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Alaska- 2017

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Date:                                     September 5th, 2017
Length of Cruise:                10 Days
Ship:                                     Grand Princess
Cruise Line (Princess #):   Princess Cruise Lines   (#16)
Embarkation:                      San Francisco, CA
Ports of Call:           Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria BC             
Final Destination:               San Francisco, CA
Cabin Number:                    B322, Port side
Total Days With Princess: 154
Total Days At Sea:              172


We called our friends at Ambassador Limousines Company to pick us up at the house at  10:30 to drive us to the dock at Pier 27 in San Francisco. The drive is only about 45 minutes... normally, but we spent at least an extra 45 minutes in traffic on the Embarcadero, most likely due to the traffic there picking up passengers from the cruise coming in this morning, as well as other ships.

Traffic was heavy. Many trucks were on the roads. It dawned on me that since yesterday was Monday but it was a holiday, today was the 'new' Monday, and trucks were anxious to reach their destination, not being able to unload over the long three-day week-end.

Soon we were alongside our old friend... Grand Princess. This will be our seventh time we have been with her on a cruise.

Once we were at the terminal building, a gentleman took our luggage and we walked directly into the building. Show our passports... send our carry-ons (as well as our bodies) through the x-ray detectors... walk past the declaration-of-alcohol desk... fill out the slip of paper declaring that we are not sick or running a fever... choose the queue for Elite and Platinum passengers. This is our first time cruising with an "Elite" status, which comes from having sailed with Princess Cruise Lines for fifteen cruises. We were anxious to see if it would help our trip through the check-in process any. This will be when that shows up.

We waited less than two minutes to be shuttled to a window where we got our ship's map, our two cruise cards, and our first welcome to the Grand Princess. At this point we are a little early so we usually go over into the large waiting area to sit until they start the boarding process. But possibly because of having a "black card" (our cruise card changes color when we change status... Platinum was silver, but Elite is black) we were allowed to go ahead and board the ship.

A check to be sure we had our cruise card and we were direc4d toward the gangway. Once on the ship, our first stop was at the door, where our card was scanned and our picture was taken, so the ship's computer had an idea of what we look like as well as know that we are in board. And that is it. We Are On.

A lift was available and we headed up to Baja Deck (deck 11),  where our cabin (B322, Port Side) is located. That is between the forward lifts and the midship lifts. Our cabin was available to us and we walked right in. We left our carry-ons there and headed to the lifts to go to deck 14... Lido Deck, where we will find the Horizon Court... the buffet. We enjoyed a nice lunch.

Back at the cabin, our luggage had arrived, and we met our cabin steward, Carl, and got started unpacking everything. One luggage piece was not here yet, but by the time the other two were unpacked and put away, the third piece was at the door. This was our temporary view from our balcony, until we set sail. 

San Francisco is always such a beautiful town to look at. You cannot see, from this distance, any of the politics or the other negatives that can abound in the City on The Hill.

Coit Tower still dominates the skyline, even though multiple buildings stand taller, none say what the tower says.

At 3:30 we have our schedule and required muster and evacuation drill. We take our life vests from the cabin and go to our master station on deck 7. Our station was in the Crown Grill, where we sat with another couple from Tehachapi, CA, and another couple from the valley. She was bandaged on her forehead, her right wrist and a large wrap around her left lower arm. We asked about her injuries and she said that her husband fell on an escalator in the BART (commuter train) station, and because the ship was leaving soon, she refused a trip to the hospital. She said the skin was pulled seriously on her arm. She thought if she had trouble she would check into the ship's medical facility, or at the first port she could go into an Urgent Care facility. 

Before we went to dinner, I opened up a computer account on the ship's computer server, which is no fee. It allows you to get information regarding your billing statement, see when things are scheduled to happen, and a lot of other things. It can be accessed with your computer or phone or whatever. It does not provide internet access, but that can be purchased. We each have 250 minutes free, but we have to open the account. This has notoriously been a semi-functioning program. I logged in and it came right up. I even downloaded and uploaded my e-mail, even taking time to compose a quick, short reply to a client's e-mail, and only consumed ten minutes. I'm impressed.

We are headed up alongside the California coast, and the sea is rather calm. Some slight 'bounding' going on, but nothing to cause trouble walking on the ship. Fog set in before we left SF bay, and is still with us.

We have chosen "Anytime" dining option, so a little after 5 pm we head down to deck five, where we find Michelangelo Dining Room. They start seating at 5:30, and we told them that we would gladly share a table. They seated us with Mitch from Modesto and Hank and Margaret from San Luis Obispo.

Mitch was maybe in his fifties, and this was his first cruise without his parents. He does volunteer work at home. Margaret was familiar with Joanie Adams Casillas, whom I attended high school with in Gridley, and her deceased husband Ernie. Hank taught at Cal Poly, my old alma mater, as well as his father. He knew my PE coach that I had, who survived the Cal Poly football team airplane crash back in the fall of 1960. Hank was actually supposed to be on that plane as well, but did not make the flight. Hank also knew Gene Hall, a woman Rosalee worked with in San Luis Obispo. The world is indeed very small.

I had prime rib for dinner tonight, with shrimp coctail and a Caesar salad, with a sugar-free Mango cheesecake.

The talent tonight was an interesting comedian. His name was Carlos Oscar. Very funny.

Back to the cabin, where we watched a film ("Juno"), which is not about the city Juneau, our first port of call, but about a 16-year old girl that deals with a pregnancy. After the film I did some work on the computer, answering a new client about her concerns.




September 6th, Wednesday

Anytime I was awake in the night, there was a faint sound of the fog horn going. That fog was still with us. When we awoke this morning, it was still out there, but it lifted early in the day. We are making good time... twenty knots... that is exceptional speed for this ship. Nineteen or eighteen is more what we are used to seeing.

We decided to catch the first presentation by the naturalist on board. She talked about Alaska and some of the history. Her name is Tess Juliana, and this was about her 97th cruise, so she was rather well-versed on what we might see on any of the excursions that are available from the ship. Her talk was very interesting.

We went back to the cabin after the talk, and waited until about 11:30 to go down to the Crown Grill for what they advertised as a "British-Style Pub Lunch. We were amazed that there was such a long line to enter at the 12:00 starting time. We were seated with another couple that were from Rocklin, up near Sacramento. Mario and Patty. Nice couple.

I had Fish & Chips which was a nice cod, and very good. Rosalee chose a ham sandwich but was not as happy with it. We both enjoyed the Bread Pudding for dessert however.

We spent the afternoon in the cabin, resting, reading, watching TV, etc.

We were seated for dinner at a table for six, with an elderly couple from Petaluma, CA that have cruised 27 times they said. He had little to say as he had no batteries for his hearing aid. She spoke some, but we did not get their names. A younger woman (50?) joined us, and later her gentleman friend joined. Her name was Chris and his was Lee. He retired from being a lung surgeon, and was from San Diego, CA. He mentioned that he had four children, had lost one, and had 11 grandchildren.

I asked the waiter if he could bring me Chilean Sea Bass for my entre' from the Crown Grill, and he said he could only do what was on our menu. I guess he has new rules now, or he is new to the ship. They did that on this same ship... same dining room... last January. So...?? I'll keep trying. I selected abalone and Rosalee chose salmon. She said the salmon was over-cooked, which is rare for Princess, but I have kind of spoiled her with my cooking her salmon at home at least twice a week, and I think she has gotten to like it less done than she did before. It tastes so much better. My abalone was a little tough to cut, but chewed very easily, and several others said the same, so I don't think I would hesitate having it again. Would rather have had Chilean Sea Bass however. LOL.

The show in the theater was their usual British Invasion, which we are not that excited about, as it does mostly music that followed the Beetles. We enjoy Beetles music, but what followed did not win our love. We would have gone, but at the same time, in the Vista Lounge they had a Duet with a violinist (Chris Watkins) and a vocalist (Todd Adamson), and they said that they both have been frequently booked on the ships at the same time, so they thought it might be interesting to put their acts together and see what they could do. They are both very talented and excellent at their craft, and the show was very good. The violinist is doing a show of his own tomorrow night in the Princess Theater. Hopefully the vocalist will have one as well. They were both very good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyKlI3OKcuI 

Back to the cabin, after a short visit to the Explorer's Lounge where a small group were playing music, but their session ended for a trivia contest that was coming up. I logged Rosalee's account in and downloaded her e-mail... 29 pieces that required 13 minutes to download. She had already read most of it, and the rest was junk. Three pieces were worthy of reading, and she had already downloaded it the day before. LOL. I logged in and downloaded mine as well... two were worthy of reading and the rest was junk. Ten minutes of precious on-line time for that.

A movie was on the TV, but it was way too dark and difficult to follow. "Alone In Berlin"... started out with a German couple in Germany during Hitler's regime, getting a telegram saying their son died in the war. It got darker after that. We moved on and found a movie called "The Dressmaker" with Kate Winslett. Also pretty dark and a little difficult to understand, but she did an excellent job.




September 7th, Thursday

We are continuing on up to the top of our itinerary, where our first port will be Juneau, AK, and then working downward back to San Francisco. We are further out to sea this morning, cutting across to make the trip to Juneau a little quicker and shorter. Sea is calm, with just a little roughness that gives the ship just a little bit or rocking action. Enough to put you to sleep if you sit still too long. LOL.

Rosalee is catching a morning sale in one of the dining rooms. She wanted to find a small dinner purse. She forgot to put one in for this trip. I came with only one pare of Bermuda shorts, as we expected it to be cold, but it is pleasant, and we thought we put in two, but only put in one. We bought a pair on board.

First event for the day is another lecture/demonstration from the naturalist, Tess. Looking forward to that. Today's subject is on whales. She did a marvelous job of it. We learned about the many different types of whales, and the differentiation between the whales and other animals that fit into the same family.

Following her presentation was a first part of a video filmed by the videographers on the ship, about "Spirit of Alaska. A view of the fantastic Alaskan lifestyle."

After the video we went to the Pizzaria in the Piazza (atrium) and split a 12" pizza for lunch. After that we returned to our cabin for some R&R, reading and working on the computer.

Tonight was a "Formal Dress" night, so we dressed for that and went down for dinner. We had received a note to leave with our waiter because we were 'celebrating' our 57th anniversary on this trip. When we first borded, we found two balloons wishing us a happy anniversary attached over our door to our cabin, and a large sign on the door with the same wish. Makes you feel nice to see the 'special' actions they take for their passengers.

We were seated at the same table for six that we were at last night, but had different wait-persons and of course different table mates. We were joined by Steve and Jan from the Isle of Man, near England, where he had practice up until his recent retirement as a psychologist. Their daughter was with them... maybe 23 years old, graduated from college and working in International Banking, and her young gentleman friend, who graduated from the university about five years ago and has his own retailing business on the internet. They were a cute couple.

The family was on a five-week vacation, that included some time in southern California, and when they return from this cruise, they are flying to Hawai'i to visit there. The doctor shared information regarding their views on Brexit, and their national health system. A fun couple to speak with.

The waiter brought us a speial little square cake with a candle an sang to us for our anniversary recognition.

After dinner we went to the Princess Theater for the long presentation by Chris Watkins, the violinist that we saw with the vocalist last night. Chris bills himself as "Fireworks on Four Strings". He played beautifully, and was a very good entertainer. He was voted as a Princess Entertainer of the Year or something. It is easy to see why. His music was beautiful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNRehcEZFZw 

After the violinist we made it to the aft of the ship to hear the comedian Carlos Oscar again. We caught a few minutes of a 'teaser' from him on our first night. The Vista Lounge was absolutely packed. He was a good show.

Back to the cabin. There was not anything on the TV that we wanted to watch. We did pick up an hour of Sean Hannity and got some of the latest garbage that Washington media are doing. We can miss that part of our lives for now.

I tried e-mail again, and I got my junk mail... took 18 minutes... but got nothing on one of my accounts. Not sure what is up with that.



DAY THREE -   Juneau, Alaska

September 8th, Friday

We are about 150 miles out from Juneau. It is calm with a little fog. Rain is expected in Juneau we are told. We are cruising in what is referred to as the "Inland Passage", where the ship does a lot of switching avout in and through various canals, straights, passages, channels and various waterways. All big waterways, obviously. The Grand Princess don't do hairpin turns well at all. We worked our way into Stephen's Passage, and then down through Gastineau Channel to reach Juneau.

We decided to catch the naturalist this morning, and then have brunch. Rosalee wanted to catch a sale they were having at about the same time as the talk, so I went to the theater to save a spot for her and she went to the sale to see if they might have the small black purse she wanted for Formal Night. She did find one.

The naturist's... I mean the naturalist's... talk today was about ice and glaciers. Her talk was interesting, and very informative. Her information was factual and direct, and did not push the scar tactics we see so often on environmental issues. She told more about her careers. She did also teach science for a couple of decades. She shared that when asked what she does, she often tells people that she is a naturalist for Princess Cruises. They as what she does and she tells then she talks in the large lecture halls about natural things. One woman asked her "You mean they actually pay you to get up in front of a large group in the nude and talk?" Some people confuse "Naturalist" with "Naturist" it appears. Easy to see.

We learned today that ORCA is half the name of a certain breed of whale, which actually is not a whale, but is in the Dolphin family... even though it is referred to as  'killer whale". It does pursue, kill, and consume small whales, sharks, and dolphins if it can. And there are some whales that are carnivores that eat meat, some that strain small fish from the sea with their baleen straining system in their mouth, and some that live on even smaller plankton and tiny critters.

She also did an excellent job of charting and point out how the temperature of the earth changes over the centuries, and how it fluctuates from hot to cold over millions of years. She talked about how glaciers form from show, which is 90% air, and after more snow falls on top of it the snow is compressed. driving the air from it, down to about 20% air, and the snow turns to more solid ice. She indicated that they are drilling to the core of the glaciers and testing the air to learn the ambient temperature from eons ago. I'm not sure how they can be so sure about that, when the air has been so compressed over so long a period of time.

She also talked about why glaciers are so blue: The ice is so dense that all colors except blue from the sunlight hitting the ice are absorbed... except for the blue, which does come out, and that is what we see when we look at a glacier.

As we were coming in to Juneau, this is what we could see on the left of the channel. it is part of the town. 


And this is the part of town that is on the right side of the channel.

You may be able to just make out a nice, low-arched bridge on the left side of this picture. That is how the people get over to the other side of the channel. Juneau is the State Capital, and strangely enough, there is no way to drive to or from this town. No roads lead into the rest of the state. Ice flows and glaciers pretty well lock in this town. And this is where they decided to locate their capital. That one large, multi-storied building on the right is the State Capital office building. The only way you can travel to or from Juneau is by plane or boat. Not even any railroads have access.

When Governor Palin was in office, her husband and his business and their children were all living in Wasilla, and to do her state-wide duties, she had to travel out of the Juneau city limits. Because it was so difficult to travel into the capital, she conducted most of her business outside the capital, at her own expense. After her term was up, the state invested $13 million into rejuvenating the old executive mansion that was available for the Governor as a residence, and made a new law that required the Governor to live in it during his/her term. That means the state residents are forced to pay to transport the Governor and the staff in and out of Juneau any time they want to or need to be somewhere else in the state.

As we were preparing to dock, we spotted two ships already tied off. The first one is an old friend. The Carnival Miracle. She is the ship that my classmates were on when we did our 55th year high school reunion. It was a 7-day Vancouver to Juneau and back cruise. We received word by mail previous to our cruise that she was having trouble with one engine, and that we would not be able to make our furthest port, which was, coincidentally Juneau. There was no compensation for the shortened cruise, and less power made us miss a longer stay in Victoria as well, and several classmates bowed out as Carnival was having some bad press about that time with diseases on board their ships and engine failures and other problems.


The other ship in the port was the Holland America Lines ship Volendam. We will see her again on this trip.

We docked in Juneau around 1:30 pm, and we were supposed to meet our group for our excursion at 1:50 on the dock. By the time the ship's crew and the dock crew got things going, so we could get off, there was a line on the ship that was disembarking midship, We went down onto deck five early to queue up to get off, but the line had already formed. Walking toward the back of the line it just kept on going, across the Piazza, through the fine art gallery, around forward of the gallery... The line was moving toward getting off, and outside the gallery there was a large break in the line, so we joined the end of it. As we joined, a young woman in front of was was telling us that the long went much further back. She clearly felt that we had 'cheated'. We were behind her so I'm not sure what her problem was, but it was where the end was when we came in. As we continued on forward, we then could see that the line actually went well beyond where we joined up, back into the gallery, down the other side, and back into the piazza. In twenty cruises we have never seen it this disorganized. Was this a new crew?

As it was, we barely got off the ship to join the tour, and the driver of the bus was lacking in his communication skills. "What we have here... is... a lack... of communication." What Newman movie was that? LOL.

The tour took us about twenty miles out of Juneau, to visit the Mendenhall Glacier.

That is a huge waterfall coming in from the right.

A little closer look at the Mendenhall Glacier ice.

They had an interesting time-lapse video of the glacier from 2007 to 2014 (I think) that showed the ice actually moving at a rather amazing pace. Amazing that a huge field of ice in the mountains behind where we were standing is supplying ice to pour through this pass. All that ice has to be fluid enough to squeeze through. We don't think of ice as being fluid, but we don't think of glass windows and lead roof sheeting as being liquid either, but it actually flows over time and becomes thicker at the bottom of the window or at the gutter line of the roof. The time lapse clearly showed how the ice 'front' had receded enough where it was in front of the observation point, but is now half a mile up the canyon. The clearly showed that ice is receding on the globe, which no one argues with, but they did not claim that it was caused by man-made energy levels, which is too often talked about, causing fear and drastic manufacturing decisions to be made.

The bus picked us up again and ran us over to Auke Bay, which is back toward town. We got onto a party boat that would hold possibly 150 people (we were only half full) and we went out on a "whale watch" for the next three hours. We did see some Orcas, then some Steller Sea Lions out on a small island on which they seemed to have staked a claim. On the way back in, we saw some spouting of the Humpback Whale, and then saw some of them at the surface (they have to breath about every twenty minutes, but usually more like seven minutes).

This is an Orca, or better known as a "Killer Whale". It is a female (indicated by the soft turn at the top of the dorsal fin), and she has a baby Orca tagging along on her back.


hese are Steller Sea Lions, amassed on a small island.


And this is a Humpback whale, that is showing a dive.

The scenery was spectacular. There was a mist in the air and there was some rain falling, and some low clouds, so pictures were somewhat questionable, but I did take some. This is just one view of what was constantly alongside us throughout the entire trip.

One of the guides that we were with made the comment that there are 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. This one below is one of them. I'm sure someone has applied a name to it. no, that is not a road or a river flowing between the mountains. The entire bottom of the valley is a 'triple' glacier... three different flows of ice coming together, working their way out of the ice field. The two distinct dark lines that look like the edges of a road are where the three flows join together, each carrying dirt and rocks out with them.

The sun was gone by the time we were back to shore and another bus driver picked us up and returned us to the ship. It was getting late for dinner, as they don't serve after 9:00 pm unless you go up to the buffet. I wanted to go to the dining hall, so we did, and sat with some wonderful people. One couple I swear could not be over the age of thirty, but they had a daughter that was over the age of thirty. They were of Asian descent, and we could not remember their names. His name was spelled Chhaien, with two 'h's. Very unusual. They seemed very pleasant and we would have loved to have spent more time with them. They were from Stockton, CA.

The other couple were Bill and Jeannie from Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i, are a Christian couple, and attended that beautiful church that is the oldest Christian church in Hawai'i for over twenty years. They now attend another church further south, called something like the "New Stone Church" or something. They were retired from owning several "Big O Tires" shops in Colorado and San Diego, CA. They live half the year in Kona and half the year in Colorado. I will let you guess which half of the year they spend in Colorado. LOL.

We did not attend any entertainment tonight. There was a woman scheduled to be in the Princess Theater that was a four-time Iditarod champion which is a huge, very long dog race they run every year. Google it... it has an amazing history. She now trains dogs for other challengers of that long run. She was supposed to have brought a few of the dogs on board with her.  


DAY FOUR  -  Skagway, Alaska

September 9th, Saturday

When we awoke we were in port. It did not look familiar, but we are in a port-side cabin and we have always been in a starboard-side cabin when we were in Skagway. We usually see a wall of stone... a mountain, with signs painted on the rocks, honoring each ship and her captain that has been in port. Not sure who qualifies or how. Turns out we are on the northern side of the port and the wall is on the southern side. This image shows that rock wall/mountain. Notice that our 'shadow', the Holland America ship Volendam, the very same ship we were berthed next to in Juneau, was berthed next to the wall, Notice on the mountain, just about midship, a small cluster of painted "grafitti"... the painted signs honoring ship's captain.

We also noticed, back behind the ship, a brown scar that goes clear to the top of the mountain. The cloud is blocking our view of the top half of the mountain. We thought that it was new since we had last been here. It seems it was relatively recent, and it blocked the road and the terminus end of the railroad track along the base of that mountain. The people disembarking the Volendam actually had to be tendered in from this side of the ship.

From where we were berthed, we could see quite a bit of sandy flats and I could see a waterline on the rocks that made up the edge of the port that seemed to be thirty feet higher than the water.

After we came back to our cabin after brunch, we realized that we had seen the area that is exposed at low tide. By four o'clock the water had climbed up to that high water mark I had seen earlier, and the flats were all covered with water.

A local said that the tidal change is 29 feet. I wish that I had taken a picture when we first woke up. There is so much of a difference between low and high tide here. Should'a, would'a, could'a.

We went up to the Horizon Court around 10:30 for brunch, and it was busy. We sat at a table next to the window overlooking that rock wall I mentioned. Also,

We shared a table with Mary and Elizabeth from Monterey, CA. Mary was a delight, and mentioned how it was hard to understand why people did not seem interested in hearing what she had to say so often. Then her travel companion came to the table and joined us and we never heard too much from Mary. Elizabeth was of Ukranian descent, and she immediately took over the conversation. She was either talking or if anyone else was talking she was not listening... she was thinking of what she would talk about next. LOL. Exactly what Mary was talking about before Elizabeth joined us. Elizabeth was complaining how Princess had not jumped in and helped her with an injury that incurred in a ship's pool on an earlier cruise, but it sounded like most of her complaint was about her own insurance did not cover her bill incurred in the Infirmary on the ship. We shared several good stories about how princess had done the proper thing for their customers but she easily discounted each one of them.

Leaving the Horizon Court we saw Chris and Lee, the lung surgeon. They were getting ready to go ashore to ride a narrow-gauge train up into the mountains to Canada and back. That was the train we rode when we were here in 2014 with our 55th high school reunion.

We went back down to our cabin after brunch, to relax. We had thought about walking into town, possibly to pick up some cough medicine which we forgot to bring with us. I usually get a cough on any ship, but it was raining and cold, and decided that it would be a sure way to end up with a cough if we went in. The ship's stores did not have any when we first borded, but the last time we were on the Grand there was a storm at sea and many were coughing, and there were tons of cough medications in the stores, so we will just ask them if they have any put away. That is usually where a lot of things are, and are not brought out to take up valuable "eye-space" on the shelves until they know there is a high demand for it.

Being on the port side of the ship, with a balcony, we get to be very nosey and observant about all that goes on between the ship and shore. The gangway is below our balcony, so we can do a lot of "people watching" from our balcony. It would be more fun if it were a bit warmer outside. We saw an ambulance approach the ship  and back out onto the wharf to be close to the gangway. With lights flashing they came on board with their gurney, and after about ten minutes they came back out with what appeared to be a man at least 35, who was sitting up on the gurney, so it hopefully was not too serious.

We don't know if he was treated here or flown out, because a Coast Guard helicopter flew in as the ambulance was here at the ship. It landed on an airport not too far away, and it flew out a few minutes after the ambulance left the ship with light and siren running. That was "Code Three" when I was an ambulance driver.

We went down to dinner and were seated at a table for eight. One couple was not able to speak much as neither of them spoke English at all, and ordered from a special menu in another language. I was not aware that Princess provided them, but that certainly makes sense. A gentleman from Las Vegas joined us, and next to him they placed a woman (Nancy) from Nevada. For twelve years she drove a set of doubles from Oregon down into California, stopping at a distribution location in Corning... near Gridley.  The third couple were from Benicia, CA, not too far from where we live. They are on board for a wedding party. Conversation was rather fragmented. The single gentleman (Mike) seemed to be a little bit of a playboy, and conversed a lot with the single lady, but she can handle things quite well. She drove big rig trucks for her whole career. She is traveling with a young woman that she has known for a long time. I suspect Mike and Nancy will be seeing each other more than just this dinner. They were sounding like they were making some plans.

The show tonight was the vocalist Todd Adamson, the one that paired with the violinist early in the cruise. He did an excellent job. A wonderful voice. He did share that we had most likely seen him before... he was one of the kids in the movie Forrest Gump, who was on the bicycle chasing Forrest, who was running in his leg braces, and Todd yelled "Hey, Dummy!" He played a little clip of the movie to remind us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2xoKySbHnw 



DAY FIVE - Glacier Bay

September 10th, Sunday

Early this morning we entered Glacier Bay. We picked up three rangers that joined us from the Glacier Bay National Park Station via a small boat. We did a leisurely stroll up through the Sitakaday Narrows, passing multiple glaciers coming into the narrows along the way to the inland terminus of the bay, where the Margerie Glacier is located. We viewed the Reid Glacier along the way, as well as the Lamplugh Glacier.  On the way back out we took a detour up into the Johns Hopkins Inlet to view the Johns Hopkins Glacier.

In 1750-1780 the temperature was cold enough for the entire Glacier Bay to freeze over. It is unknown if it was warmer before that time or if it was cooler... no one was measuring it. Since then it thawed enough to allow a ship's passage more than 80 miles up into the bay. Johns Hopkins Inlet, off the Glacier Bay, was frozen until 1892. John Hopkins Inlet started to cool again in 1929, freezing back down the inlet until 1966 when it started warming again. Today we were told that it is again cooling and the glacier is currently growing.

The ranger that was speaking over the intercom on the ship said that when the more than 80-mile long glacier that filled the entire bay, and was nearly a mile thick, and averaging over a mile wide, melted, the world's oceans raised one centimeter. Now, let's stop a moment. That one centimeter level change is reflecting more than just the melt from this one glacier. We were told that there are more than 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, and if this glacier melted, so did the other 99,999 glaciers, did they not? And after all that melting, what resulted was to raise the sea level ...one centimeter? And we are being told that the sea level will be in the streets of Miami in ...the next decade?

Margarie Glacier At The End Of Glacier Bay -
This is where we visited in June, 2,000, on our first visit to Alaska.


Low Clouds Along Our Cruise Of Glacier Bay -
That is actual ice floating in that water. No swimming here.


John's Hopkins Glacier-
As Of September, 2017, this glacier is growing

For dinner we were seated at a table for eight, but there were only seven people and one empty seat. Two ladies were traveling together, and we were not able to get their names. One had been a middle school teacher for some time, and the other said that she "...worked for the state". We assume that was the State of California, but we do not know what she did for the state. The other three were Mike from Las Vegas and Nancy from Nevada. Remember them? From the previous night? It seems that they have made some kind of a connection, and were dining together. Nancy had her roommate/traveling buddy with her. Her name is Shannon, and was from somewhere in northern California. She is a good bit younger than Nancy.

Entertainment tonight was happening at each end of the ship, as well as a few activities in the middle. We went forward to the Princess Theater. The ship's singers and dancers did their regular "Stardust" production that is always good. Especially since they sing and dance to songs that we grew up with. The house was packed for this show. It was a very good show.

After that, back up to the cabin... almost. We have an early excursion in the morning, so we wanted to get a bite to eat in the morning, but that is always a hassle with everyone doing the same thing. A couple in the elevator as we rode up to our deck said they were going to the Horizon Court to get something to have for breakfast the next day. So, before we made it to our cabin, we decided to do the same thing. We took some fruit back to the cabin and kept it in the refrigerator.



DAY SIX  Ketchikan

September 11th, Monday

We had an early excursion this morning, so we partook of the fruit that we snagged from the Horizon Court last night, and met our bus on the dock at 9:30. The bus ride was good, and we detoured through the town because we were a little early. After that we headed around the island, around the southern tip. Ketchikan is on an island. At the end of the road is a closed fish cannery, a power station, and a restored bunk house that is now a restaurant/inn. They are offering a boat ride to observe crab fishing and then will give us an all-you-can-eat crab feed.

George Inlet Lodge
A former bunkhouse, the lodge was brought here on a log raft and placed on the pilings at high tide.

The boat was enclosed and nice. It was only about half filled, so we had a nice adventure. They pulled a crab pot aboard that we could examine the contents. All the crabs were smaller than allowed to catch and keep in Alaska (six and a half inches across the widest part of the shell). They showed us how to tell a male from a female crab... the pattern on their belly is a tower for males and a dome for females. They do not keep females and toss them back. Only males make it to the table.

It seems the same intelligent people they have in Hawai'i that "resolved" the rat problem there live in Alaska. The fishermen were concerned that they were not catching fish as often, so they decided that the bald eagle was the reason. They put a bounty on bald eagles, offering $2.00 for the claw of a bald eagle. THEN they realized that the canneries were using large traps, catching 90% of the fish. When Alaska won the opportunity to become a state in 1958, the canneries knew that they would have to give up those traps, and so the canneries all closed up and left. The fishing for the locals again returned. The eagles were saved. Now it is a $100,000 fine to kill a golden eagle. It is a $1000 fine just to own a feather from the bald eagle. I wonder if those that got the $2.00 bounty have to pay it back.

The crab feed was wonderful. All we could eat. The only problem was that we had to walk back up a flight of seventy five stair steps (phew) to the road to board the bus back to the ship.

We are stuffed. Another driver in a different bus picked us up and took us back to the ship. We had arranged a reservation in the Crown Grill for tonight's dinner. I had enjoyed the Chilean Sea Bass on the Hawaiian trip in January that a fellow cruiser had shared with everyone, and since I could not talk the waiters in the Michelangelo Dining Room to bring me some CSB, we decided to go to the Crown Grill to get it. Rosalee chose a Fillet Mignon that was absolutely fabulous. The sea bass... meh! It was fixed with some prawns, but it was not what I had enjoyed before. It was good, but not what I was hankerin' for. Dessert came with it, and everything was chocolate. Not the best for a diabetic. We partook, and then the waiter came over and brought us another chocolate cake with a candle and sang Happy Anniversary to us. Now we are bloated. And with all we could eat crab not six hours earlier... at least dinner was at 8:30.

We did not like the fact that we were dining alone. I suppose that is what you pay the premium for... it was a charge of $29.00 each extra for this meal. I liked it better when they concentrated on the regular meals, and there were no charges at all for meals. It was nice but I doubt that I would have paid this fee on land for this meal. Also, the meal took 1 1/2 hours to progress.

A couple that appeared to be older than we are sitting across from us, when they got up to leave came over and congratulated us on our anniversary. He said he was a school teacher (retired) in ... can't remember... the rich part of the peninsula below San Francisco. He said he taught Bing Crosby's kids. That tells you where it was. Hillsborough? They asked how many years we had been married. We told them 57, and she said it was two years longer than they had been married.

There was no show tonight. Something was causing some problems in the Princess Theater and it had to remain closed. So we retired to our cabin. There is plenty to do on board, if we wanted to "have fun" but our bed was sounding good. And the beds are very nice and comfy.



September 12th, Tuesday

I swear I'm not eating until dinner tonight. I HAVE to eat tonight... it is lobster night. It is also our second formal night. There was a naturalist program planned for this morning, but the Princess Theater closure nipped that in the bud, so we went down for a late lunch. I planned on eating very light. My medications don't treat me nicely if I don't eat, so we went up to the Horizon Court and I had a nice simple salad. It was good.

We sat with a Michael and Shellie from Sacramento, CA. We enjoyed our discussion and visit. Then we went back up to the cabin and we read and napped and did computer work. We dressed for our formal dinner night, and went down to dinner. We sat with two couples... Wayne and Pam were from Albuquerque, New Mexico area, and he worked for Alamogordo Research Facility that is related to the Lawrence National Livermore Lab near us. They were seasoned cruisers. Joining us were John and Connie from Los Gatos, CA. We did not get to talk with them much as they were far enough away he had trouble hearing us and he spoke very softly.

Mark Cornish, an entertainer, was schedule for tonight. With the theater still closed he was appearing a day later in the Vista Lounge. It is not a good venue, partly because there are blind spots where columns block your view, and the seating is too flat so you have to look between other's heads. And it is not large enough. We could not enter early as they were holding the Captain's reception in there before the show. That means people lined up outside, and it was a push to get in and find a seat.

Before we went in, we sat down is two chairs outside the Wheelhouse Bar and the couple across from us asked me "Did you used to teach?" She was a clerk in the office of the school where I taught. Her husband also was a teacher, and they are now living in San Diego. He asked me about if I think about my years of teaching much. I told him that I still dream that I am in my classroom once or twice a week, even after 17 years. His face fell. He said "So do I ... I thought it was just me."

The show was good. He did ventriloquism with three dummies and used a man from the audience as a fourth dummy. He also sane nicely... he was trained as a singer.

Back to the cabin. We are meeting a bus on the dock in Victoria BC tomorrow at 8:30.


DAY EIGHT  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

September 13th, Wednesday

We decided that since we were to be back on the ship before 1:30, we would bypass breakfast and catch a late lunch on the return to the ship. We had to be on the dock by 8:30. Getting off was simple, and 150 yards of level walking we found our bus that we needed. The driver/guide was good. He was very informative and pleasant. We drove around the southern side of the island, viewing beautiful homes as well as 'normal' homes. We drove up to the peak of a hill that is more or less in the center of the area. About 100 yards up a steep hill was needed if we wanted to see the view. We were there fifteen minutes... just enough to walk it, take a few pictures, and walk back.

I enjoyed seeing the lovely homes. I like the English character, but there was a lot of American influence in the homes as well. The excursion is actually designed around the Mansion that is sitting atop a hill, and commands a view of the whole city from the upper floors.

The end destination of the bus ride is a building that is referred to as the Craigdarroch Castle, a private home that was completed in 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, a coal baron. He came to Victoria literally penniless, but he used smart business sense and ended up being the coal supplier for the navy's coal-burning ships. He then built a railroad to handle his coal, and invested in many other business opportunities. There are four usable floors and a basement. Each floor is about 6,500 square feet. Mr. Dunsmuir died before the home was finished and never lived in it. His widow and some of their children lived in it until her death in 1908, at which time the children sold the home. I am told that Robert's brother owned a similar home north of town.

Front Elevation


Rear Elevation

There was a lot of stained glass and leaded glass in the home, as well as a lot of etched glass transoms over the interior doors. It appears that there were two bathrooms in the home, with some thirty rooms, unknown how many were bedrooms and how many were accessory rooms. The entire fourth level was known as a Dance Hall. The second largest room in the home us the Billiard Room, and then came the widow's Master Bedroom. The first floor Drawing Room was about the same size as the Master Bedroom. The home was built from brick, and then veneered with sandstone cut to look like stones, that came from Mr. Dunsmuir's quarries.

Painted and Gilded Woodwork


Leaded and Beveled Glass


Leaded and Stained Glass

Etched Glass Interior Transoms


Curved Oak and Glass Door in Small Round Tower Room


Typical Wood Paneling in Stair Case Ceilings


Sculpted Wood Panels

Back to the ship with a trip through town first. Walking on the pier back to the ship we again saw the gal that worked in my school's front office, and her husband. We sail at 1350 hours... or so they said, but we were nearly an hour an a half late leaving. We are told that the Princess Theater is open again, so after dinner, we will go there.

Dinner tonight we both had Surf and Turf with a nice fillet and prawns. We sat with a woman and her daughter from Sunnyvale, another woman from Rocklin, CA. Amazingly, we have talked to at least five people on this trip that are from Rocklin. We also had a man and his adult son that were from San Mateo. Conversation was light.

The entertainment that we chose tonight was Tom Franek, a pianist and vocalist. He was quite entertaining, but I was hoping he would play more piano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM6X-Il1Vms 




September 14th, Thursday

On our way, southbound, along the Oregon/Washington coast. San Francisco in the morning.

We went up to the Horizon Court to allow Carl, our room steward, time to clean up the cabin. I was not interested in eating, but we could find someone to visit with. And when we get hungry, we will be in the right place. A woman and her mother sat next to us and we chatted for over an hour. They were eating. The woman was from Granite Bay, up in the mountains of California, near Placerville, and her mom was from Carmichael, near Sacramento, CA. The mother moved out to CA in the late fifties and her husband was a chemist in the solid fuels division of Arrow-Jet General, the company that made the lunar module that lifted Armstrong off the moon after his initial visit to the moon. We did not get the women's names

Two women sat on the other side of these two women, and we did not get their names or where they were from.

After all of the women left, a young man sat at our table to eat and we chatted briefly, but he was not too talkative. Rosalee and I took things to read with us, so we were occupied when we did not have visitors.

Back to our cabin, to read and work on the computer, and before we go to dinner, we will pack our luggage to set out when we leave for dinner. That allows the crew to get a start on getting luggage into the terminal building.



DAY TEN   Disembarkation

September 15th, Friday

This is the view from our balcony, believe it or not. We entered San Francisco Bay early in the morning, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. This white lettering is actually the lit sign on the roof of the terminal building. How that for automatic image labeling? Nob Hill rises to the left... Golden Gate Bridge stands in the center of the image, and on the right, in front of the Marin Headlands, you can see the superstructure of another cruise ship, but this is a rather interesting ship. The name on the ship is "The World". I have read about the ship for years but never seen it before. All cabins on the ship are privately owned, and the owners or their chosen people live on board, more or less permanently. They cruise all over the world. Each year they hold a meeting and decide on the following year's itinerary.

Things went quite well. They wanted us to be clear of our cabin by 0800, as usual, so we were, and went down to the Roundhouse Bar to wait for our luggage number and color to be called so we can disembark the ship. That happened a little before they predicted, and we left the ship a little ahead of schedule. All luggage has to be ashore before customs will allow us to disembark the ship.By the time we went through customs and found our luggage and got out on the front of the terminal building, we were able to text our driver and he was there post haste. We were home in Pleasanton shortly after 1100 hours.

Everything looks good at home. All's well that end's well.