We are at sea again, on Monday. December 23. I did get to the show last night. It was Patrick Roberts, Prince of Violin. I’ll give him a pass next show. Business as usual, I saw a few people, wrote a newsletter including what had transpired at the cocktail party, delivered it and went to the gym. That felt good. Got back to messages from guests re what they would be coming to and what, not. The shore excursion is doing well, the dinner, not so well. On a holiday cruise, this is typical. The people are traveling in family and friend groups and have planned activities with them. I phoned the three cabins that I had not spoken to and left ore voice messages.
At six o’clock, the ship held a block party. We all went out in our halls, where they served champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and we met our neighbors. At 6:30 pm, I went up to the Observation Bar for Happy Hour and no one came from my DV group, but I had a nice time with some of my block people.
I ended up eating alone in the dining room and missing the show because it was so late. It was New Zealand Comedian Simon McKinney and I later heard he was really good.
On Christmas Eve, in Liam Chabang, port for Bangkok, I got up, and worked a bit before breakfast, then went up to the Colonnade, where I had more scrambled eggs. I am finding it easy to follow Ginger’s good breakfast formula here. Then I went to the gym, did some business on the Internet, logged and blogged a bit and took the shuttle to Pattaya. It was too far from Bangkok to be worth going in. I save that for when we have an overnight there.
Pattaya has grown immensely since last I was here, likely about five years ago. The wiring has grown, too. We were let off at a large modern shopping center, which I cased, but it had little appeal. Out the back side ran a more ordinary street, with local shops on it. I found one that sold me a hat, a pair of pants, a top, and almost an hour of fishies nibbling at my feet. I had planned that for boarding day in Singapore, but I should know never to plan anything for boarding day.
When I got back to the ship, my message light was on. The voice mail from one of my guests, who said she need to see me re their Bangkok shore excursion, which had gone horribly wrong. I called her back and listened to her story of a tour operator who had been almost an hour late, took a 15-minute break on the way to Bangkok, only getting there after noon, three hours later. By this time they were afraid to go on tour for fear of missing the ship, which was sailing at 5:30 pm. The tour guide offered to have them picked up in two hours, but that wasn’t acceptable to them. They wanted to get straight back to the ship, so the guide ordered a car for them. It still took an hour to come, and another three hours back to the ship. They got back at 4:15 pm, having has a stressful, excursion-less day. They wanted their money back from the tour operator and to cancel two other tours booked through the same tour company.
I asked her to gather her information, tour company names, etc. and meet me at 6:30 pm in the Observation Bar. By the time she got there, she had already sent an email to Cruise Direct. I explained that I could likely have been more effective using the power of Travel Leaders, and that I was certainly willing.
Remember, this is Christmas Eve. We parted on good terms, I went to dinner, met some very nice Aussies, and went to the ship’s nice Christmas show.
Then I went back to my cabin and set an alarm for eleven-fifteen, to go to midnight mass. There were only twenty-five people there. How would I know? I hadn’t been in years. It was nice, though and set me up for the night’s work ahead of me. I had to phone my bank branch in Santa Rosa, as Chase Internet Banking had shut me down, for making two $50,000 wire transfers in a row. They called it “suspicious activity”. I called it me doing my best to move the money Fountaingrove Lodge had refunded, to cover my bridge loan, which was accruing interest that it would bill on December 29. Luckily, the banker there who knows me best was working and he was able to set me free and push through the two wires I had already initiated. Two down, three to go to make the deadline.
While I was going back and forth with the bank, I composed an email to Distinctive Voyages on behalf of my guests, with the botched shore excursion, and another to the guest telling her what I had done. And PS and FYI from me, who has done this particular run a number of times: I don’t try to go in to Bangkok, nor recommend it to my clients, unless there’s an overnight there. Then I book a hotel. It’s really the only way, with the traffic now. Even if you make it in and out in four hours, that’s a tough, nervous tour, only to be done using the ship’s tours.
On Christmas Day, we docked at Ko Kood, Thailand, where we were having a Beach Party at a private beach. All very swish. I worked through another easy to solve problem, and replied to Distinctive Voyages query about the botched tour.
Then I went to the Beach Party, which was very nice, indeed. After the lobster and caviar, it was a toss-up as to whether I would go snorkeling or have a massage. The massage won. It was only $30 for an hour. I had a nice dinner with another Aussie couple, missed the show and went to bed early. Last night had worn me out.
On Thursday, December 26, we docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I took the shuttle in to town, which is maybe fourth world, if there is such a thing. This is a typical street. But, there’s a crane in the background. They are building and opportunities doubtless abound. I didn’t know there was anywhere like this left in the world. From that standpoint, it was refreshing. But there was nothing to do.
When I got back, I picked up a sticker on the gangway, with Sue Jamieson’s name on it and mine. So I knew she had boarded. She wasn’t in the cabin, so I went up to Seabourn Square where she was checking in. I’m delighted. I was getting a tad lonesome.
While I was there, I was stopped by Jo, the Guest Relations Manager, who is getting our people going to her about the lack of our “Surprise and Amuse” amenity, the $100pp SBCs. I promised her a current manifest, so she could check them all, and to write to DV to see how they had been applied.
While Sue was unpacking, I did all that. Happy Hour isn’t going so well, but we went for a half hour. We had been invited to dinner at 7:00 pm, by the Spa Manager and Fitness Director, so we went. They were fun to be with and Sue is all about wellness. She speaks all over the world on the healing powers of light, and such like. Then we went to “an Evening with Sir Tim Rice. He wasn’t real but our singers and dancers were, and good.
We were at sea again on December 27, and I had an answer from DV for my people with the botched tour. DV had to step back, because they had already had answers from their travel agent and tour operator. The fact that neither of them had done anything didn’t sit well with me, so I wrote back to DV hoping we could do more. The guests are very unhappy with the travel agent, for not taking their side. They had not been dealing with a travel agent prior to this and only did do so because this (online) agency offered them a cabin they liked, while Seabourn Direct, could only offer them Gty. They prefer to deal directly with the cruise company because of these possibilities. They believe they are in better hands when they deal direct. They do not plan on using a travel agent gain, and certainly not that one. I am doing my best to make the case for using a travel agency, but their TA is not helping. This may be a bigger problem than it looks like on the surface. I wish the guests had let me handle it from the beginning.
I had planned to enhance our guests’ experience with a talk from my roommate, Dr. Sue, who is an integrative physician specializing in East-West medicine and mind – body integration. Having been doctor to the world’s major rock stars, including Sirs Mick Jagger and Elton John, she is aware of the pressures that distractions that can discombobulate us in modern day life. She explains the science and philosophy behind the concept of understanding ourselves as beings of energy and light. Most importantly, how to connect to your own inner light for guidance and to hone your most important asset – your intuition .
But the ship came back with: You can’t give a talk on board, not even to a private group, unless it’s approved by head office in Seattle. I would have had to start the process a few weeks before boarding. It never occurred to me because I have given talks of my own on Holland America with no problem. Same parent, different company, apparently.
There was a special lecture at eleven. Steve Wozniak is on board. He reminds me so much of Steve Harrold, it’s uncanny. It’s that geek sense of humour. His wife has to warm him up by humouring it. They do a silly back and forth, where some things are funny, and others are just lame, to all but other geeks. Once he gets going, he’s engaging and charming and we did learn all about growing up geek, and how his mind works. It was absolutely wonderful. And magic, how the three right guys to found Apple got together, one tech, one visionary and a businessman with some money.
Back in the cabin, I had a little more work to do, all positive.
We had dinner in the Dining Room, with some of my people, a mother and daughter. We had a delightful time with them. It turns out Madeline was a Nurse Practitioner and Susan still is a homeopath. That’s right down my Dr. Sue’s alley, so the conversation was very lively and very different. Patrick Roberts was entertaining again, so we went to The Club to see if anyone was dancing. They weren’t but the band was good, so we stayed and listened an hour.
We were getting off in Ho Chi Minh city tomorrow, so I went up to Seabourn Square to report that and pick up maps, etc. Woz was right behind me in line. He was there to borrow the use of a pencil sharpener.