Travel Diary

The Colors of Cozumel

This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

What was the best part of our final port day with Princess Cruises? It could have been the exclusive and indescribably delightful Chef’s Table dinner we enjoyed that evening—I mean, a four-course meal including a tour of the galley and special cocktail hour with the executive chef himself? In fact, let’s stop here and take a moment to appreciate it.

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Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, Chef’s Table, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, gourmet dining
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, Chef’s Table, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, gourmet dining
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, Chef’s Table, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, gourmet dining
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, Chef’s Table, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, gourmet dining
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, Chef’s Table, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, gourmet dining

Mai Tai sorbet, to-die-for mushroom risotto and a world-class dessert…I’m no food writer, so I can honestly say that I can’t even begin to describe the level of quality this dinner was at. With so many elements involved, Chef’s Table is not an event you want to be late for…and Michele and I very nearly were! Although we’d been sailing a few days, it was only our second trip to this dining room. If it hadn’t been for the OceanCompass app guiding us directly from starting point A to ending point B, who knows how long we may have been wandering from deck 5 to 6 to 7 and back? OceanCompass quickly became one of my go-to apps on this MedallionClass Caribbean cruise. It’s the fastest way to get to know your home at sea.

Back to our final day in port. Like I said, we had a delightful dinner, but before that, the best part of our day could have been when Michele and I enjoyed a stunning sunset on the Lido Deck overlooking Puerta Maya’s colorful vista. And before that, we devoured a couple of ice cream treats from Coffee & Cones, and the ice cream cones are free, y’all—the ice cream cones are free. Even before that, we raced our Tagalong avatars in a cutthroat (not at all cutthroat) game of TagalongSprint on the portal right outside the café. Any of these things could have been my favorite part of the day—but let’s not forget the colorful, multisensory experience that is the beautiful port of Puerta Maya in Cozumel, Mexico.

Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
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Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port, souvenirs, leather bag
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise port
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip, OceanMedallion, MedallionClass Experience
Caribbean Princess, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Puerta Maya, travel blogger, cruise ship, cruising, spring break trip

If you’ve followed this or any of my other past Princess trips, you know that one of my favorite things about the brand is their close tie to one of my favorite television shows, The Love Boat. An Aaron Spelling classic from the 1970s, The Love Boat is a hilarious hour-long comedic, romantic, silly drama set on the Pacific Princess and full of glamorous and dreamy colors and tones. Walking through the Cozumel port felt like being placed right in an episode along with Julie, Isaac, Doc, and all the other characters. While it didn’t necessarily feel like a step back in time, there was just something about the brightly painted walls, embossed leather souvenir bags, dreamy shadows and rustic fountains that made me half expect to see Patty Duke walk around the corner.

Enjoying a chill day shopping, snapping photos, and lazing in the Mexican sunshine was the perfect way to end the land portion of our trip before relaxing at sea on our way back to Fort Lauderdale. Although this was my second time in Cozumel, it was my first time getting to explore the port, and I’m so glad I finally got a taste of it. And, of course, a taste of a tangy, salty, frozen margarita right in the middle of its homeland. You know what they say….the lower the latitude, the better the attitude.

Photography by Michele Equitz




Come Back New with Princess Cruises' OceanMedallion

This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

Even though I’ve now been on three Caribbean cruises, every cruise and every ship is different and I still find new experiences to savor on each trip with Princess. Can you believe this was my first time attending a show or visiting Skywalkers Nightclub? I had no idea what I was missing out on all these years, and want to make sure you aren’t either on your next Princess trip. Exciting as Skywalkers and the Princess Theater are, the biggest new thing about sailing with Princess is exclusively on Caribbean Princess and Regal Princess, with many more ships to come: the MedallionClass experience! Below are five tips to make sure you live your best #ComeBackNew life onboard, featuring OceanMedallion.

Point Your OceanCompass Toward New Eats

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  • Princess is known for its world-class dining, but not every ship has all the same dining options. It was my first time on the Caribbean Princess, and my first time enjoying a meal at seafood restaurant Steamers on deck 17. Since I live in Seattle and that makes me kind of a seafood nut, I was in heaven when I got to order a basket of seafood onto which you can add crab and lobster…really no other word to put here other than “wow.”

  • Another new thing I love to try while cruising is new tropical drinks. Mai Tais or Monkey Lalas aren’t very common to drink in the Pacific Northwest, and since Princess’ bartenders can whip up just about anything you like, it’s the perfect time to spice up your routine. There’s nothing better than kicking your feet up in your stateroom with a cold drink and flicking on a new episode of The Voyager™ with Josh Garcia on OceanView!

Keep Active

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travel, come back new, lido deck, oceannow, terrace pool, fitness center, the love boat, OceanMedallion, Princess Cruises, MedallionClass, Caribbean cruise, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
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  • I’ve always known there was a ton of stuff to do on board, but this time—I actually did it. We discovered the elusive location of the Sports Court—deck 19, reachable from an exterior staircase on deck 17, and played a very friendly game of PIG on the basketball court—which I’m obliged to tell you that I won with a left-handed layup. There are ping-pong tables just off the Terrace Pool at the back of the ship as well.

  • Don’t forget the fitness center and group workout classes! If you can’t stop working on your fitness even on vacation, there are a ton of ways to stay active at sea while sailing away on Caribbean Princess. Ever wanted to work out with the endless blue ocean and horizon line in front of you? You can do that! Even I’m tempted to jump on a treadmill in the middle of that gorgeous ocean blue.

New Technology

travel, come back new, lido deck, oceannow, terrace pool, fitness center, the love boat, OceanMedallion, Princess Cruises, MedallionClass, Caribbean cruise, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
travel, come back new, lido deck, oceannow, terrace pool, fitness center, the love boat, OceanMedallion, Princess Cruises, MedallionClass, Caribbean cruise, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
  • Checking in and boarding a cruise has gone from what some might call a practice in patience to a picnic in the park thanks to the OceanReady® app. All you need to do is tap the wearable Medallion device with all of your pre-loaded boarding information—you don’t even need to wait for your stateroom keys, because your OceanMedallion unlocks your door as soon as you walk up to it. Cruising is more interactive and more personal on Princess, from being able to order a drink to your lounge chair or stateroom to playing Games Under the Stars to adding your fellow cruisers as Shipmates on the OceanCompass app. You even get to create one of the new friends you’ll make—your Tagalong! Michele and I had so much fun designing our sea animal avatars (and let’s be honest…naming them) and seeing them swim around on the technology portals that are scattered around the ship.

Connect with New Friendly Faces

travel, come back new, lido deck, oceannow, terrace pool, fitness center, the love boat, OceanMedallion, Princess Cruises, MedallionClass, Caribbean cruise, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
  • On every cruise itinerary, it’s natural to form a bond with your stateroom steward, your favorite bartenders, the waiter at your usual table or the band whose music you dance to every night, but every ship has new people to meet and OceanMedallion makes it even easier to meet them. If you’re in the area, bartenders are able to see your face and information on their tablets to get to know you and help with whatever you need faster than ever. Princess crewmembers are such interesting people from countries all over the world—some you probably never even heard of—and are full of fascinating stories about life at sea. Broaden your horizons by saying hi to people; you never know who you’ll meet onboard. Making small talk with fellow passengers is incredibly easy since you’re all bonded by the simple fact that you’re out in the middle of nowhere on a gigantic ship. Don’t “come back new” alone…come back new with some new pals!

Relax: “OceanNow” or Never

  • Allow me to set the scene. You’re relaxing in your lounge chair in poolside bliss, wind whipping through your hair. The (male) winner of the “best legs” competition has just been announced on the Lido Deck and they’re back to blasting your favorite classic rock tunes. Everyone’s singing along, you’re finally getting some color under that SPF 50, and that’s when it strikes—the lunchtime stomach grumble. But your friend is in the bathroom and you don’t want to have to pack up all your stuff just to go grab a hamburger. That’s when the best OceanMedallion app comes into play—OceanNow. Just like UberEats or Postmates back on land, with a few taps you can have a couple slices of pizza and a fresh, icy margarita on their way to you in minutes. Don’t let hunger interrupt your sunny afternoon of relaxation!

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travel, come back new, lido deck, oceannow, terrace pool, fitness center, the love boat, OceanMedallion, Princess Cruises, MedallionClass, Caribbean cruise, 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise

Princess always ensures that I come back from a cruise thoroughly rejuvenated. As I always say, there is something onboard for everyone even if you may think cruising isn’t for you. Even I wasn’t sure how I would feel about cruising before I went for the first time. But, if a shy and reserved homebody like me (who normally just likes to read alone for fun) can #ComeBackNew, you can too, and you can do it in MedallionClass style.

Bon voyage!




Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

This post is sponsored by RLH Corporation.

Being born in Washington State, I’m allowed to say the Olympic Peninsula is the most beautiful corner of the entire country. And, being a constant traveler and having seen a lot, I’m confident when I say it. We have mountains, forests, lakes, the ocean, beaches, whales, puffins…basically nature and wildlife on a matchless level. Even though it’s a three-hour drive from my house, there’s always so much going on during the year that when I do make it out for a visit, it’s a very special trip. This year, I had the opportunity to see it through the Hotel RL lens, and it was a truly memorable experience.

Hello Rewards

Hello Rewards is the easy way to get rewards for your next stay: you can earn 10 Hello Bucks with every qualifying stay, and apply those earnings to any future stay with no blackouts. Save consistently with incredibly low Hello Rewards member rates, and get exciting extras like digital gift cards and more. Signing up is fast and easy—and using the code TRUELANE will get you 30 Hello Bucks instantly. Let’s go!

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane

We arrived at sunset. Hotel RL feels almost like a resort in a secluded lot surrounded by trees with a beautiful view of Capitol Lake. Although the pool was closed for the season, we had a great view of the property from our balcony. It was a quick drive into old town for dinner at Waterstreet Café for dinner and drinks, which included an incredible charcuterie board.  

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane

However, my favorite corner of Hotel RL Olympia is the Victrola Coffee stand in the lobby. As a guest, you get a free 8-ounce espresso drink in the morning, and since my mother doesn’t drink coffee the barista let my mom “donate” her drink to me, so I got to enjoy a 16-ounce soy latte. I always appreciate little touches like this that take customer service to the next level. Plus, there’s the cute VW bus that makes a perfect little vignette for a photo.

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane

Before we hit the road, we explored a coffee shop and used bookstore where I picked up a couple vintage Nancy Drew books to add to my collection. Next, we got to visit the Capitol building (right across the lake from Hotel RL) which has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl.

The drive to Port Angeles, our next destination, is nothing but beautiful scenery and has a ton of great pull-offs, some of them even official State Parks (bring cash if you plan on parking for awhile). Thanks to all the great views we enjoyed on the drives, we pulled in to Port Angeles right around sunset again and zipped off to dinner at Next Door Gastropub, which offered some of the most memorable macaroni and cheese I’ve had in a long time.

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane

But the real treat came the next morning. The Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel is located right on the beach, which made for an absolutely incredible view to wake up to. My mom and I spent the morning exploring the beach and local pier before doing some shopping in town (don’t miss the adorable and addicting Odyssey Bookshop) and then heading on to another local port town, Port Townsend, before we had to catch the ferry home. I wanted to visit the Point Wilson lighthouse, because I’m kind of a lighthouse nerd, as well as Manresa Castle which some Nancy Drew computer games (nerd alert again) are based off of! It was such a cool experience.

I wouldn’t have been able to make this trip happen without RLHC, and thanks to the convenience of their locations I can’t wait to do this itinerary again—hopefully with a few additional locations! There’s so much on the Olympic Peninsula to explore. Make sure to check out the Hotel RL rewards program before planning your next trip. It really caters to the everyday American traveler, which, in this case, is me! I spent years road tripping with my family and after signing up with Hello Rewards, I feel like a whole new hotel world has opened up to me and I’m ready to hit the road again. Now, the only decision to make is…where to next?

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip with Red Lion | truelane