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Your Vacation Music Hits List: “Vacation”/”Summer”/”Relaxation”/”Travel” Likely Rank 2nd As A Source For Song Writers’ Inspiration

Nothing has inspired more songs to be written than the concept of “love,” in all of its many aspects. That’s beyond obvious. But the second-greatest inspiration for song writers is not quite so obvious, at least until you do a little digging around on the Internet.

As far as I can tell there’s no actual list of such things, but the notion of “vacation” and its related themes of “summer,” “relaxation” and “travel” certainly are in contention for No. 2 on the all-time music hit list, if there were such a list.

Doubt it? You’ve probably got a vacation-themed song playing you head right now, whether it’s Vacation by The Go-Gos,  Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham and Christmas Vacation by Mavis Staples (both from the wildly popular series of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies) or something a bit less obvious like Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me, or Blake Shelton’s Some Beach.

So why is it that having a great time relaxing away from work and our daily routines plays such a prominent role in the creation of popular music? Because we have great, fond memories of the many great times we’ve had on vacation, relaxing and traveling to new or interesting places and enjoying experiences we rarely or never had before.  And artists want to tap into that emotional energy to engage us.

Here’s a starter list of some of my favorite vacation themed songs.  Please add others in the comments.  Maybe someone will be inspired to make a compilation.

 

See you onboard.

Note: The music and video links included here are meant for your reference and convenience. Some are links to public websites that may include unauthorized, lower quality versions of songs or performances. Others are to commercial music sales sites where you can listen to portions or “samples” of the referenced songs for free. If you download any of songs, please respect the rights of the musicians to receive payment for their work and art by doing so through reputable music retailing sites or the artists’ own web sites.

 

Denali: New Name – Same Grandeur. Plan Now To See “The Great One” In Summer 2016

Denali - North America's highest peak appears to the human eye to be even larger than the much taller Mt. Everest. Because of its mass and 18,000-foot linear rise from the valley below Denali ranks among Earth's largest topographical features

Denali – North America’s highest peak appears to the human eye to be even larger than the much taller Mt. Everest. Because of its mass and 18,000-foot linear rise from the valley below Denali ranks among Earth’s largest topographical features

Some old English guy named Will wrote that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

So now that Mt. McKinley officially has been renamed Denali, maybe it’s a good time to test Shakespeare’s thesis and find out for yourself whether a mountain – a really big mountain – by another name is as just as majestic and awe-inspiring.

Indeed, now’s the time to plan your visit next summer to Denali and the massive, six million-acre Denali National Park and Preserve. The name change, made official by President Barack Obama in early September is heightening American’s – and others’ – desire to visit this amazing American gem. Next year also marks the Centennial anniversary of the National Park system. Accordingly, there will be special celebrations throughout the 2016 tourist season.  And as a result next summer the Denali is expected to host a record number of visitors. So it’s a good idea to make you plans now in order secure the kind of amazing accommodations that can turn your Denali visit in the summer of 2016 into the trip of a lifetime.

Mt. McKinley Princes Lodge, located in Alaska's Mt. McKinley State Park, offers true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and some of the most awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

Mt. McKinley Princes Lodge, located in Alaska’s Mt. McKinley State Park, offers true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and some of the most awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

Denali is North America’s tallest mountain at 20,310 feet above sea level. Less well-known is that Denali is the world’s third-most “prominent” mountain in geologic terms. More noticeably, Denali is one of the world’s “biggest” mountains because of its girth, because it dwarfs several nearby peaks that reach over 14,000 feet, because of its remarkably distinct 18,000-foot linear rise base to peak. For those reasons to the human eye Denali appears to be bigger than almost any mountain on earth – including the 8,000-foot taller Mt. Everest.

In addition to “The Great One” (which is what “Denali” means in the ancient, almost extinct language of the local indigenous people) the whole area is filled with breathtaking vistas, vast forests, wide expanses of tundra and dramatic glaciers. There’s also an abundance of wildlife – bears, caribou, moose, foxes, horned sheep, wolves, wolverines, squirrels, rabbits and other critters, all amazingly adapted for surviving the long, bitterly cold winters. An amazing assortment of similarly-adapted eagles, falcons, swans and other birds also live in the Denali region.

The six million-acre Denali National Park, which will celebrate its Centennial in 2016, is teaming with amazingly adapted wildlife ranging from the largest animals in North America like this bear, to small but hearty critters like snow rabbits and wolverines.

The six million-acre Denali National Park, which will celebrate its Centennial in 2016, is teaming with amazingly adapted wildlife ranging from the largest animals in North America like this bear, to small but hearty critters like snow rabbits and wolverines.

Three of our five North America-based cruise lines – Princess, Carnival, and Holland America – take vacationers north along Alaska’s dramatic southeastern and southern coasts each summer. One of them, Princess, is the gold-standard of Alaskan travel. Not only does Princess offer more Alaskan sailings each year than any other line, its Alaskan Lodges division offers visitors the same world class service and accommodations on land. And three of our five Princess Alaskan Lodges are in the Denali area.

The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the closest and most comfortable place to stay when visiting Denali National Park. The park entrance is only a mile from our front door. And with its expansive deck overlooking the Nenana River and dramatic views into the park the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the ideal spot to relax, visit with friends, and savor the exquisite landscape.

South of Denali National Park, in the adjacent and just-as-beautiful Denali State Park on the Chulitna River, we offer the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. It’s a true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

North of the mountain and the park we offer the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge, Fairbank’s most refined hotel. Though it’s a little further away from Denali, Fairbanks, which was founded around the turn of the 20th century by miners consumed with the gold fever, is where the locals say that the real Alaska begins. Visit in the summer and you’ll get to experience the midnight sun even as you stroll through the nearby downtown area and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus. The Lodge also is close to popular attractions such as the El Dorado Gold Mine, the Riverboat Discovery, and Pioneer Park.

Fairbanks Lodge i

The Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge is only a little further away from Denali, but Fairbanks’ most-refined hotel opens up opportunities to explore the old miner’s town, to stroll through the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus under the midnight sun, and to enjoy the fun attractions around the area in addition to soaking in the grandeur of Denali.

Whichever Princess Alaskan Lodge you select you can count on enjoying exceptionally comfortable rooms, warm service, and the best dining Alaska has to offer.

And while you can fly to Fairbanks to enjoy any of these three amazing Princess Alaskan Lodges, the best way to get there is via an Alaskan Land-Sea Vacation package. After sailing north through the inner passage, you will transfer to special domed Princess rail cars for a dramatic ride north through the Alaskan wilderness before reaching the Fairbanks-Denali area and settling in for a few days in North America’s most glorious natural setting.

Princess Land-Sea vacations can include a ride aboard domed railroad cars north from the Pacific coast through the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness and to the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Alaskan Land-Sea vacations can include a ride aboard domed railroad cars north from the Pacific coast through the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness and to the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Just know that whatever way you get there, and whichever Princess Alaskan Lodge you visit, you’re certain to have an incomparable travel experience in Alaska.

PCL in Alaska 7

Three of Carnival Corporation’s five North America-based cruise lines – Princess, Carnival and Holland America – take vacationers to Alaska’s dramatic southeastern and southern coasts each summer. And Princess offers Land-Sea vacations that include visits to one of five Alaskan Wilderness Lodges, three of them in the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Reaching he 20,310-foot high summit of Denali is neither as difficult nor as harrowing as climbing Everest (as depicted in the Everest in theatres now). But climbing Denali still is quite challenging and only should be attempted by serious and experienced mountaineers.

Reaching the 20,310-foot high summit of Denali is neither as difficult nor as harrowing as climbing Everest (as depicted in the movie “Everest” in theatres now). But climbing Denali still is quite challenging and only should be attempted by serious and experienced mountaineers.

What Kind of Reality Are You Going Back To Now That Summer’s Over?

Now that we’ve moved past Labor Day, the traditional end of Summer, we all are dealing with the idea of heading back to work or school and getting back into our normal routines. The expression we all use is “back to reality.”

I think we have it all wrong.

Vacation time is the real “reality.”

That’s when life is most real.  Vacation time is when you get to spend time with family and friends. It’s when you get to see new places in the world, to taste new foods, and to do exciting new things. That’s what life is really all about.

Princess Pool

Whether your reality involves hanging out around some of the coolest pools in the ocean…

romantic2

… quietly watching the beauty of the world slip past with someone special….

That is “reality;” when we truly experience life to its fullest.

So I vote that we stop using the “back to reality” line to describe our return from summer or from vacation. Rather, we should use something like “back to my daily routine.”

“Back to reality” should be what we say about the very real time we spend, and the very real experiences we’ll have while on vacation, or during our less structured, more relaxed, less-structured and refreshing summers.

romantic3

… enjoying a romantic stroll on the deck at dusk…

Seabourn intimacy

… sharing life with intimate friends….

That’s why now, the end of summer, is a great time to begin thinking and dreaming about – and booking – your next vacation. Any of our 10 vacation brands can to take you on a great back-to-reality experience, whether it’s enjoying one of Carnival Cruise’s Fun Ships, coming back new from a Princess Cruise, or making a difference on a social impact/cultural exchange cruise with our newest brand, Fathom.

But whether you take a cruise or choose some other kind of vacation experience, remember to say – and think – “back to reality” before you go, not after you return.

Venice 1

… visiting some of the world’s most famous destinations…

Carnival ship night

…. enjoying exciting evenings in vibrant locales…

Holland horses

… going for long rides along the beach…

cuba-music

… or exploring different cultures and making a difference there, your reality is most real when you’re experiencing life to the fullest.

How You Can Impact The World – And Yourself – By Taking A Vacation… Introducing Fathom, The World’s First Social Impact Travel Brand

A guy checks into a hotel and calls the front desk to request a wake-up call.

The next morning the phone rings: “This is your wake-up call… what are you doing with your life?”

Truth is, no matter your position or place in life – or mine – we all need that kind of “wake-up call” every once in a while.

We follow the same pattern every year. We work, what, 50 weeks a year? Then we take two weeks off to re-charge our batteries. We call it “vacation” because we literally aim to “vacate” – to do nothing but steal back for ourselves some of the precious personal time that we sacrificed to work throughout the previous year.

Well, here’s your wake-up call.

Instead of taking the typical vacation most people take every year, consider doing something different. Maybe it’s time for you to give back a little; to use your “vacation” time to make a difference in someone else’s life – and ultimately in your own life – through the newest trend in travel. It’s called “social impact travel.”

FathomLogo

Social impact travel seeks to blend the relaxation time you desperately need in order to recharge and revitalize your own life with time that you can invest helping others who need your help every bit as desperately as you need a break from your 50-, or whatever-week routine.

Indeed, with the help of experts who can arrange and guide you through such an experience you really can engage in genuine service projects that make a difference in the lives of people who need help. And in doing that you just might discover how strong your perhaps previously unrecognized need to be helpful really is.

And you need not fly half way around the globe to engage in a social impact travel experience. Millions of people live in deep poverty only a few hours from the U.S. coast. The gap between the standard of living in the United States and the standard of living in places like the Dominican Republic or Cuba is shockingly wide. The annual per capita family income in such places is roughly equal to the salary that an American couple would earn during their two weeks of paid vacation.

So, when we at Carnival Corporation & plc. came to recognize and understand both the depth of the needs of people so close to our home country and the strong desire of so many Americans and others to use some of their vacation time to help, we determined to create a vehicle for the world’s best social impact travel experiences. We call it Fathom. It is our 10th global travel brand.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation's Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation’s Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

Fathom is all about impact: not just you making an impact on others, but also having your own life significantly impacted in the process. We believe Fathom will address that deep yearning that people have to explore new dimensions of themselves by connecting more profoundly with the lives and stories of others. In fact, we refer to this process of self-discovery with a kind of short-hand: Learn – Immerse – Grow. As you learn about the struggles and needs of other people, and immerse yourself, even if only for a short time, in their lives and conditions, you will experience profound personal growth.

Fathom’s first sailing will be in April 2016 to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Our second destination, just announced, will be Cuba. Though the details of our Cuba cultural immersion trips are not yet complete we expect to begin sailing there in May 2016.  Additional Fathom destinations in the Caribbean ring likely will be added later.

The journey starts by assembling 700 social impact travelers aboard the Adonia at the port of Miami.  As the Adonia sails south at 18 knots, passengers will get to know one another and to learn about the people they will be serving, helping and working side-by-side with in the days ahead.

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary's fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary’s fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

Upon arriving at the destination, Fathom travelers will enjoy the best of both worlds. During the day they will get hands-on, meaningful experience in genuine on-the-ground service projects. At night they will retreat to a comfortable floating, hotel for the kind of food, relaxation and rest that will revive their bodies and spirits and prepare them for another day of service and personal growth in the field.

To make sure your social impact experience is both meaningful and lasting, Fathom is partnering with respected non-government service agencies that have long, rich histories in providing assistance and training to impoverished residents in the places Fathom guests will visit. In the Dominican Republic we are partnering with three such organizations; Entrena, IDDI, and The DREAM Project. Working with such organizations assures that long after you return home, the great work that you were part of will continue through their persistent efforts and those of subsequent Fathom travelers who come to make an impact of their own.

When you book a social impact journey with Fathom plan to spend three or four days on the ground doing hands-on activities such as:

      • Providing clean water – more than three million Dominicans have no access to reliably clean, piped water. Fathom travelers can help in the production and distribution of more than 5,000 clay water filters that will mean fewer children and adults will miss school or work due to water-borne illnesses.
      • Growing things – Fathom guests can participate in something as simple and environmentally pleasing as planting tree seedlings as part of a local reforestation effort, or something more strenuous like the planting or cultivation of local farm and garden crops.
      • Teaching – Spending on education in the Dominican Republic is among the lowest in the world, so few children have the opportunity learn one of the most critical skills for future economic success: the use of basic English. But since most Fathom guests will be native English speakers, they’re already qualified to teach and tutor more than 2,200 students whose lives we expect to touch in the next five years.
      • Empowering women economically – Fathom guests can help a local women’s cooperative cultivate organic cacao plants for sale to chocolatiers, or another group of women to create marketable arts and crafts from recycled paper. In both cases, local women’s incomes and their ability to transact business in English – a critical skill in the Dominican – will be enhanced.

dominican ed1Fathom DR1dominican water filterdominican 2

Not every hour of the day during Fathom guests’ social impact experiences will be devoted to service projects. There’ll be plenty enough free time to sink your toes into the sand on some lush tropical beaches, or to explore the restaurants, bars and shops in wonderful, off-the-beaten-path places like the quiet port of Amber Cove, D.R. Or you can enjoy just wandering through the area, learning on your own about the culture and spending time with local residents.

Of course, after a week of using your hands, hearts and minds to make a difference in the lives of others, you may be tempted to discard the “work-rest-work” pattern of the week and just stay on the island and chill out. But something even better will await you on the final day of your trip. You’ll get to enjoy the pleasures and comfort of the Adonia on your day-long cruise back to Miami. And it’s during that return voyage that you’ll get the critically important opportunity to reflect on the people you met and the lives you touched. And you’ll get to do it along with other Adonia guests – some of whom may have become friends for life as you labored together for a cause greater than yourselves. And it’s here, back on the Adonia where you’ll perfect the stories you’ll share once you get back home.

So, here’s a wake up call that I challenge you to consider seriously: take a social impact trip. Then decide whether the greatest, longest-lasting impact of your trip was made on the people you helped, or on your own soul. My bet is that your answer will be “both.”

“Good day… this is your wake-up call.”

Do Women Love Cruises Even More Than The Big Game? Research Suggests They Do.

From Seattle to New England and around the country as more than 110 million Americans are preparing to watch the biggest sporting event of the year this Sunday, Feb. 1, around 55 million adults also are beginning to think about their vacations. In fact, our research and experience tell us that 25 million people who will take vacations in the summer months are making their plans right now.

QBs

According to ForbesLife Executive Woman, women play an out-sized role in deciding when, where and how they and their loved ones will spend their vacation time together – making 70% of all travel decisions.

Fortunately, while women tend to do more of the work when it comes to vacation planning, they also get more rewards from a vacation – in the form of relaxation and enjoyment – than do men. That’s true for any type of vacation, but that “reward gap” is widest when it comes to taking a cruise. Make no mistake, men really like cruises, too. But women like everything about cruising by significantly greater margins than do men, according to new research we conducted with 15,000 adults in the United States.

Three of Carnival Corporation’s nine global brands are led by women.  I asked a couple of them why there seems to be such an imbalance between men and women in vacation planning.

“The stress of being a working mom and wife can be pretty relentless. I know my stress doesn’t end just because I leave the office at the end of the day,” says Jan Swartz, President of our Princess Cruises. “That’s why I enjoy going on a cruise. I can almost physically feel that burden being lifted off my shoulders as soon as I walk onboard. I know my children will be well-cared for and supervised while having a great time. And I can unplug and relax with my husband in ways we just can’t at home, or on any other type of vacation.”

romantic3

Recently-appointed Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy also understands, at both the professional and personal level, the special value women get out of a cruise. The one-time travel agent who has more than 30 years of experience as a travel industry executive wasn’t hired because she’s a woman. But her intimate understanding of what women want when they travel means Carnival’s already intense focus on attracting female passengers with accommodations, events and services tailored to their desires will only grow and become more sophisticated.

“I took my honeymoon on a cruise, and I’ve enjoyed a number of cruises with my immediate and extended family and friends over the years,” Duffy says. “The very nature of a cruise appeals to women, and it changes based on who we are traveling with and whether we want to relax or be pampered, visit new places, let our hair down and just have fun.  Having been on cruises when our children were younger and now that they are grown and bringing along their significant others creates a whole new experience for our family. We love the fact that cruising offers something for every stage of life.”

Our research shows that cruising in particular plays well to women’s wants and needs.  Seven out of 10 women who’ve taken at least one cruise say that a cruise provides “a great escape from everyday life and everyday responsibilities.”

For those women whose idea of getting away from the pressures back home includes high voltage activity and adventure today’s ships feature world class workout and sports facilities, nonstop and exciting shipboard activities, and a wide variety of excursions that range from tame strolls through picturesque port towns to more physically-demanding challenges like scuba diving. Today’s cruise ships also are like floating spas that offer everything from exotic beauty treatments and massages to quiet adult-only areas.

Carnival Sunshine

There also a growing number of opportunities for onboard learning at the feet of experts. Top chefs or chocolatiers regularly share their tricks in onboard cooking classes. Sommeliers and master vintners host wine tastings and seminars. Professional dancers teach all the latest moves seen on TV. And world-class academics and thought leaders share their knowledge and insight on special themed cruises.

At night, of course, cruise ships feature 5-star resort food and beverages, dancing, casinos, dazzling entertainment and the romance of sailing quietly and elegantly under the moon and stars.

So, not only do we know that women take highly active roles in planning vacations, we increasingly know the many reasons why. And armed with that knowledge we’re busy evolving our accommodations and services so that the already great vacation value we offer becomes an ever-better way to give women – and men – the meaningful and memorable relief from stress that they crave.

Though our individual cruise lines are frequent advertisers, our parent company, Carnival Corporation will launch our first-ever ad campaign this Sunday during the Big Game. Several of the potential ads that we could run during the game are squarely aimed at women.  We filmed four potential ads and will decide which one to run based on research that includes a marketing challenge at WorldsLeadingCruseLines.com. Because nearly half of this year’s viewers of pro football’s title game this year will be women the target audience is perfect for us.

Now we need your help.  We are asking you to vote for the one ad you think we should run.  Two of these ads are aimed squarely at women (one features a young girl discovering the romance of cruising; the other a woman going to extremes to escape the pressures of everyday life and experience and enjoy exotic life on a cruise). A third has a more edgy, humorous cross-gender appeal. The fourth is an intriguing “mystery spot”. See them here – The Carnival Marketing Challenge – and vote (as many times as you want) for your favorite.

One name will be drawn from among all those who vote for the winning spot and will win a free cruise each year for the rest of their life.  Whether that name is a man or a woman, we are sure they and their guest of choice will enjoy the experience of a free cruise every year for life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                

WOMEN LIKE CRUISES EVEN MORE THAN DO MEN

                                                                                                                       Male    Female     Dif.

Helps me feel like every detail is taken care of                                            55%       64%         9%

Is a great way to discover new destinations                                                52%       61%         9%

Exposes me to experiences I had never had before                                    51%       59%         8%

Provides a great escape from everyday life and responsibilities                61%      71%         11%  

Source: Survey of 15,000 Adults in the USA who have been on at least one cruise. Scores represent percentage of respondents who “Strongly Agreed” or “Very Strongly Agreed” with the statement. Fall 2014, Carnival Corporation & PLC

An (Almost) Existential Question Before You Leave On Vacation or a Business Trip

“To Out of Office or Not to Out of Office, that is the question.”

For some people the answer is an easy “Yes,” or “No.” Either way, they know where they stand. But for more of us than you probably realize, the use/non-use of out-of-the-office messages (OOOs) borders on being an existential question.

The best OOO message I have ever seen features the perpetually handsome Sean Connery in the picture on this blog. Under the two pictures of the seemingly ageless actor dated 1989 and 2009 the email OOO message reads: “I am on vacation in an attempt to slow the speed of my aging process to that of Sean Connery. I will return in two weeks and I hope to look exactly the same.”

out of office photo 2

There actually is, however, a somewhat serious ongoing debate about whether using an “out-of-the-office” notice when you leave the office is a good idea.

One school of thought argues that OOOs should be turned on any time you are out of reach for more than a few hours. You do it as a courtesy to those trying to reach you and/or as a defense against losing business while you’re away. That equals good will won or maintained. And if you’re paid on commission, your customers may be more likely to wait patiently for your return rather than place a quick call to your competitor.

But the other school of thought says that using OOOs is a sign of executive weakness, neediness or, worse, lack of commitment. C-suite executives, after all, almost never use OOOs. They have assistants who handle their calls and screen their emails when they’re away. Thus, your use of an OOO calls attention to the fact that you aren’t all that important within your organization, or you’d have a live person handling your calls and email while you’re away.

Too Honest OOO Message

As for me, if I really need to be out-of-pocket for a deep refresh, then I’ll put an out-of-the-office message on my phone and email. But normally I don’t because I am not a big OOOs person. I use them only when I know that I’m going to be really out of touch for more than one day in a row, or 12 business hours. If I think I’ll have e-mail access every 6 to 8 hours, even while on vacation, then I don’t use one.

Of course, having now said that, I think I’d like to see more people use OOOs. It could help foster more corporate cultures that understand, accept and support the need of workers to unplug, get out of today’s 24/7 business mindset, and escape into the amazingly beautiful and stimulating world that too often we overlook because of our preoccupation with work.

Now I’d like to know what you think. Do you use OOOs? Why or why not? And I’d love to see some examples of good – and some maybe not-so-good or just plain funny – OOOs you’ve used or encountered. What are your guidelines for when to use/not use OOOs? Does your company have a policy on the use of OOOs? And what tips can you share that could make the OOOs more effective, more engaging, funnier, or maybe just more acceptable as a way to protect our time when unavailable?

 

 

Top 5 excuses to not take your vacation

me timeI just got a look at a new report from the U.S. Travel Association about its recent survey of 1,300 American employees’ and business leaders’ attitudes about the use of their earned vacation time. And I think you’ll find some of the results surprising and fascinating – and maybe even eye-opening.

First, nearly everyone (96%) agrees that using one’s earned personal time off – PTO – is important. Yet four in 10 American workers (41%) don’t use some or all of their annual PTO. And 37% say that they leave some of their PTO on the table because it’s just so hard to actually use it all.

The surprising thing about it is that in many cases it is American workers themselves who make it so hard to take their PTO. They do it by convincing themselves that they are more important or critical to their company’s operation than really is the case, or that their absence somehow will make them vulnerable. The USTA’s survey results show that:

  1. 40% of American workers say they don’t us some or any of their PTO because they don’t want to face “a mountain of work” upon their return.
  2. 35% say it’s because “nobody else can do the work while I’m away.”
  3. 28% say they don’t use all their PTO because they want to demonstrate just how dedicated they are.
  4. 33% say they don’t use all their PTO because they “can’t afford” to do so
  5. 22% went further by saying they worry that taking time off might give their bosses the idea that they are replaceable.

mound of workindispensable

In many cases such concerns are unfounded. They are the result of workers own imaginations or insecurities. Mature, well-balanced employees –and their bosses/employers – understand that time away from work makes them more productive and efficient, happier and more fulfilled, and more creative when they are at work

Unfortunately, in some cases unhealthy corporate cultures do create pressures that make it difficult for workers to use all, or even any of their earned time off.

  • 48% of U.S. workers say their company culture neither encourages nor discourages the use of PTO, leaving some of them to wonder whether taking time off will hurt their careers.
  • 31% say that although PTO typically is defined as an employee-controlled benefit their bosses/companies have effective control over when – or whether – they can take their PTO.
  • 20% say their company’s culture is a barrier to their using all of their PTO.
  • 19% report that their companies send mixed signals or actively discourage them from using PTO.

Each of those perceptions – accurate or not – can be, and should be addressed by wiser, clearer and/or more frequent positive communication from enterprise leaders, from the CEO down to the line supervisor. The goal should be to create a culture that encourages employees to use their PTO as a way of assuring that they are regularly able to bring their “A” games to work. A relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated employee who maintains a healthy work/life balance makes for a happier, more creative and more productive worker.

Take a look at the report on the US Travel’s website. What’s your excuse for not taking vacation?

Vacation Unplugged: Leave the Phone at Home

 

Mobile technology has come so far, so fast that hundreds of millions now actually miss the proverbial forest for the trees – or, more specifically, they miss the grandeur of the Taj Mahal for a silly selfie, or the immense beauty of the Grand Canyon for a mere video game.

It’s a thoroughly modern quandary: do you take the picture/shoot the video, or do you experience the moment? Perhaps the most famous illustration of how big an issue this has become today is pair of famous photos tweeted out last year by NBC News.

The first showed a crowd gathered in a part of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City as Pope John Paul II’s body was carried across the square into the Basilica for public viewing on April 4, 2005. In the second, a very similar crowd is shown in almost the exact same location as they watched Pope Francis speak for the first time after his election on March 13, 2013. The most striking difference: thousands of people in the 2013 shot are holding their cell phone cameras aloft to capture the moment on silicone memory chips; in the 2005 photo nearly all of the faithful are trusting their own eyes – and their ears and noses and other senses – to capture the event in their own, remarkably vivid memories.

We at Carnival Corporation see this growing phenomenon all the time. As you can imagine, many of our customers increasingly want to access their technology while at sea. So we are investing millions of dollars to bring technologies like the Internet, wifi and video streaming to our more than 100 ships sailing under 9 different brand names. Yet more and more we’re seeing our guests seemingly miss the fact that they’re aboard fabulous, state-of-the-art ships that feature all sorts of fantastic restaurants and entertainment, and that visit some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Instead they are choosing – probably without really thinking much about it – to see those things primarily through a very limited lens or a tiny video monitor rather than to experience them in all their fullness and splendor via their five senses?

I understand the desire to share photos with others back home. And I get it that in this age of social media lots of people can show the world how creative or funny they can be by filming their own little movie shorts. But by over-using technology we are diminishing our own experiences. So here are some suggestions from someone who spends pretty much all of his time thinking about ways we can create better life experiences for our guests:

  1. Put the technology away during family dinners on vacation. Maybe one photo together at the table is appropriate for remembering the event later on. But your actual memory of the dinner will be more vivid and visceral if you spend time talking, sharing and laughing together rather than texting or checking email and social media. Leave the phones in the room or cabin.
  2. Record beautiful sights in your mind’s eye rather than on silicone memory chips. How did it feel? What did you smell at that moment? Was it sunny and warm, or cold and foggy? Despite the technical advances in photography, no photo or video can completely capture the visual – and visceral – details that your eyes and other senses can take in.
  3. Go old school: use a map instead of GPS, especially when traveling with children. Use the map to plan your trip in advance, focusing on the sights you want to see along the way. Discuss the history or the geography or other important subjects related to what you’ll be seeing trip. Appoint a human navigator to provide driving directions based on landmarks rather than digital data.
  4. Use your time waiting in line well. Waiting in line is almost unavoidable on vacation. Instead of checking email, or letting your kids play video games, converse, play games, tell silly jokes, look around, people watch.
  5. Resist the temptation to turn on the video player for long car rides. Play car games. Talk. Sing. Read books. Encourage the kids to draw and color pictures of things they’re seeing along the road. Count license plates. Just don’t let the kids put on headphones and check-out while “checking in.”

My point is that while today’s digital communications and camera technology are really amazing, they can cause you to miss out on fully experiencing many beautiful and amazing things in the world around us, including the friends and family with whom we travel. Merely going somewhere isn’t the real point of traveling, of vacationing or of being at big events. The point is to experience those things, and you can do that best with you own five senses.

DON’T WASTE YOUR WEEKENDS

What would you think if your boss unexpectedly announced that you’d be getting 100 additional paid vacation days a year?

Surprise! Your boss already has done that. It’s called “the weekend.”

For most of us, those two days are Saturday and Sunday. But even for those who find themselves having to do some work on their weekends it’s important not to take for granted those days’ tremendous value. It’s equal to having another 104 days, or nearly 15 weeks of paid vacation each year.

Like most people, you probably think of those as “your” rightful days off. But properly understood in their historical context, those weekend days were never “our” days to do with as we wished until the mid-20th Century.

To be sure, some people have been taking one day off a week since at least around 3400 years ago. That’s when the prophet Moses received the Ten Commandments, one of which was the charge to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. But the practice did not reach semi-universal status until sometime in the mid-1000s A.D., when Christians began taking Sundays off.

The very first instance of a two-day weekend did not occur until 1908. Owners of a New England mill began closing on Saturdays and Sundays so that all employees could have their day of religious observance off. For the first time everyone got both days off, giving people an unprecedented amount of something new called “leisure time.”

Henry Ford, whose trail-blazing ideas about labor greatly impacted Western business and culture did not begin shutting down his car factories on both Saturdays and Sundays until 1926.

Three years later the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union became the first labor organization to include a five-day work week in its contract demands. The standard 40-hour workweek, which makes the two-day weekend possible, did not become law in the United States until 1940, giving formal birth to the modern concept of “the weekend.”

So the question remains, what will you do with your 104 weekend days off a year?

Here are 8 ideas:

1. Drive to a nearby state and explore its charms and delights.

2. Go to the lake. A couple of water mattresses, an old inner tube, and a few Styrofoam “noodles,” plus a tent and a camp stove can turn a cheap get-a-way into a life-long memory.

3. Take an immersion course in something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s a foreign language, or cooking, or a musical instrument, or photography. Just dive in up to your neck.

4. Become a tourist in your own city. Visit the museums. See the sights. Get a tourist brochure and do all the things it suggests out-of-towners do.

5. Get a list of the best day trips from your town (check online travel sites like tripadvisor.com) and explore all the great scenery and marvels within a day’s drive.

6. Visit the mountains nearest you. Take a hike. Pack a lunch. Swim in a cool mountain stream. Marvel at nature.

7. Drive to another town to attend a pro, college, high school or even little league game – or a concert or art exhibition. The “what” matters less than the “go.”
8. Take a 3 day/2 night cruise

Not all weekend “vacations” have to be elaborate, lengthy, or costly affairs. And you don’t have to travel half way around the world to see some amazing things. Nearly all of us live within a short drive of world-class destinations.

And, realistically, you probably can’t take a trip, even a short one, every weekend. Sometimes you have to use a weekend to run errands, work around the house, or pay bills. But my point is that if you begin to look at your weekends as something more than just “days off” you will get to enjoy many, many more great experiences each year- experiences that will create life-long memories and come back to your Monday feeling recharged and ready to go.

…Josh Leibowitz

NOROVIRUS: Not A “Cruise Ship” Disease

This might come as a bit of surprise, given the history of reporting on this rather stomach-turning subject, but of all the public places where people tend to gather in large numbers one of the places where you are least likely to contract the much talked-about “norovirus” is aboard a cruise ship.

Big headlines and breathless TV reporting in recent years might cause you to think that cruise ship passengers are in elevated danger of contracting a nasty “bug” like norovirus, but the reality is quite different. Indeed, if you want to lead your life in such a way as to never come down with a case of norovirus, you could do worse than to take up permanent residence onboard a cruise ship. And you almost certainly would never go into restaurant or a banquet facility, or attend a catered event. You’d also want to avoid hospitals and other healthcare facilities, schools and even your kids’ daycare.

Oh, and you wouldn’t go to work either… or home.

That’s because you’re more likely to pick up norovirus in all of those places than you are aboard a modern cruise ship. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s data is irrefutable. Each year there are 19 million to 21 million reported cases of norovirus-caused illnesses in the United States. Between 56,000 and 71,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of norovirus. Between 570 and 800 people die in the U.S. as a result of norovirus. Yet the CDC recently concluded that well less than 1 % of all U.S. cases of norovirus are contracted on cruise ships sailing to or from U.S. ports.

Startlingly 64% of all U.S. reported cases of norovirus are contracted at/via restaurants, and another 17% stem from banquet facilities and catered events. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities including nursing homes and rehab centers are responsible for about 1% of cases. Schools and daycares are responsible for another 1%. That leaves just 13% for the CDC’s “Other” category, within which offices and other types of workplaces (excluding on-site cafeterias) are, by far, the primary contact point for norovirus transmission.

That’s not to say that you will never get sick – from anything, including norovirus – while on a cruise. It does happen. Any place where large numbers of people gather can be a point of disease transmission. But based on the news coverage of the issue in the last few years, you’ll be shocked to learn how infrequently that really happens to cruise passengers.

Of the 11 million or so passengers who embarked on cruise ships from U.S. ports in 2013 only 817 came down with a case of norovirus. Expressed mathematically that 817 out of 21 million norovirus victims looks like this .00389%. Put another way, you have a 1-in 15,000 chance of getting norovirus on a cruise, vs. a 1-in-15 chance of getting it anywhere on land.

Okay, nobody’s perfect, but 10,999,183 of our industry’s U.S.-embarked passengers DID NOT come down with norovirus last year. That’s not to minimize the ill effects felt by the 817 of our industry’s passenger who did, but the facts don’t justify those big headlines and breathless TV reports (or heightened consumer concern).

So why do stories about cruise ship-related cases of norovirus get reported that way?

It’s because our industry, like no other I know of, voluntarily reports all illnesses contracted by our customers. The Cruise Line Industry Association’s voluntary health standards oblige us to have fully-trained and well-equipped health facilities onboard our ships, and to adhere to strict cleanliness and health protection protocols and procedures for our cabins and public areas, for our food preparation and service areas, and for out potable and waste water and other life support systems. And we report every illness or injury – something no other hospitality and travel industry segment does. We do that because we know that our passengers pay sizeable amounts of money to enjoy the fantastic culinary, cabin and entertainment delights aboard our ships. Neither they nor we want their much-needed and well-deserved vacation spoiled by illness.

You see, we don’t just sell cruises. We sell experiences; the kind that turn into life-long memories; that make hard work rewarding; and the kind that bring strangers together, friends closer, and lovers and families closer than ever before. So we go to great lengths to prevent illnesses from robbing our guests of the experiences they seek whenever they come aboard.

Experiences create memories.

…Josh Leibowitz