Daily Archives: July 2nd, 2011

Alaskan Cruise, 2007

Alaskan Cruise, Day Two, The big day arrives…

I couldn’t post these from the ship, so I kept a record in a Word document and I’ll post a new day’s worth of memories every day.

The big day arrives…

June 22, 2007, Vancouver

In the morning, while Tom was checking his email, I talked to my best friend Alice (Dearest on Power Surge [http://www.power-surge.com] and Cushing’s boards). She asked my about our stateroom and I mentioned that it would have been neat to have a balcony but that hadn’t been one of the options with the free cruise.

Even though all the official Celebrity papers said to arrive at the dock no earlier than 1:00 for embarkation, I’d read in several books that you could go at least an hour earlier than that.

So, after eating breakfast at Denny’s (how exotic is that!) we checked out of the hotel at noon and took a cab to the airport. We got to the pier by about 12:30 and there was already a short line.

I’d done all the “paperwork” online so boarding was very fast and easy.

There was a bit of confusion at one step though – the person checking us in couldn’t find our stateroom even though I had it on all my printouts. Turns out we had gotten an upgrade so we had a new cabin number.

Boarding the Mercury

We were on the ship, eating a wonderful buffet lunch (and I was drinking a Bahama Mama in a souvenir glass. Why in the world would an Alaskan cruise serve Caribbean drinks? LOL)

I noticed on the Celebrity Today! daily newsletter that the lunch had started at noon so they really expected people earlier than their official press had indicated.

After lunch our stateroom was ready. We opened the door and saw…a balcony! I immediately called Alice but she assured me that she hadn’t done it, it was some inhouse (inship?) upgrade. She had called to order us some Bon Voyage gifts so she knew about the change before we did. The stateroom had a floor-to-ceiling glass-paneled door, the private balcony, king-size bed, interactive television, 24-hour room service, telephone with voicemail, sofa bed, bathrobes, sitting area, VCR, and private bath. (172 sq. ft., veranda 42 sq. ft.) No internet, though. I’m not sure why there was a VCR rather than a DVD but we probably wouldn’t have had time to watch either.

Unfortunately, the baggage handlers didn’t know about the room change so it took a while to get our luggage. Some went to our original stateroom. Apparently, the new residents didn’t want our stuff!

The view from the balcony was really neat – there was a very active 4-pod heliport across the harbor and ferries were constantly going by. But when we got out and about and up a few decks there was even more to see. There were seaplanes landing and taking off all the time, lots of tugboats, barges and other cruise ships. A very busy harbor.

Of course we had to have the mandatory emergency lifeboat drill at 4:15. Seems that that has to be done now before the ship can leave port.

5PM came and we were supposed to set sail. There were some people we waited for, presumably who had booked their flights through Celebrity and their plane was late. They wouldn’t hold up a cruise ship for someone like us!

While we were waiting, it got cold so I went back for a jacket, then it started to rain so I traded my sandals for running shoes.

Another Celebrity ship left right after we did and they seem to be going to Alaska, too.

Interesting note to me, since I’m a Scottish person. I could overhear the people on the next balcony and they’re from Edinburgh!

At 8 PM we went to see a show, a preview of coming attractions. The theater is very nice, professional, and the show was fun. We got to see a big of the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, hear the band, “meet” the Cruise Director, Donnell Davis and the rest of the entertainment team.

Then, late dinner for us. Tonight is “casual” dress – more like my normal dressy stuff. I had a choice of dress, pant suit or “sporty outfit”. Tom’s choice was sports shirt and slacks.

We were on the second floor of the Manhattan Restaurant This is is located at the aft of the ship with a two-deck-high bank of windows overlooking the stern and large windows on each side. Fantastic views! There was a live string quartet, and the whole thing was very classy.

Our tablemates at table 686 were John and Cath from Perth, Scotland and Austin and Mary from Ireland, now living in Canada (more on them later!).

After a bit of small talk, the discussions got hot and heavy, all the stuff you’re not supposed to discuss at dinner. Politics and religion!

Both the Scottish couple and I are Protestants and Tom and the Irish couple are Roman Catholics. Actually, Tom once was becoming a priest. Mary (the Irish woman) had been studying to become a nun in a French convent and her husband had been a student priest in an Irish seminary for 4 years.

Since I’m not as big a thinker as all these other folks, we also discussed Cushing’s a bit 🙂

Dinner was wonderful, of course. Our waiter for the week was Ponte, from Peru.

At dinner

At dinner

When we got to the room, there were white wine (Riesling) and chocolate covered strawberries sent by Alice. She’s such a wonderful friend!

Back out to the balcony for a bit then I headed for bed. Out the window, I could see that we passed two ships. They seemed so close! Turned out we passed through a narrow straight and they were very close.

Then, off to a sound sleep. We sail all day tomorrow – our first port, Juneau is 788 nautical miles.

Sunset was at 9:22 PM

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Read more at http://www.cushingsonline.com/alaska/alaska.htm

Costa Rica

We finally got our plane tickets today – that makes it “official”.

We traded our timeshare a while ago for a place in Quepos, Costa Rica.  We had originally traded for Saint Martin but after reading the online reviews changed our mind and switched to Costa Rica instead. Neither of us has ever been there before so it looks like it will be really fun.

Some of the things that I thought were really neat about this place was that it was near to Manuel Antonio National Park, rainforests, volcanos,  ziplines and whitewater rafting.

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From http://www.govisitcostarica.com/travelInfo/nationalParks.asp

With over 615 wildlife species per 10,000 sq km, Costa Rica sits atop of the list as the most bio-diverse region of the world. Home to an incredible plethora of exotic and tropical flora and fauna, this tiny Latin American country is the habitat of 12 key ecological zones. With an estimated 5% of the world’s biodiversity found here, it is no wonder that Costa Rica is often referred to as ‘the living Eden’ by many scientists and naturalists from all across the globe.

In an effort to preserve much of Costa Rica’s natural beauty and surroundings, 25% of the country’s land has been set aside and turned into protective parks and reserves so as to safeguard the beautiful and lush environs from deforestation and logging. To date Costa Rica has 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as 12 other conservation regions that protect the distinctive and diverse natural habitats found throughout the country.

Home to a staggering 10,000 species of plants and trees, Costa Rica is also the home of over 850 indigenous and migrant birds, 205 species of mammals, over 35,000 species of insects, 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles, and around 1,013 species of fresh and saltwater fish.. This diversity and richness of nature and wildlife makes Costa Rica a truly natural paradise.

Deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, rainforests, herbaceous swamps, cloud forests, riparian forests, swamp forests and coral reefs are just some of the many habitats that are protected by the national parks and reserves of Costa Rica. Areas of geological and geophysical interests, such as active volcanoes, hot springs, caves and relict mountains as the result of plate tectonics setting; areas of historic and archaeological interest, such as battlefields and pre-Columbian settlements; areas of scenic beauty, such as beaches and waterfalls; and areas of conservational importance, such as islands where the brown pelican and magnificent frigatebird nest, or enclaves with the last remaining stands of Mesoamerican dry forest, or beaches where huge sea turtles flock, all fall under the protection of the national parks and reserves in Costa Rica.

Home to many endangered wildlife plant and animal species such as the Leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley turtle, West Indian manatee, Scarlet Macaw, Resplendent Quetzal, Tapir, Golden Toad, Jabiru and Ocelot, Costa Rica’s national parks offer tourists a wealth of diversity that was previously unheard of.

Some of the popular national parks in Costa Rica include; the Arenal Volcano National Park – with the country’s most active volcano; the Barra Honda National Park – with its Pre-Columbian limestone caves; the Chirripo National Park – home to Costa Rica’s tallest mountain; the Corcovado National Park – considered to be the most biologically intense place on earth; the Las Baulas National Marine Park – where millions of Leatherback turtles nest; the Turrialba Volcano National Park – with the largest volcano craters and the La Amistad International Park – which is a biosphere project.

Here’s someone else’s video:

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