May 15, 2013


We’ve had a busy two days.  Tuesday we were up bright and early packing the car to get underway.  By 10:30 we had dropped the dogs off with Carol’s parents and were on the road heading to Toronto.  We stopped for lunch along the way and then I waited in the car while Carol investigated the newly re-opened Disney Store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall.  We arrived at the Best Western Airport Hotel by 3:00 and I rested for an hour or so before we went exploring.  Carol visited a thrift shop while I read my book in the car.  We had an early dinner at 5:30 and returned to the hotel for a quiet night of television.


This morning we were up before 6:00 a.m. and caught a 6:40 shuttle bus to the airport.  Yikes – it was busy.  We had pre-printed our boarding passes but there was a huge line to weigh our bags.  Then we had to drag all our bags over to US Customs.  Another huge line . . . we have never seen it that long.  At 8:00 we were still in that line – with only 20 minutes to go before our flight time.  A few people were very understanding and let us cut across in front of them to skip a few loops in the queue.  Thank god they did!  We barely made our flight.


After clearing customs we were able to check our large bags and then head to the body scan area with our carry-on luggage.  Even though my new knees made all the machinery beep and squawk, we were quickly processed and then ran to our gate.  Well, Carol ran . . . I sort of shuffled and hopped.  We boarded the plane and before we could catch our breath they had slammed the door and backed away from the gate.


The flight was smooth and enjoyable.  We touched down at 10:30, extending our day by three hours as we flew west.  As we headed to the baggage carousel we speculated, would our bags be there or not?  We had checked them a mere 10 minutes before the plane pulled away so we didn’t expect to see them.  We were pleasantly shocked when our bags were number three and four to come down the chute.  As soon as we hit the sidewalk the Alamo Car Rental shuttle bus arrived and whisked us off.  We were in our car and heading to our hotel by 11:15.  WOW!  Everything went wrong in Toronto but everything went right in Los Angeles.

We checked in to the Candy Cane Inn at 12:00 and our room was ready.  This is a great little hotel, we really like it here.  The landscaping is amazing, it’s a friendly, homey place and it’s an easy walk to the parks.  Of course, the free shuttle bus is even easier!

Carol spent a bit of time unpacking and getting us settled then at 1:00 we left to drop the car off at Downtown Disney.

Then it was lunch time – at The Earl of Sandwich.  Yum!

Carol browsed her way through Downtown Disney while I took a few pictures.  We had an ice cream treat at Hagen-Das before we entered Disneyland at 2:30.  We browsed down one side of Main Street USA and slowly wandered over to Tomorrowland for a spin with Buzz Lightyear.  Carol smoked me . . . she pulverized me . . . the score was about 195,000 to 35,000.  What an awful shame that the picture didn’t turn out.  She has absolutely no proof so no one will ever believe her!

We strolled around Tomorrowland, past the Matterhorn Bobsleds and took a ride on Alice in Wonderland.  It was a lazy day, we were both pooped after an early start and a lot of travel.


After Alice in Wonderland we strolled past Big Thunder Ranch and made our way to Frontierland.  Carol explored the Pin Store and a few other shops while I rested on a park bench and enjoyed some people-watching.  As we passed the Golden Horseshoe Saloon we noticed that a comedy show was about to start so we headed in and found a table.  Midway through the show the Mayor decided that they needed a great big hairy, scary bear.  Naturally they picked me.  I had my 15 minutes of fame today.

We strolled through New Orleans Square, then through Adventureland on our way to The Hub where we stopped at about 5:30 for dinner at the Plaza Inn.  We each enjoyed our favourites, fried chicken for Carol and Cobb salad for me.

It had been a wonderful day, 74 degrees with cloudless skies, but we were now stuffed and tired.  We headed for the exit and were the last to board the 6:15 shuttle back to the Candy Cane Inn.  A soothing dip in the hot tub and some television rounded out the night.  We were exhausted after a long day and a three hour time change so bed came early.


Tomorrow we head to the Disney’s California Adventure park.

May 16, 2013




We struggled to stay awake last night so we could adjust to the time change, but it was all to no avail.  We were both wide awake at 4:00 a.m.  We tossed and turned for an hour before giving up on sleep.  We took turns playing on the computer until 7:00 and then we went to enjoy the continental breakfast the hotel provides.


At about 7:30 I said to Carol, “It seems like our day is about half over and Disney’s California Adventure doesn’t open for another two and a half hours.”  At 8:30 we walked to the main gate.  People were lined up at the bag check area waiting for the 9:00 a.m. opening of Disneyland.  We finagled sweet-talked our way past bag-check and crossed the empty concourse on our way to Downtown Disney.  None of the shops were opened yet so Carol took some nice pictures of flowers and wildlife.

We even found a few Hidden Mickeys.

We explored the pool at the Grand Californian and then sat and enjoyed a coffee at the White Water Café before entering Disney’s California Adventure through the hotel access at 9:30. 

Carol joined the FastPass line for Radiator Springs Racers while I relaxed on a park bench.  When the park opened at 10:00 and the line started moving I joined her.  We picked up passes and then hopped in the Single Rider Line for our first ride of the day.

Next we took a plunge at the Tower of Terror and by the time we finished it was time to cash in those FastPasses at Radiator Springs.  Gosh, it’s a great ride!  It’s a giant two hundred million dollar slot car track designed by Disney Imagineers.  They incorporated all of their usual tricks and a few brand new ones to recreate Ornament Valley where the animated movie takes place.  They put you right in the middle of the action.  When you hit those high banked corners you would swear you’re doing 150 miles per hour but your true speed peaks at 40 mph.  Bravo Imagineers!

It was lunch time, so we headed to the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café for a sandwich, then I hopped on the shuttle back to the hotel.  Carol shopped for a few minutes and then walked back, arriving just a few minutes after me.


I enjoyed a quick splash in the pool and then a long soak in the hot tub.  Carol got up to her ankles in the pool, grimaced at the cold water and returned to her lounge chair in the sun.  Before long it was nap time so we headed back to the room.


We caught the 4:30 shuttle back to Disneyland where our first stop was Buzz Lightyear.  This time I did much better . . . a whopping 85,000 . . . but Carol scored 230,500.  Once again there is no picture, so no one knows she whupped me twice in a row!

Carol traded pins for a few minutes near the Little Green Men Store then we wandered over to New Orleans Square and checked in for dinner at the Café Orleans.  Carol claims it’s not her favourite spot but she goes because I really enjoy the Monte Cristo Sandwich.  When I see how much she enjoys the beignets I realize that she isn’t just doing it for me.

After dinner we walked across to Disney’s California Adventure and took a ride on Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  Her groans and scornful looks made it very clear that she was now humoring me!


After our thrilling spin behind those funny little tractors we headed back to the Single Rider Line at Radiator Springs Racers.  We chatted in line with two ladies behind us who were heading home tomorrow morning.  They were really hoping to get in the same car to get a picture.  When we got to the load area Carol figured out that if they stepped ahead of us they could ride together so we waved them through and off they went to rows 7 and 8, to ride in the same car.  Oddly enough, we were waved off to rows 1 and 2 and we ended up racing side by side with their car when we got to the outer portion of the track.


After our ride we were near the Cozy Cone Café when the two ladies arrived.  They had purchased their picture and as they looked for it they spotted ours and said, “Oh, look, there are our friends.”  The cast member gave them a free copy of our picture so they tracked us down and gave us the copy.  WOW, thanks ladies, hope you have a great trip home.

As we left Radiator Springs at 9:00 p.m. they announced that the park was now closed.  Carol wanted to walk back to the hotel but I didn’t have it left in me, I caught the shuttle.


We were back by 9:30 and settled in for the night.  No hot tub this evening.


Tomorrow we will spend the day at Disneyland – and we will scratch a big item off our bucket list!

May 17, 2013


Our internal clocks are slowly resetting themselves.  We slept until 7:00 a.m. and caught the 8:30 shuttle to Disneyland.  It was overcast and cool early in the day and crowds were light but by noon it was quite crowded.  The skies had cleared and the temperature was in the mid-seventies.  As we entered the park Carol stopped at the train station and booked a ride on the historic "Lilly Belle" car for later in the day.

We seem to focus on attractions which we don’t see when we visit Walt Disney World in Florida.  This morning we walked through Sleeping Beauty Castle and took a daring journey with Pinocchio.  This wonderful little dark ride, based on the classic children’s tale opened in 1983 and was never duplicated in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Next on our agenda was Snow White’s Scary Adventures, one of the original rides.  This dark ride was among the twenty original attractions when the park opened July 17, 1955. 

If you watch carefully you will see the Evil Queen peek through the second story window.  Touch the brass apple as you enter and you will hear her menacing cackle!  It’s a classic old ride!

We crossed Fantasyland and enjoyed another of the original rides from the 1955 opening of Disneyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  I am sure that there are now several generations of children, products of the digital age, who have no idea who Mr. Toad is and will never read The Wind in the Willows.  I hope this old classic, and those like it, are never replaced by more modern versions!

At 10:30 we left Fantasyland and headed to the train station to board the Lilly Belle for our 11:00 ride around the park.  This vintage train car was decorated by Walt’s wife Lillian Disney and was used to transport VIP visitors to the park.  Our conductor, Vern, did an excellent job in describing the origin and history of this unique piece of Disneyana while we made our circuit of Disneyland.

We enjoyed a light lunch at the Jolly Holiday Restaurant before making our way to New Orleans Square to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.  We enjoy the Disneyland version much more than its Florida equivalent!

It didn’t seem right that we have been here two days without taking in a Billy Hill & the Hillbillies show so we headed to the Golden Horseshoe Saloon and watched the 1:30 performance.  Hilarious, as always!

We strolled through Big Thunder Ranch on our way toward the exit and enjoyed some quiet time with Mickey and Minnie before they went on stage to perform in a song and dance show for the children.

This had been our fullest day so far and we were feeling a bit tired so we caught the 3:15 shuttle back to the Candy Cane Inn where we enjoyed a well earned rest.


Soon it was time for the highlight of our day – our latest bucket list item.  We caught the 5:30 shuttle back to Disneyland and stopped at the jewelry store where I bought Carol a gift for our wedding anniversary, a Sleeping Beauty Castle charm for her Pandora bracelet. 

Then we headed to New Orleans Square to check in for our dinner at Club 33.  Wow, what a treat!  This elegant and exclusive dining room was designed and furnished by Walt and Lillian as a place where they could entertain their special guests, visiting VIP’s and dignitaries.  Corporate memberships were extended to the companies who financed construction of Disneyland and assisted the Disney family in other ways in those early days.  In later years individual memberships were offered.

Our server Alistair did a wonderful job recommending appetizers and main dishes for us.  It was divine!  Our window table overlooked New Orleans Square and The Rivers of America.  Between courses we took a stroll on the balcony above the Café Orleans.

After we savored desert and coffee another cast member, Garrett, took a small group of us on a tour of the club facilities.  He explained many features of the décor, art and furnishings in great detail. 


WOW!  What a great night!  Another item stricken from our bucket list!

We caught the 9:45 shuttle back to the hotel to rest up for another Disney day tomorrow.  We plan to spend the morning at Disneyland and the afternoon at California Adventure.

May 18, 2013


This morning we took a look at the 8:30 a.m. shuttle bus.  It was standing room only so we walked to the parks and by 9:00 a.m. when Disneyland officially opened we were standing at the hub, near the Partners statue, waiting for the rope to drop. 

Carol dashed off to Space Mountain and picked up a pair of FastPasses while I headed towards It’s A Small World.  This was the first time in several years we have ridden this attraction without the Christmas overlay.  There is something very special about the outdoor boarding area, we really prefer this ride over the Florida equivalent.  Today there was no line so we hardly had time to enjoy the theming and landscaping in the boarding area.

We wandered down the hill to ToonTown but it wasn’t open until 10:00 a.m. so we walked over to Space Mountain and cashed in our FastPasses. 

The side-by-side cars on the Disneyland ride are very comfortable and the track seems faster than the Florida version.  It’s a great ride!

We caught the train at the Tomorrowland station and rode back to ToonTown.  The caboose was hooked up today and we had it all to ourselves for the journey. 

We spent some leisurely time roaming around ToonTown and took a few pictures with our favourite characters.

At noon we started to make our way toward the exit on our way to Disney’s California Adventure.  Along the way we stopped at the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner for lunch.  The hot dogs were really ho-hum.  We really enjoy the hot dogs at Carey’s Corner in Florida’s Magic Kingdom but the ones we had today left us a bit disappointed.  We sought some consolation at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Shoppe.  Aaaahh . . . that makes it all better!

By 12:15 we had crossed the concourse and entered Disney’s California Adventure.  We were a bit early for the 12:40 performance of Aladdin so we dropped into the Animation Building to watch the Zoetrope.  This machine is amazing and we cannot walk past without stopping to see it.  A series of figurines rotate and flashing lights illuminate them to bring them to life, sort of like flipping the pages in an animation “flip-book”.


We managed to get seats in the front row of the mezzanine at the Hyperion Theatre and enjoyed another great performance of the Aladdin show.  The genie really steals the show every time!

Next stop was Monsters Inc.  There was no line . . . there never is.  We really enjoy this dark ride and can’t understand why it’s never busy.

We wandered around, heading toward Paradise Pier. 

Along the way we encountered Maestro Goofy who was leading an orchestra of water jets in the “World of Color” area.  As you might expect things went horribly wrong and plenty of children frolicking in the front rows got very wet!

Carol waited along the pier while I went through the single-rider line and took a high speed spin on the California Screamin’ roller coaster. 

Our last stop was at the Corn Dog Castle where we shared a corn dog before heading out to board the 3:15 shuttle back to the hotel.


Carol dabbled on the computer for an hour while I snored, and by 5:30 we boarded the shuttle for a return trip to Disneyland. 

We had a nice dinner at Carnation Café and then headed to Adventureland for a ride on the Jungle Cruise.  Ooops!  Adventureland was jam packed and there was a long line for the Jungle Cruise.  I headed to the exit and caught the 7:15 shuttle back to the hotel while Carol wandered over to the Little Green Men Shop to do some pin trading and then to Downtown Disney to trade some Vinylmations.


I enjoyed a nice long soak in the hot tub and had just returned to the room when Carol came back at about 8:30.


Tomorrow we once again plan to spend the morning at Disneyland and the afternoon at California Adventure.  Time has flown by, tomorrow will be our last day here; we leave on Monday.

May 19, 2013


This morning our objective was to do a few rides we haven’t been able to get to yet.  We knew it was going to be busy but we had steeled ourselves to tough-out the lines.  On our to-do list were The Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones and The Haunted Mansion.

We caught the 8:00 a.m. shuttle and as we entered the park Carol said, “Maybe we can ride Peter Pan.  There shouldn’t be a huge ride this early in the day.”  So I headed directly to Peter Pan while she dashed over to Indiana Jones where she picked up FastPasses.  By the time she caught up to me I was about a third of the way through the line; she hopped the rope and we were riding in no time.  This original version of the attraction transports you in the same pirate ships as the Florida version, but there are plenty of differences in the ride.  It’s a shame the lines are normally so long, we would like to enjoy this one more than once a trip!

Crowds were very light in Fantasyland so before leaving that section of the park we wandered over to Storybook Land and took a boat ride through some classic fairy tales.  This attraction shares space with Casey Junior’s Circus Train which circles the fairy tale village on a track above the river.  We just didn’t have time for a ride on the train this trip.  Maybe next time!

We made our way to Adventureland and hopped on a Jungle Cruise boat where we sailed the rivers of the world.  There was only a five minute wait.  The corny jokes are universal; it’s much the same dialogue that we hear whenever and wherever we ride, but those corny jokes never get tired and old if you’re a true Disney fan!  

Next door at Indiana Jones the posted wait time was ten minutes but we cashed in our FastPasses and were aboard our truck and careening through the ride in only five minutes!  The special effects in this ride are great.  It still leaves me breathless when that giant stone ball rolls down and we narrowly escape death!

We walked through New Orleans Square and rode a Doom Buggy through the Haunted Mansion.  After the ride I said to Carol, “Gosh, we’ve gotten a lot done this morning and it’s not even ten o’clock yet.”  We rewarded ourselves with coffee and fritters at the Royal Street Verandah.


As we sipped our coffee we watched the line for Pirates of the Caribbean file by.  There was hardly any line so we soon joined it and took a voyage through that pirate’s lair beneath New Orleans Square.

We decided to take another Space Ranger Spin with Buzz Lightyear.  As we were passing Sleeping Beauty Castle the Disneyland Band was assembling in the castle forecourt.  We stopped and watched the band and several Disney characters perform until the characters all drove off in the fire truck.

There was a huge line for Buzz Lightyear so we skipped it and headed out the exit, across the concourse and into the California Adventure Park. 

The newsboys were performing in front of the Carthay Circle Theatre as we passed so we paused to watch them for a few minutes.

We joined the single rider line at Radiator Springs Racers.  They told us the wait would be about 45 minutes but we were aboard in 35 minutes and enjoyed our last ride of this trip.  We’re sure going to miss this one – until we return on our next adventure, whenever that is.

It was after one o’clock so we decided to head to The Earl of Sandwich for lunch.  We headed down Condor Flats to the Grizzly River and took the back exit, through the Grand Californian Hotel on our way to Downtown Disney.


Earl’s was WAY BUSY!  The line at Earls took longer than the single rider line at Radiator Springs Racers.  Ouch!  The sandwiches sure were good, but what a wait!


We were both hot and tired so we hopped a cab from the Disneyland Hotel.  Back at the hotel Carol went for a cooling swim and I had a soothing soak in the hot tub.  Then I enjoyed a well earned nap while Carol started packing.

We caught the 5:00 shuttle back to Disneyland and slowly meandered up Main Street USA.  We were in our last few hours so we were soaking up all the atmosphere we possibly could!  We checked wait times on the board in front of the Jolly Holiday and headed toward Buzz Lightyear where the wait was down to 20 minutes.  As we passed the Plaza Inn Carol noticed that there was no line so we popped in and had another nice dinner.  My favourite cobb salad and Carol’s favourite fried chicken – Yum!


Then we carried on to Buzz.  Carol trounced me for the third time in a row.  Sheeesh!

They were setting up for the parade so we walked around the Matterhorn on our way to Fantasyland and took another ride with Pinocchio.


We had no agenda, but we just didn’t want to leave so we wandered through the little shops in Sleeping Beauty Castle and then sat in a little alcove beside the drawbridge.  We sat there for over a half hour, just people-watching and enjoying the atmosphere.

After our second warning that the area was being closed to set up for the fireworks we surrendered our comfy seats and slowly ambled down Main Street.  We stopped to enjoy the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln show at the Opera House and then headed out the exit.  Bye Bye Mickey!


Normally when we leave Disneyland we already have our return trip in the planning stages, but not this time.  We're not sure when we'll be back.  That made our departure even more bittersweet than usual.  It's a great vacation destination and I hope we make it back soon!


Carol walked back; I caught the 8:15 shuttle.  We arrived at the Candy Cane Inn at exactly the same time and Carol finished packing while I had another soak in the hot tub.  Aaaahh – that felt good!


Tomorrow we have chartered an SUV to take us to the port where we board the Disney Wonder for a seven night cruise to Vancouver.

May 20, 2013


This will be our second time on the repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver.  We enjoyed the trip two years ago so much that we just had to repeat it.


Carol booked an SUV to take us from the Candy Cane Inn to nearby San Pedro where we boarded the Disney Wonder.  We shared the ride with Charlene and Brittney, a mother and daughter from Louisiana who Carol connected with online. 


The limousine company Carol booked, So Cal Limousine Service, did not show up for the 10:00 a.m. pick-up time and didn’t answer the phone when Carol called to ask where they were.  After a half hour of waiting we spoke to James who has always taken great care of us at the Candy Cane Inn front desk.  He tried to contact SoCal and they still didn’t answer.  Within five minutes he had a van from Grand Transportation booked.  They arrived in under ten minutes and whisked us to the port.  Thanks James . . . you’re a lifesaver!

The boarding process went very smoothly.  Our baggage went directly from the Grand Transportation van to the porter’s cart and within seconds we entered the terminal building.  The biggest delay was waiting for Carol as she snapped a few pictures.

There was a very short line in the terminal; we were issued our “Key to the World” cards within five minutes of stepping out of the van.  We were in boarding group number 7 so we sat and relaxed in the terminal for about a half hour until our group was called and then walked directly aboard, entering the grand foyer at Deck 3 Mid Ship.  What a treat to hear them announce our arrival and welcome the Cruise family aboard.

Lunch was being served in two locations, Parrot Cay on Deck 3 and Beach Blanket Buffet on Deck 9.  We opted for Parrot Cay and were soon seated with a couple from Victoria, BC as well as a couple and a solo traveler, all three from the San Francisco area.  Seems like everyone but us booked a cruise so they can enjoy a port adventure in their home town!

We had a nice chat with everyone over lunch and then set off to reacquaint ourselves with the ship.  We strolled around Deck 9 and Deck 10 snapping a few pictures of the surrounding port area and some shots of provisions being loaded on the ship.  Naturally Carol had to stop for an ice cream as we passed the self-serve station!

By 1:15 our stateroom was ready and our luggage had arrived so Carol unpacked and we were soon all settled in for the next week.


At 3:00 p.m. there was a “meet and greet” session in the Promenade Lounge for a Facebook group Carol had been involved in.  We said hello to some new acquaintances and recognized quite a few faces from previous cruises.


Soon it was time for the mandatory life boat drill so we mustered at Animator’s Palate with the rest of our group to hear safety instructions and review emergency procedures.


By 4:20 we were on Deck 10 watching the Adventures Away party.  The cruise entertainment staff and several Disney characters put on a spirited show.  It was a high energy song and dance spectacular which had me sweating, even though I was sitting in a deck chair.

The ship cast off just a few minutes after 5:00 and we sailed slowly out of the Port of Los Angeles.

Along the way we passed the USS Iowa, a decommissioned battleship.  It sure was a powerful looking vessel!

Donna is on her 49th Disney Cruise

We elected early dining for this cruise so by 5:45 we were entering the Parrot Cay Restaurant to meet our servers and our tablemates.  Our service team consists of Head Server Sedat from Turkey and Assistant Server Yukiko from Japan.  They will follow us from dining room to dining room as we rotate around the ship for the rest of the cruise.  At our table were nine passengers, Carol and I, three American couples and Donna, a surprise Disney Cruise Line Celebrity. 


Donna is a fellow Canadian, from Brampton Ontario and is currently on her 49th Disney Cruise.  She boarded the Wonder a few weeks ago in Miami, transited the Panama Canal, stayed on for this cruise and once we reach Vancouver she will stay aboard again and enjoy the Alaska Cruise the following week.  By the time she is done the Alaska voyage in early June she will have completed 51 Disney cruises, with another 5 already booked for 2014. 


During the Panama Canal crossing she celebrated her 365th night aboard a Disney ship and to celebrate the occasion Captain Thord and his senior crew surprised her with a party and a very special cake in the Cove Café.  Tonight at dinner Donna enjoyed the last piece of that cake.  Here is a picture of Donna and the beautifully hand crafted chocolate Donald which decorated the cake.  It almost feels like we’re dining with royalty!

After dinner we visited the Future Cruise desk where Tai from Australia booked our stateroom for the 2014 AllEars group cruise sailing May 10, 2014 on the Fantasy.  Hooray . . . we’re booked on another.  It will be our 10th Disney cruise and we thought we were doing well until we met Donna!


Carol had a few minutes to spare before the evening show in the Walt Disney Theatre so she headed to the Mickey’s Mates shop where she purchased a few pins and a vinylmation.  By 8:30 we were seated for the show, “Let the Magic Begin”.  The final act in the show was Magic Dave who conscripted four children from the audience and put on a hilarious performance of magic and ad-lib comedy.  It was a great time.


On our way back to our stateroom we spotted Frano in Triton’s dining room.  Frano was our server when Carol and I sailed the Panama Canal crossing with friends John & Cathy, Mike & Pam in 2011.  Here is a gratuitous picture of Frano.

We headed to Wavebands at 10:30 for the Buckets N Boards percussion comedy show.  They were hilarious . . . they played plastic barrels and buckets as drums, strummed on guitars and ukuleles, tap danced and sang classic country and bluegrass tunes such as, “If my nose was runnin’ money, I’d blow it all on you.”  Very high-class stuff, and very funny!

We were back in our stateroom by 11:15, tired out after a long but very enjoyable day.


We are looking forward to a relaxing day at sea tomorrow, with a brunch booked at Palo.  It’s our favourite dining venue on the Wonder.  We’ll post some pictures from Palo tomorrow.

May 21, 2013


What a wonderful day at sea . . . it was everything we hoped for, and less!  After all those days racing around the parks it was soooo nice to veg-out!


It was overcast and the ship was rocking noticeably when we woke at 6:30 a.m.  I headed to Deck 9 to pick up coffee and was shocked by the wind when I opened the door near the coffee and soft drink station.  The winds across the deck were about 45 miles per hour and they stayed all day.  Later in the day the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly but it never warmed up because of the high winds.  The ship rolled through 15 – 18 foot waves all day.

Room service arrived at 7:30 with more coffee, juice and a bagel.  I had a very light breakfast – saving room for our 11:30 brunch at Palo.


We took advantage of some early morning quiet time to drop off some items in fish extenders for members of a Facebook group Carol was involved in.  What’s a fish extender you ask?  In the ships hallways, beside each cabin door is an ornamental metal fish.  It is actually a mail slot, whenever cast members or ship management need to leave a message, they put it in an envelope and stand it up in that metal fish, where it is obvious when you enter your room.


Years ago some imaginative cruisers started hanging small bags from the fish and leaving little gifts in the bags.  Voila – the fish extender was born!

 Cruisers who are part of a group can volunteer to be part of a fish extender gift exchange, leaving little gifts for others in the group and receiving gifts in your own extender.  It’s always fun to return to your cabin to see what has arrived; there are some very creative and imaginative gifts!


After weaving our way up and down the halls “feeding the fishes” we decided to look for a sheltered spot on Deck 9 to sit and enjoy some fresh air.  Alas, there was nowhere to escape the strong winds so we sat indoors at the Outlook Café overlooking the Quiet Cove Pool.  We occasionally waved at frantic people as the wind hurtled them past the windows.  Carol sipped a latté while I read my book.

We left the Café by 11:00 and returned to our stateroom to dress for brunch.  Palo is an upscale adult only dining venue at the rear of the ship on Deck 10.  All meals aboard are included in the price you pay for your cruise but if you book a brunch or dinner at Palo you are charged a premium of $20.00 per person.  It’s a bargain.  The food is wonderful and the service is impeccable.  We try to dine at Palo during each cruise.  Today our server was Felice from Italy and he took excellent care of us.  Before we left we made sure the Felice would be our server when we return Saturday evening for dinner.


Our afternoon was also quite relaxing.  We both enjoyed a nap, then took another wind-blown walk on Deck 9.  Once again the winds forced us indoors, first in the Outlook Café and later in the Promenade Lounge where we chatted with a few acquaintances from the Facebook group.

It was formal night, so we changed for dinner and headed to the Atrium on Deck 3 where Mickey Mouse was posing for pictures from 5:15 to 5:45.  There was a long line but we made it just under the wire, had our picture taken and entered Triton’s for dinner just five minutes after the appointed 5:45 dinner hour!

The evening show was The Golden Mickey’s which we’ve seen several times, so we decided to skip it. Instead we headed to our stateroom, changed into casual clothes and made our way to the Buena Vista Theatre for the 8:00 showing of Wreck It Ralph.  We had missed it in the theatres so we didn’t want to pass up the chance to see it while we were here.  It was cute and funny; not one of Disney’s best, but a nice diversion for a few hours.


I was back in the stateroom by 10:00 p.m. but Carol had some shopping to do!  She picked up a nice Disney Cruise Line charm for her Pandora bracelet.


We were both settled in the room by 10:30.  Tomorrow we plan to be up bright and early so we can enjoy the view from the upper decks as we sail under the Golden Gate Bridge at about 6:30 a.m.


Then we will hail a cab and spend much of the day at the Walt Disney Family Museum.

May 22, 2013


Our plans to get up early and watch our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t work out.  The ship was rocking and rolling all night long and Carol didn’t sleep well.  Apparently the relentless drone of my snoring didn’t lull her back to sleep.  So this morning we were already under the bridge when Carol headed to our balcony at 6:30 and started taking pictures.

As we sailed past Pier 39 we could hear the barking of the sea lions over the rumble of the ships engines as we maneuvered into our slip at Pier 35. 


We had a bite of breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet and left the ship before 9:00 a.m.

We strolled along the Embarcadero to Pier 39.

We wandered to the end of the pier for a close-up look at the sea lion colony which lives there.  There were hundreds of them and they put on quite a performance.


After watching the playful creatures for almost a half hour we returned to the Embarcadero and hailed a cab to take us to the Presidio.

We arrived at The Walt Disney Family Museum just a few minutes before they opened and bought an annual membership.  The membership allowed us to view the new exhibit honoring Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are.  It was a special member’s preview and this was the first day of the exhibit.  So not only were we the newest members at the Walt Disney Family Museum, we were the first members to visit the sneak preview of the exhibit.

After a quick walk-through of the Sendak exhibit we returned to the main museum building and began exploring in earnest.  This place is like Mecca for a Disney fan.  The exhibits are arranged in galleries and each gallery represents a phase in the life of this amazing man.  Our last trip through the exhibits, two years ago, was simply too rushed.  Today we planned to take our time and enjoy every aspect of the displays.

The place is full of interactive displays, video clips, historic documents with detailed descriptions of their provenance and importance.  We did our best to push every button, flip every switch and read every placard.  Since our last visit two years ago they have relaxed the “No Photographs” rule a bit.  You may now take pictures anywhere in the museum, but flash photography is prohibited.  It sure is nice to be able to take home permanent mementos of our visit.

One of the interesting displays involves sound synchronization.  Visitors don headphones and a video clip, a short scene from Steamboat Willie, plays on a large monitor.  The bottom of the monitor has a second display which prompts the guests to tap on drums, bang on a xylophone, crank a clicking noisemaker or pull a rope to make a cat yowl.  These actions add the sound track to a cartoon, in much the same way animators used to do.  Our effort resulted in some hilarious results which would have been left on the cutting room floor.

We had made it about half way through the museum by noon so we stopped for a quick bite in the café.  Carol took a few minutes to pre-scout the gift shop . . . she wanted to devise a plan of attack for her visit later in the day!


We were back to the exhibits by 12:30 and continued our walk through the life of a truly amazing man.  By 2:30 we had pushed all the buttons and flipped all the switches.

It was time to move on!  Carol’s pre-planning paid off; she was able to zip through the gift shop in record time and we were soon in a cab on our way to the cable car station.

Along the way our driver took us down Lombard Street, that famous crooked street which appears in so many movies!


When we arrived at end of the cable car line, the turntable where they flip the cars around, there was a huge line of people waiting to board the cars.  There was a homeless entrepreneur there, he handed us a guide map and explained that if we walked one block up the hill we could hop on the first cable car to come along.  We said thanks and turned to leave – he demanded a tip – neither of us had anything but $20 bills so we declined.  He followed across the street and finally Carol dug into her purse and gave him all the coin she had, about 76 cents.  He was not happy as we carried on up the hill.

We arrived at the stop and joined the other dozen people he had sent to the same spot.  After about 15 minutes a cable car arrived and took four people from our line.  We waited another 15 minutes with no sign of a car.  Then a Lincoln Town Car pulled up and offered a ride to Union Square for $5.00 per person.  We jumped in.  The driver dropped us off about a block from the Disney Store.  We must have looked lost because suddenly a with a map man appeared.  He pointed out where the Disney Store was and wanted a tip . . . we walked away, no tip this time.  Carol remarked, “He looked just like the guy at the cable car station.”  I think they were probably identical cousins or something!


Carol did some shopping in the Disney Store and then we walked back to the Union Square end of the cable car line . . . once again there was a long line.  We walked a block up the hill and were able to board the first car to come along.  It arrived at the same time we did, no wait at all.


We were back aboard the ship just in time to freshen up for dinner.  Our rotation took us back to Triton’s for the second night in a row.

After dinner we took the laptop to the Outlook Café looking for a good internet connection . . . wireless internet service has been very spotty during this cruise.  In fact, the service has been terrible.  We could not get a connection in the Outlook Café so we headed to the Internet Café located beside the Promenade Lounge.  We were finally able to get a better connection there, still very slow but at least it didn’t keep cutting out.


We were back to the stateroom by 9:00 and settled in for the night.  Tomorrow we meet at 9:15 for our tour of Sausalito and Alcatraz.

May 23, 2013


Carol slept much better while we were docked . . . the engines were shut down and the ship wasn’t rocking.  We were up at 7:00 and started the day slowly with coffee in the stateroom.  By 8:00 we headed up to Beach Blanket Buffet for a light breakfast.  Then it was time to meet for our tour.


We assembled in the Diversions Lounge on Deck 3 and at 9:15 the cruise staff led us off the ship to our waiting bus.  It was about 60 degrees with sunny skies as the bus took us through San Francisco on our way to Sausalito.  The tour guide pointed out highlights and points of interest as we passed and then we climbed the ramp and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and entered Marin County. 

Wow, it’s a big bridge!  When it was built it was the world’s longest suspension bridge.  It has since been surpassed but it’s still an engineering marvel. 

We stopped for a few minutes at a scenic outlook point on the north side of the bridge so everyone could snap some pictures from that perspective.

Then we were off again, heading to our morning destination, Sausalito.  It’s a pretty little town with a sheltered harbor on Richardson Bay and it seems to be a very exclusive suburb of San Francisco.  The tour guide cracked a few jokes about Sausalito . . . apparently if you dial 911 a Porsche mechanic answers your call.  Up there in Marin County BMW stands for Basic Marin Wheels.


The bus dropped us in the centre of town with an hour and a quarter to shop.  I walked the shore and snapped a few pictures while Carol poked around in a few shops but after about 15 minutes we were both wishing we were on our way to Alcatraz.  Sausalito was not a highlight for us!

By 11:45 we had boarded the bus again and were on our way to our second crossing of the bridge.  We had another short tour of San Francisco on our way back to the pier where we boarded a ferry for our 1:30 ride across to Alcatraz.  The ferry ride gave us a new perspective of the skyline and we snapped a few more photos.

After landing on the island we had a short presentation by a National Parks Guide who described the history of the island which first served as a fortress during the Civil War, then served as a military prison until the 1930’s when it was transformed to a Maximum Security Federal Prison, finally closing in 1963. 


After the presentation we began our upward trek.  The road is a steep incline which switches back and forth several times as we climbed from the dock level to the cell block.  It’s equivalent to a 13 story rise between the two levels; as you ascend the rugged roadway you cross broken concrete and pavement.  My new knees found it to be a challenging trek but we certainly enjoyed the tour once we arrived at the top.

It is a narrated walking tour.  A headset directs you from point to point and the commentary, recorded by former guards and former inmates, describes prison life from both perspectives.

It was a fascinating afternoon, we both wished we had more time to walk the grounds and explore the gardens.  Before the Civil War the island was a barren roosting area for shore birds.  Over the intervening years a variety of non-indigenous plants have been introduced by soldiers, guards and prisoners.  Portions of the island are now lush with colorful flowers.

We were back to the ship by 4:00 p.m. and sat soaking up some sun on Deck 9 until the ship pulled away from the dock at about 5:35.  We watched the Golden Gate Bridge pass overhead from the aft overlook on Deck 7 and then rushed off for our 5:45 dinner at Animator’s Palette.

Our servers, Sedat and Yukiko are doing a great job . . . we have good servers, amiable table-mates and, as always, the food is excellent.

After dinner Carol went down to the shops on Deck 4 to do some pin trading, I went back to the stateroom.  It 8:15 we met outside the Walt Disney Theatre and enjoyed the comedy show of Michael Harrison.  He is a ventriloquist with a twist.  He brings some unusual items to life, starting with a tennis ball, then a tennis racquet and later a simple face he draws on a page with a Sharpie pen.  For his grand finale he finds a volunteer, a child from the audience, then converts them to a dummy and puts some hilarious words in their mouths.  We roared with laughter!

After resting our aching ribs in the cabin for a few minutes we wandered down to the 10:30 show in the Wavebands Lounge on Deck 4.  This time it was juggler Michael Holly.  Like the earlier ventriloquist, the juggler was also a comic.  His non-stop patter as he juggled once again kept us laughing insanely.  At one point I was afraid Carol was going to pass out; she was laughing so hard that she didn’t breathe for several minutes.  Michael put a few twists in his juggling show too.  Lots of performers eat the apple they are juggling, but Michael eats the apple while he juggles two 14 pound bowling balls along with it.  Then he juggled the two bowling balls along with a peanut M & M’s.  Quite a difference in weight but he made it look effortless.  Then he announced, while juggling, that he would eat the M & M.  There was a very high risk factor since the M & M was the same color as one of the bowling balls.  He managed to elude certain death and swallowed the right one!  Another great show!


We wandered over to the Diversions Lounge, next to Wavebands, picked a few light snacks from the buffet and settled in at a table for a few minutes before heading off to bed.  After just a few minutes some people from the Facebook group, Jamiee & Derek, Mimi & Vik all from Arizona, came in and joined us.  We sat chatting until after midnight . . . way past our bed time!  We tore ourselves away about 12:15 and headed off to bed.


Tomorrow will be another glorious day at sea.  We have absolutely nothing to do and we want to be well rested for it!

May 24, 2013


We were confident we could sleep in this morning so Carol requested room service coffee at 7:30.  Unfortunately Martin, who has delivered our coffee every morning at 7:00 a.m. didn’t notice the change.  We both awoke with his gentle rap on the door at 7:00.  As always, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a’gley.  We leaped out of bed and had our coffee.


It was bright and sunny at 7:00 a.m. with 10 foot waves rolling.  By the time we decided to head up to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast at 8:30 it had clouded over and skies remained overcast all day.  It was a cool and dreary day at sea!

After breakfast we headed to the Outlook Café on Deck 10.  I took the laptop and did some work on our trip report while Carol did some people watching.  There were waves sloshing in the pool below us but the sun deck was empty.  There were a few hearty swimmers and a steady procession of folks in and out of the hot tub, but no one stayed to bask, they all dried off and scurried away.


I almost finished preparing four days worth of trip report updates when the laptop battery ran down.  I headed back to our stateroom and plugged it in to finish the last little bit and at 11:30 I headed down to the Internet Café on Deck 3.  We have not been able to get a reliable connection in our stateroom this trip.  Would you believe that there is nowhere in the Internet Café to plug in a laptop?  Yup, it surprised me too.  I dragged a table and chair from the Promenade Lounge over to a receptacle near the portholes across from the lounge and managed to get everything uploaded by noon.  The folks back home must be getting frantic, some of them get quite cranky when I’m late with updates!

Shortly after noon we headed down to Parrot Cay and lined up for lunch.  As we waited our dinner tablemates Loren and Linda, from California, came along and joined us.  Our buddy Frano was assigning tables so he made sure we had a nice window seat looking out toward the Pacific.  We had a nice leisurely lunch and a few laughs with Loren and Linda.  As we were eating dessert Carol spotted a whale spouting and we were all able to turn in time to see it breach.  Soon several more followed suit.


Carol dashed off to the Vista Spa where she enjoyed the Pamper Package and I took my book to the Outlook Café where I sat reading for over an hour.  Soon the sandman was overpowering me so I headed back for a nap.


Carol arrived back, totally relaxed, at 3:30.  She really enjoyed her spa time!

We headed to the Promenade Lounge for a trivia competition.  We scored a respectable 21 out of 25 but the winner had 23.  It was a fun half hour and an interesting way to waste time until we had to dress for dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was a brand new menu and this was the first night it was served.  They cannot set off fireworks on the Alaska cruise so they will have a Pixar Pals Party rather than the traditional Pirates in the Caribbean Party.

Tonight we sampled the new “Toy Story Dinner” menu and then dashed off to the Atrium to join the Pixar Party.

The Atrium was a madhouse.  People were standing 10 or 12 rows deep and many adults had children sitting on their shoulders.  The Pixar characters paraded down the staircase from the 4th floor into the 3rd floor atrium, danced in pairs near the Ariel statue in front of Triton’s.  Once their dance segment was over they walked into the audience and danced with the children while another Pixar pair took their place on stage.

It was so crowded and so chaotic that I went off to a corner and sat on a couch while the music rattled my grey matter.  Carol fought the crowd long enough to get a few pictures, then we fled for the quiet of the Deck 4 foyer outside the Walt Disney Theatre.  Carol traded a few pins while we tried to decide whether we wanted to see Michael Holly perform again. 


We decided to skip the show so we headed to the stateroom, changed into our comfy clothes and went to the Promenade Deck to watch the sunset.  It looked a few minutes earlier like a gap in the clouds might give us a peek at the setting sun but by the time we got to the Promenade the gap had closed – no sunset tonight!  We stood out enjoying some fresh air until the chill drove us back inside.

We returned to the stateroom and Carol took advantage of a few minutes downtime to pack up one of our suitcases.


Soon we headed up to Deck 10 for the 10:15 fireworks show and dance party, the last one for a few months.

Tomorrow will be another laid-back at-sea day.

May 25, 2013


Today we were finally able to sleep in . . . and it was a bad thing!  Carol screeched as her bleary eyes found the clock and read 8:00 a.m.  We had to be at Parrot Cay for an 8:15 character breakfast.  We leaped out of bed and hit the floor running.


We made it down to Deck 3 just in time to join the line waiting to enter the restaurant.  As we gazed out the Deck 3 portholes we noticed that the skies were still very overcast but the seas had calmed down a great deal.  There was just a slight roll, not more than a few feet.  Winds had dropped off significantly during the night.


We had a pleasant breakfast with most of our dinner tablemates and the characters dropped by our table to pose for pictures.  Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale made sure to visit every table and took time to pose with adults and interact with the children.

After breakfast I picked up the computer and headed to the Internet Café to upload to our web site.  Carol roamed around Deck 3 killing time until I was done.  It was raining so we picked up coffee and headed to the Outlook Café where she kept an eye peeled for whales while I read my book.

At 12:15 we headed back to Parrot Cay for lunch.  It was a seafood buffet and it was great.  Unfortunately it was poor timing for us; we both ate sparingly because we are having dinner at Palo tonight.

It was a lazy afternoon; we had the showers we missed this morning, relaxed in the stateroom, kept our eyes open for whales and had a nice relaxing nap.  I took my book to the Outlook Café and read for a while.  When I returned at 5:00 p.m. Carol was all dressed for dinner so I quickly changed and we headed down to Deck 3 to get some character pictures.

Then it was time for our dinner at Palo.  We were celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary three days early . . . and what a magnificent place to celebrate it.  It is always a delightful dining experience.  Felice was our server once again and he entertained us while providing exceptional service.

We savored our dinner until about 7:45 then headed back to our stateroom.  Carol dashed off for some pin trading at Mickey’s Mates.  Soon she called to tell me that the mountains to the east of us were looking magnificent.  We are approaching the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the setting sun, when it peeks through the odd patch of blue in the sky, is lighting up Washington’s Olympic Mountains.  I took my camera to the Promenade Deck but it was a bit too hazy to get good pictures.  The setting sun looked great, but the mountain shots didn’t capture the beauty I saw with the naked eye.


Carol returned from pin trading and we went down to the Promenade Deck once again to watch the sunset.  After a few pictures there we decided to head up to Deck 9 and the balcony behind Beach Blanket Buffet.  It was sheltered from the wind there and we got some glorious shots.  The sun was setting behind the ship as we sailed into a cloud bank dropping a fine misty rain.  The result was a glorious rainbow which reflected off the water.  Then a brilliant red sunset lit up the western sky.  Our only clear sunset on this cruise and it was spectacular.


After warming up in our stateroom for a few minutes we struck out to Wave Bands to see the 10:30 show by ventriloquist/comic Michael Harrison.  His adult show was just as funny as the family show we saw a few nights ago.


We were back to our stateroom by 11:15 and sleep followed quickly.  We have an early start tomorrow . . . we meet our tour group at 8:15.  We’re off to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens for the day!

May 26, 2013


We were up bright and early this morning.  We were nearing Victoria so we watched from the balcony for a while.  Temperatures were cool, skies were overcast and a constant drizzle was falling.  By the time the room service coffee arrived at 7:00 a.m. I was already showered and ready to hit the road. 

We watched the ship dock in Victoria and at 7:30 we made our way to Deck 9 for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet.

Our excursion group met in Wave Bands at 8:15.  The check-in process was efficient, as usual, and by 8:30 the Disney Port Adventures staff were leading us down the gangway to the waiting bus for our tour and tea at Butchart Gardens.

The bus driver/tour guide, Rolland, did an amazingly good job.  We told us very informative and humorous tales about the city and its history.  He related the origins of the Butchart family and how they came to develop their old and depleted limestone quarry into world famous gardens.


We debarked from the bus at 9:30 and began by exploring the sunken garden located in the former quarry.  It is simply awesome.  When people think of Canada they think of ice and snow . . . but these gardens are located in a temperate rainforest.  Everything is lush and green.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

We moved on past the Ross Fountain and toured the rose garden.  Very few roses were in bloom this early in the season, but in a month it will be glorious.


Our tea was scheduled for 10:45 so we ran out of touring time much too soon.  We had to bypass the Japanese and Italian Gardens.  The tea was excellent, a nice variety of scones, sandwiches and sweets along with a pot of hot tea.  It sure hit the spot after a few hours out in the cold drizzle.

We took a few more pictures as we approached the exit.  A greenhouse beside the gift shop had a vivid display of orchids and begonias so we stopped for some shots of those specimens.  Naturally Carol had to detour through the gift shop and to my surprise, she came out empty handed.  Wow!


We boarded our bus at 12:15 and only had to wait five minutes for the inevitable stragglers.


Rolland entertained us again on the way home, pointing out many points of interest and using amusing tales to put them all in historical perspective.  All in all it was a terrific excursion – the gardens were breathtaking and Rolland brought the journey there and back to life with his enthusiastic stories.  We tipped him generously; I hope everyone else did too!

We were back aboard by 1:30 and wandered the deck for a while enjoying a break in the showers.

It was a real surprise, and a treat, to see the Disney Wonder flying our Canadian flag!

We admired the Victoria skyline and watched the boats and float planes navigate the harbor.  There was even a floating bus, the Hippo!

We stopped at Beach Blanket Buffet for a light snack about 2:00 p.m. and then returned to the stateroom where Carol did some more packing.  Alas, it all comes to an end for us tomorrow and our bags must be out in the hall for pick-up by 10:30 tonight.

Our last dinner was in Animator’s Palate at 5:45.  The servers put on a show, parading around the dining room waving flags of their native countries.  For some strange reason our server, Sedat from Turkey, was waving the Canadian flag.

We said goodbye to our tablemates and exchanged e-mail addresses, then headed back to the stateroom to finish the last minute things and put our bags out in the hall.

I headed out for a last stroll around Deck 10, soaking in the scenery as we sailed up the Haro Straight past San Juan Island.  The sun was setting over Vancouver Island.


Tomorrow we disembark in Vancouver and catch a noon flight to Toronto then drive 2 hours to our home in Kingston.  If all goes well we should be able to pick up our dogs and be home by 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night.

May 27, 2013


I woke at 6:00 a.m. and stepped out on the balcony.  We were approaching Vancouver harbor and the Island Princess was directly ahead of us.

Soon the Lions Gate Bridge loomed ahead of us and we passed below it at 6:15.  Vancouver has a great waterfront area, a beautiful skyline and there is always plenty there for a tourist.  Alas, not for us this trip; we will head directly to the airport and fly home at noon.

After I supervised the docking process I headed up to Deck 9 and had a bite of breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet then went back to the stateroom. 

Carol was ready to go when I arrived so we headed to the Deck 3 atrium to wait our debarkation time.  Due to our early flight time we had Ariel baggage tags, putting us in the first departure group.


Our group was called at about 8:45 and off we went to Canada Place, the Cruise Terminal.  The Ariel bags were all grouped together and we found two of our three right away.  The third one proved elusive.  We scoured all of the Ariel bags again and again, but it was not there.  Carol asked a couple of the attendants for help and they meticulously scoured the bags we had already gone over several times.  Finally Carol found it, misfiled in the group of Donald bags a few yards away.  Ooops – almost a half hour was wasted.


We used Disney transportation to get to the airport and it was very efficient.  We walked directly from the baggage claim area to the bus and boarded without delay.  We were at the airport by 9:30 and Carol breathed a huge sigh of relief as our two large bags both weighed in at 22.5 kg – for our metrically challenged American friends, that’s 49.6 pounds.  Whew . . . just under the wire!


 The Tim Horton’s coffee shop beckoned so we stopped for a coffee and a snack before heading to our departure gate.  Our flight left on time and was smooth all the way.  We touched down in Toronto about 10 minutes late, picked up our bags and called the Best Western Hotel for shuttle pick-up.  We had to wait 40 minutes . . . we won’t be staying at the Best Western again!


We were on the road by 9:00 p.m.  Skies were overcast and the temperature was 15 degrees.  For our metrically challenged American friends, that’s 59 degrees Fahrenheit.  Traffic was light and we made great time; I set the cruise control for 120 kmh (75 mph) and hardly had to touch the brake.


We picked up the dogs from Carol’s parent’s at 11:30 and were home before midnight.  I was bushed and went straight to bed but Carol stayed up for a couple of hours and unpacked.


This is the first time we have cruised on our own in about six years.  Since then we have always sailed with friends or as part of a group.  Before this cruise we had wondered what sort of group we would have at our table and how we would all get along.  It worked out very well.  There was always plenty of lively and interesting dinner conversation and we even met by chance for a few lunches.


We had a terrific time.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “But Gary, you didn’t get to the pool or hot tub once during the trip.”  You are absolutely correct, the cruise would have been more enjoyable had the weather been a bit warmer but overall we had a wonderful time. 


We hope you have enjoyed travelling along with us!