Majestic Princess – 4 Day West Coast Inaugural – October 6th, 2021

I was so unbelievably excited. This was my first cruise in over two years! I was so happy and grateful that Princess Cruises invited me to sail with them on the Majestic Princess on October 6th to 9th, 2021 round trip out of Los Angeles (The World Cruise Terminal).

Leading Up To The Cruise

Things have changed with Princess Cruises. All their ships are now equipped with the “Medallion Class”. This Medallion is your cruise card and is touted to be the game changer for cruising in the future. Once I was confirmed onto the sailing, I downloaded the Medallion Class App off the Apple App Store and logged in with my booking reference number. I’m not going to lie, the app was (and is) glitchy. Princess Cruises also acknowledges that clients who don’t have a smart phone, cannot do their “online check in” right now without having to call for a Princess agent to do it for them. I was having issues with being able to accept the cruise contract, so finally uninstalling the app and re-installing seemed to help and work for me. Also for this cruise, I did need to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the cruise (which I was fully vaccinated back in July), and provide a negative antigen or PCR test taken within the two days prior to departure. Within 24 hours of sailing I had to go back into the Medallion Class app to complete my “Health Declaration”.

The app was useful for selecting an arrival time, scheduling dining times in the main dining rooms and the specialty dining options. There was also an area where you could select some of your preferences (bedding requests in your room, dining speed preference, ADA requirements, etc) and dietary requirements. However when it came to listing allergies, the list you could select from was very limited and there was no “other” option to list other allergies you might have had. This was also the same for dietary restrictions, there was not “other” selection available with a place for notes. Most of my allergies and sensitivities I couldn’t actually list and had to make sure at the restaurants onboard.

Day 1 – Travel and Embarkation Day

I woke up at 3:30am, I’m not going to lie, I was both anxious and super excited. I finished packing my carry on with my camera gear and was picked up by my aunt, who took me to the Vancouver International Airport. I arrived at the airport at 5:00am, in time for my 5:15am Covid-19 Antigen Test. The check in process for my test was a bit chaotic. Because the line was so long, I was finally checked in at 5:25am and my test took another twenty five minutes to be administered. I then had to wait another thirty minutes for my results. After I had my negative result, I went through TSA (TSA Pre-Check wasn’t open as it was still early), so that took another twenty minutes. Once through US Customs (I used my Nexus), I grabbed a Starbucks and sat down after two hours. If I can give any advice, when travelling internationally or cross-border, give yourself as much time as you can right now. Especially as things start to get busier. Shortly after, I boarded my flight to Los Angeles and I was off! A quick two hours and fifty minutes later, we had touched down and it was time to figure out how to use Lyft from LAX.

LAX-it

LAX’s new ride share and taxi “terminal” is called LAX-it (pronounced LA Exit). I took a free shuttle from just outside arrivals to the LAX-it terminal (look for the Green Pillars outside). It was a very easy process and there was a shuttle in less than five minutes from when I arrived to the pick up area. Once there you go to the respective ride share or taxi lane and order your Lyft, Uber or Taxi. My Lyft costed $32.99 plus tip from LAX to the World Cruise Centre (the Majestic Princess was docked at Berth 92).

Arrival at the Cruise Terminal

Because I am Canadian, Princess Cruises is currently not shipping the Medallions outside of the United States, therefore I picked up my Medallion at the port. When I arrived, there were lots of porters ready to help with baggage, however I was doing carry on only, so I carried on my own baggage onto the ship. Once through the security checkpoint, you were then divided by the lanes you were assigned on your app (Green Lane, Blue Lane, Yellow Lane) and your status level if you have “Priority Boarding”. I was “Green Lane with Priority Boarding” and the check in process was extremely easy (they double checked my Covid test results and my proof of vaccination) and I was given my medallion. I didn’t see an area where you needed to declare wine, if you were bringing wine onboard (on Princess Cruises you are allowed to bring up to two bottles of wine (750ml size) without paying a corkage fee, to be enjoyed in your stateroom). I didn’t bring any wine with me on this trip as I was carry on only and I had the “Princess Plus” promotion which included a drinks package. Then I headed upstairs, walked the gangway and boarded the Majestic Princess!

Boarding the Ship

Boarding the ship was so easy, you tapped your Medallion, removed your face mask briefly and walked onboard (this was typical of all the other ports of call as well). When I entered the ship, they had staff clapping and saying “Welcome Aboard”! I literally started to tear up. It was so wonderful to board a ship again after over two years. Travel is coming back and it’s just one more step closer!

My Princess Ocean Medallion in the Lanyard

My Stateroom

Because the ship arrived empty from Seattle, my stateroom was ready for me when I boarded the ship just after 1:00pm. I was hosted by Princess Cruises in a Balcony Stateroom, R302 on the Rivera Deck 14. It was very well laid out and the Medallion unlocked your door hands free as you walked up to your door (no more fumbling for a cruise card). As you entered the room, they did have a key card for the lights and electrics in the stateroom, that you could insert. There was then the “walk in closet”, with a cabinet and a safe (the safe was very small, I couldn’t fit my 13″ MacBook Air into it, I had to lock it into my luggage) and the bathroom. The bathroom was snug with a good amount of storage space and a shower (with a shower curtain, which I didn’t love). My bed was made into a queen bed as requested through the Medallion app in my room preferences and I had a mini-bar setup included (assorted liquors, beer, water and soft drinks) as I am Elite status when I sail with Princess. I also had the Princess Patter (the daily newsletter that lets you know when and where things are happening on the ship) along with some other information of the cruise. I then completed my “Muster Drill” on my TV in my room. It’s so great that you don’t have a typical muster drill anymore. You can complete the drill on your phone in the app or on your TV in your stateroom. Another great thing about sailing with Princess Cruises is that most in-cabin/room service dining is free of charge, there are a few items that have a “delivery fee” such as pizza. Then I quickly unpacked and checked in at my muster station (which was the Princess Grand Casino), then headed for Lunch. Be sure to check out my YouTube video down below for a full cabin tour!

Balcony Cabin R302 on the Riviera Deck (Deck 14)
Room Service Menu for Breakfast on the Majestic Princess

Princess Plus

I had the “Princess Plus” Promotion which includes a Premium Drinks Package (with gratuities, for any drink up to $12 USD and a maximum of 15 drinks per day), MedallionNet Unlimited Wifi for one device and the “Crew Incentive” (the pre-paid gratuities/service charges). It’s well worth the Princess Plus as it works out to being around $40 USD extra onto your cruise fare when you initially book your cruise and they say it’s a value of at least $90 USD per day.

Lunch at Alfredo’s

I heard amazing things about Alfredo’s on the Royal Class Ships and was extremely excited to give it a try. I had a Prosecco to kick things off along with the Pizza Capricciosa (which was with tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, ham, black olives and basil). It was so delicious. If you’re ever on the Majestic Princess, I highly suggest eating at Alfredo’s. It’s included in your cruise fare, even though it feels like a “specialty dining” option.

Menu at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess
Menu at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess
Pizza at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess
Tiramisu at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess

Exploring the Ship and Sail Away

I spent the next couple hours getting acquainted with the Majestic Princess’ layout and attended a spa tour of the Lotus Spa and filmed it for my vlog. I will say that while I love “The Enclave” at the Lotus Spa, I’m also disappointed that they don’t have sea views like some thermal suites do on other ships. The spa area has also taken over the Karaoke rooms (yes, this ship had karaoke rooms!), which I feel could have been more fun if they kept those, but I also understand they probably can’t be used quite yet with the pandemic. I then enjoyed a margarita at the “Wake View Bar” at the aft (back) of the ship. As there were other travel advisors invited on this inaugural cruise for the “west coast season”, there was a private “sail away party” held at the Wake View Bar. If I’m going to be honest, once we sailed away, I didn’t want to miss the “Love Boat” themed horn that this ship has, so I did leave the party early. It was also very busy and a larger group in a smallish space and I just personally didn’t feel that comfortable in that setting. The sail away party in the main pool area was much more my style, more space between guests and great entertainment. It was here that I learned we were sailing at just under half capacity, just over 1400 guests onboard our cruise and 1200 crew! That’s almost a 1 to 1 crew to guest ratio.

Dinner at Allegro

I had dinner at Allegro dining room at the aft of the ship on Deck 6. I had a lovely view of the wake as we sailed away from Los Angeles. For a starter I had the “Seared Garlic Prawns”, followed by a small portion of the fettuccini alfredo. For my main course I had the “Cocoa-Spiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin” with green chili sweet potato mash, summer squash, peppers and a bourbon sauce. It was delicious! One of my cruise tips is to ask for smaller portions and they can accommodate that. I find that some cruise lines serve very large portions, which are too big for my liking. By ordering a “small portion”, I feel that I waste less food, especially as I also sometimes like to sample a couple different starter options. Dessert was the Princess Love Boat Dream, which was chocolate mousse on a brownie and a I had a coffee with a shot of Bailey’s.

Here’s the menu for the first night dinner on the Majestic Princess (all main dining rooms serve the same menu):

Dinner Menu the First Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Dinner Menu the First Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Grilled Shrimp Starter on the Majestic Princess
Fettuccini Alfredo Starter on the Majestic Princess
Cocoa-Spiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin on the Majestic Princess
Dessert Menu the First Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Dessert Menu the First Night on Majestic Princess

After dinner I checked out the tail end of the show in the Princess Theatre, it was a Broadway style show called Sweet Soul Music. I did have an earlier night as I had such an early morning and it was a long day!

Here’s the Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess for our first day (embarkation day):

Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 1
Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 1

I’ve created a YouTube video series on my experience sailing on the Majestic Princess on this West Coast Inaugural. You can watch “Part 1” here:

Day 2 – San Diego, California

I woke up early as I had a somewhat of an early night, I woke up at 4:30am to the sound of Sea Lions growling and flighting over spots on a buoy as we entered the San Diego harbour. One of the reasons I love sailing in a balcony stateroom is that I can sleep with the door slightly opened, falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean at night and apparently being woken up by the local wildlife in the early hours of the morning.

Once we docked at San Diego at around 5:15am I headed out for some coffee at the International Cafe (a 24 hour, cafe that makes a very tasty Salted Caramel Latte and has snacks) and a walk around the ship to film a ship tour. I do love exploring the ship at this time as there is typically hardly anyone around as most people are still sleeping. After walking around most of the ship, it was time for breakfast in the Concerto Dining Room

The Piazza, the centre of the Majestic Princess

Breakfast in Concerto

I typically enjoy having a sit down breakfast as it isn’t typically rushed and I enjoy the service. I also find that the dining room for breakfast on cruise ships aren’t busy like the buffet areas typically are, especially as I went at 7:00am. The servers were lovely, however the food was very lack lustre. I also have a nut allergy and specifically asked if the cinnamon roll had nuts and the server said no. It had nuts (it was a nut roll of some sort not a cinnamon roll) and experienced a bit of an allergic reaction which was frustrating which did cut my breakfast short as I had to go back to my cabin to take an antihistamine. I also found the seated breakfast menu to be a bit limited (I love having eggs benny on a cruise in the morning and it was MIA from the menu) and wasn’t sure if that was because this was a shorter cruise. I had “The Lumberjack” which was fried eggs, sautéed mushrooms a grilled “minute steak” and crispy hash brown potatoes.

Breakfast Menu in the Main Dining Room on the Majestic Princess

Leaving the Ship

I did leave the ship to get some photos of the Majestic Princess in the Port of San Diego as we docked where I could get some good photos and videos of the ship. Leaving the ship was very easy, just had to tap my Medallion and away I went. I did take my passport with me just in case, however I wasn’t even asked for that to re-enter the port. Once I took a few photos and videos of the ship I boarded the ship again as the weather wasn’t the best really, it did start to rain. I did also google how close the nearest Trader Joe’s was, and it was about a twenty minute drive. I did have to do back through the terminal, and I don’t think they were 100% setup for people to get back on the ship so early. It was a bit of a maze trying to get out of the terminal building. Once back on board, I simply tapped my Medallion again and was back on board.

The Majestic Princess Docked in San Diego, California
The Majestic Princess Docked in San Diego, California

Hollywood Conservatory

Once back on board the Majestic Princess, I headed back to my room and changed into my swim suit and went up the the Hollywood Pool Club and Conservatory. With the weather being a bit iffy, it was so nice to have this glass enclosed area. I was able to get myself one of the cabanas inside this adults only pool area and enjoyed one of the whirlpools all to myself for a while. There is an area on other Princess ships called “The Sanctuary” which has an extra charge, you rent beds or cabanas by half day or the full day, however at the time of my sailing, the Hollywood Conservatory is no extra charge and is first come, first serve for beds and cabanas! Some bloggers and vloggers have said that the roof retracts, however the glass roof is stationary and is built not to open. That being said, I can totally see why this ship is great for Alaska and cooler destinations, this area reminds me a bit of the Observation Lounge on the Norwegian Bliss, Joy or Encore (those Observation Lounges are so stunning and comfy) but this one has the added benefit of a pool and hot tubs! I did have a pina colada once the bar opened at 10:00am and relaxed until around 10:30am when I decided it was time to go back to the room to shower and get ready for an early lunch.

The Adults-only Hollywood Conservatory on the Majestic Princess

Lunch at Alfredo’s

So after a very disappointing breakfast that I didn’t finish, I had an early lunch at Alfredo’s. I ordered the “Antipasto Assortito di Magro” (which was mozzarella caprese, grilled zucchini, sun-blushed tomatoes, roasted red and yellow peppers) to start and it was amazing. I had it with a lovely glass of rose wine. I then had a pizza that was half “Hawaiiana” and half “Majestic Princess” which was Parma Ham, Parmesan cheese and fresh tomatoes. It was delicious. Yes, some people don’t like pineapple on pizza, but I do haha. I finished it off with the amazing tiramisu.

Lunch at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess
Lunch at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess
Lunch at Alfredo’s on the Majestic Princess

Exploring More of the Majestic Princess

After lunch I walked around the ship a bit more and explored Deck 18 which is a “Mural Walk”. If you’ve ever been to Penang, Malaysia (which is on my list to visit in 2022), you know can really have fun with some of these “interactive” murals. After a quick nap back in my stateroom, it was then time for an afternoon cocktail “pick me up” in the “Bar Piazza” on Deck 5. To be honest by this point, my Medallion Class app had been extremely glitchy and was not working properly. I hadn’t been able to order drinks or food from the app, it would just say “loading”. To make things a bit more frustrating, I noticed that some of the QR codes to access menus around the ship also were not working. I asked the waiter for a paper bar menu and was told they didn’t have one. To be honest this confused me as Princess Cruises caters to an older clientele which some of those people don’t have smartphones. Keep in mind that with the Princess Plus promotion you have a Premium Drinks Package included, however it has a limit of $12 per drink. I ordered what I was craving, an Espresso Martini and asked if the beverage package covered that and the waiter said “yes”. I did relax for a little while at Bar Piazza near a window seat and responded to a few DM’s on Instagram. After I finished my drink, I headed up to the World Fresh Marketplace, as I had a few DM’s about the “buffet” and what it looked like. I posted a few videos on Instagram and filmed some footage for the vlog. I went back downstairs and changed back into my swimsuit and went back into the Hollywood conservatory (the main pool deck was a bit busy by this point with most people back onboard from exploring San Diego). I noticed that I was still having challenges with the Ocean Medallion app, so I decided to try to uninstall it and reinstall it before heading down to the Ocean Medallion Desk for help. After I did that, it did work a lot better. So if you notice that pages once you get onboard just keep saying “loading”, delete the app and reinstall and that should work for you as well. If not, there is an “Ocean Medallion Help Desk” near the Princess Live Theatre. I then put the app to a few tests. I ordered a drink through it and some food (chips and guacamole) for the first time. The drink came very quick, within five minutes. I was seated in one of the cabanas in the Hollywood Pool Club and Conservatory in the pool area, because of the sensors in the ceiling, my drink was brought to me without needing to flag him down. I do have to say that the app and Medallion is great for the “personal” aspect. The staff can see your photo and your name so they can address you, they also know your last drink orders and preferences to make the interactions with you more personalized. On to the chips and guac… Well that took over 40 minutes to arrive to me which was disappointing, considering that there was less than half guest capacity on the ship and almost 1 to 1 guest to crew ratio. At the 20 minute mark I was ready to start moving on, back to my stateroom as I had finished swimming at that point. When the chips and guacamole (with the addition of salsa) did finally arrive, it was very good.

Espresso Martini (that I drank a bit already) at Bar Piazza

Stateroom Viewing

The Travel Advisors onboard had the opportunity to view some of the other staterooms onboard the ship. I didn’t take any photos, however I did take some video and you will see them in my YouTube vlog episode for Day 2 (coming soon). As they were only open for a brief period of time, it was quite crowded at times and I had to wait as there was no one directing people or capacity to view the cabins. It was one of the times where I didn’t feel 100% comfortable as there were a lot of people in a small area. I was able to view a Suite (R604) and a Mini Suite (R416). Easy to remember numbers for me as it was a nod to Vancouver and Toronto area codes (was not intentional haha).

Sail Away from San Diego

I headed back down to my stateroom and got ready for dinner. As there was no Platinum/Elite lounge on this sailing (which I thought was a bit strange), I did move my dining time to an earlier time on the app. I will say that changing dining times on the app is very quick and easy. I know this was probably even easier on our sailing as there were not many onboard. The Symphony Dining Room (MDR) was closed this sailing, but still had no problems with the Allegro or Concerto Main Dining Room reservations in the Ocean Medallion app. Once ready for dinner, I went upstairs and watched as we sailed away from San Diego. It’s a great city to visit, I’ve been here a few times before, however I wanted to spend as much time on the ship as possible as it was such a short cruise (I really only had two full days on the ship). They were pretty quick to put on an American football game the moment we pushed off from the pier, so I walked a bit further back on the ship to film the sail away.

Dinner in Concerto

Wow it was COLD. I stayed outside as long as I could, but even as a Canadian, I didn’t pack for Vancouver weather, I thought it would have been much warmer (yes I checked the weather when I was packing). Because I had changed my reservation, I didn’t have to wait for long (thankfully) as my dining time quickly approached, so I went inside, out of the cold and down to the Concerto Dining Room. I like to try the different main dining rooms, even though they all serve the same menus for dinner. Concerto is located more mid-ship so the views out the windows are to the sides of the ship, whereas Allergo has a “wake view” at the back of the ship. I was seated at a window with views of San Diego as we sailed away. I started off with the “Sesame Chicken Bites”, which I found to be on the slight dry side. Followed by my main course of the “Slow-Roasted Prime Rib” served with rosemary jus and horseradish cream, and a Yorkshire pudding. My main was good, however the piece of beef I was served had quite a bit of fat on it (which I didn’t eat). I then thoroughly enjoyed my dessert, which was a “Lemon Meringue Cheesecake”. After dinner, it was time to walk around a bit. I headed upstairs to Deck 16 as the “Watercolour Fountain Fantasy” show was scheduled to start soon. Unfortunately the football game was still on so the fountain show didn’t take place.

Here’s the menu for our second night dinner on the Majestic Princess (all main dining rooms serve the same menu):

Dinner Menu the Second Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Dinner Menu the Second Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Sesame Chicken Bites as a Starter
Slow-Roasted Prime Rib as my Main Course
Dessert Menu the Second Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake for Dessert

Good Spirits at Sea

I headed back downstairs to check out the live mixology show called “Good Spirits at Sea”. The servers and bar staff here were my favourite. They were so friendly, making conversation and suggesting cocktails that I might like to try. This is honestly my favourite bar on the Majestic Princess. The specialty cocktails are also covered under the Premium Beverage Package with the Princess Plus, which is amazing! I tried the “Grappa Peach” inspired in Montevideo and the “Gin and Tonic Ultima” inspired in Barcelona. It’s a fun evening learning about cocktails and the inspiration that goes behind creating them. They show a bit of a travel series on each drink and the location that they were inspired, then the bartender makes the drink live on screen. Be sure to check out my YouTube video below on my experience here! They serve the drink to you on a laminated recipe card that you get to keep and take home with you.

Good Spirits at Sea Recipe Cards on Princess Cruises
Good Spirits at Sea Bar Menu on the Ocean Medallion App

Shopping in the Shops

I had some onboard credits that I needed to use, so it was time to check out the “Shops of Princess”. Unfortunately the Princess merchandise shop on Deck 5 had sold out of ship magnets on the previous cruise (I collect magnets from every ship I’ve sailed on). So up to the duty free shops on Deck 6 I went. I have been eying a few of the perfumes for a little while now, so I tried the two I really was interested in, one on each arm. Unfortunately I have some sensitivities to some perfumes (especially if they are made to a lesser quality), so I do this to make sure the scent works with my body, but to also insure I don’t have an allergic reaction. I perused some of the other shops, including the Coach and Bulgari shops onboard. This ship does have more luxury shopping options onboard than other typical Princess Ships, as it was built for the Asian market. There was a phase that contemporary cruise lines built ships especially for the Asian cruise market, however they realized that it wasn’t a good move financially in the end, so Norwegian Cruise Line totally renovated the Norwegian Joy and brought it to the North American market for Alaska (in 2019) and Princess Cruises has done the same with the Majestic Princess (in 2021). They are making changes to the Majestic Princess slowly, however you do still see the Asian characters throughout the ship. After shopping, I peeked into the Princess Theatre and caught a small bit of the “impressionist” act. He wasn’t very good unfortunately. So I called it a night and headed back to my stateroom.

Here’s the Majestic Princess Princess Patter for our second day in San Diego:

Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 2
Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 2

I’ve created a YouTube video series on my experience sailing on the Majestic Princess on this West Coast Inaugural out of Los Angeles. You can watch “Part 2” here:

Day 3 – Ensenada, Mexico

I always wake up early on a cruise and I love it. I find it makes the most of my day. I headed downstairs for some coffee at the International Cafe. I grabbed a latte and relaxed in the Piazza. Afterwards I went up to Deck 16 to film some footage on the SeaWalk which is a glass walkway suspended over 130ft above the water, off either side of the ship. I was able to also catch the Pilot boat approaching our ship to drop off the Harbour Pilot. I didn’t get off the ship here as I only had two full days really onboard to experience the ship and I was being very cautious because of the current “world situation”.

Breakfast at the World Fresh Marketplace

I then wanted to try out the buffet breakfast at World Fresh Marketplace for something different, and to be sure to report on all the different food offerings. When you enter the space there is a crew member asking you to sanitize and wash your hands, they do have sink stations right at the entry. The buffet is not self serve right now for obvious reasons, but you point to what you would like, tell them how much you would like on your plate and they serve it up for you. There was an omelette station, which they take your omelette order, then you take a copy of your order back to your seat to give to a server, who will then go and pick it up for you when it’s ready. I really enjoyed my omelette, it was delicious and just the right size. They didn’t have any eggs benedict on the menu here for breakfast either which I was a bit sad about as I love eggs benny in the morning on a cruise. I also had a small portion of waffles with strawberries and whipping cream, an apricot danish, a strawberry croissant, a side of crispy hash browns and corned beef hash with chorizo. All tasted very fresh and was good (much better than the main dining room yesterday for breakfast). There are some small plates of certain items that you can “grab and go”. They will bring you coffee and juice to where you are seated, however I will say that the coffee in the World Fresh Marketplace is not good, I couldn’t drink it. The main dining room’s coffee is much better, or grab yourself a coffee at the International Cafe and bring it upstairs. None of the servers offered me a latte or cappuccino option, so I am unsure if they have a machine upstairs. You could also order a specialty coffee through the Medallion app to be delivered to you in the Buffet area (extra charge if you didn’t have a drinks package).

Ensenada Welcoming Committee aka The Sea Lions and Harbour Seals

After breakfast I headed back to my stateroom to watch us finish docking at Ensenada, Mexico whilst the displaced seals caused a ruckus down below in the water. I will say that the wi-fi included in the Princess Plus (only for one device per person at one time) was pretty quick. I was able to FaceTime my Grandmother with no interruptions or lagging issues. Uploading video stories to Facebook and Instagram was also very quick. The seals were definitely the added entertainment throughout the day.

Seals in Ensenada, Mexico

Elemis at the Lotus Spa

I’ve tried and used various beauty products on my face, (this is not sponsored, this is my actual opinion), I love some of the Elemis facial and body products. I don’t really get spa treatments on cruises, I have in the past, on occasion (especially when I win a treatment at the Spa Raffle on the first day). I was introduced to some of the Elemis products actually off the ships when I was receiving beauty and lifestyle subscription boxes. I received a few of the products in a shipment and was hooked. I totally fell in love with the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel and was finally running low (I stocked up on my last cruise in 2019, thank goodness I did). They had it in stock here at the Lotus Spa on the Majestic Princess, so I used some of my onboard credit to purchase one tube. I love it as you can actually use it as a night cream (it’s safe to use on your skin for a long period of time, however do a patch test to make sure it works for you), when I wake up in the morning, my skin is so soft and vibrant. On my next cruise in December on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, I might have to restock my Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm.

Travel Advisors Meeting with John Chernesky

Right before our event, I met with one of my colleagues along with her husband and chatted about each of our cruise experiences onboard thus far. At 10:00am, for all of us Travel Advisors who were invited onboard this cruise, we attended a live “webinar” broadcast called “Connect with Princess” presented by Princess Cruises Senior Vice President, North America Sales and Trade Marketing, John Chernesky. It was a great show with some great updates for us Travel Advisors regarding Princess Cruises. Afterwards, the ship did some maintenance on the electricals of the ship which meant that the elevators and the wi-fi was down for about an hour, so instead of walking all the way up to my room, I had an early-ish lunch at Alfredo’s again.

Lunch at Alfredo’s

It was back to Alfredo’s for my last lunch onboard (sad to think that this was already my last full day onboard). I ordered the starter of the “Antipasto Assortito di Magro” (which was mozzarella caprese, grilled zucchini, sun-blushed tomatoes, roasted red and yellow peppers) again and had a half Hawaiiana and half Capricciosa pizza for my main course. Of course I also enjoyed my dessert… tiramisu. It was then time to walk around the ship a bit more, get some more video footage.

Hollywood Conservatory

After a bit of a walk, I went back to my stateroom, changed into my swim suite and went up to the Hollywood Conservatory as it was a bit cool and windy on the open pool deck. They also play Movies Under the Stars (during the day as well) on the main pool deck which is quite fun (they do provide blankets in the evening), however this cruise had been quite cool weather wise so I opted for the warmth and quiet area of the Conservatory. As I mentioned earlier in this blog, on other Princess Ships, this adults only area is typically called “The Sanctuary” and comes at an additional charge to enjoy, currently at the time of posting this blog, this area is complementary to use. I did order myself a Pina Colada in the whirlpool, and I have to mention that the paper straws they gave me for my frozen drinks actually held up and didn’t go mushy. After a couple hours of swimming in the pool, enjoying the hot hubs and relaxing on the loungers it was time to get changed and get moving again.

Walk Around the Ship

I will say that I found the activities to be a bit lacking this cruise (you can check out the activities on the Princess Patters I’ve posted). I’m not really sure why. I was hoping they would have had a “Grapevines Wine Tasting” like they do on other sailings, however they didn’t offer one on this cruise. I understand that on port days, it’s really meant to be a day where you go and visit the ports, however on such a short cruise I guess I was hoping for a bit more to “truly experience everything the ship had to offer” so to speak. I did go up to Deck 18 and putted around a few golf balls.

Wake View Bar

After some putting on the greens, I headed down to the Wake View Bar for a drink. While in Mexico we drink Margaritas! A 24 Karat Margarita on the rocks made with Patron to be exact. I also went inside to the World Fresh Marketplace and grabbed a fresh chicken fajita with onions, peppers and guacamole from the buffet for a snack. The wind really picked up and started to get quite cool, so I headed back inside and over to the Hollywood Conservatory where I found a forward facing cabana available, so settled in there to create some content. I ordered a glass of Prosecco and relaxed for the last hour before we sailed away from Ensenada, Mexico.

My New Favourite Carry-All Bag

I was graciously gifted a beautiful beach bag from Wanderlust Stuff, a woman owned online travel products and accessory business in Canada. I have to say I love this bag and it’s my new favourite carry-all bag. It fits my vlogging camera with the attached microphone really easily, so I can vlog on the go much easier. I used this bag for my trip to the ILTM conference at the Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico as well! It’s sustainably hand made in India and comes in a few different patterns and colours, mine is the “Rose Gold” option. She also sent me a “Scentered” scent balm kit which I used on the plane and some “Flightfud” (which I tried for the first time on my flight down the LAX and LOVED it!). Click here to shop these beautiful bags or for other essential travel products you might need for your next adventure!

My New Favourite “Carry All Bag” from Wanderlust Stuff

Sail Away from Ensenada, Mexico

“All aboard” soon took place and the workers slowly herded the seals away from the anchor points so they could release the ship’s lines. These seals were entertainment for the entire day, it was so funny to watch them interact with each other. There was a live DJ playing tunes out on deck as we sailed away from Mexico, as we pushed off from the pier, the Captain sounded the “Love Boat” themed horn for the last time on this sailing.

Shopping in the Shops

Once we had sailed away, the shops re-opened for the last time. I used the last of my onboard credit and picked up the Gucci Flora gardenia fragrance. I then got a print out of my account to make sure that everything was in order. My big cruise tip is to always look at your onboard account the night before departure. I’ve found mistakes before and have been able to fix them with ease because the shops, spa, casino, etc were still open. It’s more difficult to deal with certain things the morning you have to leave the ship because nothing is open except for “Guest Services”, not to mention the typical long lines. You can also now typically see your onboard account on your TV in your room and on your cruise app. However sometimes purchases are posted overnight, so the most accurate way to get last minute purchases on your account is through Guest Services.

Spending Time in My Stateroom

The sunset leaving Mexico tonight was so beautiful! I decided to change my dining reservation through the Medallion Class app and opted for a later dining time to sit and enjoy the sunset from my balcony. I poured myself a gin and tonic from my mini bar set up and relaxed. This is what I love and missed so much about cruising, sailing and enjoying the sea. As the sun was setting, dolphins appeared and were swimming along side of us! It was such a magical and spectacular moment, the sun setting in the background and the dolphins jumping out of the water beside us. I did catch it on video as well, so be sure to check out my YouTube video below!

Sunset from my Balcony Stateroom on the Majestic Princess

Dinner at Allegro

After the gorgeous sunset, I headed downstairs to the Allegro Dining Room. I was just in time for the “Parade of the Baked Alaska”. One of the Princess Cruise Hosts did a lovely speech, introduced the Executive Chef, Food and Beverage Director and the Head Maître D’. I started off this evening with the “Shrimp Cocktail”, followed by the “Surf and Turf” which was served with jumbo shrimp, petite filet mignon, tarragon béarnaise, sautéed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. I was surprised when the beef course came as it was a “slab” of already cut steak, I guess I thought in my head it was going to be a small medallion of steak. Because they served it this way, I found the steak to be a bit on the dry side as the juices had ran out from it. I finished off my meal with the Ice Cream Bombe Diplomate (Baked Alaska) as a colleague and her husband joined me for dessert. Dinner was a bit better than the previous night.

Here’s the menu for our last night dinner on the Majestic Princess (all main dining rooms serve the same menu):

Dinner Menu the Last Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Dinner Menu the Last Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Shrimp Cocktail
Surf and Turf on the Majestic Princess
Dessert Menu the Last Night on Majestic Princess in the Main Dining Rooms
Baked Alaska for Dessert on the Majestic Princess

Watercolour Fountain Fantasy Show

I finally got to take in the “Watercolour Fountain Fantasy Show” up on Deck 16. The water fountain was set to some popular songs and lit up with LED coloured lights. It was a great little show, however I can see why the new Princess Ships such as the Sky and Enchanted Princess removed this feature and added sunken seating here instead.

Good Spirits at Sea

For our final drinks onboard my friends and I went to Good Spirits at Sea for a final mixology show and some of the best cocktails on the ship in my opinion. I tried the “Tahiti” Vanilla Sky which was also delicious. It was then time to call it a night and head back to my stateroom to start packing. Most cruises do require that if you want them to take your luggage off the ship, your luggage needs to be outside your cabin door by 10:00pm. I did just carry on for this cruise, so I didn’t need to put my luggage outside as I was comfortable taking my own luggage off the ship. But I was so sad, the cruise had come to an end.

Here’s the Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess for our third day in Ensenada, Mexico and the Disembarkation Information:

Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 3
Princess Patter on the Majestic Princess – Day 3
Majestic Princess Disembarkation Letter – Page 1
Majestic Princess Disembarkation Letter – Page 2

I’ve created a YouTube video series on my experience sailing on the Majestic Princess on this West Coast Inaugural. You can watch “Part 3” here:

Day 4 – Los Angeles, Disembarkation Day

It’s a sad, sad day. I was woken up again quite early in the morning as we sailed into the Port of Los Angeles by the fog alarm on the lighthouse at the entry to the port. So I got dressed and headed down to the International Cafe where I grabbed a latte, then headed back up to my room. I had to go downstairs to inquire about the Covid testing process for us Canadians to get home, as I didn’t have any information on that in our stateroom, other than at the time of my sailing, Princess Cruises was covering departure Covid tests (antigen and PCR) for anyone that needed them to get back into their home country/state. After I chatted with Guest Services and got the info, I grabbed another salted caramel latte with and extra shot of espresso at the International Cafe and headed up to the World Fresh Marketplace for a light breakfast. After breakfast, I decided to leave the ship, to get tested and see if I could get to the airport earlier to catch an earlier flight from LAX back home to Vancouver as there were still a couple seats left on that flight (I was booked on a later flight as I didn’t know what the process was going to be like). So I finished packing and sadly left the ship.

Leaving the Ship and Covid Testing

So this is where my cruise experience took a really bad turn unfortunately. I left the ship at 7:20am as I was told that the testing was open and ready to go by the staff at Guest Services. I needed to leave the ship, pick up my bags (I did carry off so this didn’t apply to me), go through US Customs and there would be signage to where I needed to get my test done. Leaving the ship was very easy, I tapped my Medallion at the exit of the ship and left the Majestic Princess. After walking through the terminal and passing through US Customs, there was no signage for where the testing was taking place. I had to ask several people, before someone said it was in the terminal building where we initially checked in for the cruise and I had to go down there. So I walked down that way to the security area, where I found out that the security team didn’t start work until 9:00am and the testing company hadn’t even arrived yet onsite. It was 7:35am at this point, I wouldn’t have left the ship had I known this information! I was so frustrated. I didn’t take it out on anyone there, it wasn’t their fault, but I was angry I was given the wrong information by Guest Services onboard. Then things changed again, the company arrived onsite around 8:20am and was going to setup in the makeshift tent a few of us were waiting in outside. They setup as quickly as they could and was able to start taking registrations for tests at 9:00am, however this was the first time this specific company was doing testing here at the port, and didn’t anticipate the number of Canadians needing PCR tests (they initially only had 10 PCR testing machines, which took 30 minutes for each test). Finally someone arrived with more PCR testing units and I finally got my negative results back at 10:45am! By this time I needed to use a washroom, BAD. I was told that unfortunately there were no washrooms I could access as they were past security and to go through security I needed to be sailing on an outbound ship (insert face palm here). The whole time I was thinking about these poor older people and my older clients, like that wasn’t okay and I chatted to a few people that they need to have something setup in the future (I wasn’t the only one who complained). I saw a Princess transfer coach and asked the woman if I could please use the buses washroom onboard (I didn’t have a Princess transfer, I was going to use Lyft to get me back to the airport). She saw that I had an Air Canada tag on my luggage and asked if I was flying with Air Canada, I said yes and she said to just get on, use the washroom and go to the airport with everyone as they were all travelling with Air Canada as well. I was so grateful for her kindness after this horrendous experience. I did write Princess Cruises right away with my feedback, so I’m hoping that all other Mexican Riviera cruises went smoothly after this one.

Travelling Home

Once at LAX, I tried to change my flight to the 1:55pm flight, but by that time it was sold out. So I did have to wait for my 5:45pm flight. I went to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and they were at capacity, but the attendant walked me over to the Alaska Lounge next door and I was able to get into the Alaska Lounge for the afternoon. It was a great lounge, with various seating options including tables, booths and comfy chairs with side tables. I was able to catch up on work including some emails and even some work on this blog. I was just in time for lunch. It was a buffet style, that you did serve yourself (signage was there to sanitize before using utensils, etc), I sanitized before and after using the buffet area. There was some healthy options, I made myself a “southwest” grilled chicken salad with fresh greens, corn, peppers, tomatoes, black beans, guacamole and pico de gallo. It was so tasty. I had it with a couple glasses of sparkling rose wine. They also had other snacks and treats, including a Starbucks espresso machine, which I enjoyed for the rest of the afternoon until my flight home. I also appreciate lounges for better/cleaner washrooms and bathroom amenities.

In Conclusion

I am so grateful that Princess Cruises invited me onboard to experience the Majestic Princess.

That being said, I wanted to be honest in my review of my experience onboard the ship during this sailing. There were some definite highs and lows. I was so excited that this was my first cruise back in over two years and did overall enjoy the experience. I felt very safe that passengers were all fully vaccinated (there were no children on our sailing) and we had to provide a negative test, tested within in the last two days prior to boarding the ship. Most people did wear masks indoors and there were signs where wearing masks were required (elevators, the shops, theatre, restaurants until you were seated, the casino, spa, etc). Most of the staff were amazing and so happy to have us back onboard. There needs some more work in regards to the Medallion Class app (which I was advised they are trying to improve all the time right now) and the food in the main dining room. If you were to splurge on “specialty dining” options on Princess, I can see how people would not be disappointed food wise. However, there are other cruise lines that I’ve had better quality food in the main dining room at a comparable, if not lesser price than Princess. Also, my testing experience should have never happened. There needed to be better communication between Princess Cruises, the testing company and us as passengers.

Again, overall I did have an amazing first cruise back and I feel like the Medallion in a way was a commemorative token of my first sailing back after the pandemic, which I will truly treasure.

Safe Travels,

Ariane

As a Virtuoso Travel Advisor my clients typically receive added benefits when booking vacations such as cruises with Princess Cruises through me. I’d love to work with you as your travel advisor, to contact me for more information click here.

I’ve created a YouTube video series on my experience sailing on the Majestic Princess on this West Coast Inaugural. You can watch “Part 4” here:

(Coming soon on Sunday, November 14th)

My Travel Guide to Whistler, Canada

I’m honestly so lucky to live within a two and a half hour drive of such a world class destination in Canada. Whistler, British Columbia is pretty well a second home to me. I spend so much time here year round that it was about time for me to write an in-depth travel guide to a place I love so much.

I’m sharing all my favourite things to do and see, where to stay and where I enjoy eating out in this travel guide to Whistler, Canada. Whether you’re looking to ski or mountain bike Whistler Blackcomb in the Winter or Summer seasons, viewing nearby waterfalls, taking a leisurely stroll through the heart of Whistler Village, there is something for everyone here in Whistler.

Skiing Whistler Blackcomb – Blackcomb Glacier

Whistler is located about one and a half hours north of Vancouver and was really put on the international stage in 2010 when it hosted the Winter Olympics with Vancouver. Since then, Whistler has become a place that’s on quite a few die-hard skiers bucket lists, sees many international visitors each year, yet still has the true Canadian feeling at it’s core (even though in 2016 the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort was purchased by Vail Resorts out of Colorado). 2020 was obviously quite different with the pandemic, however most businesses have been able to adapt and still offer amazing experiences to domestic travellers.

Olympic Podium at the top of the Whistler Gondola on Whistler Blackcomb

Where to Stay in Whistler

There are so many great places to stay in Whistler. The following are some of my favourite hotels based on service and amenities offered to make your stay in Whistler so memorable.

Four Seasons Whistler (luxury accommodations) – This is one of my favourite hotels to stay at in Whistler. It’s an amazing resort and the service is what you expect from the Four Seasons brand. Rooms are very well appointed and each room features a sitting area with fireplace, perfect for a cozy glass of wine after a day on the slopes. They offer amazing included activities year round including daily complementary wine tastings, local cultural tours, and a “vintage camper” serving snow cones in the summer and s’mores fireside in the winter.

Four Seasons Whistler - Four Seasons Resort at Whistler
Deluxe Room at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler

Fairmont Chateau Whistler (luxury accommodations) – This is another of my favourite hotels to stay at and has probably my favourite outdoor pool in Whistler. Located slope side on Blackcomb Mountain, which means it has perfect ski in/ski out location in the winter or hiking access in the summer. The Fairmont Whistler offers amazing included amenities, dining experiences and has been awarded many awards in recent years. Check out my full review on the Fairmont Chateau Whistler here.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Hotel Pool Area
Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Outdoor Pool

Westin Resort and Spa Whistler (luxury accommodations) – The reason I love the Westin Whistler is it’s slope side location on Whistler Mountain and it’s hotel rooms. Each hotel room here features a full kitchenette (yes, a stove, microwave, fridge/freezer, oven and dishwasher) and a fireplace, which makes this hotel amazing for long stays in Whistler and family getaways. Check out my full review on the Westin Resort and Spa Whistler here.

Westin Resort and Spa Whistler

Nita Lake Lodge (luxury accommodations) – Located on Nita Lake, about eight minutes south of the main Whistler Village or adjacent to the Whistler Creekside area, this is another amazing hotel to consider if you’re looking to book a Whistler getaway. I highly suggest a visit to the spa here, even if you’re not staying here, they offer some great spa day packages.

Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside (luxury accommodations) – One of two Pan Pacific hotels located in Whistler, however this one is located slope side on Whistler Mountain as it’s name suggests. It’s a great location and the outdoor pool overlooks the bottom run where the “Fire and Ice” show in the winter takes place and the main Crankworx events happen in the summer.

Pangea Pod Hotel (budget accommodations) – A really neat concept pod style hotel in the heart of Whistler Village. They have a great “community” style vibe and I love visiting here for their “Happy Hour” in their “Living Room” which also features a rooftop patio.

Things to Do in Whistler

Whistler offers amazing things to do year round. Speaking with so many clients and people on Instagram, I’m constantly surprised when people tell me they only think of Whistler as a place to only visit in the winter. Yes, Whistler Blackcomb offers some amazing skiing in the winter, however there are so many things to do in Whistler during the spring, summer and fall months.

Walking Village Stroll in Whistler in the Fall

Whistler Blackcomb (Winter & Summer) – Obviously why most people come to Whistler is the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. It’s constantly named one of the best resorts in North America and depending which magazine you read, one of the best in the world. I love skiing Whistler Blackcomb as it offers such varied terrain. It’s made up of two mountains, side by side (Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain) and are connected near the top by the engineering feat of the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which has been a game changer in the way you can experience both mountains for skiing and hiking. There are some incredible runs in the winter and some hidden gems (think ice caves you can explore on the Blackcomb Glacier, and for kids, magic castles on Blackcomb and tree forts on Whistler). There is so much terrain to cover over the two mountains, you can’t possibly do it in one day (there have been locals who challenge to get every chair/lift on Whistler Blackcomb in one day, however most don’t succeed haha). In the summer, the hiking and mountain views are incredible (hiking through alpine meadows and “snow walls” are always a highlight).

Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb - Peak to Peak Gondola for Summer Sightseeing
Peak 2 Peak Gondola on Whistler Blackcomb
Walking through the metres high snow walls in the Summer are always so interesting on Whistler Mountain
Alpine Meadows on Whistler Mountain in the Summer
Blackcomb Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain
You’ll find friendly Whiskey Jacks over near 7th Heaven on Blackcomb and the Symphony and Harmony Bowls on Whistler
View of Black Tusk and Whistler Mountain in the background, photo taken on top of 7th Heaven on Blackcomb

Blackcomb Ice Cave (Winter) – If you’re looking for a special and unique place to check out, don’t miss the Whistler Ice Cave or better known as the Blackcomb Ice Cave located in the Blackcomb Bowl on the Blackcomb Glacier. How to find the Blackcomb Ice Cave, you’ll obviously need to be on Blackcomb Mountain of the Whistler Blackcomb Resort. Ride the Glacier Chair up Blackcomb Mountain. Then take the Showcase T-Bar to the top. Hike up the marked pathway when you get off the T-Bar. Once at the top, ski into the Blackcomb Bowl. The ice cave is on the right of the run and down once the bowl starts to narrow (it’s marked as “out of bounds” with the orange rope and markers, this is another hint of where to find the cave, please make note as it is out of bounds you are visiting the ice cave at your own risk). It’s a great place to check out when you visit Whistler!

Blackcomb Ice Cave - Whistler Ice Caves
Views from inside the Blackcomb Ice Cave.
Blackcomb Ice Cave - Whistler Ice Caves
View of the Blackcomb Ice Cave on the Blackcomb Glacier

Scandinave Spa (Year Round) – If you’re looking for a place to really relax and unwind in Whistler, Scandinave Spa is for you. Access to the spa can either be packaged with a massage, or it can be purchased alone. The spa area is a quiet zone (no talking or cell phones) which makes for an amazing relaxing experience. They have various hot pools, cold plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms and yoga and relaxation rooms. Most hotels can arrange pick up and drop off service to the spa, talk to your hotel’s concierge for more information.

Vallea Lumina (Winter & Summer) – A fun, lighted, multi-media experience through the woods at night. The story changes between the winter and summer months and the lighting effects are fantastic. It’s a great activity for families, especially around Christmas.

The Adventure Group (Winter & Summer) – They offer great activities in summer and winter such as zip lining, R2R tours, white water rafting, snowshoeing, snowmobiling tours, and much more. I’ve done most of the activities they offer, I have to say their service and their guides are amazing! I’ve always enjoyed any activity I’ve done with them.

Snowmobiling with The Adventure Group in Whistler
SuperFly Ziplines part of The Adventure Group in Whistler
R2R Tour with The Adventure Group Whistler

Whistler Olympic Park (Winter & Summer) – Located before Whistler on Callaghan Road, it’s known for where the cross country ski and ski jump events took place during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Now, it’s a great park to visit for hiking and sightseeing in the summer and groomed cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Admission to the park is charged by the car full, so it’s a great value for families.

Golf (Summer) – Whistler offers three world class golf courses, all offering amazing mountain views from the greens. All courses offer pro-shops, restaurants and rentals (clubs and carts).

Brewery and Spirits Tours (Year Round) – Whistler now has two breweries (Whistler Brewing Company and Coast Mountain Brewing) and a craft distillery called Montis Distilling (they distill vodka, gin and other spirits). They are all located in the Function area of Whistler and offer tours and tastings. Whistler Brewing Company is one of my personal favourites, definitely try the Chestnut Ale that they brew, it’s so delicious!

Tasting flight of beers at the Whistler Brewing Company

Audain Art Museum (Year Round) – A great place to wander on a rainy day or during the new “wine walks” that are now happening in Whistler. Featuring nearly 200 works of art, this museum features local British Columbia coastal artists. From collections of Northwest Coast First Nations masks to works from Emily Carr, they’ve done an incredible job on their permanent exhibits. The building itself is a work of art and a place not to miss the next time you visit Whistler.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (Year Round) – I highly recommend visiting this Indigenous Cultural Centre if you haven’t already. They offer guided walks through the centre (usually starts with a welcome song) and during the summer months a guided forest walk, on the “Salish Stroll”, learning about the local flora and fauna that makes this area and eco-system so unique. They also have a cafe, gallery and gift shop.

Forged Axe Throwing (Year Round) – Looking for a fun activity for you and a group of friends? Forged Axe Throwing is so much fun and could even be a great team building activity as part of a corporate event or retreat in Whistler. You can book out the venue for private groups or book online to reserve your hour of throwing during their normal business hours.

Top Free Things to Do in Whistler

Train Wreck Trail – I actually wrote a blog post just for the Train Wreck hike, this is one of my favourite things to do in Whistler! Check out my in-depth guide on visiting Train Wreck here. Located just outside of Whistler, this is a great, easy walk that includes a well-built suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River along the way to the Train Wreck. Such a great free activity in the Whistler area!

Suspension Bridge on the way to Train Wreck
Train Wreck, Whistler

Lost Lake – The Valley Trail system (a 46 km trail system (no cars), that spans most of the Whistler area) around Lost Lake are great for walking, running or biking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. There is also access to the lake for swimming with a beach and picnic area near the south east end of the lake.

Walking along Lost Lake Trail in the early Fall

Alexander Falls – A beautiful waterfall found near the end of Callaghan Road before you get to Whistler (same road to get to the Whistler Olympic Park). There are also some good hiking trails in this area.

Alexander Falls near Whistler, Canada

Brandywine Falls – On the way to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) you’ll come across the Brandywine Provincial Park. It’s a great stop to stretch your legs before you get into Whistler. Again, there are some hiking trails that does start in this area and from the final viewing platform, there are some amazing views of the valley and Black Tusk.

Brandywine Falls near Whistler, British Columbia
View of the valley at Brandywine Provincial Park near Whistler, Canada

Whistler Farmers Market – A great market to visit in the Summer. Every Sunday from 11:00am to 4:00pm (these were the 2020 season hours) between June and October in the Upper Village of Whistler you’ll find the local market. It’s a great way to support local businesses from the Sea to Sky region including Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.

Places to Eat in Whistler

These are my personal favourite restaurants and places to eat in Whistler. As I mentioned before, I live so close to Whistler and have spent so much time in the village over the years (basically my second home), I’ve tried many of the restaurants, bars and pubs. These restaurants are listed in no particular order.

Pricing guide: $ – $10 or under average per entree, $$ – $10 to 30 average per entree, $$$ – $30+ per average entree

Bearfoot Bistro ($$$) – One of my favourite restaurants in Whistler, dinners at Barefoot Bistro have always been absolutely delicious. The menu changes seasonally, always featuring a mix of local and top of the line ingredients from around the world. For an extra special experience, book the Chef’s Table featuring a curated five-course tasting menu. In the Cellar (quite impressive to see), they offer packages where you can pick and sabre your own bottle of Champagne or “chill out” in the Ketel One Ice Room and try two premium vodkas while wearing parkas. They also have a great seasonal “Happy Hour” as well at the Champagne Bar. Again, highly recommend Bearfoot Bistro for an exquisite meal in Whistler.

Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, British Columbia

Rimrock Cafe ($$$) – Another exquisite, long standing restaurant in Whistler. Located in the Creekside area of Whistler, Rimrock Cafe is another amazing place to eat. Open for dinner only, menu features an incredible lobster bisque, tender filet minion, delicious seared scallops and an extensive wine list. The setting of Rimrock Cafe is quite cozy, with a beautiful fireplace which sets the mood.

Red Door Bistro ($$$) – This intimate restaurant can be quite hard to get into, but if you are lucky enough to make a reservation far enough in advance, it’s so worth it. Food served here is done with a French flair and also caters to Vegan and Gluten Free diets.

Wild Wood Cafe ($) – Located in the Function area of Whistler, this is the place to grab a cup of coffee and an eggs benny that won’t break the bank. Very “local” and down to earth cafe, food is good for the price for sure!

The Mexican Corner ($$) – My favourite Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico, no joke. The food here is authentic, portion sizes are decent and so good. My favourites here are the fresh guacamole, enchiladas verdes and the tacos. The margaritas here are also so delicious and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.

Dinner at The Mexican Corner in Whistler, BC

Basalt Wine & Salumeria ($$) – Again one of my favourite restaurants here in Whistler. The menu here is also very seasonal, offers amazing charcuterie, great “apres ski” aka “happy hour” specials (Charcuterie and spritz! With so many flavours of spritz’s, including my favourite made with Limoncello) and an extensive wine list featuring many local BC wines. On the weekends they offer a delicious brunch, again changes seasonally.

Dinner at Basalt Wine & Salumeria in Whistler, Canada

Il Caminetto ($$$) – A delicious Italian restaurant on the Village Stroll. Even walking by this restaurant before they open you can smell the freshly baked bread and see them making the fresh pasta in the window. Food here definitely takes me back to Italy.

El Furniture Warehouse ($) – If you’re looking for no frills, cheap eats, El Furny is your place. All food items are $5.95, yup that’s right, all food is $5.95. My fav here is the Union Street Noodle Salad (unfortunately I haven’t seen it on the menu since the pandemic, as apparently they are running a smaller menu).

Union Street Chicken Salad at El Furniture Warehouse in Whistler

Sidecut (Four Seasons Whistler) ($$$) – An amazing steakhouse in the Four Seasons Whistler Resort (proper restaurant is currently under construction and will re-open in December 2020, currently serving on the heated/covered patio). Food is seasonal, simple and the best that they can source. They’ve also recently introduced a “happy hour” with some great bites and cocktails.

The Wildflower (Fairmont Chateau Whistler) ($$) – A must for brunch when visiting Whistler. Typically they offer an amazing traditional brunch (buffet style breakfast with made to order items including an omelet station and carving station), however due to Covid-19 they are currently only offering an a la carte menu at the time of this travel guide being released. My go to breakfast here is usually the Eggs Benedict, it’s so delicious!

Breakfast at The Wildflower at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Portobello (Fairmont Chateau Whistler) ($$) – Portobello is a great dine in or grab and go option even if you’re not staying at the Fairmont Whistler. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have some great offerings including; delicious gourmet donuts (they change everyday and usually sell out before lunch, so get there early for the best selections), carving station (try the mac and cheese, it’s so yummy!), full bar with local brews on tap, a cafe (all the espresso drinks you could ever need to fuel your day) then take your meal, treat or beverage outside to relax by a fire pit.

Relax by the fire pits at Portobello at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Bar Oso ($$) – A great place for small bites, charcuterie and wine. I’ll sometimes pop in here with friends before dinner, or even if we just want something light instead of a proper dinner. Atmosphere feels like an intimate wine bar you would find in Europe, a definite gem in Whistler.

Hunter Gather ($$) – A locals spot for craft beer on tap and locally made food. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Highly recommend the pulled pork eggs benny and the chicken and waffles for breakfast, for lunch try the kahlua pulled pork sandwich (reminded me of Hawai’i).

Elements Urban Tapas & Wine Bar ($$) – Again, a great place for brunch, really delicious breakfast offerings which cater to many dietary needs/restrictions. I’ve eaten dinner here once and it was also really good, portions are really decent sized.

Peaked Pies ($) – A popular Aussie treat, the savoury pies can be eaten in or taken out, served with (or without) mushy peas. So delicious on a cold day, after skiing.

Pizzeria Antico ($$) – A delicious pizzeria, close to what you’ll get in Italy. Tuesdays have been “beer and pizza night”, a special with any one of their pizzas and a beer on tap (they have 18 beers on tap) for $15!

Crepe Montagne ($) – I typically get the treat of a Nutella Crepe here once every so often, fresh and delicious. They also offer savoury crepes too!

The Living Room (Pangea Pod Hotel) ($$) – A great place for Happy Hour, cocktails, flatbreads and nibbles on the rooftop patio overlooking Whistler Village.

Peak Donuts (inside Fresh St. Market) ($) – Stop into the market for these amazing gourmet donuts made fresh everyday. Flavours vary day to day, arrive before 11:00am for the best selection.

Gourmet Donuts from Peak Donuts in Fresh St. Market in Whistler, BC
Views of Symphony Bowl in the Summer on Whistler Mountain

Whistler Insider Tips and Tricks

I honestly find the best time to visit Whistler is in the “off seasons” April through June and September through November. Most hotels have great rates and restaurants offer amazing valued “tasting menus” (usually a 3 or 4 course menu between $29 and $49 per person). Most of the tourists have gone, and you’ll feel a more “locals vibe”. My absolute favourite time to visit is the Fall. Leaves change colour and the cozy vibes are amazing to sit in front of a fireplace in your hotel room with a glass of wine after a hike.

Best place to park in Whistler? Look for “Day Lots 4 or 5” (Day Lots 1, 2 & 3 are more money for parking and not much further of a walk to make the difference to be honest). Parking at Day Lots 4 & 5 in the high seasons (July 1st to September 15th and December 15th to April 15th) it’s $5.00 for the day and free after 5pm. In the low seasons, it’s free parking. It’s also free parking overnight from April 1st to October 31st, so if you’re looking to save on hotel parking fees this is a great option, just be sure to move your vehicle here once every 24 hours. There is also overnight parking available at the Whistler Convention Centre or the Whistler Library for $5.00 (between 5pm to 10am) or $15.00 for 24 hours, these parking lots are also underground, so perfect in the winter months. In the winter months if I’m up skiing Whistler Blackcomb for the day, I’ll park up on Blackcomb in Day Lots 6, 7 or 8. These lots are also free parking and is easy access to the Excalibur and Blackcomb Gondolas. There is also free parking at “Creekside”, the area of Whistler you’ll come upon first if you’re coming up from Vancouver, keep in mind that there is no easy access to the proper Whistler Village from Creekside.

When hiking or enjoying Whistler Village, please be a responsible human. We share these areas with wildlife including bears, so if you’re hiking, what ever you bring in, please pack it out. If you’re around Whistler Village, use the “bear safe” garbage disposal cans. If you can’t figure out how to open it, ask someone or move on until you can dispose of something safely. This goes for food scraps and fruit. Don’t just toss it into the bush. A fed bear around here is unfortunately a dead bear. Just something that I’m really passionate about, so again please be a responsible human when visiting Whistler and the backcountry areas.

I hope you found this travel guide to Whistler, Canada helpful. As I visit Whistler again and again, I’ll keep this up to date with my favourite recommendations and photos.

If you have any questions about Whistler, British Columbia, or if you’re looking for help planning your next trip to Whistler, I’d love to help. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a travel agent who specializes in luxury travel and I’m a proud travel agent member of Virtuoso. Click here to contact me on how we can work together.

Safe Travels!

Ariane

If you’re interested in watching my YouTube Videos on Whistler, here are the videos:

My experience with Ziptrek Eco Tours and my stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, you can view it here:

Here is my video of Brandywine Falls and Train Wreck Trail, followed by dinner at The Mexican Corner Restaurant:

My YouTube vlog highlighting my experience with TAG Whistler on their RZR Tour and my stay for my birthday at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler:


View from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler

PS – Did you enjoy reading this travel guide? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

How to Find the Ice Cave on Blackcomb Mountain

Train Wreck Trail – Whistler, Canada

One of my favourite walks in the Whistler area and free activities to do is the Train Wreck Trail. Many people call this the “Train Wreck Hike” but it’s really just an easy walk in. It’s also easy enough to push a stroller in if needed. It is a packed trail with a few mild inclines. The walk should take you between 10-20 minutes each way depending how fast you walk (with small children it takes about 20 minutes, we walked it with my 85 year old Grandmother in about that time frame). This takes you to the wreckage of a train crash which took place in 1956.

It’s a pretty cool place to visit as it’s a “authorized graffiti zone” by the Municipality of Whistler, you can check out and climb the abandoned train cars (at your own risk), make your own art if you so choose and enjoy the new suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River (which is beautiful and free!).

It is getting a lot busier, many people are now hearing about it, especially with more people this year sticking close to home. I remember visiting here a couple years ago for the first time and having it to myself for a good hour. If you are going in the summer, I would suggest going before 10:00am to avoid the crowds, however if you don’t mind a few people around you (especially if you’re checking it out by yourself), early afternoon is a good time too and you can still get a photo by yourself on the suspension bridge with a bit more patience than early morning.

How to Get There

From Vancouver, once you start to approach Whistler you’ll come to an area called Function Junction (the very first traffic light as you approach Whistler), you’ll turn off the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) to the right onto Cheakamus Lake Road. Follow the road across the river and it will be the first road on the right after the bridge (you’ll actually see a sign for Train Wreck Trail and the BMX Park). Keep following this road under the power lines and you’ll see the parking lot for the Train Wreck Trail along the left side of the road.

If you’re coming from Whistler, you’ll be turning left onto Cheakamus Lake Road and following the same steps.

Here is a google map for reference:

The Train Wreck Trail

As I mentioned before, it’s an easy trail and a great walk for the whole family. Once you’ve parked your car in the Train Wreck Parking Lot, head across the road where you’ll find the trailhead just past a logging/dirt road to the right.

Train Wreck Suspension Bridge

One of my favourite highlights of this walk it the beautiful suspension bridge right before the train wreck. There is a lovely bench to sit and relax and take in the views of the rushing Cheakamus River below.

Train Wreck

I love to visit train wreck in Whistler, British Columbia because it’s a unique art installation that changes pretty well each time I’ve visited. It’s a beautiful walk and I personally enjoy visiting quite early in the morning as I have the entire wreck to myself for a bit of time. It is walkable at anytime of the year, however in the winter snowshoes are recommended if there is a lot of snow (again, a fun activity with no cost!).

Remember to pack out whatever you brought in with you! There are no garbage cans available, so please be responsible when using any of our beautiful trails in British Columbia. Also, be bear aware, Whistler is obviously a community surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush forests and we do share these forests with other animals. I personally have not seen a bear on the trail to train wreck, however it is bear country.

Happy travels and enjoy exploring Train Wreck! xoxo

Ariane

PS… Check out my YouTube Video on Brandywine Falls and Train Wreck Trail here:

How Covid-19 Has Changed Travel Forever

So many of us who work in the travel industry could have never predicted what was going to happen this year. The Covid-19 pandemic really turned 2020 into a nightmare for anyone with travel plans, let alone anyone who runs, manages or works for a company in the travel industry.

Personally, I had four large trips in 2020 cancelled and a couple even in 2021 that I’ve had to postpone, along with numerous trips that my clients obviously have had to postpone/cancel as well.

That being said, having some extra time off of my day job has given me time to re-evaluate my short term and long term goals, focus on the other part of my business that I love, being creative and creating new content. I’ve taken some “continuing education” courses, attended some great “virtual conferences” for content creators and started working on launching a travel YouTube channel (more on this coming very soon!). So for me this pandemic was a blessing in disguise so I could focus on really launching this content creation side of my Wanderlust Journey business and still have a steady income. But back to the topic at hand…

In my opinion as a travel professional, Covid-19 has changed the travel industry forever, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I released a two-part podcast episode on this topic, but figured I’d also write this blog post as things have progressed even since those episodes were released.

The Travel Industry Will Bounce Back

The travel industry overall is resilient. We’ve seen the downturn from September 11th (which saw many airlines go bankrupt shortly afterwards), the recession of 2008 and other global events which have impacted travel. That being said, the travel industry was definitely hit the hardest it’s ever been by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the first time we’ve seen any company related to travel (airlines, hotels, cruise lines, tours, etc) have to shut down temporarily for such an extended period of time.

Yes, there are always ebbs and flows when it comes to the travel industry. Travel is a luxury item for many households, so in an economic downturn it’s not surprising that the travel industry takes a tumble. Many people are still either off work, unemployed or have just recently returned to work, and are now trying to get caught up financially.

However, with Covid-19, people and families were stuck inside and in many countries were forced to quarantine themselves to help “flatten the curve”. Because of this, people are looking forward to getting out and exploring once again. People also value their vacation time, whether that’s reconnecting with family members or recharging after a stressful year. With my own clients, in the past couple years I’ve been seeing the trend of clients wanting a more “experiential” vacation over just going to a location for a mindless holiday. People are more interested in making memories over collecting things. Most people only have two weeks vacation per year, so they want to make the most of it. These trends alone really led to the travel industry making a comeback in the upcoming months.

Domestic travel (either within your own country or in a cluster, if say you live in Europe), has re-opened again in recent weeks. The numbers are positive so far with people booking local trips and looking to re-book vacations that were cancelled this year and move them to 2021 and/or 2022. If everything stays on the upward market trend and there is no resurgence of Covid-19, International travel in my opinion will “cautiously” start up again this Fall. That being said, most travel related businesses have obviously suffered severely this year. In the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, etc), our “Summer season” from May to September has been a write off essentially to any hope of re-opening to International travellers. So I do encourage you to “be a tourist in your own town/region”. Support businesses locally to you who normally rely on tourism. This how we can all support our local tourism businesses so they can bounce back to welcome the world next year and for years to come.

Cruise Lines Have to Make Conscious Changes

The cruising industry (other than airlines) was the hardest hit. Thousands of sailings cancelled, not to mention the bad press that came from a couple sailings when Covid-19 emerged on the global scene. It’s shaken the confidence of even the most avid cruiser. That being said, the cruise industry as a whole has taken steps to win back the trust of the consumer, but it needs to stay that way long after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Personally, I think cruising now is probably the safest it ever has been in cruising’s history. Cleaning will be more frequent in public spaces, more a deep clean during cabin turnarounds between guests, forced hand washing/sanitising when entering dining rooms (some cruise lines already were doing a great job at this), newer and updated air filtration systems, enhanced screenings at check in and reducing guest capacity on ships are just some of the ways cruise lines are making changes for the good.

Most cruise lines have introduced “Peace of Mind” policies , which allow people to cancel 48 hours prior to sailing, if for some reason you don’t feel comfortable sailing or if you’re ill (each cruise line is different, check each cruise lines terms and conditions carefully). This actually brings me to my next point:

You Won’t Be Allowed to Travel Going Forward If You’re Sick

For the foreseeable future anyways. Again, personally, I’m all for this. With most airlines also promising “safe flying protocols”, which include upgraded air filtration systems and more disinfection between flights in airplane cabins, planes should be less “germy” than they’ve been in the past.

If you show up for your flight and you’re sick, you can pretty well guarantee that you will be denied boarding. That goes beyond boarding a flight though. You can be denied boarding your cruise ship, joining your group tour and even checking into a hotel. The travel industry is not taking anymore chances right now when it comes to further losses, especially bad press. This is also where you need to make sure that you have sufficient travel insurance going forward, if you can’t board a plane or your cruise ship, you need to make sure you’re covered to get all your money back for your vacation.

Flight and Vacation Prices: Going Up or Down After Covid-19?

To begin with, there will be some very attractive offers to get consumers travelling again. I’ve seen crazy deals already on flights and cruises. I’ve booked hotels in Whistler for unheard of rates in past years. That won’t last for long unfortunately.

There are also travel sectors that will be in higher demand than before. This means you won’t be able to score a business class ticket for a fraction of what they once were. Yes, it is true that businesses have proven more meetings can now be held online and over video conferences, plus not to mention that larger corporations have suffered financially during this time and have cut travel budgets. But the fact remains that having your own “pod” in the business class cabin gives you more space for “social distancing”, which will be in high demand now, post-pandemic more than ever.

Costs of extra staff, time of turnover to clean and cleaning materials will eventually be “included” into the base fares you pay. This will mean that costs of flights, hotel rooms, cruises will go up, especially if they are not allowed to run at full capacity.

We are also going to see consumers make more of a conscious buying decision when it comes to flexibility. I think now gone are the days where most people will buy a 100% non refundable fare, hotel or package without thinking twice. People will pay more to have something refundable as a built in insurance so to speak. For example, hotels and airlines offer the best deals and rates as non refundable fares, but now I think we will see people opt for the refundable, more expensive priced options.

Consumers will also think twice about declining travel insurance. As a travel agent, I will say that travel insurance has been a huge help for my clients who have had trips cancel on them or they’ve had to cancel their trips due to Covid-19. Some suppliers were able to help limit losses by allowing my clients to re-book trips or offer attractive “future travel credits”.

Future Travel Credits Over Refunds

Okay, I’m going to say it. I’m all for travel companies issuing future travel credits over refunds.

Yes, it might be annoying to not have your “cash back”. But think of it this way. Most cruise lines were offering 110% to 140% future cruise credits (in addition to other perks) to clients who’s sailings were cancelled. Ummm, you can’t get that return at any bank for that investment.

83% of people who were asked in a recent poll actually said they would be re-booking the exact same trip they were forced to cancel in the next year, so why not take advantage of the perks that come along with the future travel credits being offered?

If you really didn’t want a future travel credit and want a refund, I hope you purchased travel insurance. Travel agents have always touted the benefits of travel insurance, this is one of the reasons why. Most travel insurers (this does depend on the insurer and policy purchased) are paying out claims where clients where just offered a future travel credit. Yes, there are some instances where you don’t know if you can travel again, or if the trip will even happen in the near future so a refund is preferred (believe me I get it, my trip to the British F1 Grand Prix was cancelled this year and not sure if that trip will be in my books again for a few years to come). Life happens, but that’s why you need insurance. You probably have car insurance, house insurance, etc so you should have travel insurance to protect the investment of your vacation costs.

That being said, I think consumers are actually now going to be making different buying decisions when it comes to all aspects of travel, especially with group travel.

Small Group Travel vs Larger Tours

I believe companies who offer small group tours and adventures are going to be in higher demand going forward. With most tour passenger counts with small group tour companies at a maximum capacity of between 12 and 18 people (again depending on the company and tour offered), this is going to give travellers the confidence they can socially distance themselves and still see a destination more intimately.

Small groups also lend better to those who want to make sure they can socially distance and have their own room option. If you think about it logistically, it makes more sense for a smaller group to take over local accommodations socially distanced than a larger group.

I’m a huge advocate of small group tours and have done a few myself, the lure of being in a group where you can truly see and experience a culture, place, etc without sometimes seeing other tourists is amazing! Smaller groups can really help you experience the true soul of a place, without being herded around like cattle and following a flag in a crowd. As I mentioned earlier, I think people are craving more experiential travel nowadays, where food and culture collide.

If the Second Wave Hits, Will Everything Just Shut Down Again?

The honest answer is that we don’t know and that it depends. If the travel industry has taken anything to heart (and the world in general), it’s that we can’t afford a total shut down again.

We need businesses to start opening again and stay open. This helps all of our economies and will make sure that we can start to get back to a new normal. Hopefully, with all the safety measures in place, we’ll be able to continue on with life, and if you are sick, please take heeded advice to stay at home.

Why Using a Travel Agent or Advisor Is Smart

Especially after the pandemic, travel agents are in the know of each travel provider’s policies and can help our clients navigate which vacation option is best for them. When you book your trips and vacations online yourself, your computer isn’t going to give you first hand knowledge of the area that hotel is located in that you just booked, local restaurant recommendations or even which sights are a must do. Your computer also doesn’t care if you need to cancel a couple days prior to departure because you’re sick or double check to make sure you have the correct (and sufficient) travel insurance to cover you. Booking with a human normally doesn’t cost more than booking with your computer, you’re just going to get better service and a customized experience. Plus, you’re helping support financially an actual person, not necessarily a massive corporation.

I am a travel agent and advisor who specializes in luxury travel and cruises and I love to help people plan and book amazing vacations. If you would like to work with me as your travel agent in the near future, please contact me and I can put you on my “client waitlist”.

Covid-19 Has Changed Travel Forever and That’s Okay

Being in the travel industry for over 8 years has taught me one thing (okay and life in general), change is good. It’s painful in the beginning, but it can be for the good. With all these new cleaning and social distancing procedures in place for airlines, airports, cruise ships, tour groups and hotels, we will see a healthier travelling environment overall. We need to make sure though that companies stay on top of these procedures and keep them going forward, not just until we think Covid-19 is over.

Looking forward to travelling again soon,

Ariane

PS – Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

My Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast, Italy

It’s no secret that Italy is one of my favourite destinations as I’ve got family connections to this country as well. I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast a couple times, and it’s a place I can see myself coming back to again and again, year after year. The Amalfi Coast is a place that I would love to eventually buy a property. The lemon groves amongst the terraced, villa lined mountainsides, to the bright and vibrant ceramics, to shimmering blues and aquas of the Mediterranean (actually the Tyrrhenian) Sea along the shorelines, it’s no wonder people flock here in droves. It’s honestly one of the most stunning coastlines in the world. 

The Amalfi Coast is made up of thirteen different towns, along 40 kilometres of coast and is located in the Campania region of Italy. The drive is both terrifying and unbelievably scenic, however I would recommend if you’ve never visited the Amalfi Coast before, I would either hire a driver or take the ferry system (ferries from Salerno, Naples and the Island of Capri make trips several times per day). The Amalfi Coast can be visited for the day from Naples quite easily, making it a popular cruise ship shore excursion paired with Pompeii and Sorrento (whilst Sorrento is not technically part of the Amalfi Coast, I did include it in this guide). Be prepared to hike, yes, hike. Some hotels and villas are reachable by car or golf cart, however some places are only reachable by staircases or narrow, steep walkways, so make sure you are choosing a location that suits your lifestyle.

For my next trip that I plan to the Amalfi Coast, I would hop around to a few different hotels personally, stay at a couple different properties to really take in the more quieter evenings out. Staying in one spot and exploring from there makes things easier for sure, but there are some stunning properties on the Amalfi Coast, so why not experience a few of them whilst you’re here. Some hotels offer amazing beach clubs and have stunning restaurants.

From Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, there are also some lesser known gems along this route that provide amazing dining experiences and more reasonable hotel options, whilst still enjoying the captivating beauty of this stunning place such as Praiano, Scala, Atrani, Minori, Maiori, Cetara and Vietri sul Mare. Whilst I’m not going to go in depth to each of these villages, I will add some personal recommendations on some of them.

Positano

Positano is the quintessential postcard village for the Amalfi Coast, everyone wants to come here and the prices reflect that. Known for it’s stunning and romantic views, lemons, great food, buildings clinging precariously to the cliffs and beautiful ceramics, Positano is always a highlight to visit on the Amalfi Coast. The narrow walkways through the center of town to the beach is lined with local shops (some with imported goods, others with local designers and crafts). Positano is easy to get to by car, public bus system or by ferry. The pebble beaches in the summer can be extremely busy with beach clubs taking up most of the open beach space (beach clubs are setups that you would rent specific beach chairs and umbrellas, by the hour, half day or full day, prices can range between €10 to €30. They also sometimes have drink/food service).

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Where to Stay in Positano

Le Sirenuse (luxury accommodations) – Part of the Leading Hotels of the World, Le Sirenuse opened in 1951 and has been a much loved boutique hotel by many celebrities and anyone who has the opportunity to experience a stay here.

Hotel Palazzo Murat (luxury accommodations) – Whilst there are no quintessential “Positano views” from this hotel, the location within the heart of the village is amazing. It’s garden oasis-like setting is by far a true gem and a relaxing environment. This hotel was a historic summer residence of a king and the architecture is stunning.

Hotel Palazzo Murat, Positano, Italy

Eden Roc Hotel (mid range/luxury accommodations) – This family run boutique hotel has gorgeous views and is a perfect size (25 rooms) for a romantic getaway.

Hotel Poseidon (mid range accommodations) – Another beautiful family run hotel with gorgeous views overlooking towards East. Rooms are simple, yet comfortable with warm and friendly service.

Villa Rosa (mid range accommodations) – A great budget friendly boutique hotel with stunning sea views. While this property doesn’t feature a pool, the rooms are clean and have a traditional Italian feel. Book a room with a terrace here for a fraction of the price then some of the other properties in Positano.

Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Where to Eat in Positano

Food along the Amalfi Coast is some of the best you will have. Being so close to some of the freshest ingredients such as real buffalo mozzarella (made locally, fresh daily within fifty kilometres), lemons, seafood and of course pasta. You can also pickup a lemon gelato (served in a frozen lemon) and just enjoy wandering the town. I’ve tried a few restaurants here in the short time I visited, here are some of my favourites:

Ristorante Le Tre Sorelle – Right on the beach, you can’t beat the views or the menu. Giada De Laurentiis has said this is the best spot for seafood in Positano. I sat here with a glass of local pinot grigio, enjoyed the bistro like atmosphere and had an amazing pizza capricciosa and “rigatoni al ragu napoletano” (rigatoni with pork rib sausage and meatballs in tomato sauce).

Ristorante Le Tre Sorelle, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Da Bruno – Try the eggplant parmesan (an Amalfi Coast locals favourite) here. Also has some amazing seafood dishes from what I’ve been told by others.

Buca di Bacco – Again, located right on the beach, you can beat the location. The arancini was amazing!

La Cambusa – Another restaurant that comes highly recommended by locals and has a great beach location. Had a caprese salad here with a glass of wine and it was refreshing and delicious.

Il Tridente – Part of the Hotel Poseidon, this terraced garden restaurant has amazing views. Menu looked incredible with many seafood dishes and also offers vegan and vegetarian options.

Casa e Bottega – This is a true hidden gem. Such a cute, trendy restaurant in a beautiful setting. The smoothies here are refreshing, along with the lighter fare menu.

Casa e Bottega, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Da Vincenzo – Had the most stunning dessert here! Family run, this place is known for it’s seafood, but I stopped in for dessert (if you know me, I don’t eat seafood really). The panzerotti starter was also amazing. It’s no wonder this place is listed in the Michelin restaurant guide. They also have a really cute housewares store on location, pick up some beautiful tableware here.

Next2 – This is located about a 10 minute drive outside of Positano, however it’s such a romantic spot to have dinner and again comes highly recommended by locals.

C’era Una Volta – A great secret in what can be an overpriced village, this restaurant serves up amazing pizzas, pastas (you need to try the gnocchi here) and salads with the freshest ingredients.

Gelato served in a lemon with Positano in the background.

Other Positano Tips and Tricks

Near Positano, you can visit the Grotta dello Smeraldo. This is similar to the “Blue Grotto” on Capri, but the secret is that there are WAY less tourists. The water here is also a lot more calmer, you your chances of entering the grotto is a lot higher.

Want a gorgeous view of Positano? The best views of this stunning village are from the water. There are plenty of companies that rent boats with a driver either hourly, half day or full day. There are many companies down by the beach that offer this service. What better way to spend sunset than with a bottle of Prosecco and Positano views.

Views of Positano, Italy from a boat

You can also book yourself at the Ristorante Da Adolfo. This restaurant and beach club near Positano offers a more secluded atmosphere away from the busy beach of Positano. The “Da Adolfo” boat, with the can’t miss red fish on a mast, shuttles you to their private beach for the day. Food is really good, try the grilled mozzarella on lemon leaves.

Amalfi

The town that this stunning coastline was named after. Amalfi was also the birthplace of one of my favourite comfort-food pasta dishes, cannelloni. Amalfi is definitely one of the more busier towns, with many tour buses lining the parking lots by the harbour by noon, so the best time to visit Amalfi in my opinion is first thing in the morning or later in the evening.

Amalfi, Italy

Where to Stay in Amalfi

Hotel Santa Caterina (luxury accommodations) – Located just outside of Amalfi, this hotel is one of the most luxurious you’ll find along the Amalfi Coast. The rooms are stunning, featuring beautiful hand painted tiles and amazing balconies and terraces with unobstructed views to the sea. This hotel also features a private beach club and the dining options are also stunning with a Michelin-starred restaurant “Glicine”, which translates to “Wisteria” has an amazing menu. Another hotel I will gladly book a couple nights to enjoy the amenities and the views from the room.

NH Collection Convento Amalfi (luxury accommodation) – This transformed 13th century monastery is located perched above Amalfi, with specatular views. The next time I come to the Amalfi Coast, this is another strong contender for me to stay here for a couple nights. The infinity pool and beautiful gardens overlook the sea and the stunning bay.

Amalfi, Italy

Where to Eat in Amalfi

La Caravella – The first Michelin Star restaurant in the South of Italy and today one of the first restaurants in all of Italy to receive three. The atmosphere and cuisine here is outstanding. You need to try one of their tasting menus, this is non-negotiable. I was lucky enough to have tried their lunch, four course tasting menu and will treasure that meal for years to come. One of the best meals I’ve ever had hands down. I can’t wait to come back to Amalfi to eat here again.

La Caravella, Amalfi, Italy

Restaurant Al Mare – This restaurant on a perched terrace near the sea is a gem. The comfortable vibe and stunning views of this restaurant at the Hotel Santa Caterina are a must visit. The food is really good as well.

Dei Cappuccini – Part of the NH Collection Convento Amalfi, this restaurant has stunning views and delicious food with some of the ingredients in the meals sourced directly from Amalfi’s markets and from the hotel’s private garden.

Pasticceria Savoia – Amazing gelato and other bakery items such as cakes and pastries. Try the Campania delight Sfogliatella, or one of the ricotta cheese and pear pastries, or a “lemon delight” which is a soft sponge cake soaked with limoncello.

Shopping in Amalfi

Amalfi is where I typically buy my Limoncello and where I’ve purchased a few ceramics in the past. There is a family run Limoncello maker in the main square of Amalfi, near the base of the church’s steps. It’s called Antichi Sapori d’Amalfi, they offer samples of their Limoncello and other liquors including Limoncello Creme (La Creme Di Limone), Melon and Pistachio. I’ve also purchased a couple ceramics from here, including an olive oil pourer which I’ve used in my kitchen for the past 3 years (since my first visit to Amalfi).

Antichi Sapori d’Amalfi, cute store in Amalfi to buy Limoncello and gifts

Ravello

Ravello is one of those places that if you don’t visit the right spots, you’ll miss the charm of this stunning village perched high on the mountain overlooking the Amalfi Coast. Again, Ravello is a great place to find deals on ceramics, and the town is so quaint and much less busier than Amalfi or Positano.

Ravello, Italy

Where to Stay in Ravello

Belmond Hotel Caruso (luxury accommodations) – Belmond Hotels are probably one of my favourite hotel brands. The locations of most of their properties are intimate and bespoke. The location of this property is no different. It has stunning sweeping views of the Amalfi Coast. The infinity pool and gardens make this setting feel like an oasis from the hustle and bustle in Amalfi down the mountain below.

Belmond Villa Margherita (luxury accommodations) – For those who want an upgraded experience, this is a private villa which has access to all the amenities of the Belmond Hotel Caruso, a few blocks away.

What to See in Ravello

Something that is a bit of a secret is the Campania Artecard. This amazing pass gives you access to 80 cultural sights across Naples and the Campania Region (including the Amalfi Coast). You can use the Campania Artecard to get admission into Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone in Ravello. It’s well worth the investment.

Colourful ceramics in Ravello, Italy

Villa Rufolo – Built in the 13th century, Villa Rufolo is easy to get to from the main centre square of Ravello. It was extensively restored in the 19th century and the gardens were being restored last year (2019). Stunning to walk around and take in the amazing views from the terraces here.

Villa Cimbrone – Worth the walk, believe me. The gardens and views from this Villa are breathtaking. The “Terrazzo dell’infinito” or Terrace of Infinity, has the most stunning views you’ll find of the Amalfi Coast.

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
“Terrazzo dell’infinito” or Terrace of Infinity, Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy

Minori

I stayed in Minori for five nights the last time I was here on the Amalfi Coast. It was a great quiet village to explore the coast and neighbouring villages. Up above Minori is Ravello, and can be reached by about a 45 minute walk up the mountain through the terraced lemon groves. If you’re a Jamie Oliver fan, one of his good friends, who Jamie learned everything Italian from, chef Gennaro Contaldo is from Minori. I found Minori to be a perfect place to relax, enjoy the much quieter beach and have some amazing food. Prices are much more “local” and you won’t find too many tourists here, which is a welcomed change.

Using the ferry systems from here is a bit less hectic and you’ll be able to find a good seat on the ferries as it’s before the ferries get too crowded with passengers from Amalfi and Positano, onwards to Capri or Sorrento.

Minori, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Where to Stay in Minori

Minori Palace Hotel (mid range accommodations) – This is where I stayed for five nights during my “Enchanting Southern Italy” tour with Blue Roads this past September 2019. It was a comfortable hotel within a 5 minute walk from the beach and across the street from one of the most delicious pastry shops. Breakfast included every morning was adequate and great selection.

Hotel Santa Lucia (mid range accommodations) – Traditional hotel rooms very close to the beach, about a four minute walk. Clean and comfortable.

Where to Eat in Minori

Giardiniello – Had the most stunning meal here. If you’re in Minori (or visiting the Amalfi Coast), this restaurant is a must visit. We sat out on the terrace and had a wonderful group dinner here. I had the stuffed zucchini flowers to start, followed by homemade N’dunderi alla minorese, a large pillowy soft gnocchi they make here in Minori with tomato sauce and smoked mozzarella. Mama mia!

Giardiniello Restaurant, Minori, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Pasticceria Gambardella – The place to buy €1 calzones (fried, fresh made pizza pockets) to take to the beach or for a snack on the ferry and the most amazing desserts and pastries including rum babas and sfogliatellas.

Pasticceria Sal De Riso – Higher end desserts, really nice area to sit outside, have a coffee and watch local life in Minori.

What to Do in Minori

One of my favourite things to do in Minori (other than relax on the beach) was to take advantage of the “walk of the lemons” on Sentiero dei Limoni. It’s a beautiful hike through the alleyways, staircases then through the terraced lemon groves for some amazing sunrise views over Minori with Ravello perched high above.

“Walk of the Lemons” during sunrise over Minori, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Sorrento

As I mentioned earlier, Sorrento is not part of the Amalfi Coast, however many people visit Sorrento on their way to the Amalfi Coast or on their way to Naples from the Amalfi Coast, so that’s why I’m including it into this guide.

Sorrento to me is similar to the Amalfi Coast, lemons, cliffs and the sea. Known for seafood and more amazing pasta, Sorrento is a beautiful place to visit and spend a night or two.

Sorrento, Italy

Where to Stay in Sorrento

Hotel Bellevue Syrene (luxury accommodations) – Part of the Relais & Chateaux brand, this hotel offers stunning accommodation overlooking the Bay of Naples. They have some fantastic stay packages, some which include meals at their amazing restaurant.

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (luxury accommodations) – Part of the Leading Hotels of the World, this landmark hotel is one you can’t miss, if you’ve arrived to Sorrento by boat. Perched precariously on the clifftop, with views of Mount Vesuvius, this luxury property pays homage to it’s traditional roots, which rooms are elegantly traditional.

Where to Eat in Sorrento

O’Parrucchiano – Whilst Cannelloni was invented in Amalfi, this is who perfected it and serves it in their Sorrento restaurant to this day. This very elegant setting of a restaurant also features a beautiful garden conservatory to also dine in and also in a stunning lemon garden. I came here for an amazing “early dinner”, of course had the cannelloni and enjoyed eating out in the lemon garden.

L’Antica Trattoria – I had an amazing set menu lunch here. I was greeted on this hot, September afternoon with a welcome glass of prosecco. Followed by an amazing four course meal, which I struggled to finish. The atmosphere is beautiful, service was attentive and had a great experience here overall. I’d come back here in a heartbeat.

L’Antica Trattoria, Sorrento, Italy

I hope you found this travel guide to the Amalfi Coast helpful. As I visit the Amalfi Coast again and again over the years, I’ll keep this up to date with my favourite recommendations.

If you have any questions about the Amalfi Coast, or if you’re looking for help planning your next trip to Positano, Amalfi or Sorrento, I’d love to help. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a travel agent who specializes in luxury travel and I’m a proud travel agent member of Virtuoso. Click here to contact me on how we can work together.

Ciao and Safe Travels! xoxo

Ariane

PS – Did you enjoy reading this travel guide? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

Cruising 101: Getting the Most Out of Your Cruise Vacation

If you haven’t read my last blog post (or listened to my podcast episode) on planning your perfect cruise, I give some tips and insights on booking and selecting which cruise is best for you. In today’s blog, now that you’re all booked, I’m going to go through getting ready for your upcoming cruise, travelling on your cruise and some of my personal tips and tricks for getting the most out of your cruise vacation.

Checking in for your cruise

Usually once final payment is made you can do your cruise check in approximately 60-90 days prior to departure depending on the cruise line. If you work with a travel agent, this is a service that we can help our clients with, and what I typically do for my clients on their behalf. Check in is completed through the cruise line’s website. The information that needs to be provided to the cruise line is; your emergency contact details of someone not travelling with you or your party, credit card details to setup your onboard account (however you can sometimes setup a cash account when arriving to the port or on-board the ship), and full passport details of each traveller (you’ll also sometimes need visa information for countries you will be visiting depending on the cruise and cruise line).

If you have a cabin assignment, you’ll be able to print all your boarding passes and luggage tags right away, if you booked a guarantee cabin, usually you will have to log onto your account about a week prior to departure and check to see if they’ve given you your cabin assignment at that time.

**Pro Tip: Don’t attach your cruise luggage tag until you leave for the port. I attach my luggage tags to my luggage at the hotel right before I leave for the port, the front desk at your hotel can normally let you borrow a stapler or tape as you check out. I also print an extra tag for my carry on. This way I can see my cabin number easily on my handle of my carry on instead of fishing through papers.

Packing for your cruise

When packing for your cruise there are always a few things to keep in mind. Does your ship have a dress code for the dining rooms at night? Are there “gala nights” onboard, if so, how many? Do you know what your “wine allowance” is per guest or stateroom? What type of electrical outlets are in the staterooms? These are questions that a travel agent who is a cruise specialist can help answer for you. Most ships have somewhat of a dress code at night for the dining rooms or the specialty dining restaurants. This can range from “country club casual” to shirt and blazer for men, to no jeans or shorts. For women, again no jeans or shorts, however pants or skirts with a top and cocktail attire is acceptable on most. For shoes, on most cruise lines, flip flops are a no-no at night, some cruise lines even frown upon runners and require proper dress shoes, etc. This also comes to making sure you are booking the right cruise line for you. If you want something more casual, there are options out there for you. I regards to “gala nights” most cruise ships have two formal nights on a seven day cruise. Whilst it is becoming less popular, it’s not a requirement to wear formal wear on most ships on these nights. It is a time where most people get photos done, especially with the Captain. If you have status with a cruise line, normally if they throw a cocktail party with the Captain and Senior Officers, it’s usually on a “gala night”.

Wine allowances, so most cruise ships do allow you to bring wine onboard, however some do charge a “corkage fee” to bring your own bottles onboard. You can then consume your own wine either in your stateroom or in any of the restaurants. Some cruise lines allow you to bring one or two bottles or more per stateroom or per guest at no charge to enjoy in your stateroom, but they will charge a corkage fee if you bring your own bottle to the restaurants. If this is something that is important to you, your travel agent will be able to advise what your wine allowances are for the cruise you booked.

Electrical outlets, so most ocean cruise ships have a mix of North American and European style outlets in each stateroom. Some cabins now also have USB plugs near the beds to charge phones or I use those to plug in my Saje Aroma Roam travel diffuser.

There are some things that are a no-no to pack, if they scan your luggage and find these items in your bags, you will most likely have to go down to the “naughty room” and collect your bags without the confiscated items. Some of the most popular items that are not allowed onboard are irons (for clothes, hair straightens are okay), alcohol (wine or champagne needs to be in your carry on when you board the ship), weapons of any kind, drones (some cruise lines are okay with them or if you have special permission, again double check this as it depending on the cruise line), food products (no meats, fruits or vegetables; if you need a certain milk for your coffee, etc, it’s always better if we put in a special services request to have this available onboard or carry this on in your carry on it a sealed unopened original container), bottles of water or pop (yes some cruise lines do not allow this), candles/incense (or anything else that creates an open flame), baby monitors, radios, extension cords (those can cause fires onboard ships, also don’t leave anything plugged in when you leave your stateroom, if anything is left plugged in, expect that your room steward will unplug items if they see it), illegal drugs and CBD oils (yes I got asked this question once by a client, the answer is no) and scissors (travel size or a small pair are ok, just not a full size pair of scissors). Your travel specialist will be able to provide you with this list based on the cruise line you’ve booked with if you need this information.

Cruise Apps

Most cruise lines have their own apps nowadays. I am personally starting to really like the apps that they have. You can usually open them on the ship, connect to the ship’s wifi, it’s free to use (only using the app will work, if you want to use social media or internet you do still have to buy an internet package onboard). I like the apps because I can keep on top of my onboard account, manage my specialty dining reservations, see all the daily activities and even manage spa or entertainment reservations, again all depending on the cruise line. By managing your onboard account this way you’re not going to experience and “sticker shock” at the end of your cruise when you receive you bill, this will also give you time to dispute any charges as there is limited amount open on the day of disembarkation.

Arriving to your cruise

I’m going to be honest, I’ve been in this industry long enough to see a fair share of people not take my advice and fly in the day of their cruise just to be delayed and miss their ship. I always recommend to my clients to fly in the day before. Was even flying in the day before my Pacific Coastal cruise, even through it was a short flight from Vancouver to San Diego. I don’t trust that if the plane goes mechanical or any other delays including weather, I want to feel safe knowing that I will get there in time. Just another reason why it’s also a very good idea to have travel insurance.

One of the most asked questions I get is “what time should I arrive to the port to board my ship?”. That’s really down to personal choice. I like to arrive to the port as early as I can, usually by 10:00am. Most ships open check in counters by 10:30am and you can normally start boarding the ship by 11:00am to 11:30am. If you have status with the cruise line you sail with, there are sometimes “lounges” you can take advantage of and enjoy your wait. When you arrive at the port, there will be a place to drop your larger luggage, then walk inside to wait for the check in counters. Have your boarding pass and ID (passport, etc) ready as sometimes there will be a security check before you get to the check in counters. At the check in desks (this does depend on the cruise line, this is more for larger cruise lines, some of the smaller ships and on some river cruise ships you actually will check in onboard) you’ll be asked for your boarding pass, ID (passport, etc) and your credit card that you registered for your onboard account. They will either take a photo of you, or scan your passport and use that photo. You will be given your cruise card at this time.

Your cruise card is everything. This is your credit card, ID and cabin door key all in one. Be sure to keep your card safe, if you do lose it, go to guest services immediately and report it missing. Also get guest services to print your onboard account to make sure no one used your key card to make unauthorized purchases. Some people do use lanyards to wear their cruise card around their neck, make sure guest services punches the card for you, or buy a lanyard that you can insert the card into so it doesn’t become damaged.

Once onboard

I usually head to the guest services desk first and pick up a “daily”. What is a “daily” you ask? This is the daily schedule of all the activities onboard. Once I’ve grabbed on of those I head to the dining room that is open for lunch.

**Pro Tip: Most cruises will have a sit down dining option open for lunch. It’s usually much quieter than trying to fight for space up in the buffet.

Once I’ve ordered lunch, I then plan my “strategy” for the rest of the day using the “daily” I picked up.

**Pro Tip: You might have your carry on for a couple hours before you have access to your room, also, you might not get your checked luggage until after sail away. I usually keep a swim suit and a few other items in my carry on just in case it’s a beautiful day and I want to go for a swim. After lunch, I normally drop my carry on and bag into my cabin. They will make an announcement once rooms are ready, this can be right when you board or usually sometime by 2:00pm.

Once I’ve checked into my cabin and sanitized it, I put my passport into the safe along with any of my valuables that can fit in it (MacBook, jewelry, wallet (again your cruise card is your currency onboard, so you don’t need to walk around with it), etc). Then it’s off to explore.

I normally explore a ship from the bottom decks to the top. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, it’s amazing how many steps you’ll walk exploring a ship. When exploring, this is when I’m going to refer back to my personal strategy I’ve highlighted in my “daily”, there are usually some great “taster” events happening onboard during the time of boarding to Muster Drill and into the early evening. Again this is going to depend on what is important to you and what types of activities you might be interested in. If you’re a family cruising together, this is a great time to check out the kid’s clubs onboard, fill out any necessary forms and sign them up for activities. I myself check out the spa and thermal suites onboard if I haven’t purchased a spa pass ahead of time and attend the “spa raffle”. I’ve won gift certificates for free treatments and products before, like the saying goes, you have to be in it, to win it, so I usually attend that event onboard.

Since I’ve been cruising solo a bit recently, I also make note of any Solo Travellers Meetups onboard as well, usually the first meetup is before dinner hour on the day of embarkation. Sometimes it’s nice to meet other solo travellers for a dinner or a drink, or just to recognize people in the hallways for a quick chat how each other’s vacation has been going.

**Pro Tip: Make sure to look carefully at a map of the ship or check out cruisecritic.com and search the ship you are sailing on for “lesser known” areas of the ship. You would be surprised that there can be out of the way places to relax that most people don’t find because they stick to the main decks. 

Muster Drill

I actually get slightly entertained when it’s someone’s first muster drill, to see the reactions on people’s faces (or the multitude of quick hands over the ears) to experience the emergency alarm is interesting and amusing. I want to reiterate, do not miss the emergency safety drill. It’s mandatory and please pay attention. This is not the time to chat with your group or play on your phone. In the “daily” you will see where to find your muster station. Your muster station is printed on your cruise card. It is also found located on the back door of your stateroom. Some cruise lines require that you bring your lifejackets from your cabin to the drill, others do not require this. Please read the daily for instructions on what you need to bring to your drill.

Once you arrive at your muster station, you need to check in with your cruise card or with your cabin number to the crew member in charge of your station. Make sure to arrive on time to your muster station (5-10 minutes before the drill is set to begin is good). You will hear the emergency alarms of the ship go off. They will then go through the safety requirements and information over the ship’s speaker systems. If you are late or do not check in, you will be required to make up the muster drill at another time. Again, this is a very important emergency drill, please pay attention to the instructions and even if you’ve done numerous drills in the past, please respect that others around you might not have. 

Sail Away

One of my favourite parts of starting my cruise vacation. There are so many options for sail away and depending on which port you are leaving from there might be different advantages. For instance, if you’re sailing out of Vancouver, head to the top deck of the cruise ship on a sunny day for beautiful views of Vancouver, the North Shore mountains and of course sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge. Are you sailing out of Venice? If you have a balcony on the port side (the left side of the ship), you’ll have amazing views of Piazza San Marco whilst cruising out of Venice. There is usually a sail away party somewhere on deck, with live music to get the cruise started right. I make sure I pop a bottle of Champagne or Prosecco and toast to a wonderful and safe adventure ahead! Be sure to check the cruise “daily” for all the sail away events and locations.

Cabins/Staterooms Onboard

Whilst cabins and staterooms onboard are a bit more “compact” than a standard hotel room, the storage nooks and crannies are plentiful. One of the most asked questions I get from clients is “where can I store my luggage?”. There is usually always room to store suitcases under the bed, you can typically store at least two to three medium sized ones here. What is included in your cabin/stateroom also varies depending on cruise ship line, stateroom category and ship. If not having a coffee maker in your room is a deal breaker for you, make sure that you book the correct category or cruise line (some cruise lines only balconies and higher categories have coffee makers in the staterooms, some don’t offer coffee makers in the room but do offer room service included, other cruise lines don’t have coffee makers in any of the rooms).

Most cruise ships also have a small refrigerator in the room. I usually ask my room steward to clear out the mini bar (if it’s not included of course haha) so I have room to refrigerate my own wines, etc. For some people a refrigerator is necessary to keep medications cold, so I do make sure if this is a requirement that there is a fridge in the room, or we can request this through the cruise line’s special services department.

As I mentioned already previously, there are quite a few electrical outlets available typically in your stateroom. I bring a European adapter so I can utilize all the plugs in my cabin, especially if I’m travelling with a friend, that way no one is fighting over an outlet. I do also bring my hair tools, as they have North American style plugs onboard I can make sure my hair is styled without worrying I’m going to blow up my device.

There are tons of other tips and tricks you can find online, some cabin walls are metal, so if you want more storage I know a few avid cruisers who travel with magnetic hooks to have extra hooks in the room, however I’ve never had a problem with storage, even if I end up sharing a stateroom with someone.

You can expect your room to be tidied a couple times per day, once usually mid-morning, the last time for turn down service during dinner hours (delivery of your daily and any important notes for the next day will normally be placed on your bed or on the desk during turn down), it’s a rule of thumb to not have your do not disturb light/sign on unless you are in the room. If they see that you constantly have your do not disturb sign up they will leave a note for you to contact guest services. 

Dining

Once onboard you can head to the dining reservations desk and make any dining reservations you might want to make or need to change. Most cruise lines now do dining reservations ahead of time online, however there are some that you need to make them once onboard or if you need to amend any within seven days prior to your cruise departure. Most cruise lines will not accept dining reservations for the main dining rooms, it is either set time (chosen or assigned when you book certain cruise lines) or “freestyle” (open seating), where you will be seated as you show up for dinner.

Some cruise lines are now using a system similar to restaurants where you check in and are given a buzzer for when your table is ready if there is a wait (doesn’t mean you can walk to the other side of the ship haha).

When it comes to room service, this also depends on the cruise line. Some do not charge and will even serve you your meal course-by-course, some have a set service fee and finally some have a la carte pricing. Your cruise professional can advise you ahead of time what room service fees your cruise has if any. 

Shore Excursions and Leaving the Ship

The reason I wanted to cover this is the expectations of getting on and off the ship for shore excursions depending on the cruise line you’re sailing on. No matter what size of ship you’re sailing on, this time of embarkation and disembarkation I’ve learned to pack my patience. If you’re tendering, which means taking a boat from the ship to the shore, be sure to grab your tender tickets the moment they are available for distribution (some people on larger cruise ships have learned this the hard way). Then be prepared to wait until your number/colour is called (not near the exits either).

That being said, really make sure you have a buffer time for shore excursions you’ve booked on your own or through a third party. Shore excursions booked through the ship will have priority, so make sure you have a good buffer time and be sure to leave the ship with enough time to meet up with your excursions.

Also, when you depart the ship you need to bring your cruise card with you. You will be scanned as you leave and when you return so they know who is missing if you miss the “all aboard” call. “All aboard” is typically 30 minutes before sail away, so make sure you plan accordingly. You don’t want to be one of those people running after the ship at the port (yes, I have seen this) or taking that selfie with the ship sailing away without you in the background.

Most ports will also not allowed any food or beverages off the ship (so don’t try to take that Starbucks latte to go off the ship or you’ll be forced to knock it back or leave it behind). Water is allowed, however please be mindful when refilling your water bottle in the buffet area, use a glass to fill then pour the water into your bottle, don’t refill your bottle directly under the spout.

Also, you don’t need to take your passport off the ship in every country (double check this before you depart the ship for the day), I have my Canadian driver’s license and a photocopy of my passport photo page. If for some reason you miss the ship and do not board on time, a senior officer will check your safe in your stateroom and leave your passport behind with port officials so you can make your own way to catch up to the ship. Some cruises they will actually hold your passport anyways during check in, this is so that if the officials need to see your passport you aren’t called down to the Purser’s Office at 5:30am to present your passport to immigration.

When you return from your day exploring the port, have your cruise card ready. When you arrive back at the cruise terminal you will sometime have to go through a security check point before getting to the ship. Once scanned and onboard, typically there is another security scan done (again, make sure you didn’t buy any prohibited items, or if you purchased alcohol you’ll have to declare it for them to store it for you or pay the corkage fee (if them impose one) to enjoy it onboard). 

Medical Services Onboard

Yes cruise ships do have medical centres onboard. The cost to use these services however are very steep, make sure to use them only in emergency and make sure to give them your travel insurance information. Usually this is added to your onboard account as they rarely direct bill to insurance.

**Pro Tip: If you do find yourself sea sick, guest services do have a supply of sea sickness tablets that they usually provide at no charge.

You can also find some over the counter pharmacy products in the gift shop (ibuprofen, cough medicine, allergy tablets, etc) however the gift shops are set to specific hours and are not open while in port due to laws and restrictions.

Just a bit further on health, especially with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Norwalk Virus, be sure to wash your hands frequently. There are so many antibacterial hand gel dispensers throughout ships, we wouldn’t have problems is everyone was diligent enough to use them. I also bring hand sanitizer into the dining room and use it after touching menus. In my stateroom, I also wipe down surfaces, door handles, remote controls, telephones, etc with Lysol antibacterial wipes.

In conclusion these are just a few tips and tricks of how to get the most of your cruise and scenarios you might encounter. When you book a cruise through myself, I do offer a service to go over any questions my clients have one on one and give tips based on the ship/cruise line they are sailing on, especially if it’s a ship I’ve sailed on myself. I also do have reviews of my cruises on my blog and will continue to write these ship reviews going forward. 

As I am a travel agent who specializes in cruising, I’d love to help you plan your next cruise vacation. Please contact me for a free cruise vacation consultation via my website or by sending me a direct message on Instagram.

Until next time, safe travels and happy cruising!

Ariane

PS – Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

Cruising 101: Planning the Perfect Cruise

As a travel advisor who specializes in cruises I get asked so many questions in regards to planning for and booking the perfect cruise for my clients. So I thought I would chat about some of what I go through with my clients to help best pick a cruise that fits them and what preparing for a cruise looks like. Whether you are looking at an ocean or river cruise, to planning which destination and cruise line is best for you and your budget, I’m going to cover it all, including some of my tips and tricks when it comes to planning your cruise.

Why I love to cruise

Cruising is honestly one of my personal favourite ways to travel. It makes travel so stress free and relaxing. I get to arrive onto a ship (or floating hotel), unpack once and wake up in a new destination pretty well everyday. Cruising also offers a great way to “test” out destinations, to see where you would love to travel back to and spend more time. It can also give you the opportunity to visit places that you might not have thought to otherwise (example: St. Petersburg, Russia can be harder to visit due to visas to Russia, etc, cruising can make visiting places like Russia easier). Sea days are a nice relaxing break, sometimes the ships can be destinations on their own with plenty to do and see onboard.

Planning your cruise

First step is to contact someone who is a specialist when it comes to cruises. Certain travel advisors have access to offers or onboard extras that you might not as a consumer. Myself, I hold specialist certifications with all the major cruise lines, I’m a travel advisor member of Virtuoso, an exclusive membership for travel advisors and have personal relationships with many within the cruise industry. I offer my clients exclusive benefits when they book their cruise with me, so if you’d like to have a chat about your own cruise, please contact me. I’d love to personally have a chat about cruising and help you find the perfect cruise for you.

Picking a cruise

There are many factors to think of when it comes to picking which cruise would be best for you. Here are some of the topics I bring up with my clients when helping them select a cruise:

Destination/Itinerary – This is actually one of the main things I personally consider when planning a cruise. Cruises are now available to all seven continents, so there is an itinerary for everyone. Things to consider with destinations are what time of year is best to visit, if there is a shoulder season, and the length of time you’re in each port (some cruise lines offer overnights in certain ports, or even longer days to spend time to visit nearby cities). What is the weather like? For instance, cruising the Mediterranean in the Winter months, if that’s when you have vacation time is not really an option, however cruises to South America, Tahiti, Australia, Caribbean, etc are in season during that time. Other things I look for is unique destinations when cruising. We are seeing the return of Turkey to cruise itineraries and new and unique cruises such as the Black Sea, cruises from Africa to Australia and more options to Antartica. 

Choosing which cruise line is best for you – There is definitely a cruise line for everyone. I have my personal favourites based on my personal experiences with certain companies in the past. It really depends on what you are looking for and what your budget is. There are also other factors to select a cruise line such as if an “adults only” cruise is important to you, if so you might want to look at Viking Cruises or Virgin Voyages. Is food your thing? You might want to try Oceania, Crystal, Windstar or Seabourn. Are you looking for something family friendly? Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean might be good options for you. Are you looking for a cruise line that has a solid reputation for certain itineraries? Holland America is amazing for Alaska, Azamara has unique AzAmazing events, Paul Gauguin does amazing itineraries of Tahiti and the South Pacific and Silversea offers weekends with special access to the Monaco Grand Prix. Are you wanting a small ship experience? Windstar, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, Silversea, Oceania, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin and Ponant might be great options. Many of these brands have great onboard amenities, but it truly is based on what is important to you and what you’re looking to get out of your cruise. 

Here is my breakdown of cruise lines with my own star rating. These ratings are my own opinion and is based on my own personal experiences in regards to food, customer service, inclusions, value for money, etc:

Three Stars and Under:

  • Carnival (Ocean)
  • Costa (Ocean)
  • P & O Cruises (Ocean)
  • Royal Caribbean (Ocean)
  • Princess Cruises (Ocean)
  • Celestyal Cruises (Ocean)
  • MSC Cruises (Ocean)
  • Viking (River)

Four Stars:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line (Ocean)
  • Holland America (Ocean)
  • Celebrity (Ocean)
  • Disney Cruise Line (Ocean)
  • Cunard (Ocean)
  • Virgin Voyages (Ocean)
  • Emerald Waterways (River)
  • Avalon Waterways (River)
  • AMAWaterways (River)

Five Stars:

  • Azamara (Ocean)
  • Viking (Ocean)
  • Oceania Cruises (Ocean)
  • Windstar Cruises (Ocean)
  • Paul Gauguin (Ocean)
  • Silversea (Ocean)
  • Crystal Cruises (Ocean, Yacht and River)
  • Seabourn (Ocean)
  • Ponant (Ocean)
  • Regent Seven Seas (Ocean)
  • Scenic (River and Yacht)
  • UniWorld (River)

Expedition:

  • Hurtigruten
  • Quark Expeditions
  • G Adventures
  • Intrepid Travel

Selecting the right cabin type – Yes, interior cabins are the cheapest, but there are some things to consider when looking at selecting the right cabin type for you. I personally love cruising in a Balcony. I can open the window and enjoy fresh air, while interior and ocean view cabins rely on circulated air. Yes, if you’re hardly in the room an interior room can be a good economical option if you’re looking to just use your room to sleep, change and shower. I have cruised in an inside cabin before, and relied on my “Aroma Roam” from Saje (a travel diffuser), to make sure that I had fresh air with the Immune oil. If you’re looking for more room a suite can offer extra perks and more space. I would suggest picking your cabin based on your itinerary. For example, a balcony whilst cruising the Mediterranean, Tahiti or Alaska is amazing to have as you do get quite a bit of use out of it, it’s nice to have that private viewing space. When working with your travel agent, make sure any of your needs are covered such as if you’re a family getting a proper family room, if you have accessibility needs, making sure you’re in a correct accessible cabin, etc. Is your cabin below the gym or a kitchen? Are you aware of what a “guarantee” is? These are some of the things I go through with my clients to make sure we are selecting the best cabin for them and that there are no surprises. On river cruise ships, are you okay with “Swan View”, or the lower level on the ship. Some people don’t like the idea of sleeping below the waterline. Using a travel professional to help you select the best cabin style for you is key to your enjoyment of your cruise.

Loyalty to a cruise line – If you are loyal to a brand, you are typically rewarded with offers and gifts as you increase in loyalty levels. Things to keep in mind is that sometimes it is worth moving up and graduating to a new cruise line as “free laundry” and “bottled water” can already be an inclusion on another cruise line and not just a loyalty perk. If you’re a cruise away from your free one, then by all means, but really look at what your cruise loyalty gets you.

Shore Excursions – When it comes to shore excursions, really do your research on the ports you are visiting before selecting which tours you are going to do, if any. Depending on the cruise line you booked with, ocean cruise shore excursions might already be included (another reason that sometimes booking a more all inclusive style cruise can be a better option). Typically with river cruises most of you basic excursions are already included, you just have to pay for additional or upgraded experiences. Keep in mind, for most main line ocean cruise lines shore excursions are not included. So back to selecting shore excursions, going through the ship can be easy options for many people, they offer a guarantee that the ship will wait for you or the cruise line is responsible for you. They usually offer a money back guarantee as well to make sure you do enjoy yourself. However the downside is that most of the time you will be on a tour with 40-60 people. In all my cruises, I’ve done a grand total of one tour through any of the main stream cruise lines. I typically explore some ports I visit on my own, again this is where a bit of research comes in, or help and recommendations from your travel agent. For example, for my upcoming Baltic Cruise in July, I’m planning to visit Berlin, St.Petersburg, and Helsinki and Porvoo with tours, and see Tallin, Stockholm and Copenhagen on my own. I usually personally use a third party company that specializes in shore excursions worldwide and has the same guarantees that a cruise line has, money back guarantee and will get you back to the ship on time or they pay to catch you up. I love the tours I’ve done through them and have had many happy clients with these excursions as well. Usually the groups are a lot smaller, about 8-30 people per tour, depending on the tour and the cost is quite a bit less than the cruise lines. Chat with a travel agent who specializes in cruises for extra tips and tricks depending on your itinerary and cruise company. I typically give my clients tips for shopping, sights and restaurants for ports I’ve personally visited in the past. We also know the ins and outs of visa requirements in regards to the countries you will be visiting on your cruise, which can impact you boarding the ship or being able to get off the ship. An example is Russia, for a Canadian, getting a Russian visa can be expensive, however if you book your excursions through the ship or the third party company I use for myself and my clients, they take care of your Russian visa for you. It’s certain things like these that a travel professional can help you get the most out of your cruise. 

Dining onboard – There are usually many dining choices onboard a cruise ship. Most cruise ships have main dining rooms, a buffet style restaurant, fast snack/pool side options, a cafe and specialty restaurants. If food is important to you, speak with your travel agent to make sure that the cruise you’re looking at is the best option for your needs. Cruises can accommodate most dietary needs and requirements, but again this should be chatted about when you are booking the cruise so your travel agent can notate your file and make sure the cruise line is aware of your requests. Some cruise lines do have an additional charge for specialty restaurants onboard. Wether the cruise line you are sailing with charges or not, you can make some reservations for specialty restaurants usually now online before your cruise to make sure you get to dine where you like. I remember once being on a cruise and meeting a couple who finally showed up for their last meal in the dining room on the last night of the cruise. The wife was so excited that they were finally splurging on a meal and asked where the prices were on the menu of what the charge was, well it was the main dining room we were in which meant there was none, they had apparently been eating at the buffet the entire cruise! She was not impressed at all and had no idea they could have been having sit down service meals the whole week. 

Gratuities – Gratuities can sometimes be included depending on the promotion you book, or it is an additional charge that you can add on before you sail (depending on the cruise line) or it’s paid onboard at the end of your sailing. Gratuities depend on cruise line and stateroom category, suites pay more than an inside, etc. The reason I’m a fan of gratuities is that everyone benefits, yes you can tip you room steward and server, but they aren’t the dishwashers, people doing laundry or the entertainment onboard. It makes it fair so you don’t have to worry about tipping. If you are using a butler or concierge, please do consider tipping them extra for good service as they do typically go above and beyond in my experience. 

Drink Packages – Most cruise lines offer drink packages for purchase or part of a perk when booking. Some cruise lines (especially river cruises) offer wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Speak to your travel agent to find out what type of a drink package is best for you. I typically don’t buy a drink package, sometimes I buy a non-alcohol drink package, so I can have specialty coffees etc. Depending on the cruise line you cruise with you can bring a certain amount of wine onboard per cabin without a corkage fee. What is a corkage fee? So some cruise lines charge this to bring wine onboard, wether you drink it in your stateroom or in any of the dining rooms. I typically go for this option (I prefer to bring my own wine onboard to enjoy in my stateroom). 

Internet on cruise ships – Cruise ships do have wi-fi onboard. Keep in mind that it is satellite internet, so it is much slower and less reliable than what you are probably used to at home. Some cruise lines include internet, some you can choose it as a perk or you can purchase it onboard. 

How do you find the best deal? Use a travel agent who specializes in cruises. Again, I’m a cruise expert myself and a Virtuoso Travel Agent so I do have extra perks I can offer my clients depending on the cruise booked. This could be extra onboard credits or special onboard surprises from me. I also now offer a service that I can track your sailing to make sure you booked at the best price or best promotion. If there is a better deal that comes along, I can work with the cruise line to make sure you get an upgrade, onboard credits or extra perks to get the most of what you paid. I also get notifications on all the latest sales and promotions from each cruise line every week. As I’ve been in the industry for a little while now, I have experience when it comes to knowing the best times of year to book a cruise (best cruise offers are normally in January and February) and the best cruise line for your budget, itinerary, etc.

Deposits and Final Payments – Again the depends on the cruise line and the promotion booked as to what the deposit will be. Sometimes the deposits are refundable, sometimes they aren’t. Again one of the benefits of booking with a travel agent, I’ll make sure that everything is extremely clear so you know what to expect and send you reminders before your final payment is due. Typically final payments are due 90 to 120 days prior to departure date of your cruise.

Cruising Solo – Cruising solo is becoming so popular. Recent statistics from Stats Canada are that 52% of Canadians are Single, Widowed or Divorced. Lonely Planet did a poll in which 67% of respondents in a 2019 survey said their next trip would be solo. 48% of Baby Boomers say they took a solo trip in 2018. It’s so nice to see that many cruise lines have realized the market needs and have started adding solo cabins onboard, some cruise lines even waive the single supplement. Some cruise lines have even implemented Solo Traveller meetups onboard, usually on the first day when you board the ship which can be very well attended. The solo groups onboard usually meet everyday and arrange group dinners and events. My aunt just got back from a 17 day cruise from Dubai to Singapore back in December and had a great time with her solo traveller group on her cruise, there was a pretty large group and she made some great friendships which they keep in contact and have been chatting amongst themselves about other cruises they are booking in the future. You can also join one of my favourite resources, Cruise Critic for free. They have a message board that normally has “Roll Calls” for each cruise departure. It’s a great place to make connections before your cruise and see who else is sailing on your sailing. You can also see if there is a local Solo Travellers Group near you. I actually run two in the Vancouver/Lower Mainland area, you can always send me a message for information if your in the area and want to attend. Solo Travellers Groups are great to meet other solo travellers and see what group opportunities there are. I know in the groups I run some of the ladies have become great friends and travel together, or we have put a cruise group together and travel as a group. Cruising alone shouldn’t put you off of cruising, it can be such a great way to explore this world and because of the ease of travel, much less daunting than a group tour or doing it on your own hopping from city to city.

Groups – Do you have a potential group of 10 passengers or more? Wether you have a corporate group, a retreat group, a family reunion, a group of friends travelling, a special interest group (such as photography, artists, wine, book clubs, etc), retirement party, anniversary celebration or a wedding, groups onboard a cruise can be rewarding for everyone. Again, speak with a travel agent who has experience in booking a cruise group, as they can help you get the best rates and extra perks for your group. 

Sustainability and the Environment – Cruising is quite controversial when it comes to being environmentally friendly or sustainable. There are some cruise lines out there that are doing their best to try to help the environment. Some of the ultra luxury companies have launched clean energy ships, some of the bigger lines are starting to follow suit. Some cruise lines have eliminated single use plastics onboard, others are committing to do so bit by bit (such as eliminating straws onboard, getting rid of towel animals (yes they were cute, but it does add quite a bit of extra laundry) and using boxed water). However, it comes down to you being a sustainable traveller. I bring a reusable water bottle (fill that up with a lemon and water before leaving the ship and even when waling around the ship on a sea day) and travel cup with a straw. I also travel with reusable straws, so if I do order a pina colada I can enjoy it without the paper straw disintegrating. Try to reuse your towels a couple times before requesting new ones and hold on to your beach/pool towel for a few uses as well. I also order “small portions” in the dining rooms so as to not waste any food. I mean come on, I want to try a couple of those amazing appetizers anyways right? *wink wink*

Wheelchairs and Accessibility – Again this is where a cruise specialist comes in. We can suggest itineraries that would better suit someone that has a wheelchair or accessibility needs. For instance, if you are someone with a wheelchair, I would suggest avoiding an itinerary that requires a lot of tenders. Tendering off the ship can be pretty well impossible in some ports and off some ships, so there are very strict guidelines that need to be met. In regards to cabins, there are many different types of accessible cabins and there are forms that need to be filled out to make sure you are allocated a specific cabin type depending on your needs. This can be a cabin for someone who might be deaf, in a wheelchair or blind. There was an instance I saw in a travel forum recently that someone had booked a family getaway on their own and the grandparents unfortunately could not access the balcony or the washroom facilities in the cabin as the wheelchair could not fit through the bathroom door! Once onboard, of course the cruise was sold out and they could not be moved. If they had a travel agent to help them out, this would have never happened and a correct cabin would have been assigned to them. Travel agents can also arrange scooter and wheelchair rentals onboard as well, again this is something that I chat about with my clients in regards to their needs.

Travel Insurance – Things happen. Get insurance. I’ve honestly seen it all. I’ve had a client slip and break her jaw three days before departing for her 14 day river cruise and couldn’t travel. Insurance made sure she got 100% back. I’ve had clients miss flights due to an accident in the tunnel on the way to the airport. I’ve had clients miss the first day of their cruise due to a delay in a flight which caused them to land too late (in this situation, always arrive the day before, I’m even doing this in April for my own cruise out of San Diego). Travel insurance can also help if your baggage gets delayed and you need to go shopping for items at the ship’s shops (this unfortunately happens more than you think). I’ve also had clients needing to seek medical attention onboard a ship before, if you don’t have insurance it’s not cheap. I’ve heard of people needing to be medically evacuated off ships, it’s happened on my ship a couple times over the years. A cruise (or any trip) is an investment. Make sure that if 24 hours prior to departure you need to cancel, you’re protected to get 100% back. Cruise lines do offer their own insurance, however sometimes it’s only just a cruise credit for a future cruise not actually cash back, so make sure you read the fine print. Bottom line, make sure you get insurance.

Next week I’m going to be chatting about preparing and getting the most out of your cruise whilst onboard.

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Thanks again for listening and reading, as always if you’d like to get in touch to work with me as a client, be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

PS – Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

Ep. 5 Surviving the Holiday Travel Season

Aloha from The Big Island of Hawai’i! Today on the podcast I’m chatting about Holiday Season travel tips.

I’m diving into my own recent flight woes and how to prepare yourself and your family for a busy travel season. Stresses are high and tempers are short, but there are ways you can alleviate some anxieties while travelling during the Christmas Holidays.

Here is the link to find out your rights when it comes to compensation from the airlines due to delays, cancellations, etc with flights departing to, from and within Canada: https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/air-passenger-protection-regulations-highlights

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

PS – Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Please consider joining my Wanderlust Journey Community as a Patron supporter. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month (my community membership tiers start at $2 per month), you can help support me create more content! Click here for more details.

Ep. 4 Travel Safety Tips and Tricks with David

I chat again with a really good friend David about travel safety tips and tricks. We chat about muggings, natural disasters and travel scams we’ve seen on our travels and how to do your best to prepare yourself. Knowledge and preparation empowers you to be a more confident traveller.

The Government of Canada has a great travel information website: https://www.travel.gc.ca On this website you can find travel warnings, safety information, visa entry requirements and health information.

Follow David on Instagram at @attraversiamoinsieme

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

Ep. 3 Solo Travel Questions Answered

In this episode I’m solo answering some solo travel questions that I received through Instagram and Facebook.

I answer questions such as “Isn’t is weird to eat alone?” to “Do you find it lonely travelling by yourself?”. I discuss why I personally love to travel solo to some of the challenges faced when travelling alone. The biggest takeaway is that solo travel should not hold you back! It’s so rewarding if you’re prepared.

A great resource for cruising (especially if your travelling alone) is Cruise Critic, you can join roll calls for cruises you are travelling on, etc – https://boards.cruisecritic.com

The Government of Canada has a great travel information website: https://www.travel.gc.ca On this website you can find travel warnings, safety information, visa entry requirements and health information.

Some of the apps that I use when I travel are: Google Translate (make sure to download the languages so you can use while off data, etc), Google Maps/Streetview, WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger (to stay connected to home), Airline apps (Air Canada, WestJet, etc, whomever I am flying as some planes don’t have in seat entertainment, they require that you have the app to watch movies, etc), Various Hotel apps (Marriott Bonvoy, etc), the Weather Network (to get up to date weather information to plan your days) and of course Uber/Lyft.

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.