Warning -- this is long, so just skip to the parts you are interested in and enjoy. I'll be glad to answer any questions. This was a nearly perfect vacation for us, thanks to both the great weather and the advice I got from here and another website.
Precruise Flight: My husband, daughter (age 12), and myself flew from Charlotte, NC to Seattle on Northwest. We left Charlotte around 9:30 am and we changed planes in Detroit after a quick layover. We knew the layover would be too short to eat so we had packed a cooler with lunch for the plane. About 20 minutes in the air out of Detroit, we were peacefully eating our lunch enjoying the blue skies when the plane suddenly bumped, then dropped 500-1000 feet. My sandwich literally flew out of my hand and hit the roof of the plane. The lady behind me lost her shoes, and everyone was screaming. It continued to shake for about 90 seconds. Then the pilot came on and said maybe it would be best if we kept our seatbelts on. Thankfully it was smooth "sailing" from that point on. Our only other glitch was that we discovered that we had forgotten to transfer all of the shows we had purchased for our iPod so it forced the 12 year old to read and play her PSP. Guess what? We lived.
Seattle: We landed in Seattle around 2:00. It took forever for the luggage to come out but it did finally make it. I was still glad that I had done all that cross packing, and I was doubly glad that I had tied colorful ribbons to our black suitcases. We rented a trolley and shuffled on out to the taxi/ shuttle area. I had a reservation with Shuttle Express which turned out to be a very slow option. Next time I will just take a taxi for $3.00 more. At 4:00 we finally made it to the Comfort Suites where we met my SIL. Now we were running about 2 hours behind schedule so we didn't have time to visit. We changed clothes, got a cab and headed for Ballard. We really enjoyed the Chittenden Locks and the fish ladder. There were a lot of fish running in the ladder, and we saw several boats go through the locks. From the locks we walked 0.6 miles along a pleasant bike and pedestrian path to Ray's Seafood. We had reservations for the nicer restaurant part, but when we got there it was such beautiful weather on the deck upstairs that we opted for the Cafe. We had dinner with a couple, son and girlfriend of an old family friend, whom we had not seen in about 18 years. Fun! The best part of the meal, other than the view, was when they started passing out blankets as the evening chill set in. It was hilarious to see 50 people wrapped up in bright orange blankets just to get the opportunity to sit outside. From Ray's we took a taxi back with the most eccentric cab driver I have ever met. He gave us a mini tour on the way back, showing us the Lenin statue and the Freemont Troll. He dropped us off at the Space Needle where we got wonderful views of the nightscape.
The next morning after our continental breakfast, we stored our luggage with the hotel and headed for Pike Place Market. The food, the flowers and the art were a beautiful site. We picked up lunch at Two Girl's Bakery (delicious!), which we consumed on the harbor tour. Loved the harbor tour and the great sunny weather. I'm not sure but I think it was in the low 80s. From here we walked to Pioneer Square to take the Underground Tour. It was interesting. Then we went to the Gold Rush museum which was also very fascinating. I wish we had had more time there because it closed at 5:00. After a series of short (free) bus rides we made our way to the Avis car rental to pick up our SUV. By 6:00 we had retrieved our luggage and were on our way northward.
Ferndale: After stopping for supper at the Eastlake Bar and Grill on Lake Union, we drove about 90 minutes out of Seattle to visit overnight with the mother of the family friend we had met for supper. Ferndale is just above Bellingham and has spectacular views of Mt. Baker.
Vancouver: After stopping at a grocery store in Ferndale to purchase our 1.5 L of wine per person, we headed across the border. No glitches at the border. We told them that we had 4 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of gin& no problem. We stopped at the border information station to get maps and to purchase discounted tickets to Grouse Mountain. First we stopped at Lynn Canyon for a little hiking and a picnic lunch. This is a beautiful park with a fabulous suspended bridge. I highly recommend it. Though we did not go to the Capillano Bridge, it appeared to be quite crowded, not to mention costly. We loved Grouse Mountain. The views were stunning. We saw the Lumber Jack show, the bird show, and we rode the scenic chairlift in addition to the gondola ride up the mountain. We also saw the bears play in a pile of leftover snow in their wildlife refuge. My daughter and husband also played around in the snow even though it was a sunny 80 degrees. At about 5:00 we headed back down the mountain for the supposedly 15 minute drive into Vancouver. Multiply that 15 minutes by four around rush hour to get across the Lion's Gate Bridge. We were really getting nervous about returning our car by the 6:00 deadline. We decided to scratch our plan of dropping off the luggage at our hotel and head straight for the car rental agency. After finally getting into Vancouver we were greeted with thousands of bikers blocking every street and every intersection! It got so bad that we finally called Avis and they directed us around a back way. Even though we were late in returning the car, Avis kindly waived the late fee because of the bike rally. A short taxi-van ride and we were at the Times Square Suites, a true gem for anyone not requiring a full service luxe hotel. We had an 8:00 reservation to eat at Liliget Feast House just down the block. This is an authentic First Nations dining experience. The restaurant was very interesting, extremely atmospheric and romantic, but the food was way overcooked. I'm still glad we experienced it. From there we caught the action at the beach just after the sun set and walked back to our apartment. The next day after sleeping in a little, we rented bikes and biked the 5.5 miles around Stanley Park, which was delightful, even though I hadn't been on a bike in over 15 years! For supper we had the best meal of the trip& a meal we cooked ourselves. We stopped at a gourmet meat shop and got baseball sirloin steaks with twice-baked potatoes. Then we went to an organic grocery store and got some tasty bread and vegetables. The Time Square Suites has a rooftop Barbecue grill and tables where we enjoyed our fabulous meal surrounded by beautiful views. The wine went down well with this superb meal.
The Cruise Embarkation and Grand Suite 1554: After a leisurely morning we got to the cruise terminal around 12:00. We basically walked right onto the ship, only stopping to take pictures. We toured around the ship for a bit, then headed to deck 10 to wait for the go ahead to get into our room. Since it was 15 minutes until 1:00 we decided to wait in the lounge overlooking the Centrum. Sharply at 1:00 they opened the doors and we got our first look at Grand Suite 1554. It was pretty much just what I expected, very spacious, gorgeous balcony, ever so slightly worn and a tiny bit dirty in places (such as the walls and corners.) The bathroom was stunning though I noticed some soap scum on the marble in the shower, and the faucets were mismatched. 1554 is a special Grand Suite because it is the only one on board that has a continuous wall of windows. The balcony doors open in the middle and are not separated by a partition of wall. Our balcony was about 20 feet long and four to five (or more) feet deep. We had one lounger, four chairs and a table. Overall it was a pretty suite. We had to ask for the slippers but that really wasn't a big deal since we had to ask for two extra robes anyway. We dumped our carry ons and went to the Windjammer for lunch. We snagged a waterside table out back and enjoyed our meal. The rest of the day was rounded out with a spa tour, a quick look at Chops, unpacking and an introduction to the best part of the ship&the concierge lounge.
That night we discovered that it is a good thing that RCI is replacing their beds, but not fast enough for us! The main bed was lumpy, the foot was about 5 inches higher than the head, and the gap literally was about 2 inches. My SIL slept on the pullout couch which was rock hard. My daughter had the best night's sleep of all of us. She slept on a single sized air mattress. Although we had asked our cabin steward to make our beds up with an extra foam pad, that didn't happen until the next day when we told Maritza, the concierge about it. After the foam was added, things were much improved. The foam helped with the lumps and the gap. The sofa bed was still hard. I could kick myself for not asking for several layers of foam for the sofa. I'm sure Maritza could have arranged for that to happen if we had only asked.
The Spa and Pool: One of the best things we did on the ship was to purchase a thermal suite pass. My husband laughed at me when I told him I wanted to lounge around on rock chairs, but it didn't take long to convince him. We also enjoyed the saunas and steam rooms. The first day at sea there was no ice in the thermal suite, but we never had that problem again. My SIL had a full massage/ facial combo that she said was exquisite. My husband had a basic massage which he enjoyed immensely. My daughter and I had the mother daughter massage which I thought was a good value. However I do have to complain here because on the website with the information about the Y-Spa it specifies that for the teens, they will always be assigned a same sex therapist which we weren't. I was a little more than uncomfortable knowing that a male was massaging my daughter's behind. Asking for a female wasn't an option on the day of our treatment, since they were all booked by that point. And by the way we booked our appointments at 2:00 on the day of embarkation. The solarium was great. Yes, there were kids in there from 1:00-4:00, but I never saw any of them being unruly or loud. We also enjoyed the whirlpools. Once and only once did I actually get all the way into the solarium pool. It was very chilly. Only used the gym once. It was OK. The lockers in the changing room were a little strange. They never had any keys yet they were all empty. Nonetheless we did enjoy the spa.
The Food: Our dining room experiences were great. We had a nice table for the four of us at the second seating. Our waiter was Dedhi, and he was fantastic. He interacted with my daughter and several times brought us seconds of something without our asking. It's not 4 star dining by any stretch, but it was palatable. I thought the food was much better than the Disney cruise which is the only other cruise we've been on. The only dish we had that wasn't good was the chicken off of the alternative menu. It was overcooked, dry, and bland. Most of the people were dressed nicely. I didn't see anyone who was sloppy with the exception of one guy in shorts and one in a ball cap. We noticed very few tuxes on formal night. The guys seemed to all be wearing suits. For formal night I didn't see a single woman wearing a "Sunday church dress." They were all wearing cocktail and evening dresses. We had one smart casual night, and I'd say 65% of the men wore sport coats. Personally I didn't like the dEcor of the dining room. I thought it was a little "plasticy" looking. IMO it was kind of ugly. We ate at Chops on Friday night of the cruise. Although our view was blocked by the window washing equipment, the atmosphere was nice. The steaks were OK not great. I actually had to send my filet mignon back. I had ordered it rare, and it was medium at best. The rest of our party ordered their steaks medium rare. SIL and husband got theirs close to medium and only my daughter's was close to medium rare. (She probably got mine.) It was worth going to. The appetizers and Mud Pie dessert made it worth it. They even gave us extra to take back to the room. The service was not any better than what we got in the main dining room. For breakfast and lunch we tried it all, preferring the main dining room over the Windjammer. Actually I hated the Windjammer. They never seemed to have what I wanted (a light salad with a little grilled meat to go on it) and I despised the hustle bustle atmosphere. By the time you walked around the room three or four times to find a table, your food was always cold. We are definitely not buffet people. We would never eat at one of those "all you can eat" joints at home so it wasn't a surprise that we didn't like "the sanitize your hands before pigging out with a thousand other people" place. The Sea View was pretty good but their choices were too limited to eat there every day. I thought the pizza by the pool was OK but my husband thought it was soggy. Mine was probably fresher since I got the kid friendly pepperoni and he got one that the kids weren't wolfing down. Breakfast was definitely better in the dining room, much more peaceful and elegant. Room service was a slight disappointment. I couldn't even get a boiled egg. They told me that they weren't allowed to have raw eggs in the room service kitchen so don't ask me what they made the omelets out of, especially since the choices were egg beater omelet and real egg omelet!
Teen program/ Activities for kids: We could not keep our daughter out of the teen club, Fuel. She loved it. The first night we sent her to the meet and mingle session at 9:00 even though that meant she really didn't get to eat supper. She instantly hooked up with a group of kids and from that point on we rarely saw her unless we forced her to stay with us. We were evil parents who actually made her do this occasionally. Our daughter participated in all the organized activities and never got bored. I really like that RCI groups her age (12) with the younger teens. As a middle school teacher, I feel that 12-14 year olds have much more in common than 10-12 year olds as some other ships do it. This was one of the deciding factors in which cruise to take. Even though our daughter doesn't usually drink a lot of soda we still bought her the drink package. Good move. She drank 7-10 Shirley Temples a day. I do have one gripe about the rock climbing wall. My daughter is a regular rock climber; she climbs and trains weekly on a climbing team. The first day she went up there they let her climb as much as she wanted to, and they did let her climb with her own rock shoes. She would just get in the back of the line and wait her turn. Then the day before the teen climbing contest, she wanted to work on her speed since she's more of a technique climber. She climbed her two climbs in under 25 seconds each, and then they wouldn't let her climb any more! Now let me point out that there was NOT A SINGLE PERSON IN LINE. There were three belayers just standing there with nothing to do and they wouldn't let my daughter climb more than 45 seconds that day!!! They gave me some lame excuse about it being Royal Caribbean's policy to limit everyone to two climbs per day so that their muscles didn't ache and ruin their vacation. Then will someone please explain to me why RCI wasn't concerned about that when they took my $89 for her to go on a 3.5 hour rock climbing excursion??? This was my biggest gripe of the whole cruise. I certainly can understand limiting the climbs when someone else is waiting, but beyond that, I've signed the waivers and I think that they should provide the service. Afterall they don't limit anyone to a 45 second work out in the gym, do they? I really don't know who to complain to about this, but it was upsetting. She did win the teen climbing contest, and they gave her a nice gold medal.
Skagway: We booked a morning heli-dog sledding excursion independently with Temsco. We walked to their headquarters from the ship which was quite a hike. We probably could have asked them to pick us up. After the embarrassing part about weighing in, they suited us up in overshoe boots and orange vests. I was wearing a coat over a sweater over my t-shirt and knew that I would get hot, but they encouraged me to wear it all since I could just store it at the dog camp if I needed to. It was a flawless sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. At the dog camp, they told us that it probably would get in the upper 90s or even 100s up at the camp that day because of the lack of cloud cover. Needless to say, I shed my outer layer. The views from the helicopter ride were stunning. Our pilot told us a lot about what we were seeing, plus he answered tons of questions. He was very informative. Our pictures don't quite capture the beauty, partly because they also captured the reflection of our orange vests. Next time we will hold the camera lens closer to the glass. Up in the air everything is deceiving. Your perspective is off. You look like you're going to hit a mountain when it is really a mile away plus you certainly don't feel like you are going 120 miles per hour! We enjoyed our time at the dog camp. We played with and held two different puppies. They want the pups to be handled a lot so that they become people friendly. Our driver, Mariah, was a young girl who had just graduated from high school. Mariah answered all of our curious questions about living at the camp for six days at a time. The sled ride was fun. It really is just like the video on the Royal Caribbean site if you want to know what it's like. We rode the sled around a mile and a half loop, stopping several times to switch drivers and take pictures. Wow! Surely Alaska can't get any better than this. It absolutely was worth the $400 per person charge. Back in Skagway we ate lunch on the ship then sent our daughter packing, rather climbing, on the ship's rock climbing excursion. Let me point out that the ship documents specify that minors cannot go on excursions without an adult. Prior to our trip, our travel agent verified with RCI that she would be able to do the trip without us. I also had been in contact with the climbing company via e-mail and phone. Ever the one to be a worrier, I also had Maritza, the concierge, follow up the day before. No problems. Since it was OK with Alaskan Mountain Guides, it was OK with RCI so off she went. She really enjoyed it. She did five climbs (ranging from 5-4 to 5-13) plus rappelling. The instructors did tell her that she could climb better than they could which is what I expected with them all being summer help and all, but she said they were very nice and fun. While she was on her excursion, we explore Skagway. We did the free walking tour with ranger Virgil and shopped some of the cheesy shops. Although it wasn't our intention, our daughter beat us back to the ship by about 5 minutes. Not to fear, she had already left us a note to tell us she was at Fuel; however we met her in the hallway before she escaped entirely.
Juneau: This was our shortest port, and we had a full day planned. We started the morning with a Captain Larry whale watch. CL though quiet, was very friendly and did a great job of getting us to where the whales were. There was a young girl who did all the talking and was quite informative. She explained everything very well. There were a lot of people on the boat. I did think to myself that it would have been nicer to have had a smaller group. My personal take is that all of the whale watchers go to the same places and there really wouldn't be an advantage of one over the other. If there is a smaller boat out there, it might be worth looking into. We saw numerous whales blowing and tail diving. We saw one whale breach. Very exciting. Then when it was almost time to go, CL turned the boat around and said he was taking us somewhere else. This new location tip yielded a pod of five whales who were bubble net feeding which was fascinating. Overall we got a good look at about a dozen whales. The best part was that we actually got some pretty good pictures. Darn if those critters aren't hard to photograph! After whale watching, Orca enterprises dropped us off at Mendenhall glacier. Did I mention that it was another beautiful sunshiney day? Well it still was, so we were treated to the spectacle of lots of locals frolicking in the glacier waters. Our goal here though was to get to the waterfall. Previously here on CC people had explained that you just walk to the water and follow and unmarked trail around the edge of the lake to the waterfall. What was not mentioned previously is that this hike requires a great deal of climbing and swinging around branches. It is not a hike for the inexperienced. Partly because I didn't have on my hiking shoes and largely because I'm out of shape, this hike was difficult for me, especially the part at the end where you have to climb over large boulders for about 30 yards. After it was over my husband said, "Did you see all the blood splattered over the rocks about every four feet?" Thankfully none of it was mine, and I'm glad I missed that detail. For those of you who are adventurous and in good shape, bring along your boots and take this hike. The views are great, especially of the huge iceberg floating in front of the glacier. There's no other way to see it except to get down there by the waterfall. Another great day in Alaska!
Ketchikan: Woke up today to mostly cloudy skies, though not cold, and still some sun. We were a little late getting to the Southeast Aviation booth at the information station but not so late that we missed our biggest adventure of all&.the Anan Creek Bear Watch! Jim, the owner/organizer of this operation, put the fear of God into us and properly scared us to death so that we wouldn't be careless on our trek through bear country. On the float plane out we were joined by a couple from Seattle, and boy was I glad that our group was a little bigger. Southeast Aviation runs a nice operation, but unlike Island Wings they will not walk the 30 minute hike to the viewing platform with you. Southeast Aviation was the only company who could get us four permits, so unescorted and off we went. We booked this along with all of our excursions about six months out. If bears are your desire, book this as soon as you know you are going. The float plane trip was pretty exciting itself with gorgeous scenery and a pilot that talked a lot with his hands! As soon as the float plane landed we were met by a ranger who gave us the run down again of what to do if we were to meet a bear on the trail. She also warned us about a grizzly mom with cubs that is known to get hostile. Off in the distance we hear bears growling and fighting. She radioed the other end of the trail to see where the ruckus was coming from. Nope, no one had spotted the grizzly family so far today. I felt like I was jumping off a cliff. The scenery was beautiful, all misty and rainforesty-like, but just knowing what lurked around the hidden bend was enough to get your heart racing. The path is mostly a wooden boardwalk and is (surprise!) covered with bear poop. So you are constantly making a decision: do I look around or look down? We did a little of both with camera at the ready. The path is very narrow so you have to walk single file. At the onset, my husband was the leader, followed by my daughter and me, then the others. Advice to scaredy-cats: don't go first and don't go last! About 10 minutes into the hike we rounded a corner and my husband fearfully yelled, "BEAR!" as he backed up and we formed the big bunch as we were instructed. We nervously continued to talk as we stared face to face with a big black bear who crossed the path about 20 feet in front of us. There for a moment though, he stopped and we stopped, and for a spilt second I don't think either party knew what to expect. Then came the decision of when it was safe to proceed. After deciding that the bear was well on his way, we slowly ventured onward. By the halfway point we were feeling a little more confident. Afterall, we had just come face to face with a bear and survived, so we cheerfully marched on, even daring to stop for a few pictures of the beauty of the forest. Almost to our destination about ¾ of the hike in, we rounded another corner to see&guess what? The mother grizzly and her two cubs were standing about 8 feet off the path! I nearly contributed to the excrement on the path. We truly didn't know what to do. Fortunately for us, the grizzly bear made the decision for us as she turned and walked off toward the creek in the other direction. We practically ran the rest of the way because we didn't want to see her again. Finally we were safe at the viewing platform along with another ranger who was armed. Surrounded by eagles, we viewed black and brown bears from the platform for the next hour and a half. Overall we saw 18 different bears, including a black bear and her three cubs, plus another visit from the brown/grizzly and her two cubs. We saw numerous bears fishing salmon out of the creek. I got one catch completely on video along with tons of excellent pictures. We were shooting with a Canon S2 IS, and trust me, that Image Stabilizer came in handy standing 20 feet from a wild bear. 1:30 and it was time to return to the plane. We safely made it back to tell the story. Exhilarating! Another big ticket excursion well worth the money.
The Concierge Lounge, Alcohol and Other ship notes: By far the best part of the ship was the concierge lounge. Maritza is fantastic even if she couldn't get me the ingredients for a cosmo. We utilized the lounge every morning and every afternoon. Husband and SIL are big coffee drinkers and they immensely enjoyed the cappuccino machine. Husband and myself are big adult beverage drinkers and we immensely enjoyed happy hour from 5:00-8:00 every day. Our daughter really liked the hot wings and appetizers that were available. Up front Maritza made it clear that our daughter was welcome to come into the lounge to get food and drinks but she couldn't stay since it was adults only. Maritza kindly gave her a key which made her feel like a special guest. We especially liked the views from the lounge since our room was on the starboard side and the lounge was on the port side. We felt like this gave us the best of both worlds. The lounge was never crowded. I think this was partly due to the fact that there was a large insurance group on board and they had their own areas to hang out in. There was the big storm on the night before our last sea day. As previously mentioned by other posters, the waves were over five meters high! Maritza gave us all pills and none of us got sick. However I didn't sleep much that night because I kept imagining the ship splitting in two. Rest of family slept like babies being rocked to sleep. We never went to the casino and we only saw one show, the comedian, other than the audience participation games. We saw but did not participate in the Quest, and we enjoyed the Love and Marriage game. We watched the Captain's question and answer session on TV. (We wanted to find out how high the waves were during the storm.) We played pool on the amazing self-leveling pool tables, played ping pong and putt-putt. We played Bingo twice and won once. We also bought a Moose (that's horseracing to you Caribbean folks!) In the moose race we creamed everyone on the first race but placed third in the Owner's Cup. Well worth the $50 we spent on the Moose even if we didn't win any money. All of the other moose sold for $75-125 so we had a real bargain. Since alcohol is hotly debated on these forums I would be amiss if I didn't relate our personal experience. Wrapped in bubble wrap in our checked luggage, we had 8 bottles of wine, 1 bottle of champagne, and 1.5 L of gin, along with lemonade packets and cranberry. We had an empty jug in which to mix our special gin concoction called the "Coulwood Cooler" which we drank on those warm afternoons on our balcony. The champagne was enjoyed at sail away, also on our balcony, and the wine consumed at dinner, one per night and two at Chops. To my surprise we were never charged a corkage fee so we took the $84 dollars saved ($12 x 7 nights) and split it as tips between our favorite employees, our waiter and Maritza. A little extra also went to our head waiter, Eric and our assistant waiter, Antonio.
The Good and the Bad: We really liked the balcony of 1554, the concierge lounge, the teen club, and the thermal suite. We got excellent service from Maritza, the concierge and Dedhi, our waiter. We disliked the awful beds, the hawking of cheap jewelry and art, and the 2 climb limit when no one was waiting at the rock wall. The ship was beautiful although I was not impressed with the public art as much of it had a price tag on it. Compared to our one other cruise, the food was better on the Serenade but the Disney Magic was drop dead gorgeous.
Disembarkation: At first disembarking went smoothly. We had requested and got a departure in the middle as we desired to be off the ship by 9:00. We got a Purple 1 which was scheduled to disembark between 8:15-8:30. By 8:20 we were searching for our luggage. When we came up one suitcase short we realized we weren't going to make our 9:00 departure. We had to wait for all 14 Purple groups to show up before making a claim. An hour and a half later, the suitcase appeared with the Pinks. We scurried out the door to the exit to be greeted by the Avis guy who had us on his list and had arranged transportation for us. He put us in a van with some folks from another ship and before long we were standing at the Avis counter being told that we were upgraded to a mini-van. What a relief since we had 10 pieces of luggage! We were supposed to have a full size car that would seat six. At home before we left I had practiced building a person out of suitcases, and the plan was to put our daughter in the front in the middle. Thankfully we didn't have to do that!!
Post Cruise Ferndale again and Seattle some more: We spent the first day and night off the ship with our friend in Ferndale. Our friend, Ruth, had arranged for us to visit a friend's glass art studio since we collect glass art. It was fascinating to see a variety of projects at various stages. But alas since she has her works in real museums, we couldn't afford to purchase anything. We ate lunch at a cute little Mexican restaurant called Chihuahuas then toured the Ferndale Pioneer Village. The Pioneer Village was a real neat collection of historical buildings and artifacts from the late 1800s- early 1900s. Our friend, Ruth, is a volunteer there and gave us a personal tour. Unfortunately we were all getting quite tired, and I don't think that we appreciated it as much as we should. We went back to her house, took naps, then ate a wonderful halibut roast dinner which she prepared. After dinner we went to an interpretive fragrance garden to sample the olfactory delights and take in the sites. There we climbed a watch tower overlooking the marshes to watch the sun set. The next morning we headed back to Seattle. It was a little overcast but it never rained. We walked around Seattle Center, ate up the street at Kidd Valley, then rode one of the carnival rides at Seattle Center. We then went in the Music Experience Project which we enjoyed immensely. When the guide books say allow four hours, believe them! Tip: use your AAA card here to save some bucks, then spring for the audio commentary devices. For supper we drove down to Des Moines just below the airport and ate at Anthony's at the marina. Beautiful views and fine food. My husband's yellow fin tuna Ahi was probably the best seafood had on our trip. I had the fish tacos and the others had prawns which were all good. I personally think that Anthony's was a tad better than Ray's if you can have only one meal in Seattle. From Des Moines it was a 10 minute drive to the airport and the end of our journey. What a fabulous trip! Worth every penny of the $12,000 we spent; however I have no desire to ever do it again. Hopefully my family will be fortunate enough to explore yet another part of the world next time. Read Less