Princess Cruises – The un-Love Boat

No-LoveMost of those that know me, know of my current experience with Princess Cruises. But for those that don’t let me start at the beginning. This will be a very personal post for me, so here goes.

At the beginning of this year, Russ and I were planning on taking our very first ever cruise as I was desperate for a vacation. Looking into cruises, which there are many, we decided to go with Princess Cruises as we both grew up watching the Love Boat back in the day and thought they had a very long and trusted reputation. We really wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise, a place where Russ has never gone before. As we were looking at flights to Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the Spring Break, we noticed that the cost to fly alone was far more expensive than the cruise itself, so we opted on going on the California Coastal cruise that left out of San Francisco – a much closer flight.

A week before we were to go on our cruise, Russ fell extremely ill, ill enough to be in ICU for over a week. Since I knew he wouldn’t get out of the hospital, nor would he be able to be on his own when he got home, I called Princess Cruises to cancel the cruise and see if they could provide us with a credit. Speaking with Janet from their customer relations, she said that since I didn’t purchase cancellation insurance (which I tried to the day after I booked from their site and couldn’t), she said she would talk to her management to see if they could credit it for me. That was all I had wanted, a chance to take the cruise another time when Russ was better. Janet was great, she actually went out of her way and we were able to get the credit after the hospital provided a letter to them about his hospitalization.

Three months later, Russ passed away.

Through an estate lawyer, 2 months later Princess transferred Russ portion of his credit to me. After the stress from Russ’ illness and eventual death, the lawyer’s advice – go ahead and take that cruise and enjoy it in Russ’ honour. So a couple of weeks after I called my best friend Marc, who has been an amazing friend throughout this whole ordeal of Russ’ illness, and we went to book that memorial cruise.

To mine and Marc’s surprise, I couldn’t use the full credit towards the cruise. You see since the credit was in my name, I couldn’t transfer any difference towards the second passenger. What is the difference you ask? A meer $389.

Princess policy is so strict that they wouldn’t even allow me to use that credit as an on-board credit to use to towards an excursion. For me to use the credit I would have to either book a cabin at a higher cost, which would mean my second passenger would have to spend more, or use the remaining for another booking on a cruise, but I would have to book by March 2015.

Every person that we spoke to at Princess didn’t care. They were not willing to budge, or considering the circumstances to show some heart, be the “Love Boat”. No, they would have nothing to do with it.

For those that interested in hearing more about this story, I’ll be appearing on CTV News on Wednesday night as part of Lynda Steele’s segment – Steele on Your Side. Lynda herself can’t understand why they wouldn’t let me just use the credit as an onboard credit and is surprised that Princess would not budge on their stance.

I can’t see myself using Princess Cruises ever again after their treatment. This has left such a bitter taste in me of the cruise industry as a whole and I don’t know if I will ever cruise in the future.

I will go on this cruise as this is the cruise that I will honour Russ for being the special man that he was. One that loved to travel, one that loved great food, one that valued friendship and showed me the true meaning of love.

UPDATE

Lynda Steele has published the article online and you can read the story on the Steele On Your Side site.

Moving to a New Nest

Hootsuite LogoMost of you already know this but for those that don’t, I’m starting a new career chapter and taking on the role of Customer Success Manager at Hootsuite starting on July 7th.

I’m super excited about this role. I’ve watched Hootsuite grow from their early days at Invoke to the mega superstar it has become today. I’ve watched amazing people grow within the organization and seen their personal success first hand. I’ve toured the new facility several times and know how much passion their employees put into being there and servicing their clients.

My 12 plus years of working with customers in the communication and marketing industry will enhance Hootsuite’s commitments to their clients and I hope I can bring huge success to my clients and my new nest.

I’m proud to be associated with such a great and successful company as well as working with some close peeps I have the privilege of knowing.

I’m sure you will hear more as I begin this journey and follow along and see how we all are living the #hootsuitelife.

 

Please Excuse The Mess

Please excuse the mess around here.

You see I’ve transferred my hosting provider and it seems like my transfer didn’t work as seamlessly as I would have liked. But hey that’s what makes it fun, huh?

I’ll be updating slowly so things will change along the way and hopefully I should have things back to normal soon enough.

And for those that have noticed, yeah it has been a few months since I’ve posted anything. I’m hoping to change that too.

Thanks for sticking around!

-Gus

Saying Goodbye to 2013

Good-bye-bye-2013To say that 2013 wasn’t a tough year for me is an understatement. From being let go from a company I worked for over 12 years at the beginning of the new year to losing my mom in the last part of the year. Though it wasn’t a totally bad year, there were some great moments.

I won free tickets to go see Lady Gaga in concert thanks to Samsung and a simple tweet.

I got to celebrate my birthday this year in Puerto Vallarta and my oldest sister came by for the visit. It was one of the most relaxing and wonderful birthdays I’ve had in a long time. I got to visit different places in and around Puerto Vallarta including Sayulita Mexico.

I got to go to the Canadian launch of the new Rolls-Royce Wraith in Vancouver, which resulted in a later trip to Phoenix Arizona for the North American launch and test drive of the amazing car.

I enrolled back into school taking a social media marketing course as well as Photoshop and Illustrator.

I landed a great position with Stockhouse Publishing as an account manager creating digital strategies for publically traded companies. I’m treated amazingly there and it’s great to work for a company that values their employees feedback and is fully transparent in all aspects of their business.

Throw in there amazing friends and family, this year is ending up on a strong note.

What holds for 2014? I will continue focusing on myself this year, both personally and professionally. I want to continue with further courses and of course I want to travel more.

Best wishes to all as we close 2013 and welcome 2014!

Vancouver Snow Day

We don’t get many snow days in Vancouver, but when we do the city explodes with photos of the wonderful white stuff.

This morning while walking Junior at the park, I took the following photo before all the snow was washed away in the later rain that is expected.

Vancouver Snow Day

So if you can, get out there and take your photos now before the regular Vancouver rain starts and washes all the loveliness away. And by all means, take it easy out there as the sidewalks and roads are slippery.

 

New Christmas Ad by Apple

I posted this earlier on my Facebook profile, but I thought I would talk about it here as well.

Yesterday, while watching television, I was captivated by this small ad. At first I didn’t know who it was for, but the story grabbed me. A teenage boy, looking semi lost and deep into his phone, while life around him was playing out during Christmas. There were some similarity with that boy and I was captivated by the rest of the commercial.

While the rest of the family thinks he isn’t paying attention to them, little do they know as he surprises them all on Christmas day.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m a sucker for these types of commercials – remember the Tim Horton Christmas ads? But this year with the death of my mother, a part of me wanted to be home for the holidays and relive those fond memories of our family gathering on Christmas Eve and being together. Alas this year our family is spread out across the world.

Though I’ve always realized this, but somehow forgotten, we all grow and move in different directions and this time of year is a celebration of family. Even though I can’t be there with my family to celebrate, they forever will be deep in my heart.

Merry Christmas and thank you Apple for making me feel so loved!

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Trailer Teaser

One of the most anticipated movies of 2014, X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s director Bryan Singer will be hosting a Twitter chat on Monday October 28 where he will answer fans questions on all things X-Men and beyond. You can follow along on Twitter by using the hashtag #AskSinger.

In preparation for his chat, today Bryan Singer shared a sneak peak of the movie’s trailer.

The full trailer will debut on the 29th following the chat so stay tuned for that!

On a side note I love the way Fox is using Instagram and Vine to help create buzz around the movie and getting fans excited about this movie. It seems now-a-days anticipation of movie trailers is almost as high as the actual movie itself.

Twitter Changes Their DM Rules

It looks like our little favourite bird, Twitter, has made some changes to their Direct Message (DM) rules. Normally you would have to be following someone for them to be able to send you a DM, but now Twitter allows you to open up to the world and receive DM’s from anyone on Twitter.

Twitter DM SettingsWhat does this mean for you? Well if you want to be able to receive a DM from anyone, go into your settings and just check off that lovely square, otherwise just make sure it’s unchecked.

I for one don’t mind a DM once in a while, but I really prefer someone sending me a public message to get my attention. I think this will also make sure that I’m not spammed by every bot out there.

So why is Twitter doing this? My first assumption is that they want to be able to sell a feature to Marketers to allow them to send and target DM’s for campaigns. This would be a great revenue generator for them. I can see it now, I’m tweeting away about a show or product and then automatically will receive a DM from a brand regarding it. I for one will making sure that is turned off, as it’s bad enough getting those @messages from spammers.

 

What’s New on NBC – 2013 Fall TV Line Up

Laura continues her review of the new 2013 fall schedule this year with her review of what’s new on NBC. You can follow Laura on Twitter for all things television and keep up to date as the season progresses. Granted her and I have different opinions on what we’ll be watching from NBC.

There isn’t a whole lot I can say about NBC. I seem to remember a time when I watched more shows on their network but two seems to have been the norm for the last few years. Of the three major networks, NBC has by far & away the most new shows this Fall season. So, I apologize now for the lengthiness of this post and will try to shorten it as best I can.

Following up their big reality show on Monday nights is The Blacklist, which is a show that I would be scared to find is reality. James Spader is an ex-government agent turned FBI most wanted fugitive who has turned himself in to help them catch a notorious terrorist who isn’t as dead as everyone thought. No, it won’t be one ongoing chase that spans multiple seasons but looks like there’ll be a new baddie from his considerable list of dirty politicians, mobsters, spies and terrorists to round up & lock away.

Once the Biggest Loser is announced midseason, two half hour replacement shows will slide into the Tuesday night line up. If you’ve seen the movie starring Hugh Grant & Toni Collette, About a Boy will hold no surprises for you since it’s the exact same storyline. In Growing Up Fisher, there’s a hint of the Wonder Years as narration is being handled off camera by Jason Bateman to tell how a young boy learns to deal with the divorce between his sight impaired father and mid-life crisis mom.

Unlike with the other networks I had a chance to watch the NBC Fall Preview before I wrote this recap of their schedule. So, while I was set to add Ironside to my “take a look” list for Wednedays, after seeing the preview I have set it firmly in my “miss” list. The idea of a NYPD detective solving crime & taking down bad guys from his wheelchair was intriguing to me. Unfortunately, the grittiness & in your face/over the top action of the preview made me wince & want to change the channel.

How would you handle it if just as you’re getting ready for your teenager to leave the nest, they come home & tell you that they’re adding one more instead?! In Welcome to the Family, we get to find out how the Yoder and the Hernandez families learn to deal with the unexpected news in the first of three new comedies on Thursday nights. The second sees the return of the comedic hilarity of Sean Hayes to TV in Sean Saves the World. Not too surprisingly, Sean plays a divorced gay man learning how to parent his 14 year-old daughter who now lives with him full time. Add in a pushy mother and an overbearing boss and Sean is in for the juggling act of a lifetime. Last but certainly not least is the return of Michael J. Fox, comedic royalty, with a show that seems like a mirror image of his life/career. The Michael J. Fox Show follows the return of a New York news anchor to TV following a hiatus to spend time with his family following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. Stubborn to a fault, it is up to his family & former boss to make Mike think that his return is his idea with some subtle & maybe not so subtle machinations. With both these shows & The Crazy Ones on CBS, the 9to10pm slot looks to be the battle of the returning comedy stars on Thursday nights. I can’t wait… but unfortunately I don’t have room to add anything new. What am I going to do?!

Dracula scares me. There, I’ve said it. I’m a coward & I’m okay with that. This reincarnation of the classic tale depicts his immense creepiness hiding in plain sight as an American entrepreneur in 19th century London. He is halted in his plans for revenge on those that cursed him with immortality when he happens upon the reincarnation of his wife. Fans of the BBC series, Merlin, will be happy to note that Katie McGrath (who portrayed Morgana) will be part of the cast alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the title character. Its midseason replacement on Friday nights will be Crossbones, which is being touted as the true legend of Blackbeard, an action adventure series surrounding the highs & lows of the famous pirate captain.

This season once the pigskin has completed its final pass, Nate Berkus will lead the post football Sunday night replacements with American Dream Builders, a competition that pits designers, builders, architects and landscapers against each other in weekly challenges that will test their home renovation skills in architecturally diverse spaces. From the wonderfully fantastical minds of JJ Abrams & Alfonso Cuaron comes the series, Believe, about a little girl with extraordinary powers that sinister power mongers want to exploit. Chosen by her current protectors, a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate will become her sole protector as they travel across the country changing not only their lives but those they come in contact with. The last new show for NBC centers around the hostage taking of the political & power elite of Washington DC in Crisis, which stars Dermot Mulroney & Gillian Anderson. Think 24 but with more whiny politicians and crying children.

Below is the full schedule for the network including premiere dates & highlighted are the NBC shows included in my schedule this coming season:

Mondays
8pm – The Voice (Sept 23rd)
10pm – The Blacklist (Sept 23rd)

Tuesdays
8pm – The Biggest Loser (Oct 8th)
9pm – The Voice (Sept 24th & midseason will move to 8pm)
9pm – About a Boy (midseason replacement – TBD)
9:30pm – Growing Up Fisher
(midseason replacement – TBD)
10pm – Chicago Fire (Sept 24th)

Wednesdays
8pm – Revolution (Sept 25th)
9pm – Law & Order: SVU (Sept 25th)
10pm – Ironside (Oct 2nd)

Thursdays
8pm – Parks and Recreation (Sept 26th)
8:30pm – Welcome to the Family (Oct 3rd)
9pm – Sean Saves the World (Oct 3rd)
9:30pm – The Michael J. Fox Show
(Sept 26th)
10pm – Parenthood (Sept 26th)

Fridays
8pm – Dateline NBC (2 hour premiere Sept 27th)
9pm – Grimm (Oct 25th)
10pm – Dracula (Oct 25th)
10pm – Crossbones (midseason replacement – TBD)

Saturdays
Encore Programming
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live

Sundays
7pm – Football Night in America
9pm – Dateline NBC (midseason replacement)
8pm – NBC Sunday Night Football
8pm – American Dream Builders (NFL replacement)
9pm – Believe (NFL replacement)
10pm – Crisis (NFL replacement)

NBC Schedule 2013

What's New on ABC – 2013 Fall TV Line Up

In our continuing series on what is new on television this fall season, Laura Yee-Lim, turns her focus onto ABC. I’m excited about some of the shows that are coming out this year. You can follow Laura on Twitter to get her updates on what’s going on in the world of television.

/>The ABC network has long been my go to network for drama. Their lineup has a fairly even handed balance among the dramatic comedies, serious dramas & the fantastical ones. It’s kind of a one stop shop for shows that can make you gasp, laugh & cry all in one episode.

The majority of their new shows make up their Tuesday night lineup this fall and leading the way is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This series will mark Marvel’s first foray into TV after some successful movie franchises. How, where or if the show will fit into the current timeline of the movies remains to be seen, especially as Agent Coulson died in the first Avengers movie. But the bigger question will be – will the movie superheroes ever make guest appearances in the series? We already know that Cobie Smulders’ character, Maria Hill, will be making recurrent visits to the set so it’s not that farfetched, is it?! Next up is the first of two half hour comedies that share the 9-10pm timeslot, The Goldbergs. For those of you who are nostalgic for the 80s (?!), this might be the show for you. Take any dysfunctional family comedy add a preteen wielding a video camera and voila! you have a new comedy (or not). They might have done better having this follow The Middle but I’m guessing they didn’t want anyone getting the two mixed up. The other half hour comedy is called Trophy Wife. It stars Malin Akerman as Kate, a reformed party girl who meets, falls in love & marries Pete. Simple, right? Wrong! Pete already has two ex-wives with three children between them. While I can see where they want to go comedically with this series, I have a feeling it might step more on the awkward side of the line instead. Closing out the night is a new drama, Lucky 7, about seven gas station employees who win the lottery. As with any series about the sudden attainment of money, there will be changes in relationships & personalities. Secrets will be revealed and values will be tested as the group of co-workers learn just how winning the lottery can improve and destroy their lives.

On their regular night for comedy, ABC is alternating their established comedies with two new series. Back in the Game follows a former All Star softball player who has returned to her estranged father’s home with her young son. While both she & her father are ex-athletes, it turns out that her son is not an athlete. With his usual gruffness mixed with her inherent sweetness, this show starring James Caan and Maggie Lawson can go either wonderfully great or….. Guess we’ll have to wait & see. But who doesn’t like to root for the underdog (I mean the kids)? To round out the comedy portion of their night is the addition of Super Fun Night! And for some reason, whenever I say the name of this show in my head, it is done so with a Valley Girl accent. Ha! Other than the fact that Rebel Wilson stars in this show, I’m not sure that I understand its plot all the well. As far as I can tell, the entire season will be about a single night that Rebel’s character, Kimmie, and her best friends embark on for their standing Friday Night Fun Night. Is this like 24 but with dirty humour instead of guns?! If so, I might have to take a peek. LOL

The only new show on their powerhouse Thursday drama night is Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Unlike the original series, which airs on Sunday nights, this series will take us down the rabbit hole into one fairytale land only. Even though I’m not a huge fan of period shows, I have added this show to my list for two major reasons: 1) I love Alice in Wonderland. So unless they go WAY out into left field, I already love the characters (John Lithgow as the White Rabbit – come on!); and 2) It’s filmed locally and I ALWAYS support shows filmed locally (at least for the first few episodes – thought I don’t think that’ll be a problem for this show.) The show starts us off with Alice regaling her doctors with stories of this fantastical word that just couldn’t possibly be real. As her doctors are getting ready to subject her to a treatment that will wipe this fantastical land from her memory, she is rescued & returned to Wonderland, where anything is impossible.

To end off the week at 10pm on Sunday nights, is the latest “dirty little secret” addition to their fall lineup. On a network where shows with the words desperate, scandal and revenge accurately convey the premise of the show right from their titles, Betrayal, slides perfectly into place following Revenge. The chance meeting & resulting extra-marital affair of a top attorney & professional photographer takes centre stage in this dramatic series about sex, love, loyalty and finding out your soul mate isn’t who you’re married to. With a little murder & political maneuverings into the mix and you have what could turn out to be another blockbuster hit for ABC.

Below is the full schedule for the network including premiere dates & highlighted are the ABC shows included in my schedule this coming season:

Mondays
8pm – Dancing with the Stars (Sept 16th)
10pm – Castle (Sept 23rd)

Tuesdays
8pm – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Sept 24th)
9pm – The Goldbergs (Sept 24th)
9:30pm – Trophy Wife (Sept 24th)
10pm – Lucky 7 (Sept 24th)

Wednesdays
8pm – The Middle (Sept 25th)
8:30pm – Back in the Game (Sept 25th)
9pm – Modern Family (1 hour premiere – Sept 25th)
9:30pm – Super Fun Night (Oct 2nd)
10pm – Nashville (Sept 25th)

Thursdays
8pm – Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Oct 10th)
9pm – Grey’s Anatomy (2 hour premiere – Sept 26th)
10pm – Scandal (Oct 2nd)

Fridays
8pm – Last Man Standing (Sept 20th)
8:30pm – The Neighbors (Sept 20th)
9pm – Shark Tank (Sept 20th)
10pm – 20/20 (Sept 6th)

Saturdays
8pm – Saturday Night College Football

Sundays
7pm – America’s Funniest Home Videos (Oct 6th)
8pm – Once Upon a Time (Sept 29th)
9pm – Revenge (Sept 29th)
10pm – Betrayal (Sept 29th)