A stunning day in Ketchikan…Sunny and warm…Lots of photos to share…Juneau today with photos upccoming…

The Ketchikan sign over the boulevard.

For our readers in Minnesota: We are planning our “Meet & Greet” on Friday, June 9th, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at:

Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill at this location in Plymouth, Minnesota
Address: 220 Carlson Pkwy N, Plymouth, MN 55447

Please RSVP by email (our email addresses are on our homepage under the photo of us in Petra, Jordan) if you haven’t done so already. We are looking forward to seeing you then!

I must admit I’m a bit preoccupied about arriving in Minnesota next Friday and then in Nevada on July 7th to see our loved ones. In a way, it has impacted my embracing this Alaskan cruise as much it may have at another time.

Almost every cruise passenger was carrying stuffed shopping bags.

That’s not to say that we aren’t awe-stricken by the beauty of this magical place, nor has it prevented us from getting off the ship at each port of call. The historic towns, all are possessing a “wild west” type persona of a century ago, are only hampered by the massive numbers of cruise passengers bombarding the area.

A little bit of snow atop a mountain near the town.

Yesterday, I told Tom how much I’d enjoy “living” in Alaska during the summer months away from the crowds and commotion. It truly is breathtaking, and no doubt living in more remote locations would provide that “small town” feel we both love so much.

At times, we forgot we were on US soil once again.

But, cruise ship’s visits to ports of call are all about the shopping, restaurants, and tours offered through the ship, many of which are often overrated and overpriced.

A famous crab and seafood restaurant.

Yesterday, as we roamed through Ketchikan, struggling to maneuver through the crowds, we were easily reminded of why we always prefer more remote locations as a result of six cruise ships in port.

The streets were lined with shops offering a wide array of local and imported trinkets.

The excellent part about cruising is the opportunity to have at least seen some of these popular ports of call, which in the long run enhances our experiences as we continue to peruse the world for its wonders.

This popcorn store attracted lots of attention and purchases.

A few tours offered through the ship were somewhat appealing, especially the dog sled ride after a plane ride to a remote glacier. But at over US $600 per person, it didn’t fit into our budget at this time. 

Totem poles are popular tourist purchases.

We must remain determined and diligent in “tightening our belts” with the pricey Antarctica cruise upcoming in eight months. After that, it all becomes a matter of picking and choosing what ultimately is most important to us. 

Large totem pole outside a shop.

We’ve had no delusions about the sacrifices we’d have to make in leaving the US long ago to travel the world and the subsequent sacrifices we’d be faced with in our day-to-day lives.

This salmon shop carried a wide array of products that may be shipped.

As we share our story with cruise passengers, when often asked dozens of questions about how we can do this, we’re reminded of how much we’d had to leave behind in our old lives.

Diamonds and jewelry are some of the top purchases of tourists.

My current wardrobe is sparse and worn;  I’m stretching the use of cosmetics items until there isn’t one more application I can squeeze out of them; I’m wearing the cruise’s flimsy bathrobe with such pleasure as if it were spun with gold and cashmere. We take nothing for granted how we’ve changed.

Large handcrafted chess set.

My shoes desperately need to be replaced, as does Tom’s. But, unfortunately, he’s still wearing the pair of Adidas knock-offs he purchased in Hanoi last summer for $13. Amazingly, they’re still wearable for a little longer. 

Ornate, smaller handcrafted chess set.

It’s not so much that we’re “tightwads” but more because we don’t necessarily have access to replenish the supply of the items we find we need in our travels. 

Milano Diamond Gallery.

Indeed, time in the US will provide us with an opportunity to replace some vital items, tossing out the old and replacing them with the new and better.

A giant stuffed bear in a souvenir shop.

And yet, through it all, we never fail to keep our eyes peeled for the sighting of a whale, a playful dolphin, or an eagle soaring the skies in Alaska. Then, of course, there are the people of Alaska that we observe through the lens of a cruise passenger’s lens, hoping for that special moment that brings us together, a commonality of interests as humans, that proves essentially we all want the same things in life.

The boardwalk on the way back to the awaiting tenders returning passengers to the ship. It was a gorgeous sunny day.

It’s not always about a sense of adventure or exploration and wonder. Instead, it’s the little things that imprint upon our souls, making memories we’ll never leave behind in one vacation home after another, one cruise ship after another. 

Popular tourist “Duck” transportation.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2016:

In Bali, the young white horse and the boy return for a swim in the river. For more details, please click here.

Ketchikan, Alaska…People we meet…Ketchikan photos tomorrow…Land of the midnight sun…

Tom took all of these sunset photos last night at 9:30 pm as we made our way to Ketchikan, Alaska.

Each time we arrive in a new port of call, we deliberate over getting off the ship early and deal with the long lines and considerable waiting time to get ashore or hold back for a while after the crowds thin.

With our motto of “Wafting Through Our WorldWide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity, waiting always seems to make more sense. In most cases, we complete and upload the day’s post before we disembark the ship, posting the photos the following day.

On some other occasions, we may wait to post until later in the day after the visit to the port of call, including the new photos later in the day. Over the next several days, we’ve decided to hold back until around 10:00 am while attempting to upload a post before we go. That doesn’t always work when many days it takes into the afternoon to complete the day’s post.

Tom took all of these sunset photos from Deck 5.

There are five massive cruise ships in the port right now, and Ketchikan will be mobbed with thousands of passengers doing the “shop until you drop” thing we try to avoid when visiting ports.

Even in these short years of sailing, now on our 19th cruise, we’ve noticed an evolution from quaint ports of call to massive, hopping shopping areas. Many passengers bring along an empty suitcase to accommodate their purchases. That’s just not us.

Many passengers choose specific ports of call for the shopping more than any other reason. I suppose, in our old lives, I, too, may have been enticed to shop. But I no longer feel the desire or motivation to spend hours perusing shops for trinkets and pricey gems. But, of course, Tom concurs. 

From the web: “Nearly one-third of Alaska lies above the Arctic Circle, but Alaskans are fairly informal about claiming they live with the midnight sun. All parts of the state enjoy long daylight hours in summer, even Ketchikan, the state’s southernmost population center, where there are more than 17 hours of daylight on June days.”

Nor do we enjoy fighting the crowds everywhere we may go as we walk through a port we’ve never visited in the past. Our goal is simple…see the quaint features beyond the shopping and take as many interesting photos as possible.

Regardless, we still love cruising, mainly for the easy days and nights and the social interaction. But, we both must admit, we’re missing the outrageously friendly and fun Aussies and Kiwis who sure know how to have a good time and include us into their playful world.

There are few Aussies and Kiwis on this ship, although we’ve yet to get a count of the actual numbers. So far, we’ve heard only a few Aussie accents, one this morning at Cafe al Bacio and another at breakfast yesterday. 

The waning sun creates an impressive beam of light of the sea.

No doubt, we were spoiled after almost two years in the South Pacific. We never entered an elevator or sat at a shared dining table when the conversation wasn’t lively, inclusive, and filled with loud laughter.  We kind of miss that now.

Thus far, we’ve dined at a few dining tables in the past few days that have been very enjoyable but not quite the same as the past seven cruises starting or ending in Sydney, Australia.

I don’t mean to stereotype people from certain countries. But, as we’ve traveled and lived in many countries, it’s easy to spot cultural behavior as to a degree of openness, friendliness, and ability to laugh and cajole. 

The sun begins to fade away behind this bank of ominous-looking clouds.

After spending long periods in many countries, this becomes clear during our first few weeks as temporary residents.  In some countries, we can immediately develop close relationships, many of which become lifelong friends.

It’s no coincidence we’re excited to get back to South Africa, not only for the wildlife but also for the many friends we made during our three-month stay, more than in any other country thus far, all of whom we’ve stayed in touch via Facebook and email.

The quality of this nomadic lifestyle is enhanced by building friendships. We’re so grateful and humbled for the friends we made along the way, looking forward to more in the future.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today. May 19, 2016:

Giant statue located in Negara, Bali, near the main highway. For more details, please click here.

We’re sailing in Alaska’s Inside Passage on our way to Ketchikan!…Long wait at Canada Place, port of Vancouver…

It’s not as cold outside on the decks as one might think. So we wandered outdoors without jackets, and it was cool but not intolerable. 

We stuck with our plan to leave for Canada Place, the port in Vancouver, at 2:00 pm. However, the drive through traffic and the short line of taxis made us hopeful we’d made the correct decision to wait until later in the day instead of an early morning port arrival.

Overall, our instincts to arrive later than the allowed 11:00 am attempts to board were correct but not by much. Most likely, we avoided only about 30 minutes of waiting time to get onto the ship.

Dark, cloudy, and foggy through the Inside Passage today, photo ops are limited. But, as we move along on this journey, more will transpire.

Never, in all of our past 19 cruises in these past 55 months, have we waited in such huge lines with so many people. Luckily, we are “Elite” members, which allowed us to wait in shorter lines for cruise check-in and immigration. 

Had we not been members with Captain’s Club perks, our wait could easily have been a four-hour wait instead of our two-and-a-half-hour wait. Instead, in many cases, we scurried along into much shorter queues along with many others with similar designations. 

Logs along the shore.

It pays to sail with one cruise line (the same parent company owns celebrity and Royal Caribbean, and perks are interchangeable). By 4:45 pm, we were seated in the main dining room for the muster drill along with other Captain’s Club members while many others stood outdoors for their muster drill. We were grateful to be indoors when it was very cool in Vancouver.

Our luggage arrived in our cabin before dinner, but there wasn’t ample time to unpack everything, especially when we had piles of dirty clothes we needed to sort to have it laundered, a task we never handled in Vancouver.

We’re not expecting to see a lot of wildlife on this cruise since it’s early in the season. However, if we have a little “safari luck,” we’ll be thrilled.

As Captain’s Club Elite members, we’re entitled to two free bags of laundry to include up to 20 items. Upon returning to our cabin after the 9:00 pm movie (“Fences,” worth watching), we completed the unpacking, leaving a huge pile of dirty clothes.

This morning we neatly folded the dirty laundry into the paper bag and completed the “laundry list” to be submitted with the order. There was no problem coming up with 20 items.  Our cabin steward assured us we’d have it all back by tomorrow since few, if any, other passengers had requested laundry service on this first day at sea.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas, the ship we sailed for 33 nights that circumvented the entire Australian continent, ending on December 3, 2016. 

Dinner in the Grand Epernay was perfect. First, I met Evan, who’ll oversee my special diet, which seems quite attentive and concerned for accuracy in presenting my meals.

This morning we had a light breakfast of poached eggs and a little bacon. We love interacting with other passengers at mealtime and will try to eat three times a day on this cruise.  I seem to feel better when I eat three small meals rather than one or two large meals a day.

Low-lying clouds drift through the hills and mountains.

Now, we’re situated in the Cafe al Bacio on deck five in the same seats as on the past three Celebrity Solstice cruises. We can’t believe how many staff members aboard this ship remember us! How is that possible? They are so friendly and warm. 

The free drink policy for Elite members isn’t as comprehensive as on Royal Caribbean. For example, the Captain’s Club happy hour is only from 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the Sky Lounge, whereby on the last RC cruise, members could drink for free from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. Also, three drinks each were allowed from any bar during this time frame.

So far, the scenery through the Inside Passage consists of mountains and forests. 

Guess we’ll stay put in the Sky Lounge for those two hours each evening while Tom enjoys his favorite cocktail, Cognac and Sprite Zero on the rocks. I’m still not drinking wine and honestly don’t miss it. Well, maybe a little.  Those glasses of Cabernet and Merlot do cause my heart to flutter a bit. So it goes.

We’re content and looking forward to checking out the various ports of call in Alaska on our own time as we see fit. Unfortunately, with some big expenses on the horizon, we’ve had to avoid any of the ship’s expensive tours. 

The budget always supersedes our desires if we intend to do some of the more special locations (i.e., Antarctica and Africa) and continue indefinitely. However, there’s no doubt that certain sacrifices are necessary to continue this nomadic life. 

In our travels, we regret nothing, nor have we missed anything that was ultimately important to us. So may your day, your life, be free of regrets.

Photo from one year ago today, May 18, 2016:

In Bali, note the hat on the woman in red, known as a sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, bamboo hat, or Raiden hat, is carrying more rice from the fields while the guy in blue talks on his phone. For more details about rice paddies, please click here.