Change of 2009 Vacation Plans

As for those of you that have been following my blog know, Veronica and I go up to Andy Myers Lodge on Eagle Lake in the Ontario province of Canada. The 2 weeks that we spend up there is very special and important to me. I truly look forward to those two weeks each year. Due to the economy and the fact that we had to replace a vehicle a couple of months ago, this years 2 week trip up to Canada needed to be cancelled. There is also the fact that Veronica's work decided to change things up a bit. No longer can she take 2 consecutive weeks off each and every year. Every other year is fine but not every year. The 2009 trip to Canada would have been our 4th year in a row. With all of this going on a tough decision was made. Man was I down in the dumps when it got down to actually accepting this decision. I am the type of person that needs something, anything, to look forward to throughout the course of a year. I knew that it was going to be a long time until I got to go back up to Canada again(2010) and I felt that I needed to find something special to take the place of that 2 week annual trip. At first, I thought about us driving up to Wickford, RI...a place where I used to live. I figured that we could drive up to Bar Harbor, ME after visiting Wickford. After checking out the mileage from here to there, it appeared that we would be spending most of our 1 weeks vacation driving rather than seeing and doing things. I also wanted to go somewhere that we would be able to take tons of photos and utilize our new HD Camcorder. After nixing the Rhode Island and Maine trip, I thought about the possibility of flying to Seattle. Veronica has been to Seattle before...quite some time ago but she still remembered how beautiful the area was with mountains and water and all of the natural sights to see along with Pikes Market and other sights. I had never been to the West Coast at all and thought that a trip out to Seattle might be fun and interesting. I checked into flights to Seattle and found them to be very inexpensive, especially since we live in Virginia Beach, VA. $200 a person sounded like a real good deal considering that we usually spend anywhere between $550 and $650 a person to fly to International Falls, MN when we head up for our Canadian adventure. After finding out the cost of our flights, I grabbed my AAA travel books and got on the computer to get some ideas on what we could do while we were out there. I found quite a bit to do out there in the Seattle area along with a trip to see Mt. Ranier. I figured that there would be plenty of great photo opps out there. I discussed my thoughts with Veronica and she seemed interested in that scenario. Then one night, while sitting around thinking of things to do in Seattle... the light bulb went off in my head .....Seattle ......water ......Alaska!!!!!! Veronica and I have talked about taking a cruise and going to Alaska. I knew that we would not have enough time to do Alaska real justice but neither one of us has ever been to Alaska at all. I figured that we could do an Alaskan cruise and then sometime in the future, maybe drive through Canada and into Alaska and do everything else that Alaska has to offer us. I did some initial checking on cruise lines and cost. I knew that we would want a cruise line that would allow us to dress casual and eat when,where and with whom we scheduled formal sit down meals. After doing some research, I decided on the Norwegian Cruise Line. I checked on dates and decided to do a week in May...what they consider the "shoulder" period....usually the lowest fares. After doing more research and making some calls, I had enough info to drop this idea on Veronica. Needless to say, she was very interested and excited. So currently we are booked to depart Seattle on the Norwegian Pearl, a newer vessel, on 5/10/2009 for a 7 day trip up to Alaska. Here is our itinerary:

Day Location Arrival Departure
Sunday, May 10, 2009 Seattle ----- 04:00 PM
Monday, May 11, 2009 Cruise Alaska''s Inside Passage ---- -------
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Juneau 02:00 PM 10:00 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Skagway 07:00 AM 09:00 PM
Thursday, May 14, 2009 Cruise Glacier Bay ---- ----
Friday, May 15, 2009 Ketchikan 06:00 AM 01:30 PM
Saturday, May 16, 2009 Victoria 06:00 PM 11:59 PM
Sunday, May 17, 2009 Seattle 08:00 AM ----
I also found out that NCL has what the call a Military Appreciation Program. Whether you are active duty military, retired military or a veteran, with proof of any of these, you get a percentage off of your total, depending on which type of room that you book.
Since this was most likely a one time deal for us, I decided to spring a few extra dollars and go for a Penthouse suite that had butler and concierge service.
Here is the description of the Penthouse Suite:
"This suite features rich cherry wood finishing, floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening to a private balcony, separate bedroom with a queen-size bed, duvet, living and dining area, CD/DVD library, TV, safe, refrigerator, coffee maker, hair dryer, and a luxury bath with separate shower. Butler and concierge service is available".
Veronica and I decided to schedule some for each port of call. There were so many to pick from that it was a really tough decision.
In Juneau, we chose to do the ALASKAN WHALE WATCH. Here is a description of the excursion:
The adventure of a lifetime begins the minute you board our "mammal friendly" jet boat, with fully enclosed and heated cabin. Cruise to the playgrounds of these marine mammals where your captain will slowly approach the animals to provide as close an encounter as possible. Our captains are so confident that you will find a whale that they will offer a $40 cash refund if you do not! The entire tour time is app. 3 hours and we have three departures daily. (Times vary according to your ship's arrival in port).
In Skagway, we decided to do the SCENIC BUS UP/ WHITE PASS RAIL DOWN. Here is a description of this excursion:
SCENIC BUS UP/ WHITE PASS RAIL DOWN Times 8:30am and 1:00pm. Skagway’s most scenic ALASKAN experience begins with a relaxing 1 3/4 hour train excursion from Skagway to the top of the White Pass Summit and beyond! This excursion provides you with an opportunity to view the unparalleled beauty of Alaska from two completely different points of view -- one way by train and one way by bus -- you are exposed to even more picturesque beauty with this combination excursion. Along the way there will be ample opportunities to view and photograph waterfalls, majestic mountains, glaciers, historic sites and the pristine beauty of ALASKA! Upon arrival at the train depot at Fraser (Canadian Customs) you will be transferred to a comfortable bus and experience the beauty of Alaska while our entertaining guides amuse you with captivating stories of the Klondike Gold Rush! On your return to Skagway by bus there are many scenic stops all along the way for photo enthusiasts. Skagway Scenic Overlook, White Pass Trail of '98, Brackett Wagon Road, Pitchfork Falls, William Moore Bridge & Overlook, Tormented Valley ,"Welcome to Alaska" Sign, Bridal Veil Falls, Glaciers & Waterfalls. Enjoy the “Best of Skagway” with our rail and bus excursion to the White Pass Summit and beyond! It is the most comprehensive Skagway excursion! Since this excursion enters Canada, US and Canadian citizens must carry a passport or birth certificate with photo ID. Guests of other nationalities must bring their passport.
In Ketchikan, we decided to take the MISTY FJORDS WILDERNESS CRUISE. Here is a description of this excursion:
Experience Misty Fjords National Monument aboard our comfortable high-speed vessel. A cruise to the heart of the 3,570-square-mile Monument provides an opportunity to view Misty Fjords from a dramatic perspective. A naturalist will provide in-depth commentary on the natural history of the area as you enjoy an assortment of complementary food service including a continental breakfast in the morning and clam chowder and smoked salmon throughout the rest of the day. Bring your camera, as photo opportunities of spectacular scenery and wildlife opportunities abound! Watch for mountain goats at dizzying heights up the rocks or brown or black bears on the shore. We'll take you near seal rocks, the summer home for scores of seals. You'll see soaring bald eagles. Guillemots and Marbled Murrelets dot the waters of the fjords, and other seabirds nest in mossy niches on the cliffs. You'll be surrounded by cliffs towering thousands of feet and view waterfalls cascading into emerald waters. Your cruise includes many points of interest; an active eagle's nest, a mysterious Native pictograph, Punchbowl Cove with its columnar basalt formations and the colorful Mossy Wall bird rookery. Enjoy the dramatic landmark New Eddystone Rock, an ancient volcanic plug that juts up 237 feet from the water. Learn about Captain George Vancouver's exploratory trip through the area in 1794 and how the rock was originally mistaken for a tall ship. A day cruise to Misty Fjords National Monument is an experience you’ll always remember. Day cruise, narration, continental breakfast and snack will be enjoyed.

I plan on writing a journal during our entire Alaskan cruise so that when I return, I can share each days adventures with everyone, which will include daily writings, video and photographs. For additional information on the NCL PEARL, please visit the following links:
There will be more updates as the time gets closer to our trip.
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