Mike and Renée and their friends
Pacific Coastal Cruise
On Sapphire Princess Princess
May 9 - 16, 2009

Celebrating Mike's Birthday at Sea!

To celebrate my birthday in style, we set off with a group of our friends on a Pacific Coastal Cruise on Sapphire Princess. These are all people who are important to me and it was wonderful to cruise with all of them!

Sapphire Princess is a beautiful ship and we all had a GREAT cruise! Details of Sapphire Princess can be found at our previous cruise page Sapphire Princess to Alaska and also at Cruiseclues Shipstips.

Renée and Mike (that's me!)
Andréa and Nick
Nancy and Keith
Ruby and Pam
We spent the night in Los Angeles before the cruise, and in the morning had a great tour of the city with a private driver. After cruising Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive, we drove down Wilshire Blvd and stopped at the famous La Brea tar pits. This is a very pretty park and the exhibits are very interesting.
Then we went on to drive down Hollywood Blvd and stop at the famous Graumann's Chinese Theater and see the footprints of stars, from Clark Gable to the cast of Harry Potter! We also walked the Walk of Fame and saw the stars for many famous entertainers.
The next stop was Olvera Street, the center of the old Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles. A festival was going on so we were entertained by mariachi music as we visited the historical sites and shopped the booths.
On we went to the famous Los Angeles Farmers Market. Besides wonderful fruit, meats and bakery products, there are many food stands and restaurants and other great things like the Bakery for Dogs!

After that we drove to San Pedro harbor and boarded the beautiful (but very large) Sapphire Princess. Embarkation was very easy, and soon we were in the buffet enjoying ourselves!

Next morning found us in Santa Barbara. An efficient tender operation soon had us ashore, where we were met by the driver and van from The Grapeline. Tom, our wonderful driver, gave us an entertaining ride through the hills to Santa Ynez.
Our first stop was the old Mission Santa Ynez, still a operating Catholic church. It is a very beautiful old building. It was nice to be in a small van, as the large tourist buses do not normally stop here. They would overwhelm the small place.
The mission garden is a lovely and quiet place. There were few visitors and we enjoyed roaming the garden. There is also a small museum that has interesting artifacts.
Then it was on to the wine tasting. Under the guidance of The Grapeline, with Nick and Renée consulting, we had chosen two of the smaller wineries of the region for visits. The vines running up and down the hillsides are a very pretty sight.
Of course, the wine tastings were the highlight. Each winery had an interesting flight of wines, with the little special touches that a small winery can add, making a few unusual wines to taste. Again it was nice to be in the small group as a busfull would have overloaded the tasting room.
The Grapeline provided a delicious deli lunch, with tablecloths and china on the picnic table overlooking the vinyards. All in all it was a wonderful day. We got back to the ship in lots of time and had an easy time tendering back out.
Back on board, it was time to celebrate my Birthday at Sabatini's. This is a wonderful dining experience and we never miss a chance when we cruise Princess. Having my friends around to help me celebrate made it even more special.
Up bright and early the next morning, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco harbor. The ship was docked very close to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf and many of our cruisemates chose just to walk down there.
Renée, Andréa and Nick took a wonderful culinary tour of the city with stops for Dim Sum, pastries, coffees, clam chowder and other local delicacies. Then they went on into the Napa Wine Country for more wine tastings!
Meanwhile, Mike, Pam and Ruby were on the ship's excursion to Muir Woods. Here we saw the wonderful Coast Redwoods and had a peaceful walk in the woods.
After that we stopped in the beautiful bayside town of Sausalito where we had lunch at an Italian deli and then had time to stroll through the park and admire the bay views.
The next stop was Astoria OR. Here we had a very rainy day, and we had no tour planned, so a little walking around the town and a lot of time in the Thermal Suite on the ship were in order.

Then we arrived in Seattle. We had a wonderful walking tour of Pike's Place Market, arranged through Savor Seattle. This, of course, is the place where they throw the fish! Many other food stops were made and we had a taste of all the market has to offer, sampling as we went along.

Meetign Priscilla the Pig is something everybody has to do in the Market!
Then it was time to board the Ducks of Seattle. For convenience we booked through the ship and the ducks came right to the port to pick us up. After a tour of Seattle by land, the ducks plunge down into the Sound and we have a tour by water. Seattle has many house boats, actually "barge houses", and we had a look at some prime on water properties!
Captain Rik O'Shay gave us a great ride filled with bad jokes and lots of quacking. Many of the people of Seattle are very Duck Friendly and always waved as we went by.
The final port was Victoria. Here we were on the ship's Butchart Gardens, Wine and Chocolate tour, and it was great! The Gardens are a famouos place, and in the hour and a half we were alloted it was only possible to visit a small part of them! This is the entrance.
A short walk brought us to the Sunken Garden which was in full springtime bloom. There are so many many beautiful plants.
Then it was off to the Church and State Winery for our Wine and Chocolate. After a bit of a tour of the property, which is very beautiful, we entered the palatial tasting room. They had a flight of very nice wines arranged, and a chocolate truffle selected to complement each. The winemaster gave us a description of each wine and then we could ENJOY!
All in all this was a wonderful cruise. It is a repositioning, preparing for the upcoming Alaska season, so it is only a one time thing each year. We had a great time and would thoroughly recommend this cruise, especially to oenophiles! (That is wine lovers, for the rest of you).

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