My Alaskan Cruise: Day 4

Good Morning, and Happy Fourth of July!

Today my daughter and I are heading out to port early, as she has selected a shore excursion for just the two of us.  The rest of the family will head into town later for the Fourth of July Parade and then they are all taking an excursion together in the afternoon.

My daughter and I dress quickly and quietly and head out to the buffet.  Today there are strange mascots about- we pose with a couple of them, but it will cost $19.99 for that photo, later.  We search for Fruit Loops, alas, we search in vain.  It is a Frosted Flakes kind of day. I am delighted to have this special time with just me and my daughter.  She is such a joy, in all of her eight year old wisdom and playfulness. IMG_3304We are running slightly late, so we opt for the golf cart ride from our end of the pier, past the other two ships, and to the port. She says, I hope no one in our family gets jealous of us riding this golf cart today!

Fortunately, the excursion meeting points are literally just off the pier. Someone asks us if we are here for zip-lining.  Not today! I zip-lined last year on Guam.  My daughter is so excited as they give us our wrist bands, tokens for gold panning, and drive us through town. We learn that a gallon of milk costs about $7.00  in Skagway.  Wow.

We are on the Gold-Panning, Dog Musher, 40-Below excursion, which is a visit to Klondike Gold Fields park. IMG_3917[1]

Our first activity is the Dog Mushing.  We watch a video and visit with an actual Dog Musher who participated in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.  This is a neat opportunity to learn about what they do.  My uncle participated in the Iditarod race in 1987, finishing 34th. What an accomplishment!  From here we meat another established musher, and he shows us to a training run round the loop, and we get to meet and hold the puppies!  Ohmigosh they are so cute!  And this dog musher is not bad, either, amIright?IMG_3918[1].JPG

From here we visit a 40-Below Chamber.  We don borrowed parkas and basically step into a freezer.  There is also a simulation of the Northern Lights.  It sure is cold.  Brr!

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Finally, we get our turn with the “pay dirt.”  My daughter has been so looking forward to this part.  She even cleared a wide space on her special shelf in her bedroom before we left, saying, “This is for my gold.”  We each get a little, but she is delighted.  After we put our specks into the little film canisters, it’s time to visit the assayer.  I tell my daughter that my grandfather, her great-grandfather, was the Chief Assayer at the San Francisco Mint.  It’s pretty cool to have a family connection to these professions we are meeting today.  She beams over her $7.77 worth of gold, and I purchase the special display case for her.  I must say, $7.77 is pretty lucky!

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As we bus back into town, the rest of the family is also returning to the boat from the parade.  We get to dine together and share our stories, before heading out to town again.

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They will visit a proper Dog Musher training facility, and we will explore town. We have been given a map with coupons from the ship or maybe the pier staff, I forget which.  My daughter uses it like a treasure map, and we collect a poncho, a totem pole charm, and a train charm for her.  I pick up a tanzanite necklace (free), tanzanite studs, and an icicle stretch ring for like $15.  It’s so cute how they call Mystic Topaz “Northern Lights” up here. The town is alive with the Fourth of July festivities, and we observe a tug of war in the street.  We enjoy some old-timey music outside the Red Dog Saloon, and pick up some super-cool sun-activated color souvenirs at Del Sol, before heading back to the ship.

We bring our paints and art supplies back up to the Windjammer.  We set up shop near a panoramic window, and enjoy watercoloring.  We honor my friend Noel who watercolored on her travels, before she passed away. I highly encourage painting along your travels.

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Here are some pics from the family at their dog mushing excursion.  More puppies!

We all dine together in the Sapphire Dining Room. The girls have a system where they trade vegetables.  After dinner, we enjoy Shirley Temples and watch the magician show in the Theater.

 

And finally, we happen to pass by Karaoke singalong as they are playing “We Are Family,” so me and my daughter step up to the mic.  I know this is what you have all been waiting for, right?  Here’s our lil video!  So much fun!

I get the kids in bed and then step out for a late night dessert with my husband.  Someone recognizes me in the elevator from Karaoke.  That’s always fun. 🙂 We are enjoying these cheesecake lolly-pop’s in Café Promenade. And we are happy with this day.  Tomorrow there will be glaciers!  I can’t wait to show you the amazing pics of the glacier just off our balcony!.

 

 

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My Alaskan Cruise: Day 1

My family has been so fortunate to enjoy some fun family vacations at some spectacular destinations.  I am so grateful for these opportunities.  It is my hope that  writing about them will encourage some of you to get out there and plan your own dream vacations! 

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Can you tell we’re related? ❤

We began the morning already happily packed. This is one of the times my creative brain works very well with my logical side and I can Plan, to Have Fun. May I say, I’ve got packing down. Four outfits,  three pairs of shoes, carry-ons. See my recent post on packing necessities. 

 

For some reason, we had decided to pack two large bags for the family, and check them this time. Upon checking in, we observed that the checked luggage was piled near the area, and we saw one of our bags get on but not the other.  So we hovered and watched about twenty bags go through the queue, before they got to our second bag.

Turns out, that second bag never made it on our flight!  There was a similar-looking suitcase spinning on the carousel, and I thought maybe someone had taken mine, instead.  This was the larger suitcase containing all clothes and shoes for myself and my daughter, as well as our toiletries and borrowed binoculars.  My hubby tells me he added his own toiletries and medications to our bag. too.  Great. Our airline offers $600 if it is lost, but there remains a possibility it could arrive on the next flight which arrives in two hours.  They ask me what uncommon or easily identifiable objects might be inside, in case they need to open it. The first unique item that comes to my mind is my romance novel paperback!

I tell my hubby I think we should take the $600.  I can go to Target or Walmart and shop.  We cannot wait until 2pm to go shopping, because we have to be at the pier by 2:30pm.  So we decide to do this: I take a taxicab to the nearest Target and begin shopping.  Meanwhile, my kids and hubby wait at baggage claim.  Fortunately, I had made sandwiches for everyone, and the kids enjoy those while hubby calls his doctor’s office to see what happens if he doesn’t take his meds for a week.  If the next flight arrives and our bag is not on it, then I purchase.  If our bag arrives, then I just abandon my cart.

I happily sail through the girls and shoes departments throwing items in my cart. This part is very easy, actually, as I’ve now memorized my packing plan and I know what items are needed, and there are many 4th of July sales/ clearance items, as well.  Perusing through Women’s is much less fun, however. I quickly decide just to abstain from swimming and not even buy a swimsuit.  I have to dig deep and search for a black sundress which could double as “formal” night wear.  Four tee shirts, two skirts, one pants, one shorts, all complementary colors per capsule wardrobing.  Darnit, my beloved reversible necklaces are in my suitcase!  I need to buy three bras, jammies, underwear, socks, jewelry for me and hair accessories for my daughter, the whole kit and caboodle.  It’s not completely overwhelming, as I’ve still got my wits about me.  But it is less fun, now. The whole time I am thinking: Thank God I had the sense to keep my anxiety meds in my backpack! I’ve just sailed through health and toothbrushes when my hubby calls with good news:  our bag arrived!  I purchase only a few items and run outside to wait for my family.

Their taxi arrives and I eat my sandwich in the cab.  We are on the phone with the cruiseline, saying we can see the boat from our taxi, we are only 2 miles away.  They say, fine, as long as you are here by 3:30 for the 4pm departure.  And here we were rushing to get there by 2:30 per their instructions.  We meet our family on the pier and check in together.

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Boarding the Explorer of the Seas

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Hubba Hubba!

I’ve brought lanyards for my kid’s Sea Pass Cards, which are our ID’s, room keys, and charge cards while we are on the cruise. Hubby says, “Do I get one of those?”  Uh, no, as you are not a kid. LOL.  Our Jr. Suite is every bit worth the upgrade we paid!  We have a balcony and a walk-in closet, more shelving and drawers than we know what to do with, but most of all, all this space to walk around in the room! Last summer we were in a regular Balcony room, and it was tight quarters.  (We learned to upgrade to a Jr. Suite  when we sailed to Mexico earlier this spring.)  Our nephew is visibly and vocally jealous. I almost feel bad telling them about the walk-in closet.  The closet is really handy though, as it also serves as a private dressing area, which is nice when you are travelling with family. One time, when we were just hanging out in the room, I looked up at the kids and said, Where’s Daddy? They said, In the closet!  (The rocking of the boat had shut the door on him.)  Here are some pics I found online of our Jr. Suite. Beds View Desks View

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Panoramic View from our balcony

We are all starving, so our Party of Nine checks out the Windjammer Café (buffet).  We all decided to go back for seconds and call it our dinner.  Exploring the ship is really fun, there are so many more activities than we are used to.  Arcade, Ping pong, rock wall, mini-golf, and surf simulator.  It’s too cold to surf or golf, though.  My 8 year old daughter proudly carries her notebook wherever we go and takes notes for her daily journal entry.  We end up at the Theater and enjoy a welcome production show including singers, dancers, live musicians, and a comedian.  The Cruise Director is also extremely entertaining. It’s like he is a comedian, too.

We begin our bedtime routine although it is still sunny outside.  Sunset will be at 10:30pm!  The blackout curtains overlap, so its all good.  The boat is rocking, gently, well, moderately.  But I love it.  We are on a boat.

Tomorrow is our first day at sea.  I can’t wait to explore the ship even more!  Plus, it will be Formal Night, which is always fun.

 

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making friends wherever she goes!  a crewmember brought her chocolate milk.