Ahoy, Kids! Scrap the Summer Plans...We're Sailing with Mickey to Alaska! (Upd 9/8)

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by MickeyMomTo2, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Our family loves baseball. My husband played through college, and both my kids play baseball/softball. If we are visiting a city with a Major League team, we make sure our visit matches up with some games. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that on this trip. We took advantage of a last minute VGT, and we couldn't really turn down the offer because the Mariners happened to be on the road at that time. But, that didn't keep us away from Safeco Field! Most Major League stadiums do tours, so we reserved tickets for a late-morning tour on Sunday.

    Like Saturday, we ate breakfast at the hotel and took the shuttle to the light rail station. Again, the rail system was on a delay for maintenance, so it took about an hour to make it into town. Even though the forecasts for both Saturday and Sunday were for sunny skies and around 80 degrees, the mornings were cool and cloudy. We never need jackets during the summer in Tennessee, so we had to pull something out of the "Alaska" suitcase to help us keep warm until mid-day (I had packed a smaller suitcase for the things we would need in Seattle so we wouldn't have to get into all the bags).

    We look like we are freezing, but it was really in the sixties. :)

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    We walked over to Safeco and had to walk around a bit before we found the gift shop, the starting point for the tour.

    (These two are out in left field.)

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    From the gift shop, we were taken to many areas of the stadium and field. My DS was on cloud nine because we got a tour guide who clearly loved baseball. He threw out stats and trivia for the entire 1 1/2 tour. He would ask obscure questions, and my DS was thrilled to be able to answer them all (and the guide loved having a kid on the tour who knew his baseball)! My DD found parts of the tour interesting, but she glazed over with all the history and facts. She wanted to move from location to location without so much discussion! :)

    Here are a few of the highlights:

    Safeco's roof is on a track and can be opened or closed. Last summer we visited Chase Field in Phoenix which can also be opened. Of course, in Phoenix, they air-condition the stadium when the roof is closed (which is wonderful when it's 108 degrees). In Seattle, they built in openings around the edges for circulation. No air-conditioning needed! Seattle also has a new, very large scoreboard. It's the third largest screen in the US, behind Daytona Speedway and Cowboys Stadium. It was massive!

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    I didn't realize that someone hand-paints the foul line in the outfield. I would not be very good at this job.

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    This is half of the owner's suite and the view of the field from there. It would be nice to watch the game like this!

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    We visited the press box and the press room. My DD has been learning how to score games, so she sat in the head-scorers seat in the press box.

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    These two are ready for the media's questions...

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    Probably the coolest part for my DS was going in the dugout and on the field. We weren't allowed on the grass (they are very protective of it and even have two backup fields nearby to replace the grass, if necessary).

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    The dugout/field was the final part of the tour, so we headed back to the rail station and went all the way into downtown to grab some lunch. It was about 12:30, so we wanted to grab something quick before heading back to the airport area to pick up our bags and a rental car. With all the wonderful choices in Seattle, where did we head? The food court at Westlake Center. There was something for everyone, and we were able to eat quickly and get back on the train.

    We had much better luck with the train ride back on Sunday. We didn't have to wait nearly as long for a train. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for our hotel shuttle. When we got to the rail station, we called for the shuttle. On Saturday, the driver arrived to pick us up within minutes. On Sunday, it took three calls and an hour before someone came. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was past the time we were hoping to be out of Seattle, and we hadn't even gotten the rental car yet. A new shuttle driver came on duty around this time, and he was nice enough to take all of us and our bags to the rental car facility (he was really only supposed to take people to the airport, where we would have needed another shuttle to get to the rental facility, but we were his only passengers). This helped us make up for some lost time, and made the process much easier.

    Before I finish talking about Seattle, I would like to interrupt this trip report and take a minute to say what we would have done differently if we hadn't had our kids with us. Please know that our kids had a wonderful time, and we are glad we did this trip as a family, but we would like to repeat it at some point by ourselves. There were some aspects of the trip made more fun by having the kids with us, but there were also things we didn't do because of their interests and tastes. If we return to Seattle, I would love to do one of the many food tours. My kids just wanted basic, familiar food, and they wouldn't have enjoyed sampling what Seattle has to offer. My DH and I would have liked this, and I hope we can do it at some point. Also, we really enjoyed our free walking tour, and felt it gave a great overall view of the city, but if we had more time, I would have added the Underground Tour as well. Maybe we'll make it back at some point!

    Now back to the regularly scheduled program...We got our rental car and headed for Vancouver. The drive from Seattle to Vancouver took much less time than we expected. Total time to the Vancouver Hilton (airport area) was less than 3 1/2 hours, and this included a 45 minute dinner stop and a 30 minute wait at the border.

    My husband has been to Canada before, but it was pre-9/11. We didn't really know what to expect. We had our passports, cruise documents, and rental car agreement ready to show the agent. He asked for our passports, and then asked my DH to roll down the back window. I guess he wanted to be sure that the passengers in the back matched the passport photos. At this time, he looked into the back window and asked, "Are you carrying any weapons?" My DD, thinking he was talking to her said, "Ummm. I'm not sure." Of course, DH and I both gave a resounding no. It was so funny to us because we don't own any weapons. We don't hunt or anything like that, so we don't know why she would have been confused on this. On the way back in, we were sure to remind her that we didn't have weapons before crossing the border!

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    We arrived at the hotel around 7:30 and got a pleasant surprise. The room category we booked was not available. Would we mind being upgraded to a two-bedroom suite on the top floor with a balcony? Ummm, PLEASE! It was such a blessing to have a night to spread out. We had two bedrooms, a living area, a bathroom, and a balcony. There were many moments on the trip when the kids were driving each other crazy, so it was wonderful to separate them for a while.

    Our views weren't bad either!

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    I took DD for a rooftop swim while DS and DH watched Canadian ESPN.

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    After a long day, we called it a night and went to bed with great anticipation. After one more sleep, we would be boarding the Wonder for Alaska!

    Coming Up...Embarkation!!!
     
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  3. chris31997

    chris31997 Disney Kid at Heart

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    Thanks for the TR. Thanks for the hint about the clothes pin, might have to add that to my list.

    Out of the mouths of babes. Gotta love the things kids say:rotfl:
     
  4. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    In the cabin, we also used the bedroll type pillows and the cushioned stool to keep the curtains closed at the bottom. The sun rises in the middle of the night! The adults also have the benefit of the dividing curtain between the master bed and the bunks.
     
  5. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Rise and shine, Vancouver!

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    We woke up excited on Monday morning! We weren't in a huge rush, so DH went to the fitness center while the kids and I got ready. My DD also enjoyed some time out on our balcony (she has always had an affinity for balconies).

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    We all went down and started our 7 days of non-stop eating with the very yummy breakfast buffet (hooray for free breakfasts because of DH's Hilton Honors membership)! A little before 10:00, we loaded up the car and headed downtown. Our port arrival time was not until 12:30 (this was the best I could get at 31 days out), but I wanted to get there as early as I could. I needed to go to Wavebands as soon as I boarded to request main dining, so I wanted to get to the port early, even if we had to wait in the terminal.

    The drive into Vancouver was pretty smooth. We took HWY 99 into town. Although this is the same road as I-5 in the US, it changes into more of a main four-lane city street and less like an interstate as you get into Vancouver. There did not seem to be left turn lanes, so we were sometimes backed up with people trying to turn left. We noticed a bit of a traffic jam in the outbound traffic and hoped it wouldn't be that way when we returned the next week!

    We made it to Canada Place and into the parking garage where the attendant directed us to the luggage drop-off. There were two ships in port that day, so there were porters for both the Wonder and the Princess ship. After dropping off our bags, we parked the rental car. It was about 10:30. We had pre-paid for parking, and we had to get a voucher from the parking garage office at the time we parked the car. This was no easy feat! There were no signs, and we wandered around with another family for a few minutes before we found it. When we located the office, several families were already in there and were upset with the attendant (who didn't seem to care at all). They had been looking for the office for an hour! In case you need to know, the office is right next to the yellow bar that goes up when you are exiting the garage. If you find the exit, you find the office.

    The attendant in the office gave us all instructions. One instruction was to avoid reserved spots. He said if we parked in a reserved spot, the car would get towed. When I left, I noticed that the family that had been upset in the office was in a reserved spot (they had already left the office when the attendant was talking about not parking there). I stopped them inside the port and told them they were in a reserved spot and needed to move, but the lady responded, "No! We prepaid. Those spots are reserved for us!" The husband hesitated, but the wife was sure they could park in the reserved spots. I repeated what the attendant said, but they didn't listen. I couldn't help but think of them when we got off the ship. I hope they had a vehicle waiting for them!

    I was expecting really long lines for security and customs, but it went very quickly. We were through security, customs, and Disney check-in by 11:15 (our parking garage adventure took longer than the customs/check-in process). I don't know what time the port opened, but there were lots of people already there. Since we pulled in the garage at 10:30, I was a little surprised by the large crowd already waiting in chairs. The only line that was VERY long was the registration for the kids club. I had registered my kids online, and I knew we could pick up their bands the first time they went to the club, so we did not wait. Instead, we found a spot to sit.

    If you are facing the check-in counter, our seats were on the right. I would suggest going to the left instead. For one thing, the right hand side was much more crowded (it was where the kids' club registration was), and it was also about 10 degrees warmer on that side. My DD and I went to the other end to find the bathroom, and we couldn't believe how much better it felt down there!

    Also, we found someone else on that end of the terminal!

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    Our port arrival time was tied to our boarding number, which turned out to be #14. BUT, I was glad we got there early because they called #14 at 12:15 (earlier than our PAT of 12:30). It was time to board the ship!

    Coming Up...Let the WONDER begin!
     
  6. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Great couple of days in Seattle. Looking forward to hearing about Alaska.
     
  7. teacherlisa1978

    teacherlisa1978 DIS Veteran

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    Great report so far. As a Seattle native I enjoy hearing what people think of our city. This is definitely the very best time of year to be here! I'm sure you did nothing wrong in Steinbrueck park-sadly that's a place that many choose to avoid because of what you experienced.

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  8. MissingFigment

    MissingFigment Earning My Ears

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    My DS 9 was on this cruise with his grandma, but I couldn't go due to work. He had a great time and really enjoyed seeing the glacier. We are from Michigan so the temps didn't bother him. Nice to read a report, as his retelling is somewhat sketchy. Really enjoying your report so far.

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
     
  9. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Did he go to the glacier by helicopter? We were on that excursion with a grandmother and grandson.
     
  10. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    P.S. I am just laughing thinking about how my son would describe his cruise. With all the amazing things we did, he would probably say, "I ate a lot and played basketball." I am sure most tween boys aren't the best with details. :)
     
  11. jedijill

    jedijill <font color=red>Chiefs fan living in Bronco countr

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    What a great last minute trip! Really looking forward to hear more about it.

    Jill in CO
     
  12. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Thanks for reading. Seattle was beautiful!

    Thanks for reading!
     
  13. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    As we boarded the ship, the Disney Wonder welcomed the S_____ Family! But, I barely heard the announcement because I was so intent on heading to Wavebands to request first dining. A cast member started to tell us our lunch choices, but he could tell I was a mom with a mission, so he sent us on our way. As I went to Wavebands with DS, my DH and DD went to Guest Services to snag reservations for 2 to the Tea Party with Disney Friends. They were able to reserve spots for me and my DD on Sunday, our at-sea day. The other choice was 4PM on Tracy Arm Day, but I didn't want the tea party to interfere with our enjoyment of the scenery on that day.

    I made it to Wavebands as quickly as I could (I love how the adult district is decorated on the Wonder). I was expecting a long sheet of names on the waitlist, but there was only one name above mine. Either I was second, or there were full pages somewhere else that I couldn't see. The dining manager told me we would get a call between 4-5 letting us know if they could accommodate our request.

    After leaving Wavebands, we went to eat lunch. We chose Parrot Cay over Beach Blanket. We like Parrot Cay for lunch on Embarkation Day because it doesn't seem as crowded. Also, you are seated at a table and a server brings your drinks. Since we had several carry-on backpacks with us, I liked being seated rather than carrying our bags through the food line and finding a seat. When we were sufficiently stuffed, we went to explore the ship. My DH and I have sailed on the Magic and the Dream, and the kids have sailed on the Dream. The Wonder was new to us, so we were excited to check her out.

    (For the record, my kids prefer some of the bells and whistles on the Dream. It does have a newer feel, and they like features such as the Detective Agency. However, my husband and I prefer the classics. They have a more intimate feel and don't seem as crowded to us. All are fantastic, but I think the Wonder earned a special place in my heart!)

    We walked back to the atrium and stopped for a picture. See? We didn't need to see the entire Chihuly exhibit in Seattle! We have our own Chihuly right here!

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    We stopped by the kids clubs to pick up wristbands, wandered around for a few minutes, and then it was time to go to our stateroom. We were in 6608, and we loved the location. It was a starboard 5C, but the room next to ours was a 5B. The room was categorized as aft, but it was between the aft and mid elevators. We were also just down the hall from the laundry room, which I liked a lot. We thought it was a great location.

    At this point, my DD changed into her bathing suit, and DS and DH headed to the sports deck. It was about 78 degrees and sunny in Vancouver, so it was a lovely day to be on deck!

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    While many kids swam throughout the cruise (even next to the glacier on Tracy Arm day), I didn't think the pools were ever too crowded like they can be on the southern cruises. My kids swam more on this cruise than they did on our Bahamian Dream cruise!

    We had just eaten lunch, but it didn't take long for my DD to need some ice cream! Both my kids made good use of the self-serve ice cream machine!

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    I'm being summoned by DS, so I have to stop here. Coming Up...Sailing Away!
     
  14. MissingFigment

    MissingFigment Earning My Ears

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    No, they only saw it on the Tracy Arm day.

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
     
  15. lucy0558

    lucy0558 Mouseketeer

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    Great trip report! We are sailing next June to Alaska so I'm loving the details and photos. :)
     
  16. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Still here, reading along and enjoying very much, so thank you for taking us along with you on your trip.

    :goodvibes
     
  17. Luv2Diz

    Luv2Diz We love the Wonder and Magic of Disney cruising!

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    We did the DCL Alaska cruise last year and loved it, including our 2 day pre-cruise stay in Seattle. Looking forward to reading more about your adventure!
     
  18. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    About 3:30, we went back to the room so DD could clean up before the mandatory life boat drill. I was hoping our bags would be there, but no such luck. DH and DS returned to the room as well, and we all headed to our muster station. We were assembly group M, which met on Deck 4 starboard. Outdoor muster stations can be uncomfortable in warmer temps, but it was a beautiful day in Vancouver, and everyone was in good spirits. The drill was over very quickly.

    My kids enjoyed the Adventures Away party on the Dream, and my DD wanted to attend on the Wonder as well. DS, however, wanted to go back up to the basketball court. On the Dream, we were right in front of the stage for the party, but this time DD and I decided to try the view from one deck up (Deck 10 on the Wonder). DD LOVES streamers and confetti, so she was thrilled that they were handing out streamers. (That we saw, they didn't have streamers on the Dream, but they have handed them out on both our Magic and Wonder cruises). DD got a blue, gold and red streamer, and she now has them displayed in her room. (She is also a hoarder. :))

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    We had a fun time at the party. I may be 39, but these guys sure do make me happy, especially when I am spending seven nights on a cruise with them!

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    After the party, we all met up in the room. Our luggage had arrived, so DH and I unpacked while the kids watched either the Disney Channel or a Disney movie. Can I just say how much I love that there is always something the kids can watch on the stateroom television?! Also, I love that Disney owns ESPN, so my husband gets his favorite channel, too. :)

    DH and I started taking non-drowsy Dramamine the night before the cruise. We took one a day, and we never had any issues (I try to be proactive because I am sensitive to motion sickness issues). After the sail away party, we gave the kids a children's Dramamine just in case. We didn't give them one every 4-6 hours as the package suggested because the kids' version isn't non-drowsy, but they did ask for them once or twice during the trip, and we also made them take one before some of our excursions. They did not experience any problems either, so this was good!

    At this time, we also noticed that we had a message on our stateroom phone. Unfortunately, it was the dining room manager letting us know we couldn't switch seatings. He said he would continue to try and move us on a day-by-day basis, and to expect calls between 4 and 5 each day. We were disappointed, but not surprised. Would dinner at 10:15 central time be difficult? Yes! But, who could complain with these views? We were on a Disney cruise!!!!

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    Since we had late dinner, we headed to the show at 6:15. The first show is called "All Aboard" and includes part Broadway-style character show and part variety act. My DD loves all the shows, but DS doesn't really care for the Broadway-style kind. We all decided to go to the first show together, and everyone enjoyed it. The musical theater portion of the show was wonderful, and the comedian was hilarious. It was John Charles, a musical comedian. He had written some songs from the perspective of the cruise ship employees which were quite funny. He was very entertaining!

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    We didn't get to the Walt Disney Theater until about 6, so we were sitting in the upper section, much to my DD's dismay. This was made even worse when they shot confetti and streamers out, which mostly landed in the lower section. She was very frustrated with me about this, but she managed to sneak down after the show and collect some. These paper streamers did not make it home to be displayed in her room. I just don't know how those could have gotten lost!!! ;) (There may have been multiple nights with streamers; I can't really remember. If this would be important to your child, be sure to get there early for a seat in the lower section!)

    After the show, we went to Studio Sea for Mickey Mania, which is a family trivia show. The kids were disappointed that we were not chosen to go on stage, but the cast members are very good to encourage audience participation, so we had a good time, even though the fatigue was setting in quickly.

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    Although we were starting to fade, we had made it to dinner time! Our rotation was TAAPTAP, so we headed to Triton's. As we were seated, I immediately noticed that we were at a table for 8. We didn't mind eating with others, but I wasn't sure how it was going to go with two exhausted children. Very soon, our tablemates arrived. They were a delightful family from England. The husband is with the British Navy and has been stationed in D.C. for the last three years. They are about to move back to England, and this cruise was their last hoorah in America. Their daughters were 9 and 11, so all the kids were close to the same age.

    Even with the distraction of another family, my DD and DS could barely keep their eyes open. DD fell asleep at the table for a few minutes, and DS ate very quickly and asked to return to the room around nine.

    I have no pictures from this meal, but I think I remember what DH and I ordered--I don't remember his opinions of all his food, but I will try. Looking back, this was one of my favorite meals. It was Triton's french menu, and I ordered the Duck Confit (I thought this was good), Market Green Salad (Fine), Aged Angus Grilled Beef Tenderloin (Very Good), and Triton's Sweet Temptations (Very Good). My DH ordered Jumbo Shrimp, French Onion Soup, Seared Sea Bass (one of his favorites from the entire cruise), and Grand Marnier Souffle. We also split a Lobster Macaroni, which we both loved. Don't be shy about asking for an extra of any course. They are happy to oblige! I was also very pleased that they brought the kids' meals much more quickly than ours (they do this at both seatings). Our kids never wanted to sit for an entire 1 1/2 -2 hour meal, so the quick service was helpful. They could leave to go to the room or club, and DH and I could enjoy the rest of our meal at a leisurely pace.

    DH and I finished our meal around 10. DS was already back in the room, but DD had roused herself to go to a Lava Flow activity in the Oceaneer's Lab with our tablemates at around 9:15. This was a volcano experiment, and she ended up with half the experiment all over her dress (not-surprising with my DD)! She enjoyed this activity and wanted to stay longer, but we made her go back to the room. I think we got everyone in bed around 10:30 with no troubles falling asleep. We were EXHAUSTED!!!

    Coming Up...Breakfast with Mickey!
     
  19. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Thanks for reading. You are going to have a wonderful trip!

    Glad you are still here!

    It's great to read the reports before your trip so you know what to expect, but almost even more when fun you've done it because you can relive your experience! Thanks for reading!
     
  20. Tsunami

    Tsunami Earning My Ears

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    Thank you so much for the review! We are on next Monday's cruise and reading this is getting me even more excited!
     
  21. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Very jealous! You should be there in peak salmon season. I would love to hear back from your trip! Wish I could say that I will finish my report before you leave, but that probably won't happen. Have a WONDERful time!
     

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