Travel planning and changes

Oh, it wasn’t so long ago I wrote a blog post about planning for a fall cruise to Hawaii. In this time of uncertainty, things have changed. Hawaii was making it difficult for the cruise lines to resume operations in the Islands with the rise of the Delta variant. Early in September, my cruise line cancelled all the voyages through the end of the year to Hawaii. You must know how disappointed my sister and I were, as this would have been our FIRST cruise following the restart of cruising this year. Of course, with the cancellation of the cruise came all the “other” cancellations…flights, hotel, airport to hotel shuttle etc. That took me a couple of hours to work out. And the details of refunds, and air miles being refunded etc.

A few days after the cancellation, we had the opportunity to rebook for the same ship, but different dates. That meant rebooking flights, rebooking hotels, and airport shuttle. *note to self….don’t forget that shuttle*.

We are now sailing in mid October instead of November, and are getting an extra 3 days on board. We booked a series of 5 day and 4 day cruises, commonly known as ‘back to back‘. 18 days instead of 15, which is a nice bonus.

We board in San Pedro, California and go to Cabo San Lucas Mexico, for the 5 day segment, then return to San Pedro. The 4 day segment sails to Ensenada Mexico and San Diego California. Then there is another 5 day and another 4 day segment. We were able to stay in one cabin for 3 out of 4 segments. We only switch once, after the first 5 days. Those packing cubes will be very handy for that I think and I am thinking my “carry on” will be the only thing I unpack at the beginning of the cruise.

In August I mentioned I had purchased packing compression cubes. This is a change of packing for me, as I normally use “SPACE BAGS”. You may have seen these photos in a previous post.

When I packed these last month, I was figuring on 3 formal nights and 9 sea days. I pulled everything out of the suitcase, and removed several formal night items, but pretty well left in what I originally packed. I removed my snorkeling equipment, as I don’t like to snorkel around Cabo. I added dress shoes, two pairs of sandals (one for water side), and will wear my sneakers on the flight.

Along with all the packing decisions, I had to decide “what” I was going to do in San Diego, Ensenada, and Cabo. I like to take ship excursions, because I have onboard credits to spend and this is a great way to use them up.

In San Diego I chose an excursion to a couple of wineries in Temecula California…tasting included. The description reads – Vitagliano Vineyards A family owned and operated establishment, Vitagliano’s ten-acres boast the finest super Tuscan varietals in Southern California. Descend the steps to a small lake with grass lawns and stone architecture flanked by tall trees for a boxed lunch and a tasting of six wines. Mount Palomar WinerySitting in the shadow of the Palomar Mountain range, the award-winning 55-acre winery specializing in Bordeaux style and Italian style wines offers sweeping views of the vineyards and tiered hillsides. Soak up your surroundings while indulging in six tastings. Save a little time to ascend the grand staircase to the plateau above the facility for a grand view of Temecula landscape with grapevines to your right and left. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY- Savor the rural landscape just miles from the hustle and bustle of San Diego. WHAT YOU SEE ALONG THE WAY- Located about an hour from San Diego, you’ll drive through the hills and mountains known as the Peninsular Ranges, whose peaks help create the hot days and cool nights needed for growing all but the more delicate varietals.

In Cabo San Lucas Mexico, I picked an excursion that was VERY different. It was listed as “Camel and Mexican Outback”, and was described like this- “Baja-Style Ranch in Tierra Sagrada —
Ride in air-conditioned comfort from the pier to the coastal town of Tierra Sagrada, where you will climb aboard a 4×4 off-road vehicle to a typical Baja-style ranch. During your short journey, a guide will share the local customs of this traditional town. You will be greeted by your local host once you reach the ranch, and you’ll experience a traditional Baja meal. Participate in a tortilla-making presentation, learning how to create this Mexican culinary staple, and then savor a tequila tasting. There is also an optional twenty minute two-person camel ride along the secluded beach at the ranch. At the conclusion of your visit, climb aboard your 4×4 off-road vehicle for the short return to the ranch entrance. An air-conditioned van will be waiting to take you back to Cabo San Lucas. Once at the pier area, you’ll walk back to your ship.”
(That last sentence amuses me…as the ship is anchored and you have to tender….no walking on water for me!)

Now, doesn’t that sound like an adventure???? But wait, there’s more! Our ship stays overnight anchored in Cabo, and we are going there twice. So, for the second trip, I booked this – Electric Bike Beach Adventure —Fun for the whole family, this is a great way to get off the beaten path and discover hidden gems not easily accessible on other tours. You’ll leave the harbor for a short motorcoach ride to a private ocean side ranch where you’ll meet your expert team and get familiar with your electric bike. Different from a motorbike, it’s basically a bicycle that delivers extra power on demand and the extra wide wheels make it ideal for traversing rugged terrain. If you pedal hard, very little battery is used, but when you just feel like coasting at a slow pace, the electrical assistance offers a boost to keep you moving. Your guide will be on hand to assist you along the way. Explore sandy trails and natural rivers beds, alongside the Pacific Ocean, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and stunning views. Then feel the adrenaline and excitement as you ride over a beautiful, soft-sand beach beside the glistening Pacific Ocean. LUNCH included! Feast on a delicious a Mexican buffet lunch at Tierra Sagrada restaurant while soaking up the incredible ocean views followed by a fun and entertaining tequila tasting class”.

I love an excursion that includes a meal and even better when it includes wine and tequila. There was a ZIP LINE adventure, but I really struggled with risk management on that! Yesterday my daughter said “WHY NOT”….so I looked today at it, but can’t work it in the schedule. Our ship is in “port” from noon-noon, and some excursions are only available in the afternoon. So, this time around it will be camels and bikes for my alternative transportations, and no high wire flying for me.

I haven’t chosen any thing for Ensenada for either stop or the 2nd stop in San Diego. I will probably head for “fish tacos” in Ensenada the first time, and maybe the “blow hole” at the beach. Our 2nd stop in San Diego is mid-week, and I plan to book the excursion to the San Diego zoo. I haven’t been to that zoo since I was a child and I look forward to visiting again.

You might remember from a cruise several years ago that my sister and I took the “seal boats” tour in San Diego. That was an exciting adventure. You can use that link to look back at that trip. I really had to talk my sister into that seal boat tour, but I recall she had a lot of fun.

I really enjoy revisiting places I have been to over the years. My sister has some favorite memories of Cabo, from 2008 when we went whale watching on yellow banana boats! I don’t think her back would manage that bouncing today, but it is fun to remember. She and I have gone to “Hotel California” on an excursion once, and I’m sure she will find her adventures on this trip. We move at “different speeds”, so we often choose our own adventures and excursions in a port, then meet up at dinner and swap stories.

Cruising in 2021 is an adventure in itself. If you are not willing to play by the current rules, save your money and wait a year or two to travel. The current restrictions/requirements have changed every few days based on CDC changes. Princess Cruise Lines is taking health and safety very seriously, and are strictly following CDC guidelines.

As of this blog publication, this is the current information. Don’t rely on it, it will change twice or thrice before we sail in less than 25 days. If you are cruising, check your cruise line website DAILY!!!

Princess Cruise Lines is currently booking 100% vaccinated adult guests through December 2021. (Unvaccinated children is another whole adventure and you must read your cruise line rules!)

In addition, we have to wear a mask in public spaces indoors the terminal, gangway, and on board indoors and in elevators. Masks can come off when outdoors and socially distant. We are allowed to schedule in the main dining room for a shared table, and won’t be “stuck” at a table for 2. Buffets are open, but staff will serve you.

Lastly, a COVID test must be taken 2 days before sailing, and results must be shown at the terminal prior to boarding, along with your vaccination card and passport. Be sure to read your cruise lines specifications about TYPE of test you require.

Finding a 2 day turnaround on a COVID test was an adventure. The cruise lines are allowing an “at home/proctored test” and have links on their websites to where you can order one. These tests were Binax/Abbott Labs and are proctored by E-Med and are quite simple to use. I follow several cruise “vloggers” who have successfully used these tests and filmed the entire process. Thankfully, you can sit at home, do the test in front of the computer / phone and have results in 15 minutes. The fee for these tests is fairly low, compared to what you might pay going to a private lab or at some airports for a test for travel. Getting a “free test” at your local health agency doesn’t guarantee a quick test and you must arrive with results in hand at the port. If you want more info on the “at home/proctored test”, make a comment and I will give you a link to the test order site or to the VLOGGERS who have done videos about the testing.

Are you planning any travel adventures this fall?


6 thoughts on “Travel planning and changes

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