Best of Portugal for April/May 2018

Join Al & Judi Kruzins for our trip to Portugal in April 2018.   See the map below for our itinerary our itinerary.  There is a link at the bottom of this article with the details.


Let the melancholic trill of the Fado Guitar follow you from Portugal’s Manueline Lisbon to Baroque Oporto and the sun-soaked beaches of Vilamoura. Wander through the medieval cities of Obidos, Évora and Guimarães, and visit the religious landmarks of Fatima, Batalha and the dramatic Hieronymite Monastery, enjoying a delicious pasteis de nata or two along the way.

So far we have 22 people joining us.  Feel free to call us for more details.  We do have fun with our group travel.

Following the tour of Portugal we will be flying to Madrid and most of us will be attending the Madrid Open Tennis tournament.  We will be flying back to Toronto from Madrid after a 4-night stay there.  Al & I have been to Madrid before and there is lots to see.


Why visit Thunder Bay, Ontario

The Sea Lion Trail is at Pass Lake & about 2 km long

You may wonder “Who wants to live in Thunder Bay?”. Well, our son, Zack, loves it there. He completed his university education at Lakehead so we became familiar with the area. We have driven up on more than one occasion and flown up a couple of times including this month (Oct 2017). The drive is beautiful if you have the time as you go through a lot of the Canadian Shield where the rocks and landscaping are amazing.  We enjoyed the Sea Lion Trail as pictured here.

One of our favourite places to visit and enjoy a meal is at The Hoito especially for Finnish pancakes. Thunder Bay has one of the largest communities of Finnish people outside Finland.

Thunder Bay is on the shore of Lake Superior and one of the main attractions is The Sleeping Giant. We were lucky enough to take a harbour tour on a sailboat with a friend of Zack’s while we were there. It was a splendid day for October and a Sunday, however, no one else seemed to be taking advantage of the day before the boats had to be taken out of the water.
While sailing we stopped at the Welcome Islands and visited with the owners, took a hike across the island and just soaked up the sun along with the view of the Giant. Life is good!

Al & Judi with son, Zack, with The Sleeping Giant in the background

Hiking is one of the most popular activities during our visits to Thunder Bay. Besides Sleeping Giant Provincial Park this time we also hiked through Cascades Conservation Area. The rocks and water are a sight to see but only hear. There is something so soothing about rushing water. It does help when the sky is clear blue. You can feel how clean the air is in the north.
On this visit we had a couple of huskies that joined us and they loved to run and also enjoyed a bit of a swim.

We visited Silver Islet on this trip where there used to be a very active silver mine. It is located one hour east of Thunder Bay and is adjacent to the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Mining stopped by 1884 and the mine shafts flooded with water never to be opened again. The area is mostly private summer cottages where originally the miners had built houses. There is no electricity in the area and the residents like it that way. The general store there is now closed and for sale so there was no pie to enjoy at its tea-room.

There is a country market in Thunder Bay which is opened twice a week and some of it is contained in the buildings so it operates around the year. When we were there many of the area farmers still had outdoor displays with some of the largest heads of cabbage that we’ve ever seen along with other colourful harvests.

Just outside Thunder Bay is the Terry Fox Monument commemorating his Marathon of Hope.  This meant a lot to me as I remember seeing Terry in person as he ran by our home in Burlington.


Whenever you get the chance to head to northern Ontario don’t put it off. It’s quite an experience that you remember forever.

Educational Benefits of Cruising

1. Complete Cultural Immersion: There is no better way to learn about different cultures than to experience them firsthand.

2. Feeding the Mind: While onboard a cruise, kids can experience the authentic cuisines of different regions as well as get a hands-on experience in preparing dishes of foreign lands, building both the mind and the palate.

3. Cruise Captain: Many cruise lines offer children the chance to speak with one of the greatest sources of information on board: the ship captain, providing a wonderful opportunity for younger passengers to learn about everything from the mechanics of the ship to the most exciting ports of call.

4. Lessons in History & Conservation: Young cruise travelers have the amazing opportunity to learn about the world in the best way: by seeing it up close. Cruises offer the chance to see ruins, museums, and landmarks in real life.

5. Speaking the Language: The benefits of learning a second language are unmatched for children. In addition to cruise taking kids to different corners of the world, it offers them an opportunity to learn a new language in the real world, both by hearing it on land or learning it onboard.

6. Fun and Games: Cruises also offer kids a chance to unwind with fun, brain-sharpening children’s programs and kids’ clubs complete with educational games, scavenger hunts, and crafts, based on the cultures kids visit while on their cruise.

Taken from CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) Newsletter of August 2016, Issue 17.

EUROPEAN ADVENTURES – ITINERARY BY TRAFALGAR TOURS – Join us following this coach trip for a day at the French Open Tennis Tournament on May 22/16.

See Map that was posted in January 2015.

Departing Canada May 5:   Join Al & Judi Kruzins to view castles of the Rhine Valley, and see the impressive Prague Castle. Travel the canals of Venice and see beautiful Lake Lucerne before exploring magical Paris.

Overnight flight to London.
Relax after check -in or take a leisurely stroll through this fascinating city.
The day is yours to explore the delights of London! See the sights, visit a museum or go shopping – the list is endless and the choice is yours!
Greetings from your Travel Director and Welcome to Europe! Drive through Kent’s scenic countryside to Dover. Admire the famous White Cliffs as you sail across the Channel to Calais, France. Continue by road through Belgium to The Netherlands, home of clogs and windmills! Perhaps take a canal cruise in a glass-topped boat and see the city from a unique perspective!
This morning in Amsterdam, enjoy an orientation of the historic city centre. Afterwards you will have free time to take in one of the fantastic museums that the city has to offer.
Drive into Germany and marvel at Cologne Cathedral. At Boppard, embark on a relaxing cruise along the River Rhine past medieval hilltop castles and steep vineyards. Continue to your hotel where you dine this evening.
Stop in Nuremberg this morning, a historic city where little has changed since the Middle Ages! Drive east across the border into the Czech Republic, and arrive later in the capital, Prague.
Your Local Specialist brings the history of this fascinating city to life during your sightseeing tour, which includes Prague Castle – the largest medieval castle complex in Europe – the Cathedral of St. Vitus, views of Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square.
Cross back into Germany, stopping in Regensburg on the River Danube. In Munich, capital of Bavaria, your orientation includes the Olympic Stadium, Ludwigstrasse and the Marienplatz, renowned for its musical Glockenspiel. You might like to visit a bierkeller and sample the local beer, for which the city is famous.
Head south towards the mountains and enjoy an amazing drive through Austria. Stop at Innsbruck, a popular ski area, to view the Golden Roof and the Hofburg. Continue across the Brenner Pass, one of the principal Alpine highways, into Italy and south to Venice, Queen of the Adriatic. Tonight dine in your hotel.
Evidence of Venice’s glorious Byzantine history is all around as you cruise by private launch through the city’s canals to St. Mark’s Square. Admire the magnificent Doge’s Palace, former home of Venice’s ruling elite. Watch the Venetian craftsmen at work creating local specialities at a glassblowing workshop on Giudecca Island. Afterwards, you have time to explore amazing narrow alleyways and historic bridges and canals. Later, perhaps take the opportunity to cruise to Burano Island, the most picturesque island in the lagoon, for a delicious meal.
Traverse the plains of northern Italy and cross the border into Switzerland. Continue along the St. Gotthard route, with spectacular views of waterfalls and mountain peaks. See the chalets dotting the steep hillsides as you approach Lake Lucerne in the heart of central Switzerland. Dine tonight at your hotel.
Your orientation tour of Lucerne includes the medieval wooden Chapel Bridge and the poignant Lion Monument, built to commemorate the Swiss Guards who bravely defended Louis XVl during the French Revolution. There is time afterwards to shop for delicious chocolates and watches, relax or stroll beside the lake. Consider an optional trip up a mountain peak by cable car to admire the magnificent views! Later, you might like to join in the fun at a Swiss Folklore Show.
Travel north-west through Basel into France, skirting the edge of the Vosges Mountains. Admire charming villages and castles as you pass through the vineyards of Burgundy, France’s most famous wine region. Arrive later in the glittering capital, Paris! This evening perhaps take a tour through this dazzling city to see the magnificent illuminations.
DAY 15: PARIS SIGHTSEEING AND FREE TIMEParis probably has more recognisable landmarks than any other city in the world. Your Local Specialist shows you all the major sights during your sightseeing tour, including the Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. The rest of the day is yours to explore. Consider a Seine cruise as an optional experience. This evening, you might like to celebrate the end of your holiday with a famous Parisian cabaret show!

All-in-One: London, Amsterdam, Prague, Munich, Venice, Lake Lucerne & Paris

Cruise along the Rhine Valley with its beautiful landscape before enjoying a walking tour of Prague where you view the impressive castle. View castles of the Rhine Valley and see the impressive Prague Castle. Travel the canals of Venice and see beautiful Lake Lucerne before exploring magical Paris.

Full itinerary details coming soon! Join us on this amazing Trafalgar Coach Tour in May 2016. Send me a note if you would like to attend an information night.

Britain & Ireland Experience with Wimbledon Championship Tennis

Britain & Ireland Experience – Trafalgar Coach Tour Hosted by Al & Judi Kruzins

16 Days Vacation From $3,675 per person  June 26 to July 13, 2014

London/London Includes 2 extra days in London for Wimbledon Championship Tennis.

Final price available in September.


What’s Included:

  • 15 Day United Kingdom guided vacation with local tours as per itinerary
  • Most meals
  • Pre-tour London hotel
  • Wimbledon Tennis reserved seat or grounds pass (to be confirmed)
  • Return airfare/taxes Toronto-London


What’s Not Included:

  • Gratuities for tour driver and travel director
  • Additional meals and optional tours
  • Airport/hotel transfers (to be confirmed)
  • Trip cancellation and out-of-country medical insurance (strongly recommended and will be priced separately)


Deposit: $200 per person (non-refundable)


Final Payment: January 10, 2014


Restrictions: Single and triple room availability is restricted


Group Allocation: A minimum of 15 passengers is required for this group


Sightseeing Highlights:

  • Stonehenge, Blarney, Adare, Limerick, Galway, Dublin

Full Itinerary:  Available on request



  • 14 hot buffet breakfasts
  • 4 three course dinners


Reserve NOW

Contact Judi or Al Kruzins  Direct Line: 905-627-7113



Skagway – Gateway to the Klondike

I consider Skagway, Alaska as one of the must-sees in the state.  I highly recommended the White Pass and Yukon route Railroad.  This depot was built in 1898 and follow the Trail of ’98.  It was completed in 1900 after the big rush was over.  The train climbs to 2865 feet.  You travel past the Gold Rush Cemetery into Tunnel Mountain past Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch (3,000 pack animals died here of exhaustion).  There is a steel bridge over the White Pass Summit.

Also in town is the National Historical Park Visitor Centre where there is a walking tour map available.  You can learn about Soapy Smith & his gang.  The National Park service has restored many of the original buildings.  Skagway’s most famous trail is the Chilkoot, its entire length taking 3-5 days to hike.

While you are in town don’t forget to taste the local brew at the Red Onion Saloon!  Have a wonderful visit to Skagway!

Tracy Arm (scenic cruising)

Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska (Scenic Cruising)

Named after Civil War general Benjamin Franklin Tracy, this narrow fjord is located approximately 50 miles southeast of Juneau.   Breathtaking Tracy Arm extends over 30 miles long, with nearly a quarter of its area covered in ice.  In fact, it encompasses some of Alaska’s largest glaciers, including the twin Sawyer glaciers, which often expel enormous chunks of ice into the waters below in a magnificent process known as calving.  During the summer when Princess ships visit, icebergs float along the surface of the glistening water in an array of sizes, from just a few inches up to three stories wide.
Protected within the Tongass National Forest, Tracy Arm Fjord is a haven for wildlife.  Black and brown bears, deer, wolves, harbor seals, mountain goats and a variety of seabirds have been spotted in the area.
As you glide through the pristine fjord, you’ll first pass by a lush forest where a number of beautiful waterfalls cascade down, and then you’ll be treated to views of snowcapped mountains and blue-tinged glaciers more spectacular than you could ever imagine.

This excerpt was taken from the Princess Cruises website.

Review of our Celebrity Solstice Cruise by Al Kruzins

The Winner Takes it All is most appropriate for this incredible class of ship. Awesome Cruise Director, Lisa Richard sang this ABBA/.Mama Mia song at the finale show. Best Cruise Director we have experienced, not a traditional Cruise Director background, senior Manager at Toshiba, with a love for theatre, toured and played in Vegas with Mama Mia, before joining Celebrity (X). One of the few female Cruise Directors at sea.

Captain Gerry Larsson-Fedde, also was one of the best (a Norwegian) with an excellent command of English, great humour (It’s only me!) and even surprised everyone with a song/guitar rendition of “Brown-eyed girl” at the final show. Don’t miss this show, even though everyone has to pack.

Captain Gerry and Lisa are on vacation for 2 months, May/June 2011, I think but returning in July to Europe.

General Comments

Best ship we have ever sailed. Excellent Celebrity service, food quality, food presentation, friendly greeting by officers and staff, easy ship layout, solarium, spa was great.

Officers were visibly present throughout the ship and you don’t always see that. No heavy sales pitches or announcements.
Celebrity has hit a home run with the Solstice class, you must sail this. Princess, NCL and Carnival can’t come close. Royal Caribbean is close in many features though and our next favourite.

Best suited for mid-50’s age group, but a very good children’s program in place., People who appreciate great dining/presentation will enjoy this.

Royal Caribbean and Carnival have more activities with climbing walls, wave riders, ice rink, slides but you can’t go wrong with Celebrity.


X has introduced drink packages, most other lines have not. Classic pack is $39/day plus 15% gratuity, includes waters, smoothies, special. Coffees, pop, beer/water up to $5 and wine/alcohol up to $8. Many people chose this, a good option, we did not. Other packages also available.

Dining and Wine/Dine packages also offered with good wine selection.

They had several drink specials, 3 days I think, buy one get one free from 4-5 pm, How about a yummy mudslide or sex on the ship(beach!)

We love the fact that there is no smoking in all rooms and balconies (just like Royal Carib) we did have to report some people a few times, as smoke blew into our balcony several times, Security was prompt and they were warned, third time they would be fined $250.

Real grass lawn club on Deck 15, playing bocce ball etc, besides Corning Hot Glass blowing show. They had string quartet concerts, acoustic etc on the grass, wine/cheese in lawn area, very nice, something you won’t find on any ship.

Embarkation, disembarkation was very good. We opted for walk off disembarkation, seems many others did as well, we waited 45 min.


Nice linens, beds comfortable, roomy shower ( we had a Balcony 2B, Deck 6 midship- all balconies, concierge and aqua class are the same size-more amenities with the latter two though) Nice touch, night light in Solstice class bathrooms, leg shaving bar for the ladies, flat panel tv’s powered by Apple, got 14 channels (Apple computers in the iLounge)

For those of you who don’t know, there are no clocks in any ship stateroom (only on the phone), so bring your own clock, also most don’t have night lights (bring your own on other ships), we used earplugs, fan noise not high, but we like it quiet. Good size balcony with quality furniture with see through balcony railing.


Various additional artists performed in Deck 3 and 4 atrium open areas (good use of space) and throughout the ship. Acoustic guitar (Jana Seale) , string quartet (Adagio strings), jazz (Cheek to Cheek quartet), A Cappella quartet (Metro Park).

Great Celebrity Life lectures, Captain’s ship navigation, recycling talk, improve comedy workshop (Nancy Howland Walker) , humour (Rich Ceisler-very late adult shows except for last night), body health, detox, dance, trivia etc.

Shows: Ghostlight-Spirit of Broadway (great songs), David Meyer (xylosynthesizer-amazing), Tony Pace-vocals/impersonator-excellent, The Show (acrobatic/Cirque –unique) Pulse (up tempo, active music/dance-interesting) and finale, (variety show of previous and the big finish with Captain and Lisa)

Past Captain’s Club had great events, wine tasting, backstage tours, officer party etc.


Grand Epernay, main dining was outstanding, our waiter/assistant were efficient. Last formal night has lobster tail. They offered some specialty dining appetizers on certain days.

Food quality, temperature, great desserts, great everyday food options (shrimp cocktail, escargot, Caesar salad, salmon, steak etc- available everyday)

We went to buffet for breakfast (after workout, great equipment, quite busy in the am) and lunch, did not use dining room for those meals but others did.

Tuscan Grill- best dining experience almost ever on land or sea (well worth $30 each) on deck 5, way aft, picture window, wake view with sunset- Italian flavor, presentation/food quality over the top. Saw Murano and Silk Harvest, menus looked good, others had positive view, Blu-healthy dining for AquaClass or Suite guests only ( we heard very good, but some though it was too healthy and came for main dining)

Had great lunch at Bistro on Five (crepes soups/salads, for only $5 each) AquaSpa café (free, very healthy lunch).


We used Premier parking in Fort Lauderdale, $48 incl tax for the week, had to switch lots and delays in pick-up, but priced right.

One of the best vacations ever on a fantastic ship.