2018 Alaska Roundtrip Seattle Cruise: Episode #1, Packing, Traveling, Westin Seattle, & Transfer to Terminal 91

Hi Everyone! I hope that this blog post finds you all doing well. Wow, it is now October and Chris and I returned from our Alaska Seattle Roundtrip cruise way back in August. It has taken me that long to be able to sit down and to begin writing my blog for this wonderful trip! I’ve been decorating for Fall and as a lot of you know, I have a pretty busy life with my Arlynn’s Country Craft Corner YouTube Channel where I share many hours of my time crafting, decorating, and chit-chatting with some of the most lovely people on the planet. 🙂 But, my first social media love is right here, my blog, this is where I started sharing my life…yes, all of my crafts and decorating, but, also another love of mine, our travels. So, I’m excited to be able to sit down and start sharing about our latest cruise. As some of you know, I am one of the Administrators on a Facebook Cruising group called ALASKA CRUISES ON PRINCESS (yes, its name is presented all in capital letters on FB).  My co-admin Pam who is an awesome friend and also a great Travel Agent and I sponsored a “Group Cruise” to Alaska. Pam is a lovely lady who I have become very close to in the years that we’ve admin’d together…trust me, we’ve had some harrowing moments and we definitely run a tight ships (pun intended). NO negativity or rudeness is allowed in our group and we have upwards of 8000 member nowadays. WOW!! ANYway, we decided to do a one of the roundtrip cruises that Princess Cruise Lines offers in Alaska. I was excited about this as Chris and I had never done one of the roundtrip itineraries. One other thing that I was so very excited about was that my dear friend Barbara and her hubby Don would also be on this cruise with us…Chris and I just adore these two and have become very close to them. 🙂

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ANYway, I will not yammer on here…even though this is my blog and I tend to yammer a lot in here, let me get started sharing first how I prepared myself (packed) for this cruise, then about our travels to get over to Seattle (seamless travel day), & then we’ll transfer over to Terminal 91 at the Seattle Cruise Port where we’ll be ready to embark onto the Ruby Princess for yet another wonderful adventure in Alaska–my very, very happy place.

First, let me share what our Itinerary would be for this cruise (excuse the month of May dates, I just went onto Princess.com and found our same itinerary):

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When I was preparing for this cruise, I of course took some time to choose my Alaska Cruise Wardrobe. I created a video highlighting said wardrobe for my Arlynn’s Travels YouTube Channel. Here is a link:

Alaska Cruise Wardrobe #3 (w/Packing Cubes & Garment Folder Demo):

 

I also shared my new “What’s in my Carry-On & “My” Must Haves video:

 

Pam and I had a plan for Embarkation Day, we were planning to have a little get-together that day where we’d have a drawing for some door prizes (she and I both donated items that we had received on past cruises), and I created these magnets as a gift for everyone to take back to their Stateroom Door (which as we all know by now are metal as are the walls and ceilings in a cruise ship’s stateroom). More about the get-together in an upcoming blog post:

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It was finally time to pack up for our next adventure, so I’ll share a video of me literally packing for our cruise. I utilize my packing cubes and garment folder in this video:

As usual Chris handled his own packing which for an Alaska cruise includes all of his camera equipment. I was pretty excited about one of those pieces of equipment btw, Chris chose a brand new *big* camera lens for his Birthday present (a Sigma 150/600), and wait until you see some of the pictures he captured with that lens. ANYhoot, it was finally the morning that we were to embark on our journey. As is usually the case, I just didn’t even bother going to bed the night before because we had to be at the airport at an unGodly hour…haha…we left out house at 2:45am on August 10th, 2018. Here I am standing at our kitchen island ready to go, adrenaline pumping and a bit sleep deprived. 🙂

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Christin our daughter had arrived and was going to be staying as, bless her, she always does to house and doggie sit for us. I knew that we didn’t have one worry in the world about how our home and pups would be treated while we were gone. So off we zipped, we got on I-95 and headed South as we were going to be flying out of Richmond International this time around (thank goodness y’all…I cannot stand Dulles airport). So we parked our car in the garage where I clicked off a picture to help us remember where exactly we parked and headed into the terminal and before we knew it we were taking off and heading to Seattle. Honest to goodness, our flights were all on time and smooth as could be…I was very grateful.

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And there is a shot Seattle from my window on the jet, notice the cruise ships in the picture…yep, that is Pier 91 and where our cruise ship the Ruby Princess would be sailing into and then out of with us on board the next day. 🙂 IMG_4314.jpg

We landed at the Seattle Tacoma airport on time and headed to baggage claim to collect our luggage and to meet the Princess Representative as we had arranged for a Princess transfer to our hotel. We did have a bit of a hiccup with said transfer, we ended up waiting for about an hour and were finally put in a “limo” (a large town car) because they deemed we had waited way too long. I don’t think it was Princess’ fault, instead I think that the shuttle folks at the airport were the ones that dropped the proverbial transfer ball. 😉 Regardless, we were transferred to the lovely Westin Seattle Hotel (arranged through Princess).

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Our room was not ready when we arrived, so Chris asked them what they did have available and they said that they had a room that would cost us an extra $50, Chris jumped on that, we were both pretty tired by this point. So up we went to our room on the 44th floor (pretty high…haha):

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Here are some pictures of our room and then after that, I’ll share a video tour narrated by me:

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Here is a close up look at that piece of paper that I read to you during that video:

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BTW…It looks like TSA searched one of our suitcases. I had all of those magnets packed in this bag and I’m betting that is why, of course I don’t know for sure, but, I found this note when I opened this bag while at the hotel:

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And here is the menu and a couple pictures of that sweet restaurant the Blueacre Seafood:

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My head did not even hit the pillow that night before I was snoozing away! I never got to take a picture of how things looked out of our hotel room window at night because, well I was asleep before the sun went down. <go me> 😉 But, we did catch some pretty neat shots the next morning. First of all, we looked out right after sunrise and low and behold there came our lovely cruise ship the Ruby Princess into port.

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Then unbeknownst to me, Chris took this lovely little video of how things looked that morning. You’ll see the Space Needle at the end of this little ditty, I was so tired the day before that I didn’t even realize that it was right over there. 🙂

Shortly after the Ruby arrive, here came Holland America’s Eurodam:

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~~~Side Note here about the room at the Westin, one thing that I wasn’t thrilled about was that they did *not* offer free wifi. I was pretty appalled about that honesty, for all of the money we spent for that hotel (and it was quite a chunk of change), you’d think that they’d offer free wifi in the rooms. That said, they did have plenty of USB ports in the room, here are a couple of shots of them, these were located on the bedside table:

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I was up and dressed very early on embarkation morning, this is the outfit that I chose to wear that day…it was going to be warm, so I chose to wear capris, but, I paired it with a jacket because I knew it would get cooler once we sailed away. 🙂 BTW, I’ve been on a weight-loss journey, in this picture, I had lost close to 30 pounds since our Caribbean cruise in March (I’ve lost close to 40 now).

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Quick comparison picture for y’all… 😉 Picture on the left was while we were on our Caribbean cruise, picture on the right was taken last week here at our house.

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Back to our regularly scheduled programing now…

Chris and I didn’t do too, too much that morning other than have a cup of coffee (Chris) and tea (me) and relax till it was time to go to the lobby and meet up for our transport. At 10:45am we headed down, our luggage had already been collected and whisked away to be loaded and transported separately to the port…OH and yes, we did tip the bellman a few dollars. As we were standing in the lobby with our group, we were all chit-chatting and exchanging stories and such. As I was standing there chatting with a sweet lady, our conversation finally brought us around to know that she was in our Alaska cruising group and was part of our Group Cruise..haha. Small world! Once on our motorcoach, I was able to capture a picture of Beate!! Here she is, to say that she and I were excited is a bit of an understatement. 😉

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It did not take us long at all to get from the Westin to the Seattle Cruise Port and to Terminal 91. As always, everything ran like a well-oiled machine with Princess, they truly have this stuff down to a science.

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Beate and I stopped and posed for one more shot as we were heading in to the terminal:

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Check-in, as always, went off without a hitch, I didn’t take one picture of that process though, but, one thing that had changed was that we didn’t have to fill out one of the health questionnaires; they’ve done away with that. Chris and I agreed that that was a good thing, it was always a pain to stop in mid-stream and fill out that form…and we also agreed that plenty of folks probably were not truthful when filling it out anyway, so really, what was the point…they were there to cruise they weren’t going to let a little cold or stomach ache stop that <sigh>.

Regardless, I did catch this picture of what I saw as soon as I entered the Cruise Terminal:

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Before we knew it, we were walking down the Promenade deck after stepping aboard the Ruby Princess, and our adventure had begun in earnest:

AND we were finally on board the Ruby Princess…YaY!!! I was so excited because I knew the day was going to be a good one, not only were we going to be setting sail for Alaska, I was also going to be meeting Pam and her hubby and so many others that I’d come to know so well through our Facebook Group. 🙂 OH yes, this was going to be a good day indeed!!

I’ll close this one out for now, next up, I’ll tell you about our first day on board the Ruby Princess, share pictures and videos of Pam and I meeting for the first time, and much more! Stay tuned!

***If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

Until next time, y’all take good, good care!

~Arlynn

 

 

10-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise with Princess Cruises: Episode #4, The First 2 Days

Hi Everyone!! This is “Mrs. Procrastinator” (which I truly *never* am) here coming to you to with my 4th installment of my Southern Caribbean blog series. We went on this cruise with friends, and I completely enjoyed their company and the sweet time that we spent together at meals and beyond, and that is what I will be focusing on mostly in this Series. Of course, I have pictures of the Ports and will definitely share those, along with the Port Guides, thoughts about each Port, the Patters from every day of the cruise, etc…  But, the majority of this blog will be focused on the wonderful friendships that we have formed online and now beyond while cruising with Princess. Princess has a way of making any occasion special, and of course on this cruise, they did not disappoint. So here we go for 2 Sea Days, one unexpected and one planned for.

 

Unexpected Sea Day 

The first full day of our cruise was supposed be a day that we’d be stopping and enjoying Princess’ Private Island, “Princess Cays”, unfortunately, the weather did not want to cooperate with us, so we couldn’t  anchor and therefore our private island day turned into a sea day…which was absolutely fine and dandy with us. I’m so glad that the Captain erred on the side of caution…you will never hear me complain about a change in itinerary or any such thing.  Natural disasters happen, weather happens, and that sometimes impedes plans…just refocus, regroup, and move on along. Here is the Princess Patter for that day, I will also include all of the paperwork that we received about Princess Cays and what excursions are usually available on said island. I’ll also show you the revised Patter:

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So, we regrouped, and started to peruse around the beautiful Royal Princess, here are a few shots that I took around the ship that morning, it was a very relaxing, laid back time. 🙂

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Some of our friends went to Alfredos for lunch, I stopped in and sat with them while they ate, here are some pictures of the menu:

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The rest of this day was spent relaxing and hanging out talking and enjoying some of the entertainment in the Piazza–I truly don’t remember what we did for dinner that evening…but, I do know that Chris and I spent the evening in our stateroom watching a movie and just spending time with one another. 🙂

 

Sea Day

The next morning arrived before I knew it and this was going to be a true and scheduled Sea Day. 🙂 We ladies had a fun little time planned on this day, we would be attending the “Ladies Spa Day” talk and demo. But, first let me show you the Princess Patter for this day:

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Before I met up with the ladies, Chris and I scooted off to Sabatini’s for breakfast; as Suite dwellers, that is one of the perks, a quiet breakfast every morning in Sabatini’s. Here is the menu:

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Everything that I ordered was wonderful…always nice and fresh and delicious!! Next up, the ladies and I would be meeting up for our Ladies Pamper Party (facials), but before we did that, we wanted to grab some pictures of us in our “Cruising With My Peeps” shirts. We had a blast doing this (even though I didn’t have a lick of make-up on–they wanted us to come bare-faced to the pamper party). Here are some fun pictures that Chris clicked off of us that morning. 🙂

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SIDE NOTE:  After I got home from this trip, I started on a new eating regimen…I have lost over 26lbs. to date since this cruise…these pictures were what convinced me that enough was enough and that I was larger than I had ever been in my life…whew…I was a size!!  That said, it didn’t stop the size of the smile on my face…I was having a BLAST with these sweet, sweet lady friends!!! ❤

After our picture taking fun, we hustled on over to Sabatini’s and that is where the Lady’s Pamper Party took place…I unfortunately was busily about enjoying being pampered that I did not take one picture except for this one…haha…go me eh?! 😉

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We had a lovely time there, trust me on that one. 🙂 We separated for the rest of the afternoon because we knew that we’d be coming back together for a lovely dinner at the Crown Grill later that evening. 🙂

Chris and I grabbed a selfie on our balcony right before we left to go to dinner–BOTH of us have been on a new eating regimen since this date…wait till you see my next Blog (Alaska again…coming up in the summer of ’18), he looks like a different person now-a-days!

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And here is the entire group of us sitting amongst all of the wine bottles in the Crown Grill, we had made reservations for the 8 of us on our first day on board, and they really treated us like kings and queens that evening and sat us all by ourselves in this little wine out-cove in the restaurant, it was very nice, and very private. Amazing, amazing service and food.

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Here is the menu:

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Here are some snapshots of us and the food from that evening…and a video snippet too. 🙂

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We also celebrated our wedding anniversary that evening, Princess provided us this wonderful dessert:

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And here is a little video snippet from that evening. Our waiter Miguel was amazing and quite funny. He kept us in stitches for the entire dinner service. We had a lovely, lovely time:

We stayed in the Crown Grill till pretty late in the evening, after that a couple of the ladies when to play some trivia and Chris and I headed back to our stateroom. It had been an awesome first 2 full days of our cruise, and we still had many more days ahead of us. Next up, I’ll tell you about a couple of the Ports that we stopped at, share some videos and pictures with you, and I’m sure provide more tid-bits of information. 🙂

So, for now, I’ll just say, until next time, y’all take good, good, care!

***If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

~Arlynn

Sneak Peak at our first Port of Call, St. Thomas:

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10-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Episode #3: Embarkation Day!

Our eyes popped open after having a delightful night’s sleep at the Marriott and the realization quickly hit that it was embarkation day! First though, we needed some sustenance, so off to the morning buffet we trekked, we happened to meet Barbara and her significant other at breakfast and we all had a lovely time together. I neglected to take any pictures of what I ate, but, if I remember correctly, I had a bagel and cream cheese, a little spoonful of eggs and a couple of links of sausage. Everything was hot, fresh, and very tasty. Of course I had a couple of cups of tea as well, I was ready to go after that meal and conversation time with my lovely friend.

The Marriott offered a shuttle service over to the cruise port when we checked in. We signed up for the early shuttle time of 9:30am and committed to pay $10 each which we felt was a reasonable cost.  I’m glad that we did the early shuttle (there was also one offered at 11am) as it took us a long time to get the short distance from the hotel to the cruise port, I’ll explain. The bus was extremely crowded, well let me back up for a second, the bus became very crowded because our bus driver stopped at various locations, 5 not including our stop, to pick up more and more passengers so as to fill the bus I would imagine, and that took some time. Regardless, once the bus was good and full, we headed on over to Port Everglades.  We had chosen to sit right in the front seat, so I was able to get a few little pictures of our trip over to meet our beautiful cruise ship the Royal Princess.IMG_1898IMG_1913IMG_1917

Those familiar butterflies started to flutter in my belly when the beautiful Royal Princess came into view…my goodness she is quite a site to behold. The bus driver pulled right up to a line of Princess baggage handlers standing beside large rolling carts. We did not have to touch our suitcases, instead, the baggage handlers took possession of them and placed them in one of those large carts and the next time we saw them was when they were sitting at our Stateroom door once we boarded. I did not take a load of pictures of the cruise port building, they don’t like you taking pictures in there…and being that I am a rule follower, I didn’t take many pics…haha. Regardless, the check-in process went super smoothly as it always does. You are directed by Princess representatives every step along the way. Because we are Platinum members of the “Captain’s Circle” club, we get priority boarding, so we were directed to our seats and that is where we stayed until it was time to board. Princess Cruises has recently refurbished the cruise port building in Ft. Lauderdale, so when I sat down, I looked up and this is what I saw. Now, forgive me for not taking a longer video, but, I didn’t realize I had my video on, I thought I was taking a picture…hahaha…go me…But, you’ll see the movement of those pretty turtles and such as you look into what looks like an aquarium.

 

Wow, that was one of my very best videos huh? LOL <Slapping Self On Forehead> I did take a still shot of it though:

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It wasn’t long before it was time to climb aboard the Royal…Here I am taking my first step onboard…yippee skippee!!

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One of the first sights I saw as I walked on board was the beautiful Piazza, check it out!!

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As I’ve mentioned, we were cruising with 3 of my lady friends and their significant others, and our plan once aboard was to meet in the Piazza and then figure out what to do first from there. But before I go further, let me show you the Princess Patter for Embarkation Day:

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Our Staterooms wouldn’t be ready till 1pm (a first for us truthfully). We were aboard around 11-11:30am, so of course, we were famished by this point. There was one Main Dining Room (MDR) open for lunch on Embarkation day, the “Concerto” dining room, so we headed right on over there and were seated immediately at a lovely oval table for 8. Here are some of the wonderful things we chose to eat for lunch…(Bless their hearts, everyone was so patient with me knowing that I am a blogger and knowing that I’d want pictures of their food…haha…they took turns placing it right under my camera view).

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Well *that* was delicious!! YUM!!

After lunch, the girls and I headed over to the Crown Grill which is one of the Specialty Restaurants (meaning that one needs to pay an extra $29 per person over and above what is covered in the cost of the cruise), we wanted to make reservations for the first formal night evening. And the fellas headed to our Staterooms. So we made our reservations and then we separated and each went to our Staterooms to unpack and get settled in. We made a plan to meet at our Stateroom after the Muster Drill took place for our own little sail-away get-together.

Our Stateroom:

Chris and I got lucky with our Suite, yes, yes, I said Suite this time around. We did this cruise in March, and had booked a mid-ship Mini-Suite and were quite satisfied with that, honestly. BUT, when we got an email in January offering us an “up-sell” to a Suite, we jumped at the chance. We did have to give Princess a little bit more money, but, it wasn’t an exorbitant amount, and wait till you see the tour that I’ll post below. So, that said, in our Suite we were going to have a separate bedroom and sitting area and we were going to have a bath tub *&* separate shower, BUT, wait till you see our balcony. Chris and I were given the choice to upgrade to any available “Penthouse Suite” onboard the Royal.  We chose an aft facing Penthouse Suite.  That means we were sitting right on the back of the ship looking at the ship’s wake…glorious I tell you, just glorious. So first, let me show you some pictures of our very lovely Stateroom, and then I’ll give you a link to my YouTube Video tour.

Also, here are some of the special perks that Suite passengers enjoy:

Full Suite Amenities

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And here is a link to my YouTube video tour of D727, The Hilo Suite aboard the Royal Princess:

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All right, we were getting settled into our room for the week, we’d met our Steward Kalim, who was awesome from the first moment that we met him until we said goodbye to him 10 days later. I’d also managed to unpack *some* of our clothes. It was then time to head off to the “Guest Safety Assembly” (the Muster Drill). One major thing had changed since we’d cruised, we didn’t have to take our big, bulky, cumbersome life jackets with us!! Woohoo, this girl was doing the happy dance about that. That meant that after the drill we could walk around the ship and be more relaxed instead of being stuck in a hoard of people trying to make their way back to their Stateroom to put their life jackets back away. What a pleasure!

Here is a little snippet that I barely caught of the “Love Boat” song with the words changed to safely assembly speak…hahaha. 😉

 

 

After our Assembly Drill was over, we headed back to our Stateroom and everyone came on over to just relax for a little while. Here are some pictures and a snippet of a video of our time on our aft balcony. 🙂

 

 

And here are some pictures of the group. 🙂

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And we were off and sailing away from Fort Lauderdale on our way to Princess Cays (Princess’ private island). We were having a blast already, I know without a shadow of a doubt that spending time on this cruise with these wonderful ladies and gents was going to be just awesome! ❤

All 8 of us met for dinner that night in the Anytime MDR, “Symphony”, I didn’t take one picture of that time though, but, trust me, everything was fabulous; the food, the friends, and the fellowship!!

WAIT:  I did take two pictures of dinner that evening, well, o-k-a-y, it’s just dessert, but, trust me, it tasted wonderful!!

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When my head hit that pillow on that night that I was out like a light and was rocked asleep by the gentle swaying of the big, beautiful, Royal Princess.

Next up, a couple of “Sea Days”, one planned and one not. 🙂

***If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

~Until next time, y’all take good, good, care! ❤

~Arlynn ❤

 

10-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise w/Princess, Episode #2: Traveling, Meeting Friends, & Water Taxi Excursion

Sleep.  Do you think that I could have slept on the night before we were to leave on our 10-Day Southern Caribbean adventure? Noooooooooooooo, not this girlie–My mind was a whirlwind of activity and I could not find my “off switch” to save my life that night. So I watched tv until around 2am in the morning and then I tripped on off to the shower to ready myself for the day’s travel. 🙂 Chris and I left our house at around 3am, we were on the first Jet Blue flight of the day out of the Richmond International airport. We live about 1-1/2 hours away from the airport, so of course we needed to back our time up from our flight’s departure time, add in even more time to check in and get through security (although we now have TSA Pre✓, so that helps immensely…I highly recommend that btw–or even better Global Entry which we’ll be obtaining once our 5 years are expired with our Pre✓). So when calculated out, we had to leave *really* early in the morning! Here I am all ready to depart, the butterflies in my belly were fluttering away at this moment in time:

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Thankfully, we had no issues getting to the airport in plenty of time. We even found a fantastic parking spot in the North Garage at the airport. 🙂

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We zipped on through the check-in process and then through security…y’all know that saying “Hurry up and wait”…Yep, that was us that morning…

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We finally boarded the jet…which was very nice btw, I love Jet Blue! The seats are just a smidge larger and so are the seatbelts which makes this fluffy girl happy. 😉

And off we go:

***Let me pause here and say that Chris and I *always* travel the day before we are to climb aboard the cruise ship. Long story short, we learned that we needed to do this after our our first try…yes, I said *try* to go on our first cruise, an Alaska cruise in 2007. On that fateful day, we didn’t know better, and we had decided to travel on the same day as our cruise was to begin. We were flying out of Dulles airport in Northern Virginia, and once on our jet and taxied out onto the tarmac, an “innocuous” light came on in the cockpit. The captain told us that an engineer was on the way and that we’d be on our way very soon. THREE hours later, they pulled that plane back up to the terminal and proceeded to cancel our flight!!! So, in turn, we had no choice but to cancel our cruise (what?!!!!) because there were no other flights out of ANY of the surrounding airports (and there were several to choose from) that could get us to Alaska in time to catch our ship. Princess was actually wonderful with us and we did manage to go back to Alaska later that same cruising season…but, can you imagine the ugly tears that were falling while on our way home on that day that we had to cancel that first cruise? Yeah, I never want to feel that again, so we ***always*** go a day early no matter how far we live away from the embarkation port.***

Soooo, we landed in Ft. Lauderdale 2-1/2 hours later on this, the day *before* we were to climb aboard our cruise ship. 🙂  We had reservations at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott and we had been instructed to give them a call upon landing and they’d send a free shuttle on over to pick us up. Ft. Lauderdale is not a very large airport, so it didn’t take us long to collect our luggage and head on out to our waiting area.

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I’m kind of mad at myself that I didn’t get any pictures of the Uber drivers trying to hone in on the regular taxi drivers and the scheduled buses and van transports that dotted the semi-circle pick-up area. I thought we might see a fight break out honestly! Let’s put it this way, the Uber drivers weren’t being respectful *at all* and the other drivers who were scheduled to be there to pick folks up were more than frustrated with their rude ways…it was not a pretty site and one from which I was completely happy to escape once our shuttle driver showed up. Whew…*that* was an experience!

ANYhoot, we were whisked off to our hotel the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Ft Lauderdale . I highly recommend this hotel, it was lovely and the staff was extra lovely. We had pre-arranged for early check in and low and behold our room was ready when we checked in (around 9:30am), not to mention, they allowed us to partake at their buffet breakfast. We were happy campers for sure because neither of us had had anything much to eat or drink up to that moment in time. We took our luggage on up to our room and zipped right on back down, I needed a cup of tea and Chris needed a cup of coffee, and we each had a bagel w/cream cheese and some other little breakfast items. 🙂

I did manage to take a little video of our room that day, so here we go with that:

And here are some pictures:

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Alrighty then, it was finally time for us to head down to the lobby and wait for the arrival  of my friend Barbara and her significant other Kirk who drove to the hotel from their home not too far away –They’d be staying the night at the hotel too…I was brimming with excitement and so looking forward to that first sweet hug!  And it didn’t disappoint, wow, was it ever good to have that dear lady in my arms and yep, I was crying and squeezing her really tight. 😉

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Barbara and Kirk got themselves all settled in at the hotel and then Barb and I whisked off in her car, we were heading to our other friends, (who are sisters), hotel to pick them up. We’d be heading to the Inner-coastal Waterway and catching a Water Taxi tour. I was too busy hugging and blubbering over those two ladies that I unfortunately do not have one picture of our first meeting. <sigh>

Here are the 4 of us on that sweet day. Front row left to right, sisters, Barbara & Pat.  Back row, left to right, Barbara and me. 🙂

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Quick, funny story as to how we procured this picture.  This poor, innocent, older gentleman was walking toward us at a quick pace, I eyed him and thought that maybe I could stop him and ask him if he wouldn’t mind taking our picture. So as he was approaching, I said “Are you out for a walk to exercise?  Well, he kind of started to take a wide berth around me…LOL…and then I explained that I didn’t want to interrupt his walk if he was indeed exercising, but, we’d sure appreciate it if he would stop for a moment and capture a picture of us. Once he figured out that I wasn’t trying to rob him or something, he gladly and very kindly stopped and took this picture. lol Oy vey…My mouth can get me in trouble sometimes, I have got to remember that not everyone is as talkative and approachable as I feel that I am…hahaha. 😉

ANYhoot, we had a lovely time on the Water Taxi and I did manage to take a few pictures and a small video:

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As you can see, it was a lovely day filled with beautiful sites and lovely friends!! I was in Heaven. This was the perfect start to our vacation!  Once we finished our Water Taxi ride, we headed back to our hotels to freshen up for dinner; we’d be meeting at Dave and Buster’s.  We had a wonderful dinner that I caught not one picture of…go me! 😉 Dave and Buster’s does have an arcade section that looked to be super fun, but, we decided not to venture into that portion of the restaurant, we were all bushed from traveling and decided to go on back to our hotels and try to get some rest. We knew the next day would be a very busy and fun day, that’d be the day that we’d be boarding the gorgeous Royal Princess and embarking on our 10-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise!  Trust me when I say that I literally did not feel my head hit the pillow that night–by that point I’d been up over 36 hours straight…me and my excitement for travel…huh…what’s a girl to do. 😉  I really need to work on finding my “off switch” on the night before we depart for a new adventure. 😉

All that said, I can’t wait to bring you along for the rest of our journey, but, for now, I’ll just say…Until next time, y’all take good, good care!

~Arlynn

**If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

Sneak Peek:

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Caribbean 10-Day Southern Medley Cruise w/Princess Cruises, Episode #1 – Wardrobe & Packing Tips and Tricks

It all started, the planning for this cruise that is, over a year before embarkation onto the Royal Princess was to transpire.  Yes, yes, it sure had. 🙂 I had met the 3 ladies with which we cruised on a Princess Cruising site that I help to admin. The ALASKA CRUISES ON PRINCESS Group. We had all become really great friends through all of our interactions in that group and eventually way beyond that group. To say that I adore these three ladies, well, that would be an understatement.  In conversation we came up with the idea to go on a bit of a group cruise; all of us ladies and our significant others. 🙂 The fellows agreed and we were off and running and planning our 10-Day Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Princess (one of Princess Cruises largest and newest cruise ships–and trust me, she is a beauty!!).  Before we go further, let me introduce y’all to Barbara, Barbara, & Pat (that Barbara on the second row of the picture and Pat are sisters). ❤ Here is a magnet that I created for us so that we could hang one on each of our Stateroom doors.

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Before I get started telling you all about our adventure, let me first share with you a link to my Pre-Cruise “What’s In My Carry On & “My” Must Haves” video that I created before we left on our trip. :). Most of the things that I speak about in this video can be found by doing a quick search on Amazon. My Vera Bradley can either be found on the Vera website or on eBay. 🙂 I hesitate to give y’all links any longer because I have found that they become antiquated very quickly. 🙂 If you can’t find items on Amazon, Vera Bradley, or Ebay, a quick Google Search can do wonders. 🙂

And now, I will show you a part of the wardrobe that I compiled to take with me. Remember y’all, I am an expert at packing for our Alaska cruises, but, the Caribbean, well, that was a new one on me…haha. BUT, I didn’t have too much trouble. 😉 Here are some of the outfits that I put together to take with us. As most of you know, I am a plus sized girl and I am of the mindset that just because I’m a fluffy lady, I don’t have to compromise my taste in clothing or my desire to wear clothes that hopefully flatter my figure and that make me feel pretty. These outfits fit that bill pretty nicely. As you can see, I took mostly dark–navy and black–capris, of a non-wrinkling material (unfortunately, I got those capris from Avenue last summer and they are currently not available to purchase…yeah, ugh!), and an array of cold shoulder tops some of which are available at Dressbarn or Avenue:IMG_2600IMG_2595IMG_2596IMG_1062IMG_2597:

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I also took these sweet floral pants available online only at Avenue, They are called “Joggers”…super cute and super comfy!!! I highly recommend them–I ordered a size up only because I didn’t want them hugging my chunky-bunky hips. 😉

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And of course I took a bathing suit from Swimsuits For All and a cover up that I found here on Amazon:

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One of the special things that my lady friends and I did was to order ourselves up some “Cruising With My Peeps” shirts. (Thank you so, so much Barbara for taking care of having my shirt created before we left… ❤ ). Here is a picture of my shirt and y’all will see a picture of all of us donning our shirts later in this Series:

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Here is some of the jewelry that I took, I do not take really any expensive jewelry with us on our cruises, but, I do enjoy a nice statement necklace and y’all know how I love my Brighton:

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And of course, I needed to take some shoes, here are the pairs that I decided to take this time…those beauties in the front were my travel shoes…so comfy so cozy.  They are  Minnetonka Women’s Deerskin Gore Front Moccasins.

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The week of our trip had arrived and so of course, I wanted my fingernails and toenails to look spiffy for our cruise, so I went and had myself a little spa day–hair, nails, and toes all done on the same day. 🙂 Here are my nails and toes:

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Okie dokie, the day finally arrived for me to pack for our long-anticipated trip. Of course Chris got out our suitcases. We each took our 29″ spinners and we ended up taking a small carry-on suitcase as well because, well, we just couldn’t fit everything in the 2 spinners. Hey folks, I *never* professed to be a minimalist. 😉 Here is a shot of my suitcase, that’s my carry-on on the floor, a Vera Bradley Campus Backpack in Midnight Paisley . And on top of my suitcase sits my Vera Bradley Weekender bag (<~~~That link is not my pattern, I couldn’t find it available). I packed that Weekender in my spinner just in case we might need it for a second carry-on bag on the way home:

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Of course I gathered my wonderful well-used packing aids that I will *not* cruise without. My Shacke Pak Packing Cubes & my Eagle Creek Pack-It Medium Garment Folder:

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And so, my packing commenced, and yep, you guessed it, I did create a video of me literally packing for this trip utilizing both the packing cubes and the garment folder. I entitled it “Caribbean Cruise Wardrobe For A Plus Size Lady & Packing Tips”–You don’t see many of those floating around YouTube. 😉 BUT, I’m comfortable in my skin, no matter the size. Yes, yes, I am always working on my weight and have actually had a bit of success at shedding a few pounds (no I don’t need help in that area. 😉 ) since our return home. Regardless of all of that, I’ll quit yammering and give you a link:

So, there we go, I was ready to debark on our next adventure. Christin came over to our house the evening before we were to leave, bless that girl for always coming to house and pup sit. ❤  Of course we had to leave in the wee hours of the morning in order to get to the airport, through security, and well, y’all know that routine. 🙂 Here I am standing in our kitchen at around 3am on the morning we left to head to Richmond International to catch our Jet Blue flight that would take us to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A-N-D our adventure begins!!!

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Next up, I’ll tell you all about our first day of our adventure…let’s say that meeting my lady friends in person on that first day was one of the very best days of my life…yes, yes it was!!! For now though, I will close this my first post in my new Caribbean Cruise Series. 🙂

A little scripture for you:

***If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

~Until next time, y’all take good care! ❤

~Arlynn ❤

Alaska B2B Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise, Episode #14: Last Sea Day and Disembarkation at Canada Place in Vancouver, B.C.

What’s that you say? Our back to back Voyage of the Glaciers cruise adventure was coming to an end?! To say that I was sad about that little tid-bit of information was an understatement. I always tell folks that are wishing time would pass faster so that the time for their upcoming cruise would arrive, that time will continue to pass even when they are on their cruise. Such was the the realization of this day when I opened my eyes and packing instead of basking in the glory of Alaska was ahead of me.  Sigh, I was sad, BUT, I will not be a “Debbie Downer” in this my last post in this Series of blogs. 🙂 Instead, let me show you my outfit for the day and then the Princess Patter of which was full of wonderful things to do as we sailed ever so gently toward our disembarkation cruiseport at Canada Place in Vancouver.

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Here is some of our disembarkation paperwork that we had to make ready and peruse through for our disembarkation:

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Okay so yeah, there was all of that…haha…Never makes me happy to see that stuff show up in our little mailbox. BUT, next up, I am going to share a few of the Main Dining Rooms menus with y’all. When in a Suite, and as you know, we were lucky enough to be staying in a suite on this our second leg of our back to back cruise, you can request a menu from the MDR (main dining room), and if so desired, you can order from said menu and have it delivered to your Stateroom. Unfortunately, we never did end up ordering and having it delivered, but, I did keep the menus so that I could share them.  Here we go, I honestly do not remember for which night each menu corresponded, but, you’ll get a good idea of the kinds of delicious food they offer. NOTE: These menus are in no particular order…my computer gave me fits loading them into my post here, so please forgive my discombobulation in posting. 🙂

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Next up here I’m going to add a smattering of pictures that we clicked off of the beautiful Coral Princess. She still is our very favorite Princess ship. 🙂

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Sigh, the beautiful Coral Princess, I miss her so very much!!!

There was one more Wildlife viewing opportunity on this day…Here are a few pictures that we captured…I NEVER can get enough of this type of thing. 🙂

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We spent our last dinner on board in the Buffet at a window seat, the Horizon Buffet is on the front of the ship on the Coral and the Island Princess’ and it is so pretty to sit at the very front and watch where you are heading next.  You can see the front of the ship in this picture, straight ahead with the slightly slanted windows…that’s where I was heading. 🙂

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This was delicious!

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Here are some pictures of their self-service drink station:

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After dinner, we came back to our Stateroom and packed up our belongings in preparation for our trip home the next day…nope, I didn’t take one picture of that action..haha…BUT, after we were finished, we headed out onto our balcony to take in the last moments of our cruise before the sun went down on this our last night:

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We had both moved out onto the balcony and were sitting in those two lounge chairs…We were quietly chatting about our trip and were hopeful that we would once again be able to come back to our “happy place”.  It was calm, quiet, serene, and to this day, I remember the feeling that I had while we were sitting there. Then, I heard a strange sound…a pretty loud, strange sound…it was then that I realized exactly what it was!!! It was the very distinctive sound of a humpback whale BLOW!!!!  I smacked Chris on the arm and said, did you hear *that*?!! He had not heard it…but, trusted my ear and jumped up out of his lounger and grabbed a camera from right inside the balcony door (where we kept them just in case we came across a moment just like this). He caught this big, beautiful, majestic humpback as it was oh so gently gliding down the side of the Coral, RIGHT below our balcony…I was blown away!!!!!! Completely blown away, I remember feeling the butterflies in my belly and I remember taking a quick gasp of air in as I saw this beautiful creature ***right*** there…MUCH closer than they were while we were on our whale watching excursion—One just NEVER knows what may happen at any moment in time on an Alaska cruise y’all…honestly.  Here are a couple of pictures that Chris managed to click off right at that moment in time:

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What an end to our very last day aboard the Coral Princess…a-m-a-z-I-n-g!!

Disembarkation Day

 

Oh my gracious, when my peepers opened on this morning, a wave of sadness came over me, for just a moment, just a tinge of emotion to remind me that we’d be traveling back to our beautiful home in Virginia today. Yes, I was sad to see my “bucket list” vacation come to an end, but, I was ready to head back to my kids and pups…I missed everyone terribly.  Chris caught these beautiful pictures, taken at dawn, as we were approaching Vancouver, then gliding under The Lion’s Gate Bridge, and then snugging up beside Canada Place.

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And a little video of us moving ever closer to Canada Place:

 

And that was it…do y’all believe that I do not have one more picture from this trip…haha…I will usually try and capture some shots as we move through Vancouver on the way to the airport…not this time…I will admit that I was quite sad. Out of all of the trips that we’ve ever done to Alaska, this was one of the very best.  I saw all of my remembered sights and added more sights to my categorized Alaska photos repertoire.  I heard all of my remembered sounds and added more sounds to my categorized Alaska memories. I felt all of the ‘feels’, ‘feels’ of which are the things that make me yearn to go back again and again and again. I cannot get enough of Alaska, there is something magical, mystical, and marvelous about that place. ❤

I will close this blog series out by saying that if you have never been to Alaska, try to go via a cruise ship just once, you will get to see so much of the pristine, untouched, unsurpassed beauty that is abounding EVERYwhere you look when you are on a cruise. Right now, Chris and I have one more Alaska cruise in the queue, and we are thinking about booking my friend Scott Singer’s Group cruise which is an Alaska cruise in taking place the 2019.  Btw, check out Scott on YouTube here: Scott Singer Cruises .  OH how I hope we can book that one. When I think about my future, I love to have an Alaska cruise to look forward to no matter what the “Cruise Countdown” says, because the time ticking away as I anticipate what I might see and do on that future cruise fills my belly with more of those butterflies and causes my heart to race with excitement. To me, there is NO place on the planet like Alaska and I will continue to return as long as I am able!

 

***If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

~Until next time, y’all take good, good care!! ❤

~Arlynn ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska B2B Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise: SB – Episode #13: Haines, Juneau, & Ketchikan

Since Chris and I did an excursion a day at all three Ports of call on our Northbound trip, we decided to take it a easy and just do a little relaxing and some exploring of the Port towns on our Southbound trip.  I will be telling y’all about all three Ports here in this one post. 🙂

Haines Instead of Skagway!

First up was Haines, yes, I said Haines…haha. 🙂 I bet you were expecting Skagway huh? Well, if y’all remember, there had been a rock/land slide the day before we docked in Skagway while on the Northbound journey.  We were diverted over (which is just a trip down the Lynn Canal – a gorgeous fjord – from Skagway) so that they could have time to repair the damage to the dock over in Skagway.  Princess was awesome and provided all of us passengers with all of the necessary tools and paperwork with which to handle our day in Haines. They also provided extra Ferries so that all that wanted to head to Haines could and in addition covered the cost of said Ferry Ride.  Here is the Princess Patter for that day and also Excursion info and a map of Haines:

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I was nursing a sore foot on this day, so I did not venture off of the ship, instead this is the day that I pulled together my Stateroom tour of our abode for the week, the Seychelles Suite D701. Here is a link to my YouTube video of that tour. 🙂

Here is my outfit for that day, I was comfy and cozy while hanging out on the ship:

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Here are a few pictures of the Ferry activity of the day, it was a very busy day–those ferries ran all day long:

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Haines is a beautiful port, soaring mountains and scenery was abounding!

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Our dinner on this evening was at the Crab Shack.  They set up the Crab Shack on one side of the Buffet, they switch out the table cloths and even the wait staff wear different shirts…it is a lovely experience, one that I highly recommend. 🙂 AND the food is phenomenal; you do pay and upcharge for this experience…when we were here the charge was $29 per person (of course, moving forward in time Princess may raise the price, so please keep an eye on your Patter to make sure you know what is what while on your cruise).

Here is the Menu:

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After we were finished eating, we took a stroll around the ship, here are some pictures that I clicked off:

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I will have to admit that this day in Haines was one of the most relaxing days that I’d ever experienced on an Alaska cruise, my dumb foot aggravated me in that I couldn’t get out and explore, but, it also forced me to stay put and enjoy the quiet and serene port. I had no internet on that day, well I had 3g phone coverage which was super slow and I gave up trying to get anywhere online..haha. So I sat out on our balcony watching the ferries come and go, and I gazed down the Lynn Canal and at all of the beauty that was laid out in front of me…it was a party for my eyes on this day…no doubt about it!

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As we pulled out of Haines, we caught this gorgeous sunset…so, so pretty!!

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Juneau

 

Our next stop on our Southbound cruise was Juneau! My foot was still screaming at me a bit, but, I was determined not to allow it to hinder what I knew I wanted to do on this day! First off, here is my outfit of the day:

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One sweet Suite perk…is that we were able to go and eat breakfast in Sabatini’s every morning, we chose to do so on this morning because we didn’t have anything special planned other than to just walk around town a bit and enjoy a nice relaxing day.

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It was delicious!!

Here is the Princess Patter for this day:

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I also did a Facebook Live video on this morning:

BTW, here is a closeup of what is costs to send out your laundry if you so choose–for Suite passengers it is complimentary:

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A seal came to visit in the harbor that day…too cute for words!!

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We decided to go off of the ship and do a little bit of shopping and exploring, here are some of the sights we encountered.  You will see that there are excursion vendors lined up on the dock, I am not in the know about them, but, I did want to let you know that they are there:

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I was so excited to be able to find this little jewel of a shop…I’d heard about it many times in the Alaska Cruises on Princess group that I Admin on Facebook, so I was anxious to find it and to purchase some spiffy soap that was made from Glacial silt.  Here are a few pictures and a couple of videos of our time at the Juneau Silt Soap Shop. 🙂

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And here I am trying out some of that wonderful soap!! I highly recommend you go and visit this little shop and try some of the soap out for yourself. They do have a website as well, here is a link – Silt Soap Shop.

Here are a few pictures of the Mt. Roberts tramway, we’ve yet to do it…although I would love to do so, but, it was super cloudy on this day not to mention that my foot was screaming at me by this point and we needed to get back to the ship:

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And then we had some friends (Bald Eagles) gazing down on us from the trees, never forget to scan those trees for those “golf balls”. 😉

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Here is a little video showing those beauties along with a few other things.

Of course, I stopped into a couple of shops on the way back and purchased a few things, and, of course, I had purchased some of that spiffy, wonderfully smelling silt soap too! 🙂 IMG_1673IMG_1676

We spent a little time out on our balcony that afternoon…there is always something to see..I love watching the ships come and go.  The rest of the day went off without a hitch, we just grabbed some dinner from the Horizon Court Buffet, hung out on our balcony, and just r-e-l-a-x-e-d! This lady laid her satisfied head on her pillow without a care in the word or negative thought in her head…it had been a wonderful day!

 

Ketchikan

I could not believe when I woke up on this morning that this would be our last Port of Call on our trip…the time had flown by, I’d made tons and tons of memories, and I had a little twang in my belly that our trip would soon be coming to an end. BUT, I didn’t allow that sad feeling to overtake me, instead, I zipped on up out of bed—*well* that may be a little fib…I hardly ever “zip” out of bed, truth be told, I am not too much of a morning person…haha.  I need to warm up to the day for a bit of time with my first cup of tea. 🙂 We were situated facing the water on this day, which was fine and dandy with me, I love watching the boats and floatplanes come and go, I could spend hours just doing that. 🙂 ANYway, this is the outfit that I chose to wear on this day, I knew that we’d be heading off of the ship to go and take a little walk back to Creek Street and over to the Outlet Store to meet a dear lady named Aimee that was so kind in our Alaska FB Group in that she actually took peoples addresses and sent out a fantastic coupon book before folks’ cruises…what a wonderful gesture…I knew I had to head over and give that lady a hug in person! ❤

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And here I am out on the balcony with Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam and Princess’ Ruby Princess line up behind us. 🙂

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We headed to Sabatini’s again on this morning, that breakfast was the one Suite perk that we enjoyed the most. 🙂  Here is the Princess Patter for this day:

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We were ready to disembark the ship once we let our breakfasts settle a bit…it was quite crowded in Ketchikan on this day, but, pfft, it didn’t bother us too much.  We stepped on the dock and made a beeline over to The Outlet Store where Aimee works as a manager. 🙂

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And here are Aimee and I meeting in person for the first time…hopefully it won’t be the last!!! She is a lovely, sweet, awesome lady! ❤

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I am standing right outside of Aimee’s store here, you can see how close we were…I believe we were in Berth #2 on this day:

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Now, I will hush up and allow the pictures to do the talking, they are pretty self explanatory, Ketchikan is a colorful, fantastic town and very easy to get around in…we really enjoyed sauntering back to Creek Street and doing a little bit of exploring.  Here we go with some pictures:

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It was time for us to climb back aboard the Coral Princess. We’d had a lovely time exploring!! In all of the years that we’d been doing Alaska cruises, we’d never taken the time to just walk around this quirky little town, I loved it!! Once back on board, I noticed that I had great cell service, so I did a Facebook Live video…Here is that video–It includes a great look at the Promenade Deck–which btw you can walk on ALL the way around on on the ship–a little tour of the Atrium, and then an elevator ride up to the Dolphin deck and into our Suite and out onto our balcony. 🙂

 

As I mentioned in the video, I set up shop with my computer and camera on our balcony and that is where I spent the rest of that day…the sun was shining down on me and warming me to my very soul.  Trust me y’all, I do not take for granted one second of our time in Alaska, and it doesn’t matter if I’m out on some grand adventure or if I’m simply sitting and watching the people, ships, and planes…I love Alaska! Here are some shots that I caught that afternoon.

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I did purchase a few things while traversing around Ketchikan btw, here are some pencils that I purchased for our daughter’s Kindergarten students…IMG_8327

And here are some earrings, one pair for me, and one pair for each of our daughters that ended up in their Christmas stockings. 🙂 IMG_8328

And I used a coupon out of Aimee’s coupon book to purchase these 3 spiffy magnets…that will of course be used to hold things on our future Stateroom walls. 😉 🙂 IMG_8329

I also took a nice little stroll around the ship, this sign hangs in all of the elevators. 🙂

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Someone sent this picture to me of us leaving Port…There we go, off for a day at sea…Check out that gorgeous sunset!!!

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I have to admit that I had little bit of sadness as we were pulling out of Ketchikan, the thought that our cruise was truly almost over made me very sad. My only saving grace was that I knew that we had another Alaska cruise in the queue for the next Season!! Now *that* made me very happy and satisfied!!

Next up, our day at sea, a little picture tour of the Coral Princess, & disembarkation day. 🙂

A little scripture:

**If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me…Psalm 139***

~Until next time, y’all take good care!

~Arlynn

And here is a link to Episode #14!