Monday, September 30, 2019

Another Alaskan Adventure! ... Day 8 & 9

Another Alaskan Adventure!
Day 8 & 9
Friday, August 23 & Saturday, August 24

Final sea day! In the morning, the boat was still rocking.

^Aft pool, sloshing!

On the schedule for this morning there was a culinary demo, which was to be followed by a galley tour, but they had to cancel both due to the pitching of the ship. 

I had breakfast at the buffet... pancakes, waffle, bran muffin, a savory tart, apple juice, coffee, and fruit. (Obviously, I'd recovered from my gigantic dinner the previous night.)

At 11am I went to Arts & Crafts, which was being held in Sabitini's. As I walked in, they handed me a bead kit and a charm. 

Then I sat at a table and put together a bracelet. There were only about 15 people there total. It was a nice diversion though.

Afterward, I went back to my room and napped. C'mon, that's what sea days are for!

What are sea days not for? Art auctions. At least for me, anyway. After the insanity of the auction on my last cruise (in which NOBODY BOUGHT ANYTHING AND THEY GAVE AWAY A BIG FLOPPY HAT), I decided to avoid this one, save for taking this one photo as I quickly passed...

At 2pm, I went to an event called Moose Racing. People could place bets on their favorite moose. The movement of the 2-foot-tall wooden figures was determined by dice rolls.

I volunteered to be a moose-mover in 2 of the rounds! Good times.

At 2:45 they had a "Park Ranger Presentation," which was supposedly a video of the park ranger presentation from earlier that week. She'd done a talk during the morning of Glacier Bay day, but since her talk coincided with me being actually outside and looking at nature, I had missed it. 

Unfortunately, the video wasn't actually of her. The audio was of her talking, sure, but up on screen it was just maps and the occasional photo. And actually, they started the video about 15 minutes late... it sounded like the guy running the video wasn't sure which one to play, and had to go ask somebody. Anyway, I left before it was over and soon headed to...

The Voice Of The Ocean!

Three nights previously, I'd attended auditions for The Voice Of The Ocean, and this afternoon was to be the big performance in the Princess Theater. They had told us if we wanted to get a voting device, we should show up at least a half an hour early, so I did. 

By the time the show began, the theater was packed, and there were still people trying to find seats. Some people even sat in the aisles. Are there fire marshals at sea?

It was a really fun show! Some of the singers that performed were ones who I'd heard a few days prior, but some were new to me. Some did better tonight than they'd done before. I guess practice helps. Out of the seven singers, two ladies really stood out. I voted for one of them, and she ended up the big winner! Meanwhile, the judges kept things amusing.

I'd really enjoyed my chocolate milkshake earlier in the week, so tonight I tried a strawberry milkshake. Conclusion: Not as good as chocolate...

As this was the final day on board, I knew I would have to think about packing soon. For the first time on any of my cruises, I actually put out one of my suitcases in the hallway (tagged, of course) to be taken off the ship. It's always kind of a scary thing to think about doing this -- like, what if you accidentally pack your toothbrush and then... oops? Or maybe I worry too much.

Around 7:15 I headed upstairs to get some food, and as I reached the lido deck, I heard a lady on the P.A. gushing about seeing whales. I went outside and, sure enough, whales! I went back to my room for my good camera, but by the time I got back upstairs the whales were gone. I did get some nice scenic shots, though.

Then, onward to the buffet...

After I had some dinner, I went to trivia. It was supposed to start at 8:15 but they didn't start until 8:30. What was going on with the schedule today??

Oh, so at some point the stateroom host had dropped by a log of the cruise. It summarized how far we'd traveled and what the temperature had been on each day.

The typos were particularly amusing...

Ah, yes, Yukatat Bay Day... the day the ocean miraculously came to a full boil.

At some point, I began thinking about my plan for disembarkation day tomorrow. The powers that be had asked that everyone be out of their staterooms by 8:30. After that, we could hang out in any of the public spaces until our departure group got called. My departure time was at 9:45. I planned to then make my way to the Vancouver Art Museum, where I could check my bags. After a few hours there, I'd head for the airport, where I had a 5pm flight.

So how did that all work out?

Well, I'd set the alarm on my phone for 7:30am, and IT DIDN'T GO OFF! So when I opened my eyes the next morning, it was 8:17. Oops.

I scrambled out of bed, took the world's quickest shower, and began tossing everything into my 2 remaining bags. Because I'd risen so late, I didn't have time to recharge my phone or even my spare battery (which I'd been using to power my fan during the night, so it was drained.) And I was going to need my phone to check in for my flight, as soon as I got off the ship and found some wifi. What to do??

Around 8:33, I made my way down to the ship's library/internet cafe, hoping to find a USB port I could tap into. None of the computers had them, though, which I suppose is smart on their part. But after scouring the room, I did find a power strip with open plugs. And since no one was around or seemed to care, I charged my devices.

At some point I ran over and got some coffee and a muffin at the cafe. At 9:45, when it was time to depart, I still hadn't finished my coffee -- and they wouldn't let me take it off the ship, because International Maritime Rules, yada yada. I was really batting a thousand today! So I drank as much as I could. THEN I left the ship. I easily found my suitcase. Finding the way out of the terminal was a little trickier, but eventually I escaped. I began to walk toward the museum.

After a few blocks, I saw a Tim Horton's, so I went in, got some oatmeal and a smoothie, and used their free wifi. 

Then I walked the rest of the way to the Art Museum. I was able to check my 3 bags (they brought out a crate for me to put them all in!) and then I explored the museum. 

I'd been to this museum before, 2 years ago. Most, if not all, of the exhibits had changed in that time. And unfortunately, I just wasn't too impressed by many of the new ones. 

Also, and I know this sounds like a really picky complaint, but one of the constantly-running escalators was making an awful, intermittent high-pitched sound, which could be heard throughout half the museum.

I suppose a photograph doesn't really do the sound justice, but you'll just have to trust me.

Oh, and I'd planned to get lunch at the bistro there, but guess what? Closed for construction! AUGH! Anyway, for all these reasons, I didn't stay at the museum as long as I'd planned.

Shortly after 1pm, I made my way toward the nearest Metro Station and proceeded toward the airport. There, I shuffled around some of the things in my luggage, printed my boarding pass and luggage tag, and passed off my big suitcase to be checked. Then I went through customs and security in a surprisingly smooth manner. I got a few more snacks at the airport Tim Horton's, then sat down at my gate and checked my email. About ten minutes later, I got an email saying my flight's gate had been changed. Instead of Gate 86, my flight would be taking off from gate 94. I know those numbers sound close, but no... Gate 94 was clear across the airport. I think it may have even been in Alberta.

Anyway, new gate. A little while later, we boarded... and it was a crazy tiny plane. 

An hour alter, I was back in Portland!

Some final thoughts about the trip...

What would I do again?

I'd definitely do this itinerary again.

I would certainly consider taking a Princess cruise again.

Speed Painting was a lot of fun! I also enjoyed the Voice Of The Ocean shows. And I always enjoy watching nature go by from the promenade deck, so yes, more of that, please.

I would eat at Sabatini's again. I just might skip a course next time. Just one.

What do I wish I'd done differently?

I seem to have a penchant for trying things twice, just to give them another chance if the first time wasn't so great. Well, enough of that! No more mountain biking tours, and no more swimming while on these northern cruises! Not worth the effort! Now, maybe if I ever do a nice southern cruise on a ship with some awesome water slides... then we'll see about swimming.

I wish, and this is a small thing, that I'd been a bit more relaxed on my day in Anchorage. In hindsight I could have checked my bags at the hotel and then done just the zoo. But maybe I'm only saying that because all that walking really wore me out.

And this isn't really a wish, but in case I ever do this itinerary again, I think I'd like to try taking the train from Anchorage to Whittier. Just for a different perspective. The bus was great, though. Oh, and if I do this again, I want to allow more time at the beginning of the trip so I can take a tour through Denali!

Overall impressions of Princess?

I enjoyed Princess a lot. The activities on board were more appealing to me than the ones on my Holland America Cruise... in fact, they were more in line with the activities offered on Disney. Most of the staff was friendly and professional.

Once again, I had an inside stateroom. (I think the only way I'll ever do a window view again is if its cheaper than an inside, and that hardly ever happens.) Deck 10 was a good location on the Golden Princess. It was halfway between the promenade deck (7) and the lido deck (14), and before you say something mathy, you should know that the ship didn't have a 13th deck. Well, it did, but they named it 14, because ghosts or something. Deck 10 was also a very quiet location. Once or twice I heard my next-door neighbors, but I didn't hear anything above or below.

Other thoughts about my stateroom:

*The shower was super tiny. :(

*I loved the room configuration, especially the location of the closet. (And in retrospect, I like that the closet didn't have doors. Those just slide around making noise on rough sea days.)

*I didn't love not having enough outlets or outlets by the bed, but that seems to be the norm on the older ships, so I won't blame Princess.

*I realized after the cruise, while looking at my photos from my other cruises, that my stateroom didn't have a coffee table or couch this time. Yet I never missed having them.

*The on-board library seemed so neglected. I wanted to stay on board a few extra days and give it some TLC. 

^The book return on disembarkation day. So full the door burst open and nobody did a thing about it.

*Embarkation and disembarkation were pretty straightforward... and quick.

Favorite thing I saw?

Glacier Bay. Everything in Glacier Bay.

Thanks for reading my trip report! Check back soon for a report on my even-more-recent trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios!

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