Cruise Encyclopedias

Two of the best sources for understanding the current state of the cruise industry are Cruise Critic and  Berlitz Guide: Cruising and Cruise Ships.  Cruise Critic is a website that is a combination of cruiser reviews and editorial content.  In contrast, the Berlitz Guide is a book,  over 700 pages, compiled by a guy that travels all year on cruises.

Each has its uses.

Validate Complaints

When you cruise a lot you hear complaints from other cruisers. It is hard to decipher if those complaints are felt by one or many.  Cruise Critic is an amplifier. However, it is hard to compile the complaints by year based on how it is organized. But usually, the reviews are validated in the Berlitz guide. Last year, the complaints were about the diminished quality of Celebrity cruises. Berlitz validated that complaint in this year’s guide by stating that Celebrity is a more refined Royal Caribbean, the quality is not what it was in previous years.   Basically, a downgrade.

The newest complaint on Cruise Critic is that the level of service on Crystal has diminished since the company was sold to Genting Hong Kong in 2015.  You will not find this in the 2017 Berlitz guide.   If it is a valid complaint it should be in the 2018 version of the Berlitz Guide.

Rating of Best Ship for the year

Both Cruise Critic and Berlitz rate the best cruise ships. However, their standard is very different. The Cruise Critic rating is based on reviews from fellow cruisers. It really depends on who is using the site the most. Luxury cruisers are a minority and the ratings from Cruise Critic reflect that. The Berlitz rating is based on the rankings given to each ship and then each cruise line compiled yearly by one author.

Top Resort Ship

Berlitz – Queen Mary 2

Cruise Critic – Disney Dream

Top Mid-Size Ship – Viking Sea

Berlitz – Viking Sea

Cruise Critic  – Viking Sea and Disney Magic

Top Small Ship

Berlitz – Europa 2

Cruise Critic – Celebrity Xpedition

Take the time to check out both sources. They will be valuable to planning your next cruise regardless of whether you are a first-time or an experienced cruiser.







A&K: After Thanksgiving Private Tour Sale

American Thanksgiving is 4 days away.  Black Friday sales are posted everywhere.  A unique sale for Thanksgiving is the A&K Private Journeys sale.  This is the second year that I received this advertisement.  Last year, the sale caused the A&K site to go down.  Go to the site early and do your research. Chances are, they will have site problems this year as well.   Good Luck!

Holiday Sale: Preview Journeys

Traveling with Luxury Items: The Kim Kardashian effect

When I travel, I make sure I bring  understated bags, jewelry and luggage.  I am always surprised by people who choose to take monogrammed Louis Vuitton, Prada and Channel on trips.

As many people have just seen, when you flash what you have, people want it. For the average person, you will probably not have someone invade your hotel room, tie you up and rob you at gun point. Instead, you may just have someone steal  that wonderful Rolex watch or cut the strap of your Vuitton bag.

I have met people on tours of Buenos Aires that chose to wear their Rolex and were robbed the second day in the city. I have met people that have gone to Punta del Este in Uruguay and were robbed of their money on the first day in port. I have met people who were robbed of fanny packs that they were laying on top of in Nice, France.

Make the decision to leave your flashy valuables at home.



Caribbean Cruise: What should a pear-shaped girl wear?

Holiday cruise season is fast approaching.  What should you wear? Below are my top 5 items for the pear-shaped girl.

1. The Swimsuit    Swim dresses are for your mother.  Unless it is this Profile by Gottex  Enchantment Bandeau One Piece Swimsuit. I have it in black and it looks amazing. Also, it comes with removable and adjustable straps.

$Profile by Gottex Enchantment Bandeau One Piece Swimsuit - Bloomingdale's

2. The Caftan Dress    Caftan dresses make you look long and the flowing skirt makes thighs and hips look lean. The black caftan dress is Rachel Pally. 


3. The Sailor Pants   It is hard finding a summery pant when crops only make your hips and thighs look wider.  The sailor pant  from Ralph Lauren is  a great option.

4. The Little Black Dress  Avid cruisers can dress up a black dress by adding a scarf, a jacket or a broach.  You will only wear it to dinner. This fit and flare black dress from Karen Kane always does the trick for me.

Karen Kane 'Michelle' Short Sleeve Fit & Flare Dress

5. The Evening Gown  Depending on the length of your cruise, you will have one or more formal nights.   I have a dress very similar to this JS Collection V back dress, it really looks good on.

JS Collections V-Back Lace & Satin A-Line Gown

Luggage: What do you have?

I was raised to always get a deal. Something had to be on sale for the purchase. I have carried that with me through life.

For years, I purchased on sale luggage looking at the denier to make sure it was above 500. I thought I was getting a good deal, but every 5 years the luggage was done and by then I couldn’t find the receipts. In 1999, I even purchased a Briggs and Riley from TJ Maxx because it was a screaming good deal. At the time, I just knew Briggs and Riley was a good brand, but not why it was a good brand.

In 2001, after a cruise around South America, I went to retrieve my luggage to see that the frame on my Briggs and Riley suitcase was bent. What the heck were they doing that, it bent the frame of a well-made suitcase? I don’t think anything is harder on luggage than a cruise porter.

For a while, I decided that the best recourse was to purchase cheap luggage under the belief it would be destroyed anyway.

Then in 2014, I was tired. I was tired of looking for luggage every other trip. I was cruising 2x a year as well as other vacations. My luggage looked like crap and I was embarrassed.

So, I went shopping online, still looking for a deal and got a hard case Tumi from Wal-Mart. It is red camouflage and I can always spot it on the baggage carousel. This issue became apparent on the first trip. The reason that it was a screaming deal was because it is not that great, Tumi canceled the T-Tech line. Also, the Tumi warranty for this was

really bad. Like bad.Luggage

Last year, I decided to finally get my Briggs and Riley suitcase fixed. It was doing nothing but standing in my closet, which was dumb.  It was bent and too heavy to use.  It took me 15 years to realize that I owned luggage with a great warranty policy sitting in my closet gathering dust.

Once  Briggs and Riley receive my luggage, they offered me money towards a newer model. The best thing ever.  I got the Commuter Baseline spinner with expansion because it matches all carry-on standards.

Briggs riley



When it is time to replace the Tumi, I will buy Briggs and Riley. They have the best warranty policy in the luggage business.  I see no reason to support luggage manufacturers with poor warranty policies.

The Perfect Travel Crossbody

Every fashion conscious female traveler knows you need the correct accessories during travel.

For the past 4 years, I have been searching for the perfect Crossbody.

The criteria and reasons:

  1. Nylon or other washable, waterproof material – Leather warps in the rain.
  2. Fashionable – No explanation needed.
  3. Must have a secure closure. No open flap bags. I don’t want to be robbed.



  • Prada Vela Small Messenger Bag  –  $990
  • It used to be called the Hunting Bag and it was -$795


  • Longchamp ‘Le Pliage Neo’ Bag – $210
  • I own the older version of this bag and I LOVE Longchamp



  • MCM ‘Small Heritage’ Crossbody bag – $660
  • Coated canvas – not sure