Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cruise to Alaska

We just got back from a last minute cruise to Alaska. First cruise. First time in Alaska. First "last minute" booking of anything. Lots of firsts and lots of anxiety for the poor woman who had to make all the decisions about every little thing. That would be me. Ha.

But everything went smoothly and I even got kudos from the husband. And I ain't talking about the candy. He actually said, "I had nothing to do with planning this. You did a great job." He may have been drunk on Lido Deck at the time, but I'll take it.

Five Quick Facts:

1. Our first night out, there was a medical emergency. While we slept, the ship came to a complete stop out at sea to meet a coast guard boat which would take a passenger to the nearest hospital. The captain announced in the morning that our actions saved his/her life. wow

2. Alaska is cold even in the summer! Don't say, "well, duh." We get a very nice summer in Calgary so I assumed it would be the same. We were lucky to get 2 sunny days and one of them was during a whale- watching excursion. But we'll get to that.

3. I got sea-sick one night. Oddly enough, it was 4 days into the cruise. During a shore excursion that day, we had been down in the bowels of a semi-sub, looking at the marine life through big windows when it started to rock and roll. I felt queasy but survived. Later when the cruise ship started to bob and weave I thought I was gonna throw up. Two Dramamine later I was fine. Asleep, actually. We're thinking the semi-sub incident sort of opened the door to sea sickness because the motion of the ship didn't bother me before or after that day.

4. We left out of Seattle and were able to do a bit of sightseeing upon our return:

5. Day 2 we got fairly close to the Mendenhall Glacier. What's so remarkable about it is the color. These photos aren't touched up at all. It really is that blue:

So let's get on with the highlight of the entire trip. We took a whale watching excursion out of Juneau and though we lost count, we estimate that we saw twenty whales.

Our guide became excited when we happened upon about 5 whales involved in 'bubblenet feeding." She told us it took 4 months of working full time on the whale watching tour before she got to see it.

First you see a blast of water on the surface. Then you'll see the whales' backs as they seem to be milling around on the surface.

They dive-

Silence. You wait. Scan the water.

And suddenly they shoot, mouths first, straight up out of the water!

We were told that the whales dive deep into the water and work together to round up a school of fish. Then they move fast, straight up towards the surface, swallowing as many fish as possible.

My photos aren't perfect, as you can imagine. We were never sure where they would reappear.

After about thirty minutes of watching the whales perform this feeding ritual over and over again, it was time to move on. Much to our surprise, our adventure wasn't over. We started to spot bursts of water and black masses on the surface again. But this time, they were all around us.

(No, that isn't our boat! Ours was much bigger.)

But hold on to your rain jacket. While we stood on deck and watched, three whales headed straight for our boat.

and dove:

That silence again as we waited and watched.

"Ladies and gentleman," our tour guide whispered over the loudspeaker, "you're now standing on top of a humpback whale."

Don't misunderstand- we weren't in any danger. The whales seemed to be playing with us. In fact, one whale looked like he was waving a fin at all the boats gathering to watch them:

He did this over and over again.

It was an extraordinary experience. We consider ourselves very lucky to have been there.

By the time our last day of the cruise rolled around, I was ready to go. I enjoyed it but missed being able to walk outside (yes, I could walk all the way around the ship but it's not the same), I was weary of the crowds and the strict schedules. Overall though, I give cruising a hearty thumbs-up. How could you possibly dislike a place that cooks and cleans for you while gorgeous scenery rolls by?


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures, the whales are amazing. Saw in the first pic folks were swimming was it warm?


caryl said...

No- it's was chilly! But the pool was heated.

Risa said...

Great pictures! Looks like an amazing trip!

caryl said...

thanks, Risa!

Karen said...

Alaska was one of my favorite places to travel. We saw a few whales off in the distance, but not that close. It was cool (weather wise)and what beauty surrounded you!

Mary Ann said...

I love getting your emails! You take all of us site seeing with you. Alaska seems so beautiful. Have you ever considered becoming a photo journalist??

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos

You put us right there with you!

So glad this cruise was a success - where to next!?

Love, Mom

caryl said...

Mary Ann, I have considered Travel Writing, but my writing is too goofy, I think. They want details and facts and all that boring stuff.

caryl said...

Mom- "where to next" is your house!

caryl said...

Karen- I didn't know you've been to Alaska! (is this my honorary sister, Karen?)

Margaux said...

You write a fine trip report. You were so lucky to see all the whale action.
Travel writing would be a blast. You might have to add more details, but you have a point of view that's fun to read.
Keep doing it!

caryl said...

Thanks, Margaux! I've had a bit of training in how to keep a story moving (cut, cut, cut!), so I do TRY to make it interesting. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading. Beautiful photos. Nature has us so beat in beauty and intrigue. Thanks for sharing. San

medolark said...

Thx for sharing your adventures. I enjoyed reading about the whales. It would be awesome to see. We have been to Alaska twice both driving the Al-Can Hiway. We need to go again. I didn't realize you were in Calgary. We were in Canmore last Jan. We are almost neighbors. Ü

Anonymous said...

So you got an awesome cruise and you got to hang out for a bit in one of my very favorite cities? Pretty solid deal.

How cool to see those whales! Really would love to go to Alaska some time.


caryl said...

Thanks for the comments, san, medolark and PFS! And yeah- you should go to alaska sometime, PFS. We got a great last minute deal.

Linda @nothing-but-blue-skyes said...

Amazing photos. How exciting - spur of the moment trip, too! My friend lives in Sitka. She says the weather there is like it is in California. Thanks for sharing your experiences. And welcome back to the hometown (are you here now??)

caryl said...

Linda- I'm back in Calgary. I'll be in NY in September for a college reunion, though.

I can't believe you knwo somebody who lives in Sitka! It looks like such a small, remote town.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! What a trip! Thanks for sharing your awesome pictures with us and the great story. NE friend

Hannah said...

Not only do they get something to read, they get mail! If you do not know how, take professional help. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) arose for the results of two Federal studies. Nurses and seek to be able to manage their own work schedule, these nurses are a fantastic resource for general practice and provide flexible consultancy services to general practice.

Cruise Solutions said...

What an interesting post you have here! Thank you for providing an idea on where to go on their next vacation! Alaska it is! And of course, through a cruise trip! :)

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