Alaska Cruise

May 2015
May 2015
  • Day9

    Seattle

    May 23, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 57 °F

    Early morning wakeup again at 5am and room service light breakfast (just english muffins and coffee). We had done the Luggage Direct option which for $19.95, will pick your luggage up from your stateroom on Friday night/Saturday morning and checks it through the airport right through to the corral in Boston.

    We disembarked and took a cab to the Space Needle. We hung around and walked around the folklife festival setup until 10am when our brunch started. We got a free ride up to the top of the Space needle.

    Brunch was very good and worth the cost. At brunch, the table rotated 360 degrees for view of skyline. We got admission to the observation deck afterwards. The views (not surprisingly) were phenomenal. We took photos and selfies and wandered around the deck for about an hour before making our way to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Some members of the group had to go to the airport for a 3pm flight but we were happy to have the extra time in Seattle.

    The Glass gardens were amazing. The first half was a series of dark rooms with a piece of glass-blown sculptures in different arrangements. The second half was an outdoor garden with more blown glass pieces decorating the landscape. They had a glass blowing demonstration at 1:15 that was really neat to watch. After the gardens we rode the monorail to Pike Place Market again. We spent the next two hours wandering around and seeing the sights we saw the week before. We did buy some copper river sockeye salmon for $33.99/lb (prepared) which they packaged into an airtight box for us to bring home on the plane.

    Exhausted, we jumped on the light rail and rode to the airport earlier than we expected. We were all tired and just ready to go home and relax. We got dinner at the airport at Anthony's and waited in the terminal for our flight at 10:50pm. It was an nonstop Jet Blue flight to Boston which was uneventful. We mostly slept on the way home and the flight took under 5 hours. Back in Boston on Sunday morning, we took a shared van back to Nana's house and Auntie Diane drove us home!
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  • Day8

    Victoria, BC

    May 22, 2015 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    We woke up "late" and had pre-arranged room service breakfast at 8:30. It was a lazy day with a final game of trivia at 2pm and Bingo at 4pm. It was a long run day for me and I spent two hours running around the promenade deck for a total of 11 miles. Our family once again won Bingo - this time it was Nana and Casey!

    We arrived in Victoria at 6pm. We got off the ship and boarded a shuttle to downtown. We spent most of our time walking around and would have liked to do some local boutique shopping but everything was closed by the time we got there. We stopped at Swans Brewpub & Hotel for a flight sampler of 6 beers. It was good but not great. The offerings are pre-selected so we got a few that weren't interesting. After spending some time there, we walked through downtown Victoria along the wharf. We saw the Empress Hotel on the water and government building, all lit up with Christmas lights. We ended up a small beer garden with a Beatles cover band. We stayed here for one drink and then walked back to the ship.
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  • Day7

    Ketchikan, Alaska

    May 21, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    The day started with a 5am alarm again. We had breakfast in the Lido buffet and went ashore at 7:30. The dock was right in downtown Ketchikan. We met up with Shona of Island Wings. Because of the fog, our flight was delayed so we re-arranged our day. In the meantime, we shopped and bought local art by Candace Kelley. Her sister Maida Kelley also sells art at the same tiny roadside stand and it was definitely unique..not like the mass-produced art touted by the ship. We also bought chocolates at Ketchicandies - AWESOME!, salmon treats for our kitty and patches/pins for our luggage.

    We met up with Shona again at 10am and drove to their dock. Michelle was our pilot and passengers were Sherilyn, Myron, Diane, Nana, Dan & Noreen. Approx. 1 hour flight to Misty Fjords National Monument. We got to go ashore and take a few photos. Myron was in the co-pilot seat on the way there and switched with Dan for the way home. Tour was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, Dave, Linda, Matti and Don's tour was cancelled entirely due to the fog and they were unable to get another tour later in the day.

    All aboard was at 12:30 (too early!!) and we went to the Lido deck for the Salmon Feast for lunch. Myron & Sherilyn went to the gym for a half hour and we showered and changed for happy hour. Happy hour at the crow's nest at 4pm with games and relaxing til dinner at 7pm. We went to the Lido buffet for dinner tonight as we didn't have enough time to go to the MDR. We played more games in the Crow's Nest until the bar crawl started at 9:30. This tour included 4 stops over the course of an hour, with drinks at each bar. It was too much alcohol and we left most of it without drinking. Overall, didn't think it was the greatest idea to have it so late at night after a day of drinking. We went to the casino for a short while before going to bed around midnight.
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  • Day6

    Sitka, Alaska

    May 20, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    We woke up early at 5am for our early port of call in Sitka. We met up at 7am for deep sea salmon & halibut fishing with Big Blue Charters. We had a quick breakfast and a short shuttle ride to downtown Sitka. Normally ships tender in Sitka but there has been a new dock built and our ship got to take advantage of that. Sitka is a small charming community and we wished we had more time to explore there.

    We boarded our boats: Richie, Casey and us on one boat and Dennis, David, Matti & Dick on the other boat. Our captain was Ben on the Blue Sapphire, and the other captain was Mike, the owner of Big Blue. The weather was cloudy initially but cleared up and was a bright, cool sunny day. We saw a few eagles and whales. Mount Edgecombe was visible once the fog cleared. The ride was bumpy and nausea-inducing on the way over and continued to be quite rocky even when we were anchored. I caught our boat's first fish: a small halibut that we had to throw back. For the keeper fish, we had a total of 1 king salmon and 1 halibut for me, 1 halibut for Myron, 1 halibut for Richie. A few small ones had to be thrown back. Richie caught 2 additional (salmon & halibut) but were eaten by a sea lion just when he was about to pull them aboard. we packed up around 12:45 and were ashore by 1:30. The other boat had hit a log on the way to the anchor site and those passengers had to come aboard our boat for the ride back. Overall a great tour with a good haul. Ben told us it was too early in the season and typically the passengers catch a lot more when they go out. Processing at $2/lb plus FedEx overnight shipping, but with the holiday on Monday, we won't get our fish until later this week (about 1 week after it was caught). The processing includes cleaning the fish, cryovac and flash freeze, so hopefully it will still be delicious.

    We wandered around downtown Sitka and bought a christmas ornament and lunch at a food truck. I got smoked salmon mac & cheese and Myron got fish tacos. We were back on board for all aboard at 3pm.

    The rest of the day was spent eating and relaxing in the Ocean Bar (happy hour 4-5pm). Trivia was at 7pm and dinner for Casey's birthday in the MDR at 8pm.
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  • Day5

    Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

    May 19, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 43 °F

    The ship entered Glacier Bay around 7am and meandered its way through the ice filled waters to its terminus in front of the Marjorie Glacier at 11am. On it's way, we passed by a terrain covered by snow capped mountains, forests and various forms of wildlife (mountain goats, bears, sea otters, eagles). Two park rangers boarded the ship and navigated the journey by commenting about the features as we passed by them. We were also provided with a map to follow along. We passed the Lamplugh Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier. At 10am we were served Dutch pea soup which is a HAL tradition and helped to warm our bellies. Myron and I chose to spend our time on deck 3 which had barely any people out and about. We got hot chocolate in HAL mugs with amaretto for me and frangelico for Myron. On arrival to Marjorie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier, the ship spun to provide viewing from both the port and starboard side. The glacier calved numerous times while we were watching it. After spinning, the ship returned to the exit where we dropped off the park rangers. We left the park around 6pm.

    After strolling around on deck 3, we went up to the upper decks and met up with the rest of the family. Using binoculars, we tried to see bears and eagles without the guidance of the park ranger but were unsuccessful. The rest of the day included trivia at 4pm and 7pm. Lunch at 1pm was burgers at the Dive-In, dinner at 8pm in the MDR (salmon and crab cakes) and drinks the rest of the time. We went to the casino briefly at 10pm and bed soon after.
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  • Day4

    Juneau, Alaska

    May 18, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    We woke up at 6am (changed the clocks again last night) to a surprise of a mountainous landscape drifting by. We grabbed breakfast in the Lido and watched the scenery pass by as the ship made its way into Juneau. There were reports of whale sightings but we weren't lucky enough to see them. The morning was lazy. We hung around til 10am and watched a presentation "Alaska Fire and Ice" that delved into the geology of how Alaska was formed. It also talked about the glaciers and what to expect when we visit them. After this, we played Bingo again. Our group swept all four games: Dennis, Diane, Richie and Myron. Myron won $375! People were not happy with our group but what can we say...our group of 16 people probably made up half of the attendees. We had a quick lunch at the Lido before the ship arrived in Juneau at 1pm.

    We walked around for a little while before meeting up with our tour guide Sam from Above & Beyond Alaska. I had found this tour company online and while it got great reviews, we were both nervous because the tour description for the Mendenhall Glacier Trek was intense. We are not regular hikers though we are both active, but I was afraid we wouldn't be fit enough to complete the journey. Sam took us on a quick drive north to the head of the West Glacier Trail. The hike up to the glacier was about two hours, and Sam said we were in the 90th percentile as far as time to get there! We took a few breaks to look at the various geographical features that the glacier had produced. The landscape was amazing. We hiked through a rainforest but Juneau had been unseasonably warm lately and not rainy, so we luckily didn't have to hike through much mud or wet slippery rocks. We arrived at the glacier and geared up with crampons, harnesses, helmets and wind jackets. For the next 3 hours, we hiked around the glacier. Sam pointed out various features: crevasses (deep valleys), tarns (glacial pools with deep blue water), moulins (holes in which water rushes in and can be incredibly deep) and caves. We saw an arch that was all that was left of an ice cave from the past 6 years. The glacier constantly moves and evolves, and we later found out that it had caved in later that day. We did go in to a smaller ice cave that was recently discovered. Myron could barely fit inside and we had to crawl on our hands and knees to get in. We filled our water bottles from a rushing "waterfall" inside. It was super cold! Overall, hiking on the glacier was a really cool experience. We felt very safe with Sam and he was constantly going ahead and scouting new locations before we followed, so he could be sure he was taking us on a safe route. Also, Myron's crampon broke while on the ice and Sam had a repair kit available to fix it. Awesome, because that could have ruined our whole experience!

    It took another 2 hours to hike back to the trail's head through the rainforest. We drove back to the port area and Sam dropped us off at the Hangar. I initially wanted to get king crab legs but for $60 for 2 legs, I didn't think it was worth it. We had smoked salmon spread, crab cakes, clams and local beer before making our way back to the ship.

    We met up with the rest of the group who had gone gold panning, up the tram or on a river float trip. We made a quick stop in the casino to play a few slots before heading to bed, asleep before we hit the pillow.

    Above & Beyond Alaska: Would highly recommend. Included everything you would need (they provide a backpack filled with waterproof jacket, pants helmet, harness, crampons, ice axe and snacks), knowledgable guide. It didn't hurt that we ended up on a private tour as no one else had signed up for the group tour with us. The weather was 70 and sunny in Juneau so we thought that we were overdressed but it ended up being perfect. We wore technical wicking tee-shirts, ankle-high hiking boots with hiking socks and I wore fleece-lined running tights while Myron wore zip-off hiking pants. We also brought gloves, ear coverings and sunglasses.
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  • Day3

    At Sea

    May 17, 2015, North Pacific Ocean ⋅ ☀️ 50 °F

    This was our only sea day and it was nice after a busy few days in Seattle!

    We slept in until 8am and had breakfast delivered to enjoy on our balcony, which backfired by being too cold. A quick trip to the gym with some adventure on the treadmill. It is very hard to run on a treadmill while the ship is moving and rocking so much. We really only experienced the severe rocking on the sea day because we were out on the open ocean.

    The sea day passed lazily. We found ourselves at trivia at 1:30 and Bingo at 4. Sherilyn won $315 and Sharon won $419. The payouts were much better on this ship than they were on NCL, and the cost was only $35 for 6 chances at 4 games. Prior to the Bingo game, we watched a movie about the culture and traditions of native Alaskans in the theatre. We wandered around the ship quite a bit. After Bingo, our family gathered in the Crow's Nest to take a family photo with our Alaska shirts.

    The ladies went to formal night in the MDR. Guys went to the lido buffet since none of them brought jackets. Later, we learned that almost none of the men in the MDR were wearing jackets, but they didn't really care as the Lido had the same food as the MDR most of the time. The food was great..surf and turf and escargot for Sherilyn. We met up with the group in the casino and I played the penny slots for a bit before bed at 11pm.
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  • Day2

    Seattle

    May 16, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

    Today is embarkation day on the MS Westerdam on Holland America Line!

    We started the day with a run. Myron joined for the first 3 miles and then Sherilyn continued on for another 3 to total 6 for the day. Seattle is a super hilly city so it was a challenge to find a route that wasn't completely uphill the whole time. We got ready and went to breakfast at the 5 point cafe which had gotten great reviews as a hidden gem in Seattle. It was good but honestly nothing special.

    We walked back to the hotel and checked out. We arranged a shared van with the concierge and they brought us to the pier for $9/person. We got there really early, around noon, so the lines were very short and we were able to board the ship quickly and efficiently. We spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and exploring the Westerdam. The rest of our group arrived in Seattle that morning so we met up with them as they were exploring the ship too.

    Myron and I absolutely loved having a balcony room for this cruise. It was great to sit out there wrapped in the cozy wool blankets they provide. We had hoped to have our coffee out on the balcony in the mornings but it was generally too cold to do that. That evening, we had our chocolate cake with chocolate frosting in honor of Grampa not being able to go with us to Alaska, and we ended the night in the piano bar.
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  • Day1

    Seattle

    May 15, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Still on east coast time, we woke up early at 5am despite all the beer from the night before. We walked across town to Sweet Iron waffles, a small nook that made a small but tasty waffle with various toppings. Myron got a savory waffle with prosciutto, creme fraiche and green onions. Sherilyn got the special with rhubarb compote and fresh whipped cream. Both were fantastic, though we could've eaten more than one!

    With nothing planned for the morning, we (along with Doug & Karen) decided to check out Bill Speidel's Underground Tour and we made our way over to Pioneer Square. This turned out to be quite interesting with lots of jokes to make it entertaining, and to blur the lines of truth. We learned about the early history of Seattle, from founding through present day. The tour took us into 3 city blocks, underground (with explanations why). We really liked this tour: unique, history & humor. It was $19 per person and lasted about 75 minutes.

    After the tour, we got a call from Richie and Casey that they were awake and we met up with them at Pike Place Market on the waterfront. This market is a multi-story market filled with every time of shop you could imagine. We used this to shop and sample various offerings. We ate Czech koloaches, Greek jeros, fried scallops & fries, Russian onion-cheese roll at Piroshky x2, mac & cheese at Beecher's Handmade Cheese, beer at Pike Brewery and a caramel & chocolate covered apple at Rocky Mountain Candy Co. We walked by the original Starbucks, browsed art, bought flowers for our stateroom with gorgeous peonies and generally just explored and enjoyed the area. Richie and Casey went on the huge ferris wheel down by the waterfront but the rest of us were scared of heights and chose to stay on solid ground.

    At around 4:30, we returned to the hotel to get ready for the baseball game. We walked to Safeco field which was around 1.7 miles. We had decent seats about 35 rows back on the 3rd base line. Safeco is a beautiful park with modern amenities. The food options were very good. As if we didn't have enough to eat earlier in the day, we enjoyed chicken nachos, garlic fries, a stick of chocolate covered strawberries and more local craft beer. Everything was reasonably priced too. The game itself was very good. Buchholz pitched well: 11K's through 8 innings and 3 hits allowed. Only blemish was a solo HR to Smith. The game was 1-1 in bottom of 9th. Mariner's walk-off single by Cruz. After the game, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.
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  • Day0

    Seattle

    May 14, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

    Our day started with a 5am cab ride to Logan. We had a direct flight to Seattle on Jet Blue, arriving at 10am PST. $60 cab ride to the hotel (for the group of 6). We made our way to the Taphouse Grille for lunch, a place that had 160 beers on tap. The food was good and we were still feeling energized to conquer Seattle. Of course, a Starbucks on every corner helped!

    While Casey and Rich took a quick nap, Myron and I went to the hotel gym for a half hour and got in an unplanned workout....treadmill run for me and bike for Myron. The hotel gym at the Westin was pretty awesome and was completely empty at the time we went.

    At 5pm, we started the brewery tour in the Ballard area with Rich and Casey. It started at the Peddler Brewing Company where we each got a flight of 4 beers. This was a cool space with a room that opened to the outside. It was a beautiful day. Next, we walked to the Bergschrund / NW Peaks Brewery which was a small bar with an even smaller outdoor patio. We snagged the only table outside and enjoyed a pint. We played a game that earned us a cookie that was made with beer. The third stop was Reuben's Brews which boasted a huge taproom and huge outdoor patio. We had another pint here and collected our goodie bags which included a lot of coupons and two glasses. We had bought the tickets in advance in support of the Washington Brewshed Alliance and expected beer to be included in the ticket price ($20) but there was no beer included, just discounts at some of the breweries. It was a fun evening but not what we expected.

    After we left the pub crawl, we took an uber over to Fremont Brewing Company, which had a "Back to the Future" IPA, on recommendation from the tour guide at the pub crawl. We walked down a few blocks from there to the Red Door to have dinner, since none of the breweries had any options for food and we still hadn't eaten yet. We took an uber back to the hotel and called it a night.
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