Saturday, November 26, 2022

It's amazing how 3 years of time changed things.


It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years since XGFJ broke up with me. Unlike FCP, XGFJ is not angry with me, and this is a good thing.  Although FCP was at the wedding of XGFJ's son, this friendship was not meant to last long.  They only thing they had in common was me, and that was not a good enough connection for 2 people to maintain a friendship.  (I won't go into details about what each of these 2 people said about each other, but what they did say gave me the information I needed to find a sense of closure to the ending of both relationships.)

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about my past and the mistakes I made with XGFJ.  Yet, they were unavoidable - people have to effectively communicate their wants and needs in a relationship to get them.  Goodwill breaks down when effective communication doesn't occur.  Right now, XGFJ and I have goodwill, though our relationship has ended.  I can't say the same for FCP, as she can never forgive me for exposing too many of her inner feelings to the outside world.  Nor can I give her a hall pass for yelling at me, when calmer communication would have given her what she wanted much quicker and with fewer headaches.  

But I digress....

Since the end of these relationships, I have been able to establish a friendly communications channel with XGFJ.  Recently, she sent me a message that she was finally enjoying her long planned (and postponed) vacation in Greece. Although Greece is not a place I have on my bucket list, I might have gone with her if we were still in a relationship and we were able to include each other in activities with our friends.  Hopefully, the rest of her trip will go well, as I expect that we will be out of touch until I get back from Hawaii.

Rebuilding a social network takes time, especially after a pandemic.  I'm at the stage where I have to pick and choose who I want to see and how I spend my money to be with them.  Obviously, RQS is my highest priority.  I still see FH when our schedules permit.  But that's not often anymore. I'm still in loose contact with MWL, but we don't have much to say to each other either.  Although I still go to meetups, they are not as important to me as they used to be.

In many ways (but not all), RQS has it better than I do.  She is confident in herself, and actively pursues things that nurture her.  She keeps busy with her hobbies, and still finds time to be with me - as if I'm one of the (formerly) missing pieces in her life's puzzle.  It's a good thing for both of us that we have a relationship, and I hope it keeps growing as time goes on.  

Yet, I still wonder....  Will I ever need to rebuild my connections again?  And if so, will it be possible, given my age at the time?

Friday, November 25, 2022

Does "Marketing" pay enough attention to the emails it sends out?

I just received a pre-cruise email from NCL regarding my upcoming Hawaii cruise on the Pride of America.  If one didn't know anything, you'd think that there was nothing wrong about this email.  But you'd be wrong.  Can you guess what I'm talking about from the above sample?

- - - - - -

My girlfriend (RQS) and I do a lot of internet surfing for information pertaining to the cruise industry, searching for affordable fares and destinations.  My Hawaii cruise is not one of these cruises.  I booked the cruise long before we got serious with each other, the source of much of my information about the cruisetour being MWL.  She noted that there was no casino on this ship, as it is American flagged, sailing solely in Hawaiian waters.  So, I found it strange that NCL would send out a generic notice from their "Casinos at Sea" department, when there is no casino on that ship to enjoy when at sea.

Luckily, it is a reminder for people to start booking their specialty dining and their shore excursions before getting on the ship.  For most people, this is the first opportunity to do pre-cruise booking.  For people with a high enough loyalty status, they could start booking things 4 months before the cruise.  In my case, I made Platinum status on my first Canada/New England cruise, and couldn't start booking things for Hawaii until the day after I got back from the cruise - and many of the pre-cruise reservations were no longer available for booking.  (At least, I should be able to get this fixed once I am on the ship.  But that's another story for another day.)

Given that I don't like making too many "donations" to any ship casino, I won't miss the "action" on my Hawaii cruise, nor will I miss passing by a de-facto smoking area.  This is likely to be one of the more expensive cruises I will ever take, and I hope that it is also one of the more enjoyable cruises I will ever take as well.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thansgiving 2022


Happy Thanksgiving! 

I figure that I'd take a break from my usual posts to wish all my readers a happy turkey day.  I'll be spending the day with RQS, and we will be going out for our holiday dinner with me presenting as a female.  It'll be nice to spend our first major holiday together in the way I feel most comfortable. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 8: Back in New York.


Day 8: Back in New York.

Our ship reached New York Harbor early, and appeared to be hanging out until it could be escorted to the pier.  As I expected, the ship was cleared to sail into port around 3 am, and we missed the sight of seeing the Statue of Liberty being lit up at night.  Unfortunately, RQS was disappointed by this, as we woke up at 4 am for a bio break and noticed we were about to dock.

We packed our bags, and then made it to the buffet.  It was hard to believe that it was the first week of November, and the weather forecast was for NYC to be in the mid 70’s.  So, eating at the buffet was pleasant, as we were able to score an outdoor table without problems.  When our color was called, we disembarked and entered the terminal.  Both of us had a hard time finding our luggage, but I was very fortunate that I had attached a Tile tag to help me find my luggage.  One click, and I was able to find the bag without problems.  RQS had a harder time, as she had no tag and had to ask for help. Once we got our bags, it was off to the customs area.  Unlike past trips, they now use bio recognition to identify us, and all we had to do was look into a video screen for us to be okayed to leave the terminal.

Exiting the terminal, we crossed the street and encountered a limo driver.  He was willing to take us to RQS’s place for a price ⅓ of what he’d charge on a weekday.  He was making no money, and wanted to make a few dollars before going home, and we benefited from his misfortune.  RQS made sure that this man got a generous tip when we arrived at her place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 7: Sea Day.

Day 7: Sea Day.

RQS and I awoke to bright sunshine, setting our clocks back an hour as we entered American waters. It feels strange, as we will be setting our clocks back again tonight due to the switch to Eastern Standard Time.  As a result, we ended up rising sooner than usual, and reached the buffet while breakfast was being served on both sides of the ship.

After breakfast, it was off to the onboard store to see what “junk” was included in their $10 sale.  (This is a good way to burn off any cruise credits one may have received for booking the cruise.) There wasn’t much of value here.  There was the usual t-shirts, the usual cheap costume jewelry, and other things that one could get for $5 on Amazon.

I’ve sailed on at least 4 NCL ships so far: the Gem, the Joy, the Escape and the Breakaway.  The Gem is a mid size ship for this fleet, and the ship I have cruised on most.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles found on the larger ships, but it has an intimate feel that is lacking on the larger ships.  The Escape and the Joy are among the larger ships in NCL’s fleet, Breakaway plus ships.  The Joy has all the bells and whistles one could want, including an on board go-cart ride and a pair of multi-story water slides.  Its size is impressive, and I am amazed at how many people the ship can handle on a single cruise. Last is the NCL Breakaway itself.  It is smaller than the Joy, but is still a large ship.  Although it doesn’t have the go-carts, it has almost all of the bells and whistles of the Joy, while retaining a semblance to NCL’s past ships.

When I last sailed on the Gen in December, the photography store was still selling some small cameras in addition to the usual collection of on-ship photographs taken by the ship’s photographers.  On the Breakaway and Joy, one could find a few SD memory cards, but no cameras.  People now use their cell phones to capture images, and no longer buy small, special purpose cameras when cell phones can easily perform the same function.  The newer ships are geared to sell more profitable products such as jewelry, high end watches and both duty free liquor and cigarettes.  Even then, I found it impossible to buy a liter of amaretto, and had to settle for the last bottle of Grand Marnier.

Each iteration of ship classes has their pluses and minuses.  I am a fan of NCL’s “Jewel” class of ships.  Others are fans of the Breakaway and Breakaway Plus classes of ships.  However, NCL has decided to go with a smaller, more intimate ship with their Prima class.  This is not a ship I plan to take any time soon, as cruises on newer ships tend to be more expensive than those on older ships.  Yet, if I see a great bargain, I’ll take a cruise on the Prima and see if the criticisms of Vloggers I watch are true.  Until then, I’ll keep my mind open about this ship.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 6: Halifax, NS.



Day 6: Halifax, NS.

This is our last port day, and we awakened around 10 am local time.  Although my watch is set to “Greenwich Village Mean Time” (my way of saying Eastern Time), my cell phone reads Atlantic Savings Time.  When we cross back into American waters tomorrow, we will be back in Eastern Daylight time, and then when we get home, we will set our clocks back another hour for “Standard” time.  This setting of the clocks is a big pain in the ass.

RQS and I had no plans for the day, save to get off the ship and explore the Pier 21 Museum.  (Pier 21 is Canada’s answer to America’s Ellis Island, and Canada dealt with many of the same immigration issues as we did South of the border.)  So we got dressed, had “breakfast”, and off the ship by 12:30 pm.  This gave us the time to make the museum by 1:00 pm and participate in a guided tour.

After the museum, we decided to walk the shore front and get our walking in.  After we got to a group of kiosks selling food, we decided to have some ice cream before turning back to the ship.  But first, it was a chance to see a ship under restoration and to see some kids playing on a sculpture meant to look like a ocean wave.

Once on the ship, we had a late lunch, then rested before dinner.  Sadly, our choice of dinner venue was a mistake.  On NCL’s larger ships, there are 3 main complementary dining rooms. And we chose the one we in which we last had a pleasant meal.  Not only did we get ignored after ordering our iced teas, but we had to speak with another person on the staff to get our iced teas.  And then, we had to ask for spoons to stir sugar in our teas - something that was a running joke between us on our last cruise.  Fortunately, the rest of the meal went OK, as our server was supervised by his next in command.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 5: Saint John, NB.


Day 5: Saint John, NB.

RQS and I didn’t have any plans for the day, as there is not that much to see in this city.  The Reversing Falls may be nice to visit, but they are not worth the time and effort spent to get there. The excursion to see the Bay of Fundy tidal area is not worth the price.  So what is there to do in this city?  That was the question we asked before doing anything today.

When we finally got moving, we decided to have a late breakfast and then go out for a walk.  Our decision was to head towards the Reversing Falls, but we changed our mind when we found that we’d have to walk another 1.5 miles from where we were after a mile of walking.  So we headed back to ship, with a detour to a local coffee shop and the candy store next door to it.

On our way back to the ship, we found where the St. John Police Museum is (we missed it on our last visit), but decided not to visit because we wanted to return to the ship a little bit early. (Hopefully, we’ll make the time to go there on our next visit to this city.)  It was nice to be able to get back onboard the ship without waiting for a ride on a tender boat.  And, it was even nicer to get comfortable and rest before our 3rd visit to a specialty restaurant on this trip.

Norwegian Fjord Cruise Vacation - 06/28/24 (Zeebrugge, Belgium)

Today is our last stop in mainland Europe, and our last shore excursion.  We have been choosing relatively low energy shore excursions, as n...