Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Legendary Trip North to Alaska- Sea Day #1

10 Year Anniversary Cruise 2016- Carnival Legend

North to Alaska
Sea Day #1
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This was an incredible day of gorgeous scenery and landscapes, as well as the open Pacific ocean. We sailed out of the Puget Sound and into the Pacific ocean and then back in the icy straights of the Canadian coast. We were able to rest and relax all while enjoying God's countless beauty! 

Chris and I both woke up to the light of the day coming in through the window early in the morning but thankfully were able to go back to sleep and then officially woke up mid-morning around 7:30AM. It was somewhat rainy and drizzling outside but that did not stop us from standing on our aft balcony to enjoy the sites of the open ocean. Chris went jogging as I got ready for the day and did my quiet time in the peace and quiet of our balcony.

Our 1st look at the Pacific Ocean... looks about the same as the Caribbean (except MUCH cooler)! 

We headed out to the SeaDay Brunch in the Main Dining Room and it was good as usual but once again, we noticed the slower than usual service. It was only two of us eating and the dining room was not crowded at 8:30AM when we went in yet it still took nearly 90 minutes to get in and out of there. This was frustrating to us as we really like the main dining room over the buffet areas but if passengers were eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the MDR, they would essentially lose 5-6 hours of each day. That just seemed ludicrous to us so we already began talking about making changes for the following day. 

After our breakfast we went to the Glacier Talk given by the naturalist Michelle. She was very dry and boring but she was also very knowledgeable and we wanted to learn as much as we could about the Alaskan wilderness. We learned that the tides change up to 18 feet at the fjords and along the Alaskan coastline so the gangway can change decks while in port and these tides determine which glacier for which we would sail. This was the 5th sailing of the Alaska cruise season (May to October) and each of the 5 sailings have had to go to the Endicott fjord and the Dawes glacier instead of Tracy Arm Fjord due to the massive amounts of ice falling from Tracy Arm and the additional icebergs in the water. I was all for not hitting an iceberg so this was fine by me.

We also learned the 5 types of salmon in Alaska by referencing your hand: 
thumb- chum (rhymes- this is the least flavorful)
pointer- Sockeye (think poking in the eye- This is the best tasting to most people and especially locals, which in turn in the most expensive)
middle- King (the biggest one and has a wonderful taste)
ring- silver (think of the silver rings on fingers- a local favorite)
pinky- pink (The most economical and usually the cheapest)

This was very helpful as we eat salmon all the time and this will give us a better idea as to which type of salmon to buy and eat. We usually purchase pink Atlantic salmon but were able to sample Copper River Sockeye salmon while in Seattle and it was the absolute best salmon I have ever had! It also was a $50 plate but it was delicious! 

During the glacier talk Michelle was pushing the private small boat glacier tour of which we had already reserved but I went to the shore excursion desks following the talk just to be sure. The "Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer" was an excursion taken during the glacier viewing day to the Tracy Arm Fjord glacier or in our case the Endicott Fjord and Dawes glacier due to the inability to pass through the Tracy Arm. This excursion picks you up from the ship (as it is still moving and making it's own way to the glacier) and then takes you even closer to the glacier than the big ship. It is a 3 hour tour and cost $189/ adult and $109/ kids. This seemed pricey but everything I read said you "HAVE TO DO IT". So I took their word and we paid $380 for this tour the following day! More on that later but let me just go ahead and say "YES, YOU HAVE TO DO IT! It was well worth the money and easily the best excursion we have ever taken".

While we were in the lobby we saw the Bonsai Sushi demonstration setting up so we grabbed some seats to watch the master chefs make sushi . This demonstration was incredible and we really enjoyed it. They passed out samples of their famous sushi and promoted their restaurant. We are not usually the "for a fee" restaurant people on a cruise because "who pays extra for food while on a ship"? However, this was very reasonably priced and we enjoyed it very much so after a brief nap on our balcony we came back to Bonsai for lunch.

One of the most amazing things about this sushi to me is the freshness.
It is never frozen or imitation crab but REAL crab! 

The Master chef of Bonsai sushi. 

The chefs made special California rolls as the demo. 

The sample plate! 

Our CLEAN laundry had returned!
Yay for clean underwear.. we were running low ;)

We decided after the sushi demo that we wanted to try the "Ship for Two" special which featured 4 different kinds of sushi and Japanese soup and salad all prepared in a special wood boat. This sushi was the best I have ever had as each roll of sushi was unique and special in its own way, plus the display was out of this world. This cost of this was only $17. Our favorite sushi from our local store, HEB, is $12 for 8 pieces and this featured about 24 pieces. I would recommend anyone going to Bonsai, even if you have never tried sushi, as it was delicious and very well priced! 

And we did just that... It was AWESOME! 

The Boat for 2 at Bonsai... plenty of food for 2 people! 

This roll featured unagi on the boat for 2. WOW... It was delicious! 

The rest of our afternoon was spent on our balcony. It was absolutely gorgeous with the temperatures in the mid 60's in the shade. In fact, at some points in the afternoon as the ship was turning we were in the sun and we were HOT. We were more north than London but we were still in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops which proves the theory of packing LAYERS. We brought lots and lots of hoodies and long pants and rarely needed them for our sailing! This was the most continuous time we have spent on a cruise ship balcony as we usually cruise to the Caribbean and burn too easily. This aft balcony cost was well worth it and would recommend to anyone sail to Alaska. 

As we got ready for formal night Chris realized how much he hated getting dressed up and decided to just wear a polo shirt instead of the dress shirt and tie. We were both so tired and already relaxed so much from the day I understood why he didn't want to get dressed up. It was at that moment that I decided that this may have changed my packing philosophy for a cruise. I like the end result of getting dressed up on a ship but it really does cut into the relaxation of the cruise and is it really worth it? Ask me again in December when I am packing for our family cruise aboard the Liberty but right now... comfort and relaxation are key! 

We thought getting to dinner at 5:30PM, when the dining room opened, would help speed up the traditionally terrible service in the MDR on formal night. We had to wait in a line at least 75 people deep to get in and once we were in the dining room our predictions were correct to some degree. The service was fine and somewhat exceptional through our appetizers and main course but around 6:30PM the waitstaff began singing "Amore'" and then the service took a back seat to this "entertainment". I am not one to complain about them singing and dancing in the dining room but this night in particular it took over an hour to take away our entree plates, order dessert and then actually get desert. The time management, or lack there of, in this process is the downfall.

Then after we got our desserts our waiter came over and said "oh wait a minute, it is your anniversary right? Do not go anywhere". He then brought us a small chocolate heart cake and sang "Happy Anniversary to you" while we kissed. It was very special and we enjoyed it! Thank you Carnival. The whole dinner process took well over 2 hours and that was very frustrating to us as it was just 2 of us!

Happy 10 year anniversary to us!
This was incredibly rich and chocolaty!

After dinner we went to meet the captain in the lobby for our traditional captain pictures. This captain has been with Carnival longer than I have been alive (34 years) and is a senior captain within the cruise line. He is so famous he has his name on a mountain in Skagway. We were very impressed with him. 

With the Captain! 

After meeting the captain we went to the Showtime Production "Motor City" with the Carnival singers and dancers. This was one of the better shows we have seen performed at Carnival. However, unlike other ships we have been on and even other Carnival ships, they did not feature a live band which I prefer over pre-recorded repertoire.  

After the show we headed towards our room to find Lester, our room steward, in the hallway. He congratulated us on 10 years of marriage and then told us about his family back in the Philippines. He had 2 children, 13 and 2, and the next day was his youngest birthday. He teared up telling us about it and explaining the work process of 8 month contracts and 6 weeks off. I really felt bad for him and said and extra prayer for him and his family that evening.

The mirror in our stateroom when we returned from dinner!

Our towel animal and several gifts from Carnival for our anniverary.
We received a $25 wine gift-card and a $50 spa gift-card. This was a real surprise to us and we were so appreciative. (I'm fairly certain this is because I filled out "anniversary" in the online vacation planner on the Carnival website). 

We spent the remainder of the evening on the balcony watching the sunset and watching our approach back to the Inside Passage and Prince Rupert island. This was some of the most gorgeous sailing of the entire cruise. Not to mention the absolute best sunset we have ever seen.

 Taken from our aft balcony! 

A view of the sunset from the front of the ship. The colors are outstanding! 

Sunset Selfie!

Taken from our balcony! 

Taken from our balcony! 

Another shot from the starboard side of the ship.
(Our aft balcony was mid-starboard so we were able to peak over our neighbors balcony and get this shot... another perk of the aft!) 

While we were on the balcony Chris spotted a humpback whale, among many otter and seal sightings. This 1 whale turned into 8 whales by the time the night was over. We spent nearly 3 hours on the balcony watching these oceanic beasts. Chris even spotted one 20 yards away under the spray of the ship. We felt as if the trip was already complete and we felt as if we had achieved something! It was an amazing feeling and yet another reason I would recommend sailing on an aft balcony. Yes, you can see whales from a port or starboard side balcony but on the aft you get to see whales, and other wildlife, on BOTH sides of the ship. We ended the night around 11:30PM with light still beaming in through the windows.

The back of humpback #1

This is how we would spot them when they would blow! 

Our 1st whale tale from #3!

Another whale tail! 

You can see the water spout in the distance! 

The last one we spotted for the evening! 

This was a great day of rest, relaxation and wildlife spotting and this trip had only just begun. We loved sailing in the open Pacific waters in what was easily the smoothest seas we have ever sailed and then to come back into the inside passage and see the small islands and inlets was remarkable. We are in love with this cruise and itinerary and it is only day #2. Thank you Lord for this opportunity to see Your handiwork. 

Next up... Endicott Fjord and Dawes Glacier (scenic cruising). 
Stay tuned! 

God is good... ALL the time! 

No comments:

Post a Comment