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

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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

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/

And now time for a joke from my archives….

Don’t mess with blondes…

A lawyer and a blonde are sitting next to each other on a long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde is tired and just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists, saying that the game is really easy and a lot of fun. He explains how the game works: “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me, and visa-versa.” Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep. The chauvinistic lawyer figures that since his opponent is a blonde he will easily win the match, so he makes another offer:

“Okay, how about this “If you don’t know the answer you pay me only $5, but if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $50.” This catches the blonde’s attention and, figuring that there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, she agrees to play the game.

The lawyer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The blonde doesn’t say a word, reaches in to her purse, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer. Now, it’s the blonde’s turn. She asks the lawyer, “What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?”

The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references. He taps into the Airphone with his modem and searches the Net and even the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends E-mails to all his coworkers and friends he knows. All to no avail. After over an hour, of searching for the answer he finally gives up. He wakes the blonde and hands her $50.

The blonde politely takes the $50 and turns away to get back to sleep. The lawyer, who is more than a little frustrated, wakes the blonde and asks, “Well, so what IS the answer?”

Again without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.

Thank you for dropping in today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face….Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Afternoon Video – D.G. Kaye finds another Gem – Two Moose…whose going to give way!!


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 Laughter Lines – Guest Comedian D.G. Kaye and Jokes from Sally’s archives Episode 10..


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

Now time for a joke or two from my archives…

God and Eve, for the Girls.

“ God I have a problem.”

“What’s the problem Eve?”

“I know that you created me and provided this beautiful garden and all these wonderful animals as well as that hilarious comedic snake, but I’m just not happy.”

“And why is that Eve?” “God I am lonely and bored and I am sick to death of apples!”

“Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution, I shall create a man for you.”

“Man, what is that God?”

“A flawed, base, creature with many bad traits. He’ll lie, cheat and be vain. He will be witless and will revel in childish things. He will be bigger than you and will like fighting, hunting and killing things. He won’t be too smart, so he will need your advice to think properly. He will have very limited emotional capacity and will need to be trained. But, since you have been complaining, he will be able to satisfy your every physical need and you will never be bored again.

“Sounds great.” Says Eve with ironically raised eyebrows, “but what’s the catch, God?”

“Well you can have him on one condition.”

“And what is that God?”

As I said, he will be very proud and arrogant and egotistical – so you’ll have to let him believe that I made him first. And it will have to be our little secret. You know, woman to woman.

And some snippets...

1.Experience is a wonderful thing – it enables you to recognize a mistake when
you make it again.

2.After you’ve heard two eyewitness accounts of an auto accident it makes you wonder about history.

3.Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left.

4.Where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

5.I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

6.If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?

Thank you for joining us today.. donations gratefully received in the form of shares…thanks Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author D.G. Kaye


You might think that as popular and D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) is in our community that there was little more to find out about her… I beg to differ as you will find out.

First the official biography….

I’m a Canadian author, and I write my books under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. Welcome to my page and thanks for taking the time to visit!

You have landed here on my author website, which is also the place I love to blog about random occurrences and events about life. I also like to post articles about writing that I find informative and helpful for other writers, as well as share reviews on books I’ve read. Sharing is caring!

I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. My intent is to inspire others by sharing my stories about events I encountered, and the lessons that come along with them.

I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humor in some of my other works and blog posts.

When I was a young child, I was very observant about my surroundings. Growing up in a tumultuous family life; otherwise known as a broken home, kept me on guard about the on-and-off-going status of my parents’ relationship. I often wrote notes, and journaled about the dysfunction that I grew up in. By age seven I was certain I was going to grow up to be a reporter.

Well life has a funny way of taking detours. Instead, I moved away from home at eighteen with a few meager belongings and a curiosity for life. I finished university and changed careers a few times always striving to work my way up to managerial positions. My drive to succeed at anything I put my mind to led me to having a very colorful and eventful life.

Ever the optimist, that is me. I’ve conquered quite a few battles in life; health and otherwise, and my refusal to accept the word ‘No’, or to use the words ‘I can’t’, keeps me on a positive path in life.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences.

Now time to find out which of the five questions Debby has selected to respond to….

Thanks for having me over Sal. I chose these 5 questions because often my personal habits and preferences spill into my writing. As many of my readers know, lots of my life is in my books as I share my stories to enlighten others. My stories of defeat, triumph and overcoming also include some of my shopping peeves, travel stories and overcoming a low self-esteem, and of course, the love for my father, so I’ve chosen the following questions to answer.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

My fashion sense began as a small child when I was fascinated by the way my mother dressed – stylish and trendy. I didn’t need to be too old to know that was how I wanted to dress when I got older. But being self-conscious about how I looked since childhood cautioned me as I grew into a teen that not everything that suited others necessarily suited me or my body type. I learned young how to wear things that accentuated my better parts instead of dwelling on the parts I wasn’t happy with.

Eventually, I developed a style of my own that suited me best, yet, was often original and not what everybody else was wearing. I’d have to say that my style is somewhere between eclectic, bohemian, and became bolder as I grew older and into myself. I’m pretty sure I was born with a knack for fashion and tried lots of things until I grew into myself. I’m a big fan of bold prints and colors and I love everything leopard LOL.

I often get complimented for clothes I wear by complete strangers while out and about, often adding that they wouldn’t have the guts to dress like me, but I seem to be able to pull it off because it suits me and my personality. I think many are afraid to step out of their comfort zones when trying out trendier styles and that has a lot to do with self-esteem. I know from myself when I was a teen, I liked more subdued clothing because I was happier blending into a crowd. But after I came out of my shell I became somewhat of a fashionista.

Sally here: I think we would all agree with that….

What are 5 things you’ll always find in your handbag?

I’m sorry but I must break the rules here because it doesn’t matter how small or big my purse is, the bare minimum that goes everywhere with me are: Wallet, Phone, Lipstick, Hand Sanitizer, Gum, and a tiny pill container containing a few Advil for unexpected headaches, and Zantac for unexpected indigestion. Those items are my essentials. Of course, there are various other items I carry with me, but enough said for now.

What is the strangest dream you ever had?

The strangest dream I ever had, I don’t believe was a dream. I dreamed I visited my father in heaven a few months after he passed away. I had a very special bond with my father all my life and when he died suddenly of a massive heart attack while on vacation, it took me a long time to get over losing him. I had an inner knowing with my father and inner alarm bells would go off within when I felt something was wrong him. I was very unsettled after his death until I had the dream, or perhaps I should say, the out of body experience, when I visited him in heaven and felt I was given the chance to have a proper goodbye with him. I found myself following a great white light and he approached me in the white shroud he was buried in, but his face was clear.

I wasn’t able to ‘cross the line’ that separated us, but he smiled at me and told me he loved me and that he was at peace and would always be watching over me. It was so real I hesitate to call it a dream. When I woke up, I felt as though I’d landed with a thud back into my body in my bed. From that day on, despite still grieving for the loss of my father, a new sense of peace had come over me, gradually turning into acceptance of my loss and I learned to carry the love in my heart instead of enduring a broken one.

If you could get rid of one household chore, what would it be?

Vacuuming! I will be blunt here – I hate vacuuming! It’s hard on the back, never fits in the crevices I need it to, it’s loud, and I don’t like loud. I could probably use a new one, but I keep procrastinating about buying a new one because I hate to spend money on something I hate doing. I’m on the fence about what kind of vacuum I’d buy next and seriously contemplating getting one of the robotic ones that go around the floors by themselves. I’m opened to hearing about anyone who loves their vacuum? Lol.

Sally here: I think many of us share the same view on this household chore, but I do think that a bit of music does make a difference……

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

These days it’s Mexico! My desires change with the winds though, I’ll find somewhere I love and keep going back to that same place until I get an itch to go somewhere new. And that’s the cycle of travel with me. I love Mexico with the beautiful hot sunny days, breezy nights, great food and margaritas, and especially the fact that it’s the best bang for my Canadian bucks – our crappy dollar does very well there. I recently returned from a fabulous 2 months in Puerto Vallarta and have booked it again for next winter.

Perhaps after my next visit I may get the bug to travel somewhere else, but even if I do, I know I’d still go back there in between other holidays.

And you can discover more about Puerto Vallarta in Debby’s Travel Column this month Part One with Part Two coming in April.

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?”

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the recent reviews for P.S. I Forgive You on Goodreads

Another wonderful read from author D.G. Kaye. I admire Kaye’s courage in sharing her story of a strained, abusive and then estranged relationship with her mother. How she overcame her guilt for letting go and saving herself from further damage from her own mother was rewarding to read.

As well, the very thought of ‘leaving a parent’ goes against all that we learn and what societal norms tell us is right. Therefore, we must be horrible people to cut off a parent, right? Wrong. Sometimes there is no other option if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Especially when said parent is a text book narcissist. Kudos to Kaye for making the break and following through with tough decisions regarding her toxic mother.

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 dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed finding a little bit more about Debby Gies.. I am sure that she would love to hear from you… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column – St. Thomas #VirginIslands by D.G. Kaye


This month D. G. Kaye takes us to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. A beautiful island with crystal blue seas.. as you will discover from our travel correspondent.

Welcome to this month’s edition of my Travel Column at Smorgasbord Travel Magazine. This month we’re visiting the beautiful island of St. Thomas – one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

History

St. Thomas is one of the trio of islands that make up the U.S Virgin Islands along with St. Croix and St. John. The capital city of St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie, boasting a population on that island of over 52,000 people and a land mass of approximately 32 square miles. St. Thomas has almost 50% more population than the other two islands.

Christopher Columbus discovered the island back in 1493, and the Ciboney people were the first to inhabit the island. In 1666 Denmark and Norway conquered the island and by 1672 the island was run by the Dano-Norwegian chartered company, taking over the island and dividing the land into sugar cane plantations, resulting in the importing of slaves to tend the plantations. Some of the largest slave auctions in the world were held in St. Thomas.

In 1691 the primary settlement on the island was renamed after King Christian V’s wife, Charlotte Amalie. The island was later declared a free post by Fredrick V, son of Christian VI of Denmark. The term, ‘free post’ was used to determine light taxation, and often no taxes at all were placed on companies and their goods to stimulate economic activity.

In March of 1801, the British invaded the Danish West Indies and took over the island, until returning the islands back to Denmark-Norway in 1802. A second invasion by the British again in 1807, lasting till 1815 when once again, the island was returned to Denmark-Norway.

Sugar trading had made the island prosperous until the 19th century when too much damage from hurricanes past and drought had brought lots of competition from American sugar traders. By the time the Danish revolution began in 1848, slavery was abolished which left the island with escalating labor costs, diminishing sugar production. By 1917 the islands were poorly managed, and the U.S. eventually purchased St. Thomas and it’s two sister islands for a cool 25 million dollars in gold in efforts to keep control of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during World War I. By 1927, the U.S. had begun granting citizenship to the island’s residents.

Courtesy of Paradise-Islands.org

Climate

As with most islands, the beautiful Caribbean climate in St. Thomas runs steady throughout the year with average highs anywhere from the mid-eighties to low nineties. Average lows typically hover around the mid-seventies. Lowest precipitation levels run February through June. And of course, as all islands’ danger, hurricane season. Where Irma devasted this island in 2017.

Beaches

St. Thomas has many natural bays and harbors and is known for some of its beautiful beaches. Magens Bay, a heart-shaped protected bay, is one of the most popular white sandy beach beaches with a mile long of gorgeous public parkland offering an array of water sport rental equipment, food stands and beach chairs. Other beaches are located on Great Bay, Jersey Bay, Long Bay, Fortuna Bay, and Hendrik Bay. All beaches are gorgeous with their turquoise, calm waters where one can scuba dive, snorkel, sea trek at Coral World or swim with the sea turtles, sea lions and sharks!

A look at beautiful St.Thomas where the cruise ships dock. As you can see, once off the ship pier and through the gates you will see the shopping terminals at Havensight Mall – the rows of buildings with red rooves.

Land Attractions

Plenty of land activities are available on the island too. From fly fishing, to tropical botanical gardens, helicopter rides, skydiving, distilleries, hiking, biking, golfing and museums – not to mention shopping, there is plenty to see and do on the island.

Cruise ships dock in Long Bay at Havensight Pier, a short cab ride away from Charlotte Amalie.

Island Transportation

There are plenty of taxis and covered safari-like trucks that offer rides around the island.
Ferry services are available to transport people from the island to neighboring islands as well. There is also a ferry which will transport people with their cars.
Inherited from Danish practice, the U.S. Virgin Islands kept the driving laws of driving on the left side of the road, the only American places where driving on the left is practiced. This may seem a bit awkward to some, but many of the cars driven on the island are imported from America where the steering wheels are also on the left side.

Carnival

Virgin Island Carnival is celebrated from mid-April through beginning of May. This became an annual event since 1952. With music and dancing and savory cuisine, V.I. Carnival is the second most popularly celebrated carnival in the Caribbean.

Cuisine

You will find a plethora of restaurants and exotic cuisine available on the island. There is something for everyone from American food to West Indian food, Chinese, Italian. Vegetarian, Caribbean, Asian. Cajun, Latin, Mexican, and more!

Shopping!
St. Thomas is a duty-free island, and barely a person escapes leaving the island without purchasing something to take home with them. Particular items of interest with 30 – 60% off retail prices, plus, no tax are: liquor, perfume, jewelry, tobacco, cameras, crystal, china and electronics – oh, did I mention jewelry?

The best places to shop for these deals are right in the Havensight Mall terminals, a massive outdoor mall lined with rows of store after store – many of them selling jewelry! Havensight Mall is conveniently located as you step off your cruise ship! You will also find fun shopping in downtown Charlotte Amalie, Crown Bay, and Yacht Haven Grande on main street.
*St. Martin and St. Thomas are two of the best islands to shop on – in my opinion!

Accommodations

There are plenty of beautiful hotels, beach resorts, all inclusives and time-share rentals where one can stay when visiting St. Thomas. For more information and recommendations for accommodations and more, please visit THIS LINK to explore what this beautiful island has to offer.

I found this fabulous short video which captures the beauty of St. Thomas and her sister islands and all they have to offer. And yes, the color of the water looks exactly like pictured – sort of a tri-colored turquoise. Spectacular!

Funny Story

I’ve been to St. Thomas several times by cruise ship. And I’m not afraid to say I look forward to visiting there every time, if only just for the shopping.

The beauty of shopping there for anything your heart desires is that if you don’t feel like going into town after exiting the cruise ship, the Havensight Mall is right where the ships dock.
We usually travel on cruises with another couple, Lynn and Gary. Lynn is an even more compulsive shopper than I am. On our last visit to St. Thomas just over a year ago now, Lynn and I were excited to exit the ship and get our shopping on. We knew we could get our shopping done by lunchtime if we got off as soon as the ship docked around 8:00 am. We never even bothered wearing real clothes, we had our bathing suits on and threw on a coverup and flip flops and planned to power shop for about 4 hours and return to ship for lunch and sunbathing.

There is a huge wrought iron gate that passengers must walk through once off ship to enter the outdoor mall, and basically, the country. In order to pass through the gate, we have to walk past customs agents who man the gates, but only have to present our passports to them upon returning back to ship.

When Lynn and I were done shopping and walked up to the gate, Lynn discovered she’d left her passport in her cabin. Of course I had mine, I never exited the ship without it. We tried to joke around and cajole the customs officer manning the gate to allow Lynn to come back to ship with me, but he wasn’t having any of it! So Lynn had to wait on the other side of the gate while I boarded the ship and went up to the pool to find my husband and Gary sucking back beers in the sizzling sun, and informed Gary he had to go bail out his wife with her passport. He was not impressed, but I’d done my job and I wasn’t wasting another 20 minutes of glorious pool time by getting off the ship again and rescuing Lynn.

When she came back we laughed our heads off at what had transpired, ate some lunch, went for a swim, and since the ship wasn’t leaving port till early evening, decided we should go back to the mall in case there was something else we could find to spend money on. Husband’s were not impressed, and Lynn didn’t forget her passport again.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of my Travel Column. Have any of you ever been to St. Thomas?

Sally here:  I have been to the island for one of the segments of the Anthony Robbins Mastery University course that David and I completed from 1996 to 1998. I had managed to lose 80lbs of my 150lb target and to celebrate climbed a telegraph pole, perched on the top and then jumped off to catch a trapeze. In reality most of us missed and plummeted to earth (or so it seemed). I insisted that there were two men on the end of the safety line.. thank goodness, I still managed to lift them off their feet.  A beautiful island with crystal blue seas.. as you will discover from our travel correspondent.

©D.G. Kaye 2018

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 recent reviews for Words We Carry.

Once in a while you come across a book that really speaks to you. Reading ‘Words We Carry’ by D. G. Kaye was like having friends over for coffee and revealing our innermost secrets or speaking to your mentor about life and how to make it better. The author, who has natural psychology opened my eyes and made me ponder why I react the way I do to certain things or certain people. I enjoyed author, D.G. Kaye’s writing style––so friendly and warm. This book is well written and is easily one that can change someone’s life. I recommend this book to anyone who ever felt insecure, self-conscious or inadequate. An easy 5 star read.

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
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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. Thanks Sally and Debby