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North to Alaska on the Carnival Miracle - April 29, 2013

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North to Alaska on the Carnival Miracle – April 29, 2013

 

I always tell myself that I’m going to do a review after each of my cruises, but somehow never get around to doing it. This time, I took notes, and I’m starting the day I returned, so I might actually get something written. I love reading reviews, and especially looking at everyone’s photos, so if you enjoy that too, please stick around…I’ll try to make it worth your while!

 

First, a little history (boring, I know, but we need to set the tone here). This was my 7th cruise on Carnival (12th overall), and fourth time to Alaska. I cruised with my brother, Joe. It was his 6th time up there, so he’s the Alaska pro in the family! I had seen unbelievable pricing on this one in early April, and told Joe. Thankfully, we both have amazing spouses who either don’t quite share our enthusiasm for Alaska (mine) or couldn’t go due to work (his), and they both told us to go! Joe’s a licensed union plumber who is currently between jobs, and I haven’t worked in about a year due to some family obligations, so the timing was perfect! Joe doesn’t care what cabin he’s in, as long as he’s on a cruise; I, however, am a balcony snob. We booked the only balcony category that was left: 7A, obstructed view. Ok, enough with the intro…

 

Since this was a Vancouver/Alaska/Seattle itinerary, the first thing to take care of was lining up transportation to Vancouver. We’re across Puget Sound from Seattle, so this was simple. The options were: Amtrak, Bolt Bus, or Quick Coach. (I’ve done Quick Coach before and can recommend them.) Amtrak left Seattle an hour later than both buses, so we chose the train. (I didn’t really want to have to get up at 0-dark-thirty to get to Seattle for a 6:20 a.m. bus; it was bad enough having to be at Amtrak by 7:00!)

 

Embarkation Day - Seattle to Vancouver

We got to the train station at about 6:30 (I drove my car over with my son tagging along; he took my car home on the ferry and went back to bed!). We checked our luggage in were told that the conductor would begin assigning seats at around 7:00. I wandered around a bit and found some of the folks from our Cruise Critic/FB roll call and introduced myself. At 7:00 the seats were assigned and we boarded the train shortly thereafter. (Note: Ask for seats on the left side of the train if you want the scenic views.)

 

The train left promptly at 7:40 and we settled in for our four hour ride.

 

I didn't take a lot of pictures from the train, but here are a few...

 

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You can see why you want to be on the left side of the train! During some parts of the trip you swear that you are actually IN the water! ;)

 

Ok, I've only been home three hours, so I've got to go start some more laundry, but I'll come back in a bit with embarkation!

 

Stay tuned...

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Looking forward to your review. Doing Alaska on Miracle May 28th and we are also booked in a 7A.

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Looking forward to your review, we're on the Miracle to Alaska August 20, 2013. Really looking forward to this cruise, first time to Alaska. I hope you got some picture of the ship. We'll be on the Empress deck midship with a balcony - my first requirement to go on a cruise.:p

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Great start! I hope to take an Alaskan cruise next year. Looking forward to more! :)

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Can't wait to read rest of your review. We are sailing Miracle on May 21, 2013. This is our first cruise to Alaska and first balcony (7256) and very excited.

Thanks for sharing!!!!

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Will you please post afterwards about which nights are 'cruise elegant'? Since this cruise - I'm sailing 7/23/13 - has its 4 port days at the end of the cruise, with the final night a 7pm-11pm in Victoria, BC., I would find it odd to have the 2nd formal night then. Have a fabulous cruise!!

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Looking forward to your review. Can't wait for more pics.

 

You are right, the prices for this cruise were unbelievable. I wish we could have taken advantage of them. Work restrictions wouldn't allow April.

 

:):)

 

Mel

Edited by meluvtogocruise

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The train arrived in Vancouver right on schedule, our luggage was already waiting for us as we got off the train, and there were cabs waiting right outside the station. Sweet! The ride took less than 10 minutes, cost $10.50 (plus tip), and we were at Canada Place and inside the terminal (after handing our bags off to the porters) by about 12:15. Made it through security fairly quickly, and then got to immigration. We were directed to agent #7, where we stood and watched him spend at least 2 or 3 minutes cleaning up a minor coffee spill in his work area – with no acknowledgement whatsoever of us standing there! It was comical. He would wipe the same spot over, and over, and over, with Joe and I just standing there watching him. He knew we were there; just took his own sweet time about helping us. Not a big deal, just funny. I’ve never experienced anything like that before! Anyway…once his work area was again pristine, he checked our passports and we were on our way in less than a minute. On to the Carnival agent, where we once again experienced a minor blip when his computer did not want to cooperate. We chatted with him while we waited for the system to decide to work for us, and once that happened we had our S&S cards in no time, and the waiting began…

 

One thing to note is that we’d all received an e-mail from Carnival warning us not to arrive at the pier ‘til between 1:30 – 3:00. Not uncommon, but this one was a little bit different. Because this was an open loop cruise, they said that immigration was going to take a little bit longer than usual. They also didn’t want people getting there too early because the waiting area at Canada Place is not very big. It was pretty apparent that a lot folks had ignored the e-mail, because the waiting area was packed and the ship had not started loading yet. We were directed to our dedicated waiting area where we sat knees to knees with the people in the row of chairs facing us. Thankfully everyone was in good spirits, just eager to board the ship! They started boarding just before 1:00; we got on somewhere between 1:30 & 1:45 (I know…I should have been taking better notes)!

 

We went to our cabin, dropped off our carry-ons, and headed up to the lido deck for some lunch. When we finished and went back to our cabin, our luggage had arrived. Yay!

 

 

 

Our cab driver kindly stopped long enough for me to get a quick picture of the Miracle as we drove into the drop off area at the cruise terminal...

 

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Hey...I can see my 7A balcony cabin!

 

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Up the gangway and ready to cruise! :)

 

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Wouldn't you love to have his job?!?

 

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Next up...gorgeous Vancouver and sailaway!

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Up on deck we enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful views of Vancouver while we waited for sailaway...

 

 

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Cabin 5233; standard issue Carnival balcony cabin! Starboard side, very close to the stairs/elevators. Loved the location. (I also have bathroom pictures, but figured no one really wants to see them...)

 

The first thing Joe noticed was that we had one bed, instead of two. I told him not to worry...that our cabin steward would handle that (which she did). More on our cabin steward later; she was fabulous!

 

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Next...the "dreaded" 7A balcony!

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Loving the review and seeing all the pictures. Keep it coming, I have 6 weeks to wait and this will help it move along. Thanks

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Oh no. That last comment scares me a bit. We booked a 7A (5152) cabin due to the amazing price. I look forward to hearing about what you thought.

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Ok, so obviously these photos were not taken while we were still docked in Vancouver. I chose these because you really see what kind of views you're getting when you book one of these cabins. Did I LOVE it? No. Was I happy that at least I had a balcony? You betcha!

 

Sitting on my bed (closest to the balcony door), looking outside.

 

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On the balcony, looking left.

 

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On the balcony, looking straight ahead.

 

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And looking down...

 

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On the balcony, looking to the right.

 

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Now that we've got that covered, let's do sailaway, shall we?!?

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We were scheduled to depart at 4:00 p.m., but in actuality it was 6:30 before we left. I heard varying stories of why that was: the ship had been late in arriving, it had been a 15-day sailing and took longer to offload whatever they offload (garbage, etc.?), they waited for people who were late in arriving, etc. Whatever it was, it really wasn't a big deal. I was hungry, but I wanted to stay outside to watch us go underneath the Lions Gate Bridge, so that's what I did!

 

Here we go...

 

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Approaching Lions Gate Bridge...

 

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And we're under!

 

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How cool is that island? I want to live there!

 

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The sun sets on day one...

 

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Love the pics of Vancouver ... you did us proud. Of course having the sun shine helps as well!!!!!!We are on the Miracle in September to Hawaii and I am looking forward to your views of the ship ...

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I was literally just looking at this cruise for the end of next April to book. Just waiting on the go ahead from my hubs and I flipped over to cruise critic to check out the carnival threads and here is this fantastic review!! I can't wait!

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Oh no. That last comment scares me a bit. We booked a 7A (5152) cabin due to the amazing price. I look forward to hearing about what you thought.

 

Hopefully the pictures will reassure you! ;)

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Love the pics of Vancouver ... you did us proud. Of course having the sun shine helps as well!!!!!!We are on the Miracle in September to Hawaii and I am looking forward to your views of the ship ...

 

I love Vancouver...so much so that I'll be back up there on Saturday for a one night cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on the Golden Princess! ;)

 

If I didn't live in the Seattle area, I'd have done all four of my Alaska cruises out of your beautiful city!

 

This was my second time on the Miracle; love this class of ship! I'll post ship pictures later on in my review!

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I'm just now realizing how tired I am, so I'll pick up tomorrow with sea day #1 (fantastic!), and sea day #2 (not fantastic!).

 

Stay tuned...

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I actually have this room booked for Hawaii in September. I love the 7A rooms - gives you a balcony and at least with this room you have a gap - looked not too bad. Thanks for posting - waiting to hear about the rest of your review - did the Spirit out of Alaska last July love the spirit class ships!

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Ok, so obviously these photos were not taken while we were still docked in Vancouver. I chose these because you really see what kind of views you're getting when you book one of these cabins. Did I LOVE it? No. Was I happy that at least I had a balcony? You betcha!

 

Sitting on my bed (closest to the balcony door), looking outside.

 

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On the balcony, looking left.

 

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On the balcony, looking straight ahead.

 

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And looking down...

 

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On the balcony, looking to the right.

 

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Now that we've got that covered, let's do sailaway, shall we?!?

 

That right there would bug me to death - so much so to going ballistic if I got assigned a room looking at a life boat. If you're like me make sure it's an unobstructed view cabin.

 

Love the review!

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Was it noisy in the 7A cabin from the lifeboats creaking or anything? I'm okay with the obstructed view, but I am concerned about the noise because noises tend to wake me up a lot.

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Thanks for photos of balcony the obstructed view is not bad at all. I would book it just to have fresh air and extra space. Depending on price of course

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Thanks for photos of balcony the obstructed view is not bad at all. I would book it just to have fresh air and extra space. Depending on price of course

 

I haven't sailed in it yet, but we upgraded to the 7A because a couple of weeks ago when prices dropped with Family & Friends sale we were able to snag it for $60pp less than we'd originally paid for an inside cabin w/obstructed french doors and $10pp less than the original price of a regular inside cabin. With all of our excursions we want to do pre-paid and already $100 OBC from a Future Cruise Certificate it seemed like a no-brainer to us to jump on a chance to try a balcony at a very low price.

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Anxious for the rest of your review & pictures! We'll be doing the same itinerary in reverse in September!

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We have stayed in 7A's a couple of times and don't recall any creaking from the life boats.

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We woke up to gorgeous blue skies and calm seas Tuesday morning. This was Joe's second cruise on Carnival, and he and his wife had won a SOAS on the first, so today we wanted to participate in as many trivia contests as we could, to try and win him #2! We arrived late to the first one, but sat anyway and listened to the questions. After that we went to the Trivial Pursuit Quiz, where we didn't fare all that well. The next game was Name That Kiss, where they showed famous love scenes on the screen and you had you had to list the movie they came from. We did well, but still not enough to win the coveted SOAS. Figuring we had many more chances to try, we weren't worried yet!

 

At 10:00 we wandered off to our CC/FB meet and greet, held in Frankenstein's Lab (a nightclub on deck 2). It was well attended, and it was great to meet so many of the people we'd been chatting with for the month before the cruise. One person had made us all door signs, another buttons to wear. It was fun wearing the buttons around the ship; many times people would stop us to ask where we'd gotten them! (Thanks Marie and Coral!)

 

The rest of the day was spent losing $$$ in the casino, admiring the scenery, and finding corners of the ship to hang out and read. This was the first Cruise Elegant night, so since neither of us had brought dressy clothes (not my thing on a cruise, especially on this itinerary), we ate dinner in the buffet. Actually, we ended up never setting foot in the MDR; Joe didn't want to, and, although I would have gone by myself without any problem, the buffet or grill were just fine. Let's just say we never went hungry!

 

Our door sign! (The buttons were similar.)

 

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Beneath that splash is a humpback whale! (There were several of them out there; just couldn't get a picture of them, darn it!)

 

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Later in the day, as we approached Grenville Channel, the scenery got more spectacular!

 

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Lots of crew on the bow and on deck 9, forward, taking pictures. Many of them had never seen anything like this before.

 

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Looking back towards the stern of the ship as we cruised Grenville Channel.

 

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Here is where I have to voice my biggest complaint about doing this cruise on Carnival. On Celebrity, HAL, and NCL, the ships all had forward facing lounges with wrap around windows. If you didn't want to be outside (which, later on during this week, was certainly the case), but still wanted to watch the scenery as it came towards you, you could sit in the Navigator Lounge (Celebrity), Crow's Nest (HAL), or Spinnaker Lounge (NCL). Carnival has nothing similar on any of their ships. When I go back up to Alaska for the fifth time, next year or the year after, I'll go with one of those lines again, for that reason.

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While Tuesday had been a fantastic day at sea, Wednesday, well, wasn't... Zero visibility and rough seas for most of the day. I know I'm of the minority, but I love rough water, so it didn't bother me. I did hear, however, that there were people who got sick.

 

Skipped trivia to go see the on-board naturalist's presentation on glaciers and wildlife in Alaska; it was very interesting. Read, lost some more $$$ in the casino, and went to the VIFP past guest party. I feel kind of "if you've been to one, you've been to them all" about these events, but I always enjoy seeing if there's anyone on board who's done over a hundred cruises on Carnival. On my Liberty cruise in November, there was a guy who was on number 130. Crazy! The party had to deviate from the norm, because the video they always show wouldn't work, but it was a pleasant way to spent 30 minutes! Later in the evening we went to the Blues Brothers show, which was very entertaining (and which featured the cruise director, Chris Roberts, and the assistant cruise director, as the Blues Brothers). Went to bed early, because tomorrow: Juneau!

 

Quite different from Tuesday!

 

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You know when the barf bags are taped up at all of the elevators, they figure people will be needing them!

 

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The weather we had on Wednesday followed us up to Juneau: grey skies and rain for most of the day. We hadn't booked anything ahead of time, because I wanted to wait and see what the weather was like, so we walked off the ship at about 9:30 to see what we could find. Joe wanted to go out to Mendenhall Glacier; I was interested in either whale watching or a glacier viewing float plane trip. I knew the plane ride was probably out of the question. I didn't take any pictures of them (I could probably go and find some from previous trips), but there are tour kiosks set up all over the pier. I always tell people it is NOT necessary to book ahead; you will find pretty much anything you want to do being sold right there on the docks!

 

We ended up at Juneau Tours; I booked the 10:00 whale watching trip ($115), and Joe bought tickets with them to go out to Mendenhall for $16 RT (this is what everyone charges). I will say that Juneau Tours has better buses than almost everyone I see going out to the glacier; previously we've gone out there on MGT and their buses are old and kind of scary!

 

I LOVED my whale watching trip! I've seen the humpbacks in Mexico and Hawaii, so it was only natural that I'd want to see them in Alaska. We boarded a bus for the 15 or 20 minute ride out to Auke Bay, and then boarded the Rochelle B. The Rochelle B is a brand new boat, and this was their first tour of the season. I was one of four who got to sit up in the pilot house, which was great! Warm and cozy, and with great views. I picked up a pair of binoculars and became a whale spotter for the captain. We were out on the water for almost two hours, and during that time saw numerous orcas, and about four or five humpbacks. Federal regulations say that you have to stay 300 yards from the whales, so when you see them you get as close as the law permits, and then hope they come to you. Several orcas got close to the boat, but we had to enjoy the humpbacks from a distance. I didn't bring the better of my two cameras with me, so I didn't even attempt to take any pictures of any of them.

 

Boarding the Rochelle B

 

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It was great to sit up here!

 

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Heading out into Auke Bay

 

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When we were sitting still in the water, folks could go out on the bow of the vessel.

 

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NOT my photo, but once or twice, this is what we saw. The rest of the time we saw humps, but no flukes!

 

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Once back at the dock, an eagle stands watch...

 

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I know that there was a group of 12 from our CC roll call that were booked on an 8:30 whale watching tour with Harv & Marv that got canceled due to high wind warnings. Harv & Marv have much smaller boats than what I was on (but come highly recommended). I was glad to have waited to see what was available once I got to Juneau; it would have been really disappointing to have booked/paid for a tour that then got canceled.

 

Next: more Juneau!

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While I was watching the whales, Joe went out to Mendenhall Glacier and then took the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts. So much snow at both places!

 

Here are some of his pictures from Mendenhall

 

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The Mt. Roberts Tram

 

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The ship from the tram

 

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Obviously the trails were all covered with snow, but you could still go to the Nature Center and the restaurant/shops

 

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After whale watching I went back to the ship to eat some lunch and dry off before heading out again for some shopping. I had planned on visiting the Alaska State Museum (neat little place), but when I had only been back out for a little while it really started pouring, so I hit the glacier silt soap shop and a couple of other places, visited Patsy Ann, and returned to the Miracle. We had planned a CC get-together at the Red Dog Saloon at 8:00 p.m., so I wanted to be rested/warm/dry for that!

 

Downtown Juneau from the bow of the ship

 

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Douglas Island, from our balcony

 

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Downtown Juneau

 

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Everyone's always on the lookout for eagles, but I love the ravens!

 

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A visit to Juneau is not complete until you've stopped by to see Patsy Ann! http://www.patsyann.com/story/index.htm

 

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By the time 8:00 rolled around, we'd found out that a lot of folks who had planned on meeting up at the Red Dog had gone in there earlier in the day and didn't want to go back out. Five of us ended up meeting up for a drink or two, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. If you've never been, make a point to stop in and at least look around. Typical bar food, and a great atmosphere. It was nice that we were the only ship in port; the place was not crowded at all (I've been in Juneau where the place was so packed they couldn't let anyone else inside).

 

 

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If you're going up later this season on the Miracle, see if you can find this and add your sailing date/names below it! (Writing on the walls is encouraged; bring Sharpies!)

 

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Leaving Juneau behind

 

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Tomorrow: Skagway!

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