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Old 06-09-2014, 07:24 PM   #1
chris31997
Disney Kid at Heart
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,656

WHOOT a Grad Cruise and a Family Reunion in Alaska- 9Day May 24 Cruise

So just so you know this will be a "boring" TR. No pics. I can't remember how to post them here. But I will include a link to a public facebook with pictures. There is info that I want to get out.

Cast of Characters from Japan:
Me, the Tour Director, one day I will have a flag so the "cats or characters" can follow
DH, loving hubby who indulges my Disney
DD, who drank the koolaid nd loves Disney as much as me
DS, who is working on finding all the Hidden Mickeys in his head

The rest of the Characters who aided in surprising DD:
Oma aka FMiL
SIL
Mimmie, my Mom
SIS aka my Cohort in Crime
Trouble 2, my niece
Grandpa, my Dad
The Wookie, my Brother


Alittle background:

DH is in the military and we currently live in Japan. We thought we should do an Alaskan Cruise, because when are we gonna be this close. But we did not like the fact that we did not really see that much of Alaska and then add to it the price So we decided to forgo the cruise.

But being the good Disney Addict, I kept it in the back of my mine and trolled the boards. When a special cruise was rumored, I stalked DCL. And talked with DH. He was on the fence about it. But then love won out.

Well, we decided that with the timing of it. This would be a fun Graduation Cruise and it would be fun to rope family in on the fun also. So began, Operation Explode, as it would be later named. Almost everyone here knew, and of course family knew. We told the kids for Christmas.

The confusion on their faces was awesome. Gloves, handwarmers, hats, Disney stuff it was great. Gotta understand that Okinawa, is a tropical island. In the winter it gets around 60, and that is like Jan/Feb. Our "winter" clothes are sweatshirts. Nothing heavy. We needed to buy all that. That is what we used to reveal to the kids. Along with a t-shirt, that said "DeMello Christian Acadmey Graduation.........DCL Alaska Cruise May 2014"

I made her cry. She was so excited. It was great.

Now came the hardest part keeping the secret about the family. Man, I never thought that would be so hard. Worry when Skyping with family, Worry we would spill the beans.

Thank you Disboards, you helped so much to ease the pressure

Now another pressure is forming DH's work But that is for another time. Back to happy thoughts and places.

Now to to actually start
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:59 PM   #2
chris31997
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Let me preface this with saying we are obviously will travelled and been around

If you have ever been on the fence about traveling to a "forgein" country(yes Canada is forgein but you can read the signs and just about everyone speaks English, not like you are going to Japan and can't speak the language ), GO!!!

There I said. You really should go. Even just to the airport in Vancouver, statues and heritage stuff all over the place. It is cool.

As a homeschooling and military family, we look for the opportunity to learn/experience something new. We want to see and be apart of the culture. Sometimes you gotta take the easy way. Sometimes you just gotta experience.

We have done that in Japan. We have traveled a lot in Japan and depended on the kindness of strangers, broken English, lost in translation, and our horrible attempt at Japaneses. I tell you that because, Vancouver at first was hard but it was due to the exhaustion we felt from traveling. After we had gotten sleep, Vancouver was an easier place to get around.

We flew out from Okinawa on Wednesday and got to Vancouver 3 hours later. Thank you Tardis.

Well actually, the International Date Line. Lack of sleep did make it hard to read the directions for the Train.

But wait. Customs, Immigration, easy. Getting luggage easy. But all of that was in a daze.

Back to the train. Signs to everything were easy to read and Easy to follow It is the small things. We got to the platform for the train, and the map did not look like what I had seen and show DH. I was confused and could not processes it. Thankfully, there were 2 workers right there who helped us. We told him where we were going, how many of us, and answered our questions. We were going to have to change trains. We are used to having to buy new tickets, but not there.

Awesome, on our way. Kids are on the travel buzz. Parents are slowly crashing. Made it to where we need to change trains.

Which way to go, George? Which way to we go???

A very sweet Lady stop, and told us where to go to catch our next train. Travel fog is a dangerous thing. But up we go, and we got the train. to our final stop. I mean if we had not been traveling for so long, about 24hrs and me and DS on "happy tummy" meds it would not have been a big deal.

A cop told us which way to go as we exited towards out hotel, a lady asked about a hat I was sitting by, a man helped hold the train so we all got on the same train. Very friendly people in Vancouver. We ran into friendly people just about everywhere.

I researched places to eat. Seafood, Japanese, and what not. And for the most part the places most people wanted to eat, is not where we wanted to eat. We wanted to eat in places, we could not in Japan. Again it goes back to experience new things in new places. One thing that was not new but what we had not had in a very long time, was Five Guys. We had that for dinner.

I guess I should tell you where we stayed. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown. Close to the port, things to do, ride to the port, and free breakfast!!! We enjoyed our stay there. They were very friendly and very helpful. If we ever go back, I would stay there again.
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Last edited by chris31997; 06-16-2014 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Edited:cause I said something I should not have????
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Old 06-16-2014, 05:54 PM   #3
chris31997
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,656

Well, life can throw a curve ball or two. I was hoping to have this done by now but life happens. I'm taking this oppurtunity of no car to relax and catch up on things that got thrown to the bottom of the to do list.

Back to this trip report.



This was our Second Day in Vancouver. Time to eat breakfast, as the kids were moving faster than the old folks We sent them down while we finished getting ready. So glad to have an older Teen so that I can do this. It was helpful on the Boat also

We are off to explore. Our transportation this time was......our two feet. What better way to see things than to walk around? Boy did we walk around around. I was thrilled that DD and DS had been running for a couple of months prior to this and I had been walking. By the end of the day I wish I had turned on our running ap to see how far we had actually walked.

First stop: to check out where Operation Explode will occur. Of course not letting the kiddos in on it

Now what???

Well, walk out of the mall and turn a random direction. Actually, it was more that looks intersting. And that is how we proceded the rest of the day. Coming to an intersection and everyone taking turns picking a dicrection. After about the 3 or 4 turn, I was lost. Good thing I brought my own gps, my DH. He never gets losts. He can always find his way back to where he started from. DD tried. She almost had it. DS, well he tried also. But he is like a greyhound. He just goes and does not look where he goes. He gets lost easy

Our route: up Robson St weaved over to Canada Place down thru Gastown and found Chinatown(I convinced DH to save it for Friday. We needed something to do and I was tired)

We saw lots of intersting characters. I love to people watch. Vancouver provided great oppurtunity to do that.
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Old 06-16-2014, 06:58 PM   #4
chris31997
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,656

Finally the big reveal is here. Operation Explode. Although I am not sure who is going to explode me or DD.

Our goal, I mean my goal, is to take our sweet time today. I know when family is arriving at the airport and about how long it should take to get through the customs. I have a rough idea when we need to be out of the hotel. See my SIS and I are on the same wave length even when we are half way around the world from each other. We booked the same hotel. My Dad had to get on it also. In order not to see each other until the right time, we had to leave.

Breakfast, and hey lets do some laundry. Help use some time. Start packing. Explore the top floor where there is a pool, more like a hot tub, and gym. Wonderful view.

Okay the getting funny looks from DD and "I'm gonna eat the chair or your kid" look from DH Guess it is time to go find Chinatown again and some lunch. We ate at Tim Horton's. All I could think was Horton Heard a Who, every time I was one of these. It is a nice little coffee shop. It has a little bit of everything. Think along the lines of Starbucks but waaaay better. In my opinion.

DS was not feeling well. The not eating like he was used to at home was getting to him. Great. All he wanted to do was go back to the hotel. DD wanted to go back to the hotel. Not happening. I can't contact anyone. I don't have cellphone

Food in people and we are feeling a little more human.

Now to walk down Chinatown. We found a little park. This park was a memorial park dedicated to those who fought for Canada during WWII(I believe). It had a pond with huge koi that were so calm. Something we are not used to. We are used to koi that just might eat you Sent the kids through it taking pictures. The old folks sat and discussed timing. It is only 1:30 and gotta kill time till 5. It is gonna be a long day

Kiddos done with the park and we walk the rest of Chinatown. We just laugh. We found it funny. We traveled thousands of miles to get something from Chinatown for $10-20 when we could get the same thing for $1 in Japan. When we hit the food stalls, we were that smells like Japan. We were proud of ourselves, we could identify several of the fish and things in the food stalls. We have learned a lot in Japan.

When you leave Chinatown at the end with mostly food stall, don't turn left. While making the choice when to turn, if I was not comfortable where we were we turned. I got my Marine to protect us But as a Mom there are some things I am just not ready to expose my kids to and as a tourist I don't want to put myself in a place where I am exposed. I try not to scream tourist when I travel, but I did this time

Don't turn left.

Don't turn left

I think I said it enough. We walked a gauntlet of bars, homeless, druggies, and people with mental issues. I say this not to speak ill of anyone. We are not perfect by any means. I say this to warn you or whomever.

Our group of 4 had been stretched out. But now we tightened up for security. I saw more cops now walking this 4 or 5 blocks then I saw yesterday. DS and DD were either walking beside us or walking in between with DH in front and me behind. Camera went in purse and that was in front of me. Our pace also picked up.

One lady, with something obviously wrong with her, tried to talk with DD. DD and I both ignored her. I urged DD to walk a little faster so that I was between the lady and DD. She followed us for about a block.

Our kids saw the underside of humanity that afternoon. When we passed that 4 or 5 block area, the backside of Chinatown, it was like another world. We were back in tourist part of Vancouver and we slowed down and took a breath.

Yet again, I wished I had started the running ap. It was around 3 at the point and we made our way to the meet up. I needed something to calm my nerves.

The other day, I had gotten some box chocolates for some friends in Japan. We went back to the same store which happen to be in the same location for Operation Explode

My calming ice cream in chocolate. Yes, what every woman needs right!!!

And then we hit a couple of stores looking for some items that are just hard to get here. Hard to get on base and almost impossible to get out in town because we are taller or bigger(in different areas than the Japanese).

Okay, it was finally close to 5. Gotta go to the food court. And just sit maybe we will get dinner here. Gotta convince 2 very tired kiddos they have to sot and wait

Finally

Grandpa(Dad) and The Wookie arrived. Well, DH spotted The Wookie first. DH managed to whisper it to me. I am trying to look around and find them. But I can't. That is okay. Got the video on, on my phone. Ready to go.


AND

BAM


The look on her face was priceless:

DD was totally shocked and floored!!!

I pulled it off. Grandpa and Wookie try to convince DD that they were up for a teaching thingy She was not sure. She was not buying it. No, you are here for the Cruise. No up here for teaching

Then SIS, Mimmie and my Niece(Trouble 2) show up.

It was awesome.

Needless to say. We had fun with Operation Explode. The only let down after that was having to wait for my FMIL and SIL who would be there around 8ish

We dragged out dinner as long as possible, but my family was falling asleep. We sent back to the hotel everyone but the Wookie. He can stay up for days on end He hung out with us and waited.

DH did a round around the mall and FMIL and SIL. They made it before the mall closed. My one oopps. I forgot to check and see when the mall closed. Oh well. It worked out.

We made plans to meet on the Wonder the next day.
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Old 06-22-2014, 11:23 PM   #5
chris31997
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,656

Embarkation Day

I had all sorts of plans to be the first on the boat. That didn't work out. Oh well. I'm still geting on

Gotta DD, DS, and Trouble 2 ready for the boat with their ears

Herding the cats that were in the hotel with me

I'm trying to hold in my excitment.

I had all these wonderful plans to to do these meet ups and everything else. I wanted to meet up with the wonderful people on the Disboards. But, I was over come by events. Sember Gumbi. I feel bad that I did not do the meet ups. I hate that I said I would do something and then did not follow thru

But back to wondeerful thoughts. We are on board the Wonder. The Cats did not listen to the Tour Guide.

Lunch by the pool so Trouble 1 and Trouble 2 could swim. Well, 2 listened. FMil and SIL. But nobody else. I'm telling you next time there will be a flag

Lunch, rooms open, kiddos in pool. Split up.

Mimmie stayed with the kiddos while they were in the pool. The rest of us hit the rooms.

Wait before we destroyed the rooms, I mean organized the room We saw Chip n Dale. DD fav characters. She loves them. Probably cause they are as crazy as she is

Side note: we love Japan cause we can find Disney characters on just about anything. Lanyard, cellphone charm, keychain, washcloth, dishes, etc.... And not always the Characters that are "standard" in the US. DD found a Chip n Dale watch.

We see Chip n Dale. Gotta get a pic with them. Gotta show them her watch. Of course, they go crazy over her watch. Made her day.

Time to go to the rooms and organize them

Yeah!!! we have some of our luggage. We had Main Dinning. Table 23

We were that Table this time.

It was time to meet our Servers, prepare them

We arrive in 2 groups to dinner. I was in the Second group. We were greeted with, "Let me guess your table number? 23, right?" We had to laugh. I had forgotten about our shirts. Which we all were still wearing.

Boniface got the run down on my SIS. She had already informed them of her "food issues". Hehe Then he meet my MIL. Butter not the fake stuff. Everything tastes better with butter. Have some bread with your butter type person.

Yassen was not immune to it either. Gotta make sure the adult drinks can taste the adult beverage No one had a set drink order on a regular basis Yassen got the drinks as: I'll have the first, She'll have the second........

Boniface and Yassen did a wonderful job. Kept up with our meals, and when something was just okay. They tried sooo hard to make it better. They really did a great job.

Mehemt did a good job also. He was the head server. He assisted in helping us celebrate DD graduation. There were lots of bdays on the cruise. Mehemt was able to pull his team together and get them all to sing. The last person they sang to was DD. Made her stand up and they sang Happy Graduation to Happy BDay. That was a hoot.

Due to my SIS, food issues, Triton's is her restrauant when not dining at night. Breakfast and lunch is there. Sometimes we ate there with her. Someone in our group ate with her, unless it was an early excursion.

Lunch at Triton's. (not sure which day this was but it was early on in the cruise) You don't get your dinner server's, usually. We got somebody. Lunch was horrible. Meals came out in bad timing. People finished at different times. Drink order was taken then took a long time to come. It was bad. We mention it at dinner. We tell Mehemt. Give him the server's name.

After that: every time Mehemt, Boniface, Yessen made a point to find us for lunch, and ask how it was going. IF they were not in that room, the head server came over and made sure everything was going okay.

Yassen always had a joke for us. At Beach Blanket, on deck, during dinner, it did not matter. Yassen was ready to joke with us. He had a ready smile.

After the first night, our table had a plate of butter and a bowl of baby spinach for Trouble 1 and 2 to share.

My SIS had an early excursion on day and would not be on boat of breakfast. So, Yassem and Boniface found her some gluten free doughnuts for her. They gave her a box of doughnuts so she could have breakfast.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:06 AM   #6
chris31997
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Posts: 1,656

Sitka was a neat place to see. It was neat to see the history and the Indians. For the life of me, I can't remember how to spell the tribe's name See the totem's, being able to see the Indian's dance and then DD and SIS get up and dance with them, to be able to talk with Toby a member of the Raven side of the tribe. It was great.

Toby was open to any questions we had. He answered. Totems are like personalized liscence plates, some you know right away what they mean and sometimes you'll never know unless you talk with the owner. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between a raven and eagle when the Carpenters carve them. Artistic choice It was a learning point for him because he is a Carpenter. Trying to learn from his family.

The Eagles and Ravens have to keep things balanced. An Eagle marries a Raven. And to help the tribes with mourning, one tribe will provide food and support for the other so that the proper mourning rituals can be done. After a year the grieving family repays.

It was great.

4 of our group got up and went kayaking. They saw some eagles. The rest of us met up with them later for the Tour to see the Totems, Indians Dancing/Storytelling, and a Raptor Center.

The Raptor center the rehab birds. The goal is to release as many as possible. They released 40% last year I believe that is just Bald Eagles but I am not sure.

We were told that we got to see something very rare. Bald Eagles being released. They don't do it all the time, and not always timed with the cruises.

Even rarer we saw 6

There was a lady holding one and sitting down. We were able to walk right by her. She said she had never had her pic taken some many times before. Of course, DH asked if he could hold the bird for her

We watch as the birds are being released. Watch the birds fly away. It was amazing thing to see. We were in awe.

Then my DD calls to me. WHAT?!?!?!?!

DH has been picked to release one of the Eagles

DH got to release a juvenile Bald Eagle, Donald. Oh the irony Donald had been frozen in ice and someone had risked his life to save Donald. My DH got to release Donald back to the wild.

Just the beginning of the

Thanks to the Boards, we had the idea to write a note to a CM to ask about meeting a Stage Performer. DH had the idea to write it to the Cruise Director.

DD wrote it and I proofed it for her. Off it went. Fingers crossed.

DD got hooked up with one of the Dance Captains for a chat. She was on cloud 9

Then we get a call from the Stage Director



The Stage Director wanted to set up a "dance class"

More pixie dust

It took almost the whole cruise to coordinate and to stop playing phone tag. But it was an amazing experience for DD.

If you looked at our table. We were more excited than DD. She kept it hidden very well. Trying to act like she had been there before and had done it before type thing. But she was so excited. She got to dance with a partner for the first time.

Her cloud 9 got even higher

I tell you this: not so you expect it, but so you ask. DD ask just to talk with someone. And it bloomed into so much more. We left comments and thanked the CM. She gave the Cruise Director a hug on the last night because without him, this would not have happened. We DID NOT EXPECT to even talk with a CM, we just hoped.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:33 AM   #7
chris31997
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Posts: 1,656

The days of the Cruise blurred together. I'm trying to keep everything straight. But, even on the ship, I could not keep the days straight.

Tracy Arm. We have Palo Brunch. That was sooo much fun. Due to the size of our party we got the Private Room. 2 rooms were able to book Palo brunch. But the other 2 were not. Not computer savvie, and I could not figure it out

Another shout out to the Board. I was not worried about adding the other rooms. I knew there was the possiblity of getting the private room. The only potential issue would be the hour FMiL does not like to get up early. Oh well.

Yeah, Ms Judy. She was wonderful. Took care of my SIS. Had the Chef come out and explain the buffet to my SIS and what she could eat. Also had pancakes made for her. SIS did scare Ms Judy, steamed almond milk separates when added to coffee. Ms Judy did not know that. She thought my SIS would get sick. Ms Judy did not want my SIS getting sick

Ms Judy has been on the Wonder for 15 yrs. She was funny. Joking with us. Poking fun at my SIS, we all do Poking fun at the Wookie, Grandpa, and DH as the only men in the group

Then she came in saying we were all done. We could not have any more food. We were alittle confused

The Chef and his Assistants were outside taking pics. We had a good laugh at that. We were indeed done. We had done some serious damage to the buffet, coffee, and drinks. We were about to go in Tracy Arm.

Time to change into warm clothes.

That was amazing. Tracy Arm was cool. Watching the whales break was cool. We had seen them in Hawaii. But to see whales, otters, eagles to see the animals was amazing.

Palo was yummy food. But it hit my family hard. SIS and SIL was feeling. Both of them worked out. My tummy was off and I walked around avoiding food as much as possible. Grandpa was not feeling well either.

We found at dinner why Grandpa was not feeling well. There was a post about that. I won't go into details. Needless to say our group of 11 was down to 9 the next day. I will always have insurance now
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:42 AM   #8
chris31997
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Posts: 1,656

Panning for gold was fun. The running joke was the gold was from Amazon. No gold was ever found at Liarsville. Liarsville was the finally stop before the 500ish mile walk to the real place to find gold. It got the name because the press stretched the truth, not like today Anyway, the people there were a riot. FMIL and SIL seemed to have fun. Trouble 1 and 2 have fun with the dogs and roasting marshmellows. The dogs were sweet and gentle. There was one that could be confused as a horse. The small horse tried to convince you that he was hungry and not feed enough. The dogs were well feed. Small horse would sneak crumbs off the table.
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