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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Info of North To Alaska

Getting there was an adventure in itself. It is too bad though that today the globe trotting traveler is caught in all the imposed security protocols that have now taken over debarkation points all over the world. Gone is the sophistication and refinement associated with travelers of that bye gone era. Many a time I have been taken back by the way most Americans dress when they travel. About 99% of the time you can tell an American just by the way they are dressed. It is no wonder many Europeans especially Italians think Americans are very sloppy just because of their attire. With sport coat in hand we finally made it through the security lines and boarded the flight to San Francisco.

This, my second time visiting the city by the bay. Home to Fisherman’s Wharf and the fine culinary fare that San Francisco is famous for. The swordfish was a sublime delicacy. Taking a 10 day cruise up the West Coast into Glacier Bay, Alaska is a must for any seafaring traveler. Our journey started sailing under the Golden Gate where we all said goodbye to that city by the bay until our return. On board our ship one of Princess Cruise lines smaller vessels where luxurious accommodations were waiting we made ourselves at home. Never mind those mega ships courting thousands of passengers where one feels so overwhelmed our ship was small enough yet you never new there were 1000 passengers on board and a select crew to cater to all your needs.

That first night at sea second seating was a very pleasant surprise. Our table of eight brought folks from all over the globe. There was a couple from Singapore, then there was two nice older ladies from New Orleans and a couple from Helsinki that made for very interesting conversation and a really enjoyable trip. Second seating served us well not only because of the interesting dinner guests but after a day splashing around the ships pools and socializing in the mammoth whirlpool spa gave us time to enjoy a very relaxing evening before dinner at 8.

First port of call was Vancouver. For years now Vancouver has been named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. Stepping off our ship it became quite clear why this city is so spectacular. They have also said that Vancouver is a retirement haven. The climate where winters rarely dip below 40 degrees and summers are a pleasant surprise compared to the steamy climate of southern Florida really make this western most city in Canada a real vacation spot. After a short distance from our ship we ended up in Gastown one of Vancouver’s most discerning sections. The diversity of cultures is so evident. After about three hours of meandering through the streets it was time to go back to our ship. The memories made there will last a lifetime.

As the ship set sail for our next destination that evening was the first formal night of the cruise. White tie and tails was the format for an evening of white glove service along with a seven course dinner consisting of Beef Wellington, and the finest bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tasted. One of the nicest parts of this whole cruise was it was an all inclusive trip. No more paying the Purser when we disembark for home. The only way to travel by sea.

The next morning we had reached the inside passage and our port of call, Ketchikan, home to Alaska’s salmon fishing capital. A noticeable difference in temperatures from Vancouver. A drop of about 25 degrees. Outside on the Promenade deck the temperature was a balmy 49. Good thing we brought heavier coats. A full day of sightseeing lay ahead. The first thing that caught our eyes was the different Indian heritage that Ketchikan is famous for. The Totem Poles were impressively massive. You couldn’t help notice all the wood carvings and native Indian artifacts either. That evening back on board a succulent dinner of Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon was a real treat.

We awoke to a rising sun as the ship now was sailing though the inside passage. The scenery was so magnificent it just jumped out at you. The lush forestry, the rugged terrain all seemed to flow into the most picturesque landscape I have ever seen. Gapping in awe sipping hot chocolate we continued to be amazed. If I didn’t know any better one could, if they knew what they were doing, they could actually home stead and nobody would know you were even there. The density of the forests is that great. Imagine, living just like Jeremiah Johnson or Grisly Adams.

Soon we were in Juneau. They say this is Americas most beautiful capital cities. From where we were standing looking out over the railing on the sport deck one can really see why. This is the only port we had to be tethered in to take part of our sightseeing tours. Our ship remained anchored while we were shuttled, known as tethering, by our ships specially designed lifeboats that also serve as transport vessels when docking isn’t possible. In Juneau all cruise ships have to use tethers while anchored. After a short ride to port it was time to take part in an adventure of a lifetime, Whitewater river rafting along the Mendenhall Glacier. Boy did I get soaked. The water temp was freezing. But, I survived just in time to make it back to the safety of our ship and jumped right into that steamy whirlpool to thaw out. After another sumptuous dinner, this time of the freshest Alaskan Cod anyone could ask for it was time to take in an after dinner cordial in the Horizon Lounge.

By now it was time to start to head back home. A real interesting point is the fact that the atmosphere this far north really is a very different realm of reality and has an altogether unique feel. The climate is something that would one would have to get used to if one were to make Alaska their home. The dark days in Juneau is where it rains over 65% of the time. It rained pretty much the whole time we were there but none the less it really didn’t detract from our wondrous adventures.

Our ship venturing out from the inside passage for the voyage home was going to be just as momentous as the trip to Juneau. Rough seas even ten miles out off the coast of Alaska made that first night cruising back to San Francisco the only night we didn’t make it to dinner. The ship was caught in waves that made the ship roll where if things were not tied down moved about. Needless to say the safest pace was in bed. By 12 PM the waves subsided so we made it to the midnite buffet. To my surprise it was a very well presented display of culinary delicacies.

By morning calm seas prevailed regaining our hunger on the Lido deck was waiting the breakfast buffet. Still the weather was a bit cool for dipping in the pool we managed to obtain lounge chairs on the port side facing the sun. Hanging out for the rest of the day just soaking up the sun gave us time to catch up on some reading. This, while our fellow passengers huddled under blankets on the Promenade Deck. That evening was the last formal night. Yesterdays cocktail dresses now gave way to formal evening gowns. Donning my black tie we were off to an evening filled with a display of elegant refinement reminiscent of the period of time where dapper sophistication ruled the day. We all were putting on “The Ritz” as they say.

We awoke to our last port of call. The city of Victoria. Victoria, Canada really is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. As an island destination, Victoria offers visitors an escape from the hurried world and beams with ambience. Boasting the mildest climate in Canada like Vancouver her so called sister city the landscape remains green and beautiful year-round. In 2012 Vancouver Island where the city of Victoria is located Travel + Leisure Magazine named it the best Island in North America and one of the worlds top ten Islands as well.

While walking around we kept noticing that Victoria has such a rich heritage. The architecture, the colorful gardens and their traditions like afternoon tea blend so well with a plethora of outdoor adventure. It is too bad we couldn’t have stayed longer. The city is also famous for their world-class culinary experiences, vibrant arts and of course their wondrous culture scene. Combine all this with the wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean and old-growth rainforests set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains makes Victoria the perfect getaway. I’ve got to go back just to spend more time soaking up the ambiance of this most beautiful city.

Popularity of Antarctic Travel

Such adventures are now possible via a number of ships that travel the waterways of the Southern Hemisphere, exposing passengers to a plethora of wildlife and captivating vistas. Travel in the Antarctic has become more popular recently, but began in the 1950s with a naval transportation ship carrying more than 500 passengers who paid to be ferried through the region from South Shetland Island.

Those considering where to book Antarctic cruises should choose to do so with a company boasting a long history of travel in the area. It is also a good idea to examine how committed the travel company is to the protection of Antarctic landscapes.

While it is difficult for many people to imagine the enormity of Antarctica, some details help provide travellers with a sense of what they will encounter. For example, Antarctica receives the lowest amount of precipitation in the world, but holds more than 65% of the world’s fresh water.

Antarctic vistas are peppered with icebergs that form when the edge of the ice sheet breaks off. Only the top quarter of an iceberg is visible above the water’s surface. The ice sheet itself is up to 4 kilometers thick in some parts. During the long stretch of winter months in the Antarctic, portions of the ice sheet freeze together with chunks of sea ice, expanding the surface area of the ice sheet.

A cruise to Antarctica might be just the compromise to integrate your inner yearnings with the reality of your life. Seriously. A cruise Expedition cruises to Antarctica bring you to a pristine, end-of-the-world destination and offer customizable adventure options in itineraries that fit into your two-to-three week real-world vacation time. Cut out the hardship and trek to get there, and travel efficiently and comfortably by small ship. The size of the ship is key to your adventure satisfaction, as fewer than 100 people are permitted to land on Antarctica at any given time, and you’ll want to be off ship experiencing as much as possible. The best Antarctica cruise company will provide a personalized program for each individual on board. Look for a cruise that offers the guidance and flexibility for you to choose the activities that most interest you. A cruise where staff will divide already small groups even smaller to match you with other like-minded adventurers.

Visitors to the region can expect to see a range of wildlife as well as icebergs of all different shapes and sizes. Many icebergs are intense in their shade of cerulean blue and or black.

Information of Disney Baltic Cruise

Day 1; We arrived at the port in Copenhagen, Denmark around 1:00pm, though you can board as early as 11am. We gave ourselves 3 hours to board (the ship sets sail at 4pm) so that we could explore Copenhagen before we left on our vacation. This day included us exploring the boat and signing up for kids clubs. One of the amazing things about Disney, is their kids clubs. They have rooms for different aged kids to go hang out in, participate in activities and make new friends. This gives parents a chance to have some time alone and know their children are safe and having fun. After exploring the boat, everyone came together at Deck 9 to set sail and have fun during “Mickey’s Sailing Away Party.” During this, everyone waves to the passengers staying in Copenhagen & dances along with Mickey & his friends on stage. Once this is over, we headed to the 6:30pm theater show. Depending on the dinner time you request (6:00pm or 8:30pm) you will either watch the theater show at 6:30pm or 8:30pm, the opposite time that your eating dinner. I absolutely love the shows. Disney does an amazing job coming up with themes and special acts to entertain their audience.

Day 2 was a “Day at Sea”, so that means we didn’t stop anywhere. We enjoyed our day watching Disney movies at Buena Vista Theater, participating in games at Vibe (a teen club), eating lunch at Cabanas (the buffet at deck 9), enjoying yet another theater show, & eating dinner at one of the three rotational dining restaurants (Lumiere’s, Animators Palate, or Cariocas.) Depending on your room card, you will rotate between these three different yummy restaurants. This night included Formal Dinner. This means we were encouraged to dress fancy (like dresses & skirts or suits for men.) Day’s at sea are, in my opinion, one of the best days on the boat. Disney provides their guests with the option of either Cabanas (the buffet on deck 9), Lumiere’s (one of the 3 rotational dining restaurants), or one of the quick service restaurants on deck 9. The quick service restaurants include Daisy’s Delights (a sandwich, salad, fruit, and cookie stand), Pete’s Boiler Bites (a hamburger, hotdog, taco, etc… american fare type of stand), and Pinocchio’s Pizza (a pizza stand where you can build any pizza you prefer.) Disney Magic does a fantastic job creating grade A food all day and making sure to cook the food in a fast manner, but keeping the flavor incredible. Now, the food is not the only reason I absolutely love day’s at sea. Though food is a key factor, Disney also provides their guests with a news article every night, allowing them to see what activities are brewing for them the next day (you also have the option of using their Disney Cruise Line app to see the activities and menus for each day.) This activities sheet is always filled with karaoke, newly released movies, workout games, and more during the days at sea. Disney makes sure their guests always have something fun and new to do on the boat, knowing some might get bored not having anywhere to dock.

Day 3 we stopped in Tallinn, Estonia. We arrived and walked Tallinn Old Town, which gave us a real idea of their culture. We also explored the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, The Estonian Maritime Museum (an old prison), and Fat Margarets Tower (a large building next to the ship.) Like most of you know, northern Europe has very sketchy weather. Knowing this, I packed a range of different clothes and layers. Tallinn stayed in the 60 degree F area during most of our visit, which was amazing. I wore leggings (lululemon), a tank top (lululemon), a long sweater (Madewell), and tennis shoes (New Balance.) My dad and brother were able to wear just shorts and a t shirt, so it really depends on your tolerance for cool weather. I am a small girl, so the wind was a little chilly for me, explaining the long sweater.

Day 4 we stopped in St. Petersburg, Russia. On this day, we decided to get a bus driver and a tour guide (Alla Tours.) St. Petersburg had multiple churches (Church of the Spilled Blood for example) and palaces (Catherine’s Palace), so we needed someone to help us find our way around. I recommend finding yourself a tour guide you trust (like Alla Tours), because during our visit to Catherine’s Palace (and a few other city monuments), the line wrapped around the building to get in, but our tour guide found a way to skip the line and sneak us in, in only 15 minutes. Like Tallinn, St. Petersburg’s weather was very strange. The morning was chilly and forced me to wear a scarf (Madewell) and a thick jacket (Madewell), but later in the day the temperature got warmer (maybe 67 degrees F) which allowed me to wear just a light rain jacket (Spice), because St. Petersburg did tend to sprinkle every so often. On this night, there was no theater show due to all aboard being at 11:30pm. This means, you had the option of staying out in Russia till 11:30pm or coming early and having dinner but no show.

Day 5 we stopped in Helsinki, Finland. This day was a bit shorter because all aboard was around 5pm. We decided to ride a carousel to see the town & take a boat ride to explore a small island with history about Finland (Suomenlinna.) We did not realize how large and historic Suomenlinna was, so we were unable to see all of its rich history. I recommend spending multiple hours here, if you decide to visit this location in Finland. This night included the Semi Formal Dinner. This means we had to dress up a little nicer than usual for our dinner, to take pictures. Disney does not require you to dress up any of the nights on cruise, but during these special nights, it is highly encouraged. I wore a mini skirt (Abercrombie & Fitch), a tank top (American Eagle), and sandals (Tory Burch.)

Day 6 we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. This day was even shorter because all aboard was 3:30pm. We decided to visit the Armory & the Royal Palace next to it. If you are traveling with any boys or men, I recommend visiting the Armory. It was very cool for my brother and dad to see all of the military armor, weaponry, and royal carriages. We also purchased tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus, but it was very busy and packed (due to all the ships docked in Stockholm that day), I would not recommend buying a ticket for this bus in this town. This night Disney included “Anna & Elsa’s Frozen Deck Party”, which meant we all went up on Deck 9 before dinner to watch the Frozen characters dance and sing on stage. Disney also changed up their theater show on this night. Unlike their normal broadway style show, they provided us with a comedian show.

Day 7 was our final day, which means it was another “Day at Sea.” This day was a lot like Day 2, except that the cruise included activities like scrap booking all your memories & jack jack’s diaper dash (a race between babies who can crawl.) Usually my family and I prefer to eat lunch at Cabanas (the unlimited buffet is always nice), but on this day, my dad and I decided to try out Lumieres for lunch. I had the cuban sandwich and parmesan veal with pasta (two entrees were a must on this day) and my dad had the shrimp and pad thai noodles. Both meals were fantastic! Disney once again found a way to blow us away. Once the day was nearly to an end, we enjoyed the final show (Disney Dreams) & a dinner at Animators Palate (one of the three rotational restaurants.) After all was finished, the cruise wrapped up the day by having a “See you real soon” party in the Lobby Atrium on Deck 3. This show included a wave good bye to all the characters on board and a pin trading session (all the guests on board came together to trade their Disney pins.)

Day 8 was our final morning on the boat, which meant you went to breakfast at the place you had dinner at the night before or eat at Cabanas (the buffet on Deck 9.) For my family and I, we ate at Animators Palate once more. After eating the final meal on the ship, everyone disembarked and headed to the airport to fly home. Disney allows all of their guests to eat and explore the ship before leaving, which was nice because we didn’t feel rushed to get off the boat and let the new guests begin their vacation.

Fun in the Tropical Caribbean Sun

Adventure junkies:

There is a marvelous zip-line called the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line. Starting from the Labadee Mountain, adrenaline addicts soar 500 feet above the beach and ocean for 2,600 feet to the sandy beach below. The journey down can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour. We love zip-lines and this one blends exhilaration with a panoramic view of your ship, the Haitian mountains, and all the beach activity below.

Another heart thumper is the Dragon’s Tail Coaster that races down the Labadee Mountain and roars through a series of curves and dips, at breathtaking speed. These nuevo-roller coasters are getting very popular. We did a similar ride in Jamaica, and it too was a thrill a minute.

For those more interested in water excitement, wave runners are available, as is a multi-passenger high-speed boat adventure.

For something a little less unsettling, try snorkeling in the clear waters or sea kayaking along the peaceful shore.

Taking to the sand, your ship’s crew may give you an opportunity to best them at a fun game of beach volleyball.

Sedentary sailors:

If you are a vacationer seeking more relaxation than exhilaration, you are in luck at Labadee. Try lathering up with sunscreen and spreading out on a floating beach mat on the tranquil warm waters of Labadee’s Columbus Cove or Nellie’s Beach. Ahhh, paradise.

Too much sun? Ask one of the friendly beach attendants for a chaise lounge under a tree or you can capture one of the many hammocks hanging between palm trees. Swing, read, relax and watch the birds and frantic zip-liners, or take a well-deserved nap. It is all there for your vacation enjoyment.

Don’t forget the kids

There is an aqua park for the kiddies loaded with big fun stuff, and kids and adults alike will enjoy the outdoor pavilion where native dancers and entertainers perform for the guests.

Getting hungry, thirsty?

There are three complimentary food facilities serving a hearty barbeque lunch of buffet style finger foods, and drinks a la tropical. For those who do not believe in a free lunch, there are many opportunities to spend some money on other restaurant fare and beverages. The choice is yours.

Shopping

Labadee offers myriad ways to remember your special cruise vacation with island gifts and coveted treasures.

There’s a cash-only Artisan’s Market where you can practice your bargaining skills. There are also other facilities where you can use your on-board credit card or cash to purchase sundries like sunglasses, T-shirts, etc.

The port of Labadee is pure enjoyment for people of all ages, and we were most happy that it was included on our cruise itinerary.