I’m so out of practice with this blog I keep forgetting there’s more to tell you!
On our last full day, we sailed to Victoria, BC. We’ve been there before, and like it. The ship would only be in port for a few hours, so we decided on a 1-hour horse-drawn trolley tour that left as soon as possible, so we could safely come back and bunk down (the ship docked at 6pm, tour started at 6:30).
I have no pictures for you from the tour. Chris took a few, but he was seated in the fourth row of seats (behind me and Alex) and so the picture is mostly rows of people in front of us, and horse butts. The tour was informative, but chilly since it was taking place in the evening. Afterwards we did indeed hasten back to the ship.
We did drive past a home with a For Sale sign on it, so Chris snapped a pic of the sign information. (I looked it up when we got back to the ship. Small townhouse. $2 million.)
For the rest of the evening, we organized things, packed, had our last onboard meal, and wandered around out on the deck for an hour or so, preparing to end this great adventure.
Sunday morning the ship docked in Seattle around 7:30 and we departed (in the priority disembarkation group, of course). Our shuttle was waiting right outside the terminal building, and we were whisked home to the familiar comforts and the very anxious cats.
Overall, we really did love the experience, and are already investigating other destinations for 2019!
Sorry. Lost track of things and forgot there was more to post about.
On the way to Ketchikan we cruised through Glacier Bay. The ship did a lot of idling to allow passengers to take good photographs.
By the way, none of these pictures have been retouched.
The next day we docked in Ketchikan. This was kind of a difficult day. The ship started allowing people to leave at 7, and our excursion (to a nature sanctuary) didn’t depart until 9:30. We weren’t sure whether anything in the town would be open to visit, except maybe breakfast restaurants.
Well, surprise, whaddaya know, in a tourist town, the shops all open early. We wandered around, got me a brimmed cap to keep the sun out of my eyes, and a pair of reading glasses for Chris. Then we wandered around and poked into a lot of Alaska souvenir stores before heading to the departure point for the excursion.
Hah! No drama here. A director looked at our tickets and told us to get on Bus A. The driver of Bus A looked at our tickets, tore the stubs off, and told us to get on board. We sat near the back of the bus, settled in, and then a guy came on board and said, “Pick family? You’re on the wrong bus!” So we had to get off and go wait in line until our actual bus was ready. But we made it.
At the end of the walk, we went to the Raptor Center (which is a sanctuary for three specific birds that are too injured to live in the wild). Here are two of the three.
Of course there was drama on the trip back to the ship as well, though we did see a whale on the ride back. We thought the ship was departing at 1PM. The bus got us back to the dock at 12:48. So we had to run, and then…wait in line to get back on the ship. The actual timing was that people had to be back on the ship by 1, and it would depart thereafter. So we were safe, but I think in the future we won’t cut it so fine with our excursions.
We left you somewhere in the US, halfway towards Canada on the White Pass & Yukon Route, heading towards the Klondike Gold Fields. Let’s pick up from there.
Anyway, after the suspension bridge excitement, we boarded a bus to go back to Skagway, and spent the afternoon exploring the town. We found a yarn store! And after 20 minutes of dithering and a generous “spare no expense” from Chris, I left without a single thing. They had a neat yarn made from silk, merino wool, and…the fur of the Arctic Fox! It was really yummy but I decided against it.
One of the fun facts we’d learned on the railway tour was regarding why some of the lower-down lakes and ponds had a blackish appearance to them. This is due to the spruce needles that fell into the water. Apparently spruce-infused water contains a lot of vitamin C. Gold miners would brew it into tea to stave off scurvy, until someone realized you could brew beer from it. So we visited the Skagway Brewery and had a pint of Spruce Beer (just so we wouldn’t get scurvy, you realize). Unfortunately they do not market it outside the region, and nobody else seems to make it (based on a quick web search). Guess we will have to go back to plain old orange juice with vodka. Ha ha…
After the beer we went to the Skagway Museum, very small (ground floor of a small building), and pretty much entirely focused on the era from 1897-1910, which were the boom years for the area. But Chris and I love museums so we were happy to wander through it.
After this, we left Skagway and headed towards Ketchikan, spending another fun night watching the stars and daydreaming from our balcony.
(Later that evening, I regretted not buying the Arctic Fox yarn, so I went online and ordered it. It should get here tomorrow.)
Having lived in Seattle as long as we have, it recently surprised us to realize we’d never investigated Alaska cruises. So we took one! This was the first time any of us had cruised, and the first time any of us had gone to Alaska. Following is a travelogue of the trip. After the final trip post is up, I will be posting a sort of overview/observations of the cruising experience. We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl.
Day 1: Cab ride to the docks (and wow, was it nice not having to go to an airport!). Our stateroom choice got us priority boarding, so we skipped the lines and went right inside. But our stateroom wasn’t cleaned up yet from the last cruise, so we were invited to sit in a restaurant and have some lunch. I had shrimp cocktail, which I haven’t seen on a menu in years. I don’t remember what Chris and Alex had. Sorry.
All these pics were taken by Chris with his phone.
So that first day, we were simply sailing, and the scenery got pretty plain, pretty quickly, because we were on the port (seaward) side of the ship. We saw the San Juan islands and then it turned into flat, featureless sea.
Day 2 was another at-sea day, so we explored the ship, tried the butler service; Alex swam in the private pool and took a dip in the hot tub. Then we all went up on the upper deck again (shown in the Alex photo above) and enjoyed the stiff breezes and expansive views. Nobody wanted to climb the rock wall, go to a show, or play basketball, so we explored some more.
On day 3 things started to get exciting. First of all the view started to improve simply by having things to look at! Then, Chris and Alex had a zip line excursion planned. This is billed as the “World’s Longest Ziprider,” but Chris later told me they fudged the marketing to get that name. It is not the longest zipline in the world, BUT, because they have six people zipping at once, they added up the amount of cable they have in use, and that is the longest amount of cable in use at any zipline place. But they got off the ship to go investigate, and I went to the forward deck to see if I could watch them, and to knit.
Oh – forgot to mention that this stop is in a place called Icy Strait Point. There are a few souvenir shops and a barbeque restaurant at the foot of the mountain but otherwise the zipline appears to be the only reason to stop here.
On day 4 we arrived in Skagway, Alaska, where our excursion was a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route railway. We enjoyed this bit, even though we were right next to a REALLY SHEER dropoff (I sat towards the inside of the train car so I didn’t have to see this, but Alex kept poking his head out to look at the drop). For souvenirs, we purchased a bundle containing a new baseball hat for Chris, a region-free DVD about the railway and history of the area, and some brochures. The guide was knowledgeable and we enjoyed the scenery as well as the talk.
This is where I’ll stop for now because WordPress is giving me some grief. We are halfway to the Canadian border…more to come!