2013 Vancouver to Montreal Cruise Log

December 25, 2012

We have decided to do another cruise. This one will be a 43 day cruise (3 legs) from Vancouver to Montreal. We booked the cruise while on our 2012 Caribbean Cruise in order to get the onboard booking credit. We only had a choice of about 5 rooms on our level, so I took 1123, right under the spa entry. It should be a quiet room.

The booking of excursions opened up on December 24th and we booked them on that first day available in order to get all of the excursions that we wanted.

August 20, 2013 - Vancouver

The alarm went off at 2:30AM. Of course, I was already waking up and watching the clock every 20 minutes from the time I went to sleep. Eric (from Vintage Limousine) arrived at 3:40 and we were loaded up and off right at 4:00. Even though there was a bit of slow traffic, we arrived at San Francisco airport at 5:45 and had a quick check-in and security check via United First Class lines.
Before we boarded, we had to show our passport with our boarding pass. We had already had to show our passport before getting our boarding pass. It will be interesting to see how many times we will be showing our passport and/or going through customs.
We were in first class and had breakfast. It was an scrambled egg and sausage patty with some type of cheese product on it all in an English Muffin that was very hard to cut through. The fresh fruit was good and Matt got my yogurt. So much for food on United.
We landed in Vancouver right at 10:00 and made it through customs in about 20 minutes, which I understand is very fast for this airport. We got our luggage and found the Regent representative who got us set up with a taxi (no charge to us) to the Westin Bayshore Hotel. The outside of the hotel is a bit old, but the rooms are very nice. We arrived a bit after 11:00 and our room was not ready, so we went to lunch at the "White Spot", a nice family restaurant about 3 blocks from the hotel. I now know that, like in the south, when you order iced tea, you get sweetened iced tea. They did not have unsweetened.
After lunch, we took a walk around the area as it is a beautiful day (69 degrees and sunny) and saw some nice parks and tons of flowers. We continued back to the bayshore walk. It is a very nice bike/walkway with bikers on one side of the walk and walkers on the other. We came back to the hotel around 1:30 and the room was ready. We waited for our bags, then went back out for more walking...to Stanley Park, where we saw a lot of ducks, geese and swans.
Back to the hotel to rest at 3:00 and got ready for dinner.
Before we left, I researched restaurants near the hotel and found "Cardero's". Boy is it near. It is next door. Looking at it on Google Earth, I thought it was a block or two away. I had a very nice steak and Matt had lobster. Again, no unsweetened tea available.
We finished the evening by walking along the bay once more and getting a gelato.

August 21, 2013 - Embarkation

Awoke at 8 and had breakfast, a buffet provided by Regent. Everyone is having their bags picked up "sometime after 9" by the hotel, then catching a bus to the ship sometime between 11 and 1. We decided to keep our bags with us and take a taxi over to the ship on our own. I like to be sure that the bags make it onboard and not have one left at the hotel without you knowing it.
It is another beautiful and warm day out. In fact, I changed into shorts for the day.
We left the hotel shortly after 11 and breezed through security and check-in. As usual, cabins are not ready until 2:30, so we had lunch and relaxed at the pool deck. As the afternoon progressed, we ran into several crew members that we have had on other cruises including Jamie and Dana (Cruise Director and his wife, who is the Assistant Cruise Director) and Captain Daniel Green, who recognized us from our Amazon cruise. Always nice to see familiar faces.
Cabins were ready at 2:20 and it was time to unpack, arrange the room and get things the way wee want with the butler (Charlie) and steward (Mathew). We are supposed to meet our steward (Hendra) later. We always ask for the "barrel chairs" to be removed and our favorite sodas to be stocked in the fridge. Neither had been done. Sodas are supposed to be loaded here in Vancouver.
Matt and I ironed the shirts needed for tonight and tomorrow as we are sending everything else out to get pressed. That is one of the perks of being on Regent for a total of 200 nights...free laundry and pressing. Things were pretty much settled by 4:30.
The emergency drill took place at 5:15 and we ran into Byron Roberts and Dennis Merrill (from Stockton), who will be onboard through San Francisco. Will be fun having them on this leg of the cruise.
Back to the room for a quick change of clothes, then back up to the top deck for the 6:00 sail away which was narrated by Terry Breen. She has been on several of my cruises and is a great guide. She specializes in Alaska, Panama Canal and the Amazon.
We then went to dinner in Compass Rose, the main dining room. Very nice meal.
After dinner, we went up to the casino where Aldwin is once again our Casino Manager.
I hit a Straight Flush on 3 card poker (for a $200 win). I know that they will get that all back during the cruise.
I called it quits at 10:00 and Matt stayed and played a bit longer.
Still a nice 67 degrees at 10 PM and we are 59 nautical miles into the 3,140 to the end of our first leg in San Francisco.

August 22, 2013 - Cruising the Inside Passage

Matt was the first up at 7. Partly cloudy out with just a slight mist over the water and 53 degrees out. It has been a very smooth rides so far, but we do have land on each side of us.
We had breakfast indoors at La Veranda, as it was still a bit chilly, then caught a lecture on Alaska by Terry Breen. She gave a quick history of Alaska, the 4 native groups, animals that we may encounter on our cruise, and a history of the gold rush. She also talked about the Northern Lights, which we may have a chance to see if we have a very clear night. Tonight has a good chance. We shall see.
We had lunch by the pool, although a light jacket was needed. We were joined by a nice couple who talked about their cruise to Antarctica several years ago.
As we got into open waters, the ship has begun it's normal rocking, so a Bonine was in order.
In the afternoon, Matt took pictures of porpoises and a few types of sharks that we have seen. I, in the meantime, went out by the pool and found a nice lounge chair in the sun to listen to an audiobook. I'll have to start the book over as I fell asleep right away.
I stopped by the Cruise Consultants office and found out that there have been a few changes to our LA to Auckland cruise next year, including the fact that it will be 3 days longer and will include some different ports. The new itinerary is on my site now.
Tonight was the "block party" where everyone goes into the hallway and meets their neighbors and are served wine and finger food. After, we attended the Captains Welcome Reception and then it was on to dinner with Diane Briers, the Human Resources Manager along with Janet and Barbara and Michael Goldstein, who will be with us on the Mariner next year. Great food and wonderful conversation.
It was off to the casino for a few minutes of playing (and breaking even) before calling it a night and turning the clocks back one hour to "Alaska Time".
By the way, and I know you have been just dying to know, we did get our special sodas in the room last night. I am a happy camper.

August 23, 2013 - Ketchikan, Alaska

We awoke at 6:30 and had breakfast in our room. Our shower has a bit of a problem. It just stops when it wants to. Maintenance will be looking at it while we are ashore.
The ship docked in Ketchikan at about 7:30. We ended up in the prime spot (between 2 other ships) with the main street right in front of us as we got off the ship.
We headed off the ship at 8:15 and made the trek across town (4 blocks) to the funicular of the Cape Fox Lodge Hotel which
takes you up to the Hotel for $2. From there we took the "Married Man's Trail" down to the salmon fish ladder and saw a ton of salmon. Matt took over 100 photos of the fish and only 2 are usable. It is hard to catch them mid-air. I got a few nice shots too. From there, it is a quick walk back to town where we shopped a bit before our excursion.
Here is a description:

Your excursion commences with a short transfer to Saxman Native Village.  A guided nature trail walk brings you to the Tribal Clan House where you will enjoy a short video program that introduces visitors to the culture and history of Saxman. Following that, you will make your way into the Beaver Clan House where you will be welcomed by native dancers and singers. Then it's time to move on to the Saxman Totem Park, one of the largest gatherings of totem poles in the world.

At the Totem Park, your guide will help unravel the mysteries of these towering, majestic poles that stand as sentries over the present generation. From here, it's on to the Village Carving Center where world-famous carvers work and pass on their skills to eager apprentices. Before leaving here, a visit to the Village Store provides guests with the opportunity to purchase some of the finest Alaska Native art available or a small memento of your visit.

Re-joining your coach, you will see the sights of Creek Street on your way to your final stop, the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show. Let the fun begin as you watch hardy lumberjacks bring to life Alaska's colorful forest history with an action-paced competition in the partially covered and heated outdoor arena. Cheer on your team of World Champion lumberjacks in events such as chopping, sawing, tree climbing and much more. You will be kept on the edge of your seats as the entertaining host relives rich logging tales of a bygone era.

It was a 3 1/2 hour excursion and very interesting, although the show was a bit corny. There were only 16 people on the excursion, so it made things move along nicely.
I did learn that all the totem poles here tell a story and are only of animate objects (people or animals).
After the show, we went back to the ship to have a quick bite to eat before relaxing in the room and editing photos.
We had no rain all day, and everyone says we are lucky. We did have sun in the morning and overcast in the afternoon, but it was a very nice day
The ship departed Ketchikan at 5:30 and Terry Breen began narration of sites and animals as we were leaving, including bald eagles who nest in the area trees. One pair has been nesting in the same tree for about a decade.
We had dinner in Compass Rose, gambled a bit and then went to "Broadway Tonight", the new Jean Ann Ryan production show. Byron was able to join us to watch the show. It was quite good with songs from current shows including "Book of Mormon", "Spiderman", "Les Miserable", "Jersey Boys", "Mama Mia" and "Rock of Ages". They now use an LED video wall for backgrounds which makes a big difference. According to Cruise Director Jamie, the screen was used by Jennifer Lopez on one of her tours and that it was purchased for this ship at a cost of $400,000. There are a few performers that were on past cruises.

August 24, 2013 - Hoonah, Alaska

We awoke at 7:45 and had a quick light breakfast in the room before heading to the 9:30 Enrichment Lecture by Terry Breen on the "People of the Mist". This area is part of the Tlingit (pronounced Klinket) community, as was Ketchikan. Hoonah has a population of 860 and this port is only visited by Regent twice a year. Once as the first cruise of the Alaska season, and as the last. We will be anchoring here. The area only holds one cruise ship at a time, so we are guaranteed to be the only ones there.
Matt did 2 loads of laundry. Having the ship do our laundry and pressing for  shirts and pants for free has been wonderful. We decided to do our own socks and underwear, even though we could send that out too.
We ate lunch shortly after 12:00 in order to get to the island (via tender) before our 2:30 excursion.
The tender took about 10 minutes. The weather was overcast, cool and just a few drops of rain once or twice, otherwise very nice out.
The town used have a salmon packing plant, which closed decades ago and fell into disrepair. A cruise line worked a deal with the Tlingit community and worked out a 5 year exclusive deal to fix up the cannery and use this port as a destination. That deal was up about 5 years ago, the land given back to the community, and any cruise ship can visit.
Our excursion is described as follows:

Departing from the ship, you will make your way to the covered-wheel tram that will carry you through the lush greenery that is part of the Tongass National Forest. The majestic Tongass sprawls over 17 million acres, making it three times the size of America's next largest national forest. Riding through its virgin stands of spruce and hemlock is a hauntingly silent, immensely peaceful, and almost spiritual experience. No wonder these forests are often referred to as cathedral forests. As you pass beneath the towering trees, your guide will describe the diversity of the forest, geology, flora and fauna. Sitka Blacktail Deer and brown bears are but a few of the larger creatures that make their home here. Emerging from the forest, you will find yourself at Icy Strait, an area known for attracting porpoises, sea lions and seals. The waters are also teeming with halibut and all five species of Pacific salmon. At Icy Point, you may even gaze upon an active bald eagle nest in one of the ancient spruce trees.

After some time to beach comb on the shore, your tram will return you to the pier.

Once we got off the tram, we walked through the old salmon factory which had a display of how salmon gets into the tin cans. We did a bit of shopping, then got aboard the tram. The tour is as described, but we did not see the wildlife listed, but did see many whales in the distance and I spotted an eagle in one of the trees. Matt got a great photo of that.
After the tour, Matt went on the walking trail to get more photos, then we did a bit of shopping. The area is set up for tourists, so there is not a lot to do.
We returned to the ship at 5:30 and got ready for dinner, which we had in La Veranda at the rear of the ship, which in the evenings, becomes "Sette Mari", an Italian restaurant with buffet salads and desserts. The rest of the meal is served restaurant style. During the past several cruises we had decided not to try it. Now I know that we will be back a few more times during this cruise.
We were originally scheduled to leave Hoonah at 11:00, but the time was changed to 8:00 as they knew everyone would be aboard early. Everyone was aboard at 7:00, so the Captain came on and said that there was no reason to hang around, so off we went. He wanted to get to an area where whales hangout before sunset. We heard a bit of Terry Breen's commentary and there were a few whale sightings about a half mile from the ship.
Matt and I gambled a bit (losing a bit tonight), then Matt went to the show...the ships solo male singer Drew Pournelle, while I went back to the cabin to work on this blog.

August 25, 2013 - Skagway, Alaska

Awoke at 8:00 with another beautiful day for us. We heard that it rained most of the day yesterday.  The ship had already docked and we are lucky enough to be the only ship at port for the day. Had breakfast on the back outside deck of La Veranda. They were serving champagne and caviar (but we did not partake). We went back to the room for awhile, had an early lunch on the pool deck, then headed off the ship for our excursion. We took a small bus into town to begin our "Ghosts and Goodtime Girl's Historic Walking Tour". Description:

Depart the pier for the transfer into Skagway, then on to the Red Onion Saloon. A lavishly-costumed and highly-entertaining madam will greet your arrival, then guide you through Skagway's streets and back alleys. Here, women of the evening once brushed shoulders with such notorious characters as Soapy Smith and Skookum Jim.

During your visit, you will hear stories about Klondike Kate, Oregon Mare, Pea Hull Annie and Diamond Lil, and learn about the adventurous, lusty and sometimes tragic lives of thousands of women who stampeded north. Your journey will take you past historic 1898 buildings and notorious Gold Rush districts as you explore this forgotten piece of Skagway's history.

Your tour will conclude with a visit to the world-famous Red Onion Saloon's restored Brothel Museum. Here, you will be invited to join in a champagne toast, and explore the halls and bedrooms of this infamous brothel. Along the way, you will see original relics and images of the ladies of the evening that worked there. And, if you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the resident ghost, Lydia.

Our guide, "Ida Dunhim" did a great job! She was humorous and informative.
We continued the day with a quick walk around the city, and stopped by the local Tru Value Hardware store to get Command Strips to hang the large laminated map I brought that shows our whole cruise with all of the ports marked.  It began to sprinkle just a bit, so we then caught the bus back to the pier. Along the pier is a wall of rock  which was first painted on by merchants advertising their stores, but as cruise ships came into port, on their voyage to Skagway, they painted the insignia of the ship and the name of the captain (and sometimes more). The oldest ship markings are from 1928 and 1929.
We relaxed in the cabin before the "Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party" for those who have been with Regent before. It started at 6, but they did not start talking until 6:30. We found out that on this cruise there are 174 Silver Members (those with over 21 days of cruising with Regent), 53 Gold Members (those with more than 75), 35 Platinum Members like us (with over 200 nights), and 9 Titanium (over 400 nights).
We then met up with Byron and Dennis for dinner in the Compass Rose and had a wonderful 3 hour dinner/conversation.
We ended the evening with a few minutes of losing at the Casino and then calling it a night as we have an early wake-up and excursion in the morning.

August 26, 2013 - Juneau, Alaska

It was an early morning with a 6:30 wake-up and 7:00 in room breakfast. We were out the door at 8:00 and out for our 5 1/2 hour excursion. We were the only ship in port (although that changed by the time we got back) and it was sprinkling just a bit, but not enough for an umbrella. We boarded our bus at 8:20 and were off .

Depart the pier for the narrated drive to the Mendenhall Glacier. This monumental river of glistening ice towers is 1.5 miles in height, hundreds of feet thick and the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Upon arrival, you will visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Here, you will find exhibits, interactive videos, and panoramic views and photo opportunities of the glacier. U.S. Forest Service staff members will be on-hand to familiarize you with this unforgettable attraction. Time permitting, you can stroll the glacier-view path or take a short walk to view salmon in a nearby stream.

Next, you will proceed for a scenic drive through the Mendenhall Valley, past Auke Lake and on to Auke Bay. Upon arrival, you will embark a waterjet-powered catamaran that has been specially-designed for wildlife viewing, then set out to explore Stephen's Passage. You will relax in the warm, comfortable and spacious main cabin as you pass by pristine marine wilderness surrounded by snow-capped peaks and glaciers. This area is world-renowned as a favored summer feeding ground for humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, porpoise, seals, bald eagles, and more.

Upon sighting the whales, your captain will gently maneuver the vessel for optimal viewing and photographic opportunities. Since the whales are often close enough to hear them breathe, be sure to bring a warm jacket to wear on the topside observation deck. If conditions allow, an underwater hydrophone will be deployed for an opportunity to experience their solemn song. Throughout the cruise, your onboard naturalist will explain the behavior and habitat of the humpback whale.
Your crew will also point out wildlife, and provide assistance throughout the tour. Binoculars, souvenir route maps, complimentary snacks and beverages will be provided.

Following your tour, you will return to Auke Bay, then re-board your coach for the return drive to the pier.

Mendenhall Glacier was awesome to see. We were given an hour and 15 minutes to explore. First we took a quick look at the stream area to see if there were any bears. Non to be seen. Then, thanks to a suggestion by Janet Simonitsch (from our past cruises), we took the Nugget Falls Trail, a 2 mile round trip hike to the bottom of Nugget Falls and as close to the Glacier as you can get in the park via trails. We knew we could do the walk in less than 45 minutes as we walk 2 miles every day in that time. We got a lot of photos. The showers had stopped by the time we got back to the bus.
Then we off to the whale watching. We saw seals and then several pods of whales. The last pod had  5-6 whales and they were VERY close to our ship. Great photos. Great excursion. I took 52 usable photos, Matt had 263. He is loving his new camera. It has been taking great photos.
When we got back to port there were 4 more ships in port: 2 Holland America, a Princess and a Celebrity. The town was a bit crowded, but we did manage to do some shopping. I got a Mickey Mouse T-shirt that goes from Black and White to Color when exposed to sunlight, and we bought our tchochke of the cruise, a signed carved totem pole about a foot tall.
After reading Terry Breen's book, we knew we needed to find
the statue of Patsy Ann. In the 1930’s, the locals named a deaf, homeless dog Patsy Ann; she showed up every day a ship tied up at the dock. Not only was she there, she was always waiting at the correct one of seven docks. In 1937, the mayor made her the “Official Greeter” of Juneau and exempted her from licensing. The statue of Patsy Ann located along the boardwalk behind the telescopes was raised in loving memory of her.
We were back onboard the ship at 3:15, grabbed a bite to eat and went back to the room to work on our photos.
We ended the evening with dinner in Compass Rose, a bit of gambling, then Matt went to see the production show. I opted out of this one and will see it on the next segment.

August 27, 2013 - Cruising the Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Another beautiful morning (just a bit overcast) as we awoke at 7:30. Grabbed a quick breakfast outside of La Veranda taking in the mountain views as we entered Yukutat Bay heading for the Hubbard Glacier.
Terry Breen gave a lecture at 9:30 on glaciers, how they are formed and specifics about Hubbard Glacier, which is 76 miles in length from it's source high in the mountains to the face, 6 miles wide (which we will only be able to see half, as the other half is hidden by Gilbert Point), and 1,200 feet deep (of which 400 feet can be seen above the water line). When the lecture was complete, it was time to go up on the 12th deck. It was cold and windy out on deck heading towards the glacier in Disenchantment Bay. We kept getting closer and closer to the glacier. We slowed down and the wind dropped. Finally we were within a half mile and you really got how big the glacier really is. It was calving when we got there and continued until we left. The Captain even kept the Tlingit tradition of throwing some tobacco towards the glacier as an offering. You could hear what sounds like gunshots as the ice cracked somewhere on the glacier. We saw some seals on the small ice "glaciers" that were floating by. This has been the highlight of the trip. It is also the furthest north that we go. We now head back down the coast.
After we were back out into Yukutat Bay, we joined Byron and Dennis for lunch in La Veranda, then to the room to rest a bit and warm up. Matt bought one of the Regent "Alaska" logo jackets today. They are really quite warm and still on sale for $35. I had purchased one a few days ago and it has come in very handy.
We went to the special gathering for those onboard who were Gold or above Society members. We found out that there were a few couples that have been on Regent Cruises over 700 nights. Guess we have a ways to go. The event also included a performance by the Specialty Act from the production shows. They did an areial number. Then Stephanie Baldwin, Miss California 2001 sang a few numbers. She was a bit off key and tried to sing out of her register. Was not the best. She will be doing a full show tomorrow night...one we will not be seeing.
We had dinner at "Prime 7", the steakhouse. VERY nice dinner. Matt had steak and crab (although he did not eat the crab. He says that it, along with the lobster onboard, tastes like ammonia and that is supposed to mean it is a bit too old). I had the filet mignon and it was very good.
After dinner we gambled a bit and then caught a few minutes of the magician/comedian Matt Marcy, left early and called it a night.

August 28, 2013 - Sitka, Alaska

Wasn't sure we were going to have a nice day when I awoke at 6:30. It was foggy out, but 10 minutes later we broke through the fog bank and had the most beautiful and sunny day in Sitka.
We arrived at the new Sitka dock (which for some reason is 6 miles from town and in the middle of a container yard), and got off the ship and onto our catamaran for our Otter Excursion:

Depart the pier aboard a boat in search of Alaska's abundant marine and wildlife. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to observe sea otters, whales, sea lions, porpoise, harbor seals, brown bears, deer, bald eagles, and a variety of marine birds. You will also learn about the sea otters' recovery following their near-extinction at the hands of Russian fur hunters in the early-1800s. An onboard naturalist will explain the workings of this remarkable ecosystem throughout the tour.

Your water jet-driven tour vessel has been specially-designed to navigate Southeast Alaska's narrow island passages and open bays, and offers spectacular wildlife viewing at close range. Each vessel features a warm and comfortable cabin with enclosed seating, large windows, a snack bar and restrooms. During your cruise, you may visit the topside Observation Deck for breathtaking views and photo opportunities. Binoculars, a souvenir route guide, complimentary snacks and beverages will be provided.

This is the same company that we had our whale excursion with. In fact, the boat we were on was brought over from Juneau. We did see a few otters, but they were mostly by themselves and not in groups. We saw eagles, puffins...or at least a relative of the puffin and spent quite a bit of time watching whales.
The tour ended in the city of Sitka, so we walked from one end to the other, taking pictures and checking out some of the stores. It was a short sleeve weather day. We took the free bus (school bus) back to the ship to have a pool grill lunch and then I laid out by the pool and got an hour of sun time in. We left Sitka at 2:45.
Evening was quiet with the usual Compass Rose Dinner and gambling (we came out ahead as Matt got a straight flush).
We move the clocks forward tonight to put us back on Pacific Time.

August 29, 2013 - Sea Day

Woke up at 8:00 to overcast skies. That already tells me that it will be a long sea day as I will not be tanning. We went down to La Veranda for breakfast where the special was eggs, cheese and ham in a croissant. Half of that and some fruit was plenty for me as I need to begin cutting down on the amount of food I am eating.
As it is windy and rainy, Deck 11, the jogging deck is closed. We decided to watch a movie in the room and then we received a call from Destinations Manager Katja Bross to join her for lunch at the Compass Rose. Byron and Dennis were also invited, but did not answer their phone. They happened to be in the Compass Rose, so we had lunch at the table beside them.
The Captain reported that because of the headwind that we have, we may be arriving a bit late in Victoria tomorrow and that we be rocking and rolling just a bit tonight.
After lunch, Matt watched another movie while I went to the Casino to donate a few dollars.
The ship is starting to pitch a bit and the winds outside have picked up. We received notice that all excursions tomorrow will begin an hour later than scheduled.
We had a light dinner in La Veranda, gambled a bit and then went to the "Cirque Navigator" show. It is still a nice show with both specialty acts (ballroom dancers and flying/acrobatic team) performing.

August 30, 2013 - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

We awoke to another beautiful day. Not sure how we are getting all the great weather. It rained here yesterday. Had a very light breakfast in the room and just relaxed before an early lunch at the pool deck.
When we got back to the room, the US Customs paperwork was on our door, so we filled it out and returned it to the front desk. They take care of all of that for us, as they did when we entered Canada for the 2nd time today.
Because we were one hour late in arriving, all of our excursions were also pushed by an hour. We arrived in port at 12:15 and our excursion got underway shortly after 1:00.

This tour takes you to wonderful Butchart Gardens, a true visual delight. In 1904, Jennie Butchart moved to her new home on Vancouver Island and began the transformation of her husband's limestone quarry into the world renowned Butchart Gardens. This botanical masterpiece changes frequently as the Gardens staff continually alters the grounds with the seasons. As you wander the Gardens on this self-guided tour, you'll delight in the sounds and smells of one of the Premier Botanical Gardens in the world.

Join the ranks of worldwide travelers that have journeyed far and near to explore this home of uninterrupted blooms from March through October. Delight in the Village atmosphere of Waterwheel Square, as you make your way towards the Italian Garden located at the mansion that was home to the Butchart family.

From this point you can head towards the serenity of the Japanese Garden or try to envision the Sunken Garden as the limestone quarry it originated as.

Visiting the Butchart Gardens is a must when visiting Victoria. You will want to be sure and visit their seed shop and wonderful gift shop before re-boarding your coach for the return to the pier.

We took a bus to Butchart Gardens, which is about a 40 minute ride. Along the way the bus driver took us through town pointing out many of the buildings and sites.
Butchart Gardens was WONDERFUL!! It sites on 55 acres that was made in an old limestone quarry. The gardens are still family owned and there are over a million visitors a year. It is divided into 4 major sections: the Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and Italian Garden. Matt took a lot of photographs of the park, some are stunning.
We were allowed to stay for about 2 hours before heading back to the port through other sections of Victoria including the old  Japanese area.
Back on the ship at 5:00, just in time for the afternoon canapés delivered by the butler (a nightly treat), then a turkey dinner in Compass Rose followed by a few hours of gambling.

August 31, 2013 - Astoria, Oregon

Woke up at 7:15 (earlier than I wanted) to the sound of the ship's horn. That can only mean FOG. So the horn goes off every 90 seconds until 8:50 when things cleared as we were pulling into Astoria. We had a light breakfast in the room, then off on our excursion:

Depart from the pier and begin driving through downtown Astoria, the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. After crossing Young's Bay Bridge, you'll pass near the site where the Lewis and Clark expedition wintered in 1805-1806 and then continue south in the shadow of the beautiful Oregon Coastal Range. The natural scenery, a forested wonderland of spruce, cedar and hemlock, is truly hypnotic as you travel on to Cannon Beach, a small, friendly town named for a schooner's cannon discovered just offshore in 1846.

The gorgeous setting and slow, easy pace of Cannon Beach have attracted a thriving artists' community of photographers, painters, glassblowers and ceramists. You'll have time to admire their work in the town's many galleries and boutiques while exploring on your own. The town's waterfront looks out over Haystack Rock, a basalt monolith that rises out of the surf 235 feet and has become an icon of northern Oregon.

A bit farther up the coast, you'll find Seaside, another charming coastal village located at the end of the Lewis & Clarke Trail that is a national landmark. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a guide from the local Chamber of Commerce who will introduce you to the town and what it has to offer. Then, you are free to walk the oceanfront promenade, browse the antique shops, or savor the local seafood at your own pace. This area is also synonymous with saltwater taffy, a locally made confection that comes in all sorts of exotic flavors from huckleberry to habanero. Following your time in Seaside, you'll re-board your bus and make the drive back to the pier in Astoria.

We were given an hour and a half at Cannon Beach, which reminded us of a Monterey/Carmel type town with nice shops and galleries on 2 main streets. Seaside, where we spent an hour, was more of a Santa Cruz feel...a bit newer and more touristy. It even had bumper cars and a lot of quick food places including deep fried everything (even deep fried Kool Aid).
Cannon Beach is a real dog town. Dogs being walked everywhere and allowed in galleries and stores.
When we got back to Astoria, we walked for about a half mile along the Riverfront (which is shared by the 100 year old "Riverfront Trolley".
We walked into town to see the County offices, Flavel House (he was a Captain who figured out how ships could get into Astoria without hitting the "Columbia Bar" out at sea), the film museum and the Liberty Theater.
We were back on the ship just after 4:00 and rested before having dinner with Jamie and Dana (the Cruise Director and his wife) at 7:15. Wonderful conversation.
It was then off to the last production show "Piano Men", the music of Elton John and Billy Joel, followed by a few minutes of gambling.

September 1, 2013 - At Sea

Another quiet relaxing day on the ship. Leisurely breakfast in La Veranda, then up to a book signing by Terry Breen and Captain Green. Terry's Book on Alaska was very helpful, along with her website Terryslog.com. If you ever visit Alaska, her site is a great guide. I am sure she will be staying aboard for the Panama Canal as that is another of her specialty areas. Captain Green was there too signing her book and stamping it with his Regent "Captain" stamp.
Everyone who is leaving us in San Francisco had to pick up their passports. It was scheduled at the same time as the book signing in the same hallway. Quite a bit of confusion....and poor planning.
Today's lunch by the pool was "Hamburger Heaven" with several types of buns and meat to choose from.
After lunch, I laid out by the pool listening to Leo LaPorte's radio show (which I downloaded while in Astoria) while Matt did a load of laundry and watched a movie.
We decided to eat dinner a bit later tonight (7:00) and the Compass Rose was quite full.
After dinner, we did our normal gambling thing. Being the last night for many of the passengers, it is hard to say goodbye to friends you have made (like Toni and John, our gambling partners).
Getting back to the room there was a lot of paperwork on the bed including all of the excursion tickets for the next leg of the cruise...11 ports of call.
After updating port and excursion times on my calendar, it was time for bed. A quick look in the hall finds lots of suitcases waiting to be picked up by crew.

September 2, 2013 - San Francisco

The Captain told us last night that we would be going under the Golden Gate at 5:45 this morning, and he was pretty much correct. I awoke at 5:30 to the sound of...you guessed it...our ship's horn. Fog again, and at 5:45, all you could see were the pillars of the bridge going by.
We arrived at Pier 35 at about 7:00. We had breakfast in the room, and then went on a 4 hour excursion of San Francisco. The fog was beginning to lift. Although we have both been to The City many times before, it was a nice way to kill time, as we had to get off the ship (for customs inspection) anyway.
We got off the bus a bit early and did some shopping for a few things we needed before heading back to the ship for lunch.
By this time, it was sunny and 73 degrees out.
We went back to our cabin.  There was an invitation on the door for dinner with the General Manager for Friday night. That is the day we are in Puerto Vallarta and won't be back on the ship until dinner time. We called with regrets and they realized that it was for the wrong night. It should have been for Saturday night, a sea night. Then they realized that all the other invitations that went out were also wrong and they had to go door-to-door and pull them before the new passengers were allowed to their room. They had to reprint them all and put them back on the doors. Good thing we called them early or it would have been a bigger mess. The rest of the ship was allowed into their cabins at 2:45.
One of our favorite things (not)...boat drill took place at 4:15. Same speech, same walk outside to the lifeboats. Used to be that you only had to do this once, even if you were on several legs. Now everyone has to do it at the beginning of every leg...so...2 down 1 to go.
We left port shortly after 5 and Terry Breen did the sailaway commentary about Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Then they played Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". By then it was time to get ready for dinner in the Compass Rose.
After dinner, it was off to the casino where Matt was dealt a straight flush (for $200) on the first hand.

September 3, 2013 - At Sea

First of two full sea days. Awoke at 8 and checked the cruise map on TV and we are directly across from Los Angeles. 73 degrees outside already and it looks like we will have sun all day and a high near 87. Sounds like tanning will be on the schedule and after breakfast, it was. Stayed out until 1:00 when Matt came to get me for lunch. We spotted a few whales off in the distance, but nothing spectacular.
We went back to the room where Matt watched a movie. I went down to the casino and came out even. The casino staff told us that in addition to us, there was only one other person at the casino last night. Much different than the last segment.
Tonight was the "Block Party" for this segment...meeting the new neighbors, although the ones on each side of us are also staying aboard through Montreal. After the party was dinner and gambling. We skipped the magician (same as on last segment).
Today was a nice restful sea day.
This leg of the cruise (SF to NY) is 6,296 nautical miles.

September 4, 2013 - At Sea

I'm not quite sure what happens to people when they get aboard a ship. We noticed this yesterday with the new passengers. Now these are intelligent people, some owners of corporations, airline pilots, etc., but somehow when they get to the buffet, they grab a plate and then just stare into space blocking up the entire line. It is like they have never been to a buffet, or that the buffet god has put them in a trance. They are not reading the labels or helping themselves, they just stand there.
So this morning we awoke to overcast skies and  69 degrees. We are just across from Punta Eugenia, Baja California (the part that sticks out just a bit). We will arrive in Cabo San Lucas around noon tomorrow.
To keep it short: Lunch at La Veranda, tanning time (Matt watched a few movies), a very nice dinner with Aldwin (Casino Mgr. and Katja (Destinations Mgr), "Broadway Tonight", gambling.

September 5, 2013 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The word of the day is humid. We got up late and walked out onto our balcony and the first thing we noticed was the change in temperature (already in the 80's) and the humidity. There is no wind, so it is immediate sweating.
We w
ent to an early lunch before our excursion:

This diverse tour offers you the best of Cabo San Lucas by both sea and land. As you disembark the ship, your comfortable tour boat will be waiting for you, ready to transport you on a brief sail to Land's End, which lies at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. Relax and enjoy a complimentary beverage as your vessel journeys across the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean while an experienced guide provides an informative narration about the history, ecology and major points of interest in the area. This beautiful, yet desolate stretch of rugged coastline offers up some truly spectacular views of towering granite cliffs, unusual rock formations and vast expanses of pristine beaches that are tucked away amongst rocky coves.

Looking landward, you quickly become aware that this popular resort area lays claim to many miles of unspoiled beaches and impressive hotels. Reaching the sight of the famed "Los Arcos", the dramatic natural rock arch that rises starkly from the sea, you'll have time to take some photos and watch a sea lion colony at play before heading back to the pier for the second phase of your tour.

Phase two begins by boarding your deluxe motor coach and heading into the heart of Cabo San Lucas to a local glass blowing factory. Here, you can observe the talents of native craftsmen as they use their artistry to design wonderful works of art. Afterwards, get a different perspective of the cape region, striking in appearance, from its arid desert setting and white sand coves, to its swaying palm trees and the deep blue sea.

Your drive will next take you north to view the contrasting coastal scenery before arriving at San Jose del Cabo, a charming and picturesque town. Visit the local mission church and its shady tree-lined plaza.

Continuing on, take a break at the Sunset Da Giorgio restaurant, located atop Cabo Bello, where a refreshing cold beer or soda is served. From this cliff top location, take in the sweeping panoramic view of the Bay of Cabo San Lucas with its majestic rock formations rising from the turquoise blue sea.

Heading back, your coach will pass through the small downtown sector of Cabo San Lucas before returning you to the pier.

Not the best of excursions. Although we did what was described, the time spent at each place was wrong and things like painted murals were explained in too much detail. The boat ride out to Land's End was good. The glass blowing factory was the highlight of the tour. We were a bit late getting back to the pier and they had one tender held to get our group back to the ship.
Once on board, the Captain made a statement into the rooms (they only do this if it is something important). He told us we will be coming within 100 nautical miles of Tropical Storm Lorena and that we could see 15 foot swells tonight around midnight lasting to 6AM. I quickly took a Bonine to prepare myself. (See photo page for map of where storm is)
We had dinner in Compass Rose before gambling. Matt went to the Juggler's show while I went back to the room.

September 6, 2013 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The seas were not rough until around 4:00AM, but at least it was while we were in bed. Woke up at 9:00 (we moved our clocks forward again overnight) to fairly calm seas...only a bit of a roll. We talked with Carmen, the Concierge, who has been on several of the cruises I have been on, had lunch and got ready for our  2:00 excursion:

It's a jungle out there and it's your turn to explore it! Boarding your coach at the pier, you'll drive along the scenic coastal highway to Mismaloya and into the foothills of the mountains. In one of the most exciting jungle locations in the area, you will be given the opportunity to take in brightly colored plants and flowers as you travel through the exotic tropical forest. Because of the dense vegetation and absolute primal nature of this area, it has served as the filming location for several movies, such as 'The Predator'.

Surrounded by the lush green foliage, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time to an uninhabited land. Here in your jungle paradise, you'll have plenty of time to explore the surroundings, go for a swim in the natural pools formed by the river or take a guided walking tour. There is a venue here for those who would like to purchase a meal.

After your jungle visit, you will re-board your coach and head back to town. A stop will be made in town for you to enjoy some free time for shopping. You may choose to return to the ship or stay in town and make your own way back. Guests may choose to transfer back to the ship on the coach at the appointed time, or stay in town and return on their own to the ship.

Not quite as listed. First, we did it backwards, which put us at our shopping stop (the same jewelry store that I have been to every other excursion to this city). Matt and I walked across the street to the tile factory/store, then to the glass store. That stop was 30 minutes. Then it was off to "El Eden", a restaurant and site of the filming of "Predator". We first had a 50 minute lunch break (not on the schedule, and as we ate on the ship, so we only had soda.), then off for a 45 minute hike (finally), then back to the restaurant for 10 minutes before heading back to the ship. We arrived back at  the ship at 7:00 and decided to order food in the cabin. I had a steak sandwich and Matt had a pizza. Nice to just relax in the room for awhile. The ship left port right at 8:00.
Matt stayed in the room while I went to gamble. I did get a straight flush which made me come out even for the evening.

September 7, 2013 - Sea Day

We have a new Captain of the ship. Yesterday, Captain Green got off the ship and Captain Ubaldo Armellino got aboard. We traveled with Captain Armellino last year in the Caribbean. It was raining in the morning when we had breakfast, but by lunch time the sun had come out. Today was "Tex Mex" day at the pool grill, which was very good. I got some tanning time in while Matt watched a movie.
Before dinner, it was the Captains Reception. They had put it off until this late in the leg because of the change of Captains.
Dinner tonight was with General Manager Michael Coghlan and 2 other couples. If you think of the ship as a floating hotel, the Captain is in charge of getting us there, Michael is in charge of the hotel. We had the most wonderful conversations about our past and present jobs. One gentleman is from England and is a baker, the other gentleman is from Australia and was the franchise owner of five McDonalds Restaurants there.
After dinner it was gambling time (sound familiar)?

September 8, 2013 - Huatulco, Mexico

Let Matt sleep in until 10:00. Had lunch by the pool at 11:00 and headed off to today's excursion:

Meeting your guide on the pier, you'll select your equipment while receiving a snorkeling briefing and overview of the site. After boarding your transportation you'll travel a short distance to the stunningly beautiful La Entrega Beach, a dazzling crescent of white sand beach and aqua waters, set against a backdrop of lush greenery.

This wonderfully tranquil and pristine spot features an enormous white coral plate that is home to a wide variety of amazing marine life. You'll have approximately 90 minutes to snorkel around the coral reef and relax and enjoy the gorgeous beach and warm translucent waters before it's time to head back to the port.

The snorkeling was very good, although the guide swam very fast and some of the guests had a hard time keeping up. We snorkeled over the reef, went into a small cave, then back over the reef. All went well until it was time to get back onto the boat.
They put a plastic chair in the water to use as a step to get into the boat. I was the first on. No problem. Matt was the 2nd and as he stepped onto the chair, the middle of the seat broke and his leg went through, scraping his leg in the process. He was bleeding pretty good and they gave him some sanitizer to pour over it and some gauze to cover it. At least this happened at the end of the excursion.
When we got back to the ship, he washed it and it looked much better. He put on a few bandaids and we went back into town to shop and see if there was a pharmacy. There was, but it was closed as it is Sunday.
We did purchase a wooden carving of a hummingbird on a flower. It is made with about 28 pieces and is very beautiful. (see photo page).
Back to the ship to rest before dinner time in the Compass Rose and some gambling.
Matt went to see "Cirque Navigator" to conclude the evening.

September 9, 2013 - Puerto Chiapas

Awoke at 7:30 and had breakfast in the room before our 9:00 excursion:

This tour gives you a taste of both Chiapas' ancient past and its present day. Traveling from the pier, you'll first make your way to Izapa, the most important Olmec and Mayan archaeological site found in Chiapas, as well as the largest.

These pre-classic ruins are located in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan border at the base of the Tacaná volcano. Situated here at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range and along the narrow pacific coastal zone, the fertile land of Izapa receives abundant rainfall and is the center of age-old cacao production. Chocolate is made from cacao, and in ancient times the Maya used cacao pods as money.

During your visit to this fascinating pre-Columbian archaeological site, you'll learn about the legacy of this mystical ancient city and how it is believed to be the place where the long-count calendar originated. Artifacts uncovered here point to a highly developed society of culturally advanced people. Researchers are of the opinion Izapa was first settled around 1500 BC and inhabited until sometime in 1200 AD. Some of the attractions to be found at the site are several large pyramids, thrones, altars and carvings.

Leaving this extraordinary place behind, you'll visit the town of Tapachula. A walking tour of the downtown area includes visits to Saint Augustine Church, the art deco culture house (the former city hall) which features some marvelous large stained-glass windows, and the Soconusco Archaeological Museum which houses an impressive collection of ancient artifacts.

Before returning to the ship, you'll have free time to stroll around the town, perhaps stopping by Miguel Hidalgo Central Park, also referred to as "La Plaza de la Música" (the musical square) to enjoy some traditional marimba music performed by local musicians who gather there daily to perform. A popular gathering spot, there are also shops adjacent to the park where you can browse for souvenirs while enjoying the nearby music.

We did this excursion in reverse and did not have any free time in the city. Our guide liked to talk and took up all the time we had everywhere. When we got to Izapa, he spent the first 20 minutes talking about every tree in the park and showing the vendor wares. Matt and I decided to finally walk away and into the site on our own.
We got back to the ship at 2:00 and only the pool grill was open, so we had a quick snack there. I went up to the top deck to tan while Matt watched a movie in the room.
We had dinner with Bill and Wes from San Francisco. Very nice conversation.
Gambling after dinner, then went to see Michael Minor a singer/ventriloquist. Nice routines.

On a sad note...Candi Benning Deem, our travel agent and a good friend of mine since high school (and gambling/bingo buddy and first cruise partner) passed away this evening.
She will be greatly missed. Gone too soon.

September 10, 2013 - Sea Day

Thought I would give you an update on Matt's leg. He is doing just fine. After we got back on the ship (right after the accident), we got a call from Katja, the Cruise Destinations Manager. She had seen his leg when we got on the ship. She wanted to make sure he was ok. Then the ships doctor called. She wanted to see him. He told her that he was fine and that there was no bruising, and that he had washed it and put bandaids on it. Since then, the General Manager, the concierge and Katja have all checked in. I was very surprised that he was not in more pain or limping or just all black and blue.
I woke up early and did some computer work and got Matt up at 9:00 so he could get ready for his 10:00 haircut. Mine was at 10:30. I then went to lay out while Matt went back to the room. We met up at 12:00 for lunch at the pool grill, then I went back out in the sun and Matt went to watch a movie. I then went to the casino and won $400 playing Three Card Poker.
Dinner at Compass Rose, then we both went to the casino where I won $580 on one slot machine and $130 on another. At least we are getting some of our money back. Actually, we are not doing badly.
For some reason, we turn the clocks BACK one hour tonight. I think Costa Rica does not recognize daylight savings time. That means we will have to gain 2 hours soon to get to East Coast time.

September 11, 2013 - Puntarenas

Early wake-up at 6:45 and had breakfast in the room. Then it was to the theater to trade our tickets for bus numbers as we always do. There was a long line and when I got to the front, they said take your ticket to your seat and wait for us to call your tour and then come up and get your bus number tickets. This is different than every other tour they have done and no announcements were being made until everyone was getting upset. It all has to do with consistency.
They were running a bit behind and we were finally called. Our excursion:

In Puntarenas there is a place that evokes the power of life, where your senses touch the beauty and immensity of Mother Nature, and where admiration, discovery and gratitude become one with sweet birdsong and the elegant flight of the butterfly.

The Sky Walk will take you into a world of green rainforests. The abundant wildlife inhabits the forest surrounding the Tárcoles River and protected biological reserves, making for interesting observation. After a short, easy walk you will arrive at the first of three suspended cable bridges over the canopy of the forest. Each bridge stretches between 270 and 330 feet and all are displayed on top of the exuberant flora of the rainforest up to 126 feet above the ground. During your walk downhill, enjoy the sights of the forest below and around you as you walk towards the ground trails before reaching the next bridge or air trail. View the impressive marshlands of the Tárcoles River. As you continue your way, your eyes will meet the endless ocean, while surrounded by the sounds and sights of the forest. Experience the sights of the most outstanding features of the forest, including several species of birds, monkeys, butterflies and mammals that inhabit the area before returning to the ship.

The tour was pretty much as described except that, like most Canopy walks, we did not see any birds or monkeys. We did see a lot of ants carrying bits of leaves. It reminded me of "Bug's Life". At our starting/ending point, Hotel Villa Lapas, there were iguanas and birds. We also walked across the bridge to "Santa Lucia", a replica of Costa Rica's historical past.
We got back to the ship at about 1:45, then went out to see what wares the locals were selling. We also walked a few blocks inland to the church and town square. We were back onboard around 2:45. We both had ice cream before getting back to our cabin. The pool deck is pretty much closed in preparation for the night's outdoor BBQ party, which began at 6:30. Dinner was served at 7:00 with Roast Pig, BBQ ribs, chicken, lobster tail, sausages, steak and more. Quite the spread.
I came back to the room at 8:30, Matt stayed out a bit longer.

September 12, 2013 - At Sea

I awoke early and went to the pool for a light breakfast. Matt got up a bit later and had his cup of tea.  Because my tennis shoes were still dirty from yesterday's excursion, I left them by the cabin door (I had left some mud in the room yesterday afternoon and did not want any more to get on the carpet). When I came back to the room at 9:45, I could not find them. Our butler had taken them and had them cleaned. 10:15 brought our second emergency drill of this leg of the cruise. If a ship has a segment of more than 15 days, they must do a weekly drill. We did not have to bring our life preservers, nor did we have to go out onto the deck...only check in at the theater and listen to the messages.
I had a nice conversation with Katja, and it began to rain pretty hard. By lunchtime, it was still raining and the "pizza day by the pool" was moved into the hallway of the La Veranda Restaurant. We took the pizza outside to eat under the pool overhang.
An announcement was made that the afternoon's "Country Fair" would be postponed to a future sea day...and that the ventriloquist was ill and his show would be replaced with the Production Company's lead singer. By 2:00 the rain had stopped and the sun was out...and so I was I. Spent 2 hours listening to my audio books while Matt read his book, also out by the pool. We came back to the cabin at 4:00
Tonight was the reception for Gold, Platinum and Titanium members and one of the guests, Bob Wilber, a jazz artist (mainly in the 40's and 50's) played his saxophone and clarinet with the Regent Orchestra. Afterwards, we had dinner in Prime 7, then gambling. I went back to the room and Matt went to the show.

September 13, 2013 - Panama Canal Crossing

Awoke at 7:00 to check where we were. We had picked up our Panama Canal Pilot around 6:00 and the lifeboats had already been pulled onto Deck 6 to get them out of the way. As I checked, I could see a dozen other ships (mostly cargo) waiting at sea for their turn to enter the canal.
We started going through the first set of locks (Miraflores) at about 8:30 and through the final lock on the Gatun side at 4:15. This is much faster that I have gone through in past years. We also saw 4 of the 16 new lock gates that have been delivered from Italy. They arrived just a few weeks ago. It still amazes me (being this is my 4th time through the Canal) that the original equipment is still working after 99 years. They are still using the GE control panels that have been running the locks since 1914. We don't make anything in America anymore that lasts that long.
There were a few of the older folk that went to the front of the ship to watch us go through the locks in the morning. It was quite warm and sunny. Several passed out. The doctor came up and gave out water to several people. These people get up to the rail and won't move, even to get water.
We had a nice quiet dinner in Compass Rose, did very well in the casino. Matt went to the ventriloquist's show.

September 14, 2013 - Cartagena, Colombia

Back in South America. Woke up at 6:00, not that I wanted to, but there were loud booming sounds. Opened the drapes to a lightning and thunder storm. It was the bolts of lightning that Matt loves, so I woke him up to see them also. Then it was back to bed until 8:30 when I had a light breakfast at the pool deck.
Our excursion began at 10:30:

Depart the pier for the drive to the San Felipe Fortress, the largest Spanish fort in the New World. This fortress defended the city from several attacks, and withstood a bloody assault from British Admiral Vernon.

After a photo stop at the San Felipe Fortress, you will proceed for a visit to the Old City, which offers lovely views of the ocean. Upon arrival, you will take a stroll down its beautiful Colonial streets adorned with breathtaking balconies overflowing with flowers. Because this tour places a special emphasis on walking through the city, you will have an opportunity to visit most of the main plazas and streets that connect them. Along the way, you will see San Pedro Square, Custom's Square, Slave Square, or Coches' Square, Bolivar Square, and Santo Domingo's Square. By taking this route, you will understand how the city functioned during Colonial times.

Your tour will conclude with a visit to the modern area of the city. A stop will be made at the Pierino Gallo Plaza for a bottle of water, and an opportunity to shop for Cartagena's finest emeralds, jewelry, coffee, handcrafts, and leather goods.

Following your tour, you will re-board your coach for the return drive to the pier.

This is the 4th time that I have been to the Old City and still like it very much. The street seller (sunglasses, cigars, jewelry, etc. become a little much, but as long as you ignore them, it is fine. I did not take my camera, letting Matt take all the photos. We could have done without the New City stop. It was basically a jewelry store stop, and I can do without those. The day was very warm and it is still quite humid.
We got back to the ship right at 4:00 and went to the room to rest before dinner, which was in Compass Rose. Could not win in the casino, so Matt watched a movie.

September 15, 2013 - At Sea

I awoke at 9:00 and had a light breakfast by the pool, then went to lay out in the sun before it got too hot. They are closing down the pool deck at 1:30 for the "Country Fair". It was a bit overcast, then it rained on us for about 4 minutes. Enough to make everyone get under cover, then go back out in the sun again. Matt went out to the pool deck a bit later and read more of his Steven King book. We had lunch together at the pool. Matt ordered pizza from room service and brought it out to the pool. As they only have a few kinds, Matt got pepperoni and I got ham. I went to the counter and got a few slices of pineapple and made it a Hawaiian pizza. The crusts were a bit soggy, so we both just scraped off the topping and ate it.
We went back to the room as they were readying the pool deck for the Fair, then went out for the opening. This event is held on longer cruises. Each department sets up a booth along the pool deck wall and passengers play their game to win tickets. Then there is a drawing of those tickets for prizes. The Fair only lasts 45 minutes, so it moves quickly. See the photo page for some of the games.
After the Fair, we went back to the room to cool down and Matt watched a movie.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by gambling then off to "Age of Aquarius", the production show. I thought it was one of the poorest shows that I have seen. Very little production value. More of a singing revue. The dancers were out of sync. A few of the audience members were hyped up, several fell asleep.

September 16, 2013 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Awoke at 8:00 in time for breakfast in the room, then off to our excursion:

Experience the graceful beauty of one of Grand Cayman's undersea denizens up-close during this stingray swim and snorkeling tour.

One of the most popular excursions on Grand Cayman is a visit to the world-famous Stingray City Sandbar in the North Sound, where you can snorkel and wade among these friendly Southern stingrays. It is one of the few locations in the world where man can interact with these shy creatures in their natural habitat.

Depart the pier for the brief drive to your snorkeling boat. Upon arrival, you will embark your boat and cruise to the sandbar. Here, you will feed and play with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, where the water depth ranges from 3-5 feet.

Following your swim with the stingrays, you will be transferred back to the pier and ship.

This was probably one of the best excursions ever. There was only one small boat there, so we basically had the Stingrays to ourselves. We got to spend about an hour petting and holding the Stingrays. They are like cats. They know they are going to be fed at some point and are very used to people. They love to rub up against your leg (which quite often catches you off guard).
We did not need our snorkel equipment, nor vests, as it was shallow and the water super clear.
We noticed another ship had pulled into the bay. It was the Disney "Fantasy".
We were back onboard the ship at 1:30, had lunch by the pool, then I went out on the upper deck to lay out while Matt watched a movie. Looked out to see the Disney Fantasy. It has Dumbo on the back of the ship. All we could see were kids sliding down the water slides. You could see a camera taking their photos on one of the drops. Guess that is another way they get your money. Still glad I am over on this ship without any kids.
A very nice dinner in Compass Rose followed by gambling where Matt hit his first 4 of a Kind on a video slot machine and then almost immediately hit a Royal Flush for $1,000. He is VERY happy.
We skipped the show tonight as they brought back the comedian that they used for the first leg of this trip.

September 17, 2013 - At Sea

We turned the clocks ahead again last night, so we are now on Eastern Time (only one more move ahead when we are in Canada). Glad that both of next year's cruises are heading West. That way, we will always get an extra hour of sleep on the clock changing nights.
I awoke at 8:30 and got Matt up at 9:00. Nothing special today. Breakfast...me tanning (we only have 2 more sea days left for the rest of the cruise, so being out on the deck was in order for me)....Matt going to a lecture...picking up our Passports for tomorrow's customs check...lunch...and then Matt watching a movie...dinner...casino...Matt catching the singer.

September 18, 2013 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Awoke at 7:30 and had breakfast in the room before being called (by excursion) off of the ship. Everyone, including crew, had to go through customs and be off the ship. However, this one was kind of silly. All we had to do was show our passports. No declaration forms. There were only 2 lines and 2 agents. One for US Citizens, one for Non-US Citizens. Each line was SLOW.
Once through customs, we made our way to our excursion bus. It was raining as we boarded.

Race through the Everglades on an airboat, the absolute most thrilling and enlightening way to observe this amazing ecosystem and its exceptional wildlife.

Your tour commences from the pier with a drive deep into the heart of the Everglades, one of the world's most unique ecosystems. The best way to experience its natural beauty is by airboat, a mode of transportation specifically designed with a flat bottom to skim across the shallow water. After hopping aboard, you'll tear off for a thrilling ride through the immense, watery wilderness that the Seminole Indians call "pahay okee," which means "grassy water."

Your up-close exploration has you passing sawgrass prairies, cypress-dotted swamps, pinelands and hardwood forests, all of which make up the Everglades National Park, which was established in 1947. A massive watershed, the naturally beautiful Everglades supports thousands of species of plants and animals, the most renowned being the American Alligator, which can grow up to 16 feet long. There's no telling what you will see along the way, although alligators, egrets, herons, iguanas and turtles are frequently spotted in the Everglades, which is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River.

Following your exhilarating ride, you'll enjoy some free time to explore the park on your own. You might watch an alligator show or simply browse the reptile exhibit, familiarizing yourself with some of the unusual creatures that live in the area. When your visit comes to a close, you'll rejoin your coach for the transfer back to the pier.

The excursion was as described. What wasn't was the guide we had. He talked the entire hour on the way there and for the entire hour on the way back. He started quite loud, turned the microphone down and was still loud. It almost became too much. He wanted to pass along EVERYTHING he knew about the animals of the Everglades. He was almost like a school teacher. He kept asking us questions just hoping we would have the answers, and almost put people down if they gave a wrong answer. We just kept our mouths shut hoping he would give us a break.
We were in front of the line to get on the airboat and they asked if we were ready. We said yes, and they told us to go to the boat that was already loaded with other guests. We ended up in the next to the last seat, so seeing out of the front was impossible, but it was still a neat ride and we did see one alligator. The alligator show was not the wrestling type that other venues have, but rather an instructional show featuring 6 alligators. We then walked around the park and saw the other alligators. Some were in zoo-like exhibits, some were out in the open, but behind low fences.
We were back on the ship at 1:30 and had lunch on the pool deck. A nice surprise was seeing Florian (Food and Beverage Manager from other cruises I have been on) walking around. He was visiting the ship and said that he would be on the cruise in a few days. I then spent time in the sun while Matt made some phone calls and watched a movie.
A nice dinner with a fellow passenger followed in the Compass Rose, then off to the casino to finish off the evening.

September 19, 2013 - Port Canaveral, Florida

The seas were very rocky overnight and Matt moved to the couch as we were rocking from head to foot and he prefers side-to-side.
6:30 wake-up for an 8:00 excursion...one I have been on before, but not Matt.

Your tour begins with a short ride from the pier to the Kennedy Space Center. En route, your personal guide will brief you on your Florida Space Coast visit. You will leave the coach outside the main entrance in order to pass through a security check. Once inside the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex, guests will be escorted to designated KSC coaches for a bus tour of restricted NASA property. At each stop, you will rejoin a different coach (This may require some waiting in lines during peak periods).

On your tour of the secure areas, you will have an close-up view of the space shuttle launch pads (closer than regular guests are allowed), see one of the largest buildings in the world - the vehicle assembly building, and visit the award-winning Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here, you will relive the launch of the massive Saturn V rocket and enjoy a front-row seat as man lands on the moon.

Your personal tour concludes at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where you will have the opportunity to touch a piece of Mars, enjoy an IMAX space film and "The Shuttle Launch Experience" which will take visitors on a simulated shuttle launch beyond the boundaries of Earth.

At the conclusion of your Kennedy Space Center experience, you will board your coach for the return transfer to Port Canaveral.

This is a nice tour of the facilities and one that I enjoyed again. Our guide was very good and had a great knowledge of the space program. It was a nice warm day in the mid to upper 80's with just a touch of humidity in the air.
We are starting to get less patient with people. As we were entering into 2 different theaters, people would just stop to take a photograph, then check their camera to see if it had a good shot...all the time blocking the entrance to the theater and the 200 - 300 people behind them. We also have a lot of pushers and shovers on this leg. They really don't care who they run over. I guess I need to go back to the saying "The world would be better without people".
We were back on the ship just a bit after 3 and at sea at 3:45. Our captain told us that we would have rocking seas again for the trip to Charleston.
We have a new stewardess. Now along with Hendra we have Girl Lee.
As Matt had a headache, I went to dinner in Compass Rose and then to the casino only to call it an early evening.

September 20, 2013 - Charleston, South Carolina

We awoke at 8:30 to get ready for our 11:00 excursion:

Experience Charleston's scenic beauty and historic past in a unique new way during this picturesque horse-drawn carriage tour through the city.

Depart the pier aboard a horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely guided ride through Charleston's narrow streets and alleyways. As your horse's hooves clap along the pavement, the scent of tea olive from nearby gardens will fill the air as you take in splendid vistas and photo opportunities of the city's impeccably-restored 18th- and 19th-century homes and buildings. Your guide will also provide you with an informative narrative about the city's 300-year history.

Following your tour, you will be returned to the pier.

It was nice to be back in Charleston. We got into our carriage, which was mule-drawn, not horse-drawn. One of our mules was named "Otis" after the Andy Griffith Show town drunk. This because Otis the Mule walks with his tongue hanging out and looks like a drunk. It was a nice one hour tour after which we walked through the Old Market, then out into the city. We had lunch at Subways and continued walking around. We got back to the ship at 2:00 and I went out by the pool while Matt did 2 loads of laundry and watched a movie.
The rest of the night is kind of predictable....Compass Rose for dinner, gambling, then a movie.

September 21, 2013 - At Sea

We awoke at 8:00 and had breakfast outside of La Veranda, then went to play Bingo as today was the last day of playing and the final game had a cash prize of just over $800. They play 4 games and I won the first for $76. We did not win any of the other 3 games.
By then it was time for lunch and they featured seafood outside. While Matt had that, I went inside and got other food from La Veranda and brought it out to the pool deck. Just as I finished, it began to pour. Matt had to finish his lunch inside. Meantime, I grabbed a few cookies and took them back to our cabin.
After lunch, Matt watched a movie while I spent some time in the casino and then went out by the pool once the sun came back out.
We had a very nice dinner in Compass Rose. Tonight was the second "Formal Optional" night, so dinners are usually a bit more fancy.
Afterwards we went to the casino and I won $100 on a slot machine followed by a Straight Flush on Three Card Poker where I had a $15 bet and won $600.

September 22, 2013 - New York City - Day 1

We awoke at 8:00 and had breakfast in the room and by then we were heading into New York Harbor. Terry Breen was doing commentary. It is a nice sunny day, but very windy coming into the harbor, but the wind died down once in. We passed by the Statue of Liberty and then up the Harbor to our pier, which was not quite ready for us and we had to sit out in the harbor for a about 4 hours. All of this because the ship in the slip next to where we were going was being fueled by a barge and we could not get in. All of the days excursions were cancelled. Finally at 2:00, we were docked and ready to disembark. We met up with Mike Milton (a former dancer on Regent and recently from the national tour of "Anything Goes"), who gave us a great tour of Rockefeller Center, the garment district and Times Square. We left him at 3:45 and went out on our own, having dinner and then over to Foxwoods Theater to see "Spider-man - Turn Off the Dark". It was a nice musical, with great sets and of course, lots of flying over the audience. We had first row "flying circle" balcony seats where Spiderman landed several times.
After the show, we walked back to Times Square for a few night photos, then back to the ship just after 11:00.

September 23, 2013 - New York City - Day 2

Another beautiful day in New York. Sunny with a light breeze and a high in the upper 60's.
Up at 7:15 to get ready for our 8:30 excursion, which was offered to those who were not leaving the ship in New York:

Enjoy the best of the Big Apple on this tour that combines viewing the city by both land and sea.

Travel by coach from the pier, enjoying a scenic drive as you make your way to Lower Manhattan's historic 18th century South Street Seaport. This charming area is replete with historic tall ships, museums, exhibits and restaurants. Upon arrival, you will have approximately 1 hour to explore at your leisure before boarding the 'Zephyr', a state-of-the-art, custom built luxury catamaran that will take you on a 60-minute tour of New York's waterways. From the decks of your touring vessel you will experience unparalleled views of the New York City skyline and the port as your guide provides an informative narration throughout your cruise. Sail under the Brooklyn Bridge and view many of New York's landmarks from the unique vantage point of the water, including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, World Financial Center and the famous boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island. See Ellis Island, the famous immigrant gateway to America, and make sure to have your camera ready as the highlight of your cruise will no doubt be as you pass directly in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Arriving back at the South Street Seaport, you will re-join your coach for the leisurely transfer back to the pier, taking in some additional sites along the way.

The bus we were taking got stuck in traffic and did not arrive for about a half hour. We did, however, have a nice guide who knew the city. We got to the South Street Seaport just in time to board the Zepher, so there was no free time in the area. The 3 deck "catamaran" was filled with Asians who could not understand the commentary and were just talking over the ship guide and were also a bit pushy. We were on the upper open air deck and they hogged the rails, so it was hard for Matt to get photos, but he did a good job.
Once off the ship, we had a very nice tour of the City and parts that we did not get to see on our walk yesterday.
We got back to our ship at 12:45 and had lunch at the pool deck. Matt decided that since the new passengers were not allowed to their cabins (and therefore, their luggage), that it would be a great time to do laundry. One machine was broken, but he did get the other. I went out in the sun and Matt read his book for most of the afternoon.
We have a new Cruise Director, Ray Solaire.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by everyone going up to the top decks to watch us leave New York at 8:45 and once again going by the Statue of Liberty...this time at night.
We went to the casino where I placed a $15 bet and got a straight flush for another $600. Nice way to start this leg of the cruise.
Off we go on our last 2,074 nautical miles.

September 24, 2013 - Newport, Rhode Island

I awoke at 6:30, Matt at 7:45 and had in-room breakfast before our 9:30 excursion (this is a tender port):

Discover Vanderbilt's Newport on this delightful tour that has you visiting two of the grandest mansions ever built in the United States, The Breakers and Marble House.

Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the Vanderbilt family fortune in steamships and later, in the New York Central Railroad. As the industrial revolution reached its zenith in the late 19th century, the Vanderbilts soon became the wealthiest family in America and chose Newport as their summer playground.

Departing the pier, you will first drive to Marble House. Completed in 1892, Marble House was modeled after the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Mr. Vanderbilt instructed his architect, Richard Morris Hunt to build "the very best living accommodations that money could buy". After nearly four years of work, and a total cost exceeding $11 million, the mansion was completed in 1892 and given to his wife, Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt, leading hostess of Newport Society, for her 39th birthday. This striking Mansion became the social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport's transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. You will enjoy the stories of the elaborate parties of the Gilded Age as you tour the public rooms and grounds of Marble House.

Continuing on, you will next visit The Breakers , the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages", The Breakers was commissioned by the Commodore's grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad. Inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin, the 70 room Italian Renaissance-style villa was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt who directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans. Completed in 1895, the mansion is situated on a 13-acre estate overlooking a magnificent view of the rugged Atlantic Coastline.

The self-guided audio tours of the mansions provide insight into the life of this fascinating time in American History at your own pace.

We did the tour in reverse, visiting The Breakers first, then the Marble House. Both of these mansions were beautiful, if not a bit over the top. The self-guided audio tour worked great. There was not a long time spent in each room (as I have had with other audio tours) and you could fast forward if you wanted, or stay in a room and enter a code and get more information about a person or thing. No photos are allowed inside the mansions, so on the photo page you will see internet photos of the interiors.
We were given a quick tour of the town from the bus both coming and going to the tender.
At the end of the tour, I went right onto the tender and back to the ship for lunch and sun while Matt stayed in town to get some photos and walk around. I was back at 2, Matt just after 5:30.
I went to the Captain's Reception, then we had dinner in the Compass Rose followed by some casino time (no luck) then Matt went to the Production Show while I went back to the cabin.

September 25, 2013 - Boston, Massachusetts

Another early day with wake-up at 6:45. We were already in port, which was scheduled for 8:00. Breakfast in the room before our 8:30 excursion:

Travel back to Revolutionary Boston with a walk along the Freedom Trail. Your experienced guide will reveal the sites and scenes of critical events that paved the way for American Independence. Highlights include the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church and the Granary Burying Ground, the final resting place of many famous Americans including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. You will see the site of America's First Public School, and the Old Corner Book Store where the nation's greatest authors including Emerson, Longfellow and Hawthorne often gathered. In the heart of Old Boston is the Old South Meeting House where angry colonists met on the eve of the Boston Tea Party to plan that fateful day. Near the circle of stones in front of the Old State House, you will hear the story of the Boston Massacre, the first bloodshed of the Revolution. Upon passing Faneuil Hall, you will continue to the North End, Boston's oldest surviving residential neighborhood and home of Paul Revere. Before returning to the pier, you will visit the Old North Church where Paul Revere ordered two lanterns hung in the steeple to signal that the British Redcoats were approaching by sea.

Your walking tour ends at Quincy Market where you may return on the complimentary shuttle back to the pier at your leisure.

This was a very good tour. A great way to see Boston. I had done part of the Freedom Trail with Setness Tours, so I knew a few of the sites. It began with a bus ride to the beginning of the trail and our guide gave us an overview of the city and some sites along way. Then we began our walk. Have a good bladder if you do this walk as there is only one bathroom stop in the middle of the tour.
I have been asked how we pick the excursions that we do. Matt gets the entire list and descriptions of all the possible excursions from Regent several days before the first day that you can sign up for them online. We eliminate (just by looking at the name of the excursion) all of the things that we know we would not do (ie: horseback ride, kayak, etc) and then read through each of the remaining descriptions. It usually comes down to one or two that we both like. We then do a mix of overview type tours (city bus rides/walks), and activities (snorkeling, nature hikes). There have only been one or two tours that we have ever changed once onboard the ship. Usually it is because of cancellation of the tour or they have added a new tour that was not originally offered.
Our tour ended at the shuttle and we had to wait about 20 minutes on the bus before we left for the ship. We arrived back just after 1:00 and had lunch. I then went back out into the terminal to download some podcasts as the internet there was very fast. The ship, for some reason this year, does not allow streaming or large downloads. I am guessing that more and more passengers are bringing their own laptops and iPads on the ship and it is eating up the bandwidth.
Matt went out on the pool deck to read his book and I went to the top deck to get some sun. It clouded up at 3:30 and we both went back to the cabin.
The ship left the port at 5:45. This Captain, just like the last, wastes no time sitting in port once everyone is onboard. We usually leave 15-20 minutes early and arrive at our next port early.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by a losing night at the casino. Matt went to see the magician's show while I went back to the cabin.

Just realized that we are now less than a year away from our next cruise.

September 26, 2013 - Bar Harbor, Maine

6:45 wake-up again as we were getting ready to anchor outside Bar Harbor. Our tour met at 8:30:

Encompassing the best that Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island have to offer, this tour includes the beautiful scenery of Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain as well as a chance to learn about the fascinating world of the lobster fisherman during a visit to the Lobster Oceanarium.

Starting off from the pier, you will drive towards Thunder Hole via a scenic drive along the historic 27-mile Park Loop Road which takes you along the ocean's edge. After passing Otter Cliff, you will find yourself at Thunder Hole, where the ocean swells converge against the granite cliffs to create a thunderous roar. A short photo stop is made here (if designated bus parking is not available, an alternate photo stop will be made at the tour guide's discretion) before continuing on to the summit of Cadillac Mountain (weather permitting) to marvel at the 360-degree view of the coast.

Next, you will travel past the High Seas Estate, a beautiful mansion built by a wealthy gentleman whose wife tragically perished on the Titanic before ever stepping foot in her dream home. You will also pass by Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs and Jordon Pond House, the famous restaurant where tea served on the lawn has been a tradition for more than a century. Nearby Eagle Lake holds a wealth of secrets and the open ocean and crashing surf give Acadia its unique personality.

You will also have a visit to the Lobster Oceanarium, where visitors of all ages have the opportunity to see and learn about the lobster industry. As home to Maine's only lobster hatchery, the Oceanarium features an authentic lobster fishing boat display and fascinating, hands-on exhibits. A lobster expert demonstrates, using authentic traps, how these succulent creatures are caught and make their way from the ocean to your dinner table.

Back in Bar Harbor on the campus of the College of the Atlantic, you'll have an opportunity to visit the Turrets Mansion (or similar), one of Bar Harbor's last remaining summer mansions overlooking Frenchman Bay. The Turrets is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a fine example of the opulent lifestyle of the Gilded Age. Your guide is happy to share tales of a by-gone era, when America's wealthiest families made Bar Harbor their summer playground.

Highlighting your tour is a visit to the Looking Glass Restaurant located on the estate grounds formerly owned by Mary Roberts Rinehart, a mystery writer from the turn of the last century. Surrounded by an 8-sided glass wall, the restaurant features a commanding view of Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor, and your ship at anchor. Relax and enjoy a piece of traditional homemade blueberry pie with coffee or tea before transferring back to the pier where your tour concludes.

This was a nice tour and we had an excellent day (sunny, but cool) to see everything from Cadillac Mountain. We did not get to a gilded age mansion, but rather a summer home once used by Randolph Hearst. It was called Cleftstone Manor. Not the most exciting stop of the tour. The blueberry pie a the Looking Glass Restaurant, however, was VERY good.
We were back on the ship at 2:00 and had lunch at the pool grill before attending the 3:00 sail-away party for the longtime Seven Seas Society Members that was held on the outside deck of the La Veranda dining room.
Back to the room where Matt watched a movie and I napped.
The "Block Party" took place at 5:45 and I had the chance to talk with Stacey Huston, the new Assistant Cruise Director.
Dinner in Compass Rose, gambling, then Matt went to the Production show while I went back to the cabin.

September 27, 2013 - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

We awoke just before 7:00 so that Matt could do two loads of laundry as soon as the laundry room opened. We then went to breakfast at La Veranda and hung out in our cabin until our excursion. We were originally going to go on the "Tall Ship" excursion. It would have been a one hour cruise

on what we thought would be a big schooner ship. We are glad we switched when we saw that it was just a large sailboat. We picked the "Duck Tour":

Explore the seaside beauty of Halifax City and its harbor area during this memorable sightseeing tour aboard an amphibious vehicle.  

After receiving a safety briefing, you will embark your amphibious vehicle - the Harbor Hopper, and then plunge into the harbor with a big splash as you commence a 1-hour harbor and city tour of beautiful Halifax. During Atlantic Canada's most popular tour which takes place both on land and in the water, your guide will introduce you to Halifax's finest shops, restaurants, museums and historic sites. You will also see the impressive Royal Canadian Naval Fleet and spectacular sights along the waterfront. 

After approximately 1-hour, your tour will conclude and you will be transferred back to the pier.

This was a fun tour, although the morning was quite cool and breezy. Matt wore his Alaska jacket. With this tour you get to see the city and go out on the harbor. We were told several stories including how Halifax was one of the first cities to get the call to go rescue people from the Titanic. They have several displays in the Maritime Museum (which we did not go to) and a replica of the Titanic's Grand Staircase at the Nova Scotia Casino.
After this excursion, we had a quick lunch and then I headed out for a walk of the city while Matt did the "Whale Watching" tour:

Experience the scenic beauty and marine life of the Great North Atlantic during this nature and whale-watching adventure in Nova Scotia. 

Depart the pier with your guide for the brief walk to the Tall Ships Quay. Upon arrival, you will embark the Haligonian III, a whale-watching vessel with a fully-licensed bar, canteen and washroom facilities. This well-equipped boat offers passengers a choice of decks; a lower section enclosed and heated, and an open-air upper deck. 

As you cruise along the coastlines of George's Island and McNab's Island, your guide will inform you about the wonderful sights and wildlife you will be passing and answer any questions you may have. Upon reaching the Great North Atlantic, you may be able to catch a glimpse of some whales - the world's largest mammals, help the captain and crew bring up live lobster traps and view an onboard demonstration of touch tanks, featuring examples of local marine life. 

Following your nature and whale-watching adventure, you will be returned back to the Tall Ships Quay and then walk back to the pier.

The first part of my walk was along the entire harbor walkway. I went to the casino to see the Titanic's Grand Staircase replica. It was quite small. I was glad I saw it, but not sure it was worth the long walk. I then walked up a few blocks through the city of Halifax, back to the cruise terminal area where I spotted a "Super Store" nearby. I had to ask a guard how to get there, which was through a back entrance of the city's bus terminal, through several underground corridors, out the front end of the bus terminal, through a few parking lots. I got what I needed and retraced my steps only to get lost in the bus terminal building. Somehow, I ended up on the 3rd floor in front of a locked office. The office guard let me in, got me in an elevator and down to the basement. I finally made it out and back to the ship. Matt was back onboard around 3:45 and found me sunning by the pool deck.
We had dinner in Compass Rose, gambled and ran into Brandi Chapman who will be performing her show tomorrow night. I have been on several cruises with her and love her singing. She barely made it onto the ship on time today. It was great to run into her and chat a bit. Can't wait to have dinner with her.

September 28, 2013 - Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another early morning and breakfast in the room. The ship was about a half hour late docking in Sydney, so excursions were postponed by about 20 minutes. This was ours:

Discover inventor Alexander Graham Bell's many remarkable contributions to the world in his namesake museum in Baddeck, a lovely village that you will also visit.

Starting off from the pier, you will head for Baddeck, which lies due west of Sydney. Because of Cape Breton Island's many rivers and waterways, you will be treated to a lovely circuitous route to Baddeck, passing over Seal Island Bridge and stopping to take photos at Kelly's Mountain (weather permitting). Arriving at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, you will be struck by its unusual design, which is based on the tetrahedron form that the inventor used in his flight test kites. Although Bell is renowned for inventing the telephone, that groundbreaking accomplishment only touches upon his scientific achievements. The Scotsman Bell earned 18 patents alone and collaborated on another 12 in areas such as medicine, genetics, electricity, sound, speech, aeronautics and marine engineering. Following a brief orientation, you will have 1-hour to explore the museum at your leisure, viewing numerous original artifacts, photographs and exhibits.

After touring the museum, you will re-board your coach and drive into Baddeck where you will have some free time to discover the heart of this charming town. The village perches on the shores of Bras d'Or Lake and is wonderfully scenic, adding to its reputation as a fine resort town. During your visit, you might walk along the waterfront or stop in one of the quaint restaurants for lunch. Seafood, especially fresh Atlantic lobster, is a favorite. Afterwards, you will transfer back to the pier in Sydney.

A nice museum, fairly new, that did a great job of presenting the life of Alexander Graham Bell and all of his inventions. It was his family who made all of the donations of the items and some of the items there nobody knows what they are or what they were used for. The city stop in Baddeck was kind of useless. We had about a half hour there, and there is not much to see. They basically wanted you to visit the different stores in town.
We got back to the ship at 2:00 and had lunch on the pool deck, then Matt went to the room to watch a movie and I went to lay out in the sun.
We left Sydney at 4:45.
Dinner in Compass Rose, a bit of losing at the Casino then off to Brandi's show, which was as great as ever. She knows how to get the audience going.

September 29, 2013 - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Up at 7:45 with breakfast in the room and a 9:00 excursion:

Seeing Charlottetown by horse-drawn trolley is the ultimate way to become immersed in the area's history, as the founding fathers relied on this same mode of transportation.

A horse-drawn trolley will be waiting for you at the pier, and climbing inside it will feel like being transported back in time. The horsepower, literally, will be supplied by a pair of well-muscled Clydesdales, a breed of draft horses named after the area in Scotland where they derived. Traveling along, you will hear the distinctive click of their hooves upon the city streets, the feathering on their lower legs rhythmically dancing in the breeze. It's a wonderful way to journey through the historic downtown, marveling at the Victorian architecture.

As you make your way through the city, you'll see many of the key landmarks and attractions, including the Province House National Historic Site. A conference held in the building in 1864 led to Canada becoming a federation, and Charlottetown became known as the Birthplace of Canada. You will also be able to admire the historic homes lining Great George Street, many of them built in the mid-1800s. Other sites include the Confederation Centre, a hub of cultural excellence and Founder's Hall.

By the time your tour ends back at the pier, you will have gained a fine understanding of the area historically and still have plenty of time to explore further on your own if you like.

It wasn't really a trolley and not not Clydesdales, but it was a fun ride and very interesting. Our guide was great. It was just an hour long, but am so glad we did this. The 2 horses "Doc" and "Pat" were a kick. Doc is old and if he can get away with it, likes to pick up the pace. Pat hates when he does that and will (if the driver is not watching) bite Doc's ear. So they work well with each other and keep each other under control. Doc, now in his mid-20's, retires after next season.
We followed the tour by walking around town. There was a farmers market down the main street, so we walked through that and went back and took pictures of several of the buildings that we saw on the horse tour.
We were back on the ship at 11:30 and had lunch in La Veranda. Matt then watched a movie while I went out in the sun for two hours. It was another beautiful day with sunshine and highs in the upper 60's.
Dinner in Compass Rose, gambling, then off to see Ray Solaire's (the cruise director) show. It was ok. The older crowd loved him. For me, it was just too many slow show ballads. He did bring out 3 of his ventriloquist dummies. That was ok too. Best part of the show was that Brandi sat with us and we had a nice quick chat after the show before she and Matt went up to the "Beatles night" in the lounge.

September 30, 2013 - Sea Day

This is the only sea day of this leg  and our last sea day of the cruise. It is a sunny but cool day and as we are entering the St. Lawrence River, the waters are very smooth.
I awoke at 8:00 and had breakfast by the pool deck. Matt was up by 9:00 and did the same. Matt did the last loads of laundry for the trip and then we went to the lecture on future destinations.
We then went to lunch at La Veranda and I took in some sun by the pool while Matt read his book. I gave up at 2:30 as the breeze kept things just a bit too cold for me.
We attended the cocktail party for Seven Seas Society Members in the theater, then probably the best dinner of the cruise at Prime 7. During dinner, the Captain made an announcement that we would be having a passenger evacuation and that we would be going a bit off course towards the city of Baie-Comeau where a boat would meet us and pick up the passenger.
We finished dinner and then went to the casino. Matt went to the Production Show and I went back to the room and saw that the evacuation was taking place (this at 9:45) of the gentleman on a backboard. I took a photo of the ship and then noticed that they were also evacuating a lady on a backboard, which I now believe to have been his wife. Our neighbor told us that a lot of luggage was taken off our ship and placed into the boat before the two were evacuated. Sorry to see the cruise end early for this couple. We have been told that we will still be on time for our port of call tomorrow.

October 1, 2013 - Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

We turned our clocks back last night so that we are back on Eastern Time and we got and extra hour of sleep. That just meant that I was up and bouncing around at 6:45. We started to dock at 7:30 and part of the town turned up, all dressed up in period pieces and they were dancing and there was a very loud announcer. Lots of geese flying overhead.
We ate lunch outside of La Veranda, then went for a walk through town. Not a lot to see. There was a very small outdoor market and the Catholic Church, which was very beautiful inside. We were back on the ship just a bit before 10:00. When we got back there was an envelope in the room with the colored luggage tags the ship uses to identify when you will be getting off the ship. That REALLY lets you know that the cruise is coming to an end. I went back to the terminal to download a few more podcasts that I can listen to while on the plane.
We spent about a half hour doing our early packing, then it was lunchtime at La Veranda before heading to our excursion/show:

Watch an action-filled performance of the long-running "La Fabuleuse", a mesmerizing show that tells the fascinating story of the founding of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area.

A shuttle transfers you from the pier to nearby Théâtre Palais Municipal, the largest indoor theater in the province and certainly one of the most beautiful. Here, you will be treated to a riveting performance of "La Fabuleuse", a show that has been continuously running for more than 25 years. It is an extravaganza. Each performance involves more than 100 local actors, 1,600 costume changes, and a host of animals. Add pyrotechnics, laser lighting, special weather effects and music, and you won't be able to take your eyes off the stage.

During this spectacle of nonstop action, watch the history of the region unfold. You'll see how the Indians lived before and after encountering the legendary French explorers Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain. You'll see romanticized scenes of the area's main events and everyday life in the rural province, recounting the drama of the colonists and loggers. A devastating fire, joyous wedding, and destructive flood are all part of the action. In fact, there are so many scene changes, actors, and animals coming on and off the stage that each year the performers spend 15,000 hours in rehearsal. All that hard work and dedication shows. After the usual standing ovation and curtain goes down, you will return by shuttle back to the pier.

Brandi joined us for the show, which uses every bit of technology available...explosions, lasers, water, fire, etc. It was an abridged version of what they normally do. All of the talked lines are lip-synced...some not so good...but I think they normally do the show in French and the "actors" (which are all volunteers from the community) have a hard time knowing the lines in English. I am very glad that we saw the show.
We were back on the ship at 3:45 and Matt went and got ice cream (available daily at the pool bar) and I got some cookies.
Then it was time to get ready for "Krew Kapers" at 6:00. That is the show put on by the Crew of the ship as a goodbye to the passengers. Each of the Regent ships do the show and they are all basically the same.
We then had dinner with Brandi, which I loved. We found out that she will be onboard the last leg of our Venice to Miami cruise next year, so we will be able to see her again.
After dinner, Matt went to the show while I went back to the room.

October 2, 2013 - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Awoke at 6:45 as we were pulling into port. We are right up against the main city, so after breakfast we decided to take a walk into the city, and boy am I glad we did. We got to the "Old City", which is about 3 blocks away and it was like stepping into an old french/european village. Quaint streets with cafes and art galleries. As we went out early, there were very few people in the street. The Crystal Symphony also came to port, so the city began to fill with tourists from both ships. We climbed the stairs to the old chateau (now a Fairmont Hotel), then back to the ship. The morning started out cloudy, but ended up warm and sunny. Once again, no rain on any of our land days.
We had lunch before our 1:00 tour:

Mother Nature reigns supreme in the pristine countryside surrounding Quebec City, and you'll be in the heart of it on this magnificent tour.

Starting off from the pier, you will head outside of the city limits and into the idyllic French Canadian countryside. Riding through the foothills, you'll see the majestic Laurentian Mountains in the distance, the St. Lawrence River below, and the wonders of nature all around. Upon reaching serene Lac-Beauport, a scenic lake surrounded by emerald forest and frequented by outdoor adventurers, you'll stop for photos.

It's a great introduction to the natural beauty that lies ahead at Montmorency Falls, which thunder down 275 feet into the St. Lawrence River. Explorer Samuel de Champlain named the falls for his patron, the Duke of Montmorency, and it's a memorable tribute as the falls are 90 feet higher than Niagara Falls. The views are stunning from the elegant Montmorency Manoir, where you may enjoy tea and pastries, before crossing the bridge to the Island of Orleans. At its southwestern tip, facing Quebec City, you'll visit Sainte-Pétronille, a village that has been a fashionable summer resort since the 19th century. Of course, Canada is synonymous with maple syrup, so you'll also stop at an authentic sugar shack to learn how maple syrup is made and to sample sweet maple taffy.

Afterward, rejoin your coach for the relaxing and scenic drive back to the pier.

We once again did the tour in reverse, but it was very enjoyable. We arrived back at the pier at 5:00 and hurried to make Brandi's 6:00 show.
Dinner in Compass Rose followed by a few minutes at the casino (where I won $600), then up to the room to pack and get ready for the trip home tomorrow.

October 3, 2013 - Travel Home

Up at 6:45 with breakfast in the room and out of the room at 8:00. We went to the theater to wait for our color and number to be called. The ship was a bit late in docking, so everything was delayed about a half hour. We were off the ship at 9:30 and took the bus (provided by Regent) to the airport. We got in the priority line and quickly found out we were in the part of the terminal for those going straight through to America, and that we needed to be at the other end for flights to a Canadian city first. Made it there, through the line and the TSA (no requirement to take off shoes). We went to the Air Canada lounge to relax and have a bite to eat.
Boarding of the flight was a bit late, but the flight was only and hour and we arrived in Toronto at 3:30. Upon arrival, you go through the terminal to the "F" gates, which are those going to the United States. When you get to that area, you scan your boarding pass, then wait for your name to come up on the large screens (think DMV). Then you go through a line to show your boarding pass...again...then go into another line for Customs. Then into another room where you go through TSA (our 2nd time). We did a bit of shopping in the terminal, then went up to the Air Canada lounge to relax after the line stress and get on to our 6:50 six and a half hour flight home.
The flight was a bit bumpy in places, but we made it back to San Francisco at 9:45, through luggage claim, on the limo and home at 11:45.
What a great trip, and less than a year to the next!!