Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Friday, August 25, 2023
In May 2023, we joined the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver. This two night journey is a trip of a lifetime. In this post, I’ll share all the details and the timeline of the experience. Here’s the highlights:
Day 1: Banff, Alberta, Canada
We spent a few pre-nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs before joining the tour. When you arrive in Banff or the day before your tour is set to start, if you are in a SilverLeaf hotel, you’’ll head to the Rocky Mountaineer Guest Center at 220 Bear Street to pick up your packet. If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel. If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel, your package will be at the Rocky Mountaineer desk in the hotel.
Friday, August 18, 2023
- Bow Falls is just steps away from the lobby.
- Several hikes start close to the Fairmont.
- You can enjoy the bowling alley, spa, swimming pool, history tour, arts and crafts, s’mores making, guided hike around the property, or use your 1 hour included bike rental to explore.
- If you want to explore around Banff, your stay includes a bus pass.
Friday, June 30, 2023
We took Norwegian Cruise Line's "Romantic Bruges" excursion on our June 2023 Norwegian Prima cruise.
Our tickets were delivered to our cabin at embarkation because we booked online prior to the cruise.
At 9:00 am, we met in the Theater. Be sure your group stays together to ensure you get on the same bus.
We left the theater at 9:11 am and were on the bus by 9:18 am. Each set had a quiet box with headset and a map of Bruges.
We left the parking lot at 9:25 am. Our bus had 45 people on it.
Bruges was known as the Venice of the North because it was a hub of finance and trade. The old town is UNESCO World Heritage site because it offers a glimpse into life in the Medieval Times.
During the bus ride, be sure to look to the left for glimpses of the three towers: Belfry, Tower of Church of our Lady, and the town of the Catholic Church.
The city is still surrounded by a moat with a walking path around it.
We arrived in the parking area at 9:54 am and started the tour at 9:57 am.
The walking tour was 1 hour and 50 minutes. The only bathroom break was when one gentleman requested it by City Hall.
The walking tour included:
- - Beguinage – a 13th century community for women who were not married and were not nuns.
- - Stepped Gabled homes and shops
- - Old Hospital
- - Church of Our Lady with the highest tower made from bricks
- - Belfry Tower
- - Tanner Square
- - Fish Market
- - 14th century City Hall
- - Chapel of the Precious Blood Relic
- - Market Square with Belfry Tower
At 11:43 am, we arrived at our entrance for the canal care. (There are five.)
We set sail at 11:56 am. It was two big steps in the boat.
The sail was beautiful and a repeat of some of the places included on the walking tour. It was easier to take pictures from the boat.
The canal cruise by itself is 12 euros if you’d like to do it on your own. There were very long lines.
At 12:30 pm we were off the boat. We took a 6 minute walk to our meeting spot. We had free time until 1:30 pm. The meeting spot square had restaurants and gift shops.
We met at 1:30 pm. It was about a 20 minute walk back to the bus.
At 2:00 pm, we were on our way back to the ship.
I’d estimate the total tour was about 2.5 to 3 miles.
At 2:30 pm, we were back at the port.
On our Norwegian Prima cruise in June 2023, we took the Briksdal Glacier by Troll Car in Olden, Norway.
Our ticket was in our cabin at embarkation. We reported to the theater at 10:00 am. We sat down and shore excursion representative brought our number to us.
At 10:26 am, our number was called. It was a short walk to the bus.
At 10:35 am, we were on a nice bus with a bathroom. The bus held about 50 people.
By 10:38 am, we were on our way. It was a scenic drive with the tour guide narrating.
We passed farm land, a mineral water factory, and so many waterfalls. We had an unusually warm and sunny day.
At 11:08 am, we arrived at Briksdal Natioanal Park. Our troll car time was 11:40 am so we had a shopping and bathroom break.
Each troll car held 6 people. I really enjoyed the front seat.
By 12:00 pm, we were out of the car and on the trail. The trail had two steep sections at the beginning. I was glad I had my walking sticks. The trail levels out a bit after that. You can visit a bridge with a great view of the glacier.
At 12:14 pm, we made it to the end of the trail. I estimate we were walking about a 3 mile per hour pace. You can climb down to the glacier beach and head closer to the glacier.
Our return time was 12:40 pm so at 12:23 pm, we headed back to the meeting point. Yes. This was way too short of a time.
12:50 pm. We were back in the car on our way down. You can also walk to the glacier. It’s a 3 kilometer trail and takes 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can choose the staircases or dodge the troll cars on the troll car path.
1:07 pm. We were back down a the Kafeteria. The tour included a coffee break with coffee, tea, water, and several types of small cakes including vegan and gluten fee.
2:05 pm We left the parking lot
2:21 pm We took a brief break for more views. The bus driver led a quick stretch break.
2:31 pm On our Way
2:50 pm Back at the ship
Saturday, June 17, 2023
We took the Small Group Taste of St Lucia and Chocolate Making Workshop on our March 2023 Celebrity Edge sailing. It’s important to note our ship docked in Castries. Other itineraries may dock further south on the island.
Our meeting time was 12:15 pm on the pier. We lined up and left promptly at 12:30 pm. We had 30 people in our group.
It was about a 3 minute walk down the pier to the bus. The group split into two small buses.
The bus left at 12:37 pm. We arrived at the Howelton Estate at 1:11 pm. This took longer than usual. We spent about 20 minutes in traffic due to a funeral. Along the way, we paused for a view overlooking Castries and the Governor General’s mansion. We did not get out of the bus.
At the Howelton Estate, we walked down about 25 stairs and then another 4 stairs to get to the deck where the workshop took place. We split into two groups of 15 people standing around a counter with our ingredients laid out in front of us. We were given an apron. One person did grab a chair so they could sit for the workshop.
The chocolate making workshop began at 1:18 pm. We mixed cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and sugar with a mortar and pestle. You do have to stir a lot. At the end, the staff member leading the workshop will help you finish the mixing process. I found this workshop to be very informative. The staff member did a great job explaining all the ingredients, the process, and answering questions.
At 2:00 pm, we finished making the chocolate and they took it to refrigerators to set. Each slot was numbered and we received a ticket with that number so we’d know which bar was ours. Then, it was free time. A small gift shop was up the stairs. I thought it was one of the more elegant gift shops I’ve been in with a lot of beautiful items.
One glass of soda, rum punch, or water was included in the excursion. We were given a ticket to use. Beer was available for $4 USD.
We spent about 45 minutes waiting for the chocolate. One guide led part of the group to see some of the vegetation on the property. I thought the hour wait felt a bit long. The other guests who enjoyed shopping in the gift shop thought it was just about the right amount of time. Bathrooms were available.
The finished chocolate bar was dark chocolate. They wrapped it up with foil. It was a little mushy so we ate ours right away. It was delicious.
At 2:54 pm, we left Howelton Estate. We arrived at Pink Plantation at 3:03 pm. The Pink Plantation has a beautiful gardens. Chewy showed up around explaining all the native plants and their uses. At the same time, staff were passing out Antigua treats: sour orange lemonade, salted cod fritter, and hot and fresh fried bread. I loved all the snacks. Touring around the garden with 30 people was difficult, but Chewy has a big personality and is so passionate about the plants. The garden paths were a bit uneven so some of the group sat in the main house. The main house had a small gift shop and bathrooms.
At 3:42 pm, the garden tour ended. At 3:48 pm, we were back on the bus. At 4:10 pm, we were dropped off back at the pier.
I recommend this excursion. I liked that it was something different. I really enjoyed making the chocolate and Chewy’s passion for the gardens. It is quite a bit of standing, but chairs are available.
In March 2023, we took the Antigua Catamaran Cruise with Lobster Lunch Excursion during our sailing on the Celebrity Edge.
We were told to meet at the theater at 10:30 am.
10:41 am We were released from the theater and headed ashore. We went down two decks of stairs through the martini bar. You can choose to take the elevators just past casino.
By 10:48 am, we were lined up on the pier.
At 10:51 am, the excursion staff split the line into two groups of about 50 each. We took a 2 minute walk to where the catamarans were docked.
We board the catamaran. It was one big step over to get on the catamaran. The crew was right there to help. Then, four steps down if you wanted to sit under the overhang. The crew passed out juice and soda while we waited to leave.
At 11:10 am, we sailed away. We took a leisurely sail down the shore.
At 12:51 pm, we stopped at beach #1: Turner’s Beach. You went down the laddered set of stairs into the water. The beach had white sand and clear water. Chairs were available for rent.
At 2:00 pm, the crew called everyone back on board. During the stop, the crew set up tables and chairs and began grilling the lobsters. They made sure everyone had a place to sit.
At 2:10 pm, lunch service began. The crew handed out plates to everyone. Chicken was available if you didn’t want lobster. It was so nice not to have to stand in a buffet line.
Lunch took about half an hour. We headed back the same way we had sailed.
At 3:35 pm, we stopped at our 2nd beach: Deep Bay Beach. This is right by Royalton Antigua all inclusive resort.
This is a busier beach with beach vendors. Barry the Barracuda made his appearance. The crew handed me a goggles so I could take a closer look.
After an hour, we left beach #2. The crew did a fun dance show as we sailed into the harbor. We docked and were headed back to the ship around 5:30 pm.
Overall, this was a great excursion. I loved how relaxing it was just sailing along. The beach stops were well timed and the lunch was delicious. I recommend it.