The ship we were on was The Pearl operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines.
It was an amazing boat with a full size water slide, bowling alley and 9 - 10 restaurants as well as the buffet.
We spent a lot of time in the bowling alley which had 4 lanes. It was a challenge when the ship was at sea to determine which way we were leaning so you could compensate by throughing the ball the opposite direction. Mike and Spencer mastered this skill pretty well.
The boat had what was called "Freestyle Dining." This meant that you could choose to eat at the buffet each night or you could make reservations for one of the specialty restaurants which specialized in French, Italian, Asian-fusion, Mongolian, Tex-Mex and other cuisine.
Some of the restaurants you had to pay an additional fee because the food included items like lobster or filet mignon.
Our favorite restaurants were Cagney's Steakhouse and the Asian Fusion restaurant Lotus Garden.
All of the food was really good and way too plentiful!
The boys and I made a pact at the beginning to only use the stairs and never the elevator. McKean, Mike and I made it the whole trip but Spencer caved the 3rd day.
One of the activities aboard the ship was playing Nintendo Wii on this giant screen. Spencer and Mick gave Mike and I a sound beating at Wii tennis.
The ship had an amazing gym and spa. Mick and I enjoyed walking around the promenade deck for exercise in the mornings and evenings.
I would definately recommend this cruise line. We've cruised 5 times before and thought that this was the best ship we'd been on yet.
Friday night, Loni arranged for us all to stay over at Lisa's home up in Midway, Utah.
We had a blast!!!
Kerri Bradford, Kelly Purkey & I dominated (jk Loni) in Cranium largely due to Kelly's humming abilities and Kerri's drawing talent.
All of us went out to dinner but only a few of us die hards were able to stay over night.
Unfortunately I didn't have my camera at dinner so I don't have photos of Kerri, Kelly or Sarah (Champion).
We tried to get Jessi hooked on Pride & Prejudice but it's hard when you have three women discussing the virtues of the various productions over the top of the dialogue to understand what is really going on. Plus it didn't help that it was 1 am and she was falling asleep and we kept waking her up to tell her the storyline.
"Thanks...for the memories" girls...sung in my best Bob Hope voice.
In the shuffleboard tournament, Mike and I beat out Spencer & Mick to take the bronze medal!
Mike and I didn't fair as well in the Ping Pong tournament.
Spencer ended up taking 3rd place though. You'd be amazed at the level of skill there was. There was a family (they looked like they were from India) who traveled with their own set of paddles. The dad was intense, like he was grooming his kids for the Nationals or something.
While we were canoeing, Mike and Spencer were golfing.
They took a ferry over to the town of Haines where they golfed at the Valley of the Eagles golf course.
What is different about this course is that the golf course is not allowed to grow any grasses that are not native to Alaska.
So instead of greens, there were pieces of astro-turf. They got quite a kick out of this because you would be walking along in this beautiful setting and come upon this ugly old piece of astro-turf with a flag in it.
They said it was true to it's name though, there were many eagle sightings during their round of golf.
The mosquitos in Alaska are about the size of hummingbirds. Mike said that he stepped off the course into the brush to retrieve a ball and they swarmed him. He was lucky to make it out alive! The rest of the trip he had these big ole bites on his legs.
We were divided on what we wanted to do in Skagway. Spencer & Mike wanted to golf and Mick and I did not.
So we split up. Mick and I took a catamaran to Glacier Point where we hopped into canoes and paddled to the Davidson Glacier.
The scenery was amazing. The winds that come off of the Glacier are really cold (as common sense would tell you).
Our guide, Mark, fished out a little iceberg for us to hold.
While we enjoyed parts of this tour, Mark was not the most animated guide or knowledgeable guide and so it was rather boring. We learned more on the catamaran coming out then we did on the actual tour of the glacier.
Okay, I think I'm the only one who didn't know that there was a rainforest in Alaska.
This place was so beautiful. It was in Ketchikan, our third port.
Mike and the boys loved this excursion.
I dreaded it.
You see, I have a horrific fear of falling. I can't even watch a movie if someone is near the edge of a cliff or tall building or they start falling, like in action movies.
I get sick to my stomach and have to hide my face or change the channel.
I have nightmares where I'm falling all the time.
But, I was optomistic that I could overcome that fear if I was with Mike and the boys.
In the end, I did but there was a really embarrassing part at the beginning where I burst into tears when I faced my first obstacle of walking across a log that was 10 feet above the ground.
To get to the zip lines, you had to walk across swinging logs, rope bridges which sometimes were just one piece of rope on the bottom to put your feet on and one piece of rope on the top to put your hands on.
Now you are roped in all the time, so you can fall but you won't fall far.
In the end I was really glad that I conquered it and I was touched by how sweet my two boys were and how concerned they were for their silly mom.
Our last obstacle of the day was a climbing tower and when you got to the top you repelled down. I sat that one out and just took pictures.
I ended up with huge bruises up and down my arms and on my calf from trying to brace myself against ropes and climb the branches of trees. I wore them proudly the rest of the trip as my war wounds. LOL!
I've been going through the 1000+ photos that we took on the cruise.
My favorites so far are of an excursion we took in Juneau where we flew by helicopter to the top of the Mendenhall Glacier where there is a dog sled camp.
Mushers come from as far away as Michigan with their dogs to live on the top of this Glacier for the summer.
Here they train and condition the dogs for their winter-time races by having them haul around tourists.
They gave McKean some nifty glacier glasses and assigned the boys to Dale, a musher from Alaska who has raced in the Iditerod. He was fabulous!
There are two sleds tied together and Dale stood behind the first sled and commanded the dogs while one of us stood behind the 2nd sled and got to see what it's like to be a musher. The other two of us sat in the sleds.
When Dale pulled up the anchor stake and took his foot off the brake, the dogs took off like a rocket. If you're not prepared it can be a whiplash-like experience.
The trails have moguls that you go over and when you hit them at a high rate of speed, the sleds literally fly through the air.
Mike was on a sled with some other people and when we pulled over to let him pass the dogs from his sled team got in a fight with our dogs. They were growling and jumping on each other. The mushers had to jump off the sleds and pull them apart.
The views were spectacular. There were waterfalls and granite cliffs and we had a perfect day, sunny and warm. It was about 55 degrees up there which is unusually warm.
At the end of our mushing experience, Dale brought out a 6 week old puppy for the boys to hold. I had to watch McKean because I was sure that he was going to try to smuggle this pup out under his sweatshirt.
The helicopter ride was exhilerating too. Our pilot, who was from Sandy, Utah, and looked all of 18 years old, took us close enough to the mountain so that we could see mountain goats.
If you ever take a cruise up to Alaska, this is an excursion I highly recommend! This was our very 1st excursion of the trip and when we landed McKean leaned over and said to me, "No matter what else we do, this is going to be my favorite excursion." He asked me make a big print of him with the puppy so he could hang it in his room.