Part 2-September 15th sailing Alaska
The ship sailed from Seward around 10:00 to a beautiful starry night. The Northern Lights were visible from very late until the wee hours of the morning. They were absolutely beautiful. On the agenda first was College Fjords. Stunning!! The weather was perfect the glaciers were perfect and it was a totally wonderful morning. We spent the rest of the day just watching the scenery and sitting in the hot tub. We were fortunate to see a humpback whale that was truly exciting.
We set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. to try and catch the Northern Lights again, once again they were out, it was slightly overcast but you could see them in patches here and there. We sailed in Glacier Bay almost all of Wednesday. We were able to see a large black bear on the shoreline you could see him even without the binoculars. The glaciers were magnificent and we saw a lot of calving. We came to a dead stop in front of Marjorie and just sat there for a half hour or so. They put out a seafood buffet in the afternoon so you didn’t miss any of the sights. It was much colder on this day and many people were bundled up with red and black deck blankets, jackets, hats and gloves. The hot tubs felt wonderful. It was too cloudy on this evening to see the Northern Lights in fact we never saw them again.
We arrived in Skagway early in the morning and we were off quickly. Our plans were to go hiking in the mountains. We choose AB Mountain and set off to explore. We climbed and hiked for about five hours it was a fantastic morning. The trails were fairly step and not well marked in places, but the views from the top were incredible. We saw so many different types of mushrooms and vegetation. We sat at a clearing and enjoyed a bottle of wine overlooking the ship and the town. We had 12:45 reservations for the train that we booked independently. It is a very short walk from the cruise ship. The train itself is a wonderful experience just the history alone is fantastic. We stood on the back platform between the cars the entire time. It was quite the experience to look down as you are going over the old wooded trestles. It started to snow in the higher elevations. We had to grab our hats and gloves to stay outside. We did some shopping and walked through the museum after the train and then back to the ship.
It was cloudy and sprinkling in Juneau Friday morning. We walked downtown and then up to 6th Street to the trailhead of Mount Roberts. It was an incredible hike up the mountain, very steep in places and the trail was very narrow in areas with sharp drop offs. We discovered later that it is a 2-diamond trail. It took about two hours to climb to the top of the tram of course we stopped to take a lot of pictures. The tram operator said its tradition if you hike up the mountain you could ride the tram down for free. It was much quicker getting down. We had reserved a car from “rent a wreck” and they were to pick us up at the base of the tram, I had called from the top of the mountain. When they weren’t there in a half an hour I called back to find the car had broken down. They had us go to Red Dog Saloon and wait for them there. We had a few minutes to do some shopping along the way. When you rent from “rent a wreck” in Juneau that is really what you get, I haven’t seen a car that bad since high school, but it did run. We drove out the Veterans Memorial Highway to the end at Echo Cove. It was a beautiful drive with many scenic turnouts along the way. We saw hundreds of eagles, two whales and four porcupines. We then drove back inland and went to Mendenhall Glacier, which was fabulous I was amazed that you could get so close to the Glacier. We then returned the car and they drove us back downtown. It was a great day.
Ketchikan we woke to pouring rain as soon as we left the ship we were met by Southeast Sea Kayaks and were cancelled too much rain, too much wind, we were to have gone to Ocra Cove. Needless to say we were very disappointed but these things happen. We walked through the town and under the tunnel back up to Creek Street where we saw hundreds of Salmon and a couple of Sea Otters. We took the funicular up to the top and walked back down Married Man’s trail. Took the funicular up again and went in search of the trailhead for Deer Mountain. It was a long hike just to get to the trailhead. But the hike was so full of waterfalls in fact on the way down the trail became the waterfall. It was the most incredible of all we had hiked. The ferns were so lush and green and dozens upon dozens of waterfalls. We hiked up to the first summit, which was one mile and came back down, it had been so great we turned back and hiked up again. We would have loved to stay but it was time to get back. When we got down the trail we knew it was a long walk to get back downtown so we hitchhiked back to town in a pickup, he brought us all the way back to the dock area. We were so soaked they could hardly put our jackets and items in the ex-ray machine. As we were pulling away from the docks little patches of blue sky and sun appeared.
The sea day was enjoyable just watching the scenery we saw two more whales and we saw the tail flip on one. We spent a lot of time in the hot tubs. And enjoyed the ship. Some of my favorite things about the ship:
Free cappuccino in dining room
Our waiter Arnold
Free self serve laundry
Personal Choice Dining
Great coffee on deck 5
Princess Love Boat Dream (dessert)
Disembarking in Vancouver we set the alarm for 5:00 so we wouldn’t miss anything, we were the only ones up I think on the entire ship. We stood on the decks and it was so beautiful coming into Vancouver and sailing under Lions Bridge. We had breakfast early and since we had only brought carry on bags and no luggage we were able to get right off the ship with the first groups leaving. We had reserved a car from Avis but we had to wait about 45 minutes for their rep to show up at the port. It worked out great with a car we were able to park close to the Gas light area and walked through that and up through China town. We could see the ship docked at Port. They were filming a new Blade 3 movie and we saw a couple scenes being filmed with Wesley Snipes. We drove through Stanley Park and then over Lions bridge. Then we were off to Seattle. It took about half an hour to go through customs at the border; we were in the wrong lane the other lanes were moving twice as fast.
It has been several years since we’d been in Seattle and we rode the monorail from the Space Needle and then walked around our favorite spots on the waterfront for several hours, we had chowder and fish and chips at Ivars, we took the State Ferry out to a small island and back we had beautiful views of the Seattle skyline. And then sadly to say it was time to go home. Our plane left Seattle around midnight and we were back to the office by 9:30 in the morning. All in all it was a great trip and we loved Alaska. Many thanks for all of you that keep this board running. I’m sorry this is so long. And for those who have not yet gone I hope you enjoy your trips as much as we did ours.