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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Going home

May 15, 2016

I fell right asleep last night at 9:15.  Starting about 1am I woke up about every 20 minutes to check the clock.  Finally got up at 3:04.  Shortly after 3:30 I took my first suitcase to the elevator and then went back for the second.  In the lobby I was able to get an airport trolley to put them both on.

Checked out and went to United to get boarding passes.  I don't really understand why but you had to take your luggage to another location where luggage for all airlines was collected.  I first thought you had to keep your bags until you went through customs and immigration but was sent back to a massive conveyor belt to drop my bags.

Considering the early hour I was surprised to find so many people ahead of me in line to go through security and then customs and immigration.  Although it is nice to be able to get through the process at the start (rather than once you are physically back in the US), CBP did not open until 4:30 which caused a back up.  It wasn't as bad as it could have been because there were lots of machines that scanned your passport, took your picture, asked you a couple of questions, and then produced a piece of paper the size of a boarding pass that you turned in to the officer (when you finally got to him).

The airport was still fairly empty as I walked to my gate.  For some reason I am always get the gate farthest from the entrance.  I stopped on the way and got an orange juice and used the free wifi to post yesterday's blog entry.

Boarding started just before 5:55 and we pulled back from the gate at 6:30 as advertised.  I dozed for most of the first two hours except for a few minutes for breakfast.  After a bathroom break I fell asleep again!

We landed 40 minutes early but had to wait around ten minutes because the previous plane had not left the gate.  I had to change concourses but this time both of my gates were not far from the tunnel connecting the concourses.

Boarding was about ten minutes late but went quickly since it was a smaller plane.  We sat on the field waiting our turn but the total flying time was only an hour and fifteen minutes so we landed on time.

Carolyn and Gary were waiting for me in the airport so I had help getting my bags off the carousel.  We went out to eat before going to their house for me to pick up my car.  I got home about 8.

May 17

A few afterthoughts...

As usual, I had a wonderful time and continue to love cruising.

I was especially lucky to have been placed at dinner tables with interesting and fun people.  We had lots of laughs and were often the last to leave the dining room.

Once again I will recommend being a member of Cruise Critic and joining a roll call for your cruise.  "Knowing" people before even getting on the ship makes cruising even more enjoyable.

Alaska has some of the most exceptional scenery I have ever witnessed (although there is no way I could live there).  If you are considering a visit, I would suggest you do so.

Finally, I would like to thank those of you who have been following along with my travels.  Hopefully, I didn't bore you too badly!   For those who left messages, please know I read and appreciated them all.

I always hate writing the last entry which is why this is so late.  So, one more time....

Smooth sailing until next time!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vancouver, Canada

May 14, 2016

My scheduled disembarkation time was 9:30 so I had set the alarm for 8:30.  I awoke before this because the expedited (people who carry their own luggage off) disembarkation started at 7:45.  Although we had docked by 7 am, it took time to complete the formalities.

I vacated my cabin about 8:15 and went to the Lido to get juice and a couple of slices of bread.  My color luggage tags were called at 9:20.  It took until 10 to get off the ship, get my luggage and get to street level.  Last week when I came in I got a taxi on the same level as I left the ship but today I had to get an elevator to the street and get in a massive queue for a taxi.  It took one hour and twenty five minutes from the time I got in line until I got in the taxi.

The taxi ride took about 25 minutes and cost $34.40.  Surprisingly enough since I am staying in an upscale hotel, there was no one to take my luggage at the door.  My driver took pity on me (and I'm sure the nice tip didn't hurt) and helped me with the luggage all the way to the front desk on the fourth floor.

Checked in quickly, I had already paid on-line, and had a bell hop bring up the bags (I had wrestled with them enough today).

About 12:45 I was hungry and decided to find the United check-in area (so I don't have to drag my suitcases around at 3:30 in the morning) and figure out what to do with the rest of the day.

I ended up doing what I thought I would do last week - take the skytrain back to the city center.  The ride took about half an hour and left me off at the same Canadian Pacific Railway station I had seen last week.

I walked towards Canada Place and ended up getting a taco salad at a food court across the street.  About 3:15 I found a nice place to sit in the sun at Canada Place and look at the ships.  Watched Nieuw Amsterdam having her muster drill. I was astounded by the number of people who did not return to their cabins when instructed but stayed out on the Promenade deck.

There were three ships in today - the Star Princess, the Coral Princess, and the Nieuw Amsterdam (which helped to create the taxi chaos this morning with about 7100 passengers disembarking).  The two Princesses were supposed to leave at 4:30 and Nieuw Amsterdam at 5:00.  They were all late.  Coral Princess left about 5:50 and Nieuw Amsterdam just about 6:00.  I stayed to watch her backing out and then left for the train.

I arrived back at the airport at 6:45.  My original plan was to eat in the food court in the airport and use the free wi-fi (the hotel charges) but I was tired and it was getting late (needed to go to bed at 9 to hopefully get 6 hours of sleep).  Instead I got Wendy's to go.  The last time I ate at Wendy's was in Singapore back in 2014 - not my favorite place but it tasted OK.

Ready for bed (after I figured out the really strange shower) and it is just a few minutes after 9.

People at muster station when they are supposed to be in their cabins

Nieuw Amsterdam backing out

The skytrain

Not sure what this is (in front of airport)

Totem poles and a restful garden in front of airport

Artwork in airport

View from my room - overlooked runway but very quiet

Smooth sailing until next time!

Friday, May 13, 2016

At Sea

May 13 (Friday), 2016

We lost an hour last night so I did not go to bed until 2.  I got up to watch the sunrise around 4 and slept until almost ten.  Met friends and talked until they went to the Mariner medal ceremony.  I met up with them afterwards and we ate together at the Mariner Lunch.

After lunch I spent about an hour sitting on the balcony.  The weather was in the upper 60s and beautiful.  Came in to pack for awhile before my last afternoon ice cream.

The five of us played afternoon trivia and did poorly with 9 out of 15.  Two teams tied at 11.

1.What do crocodiles swallow to dive deeper?
2.What does a spermologist collect?
3.Who currently holds the title of "fastest man alive"?
4.How many hours does it take to hard boil an ostrich egg?
5.What color is yak milk?
6.Which group has the most gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums?
Tie-breaker - In what year was the Panama Canal opened?

After working on the blog for awhile I did some more packing.  During trivia we became blanketed by fog and can't see anything outside.  Plenty of fog horn toots however.

About an hour after the fog came in, it was gone.  The temperature was much cooler but the sky went back to a beautiful blue.

Met the Sail-Away Gang for evening trivia.  We won with 12 out of 16.  The prize was a bottle of champagne for us to share.

1.What type of oil did da Vinci use in the first high intensity lamp?
2.How many legs do crabs, lobsters and shrimp have?
3.What is the first sign of the zodiac?
4.What Italian entree literally means "cooking pot"?
5.What was the first country to allow women to vote?
6.What book originally weighed 3 lbs, had 1037 pages, and cost $3.15?

Our last dinner in the MDR at table 50.  It was a fun evening and many hugs good-bye.

I met the Sail-Away Gang for karaoke in the Northern Lights.  Three of the group actually got up and sang.  Again more hugs afterwards as we said, "until next time".

Beautiful sunrise

Table 50

Afternoon trivia
1.stones or rocks
2.trivia (I know what you were thinking!)
3Usain Bolt
6.Rolling Stones
Tie-breaker - 1914

Evening trivia
5.New Zealand
6.Gone With the Wind

Ketchikan, Alaska

May 12, 2016

I woke up at 8:45 to see houses floating by.  I spent the next hour on the balcony watching us sail into Ketchikan.  It was a glorious day with the temperature already in the middle 60s by the time we docked (it got into the low 70s as the day progressed).

Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska.  It claims to be the salmon capital of the world and is the wettest city in North America (but luckily no precipitation today.

I had lunch before I left for my excursion, "City Highlights, Totems, and Creek Street by Trolley", at 12:30.

The driver/guide, Dalton, pointed out the interesting places in the city as we drove out to see the Totem poles at the Saxman Village.  We saw the carving house and learned that the totems are made of western red cedar.   When an old pole falls down it is left where it is and an exact replica is carved and put in the same location.  Some groups carve the entire pole and others only parts.

We then came back to Creek Street which at one time was the red light district.  It is built on stilts over the Ketchikan Creek.  We were able to get off there or take the trolley back to the ship.  I got off and looked around before taking the free shuttle back to the ship.  There was a free shuttle running between Creek Street, downtown, and the cruise ships (the Norwegian Pearl and the Westerdam were in port also).

Back on board by 3:30 and got my afternoon ice cream before heading to team trivia.  Our five Cruise Critic group played and won with 15 out of 15.  This was our fourth win in a row - OMG, we have become the artichokes!

1.What third lightest element is a major component of batteries?
2.Which US state has the lowest amount of pollution?
3.How many times was there live pigeon shooting at the Olympics?
4.What was Medusa's hair made of?
5.On a ship what runs forward to aft on the port side and aft to forward on the starboard side?

Back to my cabin to get ready for dinner and watch the sail-away from my balcony.  After we left port there were a number of whale sightings.

The seven of the Sail-Away Gang on board had dinner at Le Cirque so no evening trivia (I'm sure the other teams did not miss us!).     I had mostly the same as on the Westerdam but I did have the Strawberry Pavlova instead of Creme Brûlée.  We went to the Northern Lights to listen to the music (and watch Chris and Martin dance).

Park in Ketchikan

The trolley

About Saxman Village

Lincoln at the top

Some of the totem poles

The carving center

Entrance to Creek Street

Ketchikan Creek

There will be salmon spawning in this creek in another month or so

Shops along Creek Street

5.its name

Smooth sailing until next time!

Ketchikan, Alaska (part 2)

The view from my balcony at 3:35 am

Some views of Ketchikan from my balcony

The two best of my whale sighting pictures (actually more like what splashing)

Entrance to Saxman Village from the water

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cruising Glacier Bay

May 11, 2016

I woke up this morning with a very strange feeling - I was hungry!  I never wake up hungry but was today so I went to breakfast.  I had some bacon, fruit, and a muffin.

Most of the day was spent walking around the ship or sitting on my balcony and looking at the beauty of Glacier Bay.  The day was spectacular with the sky very blue and the temperature about 60.  I did go to hear the Park Ranger, Heidi, talk about the bay and then Alice (a Native American, only I think the P.C. name has gone back to Indian) talk about the Tlingits, the natives to this area.

I was able to see some small pieces calving (breaking off the glacier) with a bang that sounded like thunder or a gun.  There were lots of pieces of ice floating in the water.  I saw a whale, an otter, and a puffin although I did not get pictures of any of them.

I finally was able to get all of yesterday's post up and then got ready for dinner.

Played trivia with the Cruise Critic group.  We thought we were doing very badly but won with 15 out of 17.

1.What are the two colors most often confused by people who are color blind?
2.In what language was the Communist Manifesto written?
3.Which Shakespeare character said, "A horse!  A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"?
4.Into what body of water does the Rhone River empty?
5.Which country introduced the first postage stamp?
6.What explosive cosmic event was seen in 1987 for the first time in over 383 years?

All six present for Gala Night.  Herman, the Head of Housekeeping, came back and hosted our table again.  I had surf and turf and cheesecake.

The show was called "On Tour" featuring the Nieuw Amsterdam Singers and Dancers.  It was pretty good.

Ice floating around the ship

part of the Margerie Glacier

The other part

Views of Glacier Bay

Evening trivia
1.red and green
3.Richard III
6.super nova

Smooth sailing until next time!