Cruisin’ Again!

This year’s family vacation was another Norwegian Cruise Line trip to Alaska that ended in Vancouver, Canada. I have never been to the Pacific Northwest before, so I was really excited about it although not totally sure what to expect. There was one thing that was familiar to me, and that was coming back home to a cruise ship most nights of the vacation.

We started our trip in Anchorage, took a cab to Whittier where we boarded our ship.

We only spent about an hour in Whittier but it was a gorgeous day and the gorgeous scenery was just… gorgeous.

From there, we went to Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan before disembarking in Vancouver, Canada. Let’s get talking about where I spent a lot of my time during this trip:

Norwegian Sun

If you remember, I had an amazing time my first time cruising ever, and NCL had a lot to do with that. This year, we were on the Norwegian Sun, which is a slightly smaller ship than the Norwegian Star. I basically knew what to expect as the ship was designed similarly to the Star.

The food was, of course, great.

Starters & salads
Entrees……… mmm…

We rarely ate at the buffet, because my parents liked the portion control that comes with the meal service and also not having to carry our plates around and struggle to find a table. (“We’re on vacation, it’s okay to like being served, right?”) The food was good and by the end, I found out you could order more than one of each course from other tables where people were taking full advantage. Needless to say, my brother is teasing me for ordering multiple desserts to this day.

And I’d do it again! All the desserts.

One of my favorite things about our cruise this time around was the camaraderie on the ship. Whereas on the last cruise, everyone was generally friendly but doing their own thing, I made friends on this cruise. I [secretly snuck out to avoid having my family there] went to karaoke every night but the first and there was a nice little crowd of regulars there. Not only did we have regular singers, a few of whom were in the Karaoke Superstar Contest on the last day with me (shout-out to Garrett, Janice, and Coby!), but we also had regulars in the audience who were so nice and fun (shout-out to Carol, Jane, and Rodney for supporting me through the finals!). I’ll write another post about my passion for karaoke, but when you sing in front of a group, you do need to sing FOR your audience, not just at them. On cruises, I usually sing a lot of classic tunes from before the 80s because there are a lot of retirees onboard, ya know? Country songs also tend to be pretty popular. There was also a big sing-along in the atrium which I enjoyed a lot. Sing-alongs are just always a good time and are part of what makes karaoke amazing.

This was our in-house Johnny Cash, Garrett. 18-year-old who just started singing this year and already SO talented.

We also did a murder mystery lunch with a family from Miami. It was one of the few times my brother and I got to interact with other people our age and I had a lot of fun. Everyone played up their characters pretty well and we all had a lot of fun. The food was meh but the murder fun was great 😀

(Also there was an “adult game show” that I can’t talk about because it was just so crazy, but I bonded with my teammates on our no-AARP team and it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t naughty but just very strange and difficult to explain.)

I can’t provide an explanation for this photo.

The cruise staff was, as always is the case with NCL, fantastic and awesome and so friendly. Seriously, I spent so much time around them that I picked up a bit of an Australian accent by the end of the cruise.

The Views

Basically, the Pacific Northwest is full of gorgeous, breathtaking views everywhere you go. I felt like I was in a postcard, or on a water bottle label. Mountains, oceans, forests, bald eagles… just wow.

Hubbard Glacier


Sitting in a hot tub and looking around at snow-capped mountains covered with verdant green trees against a stunningly blue sky was just… it was a beautiful moment. It truly was.

I don’t know how I will go back to vacationing without cruising, you guys. I really do love it so much.

Saying goodbye in Vancouver


Before I do a city-by-city recap of my vacation, I want to make sure I spotlight one of the main features of my trip. This was my first time on a cruise ship and it was pretty spectacular! It was even better than I imagined it to be.

We originally wanted to do a 12-day cruise that started and ended in London, with a stop in Amsterdam, but we hit a SNAFU with that one, so we did a 9-day cruise that began and ended in Copenhagen, minus the stop in Amsterdam. This was a blessing in disguise, because it afforded us more time in London and the opportunity to visit Paris!

The cruise ship that we called home for 9 days was the Norwegian Star. I cannot recommend the ship more. It was amazing. The ship was extremely well-kept and the staff was SO welcoming and friendly and wonderful. They made you feel like a part of the giant family that we had on the ship. The entertainment staff in particular was really good about knowing people’s names and always being very welcoming and courteous to guests. Serious shout out to the beautiful fantabulous staff on the Norwegian Star.

The entire experience was just so fun and comfortable. From the moment you walk onto the ship, you’re greeted by your crew, dancing along to electronic dance music. (I felt that EDM was really appropriate for a European cruise.) Sometimes they give you little bits of drink or gelatin snacks. Sometimes the crew will come out on stilts. Sometimes they provide nice ice cold towels for relief on a hot day. The welcome makes you feel so welcome and wanted. Plus, every day, we were greeted by a cute little towel animal on our bed!

Examples of the towel animals we would find on our beds
Examples of the towel animals we would find on our beds

The food on the ship was delicious. Our favorite spot was Versailles, which was of the no-cover joints. Since our cruise fare included food, we didn’t have to pay at any of the restaurants. However, there were a few places that required cover as they were slightly fancier, like the Brazilian steakhouse and the teppanyaki restaurant. We loved Versailles because the food was really yummy, and we really didn’t want to venture to the other places after loving the first place we chose. I had the best steak of my life there. It was only one time, even though I tried to get it again, but it was the best steak of my life. And I’m not even a huge steak fan.

Surf & turf on our first night at Versailles yummm
Beautiful sugar-free chocolate panna cotta
Choosing a dessert was really difficult. #firstworldproblems

There were a lot of fun activities available. There was a casino, shuffleboard!, a great pool, lots of hot tubs, Bingo, karaoke at the bar… there was a LOT. There were a handful of big parties that they had, with lots of dance music and booze for all the senior citizens and people closer to my age. (Lots of line dancing, I’ll tell you that.) It was VERY difficult to be bored on this ship. I even managed to escape a few times to their library, where there were daily sudoku and crossword puzzles, as well as a bunch of great reading options. (Also, I could eat basically all day.)

Ping-pong and GIANT CHECKERS!

This game is called “The Keymaster” and its song haunts my dreams.
We don’t know the rules for shuffleboard.

On top of that, I saw some brilliant performances while aboard the Star. There was this great musician who played a bunch of cultural folk songs using a variety of instruments, like the pan flute! I don’t remember his name, but he had this fantastic energy, even though between songs he was very calm and collected. We also saw this MAGNIFICENT Russian acrobatics duo that absolutely took my breath away. Maria and Dimitri have such control over their bodies and the choreography was so fresh and beautiful. We also saw a show by Brenda Cochrane, who was fabulous.

I think I severely underestimated how wonderful our cruise would be. I loved it. I loved it times a million. I want everyone to get to experience what I experienced on that ship, maybe minus the bit of seasickness that kept me from stuffing my face so furiously.

I have so many more photos, but I don’t want to overwhelm you guys. I will most likely be making a separate post about just some gorgeous water shots I got, because there were a lot of those. But I need to publish  this before it’s winter XD