It’s day two of our 10-night Grand Puget Sound voyage on American Constellation, and Pam and I are still adjusting to the three-hour time change. No need to set an alarm — we are wide awake by 5 am. Breakfast is buffet-style in the Sky Lounge, an inviting enclave aft on deck four with lots of comfy seating both inside and out.
We are docked in Bremerton, Washington, and this morning we are signed up to do a walking tour of nearby Poulsbo, about 30 minutes away by bus. Joining us is Mikalla, excursion director, and Rick, the hotel manager.
The day starts like many in this part of the world: Cloudy and damp. But we’re layered up and ready for the elements. The road winds through majestic evergreens, whose tops are touched by early morning fog, and soon we are parked at our destination, Poulso — also known as Little Norway.
This charming town of some 12,000 was founded in the late 1800s by a Norwegian immigrant, who soon was joined by fellow Scandinavians. The historic downtown shops reflect the city’s heritage, and tour guides are on hand to give us the highlights, which include the Maritime Museum and a Heritage Museum.
But clearly the best part of our two-plus-hour tour was Sluys’ Bakery, where people were lined up on the sidwalk waiting to place orders. Known worldwide for its bread, it also has the most amaing donuts we’ve ever tasted. In fact, Rick and Mikalla boarded the bus back loaded down with shopping bags, some of which we learned contained dozens of donuts they were taking back to the crew.
As a special treat, Rick went up the aisle of the bus handing out donut holes. Only our second day, and we love the way American Cruise Lines is spoiling us!
In fact, we’ve noticed how engaging all the staff is on board, in particular the senior officers. Not only is the hotel manager serving us donuts, but also refilling water in the restaurant. The same is true for Wayne, the restaurant manager, and Jerry, the cruise director, who are eager to chat and get to know the guests. And at dinner last night, the executive chef visited every table to see how everyone enjoyed their meal.
As we reboard from our excursion, Jerry invites us to have some Viking Glogg — the Scandanvian equivalent of wassel, or mulled wine. If you need warming up, this could be just the ticket.
Now it’s lunchtime, and we already have a favorite server — Simone. Pam orders the clam linguine while I go with the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. For dessert, we get a surprise. After raving about the donut holes, we are presented with a whole Sluys donut, warmed and ready to eat. When I tell you these donuts are huge, believe it.
While we are on the subject of food, ACL does a smart thing. Guests are asked to fill out a menu selection form, noting their preferences for dinner and if they want a half or full portion. You aren’t bound by your choices — you can change your mind — but they explained how this provides the kitchen a guide that ultimately helps reduce waste.
Hold on a minute — breaking news — the sun has made an appearance! Pam and I locate our sunglasses and head for the sun deck topside, where we capture the moment as the ship prepares to leave Bremerton and head for our next port of call, Tacoma.
This afternoon there’s more excitement on tap besides the sun’s welcome appearance: The Kentucky Derby is happening on the other side of the country. Guests are invited to come to the Cascade Lounge on deck three, where you can sip a Mint Julip while you pick which horse is going to win. Prizes will be awarded for correct picks, and we can cheer on our horses while the race is shown on a big screen TV.
Pam and I both close our eyes and make a wild guess. The result? Her horse came in third, and mine placed second. Next time we may have to bet for real. By the way, Pam looked fab wearing the fascinator she packed “just in case.”
The staff told us the captain deserved special mention because in order to get a good TV signal for the race, he had to turn the ship in a circle. Bravo, Capt. Hobcroft!
Outside our balcony looks like a moving postcard as we slowly make our way around Puget Sound. The pictures don’t do it justice, but that won’t stop me from trying.
Tomorrow: Our journey continues in Tacoma, Washington.
Cover photo: Grand Puget Sound, credit American Cruise Lines
PHOTOS (Photos by Gerry Barker)
- Sluys’ Bakery in Poulsbo, Washington
- Look at the size of these Sluys’ donuts
- Pam enjoys the sunshine at the Bremerton dock
- And they’re off at the horse race watching party
- Pam looks stylish in her fascinator
See all cruises and especially this one: American Cruise Lines (cruisecompete.com)
|Day 1||Seattle, WA|
|Day 2||Anacortes, WA|
|Day 3||Friday Harbor, WA|
|Day 4||Cruising the San Juan Islands|
|Day 5||Victoria, BC|
|Day 6||Port Angeles, Wa|
|Day 7||Port Townsend, WA|
|Day 8||Tacoma, Wa|
|Day 9||Poulsbo, WA|
|Day 10||Bremerton, WA|
|Day 11||Seattle, WA|