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Hoopster95

OVATION May 13-24 *LIVE* in ALASKA w/lots of photos

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Did this sailing travel through the inside passage outbound and inbound? 

Edited by Jimbo

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

Where are you seeing GGG rates?  I'd love to jump back on Ovation. 

 

My apologies twangster... nothing on GGG at this time.  I'm just assuming and looking ahead. I wouldn't be surprised.

 

41 minutes ago, Jimbo said:

Did this sailing travel through the inside passage outbound and inbound? 

 

The Alaskan inside passage yes... that's the only way to get into Juneau, Skagway and Endicott Arm.

The BC inside passage... no. Ovation cannot fit due to size and height per Capt Hendrick (confirmed at Captain's Corner), therefore Ovation will always sail the open Pacific Ocean to the west of Vancouver Island both north and southbound

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44 minutes ago, Hoopster95 said:

The Alaskan inside passage yes... that's the only way to get into Juneau, Skagway and Endicott Arm.

The BC inside passage... no. Ovation cannot fit due to size and height per Capt Hendrick (confirmed at Captain's Corner), therefore Ovation will always sail the open Pacific Ocean to the west of Vancouver Island both north and southbound

 

No surprise from Seattle.  Explorer took the same route out to sea and up the coast off Vancouver island.  

 

The BC Inside Passage is nice but not all that.  Gotta go slow and cut times in ports or go out to sea and make steam for longer times in ports.  

Edited by twangster

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I'll try not to double up on anything when I posted on Juneau... I didn't post much as I was out an about from 7:30am until approximately 8pm that night, and out of internet range (glaciers, etc) for most of that time. The time I was in town going up Mt. Roberts and waiting for Coastal Helicopters pick-up I had posted those few pics earlier in the live.

 

Also I wish to mention that I made a real error on this day that could've cost me big time that I wish to share... i totally predicted it and yet I walked right into it... oh the joys of 5 ships in port. I'll explain later in a couple of posts from now.

 

In the meantime I had woke in time to enjoy sail-in as I had a very early excursion to prepare for this morning. 

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In the WJ for breakfast, I noticed a promo I had never seen before... look closely. 

3 "dining experience"... note it's not only Specialty Dining. It includes the Bottom Galley Brunch as well as the Izumi Sushi Making Class.... mix & match. I think this is a great option.

 

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Great view of Ovation's first time moored in Juneau once walking off the ship

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Edited by Hoopster95

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My morning excursion was booked with Alaska Shore Tours, as it seemed to be the only company with the few permits that allowed for kayaking right up to the Glacier. I remember 7 years ago standing at the Mendenhall Visitor Center about 3 miles away from the Glacier looking at the little dots moving way out at the face of the glacier, and said to myself one day that will be me.... this was that day.

 

Be careful when booking... other private re-sellers, as well as the cruiselines, offer a "Kayak Tour" but it does not go right up to the glacier... it just hangs around the head of the lake (see the first photo below) for a much shorter time frame. This "normal" excursion I believe was $109 or $119... the kayak right up to the glacier was $209.

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See the Visitor center way off in the distance? It's hard to imagine that 100 years ago the Mendenhall glacier reached that point

 

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And the moment I had been waiting for... awesome!

 

 

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Note this close up of Nugget Falls, and truly how awesome it really is. Note the spec-sized humans on the beach

 

 

Edited by Hoopster95

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The tour company dropped us off just before noon right at the pier, so I had plenty of time to have a quick bite to eat and head up Mt. Roberts for a bit before my 3pm Helicopter + Dog Sled Tour... or did I have time? I had been thinking about this before arriving to Juneau as I knew there would 5 ships in port. 

 

You tell me.... what are the chances cruisers from 5 ships (say 15,000 people) all go kayaking, or all stay within 2 blocks of the ship and go up the tram? Right... 😑

 

So fully assuming I probably wouldn't go up do to line-ups, I made my way into the Ticket Center, and amazingly no one was in there! I went up to the ticket booth and the young kid said I should be "just fine" getting down before 3 pm. Hmmmm... spidey senses tingling, I still bought the $35 ticket

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First thing that came to mind was... is it truly possible that all people on the ships have all gone up at the same time in massive lines that there is no one left below? That means there's 5 ships of people all herding together like cows up top trying to get down all at once as well. Nonetheless, up I went.

 

When I got up top, I was mortified! The line stretch for an estimated 1.5 hours out the visitor center and all the way outside to the Eagle enclosure. I quickly walked back to the head of the line and was extremely lucky to speak to a manager up there. I told her my sob story that I made a mistake, and to show my sincerity I would go down right now if she let me. She asked me to produce my helipcopter tour ticket which I did.

 

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I was very lucky... Michelle was beyond awesome and understanding. She said to enjoy myself for an hour and come back around 2:30pm and she'd let me back on. I was beyond grateful, but still nervous as heck about staying up there. I did enjoy a short walk up the hill to the view points

 

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and through the Douglas fir forest

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I went back to the head of the line a little bit earlier than 2:30pm as I just didn't want to make a mistake, and grabbed the first  tram down. I wish to sincerely thank the staff up there as they definitely did not have to do that, instead they recognized I had a real problem. They also recognized I was alone vs. a large group or family (Michelle asked me right away) so that also helped, and it was extremely easy to blend in.

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Lesson learned... 5 ships in town? Be aware

Edited by Hoopster95

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Whew!!! Disaster averted, I was downtown at the meeting point 20 minutes early. The library is right there so I ran in the plug in my iphone for a while as battery was getting a bit low. As promised, right at 3pm, the Coastal Helicopter rep showed up to whisk us away to the Airport.

 

I had been waiting for this excursion for a very long time as well. I had booked it in 2015, however weather prevented the helicopters from reaching the camp. Today would be no problem. It did start raining as the helicopter took off, however, by the time we reached the dog camp, the rain had stopped... timing couldn't have been more spectacular for me

 

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It was surreal arriving to the camp... a few hundred dogs, tents/housing, equipment... an unreal set up in the most beautiful setting ever. These photos and video do not do this justice at all.

 

Think about this... they have to keep the glacier 100% clean as if no one has ever been up there. That means absolutely no garbage.... or feces. All dog poop has to constantly be cleaned and they helicopter it out daily.

 

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Fun? Understatement of the year! A memory that will last me a lifetime.

 

 

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And of course at the end we got to spend about 15 minutes with the handlers and the dogs...

Superb experience. If you are mobile enough to do this, I can only recommend that everyone give this some serious consideration regardless of the the very high price tag. 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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And the excursion was not over yet! So flashback again to 2015 when my dog sled excursion was cancelled, the helicopters were in fact able to get half way up the glacier for a glacier hike, so we did that instead... it was incredible in itself. However, for approximately $100 more (vs. the full price approx. $300), you can add it on to the dog sled portion to make a much longer and more fulfilling experience.

 

Flying over the jagged crevasses and bright blue ice is another major highlight. We had about 15 of flight time to another glacier spot before landing to take a walk on the glacier

 

 

 

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Size is deceiving in these photos... some of those boulders are the size of trucks, and precariously perched on melting ice. Again, the photos here do not do this justice... the scenery is unbelievable.

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Our guide said they have no problem taking home any rocks you wish from the Glacier for souvenirs, and there's many beauties up there of various striations, colors, etc... scraped and rubbed against for thousands of years.

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This may be a better photo to judge size... note the crevasse to the left of the helicopter. The chopper could fit in it. There's also underground streams running everywhere as the ice is melting, and we can both hear and see various streams rushing to a mini-waterfall of sorts within the ice and dropping 10-20 feet below into a rushing river. Pretty scary to think that entire glacier is perhaps sitting on a massive moving river bed!

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What a great day. 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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Needless to say that after an action packed day, I was pretty beat. Tonight was a simple and casual dinner up at WJ, and then the Disco Inferno party had an early start this evening (smart) at 9:15pm in Two70. It was great. I posted a photo earlier of the event, however I'm adding these two photos to again show the outstanding outward view from Two70... and the clarity of the view.

 

Docked behind Ovation was the Grand Princess.

 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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10 hours ago, Hoopster95 said:

 

You're welcome.... by the way, was it you who asked about using photos and video? By all means go ahead

 

 

That was taken at 11:55pm... basically midnight

 

 

Just to be clear, unless I had an out-of-body experience and I floated out and up above Ovation by a couple thousand feet, I didn't take this photo! This is "photo-shopped", I believe Radiance has the exact same backdrop on some promo material.

 

This is a deceiving photo that Royal does not promote anymore I don't think... I haven;t seen it for a while anyways. It was from a RCL advertisement or promo last year promoting Ovation to Alaska for the first time. This is Hubbard Glacier... in which Ovation will no longer visit again.

 

It was me 🙂 Thanks! The Ovation of the Seas group on Facebook now has that pic... not sure if you're a part of it or on Facebook but thanks for letting the group admin borrow it!

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@Hoopster95 We are seriously considering the helicopter to the glacier dog sled and additional stop for next year with this company.  Thanks for the photos and commentary, and I sincerely thank you for this thread.  We are sailing on Ovation, mainly due to bringing two elderly relatives that have mobility issues.  Viewing from Ovation will be perfect for them. 

 

Hubby and I the ones that would do the helicopter tour.  Questions:  do you recommend packing any particular clothing for this tour, or does the tour company provide all outer clothing and shoes?  Do they use crampons for the glacier walk?  My only concern is that I'm clumsy at times, and if anyone will fall, it will be me.  lol 

 

Thank you! :classic_smile:

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9 hours ago, Hoopster95 said:

 

What a great day. 

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Your excitement is contagious!!  So happy to see people having the vacation of their dreams...

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Did anyone catch the total passenger count on this sailing?

 

I have the C&A numbers, just missing the total count.

 

Pinnacle 84, Diamond Plus 386, Diamond  598, Emerald  284, Platinum 476, Gold  999.    Total 2,827 C&A members on board.  

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On 5/21/2019 at 1:19 AM, Hoopster95 said:

And tonight’s view from my “obstructed” balcony.... or is it?

 

 

 

 

Ok... I guess it is 😉

Not too shabby unless you roll your eyes down a little bit. 

 

We sailed in cabin 7612 the cruise before you.  For all the complaining - I loved the balcony view.  There was plenty of ocean to see with my eyes forward rather than down.  Glad to see you've found a way around the "obstructions."  🙂 

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Claudio, GREAT review! I have been reading it every day - it’s my “go-to” first thing in the morning!

 

Awesome photos - great tips. Mike and I are doing a B2B on the Radiance in June 2020, and these tips are awesome...especially the almost-disaster at the top of the Tram. I might have tried to squeeze too much in that day, and didn’t think about monstrous lines trying to get back down...of course, I don’t know yet how many ships will be in port that day, so I will keep checking. 🙂

 

You’ve *almost* got me convinced to sail on Ovation - usually I try to steer clear of the larger ships, but that ship looks pretty darned amazing! 🙂

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3 hours ago, barbeyg said:

We are seriously considering the helicopter to the glacier dog sled and additional stop for next year with this company. Questions:  do you recommend packing any particular clothing for this tour, or does the tour company provide all outer clothing and shoes?  Do they use crampons for the glacier walk? 

 

Here's the building where they gather everyone for the safety video, etc.... Note top right they have several clothing hangers with many rain jackets, and they do provide crampons (mandatory). 

 

As far as warmth/amount of clothing, that's a crap shoot. You'll have to be prepared either way. 

I brought my own clothing that I know fits and works (rain gear). So for the glacier trip I had thermal underwear and a full protected shell pant, waterproof footwear I use for hiking, the jacket was also water proof with a fleece insert... I was too warm.

If it rains and you;re not prepared, that has too be a real bummer to be cold and wet up there. Having said that, the wind came up for about 10 min near the end of the day and it was very cold up there. Dress in layers.

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

Did anyone catch the total passenger count on this sailing?

 

I have the C&A numbers, just missing the total count.

 

Pinnacle 84, Diamond Plus 386, Diamond  598, Emerald  284, Platinum 476, Gold  999.    Total 2,827 C&A members on board.  

 

Sorry twangster, I have no clue as well... didn't catch that number

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2 hours ago, KansCocoa said:

You’ve *almost* got me convinced to sail on Ovation - usually I try to steer clear of the larger ships, but that ship looks pretty darned amazing! 🙂

 

Yikes!! ... *almost*... lol 😉

Ovation and Radiance embark same day so there's no way for you to do Ovation 1 week and Radiance the other.

And the other consideration is that you scored that corner aft for both legs.

 

I think if there's anyone out there wishing to do a b2b in Alaska in the coming year(s), I think a great idea would be:

  • Friday-Friday Ovation sailing
  • come up to Vancouver for 2 nights to enjoy our outstanding city
  • then do the 7 day round trip Sunday-Sunday on Serenade....

Best of all worlds over those 2 weeks. The only thing you'd miss is Hubbard as both Serenade and Ovation would go into Endicott Arm. Still would be super cool to experience the sailings from 2 different ships. 

Edited by Hoopster95

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I already had decent amount of coverage on my Skagway day with land wifi so I won't add a whole lot more here... plus twangster's review on walking around the port itself and through the city is outstanding. I'll concentrate on my day outing...

 

The last two times I was here I did a private bus up trip up to Carcross & the museum (great trip) and another time the ferry to Haines and kayak to Davidson Glacier (another great trip). This time I wanted something different, and opted for the White Pass train that almost everyone who's been to Skagway has done... except me. I also saw an actual sale offered by RCL (--- GASP!---) on the cruise planner for a couple of the White Pass Train options that were actually less expensive through the cruise planner than on-line privately, so i went ahead and booked the Yukon Suspension Bridge + White Pass Train combo.

 

First of all, we arrived in Skagway to yet again another outstanding and beautiful morning, for Ovation's first ever visit to Skagway.

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It's interesting to stop and read all the ships emblems in some sort of historical fashion up on the rock face right beside the ship. I didn't see any relatively new ones there at all so I assume this process had been abandoned some time ago. 

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We were herded into a coach as our group would bus up the White Pass first to the Yukon Suspension bridge, and then train back down to Skagway. The bus ride is... well..... a bus ride. Nothing too eventful. We had one photo stop mid pass to take a break and photos of the sawtooth mountains. We then continued directly up to and past the Canada Border, the Tormented Valley and about another 10 minutes past the Fraser Train Station. 

 

The views of the Tormented Valley were spectacular. This is what you see from inside the bus through glass... I could just imagine the treat we are going to have on the train coming back

 

 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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Our stop at the Yukon Suspension Bridge was for about an hour and pretty nice. I already had a post on this during the live so I'll make this very short....  This site is not a must-see/must-do, however it added something different that I was not aware of. In hindsite, and especially with the incredibly awesome weather, I probably would've opted for the train/bike option. Nonetheless, pretty stop. The site is well managed with several walk ways/interpretive displays/etc. Definitely don't need more than an hour there unless you're planning for lunch or picnic. Once in a while, rafters come through the river as well which unfortunately we did not see.

 

 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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14 minutes ago, Hoopster95 said:

 

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This is why I like Alaska early in the season.  Beautiful picture that wouldn't be the same without snow.  

 

Well done!

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The real purpose of this excursion was, of course, the White Pass train itself. We were delayed over 1/2 hour at the suspension bridge as the trains were all behind schedule this morning... soon enough we were on our way back to the Fraser train Station to board. I spent all of except the first couple of minutes standing at the end of the car outside as I did not want to be behind glass. I loved this ride, just perfect for how busy I had been up to this point to chill out and just enjoy the scenery....

and oh what scenery!

 

 

 

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Just completed for this season, The White Pass train now has a loop. So for those you who book round trip, you don't get up and switch seats with the people across the aisle from you for the return trip anymore as the train automatically continues around and comes back down the Pass.

 

Here below we had to stop our train to allow the other to enter the loop and make it's way down in front of us.

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Crossing the border from Yukon, Canada to the USA

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Edited by Hoopster95

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The incredible scenery continued. I immediately noted we were coming up to what looked like cut-out sections (dynamite?) of the landscape to allow for the trains to go through. I also noticed a tunnel coming up... I got my camera ready. I missed the hero shot exiting the tunnel, however I was able to quickly back pedal. Immediately upon exiting the tunnel you get to the famous trestle bridge. It's amazing to think the first train traveled on this line in 1899.

 

This is an excellent Mile-marker with descriptions and history for anyone wanting to research what you are actually seeing as you travel this route

http://www.wpyrmediakit.com/mediakit/milepostguide.html

 

 

 

From the link above:

Before the railroad could reach the Summit, the builders faced a monumental challenge: a yawning chasm over 1,000 feet wide and hundreds of feet deep. Their temporary solution was to build a grade along both sides of the canyon and install a turntable to simply turn the engines around. After the railroad was completed, they finally had enough money and time to find the solution: a steel cantilever bridge. This marvel of engineering was the highest bridge of its kind in North America when it was built. Used from 1901 until it was given a well-deserved retirement in 1969, it is one of the reasons that the White Pass Railroad was named an International Civil Engineering Historic Landmark in 1994, and is one of the most photographed scenes on our route. As we pass by, you can see that we wouldn’t want to be traveling across it today! In 1969, new tracks were laid in part of the old switchback grade, and a very long tunnel was blasted out of solid rock. 

 

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Dead Horse Gulch with Sawtooth Mountains in the distance

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Sawtooth Mountains up close as we continue to descend down to Skagway

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Edited by Hoopster95

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We returned to the ship at about 2pm. I had lunch and decided to head back out to town. Originally I had thought I would follow twangsters footsteps with a city tour out to the cemetery as well as Lower Dewey lake, however I was tired... and I realized I had not purchased any gifts for anyone, so I headed for the shops on Broadway Street.

 

Although all aboard was not until 7:30pm, I was back on board early at 4:30pm... I was pretty much done with being out. However I wasn't done with having fun ... look at that, perfect crossovers 😀

 

 

Fyi elbow & knee pads & helmet all mandatory... they will not give you skates until you put those on

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After a casual dinner up at the WJ and enjoy the great views (I believe I was also adding photos to this review at the time lol) I went outside to capture the incredible scenery leaving Skagway

 

 

 

We had a great headliner this evening (top-notch and super funny ventriloquist). I contemplated heading off to bed for the night very early, however walked around the ship for a while to see what events were taking place. In the Music Hall the game show "Liar's Club" had begun and I watched it for a while. I wasn't totally into it, so I walked back to Two70 to see how the "virtual concert" looked up the screens. 

 

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Neither had me wanting to stay up late into the evening... it was here that I turned around and headed to my cabin for a well deserved sleep.

Edited by Hoopster95

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