Monthly Archives: January 2015

IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Part V

(Read The Love Boat Bachelor: Write Integrity Press: Chapter Five Port of Call: Aruba)

At last, the day has arrived. Your bags are packed and tagged. Now, giddy with excitement and wide-eyed with all the new sights, sounds, and smells, you arrive at the pier. What’s next?

Welcome Aboard 4

Tip 1: Dress in comfortable clothes, especially the shoes. The first thing you’ll do is drop your bag(s) at the terminal building’s entrance—all except your carry-on(s), that is. A porter will  load your bigger stuff for delivery to your cabin later that afternoon.

Cruise TerminalNext, you’ll follow the masses inside the terminal building and line up in a queue. Remember, the cruise ship is a small city with anywhere from 1,800 to 4,000 passengers. On-boarding registration takes time. And patience.

Tip 2: While you’re in line, one of the cruise line personnel may hand out a health questionnaire. Anyone exhibiting or admitting to a recent illness will likely be examined by the ship’s doctor to determine the health risk, and if you can proceed. This is an important commitment to the health of passengers and crew alike.

Sail and Sign CardTip 3: At last, you reach the administration desk and are called forward by one of the agents. This is where you present your cruise ticket, passport, and credit card. (If you preregistered online, you might get to skip some of this part.) This is where you’ll receive your Sail & Sign card – the most important thing you’ll need while on your sailing vacation. Each cruise line has their own name for this card, but they all function the same way — as your Lanyardidentification, your credit card, your dining room table assignment, your room key, and your entry/exit card to get on and off the ship. I recommend you purchase an inexpensive lanyard in the gift shop, attach the card (and maybe your driver’s license when you go ashore), and wear around your neck. You can get the corner punched at the Information Desk, or get one with a plastic pouch.

Photography 2Tip 4: You’ll get your picture taken (it will be embedded into the Sail & Sign) card, and then you’ll pose for a whole gamut of “scenic” photos.  And finally, you’ll wind your way up the gangway to the ship. Be advised, the place will be a madhouse of confusion. Those who managed to board earlier will already be imbibing in their favorite beverages. Loud, boisterous, and packed is the name of the game.

Tip 5: Cabins are typically ready for you by the time you board. You can make your way there and drop your stuff off before you go exploring. If it’s not ready, find your way to the buffet deck (called the Lido on many ships), and enjoy a delicious lunch.

Tip 6: A mandatory safety briefing will be held before the ship sets sail. All passengers and Safety Briefingmany of the crew are required to participate in this drill. Your Sail & Sign card will show your emergency station. Your cabin steward will also advise of it, as well as the many crewmembers along the way. It’s a short, but necessary event, so be patient. Not long after, the ship’s horn will sound and you’re on your way!

Welcome AboardTip 7: It’s usually a pretty amazing sight to watch the departure from one of the upper decks. With a setting sun and a receding shoreline, your adventure is about to begin.

Bon Voyage!

Here’s a few more “Shore Excursions” I think you’ll enjoy from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog: E-mail to Roselle: From Aruba

 Joan Deneve:  Interview on Quid Pro Quills

 Julie Arduini:  Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 2

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge: Port of Call: Aruba with Alyssa LaRoche


IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Part IV

Another heroine awaits on The Love Boat Bachelor: Chapter Four Port of Call: Limon, Costa Rica

Okay, what do I pack? How much can I take?

It’s taken me thirty years to figure out that when it comes to packing — LESS is BETTER!

BaggageTip 1: You can take as much stuff as you want, but remember – if you fly, excess baggage costs. A lot. And if you’re driving, excess baggage can be a bear to manage. My advice is, keep it simple. (Don’t be this person in the picture.)

Tip 2: Sandals rule on cruises. Flip-flops, too. Especially while you’re on the cruise ship. There’s carpeting aboard, but also slick tile and marble, Flip Flopswooden decking, and don’t forget the wet areas. Add in occasional rolling seas, and … well, save the killer stilettos for the dressy dinners. Heels do NOT fare well on slick surfaces, and most of your ports of call will have pot-holes and unimproved roads/sidewalks. Keep it simple. Wear sensible, comfortable shoes. You’re on vacation. There’s no one you need to impress. Relax. Enjoy yourself.

Tip 3: You’ll need something nicer for the dining room. There are many dining Cruise diningoptions on a cruise ship (more about that later). In the main dining room where dinner seating times are assigned, casual attire is frowned upon. Long pants/collared shirt/nice shoes for men and slacks/dress/no flip-flops for ladies. (Guys, don’t forget your socks!) There will also be one or two “formal” nights during the cruise where the passengers and wait-staff dress up. This can be as fancy as tux/sequins, or just shirt/tie and Sunday best. It’s all good. Just don’t show up in cut-offs and deck shoes and expect to be served. Bad taste.Caribbean - Bird

In the more casual dining areas, anything goes. People filter in and out from the swimming pools to the buffet dining area all day (and night) long. Just do everyone a favor. If you’re in a swimsuit, put on a cover-up before you parade through where people are trying to eat.

Tip 4: So in addition to sandals, something nicer for evenings in the main dining room, and swimwear, casual wear rules: shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, etc. Just remember to dress in relation to the locale. Our favorite purchase is a t-shirt from each port of call. We’ll wear Panama and St. Thomas while in Curacao, or Jamaica and Key West while in Barbados. S’all good!

Tip 5: Most cruise ships have washers/dryers available on each cabin deck for passengers to use. Bring coins to run the machines and purchase detergent/fabric softener. Or you can choose valet service. (Check with your Cabin Steward.) There’s an extra charge for these services which will be applied to your account. (More about this later.)

Tip 6: Check your cruise line’s website for their dress code and recommendations. A small medicine kit can be helpful, as well as sunglasses, hats/visors, and sun screen. Hair dryers are typically provided in each stateroom, as well as shampoo, body wash, and soap. Some ships offer free samples of toothpaste, shaving gel, razors, etc., but these vary.

Tip 7: There is a small sundries store available (usually part of the gift shop) where you can purchase a few common amenities, but be aware the selection is extremely limited.Baggage 4

So, you ask, what do I do? Depends on the length of the cruise, but typically my husband and I take one large suitcase (get the ones with four wheeled base; they’re easier to maneuver) and one carryon bag each. In my carryon I’ll pack a change of clothes, jewelry, medicine, money, important documents, electronics, and my computer. Who knows what he carries in his—this is what I need to get by in the event my big suitcase doesn’t show. This, by the way, has never happened.

Bon Voyage!

P.S. Here are some other “Shore Excursions” you might enjoy from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog:  E-mail to Roselle: From Limon Costa Rica

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge: Port of Call: Limon, Costa Rica with Renee Kessler


IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Part III

Reminder: Be sure to read Chapter Three of The Love Boat Bachelor today for free. Once you’ve read about all the neat ladies in this story, you can help Brent choose his love.

Today’s Port of Call: Grand Cayman Chapter Three Port of Call: Grand Cayman

Biggest cruise shipThe day has finally arrived. You’re at the pier. You handed off your luggage, made it through registration, and now you’re winding your way along the gangway … only to stop and stare at the biggest ship you have ever seen. Awe inspiring! So, what do you do on a cruise ship?

Tip 1: The cruise line will send you a packet of information within a month prior to your sail date. BE SURE YOU GO THROUGH THIS INFORMATION. READ ticket

This packet can include everything from your tickets, dining times, stateroom number, baggage tags, and basic information about the cruise and ports of call. There will likely be paperwork to be completed, also. Some cruise lines offer an online submission form (for things like passport numbers, credit card numbers, etc.). BE SURE YOU COMPLETE EVERYTHING.

Tip 2: Make paper copies of your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards. Leave one copy at home. Keep another copy with you while on your cruise – but not in your wallet. The idea is, in the event you lose your wallet or purse, you’ll need these copies to report the numbers. (You should do this for any type of travel. Imagine having your purse stolen in say, India. You don’t speak the language. They’ve take your passport, credit cards, and likely any money you had. Can it get any harder?)

Tip 3: Check out the shore excursions offered by the cruise line. Review them. Decide which, if any, you want to take. Often, the more popular shore excursions offered sell out in pre-Shore Excursion Ticketsregistration. If you see one you like – book it. Otherwise, you can always wait until you board. Ship-sanctioned shore excursions can be purchased via your in-room television, or at the Shore Excursions Desk (look for posted hours).

Many people prefer to not take shore excursions. Some prefer to amble about on their own. Be assured, the ship’s Cruise Director will offer several talks about what to see/buy in each port. The crew will also offer maps of the immediate area around the port.

Others prefer to book excursions outside of the ship. There will be many local options available, usually at a much reduced price than what is offered by the cruise line. While you will more than likely save money on these tours, be advised the cruise line takes no responsibility. With their sanctioned tours, the cruise line will watch over you like a mother hen.

Besides the various local tours offered, many taxi drivers can be incented to give you a “guided tour.”

Tip 4: Activities on board range from dining, dancing, shows, gambling, art auctions, wine pairings, towel-folding demonstrations, tours of the bridge and galley, dance classes, bingo, swimming, spas, sports, sports bars, card games, yoga, fitness, movies, cocktail parties, DJs, karaoke, talent shows, drawings, giveaways, cooking demonstrations, internet café, library, board games, and I could go and on. The main thing to remember is—this is your time. You can do as much or as little as you want!!

Activities 1Activities 2 Activities 3


Bon Voyage!

P.S. Here are some more “Shore Excursions” from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog: E-mail to Roselle: From Grand Cayman

Julie Arduini:   Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 1

 Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:  Port of Call: Grand Cayman with Eliana Grayson


IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser – Part II

(Don’t forget to read the daily chapter from The Love Boat Bachelor at Write Integrity Press:   Chapter Two Port of Call: Cozumel

So, you did your research, found a crazy good deal, and booked your first cruise. Now what?

PassportTip 1: Get a passport. Most ports will require you present a passport and, if you don’t already have one, you need to get started right away. These things take time.

Apply for a Passport

Tip 2: If you’re flying to the port of embarkation, book your airfare.

Most ships begin the boarding process the day of departure in the early afternoon. They typically allow a window of 3-4 hours to move 1,500-4,000 passengers through the lines in anticipation of a late afternoon or evening sailing. Be sure to check with your cruise line for this information.

Many cruisers fly in the morning of departure. This works fine—as long as you have no airplane boardingwoes or other unforeseeable travel delays. Lost baggage can also be an issue. And because we missed two sail dates due to mechanical issues, we now try to fly in the day before. The cost of a night in a hotel near the pier more than offsets the anxiety of too-tight deadlines.

In fact, when distance allows, we like to drive in a day or so before, and do some sightseeing in the home port area. Many hotels around the piers will offer a Park & Cruise package that allows you to leave your vehicle in their secured parking. The hotels also offer transportation to and from the pier.  It sure makes embarkation more enjoyable!

Cruisers with luggageTip 3: Examine your luggage. Do you have what you need? If not, now is the time to purchase. Larger baggage items are tagged, taken, and will be delivered to your stateroom sometime after boarding. Determine what items you need to keep with you, i.e., electronics, money, cameras, medicines, etc. I recommend a carry-on bag of some sort, something that is easy to handle without being a weighty burden. And add a change of clothes, shaving gear, and cosmetics … just in case.

Bon Voyage!

Here are some more “Shore Excursions” from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Betty Thomason Owens:   Behold I Am Doing a New Thing

Marji Laine’s blog:   E-mail to Roselle: From Cozumel

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:     Port of Call: Cozumel with Nora Laing

IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser – Part I

CruiToday begins the promotional launch for a new multi-author novella called The Love Boat Bachelor. As part of this joint effort, I thought I would explain some of the process and offer a little cruising advice for those new to the sport … and hopefully take some of the mystery and angst out of your dream vacation!

Cruising 101Cruising is not for everyone. Some love it. Some hate it. But very few are ambivalent about the experience. And until you try it, you won’t know.

Below are a few suggestions to help you make the decision to set sail … or not.

Tip 1: If you are a first-time cruiser, I encourage you to learn everything you can about cruising BEFORE you sign on. After all, anticipation is half the fun! And Google is your friend.

Tip 2: There are tons of blogs out there. Read them. Check Trip Adviser. Talk with friends who have cruised, and ask them to recount their favorite cruise memories … and their worst.

Here are the Top Ten Travel Blogs as voted by USA Today:

John Heald               

Matt Hochberg       

Anita Dunham-Potter

Scott Sanders          

Chris Gray Faust      

Jim Walker               

Fran Golden             

Chris Owen              

Danielle Fear           

Sherry Laskin           

Tip 3: I highly recommend you start out with a short cruise. If you determine you don’t like vacationing on the high seas, it’s easier to grit your teeth and bear it through 2 or 3 days than 7 or 8. Shorter cruises generally cost less, too, so you won’t feel like you have wasted your time and money. And if you decide you do like cruising, hey, you’ll be raring to go!

Tip 4: Figure out where you want to go. A cruise to Alaska will offer a vastly different experience than one to the Southern Caribbean.

Tip 5: Pick the right cruise line. If you bring kids along, they’ll be bored to tears (and you might be a little embarrassed) on a romantic cruise. Likewise, if you’re honeymooning, stay away from the cruises that pander to kids.

Tip 6: Be sure to check the cruise line website for “Things to Know before You Go.”

Bon Voyage!

P.S. Here are some “Shore Excursions” for The Love Boat Bachelor (TLBB):

Marji Laine blog: E-mail to Roselle: Day 1 At Sea

Fay Lamb:  AuthorJerusha Agen Discusses Her Brainchild, The Love Boat Bachelor

Julie Arduini: Cruising Experiences

Marji Laine: Interviewed on Lena Nelson Dooley’s Blog

Marji Laine: Interview on Carole Towriss blog: 8 Reasons Romance is a Joke


Interview with Marji – By Lena Nelson Dooley

A Christian Writer’s World

                                       ~~ Characters who grip your heart

Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning, multi-published Christian novelist and screeenwriter.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE LOVE BOAT BACHELOR – Marji Laine, and 7 other authors – One Free Ebook For Everyone

Dear Readers, today I’m hosting a dear friend of mine and a member of the critique group that meets in my home.

Welcome, Marji. Tell us about your new project.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR is a romance novella written by eight different authors.

You were involved in something like that last time you were here, weren’t you.

Yes, through Write Integrity Press. This is actually our fourth collaborative novella, and they all ADA 1x0.72have about the same concept. Given a detailed character and a setting, each author writes an original chapter in the story. It’s amazing how the character journey weaves together. And even more confounding how our voices tend to blend. Readers have had trouble believing that the stories have more than one writer.

What’s special about this book?

The Love Boat Bachelor is our first sequel. I’m really excited to tell the further story with this.
With last year’s book, A Dozen Apologies, we introduced a lady with a changed life who needed to make amends to 12 men she’d humiliated. Each fellow met with Mara in his own chapter. At the end we asked the readers to help us figure out who should win her heart. It was a tough decision and many of the men walked away disappointed. So we took the guy who collected the second-most votes and built a new story around him. Sort of like the Bachelorette and the Bachelor TV shows. Lol!

Here’s the back cover information:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

LBB Book CoverBrent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Will there be a contest with this book?

Yes! Just like last year’s novella, our hero meets a number of eligible bachelorettes and falls head over heels in love with one of them. The problem is, the authors have no idea which gal he’s chosen. We’ll be posting a new chapter each weekday, starting Monday, January 26 – February 4, on the Write Integrity Press blog. ( Readers are encouraged to vote on their favorite heroine from the 4th through the 7th. The winning gal will be in the final chapter that will release with the book on Valentine’s Day.

So you have to download the book to find out the ending?

Yes. In order to learn just who the readers voted for, and who won Brent’s heart, you have to download the actual e-book. But there is good news with that! The book is FREE for 4 days. February 14th – February 17th. So while I don’t have a free book to give away today, or even a chapter to share online, the chapters – all but one of them – will come up starting Monday at and the book is free for EVERYONE on Valentine’s day. With Love J!

Write Integrity Press Banner2

Readers, don’t forget to go to February 14-17 claim your free copy.