Posted July 8th, 2018, 01:40 PM
Day #7 June 26, 2018
This morning dawned bright and beautiful with lots of su and 50 degrees climbing into the 60's today.
We decided to have the buffet breakfast this morning rather than ordering from the menu. They offered scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, cooked oatmeal, cereals, yogurt, granola, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and make-your-own toast machine. As with most buffets, it was all about room temperature. A better option is to take advantage of the made to order breakfast.
We then waited in the lobby for our coach bus to the Kenai Fjords Boat Tour. We booked this through Princess as soon as it became available on our Personalizer as I knew this was the one excursion we wanted to take. Great reviews. New Princess requirements include you pay for it when you book it (many months out). You can cancel it up to three days before. A couple tried to cancel the tour the morning of and despite asking several people at reception/tour desk and in several different ways, the answer was a no. I am not sure how long they take people signing up for the trip. We had two full buses going from the Kenai lodge. The boat holds about 200 people.
Note: One question I had posed on CC beforehand regarded booking private excursions from the lodges. We are DIYers, as I mentioned before, and always book small, private excursions. The answers I received were basically no--the lodges are far too remote. This is not accurate. At Denali there is an area directly across the highway from the lodge that offers various private venues including fly fishing and helicopter rides. There was also a "stand" nearby where young people had multiple bikes for rent. Kenai is the remotest lodge, and I paid particular attention on the drive in and out of the area and saw several, small, private signs along the side of the road for fishing guides and rafting trips etc. The replies I received on CC also included the idea that Princess would forbid outsiders to come onto the Princess properties. I can tell you that at Denali, the driveways are wide open and front a busy highway with private cars coming and going all over the place. And even at Kenai, there is no way to stop anyone from driving onto the property. There are no manned gates or anything like that. In fact, Micheal mentioned that a lot of locals come to eat at the Rod and Reel since it's the nicest restaurant in the area. (Kenai also has a RV park to one side of the road on the way onto the property along with a little camp store and laundry.) So....if you are interested in a private company taking you fishing or rafting etc, go ahead and look into it. Discuss with the company being picked up at the Princess lodge--at worst at McKinley you might have to walk across the street to hitch up with them. I don't think there'd be any problems at all, and I'm pretty sure the cost would be a lot less than Princess charges, and for sure involved a lot fewer people. This Kenai Fjord excursion through Princess was $249 pp.
Not knowing what sort of weather and temps we'd encounter, we armed ourselves in layers and brought along hats, gloves and Dramamine. Fortunately, we had great weather. Lots of sun and calm waters. It did become cloudy in the afternoon, but no rain, and the water remained calm.
The coach bus took us one hour to Seward, and there we boarded the touring ship. The only advice I was able to find regarding where to sit was: on the ground level and near an outside door. Most seating was three seats facing three seats with a table in between. Despite the seats flipping up, it's tight. DH and I didn't want to sit in two outside seats as we knew the people sitting on the inside seats would be wanting to jump in and out as wildlife presented itself outside in the water. And vice versa. We didn't want to disturb others on the end if we sat on the inside seats. What to do? We grabbed what looked like the only two seat table in the covered, bottom floor. It was directly across from a door leading to the deck outside. Perfect, right? Well, it was COLD and WINDY on the water, and every time the door opened--BRRR. Also, when the dang door was opened too wide, it caught and stayed open. I had to jump up multiple times to unhook it and close the door. There was some seating in the inside upper level of the boat, and that was snatched up immediately by people in front of us, but again, the seating was the same upstairs with the three seats facing three seats over a table. There were also outside chairs, and since it was a beautiful sunny day at the dock, many people sat there. However, as soon as the boat started to go, it got cold and windy up there outside. AND when lunch was served, all those people outside were herded inside and told to find random seats to sit so they could eat lunch. I think if I went again, I'd take the same two seats. Putting up with a bit of cold and wind was no big deal overall. I was dressed for it for the day.
The tour was scheduled for 11 AM and left just a few minutes after. We got about 25 minutes away from the dock and into the fjord when the captain came on and made an announcement. He said, "Well, this is a new one on me, but we've been directed to return to the dock to pick up late passengers." All 200 people, almost in unison, said, "WHAT??"
Back we went and 8 - 10 people boarded. Then we were off again having wasted more than an hour's time of 190 people. Don't know what was up with that.
A little ways into the fjord, there was a flock of seagulls circling above the water. The captain said that is normally an indication there are whales feeding. And sure enough, five humpback whales were bubble netting. We got very close and got a few good pictures.