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sdmike

Review of Jewel to Alaska 7/28-8/4 - with pictures

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Ok folks...let's give this a try. My style of writing is more like a log than a review, but hopefully there's enough information on the good and bad to be helpful.

 

As a bit of summary, we did this cruise with extended family totaling 14 people from age 11 through mid-70's. We had 4 mini-suites on the starboard side of deck 11 (11034 - 11040), and two inside rooms (11053 and 11037). My wife and I were in 11036 with my teen sons across the hall in 11037. My daughter (11) was sharing 11053 with her grandmother. My brother's family of 4 had a connecting room to my parents, and one of their boys slept in "grandpa's room" for the trip (except for when he bunked with my boys one night). I "owned" 6 of the travelers throughout the trip, my family of 5 (DS15, DS17, DD11) and my MIL.

 

Overall we had an awesome trip. The weather stunk in AK most of the time, but that didn't keep us from enjoying ourselves. We had good rain jackets and got plenty of use out of them :) The unfortunate part of this is that most of my pictures look like they were shot in a fog bank....which they sorta were I guess. :D Oh well...you'll get the idea at least.

 

The ship was beautiful, the crew wonderful, and Alaska stunning (even with the bad weather). Our rooms were large and comfortable, albeit a bit noisy from above (as described in these forums by others). We also had a very full ship - over 2,800 passengers - with many families on board. This worked very well for my teen boys (15 and 17) because they developed tons of new friendships, but it certainly was not a quiet cruise.

 

Enough of the introduction I guess. Time for the journey...

Edited by sdmike

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Day 1 - Travel/Seattle

The story begins with a trip from San Diego to Seattle via San Francisco. Right out of the gate (not literally) we had issues. There were air traffic delays into SFO, causing us to leave SAN an hour late - which is about exactly how much time we had for our layover. Luckily the same issues delaying us also delayed the inbound plane that we would take to SEA, and with much hand-wringing and rushing we got to our connecting gate about 10 minutes before departure. Disaster averted…so it seemed.

We arrived in SEA about 90 minutes late, but still in good spirits…at least until we had quite a scare. When boarding the inter-terminal train heading to baggage claim my daughter (11) dashed into the train when someone on board yelled “hurry!”. Problem is, my mother-in-law is slow and was about 100 feet behind us, so we were going to wait 2 minutes for the next train. Just as I yelled my daughter’s name to get off, the door closed with her inside. I grabbed the doors and couldn’t budge them. A lady inside hit the “door open” button, but only the inner doors opened. As the train sped off, I yelled “GET OFF AT THE NEXT STOP”. Two minutes later another train arrived and the rest of us jumped on. We got to the next stop and no daughter to be seen. I jumped off to look for her and the rest went on to the next stop. That’s where my wife found her. On the platform in tears, with a good samaritan (who looked like a biker...lol) standing with her until we got there. She hadn’t heard my instructions through the 2 sets of doors, and when she told the good samaratin that she was going to baggage claim he helped her go there. I joined them all a few minutes later. Phew!! Disaster #2 averted. I’m not sure who was more upset, my daughter or my wife.

We had reserved a ride downtown to our hotel (Marriott Waterfront) using Shuttle Express for $41 for all 6 of us (the kids were free with each adult fare). After waiting 20 minutes for a shuttle we were on our way downtown. I highly recommend this approach. It’s a “shared van”, but it’s fast, comfortable and cost effective. They also have a table set up when you get off the ship, so it’s good 2-way transportation.

 

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After checking in we decided to walk up to Pikes Market. We got up there around 6:15 and everything was closed. On a Friday? Really? It was pretty disappointing, so we found a restaurant for dinner and then did a brief walking tour of the area.

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At one end of the market we stumbled across the original Starbucks. The line was too long to be worth going in.

 

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They certainly had some interesting little light fixtures in the area

 

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The Pikes Hill Climb was fun to go down, but would have been too hard on my knees (and my MIL) to go up

 

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There is new ferris wheel at the waterfront just a few blocks from the ship/hotel, which made for some nice pictures in the later evening.

 

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Just before dark we got back to the hotel, which was very adequate for our needs. We had two rooms across the hall from each other, each with 2 double beds. We put boys and one room and girls in the other. My teens were a bit cramped in the same bed but they survived with little grumbling. Besides, they sleep like rocks anyway. The rooms have a small balcony…just large enough to step out and see Pier 66 across the street.

 

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Evening from our tiny little balcony

 

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You guys already saw my post from the hotel in the morning. Tada! The Jewel was right outside my window! I had awakened a few times during the night from excitement (2am, 4am, 5am) and finally at 6am the ship was there waiting for us!

 

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I had awakened a few times during the night from excitement (2am, 4am, 5am) and finally at 6am the ship was there waiting for us! After a nice breakfast we had a bellman come to our room and get our luggage, and he happily rolled all our luggage (4 suitcases for the 6 of us..not bad) across the street to the terminal. He flagged down a porter, exchanged the bags, and a $10 tip to each of them sealed the deal. My bags were heading to the ship and I hadn’t touched them since they were in my hotel room. Score!

It was now a little before 11 and there were no lines at all. There were, however, about 250 people already in seats waiting to board. Early birds, I presume. We went through the Latitudes line and checked in quickly. By a little after 11 we were holding little tickets with the number 5 on them, indicating our boarding group. By 11:30 we were boarded and touring the ship.

 

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We boarded the ship on deck 7. Later in the trip we discovered that they move the gangplanks frequently due to the large tidal swings in Alaskan ports. In one port I saw the gangplank on 7 when I went to breakfast, and when I left the ship later it was on deck 4! the tide had risen about 15 feet and lifted the ship. Pretty cool. Thankfully there were signs posted in the stairwells on where the ramp was at the moment. lol

 

A couple more pictures from the ship before we left

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Rooms were ready by 1:30, and bags started showing up by 2pm. Not bad! We unpacked, toured some more, had lunch at the Garden Café (great choice for kids with varied tastes). My wife and MIL got spa passes for $149 each. There was no “couples pass” available.

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Here are a few pictures of our room. I have lots of pictures of the various public areas of the ship, but I'm not sure it's worth posting a bunch of them. I have about a dozen pictures from our tour of the spa as well.

Here is a link for pictures from around the Jewel.

 

http://public.fotki.com/ritchiefamily/san_diego_family/2012-pictures/alaska-cruise-2012/misc-ship-shots/

 

Here's inside 11037

 

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Here's mini-suite 11036

 

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Shower and tub, with shampoo and shower gel dispensers

 

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People have asked for a view of what it looks like in "sleep 3" or "sleep 4" configuration. Here you go... 11038 with the couch made up. Make sure to ask for a foam pad. The cushions are pretty hard. Great for a couch, but not great for sleeping

 

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Just a couple more random shots then I'll go back to the trip

 

This is the iced tea / flavored water dispenser in the Garden Cafe. They had tea (from liquid concentrate) all the time. They always had one other flavor, and sometimes two. They were Strawberry Kiwi, Tropical Mango, and once Lemonade. They were sweetened and a nice change from just tea and water

 

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Plenty of room in the safe for stuff

 

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Hair dryer in the top drawer. Wife said the metal nozzle got very very hot, so be careful. They also had them in the inside rooms

 

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Flat screen TV in the mini-suites (inside rooms had older TV's, but they worked fine), and a 4 cup coffee maker that we never used (none in the inside rooms)

 

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And the only power outlet in the room. Yes, I took my "power squid" along.

 

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Back to the trip!

The weather in Seattle was gorgeous, and the views when we departed were as well. We were followed out by the Golden Princess (who we would see later) and one of the HAL ships.

 

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Here is the golden chasing us out of Seattle

 

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This was pretty funny. At dinner later, we had a stalker out the rear of the ship

 

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Just a couple more of the trip out of Seattle

 

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Edited by sdmike

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We headed down to Azura for dinner at 6:30pm but there was already a wait, especially for 14 of us. However, they told us at Azura that there was no wait at Tsars, so we headed down there and were all seated at a large table immediately. It was lobster night, and quite frankly I think I liked the snapper in the dish better than the small rock lobster tails. However, our server asked “do you like lobster?”, and when I said yes, he brought out about a dozen more for our table. Not a bad start.

 

I'm not a food picture guy, but since so many ask about the lobster I thought I would take a couple shots. Also you see the caesar salad appetizer. It was very good! The lobster is sitting on a couple chunks of red snapper in this pic.

 

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My daughter, MIL and a few others went to the welcome aboard show and came back disappointed. Too much "here's where you can shop" and not enough "show". Thankfully the rest of the shows for the week were far better.Oh yeah, we got our Jewel pins as latitudes members. Sorry for the crummy picture!

 

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We played cat and mouse with the Princess ship a couple of times, but her passing us made for a nice sunset shot that evening

 

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That's it for DAY 1! If you've gotten this far you are either a masochist or a friend that feels sorry for me. lol

Edited by sdmike

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Enjoying this immensely so far. It's fun to see our city thru a tourists eyes sometimes. You have some beautiful pics of the new Great Wheel. We haven't been on it yet but will when our out of town company arrives for the cruise.

 

The mini suite on the Jewel looks exactly like the mini we had on the Pearl. Same colors, same carpet, everything. Except yours was a mirror image to ours. (Our bed and sofa were on the right as we enter the room.)

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Wonderful!

 

We enjoyed the Pearl and this trip a few years back, keep your review coming!

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Enjoying this immensely so far. It's fun to see our city thru a tourists eyes sometimes. You have some beautiful pics of the new Great Wheel. We haven't been on it yet but will when our out of town company arrives for the cruise.

 

The mini suite on the Jewel looks exactly like the mini we had on the Pearl. Same colors, same carpet, everything. Except yours was a mirror image to ours. (Our bed and sofa were on the right as we enter the room.)

 

It was on the right for us as well. My parents next door had the mirror image with the bed and couch on the left.

 

I wish we could have spent more time in your fine city. When we got back on Saturday we were thwarted by crowds, heat and aging knees. We'll be back though, and I'll let you know when so you can drive me up the hills so I don't have to walk!! :D

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Day 2 –First Sea Day

Ok, so my day 1 post was way too long. I’ll try to be more succinct going forward.

 

Day 2 was a typical sea day. Lots of exploring, eating, events and watching the world go by off our balcony. I woke up at 6am when people started moving stuff around up on the pool deck (chairs, from the sound of things). My only complaint about our deck 11 mini (11036) was the noise from above. Even in Alaska there were people running around (literally) on the pool deck until midnight. There were lots of teens on this trip, so I suspect they were just out on deck having fun. It didn’t disturb my sleep, but it’s quite annoying to hear THUMP THUMP THUMP back and forth all evening.

 

I have to say, the mid-ship stairwell between 11 and 12 was one of the noisiest places on the ship. The kids and teen clubs were on 12 right next to the stairs, and there was a steady cacophony of laughing, yelling, running, etc. in that area. I would suggest not having a room right next to that stairwell on 11 (grin)

 

After breakfast my wife went to the gym and spa for a couple of hours with my sister-in-law.

 

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Spa stuff...

 

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There are more pictures in my "misc ship pictures" album in an earlier post

Edited by sdmike

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I, on the other hand, spent a nice chunk of time in the atrium enjoying some Alaskan Oatmeal Stout and watching the Olympics on the big screen.

 

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A couple more hours I was on the balcony with camera and binoculars looking at the scenery. The sea was smooth (as it was the entire trip), but the clouds came in quickly and it got chilly. Little did I know I wouldn’t see the sun again until Victoria 5 days later!

 

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One discovery I made on the ship is they now have a Noodle Bar on the Jewel. The crew member there said they opened it up a couple of weeks earlier. Unfortunately we were so busy that we never got a chance to eat there. It’s near Chin Chin at the Sushi Bar.

 

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Edited by sdmike

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At 5:30 we headed off to our reservation at Moderno. The restaurant was quite small compared to the one on the Epic, but it was nicely laid out with window views of the ocean. The salad bar was smaller too, but good nonetheless. We had read earlier in the daily that early reservations at specialty restaurants qualified us for a free bottle of wine. Well, of COURSE I mention this when we sit down, unclear on how many bottles a group of 14 might get. 1? 14? Lol. Turns out it’s one bottle per couple, so we got 5 of them. The choice was either their house red (merlot) or white (chardonnay). I had never heard of the brand, but it really wasn’t bad at all….especially for the price. Three of the couples were not drinkers, so guess who ended up with a couple of the bottles to enjoy the rest of the week. (grin). Also, I discovered later that I was credited back $10 for my 11yo daughter since kids are half price…without asking. The joke is on them. I think she ate more filet mignon than the rest of us.

 

Some salad yummies

 

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The free wine

 

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Amazing cheese bread puffs. They melt in your mouth! Don't eat to many though

 

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The sides. The fried bananas are great

 

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Almost as good as the meat... the roasted pineapple!!

 

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Unfortunately you can't read this, but if you visit my photo album you can download a much larger version of this menu

 

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Edited by sdmike

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That night my boys ramped up into full teenager mode and met a ton of kids. We hardly saw them the rest of the trip except for in port or when we had dinners or other events arranged. They had a blast and stayed within their $10 per day budget as instructed…although it’s still a bit unnerving to see those $1.50 video game charges. Yikes![/font]

 

One other note... We had our steward (Riccardo) empty the “mini bar” items from our room and our kid’s room as well. No need to tempt hungry teenagers with a $5 snickers bar. Lol.

 

]Now this is funny. Riccardo saw my Epic shirt and asked when I sailed her. Turns out he was the steward on our deck on our sailing on the Epic…just the section in front of us! It would have been hilarious to have had him both times!

 

Before going to bed we saw the show Band on the Run. Not bad as far as cruise shows go. A lot of the typical singing and dancing you get with ship production shows, except this was set in a “club” that played 80’s rock music. That part I really enjoyed since I was in my 20’s back then and saw bunches of concerts by Styx, Queen and the like. Good show. Not great, but enjoyable

 

Since I have room in this post for more pictures I'll just post some random ones of the ship that folks might find interesting.

 

Huge library

 

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Spinnaker Lounge. Great views from the floor to ceiling windows

 

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Fyzz

 

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Pool deck (in seattle)

 

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Pool deck (in Alaska). The pools were 86 degrees, but getting out of them was a bit chilly

 

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Restaurant status board

 

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Edited by sdmike

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That's it for DAY 1! If you've gotten this far you are either a masochist or a friend that feels sorry for me. lol

 

 

I wouldn't say I'm masochistic....but I am excited about boarding the Jewel in 46 days! I hope they have some left-over Alaskan Amber for me!! Keep the review coming!!!!!

Edited by NayRN

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I am really enjoying your review..and no..you are not long winded at all. Write more...more details...more great pictures please!

 

OMG your incident with your daughter on the train made me so nervous for you!

Edited by NYGirl1002

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I'll post the rest later today. The best is yet to come!

 

Looking forward to the rest of your review. My cruise to Alaska on the jewel this weekend and hope that the weather in AK doesn't stink!!

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Also, thank you for putting so many photos of the public areas of the Jewel in your album. I am cruising on her in November and it was so hard to get information with regard to her. After looking at your pictures I have a pretty good idea what the Jewel is like.

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Mike, the Jewel is our home, having sailed her 12 times in the last 2 years. You are doing a great job. Your wonderful review of the Epic which I printed out (to be a full 23 pages) was awesome and has given us the impetus to give her a try. Thanks so much :) Cinci

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Really enjoying your review. We sailed on the Jewel's first Alaskan cruise in May, and it's bringing back wonderful memories.

 

It's also reminding me that even though I may be sailing on a ship for a 2nd time, other's might be going for the firs time and pictures of the ship are great additions.

 

Looking at your dinner in Moderno makes me wish we'd gone. I'd heard various reports about it and decided to skip it -- but I'll definitely try it next time around.

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Hi Susan <waving> ! Hope you are all well :)

 

Hi Cinci! Doing just fine other than suffering from a severe case of PCD. Trying to figure out when and where I want to go next. Where's your next adventure taking you?

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Day 3-Ketchikan

 

Our first port day was in Ketchikan. By now it was in the 40’s and raining, but the views coming into port were still very nice.

 

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Some local money, I presume

 

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The fishing fleet heading out of harbor

 

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Our first eagle sighting

 

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Edited by sdmike

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We had chartered a fishing boat with Ken at Northern Lights Charters on our own. Ken was waiting at the dock at 7am once we were cleared to depart, having pulled his small boat up to the pier across from the Jewel. The boat holds only 6 people, but that was perfect for our group of…ahem…6.

 

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After a safety briefing we headed out of the harbor to some islands further south.

 

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Edited by sdmike

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On the way we passed a tall channel marker with a majestic eagle perched on the top, about 60 feet off the ground. Ken turned off the engines and whistled, loudly. Much to our surprise the eagle leapt off the tower and was flying right for us! Stunned I hurried to turn my camera on and started shooting as fast as I could. Ken threw some herring in the water, and the eagle deftly swooped in and picked it up. Amazing! We were only there for a couple of minutes, but the event might have been the highlight of the entire trip!!

 

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Edited by sdmike

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I think I know what I want to do next time I'm in Ketchikan! What gorgeous photos of that eagle!!

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Just a couple more since it was so amazing!

 

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After a few minutes the eagle tired of our games and returned to his perch, and we carried on out of the channel places further south.

 

Just wow

 

Ken readied the trolling lines and downriggers, and within 3 minutes we had our first pink salmon on the line! It wasn’t big..maybe 5-7 lbs, but it was perfect for my kids! This was repeated 19 more times in the next couple of hours! I was hoping to catch a larger silver or king while out there, but we got what we got. Yep…we got 20 salmon. Each of the kids caught 5 of them, and my wife and MIL each caught a couple. I took my one and helped out with the rest. This really wasn’t about me fishing, it was about THEM fishing. (grin).

 

Did I mention that the weather was cold and rainy? Did I mention that we didn’t care? Haha

 

Here are a bunch of pictures from fishing:

 

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Edited by sdmike

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This was quite fun, and quite a "deck ballet". We had 3 fish on at once.

 

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Yours truly pulling in my one fish. yay dad!

 

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After a couple of hours we figured we had enough to keep us eating salmon for some time. Ken also had a noon trip, and we had to get the fish delivered to the processor, plus Ken needed to clean up his boat for the afternoon group.

 

One thing we noticed is that 3 of the 4 lines were catching fish all day. One of the lines, a shallow lure, didn't. Ken figured that there must be SOMETHING on it...kelp, jellyfish, fish...that kept the salmon from hitting it. So he handed my son the rod, we all "voted" on what might be on there, and he started reeling. What was it?

 

It was a Pollock!

 

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We went back up the channel and floated up to small dock north of where the Jewel was docked. We offloaded our catch and placed our order to be processed – 6 fished to be smoked and sent to my parents back east, and the remaining 14 fish to be cleaned and smoked (5 of them) or frozen (9 of them) for shipment to San Diego. The cost is around $7lb for frozen and $9lb smoked, including packing and shipping. Not bad at all!

 

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It was nice to see my OCD (clean freak) DS17 actually pick up a fish.

 

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Edited by sdmike

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After fishing we had time to walk around town and shop a bit. It’s a quaint little town, but with all the tourist shops you come to know and love (sigh). My kids were cold and wet so they went back on the ship, as did my MIL

 

That night we had dinner at Tsars again (same routine…full at the other MDR, but no problem getting a table for 14 at Tsars), and the meal was quite good again. That night they had your typical hypnotist show. I wasn’t going to go but my daughter was on a mission to see all the shows. I took her to the 9:15 show and it was quite fun! We both enjoyed it.

 

My mom and MIL went to the casino for a while and had mixed luck. I never got near the place personally. Just too many other things to do.

 

Here are some more pictures from Ketchikan, in no particular order

 

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No chair hog problem on this trip

 

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Another awesome day in the books

Edited by sdmike

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Hi Cinci! Doing just fine other than suffering from a severe case of PCD. Trying to figure out when and where I want to go next. Where's your next adventure taking you?

 

October - Sun

December - Epic

Dec/Jan - Jewel

April-May 35 day Repo NY thru Seattle to Seattle (that's what David wanted for his 75th birthday)

October - Jewel

December - Jewel

 

PCD is a dreadful thing ;)

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Day 4-Juneau

 

After having been up very early the first two mornings we slept in until 7am in Juneau. We woke up as the Jewel was entering the harbor and docking at terminal AJ (the furthest south).

 

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Another beautiful Alaska day. lol

 

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From AJ you have to take shuttles into town, unless you did what WE did (grin).

There is a small shack to the right of the ship when you get off. National Car Rental! We had rented a mini-van for under $100 for my group of 6 and anyone else we could fit. It was raining pretty hard so I walked over and got the van, then slipped over to pick up the rest of the group at the bottom of the ramp. Since I had worked in Juneau for the better part of a year I knew where to go. We headed out to Mendenhall on our own, before any of the tour busses got out there. Even though there were 3 other ships in port, Mendenhall had not gotten crowded yet.

 

We took the 30 minute walk out to the falls and took lots of pictures, and even walked along the beach of Mendenhall Lake and picked up some chunks of glacier ice. It’s amazingly clear and heavy, and has great texture.

 

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Edited by sdmike

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