Gramd Alaska and Panama

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#42
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thank you Patti.


Day Y4C-9, Thursday, July 26, 2018, Fairbanks to Denali

I slept late this time, getting up between 5 and 6. Bags were due out at 6:40, and we were given 3 options all of which were used. Roger sent one bag to Anchorage with the other going to Denali. The third option was to send bags straight to the ship. I did that with my smaller bag while the big one went to Denali.

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I took a half hour walk in the city about 6, and Fairbanks is quite sleepy at that hour. The Chena River runs right though the center of town.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/07/chena.jpg

Departure from the Westmark was 9:40, and we had a little tour before leaving for Denali. While it did not generate the same legends as the Klondike, Fairbanks is rich in gold. While mining started out small, the real boom was the first half of the 20th century with gold harvested by massive dredges. We toured one.

The site was about 10 miles from town. We accessed the dredge via a short train ride where guides gave us information as traveled quite slowly for about a third of a mile.

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The best view of the dredge was from the train as we approached.

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There was a collection of mining equipment scattered around the property. As we came to our destination, Mandi was perched on a grader.

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Once at the site we were given little bags of dirt and an opportunity to pan for gold. My yield was about $6, the lowest count of anyone in our group who had actually gotten gold. The highest yield was $30. I was given a little candle as a consolation prize.

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After the panning we got a chance to go inside the dredge for a look at the inner workings.

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As we returned to the bus we got a look at the Alaska pipeline. About half of the route is underground like most pipelines, but where there is permafrost it is elevated on towers designed not to melt the ground underneath.

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The inside of the line is kept clean by “pigs” that flow though the pipe scraping deposits off the pipe walls.

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When we left the dredge we stopped in the center of Fairbanks where there was time to get lunch. Our stop was near the end point of the Yukon Quest, the annual 1000 mile dog sled race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse,

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The ride to Denali was a little under 4 hours, with a stop midway.

Arrival at the McKinley Chalet Resort was about 5:30. It’s a huge, sprawling complex. We are in the “Canyon Lodge” more or less in the middle of the property, but it’s just a block of rooms with few other facilities. The main lodge is up a steep hill (at least there’s a frequent shuttle), There’s also a “Denali Square” complex in the opposite direction, a little more accessible. It has a nice plaza with fireplaces and a guitarist, as well as shops and a large restaurant. We had dinner in that restaurant a Mandi had planned a social but the wind was a bit too strong to do anything.

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Wifi is annoying. There is none in Canyon Lodge, and the lounge in Denali Square where they have it is fully restaurant most of the time. That really means going up the hill anytime the internet is wanted.

Our cruise tour is almost over. It’s wonderful but anything but relaxing. In the 17 days since leaving home I’ve slept in 17 different beds. For a cruise tour I’ve really decided the way to do it is cruise last (Or better yet cruise at both ends),

Roy
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11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#43
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day Y4C-10, Friday, July 27, 2018, Denali National Park

Wow! That last parting shot I misspoke. It should have been 11 different beds in 17 days, not 17 beds.

This was our day to visit the interior of the park. It was a day for an early start with the bus leaving the lodge at 7:10AM.

The trip into the park is on school-type buses. All our group was on the same bus, but there were a number of other people as well filling EVERY seat on the bus and the seats were packed in tightly, making a solid wall of people blocking the view when wildlife was sighted on the other side of the bus.

We make a round trip about 60 miles into the park and back. The first 15 miles are paved but the rest is gravel, much of it winding and mountainous. We turned out to be lucky that we had our first sighting, a bear, before we even left the paved roadway.

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Only buses and a few permitted other vehicles are allowed beyond that first 15 miles. The drivers are all in radio communication and clue each other in about wildlife sightings.

There’s something new since the last time I was in Denali. There are several video monitors hanging from the overhead and the drivers have a camera with a very intense zoom they can train on wildlife along the way. It’s not a perfect system as it can only be used after the bus is stopped and secured, and the drivers still must stay on top of traffic so they cannot use it as extensively as would be ideal, but some of my best views came from the monitors, like one of 2 bears in the distance.

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I remember only one moose sighting. I got glimpses of it but never for long enough to train the camera on either the monitor or the moose. While we got several glimpses of Denali it was mostly shrouded in clouds with just one clear view of both peaks.

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Most of our other wildlife encounters were with caribou. The first one was lying down with just the antlers sticking up.

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A rare sighting (the first of the year for the driver) was a gyrfalcon perched on a nearby tree.

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Twenty minutes later we had our second caribou sighting, a pair of them who appear to be crossing one of the rivers.

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I think my favorite caribou picture came about a half hour later. It was far in the distance but a magnificent silhouette making it’s way up a steep hill.

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We had 2 rest stops (same places) in each direction. We stopped only briefly at the second stop outbound with hopes of a good view of Denali at our turnaround (no such luck) and had a more extensive stay at the outer stop on the way back. It’s on a river. Many of Denali’s rivers were originally fed by glaciers and are very small with wide silt fields.

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We had 2 additional caribou sightings on the ride back. The first was grazing in a meadow on my side.

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The last one was on the other side of the bus up on a steep hill, a magnificent animal. We returned to the lodge about 3PM.

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Before returning to my cabin I walked over to the nearby Princess property (I stayed there 2 years ago), and reviewed their menus before deciding L liked one of our own restaurants better. Despite the late darkness we had quite a quiet evening.

I’ll backtrack a bit on my parting shot. I have always felt that customs people are pretty reasonable if you cooperate with them but was still surprised at one encounter I saw in Fairbanks. One of our party had brought an apple in from Canada. She obviously answered “yes” on her food question and the immigration guy had noted what the food was on her form. She was directly ahead of me in the customs line and he sail “Let me see the apple” He looked at the little sticker on it and said “yes, it’s from the US, go ahead”. I would never have believed that much cooperation from them was possible.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

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11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#44
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
R&D, I was aware of the transfer of the WPYR, buy wouldn't really expect things to change much. Tours to ALL cruise lines should be a cash cow for Carnival Corp.


A quick update.

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Transfer to the Westerdam was pretty smooth, but I’m trying to get organized and adjust to the stability of a straight week at sea. I am reunited with the big bag sent from home by Luggage Forward and spent most of Sunday afternoon trying to deal with this.



Left to right it is the bag from home, the “meet me on the ship” bag from Fairbanks, the Bag from the Captain Cook in Anchorage, and finally my carryon.

I am now using my larger laptop with a few straight stable days more of room to work and am hoping to get up to speed relatively soon.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

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11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#45
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day Y4C-11, Saturday, July 28, 2018, Denali to Anchorage

It was an early but not terribly early morning with bags due our at 7. I was up at 5 and tried Denali Square for wifi but it was closed and the shuttle up to the main lodge proved necessary.

I was snacking my way through breakfast but joined Roger and sipped coffee while he had his.

We left at 8:30 for the short ride to our waiting train.

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We were booked on Chulitna, which turned out to be the very first car on the train. We were near the back of the car but could see a little bit (not much) out the front window. Our bartender Grant and rail guide Darren introduced themselves. Both proved to be excellent.

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Our official departure time was 9:15 but we were ready and left about 10 minutes earlier, soon passing over the Riley Creek Bridge.

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A half hour we caught up with the Nenana River and followed it for much of the morning.

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It took about 1 ½ hours to reach the summit of the railway. In that area the landscape had become quite alpine in nature.

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A high point of the journey was crossing Hurricane Gulch, the highest and longest trestle on the line. We did not see the actual trestle but the views from both sides were quite breathtaking.

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After the summit we followed the Susitna River much of the way into Talkeetna.

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We had one stop where people got off and on the Princess Car, at Talkeetna. One of the landmarks there is the Fairview Inn, visited by President Harding on his way to attend the ceremony for completion of the Railroad.

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Continuing into Anchorage we passed the Knik Arm and the Chugach Mountains.

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We arrived in Fairbanks a little before 5:30 and were transferred to the Captain Cook Hotel. After Roger and I had our final dinner together he needed to take a nap before his EARLY morning (about 1:45) flight and I wanted to do a little shopping. There was a grocery store (more like a nice deli) where I got some milk, diet coke, ice cream, and an apple, then stopped at a mall on the way back for an IPAD cable to replace one I had lost.

After returning from shopping I worked on the computer while Roger slept. We said farewell and he left for the airport and I called it a day.

As a parting shot you sometimes get the idea that nobody knows you far from home. In this far north region I’ve been surprised twice. My first trip to Dawson City I was walking back from Diamond Tooth Gerties when I recognized some familiar looking t-shirts. It turned out to be my County Executive and the Chief of a neighboring fire department with their wives (both involved in the fire service). Lightning has struck in the far north again. While walking from the grocery store to the mall I heard somebody calling my name. It turned out to be one of my former scouts. Sean was part of a group of about 4 scouts who were quite close, but he was probably the most serious of the group. He was active in my troop about 5-10 years ago, attaining the rank of Eagle around 2012. What a pleasure to see an old (but now far more mature) face again.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#46
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W1, Sunday, July 29, 2018, Board MS Westerdam, Seward

I was up at 5am but did not expect to see a sunrise in downtown Anchorage. I looked out my window about 5:35 and it was just peeking through between a couple of buildings.

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I had not actually been to a church in a couple of weeks but it looked like First Methodist in Anchorage would be an appropriate place. The timing was great. The Egan Center opened for registration about 9 with the first bus at noon. The service, about a 10-minute walk away, was at 10. I left the hotel about 8:30, went past the church to verify the location, and got my transfer pass soon after they opened. I did some internet work for about a half hour and then left for the service.

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There was a bit of a false start as there was a guest preacher and at 9:45 nobody had a church key, but the doors were opened in the nick of time. I was especially happy that I had done that as the Westerdam was not at all helpful. There is a priest on board and he is quite capable of doing an excellent interdenominational service (and it’s part of their agency’s mission), but HAL will not facilitate it. The interdenominational service they offer is “congregation led”, and to boot it was right in the middle of the early dinner seating. Very poor support HAL.

The first transfer actually left about 11:45, and was a very lightly loaded coach. It’s about 70 miles directly from Anchorage to Seward, but pretty close to double that by road. Soon after we leave Anchorage we follow for quite a distance along Turnagain Arm, perpendicular to our direct line to Seward. The Arm has one of the highest tidal ranges in North America, after the Bay of Fundy,

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Once we get around Turnagain the most scenic feature was probably Kenai Lake. We pulled into the cruise terminal about 2:15.

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There was only one line for checkin (nothing for 4-star+ mariners or suites) but it moved very quickly and I was on board by 2:30. The “meet me onboard” bag was missing so I stopped at the hardware to look for a couple of things as well as the Safeway. My walk was longer than I planned (the route took a big Z) and it was after 4 when I returned. The missing bag was there and the rest of the afternoon was pulling all my packing cubes out of the bags (another day to really deal with them).

I am at table 53 (the aft starboard corner of the upper level), an 8 top. I was alone most of the evening although a family did come in as I was on desert (they had come all the way from Denali). My first dinner selections were chicken with carrots and green beans, and then butter pecan ice cream.

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The weather had been cloudy much of the day and there were low hanging clouds out the dining room window.

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The muster drill was at 7:30, the standard HAL 3-stage drill on the promenade deck sans life jackets. Sailaway was at 8 but by that time there was quite a drizzle and I was outside watching our departure only briefly.

The “Mainstage” on the Westerdam is larger than what I am used to on most HAL ships but the opening (9:30) show was pretty much what I am used to. There were brief selections by the Westerdam singers and dancers, and the entertainment team was introduced. The Cruise Director is Saul Orr from Scotland.



I’ll take my parting shot from the bus ride. One of the little towns we passed through was Moose Pass, and our driver pointed out an old waterwheel attached to a grind stone. The driver reported there was a sign at the site “This is a peaceful town. If you have an axe to grind, do it here”. I like it.

Roy
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Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#47
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W2, Monday, July 30, 2018, At Sea, MS Westerdam, Gala

It was mostly a day to stay inside the Westerdam. While I had heard quite a bit of the fog horn Sunday evening it had stopped but that did not mean the weather had cleared.

While the weather was not great it was good enough for walking and I completed my 5-mile (15-lap) walk about 7:15.

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In the morning I mostly worked on managing my pile of packing cubes, but also struggled a bit with my scanner and the internet. I do have a window but it isn’t much. I have an obstructed oceanview cabin and they really do mean obstructed. My view is essentially the hoisting machinery between boats 12 and 14.

One thing I find annoying about the Westerdam is that without buying a cabana, there is really no way to walk outside from the back of the ship to a place where there’s a view of the front. You can walk on deck 10 from the back to the end of the cabanas but must then go inside past about a dozen cabins before going up another flight of stairs to the front at deck 11. In his noon update Captain Smit’s main piece of information was that we were cruising about 14 kt to be at Glacier bay on time. Lunch was fries from Dive-In.

There is a significant destination staff onboard with a naturalist and 2 EXC guides. The EXC guides had a talk on ports of call at 2 followed by the future cruise consultant at 3. She had nothing particularly new and I did not win the drawing. The day stayed pretty gray without ever a break in the clouds.

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For our first Gala night we had a full table. In addition to me there are 2 families, one multi generational with grand parents, an aunt (I think) and a teen age girl. The other is a couple with a teen aged boy. Both the youth seem to be having a good time. The menu seemed to be pretty much the same as the Gala night on the Volendam and I again went for the rack of lamb.

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There was a bit of a switch in the traditional Captain’s toast. Captain Vincent Smit did the toast solo without introducing the other senior officers. The featured entertainment was a program called “Playback” by the Westerdam Singers and Dancers. It was pretty good although I think the Prinsendam does equally well with more modest but equally talented productions.

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As a parting shot I’m thinking that simple answers are not always right. I’m thinking specifically about the Westerdam’s internet. It’s been extremely difficult to work with, but I’m not sure the ship is really the problem. All sites are on the slow side, but for some the site runs well if on the slow side. Others (Cruise Critic in particular) are fairly close to useless, moving at a glacial pace trying to connect to one slow app after another. While slow, the Westerdam’s internet is affected by site design problems pretty well outside the ship’s control. With blazing fast internet the slowness of the site may not be apparent but the difference between one site and another is startling and I just can’t blame everything on the ship.

Note: I'm currently in the Haines Public Library and the wifi there is not much better right now (but lots of people using it)

Roy
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Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#48
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W3, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, Glacier Bay

I was up at 5AM but one of the first sounds I heard was the Westerdam’s fog horn and hung out in my room for a while. I finally set out about 6 and walked 3 miles (9 laps) on the Promenade deck; I figured that was enough when combined with the walking I’d do changing viewpoints. As soon as I got on deck we were passing close by an island shrouded in fog.

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The day’s program started with an introduction to Glacier Bay by Ranger Jake in the Mainstage.

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While the morning was mostly foggy there were some good moments. The ranger commentator noted in the morning that we had a view of Mount Fairweather, visible rather rarely. By the time I got on deck and got my camera out there was just a bit of the summit showing

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There were many viewpoints available. One that was open just for this day was the bow of the ship.

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The fog was persistent and we delayed our entry deep into the bay, holding for a while at Lampugh Glacier. A smaller glacier, Reid, was more or less behind me.

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By about noon things were just starting to clear up and we still delayed visiting the main glacier but did take the side channel where we got a look at the Johns Hopkins Glacier. There are seals living by the glacier and we could not get close but got a nice view anyway. On the other side of us was Topeka Glacier.

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We finally started up the final channel towards Glacier Bay’s showcase, Marjerie, a little after 1,
and by the time we arrived the weather had cleared to glorious sunshine.

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We stayed near Marjerie for almost an hour. I watched mostly from the lido deck forward in front of the gym, and caught one beautiful splash from calving.

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As we made our way out of the bay, Kevin, a native Tlingit, spoke of their culture on the Mainstage.

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All 8 of us were again present for dinner. I chose the Pasta and Raspberry Tart.

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The featured entertainment was Aussie Comedian Jim Short. I went only briefly but he was quite good and the house was packed standing room only. I also watched about the last half of a Lincoln Center Stage performance. They were also very good.

I’ll take my parting shot from Jim Short: “I razzed my parents about needing to help them with their computer issues. They came back with ‘don’t forget who taught you how to use a knife and fork’” That sounds fair to me. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#49
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W4, Wednesday, August 1, 2018. Haines

We had a beautiful day in Haines. It’s a fairly familiar destination to me, about my 4th time here. The first was just a quick stopover on the ferry to Skagway (1991), but in 2010 I did some local touring before a small boat cruise and spent 2 nights here. I was also here on the Statendam in 2014.

Haines sits on the Lynn Canal, actually a fjord. Sunrise was technically before 5 but I walked about 5:30 to 6 and the sun just appeared above the mountains on my final lap around the stern.

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We had a long day here, arriving at 6:30 and leaving at 9. I took an early morning stroll off the ship checking out the hardware store across the street. Skagway is only 15 miles away and there were a number of tours there using a fast ferry which docks right next to us.

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My main goal for the day was to go to the library for the internet. As I left the ship I got a good look at it as well as my cabin’s position behind the tenders.

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Much of Haines’ history dates back to an old army base, Fort Seward. It sits pretty much above the dock. It was decommissioned around WW2 but most of the buildings are still there, either residential or shops and the like.

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Officers row sits above the parade field.

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One area I remember particularly is at the end of the parade field. There are 2 buildings side by side, a base “public safety” complex. The one on the left is the old fire shed with a white tower used to dry hose. The one on the right is the old guardhouse, and is now a bed and breakfast which is where I stayed in 2010, Both properties are now up for sale.

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Before visiting the library I stopped in at the IGA and got several items, primarily toothpaste.
The internet at the library was free, but there was a big crowd of people, mostly from the ship, and I think the performance was actually worse than onboard. On the way back to the ship I passed one of the eclectic attractions of Haines, the Hammer Museum.

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After lunch on the ship I returned to the library for a while, and the performance was better than in the morning, allowing me to get some work done. While leaving the ship there were some people at the waters edge swimming.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...ainesbeach.jpg

I walked back to the ship along the waterfront. It looks like there may have been some gold mining activity near Haines, with an old gold drilling rig near the water. It drilled test holes with samples of the dirt periodically tested; if gold was found they would use other mining methods to get to it.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...ld-driller.jpg

There were just 5 of us at dinner with one of the families dining at the Canaletto. I liked the pork chop and peach crisp.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dishes01.jpg

The featured entertainment was a BBC-Earth collaboration “Alaska in Concert”. Lincoln Center stage was dark as their group joined the regular Mainstage group for the performance. We were just letting all lines go as the concert ended.

My parting shot comes from the bus ride to Seward. We passed a restaurant “Turnagain Arm Pit Barbecue”. It hit me that the phrase could really turn strange depending on how those words were grouped. English is a strange language.

Roy
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11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#50
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W5, Thursday, August 2, 2018, Juneau

Weather in Alaska is certainly changeable. It would be difficult to follow the prefect day in Haines with another one in Juneau and that did not happen.

The itinerary calls for Southbound Seward-Vancouver cruises to arrive in Juneau at 8 but that seems quite fictitious. When I woke up at 5 I could see from the bow cam we were already in the Gastineau Channel. I walked about 5 laps on the promenade deck which I considered sufficient for a port day and headed off to breakfast.

Juneau is the only port of call duplicated on this itinerary but I never set foot on land, transferring to the St. Phillip hours before the ship arrived and transferred directly back onto the Volendam at the end of the Tracy Arm tour. Nearly all Alaskan itineraries include a stop in Juneau so I’m pretty familiar with the area and my plans for the day were not very ambitious, becoming even less ambitious in light of the weather.

With the poor internet situation I’ve been having finding good wifi was a priority. The central branch of Juneau Public Library is right next to the port but with 3 ships in port it didn’t seem a great option. There are 2 branch libraries, one north in the Mendenhall Valley and another across the Gastineau in Douglas.

I thought Juneau’s transit system less tourist friendly than many others. Rides are free for local seniors but those of us from out of town get no breaks. There’s a “transit center” where most buses depart, but no information there; the only way to get a schedule is to be on the bus. They might not want to give them out but posting one under glass in the waiting room would be a big help.

When a but did show up I found that the bus to Mendenhall, my first choice, left from a different location, was once an hour, and had just left. I opted instead for the Douglas library (bus service every 30 minutes) and was at the library at it’s 11AM opening. I was happy with the choice. It was never crowded and I had a little desk with a power socket, and with fast wifi I got a lot done that would have been nearly impossible on the ship. I was there about 75 minutes.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/douglas.jpg

When I left the library the streets were quite wet but nothing was actively falling. I walked a couple of stops along the bus route but when the drizzle started up again there was a stop with a covered shelter. Most of the cars had their wipers on intermittent.

It was pretty foggy and I took some pictures of the ships across the harbor but they were extremely fuzzy. I did get a good view out the window of the Gastineau Channel as we crossed the bridge. It was raining a bit harder as we arrived in town and I went pretty straight back to the ship for lunch.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../gastineau.jpg

There was a break in the rain about 3 and I stopped at the downtown library for a few minutes. The internet there was pretty slow but better than what was on the ship. On nice days Juneau is teeming with seaplanes leaving and arriving but with the day’s weather there were just a few.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...noisemaker.jpg

All aboard was 5:30. I wanted to be on deck for sailaway so I went up to the lido for an entree. Holland America usually offers the same entrees in the lido as in the dining room but not this time. I would have gone for the lamb shank in the dining room but in this case it was not offered and I chose a pork entree instead. There was just a bit of a break in the rain as we left the dock. It was pretty murky again by the time we reached Thane.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...dieujuneau.jpg

Once we had sailed I joined my table in the dining room for tea and desert. As we sailed towards Ketchikan we passed the Zaandam on it’s way to an anchor point for a Friday Morning arrival in Juneau.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/zaandam.jpg

Desert was the blueberry sundae. The EXC guides had a talk on ship flags at 7 in their Crows Nest space. I would have liked to go but desert lasted into the talk and I opted instead for the end of the Lincoln Center stage program. The featured entertainment was Magician James Cielen. I didn’t think he was one of the better ones.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dishes02.jpg

This parting shot will be in kind of the “rest of the story” mode. While returning from Douglas and crossing the bridge I noticed a sculpture of a whale on the Juneau shore. The map didn’t have any information about it but a google search revealed it was new this year. I had heard that the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska had recently sued Juneau over port fees and how they were used, arguing that they should go to things that benefit cruisers. Among the things the money went for were the sculpture and the shoreside walk along the waterfront. My own personal opinion is that the walk (certainly if publicized) might benefit cruisers but I think CLIA has a pretty good point about the whale.



Roy
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11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#51
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W6, Friday, August 3, 2018, Ketchikan. Gala

It looks like the run of nice weather is over for this cruise but it could have been worse. With both a port visit and On Deck For a Cause I walked only briefly in the morning, just a total of 3 laps or 1 mile.

On Deck For a Cause was at 9:30 with just a small group out on a chilly morning. The group was small but the leader did note that many more people had registered and paid.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/08/cause.jpg

It started raining too hard to ignore and I walked only 4 of the official 9 laps but still stopped for a cookie when I finished my partial walk.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../08/reward.jpg

The Alaska ferry system is building 2 new ships for the Juneau-Skagway route. One, the Hubbard, was approaching completion in a Ketchikan drydock.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/hubbard.jpg

We arrived in Ketchikan about 11, joining the Norwegian Pearl and Coral Princess on a still very dreary morning.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...rketchikan.jpg

My big bag had arrived with one of it’s wheels falling off. In Haines there was a hardware store right across the street from the ship where I found some locking rings. None of them quite fit but there was another hardware store in Ketchikan. I had planned to go to McDonalds for wifi and the hardware store was just beyond it. I did find some bigger rings there and am not sure the wheel is attached securely enough to last until I’m onboard the Symphony but it’s worth a try. The rain held off just about long enough for me to complete the 3 mile round trip.

The weather was not especially pleasant in Ketchikan and I used the rest of the afternoon to start my packing.

I was the only one at table 53 for the second Gala night. I chose the steak from Surf and Turf as well as the orange and almond cake. Both of the families had tours booked. I saw one later and they were back too late for dinner and I expect the other one was as well.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dishes03.jpg

I was just leaving the dining room as Captain Smit gave his sailaway message. He indicated there would be high winds and we should stay indoors (as of 7AM Saturday the promenade deck is still closed and we are rocking quite a bit).

The featured entertainment was the Westerdam Singers and Dancers in “Ever After”. I was in bed early as we lost an hour moving back to Pacific time. Most of this cruise towel animals have been pretty modest but I returned from the show to a nice monkey hanging from the celing.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../08/monkey.jpg

My parting shot is a sad one. One of our sister ships, apparently the Amsterdam, had lost a crew member who has gone overboard. I wish for peace and healing for his family.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#52
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W7, Saturday, August 4, 2018, Inside Passage

The day got off to a pretty nasty start but got gradually better during the day. At 5AM or a bit later the outer decks were pretty much closed. The aft lido deck was not sealed off but everything was tied down with the exception of the smoker’s tables (they’re VERY heavy wood). I walked for about a half hour on the inside corridors.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...nastystart.jpg

When I finished walking it was a bit lighter but still no sign of the sun. There was finally a trace of the sun through the clouds (enough to cast a shadow) about 9:30.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/nosun04.jpg

There were a couple of activities in addition to packing. The EXC guides had a 10AM presentation on “Fire and Ice” on the Mainstage at 10.

We also had the Mariner Reception and lunch starting at 11. There were probably only about a dozen people at the medallion reception and no new medals were given out. The luncheon followed but only took up about 1/3 or less of the dining room lower level.

In his noon update Captain Smit advised we would pass Seymour Narrows about 11:20PM, the Lions Gate Bridge about 6,and docking at 7. The Sunday weather for Vancouver looks good. Things also calmed down, especially after we reached the north end ov Vancouver Island about 3. I did take one lap around the promenade deck and continued packing, a bit of fire department training and a few other things.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../vacisland.jpg

There were 5 of us at table 53 for the final dinner. I opted for the caesar salad, oven roasted chicken, and baked Alaska. The chefs were called out to the dining room but the introduction was brief.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dishes04.jpg

The sun drew low in the sky over Vancouver Island behind us about 8:45.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dusk0804.jpg

I set my checked bags out just after 9. They were 50 and 35 pounds. The only times I will need to handle all my stuff at once will be between here and the Symphony. When I arrive in New York Luggage Concierge will ship the big bag home.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...vingwestie.jpg

I did not attend the final variety show but did briefly visit the Billboard Online and the Lincoln Center Stage.

My parting shot will be photographic. One of Holland America’s photo deals is a package of 5 photos with digital copies. You can select the photos during the cruise but you get the photos and the CD the last evening. I’ll post the photos over the next few days but the first one will be from the embarkation in Seward.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...barkwestie.jpg

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#53
North Central Florida
5,565 Posts
Joined Nov 2015
Delete - wrong thread
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Carole

Cruising now: Not until - P'dam over Christmas/New Years

Prinsendam 14-DAY CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY Dec 2018
------------------ 2019
Oosterdam 7-DAY TROPICAL CARIBBEAN Jan 2019
Rotterdam 7-DAY WESTERN CARIBBEAN Jan 2019 (Tampa)

Past cruises:
Costa Flavia 1975 - 4 day Bahamas
Sarah - 2005 - 7 day Barge - W&S Netherlands [Road Scholar]
Maasdam Jan 2015 - 10 day Southern Caribbean B2B
Zuiderdam Jan 2015 - 10 day Southern Caribbean & Panama Canal Sunfarer [Road Scholar]
AmaCerto May 2015 - 14 day Amsterdam - Budapest [Road Scholar]
Brilliance otS Nov 2015 - 5 day Western Caribbean
Nieuw Amsterdam Dec 2015 - 7-day Western Caribbean;
Zuiderdam Dec 2015 14-day W/E Caribbean Holiday Collector
Oosterdam Jan 2016 21-day Southern Caribbean Seafarer/Wayfarer
Westerdam Mar 2016 21-day Panama Canal Fort Lauderdale to San Diego; B2B
Westerdam Apr 2016 35-day Circle Hawai`i, Tahiti & Marqueses: San Diego to Seattle [Road Scholar]
Prinsendam May 2016 16-day Azores and Normandy Explorer - FLL to IJmuiden [Amsterdam] Last HAL ship out
Avalon Tranquility II & Poetry II Jun 2016 16-day Rhine & Rhône Revealed/SB - Amsterdam to Côte d’Azur (Rhine, Saône & Rhône)
Queen Mary 2 June 2016 8-day Trans-Atlantic crossing Southampton - NYC
Zuiderdam Oct 2016 12-day The Atlantic Coast - Quebec City to FLL First HAL ship back
Amsterdam Dec 2016 14-day Panama Canal Holiday SD to FLL

Nieuw Amsterdam Jan 2017 21-Day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer
Koningsdam Feb 2017 7-Day Eastern Caribbean
Oosterdam Mar 2017 7-Day Western Caribbean [out of Tampa]
Nieuw Amsterdam - Dec 2017 17-Day Bahamas, W/E Caribbean Holiday Collector
Zaandam - Apr 2018 23-Day Repo FLL-Seattle
Maasdam June 2018 7-Day Canada & NE Discovery
#54
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day W8, Sunday, August 5, 2018, Disembark MS Westerdam, Vancouver

I’ll start off with another picture from the Westerdam, this one from Juneau. It wasn’t really warm enough to be out in just a t-shirt, but the photographers don’t hang around the dock all day so I went down just long enough for the picture.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...juneau-hal.jpg

Captain’s estimate was that we would pass under the Lions Gate bridge about 6, but we didn’t quite make that. When I went to the Lido for coffee at 5:30 and checked our position we were then about an hour from the bridge. It was a clear day and there was some nice morning color but we were heading directly towards the sun and I never saw the sunrise because of the wall at the front of the promenade deck.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dawn0805.jpg

We went under the bridge about 6:30 and approached Canada Place about 6:50.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../lionsgate.jpg

Disembarkation was also somewhat slower than expected. My Gray 2 was estimated at 8:20 but the 8:10 people were not called until 8:45. When they were called I left my cabin and went down to the Ocean bar to wait.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/waiting.jpg

There were reports on the Crystal Forum of Cruise Critic that there were no porters at Canada Place. There were a few but not many. I made it through the line carrying 55 pounds on my back and pulling another 50 but I was pretty tired by the time I got to the end of the taxi line. The ride to the Ramada Hotel was very short but I hope I adequately compensated the driver with about a 150% tip. It was certainly worth that to me to be rid of my stuff.

I arrived at the Ramada about 9:30. There were obviously no rooms yet but they stored my bags and invited me to the breakfast room. I opted instead for a stop at Tim Hortons for coffee and internet for about a half hour. I have what is becoming a church home in Vancouver, St. Andrews Wesley United, part of the United Church of Canada,

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../08/wesley.jpg

Lunch was mostly things I had with me. I went past Canada Place with the food court and found ice cream I liked. Ships are almost made to rust and the aft of the Westerdam was looking pretty rough when I was there. By the time she sailed she was fully healed.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../08/ramada.jpg

I still had some time before the Ramada’s 3PM checkin and stopped by the Vancouver Library. It’s a very nice place with excellent wifi. They do require registration (1-year card) but pulled up my record from my last visit in 2012.

I checked into the Ramada at 3, Sadly, when my bags were brought up, the wheel was missing. It may have come off in the taxi, on the street, or even in the taxi line in Canada Place but there was no sign of it. At least it got me through the long walk. All my other transfers with the bag should be short until I get the services of a porter in New York. (Boarding the train in Vancouver it was definitely more difficult to pull but not totally unmanageable)

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/08/rusty.jpg

I went back down to Canada Place at 4:30. The Westerdam was a bit late leaving but by five the lines were pulled in and the ship sailed off, this time without me.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../wdamadieu.jpg

I kept my evening fairly short to be ready to leave for the US quite early Monday.

I’ll take as a parting shot the chorus of one of the hymns we sang at St. Andrews Wesley. It holds a special place in both my heart and my home congregation, and summarizes how I feel a Christian should live:

“Here I am, Lord.
Is it I Lord
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.”

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#55
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day Amtrak1, Monday, August 6, 2018, Vancouver to Portland

Continuing with photos from the Westerdam I liked the one from Haines as there was some of the dock in the photo as well.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...haines-hal.jpg

Despite not sleeping terribly well I was ready to get up at 4AM. I did a bit of reshuffling of my bags, adding about 3 pounds to the big backpack and lightening the little one by about 4 pounds. The small bag should have pretty much exactly the essentials I need before arrival in San Francisco. I was in the lobby at 4:45 and the pre-ordered taxi pulled up right at 5AM.

I was probably earlier at the station than I should have been, but better to be a little early than too late. At 5:15 there were about 20 people queued up in the general line but. There was nobody in the priority line but security confirmed it was a valid line (for Business, GE, and NEXUS). By the time US Immigration came on duty at 5:30 there were probably 60 people in the general line and about 10 in mine.

Pulling my one wheel bag from the taxi to the counter with customs forms wasn’t bad. From there it was mostly standing, which doesn’t work well with 55 pounds on my back. I ended up pulling one bag and carrying the heavy one with just the lightest one on my back. It was tough going but only for a little under 100 feet. The baggage cart was waiting just past the immigration counter.

While I was on board almost an hour before the train left, The Bistro opened pretty quickly and I had my first cup of decent coffee before 6. Business Class is assigned seating with 2 on one side and one on the other. I had a single seat on the oceanview side.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/business.jpg

For about the first 45 minutes we exactly retraced the route I took in on the Canadian, turning South after we crossed the Fraser River.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../08/fraser.jpg

We had a second customs stop at the border, my first time in the lower 48 since July 11.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/lower48.jpg

Our first passenger stop was Bellingham, an intermodal terminal where I boarded the MV Kennicott on the way to Alaska and the Northwest Passage cruise.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...multimodal.jpg

We were early in Seattle and I had time for a walk around the block as well as a look at the train itself.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/cascades.jpg

After Seattle we continued to follow Puget sound past Tacoma, then went overland to Kelso on the Columbia, following it until Vancouver (Washington).

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/columbia.jpg

From Vancouver we crossed the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and were soon at Portland’s Union Station, about a half hour late.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...willamette.jpg

In Vancouver they would only check my bags to Portland. When we arrived I checked the baggage room about storage options and they said “we’ll check it to California. I carried it from the baggage claim to the baggage check desk, a whole 20 feet, and don’t need to think about it again until Wednesday. I also discovered that Portland has a “Metropolitan Lounge”, a place for sleeping car passengers where I can relax from my hotel checkout until the Coast Starlight arrives.

With only 15 pounds to carry the half mile walk to the Hampton Inn was a breeze, I’m glad the big bags are checked because it’s a long walk over heavy carpets from the Hampton elevator to my room.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/hanpton.jpg

Portland’s Pearl District is a bit of an Eclectic space, former warehouses now heavily gentrified. There were a few familiar businesses; I took a little walk to Safeway (apples and milk) and Wells Fargo (ATM). Dinner was a little place called “Little Big Burger”. The burger was a thick quarter pound pattie on a small bun. I didn’t do a lot more at night, getting pretty drowsy after my 4AM start.

My parting shot is coming from the evening and now morning news. While I can hope it holds off for a couple more days, the west coast needs some rain to help control wildfires. 2PM Tuesday to 8AM Wednesday (while I’m on the train) would be a great start.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#56
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Now arrived in SF and checked into the Grand Hyatt.


Day Amtrak2, Tuesday, August 7, 2018, Coast Starlight

Nearing the end of my photos from the Westerdam is one from Glacier Bay with Mead Glacier over my left shoulder.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...lacier-hal.jpg

After my very early start on Monday I slept in until about 6. The day was predicted to be pretty hot and I went out for a walk about 6:30. I was surprised as I walked to discover that the sun had just cleared the area’s trees. There was still a bit of a chill in the air as I walked.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/dawn0807.jpg

I left the hotel about 11:30 and checked dining spots as I walked back to Union station but came up pretty empty. The stand at the station did have a beef barley soup which turned out to be pretty good.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/unionpdx.jpg

When I had finished I moved over to the Metropolitan Lounge, a nice space in the station for sleeping car and business class passengers. The wifi at the station was good enough to watch the MS Amsterdam’s arrival in Juneau, something I haven’t seen recently.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...tropolitan.jpg

Portland is one of several “Service Stops” where the operating crew changes. The conductor came into the lounge a little ahead of the train’s arrival and scanned all our tickets. The train arrived just a bit before the 2PM schedule and we boarded almost immediately.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../starlight.jpg

I am in the first of 3 sleeping cars in a roomette; 2 individual seats facing each other that pull together to form the lower bunk. There is no toilet or sink in the room but I’m in the one closest to the upper level washroom, no further away than in a typical ship’s cabin. There is also a lounge, business class car, and coaches.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...08/roomday.jpg

I was not sure lunch would be served. It was offered but was a little late for me anyway. We left on time at 2:25 crossing the Willamette river almost immediately; there were cargo ships docked virtually in the center of town. After the first couple of stations we started passing through farmland.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/farmland.jpg

I had 6PM reservations for dinner. My room had been on the wrong side of the train to see it but from my table there were great views of Southern Oregon as we were climbing to our trip’s summit. Dinner itself was Amtrak’s Signature Steak.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...8/sigsteak.jpg

The sun was getting quite low as I dined and Justin made up my room for the night fairly soon after I returned.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp.../roomnight.jpg

I’ll take my parting shot from a sign at the coffee station at the Hampton. I’m not really sure what it means but it tickled my funny bone anyway



Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#57
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day Amtrak3, Wednesday, August 8, 2018, Arrive San Francisco

My final photo from the Westerdam is from the second Gala Night. I have a tuxedo but don’t generally carry it on trips with intercity travel between ships. My preference there is a black Travelsmith Blazer with matching slacks. It’s versatile enough to work with anything from a polo shirt on casual nights to a regular tie on somewhat dressy sea days to something even more formal when needed.

https://morethangetaways.files.wordp...18/08/gala.jpg

I’ll start off with answering a couple of questions. The roomette is pretty bare, no tv or movie screen, not much more than the room and one 120-volt outlet. There is SUPPOSED to be wifi on the train but the onboard wifi never worked for me. I did get to check email briefly from a STATION wifi signal at Sacramento but that was my only online success.

I was up about 5:30. The dining car and lounge snack car did not open until at least 6:30 but Justin had coffee ready in my car. I got a light breakfast in the dining car about 7.

The train was running quite late. The Coast Starlight does not go into San Francisco. The only tracks into SF come from the south (commuter rail) and we disembark the train at Emeryville with a connecting bus into the city. The schedule called for arrival in Emeryville at 8:10 with the bus leaving at 8:20. The schedule was pure fiction today, and I think part of the issue was a recent change in policy. When I booked the trip it was possible to check bags through onto the bus but I got an email about a week ago that the practice had ended.

It was only a short walk from the baggage cart to the bus but by the time the bags arrived there was already a long line to board the bus and I was at the end. We finally got everything onboard but when I got on there was no regular seat left and I had to sit side-saddle on a seat that had been pushed next to the row ahead to allow room for a wheelchair. We left the station about 9AM.

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The bus made 3 stops in San Francisco. The first one, the “Temporary Transbay Terminal”, essentially at the end of the Bay Bridge was the closest to my hotel, about a 1 ½ mile drive. There were no taxis there but the agent gave me the number to call and one arrived before too long.

It was a little after 10 when I got to the Grand Hyatt. Checkin took a while but the agent was doing due diligence to find a room that was ready and he finally succeeded. I’m on the 3rd floor, just a few steps from the elevator. That will make my departure a lot easier.

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The room pretty well satisfies the basics. I would have liked a microwave; that’s the one thing I will miss. There’s no USB outlet but the phone has a bunch of wires coming out with plugs for my phone and IPAD so that’s covered.

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I walked to Panera and back for lunch; it’s 1 1/4 miles each way, near the stadium where the Giants play. I did a little bit of shopping in the afternoon but otherwise have no real account for my time. Dinner was back at Panera but I took a bus back to the hotel.

My parting shot will be another potshot at a local transit agency. The San Francisco Muni impresses me as very visitor unfriendly. They seem to be very discouraging about cash fares but I’ve so far seen no ticket machines or other ways to buy a pass. In most places you can buy a transit day pass for about $10 or less (under $5 in Baltimore), but in San Francisco a senior day pass is $22. I can’t say I’m disappointed that I didn’t find a place to buy it.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#58
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day Amtrakplus1, Thursday, August 9, 2018, San Francisco, California

It was another pretty quiet day starting with sleeping in until 6:30. I did leave after breakfast for a combined walk/ride. I had wanted to stop at a Staples and it was about a mile away. Ended up not buying much except a couple of thumb drives, and continued by bus on to the waterfront.

Just before teaching the water I found a nice little green space for a snack, Sydney G. Walton Square.

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Almost directly across the Embarcadero was the Iconic Ferry Building.

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Walking up along the water I passed under the Bay Bridge and continued a bit on the light rail system, disembarking just before AT&T Park and walking about 5 blocks to Panera for lunch.

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While most of the light rail in San Francisco is run on modern equipment there are a number of “Heritage” cars, mostly on the Embarcadero. I did see one near AT&T Park marked “training”.

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I walked back from the hotel and passed several of the icons of San Francisco, the cable cars. I was at the hotel most of the afternoon taking care of some fire department business.

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Today’s parting shot will be a bit of local pride both from home and locally, starting from a news blurb. The story noted that the International Association of Fire Chiefs has honored San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes as Career Fire Chief of the year. A little checking revealed that the Volunteer Chief of the Year comes from just a stone’s throw from home, Glen Echo (Montgomery County MD) Chief Herbert Leusch. Congratulations to both.

Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#59
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day GPC1, Friday, August 10,2018, Embark Crystal Symphony, San Francisco

Still another picture from my HAL journey, this one group photos from the Denali land tour. In the top one I am top row left and my brother Roger is front row center, right behind Mandi. In the one from underneath the pipeline, I’m in the back row behind the leftmost guy kneeling. Roger was not in that shot.

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My morning walk was relatively brief, down Sutter and Market streets to the Embarcadero Center and back. After some reshuffling and final use of fast internet I checked out of the Hyatt about 10 for the short taxi ride to the Pier 27. The Symphony was waiting for us.

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I waited longer than expected in the terminal but it was like a reunion week with many regular cruisers as well as presenters including Bill Miller and what’s left of Jim Brochu (he posted on Cruise Critic that he has lost 70 pounds and he looks fabulous).

Boarding started about 11:40. I divided my lunch into two phases. My go to standard is the Trident Grilled Ham and Cheese supplemented by a salad from the lido. With the lido closed I stopped first at Waterside for the salad. I was immediately seated at a window table with a view that would have been perfect for Dale Gonyea as we had fuel bunkering in progress. The view from the Trident was a lot nicer.

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Rooms were ready at 3. I’m in 8098, an E1 limited view cabin but after last week on the Westerdam I’m extremely pleased with the view.

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In addition to a very small carryon (just laptop and meds) I had left 3 bags with the porters. Two were waiting in my room and the 3rd arrived about 10 minutes later. Most of the rest of the afternoon was devoted to unpacking.

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The muster drill was held at 5PM, under boat 8 for me with life jackets worn. Some cruise lines are scanning key cards at the muster; we did not but our boat commander visually checked off most people as we arrived so there were only a few cabins to call out.

I followed my tradition of going up to the sun deck above the bridge wing for sailaway. It was quite windy but the wind was blowing away from the dock so it did not impede our departure. Louis sang promptly at 6.

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We passed pretty close to Alcatraz Island pretty close to 6:10.

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By the time we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge (just before 6:30) the wind was pretty close to gale force. There was quite a bit of haze in the area, it might have been fog but also could easily have been smoke from the raging wildfires.

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I was kind of late for dinner so I opted for my own table. My first dinner on board was beef consume, grilled chicken salad, and a Dutch Apple Tart a la mode.

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The featured entertainment was comedian John Joseph (along with the usual Cell Block Tango). I was not involved but a cruiser who arrived got a ribbing from Joseph for spending 25 hours on a train from Denver when he could have flown in about 3. I wonder what he would have done with me. I listened with a sense of irony; any of us could have flown from SF to New York in about 6 hours and here we’re taking 20 days.

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I’ll take my parting shot from San Francisco. It’s my 3rd ship visit here after arriving on the Crystal Harmony in 2004 and a Symphony port call in 2011. I remember a pretty dingy, unattractive facility there on both visits. The new James R Herman Cruise Terminal opened in 2014 and is attractive, comfortable, and was designed with ample space for bus and taxi operations. What an improvement!

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Roy
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Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York
#60
Central Maryland
19,056 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Day GPC2, Saturday, August 11, 2018, At sea, Crystal Symphony, Black Tie Optional

With the brutal winds we faced leaving San Francisco I had not expected to walk this morning. Those fears turned out to be unfounded; it was cloudy with a bit of a nip in the area (I won’t complain, soon I’ll be longing for temperatures where a light jacket would provide comfort).

My walk was delayed as my first order of business was laundry. While I now qualify for free laundry on Holland America, I had not had anything done since the last couple of days on the Westerdam and I had a full load ready. The laundry room started out empty and I moved the load to the dryer after about 7 laps and then took it back to my cabin at about the 4-mile mark. I finished my 5-mile walk a couple minutes after 8.

It was a pretty typical Crystal sea day with 3 Crystal Visions presentations, in this case all longtime favorite speakers who gave familiar but updated talks.

First up was Professor Louis Rene Beres with “Managing Nuclearization: Frontiers for a Durable Peace”. As his title suggests, he is not optimistic that North Korea will give up nuclear weapons, “why would he give up power for no power”.

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Next at 11 was Astronaut Jeff Hoffman with “Traveling into Space”. A general overview of what it’s really like to be an astronaut. An amusing anecdote was an incident at home after a flight. In weightlessness objects pretty much stay where they are, and you can just take your hands off a fork between bites and it will be where at the same place when needed again. He made the mistake of doing that at home ONCE)

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While walking on the top deck before lunch I noticed a bit of decking I hadn’t seen before. I don’t think it’s positioned to prevent the roof from sliding but it could be. I think with the reconfigured space they wouldn’t want to open the roof. In his update Captain Waldheim talked in general about the Pacific Ocean. We have gone 328 miles with 825 to go.

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The afternoon presentation was Bill Miller with “Floating Palaces”. I continued setting up and writing the rest of the afternoon.

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There were 5 at the shared table the first Black Tie Optional Night including the DJ. Press Reader now seems to include a Vegetarian Page among the dinner menu offerings and I pulled a bit of a fast one on our waiter, choosing the Mosaic of Fruits and Berries from that page as well as the pasta and ice cream.

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At the Captain’s welcome party Captain Waldheim reported we had 745 guests from 21 countries as well as 655 crew from 55 countries. As normal, the senior officers were introduced.

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The featured entertainment of Rocket Man, the show starring Neil Lacewood as Elton John was packed for the early show. My impression was the cast all wore broad smiles and throughly enjoyed the audience response. I kind of felt an obligation to the DJ for a brief appearance at karaoke. I have a feeling that either everybody was too drunk to notice how bad I was or I won’t be invited back up again.

As many of my readers know, I sail many kinds of ships. Today’s parting shot refers to the Alaska Marine Highway which I sailed most recently on the way to my Northwest Passage cruise. Today they christened a new vessel. I got a look at the virtually complete ship as the Westerdam arrived in Ketchikan. The MV Tazlina is one of 2 new “Alaska Class” vessels that will mainly serve the Lynn Canal Communities between Juneau and Skagway. May the Tazlina have a long and distinguished service.



Roy
Expand Signature
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Index to active Crystal Roll Calls
Limited View Cabins

Currently enjoying: Crystal Symphony Grand Panama Canal

Future cruises:


11/10/18 Grandeur of the Seas Southern Caribbean
1/4/19 Prinsendam Grand South America
4/21/19 Nieuw Statendam Transatlantic>>>5/9/19 QV Kiel-Southampton>>5/12/19 QM2 Brugges-Gurernsey-New York
10/18/19 QM2 NY-Southampton>>Bach Rhine>>Serenity Barcelona-Lisbon-Ft. Lauderdale
1/22/20 Crystal Serenity LA-Sydney>>>3/6/20 QM2 Sydney-New York