Since the Love Boat aired on television, cruise ships have gained a reputation for romance. I could certainly imagine the moonlit nights and romantic side of shore excursions, but for me a cruise was a perfect girls’ getaway with my friend Lynn.
San Diego was the point of embarkation for our cruise on the Celebrity Millennium. We had a Veranda Balcony Suite which was a nice sized room by cruise ship standards. We were members of the Captains Club for returning guests, so we also had a few extra perks, like evening cocktail hours, free internet time and laundry service.
We settled in quickly for our 10 day adventure. While on board, we enjoyed the wine seminars and gourmet food Celebrity is known for. Our first stop was close by on Catalina Island. If you’ve never been there, you should, as it’s a slice of the Caribbean in Southern California. Stroll through the shops and waterfront restaurants, go snorkeling, or take a glass bottom boat ride, and you may forget where you are.
Our plan for Catalina included zip lining at the Catalina Zip Line Tour followed by lunch at the Avalon Grille. I backed out of the zip lining at the last minute (turns out my instincts were correct as I later found out about a serious back problem), but Lynn said it was a blast. We both enjoyed a delicious lunch and some cocktails at Avalon Grille.
From Catalina Island, we set sail to Northern California and docked for two days in San Francisco. Since it was a wine-themed cruise, the idea was to spend the time in Napa and Sonoma. I thought that was a terrific idea and had made arrangements for us to get a ride to Napa first, where we enjoyed a tour and tasting at Mumm, whose selection of sparkling wine comes close to that of sister company Veuve Clicquot’ champagne. We left there in the afternoon and heading just a half hour away to the Sonoma valley.
We started our Sonoma visit with lunch at Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery. This was my second trip here and I really enjoyed it. Where else can you get great wine; terrific food; check out Oscar awards; and movie memorabilia; and hang out by the pool before playing bocce ball?! From there Tracy from Wine Road Northern Sonoma took us to the family-owned Trione Winery for some sampling before Ridge Vineyard. We spent the night in Sonoma (and had a perfect dinner at Scopa Restaurant) before heading back to the ship the next day. We even got to stop at D’Argenzio Fine Wines and then in Fairfax to catch my niece’s softball game.
There was a day at sea before our next stop and I decided it was time for me to take a day and see how “vacationers” live. After all, the internet was out anyway so I couldn’t work. I absolutely loved the AquaSpa area, full of hydrotherapy pools, whirlpools and comfortable lounges. I read and relaxed, taking a break to enjoy lunch at the AquaSpa Café. Lynn and I each enjoyed a few hours to ourselves before meeting up for the Captain Club’s Cocktail Hour and a superb dinner at The Olympic Restaurant, a specialty choice on board.
Our next stop was in Astoria, Oregon, and I had arranged for Ron Burke of Oregon Wine Tours to take us around. We headed to the Willamette Valley (one of the notable wine regions in the U.S.) and made stops at Patton Valley Vineyard, Adelsheim Vineyard and even Momokawa Sake One. On the way back to the ship, we stopped at the Astoria Column to take in some views.
It had only been about a month since I had been to Seattle, but I had no problem returning. Lynn and I had a full day as I took her to Pike Street Market for the first time before our Chocolate Indulgence Tour. I think you can imagine how that went (have you ever had a bad chocolate tour?!) We had to save most of the treats, though, as there was a yummy lunch waiting for us at Art, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Seattle.
We stopped eating in Seattle long enough to head over to Urban Enoteca, a new type of wine bar in the city that’s more of a collaboration of tasting rooms. I loved the idea and wished we had longer to sample around the place, which has seven wineries represented and will be adding more. We had to get back on the ship, though, as we were heading to British Columbia.
When I took off on this cruise, many people told me how beautiful Victoria, Canada, is, but seeing is definitely believing. We had a most wonderful day that started down near Chinatown with a tour and sampling at Silk Road, where they have a ton of custom-blended teas (and flights to try them in). After a walk through the city, we then headed to The London Chef, where we cooked up some delicious risotto with Chef Dan Hayes.
Lynn took a little break after lunch and I wondered around the Victoria waterfront before we had drinks at AURA Restaurant at the Inn at Laurel Point. We headed back to the ship for the final time and enjoyed our last evening aboard the Celebrity Millennium. In the morning, we docked in Vancouver, Canada, and spent 24 hours there, with an overnight stay at the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa; tours of Granville Island and Stanley Park; and a perfect lunch at West Restaurant. It was an ideal way to end what certainly won’t be my cruise.
Celebrity runs a number of themed cruises throughout the year that are especially good for girls’ getaways. Wine cruises are held four times a year.
Marcia Frost has her own blogs at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and SpiritsTraveler. She also writes wine, spirits and travel for many other publications, including USA Today, Associated Content Yahoo!, Travel Roads, Air Tran’s Go! Magazine and Tennis Life. She makes regular contributions at Girls Getaway.