We set an alarm for 3:15 a.m. so we could get dressed and leave my parents’ house by 4.

That would give us ample time (more than my husband thought we really needed, but he knows I have airport security line dread) to get to the New Orleans airport 1.5 hours away and catch a 7 a.m. flight to Orlando.

From there, we’d Uber to Port Canaveral and board the Carnival Mardi Gras around noon ET, with time to spare before final boarding at 3.

So as my phone beep, beep, beeped I thought a little 9-minute snooze was no biggie.

At 3:24, though, I jolted to reality when Sal announced that at 2:15 the airline sent a text saying our flight was canceled.


No “we’ll get you on the next flight out” offer.

No explanation for the cancellation.


After a quick search for alternative flights, we made what felt like an extremely risky decision:



On the chance that if we arrived between 3 and 4 p.m. ET (yes, after final boarding), that they’d take pity and let us on the ship.

We got the girls out of bed in a frenzy and were on the road at 3:45 a.m. with an ETA of 3 (but that obviously accounted for no stops or traffic… on a spring break Saturday).

We made great early progress.

Quick gas and bathroom stops.

Light traffic in the wee hours.

All good… ish.

Customer support opened at 9 ET, but even calling right at that moment got me on a “higher than expected call volume” loop that eventually became “give us your number and we’ll call you back.”

The call back came an hour later, and even then I was on hold for 20 or 30 minutes before I heard a real person’s voice.

She took my information and said she’d email the people in charge at the port in hopes that they’d make an exception. Our ETA at the time was 3:15 p.m. ET, but we knew we had at least one more gas stop to make.

While she had me on hold, Sal and I heard a low whistling sound that lasted about 10 seconds.


No. No. No.

I muted myself and asked what that meant. I was on hold anyway. Desperate that my only line to the cruise gods was going to reassure us they’d get us on the ship.

Sal was monitoring the slow-but-steady loss of all electrical elements on his SUV.

The SAME SUV whose condition for its age he’d been bragging about the day before.

“They say at 200,000 miles, it’s just getting started.”

Goodbye power steering.

Goodbye air conditioning.

Goodbye clock display.

He was thinking maybe it was the battery and if we just kept it running it would get us there.

But, no.

20 minutes later it died on the side of Interstate 10, just east of Tallahassee.

And I was STILL on hold.

Sal’s expression said he was ready to give up.

But when I whispered, “Uber?” he nodded, “Yeah.”

I switched the hold over to speaker and tapped the app in hyperspeed.

Someone could be there in 25 minutes.

I went so fast it prompted me to slow down to approve a price first, but I didn’t really want to know.

He was on his way.

And, of course, the customer support rep came back on seconds later.

“They’ll call you as time gets close to leave dock to see how you’re tracking.”


Sal organized roadside pickup for the SUV and we told the girls not to lose hope.

Our 9-year-old took deep breaths and held back tears.

Our 12-year-old helped us all stay positive. “This will work!”

The Uber driver showed up, we packed our bags into his trunk, and we were moving again.

We left a vehicle on the side of an interstate.

ETA 3:45.

This could work. Our driver was intrigued by our story and now committed to the cause.

We hit the Florida Turnpike and several rounds of stop-and-go traffic.

ETA 4.

And then, CRASH.

He rear-ended someone in creepy, crawly traffic.


I’ve never seen 2 people settle a fender bender that fast.

They took pictures of the damage and each other’s license plates in what felt like 5 minutes.

Our 9-year-old was losing hope.

I held her hand.

She took even deeper breaths than before.

ETA 4:20.

We passed through Orlando, Sal coordinating SUV repair (turned out the mechanic shop address was wrong and the tow truck driver recommended taking it to a different one) while I figured out that the airline was going to reimburse us up to $600 per person for alternative transportation.

And then we were there, ship in sight, still at the pier, and we rushed up an escalator to an older man who was shaking his head NO.


“Here’s how our day went.”

Cue real tears welling in the eyes of our daughters (maybe some in mine, too).

“Let me check with my supervisor. Do you have your vaccination cards and negative tests?”


They let us on the boat at 4:45.

And we had a blast.

…and a story that is almost painful to tell because I’ve had babies and this day was actually more stressful.

How to improve your newsletter with this story?


Give up and you miss the boat.

Ashley Guttuso  

Newsletter Tips

Substack Chatter

Substack’s recent activity, including an app launch, has people talking, and opinions are strong. Here’s a roundup:

  • There’s an overwhelming exodus of Substack writers due to Substack’s “refusal to tackle misinformation and hate speech.” Meera Navlakha shares the specifics in this Mashable article.
  • In 2018, Nathan Baschez became Substack employee #1. Now he’s sharing some thoughts about Substack’s ideology: “Often when people face a conflict between an immediate desire and a moral principle, they find a way to bend the moral principle to make it fit the immediate desire.... Are these ideas violating the letter of the Substack law? No. But they do seem to me to flirt with the line, and I suspect this flirtation will only increase over time.” Note: You need to be a subscriber to read this featured post in Every, which was once The Everything Bundle, reported to be leaving Substack in January.
  • JD Graffam (Curated’s owner) shared some thoughts on Substack’s decisions on LinkedIn starting with this: “Substack is gaslighting us.”





Publishing Challenges Of All Sizes

When it comes to publishing, both giants and niche companies face similar challenges, including: subscriber growth, ethics and morality, profitability, and more. This week’s Publishing Insights take a look.


Money Matters

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How To Strategically Clean Your Email List

Hey everyone, Seth here.

In this month’s issue of Not a Newsletter, deliverability expert Yanna-Torry Aspraki shares some best practices around list management, avoiding spam traps, and how cleaning your list of unengaged subscribers is ultimately good for your newsletter.

You can read all of Aspraki’s insights here.

If you want to follow Aspraki’s advice and clean your list in a strategic way, you can do that in Curated by using the Activity Filter in the Email Subscribers page to send unengaged subscribers a reconfirmation email. It asks them if they want to stay subscribed to your newsletter. If they don’t click “Stay Subscribed”, then they’ll be unsubscribed from your list.

Note: Engagement is filtered by how long it’s been since a subscriber clicked a link. Try using 6 months or a year to see what percentage of your total subscriber list might be ready to unsubscribe.

You can learn more about our reconfirmation workflow here.


New to Curated? Make a copy of this Getting Started with Curated Checklist to help launch your newsletter (public, private, or paid).


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Like this newsletter?

Let me know. Reply, email me at Ashley[at], or find me on LinkedIn to hit me with some feedback. I’d love to know what you think.

Happy newslettering,

Ashley Guttuso