From May 23 to May 30, 2008 Susan, Glen, Kayla, and Glen's parents were all sailing aboard the Royal Caribbean International ship Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, to Seward/Anchorage Alaska. The cruise we had booked in the early fall of 2007, and we had invited various people to go with. Come January 2008 Glen's parents were the one party to think it was a good idea and they booked a room on the ship just down the hall from ours.

The ship, and probably the whole cruise line was more targetted to people our age than Holland America which is the other cruise line we are familiar with as compared to our cruise through Europe in 2005. There were more active things to do aboard the ship, such as a rock climbing wall on top of the ship, that Glen climbed the first full day aboard. There was also play time every day targetted at different kids age groups, and to which Kayla attended a couple of times and had a fun time. On this 7 night trip we had a couple of formal nights, suit or tuxedo for guys, and "cocktail dresses" for women, and even Kayla attended.

After cruising for a full day, early morning on the third day we cruised into Ketchikan. We had a good day wandering around the small town looking into shops and shopping for knick knacks.

On the fourth day we got into Juneau early in the day, and it is where Susan and I had our biggest day planned. While Kayla spent the morning wandering around Juneau with her grandparents, Susan and Glen went off for our one shore excursion, a big one... our time for touring glaciers by helicopter and also a dog sledding experience on top of one of the glaciers. We took a bus from the ship to the heliport, where we got into a helicopter at a little after 9:00 in the morning. We then flew and toured over four glaciers before we landed at a musher camp on top of the glacier. The snow was blinding bright, and Susan had forgot her sunglasses, but thankfully one of the mushers lent Susan some. There had been six of us tourists travelling together in the helicopter, but for dog sledding they wanted to have 3 of us tourists per musher / dog-team. Susan volunteered for the two of us to go with different teams. I along with a couple just moving to Seattle from Columbia went with our musher Casy and had a great time being pulled by our sled dogs. Susan had with her musher a couple from the States being pulled by their team. My team had a couple of six year old dogs who had each ran the Iditarod twice. All too soon we were back in musher camp, into the helicopter, and flown by our pilot Jenn back to civilization. The total flying time and dog mushing time was about three hours, which allowed us to take the bus and get back to the ship just in time for lunch with Kayla and Glen's parents!

For the afternoon in Juneau we joined onto a van tour that Glen's parents had arranged, and we learned a number of interesting things such as the fact that Juneau has no road connection to the rest of the continent. The only ways to travel to Juneau are by plane or by ship. We also went and saw the Mendenhall Glacier, and a shrine in the woods, where we looked around and even saw some whales in the distance. As one can expect when cruising, the ship and service were excellent. Here's one of our room steward Renson's towel creations. We got a good picture of the ship when we went ashore in Hoonah. Hoonah was a native village in which we tourists had to be tendered ashore. The stop itself is a lot like going to Seymour Arm Village on the Shuswap. The stop has a lot of trees, and is (thankfully) missing the shopping as most of the other Alaskan stops. Unlike Seymour Arm however, Hoonah is home to the world's longest zip line. It is a 90 second ride down a line over a mile and a half. We gave some serious thought to doing this excursion, but ultimately decided our money was better saved. I'm sure we would have an excellent time if we had done it, but my thinking was that we were now parents and should act respnonsibly :-). In Hoonah we did walk around a scenic trail not unlike many trails around the Shuswap.

After Hoonah we had another formal night with excellent food (food every evening was excellent). The next morning we awoke for a day of sailing in the Hubbard Glacier. We had planned to go up to the top deck for breakfast, but we were entering the glacier as we were getting ready so we decided to take advantage of the possibilities and we ordered a lovely breakfast that we enjoyed on our deck. It was one of the highlights of the trip, even though we had to dress warmly to eat our breakfast.

It was a great trip. We enjoyed the ship, service, and hearing what our table mates had done each day, but it was all too soon and we arrived at our endpoint in Seward Alaska. One of Seward Alaska's claims to fame is that it is the start of the famous Iditarod Trail. We drove a Hertz rental from Seward in to Anchorage. In Anchorage we checked in to our hotel, the Hampton Inn where we were to stay that night, the last of Glen's Hilton Hhonors points. We checked out the airport so we knew where we would be dropping off Glen's parents that night. Then we drove through downtown and finally went to a tourist site where we watched a movie on Alaska, and walked around some nature trails and had fun with some of the attractions at this park. We went into one of the historical stores and bought some chocolate as well as looking at things in the store. We dropped off Glen's parents that night at the airport, while we stayed at the Hampton Inn. The next day we spent some more time downtown, before late that afternoon we checked in at the airport. Unlike the leisurely trip North, the flight back was much quicker. Kayla did well for the first hour of the Anchorage to Seattle flight. For the second hour, she was much more uptight, and could be calmed by my walking up and down the aisle. Whenever she would reach our seats at the back of the plane however, she would start screaming. The third hour, she spent sitting with us even though she spent considerable time screaming. As we landed, she finally fell asleep. Thankfully she mostly stayed asleep as we went through the Seattle airport. With Kayla asleep, our flight from Seattle to Vancouver was thankfully uneventful. We arrived back in Vancouver at about midnight, and were picked up by Glen's parents. We certainly enjoyed our time.

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