Tag Archives: tips

Pre-Cruise Concerns, No Worries!

I’ve traveled a lot over the years by car, plane, train and on foot. Never exclusively by water. Never via a cruise ship. A new experience was in store for both my fiance and I as we got ready to go on a Celebrity Alaskan Cruise.

Celebrity Solstice cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska

There were a few things, concerns if you will, going through my head beforehand. I love being out on the open road traveling, being able to venture as far or as short a distance as I desire. How I would feel being so-called “trapped” in a small area, with water all around, for two days at a time?

Once on the cruise ship, I started walking and exploring going in a given direction until I met railings outside or a dead-end inside. I had the confined feeling.

Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Cruise

As time went on though I realized with the width of the cruise ship and the number of decks, there was more than enough things to checkout. With a library, multiple pools, bars, a theater and casino, an outside lawn and more, there was lots of exploration possibilities.

The Library and indoor pool, whirlpool on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship.

Being on an Alaskan cruise and going through the Inside Passage we were pretty close to land at all times so every time you looked the landscape and water were different and always spectacular. I thought to myself, I wasn’t trapped. There is the Tracy Arm Fjord right in front of us from our concierge room and the mountains from an outside deck with Skagway straight ahead.

Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska from concierge room

Lawn, Deck 15, Celebrity Solstice in Skagway, Alaska.

Another concern was the weather and the waves and the possible motion sickness as a result.

The first night while trying to sleep, the waves on the open sea didn’t help my thinking. It seemed to be much better when out-and-about and having fun than when parked in one spot or trying to rest in the room. Checking out the waves up close in front of night two seemed to help. πŸ™‚

Throughout the week-long cruise I noticed a lot of people wearing wrist bands and patches by the ear to help combat the motion sickness.

Not packing enough was at the forefront of my thoughts too. Swimming, the excursions, having to pack for all seasons and the formal dinners and functions on the ship all lead to what if I forget to pack something.

It turned out to be warmer than usual so a lot of the heavier clothes never got used. The rain jacket turned out to be my best friend, when it was cooler, raining or just damp like at the Sawyer Glacier.

Wearing rain gear at Sawyer Glacier in Alaska.

While on the cruise ship you could hangout and enjoy everything at your own pace, even more than I realized. What about the formal dinners and other functions? The timing of those was somewhat loose and if you felt like getting soft-serve ice cream and random assortments of food for dinner wearing shorts and flip-flops, you could have at it. There were plenty of shops on the ship and at the ports of call in case something was really needed.

Now on the silly side before the trip I was thinking about what I was going to do about my morning coffee. The excursions and ports of call fun were thought out ahead of time so I knew that there were coffee opportunities off the ship. What was on the cruise ship was more of mystery until we got on it. The first morning put the biggest smile on my face when I read the ships daily newsletter and saw that they had a grind of the day at a coffee shop on board, CafΓ© al Bacio!

CafΓ© al Bacio, Celebrity Solstice cruise ship, coffee shop

What a sigh of relieve. With specialty drinks and more, that meant it wouldn’t be exclusively black coffee on the open water. πŸ™‚

A lot of the worries and concerns I had beforehand turned out to be an afterthought as the cruise got going. The Alaskan Cruise was an amazing experience for the both of us and next time I can just say, “No worries!”.

What things or concerns were on your mind before your first cruise?

Technology and the Open Road.

I’m out on the open road on a day or long road trip and as they say in golf, “What’s in my (golf) bag?” In this case my technology bag.

There is so much technology out there in regards to phones, apps, social media tools, cameras, tablets, I could go on-and-on. Even with all that is available, I like to keep things pretty basic and light-weight when on the road. A recent day trip to Cleveland, Ohio to coffeehouse hop, work and roam the city will showcase what I use.

I only carry a small camera and phone. My camera is a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS usually set up in Auto or Easy mode with most of the default settings. I play around with flash on or off depending on the time of day and lighting. An extra battery and memory card is always on hand in case the camera is getting a lot of action. πŸ™‚

Canon camera, travel

After the work day ended I walked around the city capturing this autumn, dusk shot with my camera alongside Progressive Field. The historic Terminal Tower is all lit up straight ahead.

Cleveland and Terminal Tower at dusk, Autumn

Photos are captured from my phone as well. In general I don’t mess with photo effects like vignette, vintage and grayscale. I like capturing the shot as seen in front of me. My current phone is a HTC Desire HD Android smartphone. My walking led me to this shot of the Cleveland skyline from Edgewater Park using the Android near sunset.

Cleveland skyline from Edgewater Park using HTC Desire HD Android

In regards to effects, after the photo has been taken is a different story. I’ll add a filter or effect before I post on to a social media app like Instagram because I’ll still have the original. Below is a picture of the skyline at night while on the Hope Memorial Bridge using the Kelvin filter.

Cleveland skyline from Hope Memorial Bridge, dusk

Speaking of Instagram, I started using it like gangbusters as soon as it was available for the Android. What took so long haha?! Coffee, martini and skyline shots seem to highlight my feed.

The work day and Instagram featured Koffee Cafe in the Ohio City neighborhood. Get the Turtle Latte.

Working at Koffie Cafe, Ohio City neighborhood, Cleveland

A trend recently has been for people to combine images into one, creating a collage of sorts. I use Diptic for that purpose, combining several photos from a city, coffeehouse, trip, etc. to highlight what a place has to offer. I then post it to Instagram, among other applications. A college of my evening roaming in The Cleve is below. When visiting make sure to get to the Public Square downtown.

Cleveland, Ohio collage using Diptic, Instagram

On Instagram I’ll also checkout hashtags related to the area I’m in to get an idea on somewhere else to go by seeing the pictures.

I’ll also checkout the hashtags, along with the local Tweetstream, on Twitter to get local ideas on the fly. Checkout hashtag #HappyinCLE. Those that know me know I’m very active on Twitter. I’m always looking to strike up conversations with friends and fellow travelers. I’ll checkout if the place I’m currently at or looking to go to has a Twitter presence and I will reach out.

Another one my offices during the day, as you can see on my Twitter feed, is Phoenix Coffee just outside the city line in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Get the Speedball. You’ll really be energized haha.

Phoenix Coffee, Cleveland Heights, Ohio using Foursquare, Twitter

As you can see above I use Foursquare too. I’ll check-in and post a picture highlighting a place I think other people would like to checkout. I’ll use this app mostly on the road. I’ve passed the local, day-to-day checking in everywhere phase. I don’t think there’s much interest in my grocery shopping habits. πŸ™‚

Once in a while when on the road I’ll post to my own Facebook wall as well as on my fan page, but I usually save that for later on to highlight my recent travel experiences. You have to draw the line somewhere!

A shot from inside Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. in the Gordan Square neighborhood, as well as another from Edgewater Park.

Cleveland shots on Facebook fan page

I also make sure to see places with my own two eyes sans technology, just starring and soaking in everything. Pictures and technology are great, but nothing beats being somewhere in that moment without distraction, enjoying the way people did before smartphones came into the picture.

A tidbit from my youth: I’ve been a walking atlas since I was young, so I rarely use Google Maps, Foursquare maps or GPS to help me find my way. I like the unknown and I always seem to get to my destination.

When I do look for a little guidance I like to be old-fashioned and pull out a state map or the Rand McNally Atlas. Where to now Cleveland?

Rand McNally Ohio map, atlas, Cleveland city map

Checkout how some people navigate in Road Trips: Finding Your Way. That’s my technology story when out on the open road. During my time in Cleveland on this day I was able to post and interact via my smartphone, capture photos and at the same time enjoy everything around me without the technological interruptions. I got lots of work done and of course consumed lots of area brew.

With technology continuously evolving who knows how different this post would be if I wrote it at the end of the year. Perhaps I would have additional technology in my arsenal. You’ll have to see as I will write one then. πŸ™‚ I’m actually on the lookout for a new phone and/or camera as we speak. The day began with some java at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co.

Gypsy Beans and Baking Company, Cleveland, Ohio via Twitter, Foursquare

What do you carry phone, camera and technology-wise during your road trips and travels? What are your social media apps of choice?

Chicago: The Travel Bloggers #WindyCityTweetup.

More fun times in Chicago this weekend, this time for the #WindyCityTweetup. The #WindyCityTweetup was a weekend long event of travel bloggers, some local some not, getting together to meet in-person, get to know one another, share lot’s of fun and laughs and explore Chicago. We’ve all talked and established a friendship via social media channels like Twitter and then through e-mail planning the weekend fun.

I drove in just for the day Saturday. Being travel bloggers and social media addicts, we took to the streets, exploring, tweeting, talking about the things we saw and captured lot’s of photos.

Windy City Tweetup - Chicago

The rest of the Windy City travel group:

RaΓΊl from Ilivetotravel
Leah from Leah Travels
Lauren from where in the world is lola?
Ted from Traveling Ted TV
Francesca from The Working Mom’s Travels
Pola from Jetting Around

Windy City Tweetup - Chicago

Some highlights (some of which will become posts of their own this week, stay tuned!):

  • Grabbed coffee at sci-fi themed Wormhole Coffee in the Wicker Park neighborhood.
  • Waited in line with 100’s of other people in off-and-on light rain all morning for Doughnut Valut donuts.
  • Checked out Sofitel Chicago where the other out-of-towners were staying.
  • Walked The Magnificent Mile, desperately missing the recently departed Marilyn Monroe statue haha.
  • Went on a Chicago architecture riverboat tour. Beer, great conversations and great views of the city.
  • Group shot at “The Bean” in Millennium Park below. Also watched how others interacted with the sculpture, some of which made you say huh?
  • Drinks, conversation and people watching at Palmer House Hilton. There must have been a prom, a wedding reception and several other formal gatherings all going on around us at the same time. Definitely a place to be. A relaxing atmosphere to hang out in.
  • Hit up Exchequer Restaurant & PubΒ for some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

Windy City Tweetup - Tbe Bean (Cloud Gate) - Chicago

The aforementioned rain continued off-and-on throughout the day, but if anything that made the day that much more memorable.

I wish the fun day didn’t have to end, but I had a long, late night drive home. Thanks Chicago! I said good-bye to everyone after we grabbed a cab back to home base, Sofitel Chicago. It was great trip meeting some great fellow travel bloggers in-person, people now whom I can call even more so now, friends.