Cruise

Escaping to the Caribbean

Cruising on the Norwegian Escape~February 2018~Kim F.

Thanks to Nikki, we just returned home from a wonderful week in the Caribbean on the Norwegian Escape.  When we decided a little last minute to book a family vacation in February, Nikki came through with fantastic options and pricing.  With her guidance, we chose a ship and itinerary that were a perfect fit for our family of four (2 adults and two children, ages 8 and 6).  

Our ship left from the Port of Miami and traveled to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.  It was 7 days of pure bliss! The ship is quite large and almost brand new.  We enjoyed the wide variety of food venues, entertainment, and kid-friendly activities. 

The highlights of our adventures on the islands were bobsledding and navigating Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica as well as Stingray City and snorkeling in Grand Cayman. Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian's private island) was a fantastic beach day enjoyed by all.  

Initially, we did not have high expectations for the kids club onboard.  However, after one visit to Splash Academy the first night of our trip, our kids literally begged us to attend each and every day thereafter.  The staff was friendly, cheerful, and engaged as they had themes for the kids each evening of the cruise.  It provided a perfect mix of quality family time and a few hours of alone time with the hubby (which was a nice surprise)! 

Nikki's thoughtful planning, quality recommendations, and helpful tips ensured that our vacation was truly a "homerun!"  Each and every trip that we book in the future will be through Travel with Nikki!  

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REVIEW- Juneau Whale Watching

Combo Tour Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier

 I reserved this shore excursion for my husband and I through ShoreTrips. com, one of my preferred vendors for shore excursions. I did not want to pick a Cruise Ship provided tour for whale watching, as I wanted something smaller and more intimate. I was so happy with Dolphin Jet Boats! Everything was on time, professional, and safe. I would recommend this tour for anyone looking for a great opportunity to see Whales.

Our tour started with check in at the tram stations. The bus left promptly at our departure time and there was a short 15-minute ride to the marina. Our bus driver was Alicia and she was amazing! It was so wonderful to her about her life (as a race car driver, school bus driver, and driver for Dolphin Jet Boats). She also did a wonderful job of explaining different sites in Juneau to us, pointing out wildlife, and talking about the history of the town. 

 

At the docks in Auke Bay we met with our captain Derek and Naturalist Michelle. They took us to your boat. It fit 30 people, was enclosed with windows that opened and shut, as well as viewing decks in the front and rear of the boat. After receiving our safety instructions we headed out in the bay to look for whales. We were one of the first expeditions of the day at 3pm and our guides didn’t know exactly where the whales would be for the day. 

It was about a 10-minute ride until we started to see a few whale watching boats gathered together. Once Michelle and Derek saw there were whales in the area they slowed the boat way down and opened the front and back viewing sections. There was plenty of space for the 30 of us to spread out and everyone had room to move. I was so happy with my choice in whale watching provider, as some of the boats near us were very large with people crammed out on deck to try to get a good view. 

 On our trip we got to see some amazing Humpback Whales bubble net feeding. There were at least 8 whales feeding together. Normally humpback whales are solitary animals, but they have learned to get together to herd fish into a group. They then dive below the fish, and approach from below shooting straight up with their mouths open to get as many fish into their mouths as they can. We saw this happen about 5 different times. It was an amazing site to see. Michelle informed us that this bubble net feeding is very rare, and she herself has only seen it a few times in her 2 years of hosting whale tours. 

 Humpback Whales-bubble net feeding.

Humpback Whales-bubble net feeding.

 While on the boat we were offered bagels with salmon cream cheese, soda, coffee, water and hot chocolate. We spent a wonderful 60-90 minutes out with the whales and then headed back to shore. On our way back in we stopped by a marker buoy that had a small group of seals lounging around on it. Once at the docks we boarded our bus again and headed off to the Mendenhall Glacier

 It was a 15-minute ride to Mendenhall Glacier. On the drive there Michelle did a great job at giving some details about living in Juneau, such as how everything comes in by barge or plane. In the winters there is 1 barge a week, but in the summers there can be 2-3 barges a week.  Included in the tour was a wrist band for the visitors center at the Mendenhall Glacier.  At the glacier it was very rainy for our time, but still beautiful to see. There was a great visitors center with park rangers to answer ay questions you might have. They also did several small presentations, and there was a 20-minute movie playing in a nice theater. 

On the way back it was about a 25 minute trip to the port area. Michelle again did a wonderful job at pointing out wildlife, talking about life in Juneau, and explaining the sites along the way. The bus did 3 different drop offs for each of the different docking areas for the cruise ship.

Dolphin Jet Boats did a wonderful job with this shore excursion. I would recommend them if you are looking for a small whale watching tour, that is on time, clean, and has friendly staff!