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Just for Me


Traveling Mike
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Lessons Learned

I am going to add a list of my lessons learned here so you do not have to read through all my random postings you do not care about.

  1. Don't forget toothpaste or hair conditioner.  This lesson cost me $8 for toothpaste and $15 for hair conditioner
  2. Don't leave any kind of medication at home.  I left my over-the-counter allergy medicine at home and found out they no longer carry it on the ship.  If you need any kind of medicine, aspirin, binadrill ... you have to talk to the doctor on the ship and get it from them.  They want to test you for Covid before treating you sniffles for setting in the casino and getting a snoot full of cigarette smoke.
  3. Ocean View on a Trans-Atlantic does not do much good.  The window stays wet and gets dirty after two days so it is not usable.  Lucky they gave it to me with a free upgrade.
  4. You don't have to eat every meal and have 4 or 5 courses.  I am doing great with No Bread, no appetizer and no desert.
  5. You can take desert back to your room.  I do not want to stuff at dinner so if there is a desert that looks really good I get it to go.  I take it to the cabin and have it for a snack before bed.

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I am very sorry... I am writing this for my enjoyment.  If you want to follow that would be OK and you might enjoy it also... just do not expect too much.  I am going on the Vision of the Seas on Friday April 29, 2022.  We are doing a 14-day Trans-Atlantic Cruise going through the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean and ending up in Barcelona.   I have been trying to pack for the last 3 days but my dog, Jupiter, is making it very hard.  Every time he sees the suitcase he gets upset and shows me he is mad at me.  Jupiter remembers the suitcase and knows it means I will be gone for a longer time, and he does not like that.  The younger dog, Pluto, does not remember the suitcase or does not care.  For now, I just have to get everything ready and will pull out the suitcase tomorrow night and pack everything at once.  So, to end up tonight I will post something about me.

Introduction:

  • Name:  Michael, Mike, Traveling Mike, Dad, Coach.
  • Age: 61 … Still trying to figure out if I am old enough for the adults table at Thanksgiving
  • Hometown:  Fresno California … Hopefully soon I can same I am from the world traveling. 
  • Traveling With:  Solo... I have been a single father for 24 years traveling with my son and now he stays at home and works so my traveling partner is myself now.
  • Occupation:  I spent 16 years driving truck, went back to school and now I drive a Computer (computer programmer for a school district)
  • Spare Time:  I coach water polo.  I coach elementary kids and high school varsity
  • Cruising Experience:  as close as I can figure I have been on 20 cruises (5 with 1st wife, 12 with my son & 5 solo) (5 Disney, 6 Carnival, 2 RCL, 4 NCL, 3 Princes, 2 Celebrity)

I know this is not much but don't worry I will be like a bad penny and my posts will keep showing up here.

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I am following along since I will likely not get to do a transatlantic cruise anytime soon…if ever!  😔. And if I do someday get to do this type of sailing (I certainly would love to!)…then I too would be traveling solo 😁.   My husband has been a trouper agreeing to our last few cruises and even the 8 nighter coming up in September…but would NEVER agree to more than that! 
Really looking forward to this blog!

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I just checked in for my flight that leaves Fresno California and takes me to Fort Lauderdale.  Like all my flights this year the flight is overbooked.  American Airlines sends me emails asking  me if I will fly a different day.  I am also at work trying to get ready to leave.  I do not want to work but have lots to do.  I came in early and will be working until late tonight.  Then I get to go home and finish packing.  I hope to get some sleep on the flight.

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1 hour ago, Ampurp85 said:

Even though I travel solo a lot, I don't think I could do a transatlantic solo, so I am excited to follow along.

I enjoyed your other blog, are you still on a diet and will be counting your calories?

Yes, but for some reason my weight loss stopped and I am only down 2 lbs from my February cruise.  I am going to use this cruise a little different because of all the sea days to start the cruise.  I am going to swim laps in the pool early in the morning, then try to walk at least 5 miles every day.  I am hoping to get up to walking 10 miles before we hit the canary islands.

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This is my typical trip; it is 9 hours until my flight and I am washing cloths so I can pack.  I am wondering what I will forget and wondering if I will get to sleep before midnight.  My suitcase is out so the dogs are mad.  The older one will not come near me and they younger one will not leave my side.

Pluto

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Anyone reading this log, get ready... you are going to feel great about yourself.  Yes, I am packing at the last minute, and I left my computer power cord at work.  I just had to take the dogs and drive 20 minutes downtown and to get my power cord.  That was 1 hour of time I did not have.  Yes... I am stupid, I took it out of my bag on purpose.  I was trying to lighten my bag, so I took the extra cords out of my bag at work, not home, and by mistake my power cord was part of them.  Now time to charge my computer and try to get 4 hours of sleep.

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I love pre-check.  If you do not have it, you need to look into getting it.  I have Global Pass and It is not much more money or work, and it gets you into the United States without any hassle.  I got to the airport in Fresno, a medium size airport, and it was very busy outside at 4:20 am.  I lucked out and American Airlines was not the busy one this morning.  Everyone was loading other airlines.  I got my ticket and dropped my bag (34 lbs.) very quickly.  I got over to security and the regular line was very long.  I got in the Pre-Check line and walked right to the front of it.  As soon as the guard was done with the person, she was working on she called me in front of the people in the regular line.  She checked me really quick and sent me to the line by the wall where no one was at.  The guard was working with a Spanish speaker having him pull off his sweeter and shoes and belt and everything out of his pockets.  He waived me around him, and I just dropped my computer backpack (with the computer in it) on the belt and waked through with everything still on.  I was in and out so fast I felt guilty.  Now I just have to wait an hour for my flight to load to take me to Dallas then to Fort Lauderdale.

Talk to you later,

Mike

302

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8 hours ago, Traveling Mike said:

This is my typical trip; it is 9 hours until my flight and I am washing cloths so I can pack.  I am wondering what I will forget and wondering if I will get to sleep before midnight.  My suitcase is out so the dogs are mad.  The older one will not come near me and they younger one will not leave my side.

Pluto

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Dogs know....they always know.  It's like the umbilical cord is about to be cut....

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1 hour ago, Traveling Mike said:

I love pre-check.  If you do not have it, you need to look into getting it.  I have Global Pass and It is not much more money or work, and it gets you into the United States without any hassle.  I got to the airport in Fresno, a medium size airport, and it was very busy outside at 4:20 am.  I lucked out and American Airlines was not the busy one this morning.  Everyone was loading other airlines.  I got my ticket and dropped my bag (34 lbs.) very quickly.  I got over to security and the regular line was very long.  I got in the Pre-Check line and walked right to the front of it.  As soon as the guard was done with the person, she was working on she called me in front of the people in the regular line.  She checked me really quick and sent me to the line by the wall where no one was at.  The guard was working with a Spanish speaker having him pull off his sweeter and shoes and belt and everything out of his pockets.  He waived me around him, and I just dropped my computer backpack (with the computer in it) on the belt and waked through with everything still on.  I was in and out so fast I felt guilty.  Now I just have to wait an hour for my flight to load to take me to Dallas then to Fort Lauderdale.

Talk to you later,

Mike

302

PreCheck is one of the greatest things about travel. I fly semi-frequently between work and vacations, and typically fly out of Newark -- so easy to get your money's worth (and in my case, it's paid for by one of my credit cards -- we only pay for my wife).

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We have (or had...my guess is that the membership has since lapsed) Clear + Global Entry (which includes Pre Check) and with both of those, flying was sooooo much easier.  The only problem with Clear is that it is not in every airport but it is in the biggest ones and that's where you really need it.  I used to fly internationally a lot so the GE was really helpful.  Not so much, lately.

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28 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

We have (or had...my guess is that the membership has since lapsed) Clear + Global Entry (which includes Pre Check) and with both of those, flying was sooooo much easier.  The only problem with Clear is that it is not in every airport but it is in the biggest ones and that's where you really need it.  I used to fly internationally a lot so the GE was really helpful.  Not so much, lately.

Clear was a sanity saver in MIA.  Regular security line: disaster.  PreCheck: better but still epic for PreCheck.  Clear: absolutely no one using it, and 4 employees handling the kiosks.  BOOM.  Straight through.

For those of you with an AMEX card, check your benefits.  Clear enrollment will be refunded.  That's for Plat, not sure about other cards. 

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I made it to Fort Lauderdale without any issues.  Everything went smoothly.  The nice lady that has the Airbnb that I am staying at came and picked me up for and extra $20.  I like the Airbnb Link to Airbnb and it is a quite room with my own bathroom and shower.  I took my covid test yesterday at work and was negative before leaving California.  Tonight I had 3 of the self proctored tests from RCL that are going to expire in 3 weeks so I decided to do one tonight so I know what I am doing before I have to do it in Spain.  the test was fairly easy to do because I had a good connection and could hear the directions  from the proctor.  Now I am sleepy and will put a movie on my computer and see if I can get a good night sleep and board the ship tomorrow.

One last note:  I have an alarm set to get up at midnight to check in for my June 13 Alaska cruise.

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6 hours ago, twangster said:

Welcome to Florida!  

Check in for Alaska might occur in the local time zone back out West.  Let us know how that works out.

It looks like they use the time zone of the port.  It opened up for my Alaska cruise at 3:00 am EST or 12:00 am PST

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Day 1 - to the ship and try to organize

After getting cleaned up and packed at my Airbnb the host took me to the port in Fort Lauderdale.  I was surprised when we had to show photo id just to enter the port area.  I got dropped off at 10:45 am for my 11:00 am boarding time.  As soon as I entered the building there was someone to check to make sure I had my valid test results and vaccinations.  After being cleared I went through metal detectors and on to a person that checked me in.   They were not at a counter like they have been in the past.  It was just a person standing in the middle with a scanner and handheld device.  They check my boarding pass, covid test results, vaccination records and passport.  After doing all their input they did inform me that I got a FREE Upgrade.  They moved me from 2 deck inside cabin aft to 3 deck ocean view midship.  They then directed me to a holding pen.  This took a total of 10 minutes.  After we got our seats in the holding area, we got to sit there for the next 2 hours.  I found out later that everything was late because the ship got back into port late that morning.  Once back on the ship it was not much better; rooms were not ready, everyone got on the ship about the same time, so the buffet was backed up and out of plates and food.  We had to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for plates and then when we went into the buffet line there was not much food.  After getting food I was able to go stand in line at customer service and get my room key that they did not have because of them moving my cabin.  Once I was all set it was time for a nap.

Evening

At 4 pm we had a Cruise Critic and Facebook get to gather.  Those are always hard because you never know who is who.  After meeting some new friends I left and went to my 6 pm dinner in the main dining room.  I choose to eat alone because that allows me to eat and get out of there in about 45 minutes.  If I eat at a table with other people it would have been 2+ hours.  At 7 pm I went to the Singles and Solo get to gather planned by the ship.  The problem with these are they are at a common bar and is not hosted.  So I was setting there realizing I could spot about 10 other people setting there alone wondering "Is this it?".  After a new minutes a couple of us started talking and we started moving everyone together.  It would not have happened if me and one other person would not have started asking people to join.  After a hour there I went and talk to a new friend as she at a light dinner.  When we were done and both realizing how tired we were it was off to bed to watch TV and try to sleep.

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Day 2 - Still does not feel like my ship

This was our first sea day.  We started out with our Slot Pull.  If you do not know what that is, it where everyone tosses in $20 into one slot machine and then everyone gets 4 pulls.  When everyone has their turn, you split the amount left with everyone.  They also had some prizes for people.  We ended up getting $19 of our $20 back so the adventure cost us $1.  In the midafternoon we started our Daily Trivia Competition.   I got a team from the Facebook Cruise Group.  It is fun because I get to play with 5 other people that I did not know until this trip.  In the evening I went to dinner at Chops Grill.  This is a high-end steak house taht has an extra cost associated with it.  I purchased a package of 5 dinners for the 14-day cruise.  I had a 16 oz Rib Eye Steak with mushrooms.  By the time I was done I had to take the cheesecake back to my room for a late-night snack.  After dinner I took a nap and got back up for the 9:30 pm show in the theatre.  That was a mistake.  I ended up walking out after about 10 minutes.  The man was singing songs from the 50's and doing imitations from famous people while he sang.  If he would not have told me who he was doing I would not have known.  At least it got me back to my room early to watch some movies on my computer.  Note:  The internet is good enough to stream movies.  The one issue is I am showing signed in from the UK so HBO Max and Netflix are not working.

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Day 3 - realize I am on a cruise

I slept in to 10:30 am.  I was really proud of myself until I realized it was 6:30 am back home.  I got up and went to see what was in the Buffet for lunch.  I have to find a better place to eat for lunch or figure out how to make the Buffet food better.  I am starting to realize the Royal Caribbean Buffets are not very good.  In my opinion they are a tick below School Lunch.  Ater Lunch, I sat on the pool deck enjoying the fresh sea air while I got ready for my Poker Pub Crawl.  I am hosting a game called the Poker Pub Crawl and I had to get 6 decks of cards ready.  After getting everything ready I went back to my cabin to take a short nap and lucked out that I ran into a new friend that reminded me that at noon the time jumped ahead one hour.  Needless to say, that took my nap away and I had to get to the start of my event.  In my opinion the Poker Pub Crawl is one of the better things for a new group to do.  It is a social event where everyone kicks in $5, and we move around to 5 bars and at each bar we pull a poker card from the deck and visit with all the other people there.  This is a great way of meeting new people that you are going to be with for the next 12 days.  At the end someone won the winning pot of $75 with a full house and the lowest had of 7 high won $50.  We had fun and still was able to get to our daily trivia at 3:30 pm.  Now it is time for dinner, and I am off to the main dining room tonight.

Night

I went to the theater show tonight and thought it was very good.  This was a comedian that was on the Symphony with me in January.  It was very entertaining, and the time went quickly.  When it was over, I wished he would be doing a second show.  The shows on this cruise are only doing one show in the 14-day cruise.  Now I am back in my room doing some work that is needed for tomarrow back in Fresno.

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Day 4 - Starting to act like I am cruising

I did not get out of bed until 12:00 noon.  I woke up at 8 am and decided I was on vacation and did not want to get out of bed.  I was so late getting up I just swapped towels with the cabin steward.  Today I went to the main dining room for lunch.  I have given up on the buffet, it is terrible.  The food was good, and I was able to get an adjusted meal to match my calorie counting.  JUMP TO DINNER ... At dinner had one of the best meal, I have had in a long time.  It was a light meal with great taste.  I had a shrimp appetizer and fish and jasmine rice for my main dish.  The fish was not battered and was light and great flavor.  Traffic Jam ...  During my meal I had lots of visitors.  The bar manager seen me and came over to talk to me about how my Poker Pub Crawl went and if I needed anything different for the second one.  As soon as he left the waiter that helped us with the Poker Pub Crawl came over to thank me for the tip I left him at the front desk.  As soon as he left the dining room manager came over and asked me about my meal and how the food had been.  Then he asked the wrong/right thing, "How is the buffet".  People that know me, know I am not afraid to tell the truth.  We had a discussion on how bad it is and what they are doing wrong.  He did let me know I am not the only one telling him the same thing.

Nightly Theatre Show X2

Alfred & Seymour as playing in the theater.  They were great, crazy, energetic and fun.  They worked the croud and had lots of fun with comedy.  I got so much fun out of it I went back for the 9:30 pm show.

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Day 5 - Walking and missed Breakfast and Lunch

I got up earlier today, but it was still 10:30 am.  I got in shorts and a t-shirt and went to get some exercise.  I found that the top deck with the jogging and walking track is not very good.  It has lots of wind and chars in the way.  Not much fun walking ... BUT ... on deck 5 is the perfect place for walking.  There is a wooden deck that goes almost all the way around the ship.  On the back of the ship, it goes all the way around.  Then in the front it stops short, but you can go through automatic doors to get to the other side.  I walked about 5 or 6 loops and was able to get 2 miles.  I was hoping for 5 miles, but my body had other ideas.  It started out with my hips hurting, then it went to my back and when I ignored that my body said,  "OK, you think you are tuff, take this" and started making my head light headed and things spinning.  I gave up and stopped at 2 miles.  It is amazing how your own body will attack you when it is not happy.

Food ????

After waking I went back and cleaned up in the cabin.  I though I was fine for time because it was only 1 pm.  I went to the main dining room where I ate a good meal yesterday and found out they closed at 1 pm.  They told me to eat at the Buffett.  I asked him if he has every ate there... he was smart enough to not answer.  Well I tried the buffet again and once again I was sorry.  It was bad again.  I should have just skipped lunch and been really hungry for a good dinner and loose some weight.

New Friends ???

I am on the 5th day and am getting lots of people stopping and visiting with me.  I have my trivia team I see every day at 3:30 pm and lots of others that I keep seeing at shows and other events.  Today I stopped at a bar to get a Diet Coke and ended up with a group of 10 people that seen me and stopped to talk about what was going on.  This is the nice thing on a cruise like this... everyone is looking for new friends.

Now it is time for dinner and then off to a game show about marrage.  I am sure it will make me feel good about being single.

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Day 6 - Geriatric Cruise

Ok,  I am not a spring chicken but there are times on this cruise I feel like I am on the wrong cruise.  The last two nights there we two different times.  Two nights ago it was a Twist dance competition.  Out of everyone on the ship they picked three couples to do the competition that were all over 70 and could hardly dance.  Last night was worse.  They had a game "Love and Marriage".  This is a game with three married couples answering questions.  They started out asking for the couple they have been married the longest;  they got a couple married 55 years.  Then they went for the newlyweds.  The newlyweds they got have been married 4 years and dated 5 years.  And to top it off they were somewhere in their late 60's.  Then they got the middle marred couple;  they had been married 50 years.  To Be Fair...  this cruise is not young but it is not that bad just at times it feels that way.  There are lots of younger people but they seem to stay away from the nightly shows and gathering.  I know when I take a 14 day cruise in April I will be with retired people.

Wait and Wait and Wait then Frustration

The internet has been very good until yesterday.  I am hoping it is because we were in the middle of the Atlantic.  I am back to the internet of 1993 where you type the page you want then go to the kitchen and get a snack and you were excited if the page was up when you got back.  Today (day 7) it seems to be a little better.  Hopefully it will continue to improve as we get closer to land.

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