One of the main reasons we have been able to stay in business and prosper is our participation in a financial management group called TAMS. After the economic crash of 2008, we joined this group of travel agency owners and managers who are similar in size and business model (but from different consortium or cooperatives). We meet in person three times a year; prior to each meeting, we have inputted 100% of our financial data including sales, revenue, staffing, and expenses for the appropriate quarters. During the meetings, we each give a 3 minute recap of our business, we review our homework (yes, we have homework for each meeting). Then we review the numbers, who is being successful in which areas, and how can we translate those successes into our own agencies.
When operating a small business, the value of this type of board of directors cannot be under rated - especially one that is industry specific and where everything is shared! I can honestly say that without the support of this organization I don't know whether our agency would have weathered another year like 2009. As a result of our participation we not only survived, we have thrived.
This year we won the 2013 TAMSY Award in our group – an ward for best application of year long assignments and "Pearls" as well as quarterly Kaizen improvements, including achieving outstanding metrics for agency as a whole and individual agent performance.
October 14, 1977 - This morning, Olivier, Bruno's brother, drove me to Fontainebleau. The countryside is extremely beautiful with the leaves changing. The exterior of Fontainebleau is not as impressive as Versailles but the gardens and interior are stupendous. It is here that Napoleon made his farewell speech before his depart to Elba Island. The Cour de la Fontaine - the most serene place I've been to since I got to Paris. The sun was shining brightly and the area was calm, with no people. The lake was flowing gently and the swans were wandering aimlessly, especially around a white pavilion which stands off to one side of the lake. The Jardin des Anglais - which was absolutely magnificiently manicured - total order and peace, with the flowers in bloom. Next to the Jardin de Diane, which is not quite as elegant, but freer. Dedicated to Henri II's lover - Diane de Poitiers - Diane, goddess of the forest. One can well imagine young girls frolicking here with rather austere and stern older women enjoying the Jardin des Anglais....
Aerogrammes de Paris - October 13, 1977 -
I got off to a late start as usual. To Sainte Chapelle - one of the oldest churches in Paris housed within the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cite. It was begun in 1246 for the express purpose of housing the relics of the Crucifixion which it never did since they were sent to Notre Dame. It actually consists of two chapels, the lower one being a servant's chapel with fleur de lis and Spanish fortresses adoring the walls and pillars, and with a predominance of the red, blue and gold.
The upper chapel was for the royalty, and, of course, it is stunningly magnificient. It was periodically sunny that day so the 1000's of stories depicted by the vitraux (stained glass) really shone brillantly. Of course, I didn't have either the time or the desire to read them all. There is a niched area on both sides for the royal family. And, then in the next area, there is a tiny grated window from which Louis XI could watch the mass without being perceived. It is certainly amazing to me that the stained glass windows and the rose window survived a Revolution and two World Wars. The vitraux are the most ancient in Paris and, of course, there have been reparations, but still...
Last night we ate at Candles. Windstar turns the pool deck at night to a lovely outdoor
dining venue with grilled to order specialties
We met a few Brits who stated if they couldn't get to the > Caribbean- they head to Scilly Isles! It was a quaint
seaside town with very warm weather and sunny skies!
I was going to check out Windstars marina platform but too many jelly fish out today!
Woke up to bright sun and very warm weather- it got up close to 90! Was not excepting this weather on a British Isles trip- nice surprise!
Started our day by heading up to Minack theater.
Wonderful open air theater built into the rocks and cliff
Next to the theater was this beach that looked like it could be in the Caribbean- not England!
Continued on to Lands End
And then St Ives- wonderful Holiday town and with the high
temperature- the beach was packed! This was low tide.
Arriving in Dartmouth it was very overcast but the captain
promised it was going to be sunny and he was right!
We started our day by taking the river dart up to Totnes very scenic,
peaceful hour and 1/2 boat cruise.
Then a scenic train ride on a steamer train.
Lunch at Dartmouth's oldest pub.
Great beer and fun crisps- can't get these in the states!
Windstar has an open bridge policy so we stopped by after
dinner and ran into Captain Peter Harris. He was headed to
bed so my dad took over.
Day one - Pre night in London
Great Delta flight from Atlanta- 8 hours.
The new international terminal is beautiful at the Atlanta airport- modern, lots of light and does not feel crowded. The new Delta sky Lounge was great with a unique terrace overlooking the runaway. A little hot and humid for me though!
Happy that we bought tickets ahead of time on our preferred supplier Travel Bound for the London Eye. No queue to pick up our pre paid tickets and only about 15 minute wait for a capsule. Great experience and great views!
Queen is not in residence- you can tell because the Union Jack was flying and not her personal Flag. We did see Prince Charles motorcade- he has a Bentley. Went to fast for a picture though!
Dinner at the Audley- local pub where I actually had my first beer 20 years ago! Great meal of scallops, black pudding, chips ( of course with malt vinegar!) and beer!
Checking out of the London Marriott Grosvenor Square this morning. Grosvenor Square is an excellent location within Mayfair- walk to Oxford and Bond St. Great scenic area close to shopping, restaurants and parks.
Headed on the train to Portsmouth ( 2 hours) where we will board the Windstar Wind Surf! Goodbye London!
Day 7 At Sea
As we sit on our balcony enjoying room service delivery of our morning coffee, fruit and pastries. Calm sea and peaceful do different from our daily mornings at home. I think that this Special Morning Time I will miss the most.
Power Walk on the Deck 14 and enjoying the ocean and its distant horizon followed by breakfast on the outdoor patio of the Oceanview café.
Found a great spot in the shade at the pool while waiting for the last line dance class before lunch. 12:45PM found me on Deck 4 – standing in line for the Bracelet Blow Out (Italy’s version of the Pandora Bracelets). Then on to the ordeal of packing before I could make my way to my balcony to read and relax before heading down to Deck 3 for our last dance with Doug and Anne Brown.
Goodbyes at dinner and off to the Theatre for Joe Mason and friends. Never dreamed that the “Friends” meant our cruise director Patti (who knew she could sing) or the Assistance Activities Director was such an accomplished drummer. All but Doug and Anne headed up to the Oceanview Café for Tea and Cookies and conversation.
Day 8 Ft. Lauderdale
Main Dining Room – Relaxing as we await our 915A Disembarkation
Our Riley waiting to welcome us home.
DAY 6 LABADEE
Royal Caribbean’s Private Caribbean Destination – a Peninsula of Haiti
We were warmly welcomed this morning with 1 dozen or more Haitian Boats waving their, blowing their horns and circling our ship.
Labadee is beautiful “Resort” Experience with 3 distinct beach experiences complete with Barbecue Luncheon featuring Caribbean cuisine (prepared by our ship’s food/beverage department).
Your experience begins with disembarkation at the Pier (no more time consuming tendering that was weather permitting). A short walk from ship to the “Resort” entrance. Note: For those handicapped and in need of a wheelchair the resort has specialty made ones for the beach. As you enter the resort you can either walk the pathways to the various beach areas or take the convenient tram. Large craft shop and a hill of individual vendors on the walk to Columbus Beach (this is where the water park and slide are located – beautiful walkable and swimmable beach). This is where we settled for the day. Lots of palm trees and shade and comfortable chairs a few steps from the water. Clean and convenient rest rooms and attractive shaded picnic area. Complimentary lemonade, ice tea, etc. to help keep you hydrated. Barbecue was well done, complete with the traditional barbecue ribs, lots of fresh cold fruit, etc. Everyone took advantage of early on the beach to enjoy the truly “magical” day.
Dinner each of the ladies was given a red rose for Valentine’s Day. We were all dressed in our best for this Valentine’s Day Formal Dinner Celebration.
Evening Theatre – Broadway Nights. Fabulous show with their tribute to Broadway and West Ends Smash Hits from Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera, Footloose, West side
VALENTINE’S BALL - Sky Lounge
DAY 5 FALMOUTH JAMACIA
Royal Caribbean’s New Port of Call that they have developed. The Port Area itself is beautifully done, complete with many stores, very nice Artisan’s Market and Margaretville (photos complimentary of Larry McDaniels). This area is secure and enjoyable to explore.
As you are walking out of the Port into town the road is lined on either side with displays depicting the History of this Seaport.
Bonnie and Tom her group did the Tour of Falmouth and the Rose Manor Plantation. (One of their favorite tours).
Doug and Ann enjoyed their Tour of Falmouth, Montego Bay and Rose Hall, followed by a 2 hour beach break at Doctor’s Cove Beach that they really enjoyed and recommend
3P Wine Tasting Seminar
745P Senior Officers Cocktail Party in the Sky Lounge
CELEBRITY LIFE ACTIVITIES
Aqua Spa Health and Wellness Fair – Filled with Demos and Samples of some of the treatments including a puffy eye treatment that I sampled.
Art of Entertaining: Caribbean Cooking Demo at the Lawn Club on Deck 15 – Fun to watch them create creole cooking dishes and of course sample the tasty creations.
Motown – Party Band Music in the Foyer – This was packed with the early dinner crowd finished eating and the late crowd having a last minute cocktail.
Favorite of cruisers was the Comedy Game Show: Liar’s Club featuring the Master of the Silhouette, Captain Alveropolus.