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Carnival Legend Alaska Glacier Bay, Aug 15-22, '17 A Trip To Be or Not To Be Eclipsed

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A Trip To Be (or Not To Be?) Eclipsed

Carnival Legend, Alaska/Glacier Bay August 15-August 22,2017

 

We booked our cruise to Alaska in July 2016, over a yearbefore the embarkation date. This was our first trip to Alaska and our first cruise on Carnival. We have been on 2 Royal Caribbean cruises totropical ports. One was a family reunion trip with 40 members of my family andone with just the four of us 10 years ago . Honestly, we prefer land based vacations, but for a trip to Alaska, cruisingwas the best way to get to the different ports since travel between them byland or air is difficult and/or expensive. We were also intrigued by the day we would spend cruising into GlacierBay.

 

Our son Nate (19) is starting his sophomore year in collegewith a Wildlife Conservation and Biology major, so this trip really spoke tohis interests. Our son Ben (16) will bea junior in high school, with interests in history and geo-politics. We are not sure where their future plans willtake them with jobs or internships, so for the past few years, we have plannedannual dream vacations since “It might be the last chance to travel together asa family”

 

In 2014, we went to Disneyland and Hawaii. Yellowstone in 2015. Washington DC the following year. And a couple of trips to Universal Orlando thrown in for good measure.

 

I guess we have been blessed with a few “last chances”

 

 

Our itinerary for this trip:

 

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Monday August 14- Fly from Boston to Seattle on DeltaAirlines, 7 am to 10:30 (with 3 hour time change). Check into the Hampton Inn, a couple ofblocks from the Space Needle. ExploreSeattle for the day.

Tuesday- Cruise Day! We booked Seattle Shuttle to take us to and from Pier 91 and boarded theCarnival Legend at 11:30 am

Wednesday- At Sea

Thursday- Juneau 2 pm to 10 pm: Whale Watch and MendenhallGlacier through Juneau Whale Watch

Friday- Skagway 7 am to 9 pm: Skagway Scenic Tour bookedthrough the ship

Saturday- Glacier Bay

Sunday- Ketchikan, 7 am 1 pm: Alaska Bear Adventure booked through the ship

Monday- At Sea*, Victoria 7:30 pm to midnight

Tuesday- Debarkation in Seattle, 8 am. Check into Hampton Inn, explore Seattle

Wednesday, August 23- Flight from Seattle to Boston (9:30 amto 6 pm, 3 hour time difference)

* About a month before the cruise, Nate asked “What are thedates of our cruise?” Turns out that wewould be cruising off the coast of Vancouver Island during the August 21 solareclipse, a few hundred miles from the path of totality. The event would be after breakfast, in the 10am to 11 am timeframe. We were able toget eclipse glasses (from ebay, express shipping) under the wire a couple ofdays before leaving for Seattle. Phew!

That morning, the last full day of our trip, we woke to thesound of foghorn blast every 5 minutes or so and ZERO visibility…

 

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All Aboard!

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Getting There is Half the Fun! (NOT!)

We had a 7 am flight from Boston, landing at 10:30 with the 3 hour time change.

This is the first time I have flown Delta across country,and I have to say, I am impressed!

There are video screens at every seat, with the option towatch news, or tv shows or even movies, free of charge (assuming you broughtheadphones). Although I never eventurned on my display, it was good to know it was there. Movies were decent choices, too, ones Ihaven’t seen like Guardians of the Galaxy II and Beauty & the Beast live.

 

And the food kept coming! There were two beverage serviceswith a choice of snacks (almonds, a kind bar, some kind of seeded bar, chips)AND breakfast was offered. It has been along time since I have had a meal provided on an airplane, we didn’t have that on our flight from Boston to LAX a few years ago (United?), and I totally did not expect it.

 

 

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Still no food pictures.

 

During the flight, I alternated between looking out the window and reading and preparing for an upcoming trip with my girlfriends to Disney.

 

 

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Do you see the Space Needle?

 

 

 

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We landed in Seattle, found our driver and checked in at the Hampton Inn. I’ll have a post later all about the Hampton Inn where we stayed one night before and onenight after the cruise. I’ll also talk about our touring in Seattle in detail, but I’m anxious to get into the report about the cruise, so for now, I'll just post abridged versions.

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Hampton Inn Downtown Seattle: Cliffs Note Version

 

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Pros: Location was AWESOME, 2 blocks from Space Needle andAttractions, we even had a view of the Space Needle from both rooms we stayedin. Large and comfortable rooms,especially compared to our cruise cabin. Amenities included coffee maker and microwave in the room and breakfastincluded daily- pastries, yogurt, fruit, eggs, breakfast meet, make-your-ownwaffles with numerous toppings. Freshcookies starting at 5 pm. Grab and Goboxed lunch provided upon request at no extra charge. Water and Coffee available all day.

 

Con: This place was NOT inexpensive. With all taxes and fees, we paid around $370each night. Eek!

 

But I don’t regret our choice to stay there.

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Seattle: Abridged Version

I’ll write more later, but here are a few thoughts.

I LOVED the vibe in Seattle, the commitment to the environmentand recycling.

It also helps that the weather was gorgeous on the days wewere there. The smoke from the BCwildfires was clearing, it was sunny and warm with no rain.

We purchased City Passes for $80* per person (*$76 with AAAdiscount!) which gave us 2 admissions to the Space Needle, plus visits to SeattleAquarium, Pacific Science Center and IMAX (or Chihuly Glass), Pop CultureMuseum (or Woodland Park Zoo) and a 1-hour boat tour around SeattleHarbor- we did everything except thecruise- We had been on a boat for thepast week! The passes were valid for 9 days, I think, so we were able to usethem on both ends of our cruise.

As a family, we made two trips to the viewing deck of the Space Needle on the day we arrived. Then, the next morning before leaving for our cruise, Mark and I took a walk to Seattle Center and went up again when they first opened.

The Seattle Aquarium was interesting and the otters were super cute!

The Pacific Science Center was geared more to little kids, but I loved the butterfly garden. We could choose to watch one of the IMAX movies currently running. The one about the first emperor of China and the terracotta warriors was fascinating. There was also a special terracottawarriors exhibit, at additional cost, which we did not see.

The Pop Culture Museum had displays of movie and music memorabilia. The Space-themed/Sci Fi exhibit space was HUGE, but the horror wing was closed for refurbishment An exhibit on Jim Henson and the Muppets was available for an additional fee, but we passed on that.

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Come Sail Away!

 

When we were just a couple of weeks from our cruise, I still hadn’t made arrangements to get from the airport to the Hampton Inn or from the hotel to the port and back again.

 

I called the Hampton Inn to see what they offered. They could arrange for transportation by an outside company to the pier for $7 per person but they weren’t sure if a return to the hotel was offered. I guess most people must just return to the airport when they get off the ship. Actually, we were going to do that too but Delta changed our flight times and we were afraid it would be cutting it too close to get to the airport in time and the only other non-stop flight that day would get us home around midnight so we decided to spend another day in Seattle.

 

I searched online and found a couple of services and I contacted them both for a quote.

 

Seattle shuttle responded immediately with their rates ($48 each way for a van between the airport and the hotel) and $8 per person to the pier and $8 for the return ride, plus gratuities. We booked our rides with them and they provided immediate responses to us and detailed instructions about what to do when we landed at SeaTac and when we got off the ship on the last day of the cruise. I liked that!

 

 

 

This was taken while waiting for the shuttle. You can see how close the Space Needle is.

 

 

 

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I think we were picked up around 11:30, it was about a 10 minute ride to the dock. Drop off was quick and we started snaking our way through the terminal. There were a lot of cruise personnel helping us along by pointing the way, making sure everyone had their paperwork and passports out when needed.

 

A lot of people had not completed their check-in documents so they had to step out of line. We had done ours weeks ago, but we hadn’t finished filling out the health disclosure because you are supposed to do that on the day you are cruising. Apparently, we hadn’t signed our passports yet since getting our newly renewed ones last year.

 

Once we finished those last-minute details, we got into a line which moved pretty quickly and we received our sea cards.

 

 

 

Photographers were there taking pictures of the families who were boarding and I knew my boys were going to give me a hard time because they don’t like to have their picture taken. When we were at the Space Needle the previous day I told them that Iwanted to have one family picture a day, no arguments. I am still bitter that I have ZERO familyphotos from our April 2016 trip to Washington DC.

 

 

 

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We walked through the lobby and we saw a costumed bear, or in Disney-speak “friend of a bear”. We overheard the photographer with it ask “Can you see ok? Walk this way- wait, there ‘s a pole on your right”

 

Nate, our wildlife expert, identified this creature as therare “Alaskan Blind Bear”

 

For some reason this cracked me up and I was laughing sohard I was almost crying.

 

Speaking of photographers, they were voracious! Everywhere you went, and at every port there were ships photographers asking to take your picture, with all sorts of backgrounds or charcters or animals or props. There were photographers set up outside of the dining rooms and roaming photographers in the restaurants during dinner. They were fine when you said “No, thank you” but it got tiresome to be asked so frequently.

 

Next, we tried to find where our cabin was located, so we went to Deck 7 (Cabin 7178) but the hallways were all blocked off so that luggage porters could deliver suitcases to the rooms.

 

So we headed up two decks to the Lido Deck, where lunch was being served.

 

Of course, everyone else was there too because there was really no place else to go. We had to walk and walk and walk to find an empty table, finally locating one through the doors to an outside deck. The boys held the table while Mark and I got into the grill line (burgers/hot dogs/Frenchfries/chili/nachos).

 

We decided to get food for all 4 of us so the boys didn’t have to wait in line when we got back.

 

I hated the way the buffet was set up. There were a lot of different stations: Deli,Pizza, Grill, Chopsticks Asian selections, an international station with a theme that changed every day, then other areas with salads, another place with fruit. Each of these was spread out and in a few different rooms. I found it confusing and difficult to manage if you wanted to sample a lot of the offerings (which I always do).

 

 

 

When we returned to the table, the boys told us the bear and photographer had visited the table.

 

Unbeknownst to the boys, I am now in possession of these beauties:

 

 

 

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The boys are surprised by a vicious Alaskan Blind Bear attack!

 

 

 

After lunch, we found our cabin and spend a few minutes unpacking and getting settled before we had to report to our muster station.

 

When it was time to muster, we found our station and unfortunately we were some of the first people there. They took our names and cabin number and thenwe waited. And waited. And waited while more and more people showed up and we crowded together. It took 45 long minutes for the process to be completed. Apparently, we were rookies who didn’t realize that others show up late so they don’t have to wait around doing nothing.

 

When muster ended we went up to one of the top decks for sailaway.

Edited by BeachClubDee

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Come Sail Away! (Continued)

The smoke and haze had just cleared in the past couple of days from the fires in British Columbia and it was a beautiful afternoon.

 

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See Mt. Rainier to the left of Ben’s shoulder? No?

 

Here it is zoomed in with my camera

 

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Here are a few more shots of the Seattle Skyline

 

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Seattle Skyline

 

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We were able to look back and see Mt. Rainier for a couple of hours as we sailed away from Seattle towards Alaska.

 

We had reservations at the steakhouse that evening, and I will review that in the next post.

 

Here is the sunset from that evening

 

 

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Here it is zoomed in with my camera

 

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I recognize the photo...

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We were on the Legend this year... Please read my review, also. It will be interesting to compare the cruises.

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I'm enjoying your review so much! Makes me even more excited for my 2nd Alaskan cruise. I sure hope your sons are not on CC!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Very nice start to your review. I am enjoying your review and the pictures.

 

Thank you! I appreciate you following along.

 

 

Wonderful review so far. I love your pictures!

 

Thanks for the kind words!

 

 

 

Really enjoying your pictures and story so far. I'm looking forward to the Alaska portion. :)

Heather

 

Thank you! I'll try to get to Alaska soon. We have a day and a half at sea first but I will try to be uncharacteristically brief.

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

You are welcome! Thanks for reading.

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I recognize the photo...

36097672321_00f3ba97ae_h.jpg

 

We were on the Legend this year... Please read my review, also. It will be interesting to compare the cruises.

 

 

WOW!!! Oh, wow! Great picture.

 

I just finished scrolling through your report, but I will sit down and read through when I have a chance. Amazing pictures! Too funny, we went to steakhouse on the first night too.

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I'm enjoying your review so much! Makes me even more excited for my 2nd Alaskan cruise. I sure hope your sons are not on CC!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

Thank you so much for the kind words. When is your trip (forgot to look for a ticker before commenting...)

 

 

Enjoying the review!! Thanks ��

 

Thank you!

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Arrival Dinner at the Legend Steakhouse

About a month before the trip, Mark booked a reservation to the ship’s specialty steakhouse for the arrival night of the cruise. I didn’t really think it was necessary, and Iam very frugal (cheap) so I didn’t want to spend the extra $20* per person when I’m sure we could find something to eat in the main dining room. But Nate loves steak, and the boys really wanted to do this.

 

*I found out when the bill came that it was actually $35 per person. ACK!

 

There is some kind of deal for the purchase of wine (half-price for a bottle, maybe) if you dine at the steakhouse, but we are not drinkers so I don’t have the details. I expected the steakhouse to be packed at 6:30 when we got there.

 

It wasn’t.

 

We saw one other party dining, at the table next to us. They were complaining about everything during their meal.

 

A few more parties arrived while we were dining, but it wasby no means crowded.

 

 

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The meal started with an amuse bouche, a small bite preparedby the chef as a welcome to the meal.

It was a burger. Ateeny-tiny burger. It was fine. Good not great. It was a burger.

 

I was not amused.

 

I did not get a copy of the menu for the steak house. I thought it was online but I wasn’t able tofind it this morning.

 

We had a choice of an appetizer, then a soup/salad, the mainentrée and dessert.

 

Appetizers:

 

Mark got the escargot, I had the crabcake, Ben got the ahituna stack and Nate got some kind of soup. Dang! Can’t remember what itwas. The presentation of the escargotwas weird, not in garlic butter. I don’tthink I tried that. The crab cake wasexcellent, big chunks of tasty crab. Ben’stuna was the winner though. Really fantastic flavor.

 

 

 

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Salad:

Ben got theCaesar and I think the rest of us got the spinach salad with bleu cheese

 

 

 

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Main Course:

 

 

Mark gotthe seafood dish- shrimp, swordfish, artichokes. Ben and I got the filet and “Maine” lobster. Nate got the ginormous steak! The menu, even though I don’t have photographic proof, says Maine Lobster. I’m from New England. I know Maine lobster. This, sir, was NO Maine lobster.

I thought about complaining that we were served Caribbean lobster, which really can’t be compared to the texture or flavor of homarus americanus, North American lobster. But I didn’t want to be like the party next to us who were complaining and at that point I still though we were paying $20 for the meal. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought, huh, maybe they can’t get Maine lobster on the ship during this time of the year.

 

So I didn’t say anything.

 

The next night, when “Maine” lobster appeared on the menu for dinner in the formal dining room, we were indeed served the native lobsterI know and love.

 

 

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Dessert:

 

Mark got the tropical fruit cup with a raspberry sorbet,which was amazing. He kept hoping the sorbet would show up on one of the dining room menus, but it never did.

 

Ben and I got the chocolate sampler- tiramisu, a fudgy thing, something withbanana. We had some of the sorbet and itwas super yummy.

 

Nate got the cheesecake, which he said was excellent and again did not find anything as good in the main dining room or buffet for the rest of the cruise.

 

 

 

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When the bill came, we didn’t know what to do about tipping. Was gratuity included in theper person price we paid?

 

It was awkward, but Mark asked one of the servers, who said that no, gratuity was not included.

 

The appetizers and salads were excellent and the desserts were the best we had during the cruise, although we were too full to fully enjoy them. The entrees were so-so.

You could order the entrees- the steak, filet and lobster,lamb chop- in the main dining room for an additional charge of $20- THAT’S where the $20 figure in my head came from.

 

Was it worth it? I don’t know.

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I'm enjoying your review so much! Makes me even more excited for my 2nd Alaskan cruise. I sure hope your sons are not on CC!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

I forgot to add, no my boys are not on Cruise Critic. They are not even on Facebook, so I can post the bear pictures there if I so choose!

 

:evilsmile:

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I forgot to add, no my boys are not on Cruise Critic. They are not even on Facebook, so I can post the bear pictures there if I so choose!

 

:evilsmile:

 

 

 

What a great position to be in! You can post all of the compromising photos you want now!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Wednesday, August 16

At Sea

 

 

Today we were at sea and we would spend half of the next day at sea, sailing towards Juneau.

 

 

I get very restless, so a day at sea is not a day at the beach for me. I want to be DOING something! There were a few activities during the day that interested us, but not many. There were even fewer things to amuse the boys.

 

We work around 6 am to fairly rocking seas. We weren’t sea sick, but we all took a Bonine (non-drowsy Dramamine) just in case.

 

Our choices for breakfast were room service, the buffet on the Lido deck or Brunch at Sea in the dining room.

 

We chose brunch.

 

 

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I ordered the Eggs Benedict with Bacon, Mark had the Heurvos Rancheros and Hash, Nate had Blueberry Pancakes and Cheese Grits and Ben had the Eggs Benedict with Hash.

 

 

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Food was good, but the room was shaking. We could hear rumbling and felt vibrations through the whole meal. Engine? Stabilizers?

 

 

At 9:15, after breakfast, we went to the theatre for a lecture on Alaska’s Glaciers, Volcanoes and Wildlife by Steve the ships naturalist. The lectures are videotaped and shown on the ships tv channel and we ended up watching it a bunch of times, mostly at night as we were going to sleep.

 

 

As we were passing by, on the way to the lecture, there was trivia in the Red Frog Pub. Trivia is in my blood- my brother owns a pub trivia company, my cousins and I write questions and content, we have won a few local trivia competitions. The few questions that I heard were super easy:

 

 

What city does Batman live in? Rocky Balboa? The Flintstones?

 

We couldn’t stop to play, but I knew I would be back to try another time.

 

After the lecture, we went back to the room, grabbed some stuff- books, binoculars, playing cards and we headed to the Lido deck to get a table so we could sit and watch the water.

 

 

At 11, Mark and I went down to the lobby area to watch a demonstration on making sushi. The chairs were all taken up, and I am short so I couldn’t see from the couches on that level, so we went up the stairs and we watched from there.

 

 

 

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After that we met the boys for lunch. This was one of the few times we ate at the buffet. Pizza was excellent. The food from Chopsticks was very good. I did not like how all the different stations for food were spread out, even in different rooms. I like to sample small amounts of everything offered, so I prefer a set-up where everything is at the same station.

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After lunch, we found some seating on Deck 2 near a big window. We got some drinks: Mark and I split a mojito, the boys got a virgin pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri. We played a few rounds of Yahtzee- I had packed die and some score cards.

 

 

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Then we headed up to Deck 10- the boys found deck chairs for reading, Mark and I walked a few laps around the deck in the sun. There were whales in the area, I believe they were announced.

 

 

Back in the cabin, while we were getting ready for formal night dinner, my husband saw what he believes was an ocean sunfish (mola mola) but it was gone by the time I got out to the balcony.

 

 

It was formal night in the dining room. We arrived a few minutes after the doors had opened. There was a line to get in and they were handing out pagers. After about 5 minutes, our pager started speaking, so we went up to the check-in station. Along with everyone else, because all of the pagers were going off at once. The hostess told us that we were not being called, we needed to wait until the red lights started flashing.

 

 

Same thing happened on the last evening as well. This time, we knew that our table was not ready when the pager started talking, but others had the same reaction as before- heading up to the hostess desk and being told (rather brusquely) that they needed to wait until they got red lights. Perhaps they should be mentioning this when they hand them out!

 

 

The food we had tonight was very good.

 

 

But they label the "Appetizers" "Entrees" which screwed us up for most of the week because we normally consider entrees to be our main meal.

 

 

 

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A selection of Food Porn:

 

 

 

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Look! There’s Maine Lobster!

 

 

 

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Seared Striped Bass, I believe

 

 

 

 

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Ben ordered the lamb chop from the Steakhouse menu for an additional $20 charge

 

 

 

 

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Nate selected the fruit and cheese plate for dessert

 

 

Ben got the melting chocolate cake which was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! (Not pictured)

 

 

 

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The hazelnut chocolate cake was meh.

 

 

Mark ordered the vanilla crème brulee. You all know what that looks like, plus I ran out of picture space in this post.

 

 

Throughout the meal we heard crashing dishes a number of times. Like seriously, we heard plates or glasses breaking 6 or 7 times while we were eating. On subsequent evenings we hear occasional breakage, but nothing like this first night.

 

 

After dinner, we went back to our cabin and called it a night.

 

 

Next Up: Juneau What the Rainiest City in North America Is?

(Or: A Port In Any Storm)

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