Made it off the ship in Ketchikan — shopping can be a powerful motivator! We were in Berth 1, so it was an easy trip. Of course, I brought the rollator, because it makes for such a convenient way to cart purchases!
We had to visit our favorite store, the Arctic Spirit Gallery, to add to our respective collections of Alaskan Native art. For me, it’s the birds of Alaska. For Karin, it’s a little bit of everything. Then over to visit Maida Kelley, a wonderful watercolor artist, and add another print to my collection. She captures the colors and feel of Alaska and her art reminds us of our trips.
And of course, no stop in Ketchikan would be complete without popping in to Blasphemous Bills or Sam Magees for Alaska goodies for my hubby and mom. And well, a jar of the Kahiltna Birch syrup and caramel topping for me. It’s fantastic over cobbler, ice cream, on a scone or frankly, just spooned out of the jar.
Short stay in Ketchikan, but the afternoon was bright and sunny and the views just keep coming.
Off to listen to the Lincoln Center Stage and the fabulous quintet, then music and drinks in the Ocean Bar, met some friends for cocktails in the Pinnacle Bar, and finally, to the Tamarind for dinner.
And the 2nd Gala Dinner menu:
We spent today aboard a ship nearly devoid of passengers, as most of them went ashore to spend the (overcast but dry) day in Sitka. There is something to be said for roaming about with a ship nearly entirely to ourselves – quiet, peaceful and lots to see.
We saw no whales from the ship, but there were several seals, heads periodically bobbing above the water. If they managed to catch themselves something to eat, down would swoop the seagulls, hoping for a scrap to scavenge. Also swooping in for a piece of the (salmon) pie, were eagles. One poor seal had to fight off 3 seagulls and 2 eagles to keep his breakfast.
A never-ending parade of boats — fishing boats heading in and back with their catch, tour boats picking up and returning passengers, personal boats with owners and the occasional dog running into town with errands — we saw it all from the Sea View pool (best vista on the ship!).
Almost felt guilty eating lunch with all the activity in the water around us. Almost but not quite!
And my drink today
Then back to the cabin to relax for a bit (because we’d worked so hard today) before changing for dinner. We’ll be checking out the new Sel de Mer.
Tonight’s Dining Room menu
Our day in Glacier Bay doesn’t need words — and since the Captain says we’re headed for 10 foot seas and 30-40 knot winds on our way to Sitka, I figure to post just some of the 350+ photos I took today.
There were so many things to see and do in Juneau but we opted to stay on the ship, explore it and perhaps indulge a bit much. To whit:
Edited to add the menus:
Things you can find on E-Bay, when you’ve got a bout of insomnia. Sometimes I’m fascinated, amused and occasionally, just plain baffled. For instance, there’s a whole section of postcards – thousands and thousands of them. Many of them unbelievably tacky (who in their right minds saves postcards of motels that show – in technicolor glory – the swimming pool, or boasting they have TVs, or air-conditioning, or in-room coffee makers?)
It doesn’t look much different than in this photo I took May 22, 2010, though this is at eye-level and the postcard is from an elevation.
Margerie, in all her beauty, is still there, and whatever the future brings, I’m hoping it includes a trip back to Glacier Bay. And who knows, perhaps next time I’ll buy a postcard.
The skies were gray this morning, but in Alaska even gray can be beautiful. Homer is not just a fishing port, but also a working port. And since I love working boats, I was happily taking pictures most of the morning.
The Tutka Bay Cooking School excursion was canceled by the tour operator. Karin decided that if she couldn’t eat, she’d drink instead, and took the Winery and Breweries tour, visiting the Bear Creek Winery in Homer. She came back with a bottle of rhubarb wine. I think we’ll open that at tomorrow’s Raylene & the Winos gathering. They also visited two breweries, though beer isn’t her thing. The Homer Brewing Company, in addition to beer, makes chai, as well as rhubarb fizz, that was tangy and good. Apparently, rhubarb grows well in this part of Alaska.
The walk from the ship to the end of the pier is about the length of the ship. Once at the end of the pier, there are some very nice people with information about Homer, maps and whatever else you may need to find your way around. The shuttle buses around the Spit and into Homer are school buses, though in the afternoon, some of the tour buses were pressed into shuttle service as the school buses had to take the kids home from school.
According to the Captain’s announcement shortly before we were scheduled to leave Homer, some mooring lines got fouled up somehow, and they sent a diver(s) down to untangle things and check out the bulbous bow and thrusters. In other words, they look under the poor Maasdam’s skirts. Whatever the issue was delayed our departure from Homer by about 45 minutes or so, but we shouldn’t have any difficulty in reaching Kodiak on time tomorrow.
We at dinner at the Caneletto, with some more of Alaska’s beautiful scenery passing our window.
Up early this morning, each of us to go our separate ways. Karin took a bear search tour – she was marginally successful. There was a bear.
But in case you missed it:
I took my tediously achy knee to the Seaview Pool for consolation in the form of a Crabby Mary, which seems to be a (weak) Bloody Mary with a crab leg stuck in it.
So I had two, as I indulged in my second favorite activity – people watching. By which I mean listening to the shrieks (of delight?) from the zipliners going past at what seems like 100mph. I waved at Maureen, the only one of Raylene & the Winos foolish — I mean brave — enough to dare it.
Karin returned from her tour, having eaten lunch without me, so it’s a good thing I ate the crab legs in the afore-mentioned Crabby Marys.
As we made a 180 turn and headed north, a couple of folks, dozing in the sun, were dangerously close to getting wet, as the pool water sloshed across the deck.
We tend to think of Alaska as white for the snow and glaciers and ice, but really, the color palette here is blue.
The mountains in the two pictures above, are part of Glacier Bay, though this is as close as we’re going to get to it this trip.
There were a couple of whales about, sort drifting along the surface, but this is as close as we got to one.
Another enjoyable evening happy hour with the Winos, and then it was time for dinner.
And tonight’s dinner menu
Juneau is more than wildlife and food, though from my photos, I’m not sure you’d be able to guess that. Because of the 100+ photos I took today, there are no people in them.
So see if you can guess what we did today in sunny Juneau.
Coffee, fruit and whale watching make for a great morning, as we headed through Chatham Strait, Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage to Juneau. What made the morning even better was the Last Frontier Brunch, part of the Sip-Savor-Sail program.
At 11 a.m., we finally left our cabin and headed for the Pinnacle Grill for the brunch. Maple Popcorn and a Sour Cream Cherry Scone for starters. The maple popcorn was soft and gooey and oh so good. The scone had a perfect texture, a nice crumble when you bit into it, and the sour cream kept it from being too sweet. Followed by Bacon and Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes with apple compote (my choice and it was a great one), and Karin chose the other option, a Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Hash with tiny red potatoes, leeks, a poached egg and grana cheese. The poached egg was not as perfectly poached as the egg I had yesterday in the dining room – the yolk was cooked almost all the way, so you missed the rich creamy yolk running over the hash. But Karin ate it all up anyway, so I don’t think she cared. (Perhaps I watch too much Food Network TV?) Followed by dessert – White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding (obviously mine, since bread pudding is one of my favorites), and Karin had the Lemon Creme Brulee Tart.
By the time we finished brunch, we were arriving in Juneau ahead of schedule, about 12:45. And ahead of the Celebrity Solstice, making us the first cruise ship to reach Juneau this year.
We made our way back to the cabin and picked up hat, gloves, my camera bag and other necessities for our whale watching tour, which Karin had booked with Harv and Marv. They have small boats for their excursions, so I don’t have to take pictures of the back of someone’s head or holding the camera above my head and hoping I’ve got something in the photo. We headed down to Deck 1, crossed the gangway, and managed to avoid getting blown off the pier. Windy windy day – gusts up to 35 mph. We learned that our excursion had been cancelled due to 6 foot seas. Don’t figure I’d have had much success anyway – hard to get a good photo when both your subject (a whale) and you (in a small boat in 6′ seas) are moving, so I appreciate Harv and Marv not taking the risk of dumping us all into some very cold water!
We headed back aboard the Westerdam and retired to the Seaview Pool, Karin for a swim and me for a bloody mary. It was great – we were virtually the only ones there. About 4, we meandered back to the cabin, got dressed, went ashore and walked the pier, somehow ending up at Tracy’s Crab Shack. Since it’s one of our favorite places to eat, we did! Crab cakes, beer battered shrimp, crab bisque, and King Crab legs. Love the spicy dipping sauce that comes with the crab cakes – wish I had the recipe. All washed down with a nice glass of pinot grigio.
Thoroughly stuffed, we headed back to the Westerdam. There was a relatively long line of folks waiting to go back aboard, being accompanied by the theme from Star Wars being played by a trio of young kids. Just thankful they weren’t playing the theme from Jaws 😉
For dinner, both Karin and I opted for soup and salad. Not feeling like playing “name that tune” at the piano bar, or listening to another set of the the BB King All Stars, we ended up in the Vista Lounge with the very funny comedian, Lee Bayless.
And then back to the cabin to say good bye to Juneau. The captain will open the bow up at 6:30 a.m., a bit before we hit Glacier Bay. Going to be another great day tomorrow!
The day started, as have all the days so far, with a low cloud cover and the suggestion of rain. So we out of bed a bit later, and made it to breakfast by 8:30. A leisurely stroll around the promenade let us to discover that we couldn’t make a complete circuit as the gangway was on Deck 3.
Then off to a cooking class, where the four of us in the class made berry cobbler, Prosciutto wrapped halibut with tomato, onion & fig relish, and sesame crusted salmon with wasabi butter. Karin made the berry cobbler (no, really!), I made a mess with the dough, and we all took turns preparing the fish. And ta-da….
Since Culinary Arts Center is a show kitchen and doesn’t meet food preparation standards, we adjourned to the Pinnacle Grill where the chef tournant Bilpat (who actually taught the class) prepared us the same dishes. What a lovely lunch it was.
Then ashore to explore Ft. Seward and a quick bus shuttle through Haines (population 2,500). I must say, I really like Haines – the people are all so friendly and seem genuinely glad to have us tourists visit their neck of the woods. None of the bland, manufactured enthusiasm I sometimes run into in other towns.
We then took a 4-hour photo excursion with Rainbow Glacier Adventures (a ship’s excursion). Our group of 13 was broken into two groups, so we got the benefit of a small group and as much hands-on instruction as we wanted. This is more of a tour for serious photographers, as we stopped for relatively long periods of time at each of the guide-chosen spots to compose our photos, adjust our camera settings, and basically spend time setting up the shots. My Cannon SX20 Powershot was definitely outclassed, but frankly, I think this would work for just about any type of camera, even a cell phone. While I didn’t get the wildlife shots that others in our group with far more powerful cameras managed to get (bald eagles, seals, merganser ducks), but the tour also made stops for landscapes, wildflowers, river and lake views, and waterfalls. Lots of things to choose to photograph, and if you’re a non-photographer, some lovely country to view.
Our tour guide Dena was a wealth of technical information, but I’m stubborn enough to want to figure it out for myself. With her as an assistant, was 14-year old Marty, and gosh, does he know photography. He’s light years ahead of what I know (or am likely to learn) and functioned cheerfully as spotter, tripod carrier, and technical assistant.
Safely made it back to the ship at 8:10 p.m. (all aboard was 8:30 so we were cutting it close). After dashing back to our cabin to wash our faces and hands (I didn’t really feel like eating dinner with residue from the bug spray we doused ourselves with to keep the mosquitos away), we had a wonderful dinner as we sailed away from Haines. (I highly recommend the potato gnocchi with roasted squash!)
Not quite ready to call it a day, we headed up to the Crows Nest to listen to the acoustic guitarist (Mike) as we chased two other cruise ships (one Norwegian, one Princess) down the Lynn Canal as we head for Juneau.