Want to see cruise pictures? Of course you do!

Chris and I went on a Caribbean cruise so that he could play in the Heartland Poker Tournament, and so that I could take a week off of work and spend that week in the Caribbean.  Here are a bunch of pictures for you…the captions speak for themselves, so enjoy the slide show!

Heartland Poker Caribbean Cruise

Act 4: The Afterglow!

Ok, I am soooo looking forward to being done with wedding blogging! So this one’s gonna be short – it’s the last installment of our 4-part series, and I’m excited about writing about more recent events. So let’s get crackin’!

Chris and I took our post-wedding vacation (I’m not too excited about the word “honeymoon” – it sounds so mushy!) on a cruise in the Western Caribbean. We went all over the place (in areas limited to the Western Caribbean)! We started in Florida, went to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, then hit up Aruba, Willemstad (Curacao), then sailed on over to the Panama Canal and Colon, up to Costa Rica, then back to Florida. We were gone 10 days, and one of the best things about the trip was the sun…this spring has been very rainy and gray in the Pacific Northwest region, so seeing the sun again was a welcome sight. And it was warm, too!

We really did have a fantastic time. The food was amazing, we got to dress up all fancy-like on formal nights, I learned how to play craps (1. pick up dice. 2. roll dice. 3. yay!), and we were even invited to eat dinner with the captain on our last formal night because we are just that awesome (or perhaps it was because we were the youngest couple on the ship).

You can view many pictures by clicking here: HERE. Alternatively, you may look at the Cliff Notes version below. At any rate, enjoy!

Our first day on board the Zuiderdam, in Ft. Lauderdale, after traveling all night.
Time for a drink on deck!
Our first stop was at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Admittedly, this is a pretty dorky picture. I was riding Peanut, and Chris was on Just for You. After our land ride, we rode our horses as they swam in the ocean.
After our horseback ride, we went parasailing. This is Chris and me, probably about 500 feet up; that’s our ship in the background. Pretty water, huh?
Our first sea day, and our first formal night. Chris wore his pimp suit, and I wore my skank shoes.
In Aruba, we went boarded a catamaran and went snorkeling, which I’ve never really done before. It exceeded my expectations, for sure!
I took way better underwater pictures than this, but this picture shows the coolest thing we saw – squid! You can see one near the bottom center of the photo – you might even be able to see an eye if you look closely. They were less than a foot long, kind of brown, and swam in schools of 3-5 squid.
We spent a day in Willemstad, Curacao. We did quite a bit of walking, which led us to a non-tourist, more local market. These boats brought recently-dispatched sea creatures to market booths just off the dock.
Another formal night on a sea day.
We got to go through the Panama Canal to Lake Gatun!
We took a side trip to Gamboa Park, where we got on small boats, tooled around Lake Gatun, and saw some monkeys. These little guys were accustomed to being fed by the guides, unfortunately. But they were super cute!
In Costa Rica, we traveled to the central region of the country for some ziplining. Behind is is the AdrenaLine, a 700 m line that traverses a valley and river.
Our last formal night. This was the black and white ball, which we went to after eating dinner with the captain at his private table with a specially prepared meal. We were pretty fortunate to have that experience!
We spent our last evening on board at the Pinnacle Grill. It was a fantastic meal – here, our server is flaming my chicken kabob. Yum!

No, the *other* Vancouver!

Can you believe that Chris and I took *another* cruise? Well, we did, so believe it, folks! In fact, we took our second cruise on the very same ship we sailed to Alaska on, Holland America’s Rotterdam. We got a fantastic deal to sail from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. during the seasonal transition period (the ship changes their weekly trips from Alaska in the summer to Hawaii and warmer locations in the winter), so we got to spend one night on the ship and it cost about as much as a nice hotel room. Plus, we had three meals included, along with all the fun of hanging out on a cruise ship.

Friday, Sept. 17, we drove up to Seattle and spent the night with Chris’ uncle Bruce and his two enthusiastic dogs, Bumper (shown at right with Chris) and Maddie. We wanted to get on the boat around noon, so the following day we only spent a few minutes allowing the dogs to burrow under our bedsheets (Bumper insisted, even though he is not as petite as he thinks he is) before we took off and parked the car at King Street Station. We took a cab to Pier 91 where we waited in several long lines to check in. Chris ran into an old high school classmate, whom we awkwardly passed in the line several times. What exactly is the protocol for that? We said hi, but is there any standard guidelines for what you should do each time you pass them in line? Do you have to make small talk at each intersection?

Anyway, our confusion and puzzlement were short-lived, because when we got to our check-in desk we discovered that we had been upgraded from a stinky standard D-category stateroom with just a little window on deck 2’s main floor to a fabulous private A-category veranda suite with our own balcony all the way up on deck 6. Suck it, steerage! We don’t wait in lines, and we don’t spend our nights in steerage!

After we explored our room, we ran over to the dining room and caught lunch at the last second that they were still serving. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch of salmon, ziti, chocolate mousse cake and fruit tart – so, in addition to not waiting lines and spending our nights in steerage, we also don’t eat on the lido deck at the infectious disease buffet! However, after lunch, we did enjoy drinks on the lido – mojitos and a sidecar – as Chris narrowly beat me at cribbage. And can you believe that they took photos for such a short cruise? Well, they did, so of course we had to go to the photo gallery to check out our prints.

After we had a loverly dinner in the dining room (yummy penne, eggplant cannelloni, toffee and apple strudel) with what appeared to be the cast of the Russian version of “Jersey Shore”, we met up with the ship’s photographer, Andreea, whom we had met on our first cruise. We’d been keeping in touch with her on facebook since our first cruise, so she was expecting to see us – we chatted over tea, and afterwards, she hooked us up with some of the photos of us that were at the photo gallery (wink wink!). It was nice to see a familiar face amongst a sea of so many strangers (except for Chris’ high school class mate, of course, which was just a bit awkward).

On Sunday, disembarkation started bright and early (ok, it wasn’t bright, since it was still pretty much dark outside). We ordered room service to arrive between 6:30 and 7:00 am, and at approximately 6:29 we got the knock on our door and the general PA announcement telling everyone to get off the boat according to their disembarkation group. Since we were in group 23 we at least had time to eat our breakfast, but we were off the boat with our packs on our backs by 7:30. Yawn! We had to go through Canadian customs, and were greeted by a smart-ass agent who cheerfully referred to us as being from “Vancouver Jr.” I looked over at Chris and almost wanted to start chanting “fight! fight! fight! fight!” but since we were going to have to do a lot of walking, I thought it might be best to conserve our energy.

We had to take some sort of bus through the port terminal, and then we took a taxi to Stanley Park. We didn’t really have a plan for the day, other than to “explore the great international city of Vancouver, B.C.” Unfortunately, there’s not much happening on Sunday at 7:30 in the morning, so Stanley Park was a good choice for us – we walked around the eastern side of the park as it started to rain, and then took a bunch of pictures at the totem pole display. After milling about for an acceptable amount of time, we walked back to the central part of the island to the Vancouver Aquarium, which is actually a pretty cool place. In addition to the standard fish exhibits, they also had a large section dedicated to the marine life of that area, a tropical rainforest section (with bats, a sloth, and tortoises), and a 4D movie about ocean life. Plus they had sea otters, particularly one named Milo. He really liked to eat!

After the aquarium, we took another taxi to the west side of the city, near English Bay, and shared fish and chips at the Boathouse – yum! We reluctantly strapped our heavy backpacks on (even though what we really wanted to do was take a nap) and started walking southeast through the very colorful Davies neighborhood. We jogged east through Robson, then southerly to Chinatown, where we spent some time walking through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Incidentally, I discovered that mastering the Chinese yo-yo is a whole lot harder than it looks, and that it is quite possible to bash yourself in unfortunate places with either/both the yoyo part or the sticks. I’m not sure I’m going to try *that* again.

After that, we walked west to the train station, where there were more very long lines and no upgrades available to business class. But that was actually ok, because once we were on our train, we found our seats to be quite roomy and nice – not at all like traveling on an airplane! Although the drinks were just as spendy – I enjoyed two rather large white Russians (courtesy of Christopher), a couple of episodes of The Office (season 6) on Chris’ laptop, and a nice nap after watching the sunset as we traveled back down to Seattle. I was briefly disturbed by a customs agent who came on at the boarder crossing – he asked us what we had purchased during our time in Canada, and my response was to look at the food wrappers on our fold-out trays and tell him “you’re lookin’ at it.” Grumpy when I get woken up from a good nap, duh!!!

We were back in Seattle by 10:30 pm, and since we had parked the car right at the train station, we were back on the road in short order. We drove down to Portland, and were in bed by 1:30 am. It was a busy trip and a long weekend, but we had a really great time seeing fancy new international places. You can check out more pictures by clicking here. Whew!

A is for Alaska!

Ah, a free evening to catch up on my blog! I’ve done a bit of traveling in the past few weeks, so I’ll start with Alaska. Hey – I went to Alaska! Chris and I took a cruise on Holland America’s MS Rotterdam for a well-deserved vacation. It even had elements of adventure! We had a fantastic time – the weather was mostly craptastic, but it was still completely beautiful and we were prepared with the proper attire, so no big deal. We saw amazing scenery and lots of wildlife including whales (from our stateroom window!), sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, bald eagles, jellyfish, and even a bear. Woo hoo! Chris and I took a ton of pictures, which you can view here. I’ll include a few pics in this post, but they’re just the highlights, of which there were too many to describe in detail here. Chris and I can’t wait for our next trip together…which we’re already thinking about. The Galapagos Islands, perhaps???

July 3: leave Seattle
July 4: at sea, formal night

July 5: Juneau (float plane trip to Taku Lodge and Mt. Roberts Tramway)

July 6: Hubbard Glacier

July 7: Sitka (coast tour via ocean raft), 2nd formal night

July 8: Ketchikan

July 9: day at sea, stop in Victoria, B.C.

July 10: back in Seattle!

No Longer a Cruise Virgin!

After waiting months to go on my vacation, Mark and I are back from our week-long cruise to the Mexican Riviera. We left from San Diego and enjoyed seven days of relaxing at sea, during which time we stopped in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. There were many great things about the cruise – the food, the spa, the relaxing, the no Teddy Bear whining at me 24 hours a day, the swimming with dolphins – but to see all the pictures, please click here or on the collage of pictures below and view the slide show that I put together with captions (you have to click the slide show button). Enjoy!