Alaska: Victoria (part 2)

(Continuing with our excursion to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada on our last day of the Alaska cruise):

I don’t really have a lot of stories of visiting the Butchart Gardens …

Just lots and lots of photos of flowers.

It was pretty crowded and we mostly felt like we had to rush … to make sure we caught our shuttle to take us back to the ship on time…

… but it really was gorgeous ….











… we DID get some (expensive) gelato at the end. From this little gelateria in the ‘Italian Garden’ …


Then back to the ship by 11:30p to go to bed to get up at 6a to finish packing to be off the ship by 8am…


Even though our CRUISE portion of the trip was over … Andrew and I still spent a good bit of the next day in Seattle ….

stay tuned!



Alaska: Victoria (part 1)

Our final day of our Alaskan cruise …. was primarily spent at sea.

We were headed back down to Seattle (all day Friday and most of the day Saturday) – one of the downsides of doing a round-trip cruise instead of 1-way.

We spent the morning/early afternoon reading and playing games. More Mexican Train and more Shang-hai



Still celebrating Andrew’s birthday a little bit …. He got to open up a bday present at lunch!



Saturday night we actually docked at Victoria a little early. … .about 5:30p instead of 7p as scheduled.

Good thing, too … Otherwise it would have been a REALLY quick trip.

As far as I can tell, the only reason the ship docks in Victoria at all is so the ship can open up the casino in international waters – since we are visiting an international country.

Anyway, once we docked…. We caught an (expensive) shuttle into downtown … and once there spend more money for another shuttle from the same company out to Butchart Gardens… and back to the ship. A bit annoying to overpay like that … but I guess that’s what vacations are for?


The #1 highlight that Julie wanted to see was Butchart Gardens, but that is several miles out of town.

So we jumped on the shuttle – with a narrated drive – out to the gardens …

We learned all kinds of things…. Like that Victoria is the retirement capital of Canada.

Mostly because they have perfect weather pretty much year-round and no poisonous snakes or spiders…


But homes are correspondingly expensive, I guess.

Locals in the suburbs are encouraged to use their land for agriculture and such… .so apparently some of them will leave a vegetable cart of sorts at the end of their driveway with a cash box and just depend on the ‘honor system’ to sell their goods …

Kind of adorable…

We got the Butchart Gardens before sunset …. but not much before sunset ….




Holy geez this place is gorgeous ….

This is about the time on our walk when Andrew started talking about how he wanted to get wooden coffins to use as benches in our garden one day. Awesome.




More photos of Butchart Gardens to come …..


Alaska: at sea

Friday was a day at sea.

Not many stories for this day.

I spent the bulk of the day in bed.


In the morning we went to breakfast, but I started to feel a bit of sea sickness.

This day involved covering something like 600 miles or so, all at top speed, all out in the open ocean (not the Inside Passage) and it was VERY choppy.

Our waitress (Galina) said the ship’s motion was some of the worst she’s felt in 8 years.

At times it genuinely felt like an earthquake – and I think Kaitlin was a little afraid the ship would capsize!

No real danger of that, BUT a lot (lot lot) of people on the ship spent part or all of the day seasick…



So after breakfast, I went back to our room and lay down to read.

As long as I was laying down I felt fine …. and I even felt OK at dinner that night…

… but it seemed so lovely and luxurious to spend all day (around 8 hours) napping and reading.

When I’m home I NEVER do that.

I always just read a bit before bed, or set an alarm so I only read for an hour or so.

But on vacation: NO RULES!

So I spent the day in bed…

Andrew brought be water and veggies from the buffet, other than that I just slept and read.

I started Alaska by James Michener, which is over 1000 pages, so I wasn’t in any danger of running out of reading material.

But I dolled myself up for the ‘formal’ dinner on this Friday night….

Before we left for the cruise I told Princess Cruises we wanted to celebrate Andrew’s birthday on this Friday.

When we woke up, there was a Happy Birthday sign and 2 balloons taped to our door with a card in the mail slot ….

and then at dinner that night, the waitstaff sang him ‘Happy Birthday’ and brought him a special dessert and card.




turns out I DID take a photo of Galina!



(special birthday boy …. 30 years old!)

Just one day left of our cruise! Sad!



Alaska: Skagway and the ship

continuing our Skagway excursion during our Alaska cruise ….

After our wilderness/Gold Rush tour, we were dropped off back in town about 1:30p or 2p. Just about time for lunch – at the Skagway Brewing Company.

Beer-broth chili was filling and warm and great for how cold it was outside ….

We also got a couple Alaska souvenirs while we were there (more on this in a future post)!

After lunch, Julie and Kaitlin did a little bit of shipping before heading back to the ship.

But Andrew and I sought out some more history!

waaaaay way back when Skagway started to be settled, Captain Moore stated a claim for the whole town, but when some 200 or so miners showed up, they just took it over and declared Moore’s log cabin to be in the middle of State Street – so they dragged it aside!

That log cabin is still in town (in the image below) …. and TINY!


(man, my husband is soooo handsome :)  )

We really didn’t o a whole lot more before heading back to the ship.

It was CRAZY cold and SUPER windy on the mile or so walk, so by the time we got back to the ship, we crashed and took a nap for a couple of hours.

(continuing our streak of a nap-a-day on this vacation)

Then up to the deck for some reading and relaxing before dinner ….






And we closed out the day with this GORGEOUS sky on our way out of port:



Alaska: Skagway Gold Rush tour (part 2)

… continuing our Skagway Gold Rush tour ….

On the way back to town from the Canada border, we stopped at Liarsville – sounds picturesque, no?

Liarsville is basically a recreation of a mining town or similar, complete with tents set up for the press, a laundry service and a madam.



Cute, touristy. We were given the chance to pay $10 more and “pan for gold” (which other people in our group did).

Instead we sat around a (much welcomed) campfire, drinking hot apple cider and enjoying being outdoors…

… and we later learned there was a wolf wandering around in the area – already know to have killed 2 dogs. Awesome.










We were dropped off back in town around 130p or 2 … Just about time for lunch – at the Skagway Brewing Company.

Beer-broth chili was filing and warm and great for how cold it was outside.

…. and still a bit more of Skagway before heading back to the ship….


Alaska: Mendenhall Glacier

Wednesday morning we took a nap, after the scenic cruising, had lunch and wrote out our postcards…


We docked in Juneau Wednesday afternoon about 2pm.

Our main (and only) plan was to visit Mendenhall Glacier. …


We found a shuttle that would take us out there …

Our driver – Sonny – was this 40-something Tlingit man with the most entertaining delivery in his informative drive narration.

He pointed out the hospital where he was born and mentioned (many times) the fishing/hunting available in the area.

(It’s clear where his interest lies)

He also made 2 Sarah Palin jokes! Classic :)

Here’s a short video of the bus ride so you can hear his delivery…. I literally talked with this distinctive inflection the whole way out and the whole way back:



Mendenhall Glacier is part of Tongass National Forest.

There is a charge for the visitor’s center and there may be a charge for parking …. but otherwise the view and the hikes are all free!





There is a relatively short (3/4 mile) basic hike that takes you close to the glacier …. and that’s about all we had time for before having to hike back and catch the last shuttle back to town…





And on our hike …. what did we see through the trees?

What I can only assume is a branch of the Polar Bear Club!

These people clearly visited the glacier with the intent of taking a plunge in the icy water (and then darting out again)!

Not only does the Mendenhall glacier empty into this bay/channel/body of water …. But just to one side of it is this big waterfall, cascading down the rocks, spraying a mist of water for yards in every direction…







It’s probably just as well that we didn’t have a lot of time to stay before the last shuttle back to town – since it started to lightly rain….

The only rain on our trip though!

Once we got back into town, it was time to eat!

Some place warm and dry, good food and maybe historic ….

We settled on the Red Dog Saloon… which was warm and dry at least.

If you ever find yourself in Juneau, just know the Red Dog Saloon is overpriced for the quality of food …. and it may have held some history at one time but now is just super touristy….

The live musician was pretty entertaining, though….

After we ate we just headed back to the ship …. Technically, we still had a few hours before we had to board, but it was cold and rainy …. so we’ll have to visit the Governor’s Mansion next time.

Since we were in town for dinner, we skipped the fancy dinner in the dining room and instead played dominoes up on the deck.

Kaitlin taught us this game (Mexican Train) that has several rounds and can take a long time …

… and during the time we were on deck playing, SEVERAL people walked by and took notice. Including a couple different people who asked us what we were playing and proceeded to tell us about a domino game called ‘Chicken Foot’ ….

Funnily enough, all these Chicken-Foot people had southern accents, so I assume it’s a regional game?

Then off to bed so we could get up early for the next day and the next port !

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(so says Angela)

Wednesday morning we had some scenic cruising up Tracy Arm Fjord to view Sawyer Glacier ….

Andrew ran up to the prow of the ship to see the glacier closer, ran back down to get me to come up and we walked back up together (around 8am) …

…. early enough that there was still rain or dew all over the decks, etc and hadn’t had time to dry yet.

I had only halfway put my shoes on, since we were in a hurry to get up there before the ship turned around.

On the way back to the room – after the glacier, seals, bear and all – we had a couple flights of stairs to go down.

I was in the lead, left hand on the rail, right hand holding my camera.

And I slipped.

I don’t know exactly how, but my feet slipped on the wet deck, my hand slipped on the wet rail, and I landed on my butt and bounced down 3 or 4 stairs!

Funnily, my instinct was to protect my camera. I held it high away from my body and away from the ground….

… and I only bruised the left side of my butt¬† – so I must have been leaning that way to further protect the camera :)

The bruise was horrendous ! Not that you want to see photos of my butt … but you can if you want. Bigger than my hand and got worse and worse and bigger …. In fact, at one point, the bruise was even swollen with very apparent lines from the edge of the steps!

And that’s when we knew it was a real vacation!


Alaska: Tracy Arm Fjord

When we booked our cruise, I was a bit disappointed that such a big piece of Wednesday would be taken up with “scenic cruising” – bah! Scenic cruising is just another way of saying they want to keep us on the ship to spend more money on drinks and gambling.

Turns out I was wrong….

Wednesday morning was one of the coolest parts of the trip and the #1 reason I’m so glad we got a room with a balcony!

The ship entered Tracy Arm Fjord about 6am for about 4 hours of scenic cruising …

Andrew and I woke up not long after 6am and bundled up to sit out on our balcony to watch the ice float by, keep our eyes peeled for wildlife and enjoy the scenery…

I got up first, and as soon as I saw these HUGE blocks of ice I gasped audibly and called to Andrew!


Since it was early morning …. at times the clouds were so thick it was like sailing into THE NOTHING (video below)


Farther down to the mouth of the Arm were bigger pieces of ice which had clearly broken off from the Sawyer Glacier much longer ago and floated all the way out, melting all the way …

(I loved seeing Andrew excited about taking photos on the trip)









We got room service breakfast delivered about 7:30a … and by that time we were well into the corridor….

and I was wearing PJ pants, a hoodie sweatshirt and wrapped in 3 beach towels to keep warm…


As we got closer to the Glacier the water seemed almost covered with ice. I’m so amazed that we got as close as we did to the glacier.

I heard someone say that when we entered Tracy Arm a different ship captain took over for the VERY different kind of sailing.

As we got closer to the glacier, there were seals perched about on various pieces of the ice (adorable)…. Andrew and I went up to the prow of the ship for the best view of the glacier before the ship turned around.



While we were up on the prow of the shop we even saw a bear! In the wild! Walking along the edge of one of the sheer granite mountains that lined either side of the channel….

(close up photo below, then wider shot below that)

Very small to our eyes and rather far away … but still very clearly a bear…


We turned around to go back down the channel around 8a or 9a … at which point I went back to bed…

Got to rest up for the rest of the day in Juneau!

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Alaska: evening at sea

Tuesday evening in Alaska…. We boarded our ship (after visiting Ketchikan) around 1 or 2p, ate lunch, took a nape, and woke up about 4 or 5 when the ship was heading out of port ….

From our room’s balcony with coffee, cameras and books, we were able to witness the slow meander through this bit of the inside passage, complete with overcast skies and rain in the distance…




It was a bit chilly as the sun was covered in clouds, so we again sat just inside the door to read and while away the afternoon….

The long white paper you see in the images above is our breakfast room-service order for the next morning…. You’ll see!


(starting to add to the travel journal)

With plenty of time before dinner, we met up with Kaitlin and Julie for some Shang-hai (my favorite card game but you can only play with at least 4 people)






After about half a game of Shang-hai, it was off to dinner … chatting with Galina and Marijan and getting too too much food.

AND … there was an on-board photographer coming around taking headshot-like photos of everyone in the dining room.

WHO they think would buy a headshot of themself at dinner, I have no idea.

But the awkwardness of having our photos taken was TOTALLY worth it when we saw our photos later:

Julie and Kaitlin …

You can’t tell in the photo, but Kaitlin has a very large piece of pepper or something between her 2 front teeth …. OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE SHE WAS EATING…..

No, I’m serious. Whose idea is it to make us take photos in the middle of a meal. Weird.

And Julie’s photo? Really … there are no words…. We laughed SO hard!!

Those glasses falling down her nose, the half-smile …. Awesome.

No, we did not purchase either of these prints.

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Alaska: Ketchikan

So on TUESDAY in Alaska, after our Ketchikan wildlife tour, our guide Kurt dropped us off in town at historic Creek Street – shops, restaurants and 1 touristy brothel up on stilts built down the length of the creek.



Julie bought a fleece Ketchikan jacket and we spent some time walking around the town .. ..

We headed up the hill and over to the salmon fish hatchery …



Just near the salmon hatchery was this adorable little park that I *think* was a native (Tlingit) fish hatchery – long long long ago…

We saw an adorable boy catch his first fish (with his dad’s help) from one of the little ponds in the park.

So cute!



more walking around town ….

The fish hatchery and a native museum both had absurd entry fees …. so we chose to walk some more ….


Once back in town, we stopped at another store for souvenirs and candy ….. Obviously. Fudge? Yes please.

Then we got back on the ship around 1 or 2p and had lunch…..

then a nap…

Then by the time we woke up, we were headed out of town on to Juneau….

The weather started to get a bit overcast and lovely … and we still had the rest of the evening to relax and read… You’ll see!


Alaska: Ketchikan wildlife tour

Tuesday morning was our first time in port for this cruise!!

When we woke up Tuesday morning (early) the ship was slowly slowly coming into park, getting into position to be parked for the day …

The early morning sun was peeking over the mountains to the east, and the whole of the town was illuminated with this gorgeous light.

These first 2 photos were taken from our balcony … where we could overlook the bits of neighborhood just outside the city center … and imagine how fantastic it would be to live surrounded by trees and mountains like this.

(only in the summer, of course. Snow might kill me :) )


Due to all the napping on Monday we were awake, ready, breakfasted and off the ship by 8am!

Princess ships dock a little bit outside of town …. so we spent some time walking into Ketchikan-proper, along the shore, bought some postcards and discussed how we wanted to spend the day …

Ketchikan doesn’t really have a lot of big, obvious sites to see, so we were pretty open to the possibilities.




Once we were a bit into town, we stumbled upon this small (non-flashy) booth advertising a couple-hour-long wildlife tour – from Northern Tours of Alaska.

After talking to the nice (sales) girl about it, it seemed like a fun, reasonably priced way to see Ketchikan and the surrounding area.

The town is fairly small and there is only so much we can do without a tour of some kind ….

So we hopped in a 13-passenger van and saw the town!

Our tour guide – Kurt – is a lifetime Ketchikan local … Except when he graduated from high school, looked around and said “been there, done that” and moved to Seattle for awhile to find a wife! haha! (true story)….

Our first stop on the tour was Saxman Native Village Totem Pole Park





Kurt (in the center of the image below) told us all about the totem poles – their history and their meaning – as well as about the master carver who still works on-site (now in his 80s, I think) ….

There was a totem pole (3 photos up) with a carving of a (short) Abraham Lincoln at the very top (the ‘shame’ position) ….

The carving of Lincoln was being ‘shamed’ because 1) no inanimate objects can be portrayed on a totem pole and 2) the people being shamed and being represented were brought to Alaska on a ship called Lincoln.

Creative, those Tlingits.







Our next stop was also well outside town.

Kurt brought us to the mouth of a river where salmon spawn…. and bears, seals and bald eagles hang out to eat.

It was a bit early in the season for real spawning, but we saw probably 20 eagles or so … and a seal (along with salmon).





I know it may seem silly to be so excited about seeing so many bald eagles, but after growing up in Los Angeles where big birds are few and far between, it’s pretty amazing…



This photo below is a seal …. hanging out in this little harbor, grabbing some salmon (presumably).

I know it’s hard to tell that’s a seal from the photo … but if you scroll down …


Here’s a close up: Clearly a seal….

No bears, though.



Our last stop outside of town was this gorgeous waterfall …

It was *literally* right off the main road (the long highway along the coast line)… a small turn-off on the island-side next to a pile of rocks about 5′ high…

The rocks were super easy to climb up and at the top you see this:

Kurt said this is a location his family comes to in the summer for a picnic on the rocks and a dip in the pool below …

After our tour … Kurt dropped us off in town at historic Creek Street…

(which will be blogged next week)

This was a great (great) way to kick off our Alaska visit… I would definitely recommend Northern Tours of Alaska if you are headed to Ketchikan!


Alaska: our waitress Galina

I’m pretty bummed I didn’t end up getting a photo of our cruise dinner waitress, Galina from Bulgaria…. She was all kinds of awesome.

Our first night on the cruise (Sunday) our waitress was this intense Thai girl named something like Trixie. I don’t remember. She seemed to be rushing us and not really paying attention. Luckily for us, she started out the night saying that she was temporary and our normal server would be back tomorrow.

Thank goodness.

Our assistant server – Marian but spelled differently – was adorable and sweet and I just wanted to take her home with me!

Marian is from Serbia and she had a great accent and was young and blonde and genuinely interested in us. Throughout the week she would ask us about our day as she brought us drinks or cleared our plates. We found out at the end of the week that she is up for a promotion – which is great for her because she totally deserves it :)

Our main server – Galina – was …. very professional. Very no nonsense. And very generous. My guess is mid-late-30s, short brown hair, Bulgarian.

The first night we had her, I ordered my dessert and she just looked at me …. and said, “No. Pick again.” hahah!

Who DOES that? :)

She proceeded to tell me how “boring” the dessert I chose was and how I really wanted something else (perfectly nice and kind of teasing about it). So. …. OK. You’ve got to trust your waitress, right? I ordered something else.

She ended up bringing me both. …. Just so I could see/taste what I had originally ordered.

And of course she was right :)

Every night Galina would give us her recommendations – at least 1 from each course – and if we didn’t order it she’d bring it to us anyway.

One night, Katie and Julie skipped the formal dinner so it was just Andrew and I …. Once we got to desserts, we each ordered…. and then Galina ended up bringing us 4 or so MORE desserts! The sugar-wreckage strewn about the table was incredible :)

The servers are always a fun part of your cruise …. Having the same person (or team) every night really makes the “formal” dining room less formal and more inviting.

(I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of them!)


Alaska: at sea

Monday of our Alaska cruise was completely at sea.

We had quite a bit of distance to cover between Seattle and Ketchikan …. The ship was going a tad fast and the 4 of us all felt a bit of sea sickness to one degree or another.

The good news is: Julie brought Dramamine and some other sea sickness medicine so we ended up being fine.

The bad news is: The Dramamine made me super drowsy and I slept most of the day.

(which I am attributing to the little bit of Dramamine I took in the morning… but could also because I run myself ragged most of the time without a break and my brain just gave up a little once we got on the cruise ship)

Monday morning we woke up at a leisurely time and met Kaitlin and Julie at the ‘fancy’ dining room for a nice sit-down breakfast…

…. a leisurely breakfast that Kaitlin couldn’t make it through because she felt too sick.

… a leisurely breakfast that included a waiter – named Elvis who we later made friends with – singing some kind of morning song to me as he passed by :)

Then after breakfast it was time for napping reading on the deck.

I fell asleep in a deck chair.

Woke up in time for a mid-morning snack (delicious, light soup they were serving from a special cart on deck)

Then I’m pretty sure I fell back asleep, only to wake up in time for lunch.

Nope – not an exaggeration…. I must have gotten SOME reading done… but mostly just slept and ate :)



For lunch we went to one of the other restaurants on the ship that was doing a special British-themed meal. I loved (loved) the bangers and mash I had in England a couple years ago … and loved the bangers and mash I had again on the ship.

I think Andrew mostly wanted to go to get some Guinness :)

I honestly don’t remember what we did after lunch …. which means it was probably a nap! haha!

About mid-afternoon we were up on the Lido deck again …. in the ‘Conservatory’ …. Partly because it was warm but still kind of felt like being outside … and partly because this was the one part of the deck that had tables and chairs.

Andrew and I both brought our books … I tried to start working on my Alaska travel journal … and Andrew got hungry again.



Monday night was Formal Night at dinner …. so we started getting ready a little early.

Turns out we’re both a *little* too fat to be comfortable in the formal clothes we brought …. But that’s OK. It’s not like we were going to go out dancing after dinner …. ha!


Monday night was the first time we actually met our waitress Galina (she was off doing something else Sunday) …. I’ll tell you about her tomorrow. Loved her :)

If you’re interested in seeing some of what we ate on the cruise check out this post: Schubert Eats Cruise Food

After dinner Andrew and I pretty much wanted to change back into PJs and relax.

I don’t know if you know this about us … but we’re not exactly super fancy people :)

But since we were so far north already, it was still this light outside!

Andrew reading on our balcony …. but all bundled up from the cold …



(and then it got too cold so we moved inside to just sit in front of the open door)

We started seeing some wildlife off the side of the ship!

I know you can’t really tell from this picture, but we believe there were a couple of orcas hanging around….

You can definitely see the splash or spout of SOMETHING though…

and a tail :

(yes, that is too a tail!)


Monday we ended up sleeping and eating all day …. which really is the perfect way to start a vacation

You can view the whole gallery and purchase prints here: Alaska at sea

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Alaska: arriving on the ship

and here we go … starting into the wealth of Alaska photos and stories we collected over a week …

Andrew and I got up absurdly early on Sunday, June 26, headed over to the airport, and flew north to Seattle.

Julie and Kaitlin had made a road-trip of it so were actually in Seattle w/ their car and were able to pick us up from the airport….

Since our flight was *so* early, we had time to grab some breakfast before going over to the ship/dock. God bless technology – Andrew ‘yelped‘ a cute little diner called Pancake Chef on the way to the docks.

Then off to the ship…. Really – just a few minutes to do the whole check-in/security/security detail, and then on the ship with nothing to do…

And I mean that in the best way possible …

No emails to respond, to work to finish, no dishes to do …. Just hours of relaxing ahead of us.

And exploring.

(the view from our balcony: )

Once we got on the ship and had a bit of a chance to look around … Andrew started talking about if I had any interest in buying a boat and sailing around the world…

Which is funny, since he had a very similar reaction about living in Rome forever as soon as we got there.

While we were settling into our cabin we had 2 visitors.

The first was our cabin steward – Kennedy – stopping by to introduce himself and make sure we didn’t need anything. Very nice and made us feel a bit luxurious…

The other visitor was room service delivery.


After we had been on the ship 20 minutes and most definitely had not ordered room service.

Turns out my friend Ryan – who works for Princess – and helped us along the way of booking our cruise.

So being awesome like he is, he (and his wife) sent us a welcome gift + note of chocolate covered strawberries.

Um, yes please.


And then it was time to explore the ship – which is mostly just figuring out where we ‘live’ in relationship to the food :)

Our rooms were about 3 flights of stairs below the main Lido deck … that housed the buffet and the pools.








Um…. and then some more food.

This was about …. oh, 5p or so. … about 3 hours from our ACTUAL dinner.










We had an amazingly relaxing first day (once we got on the ship) and were sooo (so) grateful we got a balcony!

Thursday: Photos of our day at sea!

View the full gallery and purchase prints: 2011-06-26 Alaska arrival

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Schubert Eats: Alaska Cruise food

When we were getting ready for our Alaska cruise, I kept telling Andrew how the food was the best part …. So many options, so many good recipes, food whenever you want …

Andrew thought I meant that the food was the best he would ever taste. Which is, um …. not the case.

But food on a cruise is one of the best parts of the cruise!

Rather than break into the blogging of each day to talk about the food, here are images of all the meals ….

Or, at least MOST of them. And this is just what Andrew and I ate (not Julie and Kaitlin)….




So full every day. Dessert (or 2) every meal …. SO GOOD….

Since the cruise, I’ve pretty much only eaten salad and fresh fruit.

Schubert Eats is an irregular feature on Those Crazy Schuberts about recipes or ingredients or restaurants or pretty much anything that has anything to do with what those crazy Schuberts eat!