Just One Thing Before You Start Reading This Post
This is the second post of a three post series. If you haven’t already read it, you might want to read; “Travel – Cruise Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl – Part 1, Prepping for the Cruise“.
My son and I planned this trip a year in advance. We had done everything we needed to do (scheduled everything, paid for our cruises, got our passports, bought everything we felt we needed).
Finally, It Was Time to Board
My oldest son drove us to Seattle and dropped us off at the dock where we were supposed to board (he would be coming back to pick us up at the end of our trip).
We got in line for boarding. The line meandered for a little bit outside.
Soon we were inside… meandering. We did the serpentine for a while and finally we were done. Our bags and ourselves were checked in.
These ships offload passengers and onload passengers in an amazing process. As passengers vacate their cabins, those cabins have to be cleaned to receive the next occupants. You can’t go to your cabin immediately as it is being cleaned. You have to wait for your cabin check-in time.
We Were All Checked In, Now it was Time to Check it Out
Your suitcases are held and will be delivered to your cabin once it is ready. In the meantime, you get to walk around the ship and check it out.
You can sit down inside if you like, while you are waiting. There are windows in this restaurant so you can look out at the view while you eat. You will see the ocean, shorelines, glaciers, whales and such.
There is a lot to do onboard. As you come in, they will offer to take your picture. Later during the cruise, they will offer copies that you can purchase if you want, before you leave the ship.
You can order drinks or get food at many of the food and drinks stations around the ship.
Just after 4:00 PM. The wind was starting to kick up a little. There were storm clouds overhead but that didn’t stop the party that was going on.
The ship started to move away from the dock. We found a couple of deck chairs and sat down to enjoy the ride and the view.
We sat on the upper deck for a while then decided to head for our cabin because it was our check-in time.
Home Away From Home
When we were arranging our cruise, they asked if we were celebrating anything. We told them we would be celebrating my upcoming birthday during the cruise.
When we arrived in our cabin, there was a bottle of champagne and some large chocolate dipped strawberries, to wish me Happy Birthday.
Our cabin was great. It wasn’t big but it really looked elegant, plush and inviting. It came with 2 twin beds (on either side of a shared nightstand). There was a TV, a dresser, a desk/dressing table, a little refrigerator, a safe, a closet plus shelves for purses, sweaters, gloves and shoes. The cabin also had a private bathroom for all that you need to do in there.
We saw that our luggage had been delivered. We unpacked as if we were going to live permanently in the cabin, (making ourselves at home).
The cabin was perfect for our purposes (sleeping, cleaning up and getting dressed to go). As I said in “Cruise Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl – Part 1“, we didn’t plan on spending much time in our cabin.
Time to Eat!!! Always Time to Eat!!!
One of the things I loved about the cruise was the food. The buffets served breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night foods/snacks/deserts (as late as 11:00 PM for the last one).
As it was approaching dinner time, we headed for the buffet.
The foods offered were numerous and everything looked delicious. Everything they do on board for you as a passenger is above and beyond what you might expect.
There isn’t any tipping anywhere onboard. Tips (gratuities), are all paid for up front and are included when you purchase your cruise package.
What a great concept. This helps to ensure every passenger on board is treated by the staff with the same professionalism and courtesy. You don’t have to tip to be treated with exceptional service (exceptional service is literally part of the package).
After dinner we walked around the ship. We went into the forward lounge and watched the path in front of the ship as we moved through the ocean.
It started to get too dark to see anything ahead of the ship so we decided to explore.
We found the bowling alley and a lounge for lounging. We found the casino, the library, the gym and the spa. We had fun exploring the ship that evening.
We found the late night snack counter, just outside at the end of the ship!! We grabbed a few things to munch on, sat on the aft deck of the ship, ate then headed for our cabin. We needed to get up early, get ready, eat and go out on our first excursion.
Natural Beauty as You Travel
Before we got to our first port, we went out on deck and took pictures. I love to take pictures but I especially enjoy taking pictures of things in nature. Going to Alaska was something I knew I would enjoy.
I love the naturally beautiful scenery as we traveled from port to port. I was most excited to see a whale out in the wild. I looked and looked as we traveled.
The skies were ever changing in color from place to place.
I saw several waterfalls on the trip.
Nature provides the best show, but man produces beauty too. This area of this pretty city was built up along the bottom of the mountain that sits behind it (where the ocean meets the foot of the mountain).
This is the City of Juneau.
Our First Excursion was the Mendenhall Glacier Tour
Shortly after we arrived at the port in Juneau, it was time to go on our first excursion. We disembarked and headed for our charter bus.
It didn’t take long at all to get to the Glacier (it’s only about 12 miles from downtown Juneau). The bus dropped us off and left. They told us they would be back at a specific time to pick us up.
First thing we saw was an iceberg.
That is the Mendenhall Glacier. We walked up a paved path that went past the Mendenhall Glacier museum/gift shop.
The Glacier is huge but so is the waterfall off to it’s right.
We walked for a while down by the shore. We came back up, toured the museum and then went to the spot where our bus was supposed to pick us up.
We were informed that the bus might be a bit delayed because someone with a child brought a banana for the child. The child with the banana attracted a bear. This happened just down the street. The bear was now blocking traffic.
There are signs that warn people to not have any food on them because of the bears.
Luckily the rangers in the area got the bear to move away.
As we were riding in the bus I saw one of the Diamonds International stores in the downtown area.
I would be shopping on this trip as I wanted to bring back gifts for my eldest son and my daughter. I also wanted to buy two things as remembrances for myself, a piece of art and a piece of jewelry.
We will be shopping at a different port though, as time is limited at this one. We needed to get back on the ship. Our bus was 5 minutes late picking us up, but we got back to the port and boarded with time to spare.
After we got back, we ate dinner at the all you can eat restaurant. The selection, service and the food were all fantastic.
Late that night we decided to stay up and sit in the main lobby where they show movies on a big screen display.
Remembrances of the Cruise (a Few Prints)
There was going to be an onboard art exhibit/auction running for a few days. We attended several of them.
At the exhibit/auction, there were hundreds of pieces of art to look at. Everyone who attended received a small print with a nice certificate (the print being around the size 8″ x 10″). These were nice little gifts for those who just wanted to go in, look around, watch the auction and leave with a remembrance that didn’t cost them anything.
I was there with the intent of buying some art.
Every day you attended the auction you had the chance to win a nice, big print. They gave you a ticket at entry and at some point during the auction, drew to see who won. That first day, we didn’t win or bid on anything.
The second day I won the bid on a D. Najar numbered print. I ended up buying two more numbered prints that day, that I really liked by the same artist. I paid to have all three framed and delivered to my home.
On the last auction day there was one more numbered print that I liked. The artist was S. Ilyayev. It was already framed and was right there on the showroom floor. I bid on it and won.
Unfortunately for me, because it was already framed it had to be hand carried off of the ship. They couldn’t mail it to my home. They wrapped it extremely well, but it was pretty big. It was the same size as the two prints seen below (the ones with the walk lined with autumn trees). That picture was going to be fun to carry off.
Right after I won the bid for that carry out piece of art, my number was called for the door prize.
I won a beautiful print. I absolutely love it. I had it shipped to my home, but I didn’t have them frame it. I figured I’d pay less if I took it to one of my local framing shops and asked them to frame it.
By the way, I found out that the frames the auction house provided were of significantly higher quality than anything I could afford to frame it with on my own. Next time, I’ll have the auction house frame everything I get.
Remember I just wanted two remembrances……I ended up with 5 beautiful prints.
Sometimes it Rained During the Trip
As it was Alaska and September, we did see some rain during our trip. At times when it rained, I enjoyed sitting aft, at the end of the ship. The air was clean and crisp. The scenery was beautiful.
I caught this picture after the rain was done. I loved the pattern the ship would make in the ocean behind it.
One day, out in the distance I saw a humpback whale for just a moment, then it was gone. At this point, I felt very lucky that I got to see a whale in the wild on our trip.
Our Second Excursion was Whale Watching
This was the excursion I was really looking forward to. We were going whale watching. We were taken by a charter bus to a boat moored in a different area than where the cruise ships dock. We got on the smaller boat and out we went.
They explained to us that there was a chance that we wouldn’t see anything as that happens some times. Just the same, we were hopeful and I was ready with my camera, just in case.
Did we see whales? We saw backs of whales (up close and personal).
We saw whales making rainbows with their blowholes.
This Humpback whale decided to head for our boat. He came right up to the side, submerged, went under the boat and came up on the other side.
We saw tails of whales.
We saw whales eating (mouths wide open). This fellow was all by himself, working the waters.
Many of the whales swam in tandem as they fed. How did they synchronize themselves so perfectly? They were simply amazing to see.
Yes, I’d say we saw whales. We saw them by the hundreds, easily. It was getting late though. The whales seemed to know we had to leave.
Goodbye Mr. Whale. I hope I get to see you again another time.
Way too soon, it was starting to get dark. We started to head back to shore.
We got back to the ship, cleaned up and headed for the place where we had dinner reservations (Le Bistro, a French cuisine restaurant). The service was fantastic and the food was amazing.
After dinner, there was dancing in the forward lounge. We decided to go. We found great seats, up front. The music was real good. We had fun listening to it and watching all of the people dancing.
It was getting late, so we finally called it a night and headed for our cabin. We have busy days ahead.
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