Cruising On Sun Princess (Alaska 2007)

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June 3rd 2007
Published: November 24th 2008
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Married Man's Trail in KetchikanMarried Man's Trail in KetchikanMarried Man's Trail in Ketchikan

Many married men traipsed this walkway after a "visit" to Dolly's Home.

May 27, 2007

While Eve, Boy and Paolo went to hear Sunday mass, Emy and I were busy packing our bags for the Alaskan cruise. We spent the morning packing, and making arrangements with the Princess desk for our cab ride to the cruise terminal.

We breezed through immigration at the Princess cruise terminal. We were there early, and we’re glad we decided that way. It was packed by the time we were lined up to get on board the ship. The Princess crew checked out our visas and kept our passports. We were given a cruise card which we were advised we’d use to get on and off the boat, and to make payments with as all bills are charged to that cruise card. Including the mandatory tips of $10 per day!

As I emailed friends, there’s got to be a study on how first-time cruisers spend their first 12 hours on the boat. Gosh, our adrenaline levels were at all time high as we posed and snapped away pictures here and there, even before the ship sailed!!!!! Our cabin with a balcony is really super cool. The cabin is spacious enough —- a good thing
Getting Ready To SailGetting Ready To SailGetting Ready To Sail

First Time Cruisers Travel In Style
, since I was honestly prepared to accept a small , cramped space they call a cabin. Paolo is so excited over the sun deck, buffet tables, ice cream booth, grilled burgers and hotdog bars, movie theaters, internet café and library all in the boat. As the adults were equally excited too, but tried in vain to compose themselves!

Dinner was in a fine dining outlet where we enjoyed hors d ouvres, a cheese platter, a seafood consommé, shrimp cocktail, steak or prawn thermidore, chocolate soufflé, wine. Yummmmy……… we’d be lucky to get off this ship with only 5 pounds gained! Getting back to the cabin, we let out all our clothes for the next 7 days to hang in our closet. Brownie was out of my suitcase and comfortably perched on top of the pillow on my bed. Our cabin steward, a Filipino by the name of Bads (short for Badong) or Salvador to others, must have found me weird to be traveling with a stuffed toy dog.

Before the sun set, we sailed out of Seattle. Amazing.

May 28, 2007

Glorious morning spent on the boardwalk around the 5th level of the boat. Judging by all the tempting food on the buffet and the awesome a la carte menu at the fine dining halls, I knew I had a lot of walking to do. The boardwalk was such an ideal morning exercise. While walking, one literally smells and feels the breeze, the ‘mists’ from the ocean sprays, the quiet harmony of the seas. Truly a glorious morning. The not to brisk walk was enough to give me a good sweat, in time for the day’s first meal. We all met for breakfast at Horizon, for our buffet breakfast. The Pinoy waiters were so solicitous. Never mind the rude waiter of another race! Paolo loved his sinangag………nearly shouting out how he finally got his true Pinoy fried rice! I went overboard on the salmon and cheese spread on the buffet table. Not to be outdone, Tito Boy went busy with his steak and eggs breakfast. Emy must have tried all the breads and cheese, pate and jams, hardly leaving any room for the other breakfast offerings. Evelyn stuck to her salmon and omelette. We have a whole day cruising ……… and here we are stuffing ourselves real good! Oh, my. I sure hope we can still fit in the formal wear we brought for the Captain’s dinner tonite.

The live show playing in the theatre was a must see. We didn’t miss it , of course. We enjoyed the songs and found the dancers very good. Looking around, I caught myself smiling as I enjoyed many senior citizens similarly enjoying the show with newfound friends. There was a couple, Dorothy and Douglas. I can only imagine their first meeting on the boat. They looked like 2 teens falling in love at first sight. Doug, as he prefers to be called, is a smooth operator, never failing to please Dorothy on how the color of her gown becomes her, or liking the way she did her hair that night. Awww……..

Dinner time………….we finally donned our long skirts and beaded blouses, with a wrap to boot! The Captain and his crew looked real impressive in their white naval uniforms, as do all other passengers who all dressed up to the nines. Isn’t it fun to dress up for dinner? We certainly enjoyed this dinner, as we also indulged ourselves with a bottle of Chateaunuf du Pape. Now I really really wish I went to that winery in Washington for more bottles of wine! The balcony in our cabin beckons……….imagine having your legs up, tickled by the ocean sprays, hand clasping a glass of wine? C’est la vie……….

May 29, 2007
Tuesday in Ketchikan

Cheese, salmon, ham, sausages, bacon, salami, fruit ades, fruits, breads, cereals, etc. This would be our daily breakfast fare. Always a battle of wills not to ingest so much early in the morning. Today, we cruise towards Ketchikan, the first city stop in Alaska. Before our first destination, time enough to ’shoot the breeze’ and enjoy the boat. Emy’s first order of the day is to check out all the movies showing at the theatre as well as the live shows. There is so much to do………we felt we were fully booked even before things started to roll.

It was raining when we docked at Ketchikan and rode the tenders to get there. Tito Boy found a Mason’s Lodge and had his first photo for the day taken in front of the lodge. Emy and I were amused with the totem poles you’d find all over the place. The Alaskans marked every affair with a totem pole which served as testimony to every unforgettable event. We walked and easily found Creek Street, which was the hub of all activities in the area. Now , this site really looks nice. Wooden two-storey buildings of not too long ago, maybe 50 or so years, in cheerful colors. We had our first group photo taken here. The Japanese who took our picture took the longest time to snap the camera, and we ended up with big smiles plastered on our faces as we braved the cold in Ketchikan.

Then there was Dolly’s House, that old brothel managed by feisty Dolly of old. This ‘enterprising’ lady is one for the feminists of that age. I liked her house, nothing extravagant, but one knows she lived quite comfortably. The lady surely knows what pleasure is. I even found her collection of hand painted china which is exactly the same set my mom kept and treasured! From this brothel, we walked out the back door and found an eagle, waiting for tourists like us craving for a photo op. It cost us , of course. Tito Boy was willing to pay more though, for a picture with the young lady in charge of the eagle. Hmmm. Then, we walked through the maze of shops selling basically the same stuff —- smoked salmon, knives, souvenir lighters and keychains, etc. We tried the “Married Man’s Trail” which was allegedly the path taken by married men after a rendezvous with Dolly. It was a beautiful board walk, passing and crossing a river where salmon abound. From there, we walked a few more minutes to reach the Salmon Hatchery as well as the Museum where one finds some of the oldest totem poles.Tito Boy even joked that it is unfortunate Emy and I can’t bring home any of the totem poles as souvenirs, as we allegedly took a fancy on a few!

On our way back, we found the original ukay ukay……….a Salvation Army shop. Tito Boy, who forgot to bring his black leather jacket on this trip, got himself a brown Marlboro-type leather jacket and proudly wore it back to the boat! Well, things did work out well for us! We even found this supermarket and met a Pinay cashier married to an Alaskan. She was only too happy to chat with us. Which was a good thing, as our bladders won’t hold for another ten minutes by then. So, we were led to this back door leading to the toilets where we emptied our bladders! What a relief.

Back on the boat, we went for grilled burgers and sausages. Very American. It was such an ordeal to walk around the deck and not try the grilled foodstuff. The Pinoy crew working on the barbecue pit was nice enough to say yes to my request of “2 hotdogs, no fries, and a big mug of root beer” . Paolo enjoyed this meal, for sure. Then, there was time enough for a movie “The Pursuit of Happiness”. Evelyn, Emy and I watched the film and got out of the theatre feeling depressed . We promised ourselves we’d never make the mistake of watching another sad sad movie especially on a holiday .

May 30,2007
Wednesday in Juneau

This is the place which most excites me. I heard about Juneau, and I heard about the Mendenhall Glacier. And the helicopter ride. The boat offers this as an offshore excursion for as much as US $290. I thought I’d try my luck and check out the travel booths in Juneau itself. Emy and I found one for $230. Evelyn, Boy and Paolo got themselves booked for a city tour.

First, Emy and I were whizzed to the helicopter company’s camp. We were fitted with snow boots. I was disappointed we weren’t given the fleece vests or jackets as well. But never mind, this will do. Together with 2 Americans - mom and daughter- we were assigned to helicopter #1 manned by a very young pilot. No kidding, this pilot looks like a kid! If i didn’t pay all of $230 for this helicopter ride to the glacier, I would have backed out. Of course, I didn’t share that sentiment with Emy. But then again, she would probably have gone for the ride anyway, than waste the $230. Well, what does that make of the 2 of us? Never mind, you need not answer that. Going back to our glacier adventure, it was a fleet of 4 helicopters flying together to Mendenhall Glacier.The helicopter ride took about 20 minutes, with a few minutes flying ’still” right above the famous glacier. As we landed, and got out of the helicopter, Emy and I never stopped snapping away. Up close, the glacier had crevices with blue water flowing in and around it. Reminded me of blue waves on an ocean “frozen still”. Wow, this is truly awesome. Never imagined walking on a glacier, much less drinking the blue water there. I swear it was blue! The half hour or so on the glacier was enough to take in the view and the feel of being on a glacier that may, will not be there forever. This is my favorite trip of all. As I’m sure it was for Emy too.

We compared notes by the time we got back and got ready for another fine dining experience. Tonight, we went French. A platter of 3 cheeses: hard, soft and creamy. Don’t ask me what they are, much more spell them. Senior moments. I particularly liked the shrimp aperitif, the nicoise salad and the entrecote. Tito Boy and Paolo stuck to their steaks. Evelyn and Emy seemed more interested in the tempting desserts. Who can blame them? But we had good stories to tell. Paolo is so envious of the helicopter ride. He doesn’t care about the glacier, but he is most interested in how it is to go on a helicopter ride! The adults in the group then discussed how we were all amazed to find a Manila Square right there in Juneau! With Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s bust to boot. Unbelievable. We had Pinoy OCWs back then, working on shipyards, mining companies, etc. And they called themselves ALASKEROS! We also found Eddie’s Restaurant serving our famous sinigang and sinangag breakfasts! Eddie must have been there a long time, enjoying quite a clientele. It is a good-sized restaurant. Too bad it was closed for business while we were there. Either that, or the shops all close early in this part of America. Well, so much for a wonderful day in Juneau!

May 31,2007
Thursday in Skagway

Skagway. Population: 800. When the ships dock, population swells to 3,000. My oh my.

When we got off the boat, we found some rocks painted with such slogans as ” Jun Jun was here”. Or ” Tikboy loves Skagway”. Can you guess who did those? Tell me now, is this vandalism a Pinoy thing or what?

There were shuttle buses ready to pick us up soon after we got off the boat. When I asked which way it is going left or right, the driver simply circled his index finger with a look that seems to say “you’d know what i mean”. And we sure found out what he meant soon enough. Skagway is a very small town. Perhaps all of 3 streets across and 3 more up and down. No kidding, it would be a joke to get lost in this town! They do have a nice looking Town Hall, a small but interesting Museum, a small theatre, local tour shops offering train rides to the White Summit (?), and many jewelry shops. For some reason, I suspect the jewelry shops are all owned by the boat operators and that the jewelry stocks must have been shipped to wherever the boats are going next.

I fancied a set of ring and earrings. My mistake. The shop owner wouldn’t let me go without buying. I had to pretend I needed to consult my husband (ahem…) just to get out of that store without being skinned and stuck to a pole. So, I joined Emy instead in another store selling souvenir items and some furry wraps. It was hard to tell the animal origin of each furry wrap, but they all felt good enough to try without buying them. We finally joined up with the Guerreros and walked back towards our boat. No sense getting on that shuttle bus. It was a very manageable walk. We passed the old train station, a small park, and lo and behold, an open air toilet! Sure you’ve got a roof on top of your head, but gosh, how can one do his thing there when there are no walls? Tito Boy tried to sit on it, pretending to be ‘busy’. Ho hum.

Tonight, we got our Alaskan Salmon dinner. There was also crayfish, and the fish soup can pass for a good boulabaisse. Paolo skipped dinner. Our Polish waitress was disappointed because she was planning to surprise him with this dessert of ice cream shaped like a volcano, complete with chocolate lava flowing down . We weren’t let off easily without first promising to bring Paolo for dinner the following night.

June 1, 2007
Friday At Sea

We have the whole day on the boat today. Evelyn woke us up early today to get on deck and watch the glaciers all around. We did, and were not disappointed. I must admit I had my pajamas underneath my pullover and jacket and wasted no time climbing up to join them. We took a lot of pictures and video.

For the rest of the day, Emy’s excited over all the movies she missed back home, which she can watch at the ship’s theater. I spent a lot of time in the library where I found really good books to read. And there was the Internet Shop too. Paolo has discovered by this time the arcade where he can play his video games. As for Tito Boy and Evelyn, I think they got busy at the casino. We met up for lunch at Horizon’s buffet restaurant, where we again put our disciplines to the test. Sheer willpower………..

Found time to write my journals after a good walk around the deck. Then a short nap. Just a lazy day , really. Then we prepped ourselves for dinner and a show. Tonight, we had Alaskan king crab’s claws. Yummy!!!! If I had just that for dinner, you won’t find me complaining. But then again, there were desserts……….. Paolo enjoyed his Volcano Ice Cream, and he got a lot of help from us all. Our Polish waitress was happy to see our beaming faces, enjoying her “creation”.

June 2, 2007
Saturday in Victoria, Canada

When we first planned this trip, we thought we can get away without a Canadian visa and decided we would simply stay on the boat when it docks here in Victoria, Canada. Then we were advised that we still needed to get the transit visa even if we stay on the boat. And so we did.

When we reached Victoria, Canada, we were tempted to get off. The video on the boat showing the landmarks in Victoria were very appealing, so we decided we’d check out the place. We didn’t book any of the offshore excursions and thought we’d do well doing the city tour independently. We got lucky. Emy found this cab with a Turkish driver. Ahmed drove us around the city , even gave us tips on where else to go, with lots of commentaries while driving around. We went to the castle, the peak, the Emerald Hotel, the city hall, Chinatown, University of Victoria, etc. When we got off in front of Emerald Hotel, Ahmed reminded us that tea in that hotel costs $50. So much for tea. We just went in, walked around, and used the hotel toilets. Ha ha ha. Then out we went to check out the ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and other shops around the square. When it was time to get back to the boat, we found the same cab driven by Ahmed. We made it back to the boat with enough time to get ready for our formal farewell dinner. Another night of long black skirts and beaded blouses. Champagne was served, and there were those who obviously enjoyed themselves too much. Dinner was another spectacle too. The Chefs’ Parade was widely applauded, and there were oohs and aahs when the waiters followed with flaming Baked Alaska cakes!

By the time dinner was over, the dancing has begun. As expected, our Pinoy crew danced their hearts away. The other passengers enjoyed the entertainment offered by these Pinoys who truly danced well. We watched, and enjoyed our drinks. Oh yes, we swayed to the music too. But we didn’t stay too long
Back in San Francisco, CABack in San Francisco, CABack in San Francisco, CA

Photo borrowed from Mike A. Thanks, Mike. Lovely shot.
to enjoy the party. We must be getting old……….

June 3. Eve and Boy’s Wedding Anniversary.
Sunday. Back in SFO.

The Sun Princess, our boat, docked at Seattle, Washington mid morning. We got out in time to hail a cab for the airport where we took the plane to bring us back to SFO.

Mar was waiting for us at the airport and brought us to dinner with Mario, Cet and his family. Another buffet dinner. Our bloated stomachs took in more punishment. The kind we like.

Before calling it a night, we managed to hear Sunday mass.

June 4. Monday.
Back in SFO.

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Like Mother, Like SonLike Mother, Like Son
Like Mother, Like Son

Must be the genes..........he he
Joy, pure Joy!Joy, pure Joy!
Joy, pure Joy!

The Polish staff came up with this wonderful dessert surprise for Paolo. Vava Voom....she said. Volcano erupts!

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