Mike and Renée’s
Pacific Coastal Cruise
On Sapphire Princess
April 2013

This cruise was a nice break and a time to relax. We traveled with a loosely organized group of friends. Here we are at formal night. Left to right are Karen and Rick, Kay, Darla, Pam, Renée and Mike (that's me!)

We were a congenial group, sharing things when it suited us and all going off our own directions when that seemed best.

We set sail from Los Angeles on Sapphire Princess, a ship we have cruised several times and one of our favorites.

We ran into heavy seas and headwinds heading North. Our scheduled 1 PM arrival in San Francisco turned into a 7 PM arrival. Many shore excursions had to be cancelled.

We were content to sit on our balcony and watch the light show on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We stayed in San Francisco until 5 PM the next day, but we were unable to schedule our cancelled tour. We just stayed aboard and enjoyed the ship. The Captain announced that we had a 15 foot clearance as we sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge about 5 PM!
This was the first formal night so we took advantage of the Elite passenger's privilege of ordering hors d'oeuvres to enjoy as we were dressing.
Our next stop along the Pacific Coast was Santa Barbara. We arrived 2 hours late due to our late departure from San Francisco, but we had no trouble rescheduling our tour with EOS Transportation. They sent a comfortable van and a knowledgeable driver.

First we visited the Mission Santa Barbara, one of the largest and one of the ones in best repair.

Then we visited two of the Santa Ynez Valley wineries. In consultation with EOS Renée had chosen two small wineries off the beaten track. We enjoyed hospitality and tastings at both of them. Our guide George (center, in back) was very helpful and gave us historical stories of the wineries.
A local deli furnished box lunches, and we found a nice shady spot on the winery grounds to enjoy it. Of course a bottle of the winery's best accompanied the meal.

After lunch we visited the Swedish style village of Solvang and had a little time to walk around and do a bit of shopping. It was a delightful tour and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The next port was Catalina. We anchored off shore and the tenders took passengers ashore. We had been here before so we just stayed aboard and relaxed. Some of our party took the Semi Submersible tour and saw a lot of local marine life through the underwater windows.
That night we had reservations for a very special event, the Princess Chef's Table. You have to make reservations the very first day to have a chance of acceptance. Hosted by the Maitre D' and the Executive Chef, this is a wonderful dinner. Renée, Darla, Karen and Rick had a great time. (Sadly, Mike was not feeling well.)

They began with a tour of the spotlessly clean galley, and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and champagne as they did so.

The meal that followed was a memorable one. Every course was presented inventively and was delicious. The chef flamed the meat in a spectacular show. Risotto, steak and lobster, orange sorbet and a chocolate construction were only some of the high points of the meal.
The next morning we docked in San Diego. It was a great time to try the Champagne Balcony Breakfast. We enjoyed the warm, sunshiny weather and the great breakfast before going ashore.
We had rented a car here for the seven of us. It was pretty big but Renée handled it beautifully and we did a big scenic loop from the ship up to Pt. Loma, which has a famous old lighthouse.

The views from the Point at the entrance of San Diego Bay are spectacular. We had a nice drive along the coast to other scenic spots.

Then we visited Old Town San Diego. It is a fascinating place to walk and shop, and we had very good Mexican food at the Old Town Restaurant.
Darla stayed up late to get a picture of the Maitre D' pouring champagne onto the waterfall!
The stop in Enesenada is to comply with the Passenger Service Act. While there are some excursions available it is really not a very exciting port.

Renée got off the ship to shop a bit in the cruise terminal. I stayed aboard and took this picture from our balcony.

Next day it was back to Los Angeles. We claimed the car and made the 5 hour drive home. All in all it was a very relaxing cruise and we had a great time!

We like to discuss our travels.

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