We're Back. . . .

The first thing I have to say is that Stampin’ Up! must bring good luck with us wherever we go! I knew when we landed in Seattle and the temperatures were downright warm (that has NEVER happened to me in Seattle!) that we were in for a fabulous trip. And I wasn’t disappointed . . .  this was the second incentive trip to Alaska that we have had—both with no rain! And that just doesn’t happen either! 

Everyone packed for rain; we’d checked the forecast and expected cold, rainy weather. Frankly, based on the forecast, I thought it would rain every day. So when it didn’t rain once (except for our sea day, and that doesn’t count because we’re inside), we certainly considered ourselves lucky! I also glanced outside the window at the airport as we caught our flight home, and noticed that it was starting to rain. Can we time it any better than that?

We started off the cruise with a delicious “ice breaker” (cruise to Alaska, get it?) that featured hot chocolate, chocolate dipping and then a little more chocolate for good measure. Perfect start, huh? I personally didn’t get any hot chocolate (too busy chatting with everyone), but I heard it was tasty!

Our welcome general session had to be a cruise highlight. We teased all the cruise achievers with a visual of the cover of the new Idea Book & Catalog—then really thrilled them by giving each demonstrator her own complimentary copy! I can’t tell you how excited everyone was!

Unfortunately, I can’t show any photos of the actual general session because we swore everyone to secrecy and made them promise that they wouldn’t post, show, or share even a whisper of the catalog anywhere until it’s officially released later this week (June 1). I figure since I made the rule, I better obey the rule. But let me tell you, I sure do have a lot of photos from that session showing some very happy demonstrators clutching some very beautiful catalogs!

On one of the first days, our own Dave Baugh (vice president of logistics and international operations) did a presentation on tying flies. It was designed specifically for spouses and guests, but I popped in. I enjoyed watching Dave, and his presentation reminded me a little of a demonstrator doing a workshop—you could tell he loved what he was talking about, and that he was knowledgeable and passionate about his subject matter.

Although I’m not a fisherperson in any way, shape, or form, I enjoyed every minute. I also loved watching several participants win a fly fishing excursion hosted by Dave and Scott Neilsen a few days later; I heard that most of those who went caught a fish, so that was even more exciting!

Another amazing experience was sailing up through the Tracy Arm Fjord—absolutely breathtaking. Everyone enjoyed incredible views of the glacier; you can see we got quite close to it! I have to say that Alaska has stunning scenery, one of the reasons I love this cruise!

The excursions are always trip highlights, and this cruise had a ton of great excursions to choose from! In the water, out of the water, trains, planes . . . not sure if there were any automobiles, but I wouldn’t be surprised! I didn’t hear of a bad excursion!

Our kids usually go on a few excursions because it’s a great ways to spend time with demonstrators, and then we also go on one excursion as a family.

This year we visited the Butchart Gardens in Victoria. The excursion included an amazing tour of the city and entrance into the gardens, along with a picnic fit for a queen. (And it really was fit for a queen; it’s the same meal she was served when she visited many years ago!)

Other than that one family excursion, Sterling and I typically spend most of our time on the ship or walking around the ports of call. We find we get to visit with a lot more demonstrators that way! This year we loved spending time in the Trading Post, which was kind of a cozy little gathering place. Demonstrators could visit every day and spin the wheel to see what prize they won, and they even had panning for gold for children traveling with demonstrators. There was something different every day that our little gold miners could find! It was very fun! And the Trading Post was bright and warm, with fun little surprises and treats for our demonstrators.

Another wonderful highlight is always our formal evening dinners. While I’m a casual girl at heart, I do love getting dressed up every once in awhile, and I especially love seeing everyone else dressed up! It’s just a great atmosphere!

The incentive trip is a yearly family highlight for our family—we all look forward to it! (We missed Jon and Shalae this year; they couldn’t make it because Jon was graduating, definitely a great excuse to miss cruise!) Although we ate with our kids at dinner, we’d told our demonstrators and their guests on the first day to feel free to interrupt any time, that our purpose during the cruise was to spend time with them. I loved that several demonstrators took us at our word, and we had nice conversations with demonstrators during meals and throughout the cruise. Visiting with our wonderful demonstrators is definitely the highlight of any Stampin’ Up! event for me, and on cruise we enjoy the added benefit of meeting the family and loved ones of these women.

Of course, as long as I mentioned dinner, I have to admit that food is always something I look forward to during cruise. I always come home feeling like I have eaten way more than I should have, but once a year I figure it doesn’t hurt to eat what you want, when you want, and as much as you want. Right? And I did that thinking justice this year! I came home ready for simple, healthy meals, but I appreciated every bite I had on cruise.

I have to say that this was one of the most relaxing incentive trips I’ve been on—as I look back on it, I can’t think of much I would change. In addition to the things I’ve mentioned, the nightly entertainment was great, and as always, our Special Events staff went over and above the call of duty! They came up with terrific pillow gifts, fun activities (including a male-testosterone-packed basketball competition), the much-anticipated Make & Takes (this year we scheduled more time, and I talked to several demonstrators who actually finished their projects ON THE CRUISE, which they were thrilled about!), and so many other things I can’t even list them all! I am always so impressed by their attention to detail and am so grateful for their hard work and the ability they have to make our demonstrators feel so valued, appreciated, and loved!

Of course, kudos also go to our trip achievers and winners—few things are more fun in a Stampin’ Up! year than enjoying the incentive trips! One of our main objectives is it to provide the trip of a lifetime (every year!), and I am so proud and grateful to our trip achievers who earn this significant reward!

That said, I must admit that I was more than a little eager to sleep in my own bed, on my own comfy pillow last night. (The cruise pillows are fine, but the beds were HARD!) Certainly made me appreciate my own perfect mattress at home.

So welcome back, everyone. For those who went on the cruise—thank you! I loved every minute! For those who didn’t, we missed you and hope you’re with us next year (or in the coming years)! I’m already looking forward to Disney World. . . .