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Found 35 results

  1. My very first sea day! I was so excited to get up and explore this gorgeous ship some more. I woke up that first morning, though, to the strangest sensation. It felt like the bed was sliding across the floor…back and forth, back and forth. It took a few seconds before realization finally dawned on me, “Ohhhhhhh. Now I can feel it moving.” I remembered the itinerary map showed that the ship had to go out and around Vancouver Island after leaving Seattle, and now it was all making perfect sense. In fact, maybe this is why I was supposed to pack duct tape…to bind me to the bed to keep from rolling out? Thanking my lucky stars that I had taken a meclizine pill “just in case” before bed, and thrilled beyond belief that it appeared to be working, I decided to get up and go out on the balcony for a bit while I waited for Scott to wake up. How in the world Scott can stay asleep through this motion in the ocean was beyond me, as his head was literally being rolled side to side on the pillow, like he kept slowly shaking his head “no” at me over and over. Slipping out onto our balcony all alone that first morning was a moment I will never forget. The almost ethereal sights, the crashing wave sounds, even the briny smells were forever burned in my brain. I believe the Cruise Cupid’s arrow went a little deeper at that moment. I could see nothing but dark rolling ocean and misty grey skies clear to the horizon. The seas were clearly high out in the wide open Pacific, but it wasn’t bothering me a bit, and instead it was almost mesmerizing and the rocking sensation was oddly comforting. Our first ever day at sea couldn’t have gone any better, despite the almost twenty foot seas and drizzly conditions we experienced for over half of that first day. Scott talked me into treating myself to a spa appointment (I know, totally twist my arm), and after that we explored some more of the ship and then dropped a few bucks at the casino. Toward the afternoon, as the seas got calmer and the skies cleared, we sat out on deck and people watched while wrapped up in the thick blankets the staff was handing out. The beautiful coastline was visible on the starboard side, and small tree-filled islands were visible off the port side. We could see snow-capped mountains in the distance, and the colors the setting sun was painting across the sky were breathtaking. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we of course ate our way across the ship, but that’s to be expected on a cruise…right? Here I was with not even twenty four hours of cruising experience under my already getting too tight belt, and I was officially in “Cruise Mode.” We chose Anytime Dining for this cruise and really enjoyed it. I admit I was intimidated of the large tables and sitting with strangers, and so we chose instead to eat by ourselves for dinner. This was to be our first ever formal night, and I honestly had no idea what to expect. Would the Dress Code Police be stationed outside of the dining room ready to turn me away if my dress didn’t meet the minimum requirement of sequins? Obviously that didn’t happen, and to be honest I hardly even noticed what everyone else was wearing because I was so distracted by how delicious my dinner was and also by the handsome fella in a suit that I was lucky enough to be sharing it with. It was a definite Pinch Me Now moment. Formal night on a cruise to Alaska….Wow! We excitedly talked about our first port city and what we had planned for Juneau after we arrived at noon the next day. I was almost MORE excited about the fact that early tomorrow morning we would be making the turn into the Inside Passage and I could only imagine what sights would greet me off my balcony early the next morning. To be cont'd...
  2. Still. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I woke up early that next morning. Totally and completely still. Excitedly I threw back the covers and ran out onto our balcony. I felt like I was on sensory overload when I saw what was waiting for me behind the closed curtains. The ship was gliding slowly and silently through a narrow passage and the breathtakingly scenic shore almost looked close enough to reach out and touch. The early morning sunlight was glowing a beautiful gold off the water that was as smooth and reflective as a mirror. But what struck me most was the silence. With the exception of the water quietly lapping on the side of the ship, it was totally silent outside. In about four hours we were due to pull into Juneau, our very first port city. After lunch at Red Dog Saloon, we planned to catch the bus to Mendenhall Glacier and then stroll around town. After we perused the shops for a bit, we planned to find a nice local fish restaurant for dinner. It was salmon season, and by golly I was bound and determined to get me some fresh salmon! After another yummy breakfast and lots of scenery watching on deck, we decided to walk to the very front of the ship and watch our approach into Juneau. As it came into view, it appeared to me that the town was literally dropped in the middle of nowhere. Juneau is surrounded by water on one entire side and towering mountains on the other. Two other ships were already there ahead of us as we glided into our enormous “parking spot.” I would be lying if I didn’t feel just a little smug that “my” ship was bigger than “their” ships. Looking back at her after disembarking, it was an almost humbling moment to think to myself, “Wow…I’m living there for the next five days.” After a fun lunch at Red Dog Saloon where a fabulous piano player was entertaining a fully packed restaurant, we caught a quick, and cheap!, bus ride out to Mendenhall Valley. Once there we finally got our first glimpse of a glacier! The bright blue colors of the ice that were threaded in with the black streaks of the minerals were stunningly beautiful. We hiked the easy and flat path to the five-story-tall Nugget Falls and then spent a good two hours wandering around and taking what seemed like eleventy billion pictures. Pictures that I knew simply could not capture the jaw dropping beauty of our surroundings. Brilliant yellow and orange wildflowers were blooming in the surrounding vegetation, the sky was crystal clear and cloudless, and the sun had warmed the afternoon air up to the high 70’s. Perfect almost seemed an understatement. We almost reluctantly returned back to town and did the traditional tourist shopping for a little while up and down the picturesque streets of Juneau. Literally following our noses like two starving dogs, we happened upon a great restaurant called Twisted Fish Company. The restaurant was right on the water and had a chalkboard sign out front that advertised in hot pink chalk and girly, loopy cursive, “Fresh King Salmon - NOW!” Knowing we had found just the right place for our dinner, we immediately made our way into the restaurant and unbelievably snagged a table for two right away, even though the place was packed to the walls. I had my very first cedar plank salmon at Twisted Fish Co., and after a lingering and amazing dinner, we decided to make our way back to the ship. Pulling out of Juneau in the 10:00 sunset, the retreating city glittered and shimmered in the reflection of the nearly still water. The air was quickly turning chilly so we decided to head back inside and catch some live music before going to bed. We had a very early morning ahead of us in Skagway. But honestly, I thought to myself, how could Skagway top Juneau? How do you trump such a perfect day? Well…I guess I only had eight short hours to find out... To be cont'd...
  3. It hit me this morning that our cruise was more than halfway over. This amazing and wonderful surprise of a vacation has gone from something that I was almost dreading to begin, to something that I most certainly dread being over. While it was obvious that I had come to love cruising accidentally, it was with total certainty that I knew I would do this again as soon as was possible. It wasn’t just the amazing Alaska scenery that had wiggled its way into my vacation-loving heart; it was also the actual cruising experience. I simply loved being on the ship. I loved knowing that I was surrounded by the ocean that I adore. I knew we had some long-term plans that would keep us from cruising again in the next couple of summers, so for now I had to be happy with the few days that we had left. Our day of scenic cruising Tracy Arm Fjord was cold, cloudy, foggy and drizzly. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but if I learned anything in my research for our cruise, I learned that you can predict Alaska weather to be unpredictable. Due to the cold drizzle, the outside decks were practically deserted as many of our fellow cruisers chose to stay inside where it was warm and dry. I, however, wasn’t about to let a little drizzle stand in my way of a day of scenic cruising this beautiful fjord. So Scott and I bundled up in our warmest jackets with hoods and made our way to the very front of the ship so that we had the best view in the house. To my surprise and delight, Princess had a wonderful naturalist on board that began speaking over the loudspeaker and directing us where to look, what we were looking at, how deep the water is, etc. He was so interesting and so informative. While slowly gliding past dozens of small icebergs that were the most beautiful bright blue color, he relayed a story from the prior weeks sailing. Apparently Amy Tan, the author of the popular book, The Joy Luck Club, was on board the Diamond that previous week and she sat with the naturalist while he was giving his talk. He included her often in his talk, and she offered up some beautifully-worded descriptions of the scenery, as only an accomplished and talented author such as herself could do. Knowing she would really be able to put into words the unique and brilliant blue color of the icebergs, he asked her to describe their unusual color, and she replied only two words, “Windex blue.” I had to agree completely with Ms. Tan’s description, they were exactly like Windex blue. The fjord offered up sights I knew I would never see again: soaring and sheer rock cliffs, dozens of waterfalls, and adorably fat and lazy sea lions snoozing on icebergs. The crown jewel in the day was seeing Sawyer Glacier deep inside the fjord. How do you feel small while on a 100,000 plus ton ship? Compare yourself to a massive glacier, that’s how! Too soon it was time to leave and make our way back out of the fjord. The naturalist promised us an evening filled with whale activity because the area that we would be cruising was known for its abundant humpback population, and he did not disappoint. We saw dozens of water spouts, several tails, and even a few whales breached for us. Yes our time on the Diamond was coming to an end, and the days ahead would be shorter and shorter as we slowly made our way south again, but they were sure to be ones for the memory books. And speaking of days ahead, I was so excited for our planned morning of sea kayaking that we had scheduled for Ketchikan. I just hoped the weather cleared… To be cont'd...
  4. “Blinded by the light…” That song came immediately to mind when I opened our curtains on the morning we arrived in Ketchikan. After two days of drizzle and overcast skies, it was almost a cornea-burning shock to see the pristine sapphire blue skies and blazing early morning sunshine that greeted us that morning. My first thought of Ketchikan? Storybook! This was quite possibly the quaintest town I’d ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. I couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for us today! Knowing we had to meet our tour guide at 7:00 AM, we made the short walk into town and were greeted with a sign by our kayak guide from Southeast Sea Kayaks. We had a half day kayak trip booked, and we were more than ready for it! Having river kayaked several times on vacations to Colorado and such, we were very excited to try sea kayaking for the first time. One of the main reasons we chose Southeast Sea Kayaks was because of their guaranteed small groups on their paddling trips. We were told at the time of booking that there would be a maximum of six guests per paddling trip, but upon check in we learned that they had a cancellation and there would instead only be us and one other couple with our guide today. Woo hoo!! The other couple who came on the trip with us was on holiday from Australia, and they were also enjoying a cruise. This was their first trip to the United States, and they were lucky enough to be touring the entire nation during a whirlwind six week stay. I quickly found that cruising has become one of the best ways to meet some of the most interesting people! After a ten minute boat ride out of the immediate port area, we came to where our sea kayaks were tendered back behind a small island, and we made our way into our kayak for two. From my seat I could no longer see the shore, nor the ships in port. It was as if we were truly in Alaska for the first time. No cars, no ships, no people, no Diamond’s International…this was just us, three other souls, and some of the biggest and most breathtaking landscape I’d ever seen. Our paddling trip was blessed with warm temperatures, glassy seas, and cloudless skies. We saw several bald eagles, lots of purple starfish, a lion jellyfish, and deer on the shore of one of the islands as we paddled around. Even a playful otter popped up not two feet from the edge of our kayak! He decided to hang around for a while and followed us as we slowly made our way around small islands and rocks. Our guide was simply a delight and she really taught us quite a bit about the local wildlife and the even about the town of Ketchikan, itself. Too soon it was time for us to head back, as we were only scheduled to be in port until noon that day. We had just enough time left for a nice stroll around town and got the opportunity to take in several of the gorgeous totem poles and one last look at the famous Creek Street. Even though we were back on the ship early, I knew we were going to be treated to some spectacular sights from the comfort of our balcony for the rest of the day. And speaking of treats, the ice cream machine was calling my name!
  5. We stood on deck and watched as Ketchikan slowly got smaller and smaller as we pulled farther and farther away. My only complaint about today was that I wished we had more time to spend in what was my current favorite port city of the cruise. We spent the rest of the beautiful sunny day out on deck, snapping photos and watching for whales. It was so bittersweet knowing that tomorrow was our last stop before returning home to Seattle. We had a full day at sea ahead of us tomorrow as we weren’t due to dock in Victoria, BC until 7:00 PM the next evening. To make the most of our evening in Victoria, we were scheduled on a “Haunted History” tour of the city. Waking up the next morning we were greeted by another breathtaking day at sea. We decided to take full advantage of our beautiful ship, so we spent our last full day aboard wandering every inch of the Diamond Princess. How is it possible that there are still areas you didn’t notice after being on board a whole week? I roll my eyes at myself remembering my initial fear of feeling “trapped” and “claustrophobic”. What a newbie… While I was so excited to see Victoria in person for the first time, it was sad knowing that the closer we got to Victoria, the closer we got to “home”. The cruise that I had dreaded beginning was now coming to an end all too soon. I’ve seen more and learned more than I ever expected, not only about my surroundings and about the cities we visited, but about myself. I always firmly considered myself a “land lubber”, but all I can now think about is, “When can we go again?” Victoria soon presented herself to us in all her majesty and glamour. Victoria was, and still is, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. From the stunning Parliament building, to the English gardens in front of the beautiful neighborhood homes, to the glittering lights reflecting off the water that winds its way through the downtown shops and restaurants, the city itself proved to be simply magical. We had great fun on our “Haunted History” tour that took us all throughout the city and it’s important monuments. The tour left us about an hour to stroll the city at our leisure, and we popped in and out of shops along the waterfront. This was a city I knew I would return to, and Scott and I wholeheartedly agreed that we could very easily spend at least a week in this amazing place. After returning to the ship and watching Victoria fade into the darkness, we made our way back to our room for our very last sleep aboard our floating home. Next stop…Home.
  6. StaRed

    July 24, 2012

    See ya later, Mariner! View from tender boat

    © C. Scott Redish

  7. StaRed

    July 17, 2012

    Mine is the black one... Disembarking in Galveston

    © Scott Redish

  8. StaRed

    July 16, 2012

    Sunrise on the Gulf

    © C. Scott Redish

  9. StaRed

    July 15, 2012

    "I see you" Mariner of the Seas

    © C. Scott Redish

  10. StaRed

    July 14, 2012

    Sail Away! Galveston, TX

    © C. Scott Redish

  11. StaRed

    July 13, 2012

    Happy Birthday, Scott Keep taking pictures!!

    © Stacey Redish

  12. StaRed

    July 10, 2012

    Best. Sign. EVER.

    © Scott Redish

  13. StaRed

    July 7, 2012

    Mariner of the Seas Port area of Falmouth, Jamaica

    © C. Scott Redish

  14. StaRed

    July 5, 2012

    Follow the Leader Following Princess and HAL ships into the Passage

    © Larry Reno

  15. StaRed

    July 3, 2012

    Headed Home Near Canada/Alaska Border

    © Larry Reno

  16. StaRed

    July 1, 2012

    Parallel Parking in Ketchikan Diamond Princess

    © C. Scott Redish

  17. StaRed

    June 29, 2012

    Sunset at Sea Gulf of Mexico

    © C. Scott Redish

  18. StaRed

    June 27, 2012

    Tequila! Cozumel, Mexico

    © C. Scott Redish

  19. StaRed

    June 26, 2012

    Catch of the Day Alaska

    © Larry Reno

  20. StaRed

    June 25, 2012

    "Under New Management" Grand Cayman Gas Prices

    © C. Scott Redish

  21. StaRed

    June 24, 2012

    "I'm the king of the world!"

    © C. Scott Redish

  22. StaRed

    June 22, 2012

    Nugget Falls Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK

    © Larry Reno

  23. StaRed

    June 21, 2012

    Swab the Deck Mariner of the Seas

    © C Scott Redish

  24. StaRed

    June 20, 2012

    Paella Poolside Mariner of the Seas

    © C. Scott Redish

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