Smorgasbord Afternoon Video – D.G. Kaye finds another Gem – Really!!!


Debby Gies has been scanning the airwaves for videos to share… here are some more that she has come across.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews. This little guy finds his owner’s camera fascinating.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Thanks to Debby for finding another gem.. I hope you have enjoyed… thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean – St. Barts.


Welcome back to my Travel Column where I share facts about some of the interesting places I’ve traveled, and some new places I’d like to travel to. I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. As we get ready to venture into a new season, there are plenty of beautiful places you will discover in this series, and some I too have yet to visit.

I’ve written about a few islands in the Caribbean so far, and today I want to continue the Caribbean theme and take us all to Saint Barthelemy, or the often abbreviated, St. Barths, the French prefer to call it, and, St. Barts in English.
St. Barts is a small volcanic island, encircled by shallow reefs, and is one of four territories that make up what’s called the Leeward Islands, located in the northwest of the Caribbean Sea, lying approximately 22 miles southeast of St. Martin and just north of St. Kitts. The capital city of St Barts is Gustavia, named after a Swedish King. The other three islands part of these territories are: Martinique, French West Indies, and Guadeloupe.

St. Barts is a French-speaking island that is renowned as an elite destination most popular to the rich and famous, but certainly not limited to just the rich and famous. The island is most known for its beautiful beaches, luxury yachts and of course, designer boutiques and spectacular restaurants. St. Barts is considered one of the safest islands with very little to zero crime!

There are three methods of which to arrive in St. Barts. The first is truly geared toward the rich or famous, arrive by yacht, or take a ferry from another island. The other option is to fly into St. Martin and take a small prop plane a short 10 – minute flight into the St. Barts landing strip, most likely the method I would choose.

Check out the video below to see the landing strip and a bit more history and overview of the island:

A Bit of History

St. Barts covers an area of just short of ten square miles and a population of just over 8,000 people. It was a Swedish colony for almost a century. In 1784, Louis XVI traded the island to Sweden in exchange for trading rights in Gothenberg. In 1878 France re-purchased the island. To this day, the Swedish national arms and its three crowns still appear on St. Barts’ coat of arms.
In early history, before the European takeover of many of the Caribbean islands prior to the 15th century, the Taino (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean ), and the Arawak (indigenous peoples of South America) were the prime inhabitors of most of the Caribbean islands. Prior to France taking over, St. Barts’ original name was Ouanalao. Columbus first encountered the island in 1493. The next 100 years would pass until the island was formally colonized.

By 1648, the French settled on the island, lasting a mere 8 years before the settlement was attacked by the Caribs, causing a brief abandonment of the island. Five years later St. Barts was bought back by the French. The island didn’t prove to be very successful or valuable and was often pirated, and once attacked by the British. This prompted Louis XVI to sell it to Sweden in return for trade access in Gothenberg, Sweden. The island became a free trading port for Europeans.

In the late 1700s, slavery was common on the island and continued well into the mid 1800s until the slaves were freed. The slaves suffered severe economic hardships because the island had no plantations. In 1852, a devastating hurricane hit the island, followed not long after by a massive fire. The Swedes decided the island wasn’t worthy of much, so decided to sell it back to France in 1878, when it became an archipelago of Guadeloupe (a French commune, forming part of Guadeloupe which was the overseas region and department of France). It wasn’t until March of 1946 that the people became French citizens with full rights.

The island offered few economic prospects and many had to take jobs on neighboring islands to get by until the 60s and 70s rolled around and the idea of tourism came, building a few hotels and a narrow landing strip on the island – big enough to accommodate a mid-sized aircraft. The island soon became known as a luxurious island for many old movie stars to stow away to for vacationing without being hounded by paparazzi. Tourism and the rapid resulting growth of the island’s economy soared, making St. Barts become a unique island with a rise in living standard, resulting in ultimate modernization, still coveted by the rich and famous. In a 2003 referendum, the residents of St, Barts wished to separate from the jurisdiction of Guadeloupe, and in 2007 they got their wish. The island of St. Barthelemy became an overseas collectivity (OCM). A governing council was elected providing the island with a degree of autonomy and a senator in Paris represents the island. The island currently retains its free port status, and in 2012, St. Barthelemy ceased being an ‘outermost region’ by leaving the EU.

Climate

The island is mostly a dry climate from December through April, with the exception of the rainy season – typically May through November with an average of 39 inches of rainfall. Despite the rainfall, there is typically sunshine throughout the year with average temps hovering up to 90 degrees during the day and mid 70s in the evenings. There isn’t much humidity thanks to the light winds.

Currency

The Euro is the mainstay currency of the island, but U.S. dollars are also accepted. Because the island is touted as a ‘luxury island’, it is quite pricey to visit, but rates do plummet quite a bit during the off- season months. Travelers recommend best rates from April through June. The island’s economy is based on tourism and it is a duty-free island, so although many of the boutiques you can shop at, although designer with designer price tags- it’s duty-free which will be considerably cheaper than at home.

Tourism

St. Barts attracts approximately 200,000 visitors per year. The wealth generated by investors on the island is responsible for the high standard of living. Most of the food on the island is imported from both U.S and France.

There are approximately only 25 hotels on the island, with most of them having on average 12- 15 rooms available. Most other accommodations available are villas to rent. For more accommodation information, check out this link.

Getting Around

Most hotels offer free round trip pickup and drop offs to and from the landing strip airport. To get around the island, most rent cars as it’s been said that taxis are not plentiful.

Cuisine

The island boasts over 70 restaurants – many of them gourmet cuisine. Common cuisine you will find there are: French, West Indian, Creole, Italian, and Asian.

Health Services

St. Barts has a small hospital and a diagnostic lab in Gustavia as well as doctors specializing in many capacities, and several pharmacies. For patients requiring more serious issues they travel to Guadeloupe, San Juan or France.

Beaches

St. Barts hosts 14 public white sand beaches. Nudism is prohibited, but topless is very common. Shell Island, to name one, is one of 4 unique beaches in the world, loaded with beautiful shells. To have a look at some of these beautiful beaches and their locations on the island, please click HERE

Find a beautiful overview of the island below:

Fun Facts

St. Barts hosts many festivals annually. You will find a complete list of festivals and dates HERE

It is customary to say hello to fellow islanders when passing.

Nobody honks their car horns – it’s considered rude.

 

For more information on St. Barts, visit the links below.

https://travel.usnews.com/St_Barts/
https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-guide/st-barts

©D.G.Kaye 2019

Thanks Debby for all that information and I would be very happy to have a couple of weeks there right now.. anyone want to join us?

Read the other posts in the Travel Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

A recent reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

D.G. Kaye takes the reader around the world with laughs galore. I’m not much of a shopper, but I found myself chuckling about all the occasions when the author and one her pals attempted to slip onto an airplane with a cache of treasures. I especially enjoyed her description of contorting one’s body inside the airplane’s lavatory while also doing everything in her power to avoid germs. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, check out this book.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
MeWe: mewe.com/i/debbygies
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Thank you for joining us today and Debby would love to receive your feedback and your travel experiences. Also any questions please add them in the comments.

Posts from My Archives – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye..Preparing for a Safe Trip.


D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies, is on her summer hiatus from the travel column, and is busy writing her next book. In the meantime, I am repeating one or two of her earlier posts, and this one is very important. There is much to prepare for to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday including insurance, luggage security, extra fees for exclusive holidays. Debby has all that covered and more.

Preparing for a Safe Trip

For today’s edition of Travel Talk, I’ve prepared a list of important things to do to prepare yourselves for a snag-free travel experience.

Important Tips to Consider When Booking a Trip

Travel Insurance – Don’t leave home without it! Always make sure to purchase travel insurance before leaving your country (or province for fellow Canadians). We don’t plan on mishaps, but they surely do happen. In many countries, particularly the U.S., if you need medical care and don’t have travel insurance it can easily cost you six-digit figures for medical aid. A few hundred dollars for insurance is worth the peace of mind.

Price Checking – Do your homework when booking a trip. Compare prices on various sites and with airline packages.

Check for Discounted Rates – Most hotels worldwide and car rental companies offer further discounted rates for seniors, members of CAA or AAA (Canadian Automobile Association and American Automobile Association). Remember to ask for those discounts when booking!

Keep on Price Checking – Once you’ve booked a trip in advance, do an occasional price change check. Many companies will honor a price drop if you spot it and will re-adjust your price. Before I went on my last cruise I went on their site to check some packages and noticed a sale on cruises. I saw my same cruise and cabin category listed for $500 cheaper, months after I booked it. I called my cruise rep and got the $500 deducted off the price of my cruise!

Resort Fees Always inquire at time of booking a hotel if they charge resort fees on top of the initial price. Don’t get caught by surprise! Many U.S. hotels, in particular, are now charging approximately $33 per night extra just for bogus resort fees. Some companies hide them or make no mention of them until you get to the hotel. A one week’s stay in a hotel can run you an extra $230 just for fees, based on a one week stay. I found this out twice by surprise – once while I visited a hotel in Vegas where I was comped with a free 5-night stay, but still got snagged with daily resort fees. And once when I booked an all-inclusive air/hotel trip to Arizona with Air Canada, only to find out that the secret resort fees weren’t part of the all-inclusive. After I booked the trip, I called the hotel in Arizona to inquire about their facilities and that’s where I found out about the additional fees. You can read the article I wrote about this incident HERE and how I rectified it with the airlines.

What are Resort Fees? – Once upon a time when you booked a hotel you had to pay separately to access Wifi, park your car in the hotel’s lot or to have access to their gym facilities. Many hotels decided to put a ‘resort fee’ in place tacked on to your daily bill to use these amenities. Maybe it’s fair if we drive our cars or rent a car for our destination or feel ambitious to work out at the gym during a vacation. Wifi was often complementary in many better hotels, or it could be purchased at a much cheaper fee than the resort fee. It is also always available free in hotel lobbies. But now many hotels have lumped all the amenities under one umbrella whether you have use for it or not. And that’s what stings. I know when I’m on a short vacation I don’t have a car to park and I’m a little too busy to spend hours daily in a gym. Patrons should be given the choice of what amenities they choose to use and not be charged on a one price basis. Just sayin’.

Rewards – I always recommend booking with a site or airline that allows you to use reward points with. These rewards are often accrued from various credit card companies, Air Miles, or through loyalty programs that offer special pricing when cashing in your bonus rewards.

Check Reviews – If you’re wondering what a particular destination has to offer or how other patrons rated: a property, restaurants or city sights for your chosen destination, visit sites such as: Tripadvisor, Yahoo or Google search for the place you’re interested in and read reviews from others. Reading reviews from past visitors can give you a better feel of what you can expect.

Check Exchange Rates – Do a check on the currency you’ll be needing for the country you’ll be visiting. Believe it or not, you will often get a better rate for your money at a bank in the destination you’ll be visiting. Just make sure to purchase approximately $200 in the currency of the country you’ll be visiting before leaving home for immediate cash needs for taxis, tips or even for a coffee until you can get to a bank once you’ve arrived. And beware – only exchange currency in hotels if it’s dire. Hotels will always give you a lesser rate than a bank.

Pack Smart

Protect – Purchase a package of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) credit card and passport protection sleeves. These jackets for your credit cards and passports are inexpensive and are important to secure your personal information from hackers who have the ability to scan your cards and passports from a distance and steal your personal and banking information. In fact, I keep all my credits cards in these jackets even while at home.

And always add luggage tags to your bags for easy identification and in case the airlines lose them.

TSA Locks – An added step of protection for your luggage is to purchase TSA locks. These locks for your luggage are made with the capability that TSA officers or customs officers have a master key or combination for these locks. If they wish to inspect your luggage after it’s checked in, they can do so without breaking your lock or damaging your suitcase in the process (which of course happened to me a few times before I learned about TSA locks).

Travel Scales – Invest in a good hand-held set of travel scales to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport and home again. Knowing that your luggage is within the airline’s guide for weight allowance can save you a lot of agro and cost from being surprised at check-in at the airport that your luggage is overweight and having to open your luggage for the public to view while you go mad trying to move things from one bag to another, or from having to pay steep overweight charges. (Nope, I’ve never had to pay overweight charges yet, but I have been in that humiliating situation where I’ve pulled my suitcases apart publicly to move around articles between bags to avoid those charges. That was when I invested in my travel scale.

Valuables Never pack your money or valuables in your checked luggage. Besides the danger of possible lost luggage, sadly, there are plenty of dishonest airline employees who steal from luggage. This warning also applies to digital devices such as: laptops, phones, cameras, which should all be in your carry-on luggage. I also never take expensive jewelry with me on a trip, but pack whatever jewelry I’m taking with me in a jewelry roll and keep it at the bottom of my purse until I get to my destination where I then keep all my valuables in a room safe.

Prepare for Weather Change – When traveling, wear layers of clothing if you’re leaving a cold climate and going somewhere warm. It could take you awhile once you land to get settled in your holiday rental where you don’t want to be sweating until you can unpack. In winter, when I travel to a sunny destination I’ll usually wear a T-shirt with a thick fleece hoodie. This idea not only allows me to shed the hoodie once I’ve arrived, but the hoodie keeps me warm on the often, freezing cold airplanes. For same reasons, I like to slip a pair of sandals into my carry-on bag to change into once I arrive somewhere warm.

Last, but not least – Make sure you leave enough time to get to the airport on time. Take into consideration weather and potential traffic delays when gauging your departure to the airport. For cruisers, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND traveling to your port’s destination city the day before the ship leaves and pre-booking a hotel for that night. Again, anything can happen if you leave home the day of your cruise – particularly, weather, but often mechanical mishaps with the airplanes that cause long delays. Be safe, not sorry!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Travel Tips and will take these steps into consideration for your next vacation. If I’ve missed anything here and you have something to add, I’d love to hear from you in comments.

©D.G. Kaye 2018

Another wonderfully informative post from Debby on how to prepare for and be safe on your holiday… much more to come as the Travel Column returns on Monday September 2nd 2019.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

May 11, 2018 Sarah Brentyn rated it Five Stars

I laughed out loud at many of the author’s experiences of the perils of traveling. Going through security and customs. Aisles too narrow to avoid smacking seated passengers in the face with your carry-on. Her hilarious airplane bathroom “ritual”, which is something a lot of us perform. (Or perhaps it’s just me.) Which brings me to the section on germs. I laughed as much over Kaye’s descriptions as I did over the memory of doing many of these same things. I love her decision to call germaphobic compulsions “a lifestyle as opposed to a disorder”.

The latter half of the book is filled with anecdotes of trips taken and shopping done. While I’m not a shopaholic (actually, I avoid going to stores), I still got a chuckle out of the author’s antics. And I can relate to the lure of vacation shopping—it’s a powerful force. Unfortunately, I can also relate to being the one passenger consistently being pulled over at customs. Every time. Everywhere I go. It’s become part of my traveling routine and a joke in my family.

The chatty and conversational writing style makes this a fun read. If you’re taking a trip, make room in your carry-on for this.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S

Other books by D.G. Kaye

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Thank you for dropping in today and column and we look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally and Debby

 

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Comedian in Residence D.G. Kaye and some one-liners from Sally’s Archives


First Debby Gies shares some of the funnies this week that she feels you should not miss.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

My thanks to Debby for spotting these.. and please give her a round of applause.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s monthly Travel Column here on Smorgasbord: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Now time for more one-liners from my archives…

Mr. Smith: ‘My wife has one very irritating habit, she stays up until two or three in the morning.’

Mr. Jones: ‘What is she doing all that time?’

Mr. Smith: ‘Waiting up for me to come home’

*****

What do you call a lady with both legs the same length?’

Nolene….

*****

How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one. They don’t like to share the spotlight.

*****

Doctor, Doctor, I keep thinking there are two of me…

One at a time please…

*****

A man goes to the doctor and says ‘Doctor, wherever I touch, it hurts’

The Doctor asks ‘What do you mean?’

The man says, ‘When I touch my shoulder it really hurts, If I touch my knee it is agony, When I touch my forehead it is excrutiating.’

The doctor say, ‘I know what’s wrong with you, you’ve broken your finger’

******

They get much worse.. trust me!

Thank you for dropping in today and we hope you are leaving laughing.. Debby and Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Cruises Part Two – Ship Tips.


Last time Debby Gies (D. G. Kaye) shared some important information on cruise lines, the various standards of cabins available, and the best place on the ship to be if the weather is a bit choppy.  Here is the link to Part One

You can read that post in the directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips

In my first post in this series I covered what to look for when considering booking a cruise. Today I’m going to cover some of the activities available while on a cruise, and some tips on how to save money when booking those activities.

Packaged Deals

Many cruise lines offer package deals you can purchase pre-cruise or while onboard such as beverage packages. Yes, it’s true that soda pop, tea, coffee, and some juices are free to drink while onboard, but beer and alcohol, bottled water, specialty drinks and coffees, smoothies, etc. are not part of free.

If you’ve re-booked a cruise on a previous sailing or if you luck into a promo offer at the time of your booking, often cruise liners will offer you bonus incentives at bonus pricing. With Celebrity, their promos change often and depending when you book you will be offered to choose 2 or 3 packages to add on to your cruise FREE. The choices can be anywhere from a drink package (including alcohol), your tips paid for the entire cruise, a $200 – $300 onboard credit (my fav!), or free wifi (rare but I managed to catch one). So do make sure to check on the special offers to get the best bang for your bucks while booking. You can always book a drink package of your choice once onboard, but typically, you’ll get a better deal when pre-booking your packages.

Note: I highly recommend if you aren’t offered a free drink package, to buy one at a reasonable price comparatively to paying for each drink you consume on the whole cruise. Without a prepaid all you can drink package the price of alcoholic beverages and any specialty drinks can add up to well over $1000 if you’re taking a 2 week cruise. For example, premium bottled water will run you close to $4 a bottle. On a hot pool day I have no trouble drinking at least 6-8 bottles a day. And that’s not counting a specialty coffee in the afternoon and a cocktail or two before dinner then wine with dinner. I would have no problem spending at least $80 a day just in beverages!

Tipping

When purchasing drinks, sundries or any other service related product while onboard, you just use your ship card to make those purchases. The card is your method of payment for anything purchased onboard without having to carry money around. When purchasing service related products, you can expect to see a service charge added to your bill if your purchase isn’t included in a package.

You will also be expected to leave tips at the end of your cruise to your cabin steward and restaurant staff who have served you nightly in the dining room. These tips are pre- calculated on a daily basis and will vary from ship to ship but will typically run at approximately $12 a day per person. This is where choosing the ‘tipping package’ will save you a few hundred dollars, already paid for. Some passengers get angry over this tipping charge and if you find it a problem, you can always go to the front concierge desk and ask them to remove the charges from your room bill. But I will state that the staffers work hard and many long hours daily, so my take is that it’s relatively cheap to tip those amounts compared to if you were to tip every single time you were served food or ordered a drink. My husband and I always drop an extra $20 or more to our favorite or most helpful staff to show our appreciation but use your discretion.

Wifi

Wifi is available on all ships and unless you were lucky enough to book a free bonus wifi package you will have to purchase separately. You will be able to choose how many days you’d like your wifi for as you may not want to take it for the whole cruise. But if you’re someone who relies on using your mobiles, tablets or laptops daily, I highly suggest you take the package deal offered for the whole cruise, it often works out cheaper.

Alternatively, if you find you’d prefer a technology-free vacation and only wish to check on your emails etc., you can take your device with you off the ship when you’re docked at port and log in at a variety of coffee shops or terminals at ports which offer free wifi. You will also have access to the ship’s internet room where you can use their computer’s free of charge.

There are often lineups to use those computers so use your discretion what is worth more to you.

Excursions

Sightseeing and beach excursion packages are offered both pre-cruise and onboard for each port. Depending on where you’re cruising to will help you determine if you’re better off booking a planned tour or going off on your own to explore. If you’re new to cruising, it may be a good idea to book a tour with the ship. All tours offer a pick-up and drop-off right outside where your ship is docked. But if you’re a seasoned cruiser like me and are returning to ports you are familiar with you may choose to hire a taxi (plenty at the ports) and perhaps invite another couple to share the ride and go wherever you like for a lot less money.

Taking a taxi to your own choice of destination – be it beaches or shopping, allows you the freedom to take your time and not be rushed to meet back at a bus. Just remember to be back at the designated time the cruise ship posts for sailing. You can go to a beach and pay a nominal fee to rent a beach chair and towel from a hotel or take your own towel and pack a few drinks and/or lunch to take with you and stay on a beach.

If you’re cruising to places other than a warm, winter getaway such as Europe, you will undoubtedly be spending much of your time touring. I would suggest once you’ve chosen your itinerary for that cruise to check out the ship’s offered excursion packages to see what tours they’re offering with all fees included – transportation, meals and entrance fees. It’s also a good idea to check out those tourist avenues online to see if it works out cheaper to book directly with them for entrance tickets and what a taxi would cost to get there.

Shopping

Oh yes, one of my favorite events on any vacation, but especially fun when cruising to Caribbean islands. The best part of shopping in many of the Caribbean islands is the duty-free prices!

Besides shopping at the ports, there is plenty of shopping to be had right onboard the ship. All ships have various stores on their promenade levels offering anything from clothing to sundries to designer goods, tobacco and alcohol, and of course . . . jewelry! Many of these items are at duty-free prices. You will also find many ports offering duty-free shops of the same with a variety of jewelry stores with prices unmatched anywhere else. So if you’re interested in bringing home a sparkly souvenir from your vacation and want some good recommendations about which stores to shop, you’re ship will offer a channel on your cabin’s TV where they’ll inform you about best places to shop at each port as well as offer seminars onboard with a host who will educate you on the jewelry available at the upcoming port, what is popular on a particular island, and what to look for when purchasing.

I can tell you flat out that your biggest selection of jewelry with the best prices is in St. Martin. The whole Front St. is lined with one jewelry store after another! This can be overwhelming, causing tough decisions about what to buy when all that glitter flashes upon you (ladies) lol.

And words of advice: Never pay the asking price! Bargain, bargain, bargain! Trust me, shop owners hate to see you walk away empty handed so if you’re not thrilled about a price but feel you ‘must have that ring’, try walking out of a store. Once you’ve shown interest in an item believe me, they’ll chase you down the street trying to make you a happy customer.

Offering cash for an item will often bring down the price further. And don’t forget to get an appraisal receipt with your purchase. I promise you, you will be blown away once you bring that item home and take it for appraisal to your own jeweler. Often the savings can be 100% and more! Then once you’ve found that jewelry store you’re happy with, you’re best off to shop there the next time you cruise because you’re in their system and you will become a preferred customer.

I remember the first time my husband and I vacationed in St. Martin. He bought me a gold watch with a diamond face. Okay. This was almost 22 years ago when we paid a paltry $1400 U.S. for that watch (after a few hours of bargaining, leaving and returning to it) and the watch came in at $3500 value once I got home and got it appraised. The prices are amazing because they are wholesale and duty-free without middlemen and taxes. Most seasoned winter cruisers don’t buy jewelry anywhere else until they reach St. Martin because despite jewelry available at many ports, nobody has the selection or prices as St. Martin does. But I will tell you a close second is in St. Thomas.

Note: If you do purchase jewelry and don’t plan on declaring it at customs (stories for another time), ask the salesperson to mail you the receipt and appraisal. Just sayin’!

Here’s a great little video to give you an idea what it’s like shopping in St. Martin

Dining

Depending on the cruise line you book with, when you book your cruise you’ll be asked which dinner seating you prefer. Because of the large number of passengers, the main dining room offers 2 seatings to choose from – usually 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm, and in the last few years began offering ‘select’ seating where you can go at anytime during the dinner hours but are forewarned the busiest times are between 6:30 and 7:30, so you may have to wait in line for a while. If you’re on top of things and choose select, you can reserve your chosen time earlier in the day.

Buffet option is also available for all meals, which is a nice option for those nights you don’t feeling like dressing up for dinner and don’t wish to eat a full 3 course meal. There are also specialty restaurants onboard you can reserve to eat at for an additional nominal fee.

Tip: Because meals are included, I rarely eat off the ship. On port days I’ll have my breakfast before disembarking and usually return by early afternoon and then I’ll grab some lunch at the buffet or at the BBQ grill. Just think! The money you save by eating onboard, you can spend on something else.

Beware: Regardless of whether you have a drink package or not, this will never include taking anything out from the mini bar in your cabin. You will pay dearly even for a bottle of water. What I like to do when I check in my room is have the cabin steward empty the fridge, mark everything down of its contents, and place it in a bag in the cupboard to make space for my own drinks I get at any one of the many bars onboard and then store in the mini bar.

This video will give you an idea about some of the food and dining options on a Celebrity cruise

Activities

Every ship offers daily and nightly activities. Each night an itinerary of the next day’s events is left in your cabin. Events involve games, contests, specials of the day, nightly theater productions, musical entertainment, wine tasting, theme parties, glass blowing, art auctions, movies, casino tournaments, water sport activities, seminars, library events – you name it, something for everyone.

Note: Not all ships are geared to catering to children. I can say that I’ve hardly seen any kids on a Celebrity cruise. But there are other cruise lines that cater to children offering mini classes, activities, babysitting and kid’s menus. From the feedback I’ve gathered, the Disney ships are magnificent for children.

All ships have spas on board. Some of the best masseuses work on ships. You will find a variety of different massages, hair salon, nail salon, yoga classes and a gym for your convenience.

Tip: The massages aren’t cheap but I always manage to sneak 1 or 2 in for a better price. I always use part of my free onboard credit to put towards a massage. And when the ship is in port and most people are off the ship for the day, the ship will offer a discount on massages and that’s when I book in my second massage.

~ ~ ~

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ship tips for today. Please share your experiences of cruise ships with us. Debby

©D.G. Kaye 2018

Another fantastic tutorial on how to best enjoy and get the best value for money during your cruise vacation. I certainly did not know a fraction of this and will take it on board….(sorry).

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

A review for Have Bags Will Travel

“Have Bags, Will Travel” is a delightful read on the experiences of travel, fashion, the art of packing suitcases with the emphasis on having a good time. Author, D.G. Kaye details her days on board planes to many popular destinations and her vivacious antics with friends. She also relates her solo travels to exotic destinations with steep cliffs and too much baggage. I particularly enjoyed the details of the by-gone, romantic days aboard Wardair, and the exquisite details of vintage Las Vegas.

A consummate shopper, D.G. Kaye relates her rather humorous run-ins with customs officials. How does it feel to be singled out routinely by airline officials? A read through this humorous pages will give you the insight to these first-hand conflicts.

I would say this might be required reading for shoe connoisseurs and fashion mavens especially if they have a plane ticket in hand. Germ avoidance theory is also discussed, and it may never be possible to look at airplane bathrooms the same.

D.G. Kaye brings back the memories of best friends and blazing trips through the desert. Many readers will identify with the struggles of this stylish lady attempting to blend in to avoid a custom’s mishap. A short and super fun read, “Have Bags, Will Travel” is perfect for your next airplane ride.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S

Other books by D.G. Kaye

51ipqxbodml-_uy250_crop

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Come and visit me at our Literary Diva’s Library group on Facebook

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of Debby’s travel column and we look forward to your questions and comments. 

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Comedian in Residence D.G. Kaye and a joke from Sally’s Archives.


First Debby Gies shares some of the funnies this week that she feels you should not miss.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

My thanks to Debby for spotting these.. and please give her a round of applause.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s monthly Travel Column here on Smorgasbord: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Now time for a joke (s) from my archives..

Memory Games – What was its name?

Two elderly couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, “Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?”

“Outstanding,” Fred replied. “They taught us all the latest psychological techiniques-visulization, association-it made a huge difference for me.”

“That’s great! What was the name of the clinic?” Fred went blank He thought and thought, but couldn’t remember. Then a smile broke across his face and he asked, “What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?”

“You mean a rose?”

“Yes, that’s it!” He turned to his wife. . .”Rose, what was the name of that clinic?”

Passionate

Two police officers saw this old woman staggering down the street, stopping her they can tell she has had far too much to drink and instead of taking her to jail they decide to just drive her home.

They loaded her into the police cruiser one of the officers gets in the back with the drunk woman. As they drove through the streets they kept asking the woman where she lived, all she would say as she stroked the officer’s arm is “You’re Passionate”.

They drove awhile longer and asked again, again the same response as she stroked his arm “You’re passionate”.

The officers were getting a little upset so they stopped the car and said to the woman, “Look we have driven around this City for two hours, and you still haven’t told us where you live.

She replied I keep trying to tell you: “You’re Passin It!”

I hope this has left you with a smile on your face and please feel free to pass it on…thanks Debby and Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column Rewind – with D.G. Kaye – #Cruising – Reports and Tips Part One – D.G. Kaye


D.G. Kaye… Debby Gies is having a break from the travel column this month as she is in the middle of several projects. However, in celebration of her first anniversary, I am going to repeat her first post this week and part two next week, on the subject of cruises. It is always useful to have information and tips from someone who has travelled extensively and I am sure if you missed these next two posts, you will find very helpful.

Cruising – Reports and Tips Part One

In this series I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places I’ve traveled to, tips about preparing for travel, staying safe when traveling, and how to get the best bang for your dollars.
In today’s post I’ll be talking about cruises. I love cruising. I’ve been on approximately 15 cruises and have the protocol down to a science.

I began cruising with Celebrity cruises because of the many good recommendations I received and after researching various cruise lines while initially trying to decide which cruise line to choose. I had a fabulous first experience cruise with them and never looked any further. I also met many cruisers on the cruises I’ve been on and heard lots of stories about bad experiences with low quality food, tiny cabins, expensive beverages and lack of activities offered. I also met people who traveled on various cruise lines who said their best experience was with Celebrity and I can understand why.

This article is not a plug for any particular cruise line, but rather a sharing about what I’ve gleaned about cruising. Because I travel with Celebrity this is the cruise line I make reference to. Other than the possibility of taking a River Cruise one day, any future cruises I take will remain with Celebrity. I’ve had nothing less than first class service, wonderful amenities, great food, beautiful cabins, and not to mention – their rewards program is fantastic, but I’ll get into that a little later. Therefore, for me, if it aint broken, I aint fixin’. As far as cruisers go, you either love being out on the ocean or you don’t. But for those of us who do, here’s the scoop on what to look for when choosing a cruise.

Which Cruise Line Should I Choose?

This is a matter of preference, pricing and itinerary. For many new cruisers, it can be overwhelming to decide which cruise line to book with. My advice to help you decide is to go to a cruise line site, look at their itineraries, fleet of ships, staterooms (cabins), dining options, reward programs, drink packages, activities, and check what they have offer. Doing your homework is important! You will also take note of which port your cruise leaves from – the further the sailing port is from where you live, the more it will likely cost to fly there. You can also get a good education by checking out sites that passengers leave reviews on such as Tripadvisor, Google, and directly to cruise line sites where travelers often leave honest reviews.

Are you a person who likes to spend a lot of time touring at each port or do you prefer hitting the beaches or shopping? Do too many days at sea in between ports bore you? Personally, I love sea days, they are days to relax at the pool and get my tan on. But some people get a bit antsy with too many sea days, so make sure you check out the ship’s itineraries when looking for one you’d enjoy.

Celebrity Equinox – This was the last ship I sailed with in 2017 – Posted by Mogens Hallas

Which Cabins Are Best For You?

Lodging cabins aboard ship are otherwise known as staterooms. There are various types of staterooms offered, each one with its own price points and perks, depending on your choice of category.

Traditionally, inside cabins are the cheapest, and if you’re anything like me, loving to sit on my balcony to take in the ocean view and enjoy watching the ship dock or sail, you’ll want the freedom of stepping outside your room and perhaps sipping on a cocktail after a lovely day in the sun. But some people are willing to forgo these benefits for a cheaper price and don’t mind an inside cabin.

Inside cabins don’t have windows or balconies, and as you may have seen in movies, the very bottom floors may have a tiny portal window if the cabin is just above sea level. I’m also claustrophobic so that is certainly no option for me.

Oceanview cabins have large floor to ceiling windows facing the ocean, but unless you go up one category, they don’t include balconies. From there, we get into oceanview cabins with balconies and yet another upgrade termed Concierge Class. These cabins are typically a little more generous in size with upgraded room amenities, bigger bathrooms, and come with additional services – your own stateroom attendant on call 24/7 for all your needs including room service orders.

Typically, in this class, you will also find other goodies in your stateroom upon arrival such as: a bottle of wine or champagne, personal tote beach bags, yours to keep, coupons for discounts in select restaurants onboard that aren’t part of your package, wifi usage, priority disembarking privileges, and of course, afternoon hor’s d’heurves of your choice brought to your cabin daily.

Next category up is Concierge Class cabins with spa privileges, ie: use of sauna and relaxing aromatherapy rooms for cabin passengers situated on spa floors, plus dining privileges in the ship’s elite restaurant for those who don’t prefer eating in the huge dining room where patrons congregate nightly for dinner at designated times.

Then of course, you have the Penthouse Cabins, which are almost condo-sized, complete with every imaginable perk including large balconies with sunbeds and a personal butler!

Which Part Of The Ship Is The Least Rocky?

The quick answer is ‘midship’. Midship cabins will typically run you a little more money than the same cabin type located at either the front or back ends of the ship. You will feel the least movement of the ship in a midship cabin. Personally, I don’t get seasick, despite encountering a few rough patches on a couple of cruises I took. But there are several aids people use to combat seasickness.

Some recommended aids to help with seasickness are Seabands, worn on the wrists, said to work on accupressure points to hold nausea at bay. Others swear by Bonine and Gravol. These are tablets you can purchase at any drugstore. Just make sure to take the non-drowsy Gravol or you might sleep away half your vacation!

What Do I Need To Know About Boarding The Ship?

Typically, on all cruises I’ve taken out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the cruises depart around 4PM, and protocol is, you can board up to 3 hours early and have lunch aboard and mingle before you’re assigned the okay to go to your cabin as time is needed to clean the rooms from the last sailing’s passengers. Concierge Class and all categories higher can board earlier because they have priority checkin.

The cruise lines state clearly that anyone missing final boarding time should find their way over to the next port that ship will sail to. So not fun! For this reason, many cruisers like myself, are seasoned enough to know that unforeseen circumstances such as flight delays, bad weather, etc., can leave you vulnerable to getting left behind from boarding the ship for same day arrivals. For these reasons, I prefer to fly out at least a day before the ship’s sail and begin my vacation earlier. Besides, I get extra cross border shopping time in!

Boarding a ship is similar to going through airport security where you will pass through similar security checks and scanners for your personal items to ensure safety for all passengers. Similarly, when the ship docks in each port and you return from an off-ship excursion, you will go through the same security procedure to re-board.

Once you’ve checked in on the ship, you’ll be given a ship card which will serve as your room key and cruise credit card where anything you purchase aboard – drinks, upgraded restaurant meals, shopping, booked tours, paid activities, etc., will all be charged to that card. You will pay your onboard cruise bill the evening before returning to your disembarking port at the end of the cruise.

As soon as the ship sails, each passenger will be directed to their section’s muster station for a short crash-course on emergency procedures. This is mandatory on all ships although, meeting times will vary with each cruise line.

Rewards Programs

Most cruise lines offer perks for new cruisers and upgrades for patrons who are repeat cruisers. It’s important to check what your cruise line has to offer you. I know with Celebrity, the more you cruise, the more discounts and perks you receive for every consequent cruise you take with them. These perks can be anything from cabin upgrades to free drink packages, free wifi, invites to the Captain’s party, discounts on spa facilities, and even discounted tour packages (something I’ll get into on the next post).

The points I earn for each cruise bumps up my status to a new category of perks. To stay competitive, many cruise lines offer package deals you can purchase when booking your cruise such as: a choice of different alcohol and non/alcohol packages and an onboard credit. And many offer these perks as part of a ‘take your choice’ bonus package just for booking with them. There may be a drink package, a special offer to have your tips included, or perhaps free or discounted wifi offered as a special bonus at the time of your booking.

Something else I recommend is if you discover you love cruising, you should book another cruise while onboard at the ship’s travel office because you will receive a discounted price and a cabin upgrade plus a choice of at least 2 or 3 packages included free in your booking onboard. I’m also going to add here that Celebrity has an ‘evergreen’ policy where once you’ve booked another future cruise you can change your destination choice to a different cruise anytime before the booked cruise date to pay the balance in full is due and keep every discount and package you were given when put to a different cruise. So, I highly recommend booking another cruise while onboard – any cruise, it doesn’t matter because you can change the destination or dates indefinitely and as many times as you deem. Note: You will also have the option to cancel a booked cruise and get back your full deposit. So, there’s really nothing to lose – it’s a win/win!

~ ~ ~

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post when I’ll be getting into your dining options, when and where to book excursions, shopping and tipping protocol, and things to beware of!

Do you have any cruise stories or info you’d like to share here?

Debby would love your questions and feedback

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Come and visit me at our Literary Diva’s Library group on Facebook

Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

Super fun travel reading on April 20, 2018

“Have Bags, Will Travel” is a delightful read on the experiences of travel, fashion, the art of packing suitcases with the emphasis on having a good time. Author, D.G. Kaye details her days on board planes to many popular destinations and her vivacious antics with friends. She also relates her solo travels to exotic destinations with steep cliffs and too much baggage. I particularly enjoyed the details of the by-gone, romantic days aboard Wardair, and the exquisite details of vintage Las Vegas.

A consummate shopper, D.G. Kaye relates her rather humorous run-ins with customs officials. How does it feel to be singled out routinely by airline officials? A read through this humorous pages will give you the insight to these first-hand conflicts.

I would say this might be required reading for shoe connoisseurs and fashion mavens especially if they have a plane ticket in hand. Germ avoidance theory is also discussed, and it may never be possible to look at airplane bathrooms the same.

D.G. Kaye brings back the memories of best friends and blazing trips through the desert. Many readers will identify with the struggles of this stylish lady attempting to blend in to avoid a custom’s mishap. A short and super fun read, “Have Bags, Will Travel” is perfect for your next airplane ride.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S

Other books by D.G. Kaye

51ipqxbodml-_uy250_crop

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Part two of the series next Monday…

Thanks for dropping by and would love to hear from you about your cruise experiences.

Smorgasbord Afternoon Video – D.G. Kaye finds another Gem… This Parrot swallowed a dictionary


Debby Gies has been scanning the airwaves for videos to share… here are some more that she has come across.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

Thanks to Debby for finding another gem.. I hope you have enjoyed… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – The Island of #Cuba #Caribbean


Welcome to this month’s edition of the Travel Column at the Smorgasbord. Today we’re going to learn more about the island of Cuba.

Officially named, the Republic of Cuba, Cuba is located in the northern part of the Caribbean where the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea meet, just south of Florida and the Bahamas. Havana is the capital of Cuba and the largest city of the Republic. Cuba also reigns over another island, Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) as well as a quite a few other minor archipelagos, covering a land mass of over 42,800 square miles. The exact name of Cuba and where it was derived from are unknown. It is believed that Christopher Columbus named the island for a town named Cuba from his native Portugal. The native language is Cuban Spanish, their own dialect from original Spanish.

Similar to many other Caribbean islands, Cuba was inhabited by the Taino people since 4000 – 3000 BC until the 15th century when it became a colony of Spain, again, until the Spanish American War of 1898 when it became occupied by the United States. After signing the Treaty of Paris in 1898 and more politics, Cuba became formally independent from the U.S. May 20, 1902, going through several leaderships and several political takeovers leading to the eventual takeover by a dictatorship in 1952 by Fulgencio Batista until he was ousted for his corruption and taken over by Fidel Castro under communist rule. Cuba is culturally considered part of Latin America and exports sugar, coffee and tobacco and nickel. As of 2016, Cuba was still declared an authoritarian government ruled country.

Before Castro took over in 1959, Cuba was considered one of the most advanced countries in Latin America. Cuba relied heavily on aid from the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, their economy went into a sliding depression, allowing some the opportunity for self-employment and the legalization of using the U.S. dollar for business, encouraging tourism.

For many decades, Cubans were not allowed to leave this island, yet many tried to flee communism in unsafe methods to get across the waters. Prior to January 2013, Cuban citizens weren’t allowed to travel abroad without obtaining official permission and applying for a government issued passport, which was usually denied and cost 5 month’s salary. Back on September 9, 1994, the U.S. had agreed to grant Cuba 20,000 visas annually if Cuba kept a promise to prevent further dangerous attempts to enter the U.S. by unsafe methods across the water.

Also, with the intervention of the U.S. government, in 2010, Cubans were granted permission to build their own houses. Approximately 85% of people own their homes paying no property taxes or mortgage interest. It is said there is no homelessness in Cuba. But in May of this year, because of increased U.S. trade embargo and a large decline of aid from Venezuela, and oil and fuel costs, Cuba has begun rationing staples, as almost two thirds of their country’s food is imported. Cuba’s natural resources include tobacco, fish, citrus and tropical fruits, coffee, beans, rice, chicken, potatoes and their most important export mineral – nickel. Cuba is currently drilling for oil as a geological survey has shown their capability to produce approximately 4 – 9 billion barrels.

Currency

Cuba has what is known as a dual currency system. The Cuban peso (CUP) is used to set wages and prices, while Convertible pesos (CUC) is used for the tourist economy, set at par with the U.S. dollar.

Tourism

Tourism in Cuba was originally restricted to segregated areas designed for tourism, and away from Cuban society. But it was marked that in 2003 over 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba mainly from Canada and Europe, helping to generate revenue for the country. In 2011 that number jumped to just over 2 ½ million tourists, making it the 3rd highest tourist destination in the Caribbean, coming in just behind Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

But with the introduction to more sanctions put on them by the Trump government in 2017, and the Cuban people not able to be innovative with their own business enterprising, tourism is currently down in Cuba. Many Canadians travel to Cuba for their winter vacations, as it’s one of the cheapest winter vacations for us despite the political clime.

Note: The rules for travel to Cuba by Americans have stipulations. Americans may not travel to Cuba with the impending embargo solely for the purpose of tourism. The Obama government was working on measures to change this policy, but the current administration has made more changes. Americans have 12 viable authorized travel categories to enable them to visit there. You can learn about these avenues in this Guide to Americans traveling to Cuba. You can also learn more about Legal Documentation required and what is and isn’t permissible when traveling to Cuba.

Climate

Climate in Cuba is tropical with light trade winds blowing throughout the year. Dry season is typically November through April with the rainy season May to October. Average temps run from 70 to 80 degrees. And of course, like most islands vulnerable to hurricanes, because Cuba sits close to the Gulf of Mexico, it is prone to frequent hurricanes. Cuba was hit by Irma in 2017, leaving enough damage, but incomparable to the damage after it hit Puerto Rico.

Beaches

Cuba is known to have some of the most pristine and beautiful white sand beaches. Couple that with turquoise waters, quiet and palm trees, it presents a serene and warm getaway. Some of the most beautiful and popular vacation spots in Cuba are Varadero (currently rated 2nd best beach in the world for 2019 by Tripadvisor), Santa Maria, and Los Cayos Coco, just to name a few. All tourist beaches offer the usual watersport activities and guided boat tours. You can read more details about the various beaches HERE

Shopping

Cuba isn’t typically known as the best shopping destination in the Caribbean, but there are still a few great finds to be had there. Cuba’s number one claim to fame are ‘the Cuban cigars’, which are treasured widely by cigar afficionados around the world. You can also find local chain stores, and a few boutiques in hotel shops where you may find some international brands of clothing and toiletries. Cuba also has some well-known rums. And as on most Caribbean islands, you can always find local markets selling hand-crafted goods from leather and wood, as well as handmade textile articles.

Gastronomy

A typical national Cuban dish is rice with black beans, a salad, roast pork (or fish or chicken, occasionally, beef), and fried plantains. This traditional dish is known as ‘comida criolla’. But in hotels and what’s classified as ‘the tourist network’, you can find various restaurants, specializing in Spanish, Italian and Chinese cuisine. I think there’s tons of room to grow in the sector of gastronomy for Cuba.
Notable Facts

• The music of Cuba is world famous for its Salsa, Bolero, and Rumba dancing.
• Don’t talk about politics while there as Cuba is still a communist country and their government doesn’t tolerate criticism lightly
• Crime levels are minimal. And you can usually find police on every block
• Least commercialized island in the Caribbean
• Make sure if you are going to stay in a bed and breakfast that it is one with a blue sign, not an orange sign on the front of the house. The orange sign is for Cubans only and both tourist and house owner can get in trouble by not abiding
• Never be working there on a tourist visa
• It is considered illegal to take photos of police and/or soldiers
• It is considered rude by Cubans to blow your nose or spit in public.
• Make sure to pack everything you may need for the trip to Cuba as there are many shortages of consumer goods – especially toiletries.
• Most of the cars driven in Cuba are old American cars dating back to prior of 1959 when America once played a big part of the central stage in Cuba. Once Castro came to power, he banned all imports of foreign cars and parts. But in the last couple of years a growing number of new Asian automobiles have been brought into the country. These newer vehicles are very expensive for the typical Cuban local and mostly unattainable
• Don’t forget to tip for every service you receive. The locals earn very little in Cuba, and those working in service industry desperately rely on tips
• The average salary for a Cuban is $20 per month!

My perspective

I have never been to Cuba, but I have quite a few friends and family members who travel there every winter to escape the cold and get a good bang for their bucks. Because I can’t speak from actual experience, I will share a few more things I have learned first-hand from those I know who have been there:

• It’s the beautiful weather and unspoiled beaches keeping them going back
• The food is less than spectacular
• Be sure to pack some old clothes – especially sneakers you no longer wish to keep and give them to the maids or any other service person in your resort. They will be more than thrilled to have anything wearable, especially American items they have no access to
• Don’t stray far from your resort without a guide
• If you’re looking for sun and sea and a more quiet and lazy vacation and aren’t a big foodie, you’ll enjoy it there

Me, personally, I have zero interest in going to Cuba despite the beautiful weather and beaches. I am not a big foodie to say the least, but I have several dietary restrictions that wouldn’t be met there for me – so I’ve been told. Also, if I’m going to travel to an island, I’d surely be going to one offering shopping – especially, international duty-free shopping! Plus, as a justice seeker with a difficult time keeping my opinions to myself, it may prove difficult for me to be somewhere where I couldn’t use the freedom of speech.

Has anyone here ever been to Cuba and would like to share their experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

© D.G. Kaye 2019

My thanks to Debby for sharing the guide to Cuba’s history and tourism. We usually select our holidays from glossy magazines or flash online websites that give you the showstopping information but not necessarily the possible downside to a location..Important to have all the facts before spending a great deal of money.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

Have Bags, Will Travel” is a delightful read on the experiences of travel, fashion, the art of packing suitcases with the emphasis on having a good time. Author, D.G. Kaye details her days on board planes to many popular destinations and her vivacious antics with friends. She also relates her solo travels to exotic destinations with steep cliffs and too much baggage. I particularly enjoyed the details of the by-gone, romantic days aboard Wardair, and the exquisite details of vintage Las Vegas.

A consummate shopper, D.G. Kaye relates her rather humorous run-ins with customs officials. How does it feel to be singled out routinely by airline officials? A read through this humorous pages will give you the insight to these first-hand conflicts.

I would say this might be required reading for shoe connoisseurs and fashion mavens especially if they have a plane ticket in hand. Germ avoidance theory is also discussed, and it may never be possible to look at airplane bathrooms the same.

D.G. Kaye brings back the memories of best friends and blazing trips through the desert. Many readers will identify with the struggles of this stylish lady attempting to blend in to avoid a custom’s mishap. A short and super fun read, “Have Bags, Will Travel” is perfect for your next airplane ride.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
MeWe: mewe.com/i/debbygies
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Thank you for joining us today and we would love to hear if you have been to Cuba and your feedback.. thanks Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines -Guest Comedian D.G. Kaye and some Jokes from Sally’s Archives.


First Debby Gies shares some of the funnies this week that she feels you should not miss.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

My thanks to Debby for spotting these.. and please give her a round of applause.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

And now something from my archives..

A wise veterinarian

The only cow in a small town in Northern Italy stopped giving milk. So the town folk found they could buy a cow in Sicily quite cheaply. So, they brought the cow over from Sicily. It was absolutely wonderful. It produced lots of milk every day and everyone was happy.

They bought a bull to mate with the cow to get more cows, so they’d never have to worry about their milk supply again. They put the bull in the pasture with the cow but whenever the bull tried to mount the cow, the cow would move away.

No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull, and he was never able to do the deed.

The people were very upset and decided to go to the local veterinarian, Dr. Santucchi, who was very wise, to tell him what was happening and to ask his advice.

“Whenever the bull tries to mount our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. If he attempts it from the one side, she walks away to the other side.”

The veterinarian rubbed his chin thoughtfully and pondered this before asking, “Did you by chance, buy this cow in Sicily?”

The people were dumbfounded, since no one had ever mentioned that they had brought the cow over from Sicily.

“You are truly a wise veterinarian,” they said. “How did you know that we got the cow from Sicily?”

The Vet replied with a distant look in his eyes and says, “My wife is from Sicily.”

Thanks for joining us today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face.. Debby and Sally.