October 28 – At Sea

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This was a sailing day, and a recharge day for us (originally it was to have been the day we visited San Diego). With Roxan’s dad back home, we were able to put that stress far enough out of our mind to have 3-4 days of actual relaxation and vacation.

I’m writing this some time later, on November 9th. The ship is completing the Panama Canal passage. We are not on it, I’m sitting in front of my computer at home.

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The reason is that Roxan’s dad passed away on 31 October as we were in the process of cutting the trip short and debarking in Puerto Vallarta. I’ll tell the story of that day in correct sequence — but as you might imagine I am losing details of the memories of those four vacation days (Thursday through Sunday). So this will be less detailed, as will the account of Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.

A quick diversion to departure from Los Angeles on the 27th…I took a quick video of us pushing off the dock.

We saw two shows Friday night: a comedian and a comedy magic show…in which yours truly ended up on the stage as the audience member for one of the illusions.

Being a sound guy, I was fascinated by the technology in the theater — I wanted to take time and observe the tech crew during a rehearsal but was unable to before the cruise was cut short. From the speaker stack to the lights, I was taking it all in:

We also bought NCL-branded lanyards…which I dubbed “Henry Ford Lanyards” because we could get them in any color — as long as it was black.

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(I did notice the next day, around the corner from this case, a display of other colors)

October 25 – San Francisco

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The last 24 hours has been a whirlwind. Things are declining quickly with Roxan’s Dad and we will be debarking the ship at Los Angeles. We would have been getting off now, but I couldn’t find a way to make flights work that didn’t involve an overnight layover. Because we arrive in LA early in the day, we can catch a flight to KC with only a short layover in Phoenix.

Golden Gate bridge was shrouded in fog when it came in view:

Things cleared substantially as we approached the bridge. (Photo taken from Deck 16, forward in the buffet dining area… couldn’t get outside at the time because we were dealing with the home situation at the time.)

The lamps hang from the ceiling of the Observation Lounge a deck below us.

It was clear as we got fully into the bay.

We’re torn between using our vibe passes and going ashore and bumming around Pier 39 this afternoon. We’ve decided not to do that Alcatraz tour, but will be meeting a coworker at Bubba Gump Shrimp this evening.

We ended up having American Diner for lunch, relaxing in the room for the afternoon, and going to Pier 39/Bubba Gumps.

American Cafe

It is a nice take on a themed diner, with replica Chevy Bel Airs decorating the sides of booths and a diner-motif for the wait staff.

I thought we took photos of our burgers, but I geuss not. The taste was good and the servie capable. I was a little taken aback by the waitress handing us VacationHero cards with her name already filled out on them. Even if we had been going to fill out one on her, that would have scrapped the idea. I’m not going to particpate in gaming the system like that.

Bubba Gump Shrimp

Ive wanted to eat here since I discovered it on a trip to San Francisco in the mid-90’s and couldn’t do it then. Now I can say that I’ve eaten there! We had a good time talking with my co-worker Daryl. He’s on the right in the photo below.

We bought a couple of souvenirs for the girls and went back to the room. The pending debarkation and getting back home was weighing heavily.

Encore as seen from Bubba Gump Shrimp

Turnaround Day – Seattle

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So how does a back-to-back work? I would expect what I describe to be accurate for any ship docked in Seattle, and about 95% certain it’ll be like this at other US ports.

We have about 150 people back-to-back today. We are waiting in Cagney’s at the moment, have been here for about 90 minutes.

There have been a couple delays. First, customs did not clear the ship for disembarking on time. That delayed the start of the process about 20 minutes.

Now the crew is having difficulty accounting for one general passenger and five back-to-backers. I remember what it was like a week ago today, sitting in that waiting room by the doors to nowhere, so close to this ship I felt I could touch it. I’d be even more frustrated if I knew it was due to one person who slipped the security net.

10:20 – now we’re moving from Cagney’s to Manhattan.

Of course one part of this needs to resemble onshore security theater… We’re visually corralled off from the rest of the restaurant and now just have rows of seats, no tables.

I won’t describe the exact security procedure. But it’s pretty simple.

Just waiting for clearance to scan “onto” the ship and we’ll be underway on the second leg! 🎉🎉

Embarkation Day: Seattle


Check-in Time

9:30am PDT

I was impressed with how well the check-in process went. Even getting a few minutes late start, at 9:37🤔.

It’s a beautiful day in Seattle, smoke is much less than last night. I hope it remains that way for sail-away!

The baseball game that would not end last night made getting around about sunset and the hour afterward much easier than Terry & Rene anticipated.

From the door opening to sitting in our seats in the boarding lounge…so close we can almost touch the ship…take just over 25 minutes

Lunch – The Local

So, it turns out the warningon the doors is quite serious! Those are actually doors to nowhere…open them, take 1 step and you’re on an express elevator to the ground, three or four stores below!

The entire process of getting on the ship was very smooth, and I think the adaptations that were forced by the pandemic (for the most part) are good tings to hold onto. The changes in muster drill/safety training are especially welcome.

We stopped for food and drink at the first place we came to — The Local. First up: the celebratory drink!

Here’s a shot of the Local from our seat:

I don’t seem to find the photos I took of the meals we had. I’m writing this offline, so I think I probably just haven’t located it among my phone and the SSD storage attached to my tablet.


4:00pm PDT

We sat through sailaway in the Obervation Lounge, with Roxan’s friend Sam and Sam’s friend Roxanne, who are traveling with her/us this week.

I took this photo after the sailaway funny event…it is not of anyone in our party.

A funny event during sailaway: just as we started feeling the thrusters operate, we heard a crash of several glasses breaking in the bar (maybe 20 steps away from us) Snarky me: “C’mon, they did not accelerate THAT hard!!”

Comedy Show

Maybe you’ve seen comedian Tyler Boeh on Dry Bar Comedy — he’s on the ship for an engagement that started last week. I hope to get him aside sometime this week and talk with him about the life of a comic, how it’s different on the ship than doing the normal comedy circuit, etc. I’ll post that if I get it!

Can’t photograph the performance for copyright reasons, but here’s the venue! The Social is a great place for this type of event, and I think we may go to the 80’s music event there tonight.

Dinner – Cagneys

Cagney’s is a must do for me on every sailing. The decore of this one is swanky, mch differnt form the decor on the Sun (almost nautical, as I remember) and on the Jewel (I remember a non-distinctive space taht felt a bit crowded). It’s too cold to enjoy a meal on the Waterfront, and I’m not certain how enjoyable that would be at 20 knots, even in warm weather.

Anyway, since we’d been piecing on stuff all day neither of us felt like having the entire multi-course meal. I chose a ribeye steak as my entree, with baked potato and steamed broccoli.

Ribeye, mediaum — just right! Well-marbled, excellent flavor. I was a bit underwhelmed by the potato, but that comes from eating at places that serve potatoes for 3 as a side, rather than an average size potato.

Roxan chose the Jumbo Shrimp entree, which is served on a bed of mushrooms (variety), along with trufflemashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

We also had a delicious blueberry crisp dessert. The blueberries were just the right tartness to match well with the crumble crust and dip of vanilla ice cream.

Our service team was supremely attentive — I drink a lot of water and tea at meals, and there was never a time where I had an empty glass. They had just the right amount of entering the conversation to provide the service, wihtout being intrusive. They were led by our waiter, Maye Yasay, who I wanted to be certain to recognize for keeping things moving and for a great, friendly interaction.

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All in all, our first day of the trip was top-level!

Day 1: Getting to Seattle

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I’m not sure what happened the previous times we flew to Seattle to go on to Alaska, but there is so much about this trip that is new to my memory…that’s a really odd sensation for me.

We had a pretty uneventful flight, which is a good thing. I was struck once again at the beauty we’ve been blessed with in our country. Most of these photos were taken over Wyoming and Idaho.

And Mt. Ranier as we passed north of it:

We got to Seattle and checked into the hotel, Hampton Inn, near the airport, where we’ll be napping shortly. 🙂

Superb Lunch

We chose a place about a mile from the hotel for lunch, Sharp’s Roast house.

Sharps RoastHouse Menu

I had the 4-cheese patty melt

And Roxan had fried creamer potatoes.

Both dishes were great! Hers was spicier than she expected but still tasty. Our server, Amy, was one of the better ones we’ve had in a while…the right balance of chatty to unobtrusive, great attention to the table and the kitchen had the entrees out much faster than I expected — even accounting for us being in at the early side of lunch service.

It is smoky around here due to wildfires. Not horrible, but limiting visibility to a bit over 5 miles or so and a hint of smoke smell when you first step outside.

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