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irvinejohn

Ruby Princess Alaska Jun 28 - July 5 2015 Photo Review

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Judy did indeed inform me of this review.

 

I've enjoyed reading it and viewing the pictures. Next Monday will begin two weeks of taking our own pictures. Every cruise brings up a discussion on how to deal with thousands of images. This year we are taking a new laptop which Dell calls a half and half (tablet & laptop). We also have lots of memory cards. I like to have my images backed up at the beginning thus the laptop and I have enough memory cards so that I might be able to get through the trip w/o reformatting any for new pictures. If we have to abandon ship, my card case goes in my pocket.

 

Seriously, your review is a pleasure and a help. We have a car reserved at Juneau car rental and at Avis in Anchorage. For those looking to save money, renting a car is a good option. We are not going to Skagway this trip or we would have another rental car reserved. The first time we went to Skagway, we took the bus tour to the Yukon. The second time we rented a car (for four people). Total cost for four people was $98 dollars, including gas. That is less than one bus ticket.

 

I'll be checking in regularly until the end.

 

Thanks

 

Your wife was a great help in getting the pictures in the posts. Couldn't have done it without her.

 

I'm happy this has been helpful to you. I learned so much from the collective wisdom on the boards and now I can give back.

 

Have a wonder trip to Alaska. I should be able to finish the review this week hopefully. And then it will be another short week before your vacation.

 

Watch out for the walk to Juneau Car Rentals. it could be 15-20 minutes depending on which berth your HAL ship docks at.

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With the late departure arrival and departure time in Juneau, many guests probably were still off the ship during dinner time. Consequently dinner was open seating for dinner as well as our stop later in Victoria. All existing arrangements were not valid during open seating and it was first come first serve at all the dining rooms.

 

When my BIL and I arrived in the dining room, our party was already seated. We were seated at the tables once the dining room returned to regular reservations. This was our first dinner together next to each other.

 

Our servers were dressed in striped shirts ala gondolier for the Italian night theme. Our previous assistant server in Botticelli was stoic but our new assistant waiter in Michelangelo was more talkative and friendly.

 

The food pictures seem to correspond to the Italian dinner at Beyond Ships. Michelangelo was darker than Botticelli since there were only windows on two sides mid ship and we were seated toward the center of the room. I opened up the aperture wider to let in more light for these pictures, but the depth of field or the focus narrowed so the edges of the plates were less in focus than earlier.

 

http://www.beyondships2.com/uploads/8/2/4/5/8245255/italian.pdf

 

I started off dinner with the Iced Peach Bellini soup and had the salad, Mixed Greens and Baby Spinach with Crisp Bacon Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts.

 

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My son got the Capesante e Gamberi Gratinati, sea scallops and shrimp in mashed potatoes.

 

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The fish entre was Filetto di Mahi Mahi alla Griglia.

 

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I got the home-style cuisine, Saltimbocco di Pollo. This one didn’t quite match the Beyond Ships menu with mushrooms and melted cheese instead of parma ham, but it was quite delicious. The chicken was perfectly cooked. The chicken was tender and moist with a nice crispy crust and it was flavorful. I wasn’t expecting much with this chicken dish but it was excellent.

 

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For desert my brother ordered two and I copied him with lemon gelato and tiramisu.

 

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My son got the three layer ice cream desert.

 

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We started dinner late and finished later. After a long fruitful day of many scenic and natural wonders, I think most of us went to bed earlier.

 

I still had work to do however. I had to deal with two access issues. First, when selecting the Ruby as my WiFi network, the network asked for a username and password. I didn’t remember establishing a username however. The front desk couldn’t help and the Internet manager wouldn’t be available until the morning. Instead of selecting the Ruby network and entering a username and password, I clicked the Internet access button on the default Ruby web page in the browser. This method only prompted me for the password so I was able to login.

 

I closed out the Internet browser before officially logging out as a mistake. This was my second problem, this time self-inflicted. When I reopened the Internet, I could not find the logout button. I searched Cruise Critic and found a work around. Enter “1.1.1.1” as the Internet address line. Then I was able to confirm the logout and the system showed my minutes remaining.

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Day 5 - Skagway

 

The passenger van rental was more expensive in Skagway at $160 for the eight person van than in Juneau. There were just three rental car companies to choose from so pricing probably reflects the scarcity of product. The third rental outfit specialized in Jeeps BTW. The alternative to renting was taking a seat on a tour bus. The smaller private ones cost $120 per person. So this would have cost almost a grand for the eight of us! If we decided not to go, my sister and BIL were going to take this option. The pictures of Emerald Lake looked mesmerizing so I rented the van before our trip. We weren’t certain if we would have this opportunity to come to Alaska again so it made sense to rent the van.

 

I also paid for and downloaded Murray’s Guide. There are free abridged versions available but I thought the $5 fee was worth it for the full version. It was helpful to read about the locations in advance and understand the background.

 

Emerald Lake is the turnaround point for most visitors from Skagway because the scenery beyond Emerald Lake is reportedly not as scenic. Most reviews indicated that five hours was sufficient to drive the 150 mile round trip and see the sights.

 

Returning passengers needed to be back on the Ruby 4:30PM so we wanted to be there when Sourdough opened in the morning at 8AM. However because we were worn out somewhat from the previous day, our room didn’t get up until 7:30AM. So I had to let my sister know that we were going to be late.

 

It was a cold wet morning on the Lido deck as we headed into the Horizon Court breakfast. This time the left side of the ship faced a mountain side covered with some art graffiti of the visiting cruises. The Zaandam was behind us again as the aft of the Ruby faced Skagway. The Disney Wonder was off to the right of the ship. The waters around Skagway had the similar aqua hue as Tracy Arm.

 

We dressed warmly and for wet weather and left the Ruby and walked past the Zaandam which was docked in front of us closer to town. It seemed HAL always got the better berth assignments. In a light rain/sprinkle we followed the flow of people into Skagway. Many of the buildings still looked like a frontier town. Sourdough is on 6th and Broadway so and it was easy to find Broadway and the direction of numbered streets. 6th Street soon appeared after the Red Onion and the driftwood building. I didn’t want to slow progress in the rain so my camera stayed in the camera case. I thought there would be more time to take pictures after we returned the car.

 

There was a sign on the door at that we will be back in ten minutes or call this number at Sourdough. I used the opportunity to use the restroom down the street and when I returned the kids were about to load into our van.

 

The owner gave us map and an overview about recommendations to see along the Klondike Highway as well as parts of Skagway. In addition he informed us about the quirks in the car with the check engine light that would go away as soon as we started driving (it did) and how to help the automatic driver side window close correctly. We had trouble locating one of the locks in the seat belt but we figured it out with his help. Similar to our experience in Juneau, it was an easy going customer friendly experience to rent from the local vendor. I had no issues and would recommend Sourdough in Skagway as well. We finally set out at about ten minutes to 10AM.

 

Because of the rain, we decided to save everything in Skagway upon our return. Perhaps the rain will let up later in the day. State St. ran parallel to Broadway and turned into the Klondike Highway out to Emerald Lake.

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In Skagway I wanted to go Pioneer Cemetery and Lower Reid Falls before going to the Dyea Outlook to be able to the view Skagway below. I knew that National Park Rangers offered a free tour of Skagway and wanted to do that if we got back early enough. Rain altered our plans. We decided to hit these stops on the way back instead. Maybe the weather would be better.

 

The White Pass was literally a white out as we headed up the mountain. At first you could see the White Pass train tracks on the right side but the higher we climbed the less we saw. After Pitchfork Falls at Mile 7.7, we did not see much at all. We were upon the William Moore Bridge before we knew it. There was no point at stopping at any of the pullouts because of the lack of visibility. There was a tanker truck ahead of us which slowed everybody down, but that was probably a good thing with the weather. There were even two brave people riding bicycles over the summit in the rain.

 

My sister met a person who rode the train to White Pass at Zumba the following day. Unfortunately, the bad weather meant that they had no visibility either.

 

We were over the summit at Mile 14.4. As we descended visibility improved. We could see some scenery in the Avalanche Zone starting at Mile 15.9/KM 25.6. It was pretty but we didn’t want to stop in the rain and decided to keep going. It was the same idea as the stops in Skagway. We’ll pass this opportunity and decide on the trip back.

 

Canadian Customs was at Mile 22.7/Km 22.7. The border agent checked that our passports and faces matched for all the passengers in the van. After a few questions regarding our destination and return time we were through. I suppose it takes longer for customs to clear a tour bus or train. The skies remained overcast but the raindrops turned into a drizzle and eventually stopped being a factor.

 

When we picked up the car, Sourdough mentioned there has been a bear seen near the log cabin around Mile 27.3/Km 43.9. We looked for a log cabin but didn’t see one or the bear on the drive up the highway.

 

The Yukon Suspension Bridge was the first big tourist spot we could have stopped at. There were a number of tour buses in the parking lot already, but we just kept driving on. I think we had already decided to drive straight to Emerald Lake and catch all the sights on the way back given our late start. We wanted to ensure a timely return.

 

Tutshi Lake was next on our right at Mile 35.4/Km 57.0 for the next ten miles or so. The water color was the same beautiful aqua again. We encountered the Welcome to Yukon Sign at Mile 49.9/Km 80.3. There was on tour bus and several passenger cars there as we drove by. Windy Arm replaced Tutshi Lake as the body of water on our right. The pullout for Bove Island was at Mile 59.0/Km 95.0.

 

Soon afterwards we reached the turnoff to Carcross at Mile 65.6/Km 105.6. It seems that a lot of the destinations were bunched up near the end of our drive. Next was the Carcross Desert at Mile 66.9/Km 107.7 and Caribou Crossing at Mile 67.7/Km 108.6. It looks like they had their priorities straight there. Carribou Crossing is the official name of this establishment but the signage said Husky Puppies in large letters and then Carribou Crossing in smaller letters. The owners know what the main draw here is.

 

Finally, we reached our first and farthest destination at Mile 73.1/Km 117.6, Emerald Lake.

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We were warned that the colors of Emerald Lake are dulled by cloudy skies, but the greens of the lake were able to shine through. The green color is the reflection of light off the marl, a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate deposited during the glacial era. Emerald Lake was aptly named. I think it is worth the effort to get out here to see this gem.

 

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Fireweed is a common flower in this region. It is prettier when there is a bank of flowers.

 

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Next stop on our return leg was Caribou Crossing. There are a lot of activities here. The husky dogs are the main draw. General admission gets you into the museum and the access to the petting farm with all the animals. Adults cost $8.50 and kids $6.50. Additional options include, a BBQ lunch, gold panning, and a dog sled ride. We are here mainly for the dogs. My sister and BIL also choose to do the 15 minute dog sled ride for $43.50.

 

All of the dogs were docile. The youngest puppies were three and a half weeks old. You could be treats to feed the dogs. It wasn’t necessary to feed the dogs to touch and hold them.

 

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The dogs with the chain leashes are waiting their turn to pull the dog sled. This one had mysterious blue eyes.

 

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The wildlife museum had an impressive collection of animals, including a mammoth. The kids thought the museum was spooky though.

 

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In addition, there was a small exhibit about the Klondike Gold Rush. The Canadian authorities did not allow miners into the gold fields unless they had a ton of goods. For those without any pack animals, the miners to make 27 round trips carrying a 75lb load from Skagway or Dyea to Lake Bennett. The 33 mile trip for these miners then totaled 1782 miles.

 

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We spent a lot of time with the huskies, so we rushed through the petting zoo and the wildlife museum. After getting a snack at the Caribou Café, we head back on the road.

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The Carcross Desert is called the smallest desert in the world and seemingly out of place in Alaska. We made only a quick photo stop here and did not explore.

 

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We returned to Carcross, originally known as Caribou Crossing, in order to stamp our passports at the Matthew Wattson’s General Store. This store is Yukon’s oldest operating store. The stamps, one a caribou and the other a polar bear, are located in front of the store on a small table.

 

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The Carcross Depot of the White Pass Yukon Route Railroad was located across the street and a train pulled through town.

 

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Carcross Commons contains some interesting decorated retail stores. We got some coffee and shared a sandwhich at Caribou Coffee. Even though we paid in dollars we received loonies and toonies in change.

 

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If we had some more time we could have stayed longer to find out more about the area but we were already late and continued the drive back to Skagway.

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We made another quick photo stop at Bove Island and then proceeded to our next planned stop at the Welcome to Yukon sign.

 

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There was typically only one other car at these stops whereas there were multiple cars and at least a tour bus on the drive in the morning. It started raining again at the Yukon sign and got a raindrop on my lens even though I had a lens hood on.

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Thanks for the review! Really enjoyed your pictures, felt like we were there :) BTW for future reference, if you do go back; porcupines don't shoot quills, so don't worry. If you don't touch him, you will be fine. Just don't corner them; as they are not aggressive, they will simply leave if you let them. Glad the kids got to experience so much wildlife!

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Thanks for the review! Really enjoyed your pictures, felt like we were there :) BTW for future reference, if you do go back; porcupines don't shoot quills, so don't worry. If you don't touch him, you will be fine. Just don't corner them; as they are not aggressive, they will simply leave if you let them. Glad the kids got to experience so much wildlife!

 

Thanks for the info on porcupines. It certainly did not care that we humans were there.

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The rain varied in intensity on the return drive. There are not that many cars on the road in either direction, so I thought something was odd when I saw two jeeps stopped on the opposite side and the pickup truck in front of me slowing down. Then I spotted a bear snacking along the side of the road. We were lucky with another chance wildlife encounter. We slowly followed the other cars up, but then one of the smaller tour buses behind me cut through in between traffic. It probably spooked the bear and our encounter ended.

 

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Having already seen Emerald Lake, huskies at Caribou Crossing, and other sites, we were more than satisfied with the glimpse of the bear. While the drive back was as scenic as the drive in, we didn’t feel the need to get out the car at the other outlooks and get wet. When we reached the Welcome to Alaska sign, I simply rolled down the window to take a picture of the sign and then drove on.

 

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Visibility was not as bad at the top of White Pass on the return trip. There were tourists getting out of their cars in the rain to take pictures of the waterfalls etc. Other tourists rented bicycles and were dropped off by a shuttle for a ride down the mountain. I thought it was a little bit dangerous in the rain.

We cleared US customs quickly. The US agent did check all the faces with the passports and ran the passport through a reader. When I asked him if the rain ever stopped he said no but it was also the first rain they have received in two and a half months.

 

We returned to Skagway at about 3:30PM so it took us about 5 hours and 40 minutes of time. I did not plan to be back in Skagway with only one hour to spare, but that’s what happened. And because of the rain, we did not stop in as many places as I thought we would. I have no pictures of the White Pass area of the town of Skagway. Today’s tour was more about the Yukon than Skagway.

 

After we filled up gas and then drove to the passenger unloading zone in front to the Zaandam, my wife drove the rental van back. My jacket was not water repellent so my wife returned the car and then walked/jogged back in her raincoat. We did get wet walking back into the Ruby so we went back to the cabin to change.

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I went back to the International Café to get two hot chocolates for the family to warmup. I did not order any of the enticing snacks. It seems that you can have a very satisfying lunch here.

 

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Before we went for dinner I took some pictures of the port of Skagway before we left.

 

Disney’s Wonder

 

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The Zaandam in front of us with the Wonder off to the right in this wide angle shot. While it was a hike to get to downtown Skagway, it wasn’t as far as the picture makes it seem.

 

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Game and Wild Mushroom Pate

 

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I ordered the Prickly Pear and Sweet Pineapple. Prickly Pear is a cactus if you didn’t know. The seeds were pretty substantial.

 

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Roasted Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder. I convinced the kids to try this too but they didn’t care for it. They are used to a creamy corn potage soup and went back to their alphabet soup off the kids menu. For me it was like the asparagus soup – kind of bland.

 

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I’m not certain if the image of the menu is legible enough but tonight’s dinner is surf and turf night. While the turf was filet mignon, the surf was just shrimp which seemed to bring the dish down. On the Zaandam, surf and turf was lobster and filet mignon. The shrimp was smaller than the tartar and cocktail dipping sauces.

 

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Note it was also Red King Crab night. There were quite a few orders for the king crab legs at our table. Normally I don’t care for crab, but I tried this and it was delicious. The legs were already split in half and easy to remove out of the shell. I liked it with better with a splash of citrus instead of butter. Eventually we ordered an extra entre of the crab for all of us to share. I planned on taking a picture of this plate but missed my opportunity when I took one of the twins to the restroom.

 

My mom got the impressive looking Roasted Cornish Game Hen.

 

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