Sunday, December 9, 2012

Headed towards Home

I'm finishing off this blog from the Fort Lauderdale airport. I'll have to admit it's nice to be back with the Internet.  I'm hooked on being attached all the time.

Our final day at sea was filled entirely with meetings...general sessions, roundtables and workshops.  Basically, suppliers got 7 minutes to present their product in the roundtables, they then got 20 minutes to present their product in the workshops, and then a select few suppliers got another 20 minutes to present their product in the General Session.  It's all a blur, but there was some useful information.  Travel is a complex business and there's something new going on all the time.  The big news at the General Session is that Avoya is going to add a GDS to their booking system.  For you non-travel folks, a GDS is a General Delivery System lik SABRE through which you can book air, rental cars and hotels.  Looks like the role of the travel agent is expanding and becoming full service like the old days.  Friday night was the final formal night; like a good Durangotang, I'm not a fan of formal.

Saturday we called at Holland America's private island, Half Moon Cay.  It's a beautiful beach and was very pleasant sitting in the shade and listening to the lapping of the waves.  We returned to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of lounging by the pool.  I was frantically reading the second Girl with a Dragon Tattoo book to get it back to the library.  I'm now FINALLY relaxed and it's all over tomorrow.  I think a 10-day cruise (with no work attached) is best.  The year started with the lecture cruise on Oceania and ended with the Avoya cruise.  No more work vacations!

To sum up, it was a pleasant trip, albeit with a lot of work attached.  I was glad to learn more about Avoya and their major suppliers.  I think I'm more of a cultural traveler than a beach destination traveler; I'm hoping to see snow on the ground when we get back to Durango.  It's good to have access to news.  Cruise lines need to do something to improve their Internet service; fortunately, there were no problems with my clients, but I don't like being that out of touch, and what's more, blogging is no fun when you have to worry about Internet minutes and upload speeds.  Anyway, I'm stubborn enough to finish it.

Until the next trip.....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunny San Juan and St. Martin

Land, ho!  Finally a stable surface under our feet.  It was a relief to dock in San Juan and, as promised, we arrived early in the morning.  The port is only a few hundred yards away from the old town so we disembarked and explored.  We could see the old castle on a hill not far away but too far to walk, so we hired a taxi and overpaid him to give us a short tour and drop us at an internet cafe.  That accomplished, we settled in to collect email and eat a greasy (but good) lunch of cheese and chiraso.  We then walked back to the ship in time for a nap. Most people seemed to like San Juan, but I wasn't too impressed.  Maybe we should've made the effort to see something more in depth, but we didn't.  Maybe I've just travelled too much to be particularly interested any more.  For whatever reason, I was just as happy to move on.

We docked bright and early the next morning close to Phillipsburg, on the Dutch West Indies island of St. Martin.  The Dutch influence showed in clean, neat streets.  The main reason for its existance as a destination is shopping...again, not too interesting.  I needed a watch since I was late for meetings all week, and I did manage to find an $18 plastic watch.  That was about all the shopping I could stand.  We took a taxi to the French side just to get a sense of the difference.  It was an interesting contrast.  The French side is more crowded, dirty and laid back.  Nice beaches everywhere.  I wished we had gotten off with our bathing suits!  Lunch and then back on the ship.

The afternoon was spent in Avoya meetings.  Great news...we're getting a new interface for our cruise search engine.  It'll be much easier to accomplish searches for the best deals.  Everybody's gotta have a deal.  We've met some nice people and discovered that Avoya is a class act.  The family that owns it is professional and ethical, and I think I can make it work for me.  Mission accomplished on this journey.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Rocky Day at Sea

To try to catch up, we're currently sitting in a restaurant in St. Martin, but I think I owe a report on the day at sea that replaced Grand Turk.  It was not a bad day at all.  I got up feeling well, happy and hungry after a lousy evening before.  I think the Tylenol PM helped because part of the problem was sinuses.  For whatever reason, life was sweet again, in spite of heavy seas.  I checked out a book at the library, scored a primo chair in the Crow's Nest, took a nap there, and walked a mile around the Promenade Deck.  One of my favorite things about the Holland American ships is their retention of the Promenade Deck.  It's such a pleasure to walk the ship's paremeter on a lower level and enjoy the teak decks.  IA hot stone massage topped off the afternoon and dinner in the main dining room rounded out the day.

I'm somewhat upset with this Xoom.  Two years ago in the Aegean, I could write a blog post in another program, connect to the internet for a short while, cut and paste the post into the blog, add a photo from the Xoom and upload it.  Now, I can no longer cut and paste and the photo function doesn't work...something to do with having to belong to Google Plus in order the share your photos.  Everybody is finally learning how to "monetize the internet."  Rats!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Storms in the Caribbean

Our first day aboard was scheduled as a sea day so, of course, Avoya filled it up with conferences and workshops.  The best laid plans, however...  I made it through the morning General Session, the first round of workshops, and lunch.  Heavy seas got the better of me in the afternoon.  I went to bed, got up and donned formal attire for the Champagne toast, and returned to bed before dinner.  I wasn't really sick, just too drowsy to participate in anything.  Usually, I'm a pretty good sailor, but I never had time to get my sea legs.  In the evening, it was announced that heavy storms would prevent us from landing in Grand Turk.  We were to spend the next day at sea--oh, my aching head.  As a consolation, we were told we would dock in San Juan at 9:00 a.m. rather than the previously scheduled 1:00 p.m.  Whooppee, a whole day in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Got to go with the flow!

All Aboard

This is the 4th time I've written this blog post; the first two times were wiped out by an on-again, off-again internet connection on the ship.  I'm getting sort of tired of telling the story of our embarkation, but all you loyal readers deserve to know all the exciting details, so here goes again!

We flew from Albuquerque to Fort Lauderdale...uneventful, but reasonably comfortable since the airplanes were only half full (American driving clients away with less than reliable scheduling?).  I didn't get dinged by TSA--for once I kept my mouth shut although they would not have like what I was thinking.  The enlightened TSA officers, who probably did not graduate from high school, patted down my right arm after I had gone through the full boy scan.  Did they think I was trying to hide my chicken neck arms?

The Holland America rep met us in the baggage area and whisked us to the port only 15 minutes away.  The ship is beautiful and BIG, definitely the outer limit of my tolerance for people and distance.  We have a spa cabin on Deck 10 which basically means we're close to the spa.  The other amenities are hardly worth mentioning.

A very thoughtful client had sent us a Bon Voyage bottle of wine so, after checking in with Avoya, we uncorked the wine and enjoyed the view of Fort Lauderdale from our balcony as we sailed out of port.  Life is sweet!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Journey to Nowhere

I in no way mean to imply that Albuquerque is nowhere, but as the first leg of a journey, it's less than exciting. I think it'll be more exciting when we come home and have a day to shop at Trader Joe's and Sam's and all those other exciting shopping venues. Now you know how dull my life really is.

I wonder why after all these years of living abroad I've never learned to pack lightly? This morning was a blur of hangers and underwear and toiletries. At this point I have no memory of what actually made it into my bag. We were as far as Durango's Home Depot when I realized that I had left both my sun glasses and my rain jacket at home. Dwight politely declined to return home to collect them, but I politely suggested that 20 minutes lost on the way out of town might be preferable to an entire voyage lost listening to his wife bitching. He agreed. You see why our marriage has lasted 40 years?

Now the packing is all done and we're relaxed and ready to launch ourselves towards the warm waters of the Caribbean with a 4:00 a.m. call in the morning. The real journey will begin, but the every day has already been vacated.