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A 99 Day Journey to Alaska (Serenade by the Sea) with a Teen and Young Adult (over 21)


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Yup, It does not limit testing altogether. RCI had announced that it will continue to require negative tests through the fall.

 

But for me this is a double bonus.  No testing and wasting time while in Vancouver (and no dragging around (and worrying about) our computers, and I am also travelling to London soon afterwards, so no required testing both ways (especially with a very tight schedule before returning).

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On 6/9/2022 at 5:16 AM, Travel R said:

I am supposed to attend a very large 60th birthday party of a good friend the weekend before we ship out, and a graduation 36 hours before we get on the airplane.

Wear your KN95 mask at these events.  Really!

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On 6/11/2022 at 9:36 AM, Ferry_Watcher said:

Wear your KN95 mask at these events.  Really!

 

I agree with you 100%

 

Although I was at a large event on Saturday, we tried to keep our distance. However, from this point on, we are masking up when in Public.  The graduation is at a Public High School, which required masks, so that is a given.  I will be masked up at the party (except when eating), as well as any future shopping trips.

 

I have to go into NYC this week, and will be masked on the train or when walking around in public.

 

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Posted (edited)

Weekend Update

 

I hope everyone had an amazing weekend!

 

On Saturday I was transported back to the days of old and went to a Renaissance Fair up in Connecticut.  It was a nice day for a long drive and lots of fun and food (including grease-dripping turkey leg) was had at the fair.  The best was seeing my long-time friend fight in arena (full armor and fighting with metal weapons) – then hanging with him and the other fighters in their camp. If you have never been to one, it is highly recommended; and as you can imagine, with all of the pageantry, it is a unique opportunity for people watching. When we could, we did try to stay our distance from crowds. [Here's a pic from the Fair (not my frend)]

 

But Sunday, yes, Sunday was a day that was half-dedicated to the upcoming cruise, as I shall detail below.

Shopping

 

On most days – both weekends and workdays, I am up between 6 o’clock and half past the hour. Since we arrive home very late the prior evening, my internal clock never went off (or felt sorry for me) and I remained in the land of slumber until almost 7:30.  I got up, got dressed and my dog was waiting patiently for me in the living room (amazingly, he did not try to awaken myself or my DW beforehand).

 

By 8 AM we were on our way to WalMart to begin purchasing the needed items off of the packing list.  If I had awakened at my normal hour, we would have been shopping by 7.  After making several purchases for the cruise as well as picking up a few other items for the house and the girls along the way, we picked up bagels for breakfast and made our way home.

 

After our late-morning refection, we were off again to do yet more cruise-related shopping. It’s been a few years since our last cruise, so many of our travel-sized items have long-since expired.  While travelling via land, it is always easy to pick up whatever we may need in terms of toiletries, medicinals, do-dads, etc., but on a cruise, it is not as easy (or much, much more expensive).  For those of you that may have looked at my packing list, there are a lot of items listed, so the shopping experience was more than just a quick stop.  Along the way we stopped off at placed like Harmons (they have a huge selection of travel-sized items), BBB (which most know as Bed Bath and Beyond), as well as non-cruise shopping at Best Buy.

 

Luckily, all of our clothing shopping had been done earlier. Not that any of us bought very many things specifically for this trip, but I am not a big fan of shopping and try to stay very far away from Malls when I can.

 

There are only a few items remaining on the list, but I have most of the major items.  A trip this coming weekend to the grocery when both my DDs are available will be warranted to purchase snacks for our expedition.  This is a time-honored pre-vacation event that we take very seriously. Everyone has their own snack favorites, and I want to ensure that everyone is adequately satisfied.

 

ArriveCAN

 

I registered my whole family on the ArriveCAN app. Once you have all of the information together, it was very easy to enter the information.

 

I used our Passports as the form of ID (there is a list of various acceptable IDs).  You do not upload your passport, you literally scan the passport with your phone (you line up the photo and skew code to the outline in the phone camera and it imports the info).

 

Then it asks you for your vaccination info.  It would be helpful if you have a photo of your vax card already uploaded to your phone, and have the dates of the first and second shots handy. Once again, easy to enter – although it was a pain (a very, very, minor pain) that I had to scroll back to 2021 to get to the correct date (there should have been an option to change year). The only issue is that it would not take one of my DD’s vax card image.  After failing thrice, I logged out and back into the ArriveCAN app and it worked as expected.

 

Next week I have to enter the flight/arrival information into the App. I already took a quick look at it, and it also seems very easy.

 

Vancouver Planning – DIY Tour

 

Unlike my detailed DIY Walking Tour of Sitka (see prior post), touring Vancouver will be much less formal and play-it-by-ear. Instead of doing a step-by-step guide, I have grouped the attractions of downtown Vancouver into various Zones.  This way depending on how we feel, we can go to any of the Zones in the order that we feel like going to at the time.

 

Although this does relieve some of the planning, it does not alleviate the research.  Over the next week I will have maps of each of these zones which will include where every site/attraction is located as well as perform research on each so that I can appropriately tell the Travel R family about them.

 

Dinner for the evening has already been chosen.  I wanted to do something fish-related and was originally thinking sushi, but though it may be over-kill since we probably eat sushi every other week.  Although an Asian/Korean BBQ is something we do every 2-3 months (there is a really good venue we frequent in Highland Park, Nj), so a BBQ that also serves sushi seemed like a good choice.  A place for breakfast has also been chosen for breakfast – it’s a diner (we are from NJ) and chosen because of proximity (we have a full day of travelling, so need something close and quick).

 

The list is not inclusive of everything to see, it only includes the items my family is interested in visiting. Not everything on the list can be visited; for some we will take a quick look and I will provide a quick note as to its significance (e.g., the Little Mermaid / Girl in Wetsuit statue in Stanley Park and talk about it’s history; we saw the real one in Copenhagen).

 

As mentioned in an earlier post, due to a member of my party with vertigo issues, we are not doing the bridge or anything to do with heights, so the options are limited to in and around the downtown area. However, I have listed an optional museum in the area as well as a note to myself to find some type of evening activities.

 

My list does include two attractions that are no longer open – a cool old antique shop of curious and a shrine to Jimi Hendrix.  Both would have been high on my list of things to see, but obviously, I can only view pictures from the past.

 

Here’s my “Walking Tour” if interested . . . .

 

Home Base Zone

Holiday Inn

Snack – JAPADOG

Dinner – Shabusen Yakiniku House [menu]

Breakfast (7/4) – The Templeton

 

Zone A

Christ Church Cathedral

Marine Building

Canada Place

·       Digital Orca

·       FlyOver Canada

 

Zone B

Gastown

Chinatown

·       VC-Chinatown Millennium Gate)

·       Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden

·       Sam Kee (Jack Chow) Building

·       Woodward’s Spiral Staircase to Nowhere

Breakfast or Lunch – Chinese/Dim-Sum

Vancouver Police Museum

Japantown (more snacks?)

 

Zone C

Science World

Aquabus to . . . .

Granville Island (Public Market)

Lunch or Snack

 

Zone D

Stanley Park

·       Seawall

·       Little Mermaid

·       Totems

·       Aquarium

·       Biking or horseback ride

 

Optional

After dinner activity – Research needed

Roedde House Museum

 

Closed

Salmagundi West

Jimi Hendrix Shrine

 

Weather

 

I have been watching the weather (using Sitka as the measure) already.  It is getting close to 70 on same days, and other it barely reaches 60 at its height. Lows are in the 40s.  Rain’s some days, others its clear. Exactly how I had expected it to be.  But in a few days I can begin tracking the 10-day forecast, which will probably not be much different.

 

Itinerary

 

I have gathered all of my information and consolidated it into a easy to read at a glance itinerary for my family. [I will post it in my review, sorry not now.] It provides a list of the meals (and DIY times), the days and times in port or viewing glaciers, the times for our excursions, times of various entertainment options onboard, and a list of all the important travel info (flights, hotel, cabins).

Although it took me time to format everything so it looked “just right,” I did come upon one snag.  Upon looking at all of my flight information, I did not see our seat assignments listed.

 

Airplane Seat Assignments

 

I remember choosing seats, and wanted to add them onto my family’s itinerary, but I could not find them.  I am calling RCI later today during my lunch break to see if I can find the answer to this question. I kind-of even remember paying extra for the privilege of being able to sit with my family.

How can I not remember?  It was a very rough time for me personally, so I was not in the best frame of mind, and would like to forget much of it.

 

Although I can probably find the answer with some quick research, I also want to ask about the transfers to the hotel and exactly what I need to do (where to meet the bus/shuttle).

 

Baggage Tags

 

My baggage tags are still pending, so when I call RCI, I will also inquire about this as well. Still plenty of time before the cruise, but want to see if they know anything on their end.

 

These 99 days have quickly dwindled down to 13.  Stay tuned - who knows what the next two weeks will have to offer before we depart.

knights.jpeg

Edited by Travel R
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2 hours ago, Travel R said:

Airplane Seat Assignments

 

I remember choosing seats, and wanted to add them onto my family’s itinerary, but I could not find them.  I am calling RCI later today during my lunch break to see if I can find the answer to this question. I kind-of even remember paying extra for the privilege of being able to sit with my family.

How can I not remember?  It was a very rough time for me personally, so I was not in the best frame of mind, and would like to forget much of it.

 

Although I can probably find the answer with some quick research, I also want to ask about the transfers to the hotel and exactly what I need to do (where to meet the bus/shuttle).

 

Baggage Tags

 

My baggage tags are still pending, so when I call RCI, I will also inquire about this as well. Still plenty of time before the cruise, but want to see if they know anything on their end.

 

These 99 days have quickly dwindled down to 13.  Stay tuned - who knows what the next two weeks will have to offer before we depart.

 

Got to the bottom of these  . . . .

 

Seat Assignments -- I may have remembered wrong.  When we booked with NCL, we did select seats with the NCL agent, so I may not have done so when I booked myself.  However, when I called today, the agent confirmed my booking # (which was not the same as I had on my original email), I was able to log into the Air Canada website and select our seats. I also signed up for the AeroPlan and able to begin receiving loyalty points (yay).  However, pre-selecting our seats set me back almost $350 dollars (there goes that second lobster roll at the dock in Ketchikan); NCL was only charging $25 per (which would have been $200 round trip). Also for the last leg of the trip upon our return, I could not get four across, so I will be sitting on an aisle one row behind and across from my family. All my fault, I should have thought about this sooner - at least I am not stuck in the middle seat between two strangers.  I am not a huge person, but my shoulders are usually wider than the seats on most airplanes.

 

Air to Sea Transfers - The RCI transfer was paid for previously. As expected, I just need to look for the RCI agent/booth/bus.  The agent did confirm that the agent will be in the baggage claim area, so I should be on the lookout for her.  Not related to cruises, but to vacationing -- I miss the Magic Express from Disney. Check in your bags when you arrive at the departing airport (US) and then pick up your bags when you arrive at your hotel.

 

Baggage Tags - While I was being inquisitive, I asked about why I cannot print out my baggage tags.  I am receiving a "Pending" message (on both the App and Online).  I was switched to another agent who told me that they are doing this for Air2Sea customers since the airlines keep changing their schedules. She said that Air Canada was good, but others had made major changes in the last few weeks, so to be sure they are waiting until 5-7 days prior to the cruise/flight before releasing the luggage tags.

 

Customer Service - I just wanted to mention that although I had to wait 20 minutes until I spoke to anyone, both agents were very helpful and pleasant to speak to.

 

 

 

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On 6/9/2022 at 8:16 AM, Travel R said:

How Far Is Hubbard?

 

Reviews of RCI ships travelling to see Hubbard have been disheartening.  Although I have not ready any recently (one should be coming up on a website/blog I cannot name here), but reports are that the passage towards the glacier are filled with small icebergs making it dangerous to travel closer than 7 miles.  They have posted photos, and although it looks magnificent, I was expecting something closer this "late" into the season.

 

I don't want to hear all of the GNP cheerleaders saying "I told you so."

 

Hopefully by the time we travel more of the lane will be clear and we can get closer.

 

I had asked a member who did this sailing two weeks ago how far they got to the Hubbard Glacier, and they responded that a crew member said it was the closest they have ever been to the glacier.

 

One more worry to strike off the list.

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WARNING WILL ROBINSON, WARNING

 

I do not want to say bad news since nothing has been confirmed - but my DW was in contact yesterday (while at work) with someone that was in direct contact for an entire day with someone that tested positive.  So my DW has been quarantining herself from the rest of us in a bedroom while at home.  She will wait until the end of the day to take a test to see if it shows anything (although it may not show up on a test for 3-5 days after exposure), so all we can do is wait and see.

 

Of course, this happens 2 weeks before we sail. But it does not mean she has it, however, it is a possibility and adds a little bit of drama to our adventure.

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I often don’t book my seats, if I have to pay for that privilege. Usually if you check in 24hrs in advance you can get decent seats. We are flying on Westjet and I originally made the mistake of booking “Basic”. Found out later that Econo let’s you pick your seats when you check in 24hrs in advance but with basic you are assigned the crappiest seats on the plane. I read people booking basic mean that the Econo has less competition for the seats.  Prices had dropped and they had free cancel, so I was able to rebook Econo for a little less $.  Flying across the entire country and taking a red eye on the way home would really suck in the middle seat.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

I often don’t book my seats, if I have to pay for that privilege. Usually if you check in 24hrs in advance you can get decent seats. We are flying on Westjet and I originally made the mistake of booking “Basic”. Found out later that Econo let’s you pick your seats when you check in 24hrs in advance but with basic you are assigned the crappiest seats on the plane. I read people booking basic mean that the Econo has less competition for the seats.  Prices had dropped and they had free cancel, so I was able to rebook Econo for a little less $.  Flying across the entire country and taking a red eye on the way home would really suck in the middle seat.

 

Although my DD's are older, we still want to be together on the flight.

 

I am not a huge person, but my shoulders are usually as wider or wider than the seats, and I recently had the displeasure of sitting in the middle seat of an almost cross-country flight. Although my DW was on one side which helped, it was a very uncomfortable ride.  I hate paying the extra fees, but it is worth it (for me).

 

Interestingly, the cost of choosing my seat on an upcoming overseas trip is $75 per flight ($150 roundtrip), and there were not many isle seats remaining at the time.  Unfortunately, I may need to cancel that trip (don't ask).

 

 

Edited by Travel R
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Stress

                              Levels

                                                                                       Rising

 

For almost a year I was literally being tested once or twice a week.  The hospital, rehab center, and unfortunately and ultimately the respite, required a test each time I visited my parent(s) [unless I visited two days in a row]. Although I had some worry that a negative test would mean I could not see them for another 10 days, I never had any doubts about testing positive.

 

I have been stabbed twice with the initial chemical mix, and recently jabbed again with the booster.  In addition, I had contracted COVID early on. I was asymptomatic and never even knew I had it until I was provided with a free antibody test when I donated platelets. I was very surprised that I had antibodies – as mentioned, I had absolutely no symptoms. I have also been fairly careful (although admittedly, I have been remiss and have been not as "protective" the past few month).

 

Quick PSA: For those of us that are not first responders, work in a hospital, etc., there is a way that you too can be a superhero and save lives.  It is called being a donor. Donating blood, platelets, etc. literally saves people’s lives.  Donating blood is very quick and you can be in and out of the facility within 20-30 minutes.  Platelet donation can take a little longer (I am usually there for 1 ½ -2 hours, but I know it is needed). Be a superhero today and donate. Now back to your regularly scheduled program . . .

 

So now we wait.  We will be tested on the morning of the 24th. Two days before we fly. Two days before we sail.  Two days before se set forth on another adventure of a lifetime.

 

My DD17’s graduation is later that evening.  It would be a real downer to celebrate her accomplishments while grieving for negative results.

 

As I had written several times, we booked this trip at the height of the pandemic when cruise ships were not even sailing in Alaskan waters.  Yes, we knew the changes and played the odds. However . . . . however, it has been a really cr@ppy year.  With the loss of both my parents, a close relative, parents of several very close friends, and heard the shocking news yesterday of the loss of a long-time colleague and friend that passed way, way too young.  I need this vacation.

 

When it comes to planning vacations, such as these cruises, there are many reasons why we go.  One reason why I guess I do so much planning and then go on these trips is that it is a distraction from life.  No work, no worries, no stress once I have begun the adventure.  It’s good for the body, but also good for the mind. I really need this vacation.

 

*   *  *   *

 

Packing (In General)

 

In the meantime, the packing continues.  Gradually items are being moved into a central pile.  This weekend the packing will begin in earnest. I will get out the suitcases and begin adding the items I will be bringing.

 

My MO during the week leading up to a vacation is to place everything into the case, then two days before (once I know everything I have and the volume that needs to be stowed) I will re-pack everything to ensure that everything will fit.  Not to sound too modest, but I do pack well.  It is something I learned as a young age when I used to go backpacking.  I could be gone days at a time and there are no stores in the wild to purchase anything you did not bring.  So, everything you needed – including food – needed to be packed in the container you wore on your back.  Backpacking was a great introduction into the real world with real-world applications. 

 

Besides learning how to pack in preparation of a backpacking adventure (and choosing the right items to pack), I learned how to prepare for an outing, how to cook (you ate what you made, or not at all), how to sew/mend a tear in clothing, what to wear (how to dress for the seasonal weather and activities) and other very useful skills. Looking back, although myself and father enjoyed it, since we did not have a lot of money while I was growing up, these backpacking/camping trips were cheap vacations.

 

Although I do have a three-day weekend ahead of me, it is going to be busy.  I have a 60th birthday party on Saturday and a bike ride around the circumference of Manhattan on Monday. I may begin Sunday morning with a shorter ride, but the day will be dedicated to ensuring that we have everything we need for the trip – I would rather not have to do any last-minute shopping during the week if necessary.

 

Packing Tips

 

You cannot just place items into your luggage case one-by-one in any order. Once you have accumulated all of the items, spread them out in one area so you can access everything you have. 

1.       Then orderly place the items into the bag with the larger items at the bottom (heavier items also going at the bottom of the suitcase itself (when standing erect)) and work your way up.

2.       Pants I will lay flat, shirts I will roll.

3.       If you bring any extra shoes, use the space within to stow socks or other minor items.

4.       When all items are spread out, ask yourself if you are really going to need each of the items – undergarments and medicinals are the only thing you should have extra.

5.       Unless you are driving to port, there should be no “just in case” articles of clothing. 

6.       With this upcoming Alaskan cruise, there might be a need for both warmer and cooler-weather clothing; not a “just in case” scenario, but a reality of where we will be visiting.

7.       There will be items you are going to want to find quickly when you unpack – remember the area of the luggage they have been placed (and try to place them in that area during every subsequent vacation)

8.       Remember that every space is sacred, so try not to leave any empty spaces

9.       Do not pack any items you are not willing to lose in the luggage. Things happen, keep those items on your person or in carryon

10.   Double-check your packing list. As you have seen from this thread I like lists – but even if you do not have a full packing list, at least make a list of the items you must bring, like ID (passport), vax info, etc.

 

*   *   *   *

 

Yes, Sunday is Father’s Day.  Mother’s Day was hard, but I spent it focusing on my DW, the mother of my children.  This will be the first Father’s Day without my Dad.  I will still focus on my family, but I am expecting that the day, in general, will be hard.

 

I really, really, need this vacation.

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I’ve been following along, as Hubby and I are doing an Alaskan B2B on the Radiance, leaving on 7/22 from Seward. 

 

I totally empathize with everything you have posted. I lost my mother last year, and it’s been tough. This added stress of the pre-cruise Covid test almost has me losing sleep at night. Hubby and I are both double-vaxxed, double-boosted - but that doesn’t prevent you from getting it; it just alleviates the severity of it. So, we are basically wrapping ourselves in a bubble the next month & forgoing public events, unless they’re outside. Sigh. I am like you - I really, really need this vacation, as well.

 

So - I will be keeping you in my thoughts - keep us posted on how the pre-cruise testing goes, and I wish your wife comes through this with a negative test. I also look forward to your tips, especially once you’re on board. (P.S. I’ve downloaded your Sitka walking tour - that is amazing. Would love to see if you’re stopping in Ic Strait Point - I need tips there!)

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55 minutes ago, KansCocoa said:

I’ve been following along, as Hubby and I are doing an Alaskan B2B on the Radiance, leaving on 7/22 from Seward. 

 

I totally empathize with everything you have posted. I lost my mother last year, and it’s been tough. This added stress of the pre-cruise Covid test almost has me losing sleep at night. Hubby and I are both double-vaxxed, double-boosted - but that doesn’t prevent you from getting it; it just alleviates the severity of it. So, we are basically wrapping ourselves in a bubble the next month & forgoing public events, unless they’re outside. Sigh. I am like you - I really, really need this vacation, as well.

 

So - I will be keeping you in my thoughts - keep us posted on how the pre-cruise testing goes, and I wish your wife comes through this with a negative test. I also look forward to your tips, especially once you’re on board. (P.S. I’ve downloaded your Sitka walking tour - that is amazing. Would love to see if you’re stopping in Ic Strait Point - I need tips there!)

Thank you. My thoughts and prayers that your vacation goes on without a hitch (and to everyone else reading this thread as well.).

 

So far my DW, and the person that was in direct contact have not received positive results yet (it's been 3 days for the other woman), so that is a good sign.  My DW will probably do a test on Saturday, which would be a good enough of a time period to allow for the incubation period.

 

Unfortunately, we will not be stopping at ISP.  There is some good info on that port in the Alaska thread (look at both, the Alaska-only thread and the Canada + Alaska thread).

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Posted (edited)

Good News

 

Not much to report today except my DW has tested Negative again. This was a cliffhanger I did not intend to write into this story.  But until we find out the results of the text next week, it is all just nonsensical side-plot drama.

 

But as the Fab Four sang - Number 9.  Nine days left till' we sail!

 

My entire family may perform the test on Tuesday at home to see if there may be any indication of the virus, then take the official tests on Friday. [I hope not to jinx myself.]

 

Final Cruise Preparations

 

Tonight I will go cycling after I sign off from work, then makes some of my famous 4-cheese baked ziti for dinner (I make a big batch, so there will be enough for a few meals), then have dinner with the family and then (as a family - or at least myself and my DW) either try to finish up the 2000 piece puzzle that has taken over our dining room table, or maybe watch a movie.

 

Tomorrow I will be attending a 60th B'day Party (which I will be masked) and intend to do some yardwork later in the day when the temps cool down, and Monday I am cycling the circumference of the Island of Manhattan with some buddies.  Sunday will be the designated day to check my lists and finish up everything that needs to get done for this cruise. I will have compiled all of the items needed to be packed into one place (an open suitcase in the family room); I will pack it a two days before the cruise to ensure I have all of the necessary items and I can see what I have to most efficiently pack it.

 

Between now and Sunday I will review my countdown checklist to check off what has been done so I have an idea for what remains for me/us to do.

 

As a planner, and a list-maker, the final push to get ready is not stressful nor giving me any anxiety.  I know what I have to do, and have been doing it little-by-little.  There was a time I did not make lists and would always forget something - that I find stressful.

 

Weather

 

Now that we are closer, I can look at the weather for some of the ports we will be visiting.  Vancouver will be experiencing an expected high of 70 when we arrive, and Sitka will hit a high of 65 (low of 54). If the rain is kept to a minimum, it will be great temps for exploring (especially the DIY walking tour of Sitka).

 

 

Edited by Travel R
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Posted (edited)

Happy Fathers Day to all of the fathers, grandfathers, father figures single moms, etc.

 

I am taking a few minutes today between all of the Father's Day activities and packing to go online for a half hour.  Started out by going out to breakfast with the family at 7:30 AM and have been on the run ever since.

 

However, I wanted to share something.  I know I am not unique and have read about other doing this.  I was feeling nostalgic when I saw these and had to purchase them. [For you newbies, this was part of the cruise experience; the room steward would place one on your bed every evening; even on the nights they had the midnight buffet.] Each of us will have a mint on our pillows for each of the 7 nights . . . .

 

Tomorrow morning, when I have some time before work, I'll update this thread about my packing experience. Yeah, exciting and thrilling stuff, and I am sure you can't wait to read.

 

[PS - DW still testing negative, so I think we are in the clear for now. I am hoping and praying our tests come out negative on Friday. I haven't been this nervous about taking a test since I took the Bar Exam.]

 

 

andes.jpeg

Edited by Travel R
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I hope everyone had a great Father's Day weekend!

 

Masked-Up

 

Saturday was a nice day.  I attended the 60th birthday of a good friend.  Note that I did mask-up for most of the party.  I even slipped out early so I did not have to shake hands, hug, or kiss anyone to say goodbye (except for the birthday boy). Many already knew I was paranoid to be there in anticipation of the COVID test on Friday.

 

We went shopping a few times over this past weekend – and yes, I wore a mask each time we went into a different store.  The only time I did not put on a mask was when we went out for breakfast.  We were one of the first patrons in the morning, and all of the waitresses were masked, so I felt “safe.”

I spent the other half of the day working on the yard.  It really needed some work.  Last year I did not do much because I was running back and forth to take care of my parents in Brooklyn.   Then due to my mom’s death two months ago, I just did not have the mind to do much.  Luckily, we do hire someone to mow the lawn each week, but he does not trim bushes or trees.  It was a perfect day for being outside.

 

Packing Up

 

After breakfast we did some more shopping, including a few last remaining items for the trip, then returned home and relaxed a little bit before getting to work on preparing for the cruise.

 

Although I have been putting the non-clothing items aside, I had not begun packing any of my clothing.  When I began to take a look at what I had, I realized that I had not (a) gone on a long vacation in a while, and (b) due to COVID I had not worn anything but shorts and T-shirts for the past 27 months (except for the short trip to Vegas last year).  So instead of heading directly to the packing, I went through ALL of my clothing to see what fit, what didn’t and what was I should not be wearing any longer.  Once alleviated the items in my closet and draws that were no longer needed [another bag for thrift], I began the process of packing.  I went through my packing list, decided upon how many of each item I needed, and laid everything out on the bed (my DW was busy elsewhere in the house). Although I usually wait until a day or two beforehand, since I work-from-home, and will not need many of the articles of clothing I needed to pack, I decided to pack the suitcase there and then.  Besides a few non-clothing items, my suitcase is for all intents and purposes, packed!!!

 

Suit for Formal Night

 

If you have been a passenger on this 99-day journey, you already know my feelings about formal night.  I try to wear a suit and tie when I can.  When we took the Baltic cruise on NCL, there is no formal night, but I still wore a button-down and tie. I like dressing up and think that it is appropriate for the evening. That’s me, that’s who I am, and I know that there are those that are very vocal in their opposing opinion.  But as long as we can all agree to disagree, there’s no problem.

 

During the pre-COVID era, there were multiple occasions besides family events (e.g., weddings) where I had the occasion to wear a suit and tie (e.g., banquets, ceremonies, etc.), so I would purchase two suits every few years (we usually wait for the BOGO ½ price on 2nd suit sale).  I tried on a suit from two purchases ago and my wife said it did not fit right (it's still in very good condition), so she suggested that after I wear it for the two formal nights, leave it there – let the room steward take it, give it away (or sell/trade it), or throw it out. [As many of you know, they have little room, so the odds are 10-to-1 that it will be thrown away.]

 

With help of my DD22, I was able to fit everything into the suitcase, which included my suit and shoes (as well as two button-down shirts and two ties) - and there is still some remaining room.

 

Cleaning

 

One of the items on my To-Do list is clean out the fridge and ensure there are no spoiled perishables waiting for us when get home.  So I began to look into the refrigerator to throw out any items that we would not be eating this week and would go bad before we got back.  It turned into a complete cleaning of the refrigerator itself. My DW does it every two months, so she appreciated it – but it took a lot more time than I had expected.

 

In this aspect, we are ahead of ourselves.

 

Amazon

 

I own a very good pair of binoculars and a not-so-great pair. [I have a really good scope for a rifle, but that might raise some eyebrows from TSA if I try to travel with it. For this adventure, I thought that everyone should have at least a decent pair for themselves, so I ordered three pairs of decent binoculars so that everyone will be ready to see those whales breaching on a moment’s notice.

 

A recent passenger mentioned that they saw a few whales from the ship. I am hoping to be that lucky. It is important to remember that the sightings only lasts for a few moments, so you want to have the binoculars on-hand. By the time one person hands off their pair to the next person, the whale will be gone.

 

I also decided to order hand warmers since I already have toe warmers for the trip. I am not sure if I will use them, but I can see my DW using them during that early morning tour of the Tracy Arm.

We could not find these items while shopping around, so luckily there is an Amazon to make these purchases.  I will have everything by tomorrow.  Say what you want about Amazon, but it does make life a lot easier.

 

Airline Fees

 

As a sip my egg cream I am having with my breakfast this morning, I have to again shake my head about the airline fees.  I shelled over three Franklins for the privilege of choosing seats so my family can sit together, and just figured out that it will be another two so I can have the convenience of having them take my baggage, throw it around, chance losing it, and then having to wait for it once we arrive. At least the carry-on is free (for now).

 

360 Bike Ride of NYC

 

I am chilling out now and taking a rest. One of my buddies is going to pick me up in a little over an hour so we can meet two other people at Liberty State Park (yes, not far from the RCI Cruise Terminal), where we will take a ferry into NYC, then cycle the entire circumference of the island.  With all the times I have biked into NYC, and travelled up and down most of the streets, and encircled Central Park dozens of times, I have never cycled completely around the city.  When I was younger they did not have the path that they do now so we usually biked up and down the west side.  The path is still not 100% around Manhattan (we have to take some streets through Harlem), but it is probably 90-95% on a path.

 

If you ever come to NYC biking is one unique way to enjoy the city.  Before the paths it was usually a lot of street riding. Although they have added bike lanes to some streets, caveat that it can get hectic with the drivers that are unfamiliar with driving in NY traffic, the taxi and Uber drivers that don’t care about pedestrian lives, the Vespa and electric scooter riders that pay no heed to traffic laws, and the bicycle delivery people that zoom up and down these paths faster than many of the cars. However, cycling gets you to more places faster and allows you to see more out in the open and stop when and where you desire.  I am looking forward to it and will most likely post something about it tomorrow (and maybe a photo or two).

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Packing Update

 

The family has packed their articles of clothing.  Interestingly, we have four suitcases (makes sense, since there are four of us).  They are four sets, but one is smaller than the rest.  You can probably see where I am going with this . . . . we now have five sets of luggage.  This cruise keeps costing more and more, but I guess the suitcase will at least be used in the future.

 

The binoculars have already arrived – they are very small/compact and actually have very good magnification. Can’t wait to see whales, bears, and other wildlife with them!

 

Luggage Tags

 

I forgot to mention yesterday that the Luggage Tags are now ready to be printed; as mentioned previously, they had been pending for the past few weeks.

 

Island Vacation – New York City

 

When I was younger, so much younger than today . .  . I used to bike into NYC from Brooklyn many times. A nice ride through Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to Central Park was our usual MO.  I have cycled the East Side, West Side, and all Sides in-between, but had never just cycled around the exterior of the City (growing up in Brooklyn, Manhattan was known as “The City” even though Brooklyn was part of NYC).  So, at 50+, I happily agreed when one of my buddies suggested it.

 

There were five of us in our cycling group for the day – six in our group if you count my friend’s dog that travelled with us in his little cart attached to a bicycle.  The weather was perfect – low 80s and partially cloudy. There was enough sun to get a biker’s tan – so my legs, arms, and my face below my far head received some color.

 

We started around the World Financial Center, making our way South and curving around the bottom tip of Manhattan, then making our way northward in-and-around construction blocking much of the bike path. One at the Northern end of Manhattan we made our way back down the West Side (yes, where the Story was based) and low and behold, while passing by the piers, there was a cruise ship in one of the berths – the Carnival Magic.  Of course, it added to my anticipation of the upcoming cruise.  While waiting for our ferry back to NJ, I snapped a few pics as it sailed by. Note that the photo of the Magic that is further away includes Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to its left (Jersey City is behind it on the (not so) distant shore.  If you zoom in on the photo of me, you will see the Verrazano Bridge in the background. Of course, the photo of the bicycles on the tender – I mean the ferry – includes the skyline of NYC looking East.

 

Can’t wat until I begin to post photos of the mountain skyline of Alaska!

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1 hour ago, Travel R said:

Can’t wat until I begin to post photos of the mountain skyline of Alaska!

Maybe this will wet your appetite from exactly three years ago.  Leaving Hubbard Glacier.

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I just found your post today (we booked our 3rd Alaska cruise over the weekend on Ovation for September) and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed it.  As a super planner myself (the fact that I booked a cruise 3 months out is giving me heart palpitations even if it is my 3rd Alaskan cruise) I loved reading through your thought process and just how organized you are.  My internal OCD super planner (who makes the bookings, does the research, provides itineraries, does powerpoint presentations to the rest of the family/friend groups) is cheering for you and I hope that after the year you've had, you, your wife and your daughters will have a wonderful graduation as well as a smooth and successful trip.  I look forward to reading your trip report!

 

I don't think I saw an answer with regards to your question about entrees on river cruises - but yes, you can request more than one.  We did a river cruise on the Danube in September/October of 2018 through Gate 1and though the portions were European sized (uh...much smaller than our robust American appetites 😂), the chef came out and told us we could always order more.  If Gate 1 (which is much more budget friendly than Viking, Avalon, or Ama) allowed for multiple entrees, I'm sure any other cruise line would allow for multiples as well.  

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Just got off Serenade on 6/12. We were one of the few families that wore our masks everywhere on the ship, to the point we got some looks. We ate our buffet food outside in the cold so we would feel safer taking our masks off. We put our masks on in the MDR while waiting between courses. Hand sanitizer up the whazoo. Spent the following week driving ourselves around the Canadian Rockies in a rental car....can you guess where I'm going with this? By Wednesday my throat was sore. By Thursday I felt hot and then shivered all night. By Saturday, when we flew home, I had a dry cough and a runny nose...which I had to just let run so I didn't take off my N95 on the flights since I wasn't sure yet if it was Covid. Home test Saturday night was agressively positive. Thank God they got rid of the mandatory Covid testing requirements for flying back into the US the day we left the cruise or we'd be quarantined in Canada right now. I didn't feel good about making the decision to fly back knowing in all likelihood that I had Covid but we couldn't spend the next 10 days trapped in Canada with our children. I currently still have a fever and no sense if taste or smell.

 

Let me know your cruise questions. We overnighted in Vancouver the night before, and called in Sitka, Skagway, Haynes and Juneau. I'm happy to answer any questions about what we did or what was going on during the cruise 

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11 hours ago, plumie said:

I just found your post today (we booked our 3rd Alaska cruise over the weekend on Ovation for September) and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed it.  As a super planner myself (the fact that I booked a cruise 3 months out is giving me heart palpitations even if it is my 3rd Alaskan cruise) I loved reading through your thought process and just how organized you are.  My internal OCD super planner (who makes the bookings, does the research, provides itineraries, does powerpoint presentations to the rest of the family/friend groups) is cheering for you and I hope that after the year you've had, you, your wife and your daughters will have a wonderful graduation as well as a smooth and successful trip.  I look forward to reading your trip report!

 

I don't think I saw an answer with regards to your question about entrees on river cruises - but yes, you can request more than one.  We did a river cruise on the Danube in September/October of 2018 through Gate 1and though the portions were European sized (uh...much smaller than our robust American appetites 😂), the chef came out and told us we could always order more.  If Gate 1 (which is much more budget friendly than Viking, Avalon, or Ama) allowed for multiple entrees, I'm sure any other cruise line would allow for multiples as well.  

 

Thank you for yourself and your support staff (booking agent, researcher, itinerary provider, etc.) for cheering us on! As you know, we spend a lot of time planning beforehand so we can relax while on vacation (or as I tell people, while on vacation, I don't want to think) and ready for whatever comes our way.

 

Also thanks for the answer to second entree's on River Cruises.   Next month we are meeting with the couple we are going with to discuss which river (Danube vs. Rhine) and wait until the Fall to book when their 2023 summer schedules are released.

 

Did you like Gate 1? Based on the 2022 sailings and the recommendations of a good friend, I am leaning towards Ama - but open to any river cruise line (that we can afford).

 

Thanks again!

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11 hours ago, HokieK said:

Just got off Serenade on 6/12. We were one of the few families that wore our masks everywhere on the ship, to the point we got some looks. We ate our buffet food outside in the cold so we would feel safer taking our masks off. We put our masks on in the MDR while waiting between courses. Hand sanitizer up the whazoo. Spent the following week driving ourselves around the Canadian Rockies in a rental car....can you guess where I'm going with this? By Wednesday my throat was sore. By Thursday I felt hot and then shivered all night. By Saturday, when we flew home, I had a dry cough and a runny nose...which I had to just let run so I didn't take off my N95 on the flights since I wasn't sure yet if it was Covid. Home test Saturday night was agressively positive. Thank God they got rid of the mandatory Covid testing requirements for flying back into the US the day we left the cruise or we'd be quarantined in Canada right now. I didn't feel good about making the decision to fly back knowing in all likelihood that I had Covid but we couldn't spend the next 10 days trapped in Canada with our children. I currently still have a fever and no sense if taste or smell.

 

Let me know your cruise questions. We overnighted in Vancouver the night before, and called in Sitka, Skagway, Haynes and Juneau. I'm happy to answer any questions about what we did or what was going on during the cruise 

 

Last night we went to the awards ceremony at my daughter's high school (says the proud father)and we were also one of the very few families that masked up.  Most people, including the teachers were not masked. Although none of them have a pending COVID test to be administered, it is still a large public gathering (luckily NJ cases dropped over 40% since last month and 11% since last week; I have been following the statistics weekly) - I thought more would have done it out of precaution.  However, if I were not going to be taking this cruise, I may have been unmasked myself.

 

As for hand sanitizer -- I have been a crazy-person on prior cruises pre-pandemic, so I will double down.  Not to the point of over-doing it, but instead of the twice daily reminders to my family, there will be a few additional reminders.

 

Driving though the Rocky Mountains (I've done the US portion) is beautiful and a great driving experience as well. Wish we had more time than 1 day in Vancouver - and all four of us have work the morning after we return.  But one day . . . 

 

Sorry you caught it - no matter how many precautions you take it may never be enough. If you are fully vaccinated, at least the symptoms are mild.  

 

Right now, I do not have any pressing questions. I think I have found out or figured out almost everything I need to (at the moment).

 

There are three questions about this cruise that I still have anxiety about, but will not know the answers to until the time of . . . 

 

1) Will my family test negative on Friday?

2) Will my flight on Sunday morning get me to Vancouver and ultimately the ship on time?

3) Will we tender in Sitka?

 

The answer to the first will affect whether we go on vacation or not.  The answer to the second will have bearing on how/when/if we go on the cruise. The answer to the third will really have no bearing on us all (and probably more fun than the bus from the pier).

 

 

Edited by Travel R
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11 hours ago, HokieK said:

I currently still have a fever and no sense if taste or smell.

 

Hopefully you will get it back. I know two people (long-haulers) that still have limited taste and smell a year and a half after having COVID.  Both cases were extremely mild, but these symptoms have lasted for what seems to them forever. Good luck to you!

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5 minutes ago, Travel R said:

 

Hopefully you will get it back. I know two people (long-haulers) that still have limited taste and smell a year and a half after having COVID.  Both cases were extremely mild, but these symptoms have lasted for what seems to them forever. Good luck to you!

I hear you. I had it February 2021 and my taste/smell is still not back to normal. Most foods and smells have returned, but some, including some of my favorites, are absolutely vile. It’s pretty sad, but I can’t complain - the only taste and smell my dad has experienced for the last 18 months is rancid garlic. I stayed in that stage about 7 months and it was AWFUL - I feel so bad he seems to be stuck there. 😔

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