On Saturday, we left our car parked and boarded the Majestic Princess for a 10-day cruise to Alaska. It was a delightful cruise with stops in Ketchikan (Tera and my 1996 summer home after our wedding), Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and scenic cruising days in Glacier Bay and to the Hubbard Glacier. This was the first chance to really take advantage of my Inteletravel Travel Agent cruising discount (1/2 price cruise fares on Princess) and since we all shared a 4-person balcony cabin, the price and the experience was just right.
1. Large balcony room with space enough for four
2. Cool tech on Princess Cruises with medallion and app
3. Ketchikan – Creek Street walk with Salmon jumping, taxi ride to Totem Bight park and our old mobile home, and the church
4. Juneau – public bus to Mendenhall Glacier
5. Skagway – Rainy day in town, the Soapy Smith Show
6. Glacier Bay – Grand Pacific and Marjorie Glacier and Lampugh Glacier and something straight ahead
7. Icy Strait Point
8. Hubbard Glacier – Grand descending 7-mile wide tidewater glacier
1. Mendenhall Glacier tour cancellation
2. Somewhat tired Naturalist – “This is Alaska! This is why you’re here!”
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1. Large balcony room with space enough for four - We booked a balcony room, since there would be a lot of scenic cruising, and gratefully, it was a spacious enough for the four of us adult-sized people, without feeling too cramped. During the day, we always stowed back in the ceiling one of the drop-down beds, but otherwise ti was great.
2. Cool tech on Princess Cruises with medallion and app - On Princess Cruises, they have a pretty nice app with things like "finding cruisemates" in which you can locate your wife or kids on the boat (based on the medallion each passenger wears). Plus, I got to make my own seahorse avatar which showed up on the screens throughout the ship when I walked by.
3. Ketchikan – Creek Street walk with Salmon jumping, taxi ride to Totem Bight park and our old mobile home, and the church - We walked into Ketchikan and walked along the infamous Creek Street, and Megan got some quality salmon-jumping-spawning pictures and videos for her Instagram reels. We also hired a taxi to take us to some of our memory places, like the Totem Pole park, and our own mobile home residence, and the old church building where we met back in 1996. A lot looked familiar, and a lot had changed but it was very fun to be back in town, waxing eloquent to the kids about totem pole lore, and skunk cabbage nature tidbits.
4. Juneau – public bus to Mendenhall Glacier - There was the $45/person tourist bus out to the Mendenhall glacier, or the $4 public bus, that you dropped you off about 1.5 miles from visitors center. We opted for the less expensive public transportation, and had a nice walk in the rain to see the Glacier. It was a beautiful sight, and it is astonishing to see how much the glacier has thinned and receded in recent years. We hiked another mile out to the waterfall and enjoyed the walk along the glacier lake.
5. Skagway – Rainy day in town, the Soapy Smith Show - We did relatively little in Skagway, besides walk around town and see the Klondike Gold rush museum. Such and interesting story about so many fortune hunters who suffered misery and disappointment in seeking out their fortunes in Alaska. We bought tickets to the purported longest-running show on earth, 100 years of the show being produced on that very same stage in Skagway.
6. Glacier Bay – Grand Pacific and Marjorie Glacier and Lampugh Glacier - Glacier Bay National Park was a beautiful trip, with forests and mountains and snowfields and glaciers carving out valleys down to the water. At the end of the bay, the ship creept slowly amongst ice-filled water, maneuvering around the icebergs, mini-icebergs (growlers) and affectionately and scientifically named "bergy bits". The ship stopped in viewing distance of the glacier's edge, and did a slow 360 turn so that all windows on the ship had a front-row view of the 300 ft tall glacial ice wall. Those lucky enough could hear the thunderous glacier cracking and see the edge ice breaking off into the water with a huge splash (calving). We saw dozens of smaller glaciers, but the primary and largest glaciers were the Grand Pacific and Marjorie glaciers, and the Lampugh glacier, all within Glacier bay.
7. Icy Strait Point – This was a port built exclusively for cruise ship tourists. There were some activities to pay for and such, but we just walked towards town, and got distracted by the crabs and starfish in the tidepools. When the passengers returned from the walk to town told us it wasn't that interesting, we headed back to the boat.
8. Hubbard Glacier – Grand descending 7-mile wide tidewater glacier - This was our last scenic stop to see the 7-mile wide Hubbard Glacier. It is one of the few remaining active glaciers which is actually growing at the edge. In the past decades, it has twice surged forward and actually dammed a flowing river, creating an artificial lake that eventually broke back through the ice wall.
1. Mendenhall Glacier tour cancellation - We were supposed to take a tour that hiked out onto the mendenhall Glacier with spikes and crampons. But as we were preparing to meet the tour the following day, we discovered it was falsely advertised, and it was more of a glacier edge nature hike, than an adventure hike onto the Glacier. We cancelled, and it took almost 3 weeks to get our refund.
2. Somewhat tired Naturalist – “This is Alaska! This is why you’re here!” - There was a Naturalist on board who gave presentations and some audio commentary during the scenic cruising. He was nice and knowledgeable, but he had also lived full-time on a cruise ship for the past 10 years doing the same presentation over and over. His delivery was a little tired. And the 15th time he said over the loudspeaker "This is Alaska! This is why you're here! I can't say it enough...." I had to say to myself, "Actually, you CAN say it enough, and you just did."
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.