The When & Wheres for Aug 5-12 cruise

In my ongoing (and largely unsuccessful) efforts to declutter, I’ve scanned the When & Where’s and tossed (ahem … recycled) the paper copies. I apologize for the crease marks on a couple of them. But if I’m going to cram them into my camera bag, they’re getting folded.

Aug 5 – Seattle
Aug 6 – At Sea
Aug 7 – Juneau
Aug 8 – Hubbard Glacier
Aug 9 – Sitka
Aug 10 – Ketchikan
Aug 11 – Victoria, BC

One final pic from the Seaview Pool. We brought the clouds with us. You’re welcome, Seattle.

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Victoria – sort of

Sailing in and out (mostly in) the fog all day. I’d see a bit of blue sky, and just when I thought it might clear up enough to see something of the lovely coastline or possibly a whale, the fog would roll back in, like some kind of taunting karmic twist, punctuated by the deep bass rumble of the fog horn from both the Amsterdam and assorted other freighters making their way in or out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Cape Flattery lighthouse, looking suitably gray and depressed on this foggy morning and afternoon.

As we entered the Strait, the fog was particularly dense. There was an awfully long bellow from our fog horn, and suddenly the ship veered right, listing steeply, as plates crashed to floor all over the Lido. I found out later that some small boat had cut across our bow and Capt. Mercer essentially slammed on the brakes and veered hard to the right, managing to avoid the other craft. Yeesh, what the other guy was thinking is beyond me. Kind of like the little cars that cut off semi-trucks on the highway. One day the dice aren’t going to roll your way and your number will be up.

After that bit of excitement, 14 of us spent a couple hours playing cards in the Kings Room. That seems to be a vastly underused space, which we were happy to put to use. Also conveniently close to the Explorations Cafe and the bar 🙂

Picking up the pilot outside of Victoria

As we approached Victoria, we spotted a couple of whales spouting in the distance. Being so far away, it was hard to tell precisely what type of whale, but the naturalist thought they were probably Orca. I snapped an admittedly not very good pic, and I’m leaning toward humpback. Any guesses?

That black smudge to the right of the whale watching boat – totally a whale, I promise.

The Emerald Princess giving off a vaguely creepy vibe as she stalks us into Victoria

Hubby and I didn’t go ashore in Victoria, preferring instead to relax on board. Given that the Norwegian Pearl and the Emerald Princess arrived at the same time we did, and the steady stream of passengers going ashore, I’m thinking we made the right decision.

Twilight at the Seaview Pool. Going to miss my favorite spot on the ship.

One last night – the little monkey towel animal looks almost as sad as I do.

It’s 10:45 pm, the suitcases are packed and outside the door, and I’ll be calling it a night before long.

All in all, this cruise was great fun, weather notwithstanding. Travelling with a group of friends is always a joy, and to be fortunate enough to help celebrate a 50th anniversary is a blessing.

Here we all are, spilling up the stairs in the atrium.

There were a few hiccups and disappointments, and I figure to write a review in the next couple of days. But the bottom line is yes, of course I’ll be cruising on Holland America again. Unless of course, I win the lottery and then I’m going luxury cruise line all the way!

A couple more tiles to add to my collection. I’m getting closer and closer to having a Holland America back splash. 😀

Tonight’s dinner menu

Still on the look out

On deck with the naturalist still hunting the elusive NW fog whale. 😁

I find I’m taking lots of pics of the Seaview Pool just for the color. So enjoy yet another one.

Ketchikan and the Aleutian Ballad

Oh my, what a terrific day. The wake up call rang, and I stumbled over hubby (my younger self would be ashamed to admit she didn’t notice a 6’3″ man stretched out next to her in bed) in an attempt to get the dratted thing to just stop. A quick shower later, I was heading off the ship (sans coffee!!!!!!) to catch the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tour.

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. Not only did I get to go out on a smaller boat (107′ long) and roam the deck taking pictures, enjoy the sunshine, see seals and eagles, but I got an education (cleverly camouflaged by great storytelling) in what the life of an Alaskan crab fisherman entails, how crabbing is done, what lives under the Alaskan waters, and all without a tour guide in the bunch. Engaging, informative and just downright fun. I would love to take my grandsons on this one – they’d enjoy it and I’d have an excuse to do it again.

Aboard the Aleutian Ballad, heading out of Ketchikan.

Cutting up bait for the line. We only managed to get a couple of copper rockfish. But man, do those hooks fly out of that tub fast!

Me holding a spot prawn … but then he squirmed and I hate to admit it, but I dropped the little guy, and had a hard time picking him back up. Finally a young boy took pity on me, and rescued it from the deck.

Eagles

The eagles swooped in to grab the herring tossed overboard.

Caught an octopus. And no, we couldn’t touch it. Not that I particularly wanted to, but an 8 year old girl sure did.

No way could I not include a fishing boat photo.

Returning to Ketchikan, where the Amsterdam looks so huge from sea level.

Gala night dinner, so hubby and I dressed up (a bit) and enjoyed shrimp cocktail, sunchoke soup, and surf-n-turf in the main dining room. (Know the difference between shrimp and prawns? Different gill structures, etc., but prawns are meat eaters, shrimp are vegetarian. Something I learned today.)

Saw only one tux and ballgown, but lots of sparkle. So I wore my silver shawl to supper. And look Karin, I didn’t drag the fringe through the soup 😀

And tonight’s Gala dinner menu.

Still in Ketchikan

Busy in Ketchikan

Not seeing things, there are 5 ships in Ketchikan. Just as we were pulling away, Capt. Mercer announced that we would be pulling back alongside to disembark a passenger requiring urgent medical attention. The Celebrity Infinity is waiting on our berth. Thankful we were still in port for the passenger to get the medical attention he or she needs.

Sunny Ketchikan

Why butter me up and call me biscuit. The sun is shining in Ketchikan. Going to ve a great day to take the tour I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

And these kids are already getting into it and they’re not even aboard yet.

Sitka – birds and bears

Set the wake-up call for 7 am this morning and grabbed a quick shower, discovering once again that the most significant use of the nightly towel animal is the extra towel and/or wash cloth you gain for the next morning. In this case, the wash cloth went into my camera bag because I knew that the steady rain would mean I was either wiping my glasses, my camera lens or the bus window. I was right on all three counts.

I had just enough time for (most of) a latte before I had to get to the gangway and up to the terminal for my Birds Bears and Barnacles tour. Boarding a repurposed school bus, my knees wedging uncomfortably into the gentleman’s back in the seat in front of me (uncomfortable for both of us, I have no doubt). The driver was fun, without being schtick-y. He only slipped up once and asked us to call him Mr. Danny. He’s a school bus driver and that’s what he asks the kids to call him. He’s lived in Sitka since 1987, and obviously loves it.

Our first stop was the Raptor Center. They’re small but do good work, treating and caring for injured birds of all kinds, not just raptors, most of which they are able to release back into the wild.

Spirit, a 2 year old bald eagle, cannot be released into the wild.

Another permanent resident of the Raptor Center. He’s unable to fly.

This owl is singularly unimpressed by my camera.

Our next stop was the Fortress of the Bear, which currently houses 4 coastal brown bears and a couple of black bears.

Our last stop was the Marine Science Center and hatchery. I enjoyed it, but it’s small and seems geared more towards school kids. The salmon spawning season was just beginning, and there were several salmon jumping and making their way up the fish ladder. There were some great views from the short walk along the pier at the end of the path around the hatchery.

Did a little walking around and shopping before catching the shuttle bus (a real bus with cloth seats and everything) back to the ship.

Being thoroughly damp from the constant rain (I live in the Seattle area – I don’t need no stinkin’ raincoat or umbrella), I changed my clothes, collected hubby, and grabbed a bite from the Dive In, and watched our departure from Sitka.

This sea lion is flippering us off.

Yes, that really is blue sky …

but the rain moved right back in.

Finally got hubby into the Main Dining Room for dinner, at the conclusion of which he announced that we would be eating there from now on. I exercised great self-restraint and didn’t tell him “I told you so”.

Kingfish with saffron risotto, mussels and clams.

The classic and always delicious creme brulee.

And tonight’s extra delicious dinner menu.

More of Hubbard Glacier

Now that internet is sort of, maybe, kind of working at something above a snail’s pace (maybe at a banana slug pace – and if you don’t know what one of those are, you aren’t from the Pacific Northwest), here are a few more pics from yesterday at Hubbard Glacier.

Such startling blue ice as we head toward the glacier

As we approached the glacier, I took hold of my courage, and went to the cabin and woke my husband up from his nap. He could put a grumpy bear to shame but wisely, I had a vanilla latte from the Explorations Cafe in hand.

You can just see Hubbard Glacier ahead

Hubby came up on deck with me, and dutifully held down “our” table at the Seaview Pool as I went up to the super secret door on Deck 6 that leads to a small outdoor deck. There were only about 15 of us there, and I snapped some photos before heading back to the Seaview Pool. Hubby and I circled the deck, going from side to side, marveling at how close Capt. Mercer got us to the glacier. There was a spectacular amount of calving going on – every 5 minutes of so another bit of Hubbard tumbled into Disappointment Bay. I tried and tried to catch it on a photo, with no luck. A young lady asked me to take a picture of her in front of the glacier, and as I snapped her smiling face, an enormous calving occurred, right over her shoulder. So she has a fantastic shot of glacier calving, and I have this:

My pic of glacier calving. The red arrow helpfully points out the smear that really and truly, was some calving.

It is, however, impossible to be too disappointed when you also get pictures like this.

Hubbard Glacier

Is it environmentally insensitive of me to be hoping that these two leaning chunks would calve when I was there?

And on a totally non sequitur, here’s the dinner menu.

Good morning Sitka

A beautiful ship on a rainy day

Hubbard Glacier

Majestic even through the rain and fog. Capt. Mercer got us much closer than I expected given the amount of ice.

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