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44

A Second Home in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by David Price
August 23, 2011
Little did I realize then how much the city would capture such a special part of my life and eventually become part of me, particularly because it’s the hometown of my wife, Dawn.
A Second Home in Vancouver David and his son, Jordan, with a beautiful view of Vancouver below.

If I ever left my heart in a city, it would have to be Vancouver. Like my wife, Dawn, Vancouver for me was love at first sight. This beautiful Canadian city has been the backdrop for some of my most cherished life moments and I anticipate many visits and meaningful experiences there in the future.

On our vacation this year, my family sailed from Whittier to Vancouver aboard Diamond Princess. It was somewhat sentimental for me as it took me back to when I first joined Princess Cruises as a seafarer, when I signed up for an Alaska season to work aboard the original Royal Princess for what I thought would be a brief six-month escape from my life in the UK. It’s now 24 years later (to the month) and I’m still happily working for Princess.

This recent voyage not only took me back to my first week at sea, but also reminded me of when I first fell in love with Vancouver. Standing on the top deck sailing under the Lionsgate Bridge past Stanley Park, I harkened back to a somewhat fresh but clear Saturday morning on August 8, 1987 when I first sailed into Vancouver on Royal Princess. Read More

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43

Unlocking a World of Wonder

Panama Canal
Posted by Ophelia Drulis
August 16, 2011
I was amazed at the efficiency of the whole transaction and I could sense Steven was in complete awe of this mechanical masterpiece.
Unlocking a World of Wonder Ophelia's shot of Crown Princess transiting the Panama Canal.

I always knew that my husband, an automobile mechanic, would be eager to visit the Panama Canal, a masterpiece of engineering and one of the so-called Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Before we had our three sons, Steven and I were in the habit of taking holiday-season cruises together, so when the opportunity arose to book a cruise to Panama, with stops in Colombia, Costa Rica and parts of the Caribbean, we took it. The year was 1997.

In a way, I thought of it as my gift to him, but it turned out to be one of the travel experiences I remember most. I did not expect to be so fascinated by the intricate series of locks and gates that make up the Panama Canal and equally as touched by some children I met on one of the San Blas islands there. Truly, Panama was a revelation to me.

I had read in school about the long and arduous history of man’s quest to join the Pacific and Atlantic via the narrow, 40-mile-wide Isthmus of Panama. I must have imagined that the Panama Canal would be a trench-like passageway, a muddy river of sorts, connecting the two oceans. Read More

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42

The Power of the Pyramids

Cairo and Giza, Egypt
Posted by Norma Serrano
August 9, 2011
Standing near the Great Pyramid, I felt this energy in a tangible, tingling way. I had never connected with a place like that before.
The Power of the Pyramids Norma, standing in front of one of the pyramids in Sakkara.

Some places take hold of your imagination and capture you from afar, conjuring curiosity and wonderment over oceans and continents. Since school days, Egypt has been that magical place for me.

It was the pyramids that initially seized my imagination. I had so many questions about them. Who built the pyramids? Why did they build them? Was it true that the pyramids were built by aliens?

As the ninth of 13 children, we did not have much. It seemed impossible that I would ever have the resources to see Tutankhamen’s treasures, the mighty Nile River and the Great Pyramid of Giza. But I made it happen, by studying travel and tourism and eventually working for Princess Cruises, where I have been fortunate enough to take some life-altering journeys.

My very first cruise was to the Amazon in 1989. Joining me on that trip and the 21 cruises that have followed, has been my mom, Hermelinda. Now 82, she has called our yearly cruises the education she never got. Read More

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41

In Step with the Dutch Life

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Posted by Megan O'Toole
August 2, 2011
I discovered a commonality, a deep-rooted sense of familiarity and sameness with the Dutch. It look me a long time to discover my heritage, but I found it in the Netherlands.
In Step with the Dutch Life Megan, right, with her cousin Tjalda on their "little" bike ride in the countryside.

Amsterdam is a city of canals, historic row houses and freewheeling social policies that attract visitors from the world over. As I discovered, it’s also a city of very determined cyclists and committed distance walkers.

In October 2005, I traveled to Amsterdam for a few days to meet a wing of my family that I’d long heard of but never met. My second cousin Tjalda and her husband Albert lived in the southern part of the city. My grandfather was born in the Netherlands and was Tjalda’s great uncle. My mother was always telling me I should go meet my Dutch relatives-years later I finally made the trip from San Francisco to Amsterdam.

As I got off the city shuttle train from Schiphol Airport, hauling a heavy bag and giant roller suitcase, filled with finery for the cruise I would take after this visit, Tjalda met me…astride her bicycle with no more than a wicker basket for storage.

We shared a warm greeting­­—honestly, I felt like I knew her already—and continued to Tjalda’s house. As Tjalda wheeled her bike, I slowly walked the five blocks. One of the first things I noticed was that Amsterdam streets were filled with cyclists. They were everywhere and seemed to own the roads more so than the cars. Read More

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40

Falling in Love with India

New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, India
Posted by Stacy Souza
July 26, 2011
The Taj Mahal is something most of us have seen in pictures, but not until you stand beside it and look closely at its intricate detail and massive size do you truly appreciate the beauty of this monument of love.
Falling in Love with India Stacy, at Agra Fort with the Taj Mahal in the background.

When I first joined Princess Cruises many years ago, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most exciting destinations as part of my job.  I joined the company as an agent in the Air Department and over time worked my way into a management position.  It was during a time when I held responsibility for our pre- and post-cruise hotel programs that I really expanded my horizons.

I always dreamed of visiting renowned cities such as Venice, Barcelona, Sydney and Tokyo, but honestly, India was never on my list of must-see places.  So, in 1992 when I was asked to go to India to help develop our new hotel programs there, I was a bit wary—and was certainly not expecting I would return with a life-long love of the country and its people.

My journey into India began in the capital city of New Delhi.  When we stepped off the plane I was put at ease by the friendly greeting and the warm smiling faces of our guides who would be with us for the next five days.  We instantly plunged into the life of the city as we traveled through the heavy traffic to our downtown hotel.  It struck me as we were driving that what at first appeared to be gridlock actually was more like a well-orchestrated dance with cars, trucks, motorcycles, people and cows all moving in rhythm together, respectful of each other’s space.  It was an amazing sight, and when we would stop, young street vendors would crowd the car selling beaded trinkets, scarves and brass boxes.  I couldn’t resist and bought a small brass box engraved with an owl with blue lapis lazuli eyes.  Today that box sits on my desk at work, a constant reminder of my adventures through India. Read More

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39

An Eye-Opening Dream Destination

Athens, Greece
Posted by Dana Ionescu
July 19, 2011
Imagine the good fortune—my first trip outside of Romania was to be to Athens, my dream destination. I’d grown up in a conservative religious family and had a sheltered childhood, but I was not afraid­­­­ and I couldn’t wait to go.
An Eye-Opening Dream Destination Dana, with the grandeur of the Parthenon behind her in Athens.

Athens was my first travel love. You could even say I yearned for it.

Growing up in Romania under communism, sunny Athens seemed like a dream to me. Although Athens is less than 500 miles from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, it might as well have been 5,000 miles away. It seemed impossible that I, an ordinary girl without connections to the long-running regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, would ever see Athens or leave the country at all, for that matter.

So I consoled myself by seeing the world through books. Reading Greek mythology allowed me to enter a universe governed by the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. I was completely fascinated. My favorite god/goddess was Artemis, twin sister to Apollo and the fearless goddess of the hunt. She was as strong and commanding as I wanted to be.

Just after I turned 18, finally, the Ceausescu regime crumbled. Romania was the last of the Eastern Bloc countries to fall. My family did not have the means to immediately travel, but the world came to us, in the form of outside companies setting up businesses in our new, open society.

I got a job at a Greek-owned import/export company, owned by an extremely kind Greek man.  I worked very hard and was as aggressive as Artemis about doing a good job.  Before long, I was promoted from doing invoices and inventories to processing important bank documents. Read More

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