Friday, November 2, 2012

Florida Authors Showcased at University of Florida

“Written Inspiration: A Children’s Book-Signing Event” at the Harn Museum of Art
will showcase Florida Authors and Illustrators
This blog entry has nothing to do with cruising, but I'll be at this book signing on Sunday with other Florida authors.  Stop by and connect with me. Keep reading for more details.
The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida will be holding “Written Inspiration: A Children’s Book-Signing Event” on November 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. The books featured at this event will appeal to children ages five to thirteen.

More than 20 authors and illustrators from various areas throughout Florida will participate in the event. Visitors may browse booths, talk with authors and have their purchased books personalized. Each author and illustrator will offer a hands-on art activity that relates to his or her book. Book readings throughout the day include Troubles on the St. Johns River by Jacksonville author Jane Wood at 1:15 p.m., Some Call Me ‘Superstar’ by Tallahassee author Carl Joseph at 2:15 p.m., Victricia Malicia by Gainesville author Carrie Clickard at 3:15 p.m., and Jason and Elihu: A Fisherman’s Story at 4:15 p.m. by Gainesville author Shelley Fraser Mickle.

“Written Inspiration” is organized through the Harn Museum of Art Store and is sponsored by Wild Onion Press of Gainesville, FL and Friesens Printing. The Disability Affairs Cabinet of University of Florida Student Government is supporting Carl Joseph’s reading of Some Call Me ‘Superstar.’ A portion of book sales supports exhibitions and programs at the Harn Museum of Art.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 352-392-9826 or visit

The following books, authors and illustrators will be featured: 

Mark Wayne Adams, Longwood, Florida

Nicholas, That's Ridiculous
Jilli, That's Silly!
Best Sketchbook
The Belly Button Fairy
The Fart Fairy
A Guinea in My Cap?
Teddy Tales
Pop the Bubbles 1, 2, 3
My Friendly Giant
Along the Cliff Walk
Jadyn and the Magic Bubble: I Met Gandhi!
Jadyn and the Magic Bubble: Kenya, Kenya!
King for a Day: The Story of Stories

Nikole Brooks Bethea, Marianna, Florida
G is for Grits

Jan Godown Annino, Tallahassee, Florida
She Sang PromiseNikole Brooks Bethea, Marianna, Florida
G is for Grits: A Southern Alphabet

Barbara Bockman, Gainesville, Florida

Fantastic FlightDr. Ruth E. Clark, Palm Harbor, Florida
Florida Santa: Is He Real? How Do We Know it?
Whilomeena Loves White
Airport Mouse 
series and related activity books

Carrie Clickard, Gainesville, Florida
Victricia Malicia

Carl Joseph and Dr. Kevin McCarthy, Tallahassee, Florida
Some Call Me "Superstar"

Ann Clare LeZotte and Andre Frattino, Gainesville, Florida
Here Comes Julie Jack!

DeBorah Denson McCray, Gainesville, Florida
Diary of a Painted Lady

Shelley Fraser Mickle, Gainesville, Florida
Jason & Elihu- A Fisherman's Story
The Story of Amos, the Bummed Out Canine
The Polio Hole

Nancy H. Murray, Jacksonville, Florida
The Night the Elephants Cried- A Story of the Tsunami
Gullah, the Nawleans Cat Meets Katrina
Bonnie Ogle, Gainesville, Florida
Arthur the Arthropod

Vivian Owens, Eustis, Florida
Nadanda The Wordmaker
The Rosebush Witch
How Oswa Came to Own All Music

Colleen Rand, Gainesville, Florida
Big Bunny

Merri Roderick, Naples, Florida

Rob Sanders, Brandon, Florida
Cowboy Christmas

Annette Simon, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

Patricia Poyet Swingle, Gainesville, Florida
Incredibly Clever Critters

Elle Thornton, Atlantic Beach, Florida
The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

June Weltman, Jacksonville, Florida
Mystery of the Missing Candlestick

Ellen Wolfson Valladares, Weston, Florida
Jonathan's Journey to Mount Miapu

Jane R. Wood, Jacksonville, Florida
Trouble on the St. Johns River
Ghosts on the Coast: A Visit to Savannah and the Low Country
Voices in St. Augustine
Adventures on Amelia Island: A Pirate, A Princess and Buried Treasure

Janelle Woodyard, Sorrento, Florida
A Girl's Guide to Softball
About the Samuel P. Harn Museum of ArtFounded in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The Harn contributes to an interconnected, international community by integrating the arts and culture into curricula throughout the university’s system of colleges and centers. Its holdings include more than 8,300 works in five main collecting areas: Asian art, African art, photography, modern art of the Americas and Europe, and international contemporary art. In addition to rotating installations drawn from its permanent collection, the Harn organizes traveling exhibitions, public lectures, panel discussions, academic symposia and educational programs for adults, students and children.

The Harn Museum, at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in Gainesville, Fla., is part of the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza, which is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of every month for Museum Nights. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Holland America Line ms Veendam in Port Canaveral

Holland America Line’s ms Veendam (719 feet long) docked at Port Canaveral yesterday. I, along with 50 other travel agents, had the opportunity to spend a couple hours touring the ship.

The ms Veendam weighs in at 57,092 tons and has a 1,350 passenger capacity. Though this is a small ship, it is gracefully roomy, and spacious.

Having never been on a Holland America Line ship, there were several things that impressed me.
The staterooms were larger than some of the other cruise lines.

This ship has a lot of public areas for groups to hold meetings and private functions.

All of the staff was extremely friendly, helpful, and gave service with a smile. Do you ever notice how when employees like their job and are treated respectfully, the room suddenly starts to glow?  The glow was very evident on the ms Veendam.

One of my favorite areas was the Culinary Arts Center.  This multi-purpose room that seats around 200 people, is a state-of-the-art show kitchen with plasma video screens and cooking display counters.  Here food and wine enthusiasts can increase their knowledge and learn from the onboard chefs.

Another impressive public area was the Explorations Café, powered by The New York Times.  This comfortable, coffee house environment includes games, computers, and a huge library with a variety of books. If you need a quaint spot to relax and enjoy the day, the Explorations Cafe’ is a must.

The ms Veendam has one, 2-story dining room, Roterdam. Meals include five-course menus with continental, vegetarian and low-car options.  Remember:  If you are a cruiser with a special diet, be sure to ask the cruise line if they can accommodate your diet.  Most cruise lines cater to special diets, but it is better to take care of this prior to sailing. 

I visited the spa, but I needed to spend more time in there to fully appreciate it.

It was a fantastic day aboard the ms Veendam, and as always, the ship tour wasn’t long enough. In order to fully appreciate the ship, I think I need to spend at least a week on her.

What Holland America Line cruise ships have you sailed?

Be sure to enter our destination sweepstakes. Click for more information. 

Create memories not regrets!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Top 10 Silly Questions from Passengers

When I was in the classroom (I am a former educator), I always encouraged students to ask questions because any question is a good question.  And usually, they were.  However, here are some humorous questions adult passengers have asked staff while aboard cruise ships.  The questions are real.  The answers are what the staff wanted to respond with but couldn't. 

1) Q.  Is the water in the pool rough because it's seawater? 
A. Yes. Haven't you noticed that the ocean is rougher than a fresh bodies of water? (ponds, lakes, bathtubs, etc.)

2) Q. Does the crew sleep on board?
A. Of course not, late at night a water taxi picks them up and takes them home!

3) Q. Do these stairs go up OR down?
A. Yes!

4) Q. Does the ship make it’s own electricity?
A. No, don’t you see the long extension cord trailing behind the ship?

5) Q. Which is the sunny side of the ship?
A. The captain spins the ship around daily so everyone gets an even tan

6) Q. Which elevator takes me to the front of the ship?
A. Ask the elevator operator when you get on, he will take you anywhere you want to go.

7) Q. What do you do with the ice carvings after they melt?
A. We re-freeze the water and use it for frozen drinks.

8) Q. What time is the midnight buffet?
A. Usually around 11 PM or so. We tried doing it right after breakfast but most people weren’t real hungry.

9) Q. How do we know which pictures are ours?
A. The people who look totally clueless . . . . those are probably yours.

10) Q. Is this island totally surrounded by water?
A. No, part of it is surrounded by sand, but it’s all clearly marked

What are some questions that you have heard others ask?

Be sure to enter our sweepstakes.

Create memories not regrets!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sandals Resorts 2012 “More Quality Inclusions” Unveiling

Are you ready for the inside scoop?

I’m returning from the largest Sandals and Beaches event in Central and Northern Florida. I learned so much and experienced an instrumental marketing forum about what’s new at Sandals and Beaches Resorts. I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

With Sandals, all inclusive means all inclusive. What’s included? Entertainment, dinner, unlimited premium brand drinks, 10 bars per resort, swim-up bars, and butler service. Unique suites designed for romance include fire pits, cabanas, candlelight dinners. Oh yeah! I can picture me in this photo (um...with my husband, of course!)

What else is included? Tips, gratuities, hotel taxes, and transfers.

Can you believe it?  Keep reading.  It gets better!

Sandals has 16 restaurants per resort.  That means you have your choice from a variety of restaurants at no additional charge.  If you plan on staying for 4 nights, you might want to extend your stay so you can explore all the different cuisines.

Your choice includes a variety from Asian, Sushi, Thai, Japanese Teppanyaki, West Indian, Jamaican, Bahamian, Contemporary Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italian (Ma Ma Mia). Are you getting hungry yet?  What about trying seafood, international, brick-oven pizza, classic french, British Pub fare, fusion, gelato & pastries, or even something light and healthy.  Food for even the pickiest palate.

Luxurious Accommodations:
Top-tier suites include personal butlers, certified by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, who take care of everything you need including:

Unpacking and pressing your wardrobe
24-hour room service
Bringing drinks and snacks to the pool, beach, and your suite
Gourmet meals prepared en-suite
Drawing aromatic baths
Making spa, dining and excursion reservations
Private Off-Shore Islands

I don’t know about you, but I sure could use this kind of treatment.

Let’s step outside for a minute to see what adventures Sandals offers at no additional charge.

Scuba Dive Program:
If you are a certified diver, diving up to twice a day is included, with guided dives from 20-90 feet, on state of the art Newton Dive Boats, Luxter or Catalina tanks, Silicone masks and snorkel, and Deep Blue fins. This is a PADI-certified resort dive program with PADI and DAN representation on site. 

Dive suits can be rented and there are underwater camera and video services available for a nominal fee.

Not certified? No problem! Sandals offers a resort certification course (nominal fee applies), which will have you experiencing dives up to 30 feet.  Talk about viewing a whole new world.  Hmmm.  I might have to look into this. YOLO (You Only Live Once)!

Water Sports:
What other water sports can you participate in with top of the line equipment and professional instruction at no additional charge? 

Water skiing, kneeboarding, and tubing
Paddle boarding
Hobie Cat sailing
Glass Bottom Boats

Top Golf Courses:
It’s tee time. Again, at no additional charge.  Sandals resorts include exclusive gold and unlimited play and complimentary green fees.

Ocho Rios (Sandals Golf and Country Club), has an 18-hole championship course. Or how about the 18-hole oceanfront course designed by Greg Norman at Sandals Emerald? Why not try the Reef Golf Club at Sandals Emerald Bay, which was named one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure Golf. If you’re staying at the Sandals Regency La Toc, you’ll want to try the 9-hole Executive Course.

Here are additional things to remember if you are golfing with Sandals.  Golf is included in Jamaica and St Lucia. Caddies are mandatory but are not included in Jamaica and St Lucia. Golf carts and club rentals are not included. Greens fees are additional at Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas. Golf is not included in Antigua, but it is available nearby.

Other outside land activities include: tennis (private lessons available), racquetball and squash ball, lawn games, table tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, fitness centers with trainers, billiards, shuffleboard, and indoor pub games.

Top-shelf drinks are available at no extra charge, available 24/7, and are served everywhere throughout the resort.

Sandals continues to raise the bar when it comes to the luxury included experience for guests. They’ve partnered with Beringer to offer the perfect wines for the beach or dinner.
Sandals definitely includes everything you need for a perfect worry-free vacation or honeymoon. So what are you waiting for?  Get in touch with me today!  Ask me about Beaches Resort. The family friendly get-away resort...perfect for family reunions or holiday get togethers.

When’s the last time you visited a Sandals or Beaches Resort?

Create memories not regrets!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What’s your favorite cruise ship drink?

One of the questions I ask on Twitter is,  “What’s your favorite specialty cruise drink?” Cruise ships are very creative in their drink concoctions, and it’s always fun to see what others like. 

People reply back to me and ask me what my favorite drink is on a ship. Actually, I don’t have one.  Call it boring or being healthy, but I stick to water with lemon.  However, if cruise ships made the following drink, it would be my all-time favorite.

It’s a twist on Dr. Oz’s Tangerine Weight-Orade

Dr. Oz’s site says, “Green tea, shown to boost metabolism 12% by drinking just one cup; tangerine, with a chemical composition that increases sensitivity to insulin and stimulates genes that help to burn fat; and mint, a calorie-free flavor enhancer. Drink 1 pitcher daily for maximum metabolism-boosting results.”

I’m always looking for easy recipes that I can make in my own kitchen.  Well this was quite easy and full of flavor.

In a large pitcher (I used my Pampered Chef, Quick Stir pitcher.) combine:

·       4 cups brewed lemongrass tea
·       4 cups brewed green tea (I used green tea Matcha Powder)
·       1 tangerine, sliced
·       A handful of mint leaves

Stir and let flavors fuse overnight. The next day, enjoy!

This is a delicious, refreshing, all-natural tea.  I didn’t even need to use any sweetener.

If a cruise ship served this, it would be my favorite specialty drink. 

Now, I need a creative name for this drink for my Pinterest post.  Any suggestions?

Create memories not regrets!