A Travellerspoint blog

Day 13

SAM_1826.jpgSAM_1831.jpgSAM_1837.jpgWe awoke to small chunks of floating ice around us. Later that evening, one of our dinner waiters who lives on deck 0 below the water line, told us how was awoken by the sound of ice hitting the outside of the hull in the early morning. Fortunately it was not a Titanic size iceberg. We had arrived in Glacier Bay where the Hubbard Glacier meets the sea. Absolutely spectacular. So much ice. Seals and whales too. We spend around 2 hours there whilst they spun the ship around for all to take in the sight. Some brave sailors captured a large lump of ice and brought it on board for us to see and touch.
After we left Glacier bay we headed for the open sea heading west for Seward. Almost 100% of the cruise so far had been in the protected waters of the Inside Passage. No more. Now we were in the open ocean and it finally started to get a little lumpy – Yay!. We have seen much worse though. Nobody in our group felt any discomfort. After dinner Lance & I had a couple of games of pool. The tables are somehow mounted to keep the top surface horizontal thus making the tables appear to move. It took some getting used to but was fun.
We put our cases out for collection and went to bed as we had an early start tomorrow as we were leaving the ship.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 21:36 Comments (0)

Day 12

SAM_1776.jpgSAM_1783.jpgSAM_1791.jpgI awoke early and peeked out the window to see fog & low cloud and a shoreline perhaps 40 metres away as we made our way into the port of Skagway. The tv channel that tells us our position advised we were 59 degrees north of the equator. We ate an early breakfast and made our way to the end of the pier in time for our 8.30 am departure on our final shore excursion. There are 3 other ships in port. We saw them all yesterday at Juneau. We visited an establishment called the Klondike Goldfields where we learned about and watched a demonstration of Alaskan dog sledding. We met and patted the sled dogs & some cute six week old puppies, learned about dredging for gold, panned for some gold ourselves (yes we found a few flakes), experienced minus 40 degrees in a cold room, learned about beer brewing and had a buffet lunch.
I will circle back to the minus 40 experience as we had a demonstration of hot water thrown from a cup freezing in mid-air before it could hit the ground. We also witnessed a nail being driven into timber by a frozen apple. The beer talk was interesting but fortunately they also had wine to sample. We returned to the ship in partly overcast and cool conditions to chill for a while. We had a lovely dinner in the restaurant and took in a show after.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 21:28 Comments (0)

Day 11

SAM_1721.jpgSAM_1738.jpgSAM_1758.jpgWe were already docked when I first ventured out onto the balcony around 7am. It was a magnificent sunny morning with light winds and bright sunshine. The Sapphire Princess was opposite and in the process of docking. The Norwegian Jewel was already docked as was the Amsterdam. The Norwegian Jewel left in the early afternoon when the Norwegian Pearl arrived. That’s a busy day for the locals.
We had breakfast upstairs in the Windjammer buffet and then returned to our cabin briefly before heading ashore to join our 9.15am tour to the salmon hatchery and the Mendenhall Glacier. The hatchery was a 30 minute stop on the way to the glacier and our guide filled us in on the types of salmon and their life cycle. Around 10% of the salmon released find their way back to the hatchery to spawn and die around 4-7 years later. They collect the eggs and begin the cycle again. The dead fish are sold for pet food & fertiliser.
We then travelled on to the Mendenhall Glacier, just 12 miles out of Juneau. Impressive and awesome are the words that come to mind when trying to describe it. There was also a waterfall adjacent to it which appears to move on melting water from upstream. We had around 50 minutes to take it in and take our photos and the visitors centre. When built several years ago the visitors centre was just a few metres from the glacial ice. Now it is around 500 metres distant and receding. We also took the opportunity to follow a path to a stream where salmon were in the last stages of their life. Brown bears are sometimes seen on the path but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your perspective) we didn’t see any.
We returned to Juneau and reboarded the ship for a pleasant buffet lunch outdoors under an awning on the rear of deck 11. It was probably around 18 degrees Celsius and felt positively balmy with the high humidity. After lunch Karol & I boarded the Mt Roberts Tramway and Darlene & Lance stayed at sea level and did some shopping. The Tramway is a 60 person cable car that takes you 1800 feet up to Mt Roberts on a steep, single span of cable. I took some great photos on the way up and a video on the way down. The excellent wi-fi allowed me to upload the last 5 days of blogs I had stacked up ready to publish.
Upon returning to sea level we met up with Darlene & Lance and did some shopping in the tourist area then retired to a bar for a nice glass of red wine. Then it was back on board for some quiet time, dinner & yet another show.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 08:34 Comments (0)

Day 10

20130827_104253.jpgSAM_1698.jpg20130827_095038_0_.jpgWe arrived at Icy Strait Point around 9am and they nosed the ship in towards the shore and dropped anchor about 100 metres off the coast. Icy Strait Point is also known as Hoonah, a small community of around 700 persons that only this ship line visits. We used “tenders” to get to and from the shore. They are basically life boats that hold around 100 persons. They had 4 on rotation through the day. We had breakfast and lunch on board and headed to the shore just after lunch. We wandered around the port and the shops until 3 pm when we boarded our Forest and Nature tram tour. We spent 90 minutes on a guided commentary tour through the forest and along the shore of the island. The guide drove the vehicle which was essentially an open but covered bus towing two similar trailers. It was entertaining, informative and honest. The island is around 50 by 75 miles and amongst other things has a population of around 3,000 brown bears. The driver recounted several close encounters he has had.
After the trip we boarded the tender for the short trip back to the ship. We lazed about for a bit, bought a bottle of South American Malbec to have with dinner. It was excellent! We went on to a show but it wasn’t good enough to keep us awake so we left after 40 minutes and called it a night. Xylophone players, no matter how good they are and how good the backing band is, can only keep your attention for so long. Plus we had an earlier start tomorrow.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:53 Comments (0)

Day 9

SAM_1633.jpgSAM_1637.jpgSAM_1649.jpgSAM_1657.jpgWe had an extra hour’s sleep as we set our clocks back an hour to fall in with Alaska time. We were alongside the Ketchikan port when I awoke a bit before 6. We were advised that we would be one of 4 ships here in port today. It is going to be crazy busy.
The answer to the trivia question from yesterday: Bobby Arvon sang the theme to Happy Days. It was a good show. He did Frank Sinatra impersonations amongst other things. It was a good show.
We arrived in Ketchikan at 6am to overcast pre-dawn skies with two other cruise ships in port. The local population of around 13,000 can double when they have the maximum of six ships in port. We enlisted the help of the guest services and maintenance teams to do some running repairs to Darlene’s leg brace in the morning and whilst waiting for that I delivered some toast and tea to our cabin for Darlene’s breakfast. It was fixed in time and we set off on our shore excursion.
Our 22 year old Washington state university student bus driver is up here for the summer break to earn some money but he did a great job with the commentary. He drove us through town and to a native area called Saxman where they demonstrate the making of totem poles and explain their meanings. We also entered a bit of the local rainforest and the obligatory souvenir store.
Our next stop was the very entertaining lumberjack show. Two teams of two lumberjacks compete in a variety of tasks. Each has half the audience cheering for them. We were cheering for the Dawson Creek guys but they lost narrowly when they lost the last event. Then we had some lunch and wandered through the jewellery and souvenir stores. There were more jewellery stores than I have ever seen. Darlene bought a gemstone ring.
We then wandered back to the ship and boarded with about 5 minutes to spare. We opened our bottle of wine and drank it on the balcony until it started raining and finished the wine in the cabin. We went to dinner and then on to see the “piano man” show featuring Billy Joel and Elton John songs with dancers.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:43 Comments (0)

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