Alaska Cruise – Part 14

9-10th June, 2017.

A very grey day greeted us and all too soon our cruise was over as we disembarked in Sitka early on the 9th and were transferred to our hotel for the next two nights.

Although small, Sitka is a very interesting town and we were pleased our travel agent recommended spending more time here than in Ketchikan. Unfortunately, we were too early to check in to our hotel but were able to leave our luggage there and spend time at the Alaskan Dream lounge where we made good use of the free wifi. We farewelled many of our fellow passengers as they were transferred to the airport for their various flights. We wandered off in search of lunch after checking out some online recommendations and settled on an Asian cafe away from the main part of town.

The Bento box made a nice change from our recent fare.

Once we were able to check in to our hotel, I made catching up with the laundry my mission for the afternoon so we left our sightseeing until the following day.

The weather was still rather grey but pleasant enough for a walk around town.

That is a live Bald Eagle sitting on the top of the totem pole.

We walked up to the Lutheran Cemetery to see the Blockhouse and Princess Maksoutoff’s grave. The Princess was the first wife of Alaska’s last Russian American Governor. Unfortunately the writing was in Cyrllic so we were none the wiser but it was very pretty with the wildflowers in bloom.

St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral

This beautiful old building houses a recently opened restaurant, Beak, and advertises that taxes and tips are included in the advertised meal prices. Quite a change and something we have not seen anywhere else in our North American travels.

Despite the very traditional exterior, the inside was decidedly quirky. Run by a young and obliging team, we enjoyed our reasonably priced meals.

We spent some more time walking around before returning to the hotel then Erich decided to walk to the Sitka National Historical Park where he found plenty of photo opportunities.

There is a pub on the upper level of this building where we discovered a new culinary delight – deep fried pickles. They were delicious!

And so ended our Alaskan adventure. The next morning we flew back to Seattle.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 13

8th June, 2017.

Our last full day of the cruise was spent quietly cruising towards Sitka where we would disembark the next morning. However there was no lack of wonderful scenery.

We had the most wonderful whale watching experience as a pod of around 12 humpbacks put on a marvellous display of bubble net fishing. This really has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to photograph.

The following 4 photos were taken by someone else on the cruise and are better than anything we captured.

Back to Erich’s photos.

That evening we were treated to a very special Captain’s Dinner.

It certainly was a special day.

The following photos of our progress map were taken by me on my iPhone. Although they are not very good and the whole map would not fit in one photo, I hope they give some idea of the route we followed.

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Alaskan Cruise – Part 12

7th June, 2017.

Early in the morning we briefly stopped off at Bartlett Cove to pick up a National Park Ranger and a native Cultural Heritage Guide before proceeding into Glacier Bay, containing 8 tidewater glaciers and a haven for wildlife.

The wildlife certainly was in abundance.

We saw our first brown bear of the trip.

The magnificent Margerie Glacier.

Being a small vessel, we were able to get quite close to the face of the glacier and, with the engines cut, the silence was quite eerie.

On our return to Bartlett Cove, we were treated to plenty more wildlife sightings.

We docked at Bartlett Cove, where the ranger and guide left us, allowing the passengers to spend around 2 hours exploring around the small outpost.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 11

6th June, 2017.

Next morning we arrived at Alaskan Dream Cruises’ docking facility at Auke Bay across the channel from Orca Point Lodge and some 20km north of Juneau, Alaska’s capital. There we were taken by bus to Mendenhall Glacier before being dropped off in town for a free day.

Mendenhall Glacier

The waterfall cascades down the cliffs quite close to the glacier.

Lupins were growing wild everywhere.

We were bussed to Juneau where we were greeted with the sight of no less than 5 cruise liners which poured around 10,000 tourists into the town, most intent on hitting the tourist shops. As it was approaching lunchtime, we found ourselves a table at a waterfront cafe and had a nice halibut lunch. We did a short walk around the waterfront area but the press of people was all too much for us so we opted to take the early bus back to Alaskan Dream.

The top deck on Alaskan Dream.

Once again we were treated to more whale watching.

And another beautiful sunset.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 10

5th June, 2017 Orca Point Lodge

Our dinner this evening was to be a feast of King Crab, Prime Rib with various salads and vegetables followed by desserts and then S’mores cooked over the camp fire.

What a view to enjoy with our dinner.

The Prime Rib was fabulous.

But the King Crab was amazing!

Delicious Salmon.

Who had room for dessert?

And it was Bartender Amy’s birthday.

Time to cook those S’mores over the campfire.

We were fascinated by the Hummingbirds at the bird feeder.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 9

5th June, 2017 continued.

One of the pitfalls of writing this blog so long after the event is that sometimes my memory fails me. As it happened, we did have landfall on the 5th. At Orca Point Lodge owned by Alaskan Dream Cruises where we were to have dinner ashore before returning to the vessel for the night.

Before that though there were plenty of photo opportunities cruising from Endicott Arm to the Lodge.

When the bridge was open, we were encouraged to chat with the crew or simply take in the view from their vantage point.

Once again there are too many photos for one post so I will make Orca Lodge a separate post.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 8

5th June, 2017.

Today we were scheduled to cruise Frederick Sound and enter Tracy Arm Fjord with no scheduled landfall.

Entering the Fjord we began to see lots of floating ice which only increased the further we travelled.

A large cruise liner had entered the Fjord earlier and the Captain had word that they were having some difficulty negotiating the ice and getting out again. So the decision was made to abandon our attempt and to move on to Endicott Arm Fjord. The scenery was just magnificent, with Bald Eagles and Whales thrown in for good measure, so further commentary would be superfluous.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 7

4th June, 2017. Petersburg Alaska continued.

Following lunch on board, the local school bus collected us for a drive around town and to drop us off at the start of the Muskeg Bog trail walk. Emily, our Expedition Leader, guided us along this easy walk stopping at points of interest along the way. Muskeg consists of dead plants in various states of decomposition (as peat), ranging from fairly intact sphagnum moss, to sedge peat, to highly decomposed humus.

On the drive back to the boat, Erich asked to be dropped off in town so that he could take photographs as he walked back to the docks.

 

 

This little Buddha certainly seems out of place in its surroundings.

Soon we cast off – the following photos along the shore/

Moody skies as we motored out of the harbour.

Steller Sea Lions were fighting for a spot on the buoy.

It seems that every cruise we take involves some kind of assistance to fellow boaters. One of the passengers noticed this boat in distress as we passed. Their outboard motors had died and their battery was flat so they could not call for help. Our tender was deployed to tow the small boat back to harbour. We had a similar experience on our Kimberley Cruise last year. https://nussbaumerweb.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/day-25-odyssey-expeditions-kimberley-cruise-day-3/

During the whole cruise we could check our position at any time on this screen. It was quite a focal point for most of the passengers. We also had something similar on our Kimberley Cruise.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 6

4th June, 2017.

Due to our weather enforced itinerary change, we were now a day ahead of where we should be. The Captain, being a resourceful fellow, arranged for us to dock in Petersburg, a town with a rich Norwegian history, and in short order organised a local Norwegian heritage dancing group to entertain us and provide morning tea.

Despite the slightly gloomy weather, Erich took some great photos of our approach to the town.

Again the weather was less than inviting but the local youth wandered through town in their traditional costumes without a care for the weather. We, tourists, were bundled up against the rain.

The venue for our morning tea and traditional Norwegian dance display.

Whilst waiting for the appointed time, we wandered around town taking photos of some of the Norwegian-inspired architecture and artwork.

The morning tea was wonderfully prepared by the locals with traditional Norwegian delicacies. I bought one of their cookbooks and will try to replicate some of the yummy treats we enjoyed.

For such a small town, this bookshop was amazing and opened especially for us on a Sunday.

One of Alaskan Dream’s sister vessels in port at the same time.

We had to take a photo of this boat named in honour of our middle daughter, Tracy Ann!

We enjoyed lunch back on board.

A few photos before we disembarked again to take part in the Muskeg Bog walk.

To be continued in the next blog.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 5

3rd June, 2017.

Today we were scheduled to visit Kasaan and Thorne Bay but due to gale force winds in Clarence Strait, the Captain had decided to take the vessel all the way around the Behm Canal through sheltered waters and make our way to Wrangell. As the Captain said, the boat would have made it just fine but the passengers would not have enjoyed the trip! Each day this map was updated with our route and also the wildlife that was seen.

We motored all through the night so that we would be in good position in the morning to make the turn north into a more sheltered area of the Clarence Strait. All went without incident and we approached Wrangell after breakfast.

Emily, our Expedition Leader, planned a hike to the Mt Dewey Trailhead for those who were feeling energetic and, for the less enthusiastic among us, Archie, our Cultural Interpreter was making the trip to the Museum. No prizes for guessing that Erich did the hike and I improved my local knowledge at the Museum. I’m not really much for museums but this one was particularly well done covering the arrival of Europeans to the area and their impact on the local indigenous tribes.

Before we split into groups, Archie took a group photo by the dock.

This cat thought we looked an interesting bunch.

Meanwhile, Erich was out and about with his camera.

The view at the end of the hike up.

And the woods along the way down.

The Museum Group

Some more shots of Alaskan Dream moored.

We enjoyed lunch back aboard and then there was time for some more photos ashore.

While we were off enjoying ourselves dinner preparations were well underway.

Leaving Wrangell after refuelling.

9 p.m. that night.

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