Seattle Cruise to Alaska Princess Cruise

Me on Monday: My Whirlwind Travels So Far This Year

Posted on Posted in Family Travel, Itineraries, Puerto Rico, Seattle
Seattle flights Mt. Rainier views from the plane
The view of Mt. Rainier from the plane is amazing!

I’m exhausted!  Now that I have a job and vacation time again, I’ve been putting it to good use this year.  That said, I’m tired and woefully behind on posts as I’ve been chosing the couch over my laptop after work to decompress from my horrible commute. But there so much to share with you and I hope to start catching up soon as I’m Philly bound for a while. I still have two weeks of vacation time to plan and use by year end so trying to spin the globe and see where it takes me (thinking a hibernation sounds perfect).  For now, here’s what I’ve been up to so far this year and the stories you’ll see in upcoming posts.

Disney Magic Cruise to the Southern Caribbean

In April, my family celebrated Mom’s actual 75th birthday on the Disney Magic cruise ship to the Southern Caribbean leaving from Puerto Rico.  We would visit Antiqua, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Martinique. Yes, despite treating Mom to a whirlwind, luxury trip of 10 days in Paris & London last September as advance birthday celebration, I was summoned to attend the family cruise on Disney Cruise lines.  Disney Cruise lines are expensive when compared with other cruise lines so I phoned a friend to join me since I was already paying the 200% single supplement for the inside room.  My country mouse who joined my EPIC escape to Europe two years ago, flew on three planes and slept at the airport to join me and the family on the cruise.  Country Mouse had only sailed on Celebrity Cruise lines with her mom prior to joining me on the NCL Epic and now on the Disney Magic.  Her refrain would continue to be “this ain’t Celebrity”.  My family has only sailed on Disney, while I’ve sampled the other cruise lines to compare.  I had a different perspective to it all – here’s my sneek peek at the Disney Magic oceanview room and the Disney Cruise Lines fireworks at sea.

W Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Prior to joining my family on the cruise, I took two days to redeem my Starwood SPG points and experience the W Vieques Island.  That involved a twenty minute flight from the San Juan airport to/from on Cape Air (see the video of my flight landing at SJU Airport).   I spent time on the beach reading, fell asleep to the sounds of the waves outside and had a fantastic spa treatment.  It was a relaxing stay until the bug bites, which are another story.  This is what relaxation on the beach looks and sounds like:


Once home in April, I was dealing with my reaction to the bug bites and the sun before packing again for my quick trip to Scotland and London in May.

Weekend in Scotland & London

The long weekend over the Memorial Day holiday was perfect getaway to Scotland & London …in business class….using points….visiting friends….eating cookies…traveling on the Virgin East Coast train from Edinburgh to London and staying at The Dorset Square Hotel in Marylebone.   I would, however, be banned from picking restaurants in the future in London as my friend ended up at McDonald’s after each meal on his way home (note: my meals were fine and we won’t talk about his pension for McD’s).

Here’s a bit of Scottish bagpipe music to get you in the mood:

Exhausted at home, I was catching up on life, laundry, bills and blog posts.  Work was busy, life was busy and my next trip was quickly approaching.

Alaska Cruise with Holland America, Oprah & O Magazine

I was set to sail from Seattle to Alaska on Holland America Eurodam with Oprah and the O Magazine team as part of the launch of the “Live Your Adventure” cruise. Twenty years ago, my first cruise to Alaska was marred when the ship broke down and was leaking oil into the water.  We were forced to skip Glacier Bay on the Glacier cruise so this was me hitting “do-over” on that cruise.  The new partnership with O Magazine is quite interesting and I’ll be posting more about that soon.

Sneak Peek at my Verandah Cabin on the Eurodam


Yes, I met Oprah and have a photo with her during the private charity dinner benefitting the National Parks.  Who knew Oprah loved tequila as much as she does (only 1 point on Weight Watchers), well, I quickly learned as she shared the famous George Clooney tequila with us (yowza!).  The excitement of Oprah’s two days on the ship, the special programming with the O Magazine team and their authors and writers plus a private concert by India.Arie and comedian Rita Rudner and the splendor that is Alaska made for an interesting journey.  The flight to Seattle was torturous but I was rewarded with champagne at check in at the Four Seasons Seattle and a indulgent meal at Palace Kitchen.

Pre/Post Cruise Day in Seattle

My return to Seattle where I have a childhood friend was bittersweet as the kids continue to grow and make me feel old.  I’ve been traveling to Seattle every couple of years to visit the past twenty years and have seen so many great attractions (Chihuly Glass, Pike Place Market, Wine, Waterfalls and Chocolate, the San Juan Islands) and this time I would have just one day with them – one jam packed day of brunch at The Four Seasons, Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, a visit to the new Starbucks Roastery and then dinner before falling into my brand new (can still smell the paint almost) renovated king room at Hotel 1000.



Once home, I would keep busy and meet new friends for live music at the Foundry music venue inside Philadelphia’s new music hall – The Fillmore.

Weekend in Washington, D.C.

I would jump on Amtrak to Washington D.C. for an arts/food/monuments tour of the city with other luxury travel bloggers in the #BloggersTakeTheCity event in August.  With a silent disco, art installations, lots of food and even more art, I got to see a side of D.C. I didn’t realized I missed on prior trips.  I’m still processing all the food and fun plus new friends from that getaway.   Here’s a sneak peek at the Fairmont D.C. Gold Lounge:

After saying goodbye to the group, I met up with a twitter friend IRL to tour the sweet treats and tapas side of the city.  My final day in the city involved a whirlwind visit of The Capitol, Library of Congress and Supreme Court before ending at The Four Seasons Georgetown for one of DC’s best burgers (spoiler alert – the burger won!) and takeaway cookies.

Home in Philly

So I’m home now for a bit to regroup, reacquaint myself with the couch to learn to Netflix and chill and detox the gluten and dairy that did somehow slip past my lips (damn bread basket and cookies!).  Where to go next is the question.  But for now, I have a plethora of stories, photos and secrets to share with you in the upcoming months from the trips above and still a few left from my travels with Mom.   Hopefully they will inspire you to travel to one or more of the destinations (with or without your mom and/or family) and experience something new, exciting and tasty along the way.

Blondie's Kitchen Cookies London
Happiness is a cookie and Blondie’s Kitchen is a whole lot of happiness

If you can’t wait for the posts and have questions about any of the above destinations, vendors and partners, just contact me or comment below.



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