Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cruisin' Through Alaska

My parents hit their thirtieth anniversary and decided to go on an Alaskan Cruise. After finding a killer BOGO free deal on Groupon, they invited Brigham and me along. Going on a cruise is Brigham's absolute dream, so we decided to make it our anniversary trip too. After tearful goodbyes, we dropped the kids off with my crazy saint of an aunt, and off to Alaska we went.

Our boat before loading. We went on the Holland cruise line.
After we loaded on the boat, we had some time to explore and found an excellent roam with some warm thermal beds that we relaxed in, enjoying the Seattle skyline while waiting to embark.

Apparently, we weren't supposed to be in there without paying and the rest of the cruise the room remained locked. It was only open then for tours....whoops...

my view laying on the bed
My parent's room had a window, but Brigham and I had no window in our room so it would get pitch black when the lights were off. Though our room had no window, it was more spacious than my parents and we were quite comfy.

We were on the first floor of the ship and the food was on the ninth floor. Brigham and I decided the first day that we would only take the stairs so we got a workout anytime we wanted to eat. And I'd say with our three-a-day waffle cones, it's a good thing. Sometimes the thought of having to traverse the stairs had me deciding I didn't really want a snack after all. Too bad there was free 24 hour room service...

We got really good at going up and down stairs and had a few races where we almost killed ourselves and others.

The first day we spent out on the water. We saw a couple whales and a sea turtle as we walked along the promenade on the third deck.

I loved listening to my audio book and walking around the ship and looking at the water. I would walk every day. Despite it being cold and wet and windy, it was beautiful. I even woke up and ran a couple miles out here one morning.

One of the days, when there were nine foot swells, the promenade was closed and we couldn't walk outside. However, I went up to the top of the boat and the wind was so strong you could barely move and I understood why.

The first day we docked, we stopped in Juneau, Alaska. In this picture, behind my dad, you can see the tram that we rode to the top of the mountain. It looked a little scary and unsafe, but Brigham and I ended up riding it twice.

In the very top, right corner, you can see the station at the top of the mountain that we stopped and got off at.
The view of our boat - the Westerdam - as we rode the tram

At the top there is hiking, some stores, movies about the Tlingit Indians in Alaska, and a beautiful bald eagle that was found injured and now they use it to study eagles and let people come look at her. She was beautiful! I could have watched her for a long time.
The city of Juneau

Measuring our arm-span against an eagle's wingspan.
After hiking on the mountain, we rode the tram back down and did some shopping in town while Brigham hiked down the mountain by himself. The rest of us weren't interested in getting covered in mud since it was raining.

Luckily, it cleared up and we actually saw some sun that day. The company that Brigham and my Mom work for have an office in Juneau and they had one of their coworkers meet us and he was able to drive us to Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier

I thought I wouldn't care much for the Glacier, but it was really neat to look at and the area was beautiful.

Salmon jumped in the river and we were able to see a porcupine climbing a tree and just hanging out eating the leaves.

One of the best parts about a cruise is the the food. Constant food is available and they have super fancy meals for dinner. Here is an example of the dinner menu one night.

I took a picture of it to send to my mom because, even though we would complain how stuffed we were and how we never wanted to eat again, as soon as lunch was over we'd be like, "Let's find out what they've serving in the Vista for dinner."

hahaha, and that's cruise life folks.

Not only could you eat at the formal sit-down Vista, but if you didn't like anything on the menu you could go upstairs to the buffet at the Lido. Or order room service.

Every night they would have "late-night snacks" at the buffet, but really it was another full-on-meal served. And that is why a cruise is a dream come true for Brigham.

The fancy dinners were fun, but they did take forever. Two hours from start to finish. So by the end we were done sitting that long at the restaurant and chose to eat at the buffet. But we did enjoy the times we did go. It was fun being able to order whatever you wanted....which one night meant seven different desserts between the four of us.

Mostly, just because I wanted to try a few of them out. The Alaskan mud cake was to die for.

I tried escargot and duck and enjoyed lots of delicious seafood. The men ate way more meat than any human should. My favorite meal was the surf and turf that had lobster tail and sirloin tip. Amazing! Though, my dinner of cookie dough ice cream probably comes in second.

My favorite place we saw, Glacier Bay, I didn't even get off the boat. You can only get there by boat and it's this inlet full of glaciers. The views are spectacular and wildlife is rampant in the area. We saw seals, and whales, and turtles, and mountain goats, and more. We sat out in the bow of the boat and just reveled in the scenery. It was so cold, but worth it.

How majestic is this?!
We played card games and watched the view through the windows the rest of the day. I still can't get over how beautiful it was.

The next town we docked at was Sitka, Alaska. Here we had an excursion where we went out on a smaller boat in search of up close and personal views of wildlife. We were hoping for whales and bears, but unfortunately we didn't see either. However, we did get to bounce along some waves - it felt like a roller coaster and I loved it - and we saw a million bald eagles, including a nest of them, a seal, and a raft of male otters. The otters would hold hands so they don't float away from each other and just sat there riding the waves.

The raft of otters.

Here we also went to a teeny-tiny aquarium and walked around for a little bit. Most of the towns are really small, and really you need to do excursions to really see things. Excursions cost lots of money so we only had this one planned. Also, the towns look very similar to Seattle, so we took it for granted a little bit and headed back to boat pretty soon after our excursion ended.

On the boat they had activities and shows that you can pick and choose from. We would do the daily trivia each day (and got worse every day) and went to the nightly shows. Besides that, unless you're into drinking, you're out of luck. The Pictionary night and Newlywed game were a hoot. I also enjoyed the scavenger hunt. Of course the co-directer, Jorge, was in charge and I sort of loved him, so anything he did, I was in :) We did so much trivia -movie, chocolate, music, cooking, general- by the end we were trivia-d out. Due to bad weather some of the activities I was most interested in were cancelled because they were outside at the basketball court, like all around the world basketball, and the 5k.

The staff on the boat were mostly Philippino or Indonesian workers and they were my favorite. They have to work for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for ten months a year. And they did hard work serving drinks, cleaning our room twice a day, clearing our tables, serving and preparing food, etc. They were so friendly, so kind, and had a great sense of humor. My favorite worker would sing along to the songs playing in the showroom before the entertainment began. He may have sang Miley Cirus' wrecking ball song better than she does. He had the best sense of humor and loved to joke with us. He said the last time that he saw his wife she was four months pregnant and now their daughter is nine months. Isn't that terrible?!

The really terrible thing is that they are all so grateful to have such a good job to support their families. They said they are the lucky ones. I heard one lady tell how grateful she was for her job because it made it so she could send her kids to college. My heart hurt for them and I felt like such a spoiled,lazy American.

Yuli, the worker that cleaned our room, would leave towel animals on our bed for us each day (and a chocolate each night) and we ADORED them. It's just so fun to walk into your room and discover the surprise for that day.

We docked at Ketchikan, Alaska and that was a cute little town. We went to a museum telling the history of the town with pictures, and added a couple of our own.

And here is the ONLY picture we have of all four of us together.


We also went to the totem pole museum.

And walked along the city on the creek that used to be the scandalous part of town the men visited to find women when the town first started. It's now all shops, and really a fun place to walk around.

Our captain giving a virtual tour of the boat.
It was after Ketchikan that we needed to make good time in order to make it to Victoria, Canada on time. Unfortunately this was the nine foot swells night and it was so stormy that we were very late. The swells made the swimming pool became a wave pool, and Brigham and I had it to ourselves and had a blast. The water would all be at one end, and then suddenly come rushing and CRASH into the other end. Oh my goodness it was a riot. I could tell lots of people were jealous of our fun, but no one joined us.

The next morning the Captain announced we had lost time and because we arrived at Victoria so late, all excursions were cancelled. We were bummed because we were supposed to be touring a castle, but Brigham and I decided to walk into town for the couple of hours we were in port and we had a wonderful evening.

Brigham has a degree in international business, but has never left the country, so this was a big deal for him. Though it's Canada. But now he can say he's been on international soil.

We walked a couple miles into town and since I've been to Canada multiple times, I gave Brigham an inside tour. I told him how Native Canadians like hanging flower baskets, and how they have Toyotas, and like to hang Christmas lights during the summer. Brigham didn't take me very seriously and I'm afraid he didn't take advantage of the plethora of quality information I provided him.

Though you can't tell from this picture, there is a raccoon in the tree and it was so close to Brigham, it was practically sitting on his shoulder. He didn't even see it, but I freaked out and backed up because I hear they aren't the nicest creatures. We watched it climbing around in the tree for a bit before continuing on.

Victoria really was beautiful, and their government building looks like a giant castle. We walked around some shops, a cathedral, and the docks. It really is a hopping city with lots of young, dressed up people out on the town. They also had some really great performers singing on the street.

Victoria was our last night and at this point I was glad. I missed my kids. A lot. As we pulled into port the next day, Brigham and I went and visited all our favorite places on the boat one last time and enjoyed watching the Seattle skyline come back into view.

It was hard getting back to life and not being pampered 24/7, but I was excited to see my babes.

They were spoiled with a vacation of their own with my aunt, going swimming and horseback riding and way more. Lydia and Ammon missed us but were tan and happy when we got home.

Of course Kendrick could care less, and I was surprised and a little sad at how much he changed in one week and how little he did care that I was back. But of course, it just took a little time and we got right back into the swing of things.

The cruise was really fun and we really had a great time. I think I'd like to go somewhere warm next time, because it felt like we were back in winter, and with more to do at each destination, but we loved our Alaskan cruise. I feel so lucky and blessed that we were able to find circumstances that enabled us to go and it was nice to spend sometime with my husband and parents and recharge as a mom.


  1. I've been waiting for this post for so long! I am glad you were able to have a good trip, and I am totally jealous of it!

  2. wow that looks great! ive heard that an alaskain cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity. so gorgeous! im glad you got time away, esp with kendrick so little. what a great aunt you have. now back to real life :/