On September 7th I returned home from an epic trip to Alaska.
Seattle (Click for pictures)
Our trip started with a flight from Denver to Seattle on August 26th 2015. We arrived in Seattle in the evening, wandered through the airport that was unfamiliar to us, and found the shuttle area. We purchased tickets from the counter, and awaited our shuttle van to our hotel. The shuttle ride was as expected, and we arrived at the hotel. I gave our driver a tip, and we checked in.
The Seattle Pacific Hotel was in a great location if the whole city was not under construction. The antiquated hotel sat right next to the entrance of the 1.7 Billion dollar tunnel project in Seattle. We were within walking distance of the Space Needle, and the monorail and the attractions like the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and the EMP Museum, and the Duck rides of Seattle. The location of the hotel was the ONLY thing good about it. The “breakfast” at the hotel was a joke. Stale tiny bagels, with warm cream cheese, or a crusty muffin were what was served. The orange juice was only orange juice in color, it could not have been from actual oranges, or was so old it was fermenting into some sort of liquor. They also had a platter for you to place your plastic knife into, to be washed and reused. The hotel was also a fire trap. The doors of the stairwells were constantly propped open, the electrical systems in the rooms consisted of expanders over the wall sockets that turned the 2 socket outlet into a 6 socket outlet, into which the lamp, refrigerator, microwave, television, cable box, and alarm clock were connected via extension cords, and power strips. The locks on the 2 rooms I did see were broken at some point, and patched back together well enough to keep the door closed, but not enough to give confidence that the room was remotely safe. If worrying about the chance that a fire or burglar may kill you in the night didn’t keep you awake, the bedbugs that suck your blood, to lay eggs in your luggage should. Yes, bedbugs! YUK! Poor Leslie received the brunt of their attack when we were there. I must not taste good. She woke up on the last night of our 4 night stay, actually bleeding from her arm, and when I turned up the mattress, there it was, fat with her blood, a bedbug. The box-spring had evidence via blood stains that this was not a first time occurrence. I have learned my lesson, and will always inspect every hotel room I stay in for bedbugs, before I bring in my stuff.
Hotel room aside, Seattle was a pretty nice place to visit. We really enjoyed the open air Public Market, or Pike’s Market. We enjoyed a ride across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island. The seafood was very good at the 2 restaurants we went to specifically for seafood. We had a very nice lunch at a small taco restaurant near the Space Needle. The monorail was fun to ride, and helped us get nearer to the ferry, and market. I also really like the Columbia clothing outlet
The Norwegian Pearl (Click for pictures)
The largest cruise ship that went to Seattle was the Pearl. It is was a beautiful ship with a bright paint job of colorful swirls, and pearls down it sides on top of the brilliant white base color. This would be our home for the next week. The Pearl did not seem to be as wide as the Carnival Magic, but every bit as long, if not longer. The service was top notch, I liked the food more than on Carnival. I appreciated that there was a seafood item each night on the menu at the main restaurants. They didn’t seem to have the fancy chilled soups, but I was not a huge fan of those on Carnival anyhow. Norwegian has a cruise freestyle approach, which allowed you to visit different venues as you wished, instead of having a scheduled dining time, at a specific restaurant. I did not feel the high pressure sales tactics as much as on the Carnival ship, and this was greatly appreciated.
The website lists the amenities as such “Amenities include: a bowling alley (cruise industry first); rock climbing wall; 2 swimming pools; 14 bars and lounges; 10 unique restaurants”
Our cabin was as expected, a single queen sized bed, a small TV, ample storage in the closet, and drawers for our accouterments. We had a port hole that allowed viewing the outside world through an approximately 18″ round window. The bathroom was nice, but small. The shower worked, as did the sink, and it was all very clean, and well maintained. There was a small refrigerator with a mini bar, but I couldn’t bring myself to use a small 2 ounce bottle that cost more than a 1.75 Liter bottle, so all of the mini bar items stayed put, and unused. The lighting in the cabin actually would stay on without having to use your cabin card, just a switch on the wall. There was a nice small light above the desk area, and on each side of the bed.
The Cruise (Sea Days)
The views of Alaska were magnificent. Unlike the cruise to the Caribbean, there was land in site most of the time. Drastic peaks some with evidence of being carved by glaciers were within view almost constantly, always changing as the cruise ship traveled along the coast. The water was not transparent and green/blue like in the Caribbean, but was black in appearance most of the time, like traveling along on a sea of ink. Only when the stray jellyfish would drift by could you notice that the water was actually clear, but refracted light differently, or had something that made the sea appear dark.
The first two days of the cruise, we were at sea, and the sea let you know. There had been a storm in the area, the weather maps had a large swirl of clouds reminiscent of a hurricane seen on the news. The seas were about 20 feet, which is not large compared to the giant size of the ship. Still even though the Pearl was quite large, it still rocked with seas that high. I enjoyed it, I really loved the feeling of knowing we were traveling upon the great ocean, and knowing that there was so much power in nature to move that huge ship in such a way. The Captain of the Pearl also was concerned (though I am sure not for the ship, but the bottom line of the cruise line, as people who were sea sick tended to buy less cocktails), and actually took a different path than normal, thru a more sheltered path, which made the seas a bit less, but still rocked the Pearl. I recall sleeping or at least laying down, listening, feeling the rocking motion, hearing the spray of the waves every 15 seconds or so, as the ship passed through a peak, into another trough. Sometimes you could hear a wave slap the underside of the ship, with a bit of a bang noise. Looking out of the porthole the spray would cover the bottom half of our view as we cut through the waves. I really enjoyed having the seas like that, it was an experience that most do not get.
I am still adding more to this blog, so stay tuned……. feel free to click on the links above and below to the photo albums.