Alaska Recap (The End)

Our final day of the cruise was spent mostly at sea. However, in the evening, we docked in Victoria (British Columbia, Canada). We heard that this dock was both to refuel and to satisfy an old maritime rule requiring cruise ships to visit at least one non-US port. I have no idea how true either reason is.

Docking in Victoria was an experience in itself. There’s a welcoming committee. Our room happened to be on the same side of the ship as the dock, so we got to hear the leader of the committee call out “Oo-yay, oo-yay, Victoria welcomes the grand ship Norwegian Pearl! God bless America, and God save the Queen!”
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The dock also brought over a little lamppost to go next to the ramp off of the ship:
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Our one and only tour booked through the ship was for an Orca watching tour. It was terrific, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area. The boat was smaller than the “small” boat that we’d paid somewhat of a premium to be on in Juneau, and we saw more whales doing more things than in Juneau. Now, granted, these were killer whales, not humpbacks, but it was still awesome. I have pictures from the tour in the gallery, but even better pictures can be found on the tour company’s blog entry for our tour. I really appreciated that they told us in advance that they had a professional photographer on board to capture the action and post it to their blog, so that we could focus on watching instead of taking pictures.

Whales were leaping out of the water, along with the usual tail slaps and fin sightings. We also came across a grey whale, and we got close enough to smell its exhale. I do *not* recommend smelling a whale’s exhale. It smells exactly how you would expect the breath of a creature that eats fish and never brushes its teeth (hole? plates?), which is to say that it smells like dead and rotting fish.
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DH and I started the tour riding in the open back of the boat, but we got splashed by a few waves and decided to go inside. We did get to see our ship docked, and I got a really good picture of the ship:
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After the orca tour, it was getting dark, and we decided to just head back to the ship rather than trying to find our way into and out of the downtown area. We did see some really cute houseboats at the smaller boat dock, though.
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The next morning was our departure. NCL has departure down pat. They gave us a newsletter explaining what would happen. We got to choose our own departure time, and we picked out luggage tags associated with that time. Amazingly, we managed to keep our suitcases under 50 lbs each still, despite having added about 15 lbs in souvenirs (mainly soap). And really, we both over-packed, though not as much as we did for the Caribbean cruise we’d done a few weeks earlier. To me, anytime you come home with clean clothes that aren’t undies and socks, you over-packed.

Our Seattle friends picked us up from the dock. They were downtown that morning anyways for the awards ceremony from the National Puzzlers’ League Convention. We got to meet the guy who designed Time’s Up, and we asked him for his ruling on both the “Lady Lumps” and “Greenpants” controversies. πŸ™‚ Then, we went to one of their friend’s houses for a gaming day. There, we played Through the Ages and Merchant of Venus, both of which being titles we enjoy that don’t hit the table often at home. After the gaming day, we played Dominion back at their house, and I actually enjoyed it, so that was a bonus. I’ve added Dominion to my Amazon Wish List. I won’t buy it for myself, but if someone else gets it for me, I won’t complain. πŸ™‚

Our friends cooked us chocolate croissants and eggs for breakfast the next morning, because they rock. πŸ™‚ Then, we got on our plane and headed home. The airport was uneventful this time, as was the drive home. Pancake was thrilled to see us, and he was by my side constantly for awhile.
Where pancake has been since I got home on Twitpic

Overall, this was the best trip we’ve been on, ever, in terms of what we got to see and do. An Alaska cruise is completely worth it, and you definitely get the experience from a round-trip cruise. We really loved the NCL Pearl. The crew and ship were both excellent in pretty much every way. The bathrobes fit me, with room to spare (always a plus!), and the trivia games were enthusiastically run (another plus). Honestly, I’d go to Alaska again any day versus a Caribbean cruise. I even told DH the other day that I’d probably choose to go to Alaska again rather than cruise the Mediterranean in Europe…but that’s a much closer call.

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