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Old June 12th, 2012, 09:43 PM
Jason Leppert
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Hello again!

Today the Celebrity Millennium is anchored off of Icy Straight Point at Hoonah alongside her sister, the Celebrity Century.

But let me first catch you up on yesterday. Skagway is quintessential Alaska in my opinion. To this day, it just looks like a Gold Rush town frozen in time complete with a simple main street flanked with historical architecture and nestled within an impressively large valley with steep tree-covered mountains that stretch all the way back out to the Inside Passage.

Add a narrow-gauge steam train plus classic cars parked along the town’s side streets into the mix, and you have all but traveled back in time.

Like Juneau, Skagway has a local brewhouse, although it’s on a much smaller scale. The Skagway Brewing Company is at the very end of retail row on the right side of the main street as you head back into the valley.

Here you will find fantastic beers – available as a sampler as well as in usual pints – and an excellent restaurant that my family has come to frequent on our Alaskan visits. Be sure to taste the beer cheese soup, spruce tip blonde ale, and halibut fish and chips. It’s a hearty Alaskan feast for sure.

Icy Straight Point at Hoonah always makes for a fun time too. As the only tendered port of call on this itinerary – Sitka is also a tendered port in Alaska – it’s exciting to get outside of the ship at water level and, if you are daring, ride to shore on the top outside level of the tender for a brisk photo op of the ship as well as the surrounding scenery.

Icy Straight Point, or ISP for short, is the newest Alaskan port of call and offers some very interesting attractions. The entire dock facility was once a salmon cannery and still has much of the equipment intact along with an entire museum for you to peruse free of charge. The remaining interior space is allocated to shops.

Just outside the cannery building complex are a few restaurants and a short but great nature trail that is very easy to access. Near the trail you will also find the end of the line for the world’s longest and tallest zipline. If you so choose, you can take a 45-minute van ride up a mountain to zip down a single continuous line that hits speeds of up to 65-mph on a 90-second run. I haven’t tried it myself yet but intend to sooner or later. Maybe someone who has tried it can comment on their experience below.

There is also a 3-minute shuttle bus ride that runs into the main part of town. I had not yet done that until just today, and it was a fun little jaunt. While there is truly not much to see or do in this part of town, there was one thing that made it worthwhile to us. There is a current totem and native Alaskan carving program, the Glacier Bay – Huna Tribal House Project, under way that is open to the public to see and interact with the artisans.

They have already completed a large decorated wall panel that spans 30 feet wide and reaches 16 feet tall. Now they are working on a series of four totem poles that will eventually be displayed with it. The intricate detail that these artisans have coaxed out of the red cedar is incredible. It’s a joy to see these natives keep their traditions alive through this exquisite art form.

Back onboard, we enjoyed lunch today at the newly installed Bistro on Five, one of the many Solstice-class features added to the Millennium. For only a 5 dollar cover charge, this venue truly does offer one of the ship’s best culinary treats. The crepes served here are very tasty, and the venue itself is much more relaxed than the usual hustle and bustle of the lido upstairs. The new eatery fits in very nicely with the existing flow of the ship. Tonight, we will dine at Qsine for the first time which I am very excited to try.

Let me leave you for now with one final shot from the remodeled Cosmos Lounge. Here, the port (left) side of the observation lounge has been displaced by the Fun Factory kids facility. But even with this reduced footprint, the soft, airy lounge still works well with a new bar placement and fresh decor composed of light blues and metallic surfaces.

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