Author Archives: Kevin John Gilhooly

About Kevin John Gilhooly

A poet, a dreamer, a caffeine addict. President of KNON 89.3FM - The Voice of the People in Dallas and Ft Worth. President of Sparky's Pals, a humane education non-profit. Wedding officiant. Owned by four dogs. Retired IBMer.

The Brown M&Ms of the Sea

There is a famous story (that is actually true) about Van Halen and the (lack of) Brown M&Ms. The point was not excessive vanity or crazy rock stars, the point was to see if people read the entire contract.

We have a similar situation coming up. Virginia hates chocolate-covered strawberries with a passion usually reserved for one of my bad jokes. Hates them.

Unfortunately, cruise lines seem to think everyone considers them a delicacy, so it is the treat of choice for their esteemed guests.

Since we are Platinum Plus on Norwegian, we get chocolate-covered strawberries every time we board a ship. Every time. Virginia asked for something else. She finally had our Personal Cruise Consulant put in her record that she is allergic. Still they came.

So, this year, we’re sailing on the MSC Divina. A new cruise line for us, but the costs were great. We’re in the Yacht Club, their ship-within-a-ship, with a butler and a concierge and … chocolate-covered strawberries.

Virginia had our cruise consultant put in the record that she wanted something else. This is a test to see if people read the contract.

She was told if they arrived anyway, to just tell the butler to get something else. Well, yes, that is a solution, but a better one is understanding the requests your clients make and acting on them ahead of time.

We will see what happens.


Take a Child on a Cruise Day

We had special guests on our annual Christmas cruise this year. My nephew and his family came along, although my niece should get credit because she managed the process. They have two sons, who are ten and twelve.

We traveled with my son once, but he was married with a child, so that hardly counts as children. We’ve traveled with my Mom twice, and she wanders off like a child, but if you leave out the Chardonnay, she will find her way back.

So, this was our first cruise with “proper” children, although the 12-year old will be very annoyed to have been referred to as a “child.”

With pre-teens, all of the stuff that seemed like a waste of space before suddenly became critical.

We were on a Western Caribbean cruise, but we only had three ports in a week-long cruise. So, three sea days to explore the ship.

We were on the Norwegian Breakaway, the first time we had sailed on her since the inaugural crossing, so we assumed we knew the ship fairly well.

Not so much.

Kids love buffets – at least, kids who have been taught to be a bit adventurous with food. There is a variety of items to try, and if you don’t like it, try something else. If you do like it, have another plate (or three.)

Kids with a sense of adventure love the slides. If you are slightly paranoid, having seen the YouTube videos of people stuck in cruise ship slides (yes, more than one), you probably avoid them. Our nephews went down all of them, all the time. Their parents went down them. We watched – and it was the first time we’d ever been near the slides (except when I was on the way to a bar.)

Kids with an excessive sense of adventure love the ropes course. Our nephews did it multiple times, and shamed Mom into doing it – and the zip line. We watched.

Kids will play miniature golf. We actually played with them, after they asked, and we said, “There’s a golf course?” It’s fun – although it also was an annoyance point, since unsupervised kids were collecting the (limited) clubs and golf balls, which meant others couldn’t play. We still managed to get a fun round played – although the main hazards were other unsupervised children wandering around.

Kids play shuffleboard. I’ve been meaning to play shuffleboard since our first cruise. They did it. They also played giant chess.

So, now I understand the stuff that is added to the more recent classes of ships, which always seemed silly before.

I think everyone who only travels with a partner should Take a Child on a cruise. You will discover parts of the ship you never knew were there.

Sailing for the Ship

There is an ongoing debate on whether you sail for the ship (which is one of the reasons all the major lines have megaships now) or whether you sail for the ports (which is why all the major lines still have smaller ships that can fit into the smaller, more interesting ports.)

We are taking our first cruise for the ship in a few weeks. The strange part is that we sailed on the Norwegian Bliss less than a year ago, on our first Alaska cruise.

Alaskan cruises are done for the ports and the scenery. So, while it was amazing being on a ship during her inaugural season, we didn’t really get to see that much of the ship! The port calls were intense, with early mornings (I hate early mornings) and so the afternoons tended to be on the balcony, watching the scenery pass by (often through drooping eyelids.)

After the Alaska season ended, the Bliss repositioned to Miami, where she is sailing Eastern Caribbean cruises. It’s a week-long cruise with three sea days and three ports – St Thomas, Tortola and Nassau. We’ve been to all the ports, so we don’t need to go there, but they’re fun. However, with three sea days, we may actually get to wander around the ship and see all the things we could have done if we hadn’t been napping in Alaska.

Megaships can be fun and there is a lot to do on them, but if you are on a port-intensive cruise (and you’re older), much of the bells and whistles are wasted. So, we will try to find all the activities we can fit into our time at sea, and see what we missed earlier.

The Norwegian Bliss, slightly colder than it will be in Miami.

Costa Maya – Dec 28, 2018

The Christmas Cruise X itinerary was interesting because it had a sea day in the middle of the cruise, which didn’t really seem necessary, but because of the timing, then meant we had to leave Costa Maya relatively early (1:30pm) in order to make it back to New Orleans in time.

When you have a short port call (less than seven hours), people don’t do excursions as much as they just hop on and off to look at the sights (well, the stores.) Since we had an aft balcony, we had a good view of the people wandering off and on all day. We were also next to a rather large Royal Caribbean ship, so their passengers were doing the same.