Juneau

Friday afternoon, I kind of wandered around the ship. I was exhausted from kayaking so I tried to take a nap but that didn’t work. The naturalist came over the speaker and said that in about 3 hours we should be out on deck for possible whale sightings. I found a space out front on the top deck and just parked myself there. More people started marking their spots too and we waited. And we waited. There were quite a few white caps so it was hard to spot a spout but 2-1/2 hours later (for me), we finally spotted some. Their spouts were easy to spot and then they would surface for just a bit. There was this one that appeared to be on his head and just flopping his fluke back and forth. Dr. Ryan, the naturalist, said this was something he had never seen. It was more like something you would see at Sea World.

The wind started to pick up and I hadn’t had dinner yet, so I decided to head to Horizon Court. Well, apparently so did everyone else. The place was packed. I really didn’t find anything I liked so I had a small salad and decided to head to the International Cafe. There I had the Waldorf Chicken Salad and a caprece panini. Both were excellent. It was getting late so I decided to go back to my cabin and get ready for bed.

Juneau

We arrived a head of schedule in Juneau by about 30 minutes. We arrived to rain. I grabbed a quick breakfast in Horizon Court (because my alarm didn’t go off) and headed to the gangway to go on Harv & Marv’s whale watching. The bus picked us up at the dock, we pick up a group at the Carnival Miracle boat and headed out. It was cold. We went out with Captain Shawn and let’s just say, they didn’t disappoint. There were 12 of us on the boat and the seats were fixed with hydraulics so you didn’t feel the shock so much when you hit the waves. I’ve come to realize that the Bonine I’m taking to prevent sea sickness is making me groggy. I quickly woke up when we arrived at the area where whales are spotted. Before long we were seeing spouts and flukes and whales galore. I took pictures and video but my camera doesn’t take great distance shots.

We left the area for awhile and went to see some Stellar Sea Lions. There were a bunch of them on a beach. They were mostly sleeping or making obnoxious noises so we headed back to see more whales. At one point there were 5 together, one being a calf. We lost them for a few minutes and realized they had gone under the boat and came up really close in the back. That scared quite a few people who were out there. The boats have to stay 100 yards from the whales but apparently the whales can be as close as they want.

We came back to shore, and the bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier. Because of the bad weather, we didn’t stay for long. Some went into town, I went to the ship to get lunch and drop off my large fanny pack. It is still raining and cold and were here in Juneau until 8:30 pm. I’m going to go walk around in a bit and find some free wifi spots. Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod, is speaking here on the ship later and I may go see her.

Tomorrow is Skagway. I received notice that my Glacier Safari tomorrow at 7:20 am was cancelled so they re-booked me for the 1:20. At least I’ll get to sleep in a bit.

Time to go find some Juneau souvenirs.

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Ketchikan

Last night was formal night and the Champagne waterfall. Since 4 of us had Anytime dining, we decided to go at 5:30. This was the only formal night I was doing. We were put at a table of 10. There were two couples from Canada and I’m not sure where the other one was from. I had gone to afternoon tea at 3:30 so I tried not to eat too much at dinner. Fortunately the portions are small so I got a shrimp cocktail and fettuccine Alfredo that was served in a parmesan basket/bowl and for dessert was chocolate peanut butter pie. Since we had dinner early, we watched the Champagne waterfall and went and saw the early show in the Princess Theater called Motor City. Not bad. It was only 30 minutes long. I was exhausted and knew I was getting up early the next morning so I headed to bed. This time I made sure the alarm was set for AM not PM.

Ketchikan
We arrived right on schedule at 6am to pouring down rain. I was planning on rain for kayaking so I dressed accordingly. My tour was to start on the the dock at 7:20am so I got up early, ordered room service the night before. I was dressed long before the room service was scheduled to arrive so I went down to the International Cafe and got my morning Milk and White Chocolate Mocha and watched as they docked the boat.

When I got off the ship and met the tour rep, I found out there was only 4 of us for the first of the morning tour. Myself, Gary from Colorado and Tomas and Jolie from Panama.

It was about a 30 minute drive to the location and it was a nice ride. There were 4 of us in a 50 pax bus. Once there, they gave us an orientation gave us a dry bag for our cameras, a drip skirt and a life vest. Gary and I were in the one boat and he had the duty of steering with the rudder. Once we were out there, it was absolutely beautiful. The rain had stopped. It wasn’t too cold or to hot. I asked if I should take my sunglasses but our guide said he wasn’t expecting any sun so to leave them behind. Big mistake; the sun came out and it was even more beautiful and incredibly quiet. We saw salmon jumping out of the water, eagles and eagles nests, starfish and even a curious seal came near us. He would just pop his head up out of the water, look at us for a bit, and go back down under.

We were out on the water for almost two hours. It’s incredible what the sound of water lapping on the side of a kayak can do to one’s bladder. Both Jolie and I really had to go and every once in a while there would be a big wake from a boat that kept getting too close to us and that only inspired us to get back to the dock faster. Sorry TMI. I had an incredible time. My arms are sore but it was so worth it. I came back on the ship, went up to the grill, had a cheeseburger and then went back off to a souvenir shop for some goodies to take home.

For some reason I’m not able to download the shots from my 64GB SD card on to my iPad so those will have to come when I get home.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of us went to listen to the Naturalist that is on board to talk about the glaciers. When we leave today, he is going to be talking over the loud speaker and pointing out wildlife. I was given a book by my travel agent they is called The Alaska Cruise Companion. Inside are maps that point out waypoints where whales (orcas & humpbacks) seals, otters, etc., are known to be at. I’m not sure if I’ll watch from my balcony or go up on deck.

Damn, I just looked at the Patter and I missed the Pub lunch that everyone always talks about. Hopefully it will be again later in the trip.

More tomorrow after whale watching with Harv and Marv.

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Sea Day

I woke up this morning around 5 after 6. I couldn’t figure out why the alarm didn’t go off and looked and saw I had set it for PM instead of AM. I wanted to get up early and walk the deck to get some exercise in. They say if you’re going to see any whales or dolphins, early in the morning is the best time. Sure enough I saw some dolphins. I thought I took a picture but I just checked my camera an I didn’t get it. Bummer. I’m sure it won’t be the last time. Once I had done my laps, I stopped off at the International Cafe and got a White Chocolate/Dark Chocolate Mocha. I know, me and white chocolate don’t go but I knew that if I got it mixed in there, I wouldn’t need much sugar and I was right. Looks like I found my drink of choice every morning.

Once I took a shower I went down to the Horizon Court for breakfast. I met a nice lady from Texas as I was sitting there eating my breakfast. When she asked where I was from and I said San Diego, the first thing she said was, “You all are getting rid of your mayor”. Thanks Filner, Even on a cruise, I can’t get away from you.

Before I headed to breakfast, the captain announced that we would be slowing down to do a routine test of the propulsion system. Two words you don’t want to hear on a cruise are propulsion system. I had noticed we had stopped before his announcement so now I know why. At least it was just a test.

The weather this morning is very gloomy and finally cold; exactly what I packed for. Yesterday in Vancouver is was warm and muggy and I had to change to the only t-shirt I brought.

While I was walking to breakfast the officer of the deck announced that a whale was off the starboard side. I ran to a window but didn’t see anything.

So far the seas have been calm; at least I don’t feel anything on the boat. As I’m sitting here in The Library looking out at the white caps, I’m surprised I don’t feel any movement at all.

Our Meet & Greet is in about an hour and a half.

More later.

All Aboard

Last night I got a pretty good nights sleep. Once the Aleeve kicked in, my back felt a lot better. This hotel is incredibly quiet. I didn’t have to put on the white noise app on the iPad. I will say that TV here isn’t the greatest so I fell asleep to the Food Network.

I woke up at my normal non-work day time of 5am. When I looked out the window it was still very dark but it was also raining. As it became lighter and around 7am, I looked out the window trying to see if I could see the ship come in. Unfortunately it was out of my view and also foggy.

I went downstairs to the restaurant and had breakfast. To my friends Lisa H. and Demi R., talk about a ton of bacon on a plate. They literally piled it on and it wasn’t even a buffet but plated. You two were the first two people I thought of when she put the plate in front of me. I sat there and read a magazine on my iPad and ate. When I looked up, there were 4 other people eating by themselves, either on an iPad or a laptop. It’s amazing how we can’t do without our electronics.

I checked out of the hotel at 11am and grabbed a cab down to the pier. Thank God the driver reminded me about me about my tag. Turns out they didn’t like it in the plastic cover I had bought. Oh well. I walked into the terminal and had my boarding pass and passport ready. Got into the first of several lines; one to check my passport, one to go through security, then one to get my cruise card. Once I had those, I sat in a chair and waited until our row was called. As I was sitting there, a gentleman yelled, “Julie”. I couldn’t believe I would see someone from the roll call already and sure enough it was David and his wife Jacki from the UK. They had priority boarding so they went right onboard.

Once our row was called, we headed to the ship. Had to do the obligatory photo in front of the backdrop and then had to get our picture take again for our cruise card then it was off to my cabin. It was easy enough to find and when I walked in, I couldn’t believe it. I was really here in my mini suite. I still can’t believe I’m here.

I decided it was time to walk around and see if I could find my way and I ended up outside of
Crooners Lounge where our Meet and Greet is tomorrow morning and who should I run into again but David and Jacki. We stood and talked there for awhile and then Lilian and her mom Antoinette and then Laurie. Everyone parted ways and I went and explored more on my own. I found the ice bar and had that for lunch. Found the International Cafe and met Penny and LaVonda. A group of us stayed and talked for a while and then I came back to my cabin to see if my suitcase had arrived. It had so I began unpacking. My cabin steward, Ernesto, came by and made his introductions and filled me in on everything.

It was time to go to the muster drill. I put the complimentary glass of champagne in the fridge and headed to the Bayou Cafe. That took about 45 minutes and Now we are just waiting for the sail away. I’m beginning to feel the ship move. Time to sit on the balcony and drink my champagne.
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The Beginning of the trip of a Lifetime

I can’t believe the day has finally arrived. After over 300 days and counting, I am now sitting in the airport waiting to catch my first flight to Seattle and on to Vancouver. I’ve purchased internet on the plane so that I can still play on my iPad and possibly watch a movie.

The trip was pretty uneventful. Two hour layover in Seattle and hopped on a prop jet plane. The trip was so quick to Vancouver they don’t even do a beverage service. I haven’t had to go outside and climb stairs to get on a plan since the 60’s.

When I got to San Diego Airport, I was so sure my bathroom scale was going to be off that I had them weigh my suitcase again and sure enough it was below 50 lbs. Now schlepping that thing around the Vancouver airport and to the different tower here at the hotel it felt like 150.

Having had to lift that sucker a couple of times, I’ve thrown my back out a bit. I’ve popped two Aleeve and will take a hot shower. I want to walk around the city a bit in the morning before I head to the ship. Now I know for sure I won’t be walking to the ship; I’m paying for a cab.

Speaking of cabs, good God these cab drivers drive like maniacs. I read somewhere that it was about a 35 to 40 minute ride from the airport to the hotel. I don’t think so the way this guy drove. I couldn’t look out the front window. All I kept seeing was brake lights. Then his phone range and he was looking all over the front seat for his headphones. Thank God the ride tomorrow is very short.

I’m going to eat my club sandwich and wait for the Aleeve to kick in. More tomorrow once I get on board the ship.

Here is a shot from the 27th floor of my hotel room.

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It’s Almost Time…..

I can’t believe the trip I’ve been planning for over a year is almost here. I started a countdown at 372 days and I’m now down 4 until I leave for Vancouver and 5 until I sail.

I finished everything I needed to get done at work and the minute I finished the last thing, I got a sense of giddiness in my stomach. I can now get excited about my trip.

Expected weather is going to be low to mid 50’s and rain and you know what, I don’t care. I’m going to a place I’ve been dreaming about for years. Sea kayaking, whale watching, glacier point wilderness experience, horseback riding and hopefully getting to see the Northern Lights, are just some of the things I’ve planned to do. One other thing is getting to meet some of the people I’ve been chatting with on our Facebook roll call.

I will blog each day from my trip and post some of the pictures I’ve taken.

Okay, now I’m really excited. Packing awaits…..