Island Princess Cruise

Boy, am I really behind!  It’s been a busy time since last posting.  First we did 23 days of cruising on the Island Princess, then we left on a 5-6 week road trip on October 23.  More on that trip in next post.

We started our cruise in Vancouver, BC, September 20 (flew there on the 19th and visited with good friends, Joe Jankovics), for a 3 day, non-stop trip to San Pedro.  There we stayed on the ship for a 19 day Panama Canal transit cruise.  We got to know a lot of Cruise Critic members, participated in the Princess Pop Choir, and enjoyed several ports.  We first stopped in Puerto Vallarta and were able to make contact with AZ again to be our tour guide.  We shared this day with 17 other Cruise Critic friends.

Other stops included Huatulco, MX, Puerto Quezal, Guatamala, Puntarenas Costa Rica and Manzanillo, MX.  We really enjoyed the Panama Canal (our 3rd time, but 1st time to only go to Gatun lake and turn around).  Princess cruises gave us a free day at the Sanctuary, since our cabin balcony was unusable while in the locks.  That was a nice, luxurious experience.  All was good on the cruise, except this time, Jim was the one to get the “cruise croup.”  Since he was coughing a lot, he had to drop out of the choir, but was able to be in the first performance.  A shame because he really enjoyed being in the group and getting to know the other male singers.  This choir had a larger male group than usual.  We spent many fun times with Cruise Critic friends at ports, Coffee Clatch, Happy Hours and eating meals together.


August & September, 2017

Since returning from our road trip with the Granddaughters, we have spent most of our time at home; playing Pickleball, Ukulele/Guitar and visiting with friends.  I, Cheryl, am learning to play Pickleball with my left hand since my shoulder continues to give me trouble.  The orthopedic specialist said that shoulder replacement is in my future, but if I am careful and use my left arm more, I can put that off for a while.  I’ve had cortisone shots and use pain creams, etc, so it is manageable.

Finally at the end of August, the extreme heat became too much, so we left for four days to the Central Coast:  Morro Bay, San Simeon and Pismo Beach.  It was much cooler (40 degree difference one day) and foggy some days.  We love this beautiful area.  Went to Cayucos, Cambria and to see the Elephant Seals north of San Simeon.  The coast highway is still blocked a few miles north of there by the massive mudslide this spring.  It will be another year before it opens.

This week, Jim’s sister came to Carlsbad, CA, from Houston with her husband John (his birthday was 9/12) and 2 friends.  We spent 2 days with them, touring that area, Sand Diego (Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument and downtown Gas-lamp area) and Temecula (Old Town and wineries.)

Our Sagos continue to show beautiful growth, the female looks even more “pregnant” with her large “flower head”, the male has new growth and the “pups” are thriving.

So sad to hear about the terrible destruction by both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  JoAnn and John came through ok in Northwest Houston.  Also Cheryl’s family in Tampa and Orlando, FL did not have the flooding or wind damage that was predicted.  But the Caribbean Islands will be hurting for a long time.  We have visited many of them; especially love St. Marteen, St Thomas and St. John.  Our best to all who have been so affected in all the areas, including earthquake in Mexico.  We hope that you are among the fortunate.

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Anacortes, WA with Joe and Sheri

Joe and Sheri Rowe picked us up at the Cruise Terminal in Seattle on May 31.  They live part time in Corona, CA (our neighbors) and the rest in Anacortes, WA.   Their home is on a hill overlooking the Puget Sound and the house and views are beautiful.  We spent 3 days with them and, despite cold and some rain, had some fun touring Anacortes, the surrounding area, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, via ferry.  June was a little early for good weather, but one day we did get some sunshine and a pretty sunset!  Thanks to them for a great end to our travels; flew home June 3.

Alaska and B.C. Canada on the Sojourn

Our first port after crossing the Bering Sea was Kodiak, Alaska; our first time there.  The only Kodiak brown bear that we saw was in the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.  We did see many bald eagles, but didn’t see close enough to photograph.  We walked around the town and enjoyed being on terra ferma.

After a day at Sea, we docked in Juneau; our 3rd time to visit this city.  Again, it was cloudy and cold with some rain.  We were 1 of 3 cruise ships in port with Carnival Legend, HOL Vaandam.  We decided to visit the famous Red Dog Saloon; and were pleasantly surprised.  The interior is a throwback to the gold rush days with lots of memorabilia, saw dust on the floor, a piano player doing old songs and ladies in saloon girl costumes.  We tried their clam chowder which has smoked salmon in it and it was some of the best we have had.

Our last land day in Alaska was Skagway.  It was beautiful, sunny, but cold and windy.  Our plan was to take the tram to the top for views, but it was too foggy up there and didn’t like the wind; so just walked around.  I think the wind is what set off my cold, which started that night.  We also heard some sad news from home, one of our best and longest known friends was dying.  We thought about her, family and friends, all day and made many phone calls.  Wish we could have been in 2 places.

One of our favorite parts of our cruise in Alaska, in 2016 was Glacier Bay National park and it did not disappoint us this time.  The weather stayed clear and the Margerie Glacier calved for us.  We love the scenery, but were sad because we heard that JoAnn Brown had died.  Just as we learned that, we arrived at Margerie and champagne was handed out.  We toasted to her and dedicated that beautiful scene to her.

The next day was warm and sunny for our cruise through the Canadian Inside Passage.  In the afternoon, we were able to be on deck without coats and there was a fun Deck Party.  Good timing!  The next day, in Victoria, B.C., the cold and rain came back, but we had a nice visit with our snowbird friends, Don and Wanda.

The next day, the cruise ended in Seattle, Washington.  A fun 21 days!

More Sebourn Cruise across the Bering Sea

From May 15 to May 23 we were at sea, including the International Dateline which meant we repeated Friday, 19th.  We changed our clocks 1 hour forward at 2 p.m. for 7 days.  Again, that messed with our internal clocks, so that we woke at odd hours.  We love the days at sea, so had no problems, but it was mostly cold and cloudy with some rain.  One day the sun peeked out and though still cold, several passengers took advantage  and sat on the open deck.

On Seabourn, you can request special dinners, so one night we requested Paella and invited 6 others.  It was good, but the rice was not crunchy on the bottom.  All enjoyed, but we could not finish it, hated to sent any back!

We did get to see a sunset and Jim photographed a sunrise, but mostly sea!

Seabourn Sojourn Japanese Ports

Our cruise started on May 11; we traveled to the ship by train, ferry and monorail.  The first couple we met, Mike and Angela from UK, continued to be table mates at different times.  A very fun couple.

On leaving Kobe, Japan on the ship, we had a sail away concert by the Kobe Community Fireman’s Band.  They were very good and played “Anchors Away” as we moved away, very appropriate and enjoyable for Navy guy, Jim.  We had 2 days at sea on our way to our first Japanese port of Aomori, where we visited an Onsen or Hot Springs baths.  This was our first time to pay for a cruise ship tour, but it turned out well, with only 20 of us and a good tour guide; also included a huge lunch.

Next was Hakodate, known for squid; it was everywhere in the Marketplace.  Some really cute 15 – 16 year old school girls greeted us in English.  They were out of school in order to practice their English.  We spoke with 3 girls for several minutes.  One plays trombone and another saxophone and all plan to go to college.  Later, as we sailed away, 50 of them entertained us by singing and dancing the “Squid Song.”  It was really comical!  As you may see, many of us have on the same Blue Coats.  They were a gift from Seabourn and very welcome with all of the cold weather; in Hakodate it was also raining.  We spent a little time at the Morning Marketplace and then returned to ship to warm up!!

Last port in Japan was Kushiro and we took another Seabourn excursion.  Our first stop was to see the Red Crown Cranes, which we could see up close.  They are quite large, but not as large as our Whooping Cranes.  After that we went to the wetlands, which were too wet and foggy!!  Lastly we had a nice rice bowl with Sashimi lunch in the marketplace.  Our guide, Tete was very good and spoke clear English.  After this port we headed across the Bering Sea for 7 days (including the International Date line and 2 Fridays).

Eight Days in Japan

We are home after 33 days (including 2 Friday 19ths due to International Dateline), including Japan and Seabourn Cruise.  It was a very full trip with sights, experiences and tons of photos.  As you saw in my last post, of our Itinerary, we were on the move.  In Japan, we learned to use their railway and subway systems.  At first it was confusing because they have several different companies.  But after figuring it out, we saw that their system was very well organized and efficient, but expensive.

Our hotels in Japan were nice, although smaller than in USA, but they both had the Toto toilets, really deluxe (bidet and back shower with heated seat and music!).  We were visiting during their Golden Week, initially, so the tourist areas were more crowded than usual.  Our visits were to Osaka Castle,

Nara Park, Dotonbori District (Carnival atmosphere in shopping/restaurant area), Kobe, and Kyoto.  Even with all of the trains and subways, we still walked about 3 miles a day.  Jim was able to do that, with stops and utilizing his cane, especially on steep roads, such as in Kyoto.  The biggest problem was adjusting to the time change; 16 hours between CA and Japan.  At first we were waking up at odd hours and having to take naps, but we adjusted.  I had ordered a “pocket wifi” prior to our trip and it was delivered to our hotel.  That was a big bonus and able to use with unlimited, secure access.  Google maps has a setting for trains, so we utilized that to get to the correct track, along with asking assistance from agents and fellow travelers.  English was not as common as we expected, but the ticket machines had an English setting.  We did not meet any locals, but spoke with several English speaking tourists during our outings.

After these 8 days, we boarded the Seabourn Sojourn for 21 day cruise.