After years of talk and construction, Everett’s 65-acre Waterfront Place Project is starting to take shape. The new “neighborhood” will eventually feature up to 660 housing units, ten restaurants and a variety of shops and business. One of the area’s first completed projects is the new boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo. The new InterContinental Hotels Group property will no doubt become a destination location for travelers and locals alike thanks to its beautiful views of the Port of Everett marina and Puget Sound.
There are only 67 Hotel Indigo boutique hotels in the United States and the Everett location is the only one in the chain located in Washington State.
On a recent tour of the property, I learned that instead of just being another hotel in the chain of IHG Hotels, each location must have its own story of sorts and actually blend in with the surrounding area. This new location share plenty of Everett’s waterfront history. You can see evidence of this everywhere you look from the porthole windows to the vintage lights. There is a nautical theme throughout the place, but it is done is a tasteful, un-kitschy way.
Of Hotel Indigo’s 142 room, 119 of them feature water views. The floors are lined with wood-like tiles (a subtle nod to Everett’s former lumber mill) and the walls decorated with more nautical touches. Whether staying for work or a local vacation, the rooms are equipped to make one’s stay a pleasurable one with a spa-like bathroom with cozy robes, coffee maker, mini refrigerator, flat screen TV and stereo. Every guest is offered a free morning newspaper and internet service.
The hotel features many of the amenities you would expect but with a few extra nice touches. The business center is open 24/7 and so is the large on-site fitness room featuring three treadmills, two elliptical machines, an recumbent bike, a universal weight machine and entertainment options to make your workout an enjoyable one.
Next door you’ll find a large indoor saline swimming pool with plenty of windows to light up the room, but high enough to protect your privacy and not make you feel like you are on display.
Fido will appreciate walks along the 3.5 mile trail and you might want to take advantage of the paddleboat rentals and complimentary ferry trips to Jetty Island during the summer months.
The hotel’s own unique “seafood-forward” restaurant, Jetty Bar & Grille, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring an outstanding culinary team lead by Chef Andrew Cross. While you may not know him by name, Cross is no stranger to the hospitality businesses. His impressive resume includes stints at the Semiamoo Resort, Canon Whiskey restaurant and Canlis.
As is most of hotel, the restaurant is lined with large windows which presents incredible views of the sunset each night. One wall is decorated with large vintage black and white photos of the Everett marina. The lights that hang overhead are reminiscent of crab pots. The space feels larger than it really is with its clean and modern layout.
Cross’ menu promises the freshest seafood from local sources including Lummi Island Wild and Taylor Shellfish, “with a focus on approachable seafood dishes inspired by the Salish Sea,” says the hotel’s press release. Guests can look forward to trying Scuttlebutt beer-battered halibut and chips, Miso Glazed Black Cod (with ginger-edamame hummus, caramelized onions, grilled bok choy and savory broth), Blackened Salmon Sliders (grilled salmon stuffed inside buttery brioche bread with spicy pineapple slaw), Deviled Eggs (made with smoked salmon caviar!), Lummi Island smoked salmon chowder (made with yukon gold potatoes and a smoked tomato crème fraiche), and a variety of local oysters on the half shell.
During our last visit, my wife and I chose “turf” over “surf” which seemed wrong when dining a seafood restaurant, but it turned out to be a great decision. Beginning our meal with slices of fresh bread and butter, I had the Bone-In Thick Cut Pork Chop which was served with spaetzle, roasted mushrooms and amazing caramelized apples which I enjoyed with a glass of Cranberry Cider. My wife chose a Mushroom Risotto (which was stuffed with five or six different types of mushrooms) and side of roasted vegetables. We both ended up bringing boxes of leftovers home with us. Other choices include a 14 oz. New York Prime Steak (with crispy duck fat potatoes and grilled rapini) and Hanger Steak Frites (garlic fries, arugula, pickled onions and chimichurri sauce).
When the weather is nicer, guests can enjoy small bites alongside handcrafted cocktails on the outdoor patio and locals will appreciate the Jetty Grill Express food service window selling “to-go” dishes. With the recent and unexpected closure of Monte Cristo Hotel wedding venue in downtown, Hotel Indigo has been busy filling its 8,000 square feet of indoor event space with many weddings. It also offers another 5,000 square feet of outdoor space, which will be nice when the weather is warmer.
For more information, visit Hotel Indigo’s website or call 425-217-2772 to make reservations for dinner at the Jetty Bar & Grille.
(All photos were taken by the author except where noted.)
If you are unfamiliar with Northern Idaho, you might find it odd that the town of Athol is home to the 413-acre theme park known as Silverwood. Unlike most tourist traps, it pretty much stands by itself. You’re driving along highway 95 and all of a sudden you’ll see a glimpse of a wooden roller coaster out in the distance. As you get closer, you find that this is a world you had no idea existed.
Once the home of the Henley Aerodrome airstrip, Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park are essentially two parks in one. The original park opened its gates to the public for the first time in 1988 with just a handful of small amusement park rides. Today, it boasts of more than 70 rides, shows and attractions.
Our family’s recent trip to the park was mostly a positive
one. Silverwood is beautiful, affordable and safe. Here you’ll find gentle
rides for the small set and big, scary ones for the kids that have no fear. The
park features an eclectic mix of classic carnival rides like the Scrambler and
the Tilt-A-Whirl and newer ones like Panic Plunge and Spin Cycle but somehow,
it all works.
One thing you’ll notice right away is how clean and fresh everything
looks within the park. Walkways are wide, lined with healthy plants and dotted
with beautiful flower gardens. Chipped paint and litter here is a rarity.
Silverwood is also one of the friendliest places too.
Besides the two employees who barely acknowledged us at a coffee shop (but to
be fair it was near closing time) and the poor bored girl resting on her elbow
at a sandwich stand over in Boulder Beach, EVERY other employee we encountered
here appeared to be having a good time. One employee, whose only job is to
sells soft ice cream cones (that are bigger than your head by the way) told me
how much she liked her job. When speaking to another employee about how nice
the younger employees were at the park, she told me that her son also works at
Silverwood. I was surprised to learn that he actually gets “yelled at” by some
park guests for referring to them as “ma’am” or “sir” not understanding that he
was actually showing them respect. Yeah, good manners can get out of control
here. It must be a testament to the owners and managers. Good service and
attitudes begins at the top.
Even the ride operators are super friendly. While boarding
one roller coaster, my wife was politely reminded her that she couldn’t take
her bag along on the ride. The ride operator explained how it needed to be
stored in one of the nearby cubbies for safety reasons. I’m sure this girl has
to remind guests of this fact many times each day, but there was no annoyance
detected in her tone. Later at the water park, we heard one teen spout off the
same long list of safety rules to riders over and over again without fail or
Boarding the rides here might take a little longer than at
your average amusement park but with good reason. The cast and crew take safety
seriously. It’s not just a motto, they really do. Ranging from late teens to
early 20s, everyone here knows their job, and they all do it well without a
cell phone to distract them. In addition, warning signs are posted liberally
near the park’s attractions as well letting you know the dangers of standing up
on a roller coaster and whatnot. Each ride has its own height requirement and
you can count on the employees to measure each child. While you might think
that your under-height darling “will be just fine,” she won’t make it on the
ride no matter what you say.
Another great draw to this park is how amazingly affordable
it is compared to similar parks. In some cases, admission is half the price of
other parks, parking is just $5 and the food is inexpensive enough that the
family can splurge on a good meal. Even so, if you want to save even more
money, Silverwood actually allows outside food in the park (within reason of
course and no alcohol). The park even features a picnic area between the
parking lot and the entrance.
To some, Silverwood might seem a bit conservative with their
rules of conduct, but they are in place to assure that everyone has a good
time. Swimsuits are only allowed to be worn in the Boulder Beach section, and
they must be modest. People wearing clothing or body art that is deemed by the
management as vulgar or rude will be asked to leave. Smoking and vaping is
allowed in designated sections of the park only. Unfortunately, some of the park’s
staff are a bit too trusting of their guests. We watched two employees tell one
man that he needed to smoke in a designated area. He pretended that he didn’t
know where that section was, and they nicely gave him directions. They walked
away, and then he laughed continuing to smoke right where he was. However, that
was the only incident we saw during our visit.
Planning Your Day
Unlike other theme parks, Silverwood opens later and closes
earlier than most, so trying to cram everything that the place has to offer in
one day can be a real challenge. If you can, visiting for two days will make
for a much more relaxed trip. With that said, it is possible to see a lot of
the park in one day if you plan things out well. Plus, it your kids are older,
you’ll be skipping the kiddie rides. Here are some tips:
Visit Silverwood’s website and study the map and attractions. Make a list of the things you “have to see” and make those the first things you conquer when there.
Arrive at the park as early as you can. The lines will only get longer as the day goes on.
Spend the first half of your day in Silverwood when the weather is cooler before heading to Boulder Beach. However, be aware that Boulder Beach closes two hours before Silverwood does.
When entering the park, skip the Main Street section and head straight to Coaster Alley, Garfield’s Summer Camp or Country Carnival to take advantage of the shorter lines. (There is a lot to see in Main Street, but it will serve you well to come back and visit later in the day.)
Most of the park’s main thrill rides can found in Coaster
Alley. These include the wooden roller coaster Tremors (where riders climb 100
feet on the first hill before falling 103 feet down into an underground tunnel
followed by three more — and through the ride’s gift shop!); Timber Terror, the
park’s oldest roller coaster (considered an “air coaster” giving you a brief
sensation of weightlessness) and Aftershock, which is totally different from
the others. First, riders “hang” instead of “sit.” Second, you’ll climb up 191
feet in the air backwards before being let go. You’ll reach speeds up to 65 mph
going through twists and turns as well as going upside down before being pulled
up another 90-degree hill and do the whole thing one more time — backwards.
It’s a very smooth but frightening ride.
The two others in this section include Panic Plunge and Spin Cycle. Panic Plunge is sort of like Disney’s Tower of Terror without the tower slowly takings riders up 140 feet before dropping them. Riders reach speed up to 47 mph before coming to a soft landing. It’s safe, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less terrorizing. Check out the videos below to see the Spin Cycle in action and then my “interview” after riding it!
Rides similar to Spin Cycle are popping up at different
theme parks all across the country, but Silverwood was one of the first to
attain this monster. Up to two dozen people can board this 104-foot tall thrill
ride at a time. After getting locked into place, riders facing forward and legs
dangling star to spin as the machine rocks back and forth getting higher with
every sweep; eventually completing a full circle. And again. And again. And
Again. While I was convinced at the time that I never need to do this ride
again, now that I’m back home and I’m thinking, maybe one more time…
If you’re not nauseated after riding these coasters, you
might want to stop by Chuckwagon John’s for an all-you-can-eat feast including
wood-grilled chicken, pulled pork, hot dogs, mac and cheese, corn bread,
country green beans, baked beans, corn-on-the cob, salads, watermelon, cookies
and beverages. The full meal deal is $13.99 per person.
Country Carnival and Garfield’s Summer Camp
This section of the part also has its own share of thrills
that are not as extreme as Coaster Alley and is more palatable for families of
all ages. These include the Corkscrew Roller Coaster (which is fairly short,
smooth and more fun than scary), the Roaring Creek Log Flume (which offers a
gentle ride before a big drop and large splash at the end) and the amazing
Thunder Canyon. While you may get wet on the flume ride, you WILL get wet on
Thunder Canyon, so be sure to rent a locker near the entrance of the ride to
store your valuables.
In Country Carnival you’ll find classic rides like Krazy
Kars (bumper cars), a Ferris Wheel, Super Roundup and others. You’ll also find
a bunch of carnival games and judging by the number of stuffed animals being
carried around, the games are fair. Garfield is still the park’s mascot, but he
isn’t seen as much anymore. However, he and Odie can be found in the Toy Store
which also serves as a meet and greet. Garfield’s Summer Camp serves as the
park’s kiddie ride section which such attractions as a really cool treehouse,
the Tiny Toot roller coaster, the Krazy Koaster and the Puppy-Go-Round.
You could easily spend a full day at Boulder Beach alone and
if you have the time, I recommend it. As with the other attractions at
Silverwood, plan to head over to the slides you really want to experience first
before the lines get too long. Even so, there are plenty of other places in
this section to relax and cool off at any time of the day.
For the small set, little guys could probably stay
entertained all day at Pollywog Park (full of short slides, geysers and a giant
water bucket that spills out every few minutes) and Toddler Springs (a splash
area featuring a variety of geysers and fountains). The Elkhorn Lazy River is
also a favorite for all ages. Just grab a tube, hop on and relax as you go
round and round this never-ending “river” of warm water. Even the waterfalls
For the more daring, I recommend challenging your family to
race at Riptide Racer. Similar to those big slides you see at the fair, the six
people can race down at the same time using a mat. You have to travel face
first and you’ll get a face full of water as you splash down, so if that isn’t
your thing (and you wear contacts) you may want to avoid it. Other
family-friendly adventures include climbing up the Idaho trail to Avalanche
Mountain. Here, your family can board a round raft and zoom down the simulated
river rapids aboard the fiberglass terrain. The concept is similar to the
Thunder Canyon ride in Country Carnival, but the line is shorter and you’ll
already be wet anyway, so you’ve go nothing to lose! The other family raft ride
is Ricochet Rapids which is a giant, totally enclosed water slide. The top
speed for both is about 20 mph.
Thrillseekers will want to take a trip to the Velocity Peak
Body Slides. After climbing up 100 stairs to the top, you are given three
slides to choose from that can make a body whip down as fast as 55 mph. One
slide is straight, another has hills and the third is totally enclosed.
After sliding, you might want to check out one of the two
wave pools, or find a spot on the grass to lay out in the sun to rest and dry
This section of the park also features a variety of meal,
beverage and snack items like burgers, sub sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken strips
and ice cream. Mom and dad will appreciate The Cove, which is a float up bar
(located just off the Elkhorn Creek Lazy River) serving tropical frozen drinks
and beer. There is also one retail store, Boulder Beach Trading Company selling
towels, flip flops, t-shirts and souvenirs.
The only negative thing I can say about Boulder Beach is
that there is only one locker option to choose from and is $10. The locker is
large and will probably hold all of your families belongings, but for us, our
clothes were still wet from riding Thunder Canyon, so we set them out in the
sun to dry leaving us with just our wallets, phones and keys to lock up. A
smaller option would have been nice.
Similar in concept to Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A., this
area serves as the main entrance to the park and the hub for most of the
restaurants, shops and shows.
We stopped for lunch at the High Moon Saloon where you give your order at the bar and your food is brought to your table. They often feature live music, but we were disappointed that none was being played on that day. However, the food was great. I had fish and chips with a freshly-made coleslaw and crispy fries ($7.99), my wife enjoyed a huge roast beef sandwich ($6.99) and we both enjoyed a draft sarsaparilla root beer ($3). Regular soft drinks and bottled water are $2.50 and refills are just $1 (except for draft root beer).
Theatre of Illusion
For dinner, we decided to visit the Theatre of Illusion for Nick and Amanda Norton’s Phantasm show. (Nick and Amanda perform three performances a day for half of the week while Isaiah Daniels takes on the rest.) Nick has performed at Silverwood for 20 years now and it is pretty clear that he still enjoys putting on shows here. I’ve seen him perform three times now and each time his shows get better and better. At just 30 minutes in length, it’s a bit short for adults and just right for younger and squirmier audience members. Sure, he’s spooky in the promo picture, but his show isn’t scary.
The theater is also home to Caselli’s Pizzeria serving up
surprisingly good pizzas, cheese-filled bread sticks and chicken Caesar salads.
They have a great meal deal including a generous personal pan pizza, a bread
stick and a beverage for $9.99. You will want to get here early to get a good
seat and if you plan to order food. There are rows of chairs in the front, long
tables to dine at just behind the chairs and rows of (unfortunately) hard
bleachers behind the tables. While you can pretty much see everything from
anywhere in the theater, you’ll be more comfortable up near the front. After
each show, Nick and Amanda stick around to take pictures and sign autographs
from budding magicians.
Other places to dine on Main Street include the Silverwood Coffee Roasting & Trading Co. (espresso and souvenirs), Lindy’s Restaurant (full service lunch and dinner dining) and the Victorian Coffee House (more espresso, tea and fresh-baked pastries).
Other places worth stopping and exploring include the
antique Carousel, the General Stuff Mercantile shop, the Sweet Treats candy
shop and the historic Engine No. 7 steam engine train. Unlike the trains you’ll
find at Disneyland, Old No. 7 only takes round trips; there’s no stopping at
any other sections of the park.
The train departs on the hour and depending on the time or
weather of the day, you’ll experience the park’s “Expedition Silverwood” stunt
show along the way. Upon boarding the train, don’t rush through the Train Depot
as it has great themeing and serves as a preview for the show. Unfortunately,
the ride itself was a bit of a disappointment and that is really sad because
the attraction has so much potential to become something really great. In a
nutshell, the ride tries to piece together too many elements to make sense.
Along your journey you’ll discover Bigfoot, wild west bandits, trolls, fairies
and maybe a mermaid or two.
As it turns out, there is an explorer who has traveled to
the Silverwood to find Bigfoot, but he has gone missing. His daughter, also an
explorer, boards the train and bless her, doesn’t stop talking until the trip
is completely done. Give this girl a raise. The actress who led our trip was
amazing and was very animated as she walked up and down the aisle talking to
passengers while also serving as a tour guide pointing out slow-moving
The best part of the trip is when the train stops at a gold
mine and a couple of hoodlums robs the train before facing the tour guide.
Gunshots are fired, bad guys fall from high places and explosions happen inside
a well. This stunt show is pretty good and funny, but way too short. When the
train moves again, our guide suggests that the money “taken” from guests should
go toward a local charity. This show is presented by a talented improv team,
but unfortunately, their material could use a tune up as many of their jokes
fell flat. I also didn’t appreciate the push for sales of licorice, popcorn and
water before the trip and during the last minutes of the ride, not to mention
the sales of “fairy dolls” to take home as a souvenir. This park is too classy
for this type of hype.
Admission Prices and Stuff
Technically, Silverwood is open from May to October, but the
hours vary from month to month. The theme park is only open on weekends in May
and September and only open late on weekend nights in October. Boulder Beach is
only open from June through August.
Silverwood is often offering discount promotions for the
park, but generally, the regular admission options are as follows:
One Day Tickets: $49 (Ages 8-64); $28 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
Two Day Tickets: $81 (Ages 8-64); $46 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
Three Day Tickets: $111 (Ages 8-64); $61 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
Parking is $5 per day
The admission price is good for both the theme park and water park. You cannot purchase tickets for the theme park only or the water park only.
Silverwood is located at 27843 N. Hwy 95, Athol, ID 83801. For more information, visit their website, give them a call at 208.683.3400 or send them a note at email@example.com.
Lodging at Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites
As big as Silverwood is, you would think that someone would build a hotel next to the park, but the park is only open for half of the year. Believe it or not, we stayed at one of the closest (if not the closest) hotels near Silverwood and it was still over 12 miles away in Hayden, Idaho. Don’t let that deter you. The drive to the theme park is a quick and easy one.
Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites is a destination in itself as it features its own indoor water park, bowling alley, go karts, two miniature golf courses, laser tag, a ropes course, bumper cars, bumper boats a huge arcade and more. It’s not the cheapest hotel and shows a little wear and tear, but considering how many families come and go from this place every day, it holds up pretty well.
The non-smoking hotel is very accommodating to families of all sizes and is pet-friendly offering a variety of different room sizes and prices to match including suites with extra rooms and bunk beds. You can even go all out with the Jacuzzi and fireplace suite if you want to splurge. For us, we settled for the basic two queen bed room. Our room looked and smelled clean and included a TV, DVD player, a desk, a small microwave oven, a small refrigerator and coffee maker. It even featured a deck outside (not all of the rooms do). The room was nice, but we did think it was comical that two of the exact same pictures hung on the same wall. The air conditioning worked a little too well for some of my crew, but my wife and I were happy with it and it was easy to adjust.
We also noticed that the bathroom was only supplied with one small tube each of shampoo, conditioner and two small bars of soap for the sink and shower. This makes sense though as many guests will scoop up whatever they didn’t use on their stay and take them home. Of course, we needed more and when I asked at the front desk for some, they gladly gave me as much as we needed. Later, I had to come back to ask for a toothbrush as I had forgotten mine. Again, no third-degree attitude for the request. In fact, every time we spoke to someone at the front desk, we were treated very well.
Amenities and Meals
Triple Play offers complimentary parking, a fitness center, high speed internet service and a hot breakfast buffet. The breakfast is similar to the ones that other hotels include with their stays, but the variety of food here was huge including three different juices, cheese omelettes, hard-boiled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, muffins, bagels, hot and cold cereal, fruit, coffee and something I’d liked calling “the magic pancake box.” Just just push a button and in a minute or two, a freshly-made pancake falls out of the other side. Now, don’t expect a chef in the back preparing gourmet meals, because if you do, you’ll be disappointed. But there is plenty to eat and most of it was very tasty too.
The only real drawback here is that with exception of the pancakes and coffee, everything else is staged against one wall making it difficult for guests to pick and choose quickly. People were constantly getting in the way of others. If the room staged different stations of food around the room, it would have flowed a lot better. Also worth noting, the earlier you get to the breakfast area the better. It only gets busier as the morning goes on and breakfast ends promptly at 10 a.m.
Nobody works harder in this hotel than the guy we saw running back and forth refilling pancake batter and omelettes. He took pride in his job and was super-friendly too. We also met a woman cleaning tables who told us that she felt lucky to have a job that she loved.
“Did you see that? Two little boys in matching Spider-Man pajamas. That’s the best,” she told us. “It makes my day.”
Raptor Reef and Triple Play
Raptor Reef and all of the amusement park attractions at Triple Play are a separate fee, but you can get package deals with your stay that can cut down the cost considerably. (The hotel also offers tickets to Silverwood too.) Similar in concept to The Great Wolf Lodge, Triple Play is actually quite different that will probably appeal more to families with older kids as there is a lot to do. With that said, families with kids of all ages will have a good time here.
Since Silverwood has its own water park, you may want to skip getting a pass to Raptor Reef and just purchase tickets for the other amusements at the hotel. However, if you do get tickets to Raptor Reef, you’ll have more time at the Silverwood to ride the rides and experience the slides back “home.” (Also remember that Boulder Beach isn’t open in May, September or October.) Set at an even 86 degrees, Raptor Reef features a wave pool, a children’s splash play area, a variety of slides and more.
Outside, your family can try out the beautiful and well-kept 18-hole miniature golf course featuring it’s own volcano. Depending on how well the car trip was, you might want have some family therapy time on the Bumper Boats or challenge each other for a race on the go karts. Inside, budding daredevils can enjoy the climbing wall or ropes course.
Our family tried out the indoor and darkened miniature golf course. It’s only nine holes and fairly simple to play, but the glow-in-the-dark atmosphere made it a lot of fun. Next door is the glow-in-dark bumper cars which looked like a lot of fun with its neon lights and mirror-lined walls. We also enjoyed playing a variety of redemption games with game prices that ranged from just 25 cents to $3 each.
We thought about playing a game or two of bowling, but we were just too tired from our drive from Seattle. The bowling center looked great, but even so, it will be closed from September 10 to sometime in October to make way for a new a new Brunswick “boutique” bowling, featuring brand new lighting and sound, as well as a video projection wall to stream sporting events and other entertainment.
Overall, our stay at Triple Play was a positive one. The place issues a “quiet time” at 10 p.m. Still, some families are just loud and for that purpose, the place offers ear plugs at the main desk for those who need them. We didn’t bother and our sleep wasn’t disrupted.
The only negative thing worth mentioning was that after a long day at Silverwood, we came back to room to find that housekeeping had not been there. We spoke to the folks at the main desk and they asked if we had placed a “do not disturb” sign on our door. When I told him that we hand’t, he immediately apologized. I told him that it was okay, but we would be needing new towels for the morning. He then asked if I still wanted the full maid service as he was happy to do so. I told him that just the towels would be fine. He stated that he could have someone bring them to me, but it would take a little while. I said that would be fine. Later at 11 p.m. and my eyes struggling to stay open, I went to the desk again to check on the towels. Again, they apologized for the delay and said that someone would be by right away. And he was right! In less than five minutes, we had new towels.
Triple Play’s check in time is 4 p.m. and check out time is 12:00 noon. If you purchase a Raptor Reef pass, you can actually start splashing about before your room is ready and since the water park opens at 10 a.m., you can’t get some more slides in before it’s time to leave.
During our short stay, we only ate one meal outside of Silverwood and Triple Play but The Relic Smokehouse and Pub was the most memorable. From the rounded ceiling to the distinct smokiness in the air, everything is this little dining spot was unique. And busy too!
We were seated immediately at the family-friendly pub and had the most attentive server, an older gentleman who we assumed owned the place since he was so busy handling customers, cleaning counters and whatnot. While waiting for our meal, we sipped glasses of hard cider (the pineapple was awesome!)
I had the smoked ribs with a side of mac and cheese with bacon and smoked apples (think of an apple pie filling that has been smoked). The portions were big and the prices reasonable. The place is known for their smoked brisket, pork sandwiches and cheesecakes. Definitely worth a stop.
Cruising has become a big deal in Seattle, and it doesn’t
get much bigger than the Norwegian Bliss, the largest Norwegian Cruise Line
ship that can hold up to 4,004 guests and 1,716 crew members (which comes to
about 1 crew member for every 2 and 1/3 people on the ship). During the 7-day
summer cruises, the ship begins and ends at the Seattle port with stops at
Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, B.C.
I got a chance to come on board the Bliss last summer and is
it a sight for sore eyes! They started our two-hour tour literally at the top
in what they call Haven. It is considered a luxury enclave where high-rolling
guests board early ahead of the regular guests. It is sort of a ship within a
ship with its own private pool, spa suite (with a steam bath, vitality pool and
over 50 specialty treatments), dining service and concierge service. The luxury
suites come with personal butlers ready to answer your every whim. In addition
to the master suite, living room, dining room and private deck areas, many also
include separate bedrooms, activity rooms and bathrooms for the kids. Those who
stay in Haven never have to leave the private area of the ship unless they
While Haven is out of reach for most of us, Norwegian Cruise
Line surprisingly offers a variety of different options for singles, couples
and families. Sure, having a state room that looks out over the sea is amazing,
but I can tell you, even without a window, there isn’t a “bad” room onboard and
with so much to do, you won’t be spending much time in your room anyway.
As we toured the hallways, it became apparent just how big this ship is and how easy it would be to get lost. Fortunately, NCL thought ahead. The carpet features a school of fish all heading one direction. You simply follow the fish to your room and when you leave your room, follow them again to reach the main activity areas.
One of the best things about a cruise ship is how much is included. Meals, activities and Broadway shows are all complimentary. Now, not everything with your vacation upfront, (there are plenty of ways to spend your money with upgrades and special activities) but you’d be surprised how being budget-conscious isn’t impossible.
While you might desire laying out in the sun all day, you might be the only one as there is SO much to do. Perhaps the most exciting thing on the ship is its Aqua Park. The activities here include a double-loop waterslide that passengers board while standing up (the bottom is dropped underneath them) and are shot over the side of the ship and back on board again. You’ll also find the Aqua Racer tandem racing waterslide, a children’s splash area, two pools and a few hot tubs thrown in for good measure. The area also features a giant video screen that airs current sporting events on land during the day and movies at night.
Racing enthusiasts will not be able to wait to get behind
the wheel of the two-level, open-air race track. At 1000 feet, it’s the largest
as sea. (There is an extra charge of $9.95 to drive.) The ship also features a
mini golf course, a bowling alley, an art gallery, a gym, a spa and casinos.
Laser tag battles can be found here as well for $9.95 extra per game.
At night, most of the shows playing on the ship are free and
include the Broadway show, “Jersey Boys” (the Tony award-winning musical about
and featuring the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons), “Havana!” (1950s
Cuba in its vibrant heyday), a Beatle cover band and a standup comedy show. The
show, “Happy Hour Prohibition-The Musical” will set you back an extra $29.95.
It’s set in world famous Madam Lulu’s New Orleans speakeasy where tantalizing
madams will regale you with tales of bootleggers.
Grab a Fork
There are lots of food options on the Bliss as well with
plenty of complimentary dining rooms with menus that change daily. These
include the Garden Café a buffet with multiple dining stations serving up
breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was treated to lunch here and options go way
beyond your local buffet back home. Other choices include the Savor Main Dining
Room which has been described as “balancing classic favorites with unique new
dishes” with an extensive menu of deliciously fresh flavors.
The Taste Main Dining Room also serves a wide variety of
cuisine including the chef’s signature dishes and wine recommendations. Over at
The Local, the dressed down pub is open 24 hours a day serving favorites like
chicken pot pie, fish and chips and prime rib.
Upgrade dining options include La Cucina Italian Restaurant,
the Texas smokehouse Q, Cagney’s Steakhouse, the Los Lobos Contemporary Mexican
Restaurant and the chocolate lovers’ paradise, Coco’s. If being away from a
Starbucks makes you sweat – you’ll be glad to know that there is one full-sized
one on board too as well as a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea bar and
restaurant. Other choices include The Cellars (A Michael Mondavi Family Wine
Bar), The District Brew House, The A-List Bar and the Sugarcane Mojito Bar.
Separate and Then
One of the best things Disney did was create a cruise line
where kids and parents could have fun together or separately. That same idea is
shared aboard The Bliss too. Here, the ship features three FREE kids programs
that are staffed by certified-trained staff members all…day…long. The “Guppies”
is designed for those age 6 months to 3 years old socializing with others with
simple activities with hosted activities and a playroom offering simple
activities from building blocks to painting with edible paints.
The Splash Academy youth program geared for those ages 3-12 with
themed activities, parties, sports and more every day and the Entourage
welcomes teens ages 13-17 with their own “no parents allowed” area with activities
including basketball games, theater classes, video game competitions, pool
parties or just hanging out in a cool, relaxed environment.
The ship even offers late night babysitting (for an
additional charge) so you can have a romantic night out.
Learn more about the Norwegian Bliss and other cruises here.