2016 Photo Highlights: 4 Continents, 9 Countries, Lots of Transition

Mandala Suci Wenara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

In February, when both our girls said goodbye we wondered what our empty nest would be like. After 18 years of living, learning and travelling together as a homeschool family of four, would hubby and I have anything to talk about once the girls left? The answer is yes. We rose to the occasion, to […]

Photos of Kings Park and Botanic Gardens in Perth Australia

Boab Tree in Kings Park and Botanic Gardens in Perth Australia

Western Australia (WA) is quite different from the cities in the east we travelled to on our loop over the top of Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Caines, and Darwin). WA is home to half of Australia’s plant species, and most are endemic to the region. Located in Kings Park, the Western Australia Botanic Gardens is a […]

Highlights of a Day in Geraldton, Australia

HMAS Sydney II Mermoial in Geraldton, Australia

I wasn’t sure why the ship chose Geraldton as a port of call outside of wildflower season, but it turned out to be an enjoyable day in a charming Western Australia town. With only a few major sites to visit, it was easy to hit the highlights in a day on our own, even if we […]

Docking in Port Hedland Australia? What to do in this Mining Town

Iron Ore boulder on display in town in Port Hedlands, Australia

I’ll admit, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about visiting Port Hedland, a small city in Western Australia known for iron ore mining. However, it turned out to be fascinating. Here, we opted to take an excursion offered by Royal Caribbean, and we went on an iron ore tour. All tours at BHP Billiton are via bus, and there […]

Exotic Bali in a Day: Rice Terraces, Monkeys, Temples and More

Mandala Suci Wenara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud Bali, Indonesia

Clearly, a day in exotic and exciting Bali is not enough. Even in the rain, the island is fascinating. For us, it was a cruise port with Royal Caribbean. We docked in Benoa and hired a private driver to show us the sites. We skipped the beaches as it was raining most of the day. Here […]

How to See the Highlights of Darwin Australia in a Day

Radiance of the Seas as seen from the Bicentennial Park in Darwin Australia

As the Radiance of the Seas pulled into the port of Darwin, I really didn’t know what to expect from this tropical capital of the Northern Territories. The ship offered options like a boat tour to see jumping crocodiles, a discovery of the untamed countryside of Litchfield Park, an interactive eco-adventure tour, as well as […]

Celebrating my Birthday in Cairns, Australia

Millaa Millaa Falls outdside of Cairns, Australia

Cairns Australia, on my birthday. It was perfect. The Radiance of the Sea dropped anchor in Yorkey’s Knob, just north of Cairns. There are so many opportunities here. The ship offered options of rainforest tours, trains, markets and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. We made a better choice and spent the day with good […]

Brisbane as a Cruise Port: Sailing with Royal Caribbean

The shrine of rememberance is one of many memorials in ANZAC squ

Brisbane is Australia’s coolest city, or is it? I am not sure how any city that holds the world record for going to bed and waking up earliest can call itself “cool.” Either way, it is a city with quite a lot to offer, and it was our first cruise port off of the Radiance […]

Sailing out of Sydney Harbour on the Radiance of the Seas

Sunset as we are sailing out of Sydney Harbour, Australia

Docked in Sydney harbour with the famous Opera House as a backdrop, Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Radiance of the Seas sat waiting for a new load of passengers. Along with 2000 others, we stepped aboard, ready to begin an exciting adventure sailing over the top of Australia including a brief stop in Bali, Indonesia. Our cabin […]

Going Ashore in Cabo San Lucas Mexico

The arch in Cabo San Lucas Mexico

The highlight of Cabo San Lucas is El Arco (the Arch) and the nearby Lover’s Beach. As we could see both of these from the Island Princess Cruise Ship, and we have both been to Cabo San Lucas in the past, we opted to skip an excursion, or any type of tour and just go […]

Of Course We Visited a Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica

Old style coffee making at the Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica

We could feel the coffee plantation calling to us even before the Island Princess docked in Costa Rica. We are coffee drinkers, hubby to the point of coffee connoisseur. Looking at the list of shore excursions offered by the ship, we were tempted by the lure of a rainforest teeming with exotic animals, but coffee won out. […]

Visiting the Cruise Port of Puntarenas Costa Rica

The main commercial fishing area in Puntarenas Costa Rica

When I close my eyes and visualize Costa Rica I see a dense tropical rainforest teaming with colorful, exotic animals. My prior knowledge of this portion of Central America came from children’s books I shared with my girls many years ago. While interesting and fun, this visit was less than my ideal. As the Island Princess […]

Highlights of Cartagena Colombia in a Day

Interesting statue in Cartagena Colombia

Images of Romancing the Stone flashed through our heads as the ship docked in our second port, Cartagena Colombia. It’s a city with a sordid and colorful history. From the pre-Colombian settlement to the Spanish conquistadors who capitalized on the gold, silver and slave trade thus attracting pirates. While the forts and tall city walls […]

Cartagena Port in Colombia: Toucans, Iguanas, Monkeys and More

Toucan at the Port of Cartagena Columbia

Toucans, iguana, monkeys and other animals greeted us at the Cartagena port as we walked off the Island Princess cruise ship in Colombia. Not “wild” animals per say, although many appeared to be free. Along with the more typical duty free shopping and a cafe, these animals appear to be part of a nature park provided by […]

Relaxing in Aruba – A Tropical Cruise Port

Palm Beach on the Caribbean island of Aruba

After three days at sea on the Island Princess, our first port was the island of Aruba in the southern Caribbean.  Famous for white sand, blue water and plenty of sunlight, Aruba did not disappoint. The port is right in town and our time here was pretty short, from 7am to noon. We opted to […]

Haarlem Netherlands – Our First Cruise Port En Route to Norway

Haarlem, Netherlands

After a not too rocky crossing of the English Channel our first stop was the port of Ijmuiden in The Netherlands. Excursion options to Amsterdam were all canceled as we were quite late arriving here due to weather delaying our departure from Southampton. Our only on-shore option was the lovely town of Haarlem, which we […]

Yelapa, A Hidden Paradise in Mexico ~ #AtoZ AmaZing Photos

Yelapa Mexico

Yelapa is a hidden paradise easily accessible by boat from Puerto Vallarta. Located in the state of Jalisco in Mexico this small fishing village has also been a peaceful retreat for the rich and famous including Bob Dylan, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper. Although none of them were there the day we visited, […]

We Had a Blast at The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan

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Legs spread shoulder-width apart, the lumberjack lifted the axe overhead and with one sweeping motion drove it down into the log below his feet. We gasped and cheered, as the presence of danger mixed with the excitement and spirit of competition between two world class athletes held our attention at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in […]

Skagway – Free Things To Do In This Alaska Cruise Port

skagway

Today we sailed into Skagway (Yukon Territory), another stunning port in the Alaskan interior passage. Famous for the spectacular scenery from the White Pass Railroad and another opportunity for aerial views, this time with the added bonus of dog sledding on the glacier. We didn’t do either of those things, however we did catch a […]

Hubbard Glacier and Floating Icebergs in Alaska

hubbard glacier

It was truly amazing to get this close to Hubbard Glacier whilst on a cruise ship!  We were on the NCL Sun (Norwegian Cruise Lines).  The glacier itself was incredible. The blue color was so easy to see, much more so than the glaciers we have seen in either Norway or New Zealand. To be […]

Whale Watching in Hoonah – Alaska Cruise Port Icy Strait Point

AK - Hoonah 647

Whale Watching in Hoonah will probably be the highlight of this 2 week Alaska adventure we are enjoying. I know everyone who takes a whale watching trip here in Icy Straight Point will see whales, but I really believe our trip with Hoonah Travel Adventures gave us far better opportunity than those who chose an […]

Negotiate Everything – Stay Focused on Your Treasure (AtoZ)

negotiate everything

Negotiate everything. We struggled with this when we first started traveling. Many years ago I was traveling with my cousin and hoping to buy an embroidered bag in Mexico for $10 similar to a $25 one I had seen in the US.  We crossed the border, found the bag at a market, and asked “How […]

Canals, St. Marks, Bridges, and a Gondola in Venice Italy

Gondolas in Venice Italy

Venice is the final port on our 12 night Mediterranean cruise. We arrived the day before we disembarked, giving us an opportunity to come ashore in the evening, and return to sleep on the ship. Such an interesting city, I wish we had spent significantly more time here. However, we didn’t, so we only had time […]

Running on the Track at the Original Olympic Village in Athens

Olympic Stadium in Athens

Sometimes we get to do really cool things and today was one of those days . . . we raced on the track in the original Olympic village in Athens, Greece. It wasn’t an official race, just our family, but just being in the original Olympic village was amazing.  We had a super busy day in Athens, taking in […]

Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, and Other Sights in Athens Greece

Acropolis in Athens Greece

We are in Athens Greece, just for the day as it is another port off the cruise ship. We knew right from the beginning that one day isn’t enough time to see this historical city. I have been to Athens before, but it’s all new to the rest of the family. To maximize our time, […]