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Trip Report [May 24 2019] Radiance of the Seas Seward - Vancouver


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Day 10: Saturday May 25th – On To Hubbard Glacier 1st Full Day on Radiance

Our 1st sighting of the great Glacier was at 1:29pm from our balcony as we approached the narrow portion of Yakutat Bay and it changes to Disenchantment Bay. We were ~10 miles away from the face. While searching for a passage to the Atlantic in 1792, Alessandro Malaspina discovered this “bay of disenchantment” was blocked by ice. Nearly 900 years ago Hubbard Glacier extended as far as the Gulf of Alaska through Yakutat Bay. Parts of Disenchantment Bay were raised over 47’ during the earthquake of Sept. 10, 1899.

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As we closed to within about 4 miles, the main face was becoming much better resolved.

 

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The main face we were seeing was near 2 miles wide. The full 7 miles angled back out of view but the sun angle on the visible face could not have been better. Detail to the naked eye was spectacular as we got just over a mile away and I noticed the Queen Elizabeth sitting right at the main glacier face. As we moved closer, she began to move out.

 

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The scenery around us wasn’t too shabby either…..

 

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And just ice….

 

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Around 9pm, we caught and overtook “The Queen”.

 

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I’ll try to remember to post copies of our dinner menu each day. This one was left in our room about midday on sail day 2 in route to Hubbard Glacier.

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We explored the night life a bit and sat on level 4 in the Centrum taking in some of the musical talent until we retired late. This view off the stern is around 9:05pm.

 

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Day 11: Sunday May 26 – Juneau - Harv & Marv’s, Mt. Roberts Tramway


 

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Arrival time in Juneau was 9am so did not allow our preferred excursion, Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, a full day provided by Allen Marine to view the twin Sawyer Glaciers. What we did schedule was a 3 hr whale watch with Harv & Marv’s and a short flight over the Juneau Ice Field which we had to cancel because RCI changed the time.


 

We were picked up by the Harv & Marv team at the cruise dock a bit b4 10am for a short ride to the boat harbor. It appears to me that they have a trained mature Bald Eagle hanging out on the pier. Maybe glued down, since he never attempted to get away from the Paparazzi.

 

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By 11, we were cruising within view of the great Mendenhall Glacier.

 

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Within minutes, we spotted what looked to be an Orca dorsal fin not far off the boat.

 

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Then just as quickly we spotted the Sea Lions frolicking on the buoy.

 

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Only minutes pass as a Sea Lion teases us nearby.

 

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A full 25 minutes passed as we cruised the waters. Soon sighting a pair of Sea Lions playing games.

 

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Then at 12:11 a startling sequence of action begins. First a big Whale come to the surface and blows.

 

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Just ten seconds later it appears to me that all hell breaks loose. Follow the next 10 shots closely. The all take place in less than one second. A sea Lion surfaces right next to the giant submerging Whale.

 

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This Sea Lion disappears for about 2 minutes, then I have another sequence spanning a few seconds showing him clearly in distress being pursued as he tries to get out of the water and danger. Say goodbye.

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Day 11: Sunday May 26 – Juneau - Mt. Roberts Tramway


 

After the Whale Watch, the van stopped at a small bridge to give everyone a chance to check Mendenhall Glacier. I found it spectacular. Apparently it’s a short cab ride and a nice hike to get to the face and beautiful waterfall. Here’s my view.

 

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We did not spend but a few minutes wandering about Juneau. There were three cruise ships docked including the Ovation (over 4500 passengers), Radiance (2500 passengers) and Coral Princess (2000 passengers). We did visit the Red Dog Saloon just to get a T-shirt and a brewski. I also got a pix with a working girl.

 

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We poked around the ship a bit and I was able to see the tram from the deck, so got a shot of tram in the distance. We decided to go ahead and try the tram. There was plenty of daylight left and our tug didn’t depart until 9pm.

 

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By 4:40, we realized that the Radiance was the only cruiser remaining at the dock.

 

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As we climbed Mt. Roberts, we could see the Ovation steaming out.

 

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We could see our little, lonely ship below from the nice vantage at the top of the tram ride. We sat in the crowded bar and had a snack and a brew.

 

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We found someone chipping away to make a Totem.

 

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The line to take the tram back down was over 30 minutes long but we met a few folks and had a good time. We found the nights menu sitting on the bed. Turned out, the Chicken Cordon Bleu was yummy.

 

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Sunset was at 9:40. This shot was at 9:58 from our balcony.

 

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It was a great day with outstanding weather. That the fine weather had followed us so far, the whole trip was simply amazing. Except for some hard rain for a short time in Seward, it's been perfect.

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A question about the menus you are posting, they say "exclusive for suite guest."  Does this mean you got a different menu, or is it just that you got it in advance?

 

Thanks for this thread.  I am loving the pictures.  We'll be on this cruise in 36 days, not that I'm counting.

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11 minutes ago, breezy_carol said:

A question about the menus you are posting, they say "exclusive for suite guest."  Does this mean you got a different menu, or is it just that you got it in advance?

 

I wondered the same thing. You hit it right, advanced look. It's the same menu that gets handed to guest in the MDR. Our room steward always picked it up at the last room call and I did not get a pix of the 1st night and one other night, so only got 5 menus imaged. The number in the lower right corner does not mesh with cruise day number, so it must be an RCI way of setting up schedules or something.

 

One other thing. We chose the Grand Suite for the big balcony which would have worked great if we had guest. The room was very plush with a lot of extras and Grand service. I doubt that we will ever pay that price again since we really did not take advantage of all the perks like private breakfast area in an exclusive dinning room with an outdoor view, a private club area which was really nice on deck 13, and I'm sure a few others. Next time we go, I will make sure to get a small balcony on the correct side of the ship - port side if cruising south with RCI. Radiance seems to always dock with the starboard side facing the dock. If you look at available rooms for future dates you will notice that most are starboard side. When you are in the most open part of the sea, the best view is port side if southbound.

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This trip report and photos are so amazing!  I have been spending all my lunch breaks at work reading and re-reading and gazing at the photos.  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.   Will you be posting scans or pictures of the daily cruise compasses ?  Thanks again!

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46 minutes ago, Marylandteachergirl said:

<snip>Will you be posting scans or pictures of the daily cruise compasses ?  Thanks again!

I'll be more than happy to. I brought them all home so can do a scan of all and put into one .pdf. Not sure how big the file will be. Maybe later today.

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2 hours ago, masterdrago said:

Next time we go, I will make sure to get a small balcony on the correct side of the ship - port side if cruising south with RCI.

We are cruising SB and have two next door balcony cabins on the port side.  They were $600 more than starboard.  (I mentioned this to people on another thread here and they said that can't be correct.  LOL)

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24 minutes ago, masterdrago said:

I'll be more than happy to. I brought them all home so can do a scan of all and put into one .pdf. Not sure how big the file will be. Maybe later today.

Oh my goodness,  thank you SO much!  I can't wait to read them, and see more of your incredible photos!!!

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1 hour ago, breezy_carol said:

We are cruising SB and have two next door balcony cabins on the port side.  They were $600 more than starboard.  (I mentioned this to people on another thread here and they said that can't be correct.  LOL)

Not only more $$$ but difficult to even find late august next year ;={  I did not look at the starboard side if northbound but I will in a few.

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Day 12: Monday May 27 – Skagway, Dyea Dave & WPYR


 

Sunrise was at 4:04am as we approached Skagway through the Lynn Canal and Taiya Inlet. Lynn Canal is 2000’ deep, the deepest fjord in North America stretching 90 miles. I was getting accustomed to waking early and the view from the balcony was very impressive at 5:20 as I caught the last quarter moon sneaking in and out of mountain peaks. The biggest oddity was that the terminator was perpendicular to the horizon. Where I live in SE Texas, it’s near parallel or angled.

 

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I love the lighting at this time of the day. It’s called the Golden Hour and in Alaska it becomes more like 90 minutes. As we made a turn, I could see back down Lynn Canal. One of the more amazing views I’ve seen.

 

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Again, the starboard view. Not the best unless you like watching the process, but once you’ve seen it on a couple of cruises, that’s enough. Next time, port side. We got at the dock about 90 minutes early and now I understand the slow crawl of the ship from Juneau.

 

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We did breakfast in the Windjammer buffet so we could be at the 7:45 meet for our Dyea Dave Emerald Lake Tour and WPYR train ride. We were loaded up by 7:49 and 10 minutes later, picking up our train tickets with the help of Rose at the depot. That’s Rose in the black sweater and khaki shorts. She is the jewel of all tour guides. She then took us on a short tour of the town with photo stops. If you get time, walk the town. It’s small and somewhat authentic if only a little touristy.

 

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Rose and Dyea Dave are an excellent example of how a tour group should be run. We made so many unique stops to see this awesome part of Alaska, that I could make a single photo book of this port alone. Our 1st stop was at an overlook to see the city and back down Lynn Canal. And yep, there's Ovation pulled up right behind us.

 

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This waterfall was right on the roadway just out of town. It’s only one of many we would see on this journey.

 

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The sheer beauty of this trip is like nothing I’ve ever had the opportunity to see. It goes on for mile after mile.

 

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And I could go on and on with the scenery that simply cannot be done well with pix on a computer screen. We even have a desert along this route to Carcross. At only about a square mile in size, it might be the smallest desert in the world. It gets less than 18” of rain per year (1/3 what we get in SE Texas) because of a “shadow” effect by the local surrounding mountains.

 

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We got to hang out at the Iditarod Musher Camp to get puppy licks and check out the training operation. If you have enough time, get a ride in the Summer training Kawasaki Mule where they hook up a team to keep them in shape.

 

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We did a long photo stop at Emerald Lake and it had thawed around May 11th so all the colors were radiant and photographed well.

 

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Carcross was not much to see but we had lunch at the Chilkoot Trail Authentic Sourdough Bakery. I had their delicious ready-made chicken salad sandwich and a scone. YUM!! I heard from someone in our group that the potato soup was great. Their season is short, so check it out.

 

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We pulled out on a short dirt road and down to the ice cold shore of Tutshi Lake. It was beautiful.

 

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Thanks to the highly advanced driving skills of Rose, I managed to lay eyes and lens on the back end of a small Black Bear and Porcupine. Images not worthy of pasting in. Due, in part to those mentioned driving skills, we managed to make it to Fraser and have time to pee b4 boarding the nearly empty rear car of the train back to Skagway. I’ll post a short video of part of that ride next installment.

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2 hours ago, DaBook said:

Gorgeous Photos!   How many people on your Dyea Dave Emerald Lake Tour?

Thank you.  Nine, if I remember correctly, including Rose. The van did not feel full in any way. We unloaded and loaded so many times, I cannot remember and it was never an issue.

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Edited by masterdrago
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On 6/26/2019 at 5:28 PM, masterdrago said:

Day 11: Sunday May 26 – Juneau - Harv & Marv’s, Mt. Roberts Tramway

 


 

 

 

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Arrival time in Juneau was 9am so did not allow our preferred excursion, Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, a full day provided by Allen Marine to view the twin Sawyer Glaciers. What we did schedule was a 3 hr whale watch with Harv & Marv’s and a short flight over the Juneau Ice Field which we had to cancel because RCI changed the time.

 


 

We were picked up by the Harv & Marv team at the cruise dock a bit b4 10am for a short ride to the boat harbor. It appears to me that they have a trained mature Bald Eagle hanging out on the pier. Maybe glued down, since he never attempted to get away from the Paparazzi.

 

 

 

 

 

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By 11, we were cruising within view of the great Mendenhall Glacier.

 

 

 

 

 

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Within minutes, we spotted what looked to be an Orca dorsal fin not far off the boat.

 

 

 

 

 

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Then just as quickly we spotted the Sea Lions frolicking on the buoy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Only minutes pass as a Sea Lion teases us nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

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A full 25 minutes passed as we cruised the waters. Soon sighting a pair of Sea Lions playing games.

 

 

 

 

 

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Then at 12:11 a startling sequence of action begins. First a big Whale come to the surface and blows.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just ten seconds later it appears to me that all hell breaks loose. Follow the next 10 shots closely. The all take place in less than one second. A sea Lion surfaces right next to the giant submerging Whale.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Sea Lion disappears for about 2 minutes, then I have another sequence spanning a few seconds showing him clearly in distress being pursued as he tries to get out of the water and danger. Say goodbye.

 

(Not sure if you were joking about the danger but just in case) Aww. Don't feel so bad. That is a humpback whale and they don't have teeth. Just baleen. The sea lion eats the same type of small fish the whale does. They like to hang around the whales so they dont have to work as hard.  

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11 hours ago, LdyMags said:

(Not sure if you were joking about the danger but just in case) Aww. Don't feel so bad. That is a humpback whale and they don't have teeth. Just baleen. The sea lion eats the same type of small fish the whale does. They like to hang around the whales so they dont have to work as hard.  

No joke. What the one second sequence of frames look like to me is an Orca getting in on the action. Taking advantage of the food source "hanging out" around the Whale. Killer whales are carnivore marine mammals which prey on seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, sharks, baleen whales (like baby Humpback), etc. It appears that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th frame show an Orca making a near miss on the Sea Lion. Maybe it is something else and the angle and lighting are just playing tricks. I think the 4th & 5th frame clearly show an Orca. All of the frames were taken at 12:11:36PM.

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Really enjoying your trip report!   Looks like you had a much sunnier & clearer day at Hubbard Glacier than we did the next day.   Thanks again for sharing all your photos.....I know how much work goes into these reviews!

Jerry

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13 hours ago, cnspots2 said:

just curious when you are going to post the rest?  I really enjoyed reading about the first part of your trip 🙂

 

Sorry about any delays but life throws curve balls occasionally. Like mowing the pasture, 47 quadrillion honey-dos, other file management tasks, and writing reports and reviews. Life never sits still when there are things to do. And then there is the curve of learning to edit video. Complete novice, but hey, finally got it figured out. At least the fundamentals. I’ll get to the rest of day 12 in a bit…….

 

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Day 12: Monday May 27 - Skagway WPYR

 

The train ride took about ~1hr25m and was through beautiful scenery. I've uploaded a short video that gives a feel for what is seen along the ride. Our car was lightly loaded so it was no issue to hang out on the open area between cars for the view.

 

 

One of the better sights was as we approached the old trestle bridge. I heard people gasp.

 

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We were met by Rose at the depot for a ride back to the dock but the town is small and a walkabout would work well. When we got back to our room, we found another piece of work by our room steward.

 

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And our nights menu was in the pile with the Cruise Compass.

 

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It was a bit after 9pm b4 we got away from the dock. About 40 minutes late. This little time lapse captures 1hr14m in just 2 1/2 minutes. Notice how the weather changes so quickly as it ends 12 minutes after sunset. Also, several of the room lights begin turning on.

 


Next stop Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

 

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Day 13: Tuesday May 28th – Hoonah/Icy Strait Point


 

It was an early docking (6:30) and there was plenty of time to explore b4 our excursion at 10AM. The folks that own Glacier Wind Charters, Teresa and Shawn McConnell, are another set of crown jewels in the way they run their business. Teresa offered to pick us up in town if we wanted to explore rather than the cruise ship dock. We opted to stay onboard for a casual breakfast in the MDR.

 

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The meeting point was the Excursion Hub and is a nice 10 minute walk off the ship. You walk off ship along a big green trestleway through the “Adventure Center” which is a pretty building that can be explored. The Excursion Hub is down a nice, wide, winding gravel pathway. It goes through a wooded area. We were met by Teresa along with several others and taken on a short tour of Hoonah.

 

She then drove directly down a narrow pier to get all of us within 10’ of their boat. It was their newer boat only just two years old. I think they call it “The Catabatic”. It’s a 33’ catamaran style (think big stable pontoon boat) with a pair of big Dobermans (Suzuki outboards) attached to the back. This thing is rock stable and I suspect will shag butt when Shawn puts the hammer down. It’s very clean and laid out well to accommodate 6 guests with plenty of room bow and stern if, like me, you want to be outside.

 

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Only 20 minutes from the dock, and I saw the most amazing thing. A Humpback was waving one of its pectoral fins high in the air. It did this for over 5 minutes as if to be waving at us saying hi, look at me.

 

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He (maybe she) then decided we needed a good view of her dorsal fin (my best view).

 

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As we moved farther away from the boat dock area, after the nice Humpback encounter, we got a nice view of our ship. We were scheduled to depart port at 3pm and the Eclipse was docking at 3:30.

 

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Just a dozen minutes more and we spotted some “floaters” having a good time, bobbing around in the cold water. It was hard to get good pix because we could not get very close.

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Thirty minutes later and a bit farther out, we got our first breach of a nice Humpback. The following series is over in less than 2 seconds.

 

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Thirty seconds later I see what looks like baby breaching. He gets good air and through the complete series I see no barnacles anywhere. Surely this is a youngster.

 

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Less than 30 seconds later, one breaches while the other one just shows a Dorsal fin.

 

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Ninety seconds later, another breach. Closer this time and camera got a good focus.

 

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We had to wait an interminable 2 ½ minutes for some much needed for “tail”! The tail wagging went on about two minutes.

 

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Then a little blow and Dorsal show.

 

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Does something nibble on their tail?

 

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I caught this guy showing off his twin Pectoral Fins.

 

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Day 13: Tuesday May 28th – Hoonah/Icy Strait Point - More Whale Spotting

 

Five minutes later, a great nearby breach just for show.

 

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Pretty much non-stop action as we get a nearby wave and a blow.

 

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This guy has something caught in his tail.

 

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I never saw or heard any tail slapping or bubble-net feeding, but did catch a headstand that went on over two minutes.

 

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Got about 2 seconds of something serious going on that the birds were involved in somehow.

 

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The “Three Wolves” had some serious “go juice” mounted on the stern.

 

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Everyone is looking starboard. Not sure but I think something is going on involving an Orca.

 

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Ten seconds later, a Humpback surfaces, doesn’t blow then goes deep. It’s about 20 minutes b4 we spot more marine life. A nice looking Sea Lion swimming nearby.

 

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As we head back to the boat harbor, fog enshrouded mountains greet us all around.

 

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Our last interesting peek at wildlife is of some well fed Bald Eagles near a fish processing plant.

 

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While on this small boat tour, I must have scarfed down way more than my share of some Alaskan King Salmon dip that is put together by Teresa. Also a good helping of hot chocolate. That was a good thing since the skies were mostly cloudy, high of ~50, and just enough wind to stir up a bit of chop and make me keep my jacket on.

 

Getting back onboard ~2:30 (just in time for a 3pm departure) after a short van ride from the dock provided by Teresa, we found the daily menu on the bed.

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On the way to dinner, we breezed through the Centrum. This view is straight up from the 4th level to the 10th. Pretty nice area. Especially taking in the small bands at night.

 

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About 30 minutes b4 sunset, which was at 9:42pm, I got this shot of a rim of fog capping the distant mountains.

 

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Next stop, Ketchikan.

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