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Alaska pre-cruise blog #3 - 5/28/14

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Alaska pre-cruise blog #3 - 5/28/14

Alaska blog 2014 Part 3

I left off at the end of day three of our pre-poker trip cruise. Day four started for us at about 6:00am, when we were awakened by the sound of the ship's naturalist, Brent Nixon, as we were entering the Tracy Arm Fjord, probably the most scenic area in North America. The good news is that the weather was absolutely beautiful...the sun was out and it was a clear day. The bad news for us was that because of the “heat wave,” the glacier has been calving a lot and there was so much ice in the water that it would have been dangerous to sail up to the glacier. Nevertheless, we were still able to hear the naturalist narrating so that was our cue to get up, dress warmly, and either go outside or go to the Sky Lounge and spend some time oohing and aahing at the incredible sights. We did spot a bear so it was all worth it. Remember, bring your binoculars! The ship serves hot chocolate and coffee on deck to help keep you warm.

Check out our cruise photos here -

There are some good lectures during the week about the history and wildlife of Alaska. If you miss seeing them live because you are in the poker room, don’t despair; the lectures are recorded and played over and over so you can see them on your television in your stateroom at your leisure.

We sailed back out of Tracy Arm and got to Juneau about 1:15pm. The weather there was in the mid-60s and it was bright and sunny with no wind. We were picked up at the dock and taken to a modern, clean, tri-level catamaran to begin our whale watching tour. We weren't disappointed since we spotted about a dozen humpback and orca whales as well as lots of playful seals. After the tour, we asked to be dropped back in town for some mandatory shopping and a drink at the Red Dog Saloon. If you want to eat in town, I recommend Tracy's Crab Legs; it's a little shack off the main street and it does a heck of a business. You order and then sit outside at picnic tables and eat. They are in the process of moving to a store front. Note that the prices aren't cheap, but the crab legs are HUGE! We ended the evening by walking about a mile back to the ship, eating at the buffet, and then going to the show.

Today we docked in Skagway at 7am. The crew fire drill woke us up about 9am, so we decided to start our day and see some of Skagway. We were blessed with great weather until today. Skagway was cold and windy; cold for Las Vegans, that is. I did see people walking around in shorts, but Jan and I each bundled up to face the 51 degree weather. I went on the Liarsville Salmon Bake and Gold Panning Tour. I hate to say it, but the food was disappointing. The staff was very friendly and they put on a hokey show for us and taught us how to pan for gold. I actually found a few gold flakes in my pan! (Note that although I can't recommend this tour, I still highly recommend the Juneau Salmon Bake.)

Jan went ziplining today in Skagway and loved her excursion. There were 11 different platforms/lines and fun was the company's motto. She reported that it was very safe but done with fun in mind. She got to do sommersaults and hang upside down on a suspension bridge.

Tomorrow will be a sea day and the last day will include a stop in Victoria. I know you are busy packing and getting ready to leave for Seattle so this will be our final blog. I look forward to seeing you on the ship! Here are a few final tips to make your trip go smoothly.

1.     Remember to bring comfortable shoes and some warm clothing. The weather in Alaska changes hourly. It can be sunny one moment and raining the next.

2.     The fresh melons on the ship have been outstanding! Be sure to try the cantaloupe and honeydew.

3.     The ship's internet is a bit pricier than other ships. I suggest you check with your phone company to see if you can use your phone for free in Alaska. We have been able to get online at no additional charge when we are in port, so have been able to do most of our internet work for free. Remember your phone charger!

4.     The ship has a valet service for your bags… it’s a great deal and we suggest you use it if your travel plans are within their parameters. If your flight departs SeaTac airport on June 6, 2014 between 11am and midnight that day on their listed airlines, you can have them check your luggage direct from your cabin to your home city. See the details about it in your stateroom but we suggest you use it. May be the best $20 you spend.  Also, it is per person, not per bag.

5.     Bring an umbrella or hooded sweatshirt. I think the weather next week isn’t going to be quite as good as this week.

6.     Bring a tote bag to carry things like binoculars, cameras, extra layers of clothing, etc. when you are in port.

7.     If you haven't already reserved your excursions, do so as soon as you get on the ship. The prices we found on the docks were about the same as the ship's prices and you won't want to waste time shopping for tours once you get ashore.

8.     I know I've told you before, but don't overpack! There just isn't a lot of closet space and drawers in most of the cabins.

9.     If you get seasick, bring some Bonine with you. You can buy it at any drug store and it doesn't make you as sleep as Dramamine does. By the way, the water has been very, very smooth this trip!

10.  Bring a good attitude. You are on vacation. You are going to see beautiful sights and meet nice people. We are so lucky to be able to take a trip to beautiful Alaska!

We hope you have enjoyed our reports as much as we are enjoying the cruise!

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