Thursday, June 17: Ketchikan (Anniversary Day!)
We were supposed to meet our tour on the pier at 6:00AM (or so we thought - actually it was 6:30) and we didn't want a repeat of the Juneau disembarkation fiasco, so we were up, showered, fed, dressed, carrying our stuff, and by the ship's door at 5:30 AM - a good 30-40 minutes before they let anyone off of the ship. And when they did, we were the FIRST ones they let off. The sign said to be back on board by 11:45 for a noon departure. While we waited and looked around, a local told us we should take a picture of the rarest of sights - the sun shining in Ketchikan. It was supposed to be sunny with a high of 85 that day!
Chelsea, from Southeast Sea Kayaks, showed up around 6:35. We waited another 5 or 10 minutes for the other couple that was to join us, and when they arrived we were surprised to see that it was a couple that we had lunch with earlier in the week, Tom and Pam from Bend, Oregon. Pam had learned about this excursion by reading the Cruise Critic boards, where she said she'd only lurked (although she said she'd post after this cruise - where are you Pam?). We all walked about 10 minutes along the waterfront until we came to their shop where we met some more of the staff, signed our waivers, and were fitted with functional and fashionable life vests.
Next we got on a boat that took us through the harbor and to Orca's Cove where another boat (the mother ship) awaited us. After boarding we were given a paddling orientation/lesson from our guide Jai, put on our kayak "skirts", and then stepped down into an inflatable raft, and then into the two man kayaks.
For the next two and a half hours or so Jai led us around a group of islands and told us about the history of the people, wildlife, geology, and salmon of the local area. Jai is from Western Australia and he and his twin brother spend the Australian winters (Alaskan summers) working as guides in their uncles' business - not a bad life!
After we returned to the "mother ship" we had a tasty treat, prepared by Tim of - you guessed it - salmon! There was also cream cheese, capers, onions, crackers, but salmon was definitely king!
Before long a seaplane buzzed by, circled the island, and taxied across the water until it tied up behind the boat. This was the plane that was to take us on our flight seeing trip to the Misty Fjords National Monument. The day before, as we cruised through Tracy Arm I wished that I could see those snow capped mountain peaks up close - and now we were doing just that.
Our pilot, Ryan, told us that the picture postcard views we were getting were very rare, and that the Misty Fjords usually lived up to their name. Ryan was a very enthusiastic pilot that made no bones about the fact that he loved what he does for a living.
We made a water landing on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and got out and walked around for a bit. When the Alaskan state bird, the mosquitoes, started to bother us we got back in the plane and took off! Ryan was buzzing around the peaks trying to find us some wildlife to look at (we did see a herd of mountain goats) and the fact that the microphones Leslie and I had didn't seem to be working prevented us from telling him that we were getting a little worried that we would not get back to the ship in time (at 11:45, our "be back on the ship time" we were still in the national park some 45 miles from town).
We finally flew past a peak and saw the welcome sight of the Diamond
Princess, still in the harbor, with people waiting in line to board. I was envisioning a sprint along the waterway back to the ship, but as we landed just outside the Southeast shop Ryan's wife was waiting to drive us back to the ship. After all of that hurrying and worrying we had to wait nearly a half hour in line to board the ship! We grabbed a quick bite, got a shower, and then took a nap as the ship sailed away.
Since it was our anniversary I had made reservations for us to eat at Sabatini's, the supper club. That dinner was a two hour extravaganza - make sure you are hungry when you go. The only thing you order is the entree - they bring you some of everything else! I'm a big eater, but I was starting to feel full half way through the appetizers! We ordered dessert (for some reason) then, before it arrived they brought us a special anniversary cake and sang to us. So we ate most of that THEN the tiramisu!
We tried to go see the comedian in the Explorer's Lounge, but due to the late night, early morning, active day, and huge dinner, we could only stay for the first fifteen minutes of his show. So if you were there, and he made fun of the couple that got up and left early....
(End of Part 8)
Link to Part 9: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=48306