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    Royal Caribbean
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  1. Disembarkation time always comes, no matter how much you wish it wouldn’t! They had coffee and pastries set up by the cavern club each morning on the promenade. Nice if you don’t want to trek all the way up the deck 14. Great at view of Seattle this morning. We’d travelled a long way! The morning was quite relaxed though with us not having a flight today and not needing to be out of the room until 9. We took a wander around the ship, grabbed some breakfast and had a nose into some of the nicer rooms. We tried to sneak into the haven but it was still very busy so we didn’t want to disturb anyone. We took our own luggage off the ship and then got in the queue for customs. It wasn’t too long, about 20 minutes and then we were free in Seattle! I’ll do an update about what we did in Seattle too for anyone that is interested. Overall our cruise was excellent. Our first experience with NCL and whilst there are some differences to other lines we been on (some good, some not so) it was still an amazing cruise. For anyone thinking about going to Alaska but aren’t sure, definitely do it! It is probably our 1st or 2nd favourite cruise (probably tied with our Baltic one) and the scenery is second to none. The observation lounge on the Bliss is a good way to experience it, especially if it’s a bit rainier that our cruise was. We were so lucky with the weather. If anyone has any questions please let me know and thanks for following along! Here are some random photos too that I forgot/didn’t add in elsewhere. The canvas by u classes had some very talented artist in them Los Lobos has some board games and cards in during the day too! Not it on the menu, but each bar had a selection of Alaskan beers available. I checked all the all taste good! i love the plaques that the chip gets for its maiden visit to each port.
  2. Today was pretty much a sea day, with a brief stop in Victoria in the evening before the worst day of the cruise, disembarkation!! We spent a very relaxing day at sea, but that makes for a very boring blog update!! We headed to the spa again, tried the go karting again (I got the fastest lap!) and just enjoyed the ship. The weather was much warmer today so we even tried the two water slides. I loved the drop slide but it’s not for the faint of heart, whilst the ring slide is very enjoyable, fast but not scary and they let you go down two at a time. We spent a lot of the afternoon down on the promenade deck as it was empty. Even whilst the ship was moving the seats are nice a sheltered from the wind, despite quite a breeze blowing on the walk way. We had dinner at Los Lobos tonight and decided to sit outside. However it started to cool down when the sun went the other side of the ship so we had to move inside for dessert! Our waitress was lovely and very accommodating though. The food was tasty, but one of the dishes wasn’t quite what we were expecting, the Cochinita Pibil and had an unusual taste. This was our selection though, as everything else was delicious. Then it was time for our evening walk in Victoria. As we were docking there was a kite surfing getting some pretty big jumps in! Holland America and Princess both had ships in dock so the port was very busy. We opted to walk into town rather than pay for the buses and it was about 25 minutes and a very pretty walk for the most part. Victoria itself is a lovely town to walk through and we spent our time wandering the town and harbour and exploring the empress hotel. The lights on the buildings are well worth seeing. It has the feel of a nice British town, lots of bars were open as it was a Saturday night, but everything was very relaxed. And the exchange rate is much more favourable than the US dollar at the moment. We wish we could have spent more time but it was time to get back to the ship. And then it was time for our last sleep on the boat.
  3. This is our balcony, really good spot I thought. Once back on the ship we headed to the spa to warm back up again, then had a nice afternoon relaxing around the ship. Great ice sculpture in the buffet! There was was an eagle wandering around the ship too! There red was a princess cruise ship next to us, loved the glass walkway! After that it was time for the Jersey boys show. We didn’t know much about the four seasons and hadn’t seen the show before so this was a real treat. The cast were very talented and the show was very funny. I definitely recommend seeing it when you are onboard, but you must book as there were no seats available for the majority of the standby line. After the show we headed to Savor for some dinner. Service was very good, especially for half 9 at night. The food was great, especially the coconut shrimp and chimichurri steak but I forgot to take pictures! Desserts in the Coco’s looked amazing though. Our laundry was returned to us in this awesome basket rather than just the bag. Our towel animals from from the last two nights.
  4. We spent about 45 minutes being guided through the forest, totems and the hut before coming back to our van and taking the 20 minute drive through the Tongass national rainforest to the canoe camp. We learnt some interesting facts, such as the Tongass is the largest national forest in the US and along with its parts in Canada accounts for about 30% of the world’s oxygen! Our guide also pointed out the smallest Walmart in the States. It was only allowed here if they weren’t allowed to sell produce, to ensure they didn’t put the local shops out of business. One thing I found interesting was the number of adopt a highway signs, an interesting way to subsidise road maintenance! We arrived at the canoe camp after a very bumpy ride on a track (we did see a couple of deer though!) only to discover the previous group weren’t back yet and there weren’t enough oars and vests for us. This meant another 15 minutes waiting around. I wouldn’t normally mind but we had a very short port stop today, and this would mean we couldn’t look around town at all. Once the previous group were back we got kitted out and got in the canoe. I would like to say it was fun but the rain started to come down quite heavily and we got drenched. Thankfully we were wearing our waterproof trousers so it wasn’t too bad. Once we dock on the other shore of the lake, we were offered some hot chowder and coffee or chocolate, and then went on a short walk through the rainforest. This was fascinating and it was interesting to see the difference between the 50 year old growth in the Totem park, and the 150 years plus growth here. I found the “nursey trees” incredible. Old stumps or trees that had fallen down that the other plants, including trees, grew from. Once the nursery tree had been completely used up it would crumble away, leaving very interesting shaped root structures on the mature trees, almost like the are getting ready to run away! They make great homes for sleeping animals though, not that we saw any here. This reliance on old trees for nutrients is due to the fact that the top soil is only about 3 feet deep, so it’s hard for trees to get enough nutrients. Underneath that it is slate. This also means its more likely for trees to fall over. After another round of hot chocolate, it was time for the return journey. Luckily the rain had eased off and we were able to enjoy the serene nature of the trip. No engines larger than a jet ski are allowed on the lake, and we had it to ourselves. We even did some shouting on the middle of the lake to hear the impressive echoes. Then it was back in the van and back to the ship. Due to the delayed tour and some traffic, we only made it back to the ship 10 minutes before all aboard. A quick stop in the port gift shop was all we could manage before it was time for sail away.
  5. After our wonderful day in Glacier bay our next port stop was Ketchikan. View from the boat of downtown. It docks very close! We were informed that it rains over a third of the year here, and true to this statistic in was raining. Quite lightly to begin with but it got heavier! We had a tour booked to go to Totem Bight park and then onto a canoe trip into the rainforest. When we got to our meeting point our guide wasn’t there yet, and he arrived about 15 minutes alter. He was very friendly and apologised, saying a young deer had been in the road on the way to their canoe camp and it took them a while to move it out of the way. Our first stop was the Totem park about 20 minutes drive from the cruise port. Our excursion was quite small, 8 people, so we had a small minivan, which gave better view whilst driving. The Totem park is on a piece of land that was cut down for logging about 50 years ago and it is really interesting to see how much it has grown in that time. The Totems are all reproduction made by descendants from the local native tribes. They are very interesting, but our guide only appeared to have a passing knowledge of some of them. We did learn that they put metal caps on the poles to prevent them deteriorating as fast. Also, the park has not had any state funding since 2013, so no repairs have been carried out since then, a real shame. The artistry and skill involved in creating them is very impressive though.
  6. Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay in getting the rest of the blog out, it’s been a hectic week at work! Should be able to get it done over the weekend though.
  7. And then we came to the main part of the day, the glacier. We decided to head out to deck 17, where the laser tag is for this, as we figured we could move around as necessary. I think it turned out to be a good spot and we had no trouble getting a spot by the glass. first peak of the glacier the blue of the freshly exposed glacier is incredible Someone was enjoying the hot tub in the Haven area! This was breathtaking. We stayed for about an hour in front of it and the captain did a slow 180, pausing for some time on each side and the front facing it. We were lucky enough to see some calving and the sound it makes is indescribable. You can see the ripple the fallen ice makes in the water here. A sailing boat had also come to view the glacier today, it must be amazing to see it from a small boat like this! A princess cruise ship was following us through the bay too. After that we took a slow cruise back out of the bay and we decided to watch it from the spa. A few other people had the same idea but it really wasn’t busy. Whilst in here we managed to spot a few whales coming past and even what we think were some dolphins! We were so lucky with everything that we managed to see here, and the backdrop of the scenery made everything that much better. Pictures really don’t do it justice. Once we left the bay we decided we needed some food after all the excitement and headed to margaritaville. This is a $18 cover charge including gratuity and you get a appetiser/salad and a main and a dessert for that price. The food here was very good and the burger particularly and very filling! I recommend it if you want somewhere different much better than the buffet burgers. After that we spent some time relaxing and then headed to laser tag. This was really good fun and you played two rounds of 5 minutes each, but it flys by! The arena is pretty small but the are plenty of spots to hide behind. Also only your gun can get shot, so you can have a look around in safety before popping your head out. Blue team won! Yay! After all the running around we embedded down to relax on the waterfront and take in some of the beautiful vistas again. It was very quiet down here and we had it pretty much to ourselves. The seats are very sheltered from the wind as well and the evening sunshine was lovely. We listened to a bit of the Beatles tribute band (they were very good, although one of their moustaches fell off a couple of songs in). If you want a seat though you’ll have to get here early, there was barely any room to stand when we got there right about starting time. We ended up grabbing a quick bit to eat in the buffet then headed to bed as it had been a long day! Last Alaska port tomorrow, Ketchikan.
  8. I like mornings anyway, and wanted to get a good seat, so headed down to the observation lounge about 5am. Even so, all of the comfy seats were taken but the crew had put out plenty of folded seat, which actually weren’t too bad. The views cruising in to glacier bay were great, and I got to see lots of sea otters playing around in the water right in front of the boat. By about 6am all of the front row of seats were taken, but there were still a few left behind. The rangers come aboard to direct the captain through the bay and give talks etc. and they arrived by boat just after 6. Also this is the ferry from the closest town, Gustavus. It only comes once a day, so once you get off it you are on your own for 24 hours! By about half 6 there was standing room only, and the rangers began their talks about 7 am with a quick introduction. About 8 they started narrating the cruise through the bay, but it was impossible to hear at the from of the observation lounge. Between the quiet speakers, height ceiling and noise from the buffet we couldn’t make anything out, which was a shame. You can hear it quite clearly from round the sides of the lounge. The views more than made up for it though and we were treated to some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. I would also say sit at the side rather than the front. Some people ventured outside early, they needed to wrap up warm! The front gets great views for a moment, but you’ll want to be at the side to get a really good look at the scenery and increase your chances of wildlife spotting. We also managed to spot a bear on a far off beach. Binoculars and a good zoom camera are an absolute must for this cruise. As we were coming up the our glacier, Margerie, we also saw a bald eagle perched on a bit of ice and about 10 seals relaxing on another piece. There were also some playing around in the water which was great fun to watch!
  9. We got to the mushers camp and you have to transfer to a specialist truck as the hill is VERY steep! Had to go the whole way in first gear (of 8). This photo doesn’t quite do it justice. And this was coming back down! The view from from the top was impressive though. Once you meet the dogs and get into the carts before doing a few laps of the circuit. It’s good fun and they go quite fast considering they are dragging 7 humans around! Having a well deserved rest 😊 They got up to 5-6 miles per hour, but on the ice can make it past 20 in short bursts!! After the ride we headed back down to camp for the best part of the tour, cuddling puppies! This was awesome and well worth the tour just for this. They had about 15 4 week old puppies and 3 4 month olds. We could hold the 4 week olds but the mums didn’t like them being taking out of their sight. We saw the 4 month olds exercising in their giant hamster wheel which was funny. All too soon it was time to head back to the ship. We reluctantly gave the puppy back, whilst our guide told us a story of someone who tried to smuggle a puppy away! They got all the way to the ship and then ship security found the puppy and called the camp! I don’t know how they thought they would get it on the ship! Back in the ship it was time for sail away and we grabbed dinner in food republic. The food was great particularly the sushi, but it could get quite expensive as they are priced a la carte and about $9 each. We ordered 5 things but you could easily order more. After dinner we headed to the spa for a bit then off to bed. Early start tomorrow to try and get a good seat in the observation lounge!
  10. After relaxing at the falls we walked back to town and the Skagway brewing company for a hard earned drink! The view walking back to town was still spectacular! We got there by chance just as the restaurant was opening at 11, we were the first table seated, and I’d recommended doing that if you want to eat here. 20 minutes later there were only hardly any tables left! I tried the spruce tip ale and have to say it’s delicious, no bitter after taste that you get with some beers. We had a fish sandwich and popcorn shrimp and they were both delicious. This pickle looked very happy 😆 We were going to have crabs legs again but they were $44 dollars each here! So definitely get yours at Tracey’s in Juneau! The meal wasn’t too expensive and very tasty. you can see the train cuts right through town. We were all done with our food by quarter to 12 so headed for a leisurely walk to Yakutania point, a lookout just 15 minutes from town. The pet cemetery sign is a bit scary, I’ve read that book! It’s quite an easily walk but has some steep, but short, up and down sections. Well worth the effort though as the views back across the bay to the ship are excellent. We then headed back to the ship for our mushers camp tour. On the way we saw them putting up there new ships record for the joy. Apparently this started back when paper was more scare, and everything would get burned it the winter to stay warm! They weren’t quite finished by the time we had to leave though. If someone else is going soon can you get a finished photo? We booked this one through a third part website and there were 23 of us in total, so quite small. Our tour guide was very funny and told us a lot of interesting facts on the way, including pointing out the edible plants, such as watermelon berry! He said the water under our ship was 1500 feet deep as the channel was carved by a glacier, the ground is actually rising by 0.5-1 inch a year due to isostatic glacial rebound (ground being squashed by glaciers for thousands of years returning to shape like a sponges!) and that avocados cost about $12 dollars each in Skagway. They only get a produce delivery on a Tuesday, so if you want to get anything else you have to drive 2.5 hours to the closest Canadian town and bring it back through customs!
  11. We started our day in Skagway quite early, as we had a tour in the afternoon but there was plenty of things we wanted to look at around town first. We grab a quick breakfast in the buffet about 6. Lots of seats in the observation lounge were taken but the buffet was pretty empty. We saw our first bit of ice coming in this morning. We were allowed off the ship just after 7 and we were docked in railway dock two, the farthest from the town! It was probably about 20 minutes walk in total, as we had to walk the length of the Bliss, the the princess ship and then the rest off the way into town. The white pass railway picks you up right there though, so if you are doing that you don’t have far to walk. We took a walk into town, had a quick look in some shops and then got a coffee before heading through town to the cemetery. The town looks amazing, with it being in a valley surrounded by mountains and water! This was a bit further than we though, taking about 40 minutes in total and there isn’t much to look at during the walk either. Very strange seeing the tsunami evacuation route signs! The cemetery and lower Reid falls are well worth the trip to, but maybe take a bus or the Skagway trolley car to them instead.
  12. couldn’t stop taking photos of this view! Our squirrel friend! 🐿 She looks a bit small from this angle Once we walked around we got back to the tram and the queue had completely gone. The view back up the tram line We had another walk around town and take a photo in front of the red dog saloon and then headed back to the ship. On the way we saw a couple of eagles soaring around. Not our ship but it looked pretty We headed up to the buffet for cupcake and crepes. The cupcakes were very tasty but the line for crepes was about 20 people long, so we didn’t try those. We sat on our balcony for sail away and then headed for bed as it’s an early start in Skagway tomorrow.
  13. couldn’t stop taking photos of this view! Our squirrel friend! 🐿 She looks a bit small from this angle Once we walked around we got back to the tram and the queue had completely gone. The view back up the tram line We had another walk around town and take a photo in front of the red dog saloon and then headed back to the ship. On the way we saw a couple of eagles soaring around. Not our ship but it looked pretty We headed up to the buffet for cupcake and crepes. The cupcakes were very tasty but the line for crepes was about 20 people long, so we didn’t try those. We sat on our balcony for sail away and then headed for bed as it’s an early start in Skagway tomorrow.
  14. After that we caught the bus back to town and to the tramway. On the way the driver took us past this whale sculpture. Every 15 minutes the fountains go off around it and it looks like it’s breaching! We didn’t get to see it though. And this is the view from across the channel of all 5 ships in port today. We decided to wander around town first and do a bit of shopping. We found it really strange how all the shops are exactly the same as the ones in the Caribbean! Diamonds international and all the other jewellery stores go hand in hand with cruise lines I guess! We stopped by Tracey’s crab shack for a king crab leg, crab cakes and bisque and they were delicious! A little bit of a fight to get all the meat from the leg but well worth it. And this was the large bucket, they ring a bell every time someone orders one, I think they were about $130! Then we caught the tram up mount Roberts. As we were getting in they told us there was an hour and a half wait to come back down, but as we had plenty of time till all aboard we decided to head up anyway. We are very glad we did. It was about half 7 in the evening and we only saw about 10 other people on the trails. And a red squirrel 😁 The walking trails give you some great views over the channel and of the ships in dock and are well worth the effort.
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