Friday, September 17, 2010

Cruising on the High Seas

Cruising - First Day at Sea
Our first day on the cruise we are at sea the entire day and heading towards Ketchikan, Alaska. The day is a bit overcast and the seas (at least to my limited experience) are fairly smooth. There are some rolling waves, but, I don't really think they are considered rough. We can certainly feel the sway of the ship and do loll from side to side as we walk down the halls, but, we're not being flung around. It's kind of a neat feeling - we can stagger down the hallways without being accused of drinking!

Darlene says something like - I am really sore this morning and now she's not running up and down the stairs anymore. I finally realize the way to deal with my overactive sister is to let her play herself out the first day (she was like a kid after eating all the Hallow e'en candy). So - the NO ELEVATORS of hers is over.

We had breakfast in the dining room and shared a table with two people from New York - The Bronx. We saw several dolphins swimming beside the ship - wow, are they fast! They were zipping along and diving in and out of the water. They could keep up with the ship.

We discovered the Deck 7 - Promenade Deck and walked the outside of the ship. Three times around equals one mile. This appealed to my fitness freak sister and it was much easier than doing stairs.

I guess we spent most of the day just wandering around the ship and exploring all she had to offer.

The evening was the first formal night and the Captain's Champagne party starting at 5 pm in midship around the winding spiral staircase on Decks 5 and 6. We got dressed in our finest clothes and wandered over to Deck 5 to watch all the other formally dressed people. It was sure nice to see all the ladies dressed up and the men in their tuxes. We got several pictures taken and enjoyed endless glasses of champagne.

At 7:45 pm we headed off to our dining room and enjoyed a wonderful evening in the company of our table mates. Once again, we closed the dining room.

I decided that I was not quite ready to go sleep after dinner and we headed to the Explorer's Lounge were there was karaoke going on. I mustered up enough nerve, bolstered by a vodka martini and got on stage and sang The Eagles, "Take It Easy". My heart was just pounding! I was a bit too fast at the beginning - way ahead of the music, but I finally managed to get into the groove. I figured I'd never see any of these people again - so why not just have fun.

Finally off to bed where we found that our cabin steward, Romil, had turned down our covers, arranged our pajama's and put chocolates on our pillows. What luxury!

We wake up to find ourselves in port at Ketchikan. We have booked a tour through the cruiseline to go kayaking around the Tatoosh Islands. We are to meet our tour guide at 9 a.m. The tour is 4.5 hours long, and our ship leaves port at 1:30 pm.

We shower. I have to mention here that I just LOVE the shower. While it is about half the size of a telephone booth, the water pressure and spray is just wonderful. One of the best showers I've ever encountered. I do wonder though how "people of size" manage to use these showers?

We have breakfast at the buffet in Horizon Court (Deck 14) and all I can say is WOW - food is abundant.

We disembark the ship around 8 am and head into the small shopping centre. The night before we were tricked into attending the shopping show onboard. We thought it was going to be about where to shop, and they lured us in with promises of a free bracelet. Well, the show is a high pressure sales pitch to buy diamonds. Yep - that's the reason I went on an Alaskan cruise - to buy diamonds. In order to get the bracelets and charms, we had to go to the diamond stores in port and collect them. Now, one doesn't think that jewelry stores would be the most ubiquitous store in Alaska, but, there must have been about 15 in every port. We collected the "junk" at the first port and never bothered in the other ports. It is absolute junk.

We find our tour and around 9 am get on the bus that will take us to the dock. Once at this dock, we are given life jackets and heavier jackets to wear. We get in this inflatable zip boat and are off to the Tatoosh Islands, but, the boat operators suddenly turns around and heads back to the pier because he'd forgotten the smaller life jackets we need for kayaking. On our way to the the kayak start point we see several eagles.

We arrive at the kayaking station and don our smaller life jackets and are given a brief lesson in how to kayak. They are two man kayaks and Darlene takes the stern and she is responsible for steering as she will be using the rudders to turn right or left (the bossy one is supposed to go into the stern). We are a small group - 6 kayakers plus our guide Mark. It was a gorgeous day - a bit overcast, but in the lee of the islands there was hardly any wind or chop and we had a great time marveling at the beautiful scenery. We saw a few more eagles. Coming back we had to cross a small channel where the current was stronger and we were paddling against the tide - so, we had to do a bit of work. The entire kayaking trip was 1.5 hours. Once back at shore we had our "snack", which was a cup of hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie.
Back into the zip boat and a quick trip back to the dock. I was looking at my watch at it was around 1 pm and we had to be in port at 1:30 because that is when the cruise ship leaves port. Well, two people on this trip wanted to souvenir shop and I guess the tour operator wanted to make more money so he opened up the shop. 15 minutes later these two come back out. I have no idea what they bought except for pepsi. We kept reminding the bus driver that we had to get back to port and she was like..."oh, don't worry there are always lineups to get back on the ship, we have plenty of time." Finally, around 1:15 the bus starts back to port. And you guessed it! We were late and the ship was waiting for us. Talk about embarrassing knowing that all the people peering over the railings are wondering why these bozos cannot make it back to port in time. We were no sooner on the ship and the doors closed behind our butts.

After having a lunch at the buffet, we went to the Crooner's Lounge (which became our favourite lounge) I think this is the afternoon I discovered I liked traditional martini's and also olives. The waiters were wonderful there and when they brought the martini's they'd do a dance while shaking the brew. They also put down bowls of big olives to eat.

And then it was time for dinner again and this time both Darlene and I are very played out. We didn't do anything that night and went straight to our stateroom after dinner. There we discovered that Romil had arranged Darlene's pajamas in a lovely pattern on the bed. Mine were simply folded because I didn't have nice pjs like Darlene's. She was so impressed.

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