Saturday, August 27, 2016

Alaska Cruise - Part III

We made it to Juneau, the capital of Alaska! Brock is saying he can't see Juneau, only that fishing boat out there. :)
After a quick bus ride, which was nice as the driver was telling us a bit about the city (only 35,000 people live there - most work in government, second is tourism and third is fishing), we were on our way to whale watch!
 Our guide explained we were searching for that water spout. If we see it, yell "There she blows!" They come up for air in cycles - a few blows of air/water shoot up, they dive in kicking their tail up, repeat a few times, then go back down for 5-7 minutes before starting the cycle again.

We definitely saw several whale pods - and from the pictures, you can see we weren't the only boat out there.

Here's a little video of some whales surfacing!

 My cute little whale watcher!

And another video of a group of whales.... and the Eason crew watching from inside the boat.
 We also saw a Sea Lion swimming over to inspect our boat!

On our way back to the ship, we spotted Mendenhall Glacier in the distance - and a Safeway! Gas was $2.35 a gallon. :)
Mendenhall Glacier is right behind Safeway in the picture :)
As it was lunchtime when we arrived back on the pier, we didn't really walk around Juneau. We boarded the ship and saw more of Juneau from the Lido Deck.

Picture, then towel smashing time....
After some balcony time and some forced quiet time that wasn't too quiet, we went up to the pool to get some of Brock's energy out! That water was freezing, but he loved it. The pool was really perfect for Brock (and the temperature) - he could wade around the top area and was really good about staying away from the middle deeper part (4 feet).

 Fancy Brock drinking his chocolate milk from a wine glass!

After dinner, we were blessed with an amazing view from our stateroom.

Snow-capped mountains and smooth as glass water. It was just gorgeous!

Our third port of call was Ketchikan, the southeastern most city in the state and, fun fact, has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles!

Cute little shop!

Upon returning to the ship, we had the whole pool to ourselves including a really cute display of towel animals!

Look at that view behind Brock out the windows!

After some pool time, we took a nice tour of the top of the boat!

And watched a seaplane land right next to our ship!

We were also able to take advantage of the outdoor activities. We played soccer/basketball/volleyball with ALL the balls!
Sweet baby Kade wanted to carry all the balls.

The crew then checked out the mini-golf! We only did 3 holes that afternoon, but ended up playing the full nine holes the following day.

Brent and Kade stayed in the room for nap time and Brock and I had a date with Build-A-Bear At Sea!
Carnival treated us to "free" cookies and a drink - Brent asked what alcoholic beverage they were serving.... uhh, lemonade (which we could also get any time we wanted on deck 9 or room service....). ;)

Anyway, the event was cute. They put on a little show and of course had all the kids dancing and moving around before it was time to build your bear. Brock picked out a shark - his first build-a-bear and he really loved it. Brent helped name it Mako and it's been his favorite ever since.

He begged to take Mako to dinner with us that night too!

Cute story - driving home from the cruise, I asked Brock what his favorite thing was. He sat and thought about it for a long time and finally answered "the elevators!!" He was in charge of pressing all the buttons on the trip and we made it in to a learning lesson (we are on six and we want to go to nine, which is bigger? etc.) that was super fun. By the end of the cruise he remembered which floor everything was on too! (Pool is on 9, our room was on 6, Dinner was on 2, etc)

Every night aboard the ship they had some sort of show after dinner. Either myself or Brent took Brock to a few of the shows and stayed about halfway (it was late for Brock!) or until Brock was tired. One night was Motown songs, then Beatles-mania, Disco, etc. The last night was "Epic Rock" showcasing rock songs from the 70's and 80's. Led Zepplin, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Meatloaf, U2 - all the bands my husband chooses to play for dance party at home..... which is why Brock knew quite a few of the songs at this show! Both of them were mesmerized!

Alas, it was our last full day aboard the Carnival Legend. It was a weird day because we were still at sea and not scheduled to get to our last port, Victoria B.C. until 7:30 that evening. We also switched our clocks back to Pacific time.

We enjoyed some of our favorites from the cruise, for the last time. I think Brock had an ice cream cone almost every day... the last day I know he had two!

Brock did some more pool time and Kade took his nap on me poolside.
Again, Brock brought Mako to dinner.

And we were very sad to say goodbye to our awesome waiter, Gabriel from Romania. I missed him the following day too when I had to set the table and cook for my family again....
Lots of people ended up going ashore in Victoria, but we opted to stay in. (What could you possibly see from 7:30pm - Midnight??) We brought Brock to Camp Carnival and put Kade in the baby carrier for a few adult drinks in the bar. Kade fell asleep in the baby carrier, so NO JUDGEMENTS - we just survived 7 nights with two children under four in a 175 square foot stateroom! It was our reward. :)

And then it was time to sleep - the following day we would be back in Seattle!

A few last words on our cruise adventure. Wow, is it a lot different than when I went 10+ years ago (and I don't just mean that I didn't have children then). Lots of things seem to be "added cost". They have an upscale dining option for an additional $30/per person. The room service menu is not as extensive as I remember it being; and above sandwiches and salads and a few drinks, some plates are an added cost (chicken tenders, hamburger, etc). If you wanted your "Starbucks fix", they have a "coffee bar" for an added cost where you can get specialty coffee, cappuccinos, etc if you wanted something more than regular Americano.

Overall, we had a lot of fun as a family. It was nice on the first two days of our cruise not having any wifi access (available as an added cost that I chose not to purchase) and just disconnecting to be more present with my kids and my husband. We had some tough moments in the room where the kids weren't getting along so nicely, but overall they were really sweet to each other. Kade wants to follow his big brother everywhere and copy everything he does. I even woke up one morning to Brock leaning over his bed, teaching Kade to say "bubble". Alaska's landscape is amazing and we only saw like 1% of it! Brent and I would love to return when the kids are older and see more of this state. Alaska was very cool and cruising was the best way to get a sample of what's out there!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Alaska Cruise - Part II

Day Three of the cruise we sailed through Tracy Arm Fjord. We had to look up what exactly a fjord was.... a long narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. To make it simple - Fjords are made by moving glaciers cutting through the land and then filled in with sea water. (I'm all about teaching you things on this blog)
One of our first sightings of an iceberg!
The morning was pretty dreary looking. Super dense fog when we first woke up, then just regular fog. Slowly we were able to start seeing how close we were to land, how green the water was, and all the bits of ice in the water. (Remember this is fresh water from glaciers mixing with the salt water sea, hence green water - still beautiful looking)

Unfortunately (or fortunately), Brock was napping when we reached the end of the fjord and completely missed the glacier viewing. Kade stayed up until he fell asleep on my back and then transitioned nicely to his crib - thank goodness for our balcony stateroom!

A little waterfall to the right of the glacier.

It was a cloudy day, but even so, our camera phones just don't do this justice at all. This was simply beautiful.

You almost forget how big our cruise ship is compared to the mountain-side until another boat trolls along for scale.

See all the little icebergs floating in the water?
Another dinnertime was upon us! The boys must have gone through 8 orders of chicken nuggets this cruise.....

I snapped only one picture of my meal this week - it was a pasta dish with salmon, shrimp, scallops and mussels.

After dinner we spotted another cruise ship passing us in the night. Pretty with all their lights on.

The following day we docked at our first port of call (and most northern) - Skagway, Alaska! We decided to make the most of the childcare there and dropped off both of our children at Camp Carnival to walk around the town by ourselves.
 Skagway was a really cute little town. It felt very western with the wood-planked sidewalks and storefronts. It started out as a mining town and grew as the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad was built - linking Whitehorse, the capitol of Yukon Canada, to the seaport town of Skagway during the Klondike Gold Rush.

We did our own little walking tour and window shopped.

We returned to the ship to retrieve our children and feed them lunch (such good parents are we!), then decided to bring them out to see Skagway.

Brock got his first real view of how big this ship was!

Brent & Brock almost under the letter "C"

Brock spotted the White Pass Train as it left the station from the port. I thought about doing that excursion, but didn't think three hours stuck on a train with my two children sounded ideal.... then again, we opted for a three hour excursion stuck on a boat the following day....  I digress....

Anyway, after walking around the town with my grabby three-year-old, we discovered a playground!!

Oh, thank god, a playground!!

Brent didn't like the ground material they selected at this place - chopped up pieces of old tires. Perhaps it's good for snow?? It was rather strange and I didn't think that was necessarily good for children either..... but we were only there for a bit.

We stumbled upon the Junior Ranger Station and Brock pretended to sift for.... a fish?

Kade found fox fur.... Brent's future hunting partner.

 The sun ended up coming out on this day (and continued pretty much for the rest of our trip)! A nice warm summer Alaskan day of 58 degrees! :)

Because we had crossed in to Alaska, we were now in Alaskan time - one hour behind Pacific time - and one hour makes a difference for dinner for my children. Brock did not have a nap and ended up falling asleep at the table - good thing we had a nice booth on one side of our table.

I believe this is when I texted my mother the above picture, which she responded "Well now you and Brent enjoy dinner". Ha - we do have two children. This was what the other one was doing at this point......

Shortly thereafter the waiters came out singing and dancing which appeased Kade long enough for us to finish our desserts and out the door we went for bedtime!

My silly boys - they slept good that night!