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12 Things to Consider When Choosing A Cruise

Dawn Princess Bora Bora

Cruising is a growth industry within the travel sector, and hundreds of thousands of people spend their holidays in this manner. When I was younger, I dreamed of cruising to warm climes and interesting destinations. I collected brochures, but this type of holiday seemed like a dream to me. Too expensive for a Kiwi girl for a start, and there was the annoying fact I wasn’t old enough to get a job!

These days, cruising is more affordable than ever. Pick a destination anywhere in the world, and the chances are a cruise company sails there.

So, how do you choose a cruise? What factors should you consider?

These are the things you should consider before forking out your money.

1. What do you want from your cruise? Are you looking for relaxation or a party? Some lines cater for the younger crowd while others attract more retirees. Some of the shorter cruises are party cruises. Check it out first!

2. Are you traveling with children? Most cruise lines have a kids’ club and also one for teenagers. Some provide babysitters (for a fee)

3. What time of the year are you traveling? If you want relaxation don’t travel during Christmas/New Year or school holidays because most ships will be teaming with children. Children = noise.

4. Do you want sunshine and beaches? Stick to a cruise around the Med, the Carribean or perhaps the Pacific.

5. Do you like to dress up for dinner? Some lines expect a higher standard of dress, so if you like to wear shorts and a T-shirt all day go for one of the lines that are more casual. No Queen Mary for you.

6. Does the ship have a launderette available to the public? If you have a longer cruise this is important. Laundry and dry cleaning can be very expensive if you pay the ship staff to do it.

7. Do you want/enjoy sea days? Some cruises have several sea days, sometimes in a row, so if you loathe sea days check the itinerary carefully.

8. Hidden costs. The price of the cruise includes travel, onboard entertainment and meals. Be aware that travel to the port, alcohol, special coffees, signature restaurants, internet, ship excursions, and some hobbies will attract extra charges.

9. Room service – some cruise lines charge extra while others provide this service for free.

10. Incentive program – most cruise lines run an incentive program for frequent travelers. Instead of chopping and changing cruise lines, sometimes it is better to stick with the same one and reap benefits like free laundry and internet.

11. Are tender boats used at the ports? Some ports are not equipped for large ships to berth at the wharf, and passengers must be ferried ashore on smaller boats (tenders). This can take some time if the ship is a large one with several thousand passengers.

12. Don’t like a crowd? The ships vary from a few hundred passengers to several thousand. If this is important to you, choose your cruise accordingly.

Want to learn more? Check out Cruise Critics http://www.cruisecritic.com/ and their forum http://boards.cruisecritic.com/ for advice and tips.

Shelley Munro is a romance writer who lives in New Zealand and loves to travel. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at www.shelleymunro.com

Thirteen Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a writing mood recently, which is great from my point of view. Today, I wrote “the end” on my current work in progress. Since my mind is in the groove, I thought I’d give some advice to aspiring authors.

1. Sit down and write every day. Make writing into a good habit.

2. Join a writing group, either a chapter or an online community for support.

3. Read and read widely. Analyze books that work for you and those that don’t. Use them as a learning tool.

4. Make a point to learn about websites and social media.

5. Enter writing competitions to help yourself improve and also to give yourself a writing deadline.

6. Research markets, agents and editors to familiarize yourself with what publishers and agents are looking for. This will help you narrow down who to submit your book to. If you’re thinking about self-publishing learn as much as you can about the process.

7. Keep a record of how much you can comfortably write each day. Knowledge of your possible output will help you once you’re published and facing deadlines.

8. Take online classes and attend conferences to learn as much as you can. I’ve been published for a while now, and I’m still learning!

9. When it comes to actual plotting, try all the different methods. Plotting, pansting and in between until you find a method that works for you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. There is only your way.

11. Find a critique partner/s to help critique your work and critique other writers’ work. This is a learning process too.

12. Once you’ve completed and polished your book send it off to your chosen publisher or agent. While you’re waiting, start work on your next book. If you’re self-publishing, complete the publishing process and start work on the next book.

13. Celebrate each success because writing is a difficult business and plain hard work.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list?

Shelley’s Tip for Lazy Zips

I love my jeans. During summer I enjoy wearing shorts. Unfortunately most of my jeans and shorts end up with the same problem—a zip that keeps falling down.

The last thing anyone needs is to walk into a room with their zip at low mast. Who knows what people will see?

Maybe it’s the fact my puku sticks out—that’s Maori for stomach—but whatever the reason, it’s totally frustrating.

Then, a brainwave!

Jeans

Instead of struggling to replace the zipper or paying someone to do it, why not find a cure? This is the answer to my lazy zips.

Paper Clip

The humble paper clip.

I chose one of the feet paper clips because I liked the funky look. I hooked it into the zipper tag.

DSCF1497

 

I pulled up the zipper and hooked it around the stud/button thingie.

 

Jeans and Paper Clip

 

Then fastened the button hole over the top of the paper clip.

Tamed Lazy Zipper

Result: One tamed lazy zipper!

You could probably make a loop with a piece of waxed string, but I think the funky paper clip looks better. I can remove it easily when I want to wash my jeans.

What do you think? Do you have clever tips to share?

Want to win a print copy of Summer in the City of Sails? Check out my giveaway at Goodreads and enter the draw.

Summer in the City of Sails

Summer in the City of Sails – Goodreads Giveaway

11 Tips for Hiring Women

Doing the Sports Jock hop? Scroll down or here’s a direct link to the Sports Jock hop

Woman at work Fotolia_6074691_L

This article appeared in the winter issue of Best of Times, a magazine for senior citizens and was reprinted from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine. It made me laugh, but I’m really glad that times have changed!

This is the advice given to the male supervisors who were in charge of women in the workforce during the second world war.

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, and they’re less likely to be flirtatious.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy.

3. General experience indicates that ‘husky’ girls – those who are just a little on the heavy side – are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination – one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against possibilities of lawsuit but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses that would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress at the outset the importance of time – a minute or two lost here and there makes a serious inroad on schedules.

6. Give the female employee a definite schedule of duties so they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the employee change from one job to another during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman – it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl’s husband or father may swear vociferously, she’ll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operators’ uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

I bet the male author of these tips never once considered that New Zealand might have a female prime minister one day. We’ve actually had two different female prime ministers and have many women members of parliament. Women can rule the world!

Thirteen Tips for Entertaining

Thursday Thirteen

Sometimes entertaining can be a little scary. Here are some tips for beginners…

Thirteen Tips for Entertaining i.e. Entertaining 101

1. Think ahead and set the table in the morning or afternoon of the dinner.

2. Make the table special with a simple seasonal centerpiece or something to complement the guests or food. Don’t make the centerpiece too tall. You don’t want your guests craning their necks all during the dinner.

3. Candlelight creates a great atmosphere. Keep the candles low so that conversation flows across the table.

4. Get in the mood with some chic and restful music.

5. Don’t try to be too ambitious and enlist help in the kitchen or design a prepare-ahead menu.

6. Forget nibbles. Plan on getting the guests to the table promptly after one or two drinks.

7. Keep it simple. Plan a meal that is simple to prepare and eat. Complex food is often time-consuming and heavy, leaving your poor guests groaning and overfull.

8. Focus on one course being the star rather than three spectacular courses.

9. Don’t experiment. Cook dishes you’re familiar with and have tried before.

10. Avoid repetition in colors, ingredients, textures and flavors. i.e. don’t serve tomato soup followed by roast beef garnished with red and a berry dessert.

11. Refrain from drinking yourself until dinner is under way. You don’t want to feature in your guests stories for years to come!

12. Seek advice if you’re not skilled with matching food and wine. Take your menu to a specialist wine store. Even your supermarket probably has a wine expert.

13. Cocktails get everyone in a happy frame of mind. They can be time consuming to make so purchase a bottle of the best bubbles you can afford.

Do you have any entertaining tips?

Sexy Pantyhose

Thursday Thirteen

Pantyhose are a fairly recent invention. Allen Gant invented the modern form of pantyhose in 1959, and a seamless version was manufactured by Glen Raven Mills in 1965. I wear them on occasion, but I’m not a fan. I find them uncomfortable, and because I’m tall it used to be difficult to get a pair to fit. These days they are made to fit different heights so it’s not such a nightmare. I still dislike wearing them though.

Thirteen Alternative Uses For Pantyhose

1. Use to clean taps.

2. Protect delicate items (such as lingerie and sequined clothes) in the wash.

3. Thread pantyhose through the arms of woolen jumpers when drying on the clothesline.

4. Use to clean ceiling fan blades – wipe the blades with damp pantyhose on a broom.

5. Grow alfalfa in a section of pantyhose about the size of a tennis ball. Mix equal parts of sawdust and alfalfa seeds and put them inside the pantyhose and tie off tightly. Sit it on a saucer on a windowsill, water regularly and trim the sprouts.

6. Clean pet bowls by wiping over them with damp pantyhose.

7. Use them to wash the car. Place pantyhose over the head of a broom and sweep over car.

8. Use them as hanging pots. Pack the bottom of leg with soil, add seeds and hang. This works best with lighter plants.

9. Polish chrome furniture to keep rusty spots at bay.

10. Remove soap scum with damp pantyhose.

11. Use to polish saucepans.

12. Use them to clean the fridge.

13. Use as a scourer for cleaning Teflon frying pans.

Source: A nifty book called Save – Your Money, Your Time, Your Planet by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming

Do you like wearing pantyhose? How often do you wear them? Are pantyhose sexy?