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Happy New Years Everyone.
Before I get negative feedback for my title I would like to give a little background. 2 years ago I told my sister that I wanted to cruise for DH Bd which is less then a week from her BD.
In 2012 & 2013 I have invited her family to join my family for 100% free vacations.....just gas money to get them there (we rented houses both times with plenty of room). I have not seen here since 2010 as we live over 10 hours away. She has $ problems from a divorce and I just really wanted to see her and her kids. Both free vacations she backed out the week prior.
I was kinda hoping she would have forgotten about the 2014 cruise plans b/c I don't think she can afford it. Looking at prices within the last month DH went from wanting to sail around his BD (July) to end of May since it will be a lot cheaper by 300 PP so about 800 (or a free ticket) in my eyes. I mentioned changing the date when she asked me about it and I mentioned changing it to May and she told me that her kids ar not out of school until the end of June and wasn't it our plans to go also. I just said "well, yeah" and left it at that. DH thinks I should call her today to tell her that we need to know if she can afford to go or not b/c if we book for July and she doesn't book )or cancel a booking) then we are paying all that extra $.
How has others handled this? I don't want to hurt her feelings by being so blunt. DH said we even offered her gas $ last min when she backed out the last two years and she still didn't come...so why can we assume she will come this year also. I hate this feeling of needing to have this conversation.
We had had similar issues with family. Unfortunately as uncomfortable as it is you need to be clear and direct in this situation. What are all of the costs associated with her travel and your travel? Write them out in a spreadsheet include the hidden costs (daily service charge, tips, drinks, etc). If you are going to pay the extra costs on the chance she might come I am concerned that will further strain your relationship with her. Also, you mentioned a divorce in her past, there are added logistics for cruising with minors in a divorce situation, notarized letter from father allowing travel, copy of custody paperwork. It may not be asked for but if it is and she doesn't have everything she can be denied boarding.
I would give her a call and be pleasant but firm. Explain to her that unlike the other vacations this is a cruise where you could end up losing the money, not just "not spending" it. Use her last two times of backing out as your basis for your concern. Like Sparkygirl said, have the numbers in front of you. Explain to her it is not just the cruise fare. You didn't say if you lived in the port city but add all these numbers up: travel to and from the port (flying or driving and parking), hotel stay (if you come in early), incidentals on land like meals, shore excursion costs, on board expenses like tips (you can have those on land as well), pictures, soft drinks, etc.... just pile it on. Every expenses you can think she might use. Be over the top so she really gets the idea. Comments to her like well for you and the 2 kids for 5 days is going to cost $150 alone. I don't want you to think that I will pay this for you OR that you shouldn't pay it because I will expect your waiters and room steward to be tipped.
Write everything down before and figure out what money you do spend. Then patiently and nicely go over the list so she gets you are not paying for her. That even if you paid her fare there is still a lot of money to spend.
End this with the concern for documents for the kids that you will not help get. That includes the notarized letter to travel from the father, her child custody papers and if you really want to pad it on insist that they all get passports at her expense. That alone should have her back off. Reiterate that she has backed out the last two times and you simply can't afford to throw away money if she changes her mind at the last minute. That you would rather spend the money on your home and family then just flush it down the toilet.
She may be pissed at the time but come to realize that you have to look out for your family before you can look out for her family who keeps not meeting their RSVP trips.
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You and your DH want to do a cruise to celebrate his birthday.
You want to see your sister, who has financial problems, and who has twice backed out of a holiday you arranged for her.
If it were me, I would separate these two issues.
I would go ahead and book a cruise, at a time that suits you and your DH. Forget trying to organise anything for your sister. That sounds tough, but it will relieve her from feeling obligated to you and from worrying about possible expenses outside her budget.
I would organise a cross-country trip at another time, to go close to where my sister lived, and book hotel accommodation there. Extra expense to do this, but probably no more than it would cost to pay for your sister to cruise with you.
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She is set with the paperwork. She got it and gets it every year just incase something comes up and she wanted to travel with the kids. I sent her an e-mail an hour ago letting her know the actual numbers on the cruise and how it will save 850.00 to go in May vs July.. I have yet to hear back from her...so that isn't a great sign. But I at least got it out there =-)
Do your own thing and forget about your sister. I think it is a nice gesture to include her and to see the kids. I suggest that instead you invite her to come visit you at your home in July and book tickets on Southwest for her- that way she can change the plans if necessary. From the sound of it she isn't really reliable and in the end you and your husband will become resentful. If she truly can't afford a cruise- then a visit to see family makes more sense. Or better yet- maybe you can just fly out and visit your sister if time permits. That would save lots of money and allow for you to spend time with them.
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I agree with everyone above. Also, to me it sounds like you really care about family, and that is a good thing!
Go on your cruise (without sister), and then tell her that you are bringing your kids to see her kids in the Summer. Kids/cousins love to spend time with each other - even if it is just at the local theme park or state park. Kids don't keep score about whether their holiday cost $10 or $1000 - as long as they are having fun that is all that they care about. They will have good memories about that time together (locally) - and if her kids are keen enough then you could tell them that, if their mom agrees, then they can come spend time at your home next Summer.
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As you aren't paying for her, you have every right to change the trip to when it works best for you. Especially since neither of you has booked.
We invited all our extended family to cruise with us last year. They were all excited and wanted to go, but when exactly they could go, when they could go, were all very iffy. So, we planned when it was best for us, booked and told everyone the info if they wanted to join up. Noone did and I don't think any of them considered themselves uninvited.
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Like I posted yesterday, I sent her an e-mail and even put both cruise details down to the letter so she could take some time to look the info over and compare it herself.
As of this morning, I still have not heard anything. When I go to pick DS up from school (and I'm waiting in the car line) I will have a good 20 mins or so to talk to her. So if she doesn't touch base prior to that time, I'll just call her.
Family IS very important to me, I have not been back in over 3 years mainly due to work/vacation time. So I can't guarantee her to make it up this summer, but I'm sure we can figure something out.
Certainly consider the alternative trip for the summer to see her, rather than the cruise. She had mentioned that her kids are in school until June, so that could be a very big deal (I know with my girl's school district, they're very tough on kids being out for a vacation while school is in session, and in some places, the state tests are in May).
Don't let her guilt you about having the cruise in the summer if you and your husband feel the May cruise is better for you, financially (and if the itinerary you want to take is in May).
Cruise vacations are different from staying at a hotel because you can usually cancel a hotel stay even the day before (I'm not sure about if you've used one of those pricing websites how that works, but if you book directly with the hotel, it's usually not a problem), but if you cancel a cruise after final payment, you're on the hook for the full amount (maybe some insurance plans will pay in some situations) -- I'm saying this because you mentioned paying for her and her family or at least that's the impression I got from your OP.
Patty the Cruisin' Chick (may all your cruises be smooth sailin')
Hoping for another trip to the land of Aloha!
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I would never put on her what she can afford. I think it would be alot easier on everyone if you let her know that you're going in May because it's so much cheaper. You may be able to afford to go in July, but I think it will be easier on everyone if you just let her think you're looking out for the best deal. Why not offer to fly to her to visit her in July for her birthday?
I know you mentioned your family, but you only referred to her kids, do you have children? If not why not suggest she ask her ex to keep them while she goes with you in May? I'm not sure how divorces work, or certainly not hers, but I hate the fact that because I"m a teacher I'm suck around a ton of kids when ever I go away at twice the price then if I got to go when it was quite. If you don't have to play around a kid's schedule I wouldn't. Also, depending on her kid's ages she's going to be limited to what she can do. We're doing our 1st cruise with kids this year and I know it will be totally different than our pre-kid cruises. If you don't have kids you may not want to be tied down like that
I made up the newer screen name so I could use it for the May Cruise...but someone didn't like my dot com screen name.....so it's still me =-)
So, long story short the paperwork she thought she needed she does not have. I am booked for May (yes, I have a DS, age 9) so it will be me, DH and DS. I booked at 9b and am beside myself that we even got that category.
I'm going to stop stressing about my sister. When I spoke to her last she was going to give her ex until this wed to please sign the consent to travel and paperwork to get passports. She is prepared to go to court on Thursday morning to file a motion to the court to travel. So...I'm done stressing, I'm looking into planning and just "hope" everything works out and she can travel with us.
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