A couple of weeks ago we planned a trip thru the Blue Ridge and Smokey mountains of North Carolina and made reservations at the Broad River Inn Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock and nearby Lake Lure are somewhat isolated and have virtually no major chain hotels, so you have to pick from small local accommodations.
We made our selection based on a few reviews and what a great choice. The reviewers didn’t give the Broad River Inn enough credit. It seems the owner and family are new to this property and they are putting in a lot of effort to fix up the place and make guests feel welcome.
Our room was beautifully decorated, our bed was very comfortable and the owners placed a chilled bottle of wine in our room along with some chocolates and snacks.
They include with the room a cooked-to-order breakfast and a daily speciality coffee from their attached coffee shop. Not to overstate anything the breakfast was incredible. Eggs, bacon or sausage and cinnamon monkey bread was our choice the first morning along with a yogurt parfait. The next morning – cinnamon bun french toast. The breakfast was almost worth the cost of the room.
Chimney Rock is a small tourist town nestled down in Hickory Nut Gorge with the attraction being the namesake rock formation standing on a cliff above the town. The buildings on the main street seem to alternate between small restaurants and souvenir shops. The Broad River Inn also runs an attractive miniature golf course along the edge of Broad River and you will find a good day of hiking and exploring at Chimney Rock Park.
The town of Chimney Rock runs into the end of Lake Lure which features its own collection of accommodations, restaurants, boating and a nice sand beach. While out of the way this area has enough to do to keep a family entertained for a few days. Broad River Inn Chimney Rock is also a good anchor for touring the wider areas growing selection of good wineries.
Often novice cruisers never give much thought to the details of ports they will be visiting. Even experienced cruisers are often so involved with the overall planning of a trip they overlook those important port details.
On our next cruise are there any tender ports? Are there ports that don’t allow walking out? Are there facilities on the pier? Is a port wheelchair accessible? Often cruise ships are not that free with information on upcoming ports of call and it would be helpful if you knew ahead of time if there are going to be challenges.
We’ve begun going thru our trip notes to build a section devoted just to port information and highlights. We hope you find it useful.
Also, If you would like to contribute please email us at TheIntentionalTraveler@gmx.com
Old Quebec City is on a number of fall cruise itineraries. Starting in New York or Boston these cruises visit a number of New England and Canadian Maritime ports, go up the St. Lawrence Seaway, usually with fall leaves in full glory, and spend a day or two in Quebec City. The old city is full of historic sites, art galleries, good restaurants and beautiful scenery.
Where the Ships Dock – There is a modern cruise ship terminal on the riverfront along with a good length of docking space right in front of the Old Quebec neighborhood.
Transportation – Since Old Quebec is not that large an area and cruise ships will usually dock right in town, walking is the usual way to see the sights. The town does have a geography that rises steeply from the river so be prepared for a little climb. The city does have an alternative to the steepest climb though. The Old Quebec Funicular is a funicular railway in Old Quebec. It links the Haute-Ville to the Basse-Ville, climbing at a 45-degree angle, it covers a total distance of 64 meters.
Taxis – There are a number of taxi companies and generally they do not cruise for fares. They usually are available at the cruise ships or you call and they will send a car:
Taxi Coop Québec 418-525-5191
Taxi Coop Sainte-Foy-Sillery 418-653-7777
Taxi Laurier 418-651-2727
Uber – As of this writing you can make use of Uber from the cell phone app.
Rentals Cars – Readily available and a practical way to visit areas farther out from downtown.
Public Transit (local buses) – Réseau de transport de la capitale (RTC) serves Québec City. The Parcours 11 route serves Upper Town and the Old Port area and the ferry terminal.
Ferry – The ferry links Québec City and Lévis and runs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It sails on the hour and half-hour during the day and every hour at night.
Money – Quebec uses the Canadian Dollar currently worth about 76¢ U.S. Also, do not count being able to use U.S. Dollars but credit cards are welcome.
Notre Dame des Victoires Church – a small Roman Catholic stone church in the Lower Town of Quebec City. Construction was started in 1687 on the site of Champlain’s habitation and was completed in 1723
The Historic Petit Champlain District – a neighbourhood in Quebec City, Canada. It is located in the district of Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–colline Parlementaire in the borough La Cité-Limoilou – located near Place Royale. Its main street is the Rue du Petit-Champlain at the foot of Cap Diamant. It is the oldest commercial district in North America
The Port, Marina and City Market Area
The Musée de la Civilisation. – A modern Museum of Civilization located near the port.
Once an out-of-the-way island, Grenada is gaining in popularity as a cruise ship port of call. The capital of St. George is considered by many as one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque towns wrapping around a half-moon shaped harbor. Called the spice island it is also a great place to shop for nutmeg and other spices.
Where the Ship Docks – St. George has a well equipped cruise pier and terminal located below Fort St. George and attached to the Esplanade shopping mall.
Transportation – Getting around the island usually requires a taxi, water taxi or renting a car. Rental cars are available in St. George but you will need to pay about EC$30 for a temporary drivers license.
Taxis – Taxi fares are reasonably inexpensive with a trip around town costing less than EC$11 or US$4 or out to Grand Anse Beach for EC$27 or US$10.
Money – Grenada is part of a group of islands that form a common market and use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar with EC$2.67 equal to one US Dollar. US Dollars and credit cards are normally accepted.
Beaches – Grenada has an abundance of great beaches but the most popular is Grand Anse Beach not far from St. George.
The Rain Forest – This island is blessed with some of the richest rain forests in the Caribbean offering a number of nature trails and waterfalls to visit.
Spices – Known as the spice island you can find dozens of opportunities to buy spices at really remarkable prices. If you have the time take a tour of a plantation. One of the most popular spices grown here is nutmeg.
Cruise ships visiting Santorini usually anchor out and tender in to the Old Port.
About 3,500 years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean a great Minoan civilization flourished. It was centered in Crete with towns and cities established on a number of nearby islands. From a number of archeological excavations we know that they built multi-story houses that were decorated with incredible frescoes and had advanced plumbing systems some with hot and cold running water. One of the richest cities was Akrotiri (not its ancient name) located in the middle of trade routes connecting Crete, Cyprus, Greece and Egypt. On a day around 1625 BC it all came to an end as one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the last 5,000 years destroyed most of the island under Akrotiri. Shortly after that tsunamis from the eruption swept across Crete and dozens of other Minoan islands. Over a short period of time an entire civilization vanished.
Welcome to Santorini, Greece! Santorini was named in the thirteenth century after Saint Irene. The old name Thera was revived a century ago as the official name of the island but Santorini is still used.
Where You’re Ship Stops – There are only cruise ship piers on Santorini for smaller ships. Docking space is at a premium and most facilities are used by ferries and cargo ships. Most Cruise ships anchor out and use tenders to take passengers to the Old Port. Since the island is noted for its shear 900 foot cliffs rising out of the sea, the first challenge is getting from the limited sea level space up on top of the island.
Transportation – From the Old Port you will find four options to get up to the top of the island to the town of Fira. A mule ride (€8/$8.70), or a serious hike up 580 steps and on the same path as the mules. A cable car which costs €6 each way and take 3 to 6 minutes. Island bus service or a taxi.
While Santorini has good bus service and a bus route does go to the Old Port, it would probably be more efficient to take the cable car and if you want to see more of the island catch a bus in Fira or take a taxi. The island towns are very walkable with their unique white-washed stucco buildings and bright colored doors and trim being very picturesque.
Bus Service – The island bus service is KTEL with the average fare being under €2. You can see the fare schedule HERE and a system map HERE .
Taxis – Taxis are available but catching one at the Old Port can at times be difficult. An average trip between towns will cost around €10 to €20. You can also have a taxi take you on a tour around the island but be sure and firm up a price before starting out.
Money – Like most of Europe the accepted currency on Santorini is the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted but for incidental expenses you should carry some Euros.
Things To Do – First, the island and it’s towns are the primary attraction. Your ship will be anchoring in a huge circular caldera with its shear inner walls forming the coast of several islands. Clinging to the upper sides of these cliffs are a number of iconic towns inviting you to stroll their streets.
Minoan Akrotiri – A major archeological excavation site open to the public this will probably exceed the size of the archeological excavations at Pompeii. It is also a treasure trove of some of the worlds oldest frescos most preserved by the eruption showing remarkable detail and vibrant colors.
Wineries – Santorini is also home to a number of small, good wineries. The wine at the Santo Wines is only exceeded by the fabulous views from their patio. There are a number of wine tours available.
Donkey Rides – One option to get from Old Port up to the town of Fira (the islands Capital) is to ride the donkeys. These sturdy animals climb a winding trail that switches back and forth as you ascend about seven hundred feet to the top. While not my cup of tea people say it is very similar to going down into the Grand Canyon by donkey (also not my cup of tea).
Mallorca is the largest of Spains Balearic Islands and a major vacation destination for many western and northern Europeans attracted to its beautiful beaches.
Palma is an ancient port with architecture showing the influence of Christians and Moors in its castles, fortifications, cathedrals and in the winding streets of the old town. If you like to walk this is a great place to spend time exploring. The city is also famous for its many excellent tapas bars and restaurants.
Where You Will Dock – Palma de Mallorca has two areas where cruise ships dock. Most cruise ships will dock at Estacio Maritime which has a modern terminal and is about four miles from the old historic district. If that port is full your ship will dock in the industrial area at Porto Pi which is six miles from the old city. While the Porto pi facility doesn’t have the modern terminal it does have a major shopping mall just a short walk outside the port entrance. Both ports will allow passengers to walk out but in either case it is a good hike into town.
Transportation – Most ships provide shuttle service into the town center for about $15 round trip.
Public transportation is provided by a number of private bus lines that cover the island. Information about schedules and routes can be found at the TIB website . One popular destination is the beach resort area of Palmanova with regular bus service provided from the port areas on bus numbers 105 and 106 for around three Euros each way.
Taxis – In the city and around the port taxis are readily available. A taxi to Palmanova or the airport would cost about twenty five Euros.
Money – The Euro is the local currency and credit cards are generally accepted.
Castell de Bellver is a fourteenth century circular castle set on a wooded hilltop overlooking Palma, home to the city’s history museum.
Cathedral of St. Mary of Palma is a Gothic cathedral overlooking the sea, with a vast rose window & wrought-iron canopy by Gaudí. It was built on the site of a Moorish Mosque and was begun by King James I of Aragon in 1229 and is one of the tallest cathedrals in Europe.
Miro Museum and Workshops where Miro painted and sculpted from the 1950s to the 1980s and houses a number of permanent and visiting exhibits.
Beach Resorts. Six to eight miles down the coast from the port are the beach resorts of Palmanova. The resorts are located around three beautiful bays, Playa Son Matias, Playa de Palmanova and Playa Es Carregador.
Located on the southeast side of sheltered Akaroa Harbor, is the cute resort township of Akaroa. With increasing cruises around Australia and New Zealand this tiny town is becoming a popular port of call. It is also unique as it was the only French settlement in New Zealand. Geologically originally an island formed by two volcanoes, the peninsula has two ancient craters which form Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbors. The region was named for the botanist Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook on the Endeavour.
Where You’re Docked – Cruise ships need to anchor out and use tenders to reach the Akaroa dock. The dock is the focus of a number of boat tours and water attractions and is located right in the town with a number of restaurants and shops nearby.
Money – New Zealand uses the NZ$ which currently is worth US$0.70 and you will need to exchange money or use credit cards.
Attractions – Akaroa, is famous for its several beautiful bays and harbors and there are boat tours and sea kayaking. In Flea bay, a couple of miles southeast of town, is a rare penguin colony and Akaroa harbor is home to the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin. A short walk out of town is Meniscus Wines, a vineyard which usually is open when ships are visiting and don’t miss The Giants House, a unique sculpture mosaic garden above town.