Port of Call New Orleans

Cruise Port New Orleans, The Big Easy

The French Quarter

To begin with New Orleans is a destination virtually in a class by itself. The city is famous for its history having been settled first by French trappers in the seventeenth century, than ceded to the Spanish in 1762 by Treaty. Following a number of fires in the late eighteenth century the Spanish rebuilt the French Quarter using mostly fired brick, including the most impressive structure in New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral. The architectural character of the French Quarter, including multi-storied buildings with inner courtyards, arched doorways, and the extensive use of decorative wrought iron, were actually characteristic of the Spanish colonies

Beginning in 1800 Spain and France signed a series of treaties stipulating that Spain give Louisiana back to France, these confirmed and finalized the retrocession of Spanish Louisiana to France. In April 1803, Napoleon sold Louisiana which then included portions of more than a dozen present-day states along with New Orleans to the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase.

Involved in a war with England, in 1814 New Orleans defended itself against a large English force sent to take the city. Marshaling forces (regular, militia, and naval) and recruiting pirates led by Jean Lafitte, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson routed the British in a decisive battle in the early morning of January 8, 1815.

Anchored by the famous French Quarter with its iconic architecture the downtown area wasn’t big enough to hold all that was going on so it’s spread out into the adjacent neighborhoods and the warehouse district with famous eateries, clubs and trendy galleries.

night on Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street at night

Famous for throwing one of America’s biggest parties each year called Mardi Grau, the truth is the party virtually never stops in this city. The sidewalks of Bourbon Street are packed at night and some of its bars and restaurants virtually never close. Home to a musical tradition second to none and a restaurant scene famous around the world New Orleans isn’t just a cruise port it’s a destination.

Where You Dock

The Mississippi waterfront runs along the French Quarter and the growing Warehouse District and in the middle of it all is the Riverwalk Mall where the cruise ships tie up. Virtually in the heart of everything the cruise terminal is attached to the outlet shops of the Riverwalk Shopping Mall and only blocks from Canal Street and The French Quarter.

Transportation

If you are flying into New Orleans to catch a cruise expect to pay a little over $50 for a taxi ride to the cruise terminal. There is a public bus route that will take you into downtown from the airport for less that $4 but the trip takes about forty minutes. We have found an advertised shuttle to be unreliable but the airport has a very convenient ride share pick-up area. A recent Lyft ride cost us $32.

In downtown New Orleans there are numerous good hotels and if you aren’t up to walking there are pedicabs, street cars and easy to catch taxis.

Currency

Being the United States the currency is the Dollar and if you are visiting from out of the country you will find a number of conveniently located currency exchange outlets along with ATM machines.

Attractions

New Orleans is an attraction in itself. Just walking the French Quarter, listening to street music, eating Creole food, visiting Jackson Square and window shopping is a true experience but there are some other things to consider:

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral built in 1789 is the oldest cathedral in the United States.

Saint Louis Cemetery is a famous New Orleans cemetery (actually 3) where most of the graves are above-ground vaults constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Preservation Hall is a jazz venue in the French Quarter. The building is famous for a house band, a record label, and a music foundation.

The National WWII Museum, formerly The National D-Day Museum, a military history museum located in the Central Business District. NewOrleans was the manufacturing center for the landing craft used for WWII beach assaults. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victory in World War II.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas located on the waterfront is run by the Audubon Institute, which also operates the New Orleans Audubon Zoo and the Insectarium on Canal Street.

 

Food

When it comes to food New Orleans has more than its share of famous chefs including Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, John Besh, John Folse,, Donald Link, and on and on. With restaurants like Emeril’s New Orleans, K. Paul, Commanders Palace, Brennen’s, and Emeril’s Delmonico you’ll run out of time before you run out of great restaurants.

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A Road Like No Other

A Short Story
The Hogsback on Route 12 in Utah

Last summer we spent a couple of weeks checking off items on our bucket list in the National Parks of Utah. We rented a car in Salt Lake City, toured the parks and dropped off the car in Los Vegas.

After leaving Capital Reef National Park one afternoon we were headed for our next hotel in the town of Panguitch near Bryce Canyon National Park to the southwest. We came out of Capital Reef on Route 24 and soon hit an intersection with Route 12. At the intersection Rt. 24 headed to the north, which is the way we had been told to go but Rt. 12 went south. Just looking at the map it seemed like 12 was a much shorter route to take.

At this point I need to confess that the older I get the more nervous I am about heights. Already on this trip I had driven a couple of roads that had given me reason to pause. I’m not sure where this fear of heights has come from but when I was much younger I was fearless. lately I find it hard to believe that decades ago that young man that hung one handed off high catwalks and jumped out of helicopters was actually me. At this point I am much more nervous than my wife.

Anyway at that junction we made a snap decision and headed south on Utah Route 12. Some distance along this two lane road, near Boulder Mountain we came across the Anasazi State Park and archaeological site. This was a lucky find and well worth the stop. It was built around the excavation of an ancient Anasazi village and included a nice museum.

Back on the road we headed southwest again and soon came up on one of the scariest bit of road I can remember. Its called the Hogsback (or Hog Back) and it’s a narrow two lane road with, at times, barley any shoulder on either side. It rides along a ridge for about four miles with often sheer drops of over a hundred feet on one side or the other and sometimes both sides at once. Few guard rails and almost no room to pull off. The speed limit was between 25 and 35 mph and with my fear kicking in that seemed way too fast.

The good news was there was almost no traffic and the one car ahead of us seemed really terrified. He crept along at 15 to 20 mph and that was just fine with me. Not only did I feel safer but he gave me an excuse when eventually another car caught up to us.

Watch this YouTube video of a drive along the Hogsback.

 

A Tale of a Whale

Whale Watching In Alaska

Sunset at Icy Straight Point

A Short Story

Kayakers searching for whales

A few years ago while on an early season Alaska cruise our ship stopped at Icy Straight Point. For a number of reasons we had decided to take it easy that day. The ship was anchored out and we had gone ashore early in the morning and took a nice hike thru the forest. We were back on the ship well before noon and had gone out on our balcony to read.

Some of our friends had taken the opportunity to go on excursions in the port and whale watching seemed to be the choice of the day. Of the whale watching options one was a kayak trip and as we sat on our balcony we could see the kayaks move along the shore and head out toward open water.

Humpback whale at Icy Straight Point

A little over thirty minutes into our reading we were startled by a load noise coming directly below us. It was a large Humpback whale that had crossed under the ship and was blowing as it surfaced directly below our stateroom.

We had been whale watching before and had seen whales off of Hawaii, Vancouver Island and in Alaska. On one cruse up the Inner Passage we had a pod of Orcas pace the ship for over a half hour. With them I never got a picture because we never knew where they would surface next and before you could react – they were gone.

Whale pod of Humpbacks encountered off Vancouver Island

This time at Icy Straight Point our Humpback stayed near us for twenty minutes, circling and diving and putting on a real show. Most of our fellow passengers were off exploring and it didn’t seem this whale was drawing much attention at all.

That evening talking to our fellow passengers it seemed that the whale watch tours that day were mostly a dud. The kayakers had seen whales but none had come anywhere near the group and one whale watching boat had not seen any whales at all.

Sometimes lady luck just smiles in your direction…

A New Travel Map

Earth Glow At Night From Space

It started as a one-off for our own use and morphed into gifts for family and friends. Now our travel push pin maps have advanced to the level of a hobby. A local gift shop has added a display and personalized order form and we have just started selling on Etsy.

Our travel maps are printed 13″x19″ on heavy weight matte stock with personalization included.

Always trying to improve the look, I have now married a satellite composite image of the earth at night with my world map design. It is now available on the Etsy page.

 

Take a look HERE.

The Port of Honolulu Hawaii

Cruise Port Honolulu Hawaii

Honolulu is a frequent stop for cruise ships repositioning in the Pacific, cruises going out of the west coast of the U.S. And Canada as well as cruising the Hawaiian Islands. It is the largest city in the islands, the states Capital and gateway to Hawaii’s most developed island.

General

Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu with a number of areas to visit and sights to see. Nearby is Pearl Harbor with the museums and memorials and in the other direction is Waikiki Beach with the hotels and shopping. This island and city are major tourist destinations and to get a feel for Oahu you need a number of days.

Where The Ships Dock

The cruise piers are located on the northwest side of Honolulu between Waikiki Beach and the International Airport. Cruise ships dock at either the Aloha Tower (pier 11) or Pier 2 about a quarter mile more to the south (primarily used by NCL for Hawaiian cruises). Aloha Tower is conveniently located not far from the downtown area and the Aloha Tower Marketplace. There are facilities located at the cruise terminal and you can walk out without much difficulty. “Downtown” with its shopping and “Waikiki Beach” are not the same location so if you want to visit this famous beach area you will need transportation.

Transportation

For a short visit we would recommend trying to share a cab with others to get to Waikiki Beach, share costs and save time. Local public service is with TheBus and the ride to the beach doesn’t long. If you want to take TheBus a 1-Day Pass is $5.50. Ask your bus operator for the 1-Day

Pass before placing your money in the farebox. It’s valid 12:01 a.m. To 2:59 a.m. the next day, for up to 27 hours of unlimited rides. Our preference is to rent a car. Rates are usually very reasonable and since you are in the United States your insurance covers you. Oahu is a pretty big island with 3 major highways (H-1, H-2 and H-3) and we would strongly suggest that you use GPS navigation. The street anmes are difficult to pronounce and remember and the roads tend to wind around.

Currency

This is the 50th state and the US Dollar is currency.

Attractions

We’ve taken the Waikiki Trolley tour and found it way overpriced for what you get to see. Again we recommend renting a car if you want to see the island. A short taxi ride into the center of the beach is a better investment. If it’s going to be a first trip don’t miss a visit to Pearl Harbor with the USS Arizona Memorial (last we heard it was closed for refurbishment) and the USS Missouri. In Honolulu there are almost too many attractions to count, from shows to an aquarium and zoo. For the best view on the island drive up to Hawaii puu ualakaa state park with the overlook above Honolulu on Mount Tantalus. We love the North Shore with the surf at the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay and a number of great small towns (look for the food trucks) and Waimea Falls Park. There is also The Dole Plantation in mid-island and also a couple of beautiful gardens to check out. Above all else is the ocean and the beaches and the reefs. Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound and depending on the season you can go whale watching too.

Travel Maps For Christmas

Put a Pin In It

We’ve Created Beautiful Pin Maps To Record Your Travels available through our Etsy store. VISIT NOW

A few years ago we printed, mounted and framed a world map and added pins to designate the places we had visited. As we continued to travel, we added more pins. Over time, we have had a number of friends and family members admire our map and ask for maps of their own, which we were glad to give as gifts. With much encouragement over the past couple of months, we have designed our own original maps and hope to make them available for sale.

Our Etsy store is now open. VISIT NOW

After you place your order we customize and print each map and ship in about five working days via the USPS. The map is printed on heavy cover stock and is ready for framing. Detailed instructions are included for installing in ready-made, inexpensive frames or you can have it custom mounted and framed.

The World Map

Proudly display and pin your world travels while keeping track of your adventures and future plans. Our gorgeous personalized maps are a beautiful addition to your home and are a great conversation piece.

World Map #W1 in Grays and Blues

This 13″ x 19″ exclusive original design  map is available in two color schemes and is printed on premium cover stock. Included are a number of custom options (see ordering information).

World Map #W2 in Earth Tones and Blues

Pick Your Map and Select Customizations Below

  • Select a banner .                           
  • Add a custom printed name .     
Put a pin in it and record all your travels

Ships promptly in a mailing tube and comes with a collection of 50 colored pins. Includes suggestions on saving money on framing with do-it-yourself instructions. Make use of included colored pins to indicate visits to Countries, Cities and National Parks. The design shows over 200 cities along with major national parks, seas and oceans.

Available soon, framed and ready to hang.

Example of map detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States Map

Great to get your children interested in geography and tracking their adventures or remembering family vacation trips. Makes a beautiful personalized gift and is designed with children in mind as a fun, in-home, learning tool.

This 13″ x 19″original design map is printed on heavy premium cover stock and includes a number of customization options.

Select Customizations Below

  • Choose a banner                              
  • Add a custom printed name       
Put a pin in it to display your travels

Comes with a collection of 50 colored pins. Includes suggestions on saving money on framing along with do-it-yourself instructions. Select pin colors to indicate visits to National Parks, States and Cities.V

This map is designed over a topographic image with all 50 states outlined and their names in bright red. Printed with over 200 U.S. cities along with major National Parks.

 

Also available soon framed and ready to hang.

Visit Our Etsy Store NOW.

Still time for Cristmas – order maps and select customization options only at our Etsy store.

 

 

Port of Call Juneau Alaska

A Day in the Port of Juneau

Probably the most isolated state capital in the United States and one of two that you cannot drive to (Hawaii). It is also one of the most frequented cities on Alaska cruise itineraries. Besides being isolated and the states capital it also has a lot to offer.

Where You Dock
Norwegian Pearl tied up at the AJ Dock
Historic downtown Juneau

Docking facilities stretch from the waterfront right at the foot of the historic district for a mile southeast along the Gastineau channel. If you are lucky and your ship docks near town you are only steps from shops and restaurants. There is however no cruise terminal or public facilities readily available at the dock. Restrooms are available at the public library just a block from the Red Dog Saloon along with a number of stores and restaurants. There is also a shuttle service provided from the docks down the channel but it is not free (currently about $2 each way).

Transportation

Besides the official dock shuttle there are taxis available at reasonable rates. To get to Mendenhall Glacier we would recommend the public bus service that departs from near the cruise ship docks. Current round trip fare toMendenhall NPS Visitor Center is $30 per person. Outside of the historic district Juneau is actually a very large city in geographic size. If you really want to see the wider area there are also rental car agencies near town.

Looking from library toward the Red Dog
Money

The U.S. Dollar and most credit cards are welcome

Attractions
Juneau Salmon Hatchery

Wander the streets of Juneau’s historic district, shop, visit the infamous Red Dog Saloon where Wyatt Earp lost his guns in a poker game. Within just a few square miles, browse multiple museums and an arts centers celebrating Alaska’s Native heritage. See multiple totems, the Ancon Mural, visit the fascinating DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery and be sure and go out to Mendenhall Glacier. Stop by one of Travel Juneau’s visitor information sites for a Downtown Walking Tour Map and be your own guide!

Mendenhall Glacier

Take a cable car up to a mountain top high above the city or take a helicopter up to the Juneau ice field and walk on a glacier. Go salmon fishing or whale watching. There’s more to do than will fit in a day.

More information on the Mendenhall Glacier.

More information on the Salmon Hatchery.