Alaska September 2nd-9th 2013 - Our EPIC adventure!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by topsy, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Ntrain

    Ntrain Mouseketeer

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    Enjoying the report. Very nice photos.
     
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  3. scrapycruiser

    scrapycruiser DIS Veteran

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    This trip report is fabulous ! Can't wait for the rest ! So much info ! Beautiful photos ! What camera do you have ? What lens did you use for the eagles ?
    Great tip for the waterproof pants. We're going next August. So glad you had such a great time !:cool1:
     
  4. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Hi, I'm glad you're enjoying it, we certainly did!

    My camera is a new PnS - it's a Lumix DMC-TZ40 (made by Panasonic). The eagles were taken with this camera just zoomed in to the max!

    I did have a DSLR with an 18-55mm zoom but decided not to take it with me as it would be a bit bulky for carrying around. So I researched small digital cameras with super zooms and the Lumix came out on top.
     
  5. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Loving your TR. Glad you had a wonderful time.
     
  6. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    :cloud9: Love the Lumix camera! My DH has one and sometimes takes better pictures than mine with my DSLR. :thumbsup2
     
  7. moomy-san

    moomy-san I'd rather be in O'Gills.

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    I think your description of the host for the Pixar party is hilarious.... she is a friend of mine that we met on her second cruise @ 2 years ago, and we've sailed with her twice since. And while she is actually very sweet... the rest of your comments are dead on correct. Nothing would make that girl happier than to be a Disney Princess!:tink:
     
  8. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    :guilty:
    Oh goodness, that's embarrassing - I'm sorry, I hope I didn't sound too mean. :guilty: Thanks for taking it with a pinch of salt though!
     
  9. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Thanks, me too!

    The Crab Shack was great, well worth a visit.

    I've found a very short video of thee rope saga - WARNING - the second video may contain some profanities from the guy at the dock, please do not watch if you would prefer not to hear it!

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    Thank you very much, the beautiful scenery helps make good pictures!

    Thanks Chilly, we sure did!
     
  10. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet <font color=CC66CC>What makes you think the Tag Fa

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    The video is a hoot.

    Yeah right, stop!! I am sure that ship can just stop and/or turn on a dime. :rotfl2:
     
  11. moomy-san

    moomy-san I'd rather be in O'Gills.

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    I wasn't offended- and I'm sure you didn't mean it to offend!
     
  12. MartinMom2013

    MartinMom2013 Earning My Ears

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    My husband wants to do an Alaska cruise - I always love the carribean and spend a lot of time swimming and in the sun. What all is there to do since it is so cold?
     
  13. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    I presume you mean specifically on the ship? I am not the best person to advise as I am a very warm person so was perfectly happy spending time outside all day watching the beautiful scenery and wildlife.

    The pools are heated on this cruise so you can still use them and the hot tubs. Granted, it may be a little colder when you get out but there are always towels and blankets around.

    The rainforest room might be good for you to spend time in. It's warm, cosy and very relaxing (so I hear!).

    Our tablemates did loads of different tastings throughout the cruise, including whiskey, martinis, chocolate & wine pairings.

    I would definitely recommend a Palo brunch - it was AMAZING!

    Basically, if you normally lay out in the sun, I would use the Alaska cruise to experience all the other things the ship has to offer. Alaska is unlike any of the other itineraries, you really won't regret going.

    Oh and if you are cold - there is unlimited hot chocolate on the top deck and on Tracy Arm day (when you stand out for several hours) they were serving soup in sourdough bowls too!
     
  14. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Saturday 7th September

    Part One -

    Finally, a day that we could have a lie-in! I managed to stay sleeping until about 8.00am today, a full two hours longer than normal. We took it easy and had a very leisurely morning as we would not be docking until about 11.30am. We decided to try a sit down breakfast today so we headed to Triton’s, which was pretty busy. Up til now I think most people had been having room service breakfasts or a quick jaunt to BBB due to the early port times.

    I really enjoyed this breakfast, it was nice having it brought to us rather than having to go up and down stairs to BBB. I ordered the eggs benedict and a side of Mickey waffles for fun. We watched our approach to Ketchikan from our table and were really pleased to see another bright, sunny, warm day.

    We left the ship around 11.45am and as we had no excursion plans for the day we decided to just mooch around for a while. Before our trip, we stuck to a strict budget and therefore only booked two excursions. At this point, we were having such an amazing time and had done so many wonderful things we decided to throw caution to the wind and just pay for what we wanted to do. We’re unlikely to do this trip ever again so we may as well just spend the money and be happy! When we got off the ship, we had agreed that if we could find an excursion for under $200 each that we liked, we would do it. Our main aim was to see bears, the second choice was to go on a floatplane, perhaps to the Misty Fjords.

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    Not too long after we got off the ship, we found a friendly guy offering floatplane tours to Neats Bay to see bears. Jackpot, we could do both! The original price was $350 each so we started haggling. We managed to bring it down by $100 and booked onto the 1.30pm tour, giving us an hour to explore the town. It turns out that my credit card had a brilliant exchange rate that day so we paid a lot less than we thought we had.

    We explored several shops and then went off in search of Creek Street for some obligatory photos. There were so many salmon here, as well as a rather greedy seal that had his pick of food! We both declared Ketchikan to be our favourite port. It was pretty, friendly and had excellent weather. It’s supposed to be the rain capital of America so imagine our surprise when it was 25 degrees and sunny. Sorry, that’s 25 in Celsius; I don’t quite know what it converts to in Fahrenheit as we don’t use that in the UK. Little did we know, this good weather would bite us in the bottom later on…

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    I wanted to find a bear charm for my new bracelet so we found a shop which sold Chamilia charms and bought a cute bear paw. I think this may have jinxed our trip. Soon it was time to meet the van taking us to the floatplane dock. We turned up as instructed at 1.30pm and about 20 minutes later our guides showed up. One lady from the group had gone in to complain and the guy running the booth was really aggressive and snappy at her telling her off for checking where they were. This really put us off that particular company, who if I recall, were called Promech Air.

    They seemed really disorganised and bundled us in a van, then realised it wasn’t big enough so got a second van and took us all to the floatplanes. We then waited here whilst they sorted out our weights/groups etc. we were soon put into groups and followed our pilot to the plane. The plane seated 10 and every seat had a window, the aisle ran right through the middle. Elle and I sat in the very back by the doors so had quite a lot of leg room. Our pilot was really nice and played some narration and music, meaning we had to put the headphones on to hear it. it was literally minutes before we were taking off alongside the Disney Wonder, a beautiful sight to behold.

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    We flew to Neats Bay, it took around 20minutes but we were easily distracted by the scenery below. The flight was pretty bumpy but it’s nothing to worry about, it’s just the air circulating around the peaks of the mountains all around you. It’s just something to be aware of if you’re a nervous flyer. And yes, they did have sickness bags in the seatbacks! We were soon landing on the water, which was lots of fun, and pulled up to the dock. The previous tour group were there ready to get on our plane to head back to Ketchikan.

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    Here we met our guide, whose name I can’t remember, but he lived on site and helped out at the hatchery. He was fun and informative and as with everyone we met in Alaska, proud to share his stories and culture. We learnt all about salmon and the difference between farms and hatcheries. He showed us a tree with bear claw marks on the trunk and marks where the bears had climbed up. To clarify – you can’t hide from a bear in a tree – they WILL follow you! We had a look at the hatchery on our way to the viewing point and saw thousands of young salmon fighting for the food being thrown into the water.

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    The bear viewing area was lovely, just next to the hatchery and on the edge of the stream where the salmon run. If we were going to see a bear, it would be here. the group before us had seen a female bear hunting fish so it seemed promising. You remember that glorious weather we were experiencing? Well it turns out bears don’t like it that hot. So we didn’t see any. They were all hiding in the shade trying to cool down. Darn that jinxed bear paw charm!

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    We spent quite a while here waiting and watching but in the end we had to get back to our plane which had returned to collect us. On the walk back we saw several bear tracks and a couple of dens. The flight back was great, we went a slightly different route and the pilot flew much lower and closer to the water which was fun. he told us he had seen whales from the plane before!
     
  15. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Part Two -

    Once back on dry land, we got on a free shuttle bus from the floatplane dock to the cruise ship dock (only a few minutes). There was a cute fish house on the water which looked good so we went to eat there. Wow, did they have good food! We both ordered the cod fish and chips and it was amazing. The chips (fries) were seasoned in paprika and the batter was more of a crumb coating than the batter we have in the UK. They didn’t serve tartar sauce (which we have with fish & chips at home) but did have an amazing soy mayonnaise. Honestly, this was some of the best food I had all cruise. I thoroughly recommend this place.

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    Around 5.30pm we made our way back to the ship, picked up our laptops from the room and visited Cove Café for the first time this trip. We ordered the mint mocha latte which was lovely and chatted to the server, Pablo for a long while. We sorted through our pictures, uploading them and sharing them. I used this time to try and make notes in my journal. I found it really hard to keep notes, each evening when I was in bed I tried to write about that day but ultimately, whatever movie was on became more interesting and/or I fell asleep! Doesn’t say much for my trip report does it?!

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    At 7pm, I knew I wanted to go and catch Minnie and Mickey in their Alaska gear as I still hadn’t seen Minnie. Donald was coming out after them and I wanted to see him too. I left Elle in Cove Café and said I’d meet her in the room later. Well, when I got to Preludes, the line was HUGE. I saw two of our tablemates in line and stupidly stood chatting to them instead of getting in line. I could have cut in with them but that didn’t feel right so I went to the back. By the time I saw M&M it was almost time for dinner, but they had just opened the Donald line. I figured I was already there so I stayed in line.

    Luckily Elle had worked out that I was still in Preludes and cam e to meet me. I had my picture with Donald (I think they have changed his Alaska hat haven’t they?) and then we rushed straight off to dinner at Animators Palate. I didn’t have time to change so hoped I didn’t look too scruffy!

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    Dinner was Taste of Alaska night, a menu I was looking forward to! I ordered the crab legs to start, which I didn’t really enjoy and shared with the others on the table. I found them to be a bit too watery and certainly not a patch on the crab leg I had eaten at Tracy’s in Juneau. Elle and I shared the marinated salmon and elk dishes. The salmon was ok, but I’ve had better. The elk was delicious, I ordered another! For dessert I had the mint chocolate sundae which was yummy, mint chocolate ice cream is my favourite.

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    As this was our last dinner all together, I ordered a bottle of Asti for the table which Shervonne brought out secretly. Everyone was surprised and we all enjoyed a toast together. Towards the end of dinner the ship really started to move. I remember looking up at the same time as one of the guys on the table and both saying “did you feel that?!” it got really choppy so none of us stayed too long after we had finished. Our plan was to head straight to the room to take some sea-sickness tablets but we became distracted in shutters…it’s right there!

    When we did get back to the room, I felt like I was coming down with a cold so didn’t feel brilliant. Elle had spoken to a crew member earlier in the evening who advised that the best thing for sea sickness is ginger ale, and green apples, which you can order from room service at no extra charge. Apparently it’s also better to have a full stomach – no problem on a Disney cruise! We both fell asleep whilst watching Nemo, I do recall waking up to see the credits rolling.

    I should note that it was this night (our second to last) that our tip information sheet and ticket stubs/envelopes were laid out in our room for us. We charged the tips to the room but added extra in Elmer’s envelope and a couple of dollars in Shervonne’s. Josip (Head Server) and Niti (Server), we didn’t feel had earned anything extra.

    Next up – Our last day on the Wonder :sad1:
     
  16. Aimee810

    Aimee810 Earning My Ears

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    Can you tell me which excursion you were on where you saw the lumberjacks and the husky puppies? We are going on an Alaska cruise Aug 2015 and my DH and DD (almost 7 then) would LOVE this!

    FABULOUS report. Took lots of notes for our trip!;)
     
  17. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Hi, thanks for reading!

    The lumberjacks were in Vancouver before the cruise. We went to grouse mountain, you have to pay to go up the mountain but once up there the show is free and out in the open. It was quite a funny show although a little cheesy!

    The husky puppies were in Skagway on a tour with Chilkoot Charters and Tours. It was the Yukon bus & rail excursion with husky puppy camp. You can add a 15 minute dog cart ride but we chose not to. I hear they're fun though!
     
  18. brer_rabbit

    brer_rabbit Mouseketeer

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    Love your trip report! I'm looking to do the Alaska cruise for my honeymoon next year so it's been great reading about your experience and seeing all the photos :goodvibes
     
  19. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    And so the last day was upon us. Why do these last days sneak up on you so much, don’t they know it’s rude?!

    I’d had an awful night’s sleep what with the combination of feeling full of cold symptoms and the ship rocking all night. I wasn’t seasick though so my cheap London Drugs tablets obviously worked! Last night the clocks also moved forward to get us back to Canada time.

    This morning I just didn’t care about how I looked, I threw on my sweats and we went up to BBB for breakfast, the first and only time we ate in BBB other than on embarkation day. It was busy and the ship was still moving all over the place. I think I had the standard scrambled eggs, melon, bacon (I LOVE how you do bacon in America, all crispy and in thin strips), a doughnut, probably some chocolate milk and fruit loops. Oh and then we found the Mickey waffle station…the crew member there insisted on serving them up for us so he put a couple on a plate and then slathered them in whipped cream! I had never seen such a thing, they were literally covered, you couldn’t tell what was hiding under there. The plus side? The tested GREAT! Only on a Disney cruise can you eat a plate of whipped cream for breakfast and not feel guilty!

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    After breakfast, we again watched the princess gathering before heading to Shutters to buy the 10 picture package. I was adamant that I would not but a photo package this cruise because they are so extortionate and it annoys me that they print them all off anyway so they could just give them to you!

    Earlier in the cruise I spoke to a girl working in Shutters and I think she thought I was having a moan at her, I wasn’t, I just wanted to suggest to them that instead of selling photos only as prints, they should offer them as digital copies. I was talking about the individual prints, not the packages, which I am aware you can have as prints or digital. In this day and age most people want to have the digital copies on their computers so they can upload them to social networking sites or add them to a photo book design (like me!). Once you have a digital copy, you have endless options, you can still print them but you can also use them in other formats.

    When I went to WDW in April, I was so pleased to see that you can now buy single ride photos as a digital copy on a photo pass card. I don’t understand why they can’t do this on the ships, and allow you to change the borders on the photos. I think it’s because all the on-board photography is done by a third party?

    The rest of the day was spent being very lazy, sitting in Cove Café, drinking hot chocolate, eating ice-cream from the soft serve station. They had changed the flavours out to be strawberry and banana – yummy. Much better than the standard chocolate and vanilla and good to see that even in Alaska the machine was regularly being used.

    Around 1.00pm we picked up some food from deck 9 and took it back to the room. Our intention was to go on the Art of the Theme Show tour which we had missed on the first sea day. Well, we mistakenly became engrossed in the Tigger movie (not even a favourite) and completely missed it! You see, we really do need to go on the transatlantic we have a deposit on in May so that we have lots more time to do all of these little extras. We saw Elmer in the hallway to give him his tip and tell him we would be carrying our own bags off the ship in the morning. He gave us a handful of luggage tags anyway as we really liked them!

    At one point I went to see what the bingo was like and to see what all the fuss is for. I’ve never played bingo other than at school when all you won was a sticker, but with a jackpot of over $6000 I was intrigued. I got there and the place was packed, the cards and machines were also quite expensive so I decided to give it a miss. I browsed the shops for the last time just in case there were any bargains to be had!

    By this time, I was feeling really run down so I bought some cold & flu medicines to take back to the room. On the way back, the beautiful scenery, weather and deck four were calling my name, so I grabbed a couple of blankets and curled up on a deck chair. I may or may not have had a little nap here…I thought it was fun that we could see the Norwegian Sun right alongside of us, following us back to Vancouver.

    After a while I decided to get up and go back to the room, just as I walked into the lobby I heard part of an announcement outside. It sounded like something had been spotted up ahead on the right hand side so I ran straight through to the other side to see what it was. I asked another woman what the announcement said and unfortunately she hadn’t heard it properly either. I thought it might have been orca! I stuck around for a minute to see if there was anything obvious and then flew up the stairs to our room to tell Elle. We grabbed our cameras and went tout to look. There they were, tiny little black dots swimming along close to shore. Orca – at least six of them!

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    I think they are the best looking whales but after having seen so many humpbacks (which are HUGE) they looked tiny. I’m sure they were still several feet long and would snap me in half quite easily. None of our pictures were brilliant as they moved much quicker than humpbacks but it was lovely watching them with their lovely pointy fins, arching their backs as they bobbed in and out of the water. It made me sad to think of poor Shamu at Sea World with her fin curled over and the tiny swimming pool of a tank she lives in.

    We stayed out until just after 5.00pm when we decided to get ready for the show followed by dinner at Palo. Tonight was my favourite; Dreams. I love this show; it is so well done and flows really well. The cast member playing Peter Pan was wonderful, he stayed in character all the time even when the focus was not on him, I couldn’t stop watching him. I actually feel he would have been a much better Peter Pan than the one who was out for pictures and character greetings the rest of the cruise. I don’t have any pictures of the shows this time as they are really sticking to their no photos in the theatre rule now. My last cruise in 2009 was more of a no flash photography request, now it’s no photos at all.

    Once the show was over and the cast had received a standing ovation (finally, the audience had warmed up!), we went off to Palo for our reservation at 7.30pm. We were seated in Mladen’s section action and were thrilled to have had him as our server again. He was really slammed tonight and seemed annoyed that he couldn’t give each of his tables the attention he normally would but we had nowhere else to be so didn’t mind waiting between courses. The food in Palo is wonderful, but I have to admit that if I was given the choice of brunch or dinner, I would now choose brunch.

    We started with the antipasti and bread selection as well as a lovely glass of moscato each. To start, I had the calamari and requested a small portion of the lobster ravioli. Both were excellent. I’m sorry I cannot recall what Elle ordered, I didn’t write hers down. For our mains, we both ordered the tenderloin served with the gorgonzola and red wine sauce. Mladen brought us a palette cleanser; I think it was lemon sorbet, before going on to dessert.

    We both ordered the soufflé and had both sauces. We were also given the panna cotta, whether Mladen wanted us to try it or they had lots spare we’re not sure. But it was really lovely, I would definitely order it next time. Our tablemates were also eating in Palo tonight and left part way through our meal. It was their first Palo dinner experience so it was lovely to chat with them on their way out about how much they had enjoyed it.

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    I did have one disappointment tonight. I really wanted to have the baked Alaska dessert which was served in the MDR. I make it at home so it wasn’t that it was a new dessert to try, more a novelty to have as we were in Alaska! I had heard that in Palo they usually go out of their way to make you happy so I asked whether it was possible to have some brought up for dessert. I got an outright “no” from Mladen. Not even a hint at giving it a try.

    I know it’s a bit different asking for a Palo item in the MDR as you have to pay for Palo, but I didn’t think it would be such an issue to bring something up from the MDR. I decided I would try to grab some from the MDR on the way down if it wasn’t too late but when we got there, our servers had cleared our usual table and I didn’t want to bother them.

    Anyway, once again we had the whole tipping dilemma at Palo. As with brunch, $8 just didn’t seem enough of a tip for dinner service. We both agreed that if we were eating in a restaurant on land, we would happily pay $100 each for everything we ate. I think we ended up leaving him an extortionate amount of nearly $50 tip. I stand by the fact that I think it was worth it! I’d be interested to know what anyone else thinks an appropriate tip is for Palo?

    This unfortunately is where my note making came to an end. I think I had last night blues and couldn’t be bothered to waste time making notes! If I recall, we mooched around deck 4, we definitely purchased the 10 photo package with digital images (despite my previous moan about the cost!) and each bought a souvenir Alaska photo frame which came with an aerial print of the ship at Tracy Arm and a print of the Disney gang in their Alaska gear.

    Oh, I remember what we did! It was the last night, farewell show in the lobby, we went to watch that! We managed to snag some good spots right in front.

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    We then went back to start packing. It must have been about 10.30pm when we got back to the room. As we were taking our bags off ourselves, we didn’t need to leave them out in the hall. If we were taking them, we would have had to put them out between 8-10pm. There was most probably a Disney movie on in the background and I’m sure we made a few trips out to the veranda. We made it to bed pretty late, definitely after 12pm.

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    Next up – It’s all over…almost!
     
  20. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet <font color=CC66CC>What makes you think the Tag Fa

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    Enjoyed another installment and am sorry that it is coming to an end. But I wanted to let you know that while I am sure you were disappointed at the response you got to your request for Baked Alaska (as I would have been as well), I promise you that their Baked Alaska is not only nothing special, it is really disappointing. it is a small flat piece of cake with not much flavor at all. It is not something I would order again. Again, I would have been saddened at that response, too.

    I hope your trip report has allowed you to relive fond memories of your cruise. :goodvibes
     
  21. twindaddy

    twindaddy DIS Veteran

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    Loving your TR, but wondering, how will it end? How was disembark in Vancouver?
     

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