Our Alaskan Cruise [Cruising Tips]

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our recent Alaskan cruise of the Inside Passage was a trip of many firsts for me! I have never travelled to Alaska nor have I been on a cruise. You could say I was pretty clueless on what to expect. I tried to do my research as much as possible and read about plenty of other bloggers who had travelled it before which was helpful, but it didn't exactly give me an idea of what to expect on the boat itself. I learned a lot, let's put it that way!

Here's a quick run down of our experience including things I learned, my tips on what to pack and what to expect if this is your first time cruising as well! Again, this is just our experience!

First off, I'd like to say to everyone who said it's a big boat and you won't feel the waves or ocean and not to worry-WRONG! The seas were rough, especially before we entered the passage!

We booked a transfer to take us to and from the airport and boat. This process was very confusing and there were a MILLION people. I think next time I will plan to take a taxi. If you do take a transfer, be prepared to leave your luggage that is going on the boat at the airport. They will drop it at your room sometime that evening which means you will need to take anything valuable, any medications, all boarding documents and identification and any clothes, etc. that you would need before then. I'm not sure if it's the same process if you were to be dropped at the dock with your stuff. 

Once we arrived at the dock, we went through additional security and checked in where we received our cruise card. It was basically like a credit card/identification/room key all in one. You use it for everything on the boat and for security reasons, it's used to check you on and off the boat so make sure you don't lose it! Mine quit working a couple times so I couldn't get into my room! 

Be prepared to be charged daily per person for gratuities. If you don't prepay it before you embark, it is charged automatically to your stateroom account daily.  

Definitely bring your own reusable water bottle! The bottled water is expensive on the ship and you can't drink from the faucets. They have water at all the restaurants and they can refill your bottle at the bar if you ask. I forgot mine so we were forced to buy bottled water on several occasions. We reused them as long as we could though. 

When you first get on the boat, take some time to walk around and get acquainted with where everything is. It can be confusing. Also, go over the schedule and port times. I had a general idea of where we would be and when, but I wish I would have studied it more so I wasn't constantly checking. It's important especially if you have excursions booked! Luckily, the boat gives you an itinerary every day as a reference.

Room service on our boat was included, so use it! Each night at turn down service, they left a card you could fill out requesting breakfast and coffee for the next morning. We filled ours out each night with what we wanted delivered (coffee, duh) and what time and it worked out great. It also conveniently served as an extra wakeup call too since they were always on time and we could have it delivered around the time we needed to get up to be ready for port.
I wish I would have packed my Fitbit as we took the stairs everywhere we when instead of the elevators. It was my hope that it would somewhat make up for indulging. Not sure how realistic that is, but nonetheless I was curious as to how many steps we actually took not only on the boat but while onshore.
I am not sure if I technically get sea sick but I didn't want to find out so I took bonine as a precaution. I really have nothing to compare it to as far as it making me drowsy but I did feel somewhat tired (that could have been from the boat itself.) I didn't take it the last day and I wished I did because I had sea legs for literally two days after we got home and felt awful. I actually took more the day we returned hoping it would help.

You will go through a time change. They will leave you a reminder in your room when it's going to change and when to change it back, but a woman that worked on the boat gave me a tip since I heard it can sometimes change back and forth and get messed up. I really didn't want our clocks to be off when we were supposed to be somewhere at a certain time and since our phones were on airplane mode, here is what she told me. Go to settings > general > date & time > turn off set automatically > then adjust the hours manually.

Even with a balcony room, the rooms are tiny! The bathroom and shower are even smaller. I felt claustrophobic on several occasions especially when the lines to get off at port were 3 stories long.

I was surprised at how many things on the boat cost extra money with it being "all-inclusive." However, the best money we spent was renting chairs in the adults only sanctuary when we cruised Glacier Bay. If your ship offers something similar like a scenic cruise package, I recommend checking into it because it was worth it for us! 

I wanted to book a spa day when we first boarded but I'm glad I waited because they ran a bunch of specials and my Mom and I scored a 75 minute treatment for a deal on our last day at sea! 

If you like to drink, watch for the Happy hours they offer. The drinks add up quick. They'll advertise them throughout the day but just make sure to get there early to get a seat. They also have all-inclusive drink packages you can purchase, but I didn't think they were worth it for us and in the end it wasn't so I'm glad we didn't spend the money. 

Also, bring some extra patience! Remember there are a lot of people who are trying to do the same thing as you, but sometimes you just have to wait and take a deep breath.

Bring you bathing suit because even if it's freezing, there's always the hot tub! When we were at sea a whole day, the boat was swaying majorly, it was misty and cold, and hardly anyone was outside. We sat in the hot tub and drank hot cocoa and it was so relaxing! It felt like we had to deck to ourselves. We got a lot of people staring at us like we were crazy and who dipped their hands in the pool to test the waters, but turns out they really missed out!

All in all, I feel more confident if we were to cruise again and have a better idea of what to expect. I'm sure each boat and cruise line are different, but I hope you find this list helpful! Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have. I'd be happy to answer!

Weekend Recap

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This summer is flying by...no complaints here except for it just feels like time in general is flying by and I can hardly catch my breath these days!

I had a great weekend that left me feeling so full and ready to start the week with a fresh perspective. Ryan and I celebrated 5 years of marriage (talk about where has the time gone!) and we each got to spend some time with family and friends!

We decided to celebrate our anniversary together Friday night as we both had lots going on on Saturday. We didn't mind because for one, we just got back from our vacation together and also because nothing really stops us me from celebrating regardless of the date. We opened a bottle of wine we had been saving for a couple years. We got a bottle for our wedding, then ordered another for our 1 year anniversary and had a bottle we had been saving for a special occasion. It was worth the wait! My favorite part of any holiday, but anniversary especially, is Ryan's cards. He knows this card-loving heart of mine and he always writes so much that I always look forward to reading them. This card was probably his best yet!
Saturday I attended a baby shower for my dear friend, Rachel. I cannot believe she is almost due with her little girl! We have been friends since high school where we cheered together and worked together for years after. Her husband and Ryan are childhood friends so it is so awesome we all get along and have our shared histories! It is so exciting to see her as a Mama and I can't wait to meet little Ayla. Even better, I hear I am up there on the babysitting list (Right, Rach?) ;)
Book / Pineapple Dress
I feel it is worth mentioning that this is my new favorite book. For kids or adults, it's simply the best! It's called "Everything I need to know I learned from a little Golden Book." Check it out! And I about fell over when I saw this pink pineapple outfit. All the heart eyes for teeny tiny baby girl clothes!

After the shower, I headed to the lake to meet my other dear friends and their babes on their houseboat. Our schedules have kept us going in different directions for some time now and getting to finally hang out   and catch up with her was just amazing! And with the little one who first made me an Auntie almost 4 years ago. Don't let him fool you, that smile is brought to you by 2 bags of gummy worms, not seeing me. Haha!
Forgot the skewers haha!
Meanwhile, Ryan was headed out on the lake with my Dad, Uncle and friend for some overnight cat fishing, so he stopped and said hi on his way out. It was kinda funny that Ryan and I got married overlooking the lake 5 years ago which was the last time it was full. And even though we had separate plans, we both ended up out on the lake. While we were hanging on the houseboat, these two ducks swam by the boat and I knew it was a sign.
I couldn't wait for Sunday morning for my Man to get home. We went to a ballgame and went and visited his parents and Aunt and Uncle that are in town. We finished the night off together with a dip in the pool and some take out Chinese food from our favorite restaurant. I'd say that's a pretty good weekend in book!

Wishing you a great week!

Last Minute Traveling Tips [from the ultimate procrastinator]

Sunday, June 19, 2016

We just got back from a 7 day cruise to the Inside Passage of Alaska and I wanted to share about our experience for others who are considering this cruise as well. Before we left, I scoured the internet for ideas from people who had travelled here and how to make the most of our trip. Although it was helpful, I still had more questions! I was a first time cruiser and it was my first time to Alaska. Now that we have gone, I wanted to cover some of those areas for others like me who are looking for ideas through a series of upcoming posts.

Today, I am starting with last minute traveling tips because I am SUCH a procrastinator! Next time I'll try taking my own advice:
1 | Try and schedule any last minute appointments, such as pedicures or hair appointments, the week before you leave not the week of. Or in my case, the day before.

2 | Don't wait to shop for any last minute essentials the week of or day before embarking as this causes undue stress and also you probably don't really need it anyways.

3 | Do not put off packing until the night before.

4 | Do not assume you only live an hour away from the airport so you have plenty of time in the morning. Always listen to your husband on this one and leave earlier than seems necessary. Without a doubt, you won't be able to find parking and will have to park in the hourly parking for 7 days straight or come across traffic, a car accident, construction or all three on your way there.

5 | Check your luggage and carry on bags for lingering contraband from previous trips you've taken and used said luggage for. Then you can avoid being held up by a random bullet at the TSA security checkpoints. (Uh hum, husband.)

6 | Charge, clear room on SD cards, and pack other technology items ahead of time as to not forget them while they're still charging from the night before. See above again for waiting until the night before to pack.

7 | Make a checklist for essential items to cross off as you walk out the door as a double check. Passports, wallets, electronics, medications, locking up, etc.

8 | Back up your phone and photos in case you need to use in place of forgotten camera and your storage is full.

9 | Pack a backpack as your carry on and include a change of clothes, god forbid something happen to your luggage which has happened to me before. At least then you have something to wear!

10 | If you leave first thing in the morning, eat something light that way you're not starving when you get on the plane. Otherwise, hope you flew Southwest so you can at least grab some peanuts and pretzels to hold you over.

11 | When all else fails, flag down the nearest flight attendant asap and order yourself a cocktail or two and count on making the most of your trip no matter what starting THEN! (Also, it helps if you fly on a holiday with Southwest as the first stiff drink is on them.)

Disclaimer: This may or may not be how our trip to Alaska started. Nonetheless, lessons were learned & memories made!

Start Somewhere

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I went back and forth on what to call this post.

"On feeling anxious & overwhelmed."


"Everyone has to start somewhere."

"Allow yourself grace."

Do you ever feel like you have so much going on that you feel overwhelmed, like you don't know where to start, so you just don't altogether?

My word, that has been my life lately. I have been going in literally about 20 different directions with all sorts of places to be, people to see and commitments to keep. Bad, good, great and the ugly of life poking it's head in here and there.

There's being a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, granddaughter, cousin, niece, aunt, and employee, all while trying to maintain and be a better ME everyday on top of it.

I started going to the gym lately. Yes, I miss days but I am trying to go consistently and put forth the effort. I really am not one to try and boast about this of all things, so please do not take it as such. I bring it up because although my body has maybe not changed the way I had hoped it would right away, I have found this new thing that makes me happy. I feel stronger and more confident and if that is all I've gained, then I'd say I am doing pretty well. I find I feel remorseful after missing a day. I may hate that 4:00 am alarm (as does my Husband) but I've found nothing that beats starting the day off with a good sweat. (Ok, well maybe sleeping in and getting breakfast in bed or something, but come on.) I love the clarity it provides and how I feel when I leave, and for that matter, the rest of the day.

I had serious anxiety about joining a gym. It still makes me a little uncomfortable to be honest. Feelings like I don't know what I'm doing or I don't have the cutest gym clothes, or I'm not that strong. Or am I doing this right, are people watching me, or how does this machine even work? Maybe you can relate. But you know what I hear that little voice telling myself?


This echoes true in other aspects of life for me as well. With so many things pulling in me in opposite directions, I find myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scattered. I try and make lists and keep track of my priories and various calendars but I can't do everything as hard as I try. I forget things. I loose track of time. It happens. I come home at night with ambitions of accomplishing X, Y, Z and then when I don't, I feel so guilty.

New Motto: Start somewhere.

Really, I am trying to allow myself grace. There's only so many hours in a day. Quit obsessing over  what you need to do and take action. But rather than doing ALL THE THINGS, do one. If there's time, do two or three. But just start somewhere.

Take each day as it comes and don't get so caught up in planning, worrying or dwelling on every little thing. Enjoy this moment and at the end of the day, feel good knowing you did your best!
 Today I Will Do My Best - Live Life Quotes, Love Life Quotes, Live Life Happy:

Summer Bucket List

Friday, June 3, 2016

It's June which means this month marks the official start of S U M M E R! It's one of my most favorite month's of the year mainly because it's our wedding anniversary. So that's my most favorite part of the month, obviously. But besides that, it's usually not as hot, and it's the middle of the year!
Here's a few things on my Bucket List I'm hoping/planning to do this summer!
What's on yours?

Our Idaho Trip

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

This weekend we loaded the truck up and headed for one of my our favorite places, Idaho, to celebrate Ryan's cousin's high school graduation. Our trip consisted of lots and lots of family time, laughing, hearing old stories around the fire pit , playing games, eating the best food under the sun, and making more memories together that we will always remember. You can't beat that! 

I wish it were possible for us to see each other more, but when we do get together it's guaranteed a good time and we pack as much fun as possible into whatever amount of time we have! I sincerely thought I took more pictures, but I guess I was too busy enjoying because looking back we only took one with the graduate the whole weekend, haha. Who am I?! Every time we visit I swear a piece of me wants to pack up and move as unrealistic as that may seem. It is absolutely beautiful and things are just different there. We always want to stay longer! 

When we go to Idaho, we typically drive the 9 hours with my in-laws and that is usually half the fun. My MIL and I sit in the back together and catch up, laugh, sing, snack, swap recipes and magazines, let the guys know when we see somewhere we want to stop along the way and overall drive them nuts and beg to drive from the backseat (which they never let us, lol.)

We arrived Wednesday evening and Thursday was the graduation ceremony. It was a gorgeous evening!
Friday we had a huge backyard BBQ with some hilarious yard games including this game with blow up bubbles. It was much harder than it looks especially if you got knocked down and we all know how serious we take our games! Go big or go home, right!?
Every last detail of the party was beautiful! Ryan's Aunt and Uncle's backyard is practically a park and the weather cooperated and made for the perfect day to spend outside. The gals of the family really know how to decorate and I loved, loved all of the little details that helped to make the day extra special! Those custom grad cookies were a total hit, not to mention delicious!
Saturday the gals went and did some sightseeing while the guys worked on some stuff at the house. We drove to the mountains to see a cabin Ryan's cousin's had fixed up to sell! It was gorgeous and so my style. I basically wanted everything in it. If only we could live there! Then we stopped for lunch at the local clubhouse and headed back home to meet up with everyone at the house. 
We headed out early Sunday morning and it's our tradition to stop for breakfast at The Griddle which is about half way home for us. It never disappoints and these crepes made it a little less hard to leave. 
It was a great trip and Tan, we are so proud of you and excited for your new adventure! Go Vandals!

Every time we visit it gets harder and harder to come home...except for we had 2 puppies who were sure excited to see us! 

Until next time, Idaho!