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zammis

Trip Report- Coral Princess Aug 14 Southbound Whittier-Vancouver, Plus DIY Seward

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Hello, 

Paying back all the excellent trip reports and tips on this board that have helped me to plan. ūüôā

 

Our group of 5- Myself in mid-40s with Himself, also mid 40s, My mother and her best friend in late 70s. Mom is bringing her scooter for the first time (previously rented) And HS Buddy sharing a mini-suite with mom and bf. 

HSB is very active, Himself and I like some walks but nothing too crazy. 

 

Itinerary as follows:

Aug 10: IAD-DFW-SEA-ANC, arrive 3am Aug11

Aug 11 6am- Gold Star train Anchorage to Seward (insanity of itinerary noted, will explain later). Stay in VRBO downtown Seward.

Aug 12 Major Marine Tour 7.5 hrs

Aug 13 Seward OPEN- poss Alaska Sea Life center, maybe Iditaride. 

Aug 14- Private pickup from VRBO in Seward to Whittier, via Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Aug 15- Yakutat Bay and Hubbard Glacier , small boat tour to Hubbard

Aug 16- Glacier Bay

Aug 17- Skagway- Dyea Dave bus to Yukon, White Pass train Fraser to Skagway on return

Aug 18- Juneau- AJ Gastineau mine tour, Mendenhall glacier via rental car

Aug 19- Ketchikan- Duck tour, walking around

Aug 20- Sea Day

Aug 21- Vacouver, flights home/red eye. Granville Market, maybe Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden

 

Whew! It's a lot!

 

Packing list and planning thoughts to come....

 

 

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Looking forward to your review as we will be doing a B2B on the Coral next year.  Also, curious to see if you are able to take the small boat tour to Hubbard.  We were on the Royal Princess and had that tour booked for 6/30/19.  Unfortunately, our excursion was cancelled due to heavy fog ---- keeping fingers crossed for you that your tour happens --- it looks like a good one.

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I’m on board too! Looks like a great time to me...also very curious about the Hubbard small boat. There was a small boat in Disenchantment Bay when we were there. A fishing type boat I think...it helped to give perspective to what we were seeing. I recall thinking that seeing the glacier from a boat like that would be incredible. I, too, hope it pans out for you...I’ll be very excited to read about that experience.

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Which private company are you using for your trip from Seward to Whittier. We will be doing the same next summer and I’ll be making inquiries soon.   

 

Have be a great trip. I can’t wait to hear about it. 

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We (also in our 40's) are on this cruise too! We leave Friday for our land tour. Can't wait for the Hubbard Glacier excursion. Hopefully the weather and ice cooperates. See you on board.

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May I ask when you booked your flights?  We are flying out of Dulles to Anchorage, then Vancouver back to Dulles next June. Flights are available now, but at an outrageous price!!!

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Got back and am working on catching up with life as well as getting trip report stuff ready. 

 

astrosfan1: We used Alaska Shuttle for our transfer from Seward to Whittier. Very professional, nice bus and we got to see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center as well. 

sbell1: we booked our flights around February for this trip coming home on United. Our outbound flights were handled by HSB with points on American the prior November.  I used Kayak to keep an eye on prices coming back. 

 

Next post, packing list!

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I sailed on Coral Princess Southbound on the Southbound cruise prior to yours:  sail date July 31st.  Looking forward to learning of your experiences so soon after mine.

 

VRBO in Seward:  What is that?

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OK- once of the things that drove me a little mad was trying to figure out WHAT TO PACK. 

 

Here's my packing list with notations as to what I actually wore or used: your preferences or experience might vary!

weather on our trip was mostly sunny, with 3 rainy days. Glacier days ranged from 40s and breezy to 60s, sunny and warm. I don't change outfits 3 times a day- instead I tend to swap out warmth layers or scarves to "freshen up" for evening. 

 

Notations:

Not used: Crossed out
Used little: italics
 
Some things that weren't used or needed, like the travel insurance, I've left alone because I would still bring them anyway!
 
Carry On Bag:
Medications for 12 days
purse, Travel wallet with CASH
docs: passport with tips cash, drivers license, Car insurance info (for rental car), Credit cards,  boarding pass for initial flights,  med insurance card,copies of passport and drivers license in Evernote., RX pics in Evernote. (Evernote is organization software, available for Android,  Windows and Apple. I use it for everything. )
Printed items: travel insurance, email from travel agent with OBC, receipts for Dyea Dave, Alaska Bag Lady, Major Marine tours, aj mine reservation, Juneau car rental, FishAlaska/Transfer to Whittier,  (Really didn't need any of these on paper, but it made me feel better to have. Could easily have done these in Evernote as well. )
2 copies of  itinerary in page protectors with magnets. (one for each cabin)
Coffee travel mug 
Columbia rain jacket- bought via Cabela's bargain cave a few years ago for a trip to Ireland, about $35, worth every penny.
hoodie and light scarf (2)  really only needed one light scarf
sunglasses
one change of clothes in a ziploc or packing cube (socks, undies, shirt, pants?), small baggie of wet wipes
pepto tablets chewable, digestive enzymes
kind bars and snacks for plane, nuts, peanut butter crackers- bring half next time! Even gluten-free me didn't need that much! (most of a gallon size zip loc)
Truvia packets (two handfuls)
ear plugs and eye mask, foot hammock for plane, travel neck pillow, black fleece wrap- (used all of these outbound, none coming back)
Phone and charger
kindle and usb cable (use with phone charger)
memory card adapter and tool for microsd  (had plenty of room for photos, no need to transfer until I got home. )
cruise outlet extender- not quite right for our needs, next time would bring USB hub.
Contact lens case and solution (in 311 bag)- to put contacts in upon arrival in ANC. (I fly with glasses on generally)
glasses case (wear glasses on flight)
navy cardigan- wore a LOT more than I thought! (its an ultralight layer)
binoculars
jewelry- really only wore two pieces for formal nights. 
 
Main checked Bag:
Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, contact lens stuff, glasses, Korean sheet masks (brought 6 used 2) and skin care, essential oils (could have brought less), sunscreen (used a lot in Seward, could have brought more spray stuff) and bug spray (barely used, towlettes next time), travel makeup bag, dry shampoo
Pharmacy: Bonine, ginger chews, aleve, benedryl, tums, pepto tablets, cold meds, digestzen, , breathe oil, motioneze oil, , band aids, gauze and tape, neosporin, chapstick- luckily no one caught cold this time, and Himself's scopalomine patches worked very well. 
Food and drink: creamer, truvia packets,Ginger tea bags, boldo tea, coffee packets (brought Satbucks VIA packets incase coffee was bad- it was fine for me, so didn't need them. )
selection of ziplocs- used two for bathing suit and 311 bag on way back
running gloves, hats (ball cap and rain hat and knit hat), one heavy scarf- really only used ball cap and knit hat. Didn't need the rain hat. 
fleece- Columbia- wore many days, bought via JCPENNEY sale earlier this year.  Layered with rain jacket for a "coat" effect.
Undergarments: undies x 11, 2 bras- could have packed less, did self-laundry day 5. 
Tops, at least 8-  4 short sleeve tees, 2 long sleeve, 3 3/4 sleeve- needed more long sleeve but got by. had two tech-type long sleeve and several 3/4 sleeve in tech fabric. (Tech fabric easy to wash and dry in a sink)
silk long johns- used bottoms on glacier day, did not use the top.  Great for warmth and not too hot for anything else. 
pajamas, lightweight
pants 2-3 blue lands end,(wear on plane),  columbia hiking pants, burgundy jeans, reg jeans, shorts 
(lived in jeans mainly, the columbia pants were also very comfortable like leggings. Never felt the need for shorts. Knit pants didn't feel right since wind went through them)
socks x 7-8- (used all my thicker socks on cold days. could have brought 4-5 pair thicker wool-blend socks. )
lands end mocs- wore 3 times including on planes. Water- resistant and slip-on, so good all-around walking shoe. 
ahnu hiking boots, wool blend socks x 2- wore 5-6 days.  Hard to give them a break as they were warm and comfortable. Got on sale via Sierra Trading Post (now sierra)
stateroom comfort items in a packing cube: magnet hooks, clothesline, laundry soap, clips, lanyards/id holders for cruise cards, wrinkle spray, pod detergent x 4 (used 2 per load in self-serve laundry) , tide pen, highlighters (didn't need the sink wash stuff since we used the ship laundry one day)
flip flops, bathing suit, sarong- used twice for hot tub time!
leggings 1 pr capri length (brought these for warmth under dresses and didn't wear them)
dinner clothes- three dresses, one skirt and two tops, dinner shoes, evening bag, black cardigan-(wore two out of three dresses for formal nights. Otherwise wore day clothes. Clothing police not in evidence. )
 
I used several packing cubes to organize the above, both Eagle Creek and Bagail off Amazon. Both worked fine. 
 
In Seward:
Bought 4 bottles of WINE at Safeway and each carried one bottle for free in carryon for stateroom consumption.  We never took them to the dining room and in fact two bottles came home with us- we mostly ordered a bottle to share in dining room for dinner for 5 of us, each taking a turn at buying. 
Liquid Hand soap (two?)- forgot to buy, used bar soap in cabin, didn't perish.
Ginger ale or beer  non-alcoholic for Himself, he opted to buy each soda on board. (he drinks maybe one soda a day.)
 

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11 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

VRBO

 

Vacation Rental By Owner

 

VRBO dot com. Similar to Homeaway. 

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rkacruiser- VRBO is Vacation Rentals by Owner, similar to an Air BnB- we chose that as it was way more cost effective for our group than hotel rooms.  

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Posted (edited)
Day 0 and 1
3 am in Anchorage isn't pretty.
 
Our flight were uneventful. We had some turbulence on the cross country Charlotte to Seattle leg. I was able to sleep 2 to 3 hrs on first long leg then about 2 hrs on the Seattle to Anchorage leg. Apparently most flights to and from the lower 48 come in at strange hours. What was brutal for us was jumping off at 3 am then going right to the train at 5:45am.
Why? Our outbound flights were generously covered award points by high school buddy (HSB) and cost her a whopping eleven dollars in fees. She had tried to get us in the day before but there weren't any award seats left. So brutal timeline it was.
 
Luckily, the Starbucks across from the Alaska Airlines ticket counter is open 24 hrs and had egg sandwiches too. We grabbed a table and did our best to wakeup and be functional. "Eleven dollars" was our rallying cry. We then took  an Uber to the Anchorage train depot at 5:30. The Alaska train wants you there an hour before departure at 6:45 am. My mother, her BF and HSB all pulled up to the curb in their respective rides. We then had some hugs before dropping bags and heading inside to get our actual tickets. The train station had a coffee shop with bagels and snacks, bathrooms and a small giftshop.
We booked Goldstar service based on a recommendation from a client. Said client said to "not even worry about the extra cost" and she was right! We ended up in the A car, a two level dome car right at the front of the train. While the farther back  cars all had wheelchair ramp,we transferred to our car using a few steps. If mom couldn't have done that we would probably have been moved or there would have been a ramp option.
 
 
  Once in the car there was an elevator or stairs to reach our assigned seats in the dome car. Views were absolutely amazing. It was a beautiful sunny day and even our cell phones could capture a bit if it.
 
 
 
Cooked breakfast and two alcoholic beverages (think mimosas, hot chocolate and coffees)  plus unlimited tea, coffee and soda were included. There was also a snack bar bistro for an extra charge. The difference in ticket price between regular and Gold Star was about $100 per person but it was a very special experience for us.
 
 
We arrived  in Seward at about 11:30 am. The Alaska Bag lady got our bags to take to our accommodation via VRBO. They wouldn't let us drop our bags early so it was lucky there was a service we could use instead of dragging our bags around for, the day.  We  then got the free shuttle to downtown. There's only one ada compliant vehicle which we initially waited 30 mins for but instead took a regular shuttle with  the scooter in back, and mom transferred a few steps to a seat. Got off  in downtown and shopped a bit, walking down to the Alaska Sea life center. Since we couldn't check in to VRBO until 4, we went ahead and visited the sealife center. It took us about  90 mins. We loved the sealions and the puffins in the aviary. We were surprised how close to the birds we could get! Otters were viewed from above, got to see a  cute baby otter playing with toys.
View from the Sealife Center:
 
Weather was sunny and mild all day. Had late lunch/ early supper at Seward Brewing Company. Had the cider and burger and food seemed pretty good despite lukewarm reviews  It was what my jetlagged self needed.
Himself and I hit the wall once we got to the VRBO.
 
They were still getting it ready til 5 but we waited in living room. Once we had full access I took a nap that lasted 5 hours. Then got up for long enough to get ready for bed.  Saw moon on water before crashing.
Our VRBO little house:
Edited by zammis

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VRBO ?  Thanks OP.  I was unaware of such a facility for guests.  

 

The Sealife Center in Seward is an excellent place to visit and many Alaska visitors miss it.

 

Flights in/from Anchorage, particularly for us who live near the East Coast, aren't at the most optimal times.

 

In Anchorage, I stayed at Fairfield Inn Midtown not far from ANC and the ANC activity in the late night/early morning hours was significant. 

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Day 2-  An amazing day in Kenai Fjords!

Got up and dressed about 8. Started out with trying to figure out coffeepot (check power strips) and locks ( manual knob vs fancy number entry)  We took Resurrection taxi to South harbor for Major Marine for their 7.5 hr tour. (We booked on 2018 Black Friday special for 40 percent off) At the last minute there was a mechanical and our tour was cancelled. We were offered a full refund or 50 percent off if we could cruise tomorrow. As the weather was perfect, sunny and clear and mild, we went next door to Kenai Fjords Tours and jumped on their version of the all day tour, which was similar except instead of a buffet on the boat we'd get lunch on the boat and dinner at Fox Island with a buffet.  It did cost more (no discount), but we really did not want to miss out on the weather.
 
-Normally all these motion-sickness items might be needed- inside the Major Marine office.... 
 
It was truly amazing. 5 minutes out we saw a friendly otter just hanging out in the bay. (He may be paid in fish or something. It was really too easy!)
Then there was a humpback whale, endless sea birds including cormorants and puffins. (I found it did help to have gone to the Alaska Sealife center yesterday to better be able to pick them out.)  More humpback whales, plus a pod of orcas, Holgate glacier where there were 3 black bears on the shoreline. Harbor seal, sealions.  Everything but a moose basically. 
 
We were fed lunch a chicken wrap with chips and granola bars. (They made me a salad since I'm gluten free) They had drinks separately. With a deal for 8.95 you got a travel mug with unlimited refills of whatever ( non alcoholic). Glacier ice from Holgate was offered for cocktails, I had a glacier-rita which was fun, ran about $8.
 
We also had dinner at Fox Island. It was supposed to be "all you can eat" but they ran out of food. We did all get a plate but if you know you are hungry you should probably grab it on that first go-around. Drinks were lemonade, coffee and tea and water and were included. (At this point, we'd seen so much cool stuff we honestly didn't care much about the food!)
Dessert was fresh baked choc chip cookies on the way back on the boat. 
 
Captain Steven was very good, really took his time and was able to follow the wildlife and understood what we wanted to see. 
 
Accessibility-Mom did a wheelchair transfer to the boat. There was a reserved handicapped bathroom which she didn't need. It was locked with a key code so not just anyone could use it. There were only stairs to the top but we stayed on the first level and we were fine. Aft deck offered benches and great views. They stored her walker and she got around with a cane.  If you have mobility issues,   reach out to them ahead of time to see if they can handle your situation. They told us no walker since the Coast Guard "doesn't like wheels" but they may be able to handle a transfer to a seat from a wheelchair ok. The seats on the ends have metal arm rests but these can be removed by crew so you can slide in more easily. (We didn't know this til the end. )
 
It was an amazing day out.
Afterwards we had a small Safeway run for further breakfast stuff just me and Himself. As the free shuttle stopped running at 7 and we had trouble hunting up a cab, a very nice lady visiting from Anchorage helped us out. She had a cousin visiting from New Zealand and they ran us down to our VRBO . Felt like authentic Alaska. (Complete with a back seat covered in sled dog hair!)

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My tour in that area was on Kenai Fjords Tour Company and not Major Marine.  (No knock on them because I don't know, but my Alaska residing Nephew who has done this tour in the past and is the one who made my reservation.  I was was pleased with this Company although my tour did not include Fox Island.  This tour is one of my highlights of my Alaska visit this Summer.)

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Day 3- Take it Easy!
A leisurely wake up with cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon (last one we have to cook for a while!)
As we were pretty much right next door, we visited the Seward museum and library. Well set up and informative. 
 
 
Mom had some things on hold at a gift shop in South Harbor, so we walked from mile 0 of Iditarod along the water, maybe 20 minutes? Mom used her scooter and had no problems- it was a mostly flat paved path.  
We ate lunch at Ray's on the Waterfront. I had the seafood Provencal salad which was yummy good (pesto white wine dressing- I really wanted to lick the plate!)
 
On the spur of the moment, called Seaveys Iditaride since Mom wanted to see puppies. They were able to pick us up right at the restaurant. Mom used her cane. Himself took the scooter back to the VRBO. (He said he got it up to quite a speed!)
The tour was fun but definitely more walking. Paths are thick gravel so would be hard with a wheelchair or scooter. You transfer to a dog cart for the ride. There were outhouse bathrooms. Small gift shop. Mom got a magnet. We got to hold 3 month and 3 week old puppies after our ride. Just good fun. 
They dropped us right back at our VRBO with no hassle. 
Dinner was take out from Attic Pie and Seward Brewing company. 
 
Hardest part: Having to repack for embarkation on Coral Princess tomorrow!!
 
(Sorry about the photos- for some reason inserting from URL isn't working for me!)

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Day 4- AWCC and getting on Coral Princess!
 
We luckily had a relaxing morning til our 10 am pickup from Alaska shuttle. Our driver took one look at the mountain of bags, scooter and walker and  had to run back for his trailer. It only took ten minutes for him to return though and we were fine. 
It was about two hours up to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center(AWCC). I didn't realize how close the AWCC is to the Seward highway turnoff for Whittier. Lovely scenery on way up under mixed clouds and sun. Got to see brown bears in the water since it's hot for them. Also porcupine, black bears,  moose (who were hiding in the barn sick, poor things),  elk,  caribou and reindeer. They also have coyote,  foxes and wolves but they were all hiding. They have a Big gift shop that Mom enjoyed. Around 1 we headed out for Whittier. The tunnel was interesting and looong. It was definitely cooler and mistier on the Whittier side of the mountains.
 
Embarkation was very smooth. Almost  NO line to check in and a few minutes line for security. Our cabins were ready so they took the wheelchair assist and mom right to the cabin. Our interior cabin was snug and clean, but I did my saniwipes wipedown anyway. We were given a 5:15 pm dinnertime but I was weak from no lunch so we hit the buffet for a light plate. Then wandered the ship.
 
I'd heard good things about Coral Princess- it really never felt crowded, even on glacier viewing or sea days. Plenty of outdoor space to get to, and the Promenade deck was really comfortable for viewing, we spent a lot of time there. 
 
 Dinner was good and we split a bottle of albarino. (Splitting a bottle of wine among five of us worked out so well, we did it pretty much every night.) Had gravlax and mussels and flourless chocolate cake. Then came the muster drill. (I'll  be singing"safety" ala the Love Boat theme in my sleep probably.) Then I helped Mom unpack and played a board game we brought before bed. 

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Posted (edited)
Day 5- Hubbard Glacier
 
As one must, we did laundry. There was a line on our deck with two ladies ahead taking up all 5 machines- they had been on one of the land tours and said this was their second or third time doing laundry. We were able to only use two machines (think apartment sized. )  3 dollars wash, 3 dollars dry per cycle. You buy tokens with your ship card.  The dryer did a stellar job for a laundromat machine. We had some good hang out time on Caribe aft waiting for laundry. Lunch was  Alfredo's pizza at Sabatinis: I  was able to order a gluten free pizza off the menu,  no problems. At 2pm was the Maitre d wine tasting with Himself. First headwaiter/sommelier talked waaaaay too much (um, we're here to DRINK WINE MAN) but I learned about bottle shapes and wine which was cool. Good wines (but honestly I liked the $9.95 wines better later in the cruise. ) 
 
Much glacier viewing in the all-afternoon run up to Hubbard Glacier- scale is really hard to determine since all the huge scenery messes with your ability to estimate distance. 
 
AnitaLatte: I didn't go on the small boat- my mom was supposed to go but then didn't feel up for it. Mom's friend and my high school buddy went and were impressed. They got to see a harbor seal colony as well as the glacier.  The one pic with the bow flag has that small boat in it, but you have to zoom waaaay in. 
 
The conditions were amazing- very calm water, sun- we were apparently able to get much closer in the ship that is customary. The small boat was maybe a couple of hundred yards off? I included one of HSB's pics so you can see. We were maybe 3/4 mile off? Hubbard Glacier is so big I really didn't feel bad about it. We got to see several small calving events here.  
 
We had our first dinner with our regular wait staff.  They were able to get me a gluten free meal including french onion soup.  Yum!
It was formal night. Got some free champagne. 
The show was  "Encore" which was not my thing really but good performers and production values

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Edited by zammis
forgot to add post title

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37 minutes ago, zammis said:

At 2pm was the Maitre d wine tasting with Himself. First headwaiter/sommelier talked waaaaay too much (um, we're here to DRINK WINE MAN)

 

I very much agree with this comment.  I did think it interesting that one the the Headwaiters (this gentleman) spoke about the white wines used during the tasting while the other Headwaiter discussed the red wines. 

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Your pictures are posting in the posts now...and the quality is excellent...it got really big in a new tab and I think that I can distinguish the smaller boat. OMG...I want to do that. Most definitely. Until you have been there, it's so difficult to understand the scale of what you are looking at in photos. One of the naturalist presentations we went to addressed the height of the front of the glacier and the height of the ship and how that forms the impression of the size of Hubbard. Perspective really skews understanding...one reason why I would enjoy the Hubbard approach from a non-cruise ship perspective.

 

Very much enjoying your report.

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Day 6- Glacier Bay Day

 

Glad the photos are working now!  And yes, scale was a problem the whole trip... pictures really seem dinky compared to the reality. I mean you are looking at ice the size of 10 story buildings. but from a good ways off. 

 

Anyways- Glacier Bay!!
Amazing scenery!! Definitely a highlight and would recommend especially if you are not doing a land tour.  I know there's some argument about not doing it since only certain ships and itineraries go there- I can't compare to like a Tracy Arm or Sawyer Glacier or College Fjord- I just know we were very glad to do this experience. 
 
We started with the enjoyable ranger talk at 10 am, was a packed house and a great introduction to our day at Glacier Bay.  The rangers definitely try to personalize these talks with their experiences so its not just a canned speech.  We also got to look at maps and really get oriented to what we were going to see. It helped since we didn't catch all the narration to have at least some baseline knowledge. 
 
Afterwards I helped my mother shop on the pool deck at the Princess tables for an hour and even found some stuff I wanted to buy. (She wasn't interested in the ranger tables.)
We had lunch outside bundled up- fresh but not freezing!, and watched the amazing scenery leading up to Margerie Glacier. Water was so still!
Overall we saw Margerie glacier, Grand Pacific,  John's Hopkins and Lamplugh. Treated to tremendous calving at Margerie, a HUGE chunk calved right in front of us. I'm not fast enough for pictures but it was an inspiring thing.  Lamplugh and Johns Hopkins also breathtaking. We couldn't get very close to Johns Hopkins due to seals calving but it was all so pretty we truly didn't mind. 
 
Mom and I enjoyed warm beverages form the cart that wandered the Promenade deck, followed by teatime at the International Cafe with a pot of vanilla tea.  I really loved the IC on Coral this time. ( I tried it on Caribbean Princess a few years back but didn't try the food.) It's such a perfect setup when you want a quick bite after a tour or glacier viewing. They also always had labeled GF options vs the buffet, which didn't label things and the one time I tried for a dessert the GF option was gone. 
 
It was a beautiful sunny day, though cool.   Not much wildlife but we did get to see some sealions on  the way out at South Marble island.  (those brown lumps on the white marshmallow bits)
Dinner was Italian night. Had my pre-ordered gluten free saltimbocca which was very good. Homemade limoncello available for dessert for $3 a shot in a super-cure souvenir glass. 
 
After dinner saw party band Symphonee do 50s and 60s hits before bed. On to our first port at Skagway tomorrow!

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Day 7- Skagway

We had an early launch and met Dyea Dave  (the man himself!) for our tour into the Yukon. I wished I had thought of or brought more questions as he had entertaining stories and answers.
Weather was wet, heavy and gloomy on way up. We took mom's walker instead of the scooter as we were on a sprinter-type bus and it wouldn't accommodate the scooter. We had what we thought was an initial potty stop at the Skagway train station, not realizing this was also our chance to change our reservation into tickets. (Be sure to get actual TICKETS as the email doesn't count! )
 
We stopped early for lunch at Carcross and I picked up some special maple syrup aged in a whiskey barrel. (So good!) Then another few minutes drive to Emerald Lake with lots of scenery to gawk at. The weather cleared slightly and we got some Emerald Lake photos, but the color would be better when sunny. Coming back it started to clear up some and was intensely windy. We had a few scenic stops along the way back to Fraser, where we would catch the afternoon train back to Skagway. 
We had planned on seeing more sled dogs at Tutshi when we came up, but they were closed on the way up.  On the way back, Dave worked his magic and we got to hold and pet puppies and do a brief visit; no rides today but we really just wanted puppy time!!
 
We got to Fraser about an hour early for the train, but there was at least a bathroom stop there so that helped make the time go by. 
We didn't pick up on the fact that we needed to turn in our train confirmation for actual tickets back in Skagway- oops!- but Dave did some talking and we were able to get aboard.  We were ok but be aware.  (Apparently there's normally a reminder for this in the Dyea Dave email but we didn't see it. )
 
Sun came out for the train ride down and it was stunning. Dave picked us up at end of train ride and took Mom and friend back to ship. We stopped of for HSB to try to find a Microsoft surface cord (no luck) and we grabbed Bavarian nuts and ice cream and did a little shopping before heading back to the ship. Think we saw Dyea Dave's car too!
I knew that in the Azores there's a rock that all the ships paint a marker on, or used to? Anyway, Skagway has this too, it was fun to look at old and new tags for the various ships. 
 
We enjoyed Symphonee again after dinner, but not for too late as Juneau is another early day. 

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Day 8- Juneau

Another early start today. Himself and I got to Juneau Car Rental at 8 am to pick up our (good condition, definitely used) Chevy minivan.   We took a quick test drive up to the whale statue since others were not down yet. We got back to Dock B and took a little bit to load up since we had to take the scooter apart since the back seats don't move. Then people and a walker were loaded. It was a fast, less than five minutes drive to the AJ Gastineau mine gate. 
 
 Prior to the trip, my mother REALLY wanted to do some gold panning. I wasn't as thrilled but found this option and it worked for all of us, including being able to tour the underground mine and that it was wheelchair accessible. 
 
We had to call in for clearance on the one way road.  They didn't have a vehicle that could transport the scooter up the hill to the mine entrance, however they provided a wheelchair up top and the ramps were fairly easy to do with the wheelchair.  Then out of the mine and back down to the store for a brief talk on the mill and we were released to do gold panning. We put all our findings in one jar for Mom. Then at 11:30 we reloaded the van and after checking in on food needs headed right for Mendenhall Glacier. The visitors center was very crowded but we were able to hear a couple of ranger talks and see the movie. The weather was clear and there were great views of the glacier and Nugget Falls. Decided to skip the Nugget Falls hike due to time and not sure if scooter could do it. (Later on, the scooter blew a fuse so it was a good decision. )
 
We went out to Photo Point walk first. All paved., though a little rough and one part on the back part of the loop has a step, so you'll want to go out on the right and return the same way,  Easy with the scooter. 
 
Next we did the Steep Creek trail. Getting down the end closest to the visitor center was tricky with loose gravel, but doable with the scooter. There was another entrance from the lower parking lot that would avoid that stretch, then if you come back by the parking lot it would all be paved. 
Boardwalk was fine with the scooter.
 Saw a porcupine in a tree,  tons of salmon and a black bear! 
Loaded up and headed back to drop everyone at the ship by 3. Then dropped the car and walked back about 15 mins. Turned out we were 15 mins early for 3:30 all aboard. 
We would have liked more time in Juneau to see town but Mom was very happy with the gold mine. She wanted to stay and pan more. If we didn't care about Mendenhall the mine would have been fine with us staying longer. 
 
Finally got some hot tub Time for sail away. Had yummy formal night dinner. Tried to find some music and enjoyed Symphonee again for a bit and tried the Abba hour but no one was dancing and I didn't want to put on a show.  (I like cheesy dancing but not on my own!)
 
Tomorrow- Ketchikan, where Himself and I have no plans, one of us has a bear tour and the other two are doing the Duck Tour. 

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Very interesting report!  I also enjoyed party band Symphonee.  No one dancing to the music of Abba?  How can one not dance!  But, I feel the same way you do about getting on the dance floor when no one else is dancing.

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Just dance! You wont see these people again so dance your heart out. PLUS, others who feel like you will get their chance to dance too! then you will all be out there having fun....because of you!

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