Week 2 is all about my cruise to Alaska. Mr. L doesn’t cruise, so he planned an antiquing trip to towns surrounding Seattle. He was largely disappointed with the results of his trip, but I know he wouldn’t have enjoyed the cruise.
I traveled on Princess Cruise Lines on the Ruby Princess for a round trip out of Seattle. Inside Passage with Glacier Bay. Port calls in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. I chose a balcony room on the Aloha deck, which put me 10-12 stories above the water. Closer to the water would have been better for nearby wildlife sitings, but there were more obstructed views down there. Temperatures for the week averaged the mid-50s. We had drizzle about half the time. We had a simply gorgeous day in Glacier Bay, though.
Since I had the cabin to myself, I had to pay full-price, but in exchange, I received $300 in shipboard credits plus an additional $100 military appreciation credit. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the military appreciation credit was refundable. Since I struggled to use the $300 in cruise credits (I had about $10 left over at the end), I appreciated finding the refund check in the mail when I got home.
I did shore excursions in three of the four ports, opting to explore on my own in Ketchikan (the second to last port). I stopped into Alaskan Fine Art on Front Street, met Eddie Lee, the artist, and worked with his daughter, Kathy, to find the bear that spoke to me the most. I decided on this fellow, seen to the left below. Some of you will recognize the Pilot G-2 pen in the foreground, included to help you see how small this guy is. On the right, he’s been placed in the display cabinet with the big bears. You can see how tiny he is.
Juneau was our first port. I chose the Best of Juneau shore excursion. This included whale watching, a salmon buffet, and an hour at Mendenhall Glacier. Wildlife was plentiful. We were fortunate to see a pod of orcas. I used the “point and pray” feature on my 12MP camera and got some decent shots. We have a pod of orcas, the trifecta of sea lions, a bald eagle, and rainbow on a buoy, a humpback whale, and the Mendenhall Glacier.
The downside for this part of the trip was the SIM card failed in my “throw away phone” rendering it truly “throw away” as far as it’s usefulness for the trip went. I got the SIM card replaced when I returned to San Antonio, but that was a little bit of wasted money.
Our next port call was in Skagway, a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit, which I can can credit to our tour guide, Bruce. Bruce is a Skagway resident who does two tours a week for part of the season. The rest of the year, he’s a sculptor of petrified mammoth tusks. Talking to him during a photo op educated me enough to feel comfortable to make the purchase I made in Ketchikan. I looked at a couple of shops in Skagway, but none of the sculptures I saw there spoke to me. I took the bus up to the Yukon, had a chicken thigh lunch at the trading post, and the bus brought us back down to the railway, which we rode back to Skagway, where the bus picked us up again to return us to the ship. Bruce, with his knowledge of the trials and tribulations experienced by the miners trying to get to the gold rush in Canada, made the bus part of the trip truly fascinating. We say Dahl’s Sheep, a brown bear, eagles, and other wildlife on this trip.
Scenic cruising in Glacier Bay was lowely. We saw mountain goats, sea otters, seals, and eagles.
I discussed Ketchikan above. We pulled into Victoria, BC in plenty of time to leave the ship for our brief port call. Unfortunately, Canadian customs needs to meet face-to-face with people who request a visa, and several of these people were not speedy about making this meeting. As a result, the entire ship was help up for a little over half an hour waiting for these people. Finally, we were on our way. I took the walking tour. Brian was an excellent guide, and some of the homes he spoke about were truly fascinating, but overall, I think I was tired, so I didn’t enjoy this part of the trip as much as I would have liked to.
I enjoyed the cruise and used it as a personal meditation retreat.