We're going on a cruise to Alaska! We're traveling with Mandy's parents, Mike and Lisa. We will begin the trip at Logan International Airport and fly to Seattle, WA. The cruise will take us to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC over the course of seven days.
Day 1: 9/3/16
We dropped Loki off with Lisa from Rover at 6am. She thought that we were coming at 6pm. Oops! After we got Loki settled in, we quickly cruised over to Pavillion Beach to get a picture of sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. After snapping a couple pictures we went back home to collect our luggage and fellow travelers before heading to the airport. We parked in Logan's economy parking lot on the roof near "3E" sign. (This was for future reference for finding the car upon our return.) The airport shuttle took us to the airport where we checked in with Alaska airlines, checked our bags and got through security quick and easy without issue by 8am. We boarded our flight and took off around 9am. The flight was smooth and ended just as we were starting to get restless, which was 11:24 local time. All in all, it was pretty uneventful, which is really what you want in a flight.
Once we picked up our luggage we headed to ground transport. We tried to flag down a Travelodge shuttle but he kept driving and didn't even notice us. I swear he looked right at me, and just ignored me. It's a good thing he did though, because we later found out he was heading to the wrong Travelodge! So we paid a cab instead and headed to Travelodge-by-the-Space-Needle. We checked into our room and dropped off our bags and set out to find some lunch. We felt like we were starving! We wandered around a few nearby blocks on foot until we found Bambinos Pizza-Calzoni-Microbrews. We decided to order two different pies, the Calabra and the Calorosa, and split them amongst the four of us. They were both amazing and delicious. The chef kept throwing doughs up to the ceiling, but I was the only one that saw it and everyone else kept missing it. The Silver City Fat Scotch Ale was okay, I didn't love it. D's baked apple cider was really good.
Once we'd eaten more than we should have, we caught a Lyft to Mulkiteo to see and tour Boeing's Everett plant which boasts the world's largest (by volume) building. They build 747s there, as well as some other models. Since I work in aerospace, I really loved seeing how the crafts are built, although there was only a very small crew working since it was a holiday weekend. They had a General Electric GE-90 engine on display. These are made at GE Evendale in Ohio. The GE-90 is the world's largest turbofan engine. Simply put, they were cool as heck to see up close. The production shop floor is bounded by internal "buildings" which house engineering and management offices with windows looking out over the production area. In the museum area, there was an airplane cockpit to sit in but we kept getting jumped in line so we left, mildly disgruntled. There was a "Dreamlifter" plane parked outside one of the hangars at the plant. It's just SO ugly. It is a modified 747 built specifically for transporting 787 "Dreamliner" parts. Boeing Commercial's president has officially/jokingly "apologized" to the original 747 design engineer, Joe Sutter, for what they did to "his" plane.
After the tour was over, we caught another Lyft back to our hotel. After wandering the blocks near our hotel, we decided to head down to the waterfront for sunset. We got there around 7 pm and captured some pictures of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. I was able to capture ocean sunrise and sunset pictures on the same day, which was neat. Then we walked towards the piers area. There's a really nice walking/biking path/puppy play area! along the waterfront. On our way back we almost got stuck by a freight train. Stuck, not struck! We decided to stop and watch it go by anyway to count it. I don't know why, but I've done this as long as I can remember. We counted 5 engines and 141 cars. It was definitely one of the biggest we'd ever seen. A lot of the cars were double-stacked, too. We tried to imagine how much that train and cargo we worth, but we couldn't. We timed our walk back to the hotel which took 8 minutes. Based on this information we decided that we would probably forego a taxi to the ship in the morning. We also stopped to get some medicine at Walgreens on the way back for my awful cough. Back in the hotel room we watched one episode of House, M.D. on Netflix and then slept. Truthfully, I fell asleep shortly after the episode started. Typical.
Day 2: 9/4/16
We woke up at various times. I got up at 4:45 am and watched the episode of House that I slept through last night. I woke up around 7. After a round of showers and getting dressed we got breakfast at the hotel and set out to find good coffee. We found a place that uses Uptown Espresso cups but we don't think that was it's name. Anyway, the cold brew was great and the cafe mocha (dark) was good. Neither tops Fernando's in Antigua, Guatemala though. (We later confirmed the name of the coffee shop IS Uptown Espresso!) Also, they allow puppies inside, so it's highly recommended.
We spent some time in the hotel packing things up and getting ready to go to the ship. We left the hotel at 10:30 am and walked down to pier 66 to board the Norwegian Pearl. Once we got to the pier we got in line to check our baggage. There was a sign that said to have your passport and cruise documents ready. We all grabbed our passports. Except me. Mine was missing. I thought maybe it fell out of my jeans in the hotel room because I was certain I'd had it yesterday.
We had looked through the carry-on bags and were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the rest of us waited at the pier while Rob ran back to the hotel to search for his passport. Rob called me to tell me it wasn't at the hotel and we decided that he would come back to meet us at the pier and we would all search the luggage and formulate a plan. As soon as I hung up the phone I started my search. Much to my surprise, I found his passport in the first pocket I opened! I quickly called him to tell him that he was in the clear to continue on vacation!
We went through several checkpoints in rapid succession. It took maybe 15 minutes until we were on the boat. It was a pretty quick process. We found an outdoor seating and eating area at the aft end of the ship and got some lunch, some drinks, and I got some cool down time. (He was pretty sweaty after his run back to the hotel room.) Since our stateroom wasn't ready yet, we milled about exploring the rest of the ship. The weather was great so we had some outdoor adult beverages. At 3:15 there was a safety meeting so we hung out at O'Sheehan's (get it? "Oceans"? Classic.) for that.
We went back to O'Sheehan's for dinner at exactly 6:30ish. It was prime rib night! I noted it, but I kept it to myself until Mandy mentioned that the corn cobs tasted a little cinnamini. Cinnamoney? Cinnamon-ey. It was unexpected, yet a tasty surprise. We wandered around still more after dinner. There was a lot of ship to explore! We got some drinks and listened to live classical violin and cello. I had flashbacks to Titanic. You know, to that time that I didn't sail on the sinking ship. We went back and forth on getting another round but decided to call it a night around 9 or 9:30ish and we headed to bed.
Time change (-1 hour)
Day 3: 9/5/16
We got up at about 5 am. We were too early for any breakfast so we read books over coffee until 6:30 at Garden Cafe and then had breakfast. After we digested breakfast some we hit the gym. It was super crowded. It felt weird to me to be working out at sea. It seemed like I could feel the waves more when I was at the gym. We worked out for an hour and then showered.
By now, we were hungry again so we went on a hunt for second breakfast which was mostly unsuccessful. We have to wake up later than 5am, apparently. We read some more in the late morning, this time in the library, as we watched an endless ocean out the full windows. For lunch, we decided to eat at O'Sheehan's again. We had burgers which were good but didn't compare to Bunz Burger of Ipwsich, at all. After lunch we decided to do some bar-hopping and sat in the hot tub while we sipped our drinks. Of course I tried it, but the pool was way too cold for swimming. Also, we think it might have been salt water. We mingled with some people at the martini bar and at the mojito bar. The mojito place was my favorite bar! It was fun to strike up random conversations with other travelers.
Wandering the ship at dinner time, we found ourselves at Indigo. Indigo is one of the complimentary dining rooms on the ship. I had szechuan chicken, Mandy got steak. A manager said he would send a gift to our room since we were first time cruisers. I don't know if we ever got anything... After dinner we stopped by the theater and caught the end of an entertainment showcase. We saw the ship's comedian Tim Kaminski. He had audience members participate to "reenact" The Wizard of Oz. It was awful as far as reproductions go, but funny nonetheless. We went to bed at about 10:30.
Day 4: 9/6/16
We woke up around 6:30 and showered. After breakfast we went to the gym and did some reading but not in that order. We showered again and then got some BBQ for lunch at Topsiders. Today's drink is a painkiller so we killed some pain. The ship slowed to a crawl shortly after lunch as we followed a narrow passage to Juneau's port. The captain did a very slow 270 degree spin into the dock. We heard something that sounded like Loki groaning but it was much louder. Eventually we spotted the source which was a sea lion playing around in the harbor. We got off the boat around 2:30.
We had some time to kill so we decided to go to downtown Juneau. There was an option to take a bus but we wanted to walk instead. Unfortunately we got stuck behind a really large group of slow-walkers. When we passed them they asked us directions to the buses we had decided not to take. Once we got to downtown Juneau, we realized we didn't really want to be there. It was so crowded. There were three other cruise ships in the port, so somewhere around 10,000 tourists milling about. We took a bus back to our ship, then we switched to a different bus. One that would take us to a quiet bay (we thought we had booked the lake tour to paddle next to the glacier!) where several tandem kayaks awaited. We spent a couple hours paddling around the bay with seals and salmons and we got really close to a pair of bald eagles. One shot out a poop in our direction. Our tour guide, Kara, was on her last day. She didn't seem to care too much when our group got all spread out in the bay. Eventually we tired of paddling so we headed back to shore. It was drizzly when we set out but by the end we were mostly dry.
While we were paddling in the bay, we had asked Kara where to eat. When our bus brought us back to the docks, we made our way to The Hanger per her suggestion. I got a delicious coffee brown ale, Mandy got a Seattle cider Co hard cider that was also good. We enjoyed our beverages while looking over the dinner menu. After a lot of back and forth, we decided to just eat on the ship. The couple next to us had plans to do the same. We started chatting with them as they had been in our kayaking group. They were also cruising on the Pearl with us. And they were from MA as well! They were Sam and Eric. We got another round of drinks with them and decided to dine together once we were back on the ship.
Once our second round of drinks was consumed we set out in the rain to head back to the ship. We all wanted to put on dry clothes, so we agreed to go change and then meet for dinner. We were going to eat at Indigo but they were full, so we went to Summer Palace instead. Sometime during dinner the boat pulled away from the dock and left Juneau. We enjoyed a few courses of food and were all getting tired. We decided to call it a night around 10:30 pm.
Day 5: 9/7/16
We woke up around 5:45 am to find we were just arriving in Skagway. We got breakfast at Garden Café which was particularly packed this morning. I think everyone was trying to get off the boat ASAP. We slowly gathered our things as we were in no hurry and had no desire to compete with the crowd. Around 8 am we made our way off the boat and downtown to 6th Ave and Broadway.
The Jeep rental company was inside Heath’s Popcorn Emporium. We signed the required paperwork and hopped into our 2004 TJ. The contract allowed 200 miles on the rental and charged $1/mile over the allowance. The company recommended turning around at Emerald Lake. Rob and I had discussed getting tattoos on this trip. It seemed like the only port we had time for this was in Skagway. Unfortunately there were no tattoo shops in Skagway. The nearest one was in Whitehorse, capital of Yukon Territory. We really wanted to try to make it there, although round trip would be over 200 miles. We decided to set out on our journey and figure out the rest along the way.
Skagway was covered in fog as we set out on our drive leaving the town behind. There really wasn’t much to see due to the fog and cloud cover. We hit the Alaskan Highway and sailed through Canadian customs. (+1 hour time change) Eventually it seemed as though we were leaving the fog behind. We saw some beautiful scenery and stopped a few times along the way to snap some pictures.
Carcross was the first town that we encountered on the route. It was a very strange town. I believe the population is about 450. On our walk through town we grabbed a coffee and chai latte at a coffee shop. The town is right on a lake with a nice beach. It also has a laundromat, library and a college. We stopped by the visitors center in town and asked how long it takes to get to Whitehorse. About one hour. We decided to go for it and left Carcross to continue north on the Alaskan highway.
It turns out that the drive only took 45 minutes. We didn’t make any stops along the way as we had to have the Jeep back by 6pm and we wanted to ensure we would have enough time in Whitehorse. Downtown didn’t seem to be too large and we easily found the tattoo shop that we were looking for. After paying for parking, Rob and I made our way into Triple J’s. As we were entering there was a woman exiting the shop while breastfeeding a baby. Maybe it’s legal for women to be topless in the Yukon? I didn’t try it myself to find out. Unfortunately the tattoo artist at Triple J’s was booked for the day, as was the artist at Molotov and Bricks. Buzz Tattoo was available by appointment only and had no open hours on Wednesdays. After three attempts and three rejections, it was time for lunch.
Klondike Rib and Salmon BBQ looked promising so we decided to eat there. Rob had the Kickass Klondike burger made of bison, boar, and elk meat. I had a chicken focaccia sandwich. The food was delicious and the portions were enormous. After we stuffed our bellies we decided to head back to Skagway.
The drive back to Skagway offered breathtaking scenery. The sky was partly cloudy and the sun was shining. We stopped a few times along the way for photo ops. It was amazing to see how gigantic the mountains were that we had driven by earlier in the day when they were shrouded by fog. After refilling the tank in Skagway we returned the Jeep. Our total trip length was 226 miles but the rental company decided to waive the overage charges.
The town was busy and crowded but we proceeded to browse through some shops. Rob had been looking for a new watch so we stopped into a few local stores. It was at Kimse’s that Rob instantly spotted something he must have. Not a watch, but a knife. The blade was made from recycled metals (an old sawmill blade) while the handle was fashioned from antler. Rob’s credit card had been placed on hold due to fraudulent activity and his cell phone didn't work. So it took some extra effort to purchase the knife. We got back on the ship and the knife was taken by security for safe keeping until our final departure.
I ate dinner at the Garden Café. Rob was still full from lunch so he just watched. After dinner we stopped at the whiskey bar for a night cap.
Day 6: 9/8/16
Today was another sea day which meant we wouldn't be getting off the boat. We woke up a little after 7 and made our way to Deck 8 forward. This is normally a crew only area but is opened up to guests while cruising Glacier Bay. Unfortunately it was a foggy morning and we couldn’t see much. We decided to grab breakfast instead. After breakfast we visited the game room and pulled our chairs up to the windows to read as we sailed through Glacier Bay. Rangers from Glacier Bay National Park provided commentary over the ship’s PA system throughout the day.
Rob and I decided this would be the perfect time to hit the gym. It turns out that we were right and the gym was pretty empty. I could see some of the scenery from the treadmill but Rob could mostly see just water since he’s so tall.
After our completed workout we went back to the cabin to shower and then watched glaciers pass by from our balcony. The park rangers were on the intercom pointing out specific things to look at. They said we saw Johns Hopkins Glacier. It was really big. There was also Marjorie Glacier, Lamb Plu the blue, and Grand Pacific Glacier. One of them calved into the ocean with a giant splash and the sound of thunder. Eventually, the ship did a 180 and we returned back the way we came.
We made our way to the mid ship bar area and grabbed some drinks. It just so happened that a martini tasting was about to begin so we decided to partake. We like martinis. The martinis came in a flight with a lesson. I liked the Manhattan and 007. We liked the basil cucumber and the espresso. Then we dressed up and got dinner at Teppanyaki, the hibachi restaurant. The chef was very entertaining and the food was really good so we ate too much of it. And then we went into food comas.
Day 7: 9/9/16
We arrived in Ketchikan before we woke up which was around 6:30 am. We ate breakfast at the buffet. It was very rainy when we got off the boat. We met up with our tour guide at 8:05 am. After the remaining five people from the group arrived we got into a van and headed to Alaska Canopy Adventures to go ziplining. We had signed up to do the Bear Creek course. Everyone else in the group was doing the Eagle Creek course, so it was just us and our tour guides, Joey and Immy. We ziplined around the Alaskan rainforest canopy (yes, it's actually a rainforest). The downpour was very fitting. Immy suggested Fat Stan’s for a beer so we found it after we got back to the docks, fully saturated. We had a beer and then got back on the ship to change our clothes.
We ate lunch at Summer Palace as we were pulling away from the docks at about 1:30 pm. I didn’t like my salmon burger. We liked Mandy’s pulled pork cheeseburger. We did some reading in the Spinnaker Lounge for the afternoon. The water was really rough. At dinner we ate at the buffet. We bumped into Sam and Eric and planned to see them at the White Hot Party which started at 10:30 pm. We were exhausted at 9:30 so we didn’t make it.
Day 8: 9/10/16
We slept until about 7:30 this morning. We gained an hour overnight crossing back into the Pacific time zone. We went to the buffet for breakfast and brought our books to do some reading. Eventually we headed back to the room to shower and read some more. Our plan was to go to the gym but as our sneakers were still soaked from Ketchikan this was not an option. Instead, we felt it was a good day to wander the ship.
We started at the great outdoors with a screwdriver for me and a rum and diet coke followed by a beer for Mr. Roberto. Sam and Eric were there eating a late breakfast and we exchanged pleasantries. Maybe they think we’re stalking them. We weren’t. Our next stop was the martini bar. I ordered a basil cucumber twist and Rob had a Jameson and ginger and then a manhattan with Jameson. It had mostly sweet vermouth and also a drop of dry vermouth and finished with a lemon twist. After the martini bar we browsed the ship a bit more before stopping for lunch and drinks at O’Sheehans. Here, we saw Sam and her family again so we stopped and chatted for a bit after we were done eating. We decided that we should head back to the room and try to get some of our things packed as this was our last day on the ship.
After packing we stopped by the hot tubs to relax. It was mostly foggy throughout the day but it started to clear off as we got closer to port. Eventually, we pulled ourselves out of the hot tub and back to the room for a shower followed by some more reading. We ate a buffet dinner at the Garden Café and then disembarked the ship in Victoria. We exited through the gates into Victoria. I wondered to myself, and to Rob, why we didn’t need our passports checked here.
We stopped outside the gated area and decided to wait until people filed off the ship in hopes that we might see people we knew and could explore Victoria with. Sam had said that they were planning to walk around the city and would be getting off the ship around 6 pm. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone we knew in the masses of people exiting. It was fun to smile and wave at people like we knew them but somewhat unsatisfying because no one seemed to notice or care.
We admitted defeat in trying to find people that we knew so we set off to explore Victoria on our own. We started following signs for the waterfront path. Rob desperately had to pee (it was probably because of all those drinks) so we picked up the pace. Public restrooms were available at the fisherman’s wharf so that’s where we made our first stop. Once we had piddled in the loo we walked around the wharf. This was a neat area where you could grab a water taxi, get some food at a local shop, or peep the floating homes. The floating houses were very cute but I think I would tire of the tourists if I lived there.
Our walk continued on towards downtown while we admired architecture and landscaping. We passed by some street performers and stumbled upon a sidewalk chalk festival. We wandered around until we found a place to get a beer. That was Milestones Grill and Bar. I got the Rail Ale Nut Brown Ale. We were seated at the edge of the patio area and had a prime view of the sidewalk to see people walking by and also of the harbor with the government building in the background.
We were enjoying our beers when we saw Sam and Eric. Or maybe they spotted us. They were heading to meet Sam’s family but said they wanted to meet up later for Tim Kaminski’s comedy show. Post-beverages we decided to head back to the ship to catch the comedy show as it started at 10:45. The show was in the Spinnaker Lounge. When we got to the lounge at about 10 pm it was already quite full. Rob got us some drinks at the bar while I secured the only booth left in the room. When Sam and Eric arrived with her sister Tracy and brother-in-law Jason we flagged them over. There was plenty of room at our booth for six people. We enjoyed an evening of comedy and drinks as we pulled away from Victoria to make our way back to Seattle. After the show was over we said our goodbyes to the friends we had made and parted ways to go back to our rooms.
Day 9: 9/11/16
Today is the day we depart the cruise. We woke up in Seattle and decided to go get breakfast in the buffet followed by showers and making sure the last of our things were packed. Since we were planning to carry off all of our luggage that meant we could get off the ship in one of the earliest time slots. We grabbed our bags and started to depart. On the way we stopped to say goodbye to Angelo, our cabin steward for the week, and thank him for his great work. The departure process was very easy, so easy in fact that we almost walked right past the security desk without picking up Rob's knife that he had bought in Skagway. Luckily, my dad reminded him, and we obtained the knife before we left the gangway.
After we got on land we found our way to the concierge service. Here, we left our bags for a small fee, so that we could do some exploring before our flight. All of us wanted to check out Pike Place Market so we made our way there. It wasn't too far from the cruise terminal. I think that we were all impressed by the market. There were so many fish and trinkets and flowers! They had to have been the most beautiful flowers I'd ever seen. And so affordable! The hunger started to set in after we had wandered the market a bit so we grabbed some lunch at a nearby restaurant. We were all pretty exhausted at this point and agreed after lunch to go grab our bags and go to the airport.
The cab dropped us off at the airport and we made our way through baggage drop-off/security with mostly no issues. My parents were targeted for additional baggage searching but we had plenty of time to allow for this. At the departure gate we sat and relaxed and read a little bit while we waited for our flight. The trip was non-stop back to Boston, however, we all somehow wound up separated in middle seats which is probably the worst place to be on a flight. It was a fairly uneventful flight. We landed before midnight and picked up the bags at baggage claim before taking the airport shuttle to the parking garage and finding our vehicle. I was the designated driver and did my best to find the most direct route from the airport back home. We finally made it safe and sound around 1 am on 9/12. Rob went straight to bed so he could get up and go to work that day. The rest of us slept shortly after. Vacation is always enjoyable but it's also nice to be back home.