Monday, August 20, 2012

The Rest of the Story

Our Alaskan Cruise According to Our Captain's Log
(with commentary and photos from ME!)


16:18   Commenced sea voyage to Tracy Arm

Waiters came around the deck, pushing carts with beer and wine. Greg and I each bought a beer, stretched out in our lounge chairs and watched as the ship headed out of port. I didn't even know we were moving until Greg pointed it out.

 (not our ship but an incredible facsimile)

Not much happened the first day, since we left left port at about 4:00pm, but we did have our first fancy dinner in the fancy restaurant. We requested a private table before ever leaving home and by golly, we got it. Yay!

(not my photo. It's from

Day 2   AT SEA

We spent the day exploring the ship.

They had a presentation in the theater about the shore excursions:

and then we just walked around.

It's amazing what they can fit on a cruise ship: a spa, a casino, shops, restaurants, lounges, a coffee shop, a library, pools and a basketball court! When we got back to our room in the evening, we found that elves had folded a towel into an animal and the next day's itinerary was laid out on the bed.


"Land, ho!" (Who you callin' a ho?)

Our destination was the Mendenhall Glacier. Our captain announced that we probably wouldn't be able to get too close due to the chunks of ice in the water. (Are you also thinking about Titanic?)

Those lovely cruise people thought of everything as we stood out on deck in the rain, enjoying the scenery: hot chocolate, coffee, Bailey's, etc...

I saw the glacier, took a picture and went inside to shower for dinner. You gotta understand- I've seen glaciers in Canada. Heck, I WALKED on a glacier in Canada. And I really needed a shower.

But when I came out of the bathroom and checked the ship's cameras on our TV, we were practically next to the glacier! And the darned thing was a shade of blue I've never seen in Canada.

I threw on clothes and ran outside- hair dripping wet. Other people were in the hallways, running to Deck 3, the best spot for viewing.

The ship stayed in this spot for a while. An hour or two, in fact. Later we watched the blue ice glide further and further away as we sat enjoying our dinner.

21:10    Exited Tracy Arm and continued sea voyage to Juneau, Alaska


05:51   Safely docked

 We were signed up for a shore excursion. It couldn't have been easier. We registered online for the tour days before we left Calgary, a representative met us with a sign as we walked off the ship and then a bus took us to the boat that would take us whale watching. (I wrote in detail about this excursion here.)

We also had time to walk around Juneau a bit before heading back to the ship. A great day!

17:54   Commenced sea voyage to Sitka, Alaska


06:55   Safely at anchor

Sitka, Alaska, doesn't have a dock for anything as big as a cruise ship, so we had to anchor off shore and take a lifeboat in. It was very well managed, but it still sucked. The enclosed life boat bobbed on the water while we waited for everyone to get on and sit the heck down. We were smart to sit by the only open window, sucking in that good fresh air while keeping our eyes on the horizon.

Unfortunately, we traded in one bobbing boat for another.  I signed us up for a ride on a “semi-sub” which would give us great views of the underwater world in Alaska. I’ve been on a glass-bottom boat in Florida and expected it to be similar. Well, it wasn’t!

We sat down here...

(Not my photo. This is from their website)

...and looked out the windows as weird looking jellyfish and starfish went by.

That was fine. It was later, while we were in deeper water, that the fun began. We cruised through a “kelp forest”- all this wavy, yellow, sea-weedy stuff- and started to rock. Whoa.

Woozy. Nauseous. I looked frantically around but there was nowhere to go. Then I remembered something about a bathroom upstairs and asked if I could go up there. 

Thank goodness it was above water and I was able to get some fresh air. I never saw the inside of the bathroom, I just stayed up on deck for the duration of the tour. Even when it started to rain, I stayed.
Although I missed the divers’ ‘show’, I got to see them get ready and jump overboard. The nice crew offered me hot tea and a jacket. I moved to a covered space with benches where a closed circuit TV showed the the images the divers sent back via video cameras on their masks.

(again, this is from their website)

In the end, I think I enjoyed our excursion more than Greg did.

15:52   Commenced sea voyage to Ketchikan


06:54   Safely docked

Look at all the cruise ships! Ours is the big, hulking, blue mass on the left.

Greg met a friendly lumberjack lady who insisted on taking a picture with him. Not sure what that was about, but later his wallet was missing. (Har har.) Of course, this is someone from our ship posing with passengers as they disembarked. They sort of force these photo ops on you throughout the cruise. Guess how much I loved that? No, go ahead and guess. I’ll wait.

Now that you’ve thought long and hard about your answer, there’s a clue within this very photo. See the feet behind Greg, inappropriately clad in flip flops? That’s me scurrying by.

12:56   Commenced sea voyage to Victoria

We spent the day enjoying the ship. this was our favorite spot to sit and read, but it was chilly!

We also finally checked out the casino, but only played a couple of slots. We're not big gamblers.

“Oh, we are cruising to Victoria…Victoria…Victoria
Oh we are cruising to Victoria, Victoria today!”


20:30   Safely docked

In case you aren’t paying attention to the schedule I so painstakingly copied from our captain’s manifesto, I’ll spell it out for you. We arrived in Victoria late in the evening. We didn’t have a shore excursion scheduled because we were in Victoria last summer, but those who did were disappointed to find out that all excursions were cancelled. There wasn’t enough time.

We arrived behind schedule due to some malfunction which I chose not to speculate about. (eek!) I’m sure it was no biggie, but this just reminds you that nothing is carved in stone on a cruise. A boat is a boat, even if it is a ship. Things happen, plans change.

I was inexplicably fascinated by this pilot boat that came out to meet us. It reminded me of those parasite fish that swim along with bigger fish. Or an annoying little sister that insists on tagging along. Not that I know anything about that.

The pilot boat circled the ship while we passengers watched and ran from one side of the deck to the other (we had obviously been at sea a long time) before pulling up alongside. 

And then it took off again like that little sister who finally yells, “Oh yeah?? Then I don’t want to play with YOU!!” Or so I’ve heard.

A shuttle took us into town where we walked around, making a wide arch around this statue which wasn’t a statue at all (don’tcha hate when they come to life? creepy).

We looked at the boats and checked out the vendors.

We walked around long enough for this to happen...

and then took the shuttle back to the mother ship.

Waiting in our room was our last fun towel-animal:

23:50   Commenced sea voyage to Seattle


07:00   Safely docked
08:30   Disembark 

Time to go! We showered, ate breakfast and waited for our turn to leave the ship.

We had a tour of Seattle booked through Holland America. They met us after disembarktation, drove us around the city for a couple of hours and then dropped us at the airport. Very convenient!

During the tour, we visited the Space Needle, where we zoomed up to the top and took in the views:

Then we stopped at the Farmer's Market where we bought the obligatory cup of coffee.

Next stop- the airport. We had some time to kill at the airport during which I enjoyed my last few moments in the US by using everything my iPhone data plan had to offer. We also watched airport security get nervous about a bag someone left on a seat at our gate. An airport employee asked if it belonged to anyone and then called security. A policeman showed up and took the bag with him out the door to the tarmac and sped away in a police car.

Drama over. Sort of. Our flight was cancelled. Not because of the mysterious bag! There were mechanical issues that would take too long to resolve. After some angry moments among the passengers, we were put on another flight, which actually got us home earlier. Sweet!

Our first cruise, first time in Alaska and first last-minute booking of anything won't be our last. Wait. What? What I'm trying to say is...I had the time of my life and no, I never felt like this before. Yes! It's the truth! And I owe it all to you, Holland America.

But I can't be exclusive. I think we should see other destinations. It's not you- it's me. You've opened up a world of possibilities to me that I need to explore. But just remember, you'll always be my first.


Anonymous said...

Caryl, Great pics and recap, sounds like you and Greg had a great time, thanks for sharing your cruise with us.


Margaux said...

You write good recap. Think about that travel writing idea. Even if it's just a blog or your local shopper rag.

caryl said...

Thanks, you guys!

Anonymous said...

It almost felt like I was with you by reading the wonderful recap. You are talented and you should "travel & write" more often for those of us that can't get away too often. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

That was me, NE friend. Forgot to sign off.

caryl said...

thanks, NE friend! I think it's too long, but Greg wanted more detail. Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

Excellent recap and pics! I'm now even more jealous.

Look how you got such a nice clear day in Seattle too. It was meant to be.

I think the travel writing thing is an excellent idea. The detail is great and your writing "voice" is engaging and funny.


Barbara said...

Great Recap of your trip, felt like I was right there with you at times. Keep on traveling and exploring!

Deb said...

Great recap! You are ruly a gifted writer, my friend! You write in a way that keeps your reader so interested. Love to read your stories! Love you guys. Glad you had fun!

Deb said...

That should be truly, not ruly.

Deb said...

That should be truly, not ruly.

Anonymous said...

Loved it!!

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable read, Caryl! Makes me want to visit Alaska and Seattle!

Anonymous said...

You really bring the trip to life! And the pictures are perfect. Hope you are keeping a scrapbook of all your writing, it's wonderful!

Love Mom

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