Cruise Voluntourism

Earlier this year my wife and I spent an enjoyable week sailing on the Celebrity Equinox. The cruise stopped at San Juan Puerto Rico, St Maarten and St Kitts. While looking over the shore excursions before there was one that stood out in San Juan. The description on the Celebrity website read as follows:

“Enjoy a rewarding opportunity to learn about the deep-rooted culture and hurricane devastation of San Juan’s historic La Perla community while volunteering at the local community center that attends to the elderly and the Hogar Padre Venard homeless outreach shelter in Old San Juan. Known for its colorful shanty homes and longstanding musical legacy — the music video for hit song Despacito was filmed here — the seaside barrio of La Perla holds a rich history through many generations. Learn about the initiatives of Hogar Padre Venard which provides food, shelter, medical and social services to the underserved in Puerto Rico and the Casa Cortés foundation educating and inspiring the children through the arts. You can engage in one of several volunteer activities based in the community necessities: serve a meal in the soup kitchen, participate in an arts and crafts skills workshop, plant a small tree for the community garden, children storytelling and other positive impact activities — and at the day’s end you will also enjoy a private Puerto Rican meal of chicken, rice and beans, and soda. This is a great way to give back during your cruise.IMG_1756

We decided to go on this excursion and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  While what we did seemed like a small thing to us (packaging up some new underwear and socks to be given to the homeless when they came into the shelter to shower the next morning). It was a big deal for the person receiving the package the next day.  The meal afterward was wonderful and allowed us a chance to get to know a bit about some of our fellow cruisers on the excursion.

 

It’s easy when on a cruise to become very self-centered on a cruise with all the staff there who make you feel that they are there for just you. This excursion really puts things in perspective and it felt good to help others in some small way.

Has anyone else done a volunteer excursion on a cruise or spent part of your vacation volunteering somewhere? Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience.

 

Cape Cod Tunnel?

If you have ever tried to travel to Cape Cod on the weekend you know how frustrating the traffic on the bridges can be. In the summertime, according to the USGS, the population increases from 200,000 to 500,000. Thirty-seven percent of the homes on Cape Cod are vacation homes. With only two bridges to get on or off the cape its no wonder the traffic is horrible.

Now there may be a solution. You can buy a permit for The Cape Cod Tunnel.

Copy of B5150

There is one catch, however, the tunnel doesn’t exist. The tunnel allegedly was built in the 1960s but in reality, was made up by locals as a response to the traffic jams seen during summer weekends at the bridges. The selling of permits for the fictional tunnel has perpetuated the urban legend. So if you’re on Cape Cod and a local gives you directions to get to the tunnel, smile and thank them, then head to one of the bridges. If you want your own permit they are available online at Cape Cod Tunnel Permit

Sterling Inn and Spa

There is a nondescript two story gray building a block off Victoria Avenue on Magdalen Street, nondescript except for the giant milk bottle shaped entranceimg_1504

In a former life this was a creamery and later a nightclub. Now it has been renovated into the Sterling Inn and Spa a 41 room boutique hotel and the Ag restaurant.

Walking through the milk bottle you enter a small lobby. The front desk is to the right as you walk through the door. Check in was quick and easy and we were in our room in no time.

Each of the 41 rooms has a unique layout with King size bed, fireplace. The bathrooms have either a large steam shower with a rain shower head and body jets or a jacuzzi for two. We had a room on the second floor with a Steam shower and gas fireplace. The only problem I had with the room was ,as I remarked to my wife, it was too comfortable which made it hard to leave and go out sightseeing.

 

The room rate includes daily breakfast. If you are picturing the usual hotel breakfast in a small crowded room with a small buffet setup, wipe that thought out of your mind. As their website puts it you get breakfast in bed. You put the card out the night before and let them know what time you would like breakfast and it shows up at your room within the time window you chose. You get a croissant with butter and jam, hard boiled egg, yogurt with granola, an apple or orange, orange juice anIMG_1518d tea or coffee. Now it’s not a huge plate of bacon and eggs which some people would prefer but it is delicious and surprisingly filling. You can eat it in bed if you want but if you do be forewarned the croissants may leave you with lots of crumbs in the bed.

I would highly recommend you consider the Sterling as an option if you are visiting  Niagara Falls Canada. The hotel is best for couples or perhaps a solo traveler. If you are traveling with kids this might not be the best choice for you as there is no pool to take them to if they want to go swimming.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Spa at Sterling Inn and their restaurant AG. W e did not avail ourself of the Spa while we were there but you can find information about there services on their website (sterlingniagara.com). AG is a farm to table restaurant with a menu which changes with the seasons. My wife and I enjoyed a delicious meal there the night of our arrival. Even if you are not staying at the Sterling Inn its worth it to dine at AG.

A word of advice, while the room rates through the hotel are reasonable you may be able to find better rates by searching the internet.

 

A Bit About Me

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Niagara Falls

So I’ve decided to write a blog. What should i write about? Travel, photography anything else? I probably should start with a little bit about who I am.

Who am I? I am a husband, a father, a brother, a son. Yes I am all of those but maybe you would like something a little more specific. I am a 55 year old married father of 2 grown daughters, who has developed an interest in photography over the past few years. I enjoy traveling especially cruising. I also am an on again off again runner. 

Most of my traveling involves road trips to places in the United States and Canada within a reasonable distance from my home. Any foreign travel I have done thus far, except Canada, has been on cruises. On these cruises I have been to many Caribbean ports and Bermuda.

I plan on writing about places I have traveled to, hotels, cruises and various other travel topics. Along with that I will be posting links to blogs or articles I have found interesting as well as possibly some reviews of products.

Please bear with me as I find my way through the blogging world. I have never been a writer and putting my thoughts out there is not something I am totally comfortable with yet. This is a project I have been thinking about doing for awhile now and I feel that the time is right to start.

So give me a chance and read my posts and let me know what you think. Its going to be a bit rough at the start and posts may be sporadic as I get used to this. If you managed to read this whole post Thank You!

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Cape Cod