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  1. Not of the interior; it was just a basic balcony cabin layout. I do have exterior pictures, if that's what you're looking for.
  2. E735. Fully covered, deep balcony. Just steps from the aft viewing deck. It's over the Universe Lounge so occasionally there was some noise from there but it never bothered our sleep.
  3. 1) I'm not sure what the west trail is, unless it's the one they took on my daughter's 8 hour hike. She said it was a bit of an ordeal, but a lot of that was just the pace they set in order to get to the glacier. Even at that it took over 2.5 hours to get to the ice. My understanding is that the hikes out of the center are fairly easy and level. We saw lots of people at the base of the falls. 2) encore is the show with the guest soprano. We preferred Secret of Silk, personally. 3) bring both a zoom and binoculars. My daughter and I often worked in tandem with her finding things with the binoculars so I could take pictures with the zoom.
  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it. If you have any questions just let me know.
  5. Day 8 - July 31, 2019 - Disembarkation/Anchorage The day dawned with the sun shining, and a few puffy clouds in the sky. We rose in the morning and headed to the dining room shortly before 7, with a stop at the IC to use up punches that would soon become worthless. We were seated at a table for 8, and one couple was getting a little antsy; they were to be disembarking in 15 minutes for their train to Denali! When their food arrived they wolfed it down and bolted from the dining room. The rest of us were able eat more calmly LOL The young couple next to me have a friend who used to live in Anchorage and had sent them many suggestions of things to do, see, or eat. They let me get a copy of the “downtown, no car” options. We returned to our cabin to finish our last minute packing, fill out the “atta boys” for a couple of crew members, and we headed for the Platinum lounge in the Wheelhouse Bar. Our other option was that “Orange 2” was meeting in the Universe Lounge. We arrived at the Wheelhouse with about 10 minutes to go until our group was scheduled. When we were called a crew member was leading us to the gangway via the elevator (down one floor) so we took the stairs, and that put us at the front of our group exiting the ship (and the bulk of Orange 2 was making their way from the aft Universe Lounge). This came in handy because that meant we were the first to board our bus to Anchorage. I wanted to grab a front seat but those are reserved for people with limited mobility, so we took the 2nd row. One set of front row seats, behind the driver, remained open as the bus filled and one woman was looking for seats for her and her young (5ish) son but children aren’t allowed in the front row. We offered to take the front row and give them our seats; we had scored the front row after all. The bus now full, we pulled out to go wait at the tunnel. There is a single lane tunnel that links Whittier to the highway to Anchorage (or anywhere else), so we had a wait of about 20 minutes for traffic coming to Whittier before they reversed the direction of traffic flow. The tunnel is well-lit inside so we didn’t get the total darkness that’s so common in tunnels. After a couple of miles we emerged on the other side to the sight of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and Turnagain Arm. Turnagain Arm was so named when Captain Cook’s ship got stranded in the glacial silt at low tide and had to wait for high tide to be able to turn around and leave. Our driver/guide told us to be on the lookout for humpbacks and belugas but we saw nothing but birds, and gorgeous scenery. After an hour and a half we were at the visitor’s center in Anchorage. We checked to make sure our bags had made it safely, and gathered them all together. We left them in the visitor center while we did a little exploring downtown. We called our hotel to see if it would be possible to check in early, but they said to call back at 1; it was 10:30 at that point. So we did a lot of window shopping, making note of places to return to the next day before our flight in the late afternoon, then got some lunch at Humpy’s (a bar and grill), and then more window shopping (including at the relatively new mall built downtown where Marcia checked out iPads at the Apple store). We heard some live music and went to check it out; it was a one-man blues band. He was using an electric piano for the rhythm section and playing an electric guitar. He was surprisingly good! Nearby was Wild Scoops ice cream and we kept an eye on the line. When there was a short enough line we went over to check it out, and each got a cone; it was very good! Finally, it was nearing time to check into our hotel, so we collected our bags at the visitor center and walked a few blocks east to the Ramada. We checked in, found two nice queen sized beds in the room (which was a relief after the tiny singles on the ship) and I laid down on my bed. I fell asleep almost immediately, and awoke an hour later. We mulled over our dinner options and neither of us was energetic enough to walk back to the downtown core so we picked a nearby outdoor spot. After dinner we returned to our room and just relaxed. I also spent some quality time with a lacrosse ball trying to roll out the tightness in my legs. Sunset wasn’t until 10:40 so we fell asleep with the curtains drawn as tightly as possible. Tomorrow we fly home at 4:25 in the afternoon.
  6. Day 7 - July 20, 2019 - College Fjord I woke up much too early today, so rather than restlessly toss back and forth, I grabbed my tablet and went to the International Café for a tea and pastry while I tried to catch up on the days I was behind reporting. Normally, when I cruise with my wife our routine is I wake up first and go get her coffee from the IC. On this trip I had hardly been there at all. The crew member serving me told me a bit of news that won’t make her happy: they are discontinuing paper coffee cards in August and coffee cards, loaded on your ship ccount, will *only* be good for the cruise they are purchased on. If you’ve been hoarding cards at home, they’re about to become worthless. The weather outside was lovely. A few clouds in the sky, but mostly sunny. The seas were calm and it looked like it was going to be a great day. And it *was*. After an hour or so I returned to our cabin and found that Marcia was awake (and found out she has messaged me to bring her a pastry from the IC, but it never occurred to me to check my messages). We had breakfast in the dining room, and then hung out in our cabin watching the scenery … and starting that sad process of packing to leave the cruise. At 10 there was a culinary demonstration in the Universe Lounge featuring the Maitre d’ and the Executive Chef. The Chef prepared a salmon dish, and then the head Pastry Chef prepared a tiramisu. After the demo we got to take a quick tour of the galley, and that dumped us into the dining room that was holding the outlet sale. Neither of us saw anything we wanted to we went back to our cabin again. At about 11:45 we went to the Bayou Café for the Pub Lunch. There is nothing on the main menu for the Pub Lunch for vegetarians so Marcia got a plate of fries … and she didn’t mind one bit. She LOVES her french fries! After lunch we attended the Backstage Tour in the Princess Theatre. My wife and I had done this on the Coral nearly 5 years ago and it has changed quite a bit. Now it consists of a video presentation and then the Production Manager and the Cast Manager took questions from the audience for nearly half an hour. When the questions were done we were invited on stage to look around, and then we were led downstairs backstage to the dressing area, and then back to the stage where we could ask questions more one-to-one. At 2:15 was the trivia contest I considered my best chance at winning: Beatles trivia! I’ve been a huge Beatles fan, having grown up with an older sister who was the key demographic for the band at the time. The first album I owned was Sgt Pepper. This contest was literally in my wheelhouse (and was being held in the Wheelhouse Bar). There were 15 or 16 trivia questions about the band (“Who was the oldest Beatle?”), and then 20 or so “name that song” questions; a total of 37 questions. We swapped answers sheets with another team, as usual. The crew member asking the questions (DJ Robbie) went through the answers, but had the wrong answer to 2 questions. He was convinced by the audience that the title of one of the songs was “And Your Bird Can Sing” and not whatever title he had (which was not the title of ANY Beatle song). But annoyingly he wouldn’t change his other wrong answer (“What was the Beatles last album to be recorded?”). The right answer is Abbey Road but he insisted it was Let It Be (which was the last album to be released). Anyway, the correct answers were totalled and I had 32 of 37, but another team had 33. I’ll never know if that wrong answer made a difference, but I figure anyone who had that many right probably also knew Abbey Road was the last recorded. We started back to our cabin, but I stopped to look at some 2-for-$20 t-shirts while Marcia continued to the IC. I caught up with her there; she had a chai tea latté and a pastry. I looked at her and said “I guess you don’t want to go to afternoon tea.” She obviously wasn’t interested so I went alone. After tea I went back to the cabin and continued packing and sorting through all the paper you accumulate over the course of a cruise. We had barely started when the captain announced (*in the cabin*) that there was a humpback whale breeching off the starboard side. I grabbed the camera and zoom lens, and Marcia got the binoculars. The whale slapped its tail on the surface of the water several times and then we could see it raising its fins in the air. I'm not sure exactly what was going on, and hopefully once I see my pictures on a larger screen it will make more sense. We quickly finished our packing and put our luggage out in the hall. A naturalist/park ranger had boarded mid-afternoon and she spotted many otters in the water, on both sides of the ship. I got lots of pictures of those, too. She then described the scientific expedition that had named the many glaciers of College Fjord after American universities and colleges. Women’s colleges were on one side (port as you enter the fjord) and men’s on the other. Most of the glaciers have receded to the point that they don’t touch the water any more, but the most impressive of all does. Harvard Glacier, and the end of the fjord, is “healthy” and not receding. It is an impressive sight, miles wide and filling the water with icebergs (most of which are small enough to not be a concern; the small ones are called growlers). Apparently you can often see seals on the larger icebergs, but not today. We were lucky though; there was a relatively small amount of ice in the water so we were able to approach closer than any ship all season. We stopped about one and a quarter miles away. The captain turned the ship so the starboard side faced the glacier for several minutes, and then turned it so the port side faced. We witnessed several calving incidents, and with any luck when I review my videos I see that I caught some of them. It is impressive to hear a large “crack” sound, then see the ice fall, and then the loud sound of the actual calving hits you a few seconds later. Our viewing done, the Captain turned the ship to head back out of College Fjord. It was now nearly 8pm, but you would never have guessed with how bright it was. However, the sun was going behind the mountains on our side so the viewing from our cabin was getting tough because of the shadows. We decided to go to the dining room and see how bad the lines were. And there were no lines at all. They weren’t sure whether to start a new large table because there was no knowing how long it would take to fill since there was literally no one behind us. They seated us at a table for 2, and we saw people slowly trickling into the dining room after. After had ordered and were chatting about our day, Marcia spotted the Italian family I had kayaked with enter and get seated. I went over to say hello, and while I was talking to them the Head Waiter asked if they were the family from Sardinia. The Maitre d’ is from Sardinia and the news about the family had filtered up to him. He had a special table for them, and a special meal! So I said farewell and went back to join Marcia at our not-nearly-as-special-table LOL Princess lets you celebrate birthdays and anniversaries on board if they are within a month. My birthday is Aug 30 so I had my special birthday dessert (which has changed a bit over the years, getting more decorative). Earlier in dinner they held the Baked Alaska Parade, but neither of us was interested in that. I did order some rhubarb ice cream (yummy), though, in addition to the chocolate deliciousness of the birthday “cake”. When we were done we chatted a bit longer (Marcia wondered what is my favourite place I’ve visited), and then we went to say “ciao” to the Italian family. We exchanged email addresses; I was interested in the pictures Andrea had taken on our kayak excursion. And they offered to host us if we’re ever in Sardinia. Finally we retired to the room, tired and ready to sleep. It was well past 10 and still nearly as bright as an early evening. At 11 I took a picture of the twilight scene and used some of my carefully hoarded internet minutes to post it on social media LOL. And then it was time for bed. Tomorrow would be disembarkation day.
  7. Day 6 - July 29, 2019 - Glacier Bay The ship was scheduled to arrive at Bartlett Cove, the entrance to Glacier Bay around 6 am, to pick our park rangers but I wouldn’t know because I was still asleep. When I did get up there was a light drizzle, but more alarmingly very low clouds hanging over the hills (and, presumably, the mountains behind them). At about 7 we went to the dining room for breakfast, and, unfortunately, our service was quite slow so we were starting to miss things happening outside of the ship. After breakfast we returned to our cabin and turned our tv to the channel with the narration and bridge cam. During breakfast the weather had changed dramatically. Instead of rain and low cloud ceiling, the sun had broken through and it was warm enough that I got rid of my layers down to a tshirt and jeans. We could see that we were approaching a glacier on the port side, so I grabbed my camera and went to the rear deck on Emerald (just steps from our cabin) but I couldn’t get a good port side view from there so I went down to the Promenade prot side. I thought it would be crowded but there was no problem getting a spot on the railing as we approached Marjorie Glacier. We spent the next hour or so parked several hundred metres from the glacier, with lots of small icebergs surrounding the ship. While we were there I witnessed the glacier calving. I heard a lot crack, and then looked in the wrong direction at first so I only saw the end of the ice falling into the water. Marcia said she saw 2 or 3 calving incidents, but I only saw the one. The others may have happened when I was moving about the ship. When they eventually started spinning the ship I moved to the forward viewing deck on Baja, and then to our cabin’s balcony and the rear deck on Emerald. After Marjorie Glacier we travelled back the way we had come and then up John Hopkins Inlet. We could not go all the way in to John Hopkins Glacier, though, because large ships aren’t allowed. The area near the glacier is protected for seals to have their pups so we stayed about 5 km away. The ranger doing the narration saw a seal pop her head up but I didn’t. They turned the ship around and we headed back to the Lamplugh Glacier which is at the entrance to John Hopkins Inlet. We spent 15 or 30 minutes parked in front of it before we started out way back out of Glacier Bay. At South Marble Island we saw, from a distance of a couple of hundred metres, islands/rocks covered with Stellars sea lions. Some were sunning themselves, while others were playing in the water. From there we continued south. Marcia saw a humpback dive, but I missed it. A while later I saw a spout, then the back, of a humpback. One more spray, and it dove. I’m hoping my pictures caught it. I kept scanning the seas with binoculars, but even when I spotted *something* by the time I got my camera I couldn’t find whatever it was again. Some people I talked to said they saw otters off the aft of the ship early in the morning. Once we left Glacier Bay we travelled west down Cross Sound to the open North Pacific Ocean. The Captain came on warning us there would be slightly more movement to the ship and that extrememly sensitive people should prepare for that. The seas were actually quite calm; I’ve experienced far worse in the past. While Marcia napped I went to to afternoon tea, and picked up the next puzzle for the High Seas Heist. There were two things going on that night that we wanted to do: the production show “Secret of Silk”, and “Captain Marvel” again. We decided on the early production show so we ate earlier than usual, around 5:30. It was the second formal night, so we changed for dinner and headed to the dining room. Fortunately, there was no line at all. Also fortunate was that service was much quicker for dinner than breakfast or lunch, so we finished in time to go back to our room to change to more comfortable clothers. We then hustled over to the Princess Theatre for the 7:00 show. I had never seen that show, and learned later that it is only a year old across the fleet. It’s a very different sort of show, and includes the use of puppetry from Jim Henson’s company. We enjoyed it a lot, but heard grumbling from some people that it was too loud. Following the show we returned to our room to watch Alaska go by from the balcony, and then downstairs to the Universe Lounge to watch the first part of “Captain Marvel”, the part we missed the night before in Skagway. I was so tired, though, that after ¾ of an hour I was nodding off so I called it a night. Marcia also decided to head back and go to bed. Tomorrow is a sea day, with College Fjord in the evening.
  8. I don't know about sledding in Skagway but I talked to someone on Glacier Bay day who said their morning helicopter ride in Juneau was canceled, but that afternoon ones ran when the weather cleared up. The information we had read about the zipline said no go-pros, and yet they let 2 people attach theirs to their helmets. You need both hands on the bar when you're zipping so you can't operate a camera then, but I took pictures from the platforms between ziplines using my phone. I left the DLSR behind on the ship because I didn't think it would be practical to take along.
  9. We had an early excursion in Skagway, so we got up about at 5:50 and headed to the Horizon Court for breakfast. A light rain was falling against the windows, and we prepared ourselves to get wet today. Our excursion was a train ride up the mountain to Fraser BC followed by a bicycle ride back down the mountain to Skagway. They can supply any necessary rain gear but we still took what we had. It’s about a 20 minute walk into town from the cruise port, and we were to meet our group at the bicycle shop at 7:30 so we gave ourselves plenty of time by leaving our cabin at 7:00. There was a light drizzle as we exited the ship, but that stopped by the time we got to town. We found the shop pretty easily (Skagway is NOT very big), but no one was there because we were so early. We wandered a few blocks on Broadway, and returned to the shop. A few minutes later our tour guide, Trevor, arrived. As it turned out we were the only ones in our group, and were pleasantly surprised that they didn’t cancel our excursion. Later we asked Trevor and he said that if it had been booked through the cruise ship it probably would have been. I don’t know if that means the cruise line would cancel it, or the bike shop. Trevor drove us to the train station in town. There were also trains waiting by the cruise ship so I assumed all excursions booked through the cruise line would start there. I soon learned I was wrong. On our car, the front one of the train right behind the engine, held mostly Princess excursions: hikers that would get off the train at mile 14, and people doing a kayak trip when they got to Fraser. And us. The train ride was beautiful. We had off-and-on drizzle much of the way up, and I spent half my time on the small platform at the front of the car (braving the diesel fumes from the engine). Over the course of the 1.5 hour trip many people came and went from the platform taking pictures, especially when we would cross a bridge. As I mentioned earlier, the end point of the train trip is in Canada, so passports were required for the excursion. The boarding crossing checkpoints, however, are not at the border but each is located about 7 miles from the border in the appropriate country. The Canadian immigration officer boarded the train when we ended the journey in Fraser and quickly checked everyone’s id; I even got a “Welcome home” as he checked mine. As we crossed the border, though, the weather changed dramatically. The clouds lifted and the sun was shining! It looked like we had a chance at a nice ride down the mountain. Trevor met us as we exited the train, and we boarded the shuttle again. Tessa was the driver who would take the 3 of us to the drop off point, and then drive back to Skagway. She drove us through the mostly flat terrain on the Canadian side, and just inside the USA side of the border we pulled in a “scenic overlook” to get fitted with a bike, helmet, gloves, and anything else we wanted. I opted for one of their bright red rain jackets, and Marcia asked for some rain pants. Trevor gave us a quick orientation, read us the very serious sounding disclaimers, and we signed our waivers. We each did a quick ride around the pullout to see (1) if the bike fit, (2) the seat was the right height, and (3) we could actually ride a bike. Once Trevor was satisfied we were ready, off we went downhill. I had been worried that I would just ride the brakes hard the whole way down but once we hit the road I realized I was ok with the speed, especially considering we had a considerable head wind blowing up the canyon into our faces. We rode a short distance, maybe a kilometre, when we pulled over again to check if everyone was ok or if we needed anything. We were both fine so we said goodbye to Tessa and the van, and it was all downhill to Skagway. Or, *mostly* downhill … We stopped at a handful of scenic spots, including a small, lower section of Bridal Veil Falls, the full length of which we had seen from the train. After we cleared through American customs we hit our only uphill section (which I had also spotted from the train). I wasn’t sure I would make it without a stop but I gutted it out despite a knee that had been getting more and more sore on the cruise. The uphill section was about a half a kilometre, and into the steady wind, and when we were at the top Trevor pulled us over to rest and take pictures. From there we had just one more stop on our way back into town. When we hit the flat land of Skagway we realized just how strong the wind was that we were facing. I estimated it at 30-40 km/hr. It was like biking uphill; I kept downshifting just to be able to move forward at all. We made our way back to the bicycle shop, collected the things we had left in the van, and said goodbye to Trevor. We figured there was little chance we would be returning back into town (even though all aboard wasn’t until 8), so we did our shopping before returning to the ship. While we were shopping we ran into all the passengers that had been in my kayaking excursion the day before! With our shopping complete we headed back to the ship, and straight to Horizon Court for some lunch. It was nearly 2 when we reboarded and so one side of the buffet was closed already. There was still plenty of food on the other side, of course LOL The two days of strenuous excursions took its toll on Marcia. She was tired, and feeling like she was coming down with a cold or something, so she laid down on her bed and was quickly asleep. I hung out for a while on the balcony until it was time for “Closest to the Pin Challenge”. We had no idea what that meant, so I *had* to check it out. It turned out it was an indoor version of bocce ball. 4 of us played game after game for the next half hour; Assistance Cruise Director Brenna was hosting, and glad to have something where she didn’t have to do much. I chatted with her briefly; I already knew she was also Canadian, originally from Saskatchewan but now lives in Ottawa (when she’s home, of course). This was her last trip of her current contract so at the conclusion of this cruise she was flying back to Ottawa to see friends and hang out at the pool before her next contract in a couple of months. I went straight to trivia after “carpet bowling” and once again did reasonably well, but still lost badly. One team had 18 of 20 questions right (I only had 14). I returned to our room to wake Marcia because it was time for *puppies in the atrium*. They brought 4 6-week-old sled dog puppies onboard for people to see and get their pictures taken. They had 3 “on duty” at a time, and rotated one out every few minutes. We didn’t want to wait in the enormous line for pictures, so gathered around the area where the puppies rested between shifts, but so did lots of other people. Marcia was eventually able to get to the railing and get a good view of the cute little doggies. In the evening there were only two things we wanted to do: the production show “Encore” (featuring a guest soprano brought on board just for this show), and “Captain Marvel” at MUTS. We went to dinner early (about 5:45) in hopes we would be done in time for the beginning of one of the shows. Alas, it was after 7:30 by the time we were done so we decided to join the movie late (we had both seen it before, and could see it the next day in the Universe Lounge), and then go to the late show of Encore. We wrapped up in blankets and grabbed two front row loungers (not many people were willing to brave the outdoors in Alaska to watch a movie). Things were fine until we departed the dock. Even then it wasn’t too bad until we were well underway, and then the wind REALLY wanted to rip the blankets off of us. We stuck it out until the mid-credit scene and then we were done (SPOILER ALERT: we didn’t need to see Goose cough up the Tesseract, again, in the end-credit scene). After the movie we made a quick trip to the room to shed some of the layers we had taken to wear to MUTS, and went to the Princess Theatre for the Encore. It was yet another wonderful show. We retired to the room and both fell asleep quickly. Unfortunately, I fell asleep with a bag of ice on my knee, but no harm (well, no MORE harm) was done. I eventually woke up about 30 or 40 minutes later to take it off, and climb under the covers. Tomorrow would be a sea day in Glacier Bay.
  10. Day 4 - July 27, 2019 - Juneau As I mentioned earlier, Marcia and I are doing separate excursions today. She’s doing an 8 hour hike that takes her out onto Mendenhall Glacier, and, if they’re lucky, into ice caves. Thus, she had a earlier start today because hers started at 8:30. As a point of reference, we didn’t dock until 8:00. Meanwhile my excursion started 2 hours later, and ends 2 hours earlier. I did the Mendenhall Lake Kayaking Adventure, during which we kayaked to the base of the glacier. We only brought one DLSR camera, and after much discussion we decided she should take it (but not with the extra weight of the zoom lens). I would just use my phone’s camera. Because of the difference in the times of our excursions we ate breakfast separately. Marcia quickly grabbed her food in the buffet, while I relaxed in our cabin. After she left I went to the dining room, and they seated me alone; they didn’t even ask if I wanted to share a table (which I would happily have done), but I think it was just the timing. All the tables around me had no extra seats, and probably those that did were well into their meal. Fortunately, I have no issues with eating alone. The forecast in the Patter was for showers and a high of 17 C, but the weather was dry with small patches of blue sky showing when we docked. I overheard someone in the dining room say the rain was not expected until the afternoon, so I crossed my fingers that I would avoid getting totally soaked kayaking. I was to meet the tour guide by the Mount Roberts Tram at 10:20 for a 10:30 start. When I walked by the disembarkation ramp after breakfast there was a pretty big line, and I didn’t know how long it would take to walk, so overcompensated and arrived 10-15 minutes early. That gave me time to check out the Tram gift shop and hit the bathroom one last time. By 10:30 we were assembled for our kayaking tour: a couple from Alabama (Tim and Mallory), a family of 3 from Italy (specifically, Sardinia; Andrea (father, probably spelled wrong), Marta, and their 12 year old daughter Francesca), and me. Since I know the kayaks were 2 person, I figured one of the Italian family would be paired with me. A 20 minute drive took us to the western side of Mendenhall Lake, to our put in spot. A last-chance opportunity to go to the bathroom before being confined to a kayak for the next 2.5-3 hours, and then we were “suited up”. They gave us rainboots that went nearly to our knees, lovely yellow (and heavy duty) rain pants, and a life jacket. Ihad 4 layers to wear but they recommended that I didn’t need both jackets and to just keep the rain jacket. Our guide, Megan, lead us to the shoreline where the kayaks were lined up on shore. She showed us how to get in the kayaks, and we split into pairs. Since I already had kayaking experience, I was in the back of a boat with Marta from Sardinia. The father and daughter were in another boat, and the Alabama couple in the 3rd. Megan, our guide, had her own boat. There was a power skiff there as well, which was for emergencies if someone tipped and went for a swim. We all got in our boats, and were pushed off the shore. Megan then showed us proper paddling technique (“use your core”), explained where we were going, and off we went. We could see Mendenhall Falls and the Visitor Center across the lake, about 4 km away … but that’s not where we were headed. We were going to get as close to the glacier itself as we could. Megan explained how the glacier creates a micro-climate, and the winds can approach 100 km/hr! She has tried as hard as she can, and has never been able to get close enough to the glacier to touch it. Our first goal was to get to the penninsula that was between us and the glacier. The weather was good: partially sunny with little wind. We set off towards our goal and all was well, except that the lake has a current that was pushing us to the west. I was struggling to keep us straight (the person in the back is responsible for steering), but I did my best. We stopped for a rest and Megan told us a few facts about the lake, the glacier (it is 300 feet underwater at its face!), and wildlife. The father-daughter team was also falling behind, which became a common theme for the tour. About halfway to the pennisula the wind picked up so it got harder to make progress but we all dug in and made it. Well, 2 of the boats did. A few hundred metres from the rocks Megan told us to just head towards the penninsula, and wait about 10 ft off shore. She had to go back and help the father-daughter team catch up. There were a few theories about why they were falling behind. We could hear them bickering, and I thought they were using up all their energy talking instead of paddling. Marta thought that Francesca just wasn’t strong enough. Francesca later mentioned that her father kept stopping paddling to take pictures! Eventually they caught up, and we hugged the pennisula, out of the wind now, until we were about to come around and into an even more severe wind. We stopped briefly to take better pictures of the Falls, and then struck out again. And windy it was! We paddled as hard as we could, but Megan stopped us when we were still quite a distance from the glacier; we had run out of time. We floated there, a few hundred metres from the face of Mendenhall Glacier, but certainly closer that we would have been able to get otherwise. Except, perhaps for the enormous canoe excursion that passed us on our way back. There must have been 20 people in it paddling, with a guide at the back with oars. Maybe they had enough brute force to get closer. Turning around things got much easier with the wind at our backs. The only issue was the current seemed stronger now because I had to fight to keep us in a straight line. And … a light drizzle began to fall. It wasn’t significant, and, frankly, I was hot from all the stuff I was wearing and the work of paddling. We got back to shore with no further incidents (except waiting for father-daughter a couple of more times). Snacks were waiting for us, and hot beverages, and then we loaded in the van to return to Juneau. The couple from Alabama had another tour booked for shortly after we returned to town … and we encountered stopped traffic due to an accident. That only added about 5 minutes to our trip, though, and we got back downtown in plenty of time for them to make their whale watching. The Sadininians also got off downtown to do some shopping but I just wanted to get back, take a hot shower, and put on clean, dry clothes. Cleaned up, I went to Horizon Court at about 3:00 for a bit to eat, and then to the dining room for afternoon tea. After a couple of scones and clotted cream I was headed towards our cabin and as I walked past the Explorers Lounge one of the wait staff (Rose, from the Phillipines) waved me over and told me trivia was about to start but there was no one there to play! Not one to pass on an easy win, I got my answer sheet and pencil and sat down. Alas, a bunch of other people filtered in but it still wasn’t a huge crowd. I lost again, but if I had remembered the name of the 7th dwarf (Happy) and stuck to my convictions about what Au is the symbol for (gold) I would have tied. After the game I retired to our cabin to await Marcia’s return. Her tour was supposed to end at 4:30 but she didn’t return until nearly 6:30 because some of the folks in her group went to a brewery after their hike. I will summarize her day another day; they had quite the adventure! Once she was back and cleaned up we went to dinner in the any time dining room, sitting at a table for 8. One couple was from LA, one from Colorado, one from Australia. Marcia regaled everyone with her hiking tales. Nothing much was going on after that so we just went back to our cabin to get ready to sleep. We have a very early start to our day in Skagway tomorrow.
  11. She was fine by the end of the afternoon, and hasn't had issues since. Her body just needed to adjust to the motion of the ship. Thank your for your thoughts and ideas.
  12. It is Juneau night, day 4 of our cruise. When I was on the Coral 5 years ago they held it in one of the specialty restaurants (the Bayou Cafe, I think).
  13. Day 3 - July 26, 2019 - Ketchikan We woke up shortly before 6, just in time to watch as we sidled up to the dock. It was drizzling so we were happy for our covered balcony. After watching them tie up the ship we headed to the Horizon Court for breakfast. We snagged a seat by the window but it didn’t make much difference; the rain made it difficult to see out. Shortly after 7 we left our cabin to meet our tour. We were signed up for a zipline adventure with an independent tour organizer. We walked from berth 4 to berth 2 in a steady rain, and were pretty soaked by the time we got to the meeting spot. It took a while but eventually we found our tour group and 12 of us boarded their brand new van (complete with “new van smell”) and drove 20 minutes to the Eagle Creek Rainforest Canopy Zipline Adventure. We transferred from the van to another vehicle we took us part way up the hill to the start of the zipline. We were quickly fitted with our harnesses, helmets, and gloves, and given instructions on how to operate the zipline. I had ziplined previously in Mexico and Costa Rica, but I was never responsible for my own braking before. Some people were visible nervous but most were just excited. After a couple of “bunny hill” lines they got longer and longer; the longest was 750 ft! After 5 or 6 lines we crossed 3 suspension bridge before the final couple of lines. On the last line their photographer took photos of us; we were instructed to lean to the right and wave with that hand. Then they took a group photo before we each lowered to the group with what they called a “rappel”, but wasn’t really a rappel. It was more like a slow motion elevator sitting in a harness. Our zipline tour over, we had time to wander the wildlife preserve (with injured Bald Eagles, and reindeer), or shop in the gift shop. The van returned us to town, and we had them drop us off at Creek Street, while everyone else returned to their chip. The rain began to let up during our trip in the van, and with the trees protecting us we were able to stay reasonably dry; when we got back to Ketchikan it had pretty much ended.. There were 4 ships in town; the 3 that were in Vancouver together plus the Norwegian Bliss. The Bliss was departing a couple of hours before us, so those passengers needed to get back to their ship immediately. When the Bliss departed a Celebrity ship took its place at dock. We poked along, looking in shops for gifts but nothing appealed, and the rain began to pick up again, so eventually we just headed back to the ship to get some lunch. Even though we were in time to eat in the dining room neither of us wanted to do that so we had our second meal of the day in the buffet. We weren’t fortunate enough to get a window for a second time, though. After lunch we returned to our cabin to shower and relax on the balcony to watch sailaway. Once again we were little late departing; we heard 3 names being paged on the speakers so I assume some passengers were late returning. We watched Ketchikan disappear and then went to the dining room for afternoon tea. From there we picked up the next clues for the High Seas Heist mystery game, which turned out to be a crossword puzzle based on the stolen necklace mystery. We returned to our cabin for a while, and then headed down to the Universe Lounge for the “On The Bayou” show. Even though I thought we were getting there early enough for the good seats, the theatre was already half full! We picked some seats on the upper level, and enjoyed the show. We returned to our cabin to pick something up before heading straight to dinner, but then the Captain announced we would soon be passing through Snow Passage where the speed would be reduced and there was a good chance to see whales. We decided that we could let dinner wait a while so we stayed on our balcony to watch. By this time the rain had stopped, and the sun was almost breaking through the clouds. We saw some activity, probably sea lions, and then someone in the next cabin said “thar she blows”. Sure enough we saw the spray from a humpback whale off the starboard side, but that was it for the whale activity. We saw some more probable sea lions, and that was it for wild life. We could barely hear a female voice making announcements but they weren’t relayed to our cabin so we don’t know what that was about. At dinner we sat a a table for 8, with a family of 4 from Georgia, and a pair of sisters from Ohio. It was Italian night in the dining room tonight so all the wait staff were dress like gondoliers LOL Nothing appealed on the agenda so we again returned to our cabin to watch the world go by, and go to bed. We actually got a nice sunset of the mountains … and I suddenly wondered “what direction are we going? Why is the sun setting on the starboard side of a northbound cruise?” We turned on the tv to the channel with the navigation information, and sure enough we were headed southwest to go around an island or pennisula (I wasn’t sure which). Tomorrow we are doing separate excusions in Juneau so I won’t see much of my daughter during the day.
  14. Day 2 - July 25, 2019 - At Sea Our at sea day started slowly. My Crohns Disease didn’t do well with the excessive rich food from the night before, so I stayed in the cabin most of the morning. I’ve now seen “Jumanji” a couple of times since we boarded, and parts of “On the Basis of Sex”, plus the same episode of “Friends” a couple of times. Marcia went to the gym around 7:15 and quickly returned because it was so packed; not a single cardio machine was available to use! She started feeling queasy so she headed to Lido where she could be outside in the fresh air, which helped her. When we awoke the ship was moving slowly but soon picked up speed as we passed the north end of Vancouver Island. The subsequent extra motion hit her hardest and dealt with motion sickness most of the rest of the day. Around noon we were both feeling better enough to try the gym again; it was busy but we could at least get on the equioment we wanted. Afterwards we showered and got to the dining room shotly before it closed. The menu was uninspiring but we both *somehow* managed to find something to eat LOL After lunch we went to the Universe Lounge for the “Game Show: Guest Feud”. We were a 2-person team for just a couple of minutes until a wave nausea sent her back to our room. I soldiered on alone but lost; I had a shot but zeroes on 2 questions sunk me. I returned to the room to find her out on the balcony, eyes closed. There was a fine rain falling, almost more mist than rain, which made us happy that I had carefully selected a fully covered balcony. We split our time between our balcony and the aft viewing deck, until it was time for afternoon trivia. About halway through the game a lady asked if she could join us, and we said “of course”. We were glad to have her because she knew the answer to a couple questions for we had no clue. Unfortunately, once again we were close but a team of teachers beat the room. We had decided to try the dining room earlier tonight because there were several things we wanted to do in the evening. We returned to our room to change for Formal Night. Ihad cheked with the Maitre D’ and a jackeet and tie were not necessary. We got to the anytime dining room (Bordeaux) around 5:30 and were immediatly ushered in to a table for 8. It quickly filled with folks from various spots around the USA. I decided by digestion was still iffy enough that I didn’t take any chances and simply had the Country Chicken from the always-available menu. Glancing around the dining room I saw one or two tuxes, several men with suits or jackets and ties, some with just jackets, some with just ties, but a plurality of the men were in nice dress shirts and slacks. After dinner we changed our of our dinner clothes and wennt to the “Miracle Lyrical Game” in the Explorers Lounge. Alas this time we tied for 1st but lost the tiebreaker (guess the host’s shoe size); close but no wine bottle stopper. After a quick trip to the Horizon Court so I could get some rhubarb pie we returned to the Explorers Lounge to learn about the “High Seas Heist” mytery game. For the rest of the cruise we will be trying to solve the mystery of who stole the Peruvian Opal necklace. Marcia picked up our instruction and clues package and went back to the room while I stayed in the Explorers Lounge for the “Majority Rules” game. This is a game where haing a team isn’t necessarily and advantage, unlike most trivia games. There was a huge turnout for this game, the lounge was packed! My 3 matches weren’t remotely good enought to win. Tomorrow is our first port day in Ketchikan. We have a zipline excursion at 7:45 am so it will be a very early start. At least we set the clocks back tonight for the Alaska Timezone.
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