What a great vacation! Alaska was beautiful and even though I really missed X-man, I was able to relax and really enjoy everything!
So, here is my TraveLog (just so you're forwarned; this is going to be long...but there will be pictures; if you put your cursor over the pictures in the slide show, you can see the caption):
May 4th, 2007 - Friday
We got to the airport at 6:30 ready to fly to Dallas. It was a great flight and I managed not to have any panic attacks on the plane. That was the first plane ride since 2003 (when TC spent 4 months in Seattle and I became the poster child for Paxil) that was really enjoyable. Ah, to be able to relax again on a plane and not worry about all the things that could happen that would result in my death.
Ok, back to the fun. We got to Dallas on time, but waited on the plane for 20 minutes while they tried to fix our gang plank. We ended up getting some rickety-looking steps to use and we RAN to our other gate. We got there as they started loading our plane to Vancouver. Oh, and my parents had just gotten there as well from their slightly delayed plane. We all headed to Vancouver!
On the plane I did my good deed for the day. The man next to me needed a battery for his noise cancelling headphones and I happened to have the right kind. He was very appreciative!
In Vancouver, we stood in the immigration line for an hour! I guess I never thought about that part. While we were in line, we met up with my sister and the nice "line guard" let her come up in the line to be with us...we were already about 30 minutes ahead of her since she came in on a different plane.
After checking into our hotel, we walked around Robson Street to find some dinner. In the time zone that TC, my parents and I came from it was 6:30. Sis was in the same time zone but even at 4:30 and no one having anything to eat all day (except for snacks you had to pay for on the plane) we were all hungry. We found a great little tapas bar and had some great food!
On our way back to the hotel, we found a great gelato place, Mondo Gelato, and had to stop in. Wanna know what everyone had? Yes, I wrote it down. When we go on vacation, eating is our top priority. So, dad had Nutella, TC had Lemon Creme, Sis had a scoop of Coconut and a scoop of Pistachio, mom and Coconut and I had Biscotti. Oh. My. Heavens. It was delicious!!
Back to the hotel for a little nap...awake at 9:30 pm (which was 11:30 back at my house) and we went looking for dinner. The Greek place was just the thing (and it had the distinct advantage of being open). Dessert was coffee at a local coffee joint and then it was off to bed.
May 5th - Saturday
On our wanderings the night before, we happened upon a creperie so we went there for breakfast. I won't list what everyone had (though I know that information) but I will say that they had the best link sausage that I have ever eaten. The outside was perfectly crisp and the inside was the creamiest, smoothest sausage. There were no lumps at all and it wasn't spicy at all. Yum-o!
We took a trolly trip around the town and made one stop at the aquarium. It was a really nice facility but I was really sad that the dolphins were away for the winter. We did get to see Beluga Whales and they were neat. It was really fun to watch all the little kids enjoying the fish. These fish in the picture are arapaima. They can be longer than 10 feet long and have the interesting ability to also breathe air! Crazy!
Lunch was sushi at Oysi Oysi and it was excellent. Sis did a great job of ordering for us, however, by the end of the meal I was so full I didn't think I'd ever want to eat again.
The nap fixed that feeling and dinner was a seafood place near a pier. We went back to Mondo Gelato and then it was off to bed.
May 6th - Sunday
Breakfast at the creperie again. I told you it was good! While we waited on our driver to take us to the dock, Sis, TC and I played Liverpool Rummy. She was having beginner's luck, but we had to quit just before the last hand because our limo drove up. She probably would have won the whole game had we finished that last hand because she was quite a bit ahead!
Our giant SUV limo picked us up and took us to the pier. I think I giggled and danced all the way down to the boat. We had to check in here, and then there, and then somewhere else. Finally we got on the boat...and boy was that exciting! I was enjoying watching my parents and sister and their amazement at the boat. We found our rooms. They are very nice and we each had a balcony. TC and I stayed on the port side, aft. And mom, dad and sis were bringing up the rear. Their room was right on the back and that gave us a great view!
We took a self-guided tour of the ship and there were all kinds of things and people to see! Dinner that night was at Seven Seas. It is one of the main dining rooms and our waiter was Numeriano Olanda and his assistant was Tania. They were great fun! We actually ended up requesting their section every evening for dinner. One night we just got to be near their section, but they were both so sweet and by the end of the cruise, we were really friends! We took a picture of them at the end of the cruise.
May 7th - Monday
We were at sea all day today. TC, dad and I went to a stretching class in the morning. It was really nice and relaxing (we had great plans to go every morning, but that didn't pan out).
Around 11:00ish, we were out in open waters and it got really choppy - 7.5 to 12 foot waves. The cruise staff was nice enough to put barf bags at each stairway! TC never did really cool down after he ran (after the stretching class) and he got a headache. That combined with the motion of the ocean didn't go well together and he left breakfast early. Sis was the next one down and I think it was a combination of all her tension plus the rocking boat.
Around 4:00 we got into a passage and the water calmed down considerably. We met sis' friend from a previous job and had dinner with him and his wife. We were in Olanda's section again!
May 8th - Tuesday
We woke up this morning in Ketchikan. And just for reference, my watch which is normally on central time, was turned back three hours. I had no idea that Alaska wasn't on one of the four time zones I know of in the US! I'm so sheltered.
We walked around Ketchikan and the shopping district. It's really a touristy area. But the mountains were really pretty coming from a place where there aren't many (any) mountains!
As we left Ketchikan we did get to see several eagles "buzz" my parents' balcony. That was really cool!
After we were back on our way, mom, dad, sis and I spent about an hour in the hot tub. I love it that we were hot tubbin' in Alaska!
Shortly after our hot tub experience, the captian "bing bonged" (that's the sound of the chime over the speakers before the captain or another crew member makes an announcement) and said that there were some whales on the port side but we never did see them.
May 9th - Wednesday
We woke up this morning in Juneau. How relaxing to wake up, open the curtains and see a beautiful snow-topped mountain right outside the balcony!
We wandered up and down the shopping district again. I did take a picture of the Red Dog Saloon. It was wet and rainy in Juneau. Again, the scenery was beautiful!
After we left Juneau, we did see some whales...or rather their tails.
Later in the evening (which was weird that the sun didn't set until 9:30 or so...I felt like it was still early but it was really late!) we navigated into the Tracey Arm Fjord. Since my parents' room had a nice balcony, we watched the whole thing from there. That way we didn't have to go to one of the upper decks and try to find a good viewing area. We were also close to our potty and if we got too cold, we could sit in the room for a bit. We also got to hear the Iceberg Man give a nice presentation over the speaker system. We did decide that we wouldn't want to sit through a class with him teaching. Man, he was boring...and quite the Master of the Obvious! We saw lots of calved icebergs (calving is when a glacier loses pieces) and they were such a beautiful color of blue. We got as close to the Sawyer glacier as we could but due to the ice sheet in front of it, we could only get about a mile and a half away from it. Still close, though! We got some great pictures! And as the ship turned around to go back out the fjord, we did get to see a few mountain goats.
May 10th - Thursday
Today was in Skagway. Again, more touristy shopping area. My dad was a little miffed that we couldn't find a restaurant that had crab! We decided that Alaska must ship out all of its Alaskan crab. Ok, probably not...but it was weird that we never did find any place to eat crab. Sis, mom and I all got a nice souvenir at Skagway...a hand knit hat made out of spun dog fur. Sounds odd, but it's not really. On the way back to the boat the wind really started up and it was even colder than when we first got there! Oh, and I did wear my little washer woman hat I crocheted and after seeing it several times in reflections, decided that it really did look dorky. After we got back to the boat, I got out my crochet hook and pulled out the ruffle and just made a nice, straight cuff. Much better!
May 11th - Friday
Today was at sea headed back toward Vancouver, though it would still be a few more days before we got there! Yea for plenty of vacation left!
We spent most of the trip eating in the "free" restaurants. On this cruise line, most of the restaurants and buffets are included in your fee. There were a few restaurants that were an extra charge per person. One of those was the Sushi restaurant. Being the sushi lovers that we are, we headed for that on Friday at lunch. They brought us a menu but we just ended up asking the waiter to bring us a little of everything. We got a GIANT boatload of sushi and it was all terrific. My favorite had to be the Godzilla Roll. It was sweet shrimp (which is served raw), mango and avocado rolled up in seaweed and rice and then it was covered in candied cashews and toasted coconut. Oh, my! That was tasty!!
We spent most of the day just lounging in my parents' room. Mom and I did go take a walk around the walking deck before dinner and we got to see a few more whales. There were several of them off the side of the boat and they looked like they were just having a great time.
Dinner this evening was the "fancy" one and lobster was on the menu. Yummy! The midnight chocolate buffet was also this evening. While we were enjoying our dinner, we watched several of the chocolate pieces being carrried through the dining room to another main dining room midship. Olanda told us that the chocolate sculptures were styrofoam bases and they were covered in chocolate. That way they weren't so heavy! We did go to the chocolate buffet (except TC...he's not a big chocolate fan so he went to bed). While it was really pretty, I wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I'm just a chocolate snob, but I would have preferred just a few decadent dark chocolate truffles. Instead I had one chocolate dipped strawberry and a chocolate dipped banana (that really would have been better cold!).
May 12th - Saturday
Another day at sea. We pretty much lounged around and slept and ate. We did go to the reception desk and add extra gratuity on our bill for our room stewards and for Olanda and Tania. Everyone was just so nice!
May 13th - Sunday
Our last day on the ship and we woke up in Vancouver. We wished mom a happy Mother's Day (and I even remembered to make a card and bring it for her!) and after breakfast, we waited for our turns to disembark. Mom, dad and sis were off before we were because their room was one deck above ours.
Mom, dad, TC and I all were on the same flight out of Vancouver. The flight was nice but by the time we got to Dallas, there had been a giant storm that closed down the airport for two hours. We ended up waiting on the plane for a "parking spot" for about an hour and a half and then we all ran to catch our next flight. Our flight was only delayed about an hour and a half (we were supposed to leave Dallas at 10:00 pm and didn't actually leave until 11:30 pm) but mom and dad weren't so lucky. There wasn't another flight back home for them that evening so they ended up staying in a hotel. Sis, on the other hand, ended up getting back to her place 15 minutes before schedule!
Whew! What a great trip! If you're still here reading, I would highly suggest an Alaskan cruise. You might want to go later in the season, though. We were on the first cruise of the season and lots of the wildlife wasn't out yet and the glacier was still pretty frozen in front. We're all ready to go again!