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Unibok

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Everything posted by Unibok

  1. Nice! It is a small, family company, and a very special experience. Can't wait to hear about your adventures!
  2. For our recent Anchorage-to-Vancouver sailing on the Muse, we were required to be out of our suites by 8:30, and off the ship by 9:30. There was a delay at the port, so we were off by 9:45 instead. Both La Terrazza and Atlantide we’re open for breakfast, and I think Arts Cafe had their usual lite fare as well. As others have said, you’ll be given a range of choices for when you want to disembark, but then you do need to go with your color. When I have independent plans, I opt to disembark later for a more relaxed morning, letting those with tight schedules get off the ship first. Enjoy!
  3. Tysmomm, here is a picture from last week. I don’t know if you can tell how close we were to Hubbard, given that it was a rainy day. If you read the other thread I linked to, you’ll see that it did feel it was worth it. Although I was sailing on a different ship, I do believe this excursion is exactly the same as you would get on Princess.
  4. I second the floatplane experience in Ketchikan. We flew last week with Ryan McCue of Alaska Seaplane Tours, and had an incredible time with him. He also has long experience and a perfect safety record. One of the world’s most decent people. Ours was a bear tour, and we saw 3 bear nice and close for amazing photographs.
  5. Yes -- the first groups of cruisers have been on this excursion this week and last. Several threads are discussing it now. You can see my description and the following discussion on this other thread: Generally speaking, even the largest of ships can get fairly close to the glacier and take a slow spin for those onboard -- this new excursion can get 150 passengers even closer. You will board the vessel from your ship, as you would board a tender. Please let me know if you have other questions.
  6. Unibok

    hubbard glacier

    Hi Kennicott, I know you are following the discussion on the other thread, but I wanted to circle back on this to clarify for others that the Allen Marine vessel picked us up from our ship, which was already fairly close to the glacier. Thus, most of the 2.5 hour excursion is spent very very close to the glacier.
  7. Unibok

    hubbard glacier

    Yes! We went last week, on the very first sailing of this excursion from Allen Marine. I posted a description of the event on the "Hubard Glacier Viewing" thread, post # 102. It was good fun, and those of us on the Wilderness Explorer got much closer to Hubbard Glacier than the ship's own zodiaks and kayaks that day. Take a look at that discussion, and let me know if you have other questions. Cheers,
  8. We were in Juneau last week and did whale watching with Gastineau Guides. I highly recommend them! Part of the fun was identifying individual whales by their flukes.
  9. Chiming in from St. Rupert, Canada, today. Another adorable gateway-to-adventure town, our 3rd of this voyage. We walked around the town this morning after waking late. Based on how many others were late for breakfast, we think the 1-hour time change encouraged others to sleep in as well. Our favorite aspect of St. Rupert is the public art. There are murals all over town depicting local and nautical life. It makes for a very photogenic little town. We returned to Kaisecki for lunch today, and the sushi was perfect this time. The staff had encouraged us to try again, and we are so glad we did. JohnGin, we have had the same reaction to the chopsticks as you did. Our most modest hole-in-the-wall eateries at home use re-usable ones, so it seems odd for Silversea’s to be so cheap. The food, however, was superb.
  10. Photos are between 2 and 4 mbs. I do know that I can save them in other formats to reduce the file size, but when I'm on vacation I don't really want to fiddle around with that. I'm sorry that it means shorter reports and fewer illustrations. Maybe I'll do better next time, if I practice reducing file size at home first. I should have also mentioned that as we step off the float plane, we saw 3 more whales, and then just as our tender neared the ship, we saw a pod of 4 doing a ballet of rolling and flukes. Ketchikan may have a lot of people when the ships are in town, but it also had a lot of wildlife. And then there's this tip from our van driver: if you really want to see a bear, head to the town landfill; they love it there. Let me go back a few days to Wrangell. Like Haines, Wrangell is a cute little town that functions well as a gateway to active excursions (none of which we went on, as we had a quiet day walking around). We visited their local history museum, which packs a lot of history into an impressive space. That evening was formal night, and we dined in Indochine at a table for 6 with one couple we had not yet met, and another with whom we had shared an excursion. Prior to that was the Venetian Society cocktail reception, with 4 new inductees to the 100-days club, and the most days at sea in the 1700 range. Those with 50 days were given lapel pins. That's it for now. My best wishes to all of you,
  11. Hmmmm, zelker, that’s a tough call. I think ours cost a bit less than that, and did seem worth it. If you’ve already seen Hubbard several times before, I just don’t know if it’s worth it. So much is weather-dependent, and therefore risky. We were able to get up close to some wildlife, but not as much as we saw at Tracy Arm. If I had to choose where to spend $500, I would spend it on a float plane with Ryan from Alaska Seaplane Tours in Ketchikan; we had quite a transcendent experience with him, worth every penny.
  12. [insert pic of bear eating grass] So this happened today on an excursion in Ketchikan. We did an independent tour with Ryan McCue of Alaska Seaplane Tours. There were 6 passengers in the plane (I got to sit up front next to the pilot!!!), and we spent about 2 hours in the plane. After journeying over some mountains and across fjords in the Misty Fjords Monument area, Ryan set the plane down on the water after spotting a bear munching on some grass. We approached it as stealthily as one can in a plane that has its motor running. He then cut off the motor, and Ryan literally paddled us closer to the bear -- with a canoe paddle. We were hanging off the sides of the plane and standing on the floats, and I cannot believe how close he was able to get us to that bear. After the bear had its fill of the yummy grass, and we'd had our fill of watching the bear, we headed off to another site, where we saw two more. We then returned home over the mountains with Ryan's inspiring narration encouraging us to reflect on where we were and what we were experiencing. It was an awe-inspiring experience, from start to finish. Earlier in the day, we had visited the Totem Heritage Center, which was a short walk from downtown. That was our favorite museum so far, as it focused on really understanding the cultural, historical, familial, and artistic aspects of what are now called totem poles. With 5 ships in port, downtown Ketchikan was not a pleasant place to be, just wall-to-wall people. The contrast made our floatplane adventure all the more sublime. [edited to add: this post will make more sense when I try again later to post the pic]
  13. We are on the Silver Muse, which was outfitted for this sailing with zodiacs and kayaks from Silversea's expedition arm. The Wilderness Explorer was through Allen Marine. As others have said, the capacity certainly appeared to be in the 100+ range. And it was packed full to the gills. The fact that everyone still had a good view is testament to a) the design of the boat, and b) the amount of time they spend in each location. I'm terrible with distances, but I would say we boarded the St. Theodosius perhaps a mile from the glacier, and got as close as 1/4 mile. The Norwegian Jewel was also there with us that day, and there was plenty of room for both ships to turn around unimpeded. We returned to the ship pretty close to where we left it. The Muse was only in Hubbard for 2.5 hours or so, almost the exact amount of time we were on the St. Theodosius. As for boarding, there was a simple platform direct from the Deck 3 hull on the Muse, with staff helping passengers mind the gap between the two vessels. I hope I answered all your questions so far. Please feel free to ask more. Cheers,
  14. Unibok

    Muse now

    Downtown Ketchikan was a zoo! Wall to wall people until you got far enough away from the crowds. I hope your tour went well today.
  15. Just adding, in case it isn't clear, that we boarded the excursion vessel directly from our ship, like a tender. Although our ship got close to the glacier, the Wilderness Explorer excursion got us much, much closer.
  16. Hi Jimbo, YES, we went out on the St. Theodosius with Allen Marine on a 2-hour+ excursion to get closer to the glacier, the "Wilderness Explorer" excursion. The catamaran was designed specifically for viewing the glacier, with a roomy first floor with a concessions stand, and a second deck that has both indoor seats and an outdoor viewing deck. When the boat isn't in motion, you can go up on top. Over the course of the entire excursion, everyone should have ample opportunity to get close to a window (if inside) or on the glacier side of the action (if outside). The captain will also turn the boat around several times so that anyone inside will have a chance to see. During the 2+hours, we visited 3 different places around the glacier so that he could show us a variety of sights. We saw quite a bit of calving, as well as a small bit of wildlife (a seal, some sea lions, and an otter). The main event was the glacier, and the onboard narrator was superb. They said that we were the first group tour on this brand new vessel, and that they had been wanting to offer this excursion for some time. It all felt very celebratory and special. Interestingly, other folks from our ship were on zodiaks and kayaks, and said that they didn't get as close to Hubbard Glacier as we did on the St. Theodosius. Even during a very cold and rainy day, we had a wonderful time. The Allen Marine team is terrific, and I do recommend this excursion. Because of the rain, I didn't take my camera, but I have some nice shots from my phone that I will upload within a few days, perhaps when we reach Vancouver. In the meantime, my advice is to go for it.
  17. lem_100 -- thanks for chiming in and keeping things up-to-date! It sounds like we had similar days in Wrangell. Enter the way-back machine: Glacier Day in Tracy Arm. Whereas we visited Hubbard Glacier for just a few hours one afternoon, the Muse stayed in the Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier area all day. This allowed for multiple groups to experience the zodiaks, kayaks, and "Wilderness Explorer" double-decker catamaran. It also allowed the Muse to spend quite a bit of time in those stunning fjords. Weather conditions were cold and wet. We had been promised cold and wet weather for days, but somehow managed to experience sunny and somewhat warm -- until glacier day. We were in the earliest group of zodiaks to go out. Pax met in Indochine for a safety briefing and to put on their pfds, then led to the 3rd deck to board the zodiaks. The process was stable and very supported, far easier than I was expecting. Peter, our guide, motored us quickly to the fun stuff, trying to make sure we had plenty of time at the glacier itself. The different colors of blue were incredible to see up close. In addition to the glacier itself, we saw well over 100 seals, including a half-dozen mother-pup pairs. It was well worth the chilly ride and bracing rain to get so close to the action. Back on board, we were greeted with hot chocolate, and we made way for the next group to go out.
  18. As we sail into Wrangell this morning, I'll catch up on Juneau from 2 days ago. We had a generously long time in port, from early morning until 11:00 pm. Although there were 4-5 other ships here during our time, Juneau didn't feel over-crowded -- I suspect that is because Juneau acts as a gateway for so many exciting excursions that get you out of town, regardless of which cruise line you are on: out to the glaciers, up in the floatplanes, on the waters, etc. Everyone disperses. This was the biggest surprise of the day: I was dreading the crush of humanity, and found a delightful little town with plenty of room to spare. With Silver Spawn's allergies slowing her down, I wandered into town for some medications and took in the Sealaska Heritage Center, a lovely little museum devoted to the indigenous cultures here. For those seeking depth, their interactive technologies take you farther and farther into their stories and practices. If my little girl didn't need her meds, I could have spent hours there. By afternoon, she felt well enough for our whale watching tour with Gastineau Guides. This was one of the featured excursions offered by Silversea as part of the Enhanced Whale Watching portion of the voyage, and we were so fortunate to have Anna and Shenaz, our ORCA guides, along on our excursion. Gastineau Guides conducts citizen science while out on excursions, and so they involved us in sorting bycatch from their crabbing pots as well as identifying specific whales we might sight. Charlie, our charming talk-your-ear-off guide, also teaches biology at the local high school, while Capt. Bruck navigated brilliantly and showed his clear affection for the whales in this region -- many of which he can identify by name. It was a terrific excursion. Although the crab pots netted only a single green sea urchin, we all got to hold it, observing its slowly moving spines and feeling the sucking action on the palms of our hands. From there, we went in search of whales, armed with an identification book of their flukes in hopes that we could note exactly which whales we saw, where, doing what. Along the way, we learned that the boat was designed expressly for whale watching, as a perfect (and speedy) platform for photographing them. At one point, we were lucky enough to see a whale mama and baby, adding to the whole mother-daughter vibe of this Alaskan adventure we are having. In the time I have been writing these words, the first picture still has not uploaded. When it does, you will see a whale fluke. You will also see one of the many bald eagles we have encountered, if I have the patience to wait that long. The last breakfast seating is in 90 minutes, and I fear we'll miss it if I wait for the photos to load 😞 We dined that night in Silver Note, and I have to admit I wasn't sure whether we'd like it or not, given some of the reviews here. Still, we have wanted to try each of the venues. Our verdict: we loved it. We loved the small, intimate space, the live music (Vlad on guitar, who seems to have followed me from the Shadow, lol), and thoughtfully-slash-whimsically crafted food. Neither of us ordered the beehive, which seems to be the most abstract of their conceptual dishes, and we were both delighted with our choices. The flavors are a bit bolder and spicier than in other venues, as the waitstaff will warn you. Bolder and spicier is just what we like, so we were in heaven. She started with the sea bass, while I chose the octopus. For mains, she had the lamb, and I opted for venison. No pictures, as we would never be able to leave the suite if we tried to upload them. But here is the promised bald eagle, one of dozens we've seen in the last few days. I hope you have gotten the impression that our wildlife sightings have been incredible since we arrived in Alaska -- that is certainly how we are feeling. So that catches you up through Juneau. Coming up next, a glacier day in Tracy Arm.
  19. Upload speed is actually rather slow, which is one of the reasons why my reports have been pretty thin on visuals. Another reason is the port-intensive nature of this itinerary keep us going, going, going, with little time to reflect. We'll have plenty of time for that when we get home 🙂 A third reason is that I have a companion in my room with me, something I rarely experience. It is delightful, but allows for less writing time. Anyway, back to sunny Haines. Our afternoon excursion was a 4-hour photography tour, Haines Thru a Lens. Cindy, our excellent guide and professional photographer, took us to several different spots and we practiced different techniques at each. I was quite impressed with how she met each of us at our level, and worked with whatever technology we brought, from cell phones to high end DSLRs. Our first stop was along a river bed, where we could practice using macros by taking pictures of the scrub roses there. She then drove us to an old cannery site, which made for a nice contrast of the red building, the flowing river, and the snow-capped mountains above. From there she took us to several places where we would be likely to see bald eagles. We did see many, but only a few that were close enough for good photographs. I did manage to capture this eagle in flight. We also learned along the way that the famed Sitka spruce are in a bit of trouble this year, with not enough rainfall. The weather that seems so perfect to us comes at a cost for those trees. They pay us back, however, by spewing yellow pollen everywhere and on everything. It has certainly activated DD's allergies. We dined with zqtchas and his bride in Atlantide, enjoying an entirely new fish menu designed for local fish Anna had shopped for during the day. Staff described how she had filled tenders with an array of local seafood. My halibut was excellent, and the salmon looked marvelous as well. We then peeked in on Phil's solo show for a few songs before heading back to our suite. Phil seems to be a cruise director in training, and appears to have the right personality and skillset for the position. It is morning now in Juneau, and we have a nice long day in port, with a DIY morning and a whale excursion in the afternoon. Wishing you all a good day!
  20. We had a gorgeous day here in Haines, Alaska! Although the forecast said cold and drizzly, it was blue skies with a warming sun all day. Here is the view from our suite this morning, just after arrival. Haines is a tiny town, and sailing in requires a verrrryyyyy slow and verrrrryyyy beautiful trip through the fjord. Haines has only one small dock, room enough for one Muse-sized ship. Although nearby Skagway is home of the more famous attractions, the charming town of Haines has been courting adventurers and provided ample fun for us. After a leisurely breakfast in Atlantide (which, by the way is quite handsome), we wandered around town on our own, purchasing some ink drawings and jewelry in the process. Because we had an early afternoon excursion, we grabbed an early pizza in Spaccanapoli before the other lunch venues were open. It was our second pizza there, and both have been loaded with excellent flavor. We'll tell you about our afternoon later, but for now we'll leave you with this image of the Silver Muse amongst the snow-capped mountains around Haines.
  21. Unibok

    Laundry

    Good points, Terry. My Shadow voyage may have been an outlier, as the launderettes were in constant use from Day 1 on. Do be aware that while the smaller ships have multiple washers and dryers in each launderette, the Muse launderettes have only one washer and dryer. To balance that out, I believe there is one on every floor. Now on Day 4, the not-yet-free-laundry people are still behaving well (including myself -- haha).
  22. Today = Sitka. Or, for those of you who are fans of Sandra Bullock and the movie The Proposal, Sitkaaaaaa. This is the view from our balcony. It was a tender port, which got us much closer to downtown than the pier used by the bigger ships (Norwegian and Viking). Our day in port was somewhat short, from 9 am to 4 pm. As with yesterday, the expedition team was out in full force, and the ORCA team also led a wildlife excursion. Silver Spawn and I decided to do-it-yourself hike up the Indian River Trail, hoping to make it to the 70-foot waterfall before needing to return for the last tender. Jump to the chase: we didn't quite make it to the falls before we felt it prudent to turn back. SS hiked a good 8 miles, and I clocked about 7 miles all told. One more hour in port and we would have made it. We'll have to return someday. The trail was exceptionally well maintained, and took us into the Tongass Rainforest -- the 2nd largest rainforest in the world, second only to the Amazon. Eventually we ran into a Silversea official expedition tour, but we were happy to be on our own for the day. It was a quiet and uneventful hike through bear country, with so many shades of green and the largest slugs we've ever seen. I would gladly return and spend a full week in Sitka alone (not for the slugs, but for Sitka's other charms). As we had packed only a few snacks for the long hike, we made our way to Spaccanapoli for yummy pizza upon returning to the ship. We chose one of the Napolitano-style pizzas, which was perfect in its simplicity. After that, we returned to our balcony until it was time for the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party. Having hiked so much, we are likely to call it an early evening. Cheers,
  23. Unibok

    Laundry

    Last winter on the Shadow, the (free) self-serve launderettes were constantly in use, and the site of some stress and a few altercations. Right now on the Muse, the (free) launderettes have been used less frequently, and there is much less angst around them. It is interesting how much it can shift from voyage to voyage. In any case, know that there are small self-serve launderettes on nearly every deck on nearly every ship.
  24. Unibok

    Muse now

    lem_100, you are so right! Glad to hear you had a great day. So far, in Alaska, we have had alternate-days weather: one day cold and drizzly, and the next sunny and gorgeous. So far, I'm happy with those odds. Wishing you a joyous voyage,
  25. Haha, John -- they still offer only the cheap chopsticks in both Kaiseki and the buffet on the Muse -- we have been so surprised by that! The lemongrass beef was also on the regional menu on the Shadow last March in Asia, and it was one of the tastiest dishes I had the entire 14-day cruise ... and I had many wonderful dishes. Also, how interesting to hear that your experiences at Hubbard Glacier were so different than ours!
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