Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vegan on a Cruise - Is It Possible?


Recently both Bernie and I have transitioned to a more plant based diet. We call ourselves Vegan but we still have a few holdouts (butter and ice cream) but we are working on it.

Of course we love cruising too.  

Can this work? On our last trip we were probably following a plant based diet about 65% of the time. We could of done better.  

One thing is we did not let Princess know about our dietary requirements (just not enough time as booked last minute).  
So for our upcoming cruise in September we went to our cruise personalizer and went in and went to dietary requirements and selected vegetarian -- there was no vegan option.

Right away I received an email from Princess with the following information:

Thank you for contacting us with notification of Bernard Bowne's request for vegetarian meals. Please take a moment to review the following information. 

Vegetarian items are designated on our dining room menus with a 'V' and vegetarian selections are featured in all dining locations, including the buffet. Tofu, egg-free pasta and vegetarian burgers are available onboard and can be prepared in a variety of styles. Please liaise with your Head Waiter or the Maitre d' Hotel upon boarding to confirm suitable selections. 

Please be aware that the staff who provide room service or bar service cannot identify the food contents.  This is especially true of sauces, seasonings and spices that may be used.  Although we strive to source the freshest ingredients available, note that some of the meals prepared onboard may use prepackaged goods, which could contain some of the elements you may not wish to consume.  Should you have any questions regarding the preparation or ingredients, your Head Waiter or Maitre d’ Hotel will be able to assist you with this information. 

For your safety, any food/drink items you wish to bring onboard must be non-perishable, must not have reached the expiration date before the cruise ends, store bought and sealed in their original containers and packaging upon boarding. Any items brought onboard must be stored in the stateroom and we cannot assign crew members to assist with the preparation. No fruits, vegetables, homemade food or restaurant food will be allowed. Although we may allow certain items onboard, local port authorities may override any approvals we give. Once onboard, due to local agricultural regulations, food items may not be taken ashore.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming you onboard.

Kind regards,
Dietary coordinator




This is good but I knew it would not meet our needs so I responded with the fact that we are Vegan but there was no option for this.


Today I received this response: 


Thank you for contacting us with notification of your request for vegan meals. Please take a moment to review the following information.

Please advise if you are in need of a milk substitute. I can arrange either plain soy milk or plain rice milk. We do not carry almond milk, coconut milk or goat milk.

Once onboard, it is very important that you contact the Maitre d’ Hotel to discuss your special dietary needs and any special preparation of your meals. It will be at your discretion to order meals in accordance with your dietary needs. The Maitre d’ Hotel will be happy to assist with making selections from our standard menu that would be suitable.

We do not have a specific vegan menu available. We do offer some vegetarian dishes, which may be suitable for your diet. We can also modify certain menu items to accommodate your diet. We do carry tofu, egg-free pasta and can prepare veggie burgers, as well. The chefs have been able to come up with good meal ideas.

To best accommodate your needs, we recommend you take your meals in the main dining rooms and alternative restaurants. On selected port days when the main dining rooms are closed for lunch, every effort will be made to accommodate your needs in the buffet restaurant. We ask that you speak with the Maitre d’ Hotel the evening prior to discuss your meal requirements and any special preparation for the following day. When arriving at the buffet, please request to speak to a Supervisor, who will coordinate any special preparations directly with the chef.

Please be aware that the staff who serve stateroom snacks, meals, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, 24 hour dining (International Café and room service) or work in the self-service buffets cannot identify the food contents. This is especially true of sauces, seasonings and spices that may be used.  Additionally, some of the meals prepared onboard may use frozen, canned or prepackaged goods, which could contain some of the elements you may not wish to consume.

The buffet does offer a self-service dining option. Should you choose to dine in that venue we cannot guarantee that cross contamination among the various food selections will not occur.

I have received favorable feedback from vegans who have sailed with us. They are surprised at how the dining staff caters to their needs. Again, please contact the Maitre d’ Hotel and discuss your needs with him, this will result in receiving the proper assistance with your diet. The ship staff will do everything they can to accommodate your diet.

For your safety, any food/drink items you wish to bring onboard must be non-perishable, must not have reached the expiration date before the cruise ends, store bought and sealed in their original containers and packaging upon boarding. Any items brought onboard must be stored in the stateroom and we cannot assign crew members to assist with the preparation. No fruits, vegetables, homemade food or restaurant food will be allowed. Although we may allow certain items onboard, local port authorities may override any approvals we give. Once onboard, due to local agricultural regulations, food items may not be taken ashore.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming you onboard.


Kind regards,

Dietary Coordinator

So we informed them that we will require soy milk in the International Cafe and we will contact the Maitre d'Hotel once on board. 


I will be blogging the entire voyage and will share how things work out and how we do.



Even I Have Booking Frustrations


Yes I know!  You all think everything is smooth sailing for me when it comes to booking and planning my trips.  But really I only share with you the good, exciting, and fun things.  

Today while driving my bus I thought -- I need to share this with my readers too. 

Last night after work I sat down and proceeded to book our train travel for Italy.

We need two trips.  One from Civitavecchia to Lucca. Then another from Lucca to Venice a few days later. But that was not the issue.  

I quickly found the routing I wanted by checking out Rome2Rio then clicked to book. Hmmm that site doesn't want to give me the same routing. First issue!

Okay second option -- go right to Italy's Trenitalia homepage. Punch in my routing. Results are great. Discuss with Bernie on our best option. And even better they are offering a two for one!

Go to pay. Punch in my credit card details and realize my travel credit card has expired. Oh yeah I got new cards in the mail - need to activate them first. Second issue!

Try to get them activated but having issues doing that as website doesn't like what I am putting in and am told to call Mastercard to activate. Third issue!

After a few minutes on the phone the new cards are activated. Time to book the train tickets.

But the original booking has expired and I have to redo the search and choose the trip again. Fourth issue!

Try to pay and my Mastercard Secure Pay is not letting me pay with my new card. It is blocked! Fifth issue!

Call Mastercard again and they correct the issue and all is cleared and I am told to go ahead and book.

Back to the booking, but again the trip has expired and I have to do the search again. But this time it is not showing the two for one! It is about 20 Euros more each. Sixth issue!

Remember when I wrote a while back about always do searches and booking incognito (read blog about booking flights) well I was not using my own advice and of course Trenitalia recognized this and the repeated searches for the particular itinerary on that day and dropped the 2 for 1 option. Seventh issue!

So now I will wait a few days and redo the search (incognito this time) and book and pay for it.

See you are not the only one pulling your hair out at times when you take on the travel coordinating.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Visit to Victoria B.C. and Butchart Gardens


We recently had the opportunity to visit Victoria.  

I know, I know, we live in Vancouver British Columbia so why visit Victoria.  Well a few reasons, but the main reason is we rarely explore our home Province.  Sure we will get on a plane and travel to the other side of the world but travelling in B.C. just is never at the forefront of that list.

Many cruise ships dock in Victoria when visiting Alaska. Mainly because of the Passenger Vessels Services Act and if they were not required to dock at a distant foreign port they would probably skip Victoria completely and that would be a loss.  If you don't know about the PVSA click here for more details.  

Princess ships dock early evening - usually around 7 pm and leave at midnight. This is not a lot of time but I encourage you to get off and explore.  

I have written numerous times about Victoria in my blogs - click here for more information.  

Ships dock at Ogden Point as the harbour in downtown is not deep enough.  Ogden Point is a short distance away but is easily accessible on foot (about 30 min walk) or by shuttle service or taxi.

We were honoured to be invited to partake in the Butterfly and Butchart Gardens tour thru Experience Victoria -- the tour company Princess uses.  

We were greeted by A.J. Singh, Director of Operations, right at the pier and led to the coach and introduced to Joe our driver.  

As we left the pier and travelled through the streets of Victoria, Joe gave a very easy to follow and understand commentary of the sites, the history and beauty of Victoria. We really enjoyed his funny bits about Canada and his story of watering the hanging baskets as a young man.


 


Our first stop was Butterfly Gardens after about a 40 minute drive. At first I was not sure how I would like this but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was and especially enjoyed the flowers, plants and even the parrots.




We only had a half hour stop here (which was extended because one person was late getting back) as we needed to get to Butchart Gardens as night time was setting in.

Joe provided in depth information about the history of the Butchart family and the gardens and even recommended where we should head to when arriving.

We arrived at Butchart Gardens at 8:30 pm and were given two hours to explore.  We hit the ground running as dusk was just arriving.


Now I had been to Butchart Gardens a very very long time ago - like when I was 5 - needless to say I don't remember it and I was very interested to see the site again.


The gardens are huge - 55 acres! The maps provided were easy to read and the park had numerous easy to follow signs.  Take note that you will be walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes.  

The gardens do not allow selfie sticks, or smoking. However we encountered both in the gardens.


We proceeded to the Sunken Garden (at Joe's recommendation). It was stunning and the smells from the flowers perfumed our path.  




The paths lead you to hidden gems for the senses. And of course my favorite flower (phlox) was lining many of the paths in the area.


We quickly moved to the Concert Lawn and Stage as the live entertainment happens every day.

In fact it was lovely to listen to the music throughout the gardens as we walked around.  I would of really enjoyed to sit and enjoy the band Grove Kitchen, but we had no time to waste.

Every Saturday there is a fireworks display, but to the sadness of one little boy today was Friday.  


As we made our way to the rose garden and then the Japanese Garden the darkness had settled in and even though we could still enjoy the gardens it was more difficult to really enjoy the full effect.  

Butchart Gardens does have beautiful path lighting, and lights are strategically placed in the flower beds that cast a beautiful glow. 

But by 9:30 it was really hard to see much and we still had an hour until we had to be back on the bus. So we ended up in the coffee shop enjoying ice cream and then the gift store - which is huge - for a souvenir item.

Back at the bus by 10 and everyone was back by 10:10 (scheduled time back was 10:30) so we made our journey back to Ogden Point.  

Joe was great at providing commentary as we drove through Chinatown, the harbour, past the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.  But because of the darkness all were hard to see and enjoy.

Overall I have to say that a visit to Butchart Gardens is a must if you are heading to Victoria.  However if you are visiting from a cruise ship that docks later, book the tour that only visits the gardens so you can get there right away and therefore have a bit more daylight.

As much as I appreciated seeing the Butterfly Gardens it took away 40 minutes that would of been better spent at the gardens.

If you are visiting Victoria earlier in the day or for a full day definately visit the Gardens and plan for a few hours.  




Friday, July 28, 2017

Norwegian Fjords Cruise - 7 nights by Peter Rayner

From time to time I love to add a thorough unbiased review from some of my followers.  Peter has done a few now and here is his next one.  If you have a review that you would like to have posted. Let me know and we can get it up. Vickie



7 day Norwegian Fjords Cruise from Southampton on Crown Princess starting 1st July 2017

Ship in General:

This is the first time we have sailed on the Crown Princess, but we felt right at home, because it is almost identical to the Ruby and the Emerald Princess, both of which we love. 



The ship is looking in good shape and we had no complaints. Our favourite area, outside Sabatini’s on the aft terrace, has some new rattan style furniture with both single chairs and two seaters as well as low tables. Our only disappointment was that half this area is given over to smokers and the smoke still drifts over even if you are sitting at the furthest point away.

Cabin:

We opted for an inside cabin and when we booked there was little choice. We selected R207, which was forward on the starboard side, only 2 or 3 cabins from the end. We noticed that some cabins around us had been reserved for Pilots. While navigating the fjords, some Pilots seem to stay on board for more than 1 port. We never saw any of them though.

The cabin was nice enough with plenty of space. As usual, we moved the little table to the wardrobe area to give us more room. We have never been this far forward before, but we did not notice any real difference to previous cruises. There was some vibration from the thrusters when docking, but nothing we have not experienced before.


Our favourite place on the Aft Terrace

Our Steward was Rudy and he was friendly and up to the usual Princess standard. We discovered that he had been on the Ruby Princess for our Hawaii cruise last year and he knew our Steward from that trip. Extra hangers were requested and delivered promptly, but Robes were not available until the following day.

The ship did not have the new Princess beds, but it already had a pillow top added to the mattress, so it was quite comfortable.

Dining/Food:

We had no complaints about the food and found it to be very good. On the first day we had lunch in the Botticelli Dining Room, which is hidden away on deck 6 at the aft of the ship. It was not advertised anywhere that this dining room was open. The information given out was that passengers could eat in the buffet on in the International café. Knowing a dining room was usually open, we asked a member of staff and found out that way. One of the waiters had a little joke on my wife. At the end of the meal she asked for decaf when requesting coffee. Another waiter then came over and said “I’m here”. My wife looked puzzled and he said “You wanted decaf…well decaf is my middle name”. It is so nice when the waiters are having a little fun, it gets you into the holiday mood.

We opted for Anytime dining and usually went to dinner around 6pm. Almost every day we were able to request a table for 2 and got it straight away. Every evening they checked our cruise card to make sure we were Anytime diners, which I have never seen before. The only night we decided to share was when they told us a table for 2 would be 1 hour. We can only guess that more people were eating early because a Freddie Mercury tribute act was on at 8pm and he was very popular. The service on our table for 6 was very slow. The waiter seemed to have a lot more tables to serve than usual. It got so late that we skipped dessert so we could get to the show. One reason for the delay was that one couple ordered 4 courses, when the rest of us only ordered 3 and we had to wait for them to finish their extra course. I cannot blame them and they did turn out to be the most travelled couple, so they deserved to take their time.

We dined in Crown Grill on the second formal night because we did not want to dress up. The food and service was great. Jacky was disappointed that we did not get a seat with a sea view, but when I pointed out that we had been looking at stunning views all week and we were now about to be served a great meal, she smiled and said “Yeah, I suppose you are right”.

I am not a great fan of Italian night in the dining room, so when we realised that was on, we decided to try out the Salty Dog Gastropub. Well to say it was a mixed review is an understatement. We both liked the breadstick starter with 2 fondue dips, although we could not detect any difference between the dips. For the main courses, I picked the Ernesto Burger and the Spicy Stout Beef Short Ribs. Jacky picked the Calamari Frites and the Lobster Mac & Cheese. I hated both my dishes and Jacky loved hers. The burger, to me, was tasteless and the Trident Grill option was much more to my liking. The ribs were chewy and not very pleasant. For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Pot De Crème and the Lemon Posset and both enjoyed our choices. The conclusion was that Jacky would be happy to eat there again, whereas I would be reluctant.

The evening we sailed out of Skjolden, we stayed in our favourite seats on the aft terrace and picked up our evening meal from the buffet. We then sat eating while the stunning view of the fjord unfolded on both sides of the ship.

Apart from on disembarkation day, we opted for room service breakfast each day and used the Princess at Sea app to order it. This was very simple once we found where the breakfast order section was. It was not in an obvious place as far as I am concerned, but we got there in the end. The orders arrived correct and on time every day.

Itinerary:

Sea conditions and the weather were, for the most part, fantastic. Sailaway from Southampton was in glorious sunshine, but we have done this so many times that we went off to dinner before we had even reached the Isle of Wight.


Dover Castle and White Cliffs

At between 6am and 7am on the following morning, the Captain woke us up with an announcement that was piped all around the ship, including the cabins. He said that we might have noticed the White Cliffs of Dover on our starboard side. This was because we had turned around in the night and were heading for Dover to disembark a medical emergency. We arrived later that morning, but were not allowed off the ship. After a stay of between 1 and 2 hours, we set sail again for Stavanger. No announcement was made, but we later heard a rumour that someone had fallen in the shower and suffered a fractured vertebra in their neck. That might account for why we had to turn around rather than have the casualty airlifted off. 

Later in the day the Captain advised that due to the delay and strong headwinds, we would not now make it to Stavanger. Instead we would have an extra day at sea. We were delighted by this, as we love to relax on sea days and we had been to Stavanger twice before. We did feel sorry for those on their first trip to Stavanger though.


Skjolden

Skjolden – This port was new to us and it provided some stunning views from the ship and while on land. The sun was shining and the temperature was warm. We took the 15 minute walk into town and picked up a walking map from the tourist office. We hiked for around 30 minutes to get to a viewpoint overlooking the town and fjord. It was well worth it and we got some great pictures. We then went back into town and headed out towards a waterfall. 


Skjolden from the viewpoint


Skjolden - the town viewed from the ship

This was about a 45 minute hike along the road. It gave us some great exercise, but the view of the waterfall was probably not worth the effort compared to our hike up to the viewpoint. We walked back to the ship for some lunch then sat on the aft terrace for the rest of the day relaxing before bringing dinner back from the buffet as we sailed out of the fjord. Skjolden is lovely and, if you are reasonably fit, you don’t have to take a tour to see the beauty of the area.


Olden - the view from Mount Hauron

Olden - We had been here a couple of times before and we love the area. Last time we visited the glacier and then hiked up Mount Hauron, but this proved too much for Jacky and she did not make it to the top. This time we just wanted to hike up the mountain and both make it. Another ship was docked, so we had to tender ashore. The wait for the tender was about 20 to 30 minutes and we got ashore around 10am. We picked up a map from the tourist office, but the route was shown from Olden itself, which was 20 minutes in the wrong direction. We knew roughly what the route was and set off following our noses. We soon came across some signs to Mount Hauron and these guided us from here on. 


Olden - another view from Mount Hauron

The hike takes about 3 hours there and back and is quite steep and rocky towards the end. The views from the top are worth it though. We wandered around the top and came across a little cabin that would make a secluded little hideaway, similar to the cabins you find in Alaska out in the wilderness. 


Olden - the cabin at the top of the mountain

The weather was warm and humid, which made the hike quite demanding. You need to be reasonably fit to make this trek. Once we got back to the ship we headed for the aft terrace again and had lunch. We sat there for the rest of the day and for the start of the sailaway before heading off to change for dinner.


 Bergen - the view from the bandstand

Bergen - It was a short stay in port and we were needed back on board by lunchtime. On our last visit we did the usual tourist thing of travelling up to the viewpoint overlooking the port by funicular. This time we just wandered around Bergen and the fish market before going further into town to buy some gifts. The weather again was warm and sunny. Once back on board, we took up our usual position on the aft terrace for lunch and to watched our departure from Bergen.


Bergen - the lake and fountain in the town centre

The final sea day was also blessed with good weather and we sat out on deck most of the day reading and relaxing. The whole trip was fantastic with some great views that can only be matched by places we have seen in Alaska.


Bergen - final sailaway and heading home


Embarkation and Disembarkation:

We sailed from the Mayflower terminal at Southampton and arrived between 11am and 11.30am. There was no queue at the preferred check in line and we walked straight up to get our cruise cards. We expected to be directed to a lounge, but we were told we can get straight on the ship. This was the fastest embarkation we have ever experienced.

The disembarkation at Southampton was also smooth and ran an hour ahead of schedule. We were off and away much earlier than anticipated. We were sad to leave but pleased with the efficiency.

Our next cruise is a 2 day mini cruise on P&O in December, where we are introducing our son and his wife to cruising. The main reason we booked it though is that it will give us enough cruise credits to become Elite for our next main cruise in March 2018. That is on Golden Princess sailing from Melbourne, Australia to Singapore. Bring on the free mini bar and free laundry.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Anniversary Weekend in Vancouver at the Fairmont Waterfront

 

This weekend we decided to enjoy our 22 anniversary with a little getaway to downtown Vancouver.  

We live about 40 minutes outside of the city and it is always nice to go into town but always a pain to make our way home and also dealing with driving and parking.

A week or so ago Bernie and I decided why not enjoy two nights at one of our favorite hotel brands. So we searched for two nights at the Fairmont.  They have three locations downtown and the Fairmont Waterfront was the perfect spot for us. 

We contacted them directly when we found a better price thru Kayak and they met the price and even bettered it and then suggested we try one of their Gold Rooms.  Which we ended up booking.

Gold Rooms come with some added perks of a special concierge and a lounge for you to enjoy at your leisure and breakfast is offered in the morning and canapes and honour bar in the evening. 

We received an email Friday asking when we would be checking in and we responded back 14:15 (although check in is not until 15:00).  When we got there the room was not available so we went up to the Gold Lounge and waited. After waiting for around 40 minutes we decided to just head out for a bit. 

At 16:00 we received a text that our room was ready.  This was a little disappointing since we were told check in was 15:00.  But we let it go. 

We were given a city view room that was very well appointed.  And that king size bed was to die for.

That evening we went out for a quick bite to eat and then to Yuk Yuks comedy show. We got our tickets for the show thru Tickets Tonight that offers same day tickets for half price. Their location is within the same block as the hotel.

It was so nice and convenient to just take transit everywhere and not to worry about parking or drinking and driving.


When we returned to the room in the evening a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us along with a lovely card congratulating us on our anniversary from the Fairmont Gold Staff.  Very nice touch.

The next morning we took our time relaxing.  Thankfully the lounge offers orange juice and espresso drinks and I was able to lounge in the room with my coffee before heading out into the public.

We had breakfast in the lounge too and the food was very good, and well presented and continually refilled.  The lounge was busy but the staff made every attempt to accommodate those arriving.  One couple walked and walked around looking for a spot.  We offered them the two spots at our table but they said they did not feel like being social.  Hmmm their loss.

We spent the day walking around downtown acting as tourist and enjoying our city.

The great thing about this hotel is it is just across the street from Canada Place and the cruise ship pier. So both made sure to head out and check out the Coral Princess that was docked on the North Side of the pier.  Sure made me want to get on.

When returning to the room we had naps and sipped champagne and savoured and reflected on our 22 years together.

A knock at the door?  Hmm who could that be.


Well it was our Room Attendants - Chris and Ann who delivered us a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Such a lovely thing.  They said they wanted to thank us for our generosity. Which suprised me as yes we did tip them but I believe that is standard - or is it.  But I know we truly appreciate all that the staff do for us everywhere.  They work so darn hard.  Plus the staff at this hotel are part of the same union we are - Unifor so we do have a brotherhood.

That evening (the actual day of our anniversary) we took the bus to our new favorite restaurant. The Pink Peppercorn.  For those of you who know Vancouver and may remember the Cannery Restaurant that use to be close to Ballantyne Pier.  Well it closed down due to the port security after 911 and the chef from there opened the Pink Peppercorn. 

It is a bit of a distance from downtown but only about a 15 minute transit ride on the #19 bus only two blocks from our hotel.  

The staff welcomed us and remembered us and gave us a lovely table.  Dinner was sharing of calamari and then for me scallops and prawns and for Bernie the halibut.  They surprised us with creme brulee for our anniversary and boy it was one of the best we have ever had. 

We were tired and when we got back to the room we quickly melted away in that luxurious bed and woke at 8 am on Sunday.

We took our time getting ready and we were up in the lounge for another great breakfast.

The staff there took care of all our needs and it was very hard to leave.  

But back to reality and work tomorrow.  

If you are looking for a great hotel in the Vancouver area I highly recommend the Fairmont Waterfront for your stay.  

Of course any Fairmont location is amazing - have never had a bad stay - but the Waterfront is a great location for any cruiser prior or post a cruise out of here.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Cruise Radio Interview - Royal 5 Day Caribbean


Had the pleasure to talk with Doug Parker of Cruise Radio last Fall after our Trans Atlantic and then five day Caribbean trip.

The interview has just gone live.  Here is the link to that interview

Take note that during the interview none of us were aware of what was to come with the announcement of Ocean Medallion.  

Of course in January Princess announced that Ocean Medallion is coming to Princess with the Royal Princess debuting it on January 19, 2017.  Bernie and I will be on that sailing and I will be posting all about this experience as a passenger.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lisbon - Heck Why Not




If you have been following along you know we are heading to the Mediterranean in the Fall.

One of our dear friends Antonio Pimpao is retiring from Princess.  Antonio has been with Princess forever! We first met him on the Diamond many years ago at the Most Travelled Luncheon as he was the officer at our table and we hit it off.  

Since then we have sailed with him numerous times. In fact we specifically seeked out which ships he was on and jumping on board. A few times we even met him in Vancouver when he docked here.Delivering Portuguese special treats to him.

When he informed us he was retiring we were happy for him, but sad we may not see him as often. His response: "Why not come and visit me." "Why not come see me this Fall."


So we discussed it and agreed we should add a few days to our Fall trip and fly to Lisbon to spend some time with Antonio.

So after the wedding in Sardinia we are now flying Olbia to Lisbon via Rome.  

We will stay at Antonio's for five nights before flying home from Lisbon.

We are excited, neither of us has been to Lisbon!

South America Here we Come



Today Princess started their Sip and Sail program and we have been tossing out the idea of going back to South America.  

When we heard earlier this Spring that the Royal would be doing the 49 day trip, we knew we would be going back. We love the Royal Princess.

Both our cruise trips to South America have been very memorable and our land trip in January cemented it.

Today after checking prices and the added bonus of the sip and sail included we decided to book.

We ended up booking it as two legs instead of the total 49 day trip for a couple of reasons.


  • We wanted to change cabins from Valparaiso up.  So as the saying goes P.O.S.H. - Port Out, Starboard Home. We are sailing in a port side cabin down and a starboard cabin home.  This will guarantee we have shade during the hottest parts of the day. The cabins are on the same deck just opposite sides.
  • Price was a little cheaper as two legs, but not by a whole lot.
  • On board credits work out much better as two legs. Stock Credit for two sailings at $250 each leg instead of $250 for a 49 day.  Also loyalty credit for two legs instead of one.  And Future Cruise Deposit credits as well for each leg instead of two.
So even though this trip is not until February 2019 it was key to book early.  Cabin selection is minimal but still quite a bit out there.

Care to join us?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Venice and Lucca Accommodations Booked

Now that we are settled in our new home I have been focussing on our next grand trip.

Final payment for the cruise is due soon and it looks like it is going forward so we now need to make accommodation reservations for Venice and Lucca.

I love Airbnb and I secured a great place in Lucca for three nights.  We will head here right after the cruise.  

Lucca being situated near Florence and the port of Livorno, but we have never been there.  I insisted that we spend some time here.


We needed a place that accommodate us, but possibly another couple who may join us.  Prices in Lucca are quite reasonable compared to some of the other busy cities.  So we splurged and are still paying less per night than we will be spending in Venice.  

Here is a link to our apartment.  

After three nights in Lucca we will take the train to Venice for five nights.

Again the options are endless.  Hotels are great but boy are they expensive and even though they included breakfast it was out of our price range.  So again we reserved a nice place in Venice close to an area we really enjoyed when we were there last time.  



A link to our apartment can be found here.

We didn't want to be in a busy area, like near the Rialto or Saint Marks Square we wanted more of a residential area. 

We wanted someplace near Santa Margherita where we spent some time on our last day in Venice.  Read about that great day here.  Oh and that wine store! 

Remember if you are interested in booking an Airbnb at some time, make sure to sign up and register here and you will receive a discount off your first booking for reading about it here.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Fort Lauderdale Accommodations


For our trip in 2018 we knew we wanted to fly into Fort Lauderdale a few days early.  Like we always do.

Main reason for this is the travel day is very very long from Vancouver and the three hour time change requires at least one day to get use to before boarding the ship.

Our biggest issue lately is accommodations have shot up in the past few years in Fort Lauderdale. Hotels that we use to book for around $75 to $100 US a night are now going for $250 to $350 a night.

That is crazy!  And we are not talking about fancy places either.

I know having the Oasis and Allure sailing out of Fort Lauderdale has cause a demand for hotels but outside of that I am not sure why.  Any ideas?

So when we go now we usually book further away from the pier and use Uber or rent a car for our stay.  Saving us a lot of money.

This trip our friends Barb and Craig will be in town and we decided to check out Airbnb.  


Once again we ended up getting a large apartment, close to Las Olas that can accommodate all four of us and then some for a price per day that is 2/3 the cost of one night and one room at a 3 star hotel near the pier.  



So for two night our cost is under $200!

Here is a link to our condo we reserved.  

And again if you are interested in trying Airbnb in the future here is a coupon you can register that will save you some $$$ off your first booking.