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Tom & Mary Milano

Age: Over 70

Occupation:Retired Restauranteur

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Splendour of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 27th, 2000

Itinerary: Circle Caribbean

TomandMaryMilano@Yahoo.com


Before we tell you our cruise experience, we would like to relate what Tom Ogg, of cruisereview.com told us when he asked us to be contributing editors. We asked him what was expected of us and his answer surprised us. He said, "I want you to have your own page, to write as much or as little as you want, about whatever you want. But most important, I want you and Mary to have fun and enjoy what your doing."

When you visit our page to read a review, please keep that thought in mind. You will find our reviews differ from the norm. We tell of our cruise experience but we also share some thoughts and the things we do that have made our sixties and seventies, the best years of our life. Not only have they been the best years of our life but each year continues to get better.

We just returned from our 20th cruise (‘Honeymoon‘) aboard the Splendour of the Seas. As we have explained in other reviews, Mary and I refer to our bookings as cruises when we write a review, but when we discuss our cruises, we refer to them as ‘Honeymoons.' We do so because we can't think of a more romantic, intimate way of spending quality time with the one you love than when on a cruise. This was a very special cruise for us because we had a dual celebration. We celebrated Mary's 7....th birthday and my 35th anniversary. If you're confused by my saying, my 35th anniversary and not our 35th anniversary, I will explain later in our review.

As you read this review, please remember our perspective which might be very different from yours. The very reasons we book a certain cruise line and a specific ship, might be the very reasons that you would not choose them for your booking. You can tell if we have similar likes and dislikes by reading our opening remarks at the top of our Home Page. While we share our cruise experience with you, remember, we are expressing our opinion, that doesn't make it right or it doesn't make it wrong, it's just our opinion.

This was the last cruise for the ‘Splendour of the Seas' in North America. In 2001, RCCL will extend their operations by repositioning the ‘Splendour' to cruise a new itinerary in South America.

A PRE CRUISE MUST:
We Diet and Exercise Before a Cruise.
It has been our experience that we gain approximately four lbs. on a 7-day cruise. Five or six weeks before our cruise date we start a strict diet and exercise program. Our goal is to lose the four lbs. we anticipate gaining. This allows us to eat whatever we want, without feeling an ounce of guilt. Try it, it will make your cruise more enjoyable.

THINGS WE DO:
Island Night Dinner, Fashion Week, Dancing: http://www.cruisereviews.com/CruiseExperience.htm

EMBARKATION:
We drove from our home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Miami, the home port of the ‘Splendour.' Porters took our luggage and I parked our car in the garage across from the terminal. The new Royal Caribbean terminal is very modern and very beautiful. The check in went smoothly. We walked into the terminal at 12:20 and we were in our cabin at 12:40.

CABIN:
Our booking was for an inside cabin, ROS. We got a five-category upgrade to an inside cabin on the seventh deck, cabin 7533. It was well appointed. As we have said in previous reviews, we only book an inside cabin if the back wall is mirrored. A mirror makes a cabin appear larger, brighter and less confining. If your thinking of booking an inside, check the cabin pictures in the cruise line brochure to see if it has a mirrored back wall. We think you will be surprised at the difference it makes.

Our cabin was very comfortable and very quiet. It had twin beds that the steward made into a king. It also had a full sized sofa and a coffee table. Instead of a mini bar they had an assortment of soda and bottled water in the desk area. The desk area was spacious and well organized. The closet and drawer space was more than adequate. Our cruise was for eleven days and Mary packed enough clothes for fourteen days and we still had plenty of space. They allocated the bathroom space very nicely. We had room for all the necessities. The shower controls were the best we have seen. I only scalded myself twice. RC doesn't supply a hair dryer so remember to bring your own.

Our cabin steward Aris was from Indonesia. He was the cutest little guy. He was 32, married with two children and looked sixteen. I had no doubt he was going to do the usual good job cabin attendants do. I took him aside and handed him an envelope with the full tip for an eleven-day cruise and told him he could expect more at the end of our cruise. I asked if on disembarkation day we could stay in our cabin until they called our color. He gave me a big smile and said, "That be fine."

There is a very funny aside to all this. On disembarkation day we had breakfast and returned to our cabin and watched CNN. From eight until nine we were totally absorbed watching the election happenings in Florida, when I suddenly realized we hadn't heard any announcements. I checked the switch on the announcement control and set it a notch higher. We waited another fifteen minutes and still no announcements. I went into the hall to look for Aris. I found Aris and asked him if they were calling colors and he said yes. I said how come we haven't heard them in our cabin. He said, with complete innocense, "They no longer go into cabins." I rushed back to the cabin and got Mary and we hurried down the hallway to the nearest elevator. We took the elevator to the fourth deck and as we were about to sit in the Champagne lounge, they called our color. If I hadn't asked Aris about the announcements, we might still be in our cabin waiting for our color to be called. So much for my advance planning. But although Aris fell asleep at the switch in this situation, he more than made up for it. He did something beyond the call of duty that helped me provide Mary with a very special birthday surprise. I'll tell you about that a little latter in the review.

GENERAL APPEARANCE OF THE SPLENDOUR:

All the RC ships we have sailed have a special elegance about them. The ‘Splendour' is no exception. The designers of the public areas do a superb job of blending a combination of materials that have a beautiful visual effect. They do all the areas of a particular location with a thoroughness you don't often see. As much thought has been given ceiling areas as is given to the walls and floors. Then they further enhance these beautiful settings with a variety of exquisite furnishings.

RC had a crew of display people come aboard in Miami, to decorate the Splendour for Xmas. They evidently did this before because they had special designated pieces for all the different areas. Although we sail every year the week after Thanksgiving, we have never been on a ship decorated for Xmas.

After going to our cabin to freshen up, we made a tour of the ship. This already magnificent vessel looked like a winter wonderland. We counted sixteen designers Xmas trees, and hundreds of beautiful red & white poinsettias. The decorators draped the railings with very attractive garlands with large red bows. These beautiful garlands encircled the railings of the decks from the base of the Centrum to the eleventh deck. The Xmas trees at the entrance to the King & I dining room was very unusual. From a distance they were elegant looking like all the others but when we got closer we took notice to the ornaments and we bust out laughing. Some ornaments adorning the tree were loaves of Italian bread, heads of cabbage, onions, rounds of Provolone cheese and strands of Garlic among other things. Amazingly, it made a stunning display. We hope you can see it clearly in the accompanying picture. By the way, doesn't Mary look beautiful.

The Centrum, the focal point of the ship, is a circular area that encompasses seven decks, five that have railings from which you can look down at the base desk. It has a gorgeous mobile unit as its centerpiece that extends from the base to the full height of the seven decks. The base deck of the Centrum is where the very attractive Champagne Lounge is found. It is also where a combo plays every evening before and after dinner. Two large sitting areas of settees' and cocktail tables are on either side of the cascading stairway. This was a very popular place for people to gather before dinner. Some listening to music, others having before dinner drinks, and a few brave souls dancing on the marble walkway. It was a fun place to be. We took special delight watching the outside elevators as they whizzed up and down delivering their passengers to their destinations. RC makes it easy to remember what day it is, by imprinting the day of the week on the carpet in the elevators. A really great idea. A couple of times we called for an elevator, not to go anyplace, we just wanted see what day it was......We will be describing other areas of the ship, but first we would like to make a suggestion concerning table assignments.

CHECKING TABLE ASSIGNMENT:
Make it a point to check your table assignment when the Maitre`di is available. We can't stress enough the importance of doing this. If you want to have your table arrangement changed, this is the time to do it. If you wait till dinner time, it is probably too late. If at dinner the first night you find that you want to change your table, make sure you let the Maitre`di know and he will try to accommodate you. I think one of the worst things that can happen to anyone on a cruise is to be seated with a group of people that you know you have nothing in common. It makes for a long cruise. Check your table assignment.

THE KING & I DINING ROOM:

The king & I dinning room is a two-tier dining room. We entered on the upper level and walked down a magnificent marble stairway onto the main floor. We felt like Yul Brenner and Deborah Kerr walking onto the set of the movie, ‘The King & I.' It looked like a photo you might see in a travel brochure for Siam. The setting was absolutely beautiful and looked authentic. Highlighting the room was exquisite sculptures of jeweled dragons and serpents. We were assigned a table for two near the captain's table. The captain's table was a large circular table for ten. Behind it on the wall was an 8' x 10' wall piece, with every inch of it covered with brightly colored gems. On either side were two huge jeweled serpents, slithering up the wall. The whole setting was something out of the movies.
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Our waiter was Miguel from Hungary. I did my customary thing. Before I left home, I prepared three envelopes with the suggested tip for the waiter, assistant waiter and cabin steward. I handed Miguel the envelope after he served us our appetizer. I told him we wanted him to have this now and we would have something additional for him at the end of the cruise. He resisted at first but then put it in his pocket and thanked us profusely. I did the same with Charlie our assistant waiter and he reacted in the same way. I find that waiters and assistants are very appreciative knowing that they are going to be well-taken care of. It isn't infrequent that they have guests that skip eating in the main dining on the last night, to avoid having to tip.

Our wine steward was Harris from Colombia. A very tall handsome fellow who handled himself in a very professional manner. It was a pleasure to have him come to our table. Our bar steward was Anil from Guatemala. Normally the bar steward isn't tipped because a gratuity is added to the price of the drink. When he first came to our table, I told him I had something special for him. I placed in his hand a $2 bill which I had folded into a small square, with the $2 showing on top. I told him this is a special good luck piece and from this moment on he was going to have lots of good things happen to him. It was the first $2 bill he had ever seen and he made a big thing about it. From that moment on Anil couldn't do enough for me. My usual routine is to have a bottle of O'Douls with my dinner and I occasionally have a second. Anil saw to it that my bottle of O'Douls was on the table when we arrived for dinner and he magically appeared whenever my glass needed refilling. This continued throughout the cruise. I did the $2 thing with Miguel, Charlie and Harris and needless to say, we had exceptional service throughout the cruise. Again, we experienced the magic of the $2 bill.

FOOD:
We found the menu very limited and the food not very appealing. The first night when we finished dinner, I called Miguel over to the table. I told him I respected his opinion and from now on, I wanted him to tell me if we were going to be unhappy with the entrees we were ordering. It worked very well. If we ordered something that he knew wasn't up to par, he would say, "Why don't you try something else." Another way we worked around the weak menu was, we would have Miguel bring us a plate of the pasta of the night and place it on the table between us. We both love pasta. If we didn't like the entree, we ate the pasta. Surprisingly, the desserts and pastries were very good. In our humble opinion, we think RC could do themselves a world of good if they would pay a little more attention to their kitchen. The decor of their ships and the attentiveness of their crews are second to none. If they improved the food operation, they would have a package that would be hard to beat. (Another area we think needs attention is the music in the lounges.)

We are former owners of an upscale restaurant and have always liked a quiet, professionally run dining room. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed the nightly shenanigans of the dining room crew of the ‘Enchantment' on our October cruise. Every night after dinner, the crew put on some kind of show and we really enjoyed it and looked forward to it. This was not so on the Splendour. Of the eleven nights, the dining room staff only performed twice and with little enthusiasm. It brings home the fact that every ship of the same line has its own distinct personality because each crew has their own way of doing things......Now to the important business of marriage maintenance.

MARRIAGE MAINTENANCE FOR MARY'S BIRTHDAY:

I wanted to do something special for Mary's 7....th birthday. Surprising someone you love is not always easy. It's always nice when your spouse hears you speak words of love, but it is much nicer and more appreciated when you put your pen to paper and write her a love note. I believe Mary has saved every note I have ever written her and I must admit I have done the same. Mary is very sentimental and loves to receive a note of endearment or an occasional bouquet of flowers. I remembered a quote that said, "A marriage may be made in heaven, but the maintenance must be done on earth." I looked at Mary's birthday as a great opportunity to do some major maintenance. I decided I would write three love notes and give them to her at different times during the cruise. First, how I gave Mary the first note and a bit later, how I enlisted Aris our cabin steward, in helping me surprise Mary with a nightly rose.

After reading the last paragraph, some men must be thinking, ‘WHAT A WIMP.'Hold your thought for a moment until I explain. I think you should know that I have been a Mr. MACHO MAN most of my life. It has only been in my latter years that I learned that being a little Wimpy pays huge dividends. I began doing a lot more of those Wimpy things when I realized Mary gave Wimpy a lot more reason to smile than Mr. Macho Man. My mother didn't raise no dumb...dumb. I said "Goodbye....Mr. Macho man.....Hello Wimpy."

Now back to the serious stuff. I wrote the three notes on beautiful embossed cards that my daughter sent from Turkey. I hid them among our cruise documents waiting for just the right moment. I chose the second night at dinner to give Mary the first note. I had Miguel place the note under Mary's dessert dish without her knowing. When we finished dessert and Miguel picked up her plate, she noticed the envelope. She said what is this? I said I don't know why don't you open it. She opened it and read it and she just melted. She had tears in her eyes. She held my hand and thanked me for being so thoughtful and whispered some words of love, I'm not at liberty to tell you. Talk about special moments. This was another treasured addition to our ever growing collection of memories.

THE 42nd THEATER:
This is a beautifully appointed showroom. It amazes me that a room this size could be constructed without any columns. The seating is very comfortable and there is not a restricted view in the room. Regardless what time we arrived in the showroom we never had a problem getting a good seat. The next time you're on an RC ship, make sure to take notice of the stage curtain. The curtains are not only functional but absolutely stunning and are the centerpiece of the decor of the showroom......now lets give you an idea what the entertainment was like.

ENTERTAINMENT:
Three production shows were presented.‘The Beat Goes On,' ‘Star Struck,' and our favorite, the ‘Swinging Singing Years.‘ The cast was a group of very talented performers. Four lead singers and each were excellent. All the shows were above average but our favorite was the ‘Swinging Singing Years,' which was a take off of the Big Band days. They played and sang the great old classics of Glenn Miller, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Les Brown and etc. Very enjoyable, very entertaining.

Norm Crosby:
The stand-outs of the single acts were Norm Crosby and Glen Smith. Norm Crosby was as funny as ever. He looked great and his delivery was his usual collection of convoluted statements. You know the kind he's noted for, like, "I remember when my wife was stagnant." It may be old material but it's still funny stuff.

Glen Smith:
Glen Smith amazed us. We had never heard of him and weren't at all thrilled about going to see his show. He wasn't on stage five minutes when we knew we were watching a fabulous entertainer. He was one of the best piano players we have ever seen and his dialogue with the audience was second to none. Recently, they voted him the Best of Las Vegas. He can best be described as very Hep and upbeat Liberace. Remember his name, Glen Smith. If ever you have an opportunity to see him perform, don't miss him, he is very special.

TOP HAT LOUNGE:
After the show we went to the Top Hat lounge to have a dance or two before going back to our cabin. Like all the lounges we have seen on RC ships, it was done in very good taste. The room could easily accommodate three or four hundred people. We were surprised to see very few guests there but the reason soon became apparent. The music wasn't very good. This was mainly because of the make-up of the combo, which consisted of three guitars and a drummer. We found most of the combo's in other venues also had some very unusual combinations. For example; on consecutive nights in the Centrum the make-up of the combo was, a trumpet and drums, a trumpet and piano and a piano and drums. Not only did we find it difficult to dance to this kind of music but we also found it wasn't very pleasant to listen too. We hadn't had but a few dances when I told Mary I was a little tired and would like to go back to our room. I wasn't really tired but I was anxious to see Mary's reaction when she walked into our cabin and saw the surprise I had planned for her.

MORE MARRIAGE MAINTENANCE:
Besides the notes I had written Mary, I wanted to give her flowers. We cruise on our Birthdays, Anniversary, and Valentines Day, so it isn't unusual for me to give Mary a bouquet of flowers. Nevertheless, this time I though I would do something different. I thought it would be romantic, if each night when we returned to our cabin, Mary would find a Rose on her pillow. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea, but how to do it was a problem. I couldn't speak to the flower man because the flower cart was not open till 5:30. The only answer was to ask my pal Aris, our cabin attendant, if he would help me. Earlier in the evening I went into the hall and found Aris and I asked him if he knew of a way that I could carry out my plan. He had a big smile on his face and he said, "Me do." I asked him if he was sure he could do it and again he said, "Me do."

When we returned to our room that evening, I opened the cabin door and lying there as pretty as could be, was a long stemmed red rose on Mary's pillow. When she saw it, she picked it up and smelled it, and then gave me a big hug and a kiss. A wise man once said, "It's wise to ply a wife with compliments and expressions of tender care." I held Mary tightly, and told her, "Of the many achievements in my life, without a doubt the greatest was when I persuaded you to marry me." Needless to say, it was another one off those very special, irreplaceable moments.....marriage maintenance at it's highest level.

As it often happens, even in the most romantic moments something humorous occurs. When I spoke to Aris about putting a rose on the pillow, I told him to do it every night and to make sure each rose was a different color. I told him to make sure the flower man put the stem of the rose in a vial with water and put a vase with water on Mary's night table. This way she can put each rose in the vase and by the end of the cruise she will have a full bouquet. Aris was so excited about being my partner in this romantic escapade, he forgot to tell the flower man about the vial or the vase. You guessed it, by the time Mary finished her shower her beautiful red rose was laying limply on the pillow, in desperate need of water. We made an attempt to resurrect it, but it was too late. But all was not lost. The next morning I told Aris what happened and he said, "Me very sorry." I felt bad for Aris. Here this poor little guy, needing every bit of his energy to take care of his fourteen cabins, and I had him running back and forth to the flower man. And he tells me he's sorry! I told him not to worry, these things happened. Aris more than made up for his lapse of memory and for the remainder of the cruise he followed instructions to a tee. Each evening when we returned to our cabin Mary found a beautiful rose on her pillow and Wimpy just looked at her and smiled. We had many memorable nights to add to our growing memories.

Since I have mentioned collecting memories again, we thought you might like to know what inspired us to collect memories. Two articles we read convinced us that collecting memories in our latter years was a very worthwhile endeavor. We first came across an article by John Powell who said, "Things we do today are tomorrow's memories. Some memories happen but others memories must be planned. It's important to plan things because they keep on playing as memories in ones mind and heart forever." He finished by saying, "Half of what we are is determined by the memories we have."

Then shortly after, we read about the renowned traveler, Niebuhr, who became blind in his old age. But having traveled all over the world, and viewing the most beautiful and loveliest scenes, he had stored in his memory countless pictures of landscapes, mountain scenery, and valleys of rare beauty. Then, as he reclined in his easy chair, his face would often brighten into a rich glow, as if some inner light was shining through. He was remembering once more, some splendid scene he had looked upon in his travels. The author wrote that the chamber walls of his memory were hung all over with the pictures which filled his darkened years with joy and beauty.....These thoughts inspired us to plan and do things that we could add to our collection of memories, memories that would be with us forever.
At the very top of our long list of memories, are the many wonderful romantic moments Mary & I have shared during our twenty cruises......Enough sentimentality, were going to take you on a tour of the Windjammer and the pool areas.

WINDJAMMER LUNCH ROOM:
The RC Windjammer lunch rooms, are the only ships restaurants we know of that are located at the forward section of the ship. The Windjammer is located directly over the bridge and with its walls of glass affords a panoramic view of the ocean. It's a very attractive room but the way it is set-up lead too much confusion. When you entered, two serving lines took you past the hot entrees and then there was a series of individual stations of various food items. People were coming and going in all different directions, zigging and zagging all over the place. The coffee and drink station is set by a very busy walkway that is no more than two feet wide. People were bumping into each other with drinks and cups of hot coffee in their hands. Doesn't make much sense, does it? It was very confusing. Finding an empty table also was very difficult. If we were asked to rate the food from 1- 10, we would rate it a five. It's a very beautiful room, but after having lunch and experiencing this mass confusion, we decided we would better off having lunch in the main dining room. That is exactly what we did.

POOL AREAS:
Main Pool:

It seems the cold snap we were having in Florida followed us to the Caribbean. We experienced bad weather throughout this cruise. During our previous 19 cruises we only had three or four days of bad weather, whereas on this cruise it rained or was overcast on eight of the eleven days. We still had a wonderful cruise but we had to change some plans we had made.

The Splendour has two pool areas. The Main pool and the Solarium pool. The main pool is where all the action takes place. This is the place that people gather to enjoy the water and soak up the sun, especially those coming from the colder climates. The inclement weather didn't seem to dampen their spirit.

During the week the entertainment staff did the usual cruise thing. They kept everyone amused by staging a series of events such as, men's most hairy chests contest, best legs contest, heavyweights belly flop contest and the popular horse racing and etc. Everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. There were ample lounges throughout the pool and upper deck area. A very fine Calypso band supplied the music. If you like action, the main pool is the place to be, but if you like it peaceful and quiet, the Solarium pool is the place for you. Mary & I opted for the solarium.

Solarium Pool:
When we walked into the Solarium area and looked at the surroundings, we felt like Caesar and Cleopatra surveying one of his Roman gardens. A very beautiful, picturesque area, copied after the Roman gardens of ancient times. In the center was a large rectangle pool with two Jacuzzi at one end. At the other end were the Solarium bar and a food counter that served Hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. When we placed our order they gave us a number and told us they would bring our order to us. A very nice touch. A moveable glass paneled ceiling covered the entire area. Though we had many days of inclement weather, it was never over crowded and we never had a problem finding lounges. It is one of our favorite areas when we cruise Royal Caribbean.


THE VARIOUS LOUNGES:

The Top Hat Lounge.
We mentioned this lounge and the lack of good dance music, but would like to give you another illustration why many people were disappointed with the music. The production show, ‘The Swinging Singing Years' was a roaring success. The audience reacted to every song that was sung, every note that was played. They were stomping their feet and swaying to the rhythm and some even got out of their seats and danced in the isles. When they sung the final song and the show came to a close, the audience jumped to their feet, and applauded wildly. The cast did a couple of encores and received the same appreciative reaction. That night when we read the ship's bulletin, we were delighted to read that next evening the Splendour's big band was going to play dance music in the Top Hat lounge. Finally, we were going to have a chance to do a little hold me tight dancing, you know, that old WW#2 slide and glide. We went to the lounge and the band sounded great. The floor quickly filled with couples, and you could see they were really enjoying themselves. When the song was finished, the couples were eagerly waiting for another romantic, hold me tight, ballad. Much to everyone's surprise, the next number was a Bolero and the floor cleared. No one dancing. The next number was an Argentine Tango, one couple giving an exhibition. The next number a Salsa, nobody dancing. This is the way it continued for the remainder of the evening. After seeing the way the audience reacted to the previous nights big band salute, the band leader didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know the kind of music the people wanted hear. It was obvious the band was more interested in practicing the music they would be playing on their South American itinerary. We were disappointed but we didn't let it dampen our spirits.

The Schooner Bar:
The Schooner is a very attractive lounge with a very attentive serving staff. We went to the Schooner Bar the first night and I did the $2 thing. A cute little Indonesian server, whose name was Revelynn took our drink order. I ordered Mary an old fashion and I had my usual O'Douls and then I did the $2 thing. Revelynn was very impressed and thanked me profusely. The next evening, we stopped by the Schooner, to have a drink before the show. No sooner had we been served our drinks, when we realized we had miscalculated the time. Not wanting to carry our drinks to the other end of the ship, we got up and left, leaving the near full drinks on the table. We rushed to the showroom and found two seats in the back of the showroom by the disability rail. Ten minutes later as we were watching the show, I felt a tap on my shoulder and there was Revelynn with our drinks. She left her station and walked the full length of the ship, looking for us to bring us our unfinished drinks. What a thoughtful thing to do. I'm sure the magic of the $2 bill played a part.

The Viking Crown Lounge:
The Viking Crown lounge is the signature room of the RC Fleet and is the highest point of the ship. During the day it's an observatory and at night a full-blown disco. A very well appointed room that appeals to the younger set. We visited this lounge a few times during the day but never at night.

PORTS OF CALL:
Because of the weather, we were only able to make the ports of Aruba & Curacao. We are just as happy staying on board and enjoying the ambience of the ship. Our only disappointment was not going ashore at Ocho Rios. We had a big day planned for Ocho Rios but we had to cancel our plans. It was a very nasty day. When I knew we were going to be in Ocho Rios on Mary's birthday, I planned on taking her to the fabulous Sandals Dunns River Resort. This is a premier resort and I wanted this to be the place we would have our dual celebration. I had called and asked them if they would take day guests. The reservations clerk told me they would allow day guests for $50 per person. This included everything, the use of their facilities and food. They don't take reservations for day guests on the phone. I was told to go the resort and tell the guard at the gate we're day guests. Unfortunately because of the weather we couldn't go. But we will have another opportunity when we go to the Western Caribbean on our March 25th cruise aboard Celebrity's Millennium. We will give you a full report of Sandals Dunn River Resort when we return.

Aruba:
We had heard some very nice reports about Eagle beach and we decided to give it a try. The beach portion was very nice but the water area was filled with rocks. If we didn't have aqua socks, we wouldn't have gone in the water. (Aqua socks are a must if you go to the beach. You can get a nasty cut stepping on a piece of coral.) The water was very cloudy, not at all like the clear, sparkling Caribbean water we are used too. We stayed for an hour and returned to the ship.

Curacao:
They did not schedule the Splendour to depart Curacao till 12:30 at night. We went ashore in the morning and we found it wasn't very different from most Caribbean ports. A large shopping maul and the usual street stands. We bought some T-shirts and some trinkets and headed back to the ship. We had given some thought to having dinner in town but after going ashore in the morning we decided we would be better off having dinner on the ship.........I think it's time to tell you about my 35th anniversary.

MY 35TH ANNIVERSARY :
December second is a very important day in our life. Not only is it Mary's birthday, it is also my 35th anniversary as a recovering alcoholic. Thirty five years ago, just before Christmas, I entered the A.A. program a broken man. Through the wonderful, God-given program of A.A., I have had the most wonderful life imaginable. Mary & I have been married 32 years and we both was married 20 plus years previously. One of the many blessings God has given me, is that during our thirty-two years of married life, Mary has never seen me take a drink. This is the first time in my 35 years of sobriety that I have broken my anonymity. I do so with the hope I might be of help to someone who is having a similar problem. It would be my pleasure to answer any questions about A.A., and how it works.....I would like to share with you a thought that has carried me through many dark hours. I printed it on a card and have carried it with me for all these years.

YESTERDAY...TODAY...TOMORROW

YESTERDAY
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains; yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act performed; we cannot erase a single word we said....YESTERDAY is gone.
TOMORROW:
The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds....but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW for it is not yet born.
TODAY
This leaves only one day....TODAY. Any man can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when you add the burdens of those two awful eternities....yesterday and tomorrow, that drives men mad....it is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not come, let us live our life, one day at a time.

SOME LOOSE ENDS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS:

During subsequent dinners, I gave Mary the two additional notes of endearment and a special card the night of her birthday . She had written a lovely note for my anniversary and gave it to me at the end of dinner. My fervent wish, is that I, in some small way, resemble the man she speaks so eloquently of, in her note.

I read recently, the latest research suggests we need twelve hugs a day to maintain good health and that hugs cure depression, reduce stress, have no unpleasant side effects and improve the bodies immune system..... .I didn't realize when I hugged Mary, I was providing her with a health benefit. I can tell you without a shred of doubt, ‘Hug Therapy' works.

Can't resist telling you this: Mary & evening dresses seem to be the perfect match. The night of the Captains formal party, she looked absolutely stunning. At dinner, one of the waitress's from the other side of the dining room, came to our table and told Mary, "I saw you as you walked in and just had to come over and tell you how beautiful you look." If this wasn't enough of a compliment, on the second formal night another waitress from the other side of the dining room, came to our table and told Mary, she was the prettiest woman in the room. What a lucky guy, Whimpy sitting with the prettiest woman in the room.

Something Leo Buscaglia wrote, that we both like.
Love makes us more comfortable with and accepting of each other's imperfections. Love isn't appalled when we stand in the bathroom in sagging underwear, loudly gargling with our hair pointing in all directions. It doesn't care that we've acquired a new set of wrinkles on our face, that our skin is flabbier than it used to be, that we have developed a more substantial midriff. When we love, we see through such inconsequential things. We concentrate on internal beauty that is unaffected by time or age. It is not that love is blind, it is, rather, that love sees what is essential.

Aris continued making his nightly trek to the flower man to get a rose to place on Mary's pillow. I really appreciated him going the extra mile, literally and figuratively, and I gave him a very generous tip.

For those of you, who are much younger than us, remember that things were very different in our time. In our time, we got married first and then lived together and we thought fast food was what you ate during lent. In our day GRASS was mowed, COKE was a cold drink and POT was something you cooked in, and AIDS were helpers in the principal's office. If we say some things that sound strange, we hope you understand that we have a different mind set and are speaking from our experience.

If your going to the Caribbean beaches, make sure you buy aqua socks.

Article we saw in a medical journal: Our need to be touched is never ending. Our ability to become emotionally involved with others and to be vulnerable to them is directly related to our experiences of having been stroked, caressed, and cuddled as children. Our need for touch continues throughout our lifetime. In fact, our body chemistry changes when we are physically close to another person. When a person is touched, the amount of hemoglobin in the blood....which carries oxygen and helps prevent disease and speed recovery from illness....increases significantly. In one animal study, rabbits that were held close and stroked often developed less hardening of the arteries than unstroked, unhugged rabbits!
We didn't realize our ‘Honeymoon' activities were increasing the hemoglobin in our blood. If our doctor ever tells us our hemoglobin is low, we'll know what to do.

Make sure to take $2 bills with you on your next cruise. Use them wisely, and they become a magic potion that will do wonders for you.

A Great Present to Buy Your Sons-in-law:
After they had said their vows on their wedding day, Sarah's father took the new groom aside and handed him a small gift. He said, "Within this gift is all you really need to know to have a happy marriage."
Within the box lay a large gold watch. With great care he picked it up. Upon close examination he saw etched across the face of the watch a prudent reminder he would see whenever he checked the time of day.....words that, if heeded, held the secret to a successful marriage. They were, "Say something nice to Sarah."
I'm thinking of buying myself a large watch for our anniversary, with a reminder etched across its face, "Say something nice to Mary," with an appropriate gift label addressed to myself, "To Tom from Whimpy."

How Taking a Cruise Can Strengthen a Marriage:
One day last week Mary & I was watching the Oprah TV show, and we heard a renowned expert in the field of marital relations make a statement that got our attention. He said, "The number one cause of couples losing the sense of intimacy and love, that they enjoyed in the first years of their marriage, is the mother allotting all her time to her children and their activities and not making time for her husband." He said, "The demands on mothers in today's society are at an all time high. Many wives are working Mom's. Not only do they work, they also have to do the house work, the cooking, the shopping, get the kids off to school, take them to extra school activities, attend PTA meetings, help the children with homework, and many more things too numerous to mention. BUT, and it's a very BIG BUT, it is absolutely essential that she and her husband find a way to have private time together, away from the children. Otherwise, over a period of time their marriage will slowly but surely disintegrate." He said, "I know it isn't easy for a wife to turn the switch on and off. One moment being an all-encompassing mother and then the next moment, the sultry, passionate lover, her husband wants her to be. BUT, again the BIG BUT, it is an absolute necessity that you have some private time, so you and your spouse can rekindle the fire of your love."
Mary & I have a suggestion we think you should give some serious thought. What better way to rediscover each other, than you and your spouse spending seven romantic days on a cruise ship, alone, without the children. Just imagine, no kids, no cooking, no shopping, no taxiing, no dog to walk, no cat to let out, no phone, no beeper, no commitments, just you and your loved one alone. Being on a cruise, on one of these magnificent floating resorts is without a doubt, a wonderful and ideal way for a husband and wife to rekindle the fire of their love. Seven full days of being with your loved one, in the most romantic, intimate setting imaginable. A chance to be alone, totally alone with your spouse. You probably can't remember the last time that happened. Well it can happen, but you have to make it happen. One way you can jump start your search for private time, is to take a cruise. It's a wonderful way to rediscover the reasons you married each other.

CONCLUSION:
We had a glorious time. Some things weren't quite what we would have liked them to be, but that's all-right, nothing is ever a 100%. While the unpleasantries are happening they are in the fore front of our mind, but they soon disappear from our thoughts, when we realize how fortunate we are to be able to do the things we do.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Tom & Joanie Ogg of Cruise Reviews, for giving us an opportunity to have so much fun. Knowing we will be sharing our experience with you, adds immeasurably to our cruise enjoyment. When we're on a cruise, it seems our senses rise to a higher level. We have a deeper appreciation for what we see and for the things we do. We find ourselves looking at everything more intently, knowing we will soon be telling you about it. At our age, it's wonderful to feel so alive and vital. Without a doubt, we're addicted to cruising. Other than being together, Mary & I, can't think of anything we would rather do.

We are very excited about our cruising plans for the coming year. We are booked on RCCL's new ship the ‘Explorer of the Seas' for February 10th, Celebrity's new ship, the ‘Millennium' for March 25th, RCCL's ‘Voyager of the Seas' for May 13th and Celebrity's new ship the ‘Summit' for November 23rd. If any reader is booked on any of these cruisers, we would like to hear from you. We welcome any questions or comments you might have, especially those from first time cruisers.

May your next cruise be your best.
Our warmest regards,
Tom & Mary Milano
TomandMaryMilano@Yahoo.com

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