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.


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 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?

Cruising plans crushed

I had been looking forward to a cruise with my favorite quilting sister in law – the One Block Wonder Woman in August to Alaska.   A quilting cruise, with 4 wonderful sea days, and two ports I have never been to, Sitka and Haines Alaska.

We were booked on the Princess Star out of San Francisco for August 21st, in an inside cabin.  We had excursions booked and paid for, our deposits in on the cruise and then the COVID-19 pandemic started hitting the world and the cruise industry.  We were not too worried because we both felt that things would be back to normal by August, even when Princess took a voluntary 60 day halt to their sailings.  I sailed out of San Francisco last summer on a 10 day trip to Alaska, and was quite looking forward to going again.  


My younger sister had 2 cruises cancelled in that 60 day window, including a much anticipated Trans-Atlantic trip to Copenhagen.

Two weeks ago, the chatter on Cruise Critic implied people were getting upgrades for the sailing, and our travel agent/quilting cruise organizer got us a wonderful balcony cabin.  We were feeling so hopeful.  We had picked out excursions in each port, had hotel reservations for the night before the cruise with the group we were traveling with, airport transfers, and much more.  

I ordered t-shirts to do some fun embroidery on for the trip, got them all washed and ready to stitch.  Suddenly, the mask making needs got into full swing, and the stack of freshly washed tshirts took a back seat.  All my fun sewing has pretty much stopped while I try to keep up with the demands for masks.

Another batch ready

Then – last week I saw the article linked below in USA Today, and I  KNEW our voyage for August was in jeopardy.    Go have a read of the article after my blog post and you will understand the sense of dread I was feeling.

As a person with a logistics background, this article left me very concerned. How were cruise lines supposed to schedule with the crazy situation they were faced with? 

Last night I got the dreaded email, first from Princess CEO and then from the travel agent.  The Alaska cruise season for 2020 is not going to happen with my favorite cruise line.  My bright spot at the end of this crazy time has disappeared, leaving me feel so very sad.  Not just for me, and my sister in law, but for all those in the travel and hospitality industries, the people in Alaska that depend on these cruise ships coming and the families of all who depend on the person working in the travel industry.   

For myself, it feels a bit selfish to whine and carry on about a cancelled cruise when people in my state, mostly in long term care facilities, are losing their lives to COVID-19.  I am praying for the “herd immunity” to start working while the researchers and healthcare professionals try to find a  way to fight this pandemic.   I’m praying too that the Health and Human Services department in our little state can figure out why so many elderly people in our care facilities are dying. What is wrong with the workers coming in and why are they not protecting the residents who are most vulnerable?  So while I whine for a minute, I really worry for those who can’t protect themselves against the unseen virus and are being done in by the very people being paid to care for them. 

Think I will go wash my hands and make more masks in the mean time.  When this week is over, I am going to start sewing for fun again. I need some joy back.  Maybe I will go sort out that album of Alaska photos from the trip last year too……


While I do that, I can plan for 2021 I suppose.  What are you doing to muddle thru this crazy time?  



Time to CRUISE!

I just printed my boarding passes.  I embark on this journey near 4 am on Friday from a tiny airport in Salisbury Maryland and make my way to Philadelphia and then on to San Francisco CA.  I am looking forward to escaping the hazy hot and humid August weather in the mid-Atlantic.

I thought I would share with you a short list of things I look forward to on every cruise.

  • Sail Away – drink in hand; wind in my hair; watching the ship pull away from the dock, out into the channel/bay and then through the breakers into the ocean. Many places I have been you wave to the people who sit out on their apartment balconies; or are fishing along the channel etc. My most memorable sail away was in the Azores; where the shore was lined with local people; children running and waving.
  • Pub Lunch on a sea day (hoping for 2 on this sailing) – It is styled after a British Pub lunch with bangers and mash; ploughmans lunch ( Just in case you wonder what that is; look at this article ) and fish and chips.  I always order the fish and chips which are served with “mushy peas”. Princess Cruise Lines has it figured out and my British friend enjoyed the lunches as much as I do. One cruise I was on recently also offered fried shrimp in the basket with chips. That was a surprise and I enjoyed it as well.  People who KNOW line up by 11 am to be among the first seated.  These lunches are held usually in one of the large cocktail lounges instead of the dining room.
  • Knitters and Knatters (Where people who do needlework/fiber art get together and stitch and chat). This is usually a 9am gathering in a quiet cocktail lounge on the ship; and even though I don’t knit, I do take along my English Paper Piecing projects.
  • Platinum & Elite evening cocktails  – this is a “special cocktail hour” for people who have cruised at least 8 times with Princess (earning Platinum status). Discounted drinks and lovely horderves before dinner.
  • Sunsets observed from onboard the ship  (I gave up on sunrise 15 cruises ago).  Yes; I still take pictures of them; every trip.
  • That rocking motion that will sooth you to sleep
  • Dressing for dinner in the Main Dining Room and deciding what wonderful food to have each night for dinner.

And of course for this trip there is an entirely unique list

  • Sail Away under the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Cycling in Alaska
  • watching for wildlife and the overall beauty and wonder and scale of Alaska
  • cooler temperatures during a very hot summer

I think this is my 21st cruise, and 17th on Princess Cruise Lines.  I’ve sailed with Orient Lines; Carnival; Celebrity and Oceania as well.  Loyalty does pay off; as I have learned. Princess has lots of “extra’s” for returning passengers, in their “Captains Circle Program“.  I enjoy the free internet; laundry, mini-bar most of all.

My travel companions over the years varied.  My first cruise was a 7 day Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean. It was a “one and only” with my first husband less than a year before he died. It was one of those “someday we will” trips. After that trip; I was invited by my dear aunt to take an extended trip; transatlantic with her. We flew together to Athens and sailed all the way back to Baltimore MD.  She hooked me on long lazy days at sea; and really helped me to relax during a very stressful time.

Two months after my husband passed she called me up one day and said “Let’s go” and I booked another trip; from Rome to Venice; a 12 day trip; where we were joined by 2 ladies we had met on the Athens to Baltimore trip.

My lovely aunt and I sailed together several more times; going to Hawaii, and into the Panama Canal; and on a big family trip to Mexico.  I also traveled with a couple of friends on European and Mediterranean cruises.

My “new” husband got a “trial” cruise to Alaska to see if he passed the test!  He failed the inside cabin test; so when I go with him, I get a balcony or a mini-suite. Happy hubby means happy life!  I book a cruise for “just the two of us” every 3 or 4 years and force him to go and have fun.  We do like taking a trip to warmer climates in the middle of a cold winter!

Lately I have been traveling with my younger sister.  She and I are embarking on cruise # 3 for the year!  Since she retired she is really enjoying traveling and how can I say no when she calls!

Often times I have another cruise on my mind before the current one even sails; and ALWAYS keep a future cruise deposit in at Princess.  So; sailing to Alaska this weekend and thinking ahead to the Southern Caribbean for February or March.

Do you enjoy travel and planning?  Do tell……………..

Travel Fun (Part 2) Falmouth Jamaica and Grand Cayman

FAIR WARNING – LOTS of photos!  Travelogue of my recent cruise on the Regal Princess- Western Caribbean Jan 27-Feb 3 2019.

My recent travel adventures included a visit to Falmouth Jamaica.  I’ve been to Ochos Rios a couple of times, and the ship offered many tours that took you from the port in Falmouth to the numerous tourist sites in Ochos Rios.  I could not decide on what to do, as I did not want to wander about independently and I had no desire to spend an hour or more on a bus headed to Ochos Rios.  So, my been there done that attitude kept me at the ship.  I wandered off with another passenger and my sister and explored the huge port area, full of shops, bars, and restaurants.  Rain was in the forecast, and threatening to let loose at any moment.  We ventured into Margaritaville for lunch and an adult beverage.

Margaritaville Falmouth Jamaica

That is quite the set up in this port, complete with a pool and swim up bar. We opted for a table under “cover” because of the impending rain, not wanting to be caught with a table full of food when the skies opened up. I enjoyed a platter with Jerk Chicken, rice and beans and  a delicious banana margarita. My lunch, with 16.5% sales tax and a 20 % tip ran $40. YIKES!  The tip was good because the service was great.

Selfie with Princess the waitress

( Side note – travel brings fun experiences and great memories.  When I started to work on this post, my nearly 11 year old grandson was very interested in the picture below, with the various countries currency.  He immediately used the calculator to convert his US Dollars monthly allowance into Jamaican Dollars! It was great fun watching him figure out the calculation necessary. He was impressed by the result of the  large number that the allowance would be in Jamaican dollars. Grandma didn’t delve into the relative “value” of the various currencies…he figured it out on his own  )

The bill for lunch

Our waitress Princess was fantastic and made sure she got her photo taken with mine! #MVILLECARIBBEAN  She really was attentive and earned that tip !  My sister was NOT a big fan of the LIGHT Red Stripe beer.  She ordered a “regular” Red Stripe and liked it a bit better.  There were all kinds of kiosks and shops with everything you could imagine buying just outside the door of Margaritaville.  In fact, you had to go through the obligatory gift shop to exit to the dock area. In my typical fashion, I wandered along with my sister while she shopped here and there.  I came home with memories but no stuff.

Just as we got back on the ship the weather gave us what it promised and the drizzle turned to steady rain.  The temperatures dropped and we spent the rest of the day on board the ship in the comforts it offered.

Rain over the resort in Falmouth Jamaica

I did some checking on the “next day” forecast and it looked MUCH better –

planning ahead for Grand Cayman

My excursion plans in Grand Cayman had been set for 3 or more months!  The weather forecast was perfect!!

Plan for Grand Cayman

I started my day like this –

Perfect start to the morning in Grand Cayman

From the balcony, I had a view of the dawn over George Town Grand Cayman –

Morning light in Grand Cayman

And I could watch all the lifeboat “tender activity” as well –

Regal Princess Tenders

You can see we were NOT the only ship in town. This meant busy docks, busy tours, busy shops.  My tour was fairly early, so I was off the ship right after breakfast. Once I tendered over to the dock, I could see 4 ships from that location!

4 ships in Grand Cayman

I often wonder if Grand Cayman will ever invest in docks suitable for cruise ships!  The tour group quickly gathered, and in minutes we were off on a mini-bus to the West Bay.  We arrived quickly and selected our bikes, and set off with our leader –

Bike tour guide

We had “single speed beach cruisers” , not mountain bikes as advertised in the tour description.

Bike ride equipment

I had to remember how to use coaster brakes.  But, all was good and we road a fair distance for the tour. About 3 miles into our ride, we made a stop at the Cayman Turtle Centre where we had an opportunity to hear about the breeding program and to see the very large turtles in the breeding pond.  It was a good stop for some water, restrooms and sightseeing.

Breeding turtles

The photo doesn’t show the size of these turtles.  They were 3-4 feet across.

Cayman Turtle Farm breeding pool

As I was editing photos for this post, I “googled” the Cayman Turtle Center and came across a very disturbing story from National Geographic about this turtle center and the crowding.  My photo below shows that crowding –

crowded in the breeding pool

While touring, I did not realise that this crowding together was problematic until later when I read that article linked above.  The “handling” indicated in the article was done also.  I always chose not to “touch” the animals, as I think it is stressful regardless of the environment.  I remember scuba diving in Hawaii in 2008 and being told “don’t touch” the green turtle, when he swam near us. All of the visitors were offered an opportunity to “hold” a young turtle for a “selfie shot”, and I did take lots of their photos!

Holding turtles for selfie shots

Again, I don’t think those of us on the tour had any idea of the article in National Geographic and the stress these turtles were put under.  It was a “fun activity” at the time, but in hindsight, it makes me a little sad that this was being promoted by cruise lines.  80% of the visitors at the turtle center come from cruise ships. I selected this tour because I thought I was doing a healthy “good” activity.  Well….back on the bike ride, we went straight from there to HELL !  Literally…..

Of course, the path to Hell is paved with Rum Cake and we did stop by for a sample on the way there!  The view on the way to HELL was pretty nice!

Rum cake stop

That stop took place at a “tourist shop” where you could taste the cake and buy your souvenirs too! I had my bite of rum cake but went back out to enjoy the view!

Nicky's tour stop

Like I said — next stop was

Just a stop over

looking at the dead coral in Hell

I found this sign on the viewing platform –

The story behind the name

For an easier to “read” description – check out the wikipedia version,_Grand_Cayman

I did get my passport stamped in the general “store/gift shop”; spent my money on postcards and quickly wrote notes to loved ones in the event I never returned.  I DID return home, but the post cards are still making their way through the international postal systems of the Cayman Islands and the US Mail.  No one has received theirs yet.  😦

While standing on the viewing platform, I noticed a vine flowering and I thought the contrast between limestone looking quite dead and the new life of the vine was interesting –

flowering near the dead coral in Hell, Cayman Islands

It made me think that even amidst the bleak, dead limestone God gives new life.

We were soon back on our bikes and completed our circuit of the West Bay.  We rode a total of 6.83 miles on the tour with very little elevation change. It was a nice pace, of 7.6 mph according to my “STRAVA” app.  

We had a few minutes to have a nice drink at the Commodore Restaurant and Bar while we looked out at the bay and cooled off from our ride.  A cold beer was just the ticket after all that exercise!  Our ride back to the ship was a rather hair-raising ride with a driver who was “in a hurry” to make another pick up. No tip for him!  I did a few videos while I was on that wild ride in the bus and hoped they would be in my “google cloud” if I ended up dead!  We arrived safely back to the docks and I tendered back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at the pool!

Pool time in Grand Cayman

It was a perfect end to the day!  This is one of my favorite parts of cruising!  Have an adventure, then come back to the ship for some relaxation!

More later……..