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Anita Latte

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  1. Melody…somehow I must have deleted one or two sentences before posting. Excellent food and service referred to 150 Central Park. Then, reading negative reviews and everything after that referred to Jamie’s. What’s missing there is…We ate at Jamie’s and enjoyed our meal there. I’d read some negative reviews…etc. idk if you’ve read any more recent Jamie’s reviews but before our Feb 2020 cruise, there were several that viewed Jamie’s as inferior to other Italian choices on other Royal/Celebrity ships.
  2. Anita Latte

    Mosquitos

    I wouldn’t worry about bear spray on the wall to Nugget Falls. Like the PP said, they could be in the area but it’s highly unlikely you would have any encounter. We weren’t concerned there at all. Nor were we hiking in Skagway.
  3. Melody…is your whole family doing the dining package? We got the big specialty dining package when we went and ate almost everyday in specialty dining. We didn’t eat at the Hibachi place but we ate twice at 150 Central Park. The atmosphere in that restaurant is quiet and lovely. If it’s just you and Les, it would feel like a major break from being around people, especially if you could snag one of the tables along the outer windows. The food was excellent and service top notch. I remember reading some negative things about it but we enjoyed our meal there, and I don’t have as much comparative dining experiences to be more disappointed, kwim? but the hard floor made for a noisier atmosphere. I’d still eat there again but it doesn’t feel like as much of a getaway dining experience.
  4. Anita Latte

    Mosquitos

    Your post was comical but I feel the need to address your bear spray topic. Bear spray is not allowed on any commercial aircraft in either checked baggage or carry on. If required, it must be purchased or rented at your destination. I’m not even sure if you could take it on a cruise ship… That said, I heard a joke about bear pepper spray and something about how the bears like the seasoning on their meat…
  5. Anita Latte

    Mosquitos

    It's like an oil. A little goes a long way but you do have to make sure that you get full coverage and cover all exposed skin. It is easily absorbed so it doesn't leave you feeling greasy or oily or sticky. I prefer to pair it with looser fitting clothing or thicker clothing, because I've been bitten through my clothes...and I don't put this repellent or any other on my clothing.
  6. Another vote for the Sand Bar in Juneau. A local told me about it here before our 2018 cruise. We rented a car in Juneau to tour on our own. It’s very local dive bar hang out atmosphere and the food was excellent! Depending on your appetite, the portions are shareworthy. We were there at an off time and there were just a couple others there. Agree that the reviews are a mixed bag but we loved it. Our group also loved the fish and chips at the Fish House in Ketichan. They offered salmon fish and chips and they were loved by my family. I had the fish chowder and it ranks among the best soup/chowder/chili I’ve ever had. Absolutely wonderful.
  7. Definitely not planning on Yellowstone. Way before all the recent flooding and damage, DH and I decided that there was plenty to see and do in and around Glacier. We’re already feeling pressed to narrow down what we want to see and do!
  8. Trying to add new thoughts to the discussion…Alaska cruises feel more laid back than a Caribbean cruise where there can sometimes be an almost desperate party atmosphere. In contrast, on the Alaska cruise, the feeling is more of saving yourself to have energy for the more elaborate and sometimes strenuous port excursions. Nightlife can be almost nonexistent as the ship may retire earlier to be up bright and early for action packed port days. Additionally, many relax all around the ship to simply enjoy the scenery. Outside, those relaxing may have blankets and be more bundled up depending on weather and cold tolerance. Dress is definitely more casual though there will always be some that dress up. But by and large, the layers required to be prepared for the possible weather spectrum means that bulkier and larger clothing takes more space and leaves less space for more clothing choices. Unless you travel with an international cell plan, cell service is available in every port so it can be very easy to find your way around. The docks are generally RIGHT THERE and it’s not an instance of needing to travel far to get to city centers so it is entirely possible to have a very laid back port schedule and depending on time of year and ports to see a bunch of wildlife and beauty without having to do anything major, though most want to attempt a smaller boat excursion (whale watching, etc) to feel closer to the water and smaller in comparison to the mountains which are right to the shoreline with very little beach like flatter shorelines; or try to get into the air (helicopter, float plane) to get an aerial view, or a train (Skagway, or Seward if one way itinerary) to get more into the interior. But again, these aren’t necessary and if you react as many do to AK, you can space these expensive outings over subsequent cruises. The food is different. If you are into local eating, you can have amazingly fresh salmon, halibut, crab, reindeer sausage, etc There are EXCELLENT local craft brews if you are in to that. Generally speaking the weather is cooler and can be a very welcome change from typical summer temperatures in the lower 48. You may be more active if you enjoy hiking. You may have a larger port excursion bag because you will likely want to take more layers, cameras, etc on your excursions. Hot coffee drinks may be more enjoyable with cooler weather. Getting back on the ship is less complicated because you don’t have to deal with any customs, show your ID and there isn’t any central area all ships’ passengers must pass through to get reboard. Depending on where you travel from, the time difference is the opposite of what you deal with with Florida departures. You will also have to decide between a RT itinerary vs a Northbound/Southbound which can introduce all kinds of extra ways to spend money and make airfare possibly much more expensive.
  9. Anita Latte

    Mosquitos

    The absolute best repellent that I have used is made in Alaska. As someone who is a feast for mosquitoes, I swear by Alpenglow. https://www.alpenglowskincare.com/collections/alaskas-best-insect-repellent?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9ZLm3K-y-AIVqWtvBB3smAy9EAAYASABEgJIQ_D_BwE We shore fished in Juneau near Fish Creek where the receding waters revealed the breeding grounds of all sorts of insects as they swarmed upon us like sesame seeds on bagels. Also hiked into the Kenai Wilderness to a public use cabin. The mosquitoes may hover but generally don’t land and if they do, they immediately take over. Such an effective essential oil based repellent. I use it here In Florida too.
  10. Kat...we are super excited about Glacier. Our first choice was a good compromise between quality of lake fishing and darkness of skies for star gazing. Also, it's about an 8 mile hike to the campsite BUT there's less than 1000 ft elevation gain/loss...it's a relatively flat hike. BUT it passes through some fun landmarks including a ranger station and you get to cross a suspension bridge so...pretty well suited for us low landers who are in the beginning stages of getting our backpacking bodies back.
  11. It’s a good thing we set that “just in case” alarm… Even when you are so tired, it can take a while to relax into sleep. It was like wired tired…feeling the excitement of finally getting to be in Fairbanks. We chilled out for a bit with our screens and were finally falling asleep. We set alarms for the unlikely event that we didn’t wake up to go our evening aurora borealis viewing activity. HA! That alarm woke me out of a deep sleep. I could barely remember where I was, let alone WHY I was waking up from such wonderful sleep in such a lovely dark room…until I remembered and it was like a jolt of energy jerked me fully awake and ready to go. There are a HUGE range of choices for aurora borealis chasing activities in Fairbanks. It is considered to be a prime location for viewing. There are photographers that will take you out on a private, or small enough to fit in a larger passenger vehicle, tour. They will drive you around ALL NIGHT going to locations that they are familiar with to try to see the Northern Lights. They will offer you instruction on the use of your own camera, or lend you a camera of their own. They will take and print a professional quality photograph of you/your group with the lights in the background. These often begin anywhere between 9-10 pm and last until 4 am, when they start to take you back to your hotel, so you may arrive between 5-6 am. And they can cost up to $300 pp. Others are location specific. I was very interested in one that left from a hot springs resort located about 60-90 minutes outside Fairbanks. Then they take you on further into the wilderness to a high point where there is a dry building in which you can keep warm and where pit facilities allow you to relieve yourself. That one lasted until 3 or 4 am with no exceptions to leave early…and you would still have a 60-90 minute drive to get back to your bed… I wasn’t so enamored of seeing the Northern Lights that I was willing to wipe myself out in order to do so. I had many activities lined up in Fairbanks and while seeing the aurora borealis was the impetus in deciding that this was the vacation that I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday, I wasn’t so interested that I was willing to sacrifice my days for such nights. So I was very excited to find a very simple aurora borealis viewing opportunity. https://www.aurorapointe.net This is a metal-type community building located on a bluff just outside Fairbanks. It’s a type of event center equipped with long tables in a largely otherwise open room, where some people may have receptions and other similar gatherings and events. For a much more affordable cost than anything else I found, you could arrive at 10 pm, or AT LEAST by 11 pm (so your arriving headlights don’t disturb potential viewing) and stay until 2 am. But nothing would prevent you from leaving earlier, if you so desired. You could bring whatever you wanted with you to entertain yourself while waiting for the lights to appear. A video feed alerts the group to the aurora activity. Outside is a gas fueled fire where you can also hang out. Non-alcoholic refreshments and fresh baked cookies are provided. There would also be a bit of an informative talk to teach you about the science of the northern lights. Supposedly, there would also be some tips on photography offered. THIS was right up my alley. I figured that this would be a good introduction and having researched other places where there is good potential viewing around the area, if we so chose, we could just drive ourselves around later. I think we had set the alarm for 8:30 pm. We were speedy, but not harried, as we layered up and gathered our stuff. We were not alone. So many people heading out. Everyone layered up and so many tripod and cameras in evidence. The lobby was packed and we weren’t alone in the elevator. We needed food. Fast food. TACO BELL!!! Is that sad? DH and I love Taco Bell…we sing Ba-co, Ba-co Teeeeeeeeelll. I like to eat, some Bacoooh Tell to the tune of Macho Man. We managed to squeak inside right before the dining room shut down for drive thru service only, the line of which, had built up quickly. We were feeling grateful for our timing. And then we headed out to Aurora Pointe. I am not an expert photographer. I’m not even a skilled hobbyist, though I would like to be. I fancy myself more with an artistic eye and hope my camera can capture what I see, but I’m still learning how to get the camera to see what I see in the way I want the captured image to appear. I admit that life gets in the way of all my lofty goals for self-education. I need to take a class, but I’m not so gung ho that I’ve done that yet. I did watch some YouTube. LOL. And I consulted with Kim and Margaret from these boards when I was seeking out a camera that would be able to take some quality photos of the aurora borealis. I ended up purchasing a new to be Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000, which is a very fancy point and shoot (it kind of looks like it should have changeable lenses) with a 1” sensor that is touted as being EXCELLENT for low light photography. It has so many bells and whistles that it will take me dedicated study to figure out all of its capabilities. I also needed a tripod. OMG…have you ever tried shopping for a tripod? Which materials are best for cold weather? What travels well? On and on. And the expense! My parents knew I needed a tripod. And low and behold, on one of their neighborhood’s oversized trash pick-up days, someone had tossed a tripod that had one single flaw. The locking lever for raising the camera higher than the height of the tripod itself didn’t work. Not. A. Problem. So THANKS DAD for “dumpster diving” for his grateful daughter! They brought the tripod out when they visited for Christmas and New Year’s. It’s actually a nice tripod. I LOOKED like I knew what I was doing. LOL. Like everyone else, we settled in at a long table. Unlayered a bit. And I set up my camera. The lecture about the northern lights was basic. As near as I can remember, it has to do with the interaction of flares from the sun and our planet’s magnetic field. Solar flares travel on solar waves and when they hit our magnetic field they are directed towards our north or south poles. In the north, we have the northern lights, or the aurora borealis. In the south, they have the aurora australis. Depending on the chemical composition of the waves, different colors appear, most often, green. There are different tools out there that forecast the likelihood of the occurrence of the aurora borealis. We learned that the previous night, the night of our arrival, was spectacular. Oh well. There was still a good likelihood for this night. DH and I went outside. I took a few photos. Like I would know what sort of adjustments might need to be made… And headed back inside for a cookie, or two, which were excellent and continuously being baked. It wasn’t too long into the night when the video feed began to show that light activity was beginning. If you can imagine from your school days…the entire room stands up and starts to put on their layers and head out in a nice and orderly fashion to the area for viewing the lights. And then they petered out. And most people headed back inside. And DH and I looked at each other and were like…huh. It felt sort of ridiculous to go through all that rigmarole based on a video feed. So we decided to hang out. Because our layers were WORKING…and we weren’t too cold. There was one other couple that also stayed. And sure enough… One trick for taking your photo in front of the lights is to have a flashlight type light shining onto the people, so that you can see them better in the photo. It’s the difference between a photo like this: And a photo like this: Which, admittedly...still isn't all that great at this point. But I was grateful to the photographer from the other couple that shown the light on me while DH took the picture. It took a while for the group to emerge…and when they did, the organizer set up a camera and was taking photos of people with the northern lights in the background. I had set up in a prime location so I was booted from it and asked to move over. And unfortunately, some of my photos were then affected by their lights. I did manage to move around and get away from them eventually. I posted that first not so great photo to show that my photography improved rapidly. I did play around a bit with my ISO setting and managed to take these photos over the course of the evening. The lights were receding and so almost the entire group left for the relative comfort of the event center. There were 5 of us that stayed. So 5 of us were outside and in the prime viewing spot for when the lights DANCED across the sky in a beautiful arch. That was impossible for me to catch photographically but it is stored in my memory. Here’s the interesting thing about the aurora borealis. Unless they are exceeding active…they are WHITE. It takes a while for our eyes to adjust to the light to be able to perceive the light. The camera has no such issues and so even when the light is white to our eyes, when you take a photo of it…the camera captures the color. The dancing lights were amazing…and only 5 of us were able to see them. All too soon it was time to pack up and head back to the hotel for more much needed sleep. We were quite pleased with our aurora viewing. We were grateful to have seen what we saw and felt that we had had a good night.
  12. It has been so long since I started writing and talking about Fairbanks…I hope everyone can forgive my lapse in posting about this. I’m going to pick up right where I left off, but first…a quick recap… Having flown from Florida on Tuesday…to arrive in Fairbanks after midnight, Wednesday…checking into our hotel, sleeping, eating a wonderful breakfast at The Crepery across the street…we found ourselves walking around the Fountainhead Antique Automobile Museum, where so many pre-World War 2 automobiles along with the fashion of the times were on display in an extremely bright and shiny high-ceilinged warehouse type building… Upcoming is one of my favorite fashion items in the museum…from the plaque in the museum: “Linen Duster with Hood c.1910. This ecru linen motoring coat with attached hood is the only duster in the collection that is hooded. At the back of the duster there is a self-belt with rope cord that allows it to be adjusted to fit. This rope cored is repeated around the hood to also permit its adjustment either over the bare head or a hat. The duster is unlined with wide cuffed sleeves and an accent button at the very top of its button closure. Not all dusters were as plain as this one. They were often made of silk with embroidery or a trimming of cord and braid. It is thought that the reason motoring coats were called “dusters” was because “dusters” were worn by cowboys to protect their clothing from trail dust. I’m kind of floored by how timeless I feel this duster is. I think that someone of today could wear this which is one reason why I like it so much. I’ve been thinking about having a coat of sorts that would be modeled after this one. I’ve been debating the idea of a shorter hem for a sort of beach cover up in a lighter weight linen. Perhaps a rain coat, especially for Florida. This is the vehicle displayed with the duster… “1914 Grant Model M Roadster “The Grant was one of the first “compact” cars made in the United States. “The Grand was advertised as the first high-grade motorcar to be sold under $500. It combined the light weight and low cost of cyclecars with the quality, durability, comfort and wide tread of standard automobiles. Very few Grants survive today. “The Grant was one of the first cars to have a transaxle. Its suspension was somewhat unusual, with full-elliptics at the front and a transverse semi-elliptic at the rear. The bull-nosed radiator was designed to provide additional cooling for the engine. The dash was notable for its complete absence of instruments, leading one passenger to note, “One could certainly enjoy the scenery, as there were no instruments to watch.” Other interesting to me info on the sign included a maximum speed of 50 mph with an average 30 mph. Only 3000 vehicles were manufactured. The factory price was $495. “The Standard Small Car.” I might share more from the museum but in the interest of continuing my story… We were approaching overload as made our way to the 1930s… Just as I thought that I might be ready to call it a day and start walking a little more purposefully through the field of vehicles, something would catch my eye and I would pause and at least look…but usually looking lead to reading or at least taking a picture of the sign…as we moved on to the exit… There was an absolutely FABULOUS display of period hats available for purchase. I think they were made locally, or at least in the state of Alaska? But I can’t be sure. They aren’t listed on the museum gift store website. I happen to love hats but these were all felted wool or whatever that stiffer, thicker hat material is, which felt very winter to me…and I already have one of those which I really don’t wear here in Florida so I only purchased a patch as a souvenir from the auto museum. Like all museums…or anything similar where there is SO MUCH to see and take in…there is only so much that you can actually see and take in before you just feel a bit dumb in the brain as you continue to tour. It makes me realize how nice museums are that have a café or something a garden or something where you can take a bit of a break and refresh to be able to continue looking. This museum is has nothing like that currently. We were told by a docent that pre pandemic, in the Alaska gallery, but one of the more classic older vehicles that they used to offer those old time photos. There’s a wardrobe with period costumes and people could dress up and have their photo taken with that one vehicle. That would have been a great break from just looking at cars and fashion, interacting with others, watching their photographs, having your own photograph, etc. The museum hours are limited in the winter. Only open two days a week for a half day. It was early afternoon when we left the museum. We were seriously ready for a nap. The effects of the late night/early morning arrival were catching up to us and so we headed back to the hotel to catch up on some much needed rest.
  13. I’m so excited to cruise with you again (virtually, that is 😉)…I’ve so enjoyed your previous reviews. Like others have said, you inspire me to try solo cruising if my DH could stand being left behind. It sounds like we’re going to have a great time with all your plans…thank you so much for taking us all along. I personally am not ready to cruise again so I very much appreciate reviews like yours while I sort when and if I get on cruise ship again.
  14. I haven't really been busy but I haven't really been able to post much. With DH working from home, it's difficult to get into the office and think. He's in meetings virtually all day long...and I can't concentrate with all that racket going on. And with my new mini computer, I can't pick it up and take it into the other room! When he isn't here, I take that time to do things that make my own noise... I've been reading but just not posting much if I need a keyboard and want a bigger screen! Laurie...beautiful photos. When you talk about not being ashamed of the aging process are you talking about your hair? You were letting it go natural, correct? I wanted to say earlier...I think you look fabulous. The aging process has given you some nice looking highlights IMO. I like how the lighter color in your hair is softer around your face. It's really lovely. It looks like you and your DD had a good time on your cruise. Melody...Harmony was the last cruise that I was on in February 2020. I've also been on Allure on the TA I took with my parents. It's not a ship that I would want to take for every cruise but I must admit that I think it's a really great ship and I thoroughly enjoy it. As with most things in life, it all depends on your attitude. You always strike me as more ready to have fun than complain so I think you'll have a great time, especially with your big group, even if it's a one and done. I will recommend that if anyone in your group has designs on riding the Flowrider that you get a lesson. You get one on one time with the instructors...one will be talking and one will be with you on the Flowrider. They meet you where you are, so if a total newbie, then a big help...and if more experienced, then they help you take your riding to the next level. I knew it would be a good idea when several people on the Royal boards talk about how they take a lesson EVERY TIME, because every time they get something out of it. These guys LOVE the Flowrider and will ride it a lot throughout the cruise, even renting private time. Really look into all the dining options. Things may have changed a lot since COVID, but pre pandemic, for instance, for breakfast, you can eat complementary meals in the MDR and the buffet (of course), Johnny Rockets, the diner on the Sports Deck (made to order omelets), the Solarium (even kids can eat there), and maybe the Park Cafe too. There's a full on Starbucks on the Boardwalk too, if you love your lattes, etc. It's a huge ship but it's very easy to navigate and toward that end, there are many many nooks and crannies to get away from people...or be with people...and I very rarely ever felt crowded anywhere. Your itinerary does sound nice. And of course, you'll be right in my backyard if Harmony is still sailing out of PC. Next up, we have a trip to the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain area on our actual 25th wedding anniversary. My FIL/MIL have gifted us with a few nights in a time share there with their points. We'll be hiking around Grandfather Mountain and also attending the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, which should be a great time. Also, we got our first pick for backcountry permits for Glacier National Park in September, which is the big vacation we have planned in celebration of our anniversary.
  15. I have an ACL deficient knee so most heels are out for me. I’m also fighting off certain foot ailments related to having a long second toe. I struggled trying to find a happy enough shoe that I could dress up for formal nights and the MDR. Ultimately I went with a black pair of Vibram V-soul shoes. When wearing them, they look like like ballet flats with angle straps across the foot. When we went to Wonderland, when the host warned me about the stairs and then saw my shoes, he was highly complementary. People see what they want to see unless they look hard. Not me:
  16. @peanuthead @Lovincruisin1321 Just jumping in here to ask if you have heard of or researched Evushield? I recently came across it and it doesn’t seem to be talked about too much. Immunocomprised are eligible for this COVID preventative shot. You maybe better informed than I, but just in case you aren’t…
  17. Kat…check out Kohl’s for the shorts. I took a look over there because they carry Chaps brand clothing and I saw a few Bermuda length options.
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