Monday, April 26, 2010

The Foot Massaging Mother's Day Blog!

Well hello wide world of bloggers, it's good to see you again. For those of you who are not fans of Wiregrass Travel on Facebook you have no idea what in the heck this title is about. Well to be quite honest neither do I. I posted a status today asking if anyone wanted me to blog today and if so about what. I had nine comments for the blog but only two suggestions, hence the title. I really do love FB and all the things that come with it. There is always someone out there waiting for the perfect status or picture just waiting to drop their opinion or joke on. It really is so amusing to me and I get a real kick out of it. I think my goal, esp. on my personal profile is to throw the most random thing I can think of out there just to see what I can stir up. Anyone else do this? You know you do, it's fun. If you don't maybe you should try. I will say that 99% of the crap I post is pretty well true, the fact of the matter is people like to laugh at people and the stuff they do so you may as well have fun with your own issues. I think it is very sad for people to take themselves too seriously. Come on you ain't that important, I promise :).
OK on to my two topics. First up Mother's day, now I know my mother will be reading and since she thinks I was rude to her yesterday on her FB status(even though I wasn't, just being honest) I will try to score some points to win her back. I think it goes pretty much without saying that nobody will ever love you like Mama does. She carried you for nine months, birthed you, and cared for you for at least 18 years or better. I could sit here and go through lots of reasons to love your mother or why I love mine and get all sappy...but who wants to do that? Here will come the part where Angie(my mother) will say "oh he is just like his daddy". I don't see the need to gush over people/family members with words. That's all they are, just words. I think actions speak WAY louder than words and from my end and from what I have seen, most of the folks with sweet tongues are just hiding something else they are doing. I believe you can tell how much someone loves someone else by the way they act. For instance, when I call my mother and say "hey, is Mimi's kitchen open this weekend?" that is LOVE. I LOVE her cooking! Or maybe something a little more serious, like when I know she has an appt. with her oncologist and my stomach hurts until about 2PM when she is done and has the all clear. She worries enough on her own, doesn't need my help, but I do it anyway. BTW just learned yesterday that worrying is a sin, which makes sense to me, but means I will be sleeping in a hog pen in heaven but I will be there and that is all that counts! Now for the actual is right up there with Valentines, just another day created by women to get gifts and feel "loved". All that does is just put pressure on us hopeless guys to come up with something good so as not to disappoint. I will end Mother's Day with this, every day should be mother's day, not just once a year and every mother should always have their kitchen open on the weekends. Boy I bet this is going to cause a stir.
Now on to foot massages. There is a 5k this weekend at our church and one of our wittier members thought that telling folks a good place for a foot massage after the 5k would be a good topic. Well I have thought it over for a while now and there is a particular physician who specializes in women's care that I hear also gives a great foot massage...If you need his address just hit me via email and I will share. I will say his wife is quite a character, always having something good going :).
That's it folks I am out, the BSer is officially done for the evening! Jeremy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Technology SMC 5/10/10

Hello travel friends! I don't know what the weather is in other parts of the world but it is perfect here in LA today. The good news is I plan on playing tennis after lunch and have an outdoor wedding reception tonight. Its always a good thing when you attend the wedding AND book the honeymoon! I can almost guarantee that at some point before the bride and groom leave they will have some last minute questions for me and there will be people around listening. These are friends and I would be going to the wedding either way, Linds is a brides maid, but it sure doesn't hurt that I can pick up some potential customers without even having to try! It actually got started up last night at the rehearsal, the bride had some questions about her baggage tags and there were at least six pair of ears listening. That my friends is the best marketing tool any customer service rep of any kind can have and its free! The new couple will be traveling down to Pt Canaveral tomorrow to board the Freedom of the Seas by Royal Caribbean. They are sailing on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary with ports of call in St. Thomas, St Martin, Nassau, and Royal Caribbean's private island Coco Cay. I wish I was with them. Oh well, that is why I love my job, so I can live through my customers experience.
OK, now on to the new technology. If you are a friend or fan on Facebook I am sure you have seen some of my post about this. If you are not a friend or fan please look me up and join. Just enter Wiregrass Travel in the search box and you will find me. The new technology I am referring to is a brand new search engine on my web site for air, hotel, and rental cars in anywhere USA! If you have been a follower of this blog or happened to have called me wanting a hotel in xyz USA or wanted just an air ticket to visit your grandma in Kansas, I most likely told you to just go to and do it yourself. Not that I didn't want the business, but my vendor for those type accommodations just wasn't very competitive and for the dollar or two I would make I would just rather save you the money on this and hopefully you would remember me for the vacation packages that I could take care of you on. Well no more!!! My corp office has inked a deal with Expedia and to allow their technology to be added to our personal web sites. I am so excited I do not know what to do with myself. Not because it is going to be a huge revenue generator, but because I can be the travel go to guy for ALL your needs! From a customer service stand point this is a dream. Now all I have to do is get the word out and get everybody use to calling me anytime travel pops into their heads. The hotel side of the engine will pull "best rate guaranteed" rates for select hotels. I tested it out on the Raddison in Cape Canaveral(one I recommend to cruisers out of there) and the price from my web site matched, to the penny, booking the room directly with the hotel. Now instead of telling my clients who to call for a room the night before their cruise, I can either book it for them on my web site or just tell them where to book, their choice. Do me a favor and please send this web address to all your friends that you know already use Expedia and It is the same tools and prices but it benefits me,which in my opinion is a great thing :)

Have a great beautiful weekend, Jeremy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SMC 3/27/10

Well I can tell you that unless the ole brain really gets to thumping there won't be much here today! I have been up since 330 for unknown reasons. The only good part of that is , also for unknown reasons, it seems to be when I do my best work. I am a down hill person as the day wears on. I bet this is the complete opposite for most of you. I know Linds will not be up until 9 and then prefers not to spoken to for at least an hour after that.
Since this is the last blog for the month of March I will go ahead and give my state of the agency on the business. I know that most of you do not care nor do I need to share this with you but I told you in the beginning that I would be honest with you and share the ups and downs of Wiregrass Travel along with personal and travel related issues, hopefully making this more interesting to read. I have this crazy idea that if clients and potential clients learn more about me they will feel a closer connection, therefore resulting in more loyalty, new business, and referrals. There I go, I just gave away a secret! Do you think it is a good or bad idea to share info like this and how business in general is going? Just curious. Anyway the state of the agency for the month of March is good! Not as good as Feb. but overall a success. I really love what I do and do hope to continue to see the growth in the months and years to come like I have had over the last year. Don't read too far into what I am saying...I am not by any stretch of the imagination getting rich or near it for that matter, just making progress. I would dare say, and I bet you will think this is a lie, that 98% of you are making more income than me right now, but I sure do hope over time that changes :).
An example of one of the best things I enjoy about my job took place about 830 last night. I had a couple just get in from Sandals Royal Bahamian call to tell me how wonderful the experience was and how much they appreciated what all I had done. Talk about a satisfying reward of the job, they actually called me before they called their parents to let them know they were home! Any who, I told you my think tank was kind of dry this morning so I will let you go, as always thank you so much for reading, Jeremy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Passport Questions SMC 03/20/10

Good Morning bloggers,sorry I missed you last week, I was in Birmingham with Linds for a conference she attended. For all of my old Roly Poly customers that read you will appreciate the fact that just for fun(and no pay) I went to visit my old friends at their downtown store and worked for two days through lunch! I had a blast and actually hadn't forgotten a thing...almost. These were the guys, father and son, that were my regional developers so they trained me, babysat me, and listened to my griping when things didn't go the way I thought they should. Long story short, I will probably never be able to pay them back for all they did for me over those two years. They are truly one of the greatest families you would ever want to work with and I will do anything for them to this day that I am capable of. It was great to see and spend some time with them.
I told you all a few weeks ago that I would tell you about my nephew Tanner boy on his birthday. Well tomorrow he turns 4! I know I said it then but I have to say again that time flies. It really drives me nuts, I need to freeze all of them now before I wake up one day to go to their weddings. Tanner boy is far and away the entertainer/comedian of the family. I can't even begin to tell you some of the pure crap he comes up with that is hilarious. I tell Linds all the time that I really believe he is the next Chris Farley. He will do practically anything to get a laugh or a smile. The cool thing about him is he doesn't have to comes naturally. I would bet a large amount of money that if you were around him for at least 5 minutes you would be smiling and want to take him home with you. He also knows exactly how to play up to anyone, especially his Aunt Lindsey, to get just what he wants. He can play her like a piano. He is so far the most loving to all people of the three kids. He freely gives out those "I love yous" at the most random times that will just make you want to eat him up! I also should mention that it helps his case that he is honestly one of the cutest kids you will meet to go along with that personality. His party isn't until tomorrow and my sister is worried about rain ruining it because he is going to have an inflatable outside. But what makes Tanner so special is it doesn't matter the time, place, or circumstance he is going to have a good time and be happy...he is very literally the happiest kid I have ever been around and I bet if you met him he would make you happy too.
I do want to touch on one thing travel related today before I let you go, passports. As you know when it comes to the government, making decisions, and then us being able to interpret them, well I just won't go there right now. I am going to try to give this to you in the shortest way I can. In the end you need to go to and interpret it for yourself but here is my best stab at it. If you travel anywhere outside the U.S. by any other means than a closed loop cruise, you have to have a passport. According to the law, as of June 1st 2009 that was going to be changed to effect even ain't being enforced. As of today, and only God knows when they will start enforcing it, you can get on a closed loop cruise with an original birth certificate and valid drivers license. I highly recommend not going this route however. Reason being, if anything were to happen to you on the trip or a family member back home and you needed to be flown back to the States, you are screwed...plain and simple. Knock on wood I haven't had this come up yet, but it most likely will one day, I would hate to be in the shoes of a client that has unexpectedly lost a loved one or had a child get hospitalized while on a cruise and have to sit on a ship for 4-5 days because they couldn't catch a flight and get home immediately! To define closed loop cruise that is what 90% of you are going on. It just means it starts and ends at the same port of call. Like I said above go to the government web site and read thoroughly for yourself, don't take my word on it. Have a great weekend, Jeremy

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Have No Idea! SMC 3/6/10

Hello wide world of bloggers, I hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend. All is going good here at Wiregrass Travel. I actually made my last booking for the month of February on Saturday(27th) night at about 9:30PM to cap off the best month by far I have had since being in business. God is good! Of course, in true "owning your own business" fashion, this week has been pretty slow. I am very glad that before jumping into my own endeavors that I sold vehicles for several years on a commission only basis. It taught me a lot about money management and how not to get to high or low when the times change, because they will change. I still feel like this will be a good month too because I have a lot of things in the works and we are still in the prime booking season for summer vacations.
This afternoon will be bitter sweet for me personally. My little Jaybug(niece) is having her 6th birthday party at her house. I am glad she has grown up happy and healthy but it makes me so sad to know she is not a baby any more and it will not be many more years before uncle Germy isn't allowed to hug and kiss her because it will not be cool. I remember the day she was born like yesterday and now she is six! I can't hardly stand it. Her mother and I were talking yesterday about how she came into the world with a bang and hasn't stopped since. I know everyone thinks their kids are the smartest in the world and rightfully so but I can guarantee this child is exceptional but in a way you have to be around her to get. She interacts so normally within her friend groups and plays normally, aka not a weird smart, but will blow your mind with what all she can do for a kindergartner. She is reading on a 4th-5th grade level(her mother tested her because she is a counselor), teaches herself to play the piano(no one in the family is musically inclined), and can solve any addition problem in her head so long as both numbers are below 100! I picked her and her brother up from school a couple weeks ago and brought them to my house for a little while while their mother ran some errands. On the way home she had asked me if she could play on a web site at my house she had found at school. I said sure because Tanner had already asked to play on the Wii "fifth" and this would cut out the arguing about whose turn it was. So I pretty much left her alone in my office while tanner and I played Wii. I went in to check on her after a while only to find that she had selected 5th grade math from the site(can't remember the site). She was playing a game about counting money, you basically are given a figure and you click and drag the money into the box until you think you have it right and click done to check your answer. I noticed she had done 6-7 already but also noticed that it has $867.14 as the problem...I am thinking OK Jay I know you are smart, but I think this may be more than you can chew, so I just watched. Did it perfectly, without hesitation, and didn't use the one hundred dollar bills, used twenties for the most part! Told you, amazing! Well I guess you get the idea about how I feel about this little girl and yes I have very much gloated about her this morning, I don't care. We rarely share outside of our family any of this because we don't want to be "those people" and frankly most people would not believe it anyway but this is my blog and I can say anything I want :).
I will tell you all about Tanner boy in a couple weeks when it is his birthday. Trust me it will be worth reading too. That kid is not right at all! I would put him in a funniest kid contest. I bet you are wondering what all this has to do with travel? Nothing, hence the title. I had nothing travel related to talk about this morning so you got to learn a little about my family. I will list a few specials worth noting below, just to keep it relevant. Thank you all for reading, Jeremy

Royal Caribbean just announced "family of four" pricing on select sailings with a great discounted rate for families of four.

Sandals adults only all-inclusive resorts are offering two free nights plus $250 spa credit with certain accommodations this month.

Travel just about anywhere in the Bahamas through the end of the year and you only pay for one of the air tickets! Yep, it's buy one get one with relatively no restrictions.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The One I Forgot SMC 2/20/10

Good morning to you all. I apologize for skipping a week, I guess the snow just had me too excited to sit down and blog. Excuse #2 comes in the form of being very busy this month. I probably had the best two week booking period I have had yet as an agent. This week was decent but compared to the first two it was almost a depressing let down. It does amaze me just how the Lord will take care of you though. My grandfather had a recurring back issue flare back up late last week followed by three straight days this week of Dr visits and surgery. Long story short it would have been very difficult to juggle a week like the prior two and do my part to take care of him too. He is doing much better now and maybe next week will be back to bring on the bookings!
I said at the end of the blog three weeks ago that my next blog would be about people you encounter while traveling. Well about two days after the last blog I realized I lied...sorry. I will pick that up here and try to read my previous blog to make sure I haven't made any promises I need to fulfill. In the three, almost four, years Linds and I have been married we have been on a few trips and every time we run into some interesting people. It amazes me how different cultures and even regions within the same culture tend to act the same. For instance, on our honeymoon we met a group of Canadians on the first day that were extremely friendly. Since then we have ran into several more and had conversations with them with the same result...I like Canadians. One particular group that seemed to get the most eye rolls from me and Linds on this last cruise was the "Yankees". Not because they were unfriendly, but because they feel the need to make sure everyone within 50yds hear everything they say. We were on our transfer van coming back from our excursion in Grand Cayman and we stopped to pick up another family at a different beach. They get on being loud but it's vacation so we are all excited. This kid that I will guess was at least 9-10 years old sits by himself in the seat right if front of me. His mother is about 3 rows back and across the van. I swear I am not making this up, she yells really loud to this kid "hey Michael are you feeling OK?" No problem, kid must have not felt well....until he shook his head yes and she yelled at him no less than 6-7 times in five minutes asking the same question!!! I almost turned around and said he is fine! That was just an example, there were lots and lots of this kind of stuff out of that group, especially at dinner when they felt the need for everyone in the dining room to hear their stories. I will throw this in for the northerners reading, it is predominantly the women doing to loud talking. The next group I have taken note of is of Asian decent. The best I can figure with these folks is they are 50-50. They are either some of the nicest or rude people you will meet. To help define that a little further it seems to me the younger Asians are really nice and polite, it's the older ones that seem to have an attitude. Linds has always loved little Asian children and there was the cutest little girl on the November cruise that we wanted to bring home. We ran into them everywhere and were always looking at her and talking about her so I am sure they are blogging today about the weird Americans that kept stalking them :). Next up, old folks! I hope that I too will be old and grumpy one day, but I ain't there yet. I will say this and then get off of it, if you are in a buffet line setting just get out of their way because by gosh they are going where they want to go and will not move out of your way. Literally we almost got knocked out of the way numerous times trying to get a plate..beware the old hungry folks.
I know you all think I am being a little judgmental and I am, but I also know that someone some where are talking about us rednecks and all the things we do to annoy them...probably rightfully so. Have a great day, Jeremy

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ports & Excursions SMC 2/6/10

As I sit here at this very moment I am saying to myself, " you really need to come up with another opening line. You can't say good morning everyone again." For those of you that blog I bet you know exactly what I am talking about. Sounds simple enough to mix it up a little but I am a pretty simple minded person therefore making this issue complex! Anyway, good Saturday morning. I hope everyone had a good week doing what ever it is you do. If you live here in LA it looks like we will actually have sunshine all weekend with mild temps, which is the first time I can remember in quite a while for us. I know I am happy to see it. I could probably compose a six page blog about all the good things associated with working from home but one negative is when there is a week or several days with nothing but rain and cloudy skies. That kind of weather mixed with not changing scenery very often can wear on you.

Today I want to tell you all a little about the ports and excursions we experienced last year. Let me remind my regular readers and inform the new ones that our second cruise made stops at the same ports as the first with the addition of Roatan, Honduras. It was a reward from Princess cruises or otherwise we would have chosen a different itinerary to experience something new. Our first stop on each cruise was Georgetown, Grand Cayman. I give this port a two thumbs, all eight fingers, and one leg up! G.C. to date is the nicest foreign country I have visited...keep in mind I haven't traveled all that much. The people are extremely friendly and it is really safe. In any place in the world, even right here in good ole Dothan, AL you have to be cautious as to where you go and G.C. is pretty much the same. However, I feel as safe there as anywhere I have ever been. It is a very clean, very modern country compared to the rest of the Caribbean. The majority of the locals there are Jamaican. They get one or two year work passes then have to go home for a year. The connection is that they were both settled and controlled by the British at one time. Jamaica has since declared their Independence from Great Britain and G.C. has move for the Caymanians. The reason so many Jamaicans are there to work is because there are very few true Caymanians on the island. I believe our first guide told us there were about 40k Camanians on the island. He, of course, was Jamaican. His name was Chris and he was a really nice guy. That day(our first cruise) we selected an excursion that toured the turtle farm, Hell, and the rum cake factory. On top of the planned stops, and one of the best parts of the day, was Chris talking and telling us all kinds of interesting facts along the way. For example, as we passed the Ritz Carleton on seven mile beach he told us a condo there would cost us one million dollars...and the Bill Gates owned a whole floor of it! He also pointed out the resort where the Grand Cayman scenes were shot in the movie "The Firm" with Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. He even told us the island averages only 3 murders per year and that is usually due to drugs. That problem seems to be worldwide. On our second trip to G.C. we decided that we wanted to have a beach day. We booked it through Shore Trips, an independent company, not the cruise line and boy were we glad. Our driver took us(and by us I mean only me and Linds) right past the beach the cruise lines used where there were hundreds packed on a small beach to our beach. It was right behind a local restaurant and as far as we could see in both directions we saw about two other couples all day! Lunch was included at the restaurant and it was delicious. BBQ chicken, rice, mac & cheese, and fried plantains with a glass of lemonade.

Our next common stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. On our cruise back in March this was the "beach day" we had picked out. Again using Shore Trips, we got a taxi to take us to the private beach club to start our excursion. Lunch and drinks were included with this excursion and they were both great! Service there was outstanding but the beach itself was a little bit of a let down. It was rocky and a little grey. Overall I would rate the experience 7 out of 10 stars. The fajitas and margaritas were great but the beach, not so much. On our second trip we decided not to do an excursion and I am so glad we didn't. It came the storm of all storms shortly after we disembarked. We pretty much hung out is the port area, shopped, and had lunch. Note: do not eat at Pancho's Back Yard. You will leave under fed and over charged. Linds and I both ordered chicken nachos and a drink. We were served about 5-6 chips with very light cheese and about 2 shreds of chicken COLD with about a $30 bill. If any of you know me at all you know how the rest of my day went :).

Roatan, Honduras was up next for the second cruise and was our first, and I hope last, trip there. In trying to keep this short let me say we didn't make it more than 100 yards or so outside the port gates for fear for our lives. Scariest, third world country I have ever visited. The sad part is that it looks like it is a beautiful country with lush vegetation and mountains but I didn't have the guts to go check it out. I did have a large group that was down there last month and some actually hired a driver to show them around with no may want to give it a try but not this ole boy! There is a song from the nineties that says "I was a scared white boy in a black neighborhood" and that was me. Side note: don't think I am racist, the entire island of G.C. is black too what I am talking about is a culture not a skin color.

Last but not least on our second cruise we were suppose to spend a day at Princess Cays in the Bahamas but due to 6-7' swells we could not safely tender to shore. I was really disappointed but even if safety wasn't an issue I think I would have gotten sea sick on the tender in because that was as rough of surf I have ever seen. As always than you all for reading and go enjoy the sunshine, Jeremy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cabins and Ports

Hello again, and thank you for reading my rare mid-week blog. It has been a good week so far for Wiregrass Travel. We have made several bookings and expect several more. I figured while I have a little down time this morning I would jump on and do a quick blog. In this business, just like the others I have worked, in it is either all or nothing on any given day. I am expecting at least 5-6 clients to book over the next day or two but until they call I am on the nothing side of the coin, knowing that once the first calls everyone else will call within the same hour resulting in paper work all over the office and hours of getting it all booked and organized before bedtime. I will take that little problem every day of the week.

Today in continuing the blog series about our cruise experiences over the past year I want to talk about cabins and people. No, they are not interconnected just two shorter topics I think I can get into one blog. Let's start with cabin type. On our cruise in March Linds and I had a balcony stateroom for our five-night cruise and absolutely loved it! It was very spacious with a couch beside our queen sized bed and a balcony that comfortably held two chairs. Our bathroom was very spacious for a cruise ship complete with a tub/shower combo. The balcony is completely private therefore if you so choose to walk out there first thing in the morning in your boxers and t-shirt it is perfectly OK. It was so nice to be able to wake up without having to dress and put on shoes to be able to be outside to check the weather and scenery. One of the best parts of cruising is cruising near land or coming into port. It is hard to describe the feelings you get from that. Also, as I imagine most couples are this way, Linds sleeps way later than I do. Having the balcony made her life and mine much easier because instead of rustling around to find my cloths and leaving the room, only to return about an hour later, I could just step outside and enjoy the weather and scenery. As an added bonus at least one of us napped every day outside on the balcony's reclining sun chair. It is so relaxing listening to only the ship cutting through the water. On our Thanksgiving cruise we had an interior cabin. Not because that is what we wanted but because it was free! You take what you are given when you are not paying. I must admit I was dreading it a little especially since this was a seven night cruise. Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought but if there is any way I can spend the extra few dollars the next cruise for a balcony, I will! The cabin itself was sufficient. It actually had more than enough closet and storage space along with a huge mirror and makeup area with a chair. There was no couch, so if you wanted to sit and watch TV while the other got ready or just relax, it had to be on the bed. There were basically walking trails around the cabin and two people couldn't pass. The bathroom...oh boy, just step off about a 5'x5' square and imagine the sink, toilet and shower in that! It was tiny. They had actually done a really job providing space in the bathroom for all the toiletries we had brought from home, using the side walls for storage shelves. The worst part was the shower. I can't really describe it and do justice. I will say that if the ship were to move and you lost your balance you would never hit the floor unless you fell out the entrance. Also you better hope you didn't drop the soap...I did the first day on board and like always bent over to get it only to be stopped less than half way down by the wall! Linds and I discussed more than once that we had no idea how and the heck larger adults could manage a shower. Needless to say the floor was soaked each time we showered b/c there was no way to avoid it. The worst part for me was not being able to see where we were, the weather, or a place to get away while Linds got ready or slept. I really could deal with the rest of the differences but that was tough. I will say that a huge positive to an interior cabin is that if you choose to take a nap in there it is pitch black. I have clients tell me weekly that want to book an interior cabin that they don't want to spend the extra because they never stay in the cabin anyway. I have no doubt they are telling the truth because I did everything I could to stay out of that cabin too, completely different when you have your own private balcony though. I think you get the overall picture here, you can survive an interior cabin but please do your self a favor and spend the few extra bucks for a balcony stateroom, trust me you will thank me and never go back to an interior again.

Well as usual this ended up being longer than I had planned so I will cut it off here and save people for Saturday. Have a great rest of the week and thank you so much for reading, Jeremy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm A Little Too Country SMC 1/30/10

Hello from the back room of my house I call my office. I usually post some kind of randomness to open up this blog but today I just can't think of anything worth telling so I will just jump right in. I told you all several weeks ago that I had written down a few topics to blog about shortly after getting back from our cruise in November. Actually, we were not writing them down at the time but I bet Linds or me said at least once everyday "there's a blog topic". For those of you who know me personally you already know I always have an opinion and do not mind sharing it if you ask. I must warn you though, do not ask unless you truly want it because I call em like I see em. Sometimes this is a good trait but most of the time, after sharing my thoughts, I wish I had the ability to just keep quiet. The very first employee I hired back when I opened the Roly Poly and the only one who was with me from beginning to end use to always tell me I should really put a filter on my mouth. Not from cussing but from just saying what ever was on my mind. One instance immediately jumps into my was during a busy lunch one day. If you ever came in you know we had a 2'x2' pass through from the kitchen to the cashiers and I usually was running the grill directly behind it. There was actually a reason for it and that was because from where I stood I could see all parts of the dining area and kitchen therefore attempt to run a better operation as well as have some interaction with the customer. Well on this particular day the line was probably 15-20 people deep when I notice a friend of mine and classmate of Linds about half way in the line. From no less than 15 yds away through the pass through I yell "hey Lee I had a dream about you last night". Needless to say JF(the employee) absolutely lost it! She sat on the floor laughing so hard and Lee's face was the brightest red I have ever seen. Let me tell you here and now that both he and I were and still are happily married today...I had just had some random dream that he was a part of so when I saw him the next day I thought I would share it with him, not stopping to think how it must have sounded to all the other folks who didn't know me or him for that matter. Wow I just managed to sneak in an irrelevant story after all. How about we get to the blog topic.
What I intended to blog about before the long story above was the dining on a cruise. As most of you know we went on a five night cruise back in March with my parents on Holland America's Veendam. I had some thoughts then about the food and overall dining experience but held them back wanting to get another experience under my belt before judging the industry as a whole. Well after our November cruise with Princess Cruise Lines I feel like I pretty well have it figured out. All I had ever heard from just about everyone that has ever gone on a cruise was how great the food was so I was really looking forward to it because I do like to eat. Boy have I been disappointed. Don't get me wrong there is lots and lots of food on board and it is available anytime of the day or night you want it, but it isn't anything to write home about. I am not alone in this judgment, my daddy and Linds totally agree. I will say that on Holland they had a taco bar during the day out by the pool and it was great as did Princess have a pizza bar that was out of this world! It's the buffet and dining food that has been a real let down for me. I really think this is a result of having a mother and grandmother that knows how to really cook real down home food that has made us this way. Compared to their cooking the cruise line's food is like eating a burger at McDonald's versus a rib eye at Conestoga. It will get the job done but it sure ain't the same.
This leads me into another area of cruise dining I would like to discuss, the formal dining room. I was pretty excited about this experience when going on my first cruise as well as the second for different reasons. The first was based off all the wonderful things I had been told about the food and menus the second was to see if I had missed something on the first. I came away with the same impression from both. I hate the experience! It was an hour and a half to two hours every time. They are obviously doing this on purpose so as to have you "experience" an elegant dinner with fine waiters. I know that there are people out there, like my dear Aunt, that eats this kind of crap up but not this ole boy. I don't mind being waited on and believe it or not I know how to act in such settings but to make me sit bored out of my mind for that long is complete torture to me. On both cruises the dessert was the best part and on both I was begging Linds for us to just leave because I was so tired of being in there. I found out early on in the first cruise that the buffet upstairs has the same food and I can get in and out in half an hour then go do something I enjoyed. Both cruises I managed to talk Linds out of going into the dining room on most of the nights and I know she agreed because she could truly see the pain and aggravation it caused in me.
Towards the end of the second cruise Linds and I were talking about this very subject and came up with the conclusion that the cruise lines try so hard to have a fine dining experience and make the dishes look so "perfect" that they forget taste. We also concluded that part of it was due to the fact we were raised in South Alabama and were not used to real fine dining, therefore not accustomed to the taste of those kinds of dishes. As far as the "experience" you get in the dining room, just shoot me! I will say that Linds didn't mind it so much so I am going to blame that on genetics...I am just like my daddy. To sum all this up I think I need to give the cruise lines a break and admit I am just a little too country for their style of cooking and dining. Just put some fried chicken or a rib eye(about half cooked) on a plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll(that doesn't bounce) on a plate, bring it to me with some SWEET tea, leave me alone and I will be as happy as a pig in mud!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happenings SMC 01/22/10

Good morning blog world. I bet all of you located here in LA are glad to see our typical 70 degree weather return this week, I know I sure am. A good friend of mine and I have taken up a new hobby recently and we have already gotten in trouble with our wives! We have started playing tennis for a couple reasons. #1 We both want to get into better shape but do not have the discipline to work out and #2 we are both very competitive. Well yesterday our wives decided we should all go out to dinner last night which was fine with us but my friend PR called at lunch and suggested we go play about 4 and eat a little later. That was fine with me and after some low key griping from Linds all was well...until at 6PM PR and I decided we had time for one more set. That set turned into a back and forth battle for the ages and neither of us would be smart and say, hey we better just quit and go get ready for dinner. No way was that happening and we finished up about 6:50! Needless to say my shower wasn't much of a shower and Linds low key griping turned into no talking and an evil eye. She especially didn't like it when I explained how I had not had a hobby like this since we had been married and that I could be out in a bar somewhere like some husbands :). Anyway, she got over it pretty quickly as did KR(PR's wife) and we had a great time. BTW headed back to play today in about an hour and a half.
Now on the subject of travel, this weekend is the annual Bridal Extravaganza at the Dothan civic center. The Dothan Eagle puts it on and it is basically a trade show for just about any kind of vendor you can think of that would have anything to do with weddings. Last year was my first show and I had about 350 brides to be register at my booth. I hope this year is just as good or better. Of that number I did collect several new clients, referrals from those clients, and just today have quoted one of those referrals for the second time. The exposure is invaluable and I am really looking forward to it tomorrow. It is from 1-5PM so come by to see us, I would love to meet you!
On a personal note First Baptist Church Dothan(our church) is having a special day tomorrow. There will be a guest speaker who literally was blind for ten years but now can see! I bet you are singing Amazing Grace in your head now aren't you? Kevin Derryberry will be doing the special music too. For all of you who are 30ish and older you probably remember the band Telluride that used to play in college bars, well this was the lead singer who has now left that life behind to enter the ministry. I have heard Kevin's story before and it's a good one. I have told you all this to invite you to come visit us, we would love to have you! If you like to eat, in true Southern Baptist style, we will feed you after church for free :).
I think I have just about covered three of the most different topics I have ever talked about on this blog so I better quit while I am ahead. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you tomorrow, Jeremy

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All-inclusive versus Cruising SMC 1/16/10

If you are a follower of this blog you already know that I have now been to two all-inclusive resorts and been on two cruises. Just about every week, especially this time of the year, someone will call and ask which they should do. All they know for sure is that they want to be somewhere warm that's not here. I am going to try to put my answer to those clients in writing this morning. I haven't in the past because only having gone on one cruise I didn't feel I could give a fair assessment of the cruise industry base on one experience. Now, after our Thanksgiving cruise with Princess I feel I have a much better personal grip on cruises. For the record, I have done extensive training with almost every cruise line and travel company and have toured a couple ships I haven't actually sailed on.
Lets start with an all inclusive resort. The #1 thing I like is, just like the name suggest, it's all-inclusive! I am guessing the concept was born when an investor with my mindset went on a cruise. For people like me that watch their budget very closely and like to know what it is "really" going to cost to take a vacation. As with everything we will discuss today I am speaking in general terms, there are a lot of AI resorts and a lot of cruise lines...take that for what it is worth. With AIs the initial outlay of money will almost always be more than the initial cost of a cruise. The difference and the personal experience I have had is you literally do not need any cash with you while at an AI. Most everyone of them even include your gratuities in the initial cost. Food, drinks(alcoholic and non), entertainment, and beach activities are all paid for. However, I do suggest taking some cash for two reasons. One, some countries charge a departure tax before you are allowed to leave their airport(usually less than $20). Two, you know you are going to want to have a souvenir to bring back and it is just dumb not to have some cash on you at anytime because you just never know. On the negative side of the coin with an AI you are in one country, one resort, in one city/area for the length of your stay. If you do want to venture away from the resort itself it will cost you money, though usually not much in a cab fare plus what ever it is you want to do. Side note, another reason to use an agent is I happen to know a couple resorts right now in Cancun that are offering free tours to several ruins sites, zip line, and admission to a water park if you book with them. All in all if you have a relaxing beach get away in mind and not a lot of crowd or hassle, an all-inclusive may be just what the Dr has ordered for you.
Up next cruising: Number one like, price! The cruise industry is extremely competitive therefore extremely affordable. Now like with everything in life if you want the penthouse suite you better get your check book out. On the other side if you are willing to stay in an interior cabin(which I do not suggest and will be the topic of another blog) you can cruise dirt cheap...initially. I also like cruises for some more reasons. I really like the actual cruising part. It has its own unique draw just being on the sea and watching the sunrise over the next day's port from the ship or as you pull away that afternoon at sunset. I really enjoy the nightly entertainment on board the ship(it's way better than what you will get at an AI). Last but not least I like the fact you do get to see multiple countries and cultures on one trip without having to pack and unpack. Now for the not so good side. Remember how much cheaper the cruise is? Well from the time you get on board to the time you get off there is a sales pitch for something...if you know me you know that drives me nuts! If you would like a Coca Cola, that will be about $3. If you would like a beer, that will be about $5, and if you want a mixed drink you better really want one, that will be about $8...and we are not talking about a fish bowl, it's about four swallows. Want to just spend a day at the beach in what ever port you may be in that day,it will run you about $100-150 per couple to have the cruise line take you. If that isn't enough you will usually have to rent a chair, buy your lunch, and drinks there too. Oh yea, remember the gratuities that are mandatory on a cruise, that will be about $10 per person per day. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Unless you do not want a drink outside of water and juice and do not want to do any excursions you are not really going to save any money at all. One more quick thing about this topic and I will move on, this is for the guys. I have been with my wife on three of the four trips above...she probably spent 1/10 the amount at the AI that she did on the cruises. Those stinking sales pitches on the ship, they aren't for us. They announce that tonight from 6-8 the XYZ store will mark down everything 50% and they go bananas! It's a feeding frenzy and your wife will do it too. Not to mention that every port has something they just have to have.
I hope this has been somewhat informative for you all because I know you are tired of reading about now. Let me wrap it all up by saying that I love them both. If you still can't decide which way to go, call me and I bet I can talk to you for no more than 5 minutes, ask a few questions, and decide for you based off your personality which you would rather do. My #1 suggestion is both :) Until someone comes out with an all-inclusive cruise the debate will rage on! Jeremy

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm Back! Saturday Morning Coffee 1/9/10

Good COLD morning blog world, after a very long delay due to lack of desire to sit down and do this I'm back! If you are one of my regular readers I apologize for being lazy. A friend and customer of mine probably said it best several months ago in her blog, "blogging I have a new love and her name is Face Book." There is definitely something to the instant gratification that Face Book has to offer.
Well enough of that, how have you been doing? I hope you all had a great Christmas and a happy new year. We did here in LA, my mother bought us a Wii and we have been playing like elementary kids ever since. I am shocked that Linds actually enjoys it too! Since last blogging she and I have gone on a cruise with Princess Cruise Lines and had a blast. I have several blog topics that I took away from that to share with you one day. Princess and their sister company Cunard are the only cruise lines that offer agents a free cruise. All we have to do is spend some time taking and passing some training courses to qualify. Also it isn't like when you graduate you get to pick any cruise you would like. Princess releases limited space on certain cruises as they see fit. Long story short we ditched the family the week of Thanksgiving to cruise based on worry that we may not have another chance when we had the time to go. Princess only gives you 2 years to take your graduation cruise once you have completed the coursework. We traveled on the Crown Princess which is just 3 yrs old and very nice! It was a western Caribbean cruise, which I wouldn't have chosen had I been paying because that is where we went in March, but we still had a blast and I still want a vacation home in Grand Cayman :).
I better wrap it up right here for the day before I get carried away. On top of being a terrible typist, my mind really starts racing when I blog and one topic starts running into another. I wanted to keep the first one back short and sweet so as not to bore you right off the bat! Have a great weekend and I will be back soon, Jeremy