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Showing posts from May, 2011

Sake and Wine on Oregon Celebrity Stop

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It was my first trip to the Willamette Valley and though I knew it wasn’t going to be as long as I’d like, I didn’t know that it wasn’t just wine I would be discovering. Ron Burke of Oregon Wine Tours was waiting for Lynn and I when the Celebrity ship docked in Astoria , Oregon. We had been warned that the drive to the Willamette Valley would be a long one, but the scenery and the tales about the area’s wine vineyards made the ride go by quickly. The valley has a total of 17 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) and it was easy to see why with the hills, peaks and mountains on each side.  It is by far the largest wine producing area in the state, claiming over 300 of 425 wineries. Though Pinot Noir is the grape Willamette is known for, additional varietals are popping up around. Our first stop was at Patton Valley Vineyard . On a clear day, you can see Mt. St. Helens from here, and on a slightly cloudy day we still got some good views. Monte Pitt owns 24 acres of sustainable vineya

Between Ports, A Day in the Life of a Celebrity Cruiser

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In many ways, my travel experience is quite different from the average vacationer. This is most notable in my schedule. When I’m on a trip, I am usually following an itinerary that leads me through each day and night. In the hours that I don’t have something on the agenda, you will find me in front of the computer writing or uploading photos. So, what happens when I’m in the middle of the ocean on the Celebrity Millennium without working internet and no strict schedule?  I get to find out how the other half lives and in this case I got to be a cruiser on vacation (at least for a day). I will be the first to admit that I am a Type A personality who doesn’t do well sitting around and doing nothing. For me, doing nothing means not working at least two things at once. There was no reason for me to do that, though, as I had a rare free day, and, it was also Mother’s Day so I had another excuse to relax.  I safely tucked my computer into the stateroom safe, filled my bag with all the maga

Leaving California for a Celebrity Sail

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It’s hard to complain when everything has been going so well with my travels, but I was very disappointed to get the phone call that Up & Away had cancelled our Hot Air Balloon ride.  I had really been looking forward to it. Safety comes first, though, and the wind was not cooperating. No balloon ride meant that we had a bit of extra time in our apartment at Camellia Inn in Healdsburg. I had remembered a great coffee shop down the block and we enjoyed some lattes and pastries from Flying Goat Coffee before the driver picked us up for our final Sonoma wine stop. D’Argenzio Fine Wines was nothing like I expected and nothing like I had seen before. At first I thought we were just going to a boutique winery, but I soon learned that the D’Argenzio family had much bigger plans for this facility, which also has a tasting room in Burbank.  The place looks like it belongs in an Italian village and that’s just what they are helping build around them – in the middle of Santa Rosa ,

Cruising to California Wine Country

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The Celebrity Millennium Wine Cruise left plenty of time to explore California Wine Country while the ship remained docked in San Francisco. Since I had been to Napa recently , I chose to do one stop there and then spend most of the time in Sonoma . Wine Road Northern Sonoma County   arranged for our transportation from the ship and we headed to Napa Valley for our appointment at Mumm , a premiere maker of sparkling wines. The weather was warm and sunny and the views of the vineyard were just beautiful.  Winemaker Ludovic Dervin took us around the property and through the self-guided tour of the winery, which was built in 1987. The tour is as entertaining as it is informative (I loved “Bob,” the robot who safely puts the bottles in the boxes).  In addition, Mumm maintains photo and art galleries and I was excited to see some incredible work by famed photographer Ansel Adams , as well as a preview of a brand new exhibition by Robert Buelteman . Dervin, who has been with Mumm since

Eating, Drinking and Exploring on the Celebrity Millennium

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After the stop at Catalina , we had a day at sea on the Celebrity Millennium . I decided it would be a great time to learn more about this cruise ship. I got up very early because I had hoped to get some work done. Unfortunately, the internet was down (what am told is a frequent occurrence). I did get a workout in at the gym, an impressive facility with a huge assortment of equipment, as well as mats, stability balls, weights and fitness classes.  I then  discovered the Aqua Spa CafĂ© in the Solarium,  a great adults-only area with a hydrotherapy pool and two whirlpools. The food is wonderful and healthy, with an assortment of dishes that include yogurt grilled chicken and fish, fruits, vegetables and grains, such as couscous and quinoa.  I knew this would be a spot I would return to as much as possible. My friend Lynn and I made a stop at the casino, where the ship was offering a “Free Money Slot Pull.”  We didn’t walk away with any extra money, but got to play for awhile on the sh

Congratulations to Wine And Spirits Travel May Mean a Trip for You!

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I'm excited to announce that Wine And Spirits Travel has been named one of the Top Travel Blogs in the World by Austin-Lehman Adventures (one of the best tour companies in the world)! To celebrate the best of the best, they are giving away a trip worth up to $5,000! You've just got a few days to enter. Make sure you note http://www.WineAndSpiritsTravel.com as the blog you are coming from and maybe we can get to the top of that list next time! Good luck and thanks for the support, Marcia.

Wine, Dine And Zip-Line in Catalina

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Our first full day aboard the Celebrity Millennium was a full one, after the shipped pulled into Catalina Island, California. I had only been to Catalina Island one time before and I really liked it.  It’s a touch of the Caribbean in the west, a walking island full of great shopping, activity and Southern California weather.  There are a few cruise ships that come into Avalon and you can also access the island by private boat, or one of the ferries that go from three definitely mainland ports. We had a pretty full day planned thanks to Donna Harris at the Catalina Island Visitors Bureau . We were starting with a Zip Line Eco Tour , followed by lunch at Avalon Grille and then a Nautilus Semi-Submersible Tour with Catalina Adventure Tours . When I was in Mazatlan , I had almost made it zip lining, but the timing didn’t work. I was totally psyched to do it in Catalina.  Unfortunately, reality is not the same as expectations. When I arrived at the top of the mountain and looked a

Cruising the Pacific Coast on Celebrity

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I feel like I’ve been talking about this trip forever and am amazed it’s finally here.  It actually has been quite awhile since Celebrity Cruise Line first invited me to cover their Pacific Coastal Wine Cruise.  I have cruised many times, but not in a few years, not as a travel journalist and never on a themed voyage.  I was able to work this trip in with a British Columbia adventure and bring along my longtime friend Lynn. The Celebrity Millennium set sail from one of my favorite places, San Diego.  It’s one of the few places where you can count on perfect weather and it didn’t let us down as we had an 80 degree, bright and sunny day. There were some issues that kept us from boarding immediately, and it was definitely not organized at the San Diego pier, but by early evening Lynn and I were in our Veranda Balcony Suite with sparkling wine in hand. I will get into more detail about the Celebrity Cruise on my third day, when we are at sea and I have a chance to meet with some