Alaskan Cruise 2023, Part 3

The cruise is over. It’s a bit sad to be finished with the longest vacation I’ve taken in almost a decade (1.5 weeks) but in many ways, it’s also good to be back. The last two days of the cruise covered Ketchikan and a day at sea.

A lot happened on the final few days of the trip, with a minimum of at least two separate posts required to cover some of the stories that happened on these days. I’ll touch on everything briefly here.

Ketchikan is a fun port- though the population is about 1/4 that of Juneau, in many ways it feels larger. NCL’s cruise terminal is seven miles away from downtown Ketchikan, and we passed a Walmart on our way to town! That likely contributes to why the town feels larger. We even passed a board game store on our way into town; I was tempted to pick up an escape room game to leave on the ship, but given that we were on the second to last day of the cruise, I held off.

In town, we hit the jackpot. I mentioned in a previous post how we were searching every town for rice krispie treats. At the cleverly named candy store “Ketchicandies,” we found giant-sized deluxe-flavored rice krispie treats. We grabbed two oreo, one “brownie,” and one fruit loops. It may sound minor, but this completed one of our quests for the trip!

One of my favorite things about Ketchikan is how many fish there are in various streams and pools around town. This time, the water smelled somewhat of dead fish- possibly due to the season- but there were still plenty of salmon to see, swimming in massive schools.

Ketchikan was our last port for the trip. Sunday was the final day of the voyage, and it was a sea day. Still, it had one of the most delightful events of the trip for me. We got to play Be-jeweled, Norwegian’s version of an escape room.

There are scant details about Norwegian’s escape room games on the internet. Cruise sites mention a few newer ships having an escape room event, but nothing about any on older ships like the Jewel. The theme of “Be-jeweled” on the Jewel makes me wonder if each ship has a different game matching the ship’s theme- I found a few hints that indicate this may be the case, primarily from a few snippets of video online including one of a different game on the Norwegian Bliss. The theme might also be assocated to the class of ship, since the four ships in the Jewel class could easily share a common theme.

The game itself was set up like one of Scrap’s event-hall style games. One game master runs the event for about six groups simultaneously, and teams get a few props of their own plus work with a handful of shared props players need to explore the room to examine. The biggest prop was a large chest with six jewel buttons on top.

It took us a few minutes to get our first win of the game, but once we got rolling, we pushed through the game pretty quickly, using only about 25 of the 45 allotted minutes before we solved all the clues and opened the final chest. The emcee (the ship’s assisant cruise director) was shocked. I thought he said that we were the first group of the thousands who played the game who solved it before all the timed clues for the game were released (others in our group thought he said we were the first ever to solve the game, period). Either way, it was a nice win. I enjoyed the game- maybe a bit on the challenging side for the average cruiser, but it was fun for us.

We arrived in Vancouver early the next morning. I admit I was sweating pretty heavily scheduling an 11:30 AM escape room prior to a 1:00 bus we absolutely could not afford to miss, but Exit Gastown was great and got us started a little early, giving us a little extra buffer. We played one of their easier games, Hurricane, and cleared the room in about 25 minutes, setting the record for the room and buying ourselves a little buffer to catch our bus more comfortably. I enjoyed both the game and the area- Gastown was a cool neighborhood of Vancouver with a very unique steam powered street clock.

We caught our bus from Vancouver to Seattle and arrived with just enough time to grab pizza and drop our bags off at our AirBnB before heading to our appointment at Locurio. I was very excited about the game- Locurio is one of those venues with a grand reputation and frequently reigns near the top of every best-of list and the TERPECA ratings.

The game lived up to the hype. Storykeeper had many unique elements mixed with some of the sharpest puzzles in recent memory. There was a lot to enjoy for both the immersive game aspects and the details within the puzzles themselves. I particularly enjoyed how quite a few of the puzzles had multiple aha moments within a puzzle en route to the final answer.

Locurio also did something incredible for Christina. When booking, I let them know that this would be Christina’s 300th game, and before our game, the owner, Summer, came in and surprised Christina with deluxe cupcakes (red velvet, salted caramel, and lemon cream). After the game, we got those cupcakes as well as a matted certificate and a poster for the Storykeeper room. What an incredible surprise! I hate to say that we forgot to take a photo of the cupcakes before eating them, but we still have the poster and certificate!

The next morning, we flew back to Chicago, retrieved our dog, and started getting things back in order to return to life as usual. Before leaving on our trip, we had a few issues with our home, including our oven breaking, so I’ve got a few non-puzzle projects to take care of before our next adventure!

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