Victoria (Sort Of)

While the clock said we got to sleep in to 9:30 AM, the time change actually reduced our sleep time for the morning. We woke up in a haze, that happy hour on board will get to you, and went to breakfast for coffee and pancakes. We even saw a bunch of dolphins out of our breakfast table windows! It was so cool!

We were not supposed to arrive into Victoria until 7PM so Ryan and I took a spin at the gym. You really can’t beat an ocean view while you are on the treadmill while watching a good movie with no commercials. I run about 50% longer when I am into a good show! Post run, I checked out the awesome sauna and steam room in the spa. The sauna was huge and so hot. It felt amazing post workout! I then joined Ryan in the spa’s outdoor hot tub which was much more secluded, peaceful, and out of the wind compared to those on the main decks. Both the sauna and hot tub could be used without buying spa packages which was a total plus!

We also decided to have our last lunch in the Da Vinci dining room instead of the Horizon buffet. I didn’t even realize we could do so and the lunch food in the dining room was so much better than that of the buffet. We had some Asian glazed chicken wings with crispy chives and then wheel pasta in a mushroom sauce to start, bbq pork ribs for the main course, and pecan chocolate cake to end. The food on this cruise was much better than I expected!

After lunch, we stopped by to watch the rapid fire art auction on board the ship. We saw some pieces go for over $12K! It was unbelievable. The auctioneer spoke at an amazingly speedy clip and it was quite an interesting process to watch. I couldn’t imagine buying art at those prices without researching the quality and value first. I do not recommend buying art on cruise ships for those very reasons, unless you absolutely love the piece, because you can probably get a better deal elsewhere. We did not buy anything but, I did get a free bottle of Champaign for making the most noise and jumping up and down at the conclusion of the auction. While my image may have been a little tainted to those who saw me jump up and down for a bottle of Champaign, it was so worth it!

The end of the auction also marked the start to another happy hour. I had two delicious margaritas and relaxed while watching the ocean pass by. Not a bad way to spend the hour before the next activity – the Princess Cruise’s first ever The Voice competition. The theater was packed and 8 contestants from the ship sang their hearts out while three on ship “celebrities” turned their chairs for them. After getting on the judge’s teams, the judges picked their favorite contestant and then the crowd voted for the winner. There were some surprisingly good and laugh-out-loud bad singers competing and it was quite entertaining!

The Voice on the Crown Princess Alaskan Cruise

Post-Voice, we were back into the dining hall for and early dinner before Victoria! It was open seating and I was so close to getting our normal table with our favorite waiters but this lady and her husband sat at our table after I got there and refused to move. I was not super happy but we got another table and all was well with the world. For our final dinner, I had a yummy Caesar salad with anchovies, fettuccine alfredo, N.Y. strip steak, and apple pie. Everything was great but I haven’t really loved any of the deserts onboard outside of the soft serve ice-cream and the oatmeal cookies.

Anyways, we finished up dinner right in time to debark for Victoria. We we in the port, so close to the shore I could have touched it, and then our boat started to back up. We then watched the boat get further and further from the sun shine filled shore, and someone came on the loud-speaker saying that, due to dangerous weather conditions, we could not port in Victoria. Looking around, it was sunny and the waves were subtle. We were so mad and confused! Apparently, the wind was too strong to turn the boat and we couldn’t get in the harbor. Not only could we not go, but there is no make-good from the ship for missing a part of the trip. Talk about an “ugh!” moment.

The view of Victoria, Canada from the Crown Princess cruise ship

Instead of spending our last night on the cruise bummed, we looked on the positive side, remembering all of the fun things we were able to do. We grabbed my bottle of Champaign, our last bottle of wine, and a big blanket, and met Ryan’s family up on deck to play Black Jack. We didn’t want to play with money, but instead, assigned values to the different types of sugar packets and used those as our winnings! The crew brought us some popcorn, I had one last ice-cream, and we played cards until it got dark and cold! It was a really nice way to end the day before going to the room to pack for our 6 AM wake up the next morning.

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Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Day three marked our second flight during the trip from Lima to Cusco. Cusco is in the mountain region of in-land Peru and it takes about an hour by tiny plane to get there. We had a quick breakfast and met our driver around 8 AM to head to the airport. Driving in Peru is an experience in itself as basically all traffic signals, aka stop signs, lights, yield signs, are merely suggestions. We were in 4 near death situations just on the drive to the airport. Eeek! Thankfully, we arrived in one piece, made our flight, and arrived in Cusco around 12:30 PM.

Our next tour guide, Julio, met us at their airport for our bus transport to the hotel in the upper section of Cusco. The ride was really interesting as Julio explained the local housing structure. Since Cusco has become a more popular tour destination, the cost of living has grown substantially. The locals make very little money and cannot afford to buy fully completed houses, thus, most of the houses in Peru are works-in-progress. There is a bottom floor, and sometimes a second or third floor, in each concrete structure, with metal framing wires sticking out of the roofs that were the hight of another floor. The families typically share the buildings with their siblings and add floors when they can afford it. It really made me feel blessed and thankful to have what I have.

Anyways… we were dropped off at the Hotel San Agustin – a beautiful hotel with a huge atrium and very comfortable rooms. The staff gave us some tea to help with the 11K altitude acclamation before we took off to explore the large square up the street known as the Plaza de Armas. The cobble stone square has an amazing fountain in the middle, is surrounded by shops and cathedrals, and has these adorable little old Incan ladies in traditional garb with baby lambs and alpacas. I couldn’t help by take a photo with one of them.

Plaza de Armas, Cusco Peru

We found a great modern burger place with a Peruvian twist called Papacho’s on the border of the square. It not only had a fantastic view, but the best onion rings we have ever had! In addition to the memorable onion rings, I enjoyed a veal sandwich and took a bite of my father’s alpaca burger – yum! Within a non-bug, reasonable scope, I always try to local food as you never know what deliciousness will surprise you.

With so much food in our stomaches, we took off walking to an alleyway off from the square where most of the local markets were. It was actually quite cold in Cusco, more in the 50’s rather than the 70 degree weather in Lima, so, in addition to gifts for friends and family, we stocked up on scarves, jackets, and gloves. You will probably notice my warm, new, knitted, and somewhat alpaca fashion moving forward in my future Peru posts. I say “somewhat alpaca” because the market sellers claimed their products were 100% alpaca wool but, considering the price and the fact the some of the labels read “30% alpaca”, I was skeptical. All of the items we bought were very haggle-able and we bought most things for $5-$10 USD – some great deals!

After an hour or two of shopping, we walked back to the hotel for a quick nap before our evening plans. The altitude and 7 AM wake-ups really take it out of you! We had reservations at Tunupa, a buffet restaurant in the main square with a traditional Cusco dance show. The buffet was full of ceviche and other traditional Peruvian dishes that were all quite tasty. On top of that, we had some Pisco Sours to lighten the mood and get us ready for the craziness to come.

The band was made up of a singer and two instrumentalists and there were two female and two male dancers. The dancers would dance a traditional piece for a song, run back and change, and then dance in a different style. They did this 6 or 7 times and got the crowd up and about to dance as well. It was a roaringly fun time, especially since they played a catchy song called “Pacha Mama” or “Mother Earth”, which we thought said “Punch your mama”, that we kept singing all night long. My mama loved it so much she bought the CD…

With warnings of the sun’s face-scorching capabilities in the thin Cusco air, we stopped to get some colorful hats for the next day’s ruin tours. My sister and boyfriend came to the conclusion that I look funny in hats, a fact I’ve come to accept over many years of trying, so naturally I bought the brightest hat I could find just for fun! With hats in tow, we walked around the square and admired the city lights before heading to the hotel for much-needed sleep.

Plaza de Armas, Cusco Peru