Tracking Information on our Flight to Seattle can be obtained by clicking the various links/buttons in the widget above!
A direct link for the "Live-View" map of our flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul (will
show up once we take off from San Antonio): Click
A direct link for the "Live-View" map of our flight to Seattle from Minneapolis/St. Paul (will
show up once we take off): Click
THANK YOU, MOM!!! Remember, don't spoil Cleo and Alika (Ha...as
if you'll pay attention to this written warning!)
UPDATE: The flights were great. But, we were tickled at the differences in amenities offered by each airline. Northwest Airlines offered Chex Cereal as the breakfast "option" in first class...Alaska Airlines offered warm (really, hot!) toasted/salted assorted nuts, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, tasty salad... Northwest passed out hot towels after breakfast... Alaska Airlines passed out personal media players with pre-recorded TV Series shows, movies, sports, games, etc. Can you guess which we liked better? Truly, the warmed cup of salted nuts were "enough" to put Alaska Airlines over the top... they were just sooooo good!
Matthew was wearing his French's-Mustard colored shirt with madras patchwork shorts... The look was a real "show stopper" at the Minneapolis airport... folks just stared. Little did they know that is was just the "latest" look from the runways of Paris...Texas....ha, ha..
The minute we got to the hotel, the laughing began... it's been great reconnecting with Gloria and Simone... and it may be a long week, since we are all sore from laughing so much already! We ended up walking the streets of Seattle and settled onThe Blarney Stone for refreshing "water" and tasty food! MMmmmm, we'll be back (please read tomorrow's post!)...
We got started early...had a great breakfast...then a walk to Pike Place Market. What a wonderful, colorful, vibrant place (boy, did we fit right in, or what!?!) We walked through the market enjoying the flowers, fish and FUN! Simone was our information gatherer...making contacts on where and how to get salmon shipped home... It was amazing the size of those huge salmon (and the season doesn't really start for another week!)
Simone and Gloria had a "seatmate"on their Alaska Airlines flight from Newark who recommended several restaurants for us to try. The 2nd on the list was "Matt's in the Market" right next to Pike Place. The food was, in a word, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Everything, from a fried catfish sandwich, to a brisket sandwich, to a shrimp po' boy, to a pork tenderloin sandwich was presented beautifully with amazing flavor. We each passed "bite" around...and agreed it was out-of-this-world... So, lesson learned: next time that person sitting next to you on a plane starts to talk....listen!!! I'm sure glad that "the girls" took notes...this is a place that we'll come back to each time we return! Again...A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
We walked down to Pier 66 to see the NCL Star which was loading for it's second run to Alaska this season... There were lots of people "stirring" at the dock...and we really enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather. Hopefully the rest of the week will be just like today! After our walk down along the docks of Puget Sound, we headed back "up the hill" to the Space Needle. We all were dragging...as Simone said,"Who's idea was it to fill up on all that food and then walk up this hill?!" Needless to say, the laughs continued...
We headed back to the center of the city via the Monorail...and the poor driver from Senegal didn't know what he was getting into, as Gloria hopped into the front row/co-pilot's seat! The driver loved Gloria's "nagging" to slow down... which just got us all a'gigglin' again!
We walked through a couple malls...shopping for this-and-that...then came across one of Matt & Steve's favorites: Von's Grand City Cafe...We, naturally, had to stop for some "water"... The service was a little slow, but the water was tasty...and refreshing! "Poodle" We headed back to the hotel (after a quick stop for a re-tread at the Nike store for Simone)...we barely made it into the hotel when we decided it was time for more "water"!
Needless to say, the staff at our hotel loves us...and they even posed us for photos ("Be a tiger, Act like a tiger") Crazy day...and a FUN night back at The Blarney Stone, where we met up with Ervin and David from Austin. They LOVED Gloria and Simone and we all had such a fun time cutting-up and sharing stories! The greatest surprise...they left a little earlier than we did and picked up the whole "tab". It was wonderful for a couple of reasons...we were so surprised ( Gloria called and cursed 'em for doing it!)...and Steve and Gloria didn't get a chance to fight over who paid the tab! Simone and I know it definitely wasn't OUR turn!!!
There are lots of photos posted... too many laughs to recant "poodle"...but, we had so much fun today! Time to retire, repack and rest for tomorrow morning's trip to the NCL Pearl! Yippeee!
"Live" Webcam from the Marqueen Hotel in downtown Seattle.
Departing Seattle was such a breeze under the new NCL Freestyle 2.0 concept. As we checked our luggage, we were given a laminated card (indicating that we were suite passengers)...with this card, we were able to bypass the long X-ray security screening lines, and were escorted to the VIP lounge. Inside the lounge we were ticketed, provided with our stateroom cards, fed cookies...and, most imporatantly, were able to meet with Karan (the Conceirge) and Flor (our Butler). It was nice getting to know them in a relaxed environment...instead of their usual "stop by the cabin" from previous years.
Flor took us straight to Cagney's (the rooms were not ready until 2PM), where we had a great steak/crabcake lunch. Tasty stuff...and the small venue provided a great way to relax into our Freestyle concept. Kick back...take our time! We made an instant connection with the day manager of Cagneys, Jorge, who is from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He was impressed that we knew "a little" about his country! We enjoyed the relaxation...of course, that all changed when we arrived into our staterooms! At last count we have received a beautiful flower arrangement, 3 bottles of champagne and one bottle of red wine, 2 fruit baskets, chocolate covered strawberries, assorted NCL cookies, petit fors (brie, cavier, pate, salmon...) Each "gift" came with a card...from the Captain, Casinos at Seas, Latitudes (frequent sailing program), our Concierge, etc. All the sweets and treats are gone...still working on the fruit... I don't know what is going to happen with all the wine/champagne! Guess we'll make some new friends...especially once we combine our "goodies" with the stuff left in Gloria & Simone's cabins!
The lifeboat drill was uneventful, but it was nice to be "mustered" in the dining room...it makes it much easier to enjoy the dull presentation wearing a life vest when you're seated! One very funny thing happened as we exited the drill, heading up the stairway...our upstairs neighbors, Veronica & Rick said, "We know you...you're Steve and Matthew" We thought the IRS had tracked us down! Come to find out it was their first cruise and when searching online for information, OnTheSeas.com had popped up. He recognized us from this site...too funny! I better behave since I know there are others "out there!" Jump ahead to Monday...and we found out Rick suprised Veronica with a vow-renewal ceremony! They're such a great, fun couple...and we think they're cruise-converts!
We headed to the Casinos at Seas event, had some more great finger food, sushi, fried wontons, etc. and met our casino host, Belinda. Very nice and personable...we admired the way she was able to spend some nice quality-time with each group of "invited gamblers!" We walked around the ship (each time we passed ice cream, Steve grabbed a cone!), took a few pictures and enjoyed the packed pool-area during sail-away. As soon as the casino opened, we made our contribution...aided in part by our wonderful waiter, Richard...and then headed for a quick late night snack at the Blue Lagoon Cafe...
Steve and Simone headed to the spa early this morning for a Hot Stone Massage. Gloria and Matthew met at Cagney's for breakfast... the seas have been very calm, with just a few sways "here and there". Steve spotted a few humpback "sprays" in the distance, but Matt saw the first tail fluke of a humpback diving. One advantage to being in the back of the ship is you get to see both sides of what's going by...scenery and whales, included!
We had a great gathering at the Cruise Critic's Meet-and-Greet...and had fun with the gift exchange and such a wonderful turn-out. Amanda and her mother did such a wonderful job organizing the event and we all had such a great time. It's fun to get such a wonderful cross-section of people together that share their love for a similar activity....CRUISING!!! It was great putting "real names" and faces with the screen names that we all use on the Cruise Critic message board! We passed out our "traditional" keycard lanyards, so hopefully we'll be able to spot them in the days to come and share more time with our fellow cruisers! Although the four of us did not participate, we're anxious to hear how the group bowling and "cabin crawl" went!
Cagney's was the choice for lunch again! Sea Scallops, Sliders and Lamb Chops were the selections today... Deeee-licious! We joked with Jorge about when they were going to have baleadas on the menu...and he loved that! He said he's tried to make them with the tortillas from Mambo's, but they never taste the same as in Honduras! He's really been a great person to talk with and all of the staff in Cagney's seem to enjoy working for him...it really shows and they all seem to have such a wonderful time! When it came time for dessert, Gloria insisted that she's have nothing...and that's what she got! Be sure and check out the photos of her "Nothing!" Everyone at the casino now (we just got back from our Latitude's reception) with plans for the Martini Clinic, a cocktail reception with the Captain and finally dinner at Tepanyaki later tonight. Full day...I need a vacation from my vacation!!!
"Live" Webcam Image from Petersburg, Alaska toward the Inside Passage.
Located on the Inside Passage half way between Juneau (to the North) and Ketchikan!
The Inside Passage
Tuesday - The whales were out in force! Jay Beedle (of Harv and Marv's Whalewatching Tours) really knows how to find the best whales... The harbor seals and humpbacks were out to put on a show for us in the beautiful Auke Bay. We really thought we had seen it all (about 10 whales and numerous seals), when Jay spotted some activity to our starboard side. He whipped the Merlin into gear and off we flew...what we came upon was breath-taking... A mom and baby have a "breech-fest" one would lunge out of the water, and then the other. One would raise a pectoral flipper and slap the water, to be answered by the other. It was truly amazing watching the mom and baby have so much fun -- and we were having fun right along with them! Words cannot describe Jay and Harv & Marv's... and the whales... truly amazing stuff!
We stopped by Mendenhall Glacier on the way back to the ship and loved the serenity of the area. A walk through the streets of Juneau completed our day...
The Tepanyaki Grille was our dinner choice tonight! GREAT food...and the show was fun too. Yummm, just writing about it makes me hungry for it again!
"Live" Webcam Image from Juneau... Looking South towards the Cruise
"Live" Webcam Image from Juneau... Looking North towards Alaska's capitol!
Wednesday - Wow...each day the experience gets better! Today's helicopter glacier exploration was a blast...how many times can the word amazing be used? It WAS amazing! The copter trip was great and our pilot really let us explore the icefield of Meade Glacier outside of Skagway. From there, we went to the Glassblowing Experience.
Our artistic talents really showed! We were able to select the colors that we wanted to use, then actually do a "hands on" with the molten glass, and eventually the "blowing" of the ornament. We're hopeful that the ornaments turn out as we envisioned them...since they take a couple days to cure and slowly develop their color, we won't know until they arrive at our doorsteps! The lunch at Jewell Gardens was great, too!
We concluded our LONG day in Skagway with a van trip up to the Yukon Territory of Canada with Dyea Dave. We enjoyed the scenery and information (although a couple of us napped through portions of "class"!)
The gang ate at Mambos upon returning to the ship. Our buddy from Honduras, Jorge (the Asst. Matre'd) kept our margarita glasses full of "Free" margaritas! Poodle!
"Live" Webcam Image from The White Pass Railway Station... Remember:
You can click on "most" images on our OnTheSeas site for a Close-Up
"Live" Webcam image of one of Skagway's docks...
Thursday - Glacier Bay came early but the weather was still perfect! We spent over an hour by Marjorie Glacier catching some HUGE House-sized chunks of ice calving into the waters below. The waves from these huge chunks rocked the ship...that's how big the calving was! Hopefully we have captured some of the intensity on film...it was terrific to finally hear the "white thunder" that preceeds the calving. Wow!
"Live" Webcam Image from Mendenhall Glacier
in Juneau, Alaska...Not
Glacier Bay, but still a cool glacier webcam!
Friday - Ketchikan was a short day for us, but we squeezed in quite a bit of sightseeing and "such"! We met quite a few local characters at the Totem Bar...most won't remember meeting us! But, it was definitely fun to be "like a local" for an hour or so...
Dinner at Le Bistro was delicious...and we managed to avoid the singing of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" Perhaps, they could have preformed a rendition of "Let Me Call You Sweet Cheeks"...or even better, "Let Me Call You Poodle!"
Alaska.Org Ketchikan Video
"Live" EarthCam Image from Ketchikan... Refreshes every
Saturday - Victoria. YET another gorgeous day! We took a short walk over hill and dale to Barb's Fish N Chips, a place we discovered back in 2005. It was still GREAT....but, much more crowded!
Sadly, it's time to pack...be sure and check the new photos added! Even a couple monkeys hanging from our ceilings tonight!
Victoria, B.C. Tourist Bureau
Victoria Watefront BirdCam in Victoria, BC
Sunday - Seattle
A direct link for the "Live-View" map of our flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul (will
show up once we take off from Seattle): Click
A direct link for the "Live-View" map of our flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul to San Antonio (will
show up once we take off): Click
Another Webcam of Seattle...This image automatically refreshes every 5 minutes.