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Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Golden Princess Canada & New England ~

Part Four

Friday's Formal Night

Creating the glittering
"Champagne Waterfall" 

I love to dress up and I love parties. For me, the opportunity to dress up and attend a party is an irresistible combination. One of my favorite Princess events is the Champagne Waterfall—from watching the Maître D' supervise its creation until he deftly begins filling the glasses, I love the festivities. 

I also admit to a bit of apprehension... it would be a dramatic moment indeed if someone should bump the table.

If you go... Join in the fun at midnight—it's the next best thing to New Year's Eve.

Saturday: Newport, Rhode Island

It's pretty doubtful that any of Golden Princess' passengers would have gained entry to the summer "cottages" built in  Newport during the Gilded Age, the latter years of the 19th century. Well, maybe we'd have gotten in as "staff" members, but surely not as guests. However, we tourists not only gain admission to the public rooms, but also get a peek at the inner sanctums—the butler's pantries and kitchens and even the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The Breakers

My morning tour included the summer cottages built by the Vanderbilt family, the Breakers and Marble House, and I also squeezed in an afternoon tour of Doris Duke's home, Rough Point. It's almost beyond belief that these  grand mansions were typically only occupied for eight to ten weeks a year. Built to emulate the style of European aristocracy, they are incredibly opulent. 

Constructed by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1895, the Breakers' seventy rooms contain an astonishing 138,300 square feet of Italian Renaissance design with alabaster topped marble columns, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, coffered ceilings, 22 carat gold accents, and intricate wood floor patterns. Entire rooms were assembled in France and shipped to the Breakers.

Smaller, yet no less imposing, Marble House was modeled after the Petit Trianon at Versailles and contains no less than 500,000 square feet of marble. Built by William K. Vanderbilt for his wife Alva in 1892, she cannily insisted upon holding the title and retained the house after their divorce. Marble House's Gold Room, or ballroom, was clearly designed to impress, if not overwhelm, guests.

In contrast, Rough Point, built by Frederick Vanderbilt in the late-1890s, embodies a uniquely American interpretation of an English manor house. Purchased by the Duke family of North Carolina in 1922, it was transformed into a comfortable residence to suit their needs. Doris Duke, the tobacco tycoon's only daughter, inherited Rough Point and made it a reflection of her character and style. 

Only recently opened to the public, Rough Point's contents include an incredible collection of art and artifacts—priceless Ming vases, antiques from around the world, and incredible tapestries and an original Renoir. The house is exactly as Ms. Duke left it before her death and is a fascinating reflection of her style and humor. One almost expects to hear her practicing at the grand piano and see not only her but also the two camels she kept as pets. Reaching her bedroom, visitors gasp with the WOW factor of black carpeting, yellow walls, purple drapes, and a suite of furniture faced with mother of pearl. And the views from every window are breathtaking.

Doris Duke's contribution to the preservation of Newport's historic past cannot be overlooked. She was a founder of the Newport Restoration Foundation and used her enormous wealth to preserve many Colonial structures that would have otherwise been lost.

If you go... Book Newport house tours EARLY—they are very popular and sell out quickly. While it's possible to see them independently, groups are given priority admission to the "cottages."  

Leaf peepers report: While fall foliage color wasn't at its peak, the gardens at Marble House and grounds and views of Rough Point are spectacular.

Taking our leave of Newport's yacht studded harbor was doubly poignant. There wasn't enough time to see the Bellevue Avenue mansions, plus poke through the shops in Brick Market Place and along the historic wharves. I caught one of the last tenders back to Golden Princess in time to pack and savor a final dinner.

Next --> Part Five -- Debarkation and lasting impressions

Back to --> Golden Princess Cruise Diary Review, Index

Part One -- Embark in New York and spend a day at sea

Part Two -- Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John, New Brunswick

Part Three -- Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston Massachusetts

Illustrations for Cruise Diary: Courtesy of Princess Cruises & © Author's Collection

Cruise Line Profile - Princess Cruises

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