Cruising

We often equate September with back to school; a new start for learning. In September, my new learning wasn't going back to school, but rather going back to the Caribbean. Having been to the Caribbean many times both on cruises and destination vacations, I was excited to explore three new ports of call (two in never-before-visited countries) and a return to a port I visited over 20 years ago.

My fall getaway appropriately was on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship the Getaway. The ship, built in 2014, accommodates almost 4,000 guests, and yet there were plenty of activities, dining options and entertainment to make the ship feel comfortable and not crowded. The ship sails from Miami with stops in Mexico (twice), Belize, and Honduras and allows for a full day at the beginning and end of the cruise to enjoy sailing and relaxing on board the ship. Although shore excursions are offered in every port, I chose to forego the planned tours and enjoyed my time at the beach, poolside and shopping.

October 6

I love visiting Mexico any time an opportunity comes around, I’ll sign up for it, but I’d never cruise the Mexican Riviera and when I received an invitation from Carnival for their educational seminar at seas, I didn’t even think twice about it, I signing up. The itinerary included Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta out of the port of Los Angeles.

On the day of our cruise, I took the first flight out to make sure I arrived to Los Angeles with plenty of time before my embarkation. I had purchased the transfers with Carnival and when I was picking up my luggage I spotted the Carnival Representative dressed up in his uniform and holding a Carnival logo. I walked up to him, told him my name and after a few more guests showed up he escorted us to the Carnival motor coach.

We arrived to the pier at about 11:15 am which I thought it may have been too early to check in, but after a welcome speech from a Carnival staff we were allowed to get off and gather our suit case to then proceed to the check in. I really liked the check in process, being that our shuttle was the second bus to arrive, there were no crowds so our check in process was perhaps 30 – 40 minutes before arriving to the Lido Deck where one can find the buffet. Boy was I happy to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal. A few hours went by, and as I was doing a ship inspection of the top decks, an announcement came on the loud speaker, our cabin was ready and everyone could now go to their cabins. I of course was ready for a small siesta after over eating at the buffet so I headed to my cabin.

I just returned from a “Simple Sophistication” U.S. River Cruise experience from New Orleans up the great Mississippi River. I was on their newest ship the “American Song”. The ship was beautiful and sleek; with lots of windows and spacious cabins. American Cruise LInes delivers culture, history and enlightenment without casinos and buffets. They have personalized exploration, well-designed enrichment programs on board and ashore. There was a good variety of food selections on each daily menu (without black tie and formal gatherings); plus hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza on the top deck. One can enjoy the rich history and culture of the Mississippi River with customized excursions in New Orleans, Oak Alley, Natchez, and Vicksburg just to name a few.

First there is the dream of sailing on the magnificent Danube that you have heard about all of your life. Then comes the excitement of planning your personal vacation loaded with the anticipation of experiencing something you have never done before. The day finally arrives and after a trip across the Atlantic Ocean you get a first glance at your sleek AMA Waterways river cruise ship. You are greeted warmly and very quickly made to feel at home. The cabins are nicely appointed and the crew is searching for ways they can serve you.

The ship sets sail smoothly and quietly on this beautiful river that is surrounded by the hills and forests of Bavaria. It is now time for a marvelous dinner with excellent choices and served with care. On many of the nights there was entertainment after dinner on a small scale but high quality.

The inside passage cruises round-trip from Seattle which is convenient because you don’t have to do a pre/post night and you don’t have to have a passport. The inside passage makes stops in Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau, and usually a night stop in Victoria. It also includes one day seeing a glacier from the ship either Glacier bay, or Tracy Arm my favorite being Glacier Bay where you feel like you are right in the middle of the glacier.

In my opinion none of the main cruise lines do a better job of cruising the inside passage than Princess does. They add extra touches that are special just for Alaska. Which includes having naturalists on board, seminars about Alaska,and special tours because they partner with Animal planet and Discovery, Alaskan food, and a new favorite of mine: puppies!

In the piazza where they bring Alaska sled dog puppies on to the ship and yes you can hold them.

Also, if you have anybody in your family/party who loves crab the restaurant at the top of Mount Roberts Tram offers an all you eat crab plate for $62.00 that includes sides, Crab bib and bucket. Delicious!

I would be happy to help you with any of your Alaska cruise requests either email or give me a call.

Amber Lee Johanson

Phone: 801.483.6314