Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brrr! Time to go to the warm Caribbean!

Yes it's that time of year  to get out of the cold and visit a Caribbean island (or more). If you are going on a cruise you will need to know which of the three types of Caribbean cruises you want. The Western Caribbean consists of Cozumel, Grand Cayman and perhaps Jamaica or Belize.
The Eastern Caribbean consists of St, Thomas and St. Martin or St. Maarten (one side of the island is French and the other side is Dutch).
The Southern Caribbean has several islands including St. Thomas, St. Martin, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba. The 7 day cruises depart from San Juan, P.R. but there are some 10 day cruises departing from Florida.
Last winter I took a short 5 day cruise on Royal Caribbean's ship, Liberty of the Seas with 11 other people. We left from Ft. Lauderdale and spent a day in Belize and a day in Cozumel.

Looking down the promenade on our ship is like being on a street. There are shops and even some parades on the street. Some of the rooms overlook this street.

We took a tour of the city.

Went to the Mayan ruins.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Obtain a Passport

First of all apply early as it will take up to six weeks to get it. Even if you are traveling somewhere that doesn't require a passport (such as in the U.S.) having one for identification can make check-ins at airports faster.

Step 1

Download, print and complete Department of State form DS-11, "Application for a U.S. Passport." Provide your name, address and other personal details, as well as your parents' names and birthplaces. Sign and date your application.

Step 2

Have two passport-size photos taken at a local photo studio, pharmacy or a store such as Wal-Mart or Target. Avoid wearing glasses or styling your hair in extreme ways to ensure foreign border officials can always recognize you based on your usual appearance. Affix the photos to your passport application using a paper clip.

Step 3

Obtain copies of your Social Security card and birth certificate if you lack them. Visit one of several Social Security administrations in and around Winston-Salem -- locations exist in Greensboro and Asheboro, for example -- to apply for a copy of your Social Security card. Order a certified copy of your birth certificate from the county in which you were born -- Forsyth County if you were born in Winston-Salem. These documents establish your identity and citizenship, both of which you must verify before being granted a U.S. passport.

Step 4

Deliver your documents to a local branch of the U.S. post office that processes applications, of which there are seven locations within 20 miles of Winston-Salem's city center. In Winston Salem there are 3 locations - Hanes Mall post office, Northpoint post office and on the campus of Winston State University. Allow between four to six weeks for delivery of your U.S. passport, keeping in mind that you have the ability to track your application on the State Department's website.

Happy Traveling!