Sunday, June 12, 2016

Thank You. That's All I Need to Say or Hear.

As I sit here writing a thank you card, I have to wonder how many people actually still do this on a regular basis. This particular card is not for any kind of a celebratory present, although I certainly consider his efforts a gift. It's for someone deserving who has been extremely helpful to me over the past six months, going above and beyond his basic job description. After all, we all like to be recognized and know that we're appreciated don't we?

I'm not saying that people can't forget, or that occasionally, there might be an oversight when it comes to thank you responses. It just doesn't seem the same as it once was.

I recently found notes my children wrote to their grandparents thanking them for a variety of reasons....grandma's delicious capon, a shared experience, a gift. I taught them from young on to be grateful. The number of times they still do this in the form of a card or note is probably much more limited these days. What I do know is that they at least know how to say the words, "Thank you." Whether it's in person, on social media, in an email, or texting, they say, "Thank you."

One thing specificlly that occurred to me is how weddings have changed over the years.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with how they've changed, they're just different in so many ways.

At one time, people would receive an invitation, respond whether they could attend or not using the little pre-stamped card inside, purchase and wrap a gift, dress up nicely, attend the wedding. The first thing after the bride and groom would do after all the festivities ended, was write a little note of thanks to everyone. Sometimes, it would take up to a month if they waited for a photo or specialty card from the overpriced photographer. I've read in Miss Etiquette that up to a year is even acceptable.

Not so anymore. I speak from experience when I say that this has changed a lot. First, a "save the date" notice arrives. Later, there's an invitation in some form or other. Often there's some kind of online information which gives you details of the wedding, the venue, the ability to respond as to whether you're coming, and what to buy from the happy couple's wish list. There are pages of merchandise, prices, and stores for your online shopping and shipping convenience.  In fact, you can purchase the item, have it sent to them, and never find out if it arrived.

Gone are the days of tirelessly handwriting thank you cards, with or without a photo of the bride and groom. Gone are the days of carefully selecting and wrapping gifts. Gone are the days of acknowledgment as to whether the present has been received. Gone too are the thank yous, either written or verbal.  Not gone however, is the credit card receipt for payment of said gift, which we can only hope got to its intended location.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Time for a Change? Royal Caribbean, Where Art Thou?

There are people who dislike change and who have difficulty accepting change. This characteristic is often assigned to older people or those with specific disabilities eg. autism, anxiety and so on.

I have no problem with change as long as it's for the better. If it's change for the sake of change, I say why? I know, we've all heard "in the olden days...." from our parents, and perhaps these words have even emanated from our mouthes from time to time. The next generation, or perhaps even the one after that (yes...I'm that old), think they've created something new or had a profound idea, when in fact we older folks have seen and heard it all before. We know what has worked in the past and what hasn't. We know why we make certain choices.

There's an expression that goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

After seeing some of their more recent t.v. commercials, and having cruised on other lines, I wanted to get back to Royal Caribbean International.

I have always raved about this line and have probably gone on at least five cruises with these folks. What was so special? Apart from the fact that I found the ships beautiful and spacious, the staff more than willing to help and accommodate travellers, the food outstanding, it was the added extras.  I loved how there was an air of elegance without pretentiousness. There were active extras such as inline skating, ice skating,mini golf, basketball and rock climbing...interesting to try at age 60, and I did. Everything about this cruise line was relaxing, not frenetic.

There were scrapbooking classes, trivia, cooking, and towel animal making demonstrations. Crown and Anchor members received little bonuses like hats or tote bags and were recognized and welcomed back with a captain's cocktail party. There was constant entertainment and the shows were phenomenal. There was little added cost...only drinks, gratuities, excursions, and of course, shopping down the "Main Street" of the ship, should one opt to do so.

I recently suggested that members of our family (12 in all) go on a cruise with this line. It would be convenient and less time consuming and lower cost for all to meet at Galveston even though the cruise itinerary wasn't great. It would be so much fun getting together with everyone to celebrate several special events. For the most part, it was fun...but it was the people in our group, not the cruise line that made it so. There was so much aggravation and so much time spent at the customer service desk by most of our members, that we are all ready for another vacation.

Without going into detail of our individual serious problems (there will be reviews and letters I assure you), there were other issues. The ship was overcrowded and I couldn't understand how this could be one of my favourite ships, until someone told me (rumour as yet not confirmed by me) that an extra level of cabins had been added to the top of the ship. The fact that there were 800 kids on board, several new sets of water slides and kidzone activities suggested that they were attempting to cater more to families and the younger crowd. I suppose that's not a problem for everyone. For me, it's the reason I stay away from Carnival cruises and now possibly RC if this is the new normal.

There was standing room only in what I remembered as once spacious swimming pools, and almost no place except in ones cabin to get some quiet time. The overcrowded dining rooms now allowed people in shredded  shorts and baseball caps to dine beside cruisers who opted for the suggested formal wear on specific nights.Why have a formal night at all? Scrapbooking classes still exist but now require payment. There were towel folding lessons if you wanted to watch them on personal attention at all. Several restaurants had added cost so why bother to go there? In fact, almost everything required added payment. If you wanted a kitchen tour,  the galley on the ship, it cost $30. The shows were free but mediocre...except for the phenomenal ice skating show (still free at this point). Crown and Anchor members were supposed to get a book of coupons but instead were handed a sheet of paper with a few perks listed. The problem was, staff had no idea about these perks when I tried to claim them.

Where was the ice sculpture carving demonstration? Where were the  fruit carvings and flower arrangements. Where was the the lovely art and the scultpures that graced all the other RC ships I've been on. Instead, there was a giant red plaster dog on one of the levels.

I can only liken this cruise to a 2 star all inclusive resort someplace. Even at that, it would be cheaper at a resort since it would be "all inclusive".

So, what will I do after my letter and review writing campaign? Well, for one thing my next cruise is on Holland America. The most exciting thing I'm likely to experience on that ship is a lecture on the depth of the ocean, but at least there'll be space, air, met expectations, respect,  and consistency.