Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Cruising into Victoria, B.C. we awoke at 9:30am. It felt like we had slept till at least noon. I dressed and headed to the Great Outdoors for my morning cappuccino and french toast. We will not dock in Victoria till this evening. We will have the day on the ship to do what ever. After breakfast I went to look at the T shirts they had on sell and finished up my gift shopping. I went to the photo gallery and found a decent pic of me with the sea otter mascot disembarking in Ketchikan. I got it because it came with a pic of the ship and I really wanted that keepsake. I went around to the internet cafe and got in on a "minutes sale". Got 30 minutes for $12. Sat down and immediately used half of them. I used the other half when I got back from our Castle excursion. I then went back to the room to pack my suit cases. We had to put them outside our door at 10:00pm tonight to be taken and sent to our airlines to meet us in Houston. Thank goodness we will not have to lug them off the ship, into a cab, through the airport, etc. The ship personnel also printed out our boarding passes for us. That makes going to the airport a breeze. It was a tight fit, but I got everything into my suit cases. I still don't know how I did it but there was a lot of huffing and puffing and laying across the suit case. I relaxed till time to go ashore. We even had a leisurely dinner in the Summer Place before we disembarked.

It was windy and cold getting off the ship in Victoria. We quickly found our bus and climbed aboard. Our driver told us all the history and highlights of Victoria. It is a very beautiful city with a beautiful coast line. Most all the houses look like Cape Cod Bungalows. We toured Craigdarroch Castle. It was really pretty and HUGE.

There was some beautiful flora in Victoria. I love seeing how the plants vary from region to region.

China Town

The Empress hotel. Sorry for the glare from the bus window. No tea with the Queen.

More touring of the city, then back to the ship about dark.

An ice cream snack, blog and a movie before bed.

We docked in Seattle about 8:30am, Sunday morning. Sunday morning was relaxed. After breakfast for the last time on the deck of the Great Outdoors we looked around our room for anything left behind and closed the door for the last time. We disembarked about 10:00am and hailed a taxi. He was a very nice gentleman. We told him we would like to go to a movie to kill time till our flight at 5:40pm. He drove us to a movie theatre downtown and gave us his number to call when we were ready to head to the airport. We watched "My Life In Ruins", cute flick, then went across the street to the Cheese Cake Factory for a late lunch and to kill a little more time. We had originally planned to sight see when we got back to Seattle, but fatigue got the better of us. After lunch, no cheese cake (too full), we called our taxi driver. He was busy so his brother, the taxi driver, picked us up. He was equally as nice. He told us of his country, etc while driving us to the airport. We bid him good bye and went into the airport. We did a little shopping in there...very cute stuff...then went to wait for our flight to be called. Maxine came through again and we boarded first. A few minutes into our flight the captain said to look out the left window (just happened to be my side) to see Mt. Rainer right next to us. Here is the incredible shot I got.

Had a relaxing flight and movie.
Glad to be home...sad to be home...miss Alaska. Hope you enjoyed the journey, I sure did. NCL is a fantastic Cruise Line. The Inside Passage is an amazing place to see. If you ever get a chance to visit Alaska, Take it! You won't regret it. It was so worth the year of scrimping and saving to take this amazing trip. I would go back in a heart beat, but I would like to see some more of what the world has to offer. Where to next? That's the question.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 7 Alaska Cruise and Texas Heat Wave

Happy Monday morning everyone. Today it is suppose to reach 101 degrees. Everyday last week was between 101 and 103. See why I hate Texas summers. Steve doesn't mind it. He actually plays golf in it, but I can't walk from the house to the car with out becoming a sweat puddle. It even gets hard just to catch your breath when you are out in it. Misery!!
Now, on to cooler thoughts...Day 7
As we slept, the Pearl sailed to Ketchikan. We woke early for our excursions. We drew back the curtain to the balcony and beheld a quaint little town built on the water's edge and up the mountain. It looked like something out of a travel book about beautiful harbors and places to visit. I stepped out onto my balcony and there almost directly below me was the Aleutian Ballad. She is beautiful and now converted for tourist. I hurried to dress, eat breakfast and scurry down the gang plank (above you can see that it took me almost right onto the Aleutian Ballad). We were welcomed aboard by Capt. Terry, Chief and Kiwi (all former Bering Sea fishermen). I got a seat in the front row (better for pics I thought) and waited to begin our journey. I had been slightly concerned about the sea sick issue being on a smaller boat, etc. But I needn't had worried. The waters we were is were calm as glass. It was wonderful. They entertained us the whole time with stories and facts and there was always something to keep your attention. This was easily my favorite excursion. Kiwi and Chief taught us about long lining and caught some nasty fish. I can't remember the name of it, but I know you never want to come in contact with those spines.

We stopped beside an island where Eagles nest. They began to feed the Eagles and they swooped in from all around us. I got some amazing shots. Here are a few.

This Eagle had a fish in his talons. Capt. Terry said he had never seen this many Eagles in one tree. The one with the brown head is a juvenile.

They are so fast it is very difficult to get good pics of them. They will be flying right at you and then roll over and dive for a fish. They a simply amazing and beautiful!

After taking pics of the Eagles and eweing and aweing, we went on to the buoys where the crab pots were soaking. Chief then threw the hook and Kiwi worked the hydraulics. Chief hand coiled the line (old school) and they brought up the pot. They opened the pot and let and let us hold the crab as they continued to educate us all with facts about crab fishing. It was really interesting and entertaining.

After returning to the dock I only had 1 1/2 hours to shop for gifts for family and friends. I had saved my shopping for Ketchikan because I heard they had some of the best shopping and because I had not really had the time to shop in the other ports. Not so smart on my part. I whizzed from store to store to get the things on my list and get back to the boat in time to board.
Upon returning to the ship they announced "Chocolate Madness" from 10:00 to 12:00 that night. We decided to catch a short nap to help us stay up for the festivities...anything for Chocolate. The chocolate was every where. Anything that could be made from chocolate was there. There were chocolate sculptures and ice sculptures. It was wonderful!! After our chocolate feast we went to our room and watched "The Wedding Date". Very cute movie.
It was a wonderful day in Ketchikan. I would love to return with more time to take in the town and local flavors. If I take this trip again I will allow myself more time for seeing the towns, shops and eating local cuisine. Tomorrow is Victoria, B.C. and the last port of the cruise.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On day 6 of our cruise we sailed Glacier Bay. It was almost surreal. The blue water was slick as glass and the ship seem to glide across it. There were rivers of ice coming down the mountains to the sea. There was snow on the mountains, but it was not that cold in this protected place. We spent time sitting on our balcony, but most of the time we viewed this magical world from the deck of the Great Outdoors. We sat in the warm sun, drinking cappuccino, listening to sea birds waiting for the sound of the CRACK which indicates a possible caving of the glacier. We were lucky enough to catch a couple of very small caving's, but nothing like you see on National Geographic. There were pieces of ice floating all in the bay. They are called crumbles.

The colors of the glaciers are just amazing. White to blue to turquoise to grey to black.

As we were sailing out of Glacier Bay Jackie and Betty went to take a nap but I couldn't bare to miss anything. I sat in the Spinnaker Lounge at the front of the ship. It has big floor to ceiling windows with comfy chairs and couches all around. I sat almost dead center and almost felt if I were sailing the ship myself. We watched with binoculars and camera lens for whales and other signs of sea life. We were fortunate enough to see many sea birds, Otters lying in the water cracking open there treasures on the tummies, seals lounging on small islands that dotted the bay. We also saw 2 whales playing in the bay. They were too far away for the naked eye, but I saw them breach and blow dozens of times. Maybe they were courting. They were very active.

Here is my one shot of the whales. Don't know if there is any hope of blowing it up to see more. This is a pic of the Sea Lions on a small island. I will have to edit and crop it to get a better pic.

Otters are one of my faves. They are just so cute lying on their backs in the water and washing their faces and cracking open the crustaceans that have gathered. It was a great afternoon visiting with lots of other travelers (some were even from Austin). We talked about what we had done so far on our trip. you meet the nicest people when you travel.

That evening we dressed for dinner and went to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is the Pearl's main dining room and much more upscale. The food was incredible. We were seated at a table by the window and watched the sun begin to set from our table. you know it never really sets this time of year in Alaska. After dinner we went back to our room. The movie that night was Twilight. I have seen it, but the Bells hadn't. I showered and went to bed. The Bells kept waking me from my "twilight" sleep to ask me questions about the movie. I told them it would spoil it for them and turned over. I melted into my comfy bed and slept right through everything else.

Hope you are enjoying this journey with me. I am reliving it all as I journal. I would go back in a heart beat. Wait till you see the pics of Ketchikan and the Aleutian Ballad. Ketchikan might have been my fave...hard to say though.

Monday, June 22, 2009


While we slept last night the ship sailed to Skagway. We have an early morning excursion so we set the alarm for 6:45am. The time changes along with the 18 hours of daylight throw your inner clock off so a lot of the time you don't know what time it is. I was continually looking at my watch. Jackie woke up at 4:45am and thought it was 6:45am and got up and started stirring around. I thought to myself, "Time to get up already?". Then a sigh of relief. I heard Betty tell Jackie, "It's only 4:45"! I fell back into a restful sleep till the alarm went off at 6:45. Love that stolen sleep. We got up, went to breakfast at the regular place and then disembarked for our first shore excursion of the day. We went on the Skagway Street Car. The antigue street car was driven by a lady in period costume who entertained us with stories and the history of Skagway. She told us all about the gold rush and the people who founded and built Skagway. We went out to the cemetery where the early town's population are buried. The graves had these ornate fences around them. They were so cool.

It was very interesting to hear about all the goings on during the gold rush. Very risque and dangerous.

After the street car excursion we shopped in town for a little bit. Cool shops, but most are very touristy...ya think? The ship was docked within a short walking distance from the town (actually a couple of blocks). We went back aboard and had lunch before our second excursion of the day, the White Pass Railroad, which came with in a few yards of the ship to climb aboard. The train takes you though the woods and up the mountains on a narrow track. Across tressels and through pitch black tunnels, across snow covered passes and over raging rivers.

It was really beautiful. The views were spectacular. The engineer saw a bear, but the time my car got to the spot it had already retreated into the woods. Zero for 2 on the bears.

After a long day of sight seeing our brains and bodies were tired (processing all this new info takes it's toll) and it was time to be aboard ship...and that is a time you never lose track of...unless you are four girls in Ketchikan...a whole other story. Back aboard ship we dined on Lobster (OMGosh it was sooo good). We went back to our state room, showered and watched a movie while falling asleep for an other blissful night of rest. Just don't know what it is about this ship and sleep...lol!

Two post in one day. When you are old you have to do it while the thoughts are there...lol!

Hope everyone is having a great Monday. Ewe, have to see what is up with Jon and Kate tonight. Steph said she heard on the radio that they filed for divorce. What a shame. Tonight is a 1 hour special about what is going on with them...supposedly. Been watching since day 1, just interested to see how it plays out.


Up at 8:00am, dressed and went up to my favorite place "the Great Outdoors" and drank a cappuccino and ate the most delicious french toast. The smells and sights were fabulous. The air was crisp and cool and I was lovingly it. We were close to Juneau, our first Port of Call. After a leisurely breakfast we went to play Bingo. The three of us shared a set of cards and never even came close to Bingo. I am so not a gambler.

We docked in Juneau and I disembarked for my first shore excursion. I went on the Juneau Walking Photography Tour. We boarded our bus with our professional photographer guide. We drove to an old mining town and walked through woods and along a beach talking photos.
The flora was just beautiful!
We then boarded the bus for a short tour of the town and a drive out to the Juneau Visitor Center. After a lecture about encounters with bears and what to do we hiked to Mendenhall Glacier taking photos and learning all about the history of the glacier and the area.
Never saw a bear, but saw fresh bear paw tracks.
I really wanted to see a bear, but did not want to
come in contact with one.
We got some amazing shots of the glacier.
It was a wonderful tour and I got some great photos and some great photography tips. We hiked over some rugged terrain for 4 hours and I actually did great for an old sedentary gal, but my dawgs were barking when we got back to the ship...lol!! OMGosh Alaska is majestic!
Jackie and Betty's excursion was a ride in the Mt. Robert's Tram to the top of Mt. Roberts. They said there were some amazing views from up there and some great shopping up there too. They brought me back a lot of Alaska embellishments for my scrapbooking of our adventure to the "Last Frontier". We were back on the ship about 6:45pm. We ordered room service...free. Stills blows my mind that it is free. I feel asleep quickly while The Bell's (as I call Betty and Jackie, they are from Bellville) watched a movie on the TV in the room. Something about the sea air, rocking of the ship and the Bonine (sea sick med) that relaxes me so much that I can not stay awake at night. The time difference probably has something to do with it also. I may have to try Bonine at home. I haven't slept so well in years.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I missed a couple of days. Life just seems to get in the way when I am home. I promise I will get day 4 up tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Monday, and today we sail all day. Woke up at 8:00am (10:00 Texas time). This is what I saw from my balcony. We are sailing up the Inside Passage to Juneau which will be our first port of call. I dressed and went to the "Great Outdoors" for coffee and the scenery. They call it the Great Outdoors Bar, but it's really a great place to eat or just sit and watch the Inside Passage go by. It also has a great buffet. French toast is my favorite breakfast, but there is anything your heart desires. So much food your head spins trying to take it all in. This could be a very dangerous trip.
Another great find was the Cappicino Machine. Cappacicino, Latte and Expresso. So good in the morning for a wake me up or in the evening with dessert. Um!

Views from the ship. The pics don't do it justice. It was so amazing. It was overcast, but still beautiful. I was able to watch Dolphins playing in the wake of the boat, but didn't go back to my room to get my camera. I was certain they would be gone by the time I returned...I was right. The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship (my it's a big place, don't think I ever saw it all) and taking in the views. Alaska is truely breath taking. I know I am going to sound like a broken record by the time I am done, but it is truely the most beautiful place I have ever seen. You could hear ewe, ahhh, ohhh from the ship all the time. We were like kids in a candy store.

Till tomorrow (Day 4), Sindee

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's hump day (Wed.) and I am so ready for Friday. During the summer months we work 4 tens so we get a 3 day week end each week. Love those 3 day week ends!!

Ok, where was I. Oh yes, day 2 of my Alaska adventure. Sunday morning we had to have our large pieces of luggage ready to be taken to the ship (from our hotel room in Seattle) by 8:30am. We had those ready and they were picked up. We had to be in the lobby by 10:00am to get on the bus to board the bus. We boarded the bus and were whisked off to the ship. We went through check in at the dock (fairly painlessly) and waited to board the ship. For those that don't know, the ship pulls into the dock from her last trip to Alaska and passengers disembark by 10:00am. The staff then madly cleans the ship and makes ready for the new group of excited travelers. If you hadn't read my prior blogs about my cruise here is a tid bit. My friend Betty, has had knee surgery and sometimes uses a walker. We affectionately named the walker "Maxine" because she has a mind of her own, doesn't always want to go in the direction you point her and is pushed around by three old broads. We had a love hate relationship with Maxine. We boarded the plane first because of Maxine. Porters stop to help us because of Maxine. The little cart drivers in the airport pick you up because of Maxine...well you get the picture. This is a pic of Betty sitting beside Maxine who is covered with all our stuff...we also used her as a pack mule when necessary. We boarded the ship "FIRST" (thanks Maxine) about 11:00am and were shown to the Garden Cafe Buffet where lunch was ready and we could eat and wait till our state rooms were ready at 2:00pm. It was relaxing and exciting and the time went quickly.

At 2:00 the announcement was made by Capt Lars that our rooms were ready. We made our way to our state room. It was quite a shock when we opened the door and the picture we had seen in the brochure WAS the actual size or our room. Not exactly, but it was kinda small for three women and A LOT of luggage. We all over packed. There were drawers and a closet that you can't see and it worked out fine. We shoved our empty suit cases under our beds...the only place they would fit. The bath even had a full shower. The beds actually were twin beds in our cabin and the couch made into the third bed.

After unpacking and settling in that evening we attended a talk/show in the Stardust Theater that acquainted us newbie cruisers with how things worked on the ship, etc.

We explored the ship with wide eyed wonder and amazement. I located the Internet Cafe, bought my first block of minutes, set up my password and sent the first blog to family and friends.
Then we went to our cabin, discussed the day and got some much needed sleep while to ship sailed toward the Inside Passage. I slept like a baby rocked by the gentle motion of the boat.
Oh, and I have to give a BIG thank you to Alena's Mom for the advice on sea sick meds. I took the Bonine and the ginger root pills and never had even a twinge of sea sickness. My friends, who did not listen to me and got the patch, were sea sick for a lot of the cruise. Not to where they couldn't function, but just miserable. That was my greatest fear. Thank goodness for Bonine. The only thing I noticed, I wasn't drowsy, but when ever I got horizontal I was out like a light and slept soundly. I needed that rest though. I was so refreshed after the cruise.

Hope I am not too long winded. Day 3 tomorrow, Sindee