Cruise through Alaska, June 2001

After Ketchikan, we spend a day at sea while we high tail it back to Vancouver. It's about this time that we got pretty tired of being away from home. I mean, you know how it is when you just want the sensory overload to stop and you want to get back to being a productive individual? No? Well, a longer cruise might be perfect for you...

-At Sea & Vancouver: Day Six -
"A bad day with a good book"

She woke up feeling sick. That was what leads us to believe that it was something from food.

It was as if she'd been feeling uneasy for the days prior, so for us, it wasn't motion or seasickness. The ship's "Doc" disagreed, gave her something for that and said she should drink lots of water.

I finished reading John Grisham's book, A Painted House. For me, the book and the trip it took me on was a wonderful pause from the hectic pace of the cruise. It was this pause that made the last day one of the most relaxing of the whole cruise. I just wish Alicia had been feeling better.

Where we spent most of our day six.

The room attendant made us little animals out of towels.
Things you may not know about a cruise if you are considering one.
You may not get flown directly into Vancouver, or your departure city.
We felt lucky that we did not have to take a flight into Seattle and then a three hour bus ride up to Vancouver. Some did. It's at the cruise line's discretion unless you book your own airfare.
You will be without your luggage for several hours when you first board the ship.
They take you and you luggage separately from the bus at the docks. For us, it was nearly 10:00PM before our luggage showed up outside our door. We ate dinner the first night in the same clothes we'd been wearing for 14 hours.
Everything is far from "free," or "all-inclusive."
I expected to be able to go anywhere anytime and get something to eat or drink any time I wished. No, I didn't expect to get free alcoholic beverages, but I did expect to get a soda any ole time it occurred to me.

I wasn't able to get one except during meals. Even at the late night cafe where you could get a burger or pizza or other junk food, the cola was a charge item.
Reservations for excursions Should be made in the weeks prior over the Internet, or first thing on the ship.
The really cool excursions fill up fast. We felt lucky to get the first choice of times and events we wanted to do onshore at each stop. If you elect to let the cruise line handle it, early registration is the key to having a good time onshore.

Reservations for excursions can be made in advance- for less.

We spent what was for us a ton of money on the purchase price of this cruise. Admittedly, you get to do some cool things, but I think it creates ill will for the cruise line to bilk you even more for something you can do yourself.

Lots of people will say that you pay a premium for the cruise line to handle everything for you. This is true, and if you want to pay it, go ahead.

They request that you tip the waiters, waitresses, and room attendants.
On my first cruise, this came as a complete shock to me. I suddenly realized that all of the smiling, accommodation, pining for our needs was not about service at all. It was about the tip at the end of the week. For the cruises we've been on, a standard is about $10 extra per day plus your discretionary daily tip to the head waiter- whom we never saw.
You will say good-bye to your luggage by midnight the night before you port.
Here is where you have to think about what is really important. What will you absolutely need the next day and what can you live without. I am one who showers every morning, and sometimes at night, too. You need to leave the clothes you will wear the next day and put everything else outside your room for collection later.
Your arrival at your destination does not mean that you're getting of the boat.
This is the most insane part about the trip. You are given luggage tags that are color coded based, I am sure, on some entirely unscientific method to allow you to leave the boat. We must have sat around for four hours, getting dangerously close to our flight departure time before we were allowed to leave the ship.
Your getting off the boat does not mean that you're getting to the airport.
I don't know whose ass need to fry for this one, but once off the boat, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people missed their flights because of the disorganized freaks attempting to run the show at the ship terminal. If it weren't for Jim ignoring one of Royal Caribbean's brightest, we would have been stuck in Vancouver overnight.
Your arrival to the airport does not mean that you're getting either your luggage or on the plane.
When you finally do get to the airport, your luggage is stored in this huge area, presumably waiting for you to pick it up before someone else does. The only problem is that there were no Royal Caribbean attendants ANYWHERE to tell us where the damn luggage was. The bus driver was "just a bus driver" and by some streak of luck, without ANY signs, whatsoever, we found the luggage, checked it, and sprinted through customs as fast as customs will allow you to sprint. We made it to our flight counter 30 minutes before the flight left.

Bye Bye Vancouver!
Closing thoughts....

Well, even though the last 48 hours of the cruise were less than exciting, or fun, or organized, they do not overshadow the entire trip. We had a great time. Alaska is the prettiest place we have ever been. We want to go back. Will we cruise? I dunno. I am partial to driving. Getting there from here would be about 3000 miles, though. We'd better have plenty of time off to get it done.
The unfortunate thing about time off is that you get a ton of it when you're too old to be able to sit that still for that long. Here's hoping our next trip to Alaska will be one that we cherish and remember as fondly as this one.
And I hope you decide to go to Alaska one day, too. I hope reading this page has instilled in you the desire to see some of these things for yourself. I encourage you to make it a gift for someone you really love. They will never forget it.