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Los Angeles to Victoria

Saturday, April 13, 2024 – flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Calgary (YYC) to Victoria (YYJ)

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

While I’m still on the ship, I activate the Airalo 5G data roaming, which is working well here in Los Angeles on Verizon. The Airalo data roaming also worked well in Mexico. Use my JOSEPH4203 referral code to sign up and save US$3.00. Use their app to install an eSIM – it’s simple, fast and way less expensive than paying your mobile carrier’s roaming rates!

After having some breakfast in the Lido, we leave the ship on time and take the pre-booked transfer bus to LAX. We find the gate area is a zoo, with people everywhere and everyone crowded into far too small a space. Despite the mayhem at the gate, our completely full flight to Calgary leaves only about 10 minutes late.

Westjet flight from LAX to YYC - 2024-04-13, 1:39:26 PM
Westjet flight from LAX to YYC

Flight time is 2 hours 29 minutes, so a bit faster than originally planned. I have hummus, mini bread sticks and a Coke in-flight for a midday snack. A toddler in the row ahead of me screams for the first part of the flight, but thankfully gets tired eventually.

Canada Border Control clearance in Calgary doesn’t take long, so despite only having an hour between flights, I have time to grab a turkey sandwich (for dinner) from a Tim Horton’s next to the gate for our flight to Victoria. Our aircraft pushes away from the gate at 5:20pm, so these Westjet flights to home are working much better than the Air Canada flights to LA at the start of the trip.

Westjet flight from Calgary to Victoria

My iPhone’s Find My app notifies me that my iPod Pro was last seen in Terminal 2 – Calgary or LAX? I couldn’t find the charging case as I was leaving the LA flight at the Calgary gate, so it must be on that aircraft. I have the earbuds with me, so rather than going through the hassle of notifying WestJet, I can get the case replaced by Apple for a nominal fee when I’m home.

We land in Victoria a bit ahead of schedule, retrieve our checked bags, and we’re soon home. Overall, this was a very successful trip to see a total solar eclipse from a cruise ship off the coast of Mexico. Unlike what some eclipse chasers across North America dealt with, the weather on eclipse day at our location was near perfect, and we had a great time along the way.

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Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas

2011 Incan Empires Cruise

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 – Day 2 – Half Moon Cay, Little San Salvador Island, the Bahamas

The Rotterdam anchors in the beautiful tropical bay this morning, and by 9:30AM tenders are ferrying passengers ashore 300 at a time. This is a highly organized day at the beach for the 1,400 passengers, with everyone being accommodated no matter what the disability, unless the person is completely wheelchair-bound.

Since I wake up this morning around 8:30AM, I miss the crowds of early birds who want to catch the first tenders ashore. I pick up a cappuccino at the Explorations Café and have a leisurely breakfast in the Lido before going back to my cabin to get ready to go ashore, packing snorkel gear and changing into a swimsuit and beach wear. The tender I take around 10AM is only half full.

This part of the island is dedicated to giving Holland America’s cruise ship passengers an enjoyable day at the beach. They certainly succeed at this, providing everything any cruise ship passenger might want: a wonderful long curving sandy beach; clear, warm and shallow water to swim in; a place to snorkel and see some fish; shopping; personal services such as massage and spa treatments; sports services such as horseback riding in the surf, parasailing, small boat sailing, walking tours; and of course a BBQ lunch. I expected the beach to be crowded, but everyone spreads out so it turns out to be very relaxing.

I have a clamshell reserved, which is a small half tent to provide some shade from the tropical sun, including two lounge chairs. I take my snorkel gear and wade into the warm water, not expecting to see much since there are lots of people in the water, however I’m pleasantly surprised. There are several varieties of fish swimming around, and I even spot two Barracudas and manage to take a picture and a video of them! The BBQ lunch is good, and afterwards I return to the clamshell for another hour before deciding to return to the ship.

Explorations Cafe counter
Explorations Cafe counter

After having a casual dinner in the Lido with my friends, we go to the Explorations Lounge to listen to the “Adagio Strings” – four young women who are a string quartet. They sound very good, which is a pleasant surprise for us, since the “Adagio Strings” quartet who played aboard the Volendam cruise last year were nothing short of dreadful. This quartet obviously practices and actually care about how they sound!

I decide to skip the entertainment in the main show lounge this evening, since it is a Las Vegas headliner who sings and tells jokes – not my type of entertainment. I return to my cabin and work on the photos and video I shot today and yesterday. I like to keep up-to-date with the results from my camera work while traveling. I find putting a caption on each photo and the location makes it much easier to cope with all this media when I return home. I also write a journal while traveling, which I find invaluable for creating travelogues for my main JoeTourist website once I return home. I enjoy the ritual of sitting down and reviewing the day, and then committing it to words.

This evening I sign up with Rogers for their cellular roaming package, which gives me voice coverage for Central and South America. This ensures I get a more reasonable per minute rate for voice calls than standard roaming, so I can use my iPhone to call home when we are ashore. Cellular service is offered aboard ship, but it is outrageously expensive, so I will wait until we are docked or ashore to check in with the family. While aboard ship and offshore, it isn’t too expensive to send and receive email using the Internet access package I signed up for yesterday.

The ship is bucking a 30kt headwind as we head south towards Cuba. Our speed is 14.5kts, which is certainly slower than last night.