On August 18, Ian and I flew to Seattle in preparation for our much anticipated Alaskan cruise. Although the boat was not scheduled to leave until 4:00 on August 19, I argued in favor of arriving in Seattle the night before because a) I’m anxious and paranoid about flight snafus, and the peace of mind was worth the price of a hotel room in Seattle, b) I arrive early for most everything else, so why should a cruise be any exception, and c) we could go to the Space Needle at night. Later, while on the cruise when we discovered that it cost a family of four who had missed the boat in Seattle $500 a person to fly to Juneau plus $300 each in fines (who knew cruise lines could fine you?), arriving a bit early seemed like a sound decision. As if that wasn’t convincing enough, we did go to the Space Needle at night (we had been there during the day before) and got this super fantastically awesome souvenir digital photo for FREE. Well, okay, it was free with the $19 per person admission to the Space Needle, so not really free, but kind of not quite entirely unlike free.
While in Seattle, we stayed at the MarQueen Hotel. I love old hotels, well, old in the charming, historic sense, not the run-down and decrepit sense. Thankfully, the MarQueen is the former. I am usually not one who goes around photographing hotel closets. In fact, I have done this exactly twice in my life and for opposite reasons. The first time was in the Best (ie, Worst) Western in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the second time was in the MarQueen (see juxtaposition below).
Anyhow, the MarQueen was, indeed, charming, but our stay there had one down side. Our room was on the first floor and shared walls with the adjacent coffee shop, Cafe Ladro. I will say, the aroma of coffee was nice to wake up to, but you know when you are at a coffee shop, and the baristas tend to bang the baskets against the side of the trash bins in order to get the coffee grounds out of them? Yeah, that was what we heard from the time the shop opened. However, having good coffee and awesome rhubarb crumb cake within stumbling distance when we got out of bed pretty much made up for any annoyance caused by the noise. We also got to see a couple greet one another by pretty much making out in the coffee shop, and really, who doesn’t like to see that first thing in the morning?
After finishing our coffee and bidding our spacious closet adieu, we were off to the ship. Well, not exactly. We were off to wait in one line to check our luggage, another line to check in, and…damn, I forgot what the third line was even for, but I’m quite sure there were three lines. At long last, though, we were forcibly sprayed with hand sanitizer (okay, not really, but it was strongly suggested), and we boarded the Norwegian Pearl.
When we arrived in our room, we were surprised to find chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of wine. At first, I thought that perhaps Ian had ordered them on the sly to surprise me, but no, they were actually complimentary. We enjoyed the strawberries and opened the wine to toast our departure (and my BFF Michelle’s birthday) when the ship left dock.
We spent the rest of that day and the following day at sea, so we availed ourselves of the various activities that were available on the ship, which, if you are not into gambling, consist mainly of eating and drinking. We did sit up on the sun deck for a while, and although it was not sunny, it did offer a nice view. In fact, I saw more whales from the deck and various windows of the ship than I ever did on an actual whale-watching excursion.
Later in the day, we attended what was billed as a Global Beer tasting. Although several countries were represented in the selections, I really expected some more interesting and exotic beers. There was only one (Alaskan) I had never had before. The others (Dos Equis, Blue Moon, Bass Ale, and Guinness) were ones that just about anyone who likes beer probably would have tried before. Nevertheless, the host, the trivia, and the chugging contests were entertaining.
In the evening, we attended, “The Not-So Newlywed Game” in one of the ship’s lounges. I had aspirations of becoming a ship celebrity by being among the couples picked for the game, but alas, it was not to be. But that’s okay because I’m totally getting famous by other means. In fact, I must be special because when we got back to our room that night, there was a nifty towel critter on our bed. I know they don’t make those for just anyone! Well, OK, maybe they do, but I could tell that ours was made with extra admiration.
The next day, we would finally arrive in Alaska! But that’s another post for another day.