3 great books about cruise vacations

While blogging, video, interactive travel books and online travelguides have command a lot of interest, books (like with paper and ink) are still being published. Here are some of the best about cruise vacations for your weekend reading pleasure.

Selling the Sea– An inside Look at the Cruise Industry
Written by cruise industry veterans Bob Dickinson from Carnival Cruise Lines fame and Andy Vladimir this second edition features information all about the mechanics of the cruise industry as well as interviews with captains, social directors, and cruise line executives

Frommer’s Cruises and Ports of Call, 7th Edition
This is like the handbook of all cruise books and has photos of all major ship classes that sail from North American home-ports plus in-depth coverage of major ports of call in the Caribbean as well. This 7th edition has candid reviews and other useful information to supplement what you find online and here at Gadling.

Cruise Confidential A Hit Below the Waterline
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work on a cruise ship, this is the book for you. Brian David Bruns look at his life as the only American waiter on several Carnival cruise ships gives a backstage account of what it is like day to day aboard a ship at sea.

Don’t want to cut down trees for information? AOL TravelGuides are a great source for all things cruising as well. Some of the best include great warm-weather ports like Kingston, San Juan, Acapulco and Cancun.

Just the thing on a cold, snowy, Winter night or if you’re a Time-Warner subscriber, expecting another blackout.

No time for such nonsense as books? Fine then, check this video on the new Disney Dream:

You’re watching Cruise Director: Disney Dream – Behind the Scenes. See the Web’s top videos on AOL Video

Honolulu (and the island of Oahu) is lights out

It’s not like I didn’t warn you. What did I say just a few days ago? (We know, Brenda, you told us HECO was completely incapable and that it is a completely useless electric company). I guess, in anticipation of the storm that is coming, someone at HECO really messed up and now the entire ISLAND (yes, that’s what I said, the entire island of Oahu) is out of power and we’ve been that way for four hours and counting.

I had a whole Friday evening planned out for myself. I was all ready to paint the town red and attend the 5th annual Head Gear Party, hosted by my high school classmates. (I was going to be a very stylin’ Chinese cowgirl, by the way). Instead, I found myself sitting by candlelight for the second time in a week! While I do really enjoy feeling like I’m in the back woods of Maine all over again, I have to tell you I would much prefer having a gin and tonic with my high school friends and catching up on old (and embarrassing) times way back when we were teenagers.
I guess, instead, it’s really time to dig up my list of things to do when things go bad. That really comes in handy right about now. So, as follow up to my list, here’s some commentary:

  1. Be creative: Does driving around in the dark, with no stoplights telling people when to go count? There is bumper-to-bumper traffic on Pensacola Street (just one block away from me) right now, and people are irate. I can hear sirens blaring, dogs barking, and people yelling. It is not a happy scene here this Friday evening at 11 pm. If I could make a slight amendment to my tip, I would say you might be better off walking around in the dark, because DRIVING around in a blackout is just plain dangerous.
  2. Letter to a loved one: I would still support this activity. It really helped me calm down as I texted the heck out of every one of my friends who are across town (maybe in traffic or playing Scrabble with each other by candlelight).
  3. Conversation with a stranger: Sorry, I’m too scared to invite a stranger into my home and make small talk by candlelight. Maybe next time…
  4. Indulge in food: I was cutting eggplant and almost ready to fry it on the stove when the electricity cut out. I am really wishing I’d stocked up on that Peanut Butter ‘n Chocolate ice cream I spoke of, but I didn’t. I haven’t had dinner yet, I can’t bear to open my fridge for fear of letting the cold air out, I’m hungry, and I’m grumpy.
  5. Sleep: This is my only alternative. Yes, I think sleep would be good for me right about now.

… but thank goodness for Hele Wireless internet! With traffic, newspaper presses, and regular internet at a complete standstill, Gadling might just be one of the first sites with really pertinent news that, if we were smart enough, we probably would’ve already known:

  • The Hawaiian Electric Company has no business being Hawaii’s electric company.
  • There are over a million very unhappy Honolulu residents right now.
  • Cell phone companies likely made BANK between the hours of 7-9 pm this evening, when the entire island of Oahu went black and people had nothing better to do but call their loved ones (see #2 on my list) and complain about how this situation is really, really bad.
  • At least we are thankful for it not being less than 70 degrees outside.
  • Even more Hawaii residents are thinking about getting off the grid – not just me (thanks, Marilyn, for the link!).
  • It’s a Friday night, but at least there’s always Saturday night!

[This photograph was taken at 10:53 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time. If you look really closely, you’ll see my very unamused pug Iris by my chin.]

Five things to do when things go bad

I opened the front door to my apartment yesterday evening to find an early, unwelcome, and unpleasant Christmas present waiting for me inside: my power had been turned off. Apparently, the Hawaiian Electric Company finds it completely acceptable to turn off your service when you are a new tenant in the building — and gives you NO warning, by email or otherwise, as to when or why it is happening.

What made this matter worse is that my friend came over to cook steak on my electric stove. We were hoping to drink a bottle of Merlot, and watch “Superbad” on DVD. Instead, we both showered by candlelight, ate out at a mediocre Vietnamese pho restaurant, went to Walmart to stock up on more candles, and are calling it a night.

There are, however, some awfully good lessons to be learned from such an experience as this. If you’re one of the many travelers stuck at an airport in the northern U.S., an unhappy backpacker in the middle of nowhere, or a peeved resident living in a city serviced by an incompetent and unresponsive electricity company, then please resist the urge to cry about it. Here are a few things you could try to get your life back on track when things go bad.

  1. Be creative: If you’re not having fun in your current situation, find a way to make it fun. As long as there’s gas in it, your car can be one of the most enjoyable tools for happiness. Turn up the heat in your Chevy, take a road never traveled, and slowly find your way back home. If you don’t have a car, use your feet. You’ll be surprised how much you never noticed about even the most familiar of surroundings.
  2. Reach out to a loved one: So, you’re all alone in some backward country that you thought you’d love, but it turns out you hate it. Think positively: things will not be this bad forever. Take out a piece of paper and write a letter to a loved one, using your pen as an outlet for frustration, anger, sadness, and expression. Or, if you can get to a phone, give that person a call and tell him/her how much s/he’s missed.
  3. Strike up a conversation with a stranger: I love making new friends in the most random places. The conversation starter here would be your current, shared, miserable experience/existence. My best friend met her husband while waiting for flight in Albequerque. It’s amazing how much a light conversation can ease your inner tension. If nothing else, your little debate can pass the time.
  4. Indulge in your favorite food: Forget that Weight Watchers diet. Take out that stash of Baskin-Robinns Peanut Butter ‘n Chocolate ice cream (sorry for the food plug here, it’s my one weakness) and go to town. At least your belly will thank you.
  5. Get some zzz’s: Sleep is one of the best cures for whatever crisis you might be in. Shrug off your problem for a few hours with a little shuteye.

I hate the sight of frustrated tears, and I particularly detest angry protests by customers upon innocent flight attendants (though, I must confess, I too have instigated such arguments). The best thing you can do in rough times is grin in bear it. Things always get better in time.