Sunday April 24


Zak is clairvoyant!  How does he know when we’re leaving?  When we got out of bed he was sulking at the back door.  His head was down; his ears were back and you could read his expression . . . it said, “Oh, woe is me!”

Carol has been packed . . . and unpacked . . . and repacked for several weeks.  By 9:00 a.m. we had the car loaded and headed to Carol’s parents.  They will be dog sitting for the next two weeks.  When we pulled in their driveway Zak refused to get out of the car.  He’s a stubborn little guy!  We had to pick him up and carry him into the house.


We planned to treat Carol’s parents to an Easter brunch at Aunt Lucy’s, as we have for the past several years, but this year they treated us!  A nice way to start our newest adventure!  It was terrific.  

We were back by 11:00, said our goodbyes to the dogs (and the parents too) and hit the highway at 11:10.  Traffic was heavy but it moved quickly.  There were no slowdowns.  We made a quick coffee stop at Timmys and pulled into our Toronto hotel at 1:45

Carol’s mother gave us an update via Facebook . . . Zak is sulking by the back door waiting for his momma to come home and Blue has snuggled in to watch the Blue Jays game on TV.

After we relaxed for a while (napped) and watched a bit of TV we recalled that we hadn’t eaten since brunch . . . so off we went.  Lone Star Grill on Dixon Road serves a great fajita!  We were back to the hotel, stuffed, by 6:00


We changed and headed down to the pool for a dip and a soak in the hot tub.  The rest of the night was TV and then early to bed.


Tomorrow is a big day.  We will catch the 7:30 shuttle to the airport and lift off at 9:10 for our five hour and twenty minute flight to LA .  The plan is to get to the Candy Cane Inn ASAP and drop our stuff then rush off to Disneyland for lunch (Fully Loaded Potato Soup) at Carnation Café!  Yum!  Then we’ll catch a Billy Hill show!  Oh yeah!

Monday April 25


I rolled over at 6:00 a.m. and asked, “Are we there yet?”  Of course Carol was awake too, we both get as excited as little children when we’re heading off on an adventure.


We hopped out of bed and decided to catch the 7:00 o’clock airport shuttle instead of the 7:30.  We cleared airport security and US Customs in no time and headed to our departure gate.  There is a strategically placed Tim Horton’s right next to the gate so we enjoyed a light breakfast and our last Timmy’s coffee for two weeks.

Our flight boarded on time and we backed away from the gate a mere 1 minute late.  That’s an amazing achievement for Air Canada !  Our flight crossed Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and we passed over Grand Rapids MI, Milwaukee WI, Cedar Rapids IA, Omaha NE, Denver CO and Las Vegas NV before landing at LAX.  It was bumpy almost all the way, not hair rising, but consistently bumpy.  But good news, we landed on time, picked up our luggage quickly and headed out to catch our limo.  Carol had booked an SUV but they substituted a stretch limo . . . it was huge!  We felt like rock stars . . . until we tried to get into it and out again . . . then we felt like beached whales!  But it was a fun ride!

Before we knew it we were pulling into the Candy Cane Inn and into our room.  We tossed our luggage in the room and caught the shuttle to Disneyland .  I picked up my ECV PPK chariot and we were away!  Our first stop was the Carnation Café for our favourite – fully loaded baked potato soup.  It was great.

After lunch Carol shopped along Main Street while I headed toward the Golden Horseshoe Saloon.  I stopped to take a few pictures along the way but soon settled in one of the boxes at the side of the stage in the saloon.  Carol joined me just before show time and we laughed through another performance by these talented clowns!

We headed to New Orleans Square and slowly strolled through just soaking in the atmosphere.  We approached the Haunted Mansion looking to ride, but it was closed temporarily.  We wandered to Pirates of The Caribbean and took a ride there.  By the time we were through the Pirates attraction the Haunted Mansion was reopened so we headed back and road a doom buggy through the mansion.

Then we cruised over to It’s a Small World, it was our first ride through with the new Disney characters, other than with the special Christmas décor and we really enjoyed it.  Soon we were lined up for Buzz Lightyear . . . our fatigue was starting to show, we both had lousy scores!

It was 6:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. Eastern Time) so we headed to the Plaza Restaurant for dinner.  We had our usual, fried chicken for Carol, Cobb salad for me.  It was delicious.


We were fading fast so we headed down Main Street toward the exit.  We stopped in the Gallery to see the “Magic on the Water” display.  There is plenty of art depicting every sort of Disney vessel, from steamboats to submarines.  Stop by and see it if you can!

Carol decided to go to Downtown Disney to buy me a very special birthday gift while I scooted over to California Adventure to see the construction for the new Cars Land attractions.  It’s really beginning to take shape – maybe we’ll have to come back and see it some day!  LOL

Carol and I met again in the Esplanade between the parks . . . no birthday gift . . . they were sold out . . . sucks to be me!


We missed the Candy Cane shuttle by 30 seconds so we walked the few blocks to the hotel, dropped off our stuff in the room and went to the hot tub for a well earned soak.  Aaaaahhhhh!  It’s been a very long day, and we’ll have another tomorrow, so it’s lights out!

Tuesday April 26


We hit the ground at 7:00 this morning, feeling refreshed.  We didn’t rush, we had a coffee in the room and then had a bite of breakfast at the hotel before catching the shuttle to Disneyland .  We headed directly across the esplanade between the parks and over to Downtown Disney.  Our destination this morning was the first building as you enter Downtown Disney from this direction, La Brea Bakery.  We spotted our friend Deb Wills among a small crowd outside the seating area.  We joined the group and Deb introduced us to many fellow Disney fans, most of whom will be joining us on the Disney Wonder for the next few weeks.  Linda and Beci soon joined and we had a delightful hour mingling with some old friends and meeting some new ones.  Thanks Deb and for organizing the meet!

At 10:00 a.m. we made our way across the concourse to Disneyland .  The Main Street Philharmonic was playing as we entered!


We browsed our way up Main Street and once we got to the hub Carol sent me on a wild goose chase!  “You take my pass, scoot over to Buzz Lightyear and pick us up some FastPasses.  I’ll meet you at Pinocchio,” she said.  Like a faithful little puppy I replied, “Sure thing dear; anything to ensure your blissfulness!”  Off I went!  I searched high and low, but Buzz Lightyear doesn’t have FastPass machines.  Has she already had too much togetherness?  Hmmm!


She was waiting for me at Pinocchio and took the bad news quite well.  After our ride on Pinocchio the next stop was Alice in Wonderland and then It’s A Small World . . . we just love these classic old rides.  To round out our morning we headed out the back of Fantasyland and around to Big Thunder Mountain Railway for a spin on “the wildest ride in the wilderness”.

We walked (and scootered) over to Tomorrowland and had lunch at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.  We shared an order of chicken fusilli and an Asian salad.  Yum!


We headed back toward the exit and Carol shopped her way through the Little Green Men pin store in Tomorrowland and the Emporium on Main Street .  As I waited near the Fire Hall the talented Fire Hall Band came out to perform.  They had a not-so-talented dancer join them, you might recognize him.  I guarantee you won’t be seeing this guy on dancing with the stars.

Carol joined me and we dropped my PPK Chariot at the train station, so we could pick it up when we returned.  We hopped on the shuttle back to our hotel.

When we arrived the housekeeper was busy making up our room so we headed over to the little store next door to pick up a few things.  Ooops, the housekeeper was still there so we grabbed a cold drink from the fridge and headed over to the pool to wait in the sunshine.  It’s a beautiful, warm, cloudless day!  Carol went to sit on the steps with her bare feet in the water.  It looked inviting so I went to join her.  As I approached a child jumped in the pool and made a big wave which ran across the pool and got Carol’s pant legs wet.  She was muttering and I was chuckling as I stepped into the pool.  My left heel hit the step, but it didn’t stop.  Uh-Oh!  The step was slippery and my left foot just kept on sliding down, down, down over the steps and into the depths!  Meanwhile my right foot was firmly set on the deck above the pool.  Traction was good there!  I sensed some trouble in my future, so I grabbed the handrail with my left hand to slow my fall.  I grabbed my right ankle with my right hand in a futile effort to protect my feeble right knee.  At this point gravity grabbed my left ankle in a firm grip and yanked me all the way into the pool.  My left-hand grip on the rail could not hold me back . . . and suddenly my right foot broke free and tumbled down the steps, carrying my right hand along with it.  There I was, humiliated as I stood fully dressed and chest deep in the pool!  My dear wife, the love of my life, was convulsed with laughter and rolling on the pool deck; making quite a spectacle of herself. I was doubly mortified!


I dragged myself out of the pool and she slowly regained her composure . . . then we moved to a patio table where we spread my cash out to dry and threw out all the other papers I had in my pocket. Yuk!  What a mess!


Soon the housekeeper was done (or perhaps she was just embarrassed to be associated with us) and we headed back to our room.  A well earned nap ensued!

We caught the 5 o’clock shuttle back to Disneyland where we recovered my chariot.  It had not been tampered with!  Hooray!

For my friends John Animosity and Melinda Blackheart - this is how a scooter is supposed to look!

This was to be our last time at Disneyland for the foreseeable future so we took our time and soaked in the atmosphere.  On our way up Main Street we stopped at Carnation Café for a light dinner.  Next stop was the Jungle Cruise, corny jokes in an exotic environment, it just never gets old!  Soon we were passing the entry to Pirates of the Caribbean and there was no line so we rode it again.  At the exit we took a left and boarded the train for a ride all the way around the park.  It was a treat because we happened to get the one train which features cars where the seating all faces inward so everyone had great sightlines.

Once back in New Orleans Square we hopped off the train and headed to Fantasyland where we rode Snow White, and then Alice in Wonderland again.  It was after 8 o’clock so we made our way over to It’s A Small World for our first viewing of the new “The Magic, The Memories and You” show which is projected on that building.  Wow!  It was awesome!  We can’t wait to see the version that is projected on the castle at the Magic Kingdom in Florida !


We headed to the hub area where we found a good spot to watch the fireworks display “Remember, Dreams Come True”  This is our favourite of all the Disney fireworks shows!  The many 360 degree effects add a wonderful dimension to the performance.


We let the crowd disperse a bit and then slowly made our way to the exit, the shuttle and finally back to the hotel.  It had cooled off and by the time we got back we were both a bit chilly in our shorts and t-shirts so we changed and headed to the hot tub for a warming soak.  This time I made a normal entrance, upright and just my trunks!  Within 20 minutes we had soaked up all the heat we needed and tottered off to bed!  Another day of magic  . . . with just a tiny bit of mayhem!  

Wednesday April 27


We finally had a chance to sleep in, we were being picked up at 10:00 a.m.   But it was not to be, we were wide awake at 6:30.  So we had a leisurely morning, sipping coffee, enjoying breakfast and sitting in the sun waiting for our car.  Carol had connected online with a family from Pennsylvania who were at the nearby Park Vue Inn and wanted to share a ride.  They loaded first into the super-stretch limo and then came to the Candy Cane Inn to pick us up.  We were on the road by 10:00 and pulled into the San Pedro Terminal about 45 minutes later.

Waiting for the limo.

At the terminal.

By 11:00 we were through security and lined up to check in and get our Keys to the World Cards.  That’s when the wheels feel off the bus!  They announced that they were having some technical problems – not a good sign!  We inched along but soon my knee was throbbing; I found a seat and watched Carol as she made absolutely no progress.  Finally after about 40 minutes she moved out of sight so I went to join her.  Turned out she had only moved about 15 feet and was behind a post.  I sat back down!  A techie was moving from terminal to terminal behind the counter; it seemed as though he was rebooting each terminal after each guest.  Soon the line did begin to move slowly so I rejoined Carol.  By 12:45 we were nearing the end of the queue . . . then we were next to go.

 This is when it all ground to a halt!  They held us at the very head of the line and we had to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait.  We waited until all of the check-in agents had finished with their guests and all of the wickets were clear.  Then they shut down the main system and rebooted it.  It took about five minutes to reboot and there were hundreds of us waiting with bated breath.  They finally waved us to an agent . . . the crowd went wild!  In mere seconds we had our cards and lanyards and off we went to the gangway.  There was no one else in sight.  We had the entire atrium on deck three to ourselves and about 20 cast members cheered as we boarded.  It was like our own brass band or ticker tape parade.  It certainly didn’t ease the pain of the 2 hour line, but it did make us feel special!


We went directly to Wavebands to see if there were any spots available for brunch at Palo.  There was no one at WaveBands either so we picked an agent and sat down.  Within seconds we had a booking for brunch for tomorrow at 11:30.. Hooray!


We headed to deck 9 and had lunch at Beach Blanket Buffet and then sat outside on deck 9 until 2:00 when our cabin was scheduled to be ready.  By 2:15 we were in our cabin where Carol began unpacking and getting us settled in for the next 13 days.  I spent some time out on the balcony supervising the refueling barge which pulled up to top off our tanks.  I called Carol out when this little seal swam past.

Just before the emergency lifeboat drill there was a knock on the door.  It was Deb & Beci.  They came in for a visit and soon it was 4:00; we were summoned for the emergency drill in Animator’s Palate.

After the drill we headed back to our cabin for a few minutes before the sailaway party.  We were a bit late leaving the dock because refuelling took a bit longer than expected, but soon we were steaming away.  I headed up to deck 10 for a few pictures while Carol went to the Treasure Ketch shop to ask a few questions about pin distribution plans.  She joined me on the top deck as we were approaching the final breakwater.  Soon we had turned to head north with Santa Catalina Island to our west.

We enjoyed the scenery for a half hour or so then headed back to get ready for dinner.  We met up with most of our tablemates for a drink at Cove Café and then headed off together for dinner at Parrot Cay.  We have a great group!  We feel right at home with our old friends Deb, Linda and Beci and it looks like we will make some new friends in the rest of our group.  Our other tablemates are Sandy, Patrice, David, James, Lee and Laura.  We sat and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and finally left the dining room at about 10:00, worn out from all the sun, fresh air and laughter.  Bedtime came early tonight!

Thursday April 28

We had a peaceful and restful night but once again we woke early.  We’ll soon adjust to the time change, but not yet!  We were both awake, tossing and turning by 5:45.  We could not get back to sleep so I got up and headed to deck 9 to fetch coffee for my precious bride.

They have made some changes to the cabin since we last sailed in January, the linens are all new, with a nice light duvet and a new bedspread.  The clocks have been removed and our stateroom host, James, says that they are being replaced with new clock which feature an iPod dock,


We enjoyed a leisurely coffee and watched the Pacific Ocean pass by our balcony for a while and the Carol dragged me off to deck 4 to line up for a wristband!  Ugh!  The things I do for her . . . but I learned years ago that when she’s not happy then I’m not going to be happy.  

This cruise they are distributing wristbands to the first 500 people who line up this morning.  Those 500 will each be able to buy up to 2 of the limited edition pins for this cruise.  This time it worked out quite well.  We arrived at 8:00 o’clock, an hour before they were scheduled to begin distribution.  We were both surprised; there were only about 50 people lined up ahead of us.  Carol stood in the line chatting with all the others who share her addiction affliction mania.  My poopy knees won’t let me stand that long so I sat on a nearby staircase and joined her when the line started to move.  By 9:15 we were finished and had our coveted wristbands.  We’ll pick up the pins later!

We headed to Beach Blanket Buffet for coffee and I had a light snack.  We were saving our appetite for our 11:30 brunch at Palo.  As we were standing at the end of the buffet line we spotted Frano, our assistant server on the Panama cruise.  He teased me about my drink order “ Manhattan – no coke!” and we had a good laugh.  He has been promoted and is now a server rather than an assistant.  (Yes Cathy – Carol hugged him for you)

We wandered up to deck 9 to sit and watch more of the Pacific pass by but the only spot where we could find the sun and avoid the wind was in the smoking area on the starboard side.  There were a few smokers there and it was too smelly so we meandered back to our cabin.  I sat and read my book while Carol made the rounds and dropped some things off in fish extenders around the ship.  A fish extender is a holder that you hang outside your door and people drop off goodies and trinkets in it.  And of course you drop goodies off in other peoples fish extenders.  It’s a fun sort of a gift exchange.  Here’s a fish extender beside our door.  It's the red thing hanging to the right of the door under the fish.  It has pouches like a shoe bag to hold the goodies!

Soon it was time for our brunch at Palo so we put on our best bib and tucker and headed up to deck 10 Aft.  We always enjoy this premier dining spot and today was no exception.  

We dropped back to the cabin to put on our casual clothes and headed off to Studio Sea , deck 4 midship, for the Disney Vacation Club presentation.  Carol won a pin!  Then we went to Mickeys Mates and bought the special cruise pins using our armbands.  Carol did some more shopping and I headed back to the room.  We stood out on the balcony for a few minutes, but the strong breeze and the 55 degree temperature soon drove us inside.  What to do?  Why don’t we have a nap?  OK!

All refreshed, we put on our windbreakers and headed up to deck 10 for a walk in the sunshine.  Gusty winds were buffeting us so we headed down to deck 9 which is partially enclosed and strolled for a bit, then went to the aft overlook on deck 7.  It was very nice there, sheltered from the wind and catching full sun, so we stayed for a while, leaned on the rail and enjoyed the view over the stern of the ship.


By 5:30 we were changing for our dinner at Palo. Our friend Beci from had booked the private dining room and hosted the dinner for nine of us in this wonderful room with a panoramic view of the sunset.  Unfortunately clouds masked most of the sunset, but with good company and good food we all had a wonderful time.  Thanks Beci!

After dinner we changed back into comfy clothes and relaxed for a while before heading down to the Cadillac Lounge where we had a drink and enjoyed the piano player.  At 10:00 we headed next door to WaveBands and found a table for the 10:30 performance by Michael Harrison, a ventriloquist from Victoria BC.  He performed the same show we saw on the Panama cruise and we enjoyed ir every bit as much the second time.  He does some unique things with a tennis ball!  The show ended by 11:15 and we headed back to our room and off to bed!

Friday April 29

We wanted to be up early so we could see the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed under it, so I think we both slept lightly.  I woke at about 4:00 a.m. and noticed the ship rocking quite steeply.  That is very unusual, I can normally sleep through anything!  I roused several times and at 5:45 I noticed that the rocking had stopped.  Were we nearing the port?  I headed to the balcony and looked out – there was the boat delivering our pilot, bobbing up and down in 15 foot waves!  The pilot could not board on the port side so he soon disappeared around the stern.  I later heard that he had no trouble boarding on the starboard side.


I quickly dressed and headed for deck 10; the bridge was visible in the distance and the glow of a promising sunrise was evident behind the hills.  At 6:00 a.m. there were hundreds of people on the top deck jockeying for the best photo positions as we approached the port.  Carol took some pictures from the balcony and then joined me up top.  



As we neared the bridge she returned to the cabin and got some more balcony shots.  I went to the aft overlook on deck 7; there were only two other people there and we all got some great shots of the bridge to our stern.  What a magnificent sight!  A fire boat escorted us in the harbor, that does not always happen.  We were told it was because this is the first Disney ship in San Francisco.  What a treat!

Docking proceeded quickly and smoothly and soon we were moored at pier 35.  The Cruise Director gave us the “all clear” to go ashore at about 7:30.  We went to Beach Blanked Buffet and had breakfast before heading to WaveBands where we assembled at 9:15 for our tour.


The guide led us out to the waiting bus and we saw a few city highlights on our way to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco ’s famous Presidio.  We arrived at the museum just in time for their 10:00 a.m. opening and off we went.  It’s too bad they don’t allow any photography in the museum because it is a truly amazing place.  We were enthralled; totally blown away!  It’s ten galleries devoted to the life and spirit of Walt Disney.  It was designed and created by Walt’s family so you know it’s done right.  It is captivatingly presented through story, art and sound with plenty of interactive attractions.  To our many friends who are Disney fans we have two things to say about the museum:  1)  Neener, neener, neener!  2)  Get here as soon as you can – it’s great!

We could have easily spent a few more hours there, but we pulled out at 12:15 to finish the tour with more city highlights.  First stop was at a lookout beside the Golden Gate Bridge .  It was a terrific photo spot!


Then we loaded up again and headed off toward Twin Peaks for another photo stop.  All along the way our guide pointed out points of interest, special buildings, movie locations and so many other things as we passed through Golden Gate Park , Fisherman’s Wharf, Haight Ashbury, Nob Hill, the Marina District , the Financial District and Chinatown .  The tour was very well done and well worth our while.

We were back to the ship by 2:30, dropped off the goodies Carol picked up in the museum gift shop (no surprise there) and headed to deck 9 where we picked up a snack to take back to the cabin.  After a short rest we headed back out and caught a streetcar which took us down The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.  We poked around a few tourist traps and picked up some souvenirs and stopped along the way for a bowl of clam chowder at The Chowder Hut.

We slowly wandered back down The Embarcadero toward the ship, soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of this beautiful city.  We boarded the ship again at 6:00 p.m.


Dinner tonight was at Tritons.  We had a wonderful time comparing notes on our excursions and activities.  Some went to the Napa Valley and toured wineries, some went to Monterey and Carmel and many of us went to the Walt Disney Family Museum.  It's a fantastic area with so many things to see and do.


We were back to the stateroom shortly after 10:00.  Tomorrow we plan to ride a cable-car and explore Union Square.

Saturday April 30

We slept in.  Hooray!  The sun was peeking around the edges of the drapes when I approached them at 7:00 a.m.   When I slid them open the room was filled with glorious sunshine.  Apparently two consecutive days of sunshine are rare in San Francisco .  It’s a very foggy city.  So we have lucked out!

We didn’t have to rush today so we took it slow and easy.  I headed up to deck 9 and picked up coffee which we enjoyed on our balcony.  About 8:30 we headed down to Parrot Cay for breakfast; they have a wonderful buffet and omelet bar there.

After a nice breakfast we headed off to ride a cable-car.  At 9:30 we caught an F-Line streetcar in front of the cruise terminal and rode it to the end of the line.  From there a short two-block walk took us to the boarding point at the end of the Powell & Hyde Street line.  We were able to get front seats in the open-air section of the car and up the hills we went. 


The cable-cars are really quite amazing.  They operate like a chair lift on a ski hill, only upside-down.  The cable is under the pavement and is constantly in motion.  The cable-car driver used three long levers to engage and disengage from the cable and to brake the car.  You don’t want to lose the brakes going down some of those steep hills, it is very steep in many spots.  The drivers work hard pulling on those levers, it’s not an easy job!

Our first stop was Lombard Street .  It is billed as the crookedest street in the world.  I am sure it is!  Cars creep slowly down the snake like curves.  Trucks or stretch limos could not make it, the turns are just too tight!  You have probably seen Lombard Street in the movies.  Wow!

We hopped back on another cable-car and continued the climb, past some unique homes and very interesting architecture.  

We broke over the crest and began to descend toward our destination, Union Square .

There is a Disney Store at Union Square and Carol can sniff out a Disney Store at a range of about a hundred miles!  We hopped off the cable-car at Union Square and walked a short few blocks to 39 Stockton Street .  She found some Disney pins unique to San Francisco and naturally a few other “must have” items.  

We made a few other shopping stops including Ghirardelli’s and Walgreens before heading back to the cable-car station.  

Yikes!  There was a 40 minute wait to board!  We walked up the hill to the next stop and were able to board the first car which came along.  It was crowded and we did not get a front seat, it was standing room only for a few stops.  We would have liked to get a few pictures going down the steepest of the hills but that wasn’t possible from where we sat.  You’ll just have to take our word for it, it was scary!

We went right back to the same station we started at in the morning and walked over a block to the In ‘N Out Burger store we noticed earlier in the day.  We haven’t had an In ‘N Out burger in about 5 years.  They’re great so we stopped for a bite of lunch.

After lunch we hailed a cab in front of the burger joint and I said, “We need to go to Pier 35 please.”  Carol quickly added, “Can you take us down Lombard Street first, then to the pier?”  Clever girl, I hadn’t thought of that!  So off we went in the cab, up the hills to Lombard Street and then threaded the needle down that exciting little twisty one-way section.  We took a few pictures out the window of the cab but they don’t do the hill justice.  It is amazing!

We were back aboard the Wonder by 1:30 and wandered around deck 10 taking a few more pictures before heading to our stateroom for a rest.

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. Carol was on the balcony and noticed that the ships thrusters were churning up the water in preparation to leave our moorings so we grabbed our cameras and headed up to deck 10 to get some pictures.  The fire boat was back to escort us as we sailed past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Victoria BC.

What an awesome sight as we passed under the bridge.  It’s a beautiful city and a day and a half there is just not enough.  We will just have to come back!


By 6:00 p.m. we were well out to sea and steaming north when the Captain came on the PA system to announce that we were heading back to San Francisco .  A passenger has fallen very ill and must be transferred to a hospital.  So we turned around to head back for a “double-dip” of San Fran!

We took a more pictures as we passed under the bridge for the third and fourth time and soon it was time to head for the Cove Café for pre-dinner drinks.  Carol to deck 4 for some pin trading and I went directly to the Cove Café where I met Deb and Linda.  Soon Carol joined us and we reviewed our days activities.


At 8:15 we headed to Animators Palate for dinner.  It was another wonderful meal and we sat yakking and laughing long after dinner was over.  Finally, about 10:30, we stood and headed up to deck 9 for the Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party.  Unfortunately it was more like Pirates in the Arctic .  It was cold and breezy; too breezy for us.  After a few minutes we headed down to our stateroom and called it a night.


What a wonderful day . . . we have had two great days in San Francisco .  We would like to return some day and spend a little longer here!


Tomorrow is a sea day . . . we’re looking forward to some R & R!!

Sunday May 1

Happy birthday to me . . . happy birthday to me!  What a terrific place to celebrate your birthday!  I awoke at 6:45 to the clamouring ring of Carol’s cell phone reminding us that the dogs are due for their heartworm medication.  Dog-sitters back home . . . take note!


The skies were clear and blue with mist on the horizon.  It was a cool 54 degrees out and the ship was rocking a tiny bit in 12 foot waves.  I headed up to deck 9 and picked up some coffee which we enjoyed in the cabin while I opened my cards and gifts from Carol and the dogs!


Soon it was time to head up to deck 9 to meet up with Deb Wills and her friends who were taking a symbolic walk with her.  Deb is a breast cancer survivor and for a number of years she has been the leading fundraiser in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  She has an amazing group of supporters behind her and over the years they have raised a great deal of money for this worthy cause.  We are proud to be among Deb’s supporters and we were equally proud to walk with her today.

After our walk we picked up another coffee and returned to our cabin where we warmed up for a few minutes.  We dropped by the Future Cruise Sales desk and Carol booked a “Placeholder” cruise.   This simply means that we booked a cruise to lock in the special incentives you receive when you book while onboard.  Later we will select the cruise we actually want and transfer our booking to that cruise.



I headed back to the stateroom and changed clothes for our brunch at Palo.  I met Carol and the rest of the group on deck 10.  Wow, our third time at Palo on this cruise.  What a treat!

We took our time in Palo, enjoying both the cuisine and the company.  We stayed over two hours before breaking to go our separate ways.


Carol and I changed and soon headed to the Promenade Lounge where we played a game called “Cruisin’ for Trivia.  We felt pretty good about getting 19 out of 25 correct but we were humbled by the winners who scored 24 out of 25.  Then our Cruise Director, Christiaan, made a presentation on “The Top 10 Innovations – Theme Parks and Resorts”.  It was quite interesting; we learned a few things about Disney.  By 2:30 we were heading back to our cabin for a long winters nap!

We took a walk around deck 10 at about 5:00 o’clock but it was so windy we only made it half way around before we headed down to deck 9 where it’s a bit more sheltered.  It the wind would die down it would be quite comfortable out there, but it wasn’t comfortable today.  It was very unusual to see no one in any of the pools or hot tubs . . . not even the Canadians!  There weren’t more than a half dozen of us on the deck.  On a sunny and warm day there would be a thousand people there!


Dinner tonight was semi-formal and we were dining in Parrot Cay.  We changed and had a few photos taken on our way to the Cadillac Lounge for pre-dinner drinks.

Most of our group were at a food and wine seminar at Palo this evening so there were only four of us at the table for dinner.  We had a nice opportunity to visit with Lee and Laura.  As we finished dinner our servers brought a lemon cheesecake, covered in strawberries, to the table and sang happy birthday!


After dinner we changed back into our comfy clothes and headed to WaveBands where we enjoyed the comedy of Heath Hyche, a very physical stand-up comic.  He was very entertaining.  After his 30 minute show the cruise staff took over with a 70’s disco party.  They were all tye-dyed and afro’ed . . . we were exhausted just watching them dance!


Wow – we were up late!  We made it to 11:30!  Wow!


It’s been a very happy birthday!

Monday May 2

I woke at 7:30 and there was no rolling or creaking!  “Wow,” I thought, “We must be close to Victoria .”  I stepped out on the balcony and there was land in the distance, straight ahead.  It was cool, with brisk winds and a misty rain falling.  I picked up coffee and after we were finished it I took my camera up to deck 10 to get a few pictures.  Unfortunately it was so misty and rainy there was nothing to see.  I was all alone on deck, not another soul in sight and only one lonely soul in the pool.  He must have been a fellow Canadian!


I headed back to the stateroom and met Carol; we were soon heading to Triton’s for breakfast.  This is a full table service meal; the servers bring it all to you.  The surroundings are a little more elegant than the buffet breakfasts but we were both a bit disappointed with the food.  We’ll be heading back to the buffets from now on!


We headed up to the Cove Café Outlook and sat in the glassed in section on deck 10 to watch our arrival in Victoria .  I went out and stood in the rain to get a few pictures, but the wind and the rain soon drove me back inside.


We arrived a few minutes early in spite of having to return to San Francisco the night before last.  Carol and I went to the Promenade Lounge at 11:30 to meet our tour group.  By noon we were on our bus and headed toward Butchart Gardens .  Our bus driver doubled as our tour guide and he was terrific.  He gave us a running dialogue as we passed by notable sites along the way and did it with a delightful sense of humour.

Butchart Gardens is an amazing place.  The original stone quarry was converted to botanical gardens in 1904 when the Butchart family moved their concrete manufacturing plant to a new site.  The walking paths carry you past plots of brilliant colours and a variety of powerful scents.  It just dazzles all of your senses.  We walked through the Sunken Garden , the Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden before it was time for our 2 o’clock booking for High Tea.

The tea was served in the dining room of the former Butchart mansion.  What a treat.  Naturally there was a pot of hot tea . . . then they served us individual trifles just loaded with fresh fruit.  Soon they arrived with four-tiered serving trays loaded with goodies.  There were scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry preserves, small quiches, sausage rolls lemon poppy seed loaf, petit-four pastries, dainty little sandwiches and truffles!  Everything was delicious.  Carol said it was the best tea she has ever experienced.  I agree, but of course it was my first tea ever!

After tea I poked around the gardens for another few minutes while Carol braved the perils of the gift shop.  We boarded the bus at 3:20 for our return to the ship.  Our route carried us through downtown Victoria , past the Empress Hotel, the parliament buildings, Chinatown , the houseboats at Fisherman’s Wharf and so many other sights!  It was a great tour, we really enjoyed it!

We reboarded the ship at 4:30 and soon headed to deck 10 to watch the sail away.  We sat in the Cove Café Overlook and had a great view of the city.  At about 6:30 we backed out from the dock (the Captain did . . . I had nothing to do with it) and began the short hop over to Vancouver .  After soaking in some more of the scenery we went back to our stateroom to change for dinner.

Carol went to the atrium on deck 3 for some pin trading while I went to the Cadillac Lounge for a pre-dinner drink.  Most of our table-mates were there when I arrived and Carol soon joined us.  At 8:15 we moved the party from the Cadillac Lounge to Triton’s dining room.  It really was a party.  A few friends are leaving us in Vancouver so it was a “last hurrah” for our group.  The wine flowed, the Manhattans flowed, even Carol had a drink!  We laughed until we cried . . . then we laughed some more!  We were the last to leave the dining room.  The front door was locked and we had to leave out the back!  What a great day . . . what a great night . . . what good friends!

Tuesday May 3

All was quiet when we woke up at 6:45.  We were already docked at Canada Place in Vancouver .  Carol went up and got coffee on deck 9 . . . yes, you read that correctly, Carol went for coffee.  Probably won’t happen again!  (insert from me – you got that right!)


We headed down to Parrot Cay for breakfast and then went out the gangway toward downtown Vancouver .  We had to leave the ship between the two legs of the cruise but we didn’t have to pack and unpack, we just left all our stuff in the cabin.  We have the same stateroom on the Alaskan leg of the trip.

We hopped in a cab inside the terminal building and off we went to Stanley Park , about a mile and a half away.  We were in the park by 9:00 a.m. and quickly found that nothing really started until about 9:45.  We walked around, past the aquarium and the restaurant and explored a few of the many gardens, streams and waterfalls.  Wow, this is a pretty place!

Stanley Park is larger than Central Park in New York City!

At 10:00 o’clock we hopped aboard a horse-drawn carriage and spent a very pleasant hour circling the park while the driver filled us in on the flora, fauna and history of the park.  We stopped a few times along the way for photos.

After the tour we called for a cab and headed back to Canada Place to re-board the ship. We had to still check in but we had a letter that showed we were back to back cruisers, this letter took us to the head of the line and we did not have to wait for the usual boarding call. We were back aboard by 1:00 and after dropping our goodies in the room we went to Parrot Cay for a light lunch.

After lunch we roamed deck 10 for a while snapping some more pictures.

It is amazing to see the Disney Wonder with the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the background!  That's snow on the top of Grouse Mountain!

At 2:00 p.m. we went to Cove Café for the greeting.  Deb had some great AllEars swag for us and we met a few new companions and old friends who had just joined us today.


We headed back to the stateroom where I rested my poopy knees for a while and soon it was time for the 4:00 p.m. Sail-Away Party.  The All-Ears group (32 of us) met on deck 10, port side and had a rollicking good time.  We were a bit late sailing away, but by 5:30 we were underway, heading out the Burrard Inlet, past Stanley Park , under the Lions Gate Bridge and into the Strait of Juan De Fuca .

Carol went down to the store, Treasure Ketch, at about 6:10 to buy some of the “Inaugural Cruise” merchandise, but the line-up was huge and she was shut-out.  By the time she got into the store it was all the merchandise was gone.


She was back to the room by 6:45 and we got ready for dinner.  At 7:15 we met the gang for pre-dinner drinks in the Cadillac Lounge then headed off to Parrot Cay for dinner.  We have changed tables and the group has been shaken up a bit; we’re now sitting with Beci, Patrice, Mary, Rawleigh, David and James.  Our dinner group broke at about 10:15, we had all had a long day and plenty of fresh air.  Fortunately we pick up an extra hour of sleep tonight; we switch to Alaska time so we’ve set our clocks back one hour.  That will feel so much better when we line up bright and early in the morning for our pin wristbands.

Wednesday May 4

I opened my eyes and it was light outside; I could see the daylight outlining the curtains on the window.  I immediately began to wonder what time it was.  We need to get in line early to get our wristbands to buy pins!  As I lay in bed I was thinking, “We reset our clocks and gained an hour last night so does that mean the sun rises earlier or later?  Hmmm!  Carol mentioned that sunset would be at 9:12 so that’s later.”  That didn’t make any sense . . . it should be earlier.


So I turned on the light to check my watch.  Big mistake!  My watch was stopped – it read 9:15 – it had not ticked or tocked since I reset it last night at 9:15.  Suddenly there was a growl beside me, “What the H&$$ are you doing?”  I explained my thought process to her then she picked up her cell phone, saw that it was 5:45 and slapped me a few times!  Of course, by this time we were both fully awake so I trundled off to deck 9 for coffee.  We had a leisurely coffee and she showered before we both headed down to deck 4 and stepped into the wristband line at about 6:45 a.m.   There were about 25 people in line ahead of us.  Carol sat on the floor in front of the forward elevators yakking about pins with the other collectors and I sat on the nearby stairs for a while, reading my book.  

After a while I headed back to the room for a shower and rejoined the line at about 8:30.  At precisely 9:00 they started distributing wristbands and the line moved quickly.  Carol popped into the store and the merchandise she had missed yesterday and went on a waiting list for was all available.  It was bagged and waiting for her.

Crazy Pin People

More Crazy Pin People

Still more Crazy Pin People

We dropped our stuff in the stateroom and headed to the Walt Disney Theatre where a retired Park Ranger, Pete Griffin, gave a presentation on wildlife in the Alaskan wilderness.  It was very interesting and we felt bad when we had to scoot out early to get ready for our 10:30 brunch at Palo.


We were seated promptly at Palo along with James, David, Michelle & Beci.  It was another delightful meal.  We sat on the starboard side of the ship and would have had a magnificent view of the Rocky Mountains if the skies had been clear.  Unfortunately the skies were grey with drizzly rain.  The wind was about 40 mph out of the south with 8’ to 13‘ seas rolling across our line of motion.  The ship was pitching noticeably and we had a good view of the roiling waters and the reeling waiters.  We sat and chatted over coffee until about 12:30 and then headed back to our cabin where Carol started a couple of loads of laundry and began to clean up some of the stuff we have been collecting in our fish extender.  I of course did nothing . . . and I did it well!


After a nap I took my book up to the Cove Café Outlook on deck 10 and read for a while.  Carol had a bit of a headache so she laid down for a while.  After an hour and a half I went back.  She was still sleeping so I went back to The Outlook, apparently after crashing around the room for a while!


It was quite entertaining sitting and reading while occasionally looking out at the deck, the quiet pool and the ocean.  The ocean was tossing with 20 foot waves and the swells were almost as high in the pool.  All three pools were closed and the pool water was washing from side to side and from front to back in the pool, crashing over the sides onto the deck on all sides.  There were a few hardy souls in the two hot tubs beside the pool and they were occasionally doused with a wave of water from the pool.  The hot tub probably felt like Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids!  They have been keeping the pools at 90 degrees so there was steam billowing from the roiling water all day!  There was a misty rain almost all day and the people brave enough to walk the deck were tossed around by the pitching and rolling motion and slip-sliding on the wet deck.  It was quite a show!

I wandered back down to the stateroom at 6:15 and roused Carol out of bed.  Her head was better so we soon changed and headed up to the Cove Café Outlook to meet the gang for pre-dinner drinks at 7:15.  There were over a dozen of us who enjoyed a pleasant hour of conversation before dinner.  At 8:15 we were off to Triton’s where we had an excellent dinner.  Once again we sat and chattered after dinner and finally left the dining room at about 10:30.


Sleep followed almost immediately!

Thursday May 5

There was land in sight when I peeked out the drapes at 5:30 a.m.   Beautiful snow-capped mountains veiled in mist, with blue sky peeking through a few patches overhead!  We were in the Chatham Straight, sailing past Baranov Island , not far from Sitka .  It was beautiful and we were hoping the cloud cover and mist would burn off with the rising sun.

We enjoyed the scenery from our balcony for a while and then headed to deck 4 where we met our walking crew outside Animator’s Palate.

It was time for another symbolic walk with Deb to support the global drive against breast cancer.  We walked around the Promenade Deck and soaked in some breathtaking scenery.

After our walk we all headed to Beach Blanket Buffet for a warming coffee and some chatter.  We adjourned from Beach Blanket just in time to head to Parrot Cay for our 9:45 a.m. character breakfast.  What a treat!  While I savoured my Eggs Benedict we were visited by Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto.  They all stopped and posed for pictures with us.

After breakfast we headed to deck 10 and let the world pass us by all afternoon.  Wow!  What a place!  We saw mist shrouded mountains on both sides as we steamed northward.  Hey, over there, what’s that?  It’s a humpback whale!  We saw several of them.

We entered Tracy Arm at about 12:30 and as we slowly moved forward as the steep rock walls of the fjord narrowed.  Sometimes it looked as though we could not go on, there were sheer rock walls ahead, then the ship would turn right and head further and further inland.  At times it seemed like there was no clearance on the sides of the ship, but we carried on.


The crew had set up a barbecue on deck 9 so we didn’t have to leave; Carol went down the stairs and brought us back a plate loaded with steak, grilled salmon and halibut.  We ate at a table on deck 10 while we enjoyed the incredible sights that surrounded us.


We passed ice floes which had the deepest blue coloured ice I have ever seen!  Awesome!  We saw bald eagles, seals, mountain goats and a variety of sea birds!  Amazing!  There were also a variety of other critters roaming the decks!

Then we rounded our final turn and the Sawyer Glacier came into view.  There were ice floes everywhere!  Many of them had seals aboard!  As we approached the glacier we slowed and the crew held the Wonder in position close to the face of the glacier for about an hour.  A helicopter made many passes while it videotaped our progress up Tracy Arm.  No doubt it was hired by Disney to record our historic trip.  Not only was this the first Disney ship to venture into Tracy Arm, but we were the first ship to make the voyage this season!


Finally at about 4:00 p.m. the Captain used the thrusters to spin the ship around on its axis and we began our slow trip back out to sea.  We enjoyed the unbelievable scenery again on our way back out, from the deck 7 aft overlook and our balcony.

Soon the sun and fresh air caught up to me and I laid down for a nap.  Carol enjoyed the rest of our passage out of Tracy Arm serenaded by the soft tones of my snoring!


She woke me shortly after 6:00 p.m. and we soon made the trek to the Cove Café Overlook Lounge for pre-dinner drinks.  Dinner was at Animator’s Palate.  No show tonight, we were simply too tired; we crashed immediately after dinner!


Wow!  What a great day!

Friday May 6

My eyes popped open at 5:20 a.m. (too early according to some folks) and the ship wasn’t rocking.  I peeked out the curtains and we were entering the harbour at Skagway .  I went back to bed!  Carol’s cell phone alarm went off at 6:00 and we both hopped out of bed in a cat-like manner dragged our weary carcasses out of bed.  We needed to meet our tour group at WaveBands at 7:30 so we showered quickly and headed to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.  We shared a table with Masayo and Gail, they were on the same tour with us. We were at WaveBands by the appointed time and soon they led us off to the dock where we boarded a bus and started our excursion.


Our bus driver and guide, Bronn, narrated as we toured through downtown (and uptown and suburban) Skagway in about 5 minutes.  It is a little town of 800 people which was a bustling seaport during the Klondike Gold Rush but now subsists on tourism.  He pointed out many points of interest in the town and then we began our climb up the Klondike Highway toward Fraser BC.  The highway follows the Skagway river as it winds through the White Pass.   In many places we could see the White Pass Railway across the valley.  There were steep grades, high rock faces to our left and sheer drops to our right.  As we approached the summit, about 2,865 feet above sea level, we were driving in thick cloud, then it began to snow.  At times it was snowing hard!


Soon we began to descend again and crossed the border into British Columbia .  We cleared Canadian Customs at Fraser, a village where the only residents appear to be the Customs Officers.  We must have been above the tree line, there were very few trees and all of them were stunted, only a few feet high.  Bronn pointed our what the locals refer to as “flag trees”.  The wind blows so strongly on the mountaintop that it picks up snow and blasts the trees like sandpaper.  There are only branches on the leeward side of the trees!


Several miles past Fraser we stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge .  A steel suspension bridge; oddly enough located in British Columbia , not in the Yukon .  There are displays depicting the White Pass area during the gold rush days and of course a gift shop.  We braved the bridge and got some pictures of the gorge and the river below.

We boarded the bus at 10:00 and headed back the few miles south to Fraser where we boarded the train for our descent back down the mountain to Skagway .  This narrow gauge railway was built in the late 1890’s and opened in 1898 to transport prospectors and their gear into the Yukon and Klondike gold fields.  By the time the railroad was finished the gold rush was almost over so it never really served it’s intended purpose, but it continued to haul cargo through the White Pass until 1982.  In 1988 it was revived to show tourists the amazing beauty of the area.

By noon we were back in Skagway and stopped at the Red Onion, a former brothel, for lunch.  The place is decorated to recreate the brothel in it’s hay-day from the 90’s and the waitresses are clad in appropriate costumes.  We shared a plate of mediocre natchos but I quite enjoyed my lunch.  Carol – not so much!


We explored many of the shops in this old frontier town.  They look much the same as they did in the 1890’s but since they now cater to tourists not prospectors, the majority of them are jewellery shops.  Carol admired the tanzanite but didn’t buy any.


We wandered down Broadway, the main street, toward the harbour.  It was quite unique to stand in these frontier style buildings and look down the street to see the bow of the Disney Wonder with the mountains right behind the ship.

We were back aboard by 2:00 and I had a nap while Carol counted sea gulls and watched the tide rise.  Masayo came by at about 4:00 and we visited with her for a while and then the three of us headed for the Atrium on deck 3 for some character pictures.  Mickey, Minnie and Donald were there and we managed to get photos with all three.


We headed back to the stateroom and soon it was time to head for the Cove Café Overlook for pre-dinner drinks.  Dinner was at Parrot Cay, we both had salmon and it was excellent!  After dinner the gang was heading to the Cadillac Lounge for a nightcap but we decided to call it a night.  All the fresh air had taken it’s toll!  We were bushed!

Saturday May 7

For a change of pace Carol woke me up this morning at 6:15; we were already docked in Juneau , the capital of Alaska .  We quickly showered and headed to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.  We had a short visit with Frano, our server from the Panama cruise. After a bite we were off to the Walt Disney Theatre where our excursion group assembled at 7:45.  Ouch . . . too many early mornings.

We were efficiently checked in and soon boarded the bus for our Deluxe Tour of Juneau.  Our bus driver, Charlie, gave a narrative as we drove through this historic old town, population 32,250.  Deb, Jack and Marilyn from our group were on the same tour.


Our first stop was the Macauley Salmon Hatchery.  We didn’t know what to expect at this stop but we were very pleasantly surprised.  This not-for-profit corporation hatches tens of millions of salmon each year.  The Chum Salmon are released into the wild after one year while the King (Chinook) and Coho are reared for two years before release.  They have a 95% fertilization rate and many of the salmon they release return after two to five years to spawn.  The returning fish climb a fish ladder into the hatchery where their eggs are harvested and fertilized to keep the replenishment operation going.  It’s a very interesting process.  We really enjoyed this tour.

Next stop was Glacier Gardens .  This 600 acre botanical garden showcases the plants, flowers and trees of the temperate rainforest in a very unique way.  You start with an introduction to the rainforest at the bottom of the gardens, then you board a high-powered tram which takes you 600 feet up to the top of the gardens.  The tram driver provides an interesting description as he weaves through the many switch backs on the way up.  The road is so steep that he needs to make several three point turns as you climb through the dense forest.  It’s beautiful and quite thrilling.

At the top we walked along a boardwalk which offered some striking views of the valley and the city of Juneau below.  Our cruise ship was a distant speck below us.


Soon we boarded another tram for the journey down, once again past upside-down hemlock trees.  The owner of the gardens looks for hemlock trees which have fallen on the property and when he finds them digs a hole and plants them with the roots sticking up in the air.  Then he lines the roots with net, peat moss and potting soil before planting them full of exotic annual and tropical plants.  It’s really quite interesting to see the tropical plants mingled with the native species.  They had just started to move the tropicals out of their greenhouses and into the inverted trees.  They are spread throughout this beautiful property.

At the bottom we went to the gift shop and restaurant for coffee and a snack.  By 11:30 we had boarded the bus again for our trip to the Mendenhall Glacier.  

The city of Juneau is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and the ice-fields within the Tongass cover over 1,500 square miles.  They feed several glaciers in the area and the Mendenhall Glacier is easily accessible just a few miles from the city.  It is an awesome sight.  We spent an hour walking the trails to several observation points near the glacier and stood in awe as we watched the glacier and several nearby waterfalls.  This is where I decided to throw my camera to the ground and watch it bounce!  Dang!  Now it's busted and won't open!  Fortunately Carol's new camera is working very well so we can still get some pictures!


After a quick stop at the Visitor’s Centre we headed back to the bus and boarded at 1:30 for our return to the ship.  

The driver stopped in downtown Juneau to drop off those who wanted to shop and sight-see before re-boarding.  We hopped off and walked over to the Red Dog Saloon, a unique local watering hole.  The walls are hung with some unique items, everything from deer heads with antlers to deer posteriors embellished with ears and eyes.  There were bear traps, snow shoes, all sorts of mining gear, fishing gear and some very humorous signs and posters.  The floor was covered in sawdust about 4 inches deep.

As we entered I saw some people waving from a table in the back.  It was our table-mates Patrice, James and David.  Their helicopter tour had been cancelled and they were drowning their sorrows.  We enjoyed a drink with them and then carried on toward our final destination, the Mount Roberts Tramway.

This cable-car gondola takes you to a peak 1,800 feet above Juneau for a panoramic view of the city, the valley and the surrounding mountains.  We enjoyed the vistas and took some pictures.  There is a Raptor Centre where they nurse wild birds that have been injured.  We were able to get a close look at Lady Baltimore, a bald eagle who was too severely injured to be released back into the wild.


After seeing the sights and capturing some pictures we boarded the tram for the 8 minute ride back to the bottom.  We caught a shuttle back to the port and by 4:00 p.m. we were back in our stateroom, tired after a wonderful day.  It rains 220 days out of the year in Juneau but today wasn’t one of those.  We had clear blue skies and the temperature must have hit 60 degrees.  Wow . . . it was great.

We met the gang at 6:00 p.m. for dinner at Palo.  We have certainly had our share of dining experiences there this trip, three brunches and three dinners!  Tonight was wonderful, we were in the private dining room again with our friends from and   We watched the snow-capped mountains pass by and talked and ate and laughed and lingered until 9:30.  We were having such a good time that we almost missed the pod of whales we sailed through.  It was just awesome, we were able to sit in our seats, in the elegant setting at Palo, and watch about a dozen whales!  I think there were even some dolphins there!  It was a terrific night.


After dinner Carol and I changed and headed to deck 9 for the Pirates on the Caribbean Party.  Maybe we’ve done it too many times, or maybe Pirates in Alaska isn’t as much fun as Pirates in the Caribbean ; either way we didn’t last long.  We were back in the stateroom by 10:45 and heading to bed by 11:00.

Sunday May 8

We forgot to mention in yesterdays report that we saw a pod of whales as we ate dinner at Palo.  Wow, what an unforgettable sight!  (How do you forget an unforgettable sight?)


Also, to those who have signed our guestbook, thanks for your comments.  We are so glad that you are able to join in our adventures!


Now, here’s what happened today . . .

Bright sunlight was streaming in through a small crack between the drapes.  I checked my watch; it was 5:00 a.m.  Now that we are heading south we get full morning sun on our balcony and sunrise today was at 4:50.  The sky was vivid blue with light scattered cloud and a faint mist on the water.  The sun was huge and bright as it silhouetted the snow capped mountains to our east.  We have been blessed with amazing weather this week.  Our guides have told us it rains between 220 and 300 days a year here, particularly at this time of year.  We have been very, very fortunate!

360 degrees of this view - Awesome!

We enjoyed a leisurely morning, I picked up coffee on deck 9 and we enjoyed it on the balcony while we watched the mountains pass by.  A Carnival Cruise Lines ship, the Carnival Spirit, went steaming past at about 8:00.  She was going about twice our speed and soon disappeared ahead of us.  We’re coasting along at a mere 8 nautical miles per hour.  It’s only 291 miles from Juneau to Ketchikan .


We went to Parrot Cay for breakfast and then walked around on deck 10 . . . we were sailing south along the Alaska Marine Highway between Prince of Wales Island and Revillagigedo Island .  There were snow capped islands in every direction.  It was 360 degrees of absolute splendour!

By 10:30 we were approaching the harbour at Ketchikan .  Carol and I headed to deck 10 and stood overlooking the bow so we could supervise the crew as they brought us into the dock.

Once all was secure we headed back down, picking up a snack of chicken tenders at Pluto’s Dog House on the way.  We ate the snack in the stateroom and then headed out for our excursion.  We had booked the “Lighthouse, Totems & Eagles” tour.  We assembled in the Walt Disney Theatre at noon and were soon led out to the dock where we boarded our bus. 


At a marina 7 miles north of the town we were greeted by Captain Bob and his salty sea-dog Princess.

As soon as we boarded our tour boat Captain Bob began his running narrative.  Carol, Deb and I headed straight to the top deck and settled in, ready to spot our eagles.

And spot them we did!  Just minutes after we left the dock the captain pointed out the first eagles nest and seconds later he found our first bald eagle.  They were the first of many; we saw 10 eagle nests and over 20 bald eagles.  Some were in the nests, some were perched in trees and some were flying.  Wow!  Carol proved to be quite an adept eagle-spotter, she picked out more than the captain and crew did.


There were even some seals basking on some logs as we sailed past Loggerville, an abandoned floating town.

We sailed past the Totem Bight State Park where we saw several totems and a native meeting house, then cruised out to the Guard Island Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was built in 1903, very old by Alaskan standards, and we had a special treat, two eagles were perched on top of the lighthouse.


By 3:00 we were back on shore and boarded a bus for our return to the wharf.  Carol even spotted a young bald eagle on a roadside rock pile as we headed back toward Ketchikan .

A unique fog bank on the water.

Back at the dock we decided to walk the few blocks to the downtown area to browse a few of the shops.  Deb joined us for the walk.  No one bought much but we saw some sights and took some pictures.  We slowly wandered back to the ship (Princess Poopy Knees made sure the pace was very slow) and boarded the Wonder shortly after 4:00 p.m.

There was a lot of sea breeze and sunshine today so naturally we had to have a nap!


Tonight’s dinner at Animator’s Palette was semi-formal so I put on my fanciest golf shirt and at 7:15 we headed off to meet the gang at the Cove Café Outlook for pre-dinner drinks.  At 8:15 we moved to Animator’s Palette; it was lobster night, so of course Carol had lobster . . . it’s one of her favourites.  Once again we sat and chatted over dinner and after; we finally left the dining room at 10:15.  We had enjoyed three busy days in three different ports and were worn out, so sleep came early.  We’re looking forward to a relaxing day at sea tomorrow before we make that long trip home!

Monday May 9

We set our clocks ahead an hour last night and lost an hour of sleep.  I woke to a sound like that of a tornado in a trailer park!  The shipboard toilets are designed to use minimal water, so they use about 4 ounces of water and an incredible vacuum to dispose of all that nasty stuff.  It’s very efficient but also very loud.  I can normally sleep through it but I must have been starting to wake up because it startled me!  “What time is it? I asked as my dear bride returned to bed.  “It’s 5:40, go back to sleep.”  So I did.


I woke again at 7:00 and headed off for coffee.  Skies were grey and you could barely see the mountains of British Columbia on the eastern horizon.  We were sailing in Queen Charlotte Sound near Aristazabal Island , heading for Bella Bella.


It sounds as though this is an intricate part of the voyage for the pilot and crew.  At this point in the Alaska Marine Highway the channel narrows to less than a half-mile and the ebb and flow of tides can push the current through the channel up to 60 nautical miles per hour.  Ships are only allowed to pass through the channel when tides are at their highest or lowest point and currents are at their mildest.  We were scheduled to be there at about 11:20 a.m.


We enjoyed a leisurely morning; there was no need to rush to get ready for excursions.  We enjoyed a second cup of coffee in the stateroom and at about 9:00 headed to Beach Blanket Buffett for breakfast.  After breakfast we roamed the ship looking for Hidden Mickeys and completing Deb’s AllEars Hidden Mickey Quest.  We handed in our answer sheet and I headed to the Cove Café Outlook on deck 10 to wait for our approach to Bella Bella while Carol did some shopping.  She met me on deck 10 just as the captain announced that we had bypassed this scenic, narrow straight because we were pressed for time.  Too bad!

We roamed the deck a bit, taking pictures of some islands which rose up in the mist and then headed to Beach Blanket Buffett for a light lunch.  We have Tea at Palo at 3:00 p.m. so we don’t want to overdo it!


After a few more pictures on deck we headed back to the stateroom.

Carol checked us in with Air Canada for tomorrows flight while I loafed.  Carol did some more packing while I continued to loaf . . . it sure is nice to be me!

Soon it was 3:00 o’clock and we headed off to Palo for high tea.  Beci joined us; it was her first tea, as well as mine.  Carol of course is a veteran.  We spent a very pleasant hour savouring fine tea as we nibbled delicate sandwiches, scones with Devonshire Cream and jams as well as petit-four pastries.  We finished off with a nice sherry trifle and then had to rush of to our next shindig! and were hosting a Farewell Party for our group in the Cadillac Lounge at 4:00 p.m.  We were both still too full from our High Tea experience to enjoy the hors d’ouvres and beverages but we certainly enjoyed the camaraderie.  Alas, we didn’t win any of the draw prizes, but there were lots of happy winners.  Before long a surprise visitor dropped in . . . Captain Hook!  We all had a chance to get a picture with Hook and then he joined us in the atrium for a group photo.

We headed back to the cabin at 5:00 and Carol resumed packing while I resumed goofing off.  I went up to deck 10 with the camera to get some pictures of the narrow channel we were passing through, between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island .  The scenery here looks much like our home area, the water, rocks and trees are just like looking at The Thousand Islands near Kingston .  Of course, we don’t have those big snow-capped mountains in the background.  They sure are pretty!


As I stood at the bow looking forward I spotted and Orca in the distance, then another and another.  An entire pod passed by on the port side.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a clear photo, but they sure were awesome.  I headed back to the stateroom, wondering if Carol had seen them from the balcony.  Turns out she did, so she called Deb next door . . . Deb came dashing out and then began banging on the wall to alert Beci next to her.  It was sort of an Orca chain reaction . . . and they all had a great vantage point, the killer whales were very close.  Too bad I had the only functioning camera up on deck 10!

Honest folks . . . that's an Orca!

Carol headed down to deck 3 for the 7:15 pin trading with the officers and I headed to deck 10 for drinks in the Cove Café Outlook.  At 8:15 we headed to Parrott Cay for our final dinner together.

As always, dinner was a bittersweet affair.  It is always difficult to say goodbye to old friends we have know so long . . . and the new friends we have just made.  There were hugs all around and some misty eyes!  But some good news – there were eight at our table and five are already booked for Deb’s next group cruise, one is a definite maybe and the remaining two are hopeful.  So we may all be together again in about a year!  An Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy sailing May 19, 2012.


We left Parrot Cay at about 10:20 and scrambled to get our third and final suitcase out in the hall by 10:30.  We made it just under the wire!  Then bed came early.  We have a full day tomorrow, up early for early debarkation, shuttle to the airport, a 1:00 p.m. flight to Toronto lasting 5 hours.  Then we have a 2 ½ hour drive.  With a three hour time change factored in we should hit home about midnight tomorrow night.  Ouch!


Note from Carol: It has been an awesome adventure! When we brought the Wonder through the Panama in January we did not plan on seeing her again until the May sailing to Alaska . I am so glad that we added the repositioning cruise and were able to have the extra time and complete the journey, bringing the Wonder to Canada . We got to share the 12 night adventure with some wonderful friends. I would be remiss if I did not thank Deb and Beci for all that they did to make this journey a wonderful memory. Now it is time to sign off and go home – good night all.

Our Assistant Server Ceci and Server Nelson

Tuesday May 10

I hopped out of bed at 6:00 and looked forward from the veranda . . . I could just barely see Vancouver ’s Lions Gate Bridge off in the distance.  I left the drapes open and climbed back in bed so I could watch as we passed under it.  Ooops!  I dozed off and woke just in time to see a tiny bit of the span disappear behind us.  Dang!


The alarm went off at 6:30 and we quickly showered. Carol finished packing while I went to Beach Blanket Buffet for a quick bite of breakfast.  By 8:30 we were dragging our carry-on luggage down the hall to the elevator.  We were in the “Chip & Dale” group for early departure.  Our flight was at 1:00 p.m. but we hoped to bump it ahead an hour if we could get there early enough.  As we stepped off the elevator on deck 3 we spotted James, David and Patrice just a head of us.  As we approached the atrium they stepped in line behind Beci, Deb, Jack, Marilyn, Masayo and Gail.  We joined the line right behind them and suddenly most of the group which said all those sad goodbyes the night before was assembled again.  So we did it again!


Soon the Cruise Director told us that Canadian Customs had given the “All Clear” and we could go ashore.  In the Cruise Terminal we picked up our three large (and heavy) suitcases headed out to the bus as fast as my gimpy knees could carry me.  We were promptly loaded on the bus.  The driver came on and announced, “ Alaska called while I was loading your luggage; they want their state back!  Did you guys have to buy everything?”  We were underway just before 9:00 a.m. and pulled into the airport at 9:40.


On our way toward the Air Canada check-in counter I noticed that there was no one at the Air Canada First Class check-in desk so I wandered over and told the lady there that I just wanted to weigh one of our suitcases, I thought it might be close to the 50 pound limit.  She smiled as I tossed it on the scale.  Smiles seldom happen with Air Canada employees!  The bag was 52½ pounds.  She smiled again and said, “I’d let it go.” Then she glanced at the empty line and added, “There’s no one else here, why don’t I check you in?”  Wow, what a bonus; there was a huge line next door at the regular check-in counter.  I asked about an earlier flight and she said sure, she found us two window seats on the 11:00 a.m. flight.  By 10:00 a.m. it was all done.  We headed toward the departure gate and stopped for a coffee. 


We didn’t have time to finish our coffee before we were called to board the aircraft.  We took off on time and had a smooth flight.  Our seats were both on the window in the last two rows of the plane.  We were on the ground in Toronto at 7:20 and the Hotel Indigo shuttle pulled up just as we arrived at the loading area.  The stars had been aligned perfectly for us all day!  We were in the car and on the highway by 8:00 to begin our 2½ hour drive east to Kingston .  Traffic was light through the city and we made good time.  We pulled off the freeway for a quick stop and a bite to eat at Port Hope and by 10:00 we were at Carol’s parents to pick up a pair of very excited dogs!


We pulled in at our own home at 10:30.  Carol started unpacking and I loafed . . . again.


What a great trip; we can’t wait for our next adventure with this gang.  And it won’t be too long; we’re booked on Deb’s AllEars Cruise on the Disney Fantasy in May 2012 . . . stay tuned!


P.S. - Since Deb Wills linked us to her blog on we've heard from people in England, Australia, Fiji and all across the USA and Canada.  Please drop in again and be sure to sign our guest book.  We really enjoy hearing from you!