  • Clean out fridge
  • Print out cruise documents and luggage tags

oh and a few other things to do with work but our job has it's own terminology and no one except us understands it
So am I forgetting something?  Help cause I will obsess unless I write it down.

All kidding aside, this is a list I usually do for every voyage.  And so far we haven't forgotten anything - so far, now watch me forget something this time.  

Thanks for reading.... now off to bed 

One Month, Well One Month and Two Days

touching the foot of the Indian in Punta Arenas guarantees are return visit - guess it worked

Yeah just over a month, one month and two days till we leave.  But who is counting.  Don't know why I am so excited about this trip.... sure I always look forward to all my trips and sure we talk about it.  But I am so excited about this voyage.  

WELL I SHOULD BE EXCITED I am going back to South America!

We really enjoyed our last trip around the horn; although there was a few issues that were beyond our control.  This time we know what to expect and this has given us some peace of mind and also the knowledge to know what to do where and what NOT to do and where.

Us in the Falklands at Volunteer Point with King Penguins

The things I am really looking forward to:

  • Over 50 days away from work, yup no shop talk, no early morning shifts, no rude passengers on board, no uniform - yup 50 days baby.

  • Seeing good friends again - yes I am talking about Barb and Craig and also Jan and Michael.

  • Seeing Rio de Janeiro again during Carnival and actually getting to go the Sambadromo Parade to see the parades!

  • Reading lots of books

  • Seeing all the wildlife.  The last voyage we saw so much wildlife, and so many species we have never seen before.  Can't wait to see again.

  • The total relaxation that being on a cruise for this long with lots of sea days brings.

  • Good food, great wine from many of the ports, and seeing so many great crew that make our special voyage extra special.

  • Seeing all the glaciers in Southern Hemisphere.

  • Getting to see Peter, Johan, Felipe, Sanja, and Claudio on board again!!!  Our Princess family.

  • Also to see so many different countries with such a variety of cultures, history, languages. To try the local cuisine, and drink... yup got to test who makes the best Pisco again.

Buenos Aries
So am I excited well, YES.  Stay tuned while I countdown the trip and I share what we will be doing in each port.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Woke Up Dreaming About Our Cruise

Had a wonderful dream last night.  When I woke up this morning I was in a good mood.  What did I dream of?  I dreamt we got on board the ship and they had upgraded us to a full suite.  

Now what are the chances of that happening.  Very unlikely, but hey it was a dream!

We still don't have cabin assignment.  The cruise is sold out and has been for quite a while.  But normally when we have a guarantee we don't get assignment until around a week prior.  So I will wait patiently.

But the chances of moving from a BE Balcony Guarantee to a Full Suite will probably only occur in my dreams.

What do you think?  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Planning for South America

As many of you know we are heading back to South America.

So much to do before we leave.  A few new things or maybe I should say different things to accomplish before we head out this time.

First we don't need to get a Brazilian Visa cause well we already have one.  But I will say it was cumbersome to do and a lot of details and boxes to check off and submit.  Note you need to contact your Brazilian consulate in your country and perhaps even in your province or state.  For me in Vancouver I had to contact the one for Western Canada which was thankfully in Vancouver.  Each location seems to have different requirements.  I know you can go with a visa service but that would double the cost, if not more of the visa and you still need to get all the necessary documents yourself then they just submit it.  Save yourself the money and submit it yourself.  So any ways, we have our Visas for Brazil and they are good for five years so this is one reason we decided to go back cause well we have the visa.  I know you like how I rationalize things.

We do need to get an Argentinian visa though.  Now this did cause some confusion since we visit Buenos Aries first, then we head to Montevideo, then the Falklands then back to Argentina.  Do we need a single entry visa ($75) or a multi entry visa (which was twice the cost of the single) -- note this is for Canadians.  I contacted the Argentina Consulate in Toronto and they wrote back that a single entry was fine as they allow you to enter and return to neighbouring countries within a single visit.  Go figure!  They say that they consider the Falklands still part of Argentina so no problem.  I now like how they rationalize things.  Saved us $75 each.

Now if we were flying into Chile we would have to get a Visitor's Visa at the airport but since we are arriving via a ship no need.  

Other things that are different are:

We are starting the trip in Florida, Fort Lauderdale to be exact.  And there are 8 ships leaving that day.  Hotel prices were crazy!  So we opted for a rental car $15 thru Priceline and a hotel further afield for a steal.  This way on the day of departure we will drive the rental car to the pier, drop off the bags then get some lunch then drop off the car and take the shuttle back to the pier.  Easy right - traffic will be crazy so remind me on the day of how easy I said it would be.

Flights!  Yeah Flights.  Normally we fly out of Seattle but this time with being gone for so long and the cost of storing our car in a parking lot, and the cost of the flight from Seatac not being that much different than Vancouver, we opted to fly right from home.  We booked United because we can get airmiles transferred over to our Aeroplan with Star Alliance.  

But hey, United stop changing our flights!  First they kept changing our flight to Fort Lauderdale.  The layover in Houston kept getting longer, from an hour to two hours to finally three hours.  But stay tuned to find out what it is now. 

Then last week I went on to rebook our seats, since we both hate middle seats and on our last trip we both took aisle seats across from each other and that worked great.  So low and behold I go on line and see the dreaded notice.  Your flights have been changed, press okay to accept.  

What I think, they changed it again..... nope not the first flight but the flight home from Los Angeles.  We purposely booked a flight that was after 1 pm cause we remember the chaos on the last day going thru immigration after the ship had been in South America.  We knew we couldn't make a flight before noon.  We opted and booked the 1:20 pm flight.  But now they have changed us to a 3:20 flight.  WHAT, we don't want a flight that late, what the heck will we do.  So I am not going to accept.  I call them and spoke with a lovely agent, and since the change is more than 90 minutes they said they have no problem switching our flight.  Would we like the 1205 flight, NOPE too early and I don't need to stress I say.  I then request the 2:20 flight. Still later than what I would like but at least it is not 3:20.  

Then the agent says oh and they have changed your flight to Fort Lauderdale too, do you accept that?  WHAT, and then she reads me the details and guess what, they have returned the flight to the original time when we booked.  Go figure!  Works out great for us.

Okay now flights are taken care of.  

This is the longest trip we have ever been on so it does require some extra planning.  We are having a friend who attends college nearby to stay at our place during her school nights so she doesn't have to commute too much.  And our neighbours have been informed.  We live in a secure building and we have a security system, so along with the house sitter and neighbours I know we are covered.

The Cities' utility taxes are due at the end of March and there is a penalty if you pay after April 1 so we need to call them and arrange payment of that.  Also doing our Income Taxes is just going to have to wait till we get home --- yeah how many people get to say that?

I decided to order some of those ebags that everyone keeps raving about and a few other things to make packing easier.  

I have created my list of things to do before we go.... I could type it here, but trust me it is not that exciting. 

Now the countdown on how many days left of work begins.

Stay tuned as I report more on what and how we get ready for our voyage.