Sea Day, and a day in Sydney Nova Scotia Highlights – Canada and Colonial America Cruise – Caribbean Princess

NOTE: Photo heavy blog post!

Cruising on the Caribbean Princess was wonderful. After spending so much time in ports, a sea day was most welcome. Sailing the St Lawrence brought some beautiful views. Relaxing onboard the ship and just being pampered was a lot of fun too. One of my favorite things on the sea day was meeting people at the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. Heads of departments came to the Meet & Greet to say hello and answer questions about their area of expertise. The head of food services explained what they did on the 3rd night to vastly improve the waiting time for dinner. My afternoon was occupied by my favorite activity – Wine Tasting. I did snap a couple of shots of the “menu” of the wines we were tasting and enjoying. Not one was a clunker.

We started with a sparkling wine, Veuve Clicquot Brut from France, then Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand . Followed by Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay from California. Next up was Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley, Caro, from Mendoza Argentina and finishing with Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from California. Each wine was distinctive and lovely for it’s particular type. I love to keep a list when I go “wine shopping” in my local stores.

Of course, like every evening on board, following the daily activities a nap and dressing for dinner is the best way to begin an evening. We joined many others at the Platinum and Elite cocktail party before dinner. We were dining at 7, so we had lots of time to enjoy the appetizers that are prepared just for the party.

When we arrive just before 7 at the dining room, we are immediately escorted to our table by the lovely Ingrid.

Ingrid from Peru
Ingrid, dining room hostess

She always takes my sister by the arm and guides her to the same table, and makes certain she is comfortably seated, and her cane is tucked away by the curtains. Apparently, my sister remembered her from time spent on the ship during the summer and that really made a huge difference. Of course, we LOVE sitting at the same table, getting to know our wait staff, and they get to know us as well.

I love trying the wide variety of salads that appear on the menu. This night I had arugula and greens with watermelon, apple, goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. Light and refreshing. We skip the appetizers or soup a lot of times because we were munching on appetizers at the cocktail party!

Watermelon and goat cheese
Watermelon Goat Cheese salad

My sister made plans during the cocktail party on the sea day to meet up with a lady we met during the party. Kay and her travel companions had been having a nice visit together with us, and it turned out they were part of the Cruise Critic group we had met earlier in the day. When we arrived in Sydney, Nova Scotia, we met up with Kay near the “Big Fiddle”.

You certainly couldn’t overlook that meeting spot!

Port of Sydney NOva Scotia
Sydney Nova Scotia“The Big Fiddle”

My sister was able to rent a mobility scooter in the port facility, and that made it so much easier for her to sightsee in the port area.

It had stopped raining before we disembarked. How lucky is that.

Another great meeting point
Covered gathering spot with benches in the Sydney port area

The sky was still a little grey, but, we actually saw the sun for a bit of time. The SYDNEY flag sign was another great “meeting point” in the port.

I had really looked over the map before the trip and knew this would be a great place to walk around the waterfront. There were several hotels, and restaurants close by. Daniel, the chef, had been chatting with our little group at the cocktail party the night before and he recommended a place to go to have lunch.

With my sister mobile on the scooter, it was really just about a 3 or 4 block walk, less than 10 minutes to the Governors Pub & Eatery. It was located at 233 Esplanade and delightful. We found a ramp from the parking lot for the scooter, but we were confronted with stairs!. My sister parked her scooter and used all her energy and will power to get up the stairs into the restaurant. I had gone up first inquiring about an entry for disabled, and was told there was none. Poor planning on our part for not researching ahead of time I suppose. Her determination did win out and we were seated once inside quite nicely and took all the recommendations for food into consideration.

I chose a Lobster Roll with Salad.

Lobster roll and salad
Lobster roll and salad
Look at the filling!
LOOK at that filling!
Fish and Chips for Anne
Fish and Chips for Anne

Both Anne & I sampled the bread with my sandwich and the breading on her fish, then we took away some of the carbs and just ate the filling. Both meals were huge and delicious, and we decided the only way to really finish was to get rid of the roll and the breading on the fish. Our new friend Kay enjoyed Poutine. Sorry, no photo of her food. I used the ladies room down the stairs, and of course, had to snap a photo or two on the way. What a building!

Basement of Governors Pub and Eatery
Basement where restrooms are located
basement of Governors Pub
Basement where restrooms are located
Less than sturdy handrail
Stairs at Governors Pub

Those steps to the basement and the restrooms were STEEP, and the iron handrail was wobbly. I told my sister it would be better to take her scooter back to the port if she needed to use the facilities. Definitely a no go for the person with mobility issues.

Following lunch we enjoyed wandering around town a little bit before finding our way to the Sydney Waterfront boardwalk. The boardwalk was nice for walking along the waterfront and covered a lot of area. Views were great. This “aft view” of the Caribbean Princess is my favorite.

Walking along the waterfront in Sydney Nova Scotia
Aft of the Caribbean Princess in Sydney Nova Scotia

Walking back towards the ship, we were able to make a shopping stop in the port building where there were lots of vendors selling interesting local items. I came across an author from Cape Breton NS, and had a lovely chat. I purchased her book and she signed it for me.

The Girl He Left Behind
signed by Beatrice MacNeil

This is Beatrice’s 5th book, and I enjoyed her conversation and the discussion about “what it takes” to be published. She told the story about struggling to get the book published and the big change she had to make at the ending of the story. I asked her how she would have ended it, had the publisher agreed. She said she would have let her character take a stand toward being an independent strong woman. I can’t wait to read it and see what she had to actually write in order to go to press. Beatrice MacNeil is from East Bay, Cape Breton Nova Scotia, about 22 km from Sydney.

Before long, it was time to board the Caribbean Princess, get ready for sail away and another nice evening on board. The view from our balcony was quite nice.

A balcony view
Looking down into the port of Sydney and the facilities

Before you knew it, our ship edged away from the dock and we were heading out for Halifax. Last looks at Sydney –

Leaving Sydney Nova Scotia
Leaving the port at Sydney Nova Scotia
Light house as we departed Sydney
Last look at a light house leaving Sydney

Time to dress for the cocktail party and for dinner. (More food…..sigh….)

Cocktail party appetizers
something small at the cocktail party

Of course, the cocktail party is followed by a nice walk to the dining room, and decisions about what to order. I chose this by delicious appetizer in lieu of salad at dinner.

Appetizers at dinner
Bruschetta at dinner

No worries about all the eating (and drinking) on this day, because our walk in Sydney burnt off a few calories and exceeded my step/mileage goal for the day!!

Walking in Sydney NS
Fitbit goal met

Our next port is Halifax, and we would arrive bright and early. I had a tour scheduled and next travel post I will share my day!

Tour ticket for Halifax
Tour ticket for Halifax

I hope you are enjoying these travel blogs for this amazing trip from Quebec City Canada to Fort Lauderdale Florida. If you are enjoying, please hit the like and comment. I appreciate hearing from you. Next post will be about Halifax as soon as I edit more photos and get the narrative written. For all my quilting friends, more from the sewing room soon.

By the way….if you do want to comment, you must scroll down past all those terrible commercial advertisements. This is how the program ,Wordpress, allows me to publish my blog with out charging on their platform. I know they are typically awful ads, so please just scroll on by until you get to the comment block.

Happy travels.


Highlights of SAGUENAY & SEPT ILLES – Canada and Colonial America Cruise – Caribbean Princess

Photo heavy blog!

Cruising on the Saint Lawrence in Canada brings you to some amazing ports. The perfect transportation was the Caribbean Princess cruise ship, leaving from Quebec City and heading all the way to Fort Lauderdale at the end of the season. Follow along for my views.

We visited Saguenay Canada on Saturday Oct 22, 2022. We turned off the St Lawrence and went up the Saguenay River. We docked about 7 am and were awoken by the activity on the dock. The ship was being greeted by musicians and dancers and reenactors. I wish I could have made good photos, but we were forward on the ship and the area they were performing was near the aft end of the ship. I will never forget the man with the megaphone asking us on board to “ask the captain” of the Caribbean Princess to blow the ships horns. The ship did comply when we left at 5 pm..

The port area for Saguenay was called La Baie. It had a lovely port facility and the area around the port was very walkable. Armed with google maps, I decided I would just walk around the port area, and find a Tim Horton’s, a local pharmacy and just wander and breathe in all the brisk air. There were beautiful walking and biking trails right along the Saguenay River.

Walking trail in Sagueney
Wonderful park with bike trails and walking trails

Along the beach where the ship was docked there were lots of people out walking along the river bank.. It was fun to watch the beach disappear as the tide came in. I had a great “fall weather” walk, did lots of looking with my eyes instead of with my camera, breathing in the crisp air. So sorry for the lack of photos, but it was just a delightful day to walk along the river and enjoy the views.

Caribbean Princess in Saguenay
Caribbean Princess docked at the Saguenay port in La Baie

The description for the port on the Princess info page said “The city of Saguenay, most known for its physical beauty and notable artist community, lies on the Saguenay River in Quebec, 200 km north of Quebec City. The city is divided into three boroughs (Chicoutimi, Jonquiere, and La Baie), with French being the predominant language spoken in each. Tourists can visit harbor villages in Chicoutimi, or make way to Jonquiere for enjoy scenic views and relaxing strolls through public parks. Saguenay is also home to a 163-ton aluminum bridge, built in 1950 as a unique replica that is a third the size of its steel counterpart.”

I, for one, just enjoyed strolling around La Baie. I could have taken an offered shuttle over to the larger city of Saguenay, but was content to just enjoy the area where we were docked. It was great for walking around, stopping for a coffee and just enjoying the fall foliage. I did get a “few” steps in while we were in port

Walking in Saguenay
Walking in a port has benefits!

This is what you do so you don’t gain weight eating all the wonderful food! GO WALK!

Sailing out of La Baie, as the sun was setting was amazing. The water was like glass. There were working ships going up and down the river, and it was amazing to be on a ship the size of the Caribbean Princess in a river. We slept through the arrival, but I enjoyed sitting on the aft of the ship with the few that wanted to enjoy this magnificent river and view.

Sailing on the Saguenay River
Sailing on the Saguenay River towards the St Lawrence
Sunset on the Saguenay
Sunset on the Saguenay

I spent a good amount of time on the aft of the ship, just enjoying the sights as we sailed on the Saguenay River back towards the St Lawrence River.

Spending some time at sailaway from Saguenay
Enjoying the amazing views on the Saguenay River from the aft of the ship
Sailing on the Saguenay towards the St Lawrence

The river was like absolute glass, and the sun set happened very quickly. (I have hundreds of photo’s, still and video, done with my cell phone and go-pro, but you don’t want to see them all.) Seriously, it was hard to pick just a couple to share.

Our next port was on Sunday, Oct 23, 2022 and we docked in Sept Illes. The description from the Princess website said “Named for its location facing an archipelago of seven islands and set at the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, Sept-Iles is one of the sunniest regions in Quebec. This city is surrounded by unspoiled nature and is protected from the sea winds by the surrounding islands. Visitors can explore parks near the city such as Aylmer-Whittom where a miniature village can be seen filled with squirrels and various birds. There are also multiple beach fronts that stretch for miles across the coast for those interested in a little sun and bird watching. It is the ideal location for travelers looking to go on an outdoor adventure.”

Again, a wonderful port to just get off the ship and stretch your legs. Not a lot open near the port this late in the year, but you could feel how this port area was an attraction for the local population earlier in the season. I had fun again taking a long walk along the water and enjoying the views. Sept Illes was a working port, and also a fishing port. You will see that in some of the photos.

Just steps from our ship I was greeted with this wonderful artwork along the waterfront.

Greeting us in Sept Illes
Is the moose gazing at our ship or guarding the tug boat?

and from another angle –

Hello Moose
Which side do you like best?

I like this view the best….more artsy.

Harbor area Sept Illes
Good to know info

There was a wonderful walk along the water front. And I made a few more friends along the way!

dog friends
Monkeying around in Sept Illes
Mom with the kids
Mom with the kids?

I did wander through a dock area, but overall the Promenade was lovely.

Dad looking on
Dad keeping a watch?
Horse or donkey?
Horse or Donkey?

As I continued along the walk, I just followed others ahead of me as we walked through a “yard” where fishing items were stored. I’m not sure how these baskets are used, but there were a lot of them stacked up.

Fishing baskets?
Baskets in big stacks

This yard we walked through was full of this giant baskets. I wish there was someone around to tell the story of how they were used.

Had it been the peak of summer – this place might have been open for a drink or bite to eat.

Summer time stop?
closed for the season

My walk continued along the waterfront for about a mile and I came across a museum with the Hermel exhibition. It was fascinating. Mylène Paquette’s legendary boat, Hermel was on display. Quebec mariner Mylène Paquette is the first person from the Americas to row solo across the North Atlantic. Her boat was amazing and this was an interactive museum with video displays around the boat. I can’t do it justice so I urge you to check this website – . Mylene’s website – is worth a look and her amazing journey is shown in photo’s and video along with her journal.

I continued my walk along the waterfront all the way to Parc du Vieux-Quai, then returned along the same path to the ship. I went up to the first roadway, but there was really nothing open on this Sunday after the holiday season was over. I have to say, in warm summer weather I can imagine the area as being very active and busy. Even on this fall day the Parc du Vieux-Quai was busy with families out in the sunshine for the day, and a lot of “senior citizens” out and about, enjoying the lovely weather. Restaurants and bars were closed on the Sunday, but overall, a great place to walk. Walking back toward the ship, you could see the working port, and how vibrant the area was. Next time I visit, perhaps I will take a tour, but this was a relaxing time off the ship and fun for exploring on my own.

Once back on board, I was a bit chilly, and hungry, and took advantage of the great room service menu that Princess Cruise lines offers.

lunch on the balcony

Before long, it was time to leave Sept Illes. The tugboat at the ready, as the ship prepares to leave the dock. You knew it was time to go as the sun began to set. It’ doesn’t get more beautiful than this –

Sept Iles at sunset

The sun disappears quite quickly at 5 pm

Sun has set
A look around the Sept Illes harbor

Our next day is a sea day, and the highlight for me is meeting people at the Cruise Critic Meet & Great and going to a wine tasting!

More on that in another post!

 Canada and Colonial America Cruise Highlights – Quebec City part 2 Upper Town walking tour

Last post,( we left off on the funicular going to the Upper Town of Quebec City on our walking tour. What a view awaits us standing on the Dufferin Terrace looking toward the magnificent hotel and back down at the St Lawrence and our cruise ship.

Château Frontenac Hotel
Château Frontenac Hotel
Looking to the port
The Caribbean Princess
Monument Samuel-De Champlain
Monument Samuel-De Champlain

A significant monument to the “father of New France” greets you as you exit the Funiculaire.

As we walk, we come to the back side of the Fountain Monument of Faith facing towards Rue Sainte-Anne

Fountain Monument of Faith

Across the street is the Château Frontenac Hotel, and the 3 flags. The blue and white is the flag of the province of Quebec, the blue and yellow for Quebec City, and of course, the Canadian Red and White.

Looking up to the hotel and the flags
Château Frontenac Hotel

We walk several blocks and stop on Rue Donnacona, at L’École des Ursulines de Québec, (The Ursuline School of Quebec) and hear the story of the nun, Marie De L’Incarnation. “Marie of the Incarnation was an Ursuline nun of the French order. As part of a group of nuns sent to New France to establish the Ursuline Order, Marie was crucial in the spread of Catholicism in New France. Moreover, she has been credited with founding the first girls’ school in the New World.” (Source Wikipedia) She was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2014. Our guide told us that she wished to be a nun as a young girl, but instead followed her parents wishes and married. Widowed at 19, she was then free to choose the convent. When she left France, she never returned. She had a son whom she kept in contact with by letters, but never saw again.

Marie De L'Incarnation
The Ursuline School of Quebec
Further walking takes us to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, which was shrouded from site due to construction. This was the first Anglican Cathedral built outside of the British Isles.   I would love to try and see it once the repair work is completed. 
The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Quebec City
Built between 1800 and 1804, the cathedral introduced to Canada the British Palladian style of architecture

Our next destination in the Upper City was back to the hotel for tea. What a delight it was to enter the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel and enjoy a lovely teatime .

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

I was able to look around the expansive hallways and lobbies as we came in from the street to the restaurant where we had our tea. I would LOVE to have the opportunity to explore the hotel more, and stay there. “Built by Canadian Pacific beginning in 1892, and designed by architect Bruce Price, the Château Frontenac is an excellent example of château-style hotels developed by railway companies in Canada.

Following our tea, we worked our way back down from the Upper City to the Lower City of Quebec. We walked along the curving street of Cote de la Montagne. It was interesting to see railings affixed to some of the buildings. It was quite steep.

Coming down from the Upper City.
Cote de la Montagne

Our tour guide suggested the next view back up the hill –

one last look up to the hotel
One last look

Our walking tour ended back at the port, where I boarded the Caribbean Princess once again. We walked a little over 4 1/2 miles on this walking tour, and I was ready for cocktails and dinner. We were to set sail at 5 pm for Saguenay.

I decided to “dress for dinner” in an outfit that seemed rather Canadian to me. And of course, it matched those nice throws the room steward put on our beds too!

Dressed for dinner
Dressed for dinner and matching the coverlet

We enjoyed the Elite cocktail party and went to the dining room for our reserved time. I can’t say anything nice about that night. Just know that many people, besides myself, were very upset about the terrible line and waiting more than half an hour to be seated. (If you know me, you know that logistics is my background and I could see all the ways this could be fixed while I waited in a line, tired from my excursion and very hungry. I have been on many cruises, and this was not the standard I was accustomed to.) My patience was shot, and I left the line, 30 minutes past our reservation time, and went to the buffet. That meal wasn’t satisfying, but at least I was seated. My sister stood in that line, with her cane for another 30 minutes. I waited until nearly 10 pm and went to the customer service desk and expressed politely how disappointed I was. The problem was resolved the following night, and the rest of the cruise there was no waiting. I love that the staff was able to solve the problem and make things right.

All in all, the walking tour was amazing, our guide was thorough, and the advice on comfortable walking shoes and coats was excellent. I would love to go back and explore Quebec City more in depth, spending a few nights at the Château Frontenac Hotel. Back on the bucket list. At 3 days in the city is needed to really explore on your own.

I will blog a bit more about our various ports as we made our way from Quebec City to Ft Lauderdale Florida, and hopefully you will find them as interesting as I did.

Walking Tour of Old Quebec City – lower town

Photo heavy blog !!

Our second day in port on the Caribbean Princess in Quebec City we woke to this view again from our balcony.

Good morning Quebec city
Morning view from the balcony of the lower and upper city with the Chateau Frontenac

Just looking out to the lower and upper city from the ship was stunning. Even the area around the dock was lovely with the fall foliage in peak color. Our ship is docked on the St Lawrence River and will be sailing Northeast at the end of the day towards the Riviere Saguenay.

The lovely view in the port of Quebec City
Riverfront square

I was scheduled for an afternoon of exploration with the ship excursion – Old Québec Walking Tour & Tea at Château Frontenac. We were instructed to “dress in layers and wear good walking shoes”. The tour description was as follows on the Princess Cruise website ” A narrated walk to Place Royale via Place de Paris and rue Saint-Pierre.”

The tour guide meandered around the lower town, giving such a great history of the city, describing the various influences over the last 400 years. I love to look at the architecture of the buildings. She would point out the British and French influences as we walked along. One thing I noticed was the “waves” made of stone in the roads and sidewalks. Starting in the photo above you see the meandering sidewalk.

Fantastic walking tour guide
Our tour guide was easy to find with her flag

The area we were walking through was very interesting and you could see the banking influence on the city.

Imperial bank of Canada 1875
Imperial bank of Canada 1875
Shoreline of the river in 1600
Shoreline in 1600

Ahhh….an explanation for the waves. My limited understanding is they showed where the shoreline had been over the years or flooding had occurred. Most of old town / lower town was built on fill. The explanation was simple, they needed more space at the bottom of the hill.

Rue St Paul
Rue Saint Paul
waves in the brick along the roadway
Waves in the brick Rue St Paul
Rue de Barricade
Rue de Barricade

In the above photo, you see the “city walls” near the parked cars. The city wall was just 5 blocks in from the river/port. Looking back, after the tour, studying the city maps helped me to understand just how narrow a strip along the river the lower city is up against the city walls. During the tour we wandered all over the place, and it was difficult to get my bearings or understand just how narrow the lower city actually is.

Rue Saint Pierre at Rue Saint Antoine and Le Priori Hotel
Rue Saint Pierre at Rue Saint Antoine and Le Priori Hotel

In the photo above, you can see how the street changes from large stones to much smaller stonework. Le Priori Hotel is in the lower city and our tour guide talked a bit about how nice it was for a visit.

Quebec City Mural
Quebec City Mural

The Quebec City Mural was an amazing sight, painted on a building near Place Royale. I can’t do justice to the description, so I will point you to –

Closeup of Quebec City Mural
Quebec City Mural shows the 400 year history of the city

The mural was mesmerizing and it was wonderful to have our guide pointing out important figures and telling of their historical influence on the city, the province and the country.

City wall, adjacent to the Quebec City Mural
City wall adjacent to Quebec City Mural
Interesting architecture near Place Royale and QC mural
Interesting architecture near the Quebec City mural
Place Royale rooflines
Rooflines and materials in the Place Royale
Place Royale Lower town
Buildings in the Place Royale square

Our tour description stated that “Place Royale is a handsomely restored square in the heart of Lower Town boasting 17th and 18th-century stone architecture. The site of Samuel de Champlain’s first settlement, the square is home to Notre Dame des Victoires, one of the oldest stone church still standing in North America.”

Notre Dame Des Victoires Catholic Church

Our tour description was right on with our next few steps. “ make your way to Petit Champlain Street, a pedestrian-only street adjacent to the Place Royale featuring boutiques, shops, cafés and restaurants housed in 17th and 18th century buildings. Strolling musicians, jugglers and other street performers abound.” We didn’t see the jugglers and street performers, but we certainly saw the shops and cafe as we headed to the Funicular to go to the upper walled city.

Heading to the Funiculaire
Rous Sous le Fort and Rue de Notre Dame

This corner where I took the photo is just 3 blocks in from the river, at Rous Sous Le Fort and Rue de Notre Dame. You can see the track in the photo above for Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec. Our group was split into smaller groups to ride up. Our destination was the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac which dominates the city skyline.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Just a short ride to get to the Upper city.

a view of our car coming down the hill
The descending car on the right will take us up the hill.

The line was quite short and in moments about 10 of us rode up the hill. What awaited at the top will have to be in the next post, so check back in for another edition of the walking tour.

Just a couple of observations about the lower town of Quebec City. The sidewalks were narrow, some cobbled, some paved, some curb cuts. Many streets were pedestrian only, but some were not, and you had to be aware of parked and moving automobiles. The first part of this walking tour we were up and down many streets, and this tour was NOT for someone who had a challenge walking. The tour description was very clear about this. We encountered lots of uneven surfaces and steps. In a city that is 400 years old, this is not unexpected. Having taken the walking tour, then going back and studying maps and my photo’s, I would encourage anyone with moderate walking ability to explore the lower town of Quebec City. I would love to go back and spend several days poking around. Our guide was spectacular and shared so many pieces of the history of the city, and the changes it had undergone, and the efforts to preserve it for future generations.

Canada and Colonial America Cruise Highlights -Travel to Quebec City and boarding the Caribbean Princess

I’ve been travelling and wanted to share some of my adventures on the Caribbean Princess Cruise I recently took. I’m going to break this into a series of posts because they will be mostly photos. Come along for the trip!

My trip began in the early morning on October 19, 2022 departing from the Salisbury Maryland regional airport. I took a short 30 minute flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The aircraft out of Salisbury is an Embraer ERJ-145, a small jet with a 2 & 1 seating configuration. I love to pick a seat on the left side and don’t feel crowded by a seatmate on this small aircraft. When I got to Philadelphia, I realized my inbound and outbound gate were the same, so no shuttling to another terminal, and I would re-board the same aircraft for the flight to Quebec City. I had a layover, long enough, to grab some breakfast at Qdoba in Terminal F.

Great airport breakfast - Qdoba
Breakfast bowl, with eggs and taco toppings from Qdobo in Terminal F

I’m glad I had a hearty breakfast, because my next meal was in the late afternoon. My sister flew from Las Vegas, on a red eye, and arrived in the city before I ever left Philadelphia. She had a very long night! We were staying halfway between the airport and the port in Quebec City, and given the taxi fare for each of us just getting to the hotel, we were not interested in venturing too far out. The hotel location was chosen because it was one of the few where I could ensure a handicap accessible room, with 2 beds, in a building that was also accessible for my sister.

My sister and I walked from our hotel, Hôtel & Suites Le Dauphin Québec, to a place called Bières & Frites. It was the only place walkable in the vicinity other than Tim Horton’s which had closed early. Bieres & Frites, was not the healthiest choice for lunch/dinner, but it was delicious, from my point of view. My sister, not so much! I ordered a Hot dog with fries and she got the traditional Quebec Poutine.

Bières & Frites
Sister doesn't like the cheese


Not a fan

Honestly, the look on her face was priceless! She did not enjoy Poutine at all. But….the beer was good~!~ And so was the bottle of wine and dessert we took back to the hotel for later in the evening. 🙂

We spent one night at Hôtel & Suites Le Dauphin Québec before boarding the ship. The hotel was excellent with a great coffee bar, self serve in the lobby, and a little breakfast box to enjoy in the morning. There was fresh fruit on offer in the lobby, and they did have menus for local restaurants offering delivery. In all, the room was perfect for a disabled person, and they were so kind to allow my sister to check in very early. Her overnight flight and early check-in allowed her to get a long nap before I arrived.

On departure, they summoned a taxi for us, and explained to the driver our destination at the port, in Old Quebec City. That trip was a delight, the driver acting almost as a tour guide as he navigated his way to the line up downtown in the port. The fare, for the 2 of us was less than each of us paid to go half the distance from the airport. Needless to say, we felt thankful to the hotel for contacting the right taxi company.

We were able to board the Caribbean Princess within a few minutes of arrival. My sister and I were sharing a handicap accessible cabin, A303, on deck 12 of the ship. We used the forward elevators and our cabin was just across from the elevator lobby. The cabin was massive. Plenty of room for someone using a wheelchair or a walker. Big restroom with a roll in shower and lots of grab bars, and a seat to use while showering. Storage was plentiful with a large wardrobe for hanging garments and shelving behind one door, as well as 4 drawers for each nightstand and 3 at the desk area. There were 3 glass shelves in the bathroom for toiletries, and shelves in the shower for your personal shampoos etc. My only storage issue was there were not enough hooks in the bathroom up high for hanging robes.PRO TIP – I always pack heavy duty hook magnets and used them on the back of the bathroom door and on the wall for various items. Only a couple of power outlets on the desk and another PRO TIP is to bring a cruise approved power supply with multi outlets and usb charging points.

A303 Caribbean Princess
A303 – Deck 12 – Handicap accessible cabin – Caribbean Princess

The balcony was great, with a ramp for a wheelchair, was about 5 foot deep x 12 foot wide. It was the entire width of the cabin.

The best part of all, when entering the cabin, was we were on the starboard (right) side of the ship, facing the city. The view was amazing!

After embarking, we both settled into the beautiful lobby area of the ship, and ordered cocktails. And, as was to be the situation for the rest of the cruise, my sister was constantly being greeted by lovely crew members who remembered her from her earlier sailing on board for 5 weeks over the summer.

meeting old friends
Meeting old friends onboard

When travelling with Princess cruise lines, the ships feel like home. We have both been on well over 20 sailings, some together and some not over the years. We’ve sailed several times over our birthdays, and I try to make it special for my sister. One thing I do is “decorate our cabin door” for her birthday. I try to find things that are easy to pack, and will go on the door with a few magnets. (It helps to find your cabin when you are out very late too)

Birthday decor on the door

Part of the benefits to sticking with a cruise line is their loyalty programs. We enjoyed every evening going to the Platinum and Elite cocktail party. There are always appetizers and special cocktails to enjoy before dinner.

Elite cocktail party
Mary enjoying a specialty cocktail

The next best thing is we used the ship as our hotel for the night, and didn’t sail away until the following evening! That meant, we were able to dine aboard or off ship. We chose to dine onboard, at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, The Crown Grill. We were celebrating Anne’s birthday when we boarded, so the venue was perfect and so was the meal.

Ribeye steak in the Crown Grill
A prime rib-eye, cooked to perfection
Filet and Lobster
Surf and turf for me

We knew we were going to indulge and celebrate Anne’s birthday, and Princess Cruise Lines did not disappoint us with this delightful meal. The dessert for Anne’s birthday was just as lovely.

Princess signature chocolate dessert
Princess special birthday dessert

Wandering the ship after dinner, we stopped in the Good Spirits lounge, and my sister again encountered another friend in the crew. She brought a small gift to him, in the form of a Costco size bag of beef jerky. I’m sure there was a story there, but it was apparent to me he enjoyed seeing her and receiving the gift!

Anne & friend from Good Spirits
Anne’s favorite bartender in Good Spirits

Our journey was only beginning and we had 14 days on board the Caribbean Princess. We sailed from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale Florida, and I will be adding some of my adventures in upcoming posts.

Do you have a favorite cruise line or a favorite way to travel? Share your story in the comments.

Why the CDC is SO wrong and What I love about CRUISING

PETRI dish…..Avoid cruise travel……LEVEL 4….Regardless of Vaccine Status…..and so much more…GRAB a headline and run with it. Let me tell you WHY this is so overblown!

Here are a few travel bloggers / vloggers who spell it out clearly –

http://Morgan’s Unofficial Travel Guide – Morgan O’Brien spells out in this video the differences between cruising and visiting Florida theme parks. Morgan and his family spent 21 days in Florida visiting multiple theme parks and returned home (to Germany), and a week later popped positive for C-19, despite being TRIPLE VAXED. Be aware…NOBODY was checking vaccine status at the entrance to ANY amusement park in Florida or asking for your negative test results.

In order to cruise out of the USA, you must be “fully vaxed”, and present a negative test taken within 2 days of boarding the cruise ship. My recent travel (Oct-Nov 2021) on the Grand Princess required me to present my test results and vaccine card prior to boarding, and then I was tested 3 more times while on board.

The cruise ship I was on this past fall had a capacity of 25% !! Most ships are sailing way below capacity. As cruising restarted, the capacity has gradually increased, but let me tell you…it was like sailing on a private yacht! Yet, the CDC talks about the crowding…..

Princess Theater
Princess Theater – nearly empty on the Grand Princess on Oct 18, 2021

The theater never “filled up” so social distancing was NEVER a problem! Every entertainment venue on that ship was like this. EVEN the casino and sail away and deck parties.

Sail away party
Sail away on the Grand Princess Oct 23 2021. NO Crowds here….lots of spacing in outdoor areas
sail away show
Watching from an upper deck, I felt sad that there were so few onboard to enjoy the entertainment

My sister and I went to BINGO which is a popular activity on a sea day, and take a look at the “crowd”….

Vista Lounge for BINGO… crowd

So; tell me about “congregate settings” ?? Petri dishes?? Nothing anywhere is as clean as these cruise ships. I have personally observed the rigorous cleaning, the mask wearing of the crew while outdoors, the mask wearing of passengers indoors except when eating and drinking. Elevator limits, hand washing stations at every food service venue, and all the hand sanitizer machines. Take a look at the “health protocols” with Princess Cruise lines – NO WHERE else in America do you find this “level” of health safety protocols. Not in any hotel, airport, amusement park, shopping center, movie theater or sporting venue!

Another Cruise Vlogger – TONY – LA LIDO LOCA – talks about the CDC change to the cruise travel warning. He runs through the numbers and discusses an article from the Cruise Line industry association. The CLIA article states “Vaccination rates onboard a cruise ship are upwards of 95 percent—significantly higher than the overall U.S. population which is hovering at 62 percent” – “

AND …..

  • The latest data show that, even with higher rates of testing, the cruise industry continues to achieve significantly lower rates of occurrence of COVID-19—33 percent lower than onshore.
  • According to the CDC’s color-coding system, a cruise ship may be determined to be “yellow” – and, therefore, subject to CDC observation – if a threshold of 0.10 percent or more passengers (i.e., 7 out of 6,500) have tested positive in the last seven days, or if even just one crewmember tests positive.”

So, yes, the latest variant is highly transmissible, but I submit to you that a cruise ship is far safer than a trip to your local supermarket, movie theater, big box store, restaurant, football game or other sporting events.

Check out Tony / La Lido Loca latest – http://Fighting cruise misinformation

Check out ShipLife and answer the “SAFE” question –

What do I love about cruising and why do I still plan to go in just a couple of weeks again?

  • I go for the FOOD
  • I go for the Entertainment
  • I go for the destinations
  • I go for the relaxation
  • I go for the fun in the sun
  • I go for the spa
  • I go to meet new friends
  • I go for the wine tasting and the afternoon tea
  • I go for the sunrise and sunsets on the water

and so much more.

Cruise Barista cappuccino
Delightful coffee
Beautiful desserts
Delicious desserts
Morning coffee at sea
Relaxing mornings on the balcony
Breakfast view
Watching the wake
What to do on a sea day
catching some sun rays
Happy Birthday to my sister Anne

Waiters who sing!

Hysterical fun with the crew
Sunrise in Cabo
Sunrise in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Electric bike ride in Cabo
Adventure bike ride in Cabo

And I go for magical moments like this, when Hector, the head waiter, came to our table with his music and really lovely voice!

To quote Tom Pignetti, a doctor, who commented on the LaLidoLoca VLOG post linked above – “I do believe that the CDC is singularly focused on reducing cases and that they are NOT concerned with balancing out other concerns. Considering that, they exert their influence/control where they can. Since cruise lines share information regarding # of cases, that makes them easy targets. People are catching covid in their homes, grocery stores and other places in the community. I had ONE day this week where I had nearly 10 patients cancel appointments due to the patient or their spouse contracting covid. We continue to go to work and care for our patients. I will continue to cruise and am looking forward to my cruise on the Adventure of the Seas on January 26th. I am much more concerned about catching covid in the community BEFORE the cruise than I am catching it while ON the cruise.

So, in spite of the CDC, I will continue to cruise. My next cruise is January 19th out of Florida. The risky part of the entire trip is crowding into the airplane, where I will wear my KN95 duck bill mask! I have chosen to spend my days “LIVING” instead of “WAITING”. And yes, I’m less concerned about catching covid on a cruise ship than I am in my community.

Travel Adventures in San Diego California while Cruising

During my 18 day cruise on board the Grand Princess recently, we went to San Diego twice. I tried to book an excursion to the San Diego Zoo through the cruise line, but it was not available. My tour desk consultant recommended the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located Escondido, California. The best description comes from their website – “The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. The Safari Park, an 1,800-acre wildlife park, is home to more than 3,600 animals representing over 300 species. More than 1 million guests visit each year, and see wildlife in herds of mixed species, in expansive savanna habitats. The Safari Park also maintains a vast accredited botanical collection of more than 1.3 million plant specimens, representing over 3,700 species. Guests are invited to take part in thrilling safari experiences and create lasting memories, while supporting San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation efforts to save wildlife worldwide.

I am pretty certain I covered all 1800 acres. There was a tram tour included with the ticket price, and I took that, but I still walked over 18000 steps according to my Fitbit tracker. Not very far thru the gate of the park, I started seeing the birds.

San Diego Zoo Safari

My photo’s don’t do it justice, because, honestly, I forgot to take photos most of the time. I was just enjoying the activity and the animals.

Flamingos and ducks

Since I was there with my simple “cell phone camera” a lot of shots at a distance were just not easy to get. Zooming in with the phone pixelates the image, and so I took a few, but mostly, just enjoyed the experience.

Gorilla lunch time

What I quickly noticed is things were very spread out in this wildlife park. The other thing was how much work had gone into the horticulture of the park. It was really like an arboretum. The area in California is very dry and arid, so seeing all this plant life carefully set let me know right away how much care was taken to give you a good experience, as well as the animals a good environment. This beautiful walkway led up to the area where the gorillas were housed. Not quite a jungle, but definitely not California desert.

Gorilla walk

This one little area of succulent plantings shows how much care went into the area the guests were visiting.

succulent plantings
Enjoying the greenery

The views of the mountains in the background show a stark contrast in vegetation.

Habitats at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

savanna habitat San Diego Safari Zoo

The Savanna habitat was huge, and to access it, you could take the included tram ride, around the perimeter, or pay extra for a variety of “safari” options. Those options looked very cool, but the price was pretty steep. You certainly got in closer to the animals with those options.

We could see a large variety of animals from zebras to giraffes from our vantage point in the tram. There were elephants and hippos wandering about. The big cats were in another area, separated from the animals they prey on.

Giraffe at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

It was so cool to see the numbers of animals and to see they had a lot of space in their habitat.

Big open spaces for the animals

One thing that was most interesting to me was the California Condors breeding and nesting facility at the top of a hill. If you click on the link above, you can watch the “Condors Cam” during daylight hours. The California Condor was on the brink of extinction in 1987. “The California Condor has been to the brink of extinction—and back. By 1987, habitat degradation, poisoning, and shooting had nearly eliminated the California Condor in the wild. The 22 individuals remaining were captured for captive breeding programs, which are credited with the species’ survival. California Condors are now being reintroduced into the wild each year.” source – That said, it was a serious hike up the hill to the area where we could view them from a platform. It was well worth the hike to me.

If you ever find your self in Southern California, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a nice destination for the day.

On our second visit to San Diego, I took a wine tasting tour out into Temecula California. Our first stop was the Wilson Creek Winery where we had a lovely lunch before our wine tastings. One of the most interesting things we tasted was a sparkling wine with an almond flavor. It was a lovely refreshing wine. It’s the one bottle I didn’t get a photo of. Our wine guide told us that particular product helped them to meet their 5 year business goal in 3 years, and is a resounding success. The Wilson Creek Winery is a rather newcomer to the wine makers in Temecula, and a lovely place to visit. I thought a “slide show” might let you peak at some of what we tasted and the views we enjoyed. The white Cabernet Sauvignon is very refreshing and not something I had ever tried.

In one area of the tour at Wilson Creek, we were able to see the “artists work” with wine corks. These might motivate you if you have a collection of corks!

Our next visit was to a Mount Palomar Winery, one of the oldest in the region. We had to choose from the menu for our “tastings” with little fanfare and no tour. The only info on the wine we received was from what we were able to gather from the menu. We were given tickets for our tastings, and could enjoy 5 different types. While the wine was nice, the ambiance in the tasting room was a little less than I expected. Walking around the grounds you could see there had been some effort in making outdoor tasting areas, which would have been a lot nicer. Looking further out at the hills, there was a lot of “replanting” and a lot of barren hillsides happening.

The area around Temecula is filled with wineries, and each has their own “special flavor” or style. Our tour guide pointed out a tour happening as we were driving out, and it was a “motorcycle with a double side car”. The rider takes his 2 passengers out for tastings at a variety of wineries and ensures they return safely to their hotel. So, lots of touring opportunities from every comfort level.

Both times we were in San Diego we left late in the evening. The city has a spectacular skyline, and it’s one of those places where you can sit to enjoy the view from the ship too.

San Diego skyline from the ship

There is plenty to do within the city and around the harbor, if you happen to find yourself in San Diego for a day. We’ve been there in the past and done some touring around the harbor, so I enjoyed these visits that took me out of town to something a bit different.

Note….yes, there was adventure in the wine drinking, the food eating and the day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! Big thumbs up to the tour desk on the Grand Princess for suggesting the Safari park and a big thumbs up to the folks who made you feel so at home at the Wilson Creek Winery.

Have you been out having any adventures lately?? Do tell!!

Travel Adventures in Ensenada while cruising

Last post I shared my adventures in Cabo San Lucas. This post is all about Ensenada Mexico. Backstory – I was on a series of 4 and 5 day cruises out of San Pedro California, the port for Los Angeles. The first and third cruise were 5 day round trip going to Cabo San Lucas Mexica, and the second and fourth were 4 day trips going to San Diego and Ensenada. Typically, I never get off the ship in Ensenada, but this trip, I had to use up a bunch of onboard credits.

On my first visit to Ensenada, I booked a tour that involved wine and cheese. This tour came recommended as a replacement for one that had been booked in another port, but cancelled. (More about that when I write about San Diego!).

The description given by the cruise line is as follows ( )

WHAT YOU VISIT – Baja-Med Cuisine Experience
Your guided tour through the Guadalupe Valley area includes indulging on delicious locally made cheeses, wonderful wine tastings hosted by friendly wine connoisseurs, and lunch at an award-winning Baja-Med restaurant.
Stops on this tour were hand-selected by Bill Esparza, a James Beard award-winner and leading expert on Latin American cuisine.

Each winery will offer wine at a special ‘cava’ price.

As you make your way through Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll find beautiful scenery among majestic mountains and sierras where vineyards blossom during spring and hold their harvest in the fall.

The description did not do the excursion justice! We left the port on a small tour bus, with only a few adventurous individuals and drove through the city and along the coast line, before turning off into the mountains and into the Valle de Guadalupe. As you came over the mountain pass and looked out to the valley, you could see how fertile the area was, full of vineyards and other farming.

Our first stop in the Guadalupe Valley was in the town of Villa de Juarez, at a cheese shop. Sadly, this was our only view, as it turned out to be closed for an emergency.

Cheese shop stop

We were supposed to have made purchases here, snacks for the day, and maybe something to take home. Olives and cheese were the feature we were promised. The tour guides were horrified to find out it was closed, and loaded us all back on the bus to the 2nd stop.

Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio

This stop was our second, and it was lovely! “Bodegas de Santo Tomas has a rich, fascinating history. As the very first winery in Baja California, Santo Tomas was originally founded in 1888 by native Italian Francisco Adonegui and Spaniard Miguel Olmart. ” ( )

The views around this winery on a hilltop were astounding, and totally unexpected on my first real “off ship” adventure in Ensenada. Enjoy the photos. This first one made me laugh…when you read the label on the glass!

The view thru the wine glass
Who knew….Applebee’s wine glass in Ensenada!
Looking out over the valley

The views just got better and better, and there were so many places to sit and take them all in.

Wonderful areas for wine tasting outdoors

Just after 11 am, we were tasting wine, enjoying the lovely 80 degree temperature, and I was pleased I had packed a little sunscreen!

Enjoying the view and the weather

This jewel of a winery was something to really sit back and enjoy! I’m sure I don’t remember what I tasted, but the companionship of the others on the tour was great, and it was all delicious. There were SO many wonderful places to enjoy the view.

Large tables with a view of the tasting room and the valley
Highly recommend Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio in Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada Mexico

Our next stop took us to Casa Magoni Valle De Guadalupe for another round of wine tasting. Our first pour was at the tasting bar, and I paid better attention to what we were being served. The young server was quite knowledgeable.

This is a small, family run winery that has been in business since the late 1990’s. They certainly have an appealing product and lovely presentation.

Casa magoni Valle De Guadalupe
Delightful white wine

We carried our wine glasses with us to the seating area, under this wonderful oak tree. It was a lovely place, in nature, to sit in the shade and enjoy the offerings.

Our seating area under the oak tree

Our small little group filled a table, and enjoyed the dappled sunlight as the wine was served.

Sitting under the oak tree

Our second pour was equally nice, and I made a point to capture a photo of the wine label. Maybe I will find it at home someday.

our second pour

Because we missed our cheese shop stop, our wonderful tour guides made arrangements at this vineyard for something lovely to nibble while we enjoyed our wine. Just take a look at the delights we were able to enjoy with our wine. (Note….this was all before lunchtime!!)

Delightful snacks
Delightful cheeseboard

It was just what we needed and everyone felt refreshed with a bit of bread and cheese and olives

Our next our of Magoni wine was a Sangiovese Cabernet wine. It was spectacular!

Magoni Sangiovese cabernet wine

Just look at that color. The flavor was lovely.

Sangiovese Cabernet wine
beautiful ruby

Our final stop on this tour was for a wine pairing with lunch at Finca Altozano

OH MY GOSH….what an amazing experience !!! The “Med/Mex” blend of food was beyond description, along with the setting and views. Go look at the link and then come back! If you are ever in BAJA California….make a reservation and go spend the afternoon, eating lunch, drinking wine, and enjoying the views. This was the best time ever!!!

Finca Altozano

My photo’s don’t do the food and the flavors justice. Take a look and let me know if your mouth is watering, and take a look at the faces of my table companions. Everything from grilled octopus cooked in soy sauce, citrus, ginger cilantro and roasted peanuts to a lovely “panzanela” salads and garden risotto, and roasted lamb. The menu at the link below shows the wonderful food options and descriptions. It might might give you an idea of the abundance of local flavors. Those gardens in the photos account for the freshness of the food. My friends at the table were stabbing the last bites of octopus and Portobello mushrooms, to not leave a bite behind. Honestly, if you asked, I would tell you I don’t eat lamb. This was the loveliest lamb I never ordered and so delicious. –

The views of the gardens were stunning and the variety of seating for dining was amazing. (So were the tortillas, and bread, made by hand right on site.)

How do you top this kind of adventure…..well….you have to return to Ensenada. And, I will NEVER “not get off the ship” when I do. Years past I would only get off and shop right in the stores in the port, but they all closed due to COVID and have not been reopened.

When I returned the following week, I really had a hard choice to make….food/wine or action/adventure!!

I chose the “action / adventure”…but got surprised by a little wine at the end! I signed up for an excursion that was an ATV ride in/around the wine country of the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada. Sadly, the tour cancelled because NOT enough adventurous people signed up. When I went to the tour desk, my favorite tour employee explained I was the “only” brave soul on the ship! Imagine that! He made a recommendation to me to try the “Baja Off Road Buggy Adventure” and I took his advice.

When we boarded the bus, there were just 7 of us on that adventure. On our way, the tour guide showed us the official “downtown” area of Ensenada, complete with red sidewalks! This was to help the “tourists” find their way around town I guess. We road the small bus again up to the Guadalupe Valley and beyond to a small village, called Santa Rosa, off of dirt roads. Once we turned off the main roads, it was a bumpy ride into the village.

We were given bandanas to wear over our nose and mouth, goggles and helmets, and directions on how to operate the dune buggy. Because I was taking this adventure on my own, I was the sole occupant in the buggy, doing the driving. I took my place as “last in line” because I wasn’t sure quite how fast I wanted to drive. There were lots of warnings about possible roll overs, so I erred on the side of caution. We were instructed to “follow the buggy ahead” and slow down if we can’t see thru the dust. As Baja is rather dry, there was a LOT of dust. There was an ATV following our group, and I am sure I spoiled his “fast ride” because I did “slow down” in the dust so I could see where the road was going and where the rocks and ruts in the dirt trail were!

My dune buggy for the ride

We did a little hill climbing as the blue line on the map shows. At the 1/2 way stop we had a chance to look back at the hills and trail we had just ridden while we stretched our legs and drank a little water. The shade was appreciated! We had great laughs, looking at each other and how covered in dust we all were!!! My charcoal grey sweater was going to need a good wash!

We had to slow down as a group a couple of times to allow for the roaming cattle in one of the villages we went through. Most of our ride was in an area that was unpopulated.

Just a little dusty

We were so dusty at the end of the ride that the guide got out the electric leaf blower, and had us all line up to get blown off! Just brought home a little of the Baja with me. After the ride, and the “clean up” we did a little “wine tasting” to wash the dust off! (Of course, we drank a ton of water before that….). There was a little “snack window” where we could purchase food, and I chose a bag of chips to go with my dust and wine! They looked and tasted like Lay’s Potato chips, but had a different name. I didn’t mind at all.

The guides poured the wine and encouraged us to enjoy as much as we like, as he had no other groups coming that day.

This couple offering the tour / wine tasting are brother and sister, and they were such a delight. So, we all enjoyed the wines, each of us had a favorite. I liked the Chardonnay the best, and even the “non-wine” people said they were very nice.

When we went back to the ship the first thing I did was put those dusty clothes in a plastic packing bag for laundry at home! Even my shoes were coated in brown dust. The tour guide had said, you don’t look like Gringo’s any more!! We all had that nice “brown” look of the locals, but it was just dust!

My sister took a small shuttle bus trip from the port into downtown for shopping, and there were only a few people on the bus for the short trip. If you are physically able, walking to the downtown for shopping is about a 15-20 minute walk. She was fortunate and had a guide take her to all the places she asked to see, including a restaurant for a delicious lunch. She could not have walked the distance so the bus ride was a great option. She said the food was great and all the shops were happy to have her browse.

I know that when I go to Ensenada next time that I will be “off the ship” for some adventure and food, and I would encourage anyone traveling there to take a look at the Guadalupe Valley wineries, restaurants and other activities. Heck, next time I might just go downtown to eat fish tacos!

Where ever you go, what ever you do, choose to have an adventure!! More in another post about my fun at our San Diego port of call!

Travel adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Last post I talked about the adventure in travel while flying and new requirements for cruising. This post is about the fun adventures I had in one port of call, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I sailed on the Grand Princess, beginning October 18, for a total of 18 days , 4 cruises. We went from San Pedro California to Cabo San Lucas on a 5 day cruise, round trip, then from San Pedro to San Diego California and Ensenada Mexico round trip for a 4 day cruise. We repeated each of those cruises a second time. This gave me an opportunity to try a variety of activities at each port of call.

On arrival in Cabo San Lucas Mexico for the first journey, I signed up for an excursion that was definitely a new adventure for me.

Booking through the cruise line, I boarded a bus that took me up the coast to a ranch, called Tierra Sagrada – Cabo Adventures, Todos los Santos, Playa Cerritos Sur Pecadero, Mexico. My adventure for the day was a CAMEL RIDE! Yes, a real camel!!

Camel ride Tierra Sagrado

Our camels were “tethered” together and we had someone walking along to make sure they behaved . Our ride was about 20 minutes long from start to finish, and there were lots of photo’s being taken by the resident photographer. I guess I was unprepared for purchasing the whole collection of photos, so I came away with just this one copy, but a lot of fun memories. I can officially say I was “kissed” by a camel, had an experience that I would encourage everyone to do! The excursion included a ride on the sandy beach and through the desert.

At the end, we learned a lot about the animals, and then took a nature walk thru the desert gardens to the restaurant, where we were served at a buffet some typical Mexican food. I really enjoyed everything I ate, and I also enjoyed the tequila tasting after the meal.

Meal at Tierra Sagrada Cabo adventures
Chicken Mole, pinto beans, caprese salad, green bean salad, broccoli, potatoes and a quesadilla

Chicken Mole is an interesting flavor, with a hint of chocolate. Some make mole with chocolate, and other recipes do not. This one was fairly rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy. I had not had Chicken Mole since I was in the 7th grade at a friend’s birthday party. All in all the food was delicious!

The tour company, Cabo Adventures did a great job with their facility out in the desert. Check out the offerings –

My second visit to Cabo San Lucas was also just as much fun, but a lot more activity. The excursion was also with Cabo Adventures, and I went prepared to “buy the photo pack” ! This time I was booked on an Electric Biking Beach Tour. (

We road out across the desert first and then back along the beach. These fat tire bikes could really get through the sand, especially with the electric motor the bike had. It was almost like riding a mini-bike. Out of our group, 2 ladies dropped out of the ride, as they didn’t feel confident or in control. I am overly cautious, and kept my speed down, so I didn’t spin out or spill. I got to see some video from one of the cruise ship employees on the ride when he spun out and crashed !. I think he was showing off for one of the dancers from the ship. I was without a doubt the only “senior citizen grandma” taking this ride, but I had a great time. This was much more “active” than the camel ride. They loaded us up with safety gear and we road for about 2 hours. It was definitely and adventure. It did take some “getting used to” riding these power assisted bikes. Other than starting off, you really didn’t have to pedal much, but as a person who rides bikes, it just came naturally for me to pedal. The bike had a throttle and a speed controller, and you could get going pretty fast. Laughing was part of the activity for sure.

This excursion included lunch and margaritas! While the meal may look the same, I made different choices, including ribs and a green salad.

Another wonderful lunch Tierra Sagrada Cabo Adventures

Our tour guide was making the margaritas, and liberally pouring them for us! It was a great way to relax after the exhilaration of the bike ride.

No visit to Cabo San Lucas can be without a view of the ARCH !!

The Arch in Cabo

Returning to the ship, I enjoyed some relaxing in the hot tub after the bike ride! Our ship stayed in Cabo overnight, and during the evening many people were out on shore, having dinner and enjoying the town. I pretty much had the pool area to myself!

relaxing on board

Early the next morning I got to see a wonderful sunrise from our balcony.

Dawn in Cabo

Little did I know there was a fishing tournament starting just past sunrise — promoted as “World’s Richest Tournament, the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament“, hundreds of boats were milling around near the cruise ship and the rocks.

boat fishing challenge

At one point, the boats all took off in various directions, as fast as they could go!

Heading out to fish

It’s a high-profile yearly event where competitors put down astronomical entry fees to lure a marlin big enough to take the jackpot.

Since our ship stayed anchored overnight, I was able to enjoy the view of the rocks, while eating my breakfast….million dollar view !

Breakfast in Cabo

My sister and I found a great spot on the back of the ship to hang out and visit for the morning and still have a view of “the rocks”.

Anne and Mary in Cabo

All said and done, our visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, both times was a resounding success.

Check back later this week for some of the action from San Diego and Ensenada.

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?