Alaska Trip May 2011

We drove to Portland with a stopover in Grant's Pass. Grant's Pass is becoming our place to stop if we are not driving the whole distance. Of course mount Shasta is always spectacular.

We stayed with Peggy and visited with Amber, Daniel and Robbie. The plan is to leave Robbie with Peggy and have Amber drive us up to Seattle and the ship on Sunday morning. We met Amber and Peggy for Lunch at McMenamins Edgefield. That evening we had a nice dinner out Huber's Cafe, one of the oldest restaurants in Portland. Deb loves the turkey dinner there. I had the fancy coffee.

We also drove up the Columbia river gorge to see the various water falls. They are spectacular at this time of the year. We also stopped at the fish hatchery. It was suprisingly busy.

Sunday we started for Seattle. The directions on the paper were pretty confusing so I put an address into the GPS. Unfortunately it was to their office and not close to the ship. We called the office and a nice lady directed us on the phone all the way to the ship. Thank you Carla.

Deb had a sprained ankle so had it wrapped and was carrying crutches. I was in a sling from my rotater cuff operation so we were a peach of a pair. Luckily it got Deb a ride in a wheel chair onto the ship and passed all the long long lines of people waiting. Very nice.

Link to our ship

Our cabin was pretty nice. Deck 8, right below the Lido deck, toward the rear on the starboard (right) side. Quite a large cabin with a balcony. It had a small flat screen tv with a limited number of channels, mainly CNN and TMC. I watched a few old movies while on ship.

The plan is to sail for like three days all the way up through Glacier Bay and see the Mendenhall Glacier then sail down the inside passage to Juneau, Sitka, Ketchican, and Victoria.

Alaska Trip Map

We had some mix up with our dinner seating arrangements but ended up on deck three at a table for two. Very nice. Of course the same wait people each time. We brought our own wine. The ship wine seemed pretty expensive but by the time we paid a $18 corkage fee for each bottle it came out about the same. I think we may have had better wine then we could have bought from them though.
   There were a couple dress up nights. Deb brought along a spectacularly nice dress for the occasion plus another nice dress for the other dress up night.

Dinners were spectacular every night. I wasn't bowled over by their beef quality. I think they sold skirt steak as sirloin, tenderloin and a couple other cuts - rather chewy and gristly. But the service was good and everything else very good. We also usually ate lunch in the dining room. We usually had breakfast in our cabin.

There were a lot of bars on the ship. We called the big one Ten-Forward as on the Starship Enterprise, it was really "The Crow's Nest". It was on deck ten and was forward with a spectacular view all around. There was an excellent guitar player there. Also the library, coffee bar and internet area were part of this large area. We spent a fair amount of time there. We also went to a jazz bar area a couple times and listened to a rather good group.
    I wanted to go to the piano bar but didn't make it until the last night. I'm glad I didn't go before. The player was pretty full of himself and was stuck on a specific style of playing that didn't sit well with me or Deb.

Here is Deb relaxing in one of the many pretty sitting areas.

We tried to go to every evening show. We'd have dinner at eight then go to the casino for a short time then to the big auditorium. They had some very good entertainment. I won't list it all but one night there was a pretty big time magic show. We saw some excellent singing and dancing. Very entertaining.

We like to play craps in the casino but for some reason there seemed to be few players. It's more fun if there is a group. So between that and a lack of time we didn't play much. We did win a few bucks however.

The trip up was pretty rough. We didn't get sea sick at all but it was sometimes tricky walking and getting out of bed to go to the bathroom.

At the Margerie Glacier we hung around for a couple hours. We got some great movies of the glacier "calving" (Movie). The trip up Glacier Bay and back was spectacular.

When we arrived at Juneau I was surprised how small the city was seeing it's the capitol of Alaska. As in all the cities the tourist shops are all located very close to the pier. Right next to the ship is a spectacular tram ride. We took it and it was spectacular. We learned the city is mainly built on landfill from gold mines in the area. We took the ride up, looked through a gift shop, saw a wounded eagle, visited another gift shop and peered through a telescope at an eagles nest well below us. We went back down and got back on the ship. A nice little detour.

One afternoon we went to a high tea. It was set up for about twenty tables. Only about two tables had people so they gave us a much as we could eat of their nice items.

We went further down to Sitka. They don't have a place for the ship to tie up so we had to wait and take a "tender" boat in to the dock. Interesting little ride. We hiked through the cute little town and went to the Totem Pole park. It was quite spectacular. We watched a short movie then took the hike through the forest to see the totem poles. Very interesting. All of the poles were different and had quite a range of figures on them.

Then on to Ketchikan. We hiked around here. A river runs through it quite spectacularly. We took a funicular up for a view. Not much view but a nice ride. Back down we hiked through the town. Deb went into a very pretty shop and bought a nice charm of a bear with a salmon in his mouth. We found a place to buy some champagne for Deb then back to the ship.

More travel, food and entertainment as we head to Victoria. I had planned on getting off the ship for a short while but we arrived late and were not going to stay long so we went to dinner instead.

We got an urgent phone call from Peggy saying their father Marshall had had a fall and was not doing well so she was in Arizona.

Next morning we arrived in Seattle. Because Peggy was not available to watch the baby Amber could not drive up and get us. So we took a taxi and Amtrak down to Portland. A nice little ride which arrived 45 minutes late.

Not much news in Portland. We got our car and drove to Grant's Pass where we made the mistake of staying in a Best Western. We now know our way around Grant's Pass. Monday we had an uneventful drive back to SJ.

Observations -

Deb had several professional pictures taken.

While driving we enjoyed listening to Alexander McCall Smith's stories of Maa Ramotswe and her "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". She is almost part of the family we've spent so much time listening to the books.

I'm not a big cruise guy. I get bored sitting around with eating and drinking the main things to do each day.

There were major activities at the various ports like kayaking, zip lines, tours, helicopter and airplane rides. But with my bum shoulder and Deb's ankle we didn't do any professional tours.

We watched a couple movies in their funky screening room. The picture was tv shaped then stretched to fit the wide screen. Very distracting and stupid.

Considering the ship was fully booked it seemed rather empty. The bars never seemed busy, the casino was moderately busy, the shows were not packed full. I guess people were sitting in their rooms watching old movies.

It also appeared that a good percentage of the cruisers did not participate in the sit down dinners and ate on the cafeteria style Lido deck.