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About netchik

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Traveling, Snorkeling, Music, Technology, Agile
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    All of them
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Europe, Alaska, Caribbean
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  1. We are just back from the Jewel and downloaded and signed up our 12yo with the app on his phone. While I used my NCL account login info for my phone, he used the ‘Find my reservation’ login (his name, his birthday, cruise date) to log into the app on his phone. I don’t know if this was a problem just on the Jewel, but we were disconnected frequently from the app’s WiFi, which caused missed messages. When we were back online, the app was a great way to keep in touch. No difference in app for a child so far as I could tell. Text and calls worked great.
  2. Aww, Thank you, I am glad that it brought back wonderful memories. It’s a pretty special place, I hope to get back again soon.
  3. Thank you! Great question - - We end our cruises wanting to get back home quickly, so knew we’d want to sight-see in Anchorage ahead of a trip, not after, so Southbound made sense. Vancouver is also much quicker to get home from than Anchorage. That stinks to miss the dog-sledding, I would have been upset. That’s why we picked it earlier in the trip too. I thought if nothing else as a last resort we might get in on the ship’s excursion if we had the Girdwood one cancelled. Good luck, hope you make it on the next one.
  4. It was amazing! My pleasure, I am glad you found them helpful! Enjoy your trip!
  5. Day 8 - Disembark Vancouver We got our luggage tags a couple of days prior to disembarkation. That morning we got breakfast in the Garden Cafe (a zoo that morning) and then grabbed our backpacks from the room for 8:30A disembarkation. We were off the boat following a short line, then to get our luggage, and out to wait for the a private shuttle in about 30 minutes total. We headed to the Vancouver airport, which took quite a while to get to (about 1 hour from the pier), as the ride is through downtown Vancouver on the other side of the city. We were flying directly from Vancouver to San Francisco, followed by a puddle jumper to SMF. The time from entering the Vancouver airport, getting through the airline check-in process (United) and customs with no hold-ups, and then to our gate, was 2 hours (!). Overview That, my friends, was a summary of our 3-generation trip to Alaska in July 2019 aboard the NCL Jewel. Would we do it again? Heck-to-the-Yes! It was amazing! It was rustic, remote, awe-inspiring, memorable, and fun. It’s perfect for all ages. Alaska was on my bucket list, but closer to the bottom, before the trip. Now, it’s higher on my bucket list, for a return trip! Having been on NCL ships Dream, Escape, Getaway (x2), Spirit, Bliss, Jewel, I would say the smaller ships are more my liking. The Jewel was the perfect size ship for me, followed next by Spirit. My sister, however, prefers more action, people, and excitement, and chose the Getaway as her favorite NCL ship so far. We are still happy with NCL, although we continue to review itineraries and have looked at Royal, and I have done Carnival but still prefer NCL. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions about anything you’ve seen or read. A few more pics from the trip: Fresh halibut catch in Seward View in Seward, backside of Breeze Inn Motel Girdwood Airport Helicopter Dog-sledding from Girdwood Gold rush train cars in Juneau Ketchikan view Me & goodbye for now... 🙂
  6. Day 7 - Sea Day This was our self-appointed whale-watching day. This may be one of the top two cruises taken if we could see whales before we departed! We sat at Garden Cafe visiting with those around us, all hoping to see whales. We chose sitting at the Garden Cafe to whale watch instead of Spinnaker Lounge because Garden Cafe had three large sections of tables alongside the windows, which kept most people at their tables, versus Spinnaker Lounge where people would often walk in front of others to get a better view of something, frequently cutting off visual access for those using cameras and binoculars. We also wanted to visit with each other and room would be tight on just one of our balconies. Norman from the Ketchikan tour explained we should keep an eye out for the blow of air in order to see whales. That ended up being the key! We spotted puffs of air blowing up through the ocean waves and found a couple of instances of individual, smaller, shiny black and white Orcas that surfaced thereafter, a ways from the boat but close enough to be seen without binoculars. It was quite exhilarating and we felt fulfilled having finally seeing these glorious creatures. We also spent a couple of hours at the pool, watching the kids play. It was packed with people on deck and finally warm enough (until later in the afternoon when it cooled quickly). We had trouble finding chairs because everyone was also sunning on deck, but managed to find and pull three loungers together for our son's friends' Mom and sis and I, while our Mom took a nap in the room. That night we went back to Tsar’s to eat with our favorite waiter of the cruise, Reynaldo. He did not disappoint. The food was good this night, not spectacular, but dessert was pretty darn yummy with Opera cake and Pots de Creme. I was hoping to find the lava cake from a few nights earlier but didn’t find it again. We did not see a single show this trip. Every time we thought about it, we were still wrapping up dinner and enjoyed our visiting, more than running off to a show. We heard from others through the week that all of them were enjoyable. Dailies from Day 7; I'll wrap up the review with disembarking in Vancouver and final thoughts on our magnificent trip, next ...
  7. Day 6 - Ketchikan Ketchikan was a beautiful town. It is known as the Salmon Capital of the World. We passed by the airport as we cruised into town, complete with ferries, sea planes, and large and small airplanes coming and going. Vehicles also come here being flown or ferried in. We had never seen so many float planes in Alaska as in Ketchikan. We ended up having our 3rd best excursion of the Alaska trip in Ketchikan (after the Girdwood glacier dog-sledding and Juneau Gold Panning & Salmon Bake) on the "Highlights of Ketchikan" tour (3-hr private excursion through ShoreExcursionsGroup dot com). We had a wonderful tour guide, Norman, an Alaska Native raven of the Tlingit tribe, who was a fantastic story-teller. Norm promised my son (the only child on the tour) that he would see him when my son returned in 50 years as a grandfather, and Norm said he would be reincarnated as a raven in the rain forest near Saxman Totem Village. It was a precious moment and still has my son vowing to be back in Ketchikan in 50 years to visit Norm again. Norm took us in and around Ketchikan, explaining all the major sites, to the Sourdough Tours headquarters to learn about making totem poles and see other interesting artifacts and taste two types of salmon, out to see salmon running up river, to see Rainbow Falls, out to Saxman Totem Village, and then dropped us downtown, just steps from the cruise ship. It was a lovely tour to take. We celebrated sister’s early 50th Birthday, exchanging gifts in our cabin, then took kiddo to the kid’s club for their Survivor night, then off to Cagney’s for an adult birthday dinner. Superb service and wonderful food, the best steak at any Cagney’s visit to date (small petite filet). Birthday Tip: Go to Guest Services if you want to have a cake presented to the Birthday guest. They will give you a card to hand to the hostess, who will ensure a birthday cake is brought out. My Mom brought candles and a special sparkling light-up sign to accompany the Guest Services card that we handed to the hostess. It made for a wonderful surprise. I had no luck in the casino. It was pretty small with just a few game tables and only two of my favorite slots. We did enjoy a couple of the bands on board; Fire & Ice and Soul Inspiration. Dailies for Day 6; Sea Day on the Inside Passage on Day 7 ahead..
  8. Day 5 - Skagway This stop took us to the small gold rush town of Skagway. The most famous tour here is the White Pass Railway, fun for all ages. From the ship, we walked quite a ways from the pier to get to the Rail station, which was also next to the town’s Smart shuttle ($2 each way or $5 all day pass), running each 15-min. The pier also had a couple of golf carts shuttling disabled passengers about ½ mile, but there was only enough room for 6 passengers so we put Mom on it each way and the rest of us walked. We rode the Smart shuttle to get the lay of the land into town, get snacks and drinks, get a "doughboy" at Klondike Doughboy (tasted like a cinnamon and sugar funnel cake), and then headed back to get our spot in line for the White Pass Train (3-hr excursion via NCL). We were very happy we listened to the Juneau tour guide about bringing snacks onto the Train. It was a fun and informative ride, 1.5 hours each way, but the time did drag on and we were happy to have brought our own food & drinks as we were a captive audience in our own train car for three 3-hours, not being able to move between train cars. You could move to the front and back platform to take pictures and I highly recommend touring outside to see the sights and take photos. There was a bathroom in each car, though someone had locked ours from the inside. A team of us got it open with a hotel key card, much to everyone’s relief. Tour Tip: Keep your eyes open for random surprises en route atop rocks and opening of tunnels, of the plastic variety. It made the ride humorous by the end. We took the Smart shuttle back to town afterwards and found a magnificently-priced, large souvenir shop called Alaska T-Shirts. There were gifts of all kinds. I picked up a bag of items for co-workers and hubby. Here are the Day 5 dailies; Day 6 in beautiful Ketchikan is up next..
  9. Day 4 - Juneau, Endicott Arm, & Dawes Glacier We were in Juneau between 7A-1P, along with a number of other ships. We had a Historic Gold Panning & Salmon Bake excursion through NCL on the books, which ended up being the 2nd best excursion of the trip (after the Helicopter Glacier Dog-Sledding excursion in Girdwood). We met our tour guide in the excursion area next to the van on the pier (about a 10 min walk from the boat), 15-min. early for the excursion, when it dawned on me that I left our tickets in our room safe! I had to hoof it back to our room, swimming upstream from all the people leaving the boat, get the tickets, get back off the boat, and run back to excursion area. I made it (I left the kiddo as collateral, ha ha) but was subject to fun harassing by the guide for the remainder of the tour :). The tour guide was a great story-teller and gave us good tips along the way, such as suggesting we get snacks for the Train in Skagway before boarding (a good tip). He drove us through town, stopping at the top of a large hill that was reminiscent of San Francisco’s steep streets, and pointing out the of the long, steep staircases which also had street names. We were surprised to hear that the large number of vehicles in Juneau were either shipped or flown in. We then went to a gold-panning stopping spot along the river. We were soon joined by 2 other vans also there to gold-pan. Our tour guide gave a good demonstration of how to pan for gold pan, gave each person a dirt-filled pan that was collected from a spot up stream. He walked around helping anyone who had questions or needed more help. We panned for about 1 hr and each person found gold flakes in their pan, which could be saved in a complimentary vial to take home as a souvenir. It was a lot of fun. We were then driven to a Salmon Bake Camp near the bay, with a river running alongside the camp. There was a small gift shop, large area for grilling salmon, chowder station, beverage stations for non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, and two parallel buffet stations. On the buffet there were hot beans & bacon, corn bread, caesar salad with salmon, pickles, and chicken legs. The line took you to the large grill station where a large piece of fresh, grilled salmon was put on your plate, with an option of glaze sauce on top. Between the chowder and the salmon, I could have grazed here all day. For dessert, they offered blueberry crumble cake. Non-alcoholic beverages were hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee, and lemonade. There was plenty of time to eat. At your leisure, you could take a bus back to either town or straight to the pier, which was about a 1.5 mile walk from downtown. Before heading out on the bus, we let my son go with his new friend and his family, who were on the tour too, to the gift shop to pick out a key chain for his backpack, and then followed them out to the gorgeous waterfall a little ways down the river to trade photographer duties for each of our families. The Salmon Bake camp has been here a long time, it ended up being the exact same place that my parents had come to years prior. This was a fun for all ages tour that the 3 generations of us loved. We wished that we had more time in Juneau to shop. We took the bus directly back to the pier and got back about 12:30P. The boat headed out to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier next. The views were beautiful, the glacier was not as large as Hubbard Glacier. We ate at Tsar's that night. The food was pretty good, and we found the best waiter of the cruise, Reynaldo. We sat against the windows facing aft and admired the lovely view as we traveled away from Dawes Glacier. The ship had to traverse many icebergs, some of them large enough to cause the captain to change course suddenly, causing the boat to pitch quickly while we were eating. Loud gasps were heard throughout the large dining room each time, and we had the pleasure of seeing the icebergs closeup being next to the aft window as they passed. Day 4 dailies; Day 5 in Skagway next ...
  10. Day 3 - Icy Strait Point It was a beautiful voyage getting to/from Icy Straight Point. Icy Straight Point is an island with the small town of Hoonah. The port itself was very small and touristy. There was another cruise ship anchored to the dock, so we tendered in from the boat. We were in town from 9A-6P. After tendering ashore, there was about a mile hike to get to the excursion area. We had reserved four spots on a small 3-hour van-guided Bear Search tour (private excursion). Twelve of us were on the lookout for bears or anything wild for the duration of the trip. Our Alaska Native tour guide tried to keep us entertained during the trip with stories of his life growing up as a Raven in the Alaska Tlingit tribe. After 2.5 hours and no bear-sightings, we stopped for a bio-break (two port-a-potties). The guide took us to see an eagle’s nest and then headed back to town, where it had started pouring rain @ 1PM. There was a small downtown area, a couple of miles from the port, that had beer tasting that some people in our tour were dropped off at on the way back to the excursion area. In addition to the eagle in its nest, we ended up seeing one doe on the tour :O. Everyone was disappointed and it ended up being an expensive $500 bear-less Bear Search tour - but it was clear that Mother Nature was in charge. Coming back from excursions/downtown, the walkway leads into a large gift shop to get back the pier (or you can walk out by the shoreline bypassing the shop). We bought some small flavored donuts at a small shop that were yummy. Son was excited to get back on board to meet up with his friends at Splash Academy. My son has been to NCL Splash Academy starting from around 6 yo, and each year thereafter. It’s what makes NCL cruises so great for our family. Activities change every 2 hours, with time spent outdoors, playing games inside and outside, and (usually) counselors that want to be there. He still begs to go and stay at least between 7:00P to 9:30 (or 10:30P) as well as random times during the day based on the activity (sports court, friends agree to meet there too, or the activity that goes to the older Entourage 13+ area). Depending on whether it is a sea-day or port day, hours and events at the kids club will change. It’s best to pick up a schedule for your age group at the start of the week to refer to. It was our most used guide on the cruise, more than the Dailies list of cruise events throughout the day. When my son was not in the kid’s club, on an excursion, eating with us, playing ping-pong, or a little downtime in the room, he would hook up with his new friends and go swimming in the heated pools/hot tubs. I won’t lie, it was freezing a couple of times on deck, but once in the water it was nice and toasty. There were also adults in the pools, but mostly kids. I usually take my son to either the Garden Cafe buffet or O'Sheehan's before the kid’s club but this night he wanted steak so we went to the complimentary Azura for a NY steak right when it opened without reservations. It was OK food. It shares the same menu with Tsars each night. Tsars was a much larger, more opulent venue than Azura, complete with a 2-story aft view of the water as you eat (also complimentary). Later on that night I went to look for something sweet in the Garden Buffet and much to my excitement I found made-to-order crepes at the dessert bar. They are served every night at buffet dinner start (5 or 5:30P) to buffet close (9:30P). Toppings change each night. We saw Nutella, whipped cream, strawberry compote, lemon compote, and cherry compote on various night. They were delicious. My personal favorite is Nutella, cinnamon, and whipped cream 🙂 I decorated my Mom & Sister's door (sister's pre-50th Bday) and our door (son's 12th Bday) and it made it super helpful in the sea of turquoise doors to locate ours, particularly if we came in from an aft or forward elevator. Dailies for Day 3; Up next, Day 4 - Juneau and our 2nd favorite excursion of the trip (Historic Gold Panning & Salmon Bake)
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