Sunday, September 14, 2014

Alaska Cruise

Posted by Kristy

We had the pleasure of going on an Alaskan cruise with both mine and Trevor's parents in August. We sailed on the Grand Princess. Overall, I thought the ship looked a lot less tacky than our previous cruise on Carnival. Here's a bunch of views of our ship.

Grand Princess Cruise Reviews

The trip started out with our buddy Jeremy being kind enough to cram all of us and our stuff into his mini van and dropping us off. We then checked in to the cruise and were given our cruise cards and room keys. Trevor and I were each given a blue dot to wear. We weren't sure what these stickers were for but as we boarded the ship they noticed our dot and pointed us in a different direction to our room. Trevor and I had been given a free upgrade to a balcony! It was awesome. Both of our parents were staying in the interior rooms of the ship.

We quickly realized that the blue dots were to separate us from the rest of the riff-raff on the ship. We left our peasant interior-room-living parents and watched the Blue Angels perform from our balcony. We chatted with our fellow rich people neighbors (who probably had to pay to have a balcony) and then made our way up to the Lido deck for lunch to mix with the commoners (including our parents).

Where the "blue dots" live

After lunch, we grabbed an ice cream cone (the first of many) and went to explore the ship. It was pretty windy. Here are some pictures.

Trevor and Druann Lacey

After we had been sailing for an hour or so, my father-in-law, Craig, told us that he thought the ship was headed the wrong way. We told him he was crazy. Only minutes after that conversation, the captain got on the loudspeaker and announced that an alarm had sounded and they needed to go back to port to check it out. So we came back to Seattle.

I will never doubt Craig again

We really weren't phased by the whole alarm-going-back-to-port scenario. Trevor just kept saying that if worse comes to worse, we still have a balcony. Life on the cruise went on as normal that night. We watched a cheesy cruise opening show and later had our first meal in the dining room. 

The Botticelli Dining Room

Throughout the cruise, we ate well, but overall, we liked the food on Carnival cruises better. The bread was crazy disappointing. One of my favorite parts of the Carnival cruise was that during mealtime, a bread guy would go around with various hot bread. It was awesome. The rolls that you can see in the above picture were always already on the table and they were the worst. They were hard as rocks--although they'd make for amazing weapons during a food fight. It was like eating crab but not as rewarding. 

The dining room always had really odd dishes--a lot of them fish-related. I was adventurous and tried "pheasant soup" and "rack of lamb," but they were pretty disappointing. But there was always something on the menu that was enjoyable to eat. What we excelled at was ordering desserts. The Earl side of the table definitely ordered more desserts than the Lacey side, but we are shameless. After a few meals they got the hang of it and we were no longer the only ones ordering 3-4 desserts each. Here are some examples:

It was delicious

The Loveboat

Our first stop in Alaska was Ketchikan. 

You can only get to this small town by plane or boat. There aren't any roads that lead to it. It was full of jewelry and craft shops. They are all there for the tourist season, and when the cruises stop coming, they pack up and go home. 

We enjoyed looking at the little shops, and then we went and watched their lumberjack show. It was cheesy and entertaining and it looked like this: 

My Dad booked our cruise and in true David Earl fashion he told them that we were each celebrating our anniversary that week. Also, it was truthfully Trevor's birthday that week so our door looked like this:

And we were given this: 

The W of W doesn't apply in Alaska, right?

Here's the group at our table after ordering dessert.

On a different night, the dining staff came over and sang us "Happy Anniversary" (which is sung to the tune of Happy Birthday and you simply repeat Happy Anniversary the entire time). They then presented us with these:

I was very okay with this--Trevor wasn't so sure. It was funny because they sang to us and handed us each these big slices of chocolate mousse cake, but this was after we had each ordered our three or four desserts for the night. I wish we would have taken a picture because our table was COVERED in desserts. They also gave us a mini dessert tray with eclairs and various cookies. I don't think I've ever been so full.

The next day we sailed into the Tracy Arm Fjord and took lots of pictures. It was quite the sight.

Next, we sailed into Juneau to check out the Mendenhall Glacier. Trevor wasn't feeling great so he played video games rested while we went exploring. Fun fact about Juneau: Did you know that you can only get to Juneau from a plane or boat? They have to fly their High School sports team around for their games. They said they get the money from fundraising and Alaska Airlines pays for a lot of their travel as well. Crazy, huh? 

 Apparently I'm the only one happy in this picture

Try to zoom in on these next two picture so you can see how mad my Dad and I look in these pictures. Either we both suffer from "Resting Beezy Face Sydrome" or someone told us that our next stop was a museum. 

We went to a well known bear-viewing spot, but we didn't see any bears. We just saw a lot of salmon. 


We then hiked up to see the Mendenhall Glacier. Lots of pictures were taken. 

Then we took a gondola ride to get a bird's eye view of Juneau. 

This bald eagle was hurt and they were nursing her back to health. Bald eagles are much bigger in person.

We saw some wild bald eagles as well. Can you spot it?

Sadly, this is as close as I got to seeing a bear

Our next stop was Skagway. We started our day by climbing aboard the White Pass Railroad. For those of you that don't know, my father-in-law, Craig, is a big train enthusiast and used to be the director of the Heber Valley Historic Railroad. 

Funny story: Craig ended up taking more pictures of just the train itself than he did the rest of our trip. 

 Such a dare-devil

After this shot I had to pull her in because we went through a cave

After the train ride my Dad and I watched a variety show that was all about Soapy Smith. He was this conman back in the Klondike Gold Rush days. He got the name "Soapy" because he used to sell soap. He would swear that his soap could wash your sins, grow your hair back, or simply cure whatever ailed you. He would then tell the crowd that he was so sure of his soap that he was going to give them a deal. He had wrapped up his soaps in various dollar bills, all the way up to $100. He covered all of the soaps in paper so they couldn't see the hidden money. Then his planted men in the audience would purchase a soap and proudly show the crowd that they won 5, 10, 20 or $100 dollars. After that, the crowd would go berserk, and everyone wanted to buy some soap. Nobody else in that crowd won any money, but by the time they realized that, Soapy would be long gone.

Soapy Smith believed that he was doing people a favor swindling them out of their money because they were all off to hunt for gold and would most likely die. When the people of Skagway needed to request money from their family back home, Soapy Smith had a Telegram service they could use. Of course, the whole thing was a fake, and the telegraph lines ran right into the lake. Soapy Smith would charge fees to send messages and then create false messages from their friends and family. The whole town got fed up, ganged up, and finally murdered him. 

That night on the cruise ship, we were entertained by the Las Vegas magician Gary Carson. He did some crazy tricks like this: 

After the show we walked around the ship for a bit. 

Now throughout the cruise there were a variety of classes and activities that we could choose to participate in. A typical morning for my parents and me was after waking up and eating breakfast, we would meet up for Zumba class. Line-dancing class was immediately afterward, and my Mom and I did that class together. Then the Laceys would meet us for Morning Trivia. We played trivia every chance we got. We got close to wining lots of times, and one time we tied for the high score but lost the tie-breaking question. We didn't end up winning trivia until the very last day of the cruise. We walked away with these babies. 

The water bottle of champions

The Line-dance class was pretty fun. It was a pretty big group of about 35-40 people. We learned a few simpler dances like "The Cowgirl Twist" and then for the last 15 minutes we learned the steps to the "Fake ID" dance from the new Footloose. Yeah, it was crazy hard and crazy fast. So fast-forward to the last day of the cruise when our teacher tells us that we were the opening number for the Passenger Cruise Talent Show. Yikes. My mom and I were front row, but we decided that there's going to be a huge group so it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Guess how many people showed up to perform the dance that night with us? TWO!!! There were four of us on that stage. You couldn't hide if you tried. Luckily Sadly, we don't have a video of our performance but here's a picture to prove we did it. 

Here's how we felt while performing

Our last stop was at Victoria, BC. We immediately commandeered a van and drove off to The Butchart Gardens.  I can't even describe how gorgeous these gardens are. If you haven't seen them, you really need to. Here are some pictures--though they really won't do these gardens justice. 

Our photo cue was: cast a spell 

While we were at the Butchart Gardens we got to take a break and listen to a Beatles cover band and enjoy some yummy gelato. Later that night, we got to watch part of the musically-choreographed fireworks display before we had to head back. 

We had such a great time on this cruise. I would recommend it to anyone--especially if you already live in Washington. It's just too easy not to do. We loved getting to enjoy this trip with both of our parents. We're lucky that they are both so cool and fun to travel with. It's been tough getting used our normal lives again. I much prefer the wining and dining of cruise life. You mean I can't just grab a quick fruit tart from the Lido deck when I'm hungry? Ugh, reality is the worst.