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Our Ultimate UnCruise Adventure 2016: July 2-July16


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Are they crazy, snorkeling in Alaska?

 

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Mom and daughter made a pact when I sent the planning materials for the cruise. They were going snorkeling and would not wimp out. There were some second thoughts, but they hung in there. The ship has a limited number of wetsuits, and they are thicker than the kind  the kids use in Southern California. There is a small upcharge for snorkeling, to cover the.upkeep of the gear. Mask and snorkels, and fins are also provided. 
 

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The gals said they were glad they went snorkeling. They did get cold when they came out of the water. There is a surprising amount of SeaLife to see in Alaska. Which leads to the next post, and a most interesting Skiff Tour. 

 

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Some of our group chose a longer kayak paddle this morning, and the less intrepid adventurers opted for the Skiff Tour. This one was quite a surprise, as the SeaLife was not something we’d seen before. I often use the term “otherworldly” to describe the creatures of the deep (and the shore line).

 

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We spent the afternoon cruising towards Glacier Bay.  We saw a few whales, and some deer on shore.  Once at Bartlett Cove, the headquarters to Glacier Bay National Park, we stopped only long enough to pick up a Park Ranger, then continued on to our anchorage for the night. What will we see when we wake up?

 

 

Edited by Shazzah
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We woke up in Glacier Bay. At 4am, it looked like this, with the lovely Blue Hour effect:

 

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This is what we saw at 6:30am, as people were beginning to show up for coffee and then out on deck. We had beautiful views of Margerie Glacier. 

 

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We saw sea otters on the ice. At first, I just assumed they were seals. 
 

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And we watched some of the larger cruise ships check out the area:

 

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We also saw the Grand Pacific Glacier, and just spent lots of quiet time looking at the beautiful scenery. Our Park Ranger visited with us on deck, and answered questions about Glacier Bay National Park.

 

Some more photos in the next post ...

 

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More photos from our time in Glacier Bay:


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Maybe too much awe and wonder for the younger crowd? Not really, she was mischievously posing for this shot.  Our granddaughters were 13 and 16 at the time of the cruise. We worried about how they would handle no wi-if, no cell service, and none of their friends for two weeks. It wasn’t a problem at all, they loved every day of the trip.
 

On our previous UnCruise Adventure, we spent three days in Glacier Bay. This itinerary allowed one full day, and we made the most of it. 

 

 

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We'd been oohing and awwing over glaciers for a couple of hours. Now it was time to see some wildlife to go with the ice action.
 

This grizzly bear and her cub were foraging in the grass. They looked at us a few times, but didn't seem concerned. The cub even nursed for a short while. We were a fair distance away.


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We spotted a second bear ... wayyyyy up on the hill.  

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There was lots to take photos of, and we continued to see even more wildlife:

 

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We broke for dinner, and came back outside soon after as we were cruising into Bartlett Cove. It was time to drop off our Ranger, and also go for a hike. We sent the younger crowd off to get some exercise, while the grandparents enjoyed a cold Alaska Brew in the quiet lounge. We did see a few whales and sea otters as we made our way to Bartlett Cove.

 

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Edited by Shazzah
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Wow!  I am so happy to see you are continuing on with your review.  It was your first review that got me to thinking about trying Uncruise which I did in May of this year on the Discoverer.  BEST. CRUISE. EVER. and definately plan on returning!!  It's hard to put into words everything we saw and experienced.  I still think about it every day and looking back to my pics and the ones the crew took still brings a tear to my eye - in a very good way.  Looking forward to more commentary and pictures!!  

 

Barb  

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1 hour ago, Cattravel10 said:

Wow!  I am so happy to see you are continuing on with your review.  It was your first review that got me to thinking about trying Uncruise which I did in May of this year on the Discoverer.  BEST. CRUISE. EVER. and definately plan on returning!!  It's hard to put into words everything we saw and experienced.  I still think about it every day and looking back to my pics and the ones the crew took still brings a tear to my eye - in a very good way.  Looking forward to more commentary and pictures!!  

 

Barb  


Thank you, Barb, for stopping back and commenting. I’m delighted you enjoyed your first Uncruise Adventure!

 

i was a bit hesitant to bring this thread back from the dead, but I’m 99.9% sure I will finish it this time :]

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After a full day at Glacier Bay, we woke up the next morning to another beautiful day. But first, a look at the bright sunrise at about 4:30am:

 

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By 630am. The golden glow was gone and folks were waking up. Today was what I’d call a typical relaxing UnCruise day. There were options for skiff rides. kayaking, and hiking. I always chose the Skiff Tour, because these were good opportunities to photograph the area. But first, a look at one of the menus for the day. Guests were asked to pick their dinner selection so the chef could prepare the correct amount of food. 
 

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Now off to the Skiff Tour...
 

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Capturing photos of puffins while bouncing along in a zodiac is a challenge. But we saw more than puffins. 

 

 

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We saw both an immature and a mature bald eagle, a pair of sea otters, and some interesting rock formations. 
 

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The kids enjoyed thIs skiff ride, although they often chose more active adventures. Once back on board, we watched a sea otter swimming in the small cove by the boat. (All of my photographs are time stamped, so I can easily construct each day’s activities, but the downside to delayed reporting is I can’t find my notes on the names of each anchorage). 


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Another example of Captain Dano doing whatever it takes. Here, he is helping dock the zodiac. He also took us out on a few of our Skiff Tours and his entertaining stories added to the fun. 
 

Most of the adults in our group took a rest day for the afternoon, while the more energetic guests hiked and kayaked. We will pick up tomorrow in the next post. 
 

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Edited by Shazzah
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Note - my goal is not to describe each moment onboard, but to give a flavor of what the days were like. There were usually presentations in the evening by one of the expedition guides. These would cover details about the flora & fauna of Alaska, as well as history and more. There was even a talent show one night. 
 

We are now up to 8 July 2016.  This is our last full day before arriving in Juneau. More of the same - sunshine, skiff tours, hiking, and kayaking. Several did a kayak paddle that lasted most of the morning. Then things took a very cold turn in the afternoon, as anybody crazy could join the polar plunge. 

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We were pleased to see the grandkids embracing all of the activities.  The next day brought us into Juneau.  This was the end of our first week. This itinerary is booked as the two week “Ultimate Adventure,” but it is actually two separate week-long cruises. Those of us continuing on to Week Two had to disembark at Juneau, while the crew prepared for a new batch of guests. They also took care of our laundry, and we found it clean and nicely folded when we returned to the ship that afternoon. We kept the same staterooms. 

 

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9 July 2016 - Having to disembark in Juneau was not a hardship. We rented a van from Avis, and drove to Mendenhall Glacier. The group enjoyed seeing a glacier so close to a populated area, and the hike to Nugget Falls was a good opportunity to get some exercise (for those of us who stuck to skiff rides and shore walks). 
 

I’d like to share a photo taken at Mendenhall in mid May of 2013.  We saw only one other couple on our hike and at the falls. This can be a special time to visit Alaska. 
 

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It wasn’t real crowded today, probably because we went directly to the glacier after breakfast. 
 

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We also saw more floating ice when visiting early in the season:

 

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We made a quick stop at WalMart for essentials, then sent everyone off on their own to explore Juneau. Lots of shopping was done, I’m sure. We had also been provided with vouchers for lunch, so it was a good opportunity to enjoy some delicious fried halibut chunks.

 

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Edited by Shazzah
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9July 2016
 

We re-boarded the Wilderness Discover in the afternoon and were excited to start Week 2:of our adventure. We would cruise from Juneau to Ketchikan. 
 

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We saw orcas not long after leaving Juneau. A good start to Week 2. 
 

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We cruised though Stephens Passage overnight, and were heading up Endicott Arm to Dawes Glacier when we woke up. I was surprised at all the ice.  Good thing our itinerary called for Endicott Arm and not Tracy Arm.

 

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The ice began to disappear as we approached Dawes Glacier.

 

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Edited by Shazzah
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Everyone had the chance to take a Skiff Tour to explore closer to the face of the glacier. We were there for the.morning until just before lunch. There was some calving, but not as much as we’d seen on our 2013 trip.

 

 

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Edited by Shazzah
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That was exciting! Some consider Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier to be second best after Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glaciers. We like them all.

 

The afternoon was Captain’s Choice, and Captain Dano decided he was going to try to go up Tracy Arm.  We tried for several hours until it was clear there was just too much ice. But it was fascinating, and I spent most of the afternoon in the bridge for a great view. 

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We cruised through Frederick Sound, and after dinner, saw a black bear on shore. Then we saw some whales, but it was getting too dark, so we kept going towards Thomas Bay. 
 

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Edited by Shazzah
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Absolutely stunning photographs, Shazzah! I love the viewpoint you got from being so low in the water. You caught the most beautiful reflections. And the colors. I would have trouble picking out my favorite, but the one in Tracy Arm with the glacier in the background and that huge chunk of ice in the foreground has to be right up there.

 

I rarely ask what camera a photographer uses, knowing that it's not the camera but the photographer who makes the picture. But, what camera did you use? 😊

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11 hours ago, Cruise_More_Often said:

...

 

I rarely ask what camera a photographer uses, knowing that it's not the camera but the photographer who makes the picture. But, what camera did you use? 😊


Thank You, I’m glad you are enjoying the photographs. I used a Canon 7D MII for most of the photos.  The lens was the 55-250 II, which is lightweight and I could use it on skiff tours without worrying about damaging it. I had a 100-400mm as well, but didn’t use it too often. For wide angle shots and family snaps, I used a Sony RX100 Miv.  
 

My current favorite camera is the Sony RX10 Miv.  It has a fixed telezoom  from 24 to 600 mm, shoots up to  24 frames per second, and has fast focus.  I’m finding our Canon DSLRs to be too heavy to handhold.  And I am enjoying the iPhone 11 Pro for landscape, people, and food photos. 

 

Will be back with more reporting later today.

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11 July 2016

 

The first activity of the day was a Shorewalk (or longer hike for the more active).  I like Shorewalks,  because people find interesting stuff, and I can take photos of lots of things I wouldn’t normally see. Today was no exception. I also like to take photos of the ship as we leave or return.

 

We took two skiffs to shore for this walk. You can see it was a wet landing, where we had to step into shallow water to get on shore. Once on shore, we pile up our PFDs and pick one up when we come back for the return trip. 
 

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This was one of the best Shorewalks, as far as seeing fun stuff. 
 

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Back to the ship, to see what the rest of the day would bring. 

 

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It was time for Sister Kayaking. We enjoyed watching them glide around the bay, then they returned and waved us off. We were doing our afternoon Skiff Tour. It started nice and calm, with pretty scenery. 

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(having some issues getting the photos to post correctly)

 

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And then we saw this:

 

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We just missed a breaching whale. We headed out towards the location and hung out for over an hour. We never saw another breach, but we saw many, many humpback whales diving and showing some tail. It was quite an experience to be sitting right on the water in the zodiac, with the whales nearby. We could hear them as well as see them. The following is just a few of the many photos from our time with the whales. 
 

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Quite a nice Skiff Tour!

 

 

Edited by Shazzah
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It was after 5 pm by the time we returned to the ship. We’d extended our tour to spend more time with the whales. 
 

We saw the long distance kayak paddlers returning to the ship ahead of us.

 

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Grumpy Bear (also know as Grandpa and trip organizer), actually started to crack a smile as we got ready to re-board the Wilderness Discoverer. 
 

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We had time for a shower and cocktail hour before dinner. Satisfied with what had already been a full day, we were surprised to hear the Captain make an announcement at the end of dinner: “Whale sighting - whales at the bow, whales on the port side, whales on the starboard side - whales everywhere.”  
 

Grabbing cameras and jackets, we rushed outside. There was no need to hurry, as the whales hung around for the next hour and a half. Until it was too dark to see them, even though we could still hear them. The lighting made it beautiful to see the whales, but difficult to photograph them. Here is a small sample. 

 

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Thanks for telling me about your cameras. And thanks for continuing your review. I know how much effort it takes to put it all together.

 

How many people used the paddleboards? I would love taking the shore walks. That's one thing you miss on a larger ship since you never get to a shore. I would absolutely love doing one of small-ship cruises, but we would have to hit the lotto first, or stop cruising so often.

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12 hours ago, Cruise_More_Often said:

Thanks for telling me about your cameras. And thanks for continuing your review. I know how much effort it takes to put it all together.

 

How many people used the paddleboards? I would love taking the shore walks. That's one thing you miss on a larger ship since you never get to a shore. I would absolutely love doing one of small-ship cruises, but we would have to hit the lotto first, or stop cruising so often.


I have to confess. Doing the review is not too difficult, since I have a family blog I update.  Then I just copy a subset of the photos here. That is why I am pretty sure I will finish this time 🙂

 

As for the paddle boards, they will get a lot of use in the last part of the week. Their use seems to be proportional to the number of teenagers on board.  Although we have also seen adults give them a try.

 

i understand the small ship cruises are more expensive. You do save by not having to pay for excursions, but it is still a tough choice.

 

10 hours ago, cruise kitty said:

loving your review, thanks so much for taking the time to come back & finish up 🙂


Thank you, cruise kitty. I was motivated because I got frustrated reading trip reviews, and it seemed like more than 50% had been left unfinished. I certainly get that real life gets in the way.

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4 hours ago, Shazzah said:


I have to confess. Doing the review is not too difficult, since I have a family blog I update.  Then I just copy a subset of the photos here. That is why I am pretty sure I will finish this time 🙂

 

As for the paddle boards, they will get a lot of use in the last part of the week. Their use seems to be proportional to the number of teenagers on board.  Although we have also seen adults give them a try.

 

i understand the small ship cruises are more expensive. You do save by not having to pay for excursions, but it is still a tough choice.

 


Thank you, cruise kitty. I was motivated because I got frustrated reading trip reviews, and it seemed like more than 50% had been left unfinished. I certainly get that real life gets in the way.

 

Yup, I have one I'm working on right now...  I need to get it finished before I link it up :)

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