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Alaskan Cruise: Day One

June 21, 2010

June 6, 2010: First official day of cruising on the Norwegian Pearl — bound for Alaska.

We took the ferry across from Bainbridge Island to the port of Seattle, and after about 30 minutes in a long line of Alaska-bound cruise passengers, we boarded the ship.

All aboard!
I love the boarding process. Walking the long “plank” that leads to the ship is like Christmas Eve for me. The beginning of the journey. All downhill from here. We’d booked the trip in January, planned and organized, booked excursions and scoped out the ports of call.

We’d organized our home and work lives to accommodate the vacation; packed and repacked; checked and double-checked passports and air and cruise documentation; checked in at the airport and for the cruise. We’d traveled to the airport and lugged all of our vacation-bound luggage from the Park-n-Ride through the airport; checked the bags and made our way through security to ground transportation to the gate…and we’d arrived here, today, on this plank that leads to our week-long vacation at sea. I walked slowly, taking in the moment.

I wanted desperately to slow the hands of time; to relish these days away from the everyday; days I will spend laughing and enjoying my husband and my family (and a martini or two…for those who know me).

Touring the ship

The first thing we did once on board was head to the Spa to purchase the $99 day pass. For less than $100 we were granted access to all the amenities of the spa, every day, for the length of the cruise. Yay! I couldn’t wait to soak my weary body in the hot tub (kid-free!).

After reserving our space at the spa, we were off to explore the ship. Having sailed on Royal Caribbean for most of our other cruise vacations, this was our first experience with Norwegian and I was anxious to check out the ship.

We headed to the pool deck, where we got the boys set up with unlimited soda, and then up one more level to the Star Bar where we toasted the start of our vacation with a set of Bud Light Limes.

Just before embarkation time – 4 p.m. — we decided to check out our cabin. We expected it to be on the small side, but man-o-man…it was tiny. When the twin beds were pushed together, and the trundle popped up next to it, we basically had wall-to-wall bed. Then a pull down bed (from the wall) for Dylan, which was suspended over the trundle. It was hilarious. Realizing all we were going to do was sleep in the cabin, we were fine with the cramped quarters. As my son Nick put it, “Who cares, Mom. We’re going to Alaska!”

Sailing away
After the obligatory muster drill, we headed to deck 12 to watch the ship sail away from the port of Seattle.

We were on our way to Alaska! Looking around the deck at my fellow passengers, it was clear to see that they had left their troubles on shore and were ready for some R and R. Let the relaxation begin.

We had dinner at one of the main dining rooms — Summer Palace — and the food was pretty good. A good selection on the menu, and specials every day. Steak. Chicken. Pasta. Lots to choose from. Oh, and when you’re on the open sea, calories don’t count. Every meal is three courses. Cheesecake is on the menu, so I’m all set for the week.

The “Welcome Aboard” show at the Stardust Theatre brought the ship to life. The energy was contagious. It was as though everyone in the room realized “HELL, WE’RE REALLY ON VACATION!”

After the show, the boys headed up to the teen room where they disappeared until after midnight. I had a slight panic (first night) when I couldn’t find them, but when they shared the “secret teen room” location with me, I felt confident I’d see little of them throughout the week. A great program, and they made new friends right away. Very teen-friendly ship.

Dave and I spent the evening listening to music at one of the bars on Deck 7. Great way to end a perfect day.

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