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From Cool Alaska to the Balmy South Pacific, Sail with Bill & Mary Ann on the Volendam 9-6-23 to11-22-23 77 days


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13 hours ago, WCB said:

Report #3    Thursday September 7, 2023    Sea Day Enroute To Tracy Arm  Overcast Skies With Some Sun  75 Degrees With A 15 mph Wind .......Part #1 Of 1.........51  Pictures


We woke up to heavily overcast skies and cooler temps.  At least it was not raining.  The seas have been rather smooth as well as we head towards our first port of Juneau tomorrow.  


Breakfast for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, but instead of 8am, breakfast was served at 7:30am in both dining rooms.  Another wonderful surprise occurred when we entered the restaurant.  We discovered that Endrian, a former head waiter on the Amsterdam, was the manager here.  We have known him for many years, although it has been a while since we saw him last.  Of course, he recognized us and greeted us with handshakes and hugs.  We had expected there to be a line of folks waiting to enter the room, but there were only two guests so far.   Unlike the Zuiderdam, the Pinnacle Grill is located on deck four with no outside windows.  We figured the Neptune folks might prefer the windows in the Main Dining Room or room service.  We did get our favorite “window” table, with a view of the hallway.  And fresh-squeezed orange juice, mimosas, and Capuchinos are complimentary.  We ordered the All-American breakfast, and they came perfectly cooked.  The best was the Greek yogurt with large fresh berries.  Endrian kept us company keeping us up-to-date on cruise news, and we did the same with guest news.  Before we left, we decided it was a good time to make reservations for two dinners here before the week ends.


Back in our room, we had a gift of one canvas HAL tote with the 150 years of cruising printed on it.  In addition, we had an invitation to a complimentary James Suckling’s Great Wines of the Andes tasting.  It started at 1:50pm, and we would have attended if we drank wines.  Always nice to be invited however.


One of us took a long walk on the promenade deck, while the other got caught up with yesterday’s blog.  Some work was in progress on this deck with the removal of the old fluorescent light fixtures.  They were being replaced with LED fixtures….much brighter and more efficient we suspect. 


Looking for signs of wildlife, Bill and some others spotted a huge rare sunfish.  It was close to the ship, right below the surface.  Looking it up on Google, it said they can wonder up this far north due to slightly warmer sea temperatures.  Of course, we looked all throughout the day, but never saw another one.


After finishing the blog, the job of stashing our stuff continued.  In case anyone is curious, the magnetic hooks will work well on the ceiling, and both doors.  Could not find any steel in the walls other than around the ocean view window.  Another tidbit is about the remodeling of the bathrooms, at least on this Dolphin deck.  The tubs are gone, and new glass-doored showers were installed.  The counter and sink are new, as is the flooring.  There is a motion light under the hallway cabinet at night, but there is no night light in the bathroom.  We brought a small night light that plugs into the shaver outlet. Perfect.


The has been rather warm in our outside cabin with the temperature staying at 75 degrees.  At least we have a tower fan to keep the air circulating.  We really miss that veranda where we could pop outside for fresh air.  However, we will be able to do that when the Tales of the South Pacific begins, because we will be moving to a room on deck six.  In the meantime, we will be spending more time on the public outside decks.


When Bill came back, he finished the job of rearranging the desk area and adding the plug strip.  We have a small refrigerator that was placed under the desk, leaving us a small space to sit at the desk.  Moving it on top of the deck against the cabinet wall worked perfectly.  While we are on the subject of changes, the safe here is operated with a card, such as an old hotel card, or anything with a strip on it.  We were asked not to use the room key, as it might not work or may be erased. 


Today we opted for a room service lunch of chicken Caesar salads and a shared club sandwich with fries.  As much as we like them, we stayed away from the chocolate chip cookies, and ordered some red apples instead.  Time for a walk outside, we found our way to deck nine aft and enjoyed some relaxing time on the lounges.  The sun had peeked out and it was so nice.  Looking down on the Seaview pool, we found that many more people were doing the same as us.  Too cool for a swim, but perfect weather to use a blanket and relax.  We followed that up with cups of hot chocolate with coffee in the Lido. 


Today was full of activities – a mix of tai chi, pickleball, trivia, and lectures.  The other half was promotions, which is great for the revenue.  The one activity that interested us most was wildlife sightings at 4pm.  We should have worn the arctic coats, but we did see several whale sightings with breaching, diving, and blowing.  The best spot for us was forward on deck six, even better since we were the only ones there.  Several types of seabirds were in the area, which can indicate the presence of humpback whales actively feeding.  We were not disappointed, but when the chill sunk in, we left after 5pm. 


Dinner this evening was ‘dressy”.  And we are happy to say the majority of folks complied.  There were no tuxes to be seen, but there were fellows in suits and sports coats and ladies in the sparkles.  We only saw one couple that appeared at the entrance dressed in shorts, sweatshirts, and a baseball hat.  After speaking to the head waiter, they turned around and left the room.  We have no way of knowing if they were trying to get a table or just asking a question.  But it is possible they were turned away.  We have seen that happen in the past, but not so much recently. 


Once again, the meal was excellent.  We ordered a shrimp cocktail, mixed green salad, one tomato bisque soup, and mains of beef tenderloin (one with grilled shrimp).  Conservative serving portions, but more than enough.  We said no thanks to desserts of flourless chocolate cake,  blueberry cheesecake, and apple pie a la mode.  Humanity was the featured show on the World Stage, but since we have seen it more than once, we turned in early.


The best news was that the clocks went back one hour….more time to write and get to sleep before midnight.


Tomorrow’s port will be Juneau, with a brief stop in Tracy Arm for a tour.


Bill & Mary Ann


Thank you for another great report!  And thanks for answering my question about the outlets in the room. I noticed in this report that you mentioned you have a plug strip. Is that something you brought with you or did the ship provide it for you?  I know I seem obsessed with outlets and such, but I use a CPAP machine.   We aren’t going to be able to power up our various devices overnight because that one outlet is going to have to be used for my machine. Thanks in advance, and I’ll try not to bug you with too many questions. 😁

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Report #4   September 8, 2023  Tracy Arm To Juneau, Alaska   Arrive At Juneau 12 Noon To 9:30 pm   Cloudy And Overcast...No Rain Very Cold Coming Into Juneau  Part #1 Of 1..........142 Pictures


Juneau is our port of call today.  It has been the capital of Alaska even before it became the 49th state in 1959.  The only way to access this city is by air and sea.  But before we arrived to Juneau, we made a quick stop near Tracy Arm where a catamaran picked up a group from the ship for a 6 hour excursion to Twin Sawyer Glaciers.  So for $290, they took a scenic boat ride and possibly a hike, then were brought back to Juneau where the ship would be docked.


Last night, we all got a detailed map of Juneau with the recommended shops and a few restaurants.  It was so nice to see them go back to using some paper again.  We also had a customs declaration card for Canada to fill out and leave at the front desk.  Since we will be intransit, they will send us those slips before the cruise ends on the 13th. 


After another excellent breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, we headed to deck six forward to watch the scenery as we were sailing in narrow passages.  Close enough to shore, we watched for any signs of wildlife…hopefully whales, porpoise, or eagles.  There are bears in this area, but they are shy.  We did see some eagles and a pair of mountain goats with the help of powerful binoculars.  The skies were heavily overcast, but we did not have any rain.  However, it was wicked cold on the bow, and we were sure glad we packed the arctic jackets with the gloves. 


While we were watching the tour boat leave, the captain announced that there was a patient that was in need of a blood transfusion.  Only those who had the proper certificates to donate, and of course, the right blood type could apply.  In the meantime, he wasted no time in getting to Juneau.  Our scheduled time was 1pm, but we arrived at noontime.  The US customs and border agents came onboard, but no one was allowed to leave until the crew was cleared, and the patient was taken off to the hospital.


Other ships in port were the Disney Wonder, who was already docked in the boonies.  Later on, RCI Quantum of the Seas parked in front of us.  We suspect many of the guests went on tours, and the town might not be too over-crowded.  We left the ship after 1pm, and walked the downtown area.  Our destination was lunch at the Hangar at the Wharf.  We were lucky to get a table, since this place was about full.  We ordered two Alaskan Amber draft beers and a shared cheeseburger with bacon and Jack Daniels BBQ sauce.  With a pile of fries, it was plenty for both of us.  But what we really looked forward to was their mud pie, which we also shared.  Honestly, it was the first dessert we have had for a long time, so it tasty especially good.


Speaking of excursions, there were plenty of them offered here.  Among them were whale watching for 5 ½ hours for $220.  Shorter tours were priced less.  Mendenhall Glacier is one of the highlights, so there were various ways to see it, such as a drive to it, a walk on it, a helicopter ride over it, or even dog sledding on it.  They started at $60 and went up to $500.  We watched the float planes leave for the Taku Lodge salmon bake for 3 ½ hours for $460.   We have done the whale watching tour many times, and really enjoyed it.  And an easy self-guided tour is by taking the Mt. Robert’s tram up to the top, which was $50, which we have also done many times.


We walked the town on the way back, stopping at the Alaskan Fudge Company, buying a ½ pound each of peanut brittle and walnut laden fudge.  By now, there was a line out the door to buy the sweet treats.  The shops were over-flowing with customers, so we wisely stayed clear of the crowds.  We will be back two more times, so we can explore the souvenirs next time. 


Although it looked like rain, and a few drops fell, it stayed dry.  Lucky for us, we were told it rained yesterday.  So the forecast we saw last week for this area was incorrect.  Now tomorrow, who knows?  We got back to the ship by 4:30pm, and worked online until it was time for a dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.  Just as he promised, Endrian had saved our table by the window for us.  We ordered the wedge salads with a shared side of clothesline bacon.  Now there is no charge for an extra appetizer, but we do think the price of the meal here has gone up since our last cruise.  Will have to inquire about that.   Our mains were halibut and a small filet mignon.  A baked potato for one of us and French fries for the other.  It was more than ample, and since we indulged with dessert at lunch time, we said no thanks to dessert. 


Taking a short walk on the promenade deck, we saw that the gangway was being lifted after 9pm.  Looks like everyone was back onboard and we might leave early.   And we did…..the ship was turned around and we were heading out of the channel by 9:30pm heading towards tomorrow’s port of Skagway.


Bill & Mary Ann




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Because you like to walk, there is a beautiful statue of a whale breaching about 20 minutes away that is worth seeing. Once off the ship go left and head towards Overstreet park.  It is fairly new so maybe you have not seen it yet.

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Greetings all....


Regarding plug strips, we did bring our own, however, the ship will loan you one or two.  They cannot have surge protectors.  Free free to ask all the questions you like.


We have walked to the whale statue in Juneau on past cruises....it is a pleasant hike.  Thanks for reminding us.


Hello coco39, glad you can join us online.  Please tell Barb we hope to see her on the 24 GWV.  How is she doing?


Bill & Mary Ann



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Report #5  Saturday 9, 2023  Skagway, Alaska  7am-8pm  Docked, Starboard To Dock   Overcast With Clouds  Light Rain All Day  51 Degrees Part #1 Of 3.......77  Pictures……..209 Pictures Total In Parts 1,2 &3


Before we left home, we had done some research on the weather forecast in the ports we were going to visit in Alaska.  Sad to say, rain was in the reports each and every day.  And the worst day was going to be Skagway, which had predicted flash flood warnings.  In all of our visits to that town, we seldom had experienced much rain, let alone flooding.  However, we are happy to report that the floods never came and the rain was light.  No big deal especially with the right rain gear and umbrellas for walking.  And it wasn’t that cold with a high of 59 degrees.


The population of Skagway today is about 1240 residents, although only 800 remain in the winter months, and more arrive for the tourist season where the numbers climb to 2500.  Their schools have a number of 130 students K – 12.  Their test scores measured highest of any district in Alaska.  Three hydroelectric facilities provide all the power they need.  During the summer solstice, there are 19 hours of daylight.  Skagway gets up to 26 inches of rain a year and 39 inches of snow in town.  Compare that to Ketchikan where they get 14 feet of rain, it is much drier up here.  And for that reason, the trees are smaller in this part of Alaska.


They expect cruising to continue to grow with 1.1 million cruise ship guests arriving this year.  The median household income is $71,875.  The largest employers are the visitor and transportation industries and government.  A copper mine currently uses the port for shipping.  Basic prices of unleaded gas was about $5.50 a gallon, while milk sold for $8. a gallon.  Houses were listed at about $500,000.  And thanks to the visitor center for providing many useful brochures and maps to find this information.  We made a stop there on our way back after lunch and are now armed with lots of helpful hints for our next two visits here.


We began our morning with another lovely breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill.  The one thing we miss here has to be the windows.  To make up for that, the manager Endrian has been most friendly.  We were sad to hear that three of the top dining room managers will be heading for home in Indonesia before the start of the Tales of the South Pacific.  They are Komang, Pande, and Endrian.  All of our buddies.  They have been at sea for over 6 months, and are looking forward to seeing their families on Bali.  They have admitted that their wives have long “honey-do” lists waiting for them. 


We left the ship around 9:30am, feeling that we were forgetting something.  Once out on the pier, one of us realized they left their wallet onboard.  That is not the first time we have done that, so one waited and the other went back.  Only took a few minutes, and since we were on our own hiking trek, we were not holding anyone up.  Different story if we had been on a ship’s tour.


Right off of the dock, we saw the fish ladders with salmon struggling to get upstream.  Many were floating dead as well.  A harbor seal was working the waters too.  This has to be the first time we have seen the salmon run in Skagway.  According to the information on the signage along Pullen Creek, these are the pink or humpback salmon.  So we decided to take the Pullen Creek walk, checking out the shallow waters and the banks along the narrow trail.   It was full of salmon, both alive and dead.  Some were in the process of spawning.  Most were beaten up, and would die soon.  That is when they become fertilizer for the cedar, alder, birch, Douglas fir, cottonwood, and mountain ash trees.  Despite the decaying fish, there was not a bad odor.  If there was, we would have to watch out for bears. 


This is also the area where the White Pass & Yukon Route trains run from the dock to deep into the Yukon Territory.  We have done a trip on one of those trains years ago, and it was really nice.  Of course, we were lucky enough to have had a sunny day.  Today was sort of dismal for photos, but we are sure the folks will enjoy the ride.  By the way, we were not the only ship in town as the NCL’s Sun was docked when we arrived.   There were plenty of excursions offered today – most of them involving the train.    There were several options of how far into Canada you preferred to go.  And those who entered Canada had to bring along their passports.  As of last evening, the prices had not been posted on the interactive TV, so I failed to get them.  Still do not have a cell phone for their Navigator app, and we don’t intend to get one anytime soon.  We did see the city tour coach filled with folks paying $50 to see the town and the famous cemetery with a stop at the Red Onion Saloon.  It’s a nice and easy way to get around.


We made our way up Broadway after leaving Pullen Creek, and wandered past their small park, restrooms, and the museum, which appeared to be closed.  We continued past many homes, the hospital, fire and police department, and RV parks to the Klondike Highway, which crosses the Skagway River.  A road to the right near the river and the train yard leads to Gold Rush Cemetery and lower Reid Falls.  Since it is almost a 1/2 mile more to reach it, we decided to save that for next time.  The river was rushing pretty good with a milky-like blue color to the water.  It must be from glacial melt.  We could not see any sign of salmon in this river. 


Down off the road, we walked to a newly-built covered staging area where concerts must take place.  There were fields for baseball and soccer and a food shack complete with restrooms.  There was only one fellow walking his Basset hound there today.   If you continued on the Klondike Highway, you would reach Carcross and Whitehorse, 110 miles away, which was the route the buses took today as well as the train.  It was getting close to noontime, and we were hoping to find the best pizza in town at the Station Bar and Grill back in town.  We had researched their opening time and despite being closed for lunch last year, we were delighted to find the café opened for business when we arrived at 1pm.   We were lucky to find an empty table and order two Alaskan Amber draft beers.  Our choice today was a 14 inch Hawaiian pizza topped with pineapple, Canadian bacon, and plenty of cheese.   It had to be the best pizza in all of Alaska, just liked we remembered it.  We will definitely be back next week and the following week. 


On the way back, we stopped at the Klondike Doughboy, where we had watched a gal deep fry a special treat last year.  They are called Alaskan fry bread, coated with cinnamon sugar, and served warm.  Since we had a big lunch back then, we didn’t try it, but today we did.  The bread was a plate-size thin donut-like sweet dough, crispy with the sugar topping.  Boy, was that good.  A  couple of ravens landed at our feet to beg, but we had read not to feed the animals so we didn’t except for a few crumbs.  This shop also sold jams, jellies, and reindeer sausage.


Across the street, we went into another store that was selling among other things…popcorn in many different flavors.  We chose a bag of caramel popcorn for a room snack.  Our final stop was going through a few shops to look for Lazy One sleep t’s.  They had none this year.  So we do know where to find them in Ketchikan. 


It was still raining lightly when we got back to the ship by 4pm, and we worked on photo downloading until it was time for dinner.  With all of the fresh air and walking, I have to admit I was exhausted.  Good time to read all of the brochures we had collected along our hike today. 


We really were not all that hungry for dinner (gee I don’t know why), so we ordered a salad, soup, and chicken cordon bleu for our mains.  The French onion soup was a new recipe and served in a regular soup bowl, not like the old lidded urn.  It was much better than I recall on the other ships.  Passing on dessert always disappoints our waiter.  He did offer to do a trick, but we assured him we had seen the toothpick and the wine glass trick.  Truthfully, we think he was relieved as it doesn’t always work that easily. 


Looking forward to Glacier Bay tomorrow.  Hope it doesn’t rain too much.


Bill & Mary Ann




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12 hours ago, WCB said:

chicken cordon bleu for our mains.  The French onion soup was a new recipe and served in a regular soup bowl,


Here's a random food question I have been wondering for a long time.  How is the chicken cordon bleu prepared?  Is it rolled up with the cheese and ham inside or flat with the cheese and ham on top?  I love a good Cordon Bleu but have not tried it on HAL because previous cruise ship version wasn't good at all....flat and dry.


Also, what is new about the iconic French Onion Soup other than the container?  I love French Onion Soup but find HAL's to be okay but not spectacular.  An improved recipe would be welcomed.


Ha ha, thanks for entertaining a couple of trivial food questions.



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On 9/9/2023 at 8:29 AM, WCB said:

...Our destination was lunch at the Hangar at the Wharf.  We were lucky to get a table, since this place was about full...

We got back to the ship by 4:30pm, and worked online until it was time for a dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.  Just as he promised, Endrian had saved our table by the window for us.  We ordered the wedge salads with a shared side of clothesline bacon.  Now there is no charge for an extra appetizer, but we do think the price of the meal here has gone up since our last cruise.  Will have to inquire about that...

We quite enjoy the Hangar - food and view are nice.

Always enjoy the Candied Bacon in the PG. You are correct - the base price has gone up. It was increased when the additional app surcharge was dropped. I believe that was effective w/Sept sailings, so the new prices are just recently being seen.

Enjoying your posts - thanks for bringing us along.

Continued safe travels  - enjoy your cruise!


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The chicken cordon bleu was prepared with the ham and cheese rolled on the inside.  It was very good, although we suspect it might be a frozen product because both of ours were identical.  We may be wrong, but maybe will will inquire about it.


The French onion soup was not greasy, and the melted cheese was not stringy.  Up until now, there seemed to be more bread than soup, and if you were not careful, the cheese stuck to your chin...ha-ha.


The  new prices in the Pinnacle Grill are $19 for lunch and $46 for dinner.  The Canaletto is $25 for dinner.  Then add 18% gratuity.


Bill & Mary Ann

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@WCB Thank you for the information!!  The soup sounds like an improvement!  I don't really mind if the Cordon Bleu is a frozen product (works for me at home often) as long as it's good.  I'll try it on my next cruise.



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Report #6    September 10, 2023   Glacier Bay 6:30am-4pm   Light Rain And Strong Wind On The Deck   50 Degrees Felt Like 35 Degrees Outside Decks Closed   Part #1 Of 2........64 Pictures


The port of call for today wasn’t exactly a port, but a destination.   It was a national park with 3.2 million acres of forest, inlet and shore mountain peaks, some of them towering over 15,000 feet.  And the name is Glacier Bay National Park & Reserve. 


A small team of rangers joined the ship from the park’s headquarters at Bartlett Cove, the entrance to the bay.   We had gotten up early and decided to skip breakfast in order to experience the cruise into the bay.  We did notice that there was no TV reception, which was just as well, since we planned on staying outside most of the day.  We went up to deck six forward and found that the weather was acting up.  Besides some driving rain, the winds were incredibly strong.  So much so, that walking across the upper outside deck was dicey.  The wind literally lifted our feet from under us.  No wonder no one else was out here yet.


We knew that by 8am, the ship would pass by Gloomy Knob, a 1331 foot high granite rock, and if we were lucky, we might see some mountain goats.   With the powerful wind, it was difficult holding the camera steady, so we went down to the promenade deck instead.  Oddly enough, a rope was drawn across the automatic doors, which we figured may be broken.  There were no signs saying the deck was closed.  There was a handful of folks doing the same thing we were, cameras ready for the passing of the rock.  Just then, a crew member came and told us we all had to go inside due to inclement weather.  Orders from the Captain.  Most of us headed for the elevator to go elsewhere.  We went back to deck six, and got there just in time to see some mountain goats grazing, most of them hidden in the brush.  Happy to have the chance to take some photos, we headed back inside and went to breakfast.  The hot coffee never tasted so good.  So did the blueberry muffins and the Belgium waffles with a side of bacon.  In fact, it was such a hearty breakfast, we never did eat lunch.  


The park rangers that joined the ship did give intermittent narration as we sailed deeper into the inlet.  However, the sound was turned up so high, their words echoed to the point of total distortion.  We think we better inform the technicians and hope they can fix it before next week. 


The weather remained foggy, windy, and wet as we approached Margerie Glacier, reportedly the most famous glacier here.  This glacier is about one mile wide with a face that is 200 feet above the waterline.  Chances of seeing and hearing the calving is good.  The Captain stayed across from this glacier for one hour, spinning so everyone could see it.  And we did hear the thunderous roar as some calving took place.  We were disappointed that we did not go see Johns Hopkins Glacier, but it must be off-limits to cruise ships right now.  We did go there last year, and saw some spectacular calving.  A smaller boat by the name of Chichagof Dream did sail further into the inlet, but turned around.  


By then, Dutch pea soup was served on all outside decks at 10:30am.  It was good and hot, but small portions.  Just as the Volendam was turning into the main outlet, we did spot a humpback whale skimming the surface before diving deep, revealing that whale tale.  Once it dove, it never did re-appear.  This had to be the first time we ever saw a whale here.  Passing Lamplugh Glacier, we did see a group of sea otters pass by floating on their backs as they like to do.  We also saw one lone harbor seal on an ice floe, jumping on and off it.  Usually we see many of these, but not today.   The few birds we saw were gulls and cormorants. 


Chilled to the bone, even wearing our heavy jackets, we went inside to warm up.  Later we went back to deck six, and watched as we sailed past Gloomy Knob once more.  Spotting more goats, we got better photos due to the fact that the sun had decided to peek out.  What a difference that made with the landscape.  The colors just popped.  At 2pm, we sailed by two small islets, one which housed birds and the other having Stellar sea lions.   Black cormorants were sunning themselves on the larger islet, while lots of Stellar sea lions were stretched out on the rocks, also taking in the heat of the sun.  They did not budge an inch when the ship sailed by them.    The ranger said these were all males.  They get along without females nearby, since the presence of girls make them fight.  


The rangers left the ship by 3pm, then we headed towards the open sea on the way to Ketchikan.  We did look for more otters and possibly whales, but saw none.   Downloading all of the photos took up the rest of the afternoon in the comfort of our room. 


Dinner was in the Pinnacle again, and we ordered our usual favorite salad with the clothesline bacon.  Mains were lamb chops and a sirloin strip steak.  This evening the restaurant was completely full.  But then, there are only two more days left, and the cruise will end.  Gosh, this week went by quickly.


Tomorrow’s port – Ketchikan, and it sounds like we are in for some more rain.


Bill & Mary Ann



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Amazing wildlife sightings in Glacier Bay!  Thank you for sharing.

One nice thing about the HAL Navigator on a cell phone is the instant communication.  You could have reported the distorted sound right away.


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So glad you saw mountain goats on Gloomy Knob and the sea lions on the Marble Islands! These are our two fav sights in Glacier Bay!  As always, your excellent commentary is such a delight to read and we never miss a post.

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Report #7  September 11, 2023  Ketchikan, Alaska  Docked Port Side To Pier  12:00 Noon-7pm  Rain And 30 Knot Wind Most Of The Day  50 Degrees  Part #1 Of 3.......77 Pictures Of 187


It was so windy and rainy this morning, that after breakfast we could not get out on the promenade deck for a walk.  All of the doors were roped off.  We figured the only good reason for the closure has to be an over-cautious move to prevent accidents.  The winds were reported to be from 25 to 30 knots, and combined with very wet deck, it may be an accident waiting to happen.


Oh well, it was a good time to make a visit to the Lido and check out the breakfast items there.  Just as we expected, the Lido was full of hungry guests.  We noticed that most of the stations have gone back to full self- service.  Yesterday we had received vouchers for complimentary cocktails in any bar in lieu of the Mariner’s event.  Jennifer had called and said there were no Mariners receiving medals this cruise, so she sent the drink vouchers as well as spa and Shop money.  The spa credit of $70 was only good for a service, not products.  They had to be used on a port day, which is today.  We passed on this perk.  The $200 credit was for something “Effy”, the high end jewelry.  However, it is our experience that most of their items are already discounted and the $200 would not apply.  Oh well, we appreciate the thought.


Since our arrival time to Ketchikan was not until 11am, we decided to take the time to give our thanks to helpful crew members on the Navigator app online.  That’s when the Captain came on with an announcement that we may not be able to dock in Ketchikan.    He said a big white ship (?) was just turned away due to 35 knot winds.  He said they would try their best, but it may not be possible.  He brought the Volendam close to the dock, and slowly pulled alongside.  We had made it safely despite the winds and rain and we were only 45 minutes late.  Many of the tours had been cancelled by the operators such as the jeep and canoe safari, the bear encounter, the trip on the Aleutian Ballad crab fishing vessel, sea kayaking, and a boat ride in Misty Fjords.  There was a shore excursion team member ready onshore to substitute another tour for the cancelled ones.  Or refund their money later. 


We left the ship around 12:20pm, where we were invited by one of the security gals to go ahead of the line.  She knew we were President’s Club, and knew we had the option of having priority disembarking.  We seldom use this perk, since we usually wait until the crowd thins out.  No one objected, so that was good.


It looked like the wind and rain will be with us all day, so we just relied on our waterproof jackets and boots to keep dry.  Too windy for umbrellas.  We headed towards Creek Street and the hike uphill.  This is the very first time the entire place was “people-free”.  Without three or more ships here, the town was empty.  Most of the guests must have taken tours, or stayed onboard today.  The creek was full and running fast.  The further up we went, the more fish we saw.  Many were already dead on the banks, while the survivors fought their way up the fish ladder.  Last time we were here, they were working on tree trimming.  Now we noticed that the short stretch of muddy and graveled pathway has been replaced with wooden stairs and railings.  So much better especially on wet days like this one. 


From the top, we followed the road and the creek, which fanned out at this point.  The salmon numbered in the hundreds if not more.  Stopping on a side street, there is a spot where you can access the banks of the creek.  While we were taking pictures of the fish, a local man came along walking his little dog.  He told us that the rain had swollen the creek in just one day, and they were happy because it washed the dead salmon back out to sea.  Not sure the type of salmon that were on this run, he confirmed that they were the pink or humpies as the locals call them.  Then he added that there was an 11 year old bear that comes down to the creek every night to feed, and a younger one was way up the creek.  Pretty exciting.


From here, we made our way to the Deer Mountain Hatchery, which is no longer a fish hatchery, but has gone into hydro-gardening.  It is not open to the public.  The garden is always nice to wander around.  Then we continued across the wooden bridge and over to the Totem Heritage Center.  Not much was happening here, so we headed back towards downtown.  We noticed that the road was closed, then we saw why.  The American League building had burned down recently and there was no traffic allowed on this street.  We could still smell smoke.  Bet this was an historical building.


Time for lunch, we headed to the Alaska King Crab Company, which is located on the top floor of a store right across the street from the ship.   It wasn’t busy, and we were seated by the window.  It was a bit shocking to see the prices of the crab items, and we were glad we were not ordering it.  Instead, we had a shared plate of chicken tenders with a pile of thin French fries.  This time we had enough room for a slice of cheesecake.  And we also had two Alaskan Amber beers.  By the time we left, our jackets had dried, only to get soaked once again. 


A store up the street apiece had just what one of us was looking for……a Lazy One sleep T in red with a bear on it.   And on sale too.  We also wanted to check out Tongass Trading Co. and found some more bags of popcorn to buy.   One last stop was at the tourist info center to collect some brochures, then we went back to the ship.  The gangway wasn’t as steep as the tide must have gone out.  The rest of the afternoon, we worked online until it was time for dinner.


The ship left the dock promptly at 6:30pm, since all must have been onboard.  It was raining even harder by then.  Dinner was back in the Main Dining Room with starters of crispy egg rolls, Caesar salads (hold the anchovies), and mains of sweet and sour breaded shrimp.   All good, although the food could have been hotter.  That was our fault for not asking it to be served hotter.  This evening was the Orange Party in the Ocean Bar at 9pm.  Some folks dressed for the occasion, including us, but we have never actually attended one.  It’s really a promotion to sell drinks we believe. 


The entertainer tonight was Elliot Finkel, a famous concert pianist who we have seen many times on different HAL ships.  His show is guaranteed to wow all ages.   And finally, the clocks moved ahead one hour tonight.  One more day at sea, and we will be back in Vancouver.  This week has gone by in a flash……


Bill & Mary Ann




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