Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a prairie home companion

I've been a fan of A Prairie Home Companion for so many years. It is a wonderful radio show that is, I've read, much like the radio shows that predated television. Thousands mourned when it went off the air in 1987, the year my son was born. It came back a few years later, much to the delight of so many fans.

This weekend, I will travel to Nashville, Tennessee to appear in the studio audience in the Ryman Auditorium while the live show is aired. I am so excited to get to do this!!! We've splurged on the best seats in the house and I can hardly wait!

While I am in Nashville, maybe I can go visit the Hermitage Hotel to get a peek at the men's bathroom, which was just voted as "America's Best Restroom" in a contest sponsored by Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., which supplies personal hygiene products for public bathrooms. The men's room, you say? How does the women's room stack up? No clue - the article on didn't mention.

Nashville is also home to the Grand Ole Opry (which originally aired in the Ryman). I hate to miss that! But I probably will. I doubt my friend, Brenda, wants to play the part of the Nashville tour guide. But if she offers ...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

home again, home again ...

After I finished Friday's blog entry, I went back to the room to collect Mother. We went to the International Cafe and had tea and cake. Then we went to the Princess Theatre for the final staging of "Once Upon a Dream". How these dancers manage to do what they do while the ship is rolling is beyond me! Mother, exiting the theatre, said, "Pitiful!". I asked her what she meant. She indicated that the show was just not up to her standards. I thought the cast did a great job.

After that, we returned to the room to begin packing since bags needed to be out before 8 p.m. This is a tricky business. You have to keep the items that you might need for the remainder of the evening and the next day. On a previous cruise, a ship's staff member told me that many times after bags are taken, passengers realize that they have failed to keep a pair of pants or shorts for the next day and have to send someone to the boutique to purchase something for them to wear off the ship. That has not happened to me, but I can just imagine that it could!

After we put our bags out, we walked down to the grill and ordered cheeseburgers and fries. Neither of us was up to dressing for dinner. We took our plates back to the cabin and just enjoyed a relaxed meal in the room. Mother decided to read for a while. I left the room and made the rounds, returning library books, playing the slot machines in the casino, talking with a few people we had met during the cruise and taking tips to certain people who had been especially helpful during the cruise.

We woke up early on Saturday morning to find that we were already docked. We quickly dressed and headed to the Horizon Court for breakfast. After that, we returned to the cabin to collect our belongings. I gave Mariana, our cabin steward, an extra tip for being so quietly efficient. Then we headed to the Explorer's Lounge to wait our turn to disembark. Upon arrival, we were told we could go ahead and leave the ship. So we did!

I hate the process of looking for luggage, but I have to admit that Princess makes it as easy as they possibly can. I found our bags in short order and we joined the queue for customs. Then we were out the door and ready to jump on the Princess bus for a transfer to the airport. Unfortunately for me, Mother's airline had set up camp just outside the exit and Mother insisted on checking in and getting rid of her bags. So instead of a quick 10 minute trip to the airport, I sat for 45 minutes while Mother stood in the line to get checked in for her flight. I think I watched a thousand people exit the ship during that 45 minutes. As each minute ticked by, I felt my chances for switching to an earlier flight home just slipping through my fingers.

Mother finally finished and we walked the next hundred or so feet to the transfer buses, only to find that although we were going to the same airport, we were on different buses because they grouped us by airline. (I could have left her in her airline queue.) I helped Mother to her bus, then got on mine. I arrived at the airport to find that there were two earlier flights that HAD available seats, but that those seats had already been claimed. So I was stuck waiting for my 2 p.m. flight. So I headed to Chili's to sit out part of the 4 1/2 hour wait. At around 12:30 p.m., I headed to my gate, only to hear an announcement that my flight was delayed and we would not be leaving Florida until 4:40 p.m., which means I would be missing my flight out of Atlanta. Sigh.

I did make it home last night - late. And the flight into Memphis was frightening! It was raining and you could not see the ground as we came in for a landing. But the pilot handled it all with aplomb!

It was wonderful to sleep in my bed last night!!! Today, I need to go in to work to look over my FY10 budget so I will be ready for my budget presentation. Ugh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

dateline: princess cays

Today we took the tender over to the private island. I had reserved a "clam shell", which is an temporary shelter that you can adjust to provide some shade for the two lounge chairs that come with it. I burn instantly no matter how much sunscreen I have applied. In fact, I have had almost no direct sun exposure and my skin is showing pink and a very light brown where the reflected light affected my skin throughout the week. Amazing.

Mother wanted to get her feet wet so she walked slowly down to the edge of the water. She is a bit unsteady on her feet, but she felt like she could manage. She made it to the water and took several steps into the water, lost her footing and PLOP, sat right down in the water. But the momentum of the sideways sit carried her on over so she was stretched out on her side. She played it off beautifully, however, ending up in a position that made it look as if she had planned it that way all along. I still rushed over to make sure she hadn't hurt herself. She was fine, but she wanted to get up. I pulled her up and asked her what she wanted to do next. She wanted to go back to the clam shell immediately. So we did. Then I walked to the food pavilion and brought back some food. We ate that, then walked along the edge of the water together for a few minutes. Then we headed back to the ship. I don't think we were on the island more than two hours. It was nice, though.

Mother took a shower and a nap. I went back up to the Sanctuary and relished my last relaxing moments on my lounger. I just love that place!!! I am actually considering a short, three-day cruise in December on this same ship.

Tonight is our last night on the ship. As always, I just want to cry when I get to this point. I don't want to stop!!! But this has been a lovely cruise. You know, I am always amazed that there are people on board the ship who complain and yell at the ship's personnel. They complain about everything!!! It strikes me that people who insist on being unhappy will be unhappy everywhere they go. It reminds me of a story that I read somewhere. I wish I could remember where so I could give the original author proper credit. It goes like this:

An old man is sitting outside the gates of a large city. In the distance he spies a traveler walking in his direction. As the traveler reaches the gates of the city, he asks the old man, "Sir, I come from a long way away and I am searching for a new place to live. Tell me, what are the people like in this city?" The old man looks at the traveler and asks, "What were the people like in the city you just left?" The traveler scowls and says, "They were selfish and rude. When I needed help, no one came to my support. I was taken advantage of and treated terribly." The old man pauses, then says, "So shall you find them here, young man, so shall you find them here." A few days later the same old man is sitting outside the gates to the same city when another traveler happens along. As the traveler reaches the old man, he asks him, "Good afternoon, sir. I've come from a far distance in search of a new place to call home. Tell me please, what are the people like here?" The old man looks at the traveler, sighs, then asks, "What were the people like in the place you just left?" The traveler smiled and answered, "They were some of the best people I ever knew. I made many friends and was sad to leave, but the road was calling me." The old man smiled and said, "So shall you find them here, young man, so shall you find them here."

I love that story.

(An aside for Martha Jane Thompson: I am sitting in the Internet Cafe as I type this blog entry. Behind me is the piazza where a pianist and violist can be heard playing ... you won't believe it ... "Papa, can you hear me?" from Yentl. What is it with Princess and this song???)

If you've never cruised, what in the world is stopping you? You can do a seven day cruise on Princess in an inside cabin for under $400 per person. Of course, once you go balcony, there is no going back! But I highly recommend this experience to everyone who reads about my trip. This is my 9th cruise and it still remains my favorite way to travel. I can't wait to come back!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

dateline: somewhere at sea

We spent yesterday docked in Cozumel. We spent the day in the Sanctuary again. It was so relaxing. I love that place. It is just wonderful to relax on that lounge chair, alternately reading and dozing. I can't think of a better way to spend the day. The crew that works in the Sanctuary are just outstanding. They are very attentive, but not in a bothersome way. They are very friendly and are clearly very interested in keeping the guests happy.

Last night we had a nice dinner. I had an eggplant parmasian, followed by a peach soup, followed by veal marsala. I know that sounds like a very odd combination, but it actually worked quite nicely. The peach soup acted as a nice palate cleanser. For dessert I had a terrine that looked like a slice from a box of neopolitan ice cream. Between each layer was a cookie/pastry layer that was delicious.

Today was a sea day. We again spent the day in the Sanctuary. The days are going by entirely too fast now that we are nearing the end of the cruise. As always, I do not want it to end. Tonight is a formal night and the Captain's Circle reception. Champagne, canapes and prizes galore. (I've never won anything at these things, but there's always a first time for everything.)

Tomorrow we arrive at Princess Cay, the cruiseline's private island. I reserved a "clam shell" which is a bit of shelter from the sun, complete with two lounge chairs. If we hate it, we can always comeback to the ship and the Sanctuary.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

dateline: somewhere at sea

Well, I couldn't wait until tomorrow to write about the Chef's Table. It was absolutely magnificent. Please excuse any typos or spelling errors. I am a bit tipsy after the incredible amount of alcohol served during this meal. I don't drink a lot and I am really feeling it! Either that or the ship has hit some unexpected turbulence that only I can feel. Well, Mother felt it - she has passed out in the room!!! (I'll have to remember to check her breathing before I turn in for the night. KIDDING!!!)

Mother and I spent the day lounging in the Sanctuary with a view of the long Grand Cayman coastline stretched out before us. Beautiful, but very settled - nothing wild there at all. The beach is lined with hotels and other buildings. In the afternoon came an announcement from the Captain indicating that one of the forward thrusters (whatever that is) had suffered "catastrophic damage" that could not be fixed until our return to Ft. Lauderdale. He said this would slow us down and would delay our arrival into the remaining ports of call.

At 7 p.m., we presented ourselves at the International Cafe where we met the Maitre'd. He was, of course, Italian. He greeted us warmly and took us around the corner to a lobby where a coatrack stood. holding chef's jackets. We each put on a chef's jacket and then were paraded throught the main dining room into the galley. Just inside the galley, we were shown the handwashing station. We were told that all staff bringing dirty dishes into the kitchen first dropped the dirty dishes off at the first cleaning station, then stopped to wash their hands before moving into the belly of the kitchen to pick up the next courses. Each of us was instructed on the proper way to wash out hands, which we then did, each in turn.

To the back of the galley we paraded until we reached a back station where the Head Chef waited for us with champagne. We were presented with four hor'dourves. As each was presented, the Chef told us about how each was prepared and what staff were involved in the procurement of the ingredients and the preparation of each.

First came Tuna Tartar with Wasabi and Pickled Ginger. (Daddy, I can already hear you groaning.) It was fantastic. Then came Bliss New Potatoes with Sour Cream and Caviar. Ahhhhhh. Then the Fontina Cheese Quiche with White Truffle & Sun Blushed Cherry Tomato. (I can't speak highly enough about this dish. That cherry tomato was roasted until the skin peeled off and was so full of flavor that I wanted to cry.) Then, finally came the Foie Gras Terrine on Toasted Brioche with Apple Chutney. All of this with plenty of champagne. Folks, we haven't even sat down at the dinner table and I am already so happy and so glad to be having this experience!!!!!

Then we paraded back through the dining room, back to the coat rack where we removed our Chef's jackets. Then we were led around the corner to an elaborately laid table. There was a floral arrangement running down the center of the table, which was set for eight people. Then on either end of the table there were huge goblets filled with bread sticks that must have been eighteen inches long. They were sticking straight up out of the goblets. (I had a perverse urge to take one out, dip it in the butter dish and take a big bite off the end of it. Out of respect for Mother, I didn't do it.)

A word or two about our dining companions: There were two women and one man there from Great Britain. (I didn't realize at first that two of the three were a couple - until I was asked to take a photo of them and was shooing the blonde out of the photo so I could take the picture of the man and the brunette. The man then whispered to me, pointing to the blonde, "She's my wife." I almost died!!!) Besides these three, there was another couple in their 50's who were on their honeymoon! They were delightful people from New York, but now living in Florida. Then there were two bleached blonde girlfriends, both in their late 50's, early 60's, both giggling about their many prior husbands and boyfriends. Many looks were shared around the table whenever either of them was talking. Yikes!

On to the dinner! We started with Risotto laced with Parmesan Cheese and Julienne of Treviso Red Radicchio and Langoustine Ragout. (When I went to remove the shell from the langoustine, it slipped out of my hand and landed in the space between my chest and the table edge. "Good catch!", one of the blondes crowed! Good lord. I put it back on the plate and enjoyed it very much, thank you! The risotto was good, but I will admit that I have had better. This was served with a wonderful white wine.

The palate cleanser was incredible -- "Amalfi" Lemon Sorbet with Mango Slaw. It had Limoncello vodka poured over it. Holy cow, that was so good!

The main course was Roast Veal Shank & Veal Tenderloin, carved Table side, with Cepes and Jus. The shank fell off the bone and melted in my mouth. This was accompanied by market vegetables (asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onions, etc.) and Chateau Potatoes. This was served with a red wine that was, I think, some of the best I have ever tasted. It was a blended wine - mostly Cabernet, mixed with Merlot.

The cheese course was a Baked Camembert with Pine Nuts with a Port Wine Reduction, served with fig bread and date bread. What can I say - divine!!!

The dessert was an incredible construction that the pastry chef brought out himself. I'm not sure I can describe it properly. It was described as a Passion Fruit Dome Cake with a Whiskey Soaked Raspberry Soft Center served with a Mango Glaze. But to see this beautiful work of art sitting in front of me made my mouth drop open. Each of us had one. On the dessert plate sat a spun sugar "plate". The spun sugar was clear with raspberry swirled throughout. The edges of the spun sugar were lifted up into elaborate folds. Sitting in the center of the spun sugar plate was the dome cake, with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Sticking up out of the cake were two tall pipettes of raspberry spun sugar. Wrapped around the pipettes was a wafer cookie shaped like a pig's tail. Beautiful! This was served with a sweet dessert wine.

The whole experience was amazing. I am so glad that we did it!!!

dateline: grand cayman island

Yesterday was quiet reading and resting in the Sanctuary. In the late afternoon, Mother napped and I was left to my own devices for a while. I went to the cha-cha lessons, which was fun. Then I played a special bingo game. The prize was a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera for two people. I was within one number on two of my three cards when someone else shouted "Bingo!". Rats!!!

After that I returned to the room and we dressed for dinner. For dinner I had a duck appetizer, followed by cream of asparagus soup followed by beef. Dessert was a chocolate-hazelnut souffle with a vanilla sauce. Delightful.

We did not go see any shows last night. Instead we watched two movies - some movie about young people gambling in Las Vegas. It was just okay. Then we caught the tail end of the new Indiana Jones movie, which was predictable, but serviceable.

This morning we were scheduled to go ashore to visit Hell in order to mail postcards, but neither of us is feeling it, so we will probably just go back to the Sanctuary. Honestly, I could happily spend the entire cruise sitting on that lounge chair! Besides, I have already toured Grand Cayman, been swimming with the stingrays and visited the turtle farm and Hell. What a jaded traveler!!! I'm just happy to be away and relishing time to do absolutely nothing.

Tonight is the Chef's Table. My father would love to experience this! First, you go into the kitchen for a tour of the entire galley. (I can't wait to see that!) Then you sit at a special table in the galley whilst the Head Chef prepares a series of hor'dourves before your eyes, each accompanied by wine. Then you parade back to the dining room to a very special table that is (I've read) elaborately set. Then comes course after course of very fine food, each paired with a different wine, all meticulously prepared by the Head Chef (though who can tell - now we are no longer watching). Then a dessert with a dessert wine. Then a photo of everyone at the table and a copy of that night's menu and a copy of the ship's cookbook signed by the Head Chef. I can't wait!!! I will write tomorrow with the details of the meal. Stand by!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

dateline: ocho rios, jamaica

Yesterday morning, I woke up early to the knock of room service. Breakfast was cereal and coffee and croissants. I love breakfast on the balcony early in the morning. I think that is the second best thing about having a balcony cabin. The best thing is falling asleep with the balcony door open in order to hear the sound of the waves against the side of the ship.

After I ate, I went upstairs to the Lotus Spa for my first spa treatment - the Total Asian Ritual. What a hokey name!!! First, there was a wonderful massage. Zuzette was very competent. First she asked me what areas I wanted her to concentrate on. I told her shoulders and feet and she did exactly that, although she did give a full body massage. She was quiet while she worked, which I greatly appreciated! I do not like chatty massage therapists. After the massage came the facial, which was good. I have a facial each month at home and this made me miss my very capable Roz back at Gould's in Collierville, TN. But it was okay. Then followed a 10 minute sales speech, which I'm sure Zuzette hated giving almost as much as I hated hearing!!! I didn't buy anything. But I did laugh to remember the time that Jane came back from a spa treatment on a previous trip dragging a gigantic bag full of products that she was unable to say "no" to. I will never forget that sight!

After the spa treatment, I returned to the room to collect Mom. We went up to the Sanctuary to claim our lounge chairs which were reserved for us. I can't say enough about the Sanctuary. If you want absolute quiet and privacy with no screaming children AND a guaranteed, padded lounge chair, the Sanctuary is for you. The attendants will happily drag your chair from sunshine to shade and back again if you wish. They also bring you water (free) or anything else you want for a price. The Sanctuary does cost, but to me it is worth it!

I happily sat in the warm shade and read my magazine and book. Mother seemed happy too as she sat reading her book. We stayed until almost 2 p.m. We ordered lunch while we were there. Then we proceeded to the room where we changed clothes. We attended the Cruise Critic meet & greet, which was just okay. Captain Yeomans made an appearance, which was nice. We enjoyed several stories. He has a very dry wit.

After that, I went to write yesterday's post while Mother sat in the piazza and listened to a violinist. Then we had a pastry and coffee/tea at the pattiserie. After that it was back to the room for a rest. Then we dressed for our first formal dinner.

While we were gone, a letter had arrived from the maitre'd instructing us to complete a form in order to be in the selected group for the Chef's Table. This was the thing I was looking forward to the most, so I was very excited to learn that I might have been selected.

Upon arriving at Da Vinci dining room, we learned that we had definitely been selected for Chef's Table and that it would take place in two day's time. Yay!!! At dinner this night, we had an appetizer that was, I think, the best I have ever had on a Princess cruise - a goat cheese souffle. It was so very good! This was followed by some mushroom soup for me that wasn't great and a Boston Lettuce salad for Mother that appeared to have no Boston lettuce in it. Hmmmm. Then I had the pork tenderloin. Mother had fish. Both were good.

Since Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's "slow-eater-tiny-bite-taker" cure had not worked on Mother when she was a little girl, I had planned on an earlier arrival to dinner this night. As a result, we were done with dinner 45 minutes prior to the time that we needed to be in the Princess Theatre to ensure that we had seats for that night's show. There was nothing to do but to adjourn to the casino. I don't want to waste a lot of time bragging about Mother's luck. Suffice it to say that she walked away from the slot machines with her pockets a lot heavier than when she arrived. Oh, all right, she was on the 2 cents machines and she only cleared $1.90 - but it was still quite a show to see those lights flashing and the bells ringing! Woo hoo!!!!!

The Broadway show was pretty good. There were (as usual, for Princess) two male singers and two female singers. The two male singers were just great. One of the two female singers was incredible!!! The other could not access her lower register if her life depended on it. But the show was entertaining. People are so rude at these shows. A young family of three sitting behind us had an empty seat on either side of them and watched couple after couple after couple walk by without offering to move over one seat in order to create two seats together. They never did move - enjoyed the entire show with empty seats on either side of them while some guests didn't get to see the show at all. But the staff really should have told them (and anyone else being selfish) to move down to make room for others!!!

After the show, it was off to bed. I ordered our breakfast for 9 a.m. this time since neither one of us needed to be up. But I woke up at 6:30 a.m. anyway and went up to the Horizon Court for breakfast. As other reviewers have noted, it was a bit chaotic, with no discernable beginning or end to the line. But that has been true on every Princess ship I have been on, so it was nothing new to me. People make do.

Mother and I have been to Dunn's River Falls before and neither of us was eager to brave all of the annoying locals who hound you to death trying to get you to buy something (hair braiding, shells, drugs, etc.). So we went up to the Sanctuary and spent the day lounging while gazing at the amazing view of the harbor. Ahhhhhhh ......

Sunday, April 12, 2009

dateline: somewhere in the middle of the ocean

Mother and I were driven over to Port Everglades by Eric, the same driver that recommended The Rustic Inn last night. As we arrived at the port, we could see several ships, but none was the Ruby. Then we made a few turns and there she was in front of us. So beautiful!!!

We stood on line for less than two minutes and were in the building and ready to go through security. I breezed through, then waited FOREVER for Mother to make it through. First she had to remove her silver bracelets. Then there was an inquiry into her cane. She looked like she was dancing with the security crew, going back and forth through the metal detector. It was kind of funny. She finally made it through and we made our way into the building. There was nobody in line for the Lido deck, so we were on the ship in ten minutes. Easy!

I was expecting to be wowed by the piazza after everything that I read, but it was really nothing more exciting than any other Princess ship I had entered. We found our way to the cabin. It was smallish, but with the balcony it appeared larger. Of course I was spoiled because Jane & I had a mini-suite on the Tahitian Princess. But it was still nice.

I immediately called the dining line and requested to be added to the list for the Chef's Table. Then we went up to the Sanctuary to reserve our space for the week. Then I stopped by the spa to confirm my spa appointments.

After that, we went back to the room and waited for the muster. It went off without a hitch and we were back to the room. I went out in search of alcoholic beverages and brought Mother a gin and tonic and a pina colada for me. We sat on the balcony and enjoyed the sailaway with all of the folks on shore blowing their horns and the Ruby answering back. The people who live in the highrise apartments love to "compete" with the ship in the horn blowing contest as the ship heads out to sea. I found a picture of the buildings (at left), but that is not the Ruby Princess in the photo. And I believe that ship is headed in to port, not out to sea. But you get the picture.

Then we were off to the Da Vinci dining room for anytime dining. We joined a table for eight. One couple was from North Carolina, another from Alabama and then a mother and daughter from Canada. The mother and daughter were quite interesting people - they race dragon boats!

Mother and I did not catch the show. Instead we returned to the room and went to bed!! (I had a spa appointment the next morning.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

dateline: ft.lauderdale, fl

Mother and I both arrived safely from our separate destinations. I flew straight here from Memphis, TN. Mother arrived from Colorado Springs via Denver, Kansas City and Tampa. Whew! Quite an itinerary for an 81 year-old!!! Needless to say, she was tired when she arrived, but not TOO tired to go out to eat.

Our wonderful van driver from the Courtyard Marriott, Eric, recommended The Rustic Inn. It was controlled chaos at its best. Butch, behind the front desk, took the names of guests as they arrived and also answered the phone to add still more folks to his growing, multi-page list. As tables became available, he also announced availability to waiting parties. Mother and I watched him in action for about 30 minutes as we waited for our names to be called. (There is no seating outdoors for those waiting.)

Once a table was ready, Hillary escorted us there. How she stayed so perky and friendly in this chaos was beyond anyone's expectations. Our waiter, Freddy, took expert care of us. I ordered a Pain Killer (Parrot Bay Pineapple Rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, creme de banana liqueur with a splash of lime juice, grenadine and pineapple juice). It was a great drink - didn't quite kill the pain though! Mother had a frozen marguerita.

For dinner, I had Jumbo Shrimp stuffed with Crab. Mother had the Sauteed Soft Shell Crabs (of course). We both enjoyed our food. The food was good, but not great. The Rustic Inn is really an atmosphere restaurant more than a food restaurant. Every time a birthday or anniversary was announced, everyone pounded their tables with their lobster mallets. What a racket!!! But it was fun. Don't get me wrong - I ate every bite. And they are best known for their garlic crabs. Their website is

This morning, we have enjoyed breakfast in the lobby and are gearing up to go on over to the cruise port to board the Ruby Princess. Yay! I am sitting at this computer typing my blog entry while Mother finishes her breakfast. I tend to gulp my meals down, eager to move on to the next activity. Mother is the slowest-eater-in-the-entire-universe. No, not really. I am reminded, however, of one of those Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories. (I think that was her name. She gave "cures" for common childhood problems.) One of the children needed the "slow-eater-tiny-bite-taker" cure. I think that child grew up to be my Mom. (I'm sure my lack of patience does not contribute to my observational capabilities at all.)

Well, more posts later as we travel the high seas!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

five more days

I'll be flying to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday to catch the Ruby Princess. My brain is already in cruise mode. I think I've read every review of the Ruby and her sister ships that exists on the Internet. But, as usual, I am procrastinating on getting all of my belongings in order. I really, really should have done that this weekend, but here it is 11:34 p.m. on Sunday night and I haven't started. I can't understand why I do this to myself!!!

We leave Port Everglades on Saturday, with stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Princess' private island. There are also two sea days. I've done this itinerary before, so will not get off the ship much. Well, I MUST mail postcards from Hell on Grand Cayman!!! And we will probably spend part of the private island day at the beach.

I know I'm going to want to jump ship and stay in that part of the world. Sigh. It is clear to me that I was meant to be fabulously wealthy and something went terribly wrong. Oh well ...