First we talked about packing and getting ready for the Alaskan adventure. Then we tackled the basics – eating and sleeping. Now, let’s take a closer look at how we passed the time during our week aboard the Ruby Princess.
Day 1: Embarkation
We had an early morning flight to kick off our trip…5:00 AM wake-up call early. Luckily, we had finished packing early the night before and prearranged a car service to get us to the airport on time.
Because of the long flight and the time change, we didn’t get into Seattle until 11:00 AM, which meant it was straight to the ship for us. We were very glad to find out that Uber works just as well in Seattle as it does in NYC.
The embarkation process was involved multiple steps (dropping off luggage, filling out forms, checking IDs…), but everything was really well organized and we smoothly and quickly found ourselves on board.
Just in time for lunch, of course! We grabbed some plates, ordered some drinks, and enjoyed the amazing weather up on the Lido Deck. The weather was so amazing (sunny and in the high 80’s) that some of us even got to go swimming that afternoon!
After swimming, we all headed to our designated muster stations for a mandatory meeting to review emergency procedures. Boring, but necessary.
And just like that, it was time to get ready for dinner. We ran down to our rooms to find that our suitcases were waiting for us. A little unpacking and it was off to the dining room. Since we had actually been traveling and on the go for 16 hours, Miles finally lost it at the dinner table. I blame sheer exhaustion. A move to mom’s lap and he was asleep within a few minutes.
We all went to bed soon after dinner to ensure our clocks were reset for the full day at sea ahead.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 1
Breakfast: chocolate croissant and tall White Chocolate Mocha from the Starbucks at Newark Airport
Lunch: a few bites of each – penne alfredo, a tomato/mozzarella sandwich, carved turkey, fried scallops, along with a cold beer
Dinner: veggie spring roll, hazelnut-crusted salmon, rice, chocolate souffle, glass of pinot grigio
Day 2: At Sea
In case you’re wondering, it’s super disorienting to wake up in an inside stateroom. With all the traveling, the time change, and the lack of natural light, it took us all a minute to figure things out. TIP: turn your TV to the ship’s bridge cam for some “daylight.”
After breakfast, I hit the gym for about 45 minutes on the treadmill. I know, who am I, right? I took a quick shower and joined my husband for some trivia after dropping off the kid at Princess Pelicans.
Sidebar: My son could not get enough of Princess Pelicans (the on board program for kids ages 3-7). They’re closed during lunch and dinner, and M pretty much spent those times asking us how long it would be until he could go back. They do crafts, watch movies, and even have a private outdoor area for kids to burn off some energy. They also offer programs for older kids and teenagers. We didn’t get to check those out as they’re pretty tight with security (another bonus), but they always looked packed when we walked by on our way to Pelicans.
After trivia and lunch, we headed over to the Princess Theater, where we caught the tail end of an ax-throwing (yes, AX) contest and watched a short documentary about life in Alaska.
Next we headed back to our room for a little quiet time and watched “The Longest Ride” on TV. (Thank you, Nicholas Sparks, for not killing off the main character, as you are wont to do.)
Later, we caught the tail end of the Captain’s welcome speech and champagne waterfall after the week’s first formal dinner.
I took in a little disco nap while my husband tried his hand in the casino with his brother. When he relieved me of kid duty around 10:00 PM, I decided to try MY hand…at The Voice of the Ocean.
I had read a little about it before our trip and knew I wanted to check it out. I walked into Club Fusion expecting there to be a handful of interested people…when in fact there was a large room full of several hundred people waiting to watch the “auditions” (read: karaoke). Now, I’ve done karaoke in the past, but for some reason, I was TERRIFIED! But I picked a song, chugged some water, and rolled with it.
A couple of hours later, they announced the top eight from that night and the night before (that’s eight total after two nights of people singing). I didn’t get my hopes up, having not seen/heard everyone, but lo and behold…I made the finals!
We had a quick meeting over champagne afterwards to pick our songs for the finals and review rehearsal schedules, and then it was off to bed for me.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 2
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, 2 sausage links, half a chocolate frosted donut, OJ
Bonus Cocktail: a mimosa over trivia
Lunch: cheeseburger, about 5 french fries, chocolate/vanilla swirl soft serve
Dinner: french onion soup, crab quiche, chocolate hazelnut slice of heaven, 2 Bellini’s
Bonus Cocktail: a victory glass of champagne
Day 3: Ketchikan
Bright and early on the morning of day 3, we pulled into our first port of call – Ketchikan. As this was really the only stop at which we didn’t have an excursion booked, I had taken some time beforehand to research the town and figure out what we wanted to do (shocking, I know).
Let me put it out there that I love walking and exploring new places. I don’t mind getting a little lost either; usually going off the beaten path will give you a better picture of the place you are than the made-for-tourist streets nearest to the ship.
This day, we ended up walking about five miles. Once we all connected on the dock (it took an embarrassing amount of time to find each other), we made our way over to Creek Street.
The antique boardwalk on wooden pilings over Ketchikan Creek is home to restaurants, unique curio shops, the Dollys House Museum & private dwellings, as well as some of the best salmon viewing areas in Ketchikan.
Once we’d looked around and taken about a million pictures (just me?), we walked up to the Totem Heritage Center. Unless you are SUPER into totem poles, this is definitely miss-able. The walk was a lot longer than we expected, and the entire place is three rooms. I was definitely expecting a field full of totem poles, but this was not the place for that.
On the bright side, visiting there did lead us through a really cute park and enabled us to take back roads back to the ship, including the happy accident of coming up on Married Man’s Trail and the Salmon Ladder.
We grabbed lunch in town before making our way back to the ship. Back on board, we stopped for gelato, but soon after all that walking caught up to us. So, the family enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon nap.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, it was time for dinner! Anyone else feel like all I did was eat on this trip?
Another movie that night (“Joy”) and it was bed time for me. Ketchikan tuckered me out, and I knew I wanted to get up (REALLY) early for our next stop.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 3
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, 2 sausage links, a few bites of french toast, OJ
Lunch: calamari, crab cakes, Sprite, chocolate hazelnut gelato
Dinner: crab/artichoke dip, chicken and leek pot pie, chocolate mousse
Day 4: Tracy Arms/Juneau
…as in 4:30 AM.
I had read all over the place that I would want to be sure and get up early to catch the views while sailing through Tracy Arms (we actually ended up in Endicott Arms because of ice conditions), and my body must have just known because I woke up that early with no alarm. I sneakily threw my cold weather gear over my pajamas and snuck out of the room while my boys kept snoozing.
A walk to the front of the ship on the Promenade Deck (7) and up some stairs, and I found myself alone with an amazing view. With my camera and binoculars in hand, I was able to enjoy close to an hour of complete peace and capture some pretty gorgeous pictures.
By then, my body was ready to go back to bed.
I rejoined my family a few hours later to take in some more vistas from Skywalkers Nightclub, and then grabbed a quick bite on the Lido Deck (15) before heading off to Juneau and our whale watching excursion.
If I’m going to be completely honest, the excursion was a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong; we definitely saw some whales. But there were several other boats out, and it felt like a race to get near them. Whales are amazing, but it was a little anti-climactic. On the upside, our guides were great (shout out to Mark!) and seemed genuinely passionate about wildlife.
After arriving back at the pier, some of my family wanted to walk around and have dinner in Juneau. My father-in-law and I were still tired from the early morning and opted to grab dinner back on the ship – nice and low-key.
Later than evening, my sister-in-law offered to stay with a sleeping Miles so the hubby and I could go grab a drink in the Explorers Lounge. We hadn’t really had much time for just the two of us, and as such it was a welcome break. Traveling with a big group is hard!
Drinks were followed by yet another movie (“Room” – so good!) in bed. Another port, and another excursion ahead!
Cruise Food Diary: Day 4
Breakfast: sweet roll, chocolate frosted donut, “beignet,” mimosa
Lunch: slice of spicy beef pizza, beer
Dinner: a few bites of each – penne alfredo, chicken cutlet, kielbasa, along with some chocolate hazelnut gelato
Day 5: Skagway
We were finally able to sleep in a little bit on Day 5. We got up just in time to have breakfast and head off the ship to explore Skagway before our afternoon excursion.
The town itself looks like it was pretty much built for the tourists – a lot of the same shops as the other ports (anyone know why they push jewelry so much?) in faux old-timey buildings. But for some strange reason, I kind of loved it!
My son was in heaven in the Train Shoppe, and we had a pretty fun lunch at the Bonanza Bar & Grill. PS – If given the option, you should ALWAYS buy a round for the kitchen!
Good to know: It was a solid mile from where our ship was docked to the town. Normally, that would be totally fine for seasoned city walkers like us. But we lost track of time and had to virtually run all the way back to the ship to make our excursion in time.
The excursion we booked that day was one of, if not THE most popular one during our trip – the White Pass & Yukon Route Scenic Railway. We really enjoyed the tour and were pretty bummed when we only got about halfway through the map they provided before having to turn back.
I will say it was surprisingly warm the day we went out. So, while the scenic vistas were lovely, a few in our group definitely dozed off in our seats. They do offer free water, and we were sure to take advantage of that.
Thankfully, the train dropped us back off right near the ship. We didn’t have a ton of time before we had to be at dinner, but we freshened up and popped open one of the bottles of champagne I had brought along.
Dinner brought more bubbly (this time prosecco) and my favorite dish of the week – a goat cheese souffle. Truthfully, I ordered it a bit hesitantly – hence the lack of picture – but I was completely sold after one bite. Remember: You can order as many items off the menu as you want. So, your cruise is the time to be adventurous!
We agreed this would be our “date night.” So, we dropped Miles off for a little late-night (well, late for him anyway) fun with Princess Pelicans and headed to the casino. I’ve really only been gambling once or twice before, but I *LOVE* the craps table. My favorite part is that it feels like the whole table is playing together, as opposed to playing against each other like in poker.
After picking up the kid, we tried our hand at Movies Under the Stars (to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), but it was late and we were cold. I think we made it about a quarter of the way through before turning in for the night.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 5
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, 2 sausage links, roll, OJ
Lunch: grilled cheese with tomato, beer
Dinner: goat cheese souffle (best dish of the trip!), a couple of bites of gnocchi, scallops, chocolate mousse, SO MUCH BUBBLY
Day 6: At Sea
It was another day sea for us on Day 6. The actually wasn’t much on the daily Princess Patter that caught our attention, and I knew I would have a rehearsal for The Voice of the Ocean.
After my usual breakfast, I sent the boys on their way and made my way through all the shops on board. I’m not sure why they push the jewels so much, but there are several options on the ship; I didn’t even bother going in there. I’m sure they have lovely items, but (a) I don’t wear a ton of jewelry and (b) I don’t have that kind of money.
Instead, I took a stroll through the on board “outlet sale” (unfortunately very little of it interested me), and then through the main shop, Calypso Cove. It’s there that you’ll find ship- and itinerary-specific merchandise – local snacks, Princess t-shirts, stuff for kids.
I made a quick stop back at our room before heading to my first Voice rehearsal at the Adagio Bar (Deck 16) – also the site for a couple of trivia games and classes earlier in the week. Here, the eight finalists went through our two pre-selected songs with the band. Then the “coaches” helped us each pick our best one to be performed at the finals. It was a great time of getting to know each other…and scoping out the competition.
Once all eight of us had gotten through our songs and made a choice about our final song, I. Was. Starving. Unfortunately, starving Cristina usually equals unhealthy Cristina. In this case, that meant grabbing a hot dog from the Trident Grill and a chocolate chip cookie from the International Cafe. At least I skipped the fries?
I found my family on the Lido Deck watching a little bit of “Zootopia” on the Movies Under the Stars screen, but before we knew it, it was time to head back to the room to get freshened up for our second formal night of the trip.
Before heading to the dining room, the entire family met up at Skywalkers Nightclub for some fancy family pictures.
The meal that night was in fact fancy – the menu included escargot, lobster tails, and steak – but not really spectacular. It’s probably unfair since I’ve been to so many amazing restaurants here in New York. But it was good, not great.
We sent Miles up for another evening with Princess Pelicans and headed to the Explorers Lounge for a comedy show from Steve Caouette – a very entertaining comedian who plays off the audience and also does some pretty impressive sound effects with his mouth.
I was able to catch the first part of the Marriage Match Game that immediately followed before it was time to go pick up the kid. In the game, they chose three couple out of the audience (newlyweds, a couple married about 20 years, and the longest-married couple they could find). From what I saw, the game made for some hilarious moments…and just as many rather uncomfortable ones.
I caught this beauty of a sunset (around 10:30pm) before hitting the hay.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 6
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, 2 sausage links, roll, OJ
Lunch: hot dog, chocolate chip cookie
Dinner: escargot, beef wellington, chocolate mousse, glass of prosecco
Day 7: At Sea/Victoria
Another standard breakfast, and I had to run off to yet another Voice of the Ocean rehearsal. Note to you: Do not enter this competition, if you don’t want to commit to at least three other blocks of time for rehearsals.
These rehearsals were technical ones, mainly to set the light and microphone levels, and run through the final songs with the band one more time to make sure everyone felt good about the show that evening. Luckily, it went well because an additional rehearsal that was scheduled was cancelled because no one thought we needed it.
Since I knew we would have to get off the ship early the next morning, we decided to spend a good part of the day packing. Even after just a week, we were pretty settled in and needed to pull things from every corner of the room. We even did a load of laundry – which PS was (a) expensive and (b) left our clothes so damp we had to lay them out all over our room to finish drying.
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to the Princess Theater for the Voice of the Ocean FINALS! The format is obviously a little different than the TV show:
- They narrow down the top eight after two night of open “auditions” – AKA karaoke.
- The top eight then perform their chosen song at the finals after working through it with the band and coaches (members of the entertainment crew).
- Three judges in the famous swivel chairs turn during those final performances, and each of the final eight choose a team to be on.
- Each judge then picks the favorite of their team, and those three go to an audience vote to determine the winner.
I’m proud to say that I came in second place, and since this is the lady that beat me, I don’t even feel bad about it. Michelle was amazing! We’re still trying to track down more pictures, so I’ll update here if I find any.
After a post-show champagne toast with all the competitors and their families in Crooners Lounge and Bar, we headed to our final dinner on board. Day 7 honestly felt like a third day at sea, since we didn’t arrive in Victoria until after dinner time.
Again, knowing that we had an early/long day ahead, we went back to our room after dinner to finish packing and get to sleep at a respectable hour.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 7
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, 2 sausage links, green tea with honey
Lunch: hot dog (on the go)
Dinner: small portion of fettuccine alfredo, roasted turkey, chocolate mousse
Day 8: Disembarkation
My husband and I enjoy packing as lightly as possible, which resulted in bringing two medium suitcases for the three of us for the week. As such, we decided rather than check our luggage and have Princess take it off the ship for us, we would just carry things off ourselves.
There’s a chance we also forgot to complete the necessary forms, but this is what we would have done regardless. It got us off the ship amongst the first (around 8:00 AM), and freed up most of the day.
The original plan was to pick up a rental car near the pier and explore Seattle a little bit before our late afternoon flight. However, after a week of go-go-go, we instead spent a very leisurely day at the airport having one last meal with the rest of the family. (We probably won’t see them again until Christmas, after all.)
We found a sport bar-type place at the airport. The service was pretty terrible (SUPER SLOW), but the food was decent and we weren’t in a rush anyway.
Our flight home went smoothly, and Miles slept most of the way. We didn’t end up getting home until nearly 1:00 AM…which wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have to wake up at 6:00 AM to start the work week. My boys on the other hand stayed in bed well into the morning.
Cruise Food Diary: Day 8
Breakfast: no time to eat, but a tall White Chocolate Mocha from the Starbucks at the Seattle Airport
Lunch: spinach/artichoke dip, chicken tenders
Dinner: too tired/late
All in all, it took me about a week to recover from our vacation…and it was great! I would have loved to explore Seattle a little more, and I would probably consider some more active excursions if we ever did a similar cruise again (zip-lining, hiking, dog mushing…). I think it’ll be a while before we head to the Pacific Northwest again, though.
The tropics are calling my name!
What has been your most memorable vacation? Anything you would change or do differently? Any tips for others voyaging to Alaska?