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Our Family cruise to Alaska -July 2008

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Alaska Cruise Family Trip
Ma & Pa's 50th Anniversary Celebration
July 6th-July 16th 2008

7-6-08.  Sunday morning Ma, Pa and I got up early to drive to Dave and Suzy's place in San Jose for the start of the trip.  Dave had a stretch limo reserved for the trip to the SF Airport. 

We flew direct via Air Canada to Vancouver.  Monday was the boarding day for our long awaited trip on the Coral Princess.  We stayed overnight at a hotel near the Vancouver airport.  The hotel was within walking distance of the Riverrock Casino, where we had a buffet dinner. Here's Ma and Pa as we are heading there in the airport shuttle.

Walking to the casino. Jessica has this aversion to getting her picture taken.  Didn't last long.

Here we are getting ready for the cruise and unlimited food, the casino had a buffet with lots of great food..

Dave, Ma, Pa and I stayed to play some slots.  Dave won about $30.  Canadian money is weird.  The next morning we had another ride booked to take us to Canada Place, where the boat was docked. We're waiting.

And our luggage is waiting.

And the luggage was only for 8 people, we were expecting to meet up with 6 more on the ship!  The van driver took us on a tour of the high priced neighborhoods in Vancouver, then drove us directly to the ship, I couldn't get a picture of it because of the way the port was built - right up against the ship, so here's a picture from later.  The Coral Princess is huge, about 950 feet long. The Titanic was around 800 feet.

5 of the 6 cabins we reserved were on the same deck, deck 10, or "Caribe" deck, as the elevator voice said.  We went cheap and got the rooms with no windows, but since we were all near each other at the back of the boat, we actually lucked out and had some prime real estate.  Just 20 feet outside my stateroom door was the back deck, open to all, but rarely used by anybody.  Our group used this as our meeting place, relaxation center, photo area, and game room.  It was fabulous to have this area so close by.

Here we are on our back deck, still docked in Vancouver, waiting for the ship to start moving.  

The other back decks below us didn't have the chairs, no room for them!

See what I mean?  Everyone here is in the family. Who needs to spend more for a room with a balcony?  And being in the back like this meant that we hardly got any wind.  I only needed a light jacket when it rained, or when we got within a few miles of glaciers.  I was out here almost every chance I got, and it was the first place I went after I got up in the early morning.  Usually found someone I knew out here as well.

The way a vacation should be, now all we need is food.

Speaking of food, we had dinner reservations every night in the fancy place.  2 waiters for 3 tables, very select menu, order anything you want, appetizers, main course and dessert.  Every night they had something different to try (lobster, salmon, Filet Mignon) , as well as standard fare (New York Steak, chicken, etc.)  

I usually sat at the kids table.

And if you didn't get enough, there was the 24 hour buffet.  So many choices!  I ate like a pig, but unlike a lot of people, I cleaned my plate.  So much food gets wasted, I felt bad about that.  After dinner, I led 4 kids around the boat doing some heavy exploration.  Top to bottom, and front to back. 

Here's the topmost deck, 16, shuffleboard, giant chess and basketball.

This is 1 of 4 pools and 2 of the 4 hot tubs (that I knew of.)

The front of the ship, looking to the rear.

Here's the center area of the ship, 3 floors open up into this space.

These 2 girls found the glass elevators and couldn't resist playing in them. Whenever we couldn't find them, this was a good place to look.

Here's my room.

Mirrors faced each other to give the rooms more depth.  I thought we'd use this as the meeting room, but we found other alternatives. Here's the 4 kids.  Or are there more?

This is the game room we found.  The ship had it's own sets of games such as Scrabble and Monopoly.  So we used this area instead of sitting in our viewless cabins.  The last game night we had 10 people at the table, and had to put 2 tables together.  The game?  Apples to Apples.

We left Vancouver about 4:45 PM.  I got some shots of the downtown area off our famous back deck before we left.

The following photo of Vancouver was taken from the moving ship, as we are finally heading out.

Here we just passed under the Lionsgate Bridge.

We got this view a lot.  You could probably follow the boat from 10 miles behind by the trail we're leaving.

I found Clif and Bonnie on their way to their rooms one deck above, and showed them around a bit, got a good picture of them.  Couldn't find anyone else, but after some searching finally found thenm all in the Buffet area, eating lunch.

Ma and Pa outside their cabin.  They were glad to get the room they did, and not the one we had planned to get, which was a porthole view.  They were right in the thick of things with family in 3 of the cabins next to them.

In addition to our "private" deck we also had our own hallway.  We had all 3 cabins that opened into this hall.

These 2 photos are on the way to Ketchican, early morning of the 2nd day, a light mist sending drops down on deck.

The first full day was spent "at sea" and we got used to the ship.  It was rocking a bit, it definitely made walking down the hall an experience.  Here we are at the first "formal" dinner.  Not too formal, as it turned out.

Jessica loved the dessert called "The Love Boat" and had it almost every night.

The 3rd day we arrived at Ketchikan.  I was up about 5 or 6 am every morning.  We always sailed during the night when I wanted to watch the views go by, but I had to sleep sometime.  Midnight to 6 seemed about right.

Here's another view, further on from the photo above, of Ketchikan.  The town is tiny with 80% being jewelry stores, the rest of the shops is tourist stuff.  The first 3 places have just about the same merchandise for wildly different prices. Not terribly exciting.  We were here for just a few hours, about 6am to 2pm.

We split up at Ketchikan, half went on a kayak excursion, the others went to the totem pole park for a tour.  The guide was pretty good - Ivan, but he had a thick accent.  Most of the towns employ college kids for the summer to give the tours.

A real closeup of the totem inside a traditional house.

And of course every shop had totem poles for sale.  The real hand carved stuff went for hundreds of dollars, or you could get one made in China.  So a picture seemed appropriate.  These were the expensive ones.

Back at the port, it was almost time for the ship to leave, and we had to contend with the mass of people coming back.  There's 5 people I know out there.  It took a while to get back onboard.

Here's Tammy, Ma and Bonnie at Breakfast the next morning.  It was usually packed here and hard to find a table.  But they had everything and more that you'd ever want for breakfast: 4 kinds of sausage, 2 kinds of scrambled eggs, fruits, bagels, ham, turkey, danishes, bacon, pancakes, waffles, chocolate pancakes, hash, and lots more stuff.  And what wasn't out there you could usually order, such as Eggs Benedict.

Oh, and any kinds of drinks as well.  Coffee, OJ, apple juice, hot chocolate, sodas, milk, etc.

Another meeting on our back deck. "The" place to find people.

Good group shot.

Another fun-filled day ahead of us, this time in Juneau.  There were 6 ships in port, so the town was inundated with thousands of tourists.  Not a whole lot to see other than the shops. 

This tram up the side of the mountain would have been a fun ride, but with the overcast skies, all you get to see is mist.

While we were waiting for the boat to dock, we noticed some bald eagles flying around.  My photos didn't turn out so well, but Greg got some beautiful shots of one in flight with his massive zoom lens.  Can't wait to see them.

This ship is the Dawn Princess, sailing from SF and back.  Heard there were very choppy seas on this trip for them.

Here's Ma and Pa getting off the ship in Juneau.  It's amazing how massive it is.  It stands over all the buildings in town.

Matthew at one of the tourist shops, next to sharp steel.  Never seen him grin so wide.

We left Juneau late, about 9:30pm, and I was so tired I didn't get much in the way of pictures on the trip to Skagway.

I was up around 5am Alaska time to get some photos of the passage in to Skagway, about a half-hours worth before we got to the town. And here's the town, 5 blocks wide by 20 blocks long.

A good shot of people getting off the boat in Skagway.  We took a train ride up the Chilkoot Trail, saw lots of waterfalls (waterfalls were everywhere on this trip.)

Took this photo while riding on the train.  Very steep and rocky.

Snow still around at the end of the train ride, on top of the mountain, here in Canada's Yukon.  Had to go through Customs, the guy just took a quick look at passports and cleared everyone to disembark from the train.

Jen, if you're going to make faces, be prepared for people to see them. ;-)

After the train ride we had a bus tour of the area.  This excursion lasted about 6 hours, and we were all tired of sitting afterwards.

One of the places we stopped was a dried-up glacier lake bed.  The silt from it remained behind and is just like sand.

The sand extends for miles.  The desert of Canada.

Emerald Lake.  Weird chemicals in the lake make the water really green/blue.  Photo stitched.

We stopped for lunch at a nice tourist trap, had BBQ chicken, coleslaw, baked potato, and donuts. There was a museum with stuffed wildlife, even a wooly mammoth.  The kids like the Iditarod dogs (they're not stuffed).  

Oh look, puppies!

Ok, this was probably "some" people's favorite part of the trip.  Even Jessica woke up enough for this. No you can't keep him.

Same goes for you too Lauren.

Clif and Bon had a balcony cabin on the deck above us, but I saw them come out to visit us.

Nice sky picture.

And a sunset.  Most of the time the clouds obscured any sunlight.  It was a misty light rain from day 3 to 5 or so.

In between Juneau and Glacier Bay.

I took this shot about 11:30 at night.  Still not quite dark yet.

Here's a great shot of a large but short rainbow.

We're heading into Glacier Bay here.  Ice on the clear amazingly blue water.


Getting closer to the glaciers, more ice.

The glaciers carved out these granite cliffs.  Another waterfall, #1,228.  The water was so calm in these areas.


Bird watching. brrr!

And finally glaciers appear.  We saw many, but here's just a few shots.

A huge waterfall is coming out of this cave, you can see the spray coming from it.  The ice is probably 200 feet tall.

And of course we saw critters in the ocean.  This is best I could get of a seal and whale. We saw quite a few of each on the trip. Also saw otters & sea lions, but my camera wasn't up to the job.

We had time to play some games. 

Oops!  Don't hit it so hard.

And we had to try Shuffleboard.

Suzy planning her next fiendish move...

Ok, back to the glaciers.  Matthew is still in shorts. Crazy kid.

And another shot with all 4 kids.

These next few shots are in College Fjord.  Lots of glaciers, probably 6 hitting the water.  Thought it would be a good backdrop for some family photos. (Nah, it's just a sheet in back of us. ;-)


And another glacier.

More shuffleboard.  Great views to play by!

And still more glaciers.

Close up of the previous photo.  I like the green valley at the base of the mountain.

This is part of a map of our route.  It shows all the minor islands and where we went.  I wish I had seen it earlier, I wondered why we headed south at one point.

The cabin steward left us this guy after I thanked him for all the work he did every day cleaning up after us.

And here's the day we'd been dreading.  the cruise is over.  We had to meet up with our bus at 8:30 so no sleeping in.

Here's Whittier.  We're taking the bus to Anchorage.

The ship is almost as big as the mountain.

The bus stopped off at a few places along the way, so we got to see some sights.  This is a glacier lake, with a nice visitor center.

Here we are in Anchorage getting out of our rental car in the hotel parking lot.  The hotel was quite a few steps down from the cruise, I'd have to say.

This is a picture from the Anchorage Botanical Gardens, the next day.  A small, informal garden set in a forest just outside of town.  The mosquitoes were nasty, and we left pretty quick.  We stayed in Anchorage a couple extra days, while trying to catch up on sleep.

The last evening we dined at the Sourdough Mining Co.  Nice place, but way too much food, and we couldn't take any leftovers with us.  There was a sort of park across the street.

The last day of travel was 12 hours long, and it was great to be back in a comfortable bed!

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