I took a 7-day cruise that left from the Los Angeles area, where I live, and stopped at San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Catalina Island, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico. I've been to all these places before--many with my family. I liked that I wasn't seeing anything exotic or different without them.
Why did I pick this particular vacation? A travel agency, Banner Travel, arranged a group to go ghost hunting at 3 of the port stops. The ghost hunting excursions were included in the very reasonable price. In addition, a portion of the price went to support Relay for Life. This was amazing considering I paid way below the best price I couldn't have gotten through the cruise ship company.
In addition, Banner Travel arranged for two ghost-hunting celebrities and a psychic medium to lead us during the ghost hunts and give very interesting lectures during the cruise. The ghost-hunting celebrities were Barry Fitzgerald from Ghost Hunters International and Karl Pfeiffer, from Ghost Hunters Academy. I was lucky enough to room with psychic/medium Sarah Lemos whose readings were so amazing it was impossible to book time with her! They were a definite highlight of the trip.
This was all novel to me. While I've always had an interest in the paranormal and love watching the television ghost-hunting shows, I've never actually ghost-hunted before or spent time talking about spirit guides and dear, departed ones. I'm not sure i actually believe everything in the paranormal world. The trip definitely succeeded in opening my mind a bit. It also succeeded in making me realize I need to spend more time on my spiritual journey. I never spend time getting to know me, per se. I rush around my daily life, working and taking care of my family. The trip made me realize how much I need to nurture myself more. This doesn't mean taking lavish cruises with tv personalities, but with trying to spend a few minutes each day listening to my inner voice and getting to know it again.
I'm sure you're all wondering how the ghost-hunting went. I've never done this before, and I"m not sure it really turned out totally to be ghost hunting. The first hunt was at Alcatraz. We were lucky enough to get there in the evening, while the sun was setting. Alcatraz is a totally amazing place to visit even if it weren't haunted. It's surprisingly beautiful! It was also totally overrun with tourists, so it was impossible to really do a serious ghost hunt. However, I did have some weird experiences there. The most major one was when I was hanging out inside a solitary confinement cell with another cruiser. We heard footsteps above us, which I didn't think was all that weird at first. There was a hospital ward on the second floor that was open to tourists. I mentioned that to my friend, but after we stepped out and looked up, we could see a cell block above the solitary cells. A cell block that is restricted. No one was up there.
At Catalina Island, we received a walking ghost tour--in broad daylight. Our tour guide kept repeatedly muttering that this tour is usually done at night. Yes, you mean after our cruise ship has long departed? The beginning of the tour was at Avalon's beautiful casino building, which I've never been to! The guide kept making reference to how wonderful the tours there were, and how we should take it some day. Ahem. The tour did succeed in giving us a lot of laughs (unintentional). We also had a blast sightseeing on the island while riding around on golf carts (tip: don't let Barry drive you around on one of those. Although he did get us down the hill successfully with faulty brakes. Whew! I guess you CAN put you life in Barry's hands after all).
San Diego had the most traditional-style ghost hunts. We crammed in 3 locations, 2 of which were closed off to everyone but our group! We did these in broad daylight, but both locations, The Whaley House and The Cosmopolitan Hotel, seemed to have some activity for many in our group. I didn't experience much in these locations.
The best part about the trip was the lovely group of 24 people. Everyone was really nice, and we all got along great. I came back relaxed and refreshed.
I had a fantastic time and think I'll need to do a solo vacation every 10 years or so to indulge my interests. The next vacation will be with my family. I'm sure that will be great too.