I have been running out of ideas for anything but reactionary political commentary for the blog until I had to turn an old computer on this morning.
Looking for a resume from 2005, I was.
Came upon a trove of photographs from a cruise to Glacier Bay, way back when. Maybe about seven years ago, to be more exact.
Mom J. Cat decided that she was a'tarred of hearin' about all the boating I and SWWBO had been doing, so she calls up saying she had scheduled the three of us for a cruise to Glacier Bay onboard a Holland America Cruise Liner.
First off, I mentioned that I was not eager to go back to sea on any ship, at least not one I was not in command of.
Not to be deterred, Mom said that she always wanted to go on a cruise...
Ok. We'll go along.
But I made my own reservation in which we had a suite with a balcony, yadda-yadda. Mom got a private cabin with a big window.
Flew out of Lauderdale and our arrival in Seattle was a pleasure, the weather was unusual in that there was a sun in the sky and no clouds.
Dinner was at an Ethiopian eatery (I had Goat!) and our special guest was a friend from London named John, who was a Flag Aide down at the Naval Station.
The next day we moseyed over to the cruise terminal with our three bags, a boom box with CD's of appropriate sailing music and three jugs of hooch, which were buried in the bric a brac so as to not be seen by any inspectors. (I heard that you weren't allowed to bring any alcohol, which may be true. I didn't get caught)
This was a seven day voyage to Glacier Bay with stops in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan with a final visit to Victoria, BC! Of the ports listed, I had only been to Victoria, oh so many years ago when I was smarter, thinner and way better looking.
The Cruise Line instructed us to bring appropriate clothing so I had a dark suit, a blazer and a Tux along with cold weather attire for the icy weather that would surely greet us. Cruise liners like playing dress up as if we are all David Niven, Fred Astaire and Myrna Loy. With foul weather sailing gear.
Mom had a bottle of Champagne and Fish Eggs with toast sent up to our suite which was unexpectedly welcome, this being especially good since our heads were not quite right after the evening before. Ethiopian goat has an odd effect. It couldn't be that beer and wine out on the town, could it?
It was a rapid blur and we were underway for the Straits of San Juan da Fuca, in the afternoon sunshine. In Seattle. In September. Fueled by the nice French bubbly, we looked forward to this new experience.
You might ask, "Is a cruise expensive, do you have to bring a lot of dough?"
No, there are many levels of cruising traveler. Some will spend all the money yet only receive the same entertainment satidfaction that someone staying in a little cabin down in engineering deck will enjoy.
On the first dinner, our dining companions were a bit eclectic; Four ladies were together doing their annual Alaska cruise. (I will refer to them as the Snoop Sisters) They were nice enough, but I could tell they weren't amused by my beer and wine intake. They drank water with their dinners.
DILLIGAF? Besides, I happen to know what fish do in water.
Dinner is included in your ticket. In fact, all food with few exceptions is complimentary. That includes the two in the morning burger and pizza sent up to your cabin.
We found it was convenient to prepurchase 15 bottles of wine in addition to grazing at the various watering holes. This took care of our dining needs very easily. We could even order wine from our stash from other venues on the ship. You made the order and a runner came and brought the goodies about five minutes later. The stash of Rum and Gin?
Untouched. Wound up carrying it home. Should not have bothered to carry the excess weight.
Back to the Snoop Sisters; They were tucked in a four berth cabin about four decks below our suite, the total cost for the four ladies was about $800.00. Total. Not each. That included shows, eight meals a day, and all that. Oh, the cabin had a private head so those ladies were not suffering.
Makes total sense to get a few close friends and go on a cruise!
Somehow, the snoop sisters stopped by to visit our suite, they were passing by and noticed me standing in the doorway, so I reluctantly let them in. The oohed and awed about the two room suite and we even had a private balcony!
Well, um, yeah. We paid about $3K for this slice of heaven which I was beginning to think was money well spent.
The four snoop sisters departed and we called room service for our afternoon cheese and crackers, to be served with our usual St Michel chardonnay.
There were bars and cocktail joints throughout the huge ship so it was easy to cruise through the day with a buzz on, if that was how you rolled. Or rocked.
We got to Juneau and I had scheduled a surprise for Mom; Helicopter rides to the glaciers! A thousand bucks got us on a six passenger helicopter with an all afternoon jaunt to three separate glaciers including a ten thousand foot climb to see the Juneau Glacier fields. Amazing stuff.
Afterwards it was off to the shopping streets for dumb turista stuff, fur slippers, beer mugs, t-shirts, etc.
On the third night, we had a formal party in which we had to dress for dinner. I think we looked pretty good in our finery, since I was not renting a tux (Owned Tux's since 1990!) I felt cool for school.
More stops came just about every day, we hit a few of the ports made famous from the Klondike Gold Rush days. It was all rainy, cloudy and cold, just like Northern Europe. Gut there was always a Craft Beer joint nearby, so I was a happy traveler.
Final visit was Victoria, but I was partied out and didn't feel any obligation to go ashore (My old Ship; HMCS Provider, AOR 508 had been home ported there when I was attached with their Air Det. And we were only there for a six hour period so it was not worth the taxi fare to the downtown area.
We were back in Seattle on the seventh day and we were off and running for home.
Now the good part; Evidence!!!
|View from our hotel in Seattle.
|View from ship before leaving port
|Pool on the Lido Deck
|See the normal weather?
|Juneau Airport where we joined the helicopter tour. This is on approach for landing.
|Heading for the Glaciers!
|View to the left
|Glacier at work grinding away at the rock. The debris is the grey stuff.
|Faint view of Mountain Goats
|Approach for landing
|Piece of Glacial ice.
Glacier ice is not anything like what your Kelvinator puts out. The stuff made artifically is a weak example of the fine art of Glacier Ice. First off, the water in that cube was probably frozen over a thousand years ago, it is as compressed as ice can be when being smashed by thousands of tons of ice and rock as it moves inexorably from the mountain to the sea. If you put one of these cubes in your drink the cube is reluctant to return to a liquid state.
That and it is about 32 degrees F up here.
|Runoff. Note our chariot up above.
|The tour provided Mukluks for our feets.
|Crevasse. One does not hike around glaciers unhindered.
|Ol' Einstein be lookin' down the crevasse.
|Runoff that refreezes.
|We must have been about 6000 feet up.
|Note the rock debris in the glacier. And it was raining.
|Watch out! That glacier is coming right at us!
|Don't say we didn't warn you... It's closing in!
|Mom is kind of stuck, she doesn't get around too well.
|Heading back to Juneau. I think I can see Russia from here, to paraphrase Tina Fey.
|Last view of the moving ice.
|All the modern conveniences including quality heath insurance.
|It was getting colder and the anticipation was building as we traveled 65 miles up bay.
|Most people watched from airconditioned vista points. Not us. We're Yachties!
|There it is, Hopkins Glacier!
|Amusing bit of ice
|This giant cruise ship just hovers near the glacier. In total silence the you can just make out the creaks and groans. Finally, like a thunderbolt! a chunk of glacier breaks off and goes into the water. I think they call it "Calving".
|Mom J Cat
|"Yep. That's granite, alright."
|Warming up with some wine in our setting area.
|Heading into Sitka.
|Russian Orthodox Church
|Old Folks Home
|Over to Ketchikan
|View of Ketchikan from Ship. Cold and wet and it is September.
|Ketchikan Yacht Club
|Creek in Ketchikan
|Lido deck and one of the many afternoon parties
|They gave out funny dutch hats for last night's party
|Yes, we danced, every night.
|Molson's Canadian says I'm a Love Guru. Truth.
|One of the lovely ships staff in traditional Dutch/Malaysian dress
|Vancouver Island in better weather
|Looking towards Victoria
The final evening was spent in the most formal dining room away from the Snoop Sisters and others. We had a fine beef dinner with Chateau Ste Michel wines and some thirty year old vintage Port.
Our first Cruise was a total success. Our bar tab for the three of us which included gewgaws came to about $1400.00. So cruise for two, private balcony suite and bar tab was about a total of $4K. Flights were cheap, maybe about $400. So, seven days in a five star hotel with changing scenery and someone delivering breakfast literally in bed every day... Hmmm. This was better than bringing our own boat. We will do this more often.
Have a fine weekend, everyone!