For our 'moon, we took a Princess cruise from Vancouver, B.C. to Anchorage, Alaska, stayed in Alaska for a couple of days, then flew back. We didn't sail from Seattle because you can only do that as a round trip, and didn't want to spend 14 days on a boat.
Checking in and getting through Customs and security was surprisingly painless. When you check in, they give you a Princess Card that links to your credit card, and basically acts as your Princess Credit Card as well as ID, room key, etc. This makes it very convenient to rack up charges and not know your running total. Fortunately, the initial cost includes a 24-hour buffet and a nightly sit-down dinner.
And to that end, it should be noted that the second you get on the boat, they're trying to get more money out of you, and it never stops. They "offer" unlimited soda for $4 a day, payable in a lump for the whole cruise ($40). They take a picture of you as you get on, hoping you'll buy a print for $8 or whatever. They repeat this every time you depart, usually next to a staff member who's dressed in some lame costume but is still more photogenic than you are. They repeat it on the two formal dining nights. They have waitpeople all over asking if you want a drink. And so on.
The boat holds 1900 passengers, and 800 staff. It's a medium-sized boat. Each staff member has a name tag with his or her first name and which country they're from. I saw zero from America. My educated guess is that they pay under our minimum wage. There were lots of filipinos, but really everything was represented in some fashion among the staff. Except Americans.
Our stateroom was small and had an "obstructed view," meaning we're cheap, but it's not like we were going to spend a lot of time there. The views were great from others decks, complete with lounge chairs and food we'd already paid for. The room was for sleeping and hygiene. One funny thing is that the ceiling has a couple of loft cots that you can bring down, thus squeezing four people into that 8x8 space and sharing one 5x3 bathroom. If we ever take kids, we're cheap enough that we'd do that, but just our luggage made the place cramped.
One of the first things they did was have everybody do the sea equivalent of a fire drill. We got the life vests from our room, went to the (wrong) theater, got trained, and that was that. Fortunately we didn't need to use the training.
We went to the fore of the top (16th) deck, where we discovered the dreaded blue glass (more). If I wanted blue glass, I'd have gone to Kentucky! It's for safety and glare, but it prevents good views and doing the "King of the World!" Titanic thing. Fortunately the 15th deck lacked the glass on the beams.
During the course of the cruise, there were many others that passed by going the other way. There were, however, no collisions. Man, that would have been cool.
In this picture, you can see Lissa pointing toward another ship on the horizon. Note the little bump. It's more obvious in the original picture. :D
I played some duplicate bridge during the afternoon. Over 15 hands, I had three different partners. Needless to say, I didn't do very well.
That night was the first of two Formal Nights for dinner. We declined to participate, instead hitting the buffet and going to the Newlywed Game in one of the lounges. The Emcee asked who the newlyweds were in the audience, and of course there were many of us - maybe six couples - who had just gotten married three days prior. He tried to find the couple that had been married the shortest amount of time. We "won" because we'd gotten married ... earliest in the day? I guess math isn't required.
But there we were, playing the Newlywed Game on a stage against couples that had been married 5, 25, and 57 years - a twist on the rules. To further handicap us, we had to answer each question first. Even so, the 57-year couple got 5 of 8 right, and everyone else 2, so we were able to say that we held our own.
For the rest of the cruise, we were "that newlywed couple who played the game." We were celebrities. Fortunately for us, no one else on the cruise knew us. The other players were travelling with family, and got to reveal things like the elevator question and having sex on parents' trampolines.
This was the first day with a stop - Ketchikan, Alaska - which apparently is far from everywhere. To the best I can fathom, Ketchikan's main source of income these days is from cruise ships. The first few blocks of the town were mostly gift shops, souvenir shops, etc.
Many people sign up for $300 seaplane tours and the like, but we opted for the local museum, where we plopped down $2 each to see local artifacts and the like. It was a great choice. The highlight was a reprint of this Los Angeles Times article denouncing Alaska's wild past. Lissa is now, of course, my Red Light Woman.
We're using this picture as proof that we used the backpack - a wedding present - but it also shows a creek that goes through town. Sadly, it's not salmon season. Oh, and here's me getting a refreshing drink from said creek. Actually, perhaps it's best not to do that.
Part of the beauty of digital cameras is that you can take shot after shot, consequences be damned. This is an example of the greatness that can ensue.
We also stumbled upon Ketchikan's progressive bookstore, in a coverted house. Despite many good finds, however, our (my) aversion to paying retail was still in full force, so we (I) only bought one book.
Oh, and I couldn't escape work.
When we were near the civic center, some fog started to roll in - this was around noon. I had a print made from this shot in their park that used to be a fishery.
Back at sea. There was a particularly nice photo op when the clouds broke a little bit; I have about eight hi-res versions of this shot, and had an 11x14 made of one of them.
More nice scenic shots here and here and another one I made an 11x14 from here. It's already framed and hanging.
The dinner menu changed a little every night. This night included escarot, and here is Lissa just before she took her first-ever bite. I tried to get an entertaining just-after shot, but she actually liked it, so no such luck.
Juneau. Despite it being the capital of Alaska, it apparently doesn't have internet access. I say this because they're obviously not attuned to internet culture. And if you don't know what that phrase means, I suggest you do your search at home, not work.
Again, we hit the local museum, this time learning that there was a movement in Russia about ten years ago to get Alaska back from us. Fortunately, we'd kept the receipt and cancelled check.
Russia did have Alaska first, of course, so every town has its Russian landmarks. Usually this includes a local Orthodox church.
Random shot of Lissa looking cute at dinner. Note the tiny Italian flag. It was Italian (food) night at dinner, and our poor waitstaff had to wear these lame stripey shirts. On the last night they all had Stars and Stripes outfits, despite none of them being American.
Skagway. This was the stop for which we splurged, forking over $100 each to take a train trip up the mountains into gold mine territory. Here is a shot of the train before we got on. The battery died after that. :-/ I assure you, it was neat.
Back at sea, this time in Glacier Bay by the time we woke up. (pic, pic, pic)
Here is us in the elevator. There aren't many pictures of me this trip, so take what you can get.
Besides more bridge, here is another example of Pure Honeymoon Excitement - a moment we'll cherish forever.
Anchored in College Fjord. This panoramic is the way to go. (large version)
I also got another good close-up candid of Lissa.
Disembarked at Whittier, which is important for the military and fish and not much else. Princess put us on a bus to Anchorage, which went through the Whittier Tunnel. The driver also acted as tour guide, and was - surprise! - highly entertaining and informative.
We found our luggage in Anchorage, and took a cab to our B&B. I'd bought six duty-free bottles of liquor, which arrived in our stateroom this morning in what looked to be safe packaging. Opening the suitcases at the B&B, though, we found that one of my bottles of Stoli had broken. It had all leaked out at some point, but I'm still finding little pieces of glass in it.
Walking randomly downtown, we found a nice hipster coffee shop, where we scoured the phone book for used bookstores. It was there that I took this picture of Lissa in mid-blink. Much more importantly, I was able to immortalize this face, where she looks at me like I'm a dork. I get it a lot.
One wedding present was a gift certificate to a nice steak and seafood restaurant on the water. The cert was enough for a big meal, so we got shrewd and shared a plate and dessert two nights in a row. Here's Lissa drinking a Lavender Martini, like she's all sophisticated.
Days Nine and Ten
A month after the summer solstice, it was still light enough at 11:30pm to see fine outside. Weird.
Two blocks from the B&B was a house with a reindeer for a pet(!) They kept him in an outside enclosure so he couldn't leap out, installed cameras and warning signs for same, and a plexiglass section for ease of viewing. Poor reindeer. We saw him playing half-heartedly with a basketball at one point. Whee. (Her MySpace page. I kid you not.)
Tuesday we rented a car and drove as far north as we could manage without getting burned out on travelling. We made it to Talkeetna, 62.3N, 150.1W, which is also the further west I've been.
We also took a small stop in, of all places, Houston.
Alaska is not without its dangers. I was attacked by a puffin, but escaped unharmed.
The B&B had a cat, Nelson, who obviously ran the place. He slept between us, sprawled in front of us to get attention, etc. Since I hadn't seen my own cats in a week, it's not like I was unwilling, either. However, despite my calling him Admiral Nelson after a day, he was getting too big from his britches, so I took this between-our-pillows cat and turned him into this. It's the same kind of thing I do to knock Grace down a peg.
Wednesday night we flew back, where the lovely Jenn picked us up. We had four days until we had to work the next Monday. We spent that entire time without sleep, writing, stuffing, stamping, and sending thank you notes.
But, as they say, the honeymoon is now. officially. over.