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About irvinejohn

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    Cool Cruiser
  1. The themes from what I can tell from my notes: Monday - first formal night is the 50th anniversary dinner Wednesday (Juneau) - Italian night Thursday (Skagway) - Surf & Turf (Shrimp & Filet Mignon), Alaskan King Crab Legs Friday - second formal night - Lobster night Here is a link to my Ruby Alaska review: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2232134
  2. I wouldn't get the EF 75-300mm. It gets poor reviews. The EF 70-300mm is a whole different animal and could be an acceptable option. I used a 6D (full frame) with a EF 70-200mm F4L IS in Alaska. I wished I had a longer lens for the wildlife. The EF-S 55-250 is like a 88-400 equivalent on a crop sensor camera. The 70-300mm is like a 112-480mm on a crop sensor. Since you already have the EF-S 18-200mm, I think one of the 300mm lens options will be more different than the 200mm that you already have.
  3. The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery was worth the stop since the chum salmon were running when I went a month ago. Ask the rental agent if the fish are still there. I wouldn't have gone but he told me about the fish and recommended it.
  4. 1) I don't know since I didn't try asking. 2) Yes, I only did this once but I was able to get two hot chocolates by myself 3) Yes, the servers offered orange juice during breakfast. It was fine. I didn't ask at other times but I think my kids ordered apple juice during dinner. 4) No, I did not order room service but I don't think there were a lot of choices on the menu. Enjoy your cruise! Whatever you decide you should have a great time.
  5. Random notes: Episodes of the Love Boat, a series I grew up watching, played constantly on one of the TV channels. It is amazing how small the boat was compared to the ships today. I inspected the library one day on the Ruby. It is on the deck 7 next to close to the Piazza. It seems pretty dreary unfortunately. It is one shockingly small and narrow room with a long table in the middle on a huge boat. All the books are behind glass. I didn’t check to see if you had to get someone to unlock the glass to be able to view the books. The few times I walked by, the library was not in use. On the Zaandam, the Explorer’s Lounge was huge, open, and inviting. There were many books and magazines displayed with the front cover so it was easy to peruse. When in doubt about navigating the decks either forward or backward, traverse on the right side of the ship. It seemed that passages continued through on the right whereas they ended in something on the left. The map we received during check in only has a horizontal view of the decks. I don’t remember if the deck plans on each deck showed a vertical view, or bird’s eye view of the deck. On the Horizon Court on the right side before the MUTS pool, there was a weather station report which also had the course of the Ruby. This could be helpful if you were using one of those navigation books to follow the Ruby’s path. Sometimes there were longer delays during dinner service. The kids order at the table of eight in Botticelli came out right way one night and then there was a long break before the adult’s got served. At our table of four next door, it was an even longer delay before we got our food. Our waiter did apologize for the backlog in orders. The next day all the entrees took some time. At Siberia, the far away table of four, however, my sister’s table always finished before the rest of us. I totally did not get a chance to see the public areas at the front of the Ruby. On the embarkation day, somehow I wound up on the deck outside the fitness center. Afterwards whenever I proceeded on the top decks, I often would encounter dead ends as passages were blocked for whatever reason. I did not see the Sanctuary, Wedding Chapel, or the Lotus Spa and Fitness Center with my own eyes. I heard the fitness center was more expansive than the Zaandam but there were often waits for exercise machines in the morning. Finally figured out what was missing during breakfast – berries. The fruit selection was always the standard watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and honeydew. There were no strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries. Strawberries are my favorite fruit. Although there was a fruit smoothie that had some berries during breakfast, there were no fresh berries. Any fresh berries were only available in some deserts. Unlike the Zaandam there wasn’t a desert extravaganza. The staff on the Ruby was very International with a fair amount of eastern Europeans. While it was a more diverse staff than the mostly Indonesian and Filipino Zaandam, there was less service with a smile. Overall, the Zaandam servers seemed more genuinely friendly and I think the service was a tad better. Our assistant server in Botticelli didn’t say much at all. One exception was our room steward on the Ruby. He was always very cheerful and greeted us every time he saw us. One of the benefits of being a Platinum Elite member is a 150 minutes of Internet time per person. My parents had a combined 300 minutes to use and the kids were able to play their Internet games using their accounts.
  6. The same fleet of mini vans met us at the passenger loading zone after 9AM. Soon we were back at my brother’s house in Bellevue. I’m glad we had given up the idea of doing more downtown sightseeing since we were all tired. You know you had a good vacation when you needed another one to recover from the vacation you just took. At the house we just rested and started to transfer pictures while the kids played. We ordered dim sum for lunch and before we knew it was time to head back to the airport. The rest of the family was flying out the next morning so my family fit in one minivan. It was another hot day in Seattle, but we were indoors for most of the day. SeaTac was busy, probably because it was Sunday and all the weekend travelers were going home. It took time to check in and the security line was long. Fortunately we didn’t have to take the train to a different terminal. After a short wait we were back on our 5PM Jet Blue flight to Long Beach. When we arrived, the sky was already getting dark before 8PM, and the weather was cooler than Seattle as the marine layer moved inland. Since the airport was small, we had to wait a little for the baggage to arrive. Our most excellent adventure ended.
  7. We were out of our room by 8AM and headed to the Crown Grill. We were originally assigned Club Fusion but because my parents have Platinum Elite status, we were able to go to the Crown Grill without any issues. There were some snacks and drinks but since we just had breakfast we passed. It looked like Princess did another good job moving people because it still didn’t feel like there were 3,000 other passengers waiting to get off the ship. We were only there about ten minutes when we heard the call for Walk Off Group 6. We were directed toward Club Fusion and then followed the line out to the Promenade and the same gangway that we initially boarded this ship a week ago. After the final cruise card scan, we went down the gangway and into the cruise terminal. Since we had our luggage we went straight to customs and were waved through. It was a very easy process. Our cruise to Alaska was officially over.
  8. Our other partner at Victoria, the Amsterdam pulled in next to us. After this I put the camera away for good. I didn’t feel like taking any pictures of us leaving the ship or the return trip. Leaving the ship is a numbing feeling, which was the opposite of the excitement of boarding.
  9. I went back to the room to see who was awake. I took my oldest son to breakfast in the Horizon Court, which was surprisingly not that busy. Perhaps we were not the only ones worn down by three consecutive port days and the early start at Tracy Arm. We met up with other family members and I took my last food picture. We brought back breakfast for the rest of the crowd.
  10. Day 8 – Disembarkation I was never certain of the time in the morning after Skagway since I don’t think my phone synced. I got up on the final morning at what I thought was 6AM. I headed up to the Lido deck to see if there were any interesting views in the morning. It looked like the servers in the Horizon Court were sitting around having a discussion and there really wasn’t anybody else around because it was still 5:30AM. The benefit of getting up earlier was seeing a soft pink glow left from the sunrise over the skyline. The Ruby was about to return to dock. The NCL Pearl, pictured here with Mt. Rainer in the background, returned to its dock next.
  11. I’m not aware if anybody in our party tried their luck at Gatsby’s Casino. You have to cash in all your chips before a certain time before the final books are closed. The Piazza from various angles. Crooner was still crowded at midnight. The Explorer's Lounge I wanted to take more pictures of the ship but I was too tired to continue.
  12. After pizza, the kids went to the cabin to go to sleep. We had to get up early tomorrow. The rest of us went to the photo gallery to pick up the pictures we ordered. After dropping off the pictures in our room, I went out one more time to take some last pictures of the Ruby. I used my ultrawide Rokinon 14mm lens on a tripod for the following pictures. The Outriggers Bar is above the Aft Pool. Above Outriggers is Sabatini’s on deck 16. The kid’s clubs are on deck 17 and the Princess Links in on top at deck 19. Skywalker’s Nightclub really isn’t visible from this angle. Café Caribe Calypso Reef & Pool below the Movie Under the Stars. There were a lot of dead pixels on the screen. The Pizza Bar is too the right of the Calypso Bar. The Promenade The Princess Theater
  13. We were back on board before 10PM which meant that there were still serving pizza, and we just had to have our final late night snack. While the kids ate, I took some more pictures in the twilight. You can see the top of the legislature building to the right of the Pearl.
  14. We didn't do much in Victoria except take some photographs of the major landmarks. We returned to the dock after the sunset. In Seattle, Canada, and Alaska, the sky remained bright for quite a while after the sunset. Here is a picture of the Pearl on the right side of the Ruby when we first got off the boat. Unlike the other two ships, the Ruby backed into the dock. I took these images after we got back. It's different to see the ship with the lights on. Clearing customs was not an issue. We only had to show our cruise card to get past security. A day or two before our arrival, we did have to fill out a Canadian customs form and give it to our room steward.
  15. There were a lot of street performers and also a cute water taxi. There could have been a lot more excursion options if we had arrived at an earlier time. And there were totem poles too.
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