End of Cruise & Last Day in Seattle!

The Alaska Cruise lands on the Day 10 where basically its breakfast and scurrying off the boat with our luggage. We had packed light so we just needed to carry everything in one shot without having to wait.

We took a final walk around the ship before leaving and took a lovely farewell shot of Seattle.

Seattle

Our only stop scheduled before our evening flight back home was to the Museum of Glass.  Remember where I went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass on the day before boarding the cruise ship HERE? Well, this is where all the art work happens.  Its supposed to be a highlight location.  At a certain time, they open for the workshop to show how they make certain pieces of art.  We sat there for a good bit of time looking at them craft a whale tail and this other piece which I can’t even remember what it was.

Museum of Glass

Museum of Glass Settle

The rest of the museum featured works from certain programs they have.  One of them was for kids creative pieces that they adapted into these glass works. And there were other art designs and forms from Mr. Chihuly himself.  It was a colorful adventure to say the least.

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

The Museum of Glass is a little dark so a lot of pictures didn’t turn out great.  Here are the selected ones that were rather decent. Its some nice work.  Some are rather abstract but I think the glass designs are really beautiful and intricate. The detail on them is just amazing.

Onward to the airport and heading home afterwards.  We took a little plane what some would call air taxi over to Vancouver and had  a little layover before heading back home to Montreal on a red eye flight.  I’m not a huge fan of red eye flights and I think I did get a few movies watched as well but I did catch a shut eye for two hours or so.  At least I had a few days off when I got home so as usual, I would just pass out from minor jet lag and just the adrenaline rush of vacation leaving my system and getting back to my normal life 😉

Recap on the first cruise

Cruises are really fun.  I’m not going to lie though.  The first two to three days of the cruise were so tough. It was being trapped in a boat with my mom and her elderly friends.  They are super nice but would also feel a lack of freedom until I found a way to just walk off and do my own thing.  However, as the cruise went by and a certain routine set in, it was really fun to board and see a lovely city and explore, take pictures and all that great stuff.  The cruise helped instill some good habits because of the boredom and the evenings were always something I’d look forward to because there were shows and events and music.  The food was also pretty decent even in the buffet, it had really great choices.  The free dining options were very accommodating and that is always a plus.  There is a feeling of being pampered on a cruise.  Someone cooks and cleans for you.  Its uber relaxed and there’s just so much time to lounge around.  That is good and bad.  For the most part, I didn’t have to make any decisions and it was just all set out and eventually that was very nice.  It may have taken me a few days to adapt to the cruise life but there is no doubt that at the end of it, I did miss it quite a bit.  Reality is awesome, being home is great but feeling relaxed and pampered and being able to have time to do everything I wanted, have a night life, meet new people also was really fun.  That’s the great thing about vacation, right?  That is why I love it so much.  If it was my everyday, it would sound good but I’m guessing I’d probably grow tired of it.  Cruising is a good way to travel and its definitely something that should be experienced.  It definitely has its perks. However, there is no doubt that when the bill came in, being on a cruise is a luxurious way to travel. Everything is pretty pricey and there’s the daily service fee charges and while its all inclusive, many activities do cost money, especially shore excursions.  Plus, next time I’d get a beverage package because that would be more cost efficient as well.  You pay with a swipe of your room key and your life is basically  there for whatever days you have the trip. Still, I’d do another cruise if I had the money 😉

Have you gone a cruise before? Did you enjoy your experience? 

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 8&9]: At Sea and Victoria, Canada

We’re nearing the end of the cruise here.  Victoria is the last stop before we board back in Seattle and have a half day before our flight to wander around.

Day 8 At Sea

Day 8 was back on the boat.  The night before all the way to mid day of Day 8 at sea, the tides were ridiculous.  The ship rocked like crazy. I didn’t end up eating a lot for breakfast or lunch but still more than the previous days since not eating is not really something that lasts too long.  Especially since I was working out a whole lot along with a lot of walking during the shore excursions and around the boat to fill up time. Day 8 at sea was the final bit.  It was the goodbyes because some people departed in Victoria (mostly Canadians living on the West coast) and there was a ton of farewells at dinner and for the last show.  During the day, I enjoyed some of the nice weather and did one more time of the hot tubs and went to workout two times.  I remember those days since I rarely do that back at home 😉 Oh and to not focus on the rocking ship in the morning, we played a bit of mahjong. I was literally tracked down at the gym at the beginning of my workout and asked to join in their mahjong game. It was kind of funny.

We had our last dinner on the cruise over at the Tsar’s Palace.

My mom and I also dressed up a little so that we could take some pictures with the professional photographers to keep some memories. Unfortunately, I think there’s like some copyright thing that I can’t post that up or whatever so just to be safe, I’ll keep it for my own decoration. We did take some nice pictures around the ship.

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Day 9 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

This trip seems a whole lot going in and out of Canada and then finally landing back home in Canada of course. It was one of the things that had us baffled with all the going in and out of borders of what to put on our customs papers when we were leaving.  Either way, I’ve been to Victoria before on a bus tour with my mom back in 2009 (or so). This time, I really wanted to meet up with one of my friends who moved out here.  Crazy thing is that my phone’s battery decided to die on that same day.  When we landed, I frantically went searching for a Fido store but I own a Samsung Galaxy S3 so of course, no replacement batteries anymore since everyone’s using the S4 or S5.  I did manage to write down her number before the phone died completely and borrowed the phone there. Stressful and crazy, yes. At least, the phone worked when it was on charge so I was able to contact the fiance when I got to the airport the next day give him the landing info again. But, we’re not there yet.

I did meet up with my friend and her and her husband took us to Butchart Gardens for a nice walk to see the different flowers of ending of Spring heading  almost into summer flowers.  If you haven’t been to Butchart Gardens, that place is gorgeous.  We were in between seasons and the flowers were great but still, its designed so well.

We had dinner afterwards at the Victoria harbor area at this cute little restaurant called The Flying Otter Grill. That place had great service and some really good food. It also felt good to not be eating on the ship and be with friends.

After that we took a walk around the area and took some pics along the harbor and the legislative building before having them drive us back to where the port for where cruise ships are.

Victoria

Victoria

And with that, we’re back on the ship and packing up and prepping for disembarkment tomorrow in Seattle the next morning! 🙂

A beautiful cruise comes to an end!

**I’ll be doing a little recap and feelings about the first cruise experience with the next week’s post along with the half day at Seattle.**

Have you been to Victoria, BC? How about Butchart Gardens?

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 7]: Icy Point Strait, Alaska

We’re almost nearing the end of the vacation.  Second last stop before we arrive back in Seattle and finish off that half of a day before going home.  But, let’s not jump ahead too much. These vacation posts are in delay and I did do a few little day trips afterwards so I’ll be probably posting about those after this series 🙂

After a beautiful day in Glacier Bay National Park, we arrived early morning at Icy Point Strait, which seems like a little island.  We didn’t have any shore excursions for this one so we just wanted to do a walk around the island and explore. For the first time, we needed to get a ticket sort of thing and have a shuttle boat or whatever you call those things get us from the cruise ship to the shore.  New experiences, right?

Right when our boat was about to head to shore, a whale popped up right in front of it. Obviously, it was a split second deal so my eyes captured it and not my camera.  Throughout that day, it was fabulous weather in Icy Point Strait and the island had a little trail that we took a walk around and then just explored the little museum area.

Along the waterside, I took a ton of close-up shots of shells, waves, stones, seaweed.  Stuff that doesn’t matter but I really like taking close-up shots and thing finding focus and adjusting what is the key of the photo and whatnot. That’s just the learning photographer side of me.  Here’s just a few selected ones that I thought was pretty good.

Icy Point Strait

Icy Point Strait

Icy Point Strait

We ended up going back to the cruise ship relatively early and having some time to finally enjoy some time in the hot tubs with my mom.  While I was reluctant and first to do it at first, it was remarkably comfortable and relaxing.  Plus, from where we were, we could see humpback whales playing in the water everywhere.  It was pure awesomeness! We didn’t get any whale watching shore excursions but we still got to see it as a bonus 😉

Icy Point Strait

It was a great day.  The next one would be spent at sea before we head on board back in Canada at Victoria, British Columbia.  I have a friend that moved out there so I was pretty excited to meet up with her.

Drop by next week to see the post on Victoria, BC 🙂

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 6]: Glacier Bay National Park

We’re at Day 6 everyone! Glacier Bay National Park is possibly the most anticipated in this whole trip.  We get to see glaciers and on top of that, we got fantastic sunny weather.  It was a little chilly in the morning and I had to get into a few layers since I was stupid and brought a ton of t-shirts and a sweater, fall scarf and a zip-up cardigan.  What can I say? I ended up doing a tank top, t-shirt, sweater, cardigan and scarf mix to accommodate the weather which I eventually took off the sweater by midday because it started heating up.  It may sound like a lot but I was in my 3/4 yoga pants since I was going to do workout and whatnot.  Still, we ended up running from the sun deck to the front of the ship that they opened up specifically for this area to take pictures and whatnot.

Glacier Bay National Park

It was breathtaking! And, we heard the glacier shift.  It was super far away and I barely saw it because I’m height challenged but it was this gigantic sound that just echoed in the wilderness.

This post, nothing much happens since we had fabulous weather and basically went in, did a turn and the captain took us for another turn because it was just so smooth.  Bonus on the trip, always a great thing 😉

So, here we go! Some of the best shots that I took 🙂

If any of the shore excursions didn’t work for anyone, I’m positive that this was worth full ticket price. We were surrounded by some of the most pure and breathtaking scenery that I’ve ever seen.  I may have grown up surrounded by snow in Montreal where its 6 months of the year in winter but nothing quite beats that moment where I heard the glacier crack and saw the ice in the water and the sun and landscape reflecting on the beautiful water.  That feeling..I just can’t even describe! 🙂

For the rest of the day, we pretty much traveled back into non-snowy areas, heading for Icy Point Strait. I don’t have much pictures for the rest of the day.  I probably saw a show, ate at the buffet because I was super tired of overeating, and working out like a beast like the rest of the trip before that.  There was always a show in the evenings at the lounge and I’d sometimes see people I met there from previous days.  Cruise life can be pretty routine as well but just so relaxing! 🙂

That’s it for Day 6! Check back next week for Day 7 at Icy Point Strait! 🙂

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 5]: Skagway, Alaska

At this point in the cruise, I’m thinking that its going really fast.  Look at this, Day 5 already.  I’m also thinking that I’m super tired because the night before I slept late chatting with some acquaintances and then woke up early to get on a specific time for the Skagway shore excursions. It was costly but also one of the must-sees of the trip. It was a lot of jumping through borders.  We crossed the US back to Canada then back to US.  It was kind of funny and fun all at the same time.

Shore Excursion: White Pass Railway

White Pass Scenic Railway is one of those must-sees.  It is super pretty and although I think I did a pretty decent job on the pictures, it doesn’t even come close to what its like to just take in the whole experience.  Its over an hour on the train ride but there’s an actual conductor and you get to take in a good part of the history which of course, is over my head now but I have all the information pamphlets and whatnot that we got during the trip.  Its not quite so special to see snow but the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking.

On the way to the next site, we took a stop at the Welcome to  Alaska sign after we crossed back into US from the northern parts of British Columbia.

Alaska

Shore Excursion: Klondike Gold Mines & Gold Panning

 Our next (and final) stop for the shore excursion was going back to Klondike Gold Mines.  We go through the history of mining for gold and how it all works from the evolution of the machinery.  I had a field day going around taking macro pictures and blurring backgrounds and whatnot.  I apparently like weird things but the photos turned out pretty cool.

Klondike Gold Fields

Klondike Gold Fields

Klondike Gold Fields

We ended this little trip with our own little try and sifting for gold and the whole procedure from how to swirl the pan and have the gold surface.  We got to weigh our gold afterwards and take it home.  Of course, its nothing crazy but mine came to $13 (at the gold levels then, I guess).

Walk around Skagway

After going back and having a little lunch, we went back out to take a little walk around Skagway and the interesting symbols of the cruises on the rocks across from the harbor.

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Evening on the Cruise

That evening, there was probably a show that I can’t remember what it was.  Some music probably.  Every night its about the same so it probably was workout when I got back, dinner at the buffet area since at this point, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed from all the eating. And then that night, there was The Beatles Tribute or was it Rock Night (I think) in the lounge.  At least I think so. Regardless, this was the group on the cruise.  They are called Next Stage (I believe).

Norwegian Jewel

I might be getting that rest of the day all mixed up but somewhere in there I took a little walk around the boat.  All I remember was that it was REALLY windy but the scenery was A-MAZING! Just look at this…

Alaska

Alaska, on the way to Glacier Bay National Park

Okay, no joke here.  I was thoroughly excited about going into Glacier Bay National Park.  It was a day at sea but it was going to Glacier Bay National Parks to see actual glaciers and if this was just going into Glacier Bay and we were even there, can you imagine how beautiful it would be?

Drop by next week for Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park! 🙂

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 4]: Juneau, Alaska

Other than the price being really worth it for the Alaska Cruise, it was also a nice route because there were only 2 days at sea and after that we were pretty much at port or circling the Glacier Bay National Park.  That’s coming up…but next up was Juneau.  If there’s anything you’ll notice, Alaska ports are pretty much all rainforest territories.  Vegetation grows on so little earth and it rains a lot, although not so apparent for us because we got only that one time where we were leaving port and it rained.  I just can’t remember if it was at Ketchikan or at Juneau.

Day 4: Juneau, Alaska

We’re here! Day 4! Juneau’s port isn’t right next to the city so we had a shuttle to go which we realized was actually a little silly because the walk back wasn’t too bad either.  It’s like a mile.  Still, we took advantage of the free service 😉

Juneau Alaska

Arriving into Juneau, Alaska

We also had a shore excursion booked for Juneau which included stopping at 3 locations. Let’s see them, shall we?

Shore Excursion: Mendenhall Glacier

This place to visit Mendenhall Glacier was stunningly beautiful.  Its a pity that we couldn’t stay longer because it had a few trails and there was the waterfall which was a decent distance to get to.  We did get there and have to run back to catch the bus on time.  There was some really nice scenery with water, glacier, icebergs, etc.  It was so peaceful and nice despite all the tourists around. There was also some really nice plants and flowers growing around the trail that we took.

Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier

 Shore Excursion: Macauley Salmon Hatchery

I’m from Canada so salmon is kind of a thing we know about. Hatcheries and all that stuff, I’ve visited a few of them in the past.  This place didn’t have so much value for me.  The facilities were really  nice though.  Inside there was some animals displays and had a little aquarium going with some marine life like shellfish and coral and some fishes.  It was a quick little stop for some coffee and to know a little more about the various types of salmons in the area and just how the hatching process works and the role of the hatchery.

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Shore Excursion: Glacier Gardens

The last stop of the shore excursion was at the Glacier Gardens.  Its a 50 acre rainforest botanical garden that features Flower Towers which are using dead tree trunks overturned to fill with plants as decor.  It also includes a tour that elevates a good few hundred feet to a vantage point where we can get a beautiful view of the whole Juneau area. Its breathtaking and beautiful.  The ride up was fascinating as the guide tells us about the history of how the Gardens came to be and how the owner came to have the Gardens set in the Tongass National Forest.  Its a unique experience and a lot of fun.

Glacier Gardens

In the Gardens Gift Shop

Glacier Gardens

Gardens Gift Shop: A special Mother’s Day photo with my mom.

Glacier Gardens

The ride going up to the peak

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

Flower Towers

Rest of the Day

The tour took up a good few hours, probably around 4 hours or so.  We went back to the ship for lunch and came back out to explore the city a little.  On the path there, I bought two t-shirts which were rather subtle tourist-y ones.  But they were really nice and made from bamboo so really comfortable. We also walked by this really tourist sort of restaurant called Red Dog Saloon.  We didn’t want to go in so we just took a picture outside.

Juneau Alaska

In the city of Juneau, tourist spot, Red Dog Saloon

As I mentioned before, this day was also Mother’s Day so the boat had some little decoration in the buffet area.

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The Moms in our group got to choose the location of dinner that night and we went back to Chin Chin Restaurant.  Unfortunately those pictures turned out a little fuzzy and I already showcased that restaurant before.  I think we might actually have another night there so there might be more pictures. I just can’t remember until we get there.  That night, it was also comedian and that didn’t work with my mom and her friends since they wouldn’t understand it so we skipped the show.  I did end up spending some time with my mom to walk around the ship and look at the decorations and take some pictures with my mom.  This trip overlapping Mother’s Day was one of the highlights so since I  moved out, its these moments that matter a lot.

I ended the evening after my mom headed back to rest since we had an early start the next day going to the lounge again.  There was some nice music and that’s when I met a few more very awesome people from southern part of the USA.  Very nice people and it was nice to chat with some younger groups of people.  We have no contact now but hey, it is a cool memory.  We did hang out a few more nights during the trip at the lounge and had some fun times. No pictures of these events since I was off duty with my DSLR and my phone was slowly dying during the trip.  I’ll tell you all about the debacle when it actually happens later on 😉

For now, this is the end of Day 4 of the Norwegian Alaska Cruise at our stop in Juneau! A really captivating shore excursion for the most part and a great evening making it a fantastic way to spend Mother’s Day with my mom! 🙂 Which reminds me, I should get that picture with my mom printed and framed.

Remember to check back for Day 5!
Easily one of the most memorable stops and the day we cross back and forth from Canada and USA over and over again 😉

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 3]: Ketchikan, Alaska

Day 3 on the Alaskan Cruise was our first stop.  After a day of being at sea and exploring the boat thoroughly, this first stop was a welcome time. We had an early wake-up time to meet up for the bus to go to where our tour start.  Right off the boat, it was full of the city and by the shore was tons of souvenir shopping.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Good morning, Ketchikan! 🙂

Rainforest Canoe Trail

Let me just start by saying that my mom and her friends did not know what they were getting themselves into, so they didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I did.  If you’ve followed here for a while, you know that I LOVE water.  I mean, like cruise feels great but I used to do dragonboat so canoeing felt great.  They thought someone would paddle the canoe but nope, it was all about us doing the work to get there.  There wasn’t a lot of people doing the tour on top of that so it was kind of funny how it was the guide, one of the cruise employees and me doing most of the paddling. Still, it was fun.  Plus, the view was beautiful!

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

We did a tour of the lake and then made our first around the river bend where there was a chef lady who had prepared some clam chowder, smoked salmon, coffee, etc for our snacks.

Ketchikan

Smoked Salmon

Ketchikan

Chef and Clam Chowder

Rainforest Canoe Trail

The view of the lake from where we parked the canoe

Then, we got to do a tour of the rainforest on that island to learn a bit of the vegetation.  The guide was young and energetic and he seemed genuinely in love with nature making him rather enthusiastic so it was even more engaging to listen to. 🙂

Ketchikan

A Berry plant..I think its salmonberry

Ketchikan

Fallen logs that nuture the growth of other plants

Ketchikan

Skunk Cabbage

Ketchikan

Can’t remember the name but these things grow in 90% non-polluted air, making Alaska one of the most non-polluted places

Dinner at Tsar’s Palace

We got back to the boat for the sailing away at 3pm or something after doing some souvenir shopping and hopping back on the boat for lunch.  I did go on the deck and take a nice picture of the Ketchikan harbor/city from there.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

I can’t remember the schedule exactly.  Its somewhere in my stack of papers.  From my notes, we did sit in the sun a little. There was the Sail Away Party in the lounge where I did go for a little while.  I think we just sat and walked around until dinner time. I might have gone to workout (since I did that everyday).

The details aren’t so important since this is freestyling cruising.  Seeing that’s Norwegian Cruise Line’s tagline, it works out, right? 😉 Tsar’s Palace is the other main dining palace.  A part of the menu is the same as Azura but there is some dishes that vary on a daily basis.  It is a bigger restaurant and has a more grand decor.

Here’s what we had.  I’m sorry that I can’t remember any of the dishes specifically anymore.  I should’ve taken a picture of the menu but apparently I didn’t…so there’s no going back from that.

Evening: Shows, Games and Country Hoe-Down

Alaskan Cruise

I don’t have a whole lot of pictures from evenings but that evening, we went to the show at the Stardust Theatre.  I walked around (resulting in the shot above of the sunset) and caught the Guess The Tune game, which was pretty fun.  That night it was called the Country Hoe-Down.  I had a ton of fun learning how to line dance.  I think I still remember some moves.  It was super fun because this old couple was owning the dance floor, aside from the staff of course.  They were right there next to me and when I got tired, I remembered that I couldn’t get owned by some elderly folks so I tried to learn it even better. It was really fun.  That’s all I’m saying 🙂

Events like this and I started making acquaintances, not bad, right? Only took 3 days 😉

That’s it for Day 3! The beautiful Ketchikan graced us with no rain until we were sailing away.  It was really some nice awesome weather we had the whole way, you’ll see…  That canoe trail though, man, I have to find some of those here and sign up for one of those.  You want to feel like being one with nature? That was totally how I felt about it.