June 29th, 2004, 08:49 AM
Sapphire Inaugural Odyssey
June 9, 2004- Flight from Atlanta to Seattle
Rex and I stayed up most of the night trying to figure out how to get our stuff into the suitcases. Rex usually blames me for the amount of luggage we take on trips. This time however, he brought along 4 changes of clothes for each of the 13 days we’ll be on this journey. Rex kept telling me it was time to get up but he never told me the time. Last time I looked it was 3:46 AM. Our fight was at 11:36 AM and the Atlanta airport is less than an hours drive so I thought he was overanxious. I looked at the clock again and it was 6:40. “Why in the hell didn’t you tell me to get up?” I screamed. I blasted out of the bed and took my shower. We stayed up until 2AM so my mental faculties were somewhat off. I neglected to rinse the shampoo completely out of my hair. By the time I discovered this it was too late to do anything about it so my hair looked incredibly weird for the flight to Seattle. My mother arrived promptly at 7:15 AM to take us to the airport. This was a problem, as she was not expected until 8AM. She takes punctuality to the extreme.
We made it to the airport with hours to spare. We purchased our lunch from the Atlanta Bread Co. to carry-on the plane. (Time: 8:42 AM) There was nothing left to do so we had bloody Mary’s until 11:AM. By that time I was quite relaxed. We staggered to the gate and boarded the plane. We found our seats and much to my dismay, my hiney still does not fit in those seats. I am wondering if all the seats are made in Japan where derrieres are somewhat more petite than the “more than average” American butt.
The flight was uneventful, bought the 2-buck headphones and watched Starsky and Hutch. Can you believe that movie did not win a single academy award? As we approached Seattle, I was awed by the fact that Mt. Rainier was as high as we were. Amazing!
Then the most amazing thing happened. I spotted Safeco field and there was the Sapphire. What a great picture that would make. We tried our best to dig the camera out of the backpack. Much to the dismay of the third party squeezed in beside us. (He mumbled at our giddiness most of the flight. Might have had something to do with the bloody Mary’s we had on the plane. 8^)
From the airport (which is small to me though others disagree) we took the Grayline Shuttle to the Westin. As I type, I am sitting in front of the floor to ceiling picture window on the 37th floor looking out over Pike Place market. The Sapphire is in plain view off to the left. Rex is snoring……
(To be continued)
Hi Ya’ll…Rex here…in italics no less… I’m sitting here on the 37th floor of the Westin looking at Elliott Bay and wondering why they didn’t call it Elliot Sound. Surprise: it’s rainy. But our spirits are not to be dampened. I’m looking forward to Pike’s Market and exploring Seattle. I’m just waiting on Pam to decide which outfit to wear today. She’s busy going through the 18 suitcases we brought. I just got off the phone with the president of Samsonite who called to ask how our vacation is going and would we be interested in their latest suitcase model since it’s the only one we don’t have. Apparently it’s the size of one of those things they stack on container ships and it’s stackable. I told him we could do lunch and discuss it.
The Westin is okay (read: expensive for what you get). The towels are great but the see-through toilet paper is not. Everything here is expensive. We had dinner at Asiogo’s (sp?) last night. It was excellent and I recommend it. However they did relieve us of 100 bucks. A nightcap at the hotel bar last night: $25. We had breakfast this morning downstairs: $30. I have to go now. I’m going to call the Samsonite guy and order the new stackable container. We’re going to need it to carry money next time. rx
He said/She said
We woke up for the final time around 6 AM. This is very late for us as in Atlanta it was 9 AM. One of the first things I noticed was that my computer was dead. Oops! Forgot to plug in the A/C adapter last night. “Where’s the power cord for the computer”, she said? “What cord”, he said? “The one I told you to pack,” she said. “You didn’t tell me to pack any power cord. I don’t know what you are talking about”, he said. “You asked me what it was. It was on the floor by your nose-hair trimmer”, she said. “I don’t remember that”, he said. “How can you not remember an entire conversation”, she said. And then she realized the answer for herself. Said power cord was located in his backpack along with the nose-hair trimmer.
After we showered, we dressed….like tourists. I chose “new stuff”. I wore Khaki cargo pants from llbean….zip ankles with draw string closures in case of an immediate need to take them off before removing shoes or protection from crawling insect attack. They have nice big pockets to stuff full of things. I wore an Eddie Bauer charcoal-gray long sleeved fleece top. Over that, I wore a fatigue green Eddie Bauer trekker vest…many pockets and clips to attach things to. Even though it was daylight, it was overcast, windy, and chilly so I attached my mini halogen flashlight to one of the clips. You just never know….we could have an unexpected eclipse. Besides, it looked cool. Into the numerous Velcro pockets, I packed my hairbrush, chapstick, digital camera, spare battery etc. Over that I wore my lands end navy blue gortex jacket. I was ready for adventure. Two blocks from the hotel I discovered I had not packed my earmuffs. Big mistake as cold wind can give me an earache. I had on my brand new, shiny white keds…complete with gel inserts I purchased last night at the drug store near the Westin when I discovered I needed them.
Coming soon….Pike Place Market.
Rx here: I really liked Pike Place Market. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It made me want to live in Seattle. I love all the fresh fish, bright colors, and interesting smells. If memory serves (yeah right) it is a more intriguing market than Boston’s Haymarket Square. It is interesting to note however that the folks in both markets look very much alike…strange how that happens.
Pam and I have an iron clad rule about going to a restaurant: One should always do research to determine the quality of a restaurant before you actually eat there. Well, after carefully looking at their neon Miller Lite sign for about three seconds we decided that we would eat at Lowell’s. As always, Pam held true to the research and selected the best thing on the menu, which turned out to be Miller Lite. I, on the other hand, ordered the shrimp-n-chips and who cares if they’re $13, I’m on vacation. And, I must say that while the shrimp was expensive, at least it wasn’t very good. The shrimp were so small they were both hard to find. I asked the waitress if she had a magnifying glass I could use. She said, “Yes, but it would be $75 extra. Oh well, it was a cold rainy day and the warm beer somehow seemed appropriate.
I loved Pike Place market. The flowers, the ethnic diversity, the fresh seafood…shrimp and lobster the likes of which I’ve never seen. When we passed City Market, Rex got the look. You know what I mean…head tilted back, eyes narrowed, slack jaw, and mouth wide-open. After drinking our way through the market, nature called. Funny thing about the restroom there, the stall doors are only 3 feet high. What’s up with that? I don’t know about you but I have a unique public restroom posture that I’d prefer not to share with the rest of the world. Oh well, once a teacher always a teacher I suppose. More interesting is the outdoor, self-cleaning unisex restroom near the waterfront. Sounded good to me. A lady I presumed was homeless was blowing her nose nearby. She said, “Hey lady, need some tissue” and waved the soiled tissue at me. I didn’t ask how much it would cost and just said, “no thank you” and smiled at her.
By the way, I waited until very late last night to get the 24-hour Internet access for 16 bucks at the Westin figuring that would get me through tonight. No such luck. Once we found the power cord and reconnected this morning I discovered the 24 hours runs from noon-to-noon no matter what.
We are in for the night. I hope that we have taken care of the jet lag thing. The Sapphire just left. Where is she going and why aren’t we there? It’s almost 9PM in Seattle.
We had dinner at the Icon grill right across the street from the hotel relieving ourselves from more of that bulky cash we purchased the extra suitcase to carry. Good Food. We then decided to walk towards the Space Needle heading north on 5th Avenue following the same route the monorail takes. It is a very easy walk…completely flat. We were basically at the Needle but it was getting dark and we are unfamiliar with what happens after nightfall so far from home so decided to head back to the hotel. We will catch Seattle Center and the Space Needle on 6/20 when we return from the cruise. For those interested, free buses are running the monorail route to Seattle center and the Space Needle while repairs are being made.
I woke up at 4:30 AM anxious to get going…that’s 4:30 Atlanta time, 1:30 here in Seattle. It’s going to be a long wait. We watched a Celebrity ship dock at about 6AM. The Sapphire is still nowhere to be seen. It is foggy and rainy. It looks cold, too. I could not care less about the weather; it’s all part of the adventure. I think I neglected to mention that in the packing frenzy we decided to leave our warm coats at home. We just didn’t have the luggage real estate for them. I am hoping that all my outdoor clothing will suffice.
Rex went downstairs and brought coffee back. Ah, the breakfast of champions. I am going to need more soon but I am not going to say anything until what I perceive is the opportune moment. I feel like an eagle hulking over my keyboard, facing the bay, waiting somewhat impatiently for my prey.
Oh, boy! Here she comes.
Okay, Just got out of the shower. I want to make sure I have plenty of time to bath again just in case I forget to rinse something. Why is it that leg hair grows at an accelerated rate when on vacation? Rex told me to leave it as I might need it for warmth in Alaska but I didn’t take his advice. The orange stripes from the “tan-in-a-can” Rex put on me Tuesday are much less noticeable. I’m glad this isn’t a Caribbean cruise all the same. I used the Westin bath products. My hair smells like a fresh mown lawn….maybe I forgot to rinse?!?
We are in a time warp. The passage of time has slowed to a crawl. I hope the time on the ship passes this same way. He’s probably going to say something different but Rex has started the clean clothes-hoarding thing. (You know….he wants to keep all his clothes clean so he’ll wear something he’s already worn to get on the ship). We’ve already agreed to have our laundry done on the ship. That’s why he brought the 4 outfits for each and every day.
The sun is out!
The sun is gone!
The sun is out!
The sun is gone!
We have finally made the decision to have the Taxi pick us up at 11:00. Yes, that’s early for what appears will be a 5-minute drive but the Sapphire is really calling to us now. My stomach is churning and it’s not from all the beer, wine, bloody Mary’s, and margarita’s I consumed yesterday….really, it isn’t.
Okay folks. It’s time to pack the laptop. I’ll keep up the journal as well as I can during the cruise. I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again but I’ll attempt it on the ship. I know you are anxious to hear how the ship is as opposed to the bathing ritual stuff and I’ll do my best to oblige.
06/11/04 cont. The Ship
Embarkation was painless. We arrived at the port about 11:20. We were in our cabin by 11:35. We were originally assigned D629 for the preinaugural. We stopped by passenger services and requested to be moved to D415 since that is our assignment for the inaugural. No problem. Done deal. Now we don’t have to worry about moving in a couple of days.
The ship is beautiful and immaculate. Yes, you can smell the new and I love it. The robes in the cabin have never been worn. Whoever said (and someone on the CC boards did say this) that he couldn’t understand why anyone would book a maiden voyage, might want to give it a try. This newness is nice! The new color scheme is very pleasing.
We met with some great fellow cruise critics at Tradewinds Bar and shared a few drinks and many laughs. We met Lynn and her friend Cindy, and Karen and her husband Howie. All nice people. The next thing I knew they were in the hot tub. They wanted us to join them and I might have if it had been really, really dark outside. I didn’t tell them about my aversion to swimwear and more importantly public swimming facilities however and they are none the wiser…until they read this that is.
Our cabin steward is Andrew. He’s very, very nice. In fact, we’ve seen nothing but smiling faces all day. The crew is very attentive. Of course, I think they may out number the passengers on this sailing. I’ll try to remember to ask for numbers tomorrow.
Originally we were told there would be no personal choice, only traditional on this 2-day cruise but that isn’t the case. We went to the International dining room at our assigned dining time and approached the Maitre’D. There was a very sad lady speaking to him. It seems she and her husband had not been assigned a table with the rest of the family. We had. What a coincidence! It was nice to make her day.
We choose the Santa Fe dining room for no particular reason. Our dinner was delicious. We both had crab-stuffed avocado with cream sauce, (this had a fancy name that escapes me) Caesar salads, and lobster thermadore. We passed on dessert basically because we were exhausted and although I look like I’ve never missed a dessert, I almost never eat sweets. Strange isn’t it? We toured the ship a little more, checking out Club Fusion, and the wake bar as well as Skywalkers and the aft pools….all beautiful.
We stopped in the horizon court to see if the coffee had improved…it’s the same. We had a bowl of fresh fruit and strolled through the Atrium. By this time I wanted to lie down on the floor.
FYI Several of the bars have some sort of new elaborate coffeemaker for making fresh brew but something is wrong with them…ALL. Hopefully, the technicians will take care of that for those of you who don’t pack your own coffee maker.
Rex is snoring. Butchart Gardens is tomorrow. I hope we get over this Jet lag.
June 29th, 2004, 08:49 AM
Re: Sapphire Inaugural Odyssey
Up and showered. Ah, I smell like Princess bath products. Life is good. We are on the starboard side of the ship. There is a magnificent view of snow-covered mountains, which I wasn’t expecting this early in the cruise. I am geographically challenged after all.
Room service delivered a carafe of hot water and some cream for our coffee. We dump out the hot water that is just to heat the carafe prior to our pouring our cabin-brewed coffee into it. You didn’t think with all that luggage we didn’t bring a coffee pot did you?
1. We are mid-ship on the Dolphin deck. You can smell the Diesel fuel. We also noticed it last night when waiting on the sun deck. Not unbearable, but noticeable, and intermittent I suppose dependent on the breeze.
2. Bring an extension chord. The outlet is mounted under the mirror in such a way that it makes plugging in boxy things like our battery charger difficult.
3. The bed is hard as a rock but I slept like one too. Firm bed lovers will like it. We had Andrew make it up with an egg-crate pad.
4. Brush up on your metric conversions if you need to.
5. Uncovered balconies….this is my first (uncovered) and I discovered what is wrong with them….you forget! The snow-covered mountains beckoned me. I stepped out to enjoy the view. I was wearing a T-shirt and nothing else. That would probably be okay for small people who can wear T-shirts like dresses. For me however, the t-shirt is more like a crop top. When it occurred to me that I was putting on quite a show, I ran inside. I did not look up to see who that was I heard snickering. Rex told me he did the same thing. If I had some post-its, I’d post a note on the glass doors to remind myself not to do that again. I am memory impaired after all. So is Rex.
Wow, I just realized we are still moving….very slowly. We must be docking. The snow-covered mountains are now to my left. Jet Lag. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. What a beautiful day! (50 degrees Fahrenheit)
We waited to get off the ship and go to Butchart Gardens. There was quiet a delay. We waited. Not fun. No explanation. The crew seems somewhat disconnected. The delay was about an hour. While waiting we met a nice couple from Chicago who were on their way to a (pardon me Dave Berry but I’m not making this up) Wine and Chocolate tasting thing. Hello? Can you say, “Headache”? How about, ”Pounding headache”!?
After about an hour’s delay we were excursion-bound. The Grayline tour-guy was very informative and the drive through the city was enjoyable. Victoria is very beautiful although I never did spot that company that makes those secret things for women.
Butchart Garden was wonderful. It’s like things you see on the Discovery Channel. I don’t know the names of the trees, flowers, and stuff but I do appreciate them. There is a Japanese Garden, a Sunken Garden, a Rose Garden, and an Italian Garden. The Japanese Garden was my favorite. Indescribable. It reminded me very much of our own back yard except without the trees, flowers, and stuff.
We walked about 257 miles and I was worn out. When we got back to the ship we saw the nice couple from Chicago walking through the lobby. They indicated that they had a good time but we couldn’t understand what they were saying because they both were crunching handfuls of Excedrin like they were M&M’s.
At 8:00PM we pulled along side the Diamond and played dueling foghorns. We got a lot of great pictures from a vantage point you don’t often see. There was a helicopter flying over heard. We think maybe they were shooting some promo pictures. Passengers from both ships were out on the decks waving and whooping it up. (Southern Colloquialism) We cruised in Tandem for quite awhile…very cool. And I want to emphasize cool…freezing really. Most people were scantily dressed in their dinner clothes and there was some shivering going on.
We had dinner in Vivaldi’s with Lynn and Cindy our cruise critic buddies. All had Crab legs (advertised as King, but my guess is they were snow-small diameter) except me. I’d never tried the Beef Wellington so I opted for that knowing I could snatch a few crab legs from Rex if I so desired. God Service. I like Marco. It was nice to meet up with our cruise critic friends. Ken, the party animal, was a no show. We figure he drank too much pre-cruise and had a 2-day hangover. During the cruise, every time a man walked by fitting the description Ken gave of himself, Cindy took it upon herself to call out, Ken! Ken! She did it so much it caused her to develop a strange twitch. 8^) This was very funny but we never did find him.
We went to bed at 11:00 PM content in the knowledge that we weren’t getting off the ship the following morning.
We had a leisurely breakfast in the horizon court. While others were bustling around to disembark, we were content and anxiously awaiting the new adventure. As the new group of passengers embarked, we began to get a feel for the rhythm of the Alaska cruise. It seems much more energetic. We are full of optimism. There was a bit of confusion with the in transit passengers this morning. We did not receive any instructions as we have on previous back-to-backs and as a result, Rex and I were the only in transit passengers to show up when the announcement was made though there are 65 of us. Had I not done this before, I don’t think I would have known that announcement was meant for me. The purser’s desk had to make multiple inquiries as to what to do with us and once we got off the ship and went through customs, no one seemed to know that we were to be allowed back on the ship if we so desired. They tried to make us go into the terminal and wait with those early birds who were waiting to embark. Been there, done that, so we tricked them by separating. Rex stayed behind in the customs area and I went forward to turn in our paperwork that I had been given by the customs agent that had to be turned in at another location even though the agent had stamped it. The second agent tried his best to get me to walk into the terminal so I told him I had to get my husband. I walked beck to where Rex was and we got back on the ship. Then, it became quite confusing because no one could figure out where the rest of the "in transits" were…they had not gone through customs. Oh, well…time for a bloody Mary. 8^).
For some reason, they are not mixing the drinks. They just poor all the ingredients into the glass…no shaking, no stirring. I don’t know if that has to do with sanitation or not. There are automatic antibacterial dispensers located outside of all the food service facilities. I like that but I see many people choosing to ignore them. The ship is gorgeous.
I discovered there were 2033 passengers on the 2-day pre-inaugural. It seemed like much fewer to me and I doubt that figure a little. There were very few children. This cruise is said to be at capacity but one of the assistants to the cruise director (Michelle) told us the number is 2600. She said true capacity with a “bum” in every bed is over 3000. There are 300 children on this cruise and she stated an upcoming cruise would have over 900. (I am secretly glad I won’t be sailing on that one). Rex is snoring.
We are waiting for Muster to end. We were told we did not have to attend since we attended on Friday. It was the most laid back muster I have attended thus far by the way.
There are little signs here and there which indicate to me there was a little bit of a rush to complete the ship by the turnover date. Bits and pieces of trim coming unglued and the like. I don’t think most people would even notice these things but I am looking for them. There are no little surprises in the panoramic elevators, just black steel. I miss those squiggly light things.
06/14/04 A Day at Sea
All this eating is really starting to wear me out. I need more exercise. It’s difficult to acclimate to the climate of the ship. If you dress for the upper decks you need to be bundled; but should you wear that same stuff into the atrium you are going to swelter….at least if you are a female anywhere near my age you will.
I love sea days. That’s what I cruise for. Almost anything else a cruise offers can be had at home, but not the sea days. I bought 3 port of call t-shirts today at 3 for 30 dollars. They are screened and not embroidered. We didn’t have room in our luggage for sleepwear as you might guess so I needed something. Going out on the balcony in my pj’s (or lack thereof) scared some lady on her caribe balcony. At least, I think it scared her. She made a shrill screaming sound followed by what I can only describe as what a cackling woodpecker might sound like.
Our air-conditioner does not work. Since we are in Alaskan waters we can keep the cabin cool by leaving the balcony door open but that is not ideal. The air is quite chilly at night. This would not be easy to deal with in the Caribbean or Mexican Rivera.
When the TV that did not work was replaced, whoever did it marred the wood a little bit. If I had some liquid gold scratch cover I’d use it but Rex forgot to pack that.
The seas are rough, so all the pools have been closed thus far today. The Calypso pool however is not only covered with the netting…it has been drained and sanitized...baby poop!?! Never did find out the reason. I am only speculating.
We met our fellow cruise critics today, Dick and Mary, Eric and Lisa, Bronwyn and Stewart, Karl and Ruth….all nice and interesting people. I hope I didn’t scare them. We’ll see over the next few days I suppose. The martini of the day (I’ve never had a martini before this cruise) went to my head. Besides that, I was wearing long silk underwear under my clothes. That fact, along with these instantaneous flashes of volcanic heat I’ve been experiencing the last month or so made me rather “flushed” feeling. This may also have something to do with my thing the A/C is not working in our cabin. 8^/
I made an open cruise booking today after our get together. Rex and I have always packed for and yet never participated in formal night. It is approximately 45 minutes until the Captains welcome aboard cocktail party and we plan to attend decked out in all our “faded” glory. We’ll see…..
We’re back. We dressed formally, but many did not. I saw some bizarre outfits too….mostly on the women…strange combinations of fabrics that to me didn’t compliment each other all wrapped up with a shawl. Lot’s of crushed velvet….I didn’t know they still made that stuff. Blue jean jackets over too short, too-tight black mini-skirts…picture midriff BULGE. Of course, I tend to prefer the way men look any way and I certainly admit to being fashion impaired. Nonetheless, I was entertained and I know it’s not polite for me to snicker so I didn’t…out loud. There were a few very beautiful gowns and a tux here and there but mostly dark suits. There were many walking around in their sweats though who didn’t appear to feel out of place. That surprised me as we have always steered clear of the atrium if we were not dressed for formal night. I am thinking this must be atypical. We have come back to our cabin and changed into comfortable clothing, it is almost 10:30 and that was as long as I could make it. We may not venture out again as we arrive in Ketchikan at 6 AM and I plan to be ready to go. We did not book an excursion for tomorrow. We have taken the floatplane into Misty Fjords in the past I highly recommend that to those who have not done it. I want to explore the waterfront on foot and let the day take it’s course. I NEED some sweats really bad. My clothes don’t seem to be fitting properly…cleaners must have shrunk them. 8^)
We had dinner in the Pacific Moon tonight. We now have been to all the themed dining rooms. Though we haven’t dined from all the themed menus. It was our best experience thus far in the PC dining rooms. We did not make reservations but waited until 8:30 or so to go there. Just walked right up and were seated with no wait at all. I think the wait problem has to do with the check in procedure, which probably looks like a good idea on paper, but instead of making things more efficient, it creates a bottleneck and the entrance. I am sure they will work this out, as they are aware a problem exists. The food was excellent. I had the most perfectly cooked scallops I’ve ever had….flawless.
They came to repair our air-conditioner today. I’ll let you know how it is after I’ve had a nights sleep in here with the balcony door closed. It seems better to me right now (Mental note to self-Look up formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit).
Are you supposed to brush your teeth after eating the chocolate on your pillow?
June 29th, 2004, 08:51 AM
Re: Sapphire Inaugural Odyssey
5:34 AM Ketchikan
We have docked! We are the first ship in. I can see 2 others behind us but can’t tell what they are yet. My hair is sticking straight up. Rex cut it for me yesterday to help tame it, I had forgotten that something about the Alaskan climate makes my hair go wild (er). It’s a good thing the people on their balconies are looking at the scenery. Otherwise the woodpecker thing might start up again.
The Veendam, Norwegian Sun and the Infinity are in port with us.
It’s time to go shopping again. I need some new gel inserts for my shoes. The heel inserts I bought in Seattle worked great, for a day. Now they turn upside down and backwards while I am walking and bunch up under my arches. Don’t take the cheap route when buying these things.
The shower curtain loves me. I know this by the way it hugs me. When I rebuke its advances it comes back even stronger giving me a full body hug. It is quite aggressive. I fear it is going to wrap me up and sling me to the floor. Fiberglass does not attract magnets. Where’s the duct tape Rex?
Before I forget to mention it, the pool is open today and the weather is beautiful for those who wish to swim.
We did the historic walking tour in Ketchikan. It was enjoyable and not a difficult trek. I believe I’ve mentioned that “Lazy” is my middle name. The walk is not difficult and I believe most people in mediocre shape like myself can easily handle it. If not, the busses and the Duck tour cover basically the same territory. This is not a huge city. We toured the salmon hatchery and eagle preserve along the way. We had a Rainier beer or two in the Totem Bar across the street form the ship before making our way back to the ship.
We attended the captain’s circle most-traveled-passengers-cocktail-party this evening. We chatted with the captain and his senior officers and were served our beverage of choice along with canapés. Very nice. There was a lady who has taken 46 Princess cruises! We posed with the captain for pictures. I kissed him on the cheek and Rex had him do the rabbit ear thing. The captain was very hesitant to do that. He was concerned that the hand gesture might have a different connotation as it does in his native Italy. We assured him it was a silly thing Americans do in photos. Several of our CC buddies were in attendance also. (Mental note: research Italian hand gestures)
Had to take a break. The sunset is gorgeous. The photos I just took won’t do it justice of course. Digital cameras are great but they can’t capture what the eyes can in Alaska. In case you aren’t aware of this, a lot of people apparently go out on their balconies to…how shall I say…slice (cut) the Camembert (cheese). I find that disrupts my serenity just a bit. I think it must be those who are indulging in the fried/boiled eggs and refried- bean breakfast. I must admit that I was tempted to try the refried beans myself. They looked really good, but for breakfast? I knew better.
We had our laundry done on the ship and it was returned today. The majority of the clothes were mine! Rex keeps wearing the same thing over and over again trying to save his other 50 outfits for I don’t know what. I finally had to resort to an underhanded technique to get him to put his jeans in the dirty clothes bag. I told him I knew he was wearing them over and over because they were stretched out…he he. He put them in the dirty clothes. I hope he doesn’t injure himself trying to squeeze into the clean pair tomorrow. I was more clever. I brought multiple sizes of clothes to insure I’d have something that fits on the flight back to Atlanta. I think we have conquered the gluttonous overeating syndrome and now are simply eating as we would on any holiday with a focus on food. 8^) There are actually several times during the day when you can find us not eating.
We aren’t much into the shows. We enjoy is the natural scenery. But people we have talked to are really enjoying the shows, especially the ventriloquist. It appears he is hilarious. I’m glad. It cuts down on the number of people out on balconies trying to summon the whales by making noises from parts of their bodies. Of course we are enjoying the live music in the atrium. All the musicians are wonderful.
We cruise Tracy Arm tomorrow and then dock in Juneau.
06/16/04 Cruising Tracy Arm
On the 9th day after God had rested, he realized there was still work to do and he said, “Let there be Alaska”. The weather is perfect. The on-board naturalist stated that although she had cruised Tracy Arm many times, there had only been 2 days with good weather and this was one of them. The sky is clear. The beauty is beyond my capability to describe. All I can say is, “He built it and you must come”. In the words of the Governor of California, “I’ll be back”.
I just noticed that Rex dug his jeans out of the dirty clothes. I should have known. We are in Juneau. A few tenders operated while we waited for the Norwegian Sun to get out of our way. 8^) They are gone now and we are waiting for the ship to dock. It is a clear, warm sunny day. What perfect weather. I think we’ll do the Mt Roberts Tram this time before going out to Mendenhall Glacier. The Veendam, Amsterdam, and Coral Princess are here today. We leave Juneau at 10 PM.
The pizza is much better now. You can tell by the crowds at the counter. It’s more like a Caribbean pizza stampede than an Alaskan one. If you’ve seen both you know what I mean. I think the ovens needed a little breaking in. Be sure to try the Glacier Bay pizza. It is absolutely delicious.
Andrew, our steward keeps leaving pool towels. Being AR (that’s anal retentive for the non initiates), I kept putting them away in the cabinet. We now have eight. I’ll leave him a note. They are crowding Rex’s clothes that he isn’t wearing. We have discovered that if you don’t hear the tapping at the door and room service or technicians enter, they do not even flinch at nakedness and will have conversation whether you like it or not. Andrew however laughs heartily. 8^) So I’ve decided to go out on the balcony to dress. I am starting to enjoy the woodpecker lady though after cackling for quite awhile she made a gagging sound and I was concerned about her.
The Mutiny on the Sapphire
We are back on our balcony. It is 3:30 PM and we are unable to get off the ship. There is a mutiny going on downstairs as they have just called tender ticket number 390. Our number is 977. They are calling thirty tickets at a time. The Explorers lounge and outlying areas are packed with angry people who have missed their excursions. I am not sure why we haven’t docked. We are just going to chill in our cabin away from the maddening crowds and wait it out. The view is beautiful from the balcony. It looks like we may miss Mendenhall Glacier this trip.
The delayed Juneau disembarkation was no big deal for us. The $22 for the Mt Roberts Tramway cable-car ride is money well spent. The day was unusually warm and beautifully clear. The view is spectacular and the out-look spots along the nature trail provided some grand photo-ops. The restaurant-trinket-place has cold beer. So remember if the weather is warm and the sky is clear, you’re really thirsty and want a cold beer, take a ride up the mountain, it’s all here.
After riding the Tram back down we strolled around a little. I needed a T-shirt that would substitute as a nightgown hoping the cackler would approve. We spotted the Red Dog Saloon and off we headed in that direction. We hit them at a good time because the perfect table for 2, in the front corner by the small stage was vacant. It was cold beer, good music, and lots of fun. The singer/guitar player (sorry, can’t remember his name) was entertaining. He was playing all of our favorites like “Redneck Mother”. He made good-natured fun of us tourists. We strolled back to the ship just before sail away.
It was late so dinner had to be in the Horizon Court. Each day we typically walked through to survey the Horizon Court offerings and this night we appeared to be grazing at a bad time. There was a very limited selection of things that fall into the “fried-boiled-egg” category. Rex spotted Vitor with whom he’d established a friendship of sorts and forlornly stated he was simply looking for a steak. Vitor started snapping his fingers at one of the chefs and told us he’d find us in a few. Shortly, he came strutting to our table carrying a covered silver platter. He sat the platter in front of Rex and lifted the cover to reveal not one, but two huge NY strips, still sizzling. Rex ate them…..both!
We were among the first people to disembark around 7AM. I can’t remember all the ships that were in port. I know I saw the Dawn princess, the Veendam, and the Norwegian Sun. Rex finally wore a different pair of jeans but I think that’s only because he knows I’m writing about it. Rex had never seen a bear in the wild so after much research, I decided the best way to see a bear in the wild is not on a tour where you might spot one from afar. I wanted something up-close and personal. So I reserved a car in Skagway at Avis. The Avis office is basically the first thing you come to when you enter Skagway from the Piers. I had reserved an economy car for 59 bucks but we upgraded to an SUV for 99 dollars when I discovered they had a new Toyota Highlander available. What better way is there to test drive a vehicle than a trip to the Yukon. I’d love to trade my 4-Runner (which Rex told me I really needed) in for a Highlander. It’s a much more comfortable vehicle and does not ride like a truck. Southern men like their trucks you know. Southern girls have to ride in them. We keep toothpicks in the glove box to look the part. You just don’t look right in a truck unless you have a toothpick stuck in your mouth. That’s how you can recognize a true southerner from the hoards of “Yankees” moving south.
So off we headed on a quest into the wilderness looking for cinnamon rolls, a gaze at the world’s smallest desert, a view of Emerald Lake, and a bear hunt. Glorious weather, are we really in Alaska? It’s hot!
I have always wanted to see a bear in the wild and have many times been in places where they are known to exist. The hook-up just never happened to me. Of course, bears are known to exist in the Yukon and Pam had arranged for us to pick up a rental in Skagway so that we could drive to Carcross (Yukon). The scenery is like so much of what one sees in this part of the world, simply indescribable. It cannot truly be photographed or described. It must be confronted in person. The word that comes to mind so often is, “Wow”. Around every turn,”Wow”. Look at that. Did you see that? Can you believe this? Wow! But, of course all the bears in the Yukon had decided the night before at their What-Do-We-Do-Tomorrow-Meeting to lay low. It’s an ancient ritual that bears refer to as Hide the Hide. But, as I said the wow-factor was overwhelming.
Another Alaska/Yukon factor for me is the all the railroad stuff. I am a “certified” rail-fan. That’s naf-liar spelled backwards. Anyway, there are a million train photo-ops for folks who like trains. Carcross is the little town that in Y2K had the big Join-the-Nation-by-Railway-Golden-Spike reenactment celebration. I was in choo-choo heaven.
The nice lady at the Carcross visitor’s place told us about some of the stops that we might want to check out. She confirmed the wonder of the cinnamon rolls with which Pam had become internet-familiar. She said that Emerald Lake is beautiful. Be sure to linger at the world’s smallest desert (my stomach/mind heard: “dessert” but Pam assured me that there was only one “s”, as in Sahara). She also advised us not to miss her favorite that was a little fish-and-chips place near Whitehorse. I love fish-and-chips. Personal note: Please do not tell anyone this but I even like Captain D’s fish and chips.
We continued north toward Emerald Lake, One-S Desert, cinnamon rolls, and fish-and-chips. Okay, so you’re thinking, “Pam and Rex are on a cruise where they feed you 27 times per day an amount of food that you normally eat in a month and they got off this beautiful shiny new ocean going ship, rented a car, and are driving to the Yukon in search of a lake, a desert, and two places to eat. Well, I happen to know that others have gone before us for the same reason not to mention the fact that at least one of us is “certified”.
The truth be told, I have never enjoyed cinnamon rolls. The New Truth* is that I have never before had a cinnamon roll. When the lady served them I told her that we had in fact not ordered any stuffed bean chairs and furthermore bean chairs were now considered to be old fashioned in most of the civilized world except for dorm rooms. Yes, we ate one each. I wanted another but Pam reminded me of recent unpleasant experiences wherein I had begged for a stomach pump.
*New Truth: A statement a politician makes after recent revelations.
We drove on to Emerald Lake: Wow. What would it be like to live in that beautiful log house that overlooked the lake? How big is the lake; 30 acres? 40 acres? More? The clean clear emerald-colored water. The little desert: Can you believe this? We were saturated and satiated. I confessed to Pam that I had no room for fish-and-chips and she noted that the time had gotten on and that maybe we should head homeward to Skagway and the Sapphire. Okay I’ll give up my fish-and-chips if I get to watch the next whatever playoffs without so much as one mention of the fact that she (she being Pam) cannot park her dearly beloved 4-Runner in the garage. So we turned ‘round and headed back.
Pam said she would take the wheel for the return. I normally don’t have an appreciation for other drivers and that’s why I don’t like to enjoy a Bloody Mary whilst stuffed (read: sardine-crammed) on an airline seat because at any moment the captain might say, “It appears that I and my co-captain have an allergy to packages of small stale-flavor-free peanut/salt-pretzel-things and we need a “certified” person to come into the cockpit, safely land the airplane, and save an entire airplane full of cruising persons.
The going-back looking at the other-side-of-stuff-view return-trip to Skagway was different and just as awesome as the getting-there trip. I was relaxed, not driving, and had full confidence that Pam had not eaten any small stale-flavor-free peanut/salt-pretzel things. Again, we drove past the little desert. Goodbye bean-chair cinnamon rolls, Emerald Lake, and who cares about fish-and-chips, I’m going back to the unparalleled, highly caloric Princess Sapphire.
I turned off the camera and let the seat back. The weather was warm and the view was clear. I was so relaxed, and mentally full. I could not hope for more. Pam had set the cruise control. We were on a vacation of a lifetime. You could call me “Okay Man”. I’m looking at this and I’m looking at that. Wow.
Then, out of nowhere, casually walking across the highway about a thousand or so feet in front of us there he was. I thought I was dreaming. In a very calm and thoughtful manner I spit-screamed, “BEAR”! I could not believe it. It was an actual bear. By the time we got to the place where the bear had entered the tree line he was nowhere to be seen. So we waited for a few minutes and decided to drive away because he had no doubt continued his walk and would not reappear. So we drove on and as I was telling Pam how wonderful it was to finally see the bear she said, “We’re going back”. She turned the car around and pulled to the side where we had seen the bear. Just as she stopped the car there he was again.
This time he was about 20 feet from the car (my side of the car and the window was down). I was taking pictures and my heart was racing. It seemed that he was putting on a performance. He sat down awhile to eat berries and stood up several times to look at us. He even charged toward the tree line a couple of times. He was solid black, approximately six feet tall, and very health looking. It was as if I was having a conversation with him. We had been watching him for about 10 minutes or so when he apparently decided that we had seen enough. As he casually walked away toward the tree line I said “Thank you”. He stopped, looked back to us then continued on, disappearing into the brush/tree line. We waited a few minutes hoping that he would return but he was probably hinting for us to go on. I thought of my grandfather who was known to be a charming host as well as a very outspoken man. When guests would linger longer than he wished he would say to my grandmother, “ Well, Mama we’d better go to bed so these nice people can go home”.
We drove on and snapped pictures of more beautiful scenery. There were more railroad things to see. I was trying to take it all in. There was a Princess calling my name and the world’s prettiest tour guide was driving. Again and again I thought of the bear. It all seemed so complete. Now I am really certified.
06/18/04 A Day at Sea
Sea days are my favorite. I can sit and watch the ocean for hours perfectly content. I love the view, the motion and the smell of the ocean. I wish Princess would offer a 14-day roundtrip from Seattle to Anchorage…or further. I would not need many more port days; I’d like to cruise all the glaciers in one trip.
We are going to try to get more pictures of ship-life today though I know by now many have been posted. We’ve taken well over a thousand pictures thus far. I’ve been importing each night and organizing them so I won’t have that giant chore when we return home. I think packing my laptop has been helpful and though I know some of you just can’t understand it, I’ll bring it again. It only takes a few minutes each evening to save hours of work if put off until the end of the cruise. We are finished with our homebrewed coffee. (Hint: If you bring your own mini-coffeemaker, order a carafe of hot water so you can make 2 pots), Forgive me if I’ve already mentioned this…I’m MI (memory impaired) remember? Fresh squeezed orange juice and Greygoose make a great start to the day and probably also explains our difficulty in staying up much past midnight. I really prefer drinking on an empty stomach but have not managed to do that thus far on the cruise. I prefer eating on an empty stomach but I’m failing at that also.
The blow dryer is like all blow dryers on ships. It makes a lot of noise but doesn’t blow. That really BLOWS don’t you think? I don’t really use blow dryers much anyway. Not since Rex used mine to get the charcoal lit and now if I use it, my hair smells like smoke and lighter fluid.
I have discovered that it is perfect for warming chilly feet however. It’s like having your very own in-cabin SPA. I put the TV on the Latin music channel, lie upside down on the bed so the cord will reach, close my eyes and Rex blow-dries my cold feet. Can life get much better than that? It’s included in the price of the cruise!
After lunch we were enjoying the pool when we heard, “Code Alpha, Starboard, Neptune Pool. There in front of us a man, probably in his mid-forties was having what appeared to be a heart attack. The staff was in attendance almost immediately and an IV was inserted. I was amazed at the response time. I couldn’t help it; tears started streaming down my cheeks. I thought he had died. Finally, I saw him raise his knee and knew he was at least stable. He was whisked away on stretcher. I do not know the outcome but hope for the best.
It was another formal night. We dressed and had our picture taken. We attended another Captains Circle cocktail party. Invitations were sent and people entered Club Fusion every half hour. These parties were for every member of the Captains Circle regardless of number of cruises. There were 359 members, 65 platinum and 8 elite. (These numbers are not carved in stone, as my memory is no better than it was at the beginning of the cruise). The small number surprised me considering there are 2900+ people on the ship. We had cocktails with Lisa and Eric, enjoying their company. Rex has apparently been sneaking out at night because when we stroll through the ship, hoards of women are greeting him by name. Some things never change.
We returned to our cabin and changed into more comfortable garb, as many passengers were casually dressed. We ordered room service so Rex could eat his weight in Lobster without embarrassment. (4 Lobster dinners) Delicious!
I saw many Orcas this morning before the heavy fog rolled in. A pod passed close to the ship right under the balcony. I got a good view but there was no time to grab the camera. It was all too quick.
We are staying on the ship in Victoria this go around. After all, we were just here last week and this is our last night on the ship. No regrets on disembarking tomorrow. We will spend the day in Seattle. We plan to visit Seattle center and the Space Needle. We’ve had a long vacation and we miss our puppies. They are giving Rex some Godiva chocolate for Father’s Day. He has eaten my pillow chocolate every day of the cruise.
We chose the Santa Fe for our last dinner as we both like guacamole. We had the Love Boat Dream for desert. 8^) Truth is we could have walked in anywhere as the ship was deserted. We took this opportunity to take more photos and finally returned to our cabin. We were already packed as we took the fog opportunity to get a jump on things. We kept our packed luggage in our cabin however until we were in for the night. You never know when you might need your espresso machine.
New Captains Circle cards were delivered to our cabin along with lapel pins. Tres cool. As the British say, “We have arrived”. A Crystal trivet was also given to each cabin commemorating the inaugural sailing of the Sapphire. We are content and very satisfied with our cruise.
Since we did not have a plane to catch, we were assigned a late disembarkation color. We were on the ship until after 10 AM. We could already see the 6/20 passengers arriving and chomping at the bit. We had our final all-you-can-cram-down-your-throat buffet feast then waited it out in the wheelhouse bar. When our color was called we were off the ship, through customs and checked into our hotel in no time.
I miss my dogs.
After checking in at the Westin Room 3833, we walked to Seattle Center. We ascended the space needle and snapped a lot of photos. We walked around the park, toured the Science Center where I played like all the other kids. Rex got bored and I told him once again he does not make a good tourist. We walked, and walked, and walked. Of course, we had a cold one in the Experience Music Building…at least I think that’s where we were. There is a great fountain for the Seattle kids to play in. We rode the bus provided by the monorail service back to the Westin.
Speaking of the Westin, I think they might not give Priceline folks the best of rooms though we did have the best of views. Our first room had a Murphy bed that was not particularly comfortable but we could look out over the Sapphire. The second room had 2 doubles, no king or queens available. The furnishings were worn and the white duvets were not so white. Our view of the space needle was great though.
We showered and went out again on a quest for perfect fried shrimp. This is a vacation ritual that Rex makes me endure each trip we take. Usually we end up stopping at the grocery store close to home and buying shrimp for Rex to cook because he is never satisfied. We walked towards the Space Needle and took a left toward Pier 66 and walked to the waterfront where we took another left. Pier 66 is really nice. We walked along the waterfront scoping out restaurants and shops until we wound up at Ivars. There is a sidewalk fast food part and an indoor ocean view sit-down full service restaurant. We discovered that the food is the same, just twice as expensive indoors. We opted for the outdoor fast food service. We each had some huge fried prawns and chips. They were fantastic. Rex then had fish and chips. My mouth said more but my stomach said no, so I declined the second round. We walked back to the Westin and by this time I was trudging. It was 10:30 PM. It was a full post-cruise day. Back in the room we fell asleep to a movie I can’t remember.
It’s so good to be home. There has obviously been lots of rain that has urged the kudzu to cover most of the red Georgia clay.
The dog reunion was grand and once again I renewed my pledge to be the man they think I am.
I am thinking of our vacation. The beautiful shiny new Sapphire Princess. All the attentive service. The great weather. Exploring. The food. The food. The food and all the other stuff about which we have written.
I remember going to the laundromat each night after Pam went to sleep. I only had one pair of jeans that fit comfortably so I had to wash and dry them each night so that I could wear them the next day. Even that was not an unpleasant experience thanks to the conversation with all the different ladies who were doing the same thing.
We’re already talking about our next Alaskan cruise. I hope there’s a bear that wants to continue a conversation.
June 29th, 2004, 03:43 PM
Re: Re: Sapphire Inaugural Odyssey
Are you going to post any of your pictures?
July 2nd, 2004, 01:12 AM
Sapphire Inaugural Odyssey
Yes, as soon as I've weeded them down some. We took too many and I love most of them.
If this picture posts it's of the Diamond taken from the Sapphire.