Earlier this month I was in Cleveland for a work conference. It was my first visit there. My in-laws had been there and had raved about the restaurant scene and, of course, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I only had a little bit of time to do sightseeing, so I put the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the top of my list.
Early on a Saturday morning, I ubered over there. Melissa, the uber driver, upon hearing I was here on a solo work trip, insisted upon taking my pic when I got there. Thanks!
After the obligatory pics in front of the “Long Live Rock” sign, I wandered down to the end of the pier to the park. There you’ll see a “Cleveland” sign with the city skyline nicely framed.
The museum itself is a fun experience. Lots of artifacts from artists past and present. Jim Hendrix’s guitar? Check. A handwritten Beatles song? Check. Taylor Swift’s dress? Check.
Even for someone like me who is not a huge music history buff, it was enjoyable. I easily spent a couple hours just wandering the exhibits. Music aficionados could easily spend half a day there.
Below are more photos from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For more Cleveland pics, check out my Flickr album.
Whether at a work conference or on vacation, I always have my “good” camera with me. After finishing up a historical walking tour in Seattle, I hadn’t planned on taking any more pictures.
So I began to walk back to my downtown hotel. As I was heading up 1st Avenue I could see the sky looked pretty, but most of it was hidden behind tall buildings. It wasn’t until I got up to Pike Place Market that the view opened up and I saw how beautiful it was.
I just stood there gawking and then remembered I had my camera! In fact, there was a hoard of people quietly snapping pics.
I heard one guy whisper:
These photos don’t do the sunset justice.
True, you just had to be there–but I’m glad I have the photos for posterity.
These photos are all unedited—no photoshop. It made me think: Most things in life are not free, but the natural environment always is! Take time to appreciate it.
Half the time, good photography is just being in the right place at the right time.
Below are photos from Pike Place Market. For a full set of Seattle pics, check out my Flickr album.
No trip to Seattle is complete with a walk-through of Pike Place Market. Every time I’ve been to Seattle, I do it. Generally, it’s during the height of tourist season. Back in June 2016, we felt like sardines shuffling through the throngs of people.
But in January on a Sunday morning? I felt like I had the place to myself.
Each morning before I began my work conference in Seattle, I would walk down from my hotel to the market.
In the fog…
And blue skies too…
As I was walking through, a woman told the fishmonger how she wanted to catch a fish! So she tried…and missed!
But the second time was a success!
Being from the Midwest, I enjoyed seeing (and eating!) all of the fresh seafood.
Even though the market closes up in the evenings, it is worth a walk to see the neon sign all lit up. Yes, it’s touristy, but you can’t miss this classic Seattle experience.
Below are photos from Pike Place Market. For a full set of Seattle pics, check out my Flickr album.
So my work conference in Seattle was good, but now I found myself “stranded.” Owing to a once-in-a-generation extreme cold back in the Midwest, my flight back home to Milwaukee was canceled. Then it was canceled for the next two days. So I ended up extended my trip by three days in Seattle.
What to do? I had been to the Space Needle before, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Pike Place Market. I decided to take an Uber and visit the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field, located in Tukwila, just south of Seattle.
I was not disappointed. I think one of my earliest memories is flying with my mom out to California. I remember the flight attendant affixing wings on my shirt!
For me, the star of the museum is their outdoor covered aviation pavilion. This place is every aviation geek’s dream!
I was able to go onboard a British Airways Concorde.
And right next to the Concorde is an Air Force One that was used extensively by LBJ and Nixon.
You can also go on board the City of Everett, the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet ever built.
Then it’s on to newer jets like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The grounds also feature the “Red Barn” – it was an original Boeing manufacturing facility.
The rest of the museum features exhibits dedicated to aviation history and advancements, both military and civilian.
It’s definitely worth a visit for aviation enthusiasts. I visited on a weekday morning in January, and at times, felt like I had the place to myself.
Here are more pics from the Museum of Flight. Check out my Flickr album for more Seattle pics.
In late January I was visiting Seattle for a work conference. This wasn’t my first time. I had been out a couple years prior to our Alaskan cruise. I had also been to visit family–and another time for a work. I had done the usual things like the Space Needle. It was time to do something different.
With sunset approaching, I walked from the my downtown hotel over to Columbia Center, the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest. After entering the building and paying admission, I whisked up the elevator to the 73rd floor of the Sky View Observatory. From here you have a perfect 360 degree view of Seattle.
What I like about the Sky View Observatory is that you can capture Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle. Because when you’re actually at the Space Needle, it won’t be in any of your shots (sort of like when you’re at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris). Sunset turned the sky cotton candy pink and blue. It was amazing to see Mount Rainier, the Seattle skyline, and Puget Sound.
Here are a few select pics:
The Seattle skyline
Mount Rainier at sunset
Below are photos from the Sky View Observatory. For a full set of Seattle pics, check out my Flickr album.
As we were swimming at the beach in Barbados we heard a mix of people from Celebrity Summit and the Crown Princess (also in dock that day) complaining about their respective cruises. For the Celebrity folks, I just had to think: ARE WE EVEN ON THE SAME CRUISE? Because we were having a great time! Were there things I would change and stuff to improve on? Of course…but all in all this was another great cruise. Now we have three under our belt!
Thing big thing for us is this: For one blissful December week, someone else cooked for us, someone else made our bed and cleaned our room, and we had ample sunshine and warm temps. What’s not to like? That’s the appeal of a cruise: it’s your hotel; it’s your transportation; it’s your entertainment; it’s your sightseeing.
We sailed in December 2018. The ship is due for a dry dock renovation in spring 2019. Was there some wear and tear? Sure. But nothing major. It’s a beautiful ship. We like the slightly smaller size of it. Never felt crowded.
I would categorize the food as OK. I didn’t enjoy as many items in the buffet as I did on last year’s cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. The Main Dining Room food was mostly OK, with a couple stand out dishes. Service was excellent: from our cabin steward to the wait staff. We found the entertainment lacking, but we chalked it up to being a port-intensive cruise.
Speaking of ports…
St. Croix: Be advised if you have Sunday port stop here, either book an excursion or make it a beach day as most shops will be closed. We enjoyed our island tour though.
St. Maarten: We did a beach day here. No complaints. Kim Sha Beach at Simpson Bay is a nice area. Very relaxing!
Dominica: Beautiful green and verdant island. Really loved our rainforest/waterfall excursion. Some of the scenery reminded me of Hawaii.
Grenada: Similar to Dominica in being green and pretty. Loved our river tubing adventure. Would not hesitate to do that again.
Barbados: We did another beach day here. Harbour Lights at Carlisle Bay has a fantastic stretch of sand with crystal clear water.
So what did we learn?
Well, on our 2017 Caribbean cruise we had three ports and three sea days. On this cruise we had five ports and one sea day. I think we’re like Goldilocks trying to find what’s right for us! We LOVED all of the islands we visited, but maybe next time we will look for four ports and two sea days? At times, we felt like we were in constant motion and needed just a bit more time to relax.
A few of the islands were not the “typical” Caribbean stops (unless you’re a frequent cruiser) that come to mind on a lot of itineraries like St. Thomas, Nassau, Cozumel, Jamaica, etc. I enjoyed that though. Dominica and Grenada were beautiful. I liked the mix of islands. I also liked leaving from San Juan and heading south to guaranteed WARM weather (we’re coming from Wisconsin, after all!). San Juan is a special place to us and we enjoyed our time there pre-cruise touring around Old San Juan. We will be back!
A couple fellow passengers on the ship inquired why we chose Celebrity–maybe insinuating we were too young (well, thanks but I just turned 40!). We like Celebrity because it’s peaceful and elegant…even classy. But then again, it’s not stuffy either. It just works for us.
That said, that doesn’t mean we’re Celebrity loyalists either. Price and itinerary are major components for us when booking. If I see a Celebrity sailing that works for us and matches our interests, we’ll be there!
I posted a full review on CruiseCritic.
Here’s a geography fact: Although Barbados is considered a Caribbean port of call, it’s actually surrounded completely by the Atlantic Ocean. It doesn’t touch the Caribbean Sea at all. A minor quibble, because it has some of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches.
Waking up, we were already docked at Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. We looked out our window and saw an old friend – the Crown Princess – the ship that took us on our Alaskan cruise. Barbados was the only port of call where we experienced another ship in port – so that was an unexpected bonus for this trip!
After breakfast we exited the ship and followed the lines through the port terminal for ship excursions. Today, was a beach day. Here’s the description for the “Barbados Beach Break”:
Unwind, relax, and explore the palm-fringed beach, warm white sand, and breathtaking turquoise waters of Harbour Lights. Your journey begins with a scenic drive through the historic capital of Bridgetown. Admire the parliament buildings and iconic landmarks. Then, arrive at Harbour Lights and receive a complimentary welcome drink. Relax on a beach chair under the shade of an umbrella. Access the facility’s many amenities, including changing rooms and showers. Bring your own snorkel gear and explore the shipwrecks in the protected bay. Or, work on your tan and bask in the sun. Duration: 3.5 hrs.
Now I know we could have taken a taxi to Harbour Lights, but we just decided to book everything through Celebrity and not have to worry about anything.
The shuttle bus took us through Bridgetown and over to Harbour Lights on Carlisle Bay. Wow, what a great beach! The sand was like sugar…super soft.
You know it’s gonna be a good day!
The water was so clear!
This beach was perfect for us! After some swimming and sunning, the bus took us back to the port area. We did some souvenir shopping. I could get used to a Caribbean Christmas!
Here are a few pics from Barbados. For more from our Caribbean cruise, check out my Flickr album.
Port #4 of our Caribbean cruise was Grenada. Again, we lucked out: 4 for 4 on being the only cruise ship in port! Grenada reminded me a lot of Dominica–lush, green interior, but with perhaps nicer beaches.
First we woke up to a beautiful view of Grenada.
After exiting the ship we met our tour group and boarded our shuttle bus in St. George’s, the capital. Our Grenadian adventure was river tubing! We booked directly through Celebrity Cruises. Here’s the description for “Adventure River Tubing:”
Channel your inner adventurer as you explore Grenada’s rainforest on a river tube. A scenic drive through the hilly interior of the Grand Etang Rainforest Reserve brings you to the launch site at the Balthazar Estate. After a safety briefing, you’ll gear up to embark on your journey down the river. Spin and swirl in the currents as you gently glide down the tranquil waters. After, you’ll be treated to rum punch or fruit juice. Duration: 3 hrs.
The shuttle bus wound us up through the hills of Grenada and into the rainforest. After arriving at the river tubing site, we suited up with life jackets and helmets and got our inner tube. They recommend water shoes. If you don’t have them, you can rent them there. I wore my flips flops and was a-ok. I had wanted to bring my smartphone along on the journey, but it’s not recommended unless you have a way to keep it dry.
You’ll get plenty wet. In fact, we were soaked! But it was an absolute blast. The river tubing team did a great job of keeping us together as a group. There are a few couple feet drops here and there and some rocks to dodge, but otherwise it’s nothing too difficult. Just hold on to the inner tube and follow instructions!
The water was “refreshing” (read, cold) and there are no creep-crawlies in there that I was aware of!
At the end of the river course the shuttle bus was there to meet us. We made the way back to St. George’s while we got a little history and culture of the spice isle and got to see nutmeg, cinnamon, and more in its natural habitat.
After getting back into St. George’s, we went back on the ship to grab a quick lunch and then back out to do some more exploring.
When you exit the port terminal, turn right you will see the Sendall Tunnel. The steps to the right of it will take you up to Fort George where you can get some great views.
We thought Fort George was a “historic” fort, but it appears to still be in use despite its decayed look? There were some barracks with people, a gym, and a dining area presumably for military.
I like this shot…looks like Celebrity Summit is about to take a hit!
Here is picturesque St. George’s.
We did a little souvenir shopping and walked around town. Another great island adventure!
Here are a few pics from Grenada. For more, check out my Flickr album.
Some islands in the Caribbean are known for their beaches, while others are more famous for their rainforests and eco-adventures. Dominica is one of those islands: lush and verdant. A place to get off the beaten path.
First, let’s get to the pronunciation: I always thought you pronounced it similar to the Dominican Republic. The correct way to say Dominica is like doh-mee-NEE-cuh — more of a French pronunciation.
For this port of call, we booked the “Dominica’s Favorites” tour from Celebrity Cruises. Here’s the description:
Set against a backdrop of lush forestry and exotic wildlife, this sightseeing tour through Morne Trois Pitons National Park showcases the incredible beauty of Dominica’s rainforest. Begin your adventure at Morne Bruce for a spectacular panoramic view over Roseau. Then, escape to Trafalgar Falls to discover the twin cascades known as the “mother” and “father”. Continue to the Emerald Pool, a lush grotto replete with magnificent rock formations and exotic flora and fauna. Duration: 4.5 hrs.
We docked at Roseau (pronouced liked rose-oh)–the island’s capital–where had a nice view of the city at breakfast.
After exiting the port, we boarded our shuttle bus and made our way through the streets of Roseau and up to the scenic viewpoint of Morne Bruce where we could see the ship. Then it was on to the rainforest!
Up, up, up into the hills of Dominica we first visited the twin falls that is Trafalgar Falls. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the park’s parking lot. The views are outstanding. The whole area reminded us of our trip to Hawaii in 2015: lush forest, shades of green, and fresh air!
Plenty of time was given to tour the falls.
Then it was back on our shuttle bus. We stopped at a roadside stand for some ginger-spiced punch before arriving to Emerald Pool. It was another 10 minute walk or so to get to the site.
Again ample time was given…you could even take a dip if you desired!
The scenery is outstanding and it was good to learn about Dominica’s natural and cultural history. Then we were returned to Roseau where we did some souvenir shopping.
Walking back on to the Celebrity Summit there was a picture perfect shot of the ship!
Below are more pics from Dominica. Check out my Flickr album for the full set from our Caribbean cruise.
In planning for our 7-day 5-island adventure, we decided to pick two of the islands for driving tours, two of the islands for beach days, and one island for an “adventure.” I posted on the CruiseCritic boards seeking advice on which islands to do a beach day. Hands down, St. Maarten was a top pick.
We booked a beach day excursion directly through the cruise ship to avoid the hassle of planning. Here’s the description of the St. Maarten Beach Rendezvous shore excursion:
Travel through the Dutch side of beautiful St. Maarten during this unforgettable day of fun, sun, and relaxation. Sit back and enjoy the narration given by the guide during your journey to Kim Sha Beach. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with rum or fruit punch, as well as a lounge chair. Enjoy ample time to participate in a water sport, sunbathe or explore the stretch of beautiful white sand before heading to the beach restaurant for a delicious seaside lunch. On the way back into town, you will have the option to stop in Philipsburg for some leisurely shopping. Duration: 4.5 hrs.
After about a 20 minute shuttle bus ride, we arrived at Kim Sha Beach on Simpson Bay. Chairs were included. We also purchased a shared umbrella for our two chairs for $4.
The beach was not crowded at all. We all had front row seats. Kim Sha Beach on Simpson Bay is calm and has a very gradual drop-off. The first few feet in the water has sand/shell bits that are rough, but then it smooths right out and is quite nice!
Lunch and a complimentary drink were included in the excursion at the Greenhouse beach bar. Choices were a bang-bang shrimp baguette, chicken breast, or grouper. Wifi was included as well.
Even though this was a Celebrity Cruises excursion, I didn’t feel rushed. We had ample time to enjoy the beach. The first few minutes we got there, we kept getting interrupted by vendors (foot massages, back rubs, jewelry, dresses)…but after the first 5-10 minutes they all left.
On the way back on the shuttle bus, you had the option of being dropped off near downtown Philipsburg, or being taken back to the port shopping area.
It was a relaxing and sun-filled day!
Here are some pics from St. Maarten. Check out my Flickr album for more from our Caribbean cruise.