I’ve been a bit remiss in getting this post finished, but here it is.
My husband and I took a non-traditional approach to our honeymoon. Rather than spend it relaxing on a warm beach, we went on a cruise to ALASKA!! This completed #7 on The List! Certain aspects of the honeymoon have been removed from this narrative for the purpose of privacy and decency. And because no one want to hear about it :)
Day Zero – Seattle, WA
After waking up at an ungodly hour, we were picked up by Jake’s dad to drive us to the airport. This was uneventful, but I felt it necessary to include explanation about how we arrived to Seattle. I’m not sure why. But anyways, we arrived in Seattle at about 9:30am and took a taxi to the ship’s dock. Neither Jake nor I had ever been on a cruise before, so we had no idea what to expect. I did not, however, expect the terminal to look like a giant warehouse with plastic dividers to designate separate areas. But that’s what it was. We gave them our luggage, waited in uncomfortable plastic chairs for about an hour, and then were finally able to board our ship – the Oosterdam (part of the Holland America fleet).
Since the rooms wouldn’t be ready until later in the afternoon, they ushered us up to the Lido deck where a buffet lunch was awaiting. I will be referencing the Lido deck quick a bit, because this was where they always had food. And so we began our week-long food binge. It didn’t help that our room was only one floor below the Lido. We wandered around, exploring the different areas of the ship. It included, among other things, a library, spa, two pools, and more bars and lounges then was strictly necessary. We made some spa appointments and then booked our shore excursions! After unpacking in our teeny-tiny room we spent much of the early evening on the top deck (the tenth to be exact) to have a couple drinks and watch the ship pull out of the port. The evening ended with a delicious four course meal in the main dining room and a dosage of Dramamine (the only time we had to take it the whole trip)!
Note to Californians: the motion of the ship in the water can feel like an earthquake.
Mt. Rainier - it's a volcano...with snow!
Hey look! It's Seattle!
Day One – Out to Sea
Nothing happens when you are out to sea. The ship makes a valiant attempt to provide onboard activities like Bingo, trivia games, wine tasting, and cooking demonstrations. I may have been tempted by the wine, but Jake doesn’t like it. I also would have been very interested in the cooking demonstration, but they were demonstrating how to cook fish, which is just gross. In the end, we spent most of the day napping and eating. We did wander out on the promenade deck for a short while, but it was quite chilly, so we meandered back to our room for more napping. That night was the first of two formal nights, so I got to get all dolled up in my red cocktail dress and enjoy another four course dinner!
Me and the hubby at the back of the ship
Mr. and Mrs. - all dolled up!
Day Two – Cruising Glacier Bay
After a lethargic morning of more eating and napping, we staked out an early seat up on the top deck. I brought my book and Jake brought his PSP and we sat in companionable silence for some time while we waited for the ship to reach Glacier Bay. It was the perfect day – all sunshiny but still cool. Jake had his PSP and I had a romance novel, so we sat in companionable silence for a bit until the ship reached the first of the glaciers sometime in the afternoon. People started cramming the decks by then, but we had our cozy little spot still so it was nice! We took turns going down to the Lido deck to bring up food while the other reserved our spot.
After a couple hours of glacier viewing we returned to our room to get changed for, you guessed it, another four course dinner. Afterwards we went to one of their nightly shows – this one was a comedian whose name I don’t remember. He was a very “clean” comedian – not dirty or racist jokes. All of his material was centered on cruises and things relating to cruises which we both find fairly humorous. Not the funniest comedy show ever, but still pretty damn funny.
A glacier - I don't know the name. Maybe the John Hopkins Glacier?
Day Three – Juneau, AK
We cruised into Juneau sometime in the early morning on Wednesday of our journey. Jake and I had an excursion booked for noon, so had a leisurely breakfast before heading to shore. We found out right away that Juneau relies heavily on tourists who want to unload a ton of cash on useless souvenirs and jewelry. The streets surrounding the port were lined with nothing but novelty shops and jewelry stores specializing in every kind of precious stone you can imagine. I wouldn’t mind as much if every store didn’t carry the exact same things. I did find a pair of earrings with a stone commonly called northern lights – it’s a dark stone with prisms of every color in it. Very pretty, in my opinion.
Around noon we went to the meeting point for our shore excursion, which was a hike to view the Mendenhall Glacier. It was exhausting, but amazing! We went about 3.5 miles up a mountain (and then the 3.5 miles back of course) – the tour guide said it was the farthest he had taken a group that far in over a year!! The view was spectacular! We returned back to the ship afterwards and took some quick showers before heading the spa for hot stone massages! Scheduling the massages right after the hike was Jake’s stroke of genius. Ordering room service for dinner afterward was mine. It was the perfect day!
I would guess this was about 2.5 miles into the hike - Mendenhall glacier is behind us
One of the natural waterfalls created by the Mendenhall Glacier and some ice chunks in the water
Day Four – Sitka, AK
Sitka was our favorite of the three Alaskan ports we visited. Because of the ports, the ships could not actually go up to the docks directly. They anchored out in the harbor and ferried the passengers to shore using “tenders”. These were actually just some of the lifeboats – which was comforting because it meant that the lifeboats were functioning. So we went to the shore and meandered about for a short while. The stores here were much better compared to Juneau – most of the items were made and sold by the locals. We did a shore excursion here as well, but this time it was cultural tour. This turned out to be a bus ride to three cultural locations within walking distance of the port, so we wandered off and left the group after the first stop. Apparently when on a cruise, “cultural tour” roughly translates to “old people”. We did get to see the local museum chock full of interesting native artifacts as well as the St. Michaels Cathedral. I always marvel at the amazing amount of wealth held by some cathedrals – the church was, after all, one of the greatest patrons of the arts back in the day. Anyways, the art in there was incredible!
After we took the little “tender” back to the ship we got dolled up again for the second formal evening. This one was different though, because we would not be going to the main dining room. Instead, we had reservations at the uber fancy Pinnacle Grill. I had steak and creme brulee – it was amazing!
St. Michaels Cathedral
A view of the apse of St. Michaels Cathedral
Day Five – Ketchikan, AK
There isn’t much to say about Ketchikan. It’s a pretty cute town and the shops were decent. We didn’t plan an excursion for that day, so we mostly just wandered around. There were horse-drawn trollies, which is neat. I did find a cache of Sarah Palin paraphernalia – all on clearance. Apparently she’s not too popular with the people of Ketchikan…or with most people in general.
Day Six – Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria was, by far, our favorite part of the entire trip! Unfortunately it was also where we spend the least amount of time. The ship got there about 6pm on Saturday (I got a manicure/pedicure to kill time in the afternoon). We had a pub tour booked for our excursion, so we went strait to meet up for that once on shore. Our bus driver was late, finally pulling into the lot like a bat out of hell and screeching to a stop. We loaded on the bus and he promptly turned to the unsuspecting lady behind him, hands her his iPhone and sheet of paper and says “here, call Spinnakers and tell them we’re on our way.” It set the tone for the entire trip – hilarious!! We went to three different pubs – Spinnakers, The Penny Farthing, and the Fernwood Inn. We met a couple from Oklahoma who chatted with – they were an absolute hoot! By the time the bus driver (his name was Francis, by the way) dropped us off at the ship we were both pretty tipsy, but feeling good!
We’ve both decided that we need to plan a trip to Victoria so that we can see more of it!
Parliament building in Victoria
Do we look tipsy? Because we are.
Day Seven – Seattle, WA
So sad to see the trip come to an end! Starting at 7:30am, we were ushered off the ship in groups – ours disembarking at 8:15am. We were back in the giant warehouse, meandering through slightly hungover and very tired. Having no idea about customs, we made the mistake of not filling out a claims thingy – I figured I didn’t have anything to claim, so we didn’t have to. WRONG! We were yelled at and one lady tried to send Jake in a different direction than me until I yelled back at her “excuse me but that’s my husband so I would appreciate it if I could go with him!!” Right before I broke down and cried we found a nice lady who said “You look nervous, why don’t you come that way.” I thought they were going to search me for drugs or something, but she just found a way for us to skip the line. Nice lady.
So we got out of the warehouse and on to our tour. Yes, we booked a tour of Seattle – because what else were we to do in Seattle when our flight didn’t leave until 5:30pm? We drove through Pioneer Square, went up the Space Needle, and spent over an hour at Pike Place Market. It would have been more enjoyable had we not been utterly exhausted. We were dropped off at the airport where I enjoyed the free WiFi by watching episodes of Angel on my netbook to kill time. We finally got home sometime after 8pm.
The first Starbucks - at Pike Place
All in all, a great trip!! But we were definitely ready to just be home!
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