Diary of Linda and my Princess cruise in New England area


10/1/11 We left on our trip this morning for our New England 2 week tour to Boston and cruise from New York City to Quebec City on Princess Cruise Lines. We got up at 3:45am to make our 6:20am American Airline flight to Boston via Chicago O'hare. We arrived in Boston about 4:00pm having a relatively good trouble free flight. I listened to Audible Books most of the time continuing my quest to read/listen about the biographies of all our US presidents. I am doing James Monroe at present. We checked into the Colonnade Hotel in down town Boston a very nice French hotel with a French restaurant. The cost was about $290 per night quite high but competitive for Boston this time of year. We went to dinner with Alan's niece Emily and her boy friend at the "Met Back Bay" restaurant which was good. I had Paella with 1/2 a lobster which I enjoyed.

 

10/2/11 Got up about 8:00am and had a continental breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We then visited the Prudential Center shopping Mall where Alan purchased some shaving instruments as he forgot his personal implements from home. The mall is outstanding and in my opinion one of the best in the entire country. We then visited the Museum of Art which was extremely enjoyable one of my favorite Art Museums anywhere. I especially enjoyed the presidents portraits painted by Copely and Sargeant. My favorite seascapes were by Homer who had an entire room of paintings. I spent most of my 2 hours in the North Americas section. We left to have lunch and then decided to do the Duck Tour of Boston and the river. Our guide was really good and funny on the 80 minute tour of historic Boston. Next we returned to the room for 2-3 hours of rest and football on TV. At 7:00pm we headed to the Legal Seafood Restaurant for dinner. I had a New England steamed Lobster dinner which was excellent. Others had various chowders, appetizers, and fresh fish all of which they liked. I love this restaurant even though it is a chain. Returned to our room by 9:00pm.

 

10/3/11 Got up at 8:00am and had breakfast at the Colonnade. Emily, Alan's niece joined us for breakfast. The sun was out this morning and we decided to do a trolley tour of the historic area of the city. We did the entire loop without getting off, which took about 2 hours. I got lots of pictures during the ride with nice cloud filled skies in the background. We then took off again and stopped at the antique district to have lunch at little French pastry shop located in the original "Charles Street Meeting House" where discussions of the revolution began. Ray continued on the bus loop going back to the hotel. The rest of us now on foot hiked 2.5 miles up the Freedom trail. We stopped at the Old North Church which we toured. This church was very interesting and really exuded the history and courage of our forefathers. After the church tour we jumped on a trolley bus and headed back to our hotel. We rested a couple of hours and grabbed a taxi to north Boston's Italian district for dinner. We ate at Mamma Maria a wonderful upscale restaurant. Linda had a spinach pasta with shrimp dish, I had a rabbit pasta dish to die for and a beet watercress salad, Alan had Osso Bucca with risotto, and Rey had eastern swordfish with octopus black ink pasta. All enjoyed their dinner except Ray who was not happy with her pasta and sword fish. I tried the octopus ink pasta and did not like it either. For dessert we walked a block to the famous Mike's Pastry shop where we had cannelloni's and Tiramisu gelato which was to die for. We hailed down a cab for the 15 minute ride back to the hotel.

 

10/4/11 Had breakfast at our hotel, checked out, and hired a van to transport us to the airport. All went well and we all boarded a Jet Blue flight to New York City JFK Airport. This also went well and we arrived on time. Our Van to transport us to the cruise ship terminal in Manhattan showed up and moved onto the New York freeways. Normally the trip should take about 45 minutes, but heavy traffic due to construction lengthened it to 1.5 hours. Going through check in, security, and orientation on the cruise ship was quit trying. We finally got into our room. It was small but comfortable and it had a partially obstructed view. We got unpacked and had our first dinner in the dining room which was very good. Retired early as the ship headed out for sea.

 

10/5/11 Arrived around 8:00am in Newport, RI this morning. Had a buffet breakfast then got on the ship tender which took us to shore about a 15 minute ride. We did a ship sponsored excursion tour on a large diesel powered bus. The tour went through the quaint charming little town of Newport and out to the cliff side area of many of the old summer home mansions in Newport. We all got off the bus and did a guided 1.5 mile walk along the cliffs viewing the mansions and the beautiful seascape scenery. Next began a tour of the Breakers mansion owned by Mr. Vanderbuilt who made a fortune in the railroad industry. The three story 136,000 square foot house was quite impressive. I did not like all the ornate gilded edge artwork on the first floor, but did like the 2nd floor which was less ornate decor. The furniture and crystal chandeliers were awesome. Photos were allowed outside but not inside. This town would be well worth visiting again, perhaps by car. We got back on the Princess Crown ship about 1:00pm and had a hamburger and beer for lunch. I then rested up in our cabin for 2 - 3 hours. Then we went to dinner for our early 5:30am sitting and discovered that is was a formal night. We were super casual but they lets us in to our surprise. It was embarrassing being dressed like bums. It is Linda's job to read and keep me informed of intelligence like this!! We had a nice time none the less and the food was to die for. I had a smoked duck appetizer, wanton soup, medallions of beef, several roasted root vegetables, and bananas Foster with gelato. Every thing was cooked to perfection and was of a very high quality including the service. The Princess Cruise dinners are better than our last cruise on the Royal Caribbean. The buffet's however are not nearly as good as the Royal Caribbean. We tried to attend a Motown performance in the theater, but could not get a seat. This ship must be booked to capacity as it seems quite over crowded with respect to elevators, buffet seating, and theater shows.

 

10/6/11 Arrived back in Boston via ship this time. Alan, Linda, and I went ashore and took a cab to Quincy Square Market. We toured the market for a 1/2 hour and then started walking north on the Freedom trail. We toured Paul Revere's historical house. We stopped at the famous Mikes Pastry for a small dish of gelato ice cream and then continued walking north out of the Italian district and across the St. Charles River bridge to the "Constitution" ship nick named "Old Iron Sides". The navy actually maintains the Constitution and gives daily tours at no cost if you are a US citizen and submit to a security search. The ship is in perfect working condition. They sail it out to sea 6 times a year and position it back into the opposite direction to even out UV deterioration. The tour was given by young navy men and was very entertaining. We then grabbed a cab after a couple blocks of walking which returned us back to our Crown Princess cruise ship arriving around 3:30pm. Only 4/10 of our group showed up for dinner tonight. We had a fun time conversing with Ray and Alan. The red snapper I tried tonight was only so so but everything else was delicious especially the Foie gras and mango creme brulee.

 

10/7/11 We arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine this morning around 7:00am. I felt horrible this morning from too much activity I guess. My muscles ached all over. I told Linda I was staying on board today, but she talked me into going ashore. We had a sit down breakfast this morning in the DaVinci room which was better food than the buffet. We then took the tender into the very beautiful Bar Harbor. It was a bit brisk at 49 F. We immediately walked through the scenic seaside town to the Acadia National Park office where we picked up a free park loop bus. We got off at Jordan Pond and did a short hike on the nature trail. We then jumped back on a NP service free bus and returned to town. We walked through town where I purchased a stocking polar cap to keep me warm in this 50's temperature. Next we walked a very scenic trail along the Atlantic ocean for perhaps an hour at a very leisurely pace. I became tired and we headed back to pick up our tender to the ship. The wind had subsided and the temperature had increased so I did the top open deck of the tender where I could get some good photos of our ship the Crown Princess. Not an elegant looking ship, more akin to a barge than a cruise ship. Return to our room on the 8th floor mid ship to rest, update my diary, and down load my photos to my laptop computer. The dinner tonight was Italian. The eggplant parmesagne was excellent and the Italian pot roast was also very tender and tasty. One of our table mates Joan brought cannollis for all of us from Mike's Pastry in Boston for desert.

 

10/8/11 We arrived at the Canadian port of our cruise this morning in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Another time zone change necessitated us to get up yet another hour earlier which is now 4 hours earlier than San Diego. Thank God this is the last time increase causing jet lag we will experience this trip. The girls took off at 10:30am for a tour through the city. This city was originated by displaced Loyalist's from New England who were against the American Revolution against England. Alan and I did a photo excursion tour through the area at 12:30pm. Before the excursion we did a quick hike to the city market building which had the farmers market in full swing on this Saturday morning. Our guide and professional photographer was a spunky little blond haired girl with a great sense of humor. She reminded me of the Closer on TV. I learned three tips that were worth the price of admission:
1. When shooting subjects who are facing the sun, have them close their eyes and
count down to zero and have them open their eyes to avoid squinting. She liked
back lighting and fill flash.
2. Compressing the background. Use longer lens or higher zoom to compress the
background to help getting rid of extraneous background.
3. If focusing on three objects, do not focus on the center one, but pick the one you
think is the most important object, focus on it and then recompose so that center
object is in the middle. Of course the shutter button must be held 1/2 down when
recomposing.

Our bus first went to the Bay of Funday where the St. John River flows into it. We saw it now at slack tide and the river was flowing slowly into into the bay / ocean. At the end of our trip we returned at maximum low tide and the river was roaring with class 5 rapids flowing into the bay. They have the highest tides in the world at this location. When high tide comes at maximum the St John River actually flows backwards at this location.

Next we rode about 25 miles along the river to a pretty water falls. The trip back on the freeway past duck preserves and forest was quite scenic. The ride back through town past the English Victorian architecture was also very pretty.

Dinner tonight was not that good. I returned my duck entree and the Grand Marnier souffle was really bad. I did however enjoy the wine and the company of the Rowens and our table mates Jeff & Joan from Chicago.

 

10/9/11 We arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada around 7:30am. Around 11:45am Linda, Alan, and I took a walk along the waterfront boardwalk which was very scenic with another Market Square with some really good looking food. We walked approximately 1.25 miles down to the "Maritime Museum of the Atlantic" It was an impressive collection of maritime miniatures, instruments, photos, and full size boats. There was also lots of information about the cruise ship Titanic and its sinking ordeal. Linda and I returned to the ship at 1:30am and Alan continued on into the city. We had dinner at the sit down DaVince restaurant tonight and all went well. Our waiter Jose is excellent and Linda loves him. She sent in a form voting him the best employee of the cruise. After dinner we went to a big band performance and dancing at a cocktail lounge stage which was fun.

 

10/10/11 We arrived in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada around 8:00am. Linda and I had the buffet this morning. We took the short tender ride into town to catch our tour to the high country Breas D'Or lake area on this labyrinth of islands and water ways. This was an all day tour on a Prevost bus and the prettiest location we have visited so far. The autumn colors were awesome, with broken clouds, and a beautiful wind free day with temperatures in the high 60's. Our guide was Irish as are most of the people in this area. He had a real good sense of humor and loved to tell jokes about people in the area. He would tease anyone, could speak Gaelic, and sang us a nice Irish song. There were boat harbors, small towns, and hobby farm all over the place. We visited an Scot constructed museum on top of a high green hill with an awesome view. It included houses from many periods, farm equipment, and farm animals such a pig, goat, and a Cheshire horse. This clean air crystal clear spot was truly enjoyable and a wonderful location for photography. The tour included a nice buffet with superb seafood chowder. We visited a couple of small towns where we got out of the bus for shopping or sight seeing. I noticed some nice RV parks in the area. This would be a fun place to visit in October for a couple of weeks. Some fun activities would be doing a complete tour of the famous Cabot Trail considered by many to be one of the top 10 trails in the world. They have a 10 day festival of Irish music in October which would be fun to attend. Of course fishing and boating would be awesome in this area. The return tender trip to the ship was a long cold ordeal with high waves and wind to contend with. We were sitting near an open hatch and of course Linda moved me closer to the hatch and herself further from it. It took 3 times as long as normal because of the high waves and wind. We arrived 10 minutes late for our 5:30pm dinner sitting. The oysters Rockefeller and scallops were quite good tonight. We ended up with 4 couples at our table as the Chinese couple left us after the first night. We ended up with two couples from Chicago. Joan and Jeff were our age and Patricia and John were younger in their early 50's. I liked Jeff who sat next to me, so he could get a word in edgewise with me and in that position he was locked in between the two Chicago talktive ladies. We went to the cocktail lounge show group who were doing Beetle songs sung mostly by a girl. I did not like the group, but Rowens and Linda liked them.

 

10/11/11 We arrived in Charlottetown, Nova Scotia, Canada around 7:30am. No tender was required today. It was much colder today with no sun and a brisk wind. Linda, Alan, and I took a short walk along the boardwalk and into town to a very old Basilica Catholic Cathedral. It was very large and really beautiful inside. Right after our walk all four of us took the "Ann of Green Gables" tour which was about a 3 hour tour on the Prince Edward Island. We stopped at a National Province Seaside Park on the way which was pretty, with huge waves, and very windy. The temperature today was 10 degree centigrade which is about 50 degrees F. We were on Prince Edward Island which is mostly red dirt with lots of fertile farm land. There were many farms and green fields on rolling hills. We again went on a loaded to capacity Prevost bus seated near the back this time, so it took forever to load and unload the 48 passengers at each stop. Our guide not near as good as our last trip putting me to sleep the last 1/2 hour. On the way home we stopped at the "Preserve Company" I bought two jars; "Strawberry Grand Marnier" and "Very Berry Cherry" yum yum. Our whole group attended dinner, Jeff & Joan skipping their gourmet restaurant reservations because they said what would they talk about having been together for 8 days and stating that it would be more fun with the group, so they stayed with us. The head chef made a special pasta with red sauce that Linda and I liked a lot. The Rowens thought it was too spicy. A twice baked goat cheese souffle' and a bib lettuce salad were both outstanding. My main course flounder fish was quite good. I decided to try some gambling at the horrible black jack games on board. They use deck with a continuoes shuffling machine, hit soft 17, no surrender, but do allow you to double down after splitting. It is impossible to beat this game. I played none the less for fun and donated $50 to the Crown Princess coffers.

 

10/12/11 Today we keep cruising all day until we reach Quebec City tomorrow morning. We woke up to sun shine. We all had breakfast at the Da Vinci dining room having 3 other couples joining us from Chicago. Alan and a diamond dealer man had a spirited political discussion regarding economy and Obama's policies to date. We then went to the Princess theater where we watched a cooking show which included the ship's head chef and 2 comedians. I enjoyed watching the chef cook a few of his favorite dishes, but considered the comedians to be too slap stick for my taste. We then got to tour the ships galley which was just huge beyond believe. We rested a couple of hours. Alan and I then walked around the ship a couple of laps which was pleasant as the wooden deck was easy on the legs and knees. All of us then went to the English Pub on board ship for a light lunch. We then played bridge - men against the women - for a couple of hours. The women held the big hands and killed us boys. At 5:30pm we went to the dining room for our best dinner yet. I had two servings of lobster & grilled large prawns, a wonderful seafood appetizer with cavier, and a very nice French Puligny Montrachet burgundy white wine. Alan had lobster and beef Wellington. We all porked out big time on this great offering of meals by Princess. I watched the magician show for an hour after dinner and then retired early.

 

10/13/11 We arrived in Quebec city at 7:00am. It was mostly cloudy and about 52 F. I got up at 6:00am and was on an outer deck to take photos of the scenic Quebec City as we approached the dock. We all then had a light breakfast and got onto our Grand Tour excursion in and around the city. Quebec City area was very quaint and charming with very colorful european type houses. The fall colors were the best of any city we had so far traveled to. We first stopped at Montmorency Falls a very impressive high falls (higher than Niagara Falls) which empties out into the Saint Lawerence River. The all day tour next went north out of the city to the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre' Catholic Basilca Church that was built in early 1900's and was the biggest church I have ever been in. This place was a very popular destination and was full of tourists. It was very impressive outside and inside. Photophraphy was allowed. Next we went across the St. Lawerence River to an island called Ile d'Orleans where we had a very nice sit down lunch at a nice French Restaurant with a view of the river, bay, and Quebec City. The leek-pear soup and the French bread was to die for. I had a glass of hard apple cider which was an island specialty. Next we circled the fertile farming island which had awsome colors and wonderfull views across the St. Lawerence River and Bay. There were some awsome looking Bed and Breakfast houses on this island. We then returned across the bridge and visited the Quebec City shopping area and the large Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel. The streets down town in the shopping area were mostly cobblestone. The shops were wonderful mostly with a French style exterior and products. The original art pictures abounded everywhere of very high quality both water color and the more expensive oil paintings. If Linda had liked something I also liked, we may have parted with an huge art bill, but Linda was not in the mood to part with our money. We got back to the ship just in time for our last dinner on board with Ray, Alan, Joan, and Jeff. We liked Jose our waiter so well that we tipped him an extra $40 the only servant that we tipped extra. Linda just loved this guy as he kept her tea glasses full at all times. I found his advice on food to be accurate. Went back to the room to pack our bags which they picked up for our morning disembarkation. Went to bed early.

 

10/14/11 I got up around 7:30am showered and had breakfast with the Rowens.
We previewed on deck expenses mostly excursions and wine which came to another $1150. I do not regrett the expense however as this trip has been really fun and worth the money. We left the ship about 10:00am to pick up our luggage at the Quebec customes building. What a cluster finding your bags among 3000 of them!!!! We lucked out and found them within 15 minutes. We found a cab big enough for the four of us to transport us to our Quebec City Hotel LE PRIORI which turned out to be in the old section of town only 2 blocks from the ship. The hotel elevator was down and our room was not ready, so left the luggage and toured the city for about 3 hours and had lunch near the Parliament Buildings. Ray was getting very tired of walking so we took a cab back to our hotel where we finally negotiated getting a room on the 2nd floor instead of the 4th as the elevator was still out. The hotel was very old but nicely refurbished in a tastefull art deco style. It had the best most powerful shower I have ever used with 3 nozzles at varying elevations having increditable hydralic force on one's body. I loved it after all the water conservation in southern California. We all rested in our room and went out for dinner around 6:00pm right across the street which was very convenient for Ray. I was very skeptical about the place but it turned out to be excellent in every respect; good food, good service (the friendly helpful waiter translated every item on the menu from Italian to English for us), nice wine fairly priced, and of a unique ambiance with outstanding huge photos hanging all over the place. We had a great time with our travelling companions the Rowen's the last night of our stay in Quebec Canada.

 

10/15/11 I got up at 5:30am eastern time, showered and got the bags ready. We had to carry the bags down 2 flights as the elevator was out again. Our taxis arrived on time at 6:15am and we got to the airport on time, but not too early as the lines at United were very slow. We found a great restaurant at the airport for breakfast. Got on our first flight to Chicago with no extra time to spare. We arrived in Chicago on time having 2 hours and 20 minutes to catch our next flight to San Diego. It turned out we needed all this time to make our next flight. Customs clearance was very busy and time consuming. Then we had to take the monorail to change terminals. The worst of all, was that we had to go through security again for the second time today.
We made it to our flight with 15 minutes to spare, just enough time to grab a fast sandwich. Rey and Alan only had about 7 minutes to spare. We all got on our flight to San Diego however. It again was actually on time arriving in San Diego. Linda was really suffering for a cigarette as she claimed it was 12 hours since she puffed on one!!!! Our friend George Humphey picked us up and took us home, arriving about 3:00pm. We immediately got in the car and drove north one hour to pick up our Irish Terrier Meghan. I went to bed at 8:00pm dead tired. I have been up for 17.5 hours with out sleep, way too long.




Last updated on December 1, 2011