(Picking up our story where we left off, on Thursday afternoon)
After a couple of beers, we walked back to B&B and relaxed a bit, joined not long after by Dan and company. Soon, it was time for dinner, so we walked back downtown to Glacier Brewhouse. This is a noted restaurant in Anchorage, a huge and busy place. We managed to secure private dining room which worked very well for us. Our group was joined by Plonq, Atara, and Rustitobuck. We enjoyed a great meal and great beer, and then we closed out the night with a walk back to B&B.
Friday, May 27
Everyone was up bright and early. At 9:30 AM, the B&B was kind enough to haul us and our luggage in their van to the Anchorage Marriott, which was only 6 blocks away. Check-in for the cruise was easy, only taking 15 minutes. We left Dan and Atara at hotel and the rest of us walked over to Snow City Cafe, where we were joined by Foxfeather and Mbala to bring our full group to 18 strong. Breakfast was quick and quite delicious! We finished up just in time to head back to hotel. Our group was split between two buses. The buses took us to the airport, where we caught the Celebrity Cruises train to Seward, our eventual embarkation location. Seward is approximately a 3-hour’s drive or a 4.5-hour train trip from Anchorage.
The tour guide/waitress in our car was extremely friendly and gregarious, and was always full of useful information. Unfortunately, Roho, Genet, Rhene, Rasslor, Brophey, and Karwood were not so lucky. They were two cars back, and their guide/waiter was less chatty, and their rail car was quite raucous and loud.
We took a lot of great pictures on the trip, but I have to say that after about three hours I was ready for the trip to end. If it were my choice in the future, I’d prefer to drive to Seward, or at the very least take the bus.
We arrived in Seward at 5:30 PM. Embarkation was painless. We had accelerated boarding since we were in a suite, although those in Concierge Class had it easy as well. Surprisingly, to board the ship we had to go through a screening similar to airport, though with less the irradiation and/or groping. We had no problem going straight to our room once we were on the ship, since we arrived relatively late.
We dropped our carry-on bags in our room and went off to tour the ship. We started off at the top of the ship and worked our way downward. Two decks in, we found the Riviera Bar by the pool and started out with the first drink of the cruise, a Long Island Iced Tea.
This is a good time to talk about one of the really nifty parts of the cruise: the Premium Beverage Package. What a great deal! It costs about $50 per day, but keep in mind that only (weak) coffee, water, and juice (mornings only) are free on the ship – everything else costs. Espresso drinks, sodas, and of course alcoholic drinks typically cost between $5 and $10 each. You can see how it quickly adds up! Additionally, there’s the question of convenience – how much is it worth to you not to have to worry about expense every time you order something? Sure, it’s part of the marketing, but it’s very true.
All that walking was thirsty work, so I picked up another drink along the way and then it was down to the Rendezvous Lounge on Deck 4 to secure seats for the muster (formerly lifeboat drill). This is much more streamlined than in the past. There were no life jackets, just a presentation by the crew along with shipwide announcements by the Cruise Director. The whole thing was over in 15 minutes, and then it was back to the room to unpack. We met up with the rest of our group for dinner at 8:30 PM in the Metropolitan Restaurant, the main dining room of the ship. Although you can choose “Select Dining”, where you show up whenever you want and they seat you at the first available table, we opted for “Traditional Dining” for our group. This meant that we had dinner every night at 8:30 PM, but had the benefit of having the same tables and the same waiters every night. This was a very nice arrangement for us and I’d be all for it the next time we cruise.
Next up: The Fast Wrap-Up of the Cruise!