Historical Halifax — Through My (Broken😭) Lens

Thursday dawned much like Wednesday…brilliant blue skies, crisp autumn temperatures, and abundant sunshine. I’m happy to say the one component of Wednesday that was nowhere to be found on Thursday was the frustration. We took a tour with Paul McNeil, the owner of Halifax Titanic Historical Tours. He was a fantastic and VERY knowledgeable guide, so we more than made up for the information we lacked on Wednesday!

All 10 of us managed to get off the ship with all our worldly goods we needed for the day, including my camera. Paul was waiting for us right outside the terminal exit, so we piled into his spacious van and we were off!

Picture of Paul from his Facebook page.


The day was off to a great start…at least we had a vehicle and a guide, so about a 100% improvement from the day before. Paul took us on an orientation tour of the city, where we had a chance to admire the architecture, the gardens, and the vibrant street art of the city.


There are two historical events that are a very prominent part of the city’s past. The first was the sinking of the Titanic, as many of the recovery boats launched from Halifax and a large number of the victims lie in three cemeteries in the city. https://novascotia.ca/titanic/connection.asp

This is the grave marker that inspired the character Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s Titanic.



The other historical event is the explosion of the SS Mont Blanc on December 6, 1917. The French ship was carrying explosives when it collided with another ship in the harbor. A fire quickly raged out of control, and the ensuing explosion killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000. The explosion also leveled trees and structures in a 1/2 mile radius, the results of which can still be seen today. When people began reconstruction in the devastated area they chose concrete blocks instead of wood with the belief those structures could better withstand an explosion. This Wiki page has good information about the explosion: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion

Paul shared several  stories about the explosion, including that of the Richmond School where many children were killed either inside the school or walking to school.


Paul told us another story that sparked a tradition that endures today. After the explosion, one of the first cities to respond with significant supplies and relief assistance was Boston. As a thank you, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the city of Boston in 1918. The annual gift of a Christmas tree began in the 1970s and endures to this day. In Nova Scotia it is an honor to have a tree from your property chosen for Boston. https://www.boston.gov/news/bostons-2017-tree-lighting-marks-100-years-friendship-nova-scotia

Paul was great about knowing exactly when we needed to be at the Citadel to get the best spots for the firing of the noon cannon and the changing of the guard. He pulled all the way forward as far as a vehicle could go, and they literally shut the road down behind us! He was also great about helping us maintain our spots when the big buses arrived, and telling us when to Run! Run! Run! to be in the front row for the changing of the guard immediately following the firing of the cannon.


Another highlight of the day with Paul was our drive to Dartmouth (across Halifax Harbor) and lunch in Fisherman’s Cove. Fisherman’s Cove is a tiny, unspoiled fishing village with a great restaurant and no tourists! We had a fantastic lunch at Wharf Seafood Restaurant with WAY more food than we could eat!

Picture from the Internet — photographer unknown.



Our day with Paul was fantastic, and filled with way more information than I can remember. We thought Halifax was a beautiful and interesting city, and we would definitely love to return for a longer visit. It would be a pleasure spend more time in and around Halifax and tour with Paul again!

We spent some time in the terminal before we returned to the ship, because I felt compelled to support the local economy! Actually, we also had some Loonies we didn’t want to take with us. I bought a couple ornaments for our travel tree, but I also picked up an interesting Titanic book Paul had used during our tour. It tells the stories of the victims who are buried in Halifax.


Now, about the title of this entry. We were in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax learning about the Titanic victims buried there. I was zooming to take a picture and I heard a horrible pop come from my lens. I have no idea what I did or how I did it, but from that point on the lens wouldn’t retract normally, and the more I used it after that the worse the focus got. It would probably only auto-focus once out of every 10 tries, and manual focus wouldn’t work at all. Fortunately we were almost at the end of our day, and with only a sea day between us and NY I knew I could get by with the other lens I brought. Still, I had a pretty sick feeling in my stomach. The lens is my main “go to” lens for a reasonable travel solution, and it’s on my camera about 90% of the time when we travel. I knew the lens was likely going to need to visit the camera hospital (it did), and I though it would be expensive to repair (it was).😢 I did a little test run when we got back to the ship to see if maybe it had magically repaired itself, but it was to no avail…I switched to my wide angle lens for the one remaining cruise day, and packed my broken lens for the trip home.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and we had some lounging time when we got back to the ship. I took advantage of the time to start taking some ship shots. Here are some outside shots, mostly of the Seawalk and the cabins beneath…I wanted good documentation of the impact of the Seawalk on the balconies below to help with future cabin decisions. I already had it in my head that we would wait for a sale and move to a Mini-Suite for the British Isles trip, and I wanted to be ready with first hand knowledge when the time came!


We had another great evening with a leisurely dinner, saw the great production show Born to Dance, went to the Balloon drop, gambled, and just generally enjoyed each other and the ship. It was hard to believe we only had one day left…after our 12-Night cruise in April and May a week sure seemed short!

I’ll wrap this up with lots of shots of the ship in a couple days. Before I can do any more blogging I have some papers to grade. I teach an on-line graduate course, and since that’s what pays for our travel I need to get busy!

They Can’t All Be Perfect — Making the Best of Things in Saint John

Thursday brought a new to all of us port, another dose of brilliant sunshine, crisp clear skies, great plans, and…quite a bit of frustration. As you will see, sometimes even carefully made plans fail to materialize, and you just have to go with the flow.

I had struggled with Saint John during the planning process. It seemed like it was harder than many ports to find interesting tours, and there weren’t as many choices of guides/companies as I’m used to. I thought careful planning was important, because we were going to be one of three big ships the day we visited, and I knew space/tours would be at a premium. Nobody seemed to have a vehicle available that would keep us all together, so I finally settled on a 2 van tour with Freedom Tours called Fundy Coast to Fundy Shore. The tour sounded fantastic — lighthouses, covered bridges, sea caves, even waterfalls that reversed directions because of the extreme tidal changes. As you’ll find out, we did see those places, but the pictures in my head, the pictures on the internet, and the actuality of our day weren’t a match. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little…

We arrived in Saint John early on a beautiful morning. Serenade of the Seas was ahead of us, and she looked beautiful in the early morning light. It was fun to see the Serenade — we had a great cruise on the ship in 2015 and have lots of wonderful memories of the Serenade.

Serenade of the Seas

The Seawalk on the Regal in the very early morning.

We were off the ship nice and early, because our tour was scheduled to start an hour after the ship arrived. Well, we tried to be off nice and early, but I caused a delay. Right before we entered the terminal I reached for my camera. Oops! My camera was sitting exactly where I left it in my cabin ready to be packed for the day. I went back to get it while Jim waited in the terminal for me and the rest of our group (we were 11 for this tour) walked across the street to the Freedom Tours office. Jim and I finally made it out of the terminal with my forgotten camera.


As soon as we arrived at the Freedom Tours office I knew something had gone awry by the looks on everyone’s faces. I was informed there was a “problem” with our reservation. There was actually more than one problem. The problems weren’t related, but they both negatively impacted our day.

The first problem was there were no vehicles or guides for us. The scheduling personnel had gotten confused, and they thought we were arriving on the Crown Princess later in the day and would be touring at noon.🙄 I’m honestly not sure how they could make such a huge mistake. I had reconfirmed the tour less than two weeks in advance, and everything I had (I save EVERYTHING!😂) said Regal Princess. At any rate, we sat down to wait while they tried to find guides and vehicles for us. I thought this was puzzling, but we were there and committed to the tour, so we waited. While we were sitting there looking at the walls a guide came in and there were some hushed conversations between the guide and management. Are you getting a warm, fuzzy feeling about this? Me either!

After about a 45 minute wait and being told repeatedly our vans were on the way, the guide ushered our whole group along with another tour onto a bus and we headed to the market. Our itinerary called for us to visit the market at the end of the day, so with the change to our itinerary we arrived just as they were starting to open. Many of the vendors didn’t even have their wares out on display yet.


We stayed a very short time, before we were told our vans were there and we should follow the guide to begin our tour. We walked down the street, and piled into TAXIS! At this point, the few positive feelings I had left were rapidly disappearing.

To make a long story short, the Saint John government had reinterpreted/enforced a law about two weeks before our visit. The rule forbids guides from also being drivers unless they have a taxi license. Freedom’s way of handling that was to hire taxis for their customers and put a guide in the vehicle, but unfortunately in our case since we had 11 people, that meant there was only room for one guide between the two vans. One van had no commentary, no explanation, nothing. The drivers were pleasant, but they were admittedly just taxi drivers, not tour guides and weren’t able to share any information about the sights. Our (not inexpensive) tour was really not much more than transportation for large chunks of the day. Here’s a link to an article about the situation: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/tour-guides-labelled-taxicabs-by-inspector-1.4348458

To their credit, Freedom did issue a 50% refund, but not until I wrote and complained that we hadn’t gotten what we paid for. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have been honest with us up front and let us know what the problems were. I felt responsible and was very upset about the way things had turned out, especially since I had encouraged others from our Cruise Critic roll call to join us. The way the situation was handled really left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not so much the problems as the attempt to pass off our non-tour as an acceptable product and hide the issues. I realize they had to deal with a bad situation not of their creation, but so did all the other guides in Saint John, and somehow they managed to provide what they had been contracted for. I would not consider Freedom Tours again if I ever found myself back in Saint John, and I don’t recommend anyone giving them a chance. They just had too many opportunities to make things right, and instead kept quiet until I sent a rather strongly worded e-mail.

The problems with Freedom tours aside, we had a nice day but not a great one. Given the small size of St. Martins and the limited choices for tours, three big ships was probably two too many, and overcrowding contributed to the issues.

We started with a drive through town followed by a stop at the Reversing Falls. Saint John and the Bay of Fundy are known for their extreme tidal changes, and that causes a phenomenon on the Saint John River where the water flows in at high tide and then rushes back out at low tide.


We stayed about 15 minutes, then began the long drive out to the fishing village of St. Martins. On the way we stopped at what was, to me, the most interesting sight of the day. We visited a tiny, beautiful inlet where we really got a feel for the dramatic tidal changes. Look at the boats and then look at how high the docks are!


I was somewhat disappointed in St. Martins and the whole Bay of Fundy part of our tour. I had a picture in my head (based on Freedom’s description and photos) of the covered bridges and lighthouse, the sea caves, and the quaint restaurant. What we found didn’t quite live up to expectations. A big part of it was the crowds…because of the three ships and our late start, there were people and vehicles (including several big tour buses) everywhere.  The lighthouse had been moved inland, so it was actually guarding land! There were very few places to sit at the restaurant because most of the seating was reserved for the big tour groups. It just wasn’t a great experience.


After we left St. Martin we went back to the Reversing Falls so we could see the water flowing in the opposite direction, and then went back to the ship. I think we were all ready for the touring part of the day to end! We were “home” early enough that I was able to get a load of laundry done, sit outside for a wonderful sailaway, and still make myself presentable for formal night #2. We had a great evening in Bellini’s and then a long, leisurely dinner with new friends.

Crown Princess


The day wasn’t a total loss. We had great weather. We were together and enjoyed some beautiful scenery. Things don’t always go according to plan, especially when traveling…you just have to make the best of it and hope the next stop/tour is better. I think this carpet from an elevator on the Regal says it all!


Our next and last stop was Halifax, and we were hopeful for better luck with my carefully laid plans and a great day!

Beautiful Bar Harbor, aka Everything’s Better When the Sun Shines!

Remember the crisp clear air, bright sunshine and brilliant blue skies I was looking for in Newport and Boston? We finally woke up to them in Bar Harbor, and had an absolutely fantastic day with family and our new friends Sue and Jim from California!


We had a group of 10 for a 5 hour tour with At Your Service Taxi. We met up on the ship and got ashore quite a bit earlier than expected because there was no line for the tender. We were ashore by 9:00 and our driver was waiting so we were off!


We started with a scenic drive through town and along the coast learning about the history of the island. Our stops throughout the day were mostly for scenery and foliage…we saw a lot of both. We didn’t hit peak color, but for us Texans who seldom see red maple leaves🍁 it looked pretty colorful! For those of you who don’t know, most of our leaves in Texas change a little bit differently. They are green, then they turn yellow/brown, then they fall off and make a mess. Let’s say we don’t have tourists visiting Texas for our fall color!


Coastline and Thunder Hole…

Here’s a short video clip of Thunder Hole…


Foliage Stops…

Cadillac Mountain…



It was VERY windy up on the mountain. I laugh out loud every time I see this picture of my sister-in-law Barb. I know she hates it, so I blurred her face. Sorry, Barb…I couldn’t resist!


We went to Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor for lunch. What a fantastic experience! The food was delicious, the portions were plentiful, and we were able to sit out on the sunny deck to enjoy our meal. What a pleasant change from the grunge of Newport and Boston! Southwest Harbor was also a lot farther than most cruise ship tourists ventured, so it wasn’t crowded at all. It was just a great, relaxing experience.

I think this poor guy probably went for a swim in boiling water shortly after this picture!

Lobster, lobster rolls, blueberry pie — we feasted on classic Maine fare cooked to perfection! The food pics are from the Beal’s Facebook page…


After lunch we slowly made our way back across the island towards the port. Once we got there we went our separate ways, with the original Rouses and their spouses staying in town for a little shopping/sightseeing and a cocktail hour!

Yummy Blueberry Mojito!


We got back to the ship easily with no wait for a tender, and had plenty of time to relax and get ready for our dinner reservation at the Crown Grill.


Unfortunately, when we arrived for dinner they did not have our reservation. A great deal of confusion ensued, and I was finally told the reservation I had made on the phone wasn’t really a reservation, just a purchase. I should have been instructed to see the maître d’ for actual reservations as soon as I boarded. This put us in a jam, because there were eight of us standing at the entrance to a full restaurant with a pre-paid reservation that really wasn’t a reservation. A couple of phone calls by the maître d’ and they agreed to take us at Sabatini‘s that evening, and honor our non-reservation at Crown Grill for Friday, the last night of the cruise. I still wasn’t sure they had it straight, but by about 7:30 we were settled in Sabatini’s ready to relax and enjoy our meal.

Sabatini’s was great! I had a veal chop that was probably one of the better things I’ve ever had on a cruise, and I couldn’t resist a Tiramisu Martini at the end of dinner!


The nights kind of run together, and I didn’t do a good job of taking notes, but I think this was the night we went to play music trivia. We were at our family best, falling out of our seats with laughter at our answers and each other. I know we must have annoyed some others, so if our laughter bugged you I apologize, but I would do it again and probably will the next time we cruise with Jim’s siblings! By the way, we won! It turns out that some of my in-laws really know their music! We got a bottle of champagne for our efforts, and the “olds” went to bed while the ‘“youngs” stayed up and celebrated their success!

We would cross the border and wake up in Canada 🇨🇦 the next day. I’ll tell you about Saint John, NB — the good🙂 and the bad😥 in my next post.

Pizza, Patriots, and Puddles

I love Boston! I visited Boston and the Cape several times in my childhood, and several more times as an adult. My memories of Boston are of sunny skies and long walks, so that’s mostly what I had planned for our port stop…sunny, crisp, clear fall weather and a long walk. We got the long walk, but the rest of it was elusive.

Since my sister Laura lived in Boston for several years she made plans to stay with my mom and just shop for a few hours, while Jim and I planned to see Boston with his siblings who had never been. We wanted to combine the Freedom Trail with a food tour or some kind of an off the beaten path tour, but unfortunately since it was a holiday (Columbus Day) many things weren’t available.

Barb, John, Jim, and I settled on a North End Pizza Tour that included several stops on the Freedom Trail, and we all decided to start together at Cheers to do the tourist thing!

Sadly, we woke up to the polar opposite of the vision in my head. It was foggy. It was rainy. It was sticky, warm, and humid…exactly what I didn’t want!


Nevertheless, we arrived on time and were off the ship headed to Cheers shortly after 10:00. I had thought we could use Uber, but that seemed problematic for a port pick-up so we jumped in 2 taxis. Traffic was CRAZY! Many of the streets were blocked because there was a holiday fun run downtown. We finally grew weary of sitting in the cab and watching the meter tick, so we jumped out and walked across the Common to get to Cheers.


Boy, has Cheers changed since my last visit! Of course, that was probably 20-25 years ago, but back then Cheers looked largely the way it had always looked despite the popularity of the TV series. Not any more! They have cashed in on their fame, expanded, and really made it a tourist attraction.


After Cheers we walked up Beacon Street in the general direction of our tour start location. We stopped at the American Meteorological Society for Jim to take pictures, and and then we split up, with Susan and Gary doubling back into the Common for the start of the Freedom Trail, while us four “old folks” headed towards the North End.


At that point in the day it was very warm and sticky, but it wasn’t raining and I thought we might get lucky. That thought lasted almost as far as King’s Chapel and Burial Ground, which is not far at all, and the rain started. Out came the rain gear, which made walking about as comfortable as taking a steam bath in a plastic bag!


I would have really enjoyed our tour if the weather had been better. I ended up having to remove my raincoat because it only acted to generate and trap moist heat! As in Newport, I struggled to juggle an umbrella, a camera, and a slice of pizza, but I managed.

We started with slices from Regina. These were great, but we had to eat them out in the rain because Regina doesn’t seat tour groups.


After our first slice we began walking through the North End, stopping at Paul Revere’s House and finally making our way to Modern Pastry where they have a little known but fantastic pizzeria downstairs.

Our guide was a great storyteller!



It was great to get out of the rain for a while, and it was also nice to find a TV that was broadcasting the Astros-Red Sox game! We, of course, were cheering for Houston, so a little friendly rivalry broke out between us and the locals, especially because at the time the Astros were looking a little lost. We had slices of several different kinds of pizza while we dried off and watched some baseball.

Stock Image


Alas, all dry things must come to an end, so back into the rain we went. We walked through Paul Revere Mall to the Old North Church.


After a short presentation we made our way up the hill to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. The cemetery was the second one established in Boston, and the oldest graves date back to 1660. During the Revolutionary War, British soldiers occupied Copp’s Hill as a military post. They found entertainment by firing bullets at the gravestones, the marks of which can still be seen on some of them.

Directly across the street from Copp’s Hill is the Skinny House, which is only 10.4 feet wide at its widest point! The house was built as a “spite” house following a dispute between brothers. According to the tale, one brother built a large house on co-owned land while the other brother was at war. When the absent brother returned he was upset to see there was no space left for him, so he shoehorned the skinny house in the remaining space to cut off his brother’s light and view.


From the burial ground, we made our way through the North End to Ernesto’s for our last pizzas. Since it was very crowded we weren’t able to go in, but instead made our way back to where we started to sit and enjoy our pizza in the liquid sunshine.


This was a fun and very reasonably priced tour, and the pizza was great! Our guide was very knowledgeable and personable, and I highly recommend this tour if you’re looking for something a little different to do in Boston. You just need to hope the weather’s better…the steady rain really made the cobblestone streets and crowds difficult to navigate. Besides, sitting outside to eat pizza isn’t nearly as much fun when the yummy, gooey cheese gets diluted by a downpour!

Our original plan had been to walk back over to Modern Pastry or Mike’s Pastry after the tour, but because of the weather we headed straight to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. We did a little shopping, but by that time we were pretty wet (all of us) and cranky (me!), and a dry ship and a cocktail sounded pretty good!


We hung around a bar at Quincy Market long enough to see the Astros win the series and send the Red Sox to the offseason! We left pretty quickly after the Astros clinched…a short Uber ride back to the port and we were finally able to towel off and put on some dry clothes!

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Our evening was pretty uneventful. We watched the Carnival Sunshine leave before we mustered up enough energy to go up to the Horizon Court for dinner (you know I’m tired if I voluntarily eat in the buffet!), and we all went to bed pretty early. I did manage to sneak in a quick winning trip to the casino, and my last official activity before bed was cashing out and putting the money in the safe before I gave it right back!


Up next…Bar Harbor, much better weather😁, a great tour, and Princess’ not so great specialty dinner reservations system🙄!

Into Every Trip a Little Rain Must Fall

We woke up Sunday morning to rainy, foggy, misty weather. It really was gloomy! We didn’t have any “tied to a schedule” plans for the day other than lunch reservations, so we weren’t in a huge hurry to get off the ship. I started my day as I did every day with a trip to the International Café for some good coffee. I really enjoyed sitting down in the empty public area watching the ship wake up while I sipped my daily caffeine fix!

The International Cafe — Yes, the seated person is wearing pajamas and slippers! 😮


We had a light breakfast in the Horizon Court, and then went to the dining room to line up for tender tickets around 9:30. We had about a 30 minute wait, but it was quite entertaining since my brother-in-law had thought to bring a deck of cards along (and I won two rounds of Pass the Trash). I thought the tender process went very smoothly.

When we got to shore we walked around the shops a little bit before we went to lunch. If you remember, I had not felt like I was prepared when I packed for this trip, therefore I had gotten on the plane without an umbrella. No problem, I purchased one while we were in New Jersey so I was all set. Well, I would have been all set except I left the new one at my sister’s house! It wasn’t raining when we got to shore, but it was threatening so I was off in search of an umbrella. Apparently staying dry is not a priority for souvenir shop owners, but I did finally find a place that had one umbrella left so I bought it. It went in my backpack with the hopes that I wouldn’t need it, but as you will soon see my hope was in vain.

We had made a reservation at the Mooring restaurant which is right on the harbor a very short walk from the tender pier. Ordinarily I would have left lunch to chance, but since there were 8 of us and the forecast was for awful weather I decided to make a reservation. Lunch didn’t disappoint! We started with a couple bags of doughnuts, which are lobster, crab, and shrimp fritters — unique and delicious! For my entrée I had swordfish which was excellent. I don’t remember what everyone else had, but there wasn’t any food left on our plates which is always a good sign!


During lunch it had started raining. Hard. Really hard. Oh, and the wind was blowing. Definitely not what you want to see when you’re about to head out on a long walk, but since we couldn’t control the circumstances we pulled up Google Maps on our phones and off we went, headed to the Cliff Walk. It was a longer walk than we thought, or maybe it was the wind blowing the rain into our faces that made it seem long. Even using our umbrellas as shields there was no way to stay dry. Luckily the rain eased of about the time we reached the beginning of the Cliff Walk, so we were able to attempt to enjoy the scenery. I didn’t take a lot of pictures and they’re not great. The weather had settled into a drizzly, misty mess, and even though my camera body and lens are weather sealed I still try to protect them from the elements, so something I love was a bit of a chore.


We liked seeing the mansions and trying to imagine what life must have been like when they were occupied in the summer by some of the wealthiest people in America. I’ve walked the Cliff Walk and been in some of the mansions before (when the weather was better!) and it really is difficult to try to wrap my head around that kind of lifestyle. We made it as far as the Breakers before we decided to head back to the ship.


We made one pit stop in town, for a guys vs. girls Skee Ball tournament! It was a lot of fun, especially because the arcade was warm and dry. After the girls lost badly we headed back to the tender dock.


I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m always amazed at people’s behavior when they don’t want to wait in a line because it’s too cold, too hot, too wet, too sunny…you get the idea. There was some line cutting and pushing/shoving/cussing that amazed me. Where did those people think they were going and why were they so special they didn’t have to wait? We’ll never know! At any rate, we got on a tender pretty quickly and headed back to the ship to repair the damage of the day. I didn’t think “Drowned Rat” would be a good look for formal night!

Not so glamorous!


We gathered in Vines, and Jim went to the dining room to get a beeper. Much to our surprise there was no wait! Dinner was very good, and we followed it up with a trip to the theater, but for the most part we were ready for bed after our wet adventures of the day. Some even needed a nap before the show!

Pre-show catnap!


I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, dreaming of a beautiful, crisp, sunny day walking the Freedom Trail in Boston the next day.

A preview of things to come…not all dreams come true!

Whatever You Pack, There’s Always Room For Memories!

The rugs in the elevators on the Regal Princess have a variety of neat sayings about travel, and I thought this one would be appropriate for boarding day for several reasons. First and foremost, we were excited to be cruising again and making memories with family. Second, one of my sisters had been going on and on about us over-packing but I knew I had plenty of room for memories (and souvenirs)! Third, United had made sure we had a little extra room in our suitcases by leaving one out in the pouring rain resulting in a hefty dry-cleaning bill and a jacket that was ruined by a red sweater bleeding on it.😡 Seriously, we probably did overpack, but the weather was iffy and I wanted to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw at us. In the end, I took a lot of stuff I didn’t need, still had room for souvenirs, and made wonderful memories! What’s a little extra luggage?😉

We were lucky to have a free ride (thank you wonderful sister!) all the way to Brooklyn, and I enjoyed trying to relax and enjoy the scenery while my sister dealt with the Manhattan traffic and drivers. I never would have gotten us there…I would probably still be trying to merge onto the George Washington Bridge! I started getting excited when I saw ships, but alas that was the Manhattan cruise terminal and we had to keep going.


Shortly after we got to Brooklyn we started following the signs to the cruise terminal.


The terminal was a little difficult to find and the surroundings were anything but scenic, but there was a prize at the end of the maze!


Boarding was pretty uneventful. We got checked in fairly quickly and waited about an hour to board. My first impressions of the ship were very positive, and I really grew to love the ship over the course of the week.


We had chosen a Deluxe Balcony cabin with an extended balcony, and there were things I really liked about it and other things I struggled with. It was the smallest cabin we’ve had in a very long time, so I was thankful for a port intensive itinerary and lots of great public venues. In actuality the cabin was only 9 square feet smaller than our cabin on the Celebrity Equinox, but it seemed much more cramped, and I think that had something to do with the layout. I struggled with storage space even though the open closet was very roomy (much better than Equinox). The vanity in our cabin was small and lacking in drawers, which meant I didn’t have any good place to store camera equipment, chargers, cosmetics, hair utensils, jewelry, paperwork, etc. Since I don’t like disorganized clutter that was a big issue for me. I also thought the bathroom was cramped with minimal storage and a tiny shower. I developed an intimate relationship with the shower curtain, but we had to break up and go our separate ways at the end of the week.🙄


  • D410 has a very large angled balcony.


In all seriousness, the cabin was fine for our one week cruise, but we both like a little more space and the ability to maneuver about the cabin simultaneously. We had booked the same category of cabin for our upcoming British Isles cruise on the Royal Princess and I was genuinely concerned given that it’s 12 nights and I will probably have to spend at least some time at a desk keeping up with an on-line course I teach. Luckily, two consecutive fare sales got us moved to a Mini-Suite with an extend balcony for less than our original Deluxe Balcony booking, so now I can return to obsessing over tours instead of worrying about where to keep my socks!

With our carry-ons safely stowed in our cabins, the three of us (me, Jim, & Mom) headed to Alfredo’s for lunch and to wait for the rest of our group to arrive. Yum…good stuff! I’ll take cooked to order over a buffet any day!


My sister Laura came in on a flight from Indy, and the rest came from Kansas City. All used Princess transfers and arrived at the ship with no problems, although while we were waiting it felt like forever! I was anxious to see everybody, but what I was really excited for was to see my sister-in-law Barb’s face when she got her first look at the ship. Barb and her husband John were the first ones to “sign-up” to go with us, they had never cruised before, and we had been talking/texting about this day for a L-O-N-G time. In the end, she was a little excited…I just don’t know if it was us or the ship!😉 Please excuse the bad picture. I was trying to get my shot and stay out of the way of security. I wasn’t successful at either one!

Barb & John


Barb & Susan


Jim, Laura, and Mom


We went up to the Horizon Terrace for sailaway. That became one of my favorite public places on the ship, with expansive views and comfortable seating. It was a fabulous place to sail from New York on a perfect fall afternoon.

Gary & Susan, Jim, Barb & John


After we sailed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge we all went our separate ways to settle in before dinner. We established a routine the first night, and it never really varied…gather in a bar (usually Vines or Bellini’s) for drinks and then head to the dining room around 7:00. We had chosen Traditional Dining at 6:00 when we booked, because even though that was a bit early I worried about the wait to seat 8 people in open dining. When we boarded we found that 6:00 really means 5:30 and we decided to take our chances and switch to Anytime Dining. We ended up with a pretty long wait the first night and one other night later in the trip when we were a group of 10, but other than that we never had much of a wait and it worked well for our group.


Up next…Newport, RI and a walk on the wet side!