North to Alaska-Day at Sea, Vancouver, Washington, then home

July 1—Today is a day at sea going through the Inside Passage.  We slept in, then I went to a jewelry making class to finish my earrings and bracelet I’d started at the last class.  DH & DD went to breakfast, then we all went to a backstage tour of the production area.  We had a Q&A session, then we got to see the stage, backstage where they change clothes, and the sound board.  This was more in depth than some of the other backstage tours I’ve taken and was very nice.  I then grabbed a salad and while eating saw several porpoises jumping beside the ship.  Then we went to the scrapbooking session, but they were just giving out a few piece of card stock—nothing too exciting so we didn’t stay there.  DD & I went to do a video scavenger hunt, which was loads of fun.  They gave us a list of things to do around the ship plus a Flip video camera and 20 minutes to do as many things as we could.  It was hilarious, especially when we came back and watched the video!  We won RCCL caps, which I gave mine to the guy that came in second since it was just us and I wanted him to have something to remember our fun by.  After that we went to Name that Tune, but it was show tunes, which we didn’t do so good at naming.  I worked awhile, then, while DH & DD went outside.  They came back after standing up on the heliport for awhile, then sat in the centrum listening to the music playing there.  I could here it while I was working and it was a perfect setting—looking out at the ocean and passing scenery while listening to beautiful violin and piano music.  I wish I could call that my office all the time!

We packed, then went to the show, which was a comedian, Tom Briscoe.  He was good, but not as good as John Joseph & Johnny B.  After the show was our farewell dinner and our good-byes to Leonina & Veldosta.  They have been some of the best servers we’ve had on any cruise.  The entire staff on this ship has been better than most, and very friendly.    Our cabin steward has been wonderful, although he wasn’t so good with the towel animals.

After dinner we finished packing and put our bags out, then went to bed.

July 2—When we woke we were at the pier in Vancouver.  We went to breakfast, than to our meeting place to wait to disembark.  For a near-perfect cruise, this part was horrible!  We were suppose to get off at 8:30am, it was 9:30am before we finally were called.  Then the luggage was a mess and very hard to get around to get your luggage.  This is one of the worst places we’ve been for this.

Once we got our luggage we went to the bus area to wait for Quick Shuttle, which we were going to take to Bellingham, WA to get a rental car.  We had some time to wait so we walked 2 blocks to see the Olympic torch (which they had lit yesterday for Canada Day).  We then got Starbucks to drink on the long bus ride.  We had a few stops before we got out of the city.  Vancouver is a beautiful city, with very friendly people.  It seems to be very clean and the streets are full of trees downtown.  It looks like any place they don’t have a building, they’ve put trees.  I’d like to spend more time here some day.

Getting across the border took us 1 hour 35 minutes.  Whew!  Finally through customs and 20 minutes later we were in Bellingham.  They dropped us at the airport where we took a taxi to the Enterprise office in town where we had a car rented (it wouldn’t let me rent one from the airport to drop at another location so had to go to another office to do so since we were dropping the car in Spokane, WA).  Traffic through Seattle was very slow, but we arrived at my cousins in eastern Washington by 9:30pm.

July 3-5—Spent the next couple of days visiting family.  We had a great time and it was the perfect ending to a perfect trip!  On our last morning we went boating on the Snake & Columbia Rivers.  What a wonderful way to start the day!  The weather was perfect, the river smooth and we saw deer, pelicans, osprey, raccoons, and several kinds of ducks.   Plus, the company was the best part.  I don’t get to see my cousins very often so this was a very special time.

After lunch we headed to Spokane, WA to return the car and catch our flight (Southwest doesn’t fly out of Pasco, where we were, so had to drive there).  Our flight left on time and connected through Las Vegas.  I hate connecting flights, but this was the best I could get, and we ended up being stuck there an extra hour due to our plane getting in there late.  The slots didn’t even pay off for me!  We got in late anyway, so by the time we drove home it was 3:30am.  It was a very long day!

All in all, this was the best vacation I’ve ever taken!  Everything was wonderful and the scenery amazing.  We all want to go back and need to since there just wasn’t enough time in the ports to do all we wanted to do.  The train ride was so much fun that I’d do that again any day and we loved the Radiance of the Seas!  She’s only going to be in Alaska one more summer (this winter in Tampa) before she goes to Australia.  It’s a shame but maybe I can catch one more cruise on her out of Tampa.

You can see pictures from the trip at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/39149726@N08/sets/

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