Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Last Frontier... Our Alaskan Cruise


As you can tell from the title, Justin, Jonah, and I joined Justin's family on the Celebrity Millennium to celebrate Justin's grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. It was incredible! Alaska is so beautiful!

So I wouldn't forget the little things we did, I kept a brief journal at the end of each day. I decided to just post all of these with pictures for y'all, and for me.

Day One on the Celebrity Millennium - June 8, 2012
Anchorage, AK
Well, today we woke up in Anchorage, AK at the Marriott in Downtown. The day started out with checking in for the cruise and then breakfast at a local cafe called Cafe 817. Afterward we walked around and then walked back to the hotel to check out and then load up on the bus that would take us to the train station. The whole family (All 18 of us!) boarded the Alaska train that goes from Anchorage to Seward. The scenery was incredible! Mountains, trees, water, glaciers, wildlife.... All so beautiful that pictures don't even do them justice.
Michael and Tiffany sitting with us on the train.

Aunt Kim, Uncle Robert, Katie, and Josh on the train.

A bit of the view from the train.

The happy couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary!

Jonah sitting on the table by himself playing with an empty Mike N Ike box. My big boy liked the train!

The train.

Justin and Jonah taking a nap on the train.
 As for the animals I mentioned, we saw many bald eagles, a porcupine, and some of the family saw a moose! I'm bummed cause I missed it tending to Jonah Bear. Once we got to Seward we saw the Millennium floating at dock. My gosh, was it HUGE! We boarded and immediately went to dinner. The main dining room was so fancy that they put the napkin on your lap for you. After dinner we had an emergency drill (which I was thrilled about, I was a little nervous), and then we went back to our stateroom for the night. While feeding Jo before bed I saw six or seven whales from our balcony window! So cool! Jonah seems to like the gentle rocking of the boat. I think it helps him sleep.  
Day Two
The second day on the ship we traveled all day. Which means we never ported. It was a beautiful day of scenery. My whale count is up to 12 now.
Our balcony from our stateroom.

Humpback Whale tail!

Beautiful mountains



All bundled up watching for whales and looking at the Hubbard Glacier.

An iceberg. Did you know an ice chunk needs to be 15 feet above the water to be considered an iceberg?

Hubbard Glacier

Panorama from our balcony of the Hubbard Glacier and it's ice field.

Jonah and Daddy all ready to explore the ship!
All day we just ate, explored the ship, let Jo sleep, and had fun with family. The ship even passed the Hubbard Glacier and we got to see a couple icebergs that fell off of it! This evening was the first formal night. I quickly got ready and then went over to Tiffany's room and I did her hair. It was fun to have some girl time. Before dinner, the whole family took some pictures in our formal wear. Jonah's black tux was a hit! We actually had random people ask if they could take his picture because he was so cute. He has grown to be quite the celebrity on this ship. Almost everyone knows him as "the good baby". He's making his mama proud. If I show up somewhere without Jonah people ask where he is! Some even know him by name! After dinner the family gave Grandma and Grandpa their anniversary book, then we all went to a show... Ballroom dancing. It was beautiful! Jonah Bear was a sweetie and let mama watch most of it before he got too cranky (it was past his bedtime.) He loved all the bright colors and music. Then we all went to bed. Having people wait on you, and entertain you is exhausting! (Que Eye Rolling)  
Day Three 
Today we ported in Juneau. The day started out with breakfast and then Jonah hung out with Grandma Lynne (Justin's Mom) while Justin and I got on a helicopter with his sister and Dad and took a flight to the Mendenhall Glacier.
Mendenhall Glacier from the helicopter.

Sarah and Dad Biddle standing on the Glacier.

Glacier being split. (This view is from the helicopter. These are HUGE.)

A crack in the glacier.... about 20 feet deep.

Close up of the crack...

Dad B, Sarah, Me, and the hubby on the Mendenhall Glacier.
We were actually able to get out of the helicopter and walk around on the glacier! We saw the blue ice up close, saw the deep cracks in the ice... Some 150 feet deep, and even got to see a mountain goat!
The mountain goat!

Sarah and I in the helicopter.
 When we got back Justin and I grabbed a quick lunch on the ship and then sat with Jo while he finished up his nap. Then we all got ready and headed into Juneau. We had fun walking around and shopping. We were tired so we went back.  Jo fell asleep in Juneau, so I let Justin take a nap while Jo and I explored the ship. Then we all started to get ready for dinner. After dinner there was a show that featured a comedic illusionist, so Jonah and I let Justin go see that with his family while we went to bed.  
Something else very special happened today... Jonah said his first word! My sweet Jonah said "Mama!" Now he says it all the time!   
Day Four 
Today Justin took care of Jo while I slept in. Then I got up, got some breakfast, and did a little writing. When I got back, we all went to lunch, and then headed out to our present port: Skagway.
Skagway, Alaska
 Skagway is what you would expect for a gold mining town...rustic, and full of tourists. We did a bit of shopping and Jonah slept on and off. I bought pajama pants that had moose covered in in chocolate and it said " chocolate moose" all over them. It also said Alaska. When we got back to the ship we relaxed and got ready for dinner. Our waiter showed us his talent of origami napkins.
Mo our waiter and his napkins folded into a butterfly, a boot, and a bird.
We have the best waiter, he's so nice. Everyone was tired from the day so not many from our group went to the show after dinner. We all went to bed or watched the boat leave Skagway.  
Day Five
Today we woke up in Icy Strait Point and tendered to Hoonah, Alaska. Hoonah is a very small village that is full of Alaska natives.  Here we had our whale watching excursion. It was nice to see sea lions and a couple whales, but Justin and I actually had more luck from our stateroom balcony because we have been chilling there while Jonah took naps. However, if you didn't have as much luck as us, the whale watching would have been quite thrilling. 
Sea Lions on a buoy.

Humpback whale tail from the excursion.
 After our excursion, we came back on the ship, and ate lunch. Today I was spoiled, my manicure from home was chipping, so I went to the spa inboard and had a manicure.... So relaxing. It was the best manicure I have ever had. Jonah and Justin slept while I was getting pampered. Soon we all got ready for dinner, and then after dinner we relaxed until we retired for the evening.  
Day Six
Today we docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. Justin and I didn't have any excursions planned, so we ended up just walking around looking at totem poles and shopping. We even ended up stopping in the discovery center and had a great time learning about the wildlife and history of Southeast Alaska. 
Jonah and I at the Discovery Museum.

Jonah and I in front of a totem pole in Ketchikan.

Bits of Ketchikan, AK.
When shopping, Justin ended up buying me diamond stud earrings! I am so very spoiled. 
After we were done wandering around Ketchikan, we boarded the ship to get ready for the second formal night. It was fun having more girl time doing hair and stuff.  Right before dinner we had more family photos taken, and then after dinner our little family went to bed.
Our little family during the second formal night.
It had been a long day. (Still not sure what the rest of our family was doing while we went to bed early with Jonah every night... but we're glad we slept.) 
Day Seven
Today was a cruising day... Meaning we didn't port anywhere. So the last full day on the ship was spent hanging around with family, whale watching, and packing up.  Speaking of whale watching... Jonah woke up at 7 this morning, and for once, I'm glad he did! Because we were up so early we were able to see about 20 humpback whales! It was incredible! Then about an hour later we saw a ton of porpoise. While watching the porpoise we realized we could see an orca out in the distance. About 10 minutes later we had 7 or 8 orcas swimming in front of the ship. It was so neat! I think my favorite part of this cruise has been getting to see so much incredible wildlife in its natural habitat! So much cooler than in a zoo.

Two Orcas... aka Killer Whales.

A BIG Orca.
So now our humpback whale count is up to 40! Our killer whale count is up to 12, and everything else is too many to count! At night we ate dinner and then spent some time chilling with family in a lounge on the ship. Sarah and I got virgin piƱa coladas... Yum.
The Cosmos Lounge we hung out in a lot.
 Then we all went to bed.  
Day Eight
Today we woke up in Vancouver, Canada and we disembarked the ship. After customs, we got a 40 minute narrated bus trip through Vancouver to the airport. We caught our flight to Houston, TX and basically ran to our next flight. However, when we got to our gate our flight back home was delayed 30 minutes... Whatever we thought, we get to grab a snack.... 5 hours later we finally boarded the plane. We were supposed to get back to our hotel in Nashville at 10:30pm, we got there at 3:30 am... It was a long day, but now we are home, safe and sound. 

Here are a few more pictures I wasn't sure where to put, but still wanted to share!
The main lobby of the ship.

Our stateroom.

The route we took though the inside passage.

Our cruise schedule.

It was a long trip, and we didn't get to spend as much time with family as we would have liked, but it was... Well, there just aren't any words to describe the awesomeness of Alaska. It was an adventure of a lifetime.

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