My Alaskan Cruise: Day 6

I’m writing about my recent cruise to Alaska.  Have you checked out my entries for the other days? I hope that by writing about it, you will be inspired to book your own vacations! Here’s what we did on Wednesday of the cruise.

Today is another Day at Sea and we do the morning breakfast routine.  There is not much different from other days, if you have been reading along.  Starbucks after the buffet. The weather is nice and there is not the crazy rocking that we enjoyed when we were sailing north a couple days ago. It has been very comfortable wearing  a t shirt or  tank top  with shorts or a skirt on the ship, just bring a sweater or jacket if you are on deck in the afternoon and evening.  It was too cold to for surf simulating or  rock wall climbing, but ping pong in the secret covered area is perfect.  The kids opted not to attend any of the kids club functions.  Sunset has been extremely late for us, around 10:30pm!  The return to ship time has also been comfortably late, as in 8:30pm.  We of course returned early for dinner and evening activities.  But I do recall that the return times were much earlier in the Mediterranean ports last year.

I liked Princess a lot, the food was slightly better, to be honest.  Princess is like the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas,- beautiful, fancy, chocolates on your pillow, maybe a little dated.  Royal Caribbean is like the Venetian Palazzo- newer bigger, and so many amenities- like the rock wall and surf simulator.  Not that we used them.  So Princess is just fine for us.  Know what I mean?  Royal Caribbean has a lot more families.

After brunch, we make our way to the lounge where the Spelling Bee will be held.  The girls are so happy to find the spot for their last elusive selfie from the selfie challenge yesterday, in this lounge.

Surprisingly, my son does not volunteer- although he is a Spelling Bee Champion, as well.  He just wants to watch.  That’s okay. There are about 8 individuals and some adults, some kids.  The hostess has an Australian accent, and she mispronounces the word Tyranny, and a foreign child gets it wrong.  An adult- an English teacher- wins.

We decide to swing by the Captain’s Corner in the theater, where the captain, cruise director, and hotel manager and another high official (engineer?) are taking questions.  It’s great fun, they are so comical.  I love when kids ask questions, like Who’s driving the boat? Have you ever hit an iceberg?  The boys will finish the entire session, but the rest of us gotta go see the Ice Skating show “Spirit of the Seasons” again.  The grandparents haven’t seen it in full yet (since it was cancelled during our first attempt at rocky seas), and we are trying to get the seats nearest the aisles where the performers invite little girls to be in the show.

We are so lucky to get the second row, so we strategically place my daughter on the aisle seat.  When the time comes, the performers are looking at the family in the first row, their little girl is not budging, however.  I see the performer start to look around for another participant, because the show must go on!  And I say to my daughter, stand up, and Go! Go! Go! The performer looks relieved.  I hope the first little girl’s parents are not mad at me, but she wasn’t moving!  So my daughter happily gets into position as they help guide her into the sled. What an experience for her!  I’m so happy she gets this chance of a lifetime.   This is during the Winter part of the show, and the performers are dressed in wintery attire, taking turns pushing the two little girls (one from the other side) around on the ice rink. The other day her brother had his moment in the spotlight, today is hers.  The smaller rink is an intimate venue, and the audience applauds warmly as she gets out of the sled and exits the rink.   Let me tell you, this is right up there with the first time she met the Princesses at Disneyland when she was 3 years old. #mommybeams


That’s my girl!


Spirit of the Seasons, Winter. 

I think this is the day they go back to ping pong, so I just do my own thing and find somewhere to read. The girl cousins create their own dance routines, entitled “Spirit of the Cousins.” I love how they incorporated ice skating moves into their dances. My eleven year old niece is lifting and spinning my eight year old daughter, and she loves it.


After a quick pseudo dinner in the Windjammer- it was closing so there was no good food available and I had to text my hubby to bring his daughter some pizza from downstairs- we head to the Ice Rink for Open Skate!  How many of you can say you’ve ice skated in the Pacific Ocean?  Actually, not me, as I decided to just watch. My back had just recovered from that first night on the sofa bed, and I didn’t want to risk hurting it.  My son and godson and I watched as my hubby and his sister took the two girls out for a skate. I really enjoyed watching the boys watch people fall.  The one time my daughter almost fell, she said it was fun!  That’s because her daddy and godmother each held one of her hands and she was saved.  IMG_3484[1]Watch her fall in slow motion on my godson’s video, which I will post at the end of these journals.

Afterwards, we head to the Theater for the evening performance. I always enjoy the music of a live band.  It is a nice time to relax and enjoy our Shirley Temples, even if sometimes we snicker a little during the performances.

We walk by Karaoke but since my song of choice was featured in the evening performance, I am not feelin’ it.   Dear Daughter knows when she is turning into a pumpkin and declares it her bedtime.   I bring her to the room and let the boys wander together.

Tomorrow is a Port day at Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada!  I am so excited!  There will be beautiful flowers everywhere!

Have you been on a cruise?  Have you been to Alaska?  Drop me a line!


My Alaskan Cruise: Day 5

Hello Friends! I’m in the middle of journaling my recent vacation: a family cruise to Alaska. I hope that in writing about our trips, you may be inspired to plan your own vacations, too!

We are awakened this morning by the announcement from our cruise director, stating that we are at Dawes Glacier  in the Tracy Arm Fjord and the captain will begin a 540 degree turn of the ship so that everyone can see it.  We are near the first viewing side, and let me tell you, it is majestic. It is a mile from my balcony.  I can’t help but think of how lucky we are to be able to see this beautiful side of nature in Alaska. We take photos, but we are still in pajamas, so after we rotate past, we go change so we have better clothes on for the next pass (and photos).  We observe calving, the collapsing of glacier parts into the sea. It is very noisy, it sounds like a  thunderous earthquake, even though only a little falls.  We train our binoculars onto the cotton candy pieces, but we do not see any seals or any other animals. Later this day we will see whales, which is so exciting!  Alas, they do  not photograph well, as they splash and disappear.

Enough talk.  Here are some pics of the Dawes Glacier.





We meet up with the rest of the family for breakfast in the buffet.   This is basically another day at sea, with the added bonus of glacier spotting in the morning. The 3 youngest kids enjoy a Selfie Scavenger Hunt activity, taking pictures of themselves all over the ship. I will be spending some time by myself this morning, I venture to the Chapel, but as half of it has been taken over by a baby play area, it’s kinda weak, in my humble opinion. Even better, however, is the Dizzy Gillespie Lounge, talk about a room with a view!  Surprisingly, most  folks up here are sleeping in chairs or reading books.  I thought about reading, but THIS VIEW!


The kids and my hubby and sis-in-law like to play ping pong.  So it seems like they go there a lot!       I am glad hubby has the sense to avoid this basketball challenge from our godson, after what happened last year on our Mediterranean cruise.  I will enjoy a Swedish Massage at the Spa today.  There is an Acupuncture seminar in the waiting room, so I enjoy part of that, as well.  The massage therapist is from England and she likes my sparkly pink nail polish.  🙂  This is a nice hour of bliss.

We quickly change into our formal night attire.  I am wearing the same charcoal dress and the silver side of my reversible necklace, hair up.

IMG_3903[1]We take some more formal photos, but there are too many of us on the backdrop, and it looks weird. I do wish I had maybe purchased a couple of them, but they wouldn’t let us combine pics from our 3 different family accounts into one discount purchase.  Annoying.

This evening we will enjoy another round of Shirley Temples as we enjoy another entertainer performance show.  This guy can really play the trumpet, man.  He’s got chops!  He also is kinda reminiscent of Tom Jones. Sometimes (more than half) the entertainment is watching the entertainment.  Am I right? It’s kind of cheesy and kind of funny, and still the talent of the live musicians shines through.  My mother would love it!   I don’t think my godson appreciated it though.  I think he was trying to fall asleep during it 🙂

Cheesecake lolly-pops before bed, and it’s another time change.  Time to set our clocks forward an hour to Pacific Daylight Savings Time.   Tomorrow will be another day at sea: a special opportunity at the Ice Show, and more ping pong and maybe Karaoke…

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!


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!


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.


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.



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!.




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! 


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.


Boarding the Explorer of the Seas


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


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.



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


My Mediterranean Journey, Day 4

Buongiorno! Andiamo Salerno!

Today is going to be a great day! We have private family tours lined up for Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. We grab breakfast at the buffet, which is okay, there are a lot of offerings and it is quick. The buffet is near the top deck, and we have to hustle down to Deck 4 to disembark.

As we walk down the ramp, we see people holding signs. Always a comfort when on a foreign country, seeing your driver holding up a sign with your name. Actually there are two drivers, as we must split between two vehicles. Our first stop is Pompeii. Our friendly driver secures a site tour guide for our little group.

As I am not entirely sure about the little one being at Pompeii, I brought along her paints and markers just in case we need an alternate activity. But our guide is perfect, he is knowledgeable and friendly, and he takes a liking to our little one. His English is very good, and his accent is charming. Of course, the weather is crazy hot and humid. At least one person out of the nine of us is likely heat fatigued at any time. Fortunately no one is outwardly grumpy.

Walking through the village of Pompeii is really kind of trippy. I remember having seen a television mini-series about the volcano when I was a child, and that freaked me out. I understand that at some point the plaster casts of bodies in distress were on display throughout the site, that is no longer, thankfully. Being in the village and observing how some structures are still standing is mind-blowing. Our friendly tour guide is knowledgeable about the society and compares it to our own. Theaters, marketplace, hot food vendors, etc. He does purposefully distract our youngest child as we walk through what was the brothel. (I don’t even think the older kids were paying attention to what it was.) He teaches her how to be a tour guide and she tells us where to go next. We pass by the ruins of hot food vendors and they enact the marketeer selling a dish of hot food. She asks for macaroni and cheese, of course. He smiles and explains that they didn’t even have potatoes back then. We snap some cool pics of the kids in the street, but they are not really “with” us. Near the end of our tour is the area where we can observe the plaster casts of the bodies, so our guide bonds with the little girl again. Seeing the plaster casts of bodies is most unsettling- we see a baby, a dog, and of course, adults in their moments of death- some in prayer. I am glad the 7 year old is not with me as I tour this last area. My ten-year old says it makes her sad. But it is important to honor the history and culture. We return to collect our daughter who is now forever friends with our tour guide David, he has taken a photo of her Italy flag-painted nails and requested her permission to post it on his Facebook page. She gleefully agrees and pretends to sign her name on an invisible contract a la the Little Mermaid. In the forum we observe the Mount Vesuvius in its post-eruption state, and I try to imagine it as it was in its full glory. It’s not hard to imagine this sweet village populated. It is more than a little sad.

Now we return to the vehicles and drive the Amalfi coast. Our drivers are courteous and friendly. Each moment offers postcard-picturesque views, the blues and hues of the water kissing the beaches, rocks, and quaint little towns. We stop for pictures at a lookout before Positano, such an amazingly beautiful scene.  I am delighted as this town especially, reminds me of one of my favorite novels which I reread every year. The Miracles of Santo Fico by D.L. Smith takes place in a fictional village, much like this one- off a winding road, steps and hills, houses that seem to tumble into the sea. Tour busses cannot enter the town of Positano, as the streets are too narrow. But we have two Mercedes cars, so we are good. Our drivers bring us in as close as they are allowed. And we walk down the rest of the way. I half expect to see my beloved characters from Santo Fico around every bend. In a way, I do. For there are shop owners, villagers, restauranteurs and children among the tourists. The long incline includes many steps, some ramps, some streets. We are descending in droves- down, down, down. And it’s hot, hot, hot. I’m loving this, and I’m looking forward to our special lunch ahead, but I am also thinking about how Dante descended to the depths of hell in the Inferno.

Soon we arrive at the bottom, where we have reservations at a restaurant on the beach. They are full, so the seat us outside, but there is some shade and more importantly, there is a big industrial fan sweeping the area. Our long table includes a pillowed bench at one end, this is where my daughter chooses to sit. She’s so cute in her aqua hat, perched among the blue and yellow throw pillows. Ordering water is always a bit confusing, as two of our party prefer the bubbly bottled water, some prefer bottled water, and some of us prefer tap. I order gnocchi, which almost seems a bit silly as it is so hot, but it is delicious and I am so glad I do! I buy souvenirs at a cute store across the street. The cashier offers a friendly extra-loud “Bye-Bye!” as I leave, which strikes me as funny. I wonder what the villagers think of us.

As we walk back up, there are more people coming down. There are even some small vehicles coming around the bends. For all the crazy driving we have seen, we have never observed any accidents, so I guess that is good. We duck into a shop and attack some pastries, we share a cannoli among our family. We pick up more waters here. Some of us switch cars so we can mix up the company. Driving along the coast again, admiring the scenery, I marvel at how the kids (at least the ones in my car) are sleeping.

We board the ship and it is Italian Night! After refreshing, we make our way to the Botticelli dining room where the staff is outfitted in striped gondolier’s shirts. It is only our third night dining, but our head waiter and staff remember our preferences, and even our names. As one of our family has food allergies, the Maitre D’ offers to preview tomorrow night’s menu, so they can prepare anything especially for him. Our family takes up an entire round table. This is a relaxing time for the family, everybody talks with another and the kids are more like themselves, having fun with each other. Maybe that’s why it takes so long. It doesn’t seem like a two hour meal, while we are there. We look at the photos taken on the cruise so far, I pick up another frozen black forest mocha for my evening treat.

Tomorrow is a day at sea. I am looking forward to swimming, my massage at the spa, and also we will need to do laundry. I get some wifi time, and since I didn’t use all my texts today, I can text my friends and family at home tonight. I miss them dearly.

Buona Notte!



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