Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Celebrity Infinity
8/26/07 to 9/02/07
Ports of Call: Vancouver, British Columbia; Ketchikan, Alaska; Hubbard Glacier, Alaska;
Juneau, Alaska; Icy Strait Point, Alaska
We had always planned on doing an Alaska cruise sometime in the distant future. It was not a high priority. We had read many years ago that it would be disappointing after having cruised the Norwegian Fjords. Since we had done the Fjords in 2004, we had put off even considering Alaska. Fortunately, this changed when a previous Cruise Critic Roll Call group we had traveled with in 2005, decided to have a reunion cruise. Our group, named the Martini Mates, had sailed on the Celebrity Infinity two years ago on a Pacific Northwest repositioning cruise. We had a great group and looked forward to getting back on another cruise with them, as well as adding new folks to the group. Ten of us decided to return to the Infinity and do this Alaskan cruise. We are so glad we decided to go. It was an amazing experience, and nothing at all like our Norwegian Fjords cruise.
Pre-cruise in Vancouver, British Columbia
We booked our air independently, and were flying Miami to San Francisco to Vancouver. Our main concern with our flights was the connection in San Francisco. We only had a little over an hour to make the next flight. We were very pleased when our flight arrived 20 minutes early.
When we got off the plane, we couldn’t find where to go to catch our Alaskan Airline’s flight into Vancouver. We asked several workers and were told by one to go to the international terminal since we were going to Canada; and we were told by another to go to the Alaska Airline domestic terminal. We did a whole lot of walking, going first to the international terminal only to discover that our flight was not listed on any of the boards.
Finally, a helpful security worker told us that Vancouver is considered a domestic flight. He even walked with us to show us the shortest way to that terminal. It was another long walk, but we really appreciated his help. All of this confusion could have been avoided if someone on the plane had given connecting flight information or if there had been a sign at the arrival gate stating that Vancouver is treated as a domestic flight. After all, Vancouver is in another country! On the way home, we did find that SFO has a very nice tram system; but if you don’t know where you are trying to go to, it won’t help much. When we finally got to the Alaska Airlines terminal, the flight had been delayed an hour.
We had planned a pre-cruise gathering to meet folks from our roll call at the Cin Cin restaurant for dinner at 6:30 PM. Since we were supposed to arrive at 2:30 PM, we were hoping to walk around Vancouver’s Robson Street for awhile before meeting the group.
Even with the one hour delay, we were still OK to make it to dinner with our friends, but we wouldn’t have much time to do anything else. As we waited patiently an announcement was made telling us that the flight was delayed another hour. Now we were becoming concerned. After a stressful wait, the flight finally arrived; but we left SFO 2 ¼ hours late.
When we finally landed in Vancouver, immigration went very quickly. We then had to wait almost a half hour for the luggage to finally begin to be dumped onto the carousel. Fortunately we had decided to use the Limo Jet Gold (Link) service to get to our hotel. We were able to check in, clean up, get dressed and walk to the restaurant almost on time. We were ready to relax and enjoy being with our friends, both old and new.
Bob and Judy were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, and we had brought them some joke gifts. Everyone got a good laugh out of it, and we all had a most enjoyable evening.
We had chosen the Listel Hotel (Link) for our one night in Vancouver. Being on Robson Street, it is right in the center of everything. The service was very good and the room very comfortable. Having been up almost 21 hours, we were exhausted and quickly fell asleep.
We planned on having breakfast with one of our Martini Mate couples, Jim and Kathleen. Jim had told us about the great Eggs Benedict at the Blue Horizon Hotel’s Inlet’s Bistro. Several different kinds were offered on the menu. I had a standard one and Carol had the one made with a crab cake on the bottom. They were both incredibly good. Jim had made a great recommendation.
Bob and Judy, who live outside of Vancouver and were also staying at the Listel Hotel. offered to drive us to Ballantyne Port. On our previous Pacific Northwest cruise, we had sailed from Canada Place, which was quite a nice location and a well organized modern port. Ballantyne, on the other hand, is in a bad part of town and in an old facility.
We arrived around 10:30 AM hoping to be able to board by 11:00 AM. Unfortunately, it took longer than expected for the previous cruise to debark and clear customs. We met several of our new Martini Mates who had also arrived early and were at the front of the line with us. We were number one in the line and ready to get on the Infinity.
Around 11:15, we were finally able to go to the registration tables. We breezed right through the paperwork and security and were able to drop off our carry on luggage in our almost ready cabins by 11:30 AM.
Since we couldn’t stay in the cabin, we went up to get some lunch. With this being a reunion cruise, we were anxious to get reacquainted with our old friends and get to know any new ones. A bunch of us went to the grill, a covered outside area in the middle of the ship. It was a nice way to start the cruise. This was going to be a fun week.
This was our third cruise on an M Class Celebrity ship and the second on the Infinity. We really like this ship class. At 91,000 tons it is considered a mid-size ship in the cruise world and in our opinion just the right size. It doesn’t feel overcrowded and is just a very classy lovely ship; both on the outside and inside.
To us, the most impressive room on the ship is the Trellis Restaurant. This is the traditional dining room, and it has a massive two story wall of windows covering the entire back side of the room. I have always preferred the classy look of two storied dining rooms. It just makes a fine meal that much better. Infinity has the look and the feel of sophisticated elegance.
The other dining venues are the Oceanview Grill (buffet), Cova Café, the Aqua Spa and the SS United States specialty restaurant.
SS United States
The Grand Foyer is dominated by a lovely illuminated onyx staircase. All of the business functions of the ship are located in this area as is the Cova Café. Also in the Grand Foyer is Cards, the card and game room. I have never seen a more popular card/game room on any ship. This place was always crowded and folks seemed like they were just having a great time.
The Celebrity Theater is very well laid out and is large enough so that there did not seem to be issues with standing room only shows. Needless to say, the sound and lighting systems are first class.
There are numerous lounges on the ship. The Constellation is the most impressive one since it is on deck eleven at the very front of the ship. The huge bank of windows make it a great place to view the lovely Alaskan scenery in comfort.
Although we don’t spend any time in the casino, Fortunes is a gorgeous facility. I really like the Egyptian design and fixtures (especially since we are going to Egypt next year).
We really found the staff of the Infinity to be outstanding. Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis was the first captain we have ever had who could work in a comedy club. He started out by making comments during the muster drill. This was really nice for a change. Muster drills are like a necessary evil, especially if you have been through them many times. We must have them; but they are so long and boring that I go through the motions, but don’t really pay too much attention. Captain Kafetzis inserted a funny comment here and there which captured everyone’s notice. I found myself actually listening to what he was saying. He was very effective since his funny comments stressed the safety points rather than detracting from the lesson.
We knew from that moment on, that this was a very unique captain who would make for a fun cruise. He was very entertaining during his daily announcements, always closing with “This is your Captain from the bridge – Out”. It was contagious, with cruisers, entertainers and other staff members using this expression. It was the first cruise we have been on where people stopped talking to hear the announcements so they could laugh at his humorous comments.
We also enjoyed the Cruise Director, Derek Habraken. He was the type of CD who enjoys circulating and meeting the cruisers and getting to know them. We talked with him several times, and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. He also did a very good job in his role during the shows and hosting various events.
Derek Habraken Tanushka D'Souza
We normally don’t have much direct interaction with the Captain’s Club Hostess even though we are members. However, on this cruise we ran into Tanushka D’Souza on a pretty regular basis. She seemed to be involved in so many things and she was helpful in so many ways. Her sweet personality and big smile made her role very important to us on this cruise.
We were thrilled when we were able to book Concierge Class aft balcony cabin number 7206. This seemed like a perfect cabin for an Alaskan cruise. The weather would be comfortable for spending time on it, and we would be able to watch the lovely Alaskan landscape pass by. The cabin itself was pretty much like most of the balcony cabins in size.
The highlight was the 10’ x 20’ deep balcony. Furnishings included two chairs, two chaise lounges, a nice sized table and a smaller table. The balcony has a section that is covered by the metal structure of the ship and another section that is covered by canvas panels. Although these panels keep out the rain, the open spaces between them don’t. The panels are of more use for keeping out sun than rain. Our balcony looked down on the giant sized balconies of the two Penthouse Suites on deck 6.
The room was very comfortable with plenty of storage room. There were lots of nooks and crannies to store things; but there weren’t a lot of drawers other than the two in each end table and ones inside the closet area. The bathroom had a larger than normal shower and plenty of storage space.
We had the upgraded bedding and slept quite comfortably. Having a full sofa bed in the room provided plenty of seating room. We did not notice any excess vibration or noise in the aft cabin. Some people worry about this, but on the Infinity it was not an issue.
Our room steward Anil from India was wonderful. He anticipated our every need. He even had a piece of our luggage repaired for us. The airline damaged the axle of one wheel in a way that we could not force it back into place. We dreaded the thought of having to drag that heavy thing into the airport for the return trip. Anil had it fixed and back to us the night before our last day at sea.
Celebrity has a reputation for being a more formal and traditional cruise line. As such, the passengers tend to dress up more than on other lines we have used. There were very few people who didn’t try to comply with the dress codes. Even on semi formal nights, most men wore jackets. I was really surprised, since I almost didn’t bring a jacket assuming that most folks wouldn’t wear them. But this is Celebrity and it is a classier line.
A note from Carol relating to attire: I was somewhat frustrated in planning what to pack for Alaska. Everyone had told me about the changeable wet weather and to layer. Of course, I can only speak about the time of year we were there; and I’m sure that it probably varies from year to year. I did need my heavy down-filled coat and toboggan for the helicopter trip landing on the glacier. I did not need the boots I brought for that same flight. The only other time I used the heavy coat was for the few minutes I was topside at Hubbard. However, I could have layered heavily with a medium weight jacket. In other words, unless you are landing and walking around on the glaciers, you can get by without the heavy coat, and boots aren’t necessary at all. Also, as for the rainy weather, an umbrella and a medium weight water repellent jacket were all I needed. We did not need Mike’s rain suit nor my full length raincoat – which I brought. I wore jeans with a short sleeved shirt onshore most of the time with just a light jacket.
We have always found that the food on Celebrity is consistently the best of the major lines we cruise on. This cruise was no exception. We noticed several new appetizers we found appealing. The soups, both hot and cold are always delicious, as are the salads. The main courses were well prepared to each one’s liking. There was never a night that we had trouble picking what we wanted to eat. Several nice desserts were offered, but as a general rule we find the desserts to be Celebrity’s weakest area. However, my scales tell me that they must not have been so weak that I didn’t eat any!
We like early seating so that we can eat close to the time when we normally eat when we are at home. We are also able to see the shows after dinner and get to bed at a reasonable time to get an early start at the next day’s ports. The eleven of us were seated at a table for 12 with our previous Martini Mates. When the reservations were linked to have dinner together, we had thought that we might be broken up into two tables next to each other; but Celebrity came through and fit us all at one large table, thus assuring that we would have a great group of tablemates for this cruise.
We also got to adopt a couple that Bob and Judy met at the Captain’s Table one night. They weren’t particularly happy with their current table assignment, so they jumped over to ours. With at least one couple going to an alternative restaurant each night, Jack and Debbie from New Mexico were able to join the group each night. On the last night, when all of the original eleven of us were going to be in the dining room, our wait staff set the table for thirteen so that Jack and Debbie could share the final night with all of us. It really made it nice, and we had a rollicking good time.
Goombay (Gumby) hats
Our waiter Rathan from India and Jorge from Peru did a good job of taking care of everyone and making sure no one left the table hungry. The real star of the wait staff was Cassandra from Australia. She was the best Assistant Maitre D’ any of us has ever had. She spent a lot of time with us and really cared about our having a great meal experience. No matter what we wished for, she granted it. Carol merely inquired about a salad dressing that used to be served on Celebrity years ago, just asking why they didn’t offer it anymore. The next night Cassandra had some made up especially for our table. Another time one of our couples was going to the specialty restaurant for their anniversary, and would miss the escargot night. She surprised them with it the next time they were in the dinning room.
Cassandra Rathan Jorge
That’s what sets Celebrity apart; the entire staff’s willingness to go above and beyond, even when they have not been asked to do so. Cassandra epitomizes that philosophy with her great personality and her efforts to make the dining experience on this cruise one of the best ever.
We ate breakfast in the dining room on the first day at sea, but then went to the buffet for the rest of the cruise because of time constraints. The buffet breakfast food was extremely good, and we liked that there was a wider selection than in the dining room. We also ate lunch one day in the dining room and for the same reasons went to the buffet on other days. Additionally, the buffet normally had some special food available at one of the stations, such as Alaskan Day with salmon, Indian Day, Mexican, etc.
One night Jim and Kathleen had arranged for six of us to have dinner at the SS United States Restaurant. This is an extra charge premium restaurant that costs $30 per person. The outstanding service and food makes the extra charge well worth it.
Jim had arranged for us to eat in the Wine Cellar; which is a nice private room with the glass walled refrigerators filled with wine along the walls. It really made the evening special, plus it helped to keep our rowdiness separated from the quiet elegance in the rest of the restaurant.
On the last formal night we were invited to eat dinner at the Captain’s Table. This was our first time to be asked; and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity, even though we hated to miss an evening with our friends at our regular table. We were asked to meet in the Martini Bar ten minutes before our seating time. This was nice since we normally met our friends there every evening at 5:00 anyway. So, we got to meet our other table mates before dinner; and we also were able to order drinks on the Captain.
Sandra and Gary Jon and Barbara
Donna and Frank Ruth and Steven
Captain’s Club Hostess, Tanushka, was also there to help with any questions and to introduce our host for the evening, Staff Captain Ioannis Kassimatis. Tanushka mistakenly introduced him as the Chief Engineer and was so embarrassed. The other staff host was Navigator Ioannis Tsolakis. They both had the same first name, which is a pretty common name in Greece. It made it easier for me to remember, but not any easier to pronounce.
We had the same dinner as the rest of the dining room, but complimentary wine was provided. We enjoyed talking with the hosts and the other guests at the table. A photo of the table was taken from the fifth floor looking down on us. It was sent to our cabin the next day and is a nice remembrance of the evening. It made for a nice evening, and we are glad we accepted the invitation.
One of the couples we met there, Jon and Barbara joined our group in the Martini Bar after dinner. They were Cruise Critic members and had just lurked on our roll call thread rather than posting. We asked them to join us in our normal pre-dinner meeting for the next night so they could get to know the other members. They, along with Debbie and Jack are now official members of our group.
We normally go to all the shows we can on a cruise. However, with this being a reunion cruise, we wanted to spend all our spare time with our friends. So, although we did go to some of them and thoroughly enjoyed the ones we saw, I must admit that the Martini Bar revenues certainly increased because of our large group meeting there regularly.
The naturalist on the cruise Brent Nixon was a very flamboyant presenter. He really gets into his talks and entertains while he informs everyone about the wonders and history of Alaska. Although I would have preferred someone that wasn’t quite so outrageous, the audience really seemed to enjoy him; and he did have a lot of good information.
We did go to one production show. We had previously seen it on our last Infinity cruise. It was very well done. As usual, the singers and dancers were quite talented. The only comedian we saw was Louis Johnson. He was outstanding. We also went to his afternoon seminar on the last sea day. There were many other entertainment activities going on; but we didn’t have time to go to them.
A standing meeting of the Infinity Mates was set up for each day at 5:00 PM before dinner at the Martini Bar. We took up an entire side of the lounge. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the company of our original Martini Mates group from two years before, as well as getting to know the new Infinity Mates. We kept the waiter, Omar from Jamaica, very busy.
On the first night Bob and Judy had brought little lapel pin martini glasses with blinking lights for everyone. These really got everyone’s attention as they walked by this large group. Since Omar was doing such a good job for us and really getting into the festivities of the group, Judy gave him one also. He was so proud and he wore it every night. Being from Jamaica, Omar liked to have fun. He would cut up with us, particularly with Dorothy, who was the only single lady in the group.
At times we did get a little over zealous, which led to one very funny incident. It was the first night, and everyone was so excited to see the others that we may have been a tad boisterous. One of the ship’s officers walked by, and with a totally straight face, as he kept walking he said, “Did I get on a Carnival ship by mistake?” It was so funny because he never looked our way. It was as if he were thinking out loud.
By midtrip, we had added post-dinner meetings to our regular pre-dinner meetings. Once we decided that getting together was a lot more enjoyable than going to the shows, we really took over the bar.
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil See all, hear all, & shout it out
Media and Events:
Cruise Critic Connections Party – A great benefit of being a member of Cruise Critic (Link) is to be able to join a roll call of other Cruise Critic members who are on your cruise. Since we normally travel alone, it gives us a chance to meet and get to know people on the roll call before the cruise. This way we get the pleasure of finally meeting these people when we get on the ship.
Cruise Critic.com and Celebrity have joined together to provide what they call a Connections Party. Ours was arranged on the first sea day, in Michael’s Club at 10:00 AM. This worked out very well and we had a very good attendance of about 26 people. Activity Director, Ian, met everyone as they came in and gave Connections Pins and asked us to put on name tags so we would know who was who.
Celebrity provided coffee, juice and some assorted sweet rolls. It was so much fun getting to meet those who we only knew from their posts on our thread. Along with the Martini Mates we knew from our previous cruise, it was almost friendship overload.
About half way through the party, Cruise Director Derek joined us. He welcomed us to the Infinity and told some cute stories. He was interested in Cruise Critic and seemed to enjoy meeting everyone. He does have the right personality for the job he is in. This was a nice event and we continued to see fellow CCers throughout the cruise.
Engine Control Room Tour - While at the Captain’s Table, the Chief Engineer asked our adopted dinner couple Jack and Debbie along with the rest of the table, if they wanted to take a tour of the engine control room. Since Debbie had no interest in it, Jack asked me if I would like to join them. I was thrilled, since this is an area of the ship that is not normally available to the passengers.
The room was covered with different monitors and controls. The engineers explained what the various monitors did and how they controlled the engines and pods. They told us about the many maintenance steps they take and many tests they do to make sure that the pods remained in good shape. It was an interesting tour and it gave me a greater appreciation for the work these behind the scenes guys do to make sure the cruise is trouble free.
Celebrity Today bulletin – We found the Celebrity Today daily bulletin to be very informative and easy to read. One of the features that Celebrity and Royal Caribbean include in their bulletins is a heavier weight single page with all the days events that can be carried with you during the day to keep you informed of what is going on.
Ports of Call
With us living in flat South Florida; and this being our first trip to Alaska, we were excited to be able to see mountains, snow, glaciers and the various forms of wildlife that inhabit this marvelous part of the continent. The brilliant full moon reflecting on the sea as we looked out our aft balcony foretold what would become a marvelous adventure.
Inside Passage Cruising:
We didn’t know what to expect on our first sea day, which was cruising through the inside passage in British Columbia on the way to Alaska. The Captain had told us that we would cross through Seymour Narrows at around 2:00 PM. This is the narrowest section of the passage. Cruise ships can only go through it every six hours due to the tides. Wanting to be able to see as much of the terrain as possible, I went up to deck 12 at the front of the ship to get a good observation spot. There are large glass walls around the front of the ship to cut down on the wind. I was concerned that they would prevent me from taking pictures, but I found that the ship provided little stools that were about one foot high that allowed viewers to be able to see over the glass. Some of the shorter folks stacked two or three of these together so they could see better.
The view as we headed for the narrows was really nice. There were tree covered mountains passing along both sides of the ship. It was much greener than I was expecting; but no snow in sight. The naturalist spoke to us over the sound system and was pointing out interesting things as we glided along the inside passage. When we approached Seymour Narrows it became obvious where it got the narrows part of its name. The Naturalist said that the Infinity could not have turned around in it because she was longer than the narrows is wide.
After we got through the narrows the mountains became taller and snow began appearing on them. This was turning into a very scenic day, especially since the temperature was in the sixties and we were having a lot of sun. Later I went back to our cabin and lay out on our balcony watching the beauty pass us by. What a great way to spend down time.
We woke up early so we could watch our entrance into our first Alaskan port, Ketchikan. As we approached town, it was really fascinating to see float planes parked along the docks. Every once in awhile one would crank up its engine and take off. The buildings looked much like I had expected Alaskan buildings to look, since I had seen hundreds of pictures of them. But seeing them in that setting with snow capped mountains in the background really made for a pretty sight. I couldn’t wait to get off the ship and start exploring.
With our having a CC class cabin, we had received priority tender tickets. This allowed us to go right to the tender without having to wait for other groups on tours to go ahead of us. This is a major perk of having a CC cabin, especially if you have several tender ports. We were at the dock by 8:00 AM. Since we didn’t have to meet up with our excursion for the day until 11:45 AM, we had enough time check out the town.
The first things that we noticed were the extremely tall poles that the dock rides up and down on during the change of the tides. This part of the world can have over a 20 foot rise in the water level from low to high tide. Rather amazing! It also meant that the ramps were quite steep if you arrived at low tide.
Ketchikan is a rather quaint and rustic town and much smaller than I was expecting. It only has about 14,000 residents. They claim to be the Salmon Capital of the World. My first destination was to see the famous Creek Street Historical District. It is a boardwalk area that sits over a salmon run creek. It is lined with numerous shops and restaurants. It was quite fun to see all the different Alaskan made merchandise. So different from other cruise destinations we have been to.
At one time this area had been the bad part of town. I read a comment about it that said that “Creek Street was where the men and fish came to spawn.” Kind of describes what the area was like prior to it being cleaned up in the 1950’s. One of the remnants of this era is Dolly’s House, which is now a museum.
As I was passing Dolly’s, one of the workers was bringing a bald eagle in for a special exhibit for the day. This bald eagle was only three years old and did not have its white head feathers, which they don’t get until they are five years old.
We did souvenir shopping at Creek Street as well as downtown. With only three ports on this cruise and much of our port time taken up with excursions, we needed to get souvenirs whenever an opportunity arose. Carol found an Ulu knife for her kitchen. As we were walking between stores, we saw an intriguing sign for a Mexican restaurant. We love Mexican food, but since we didn’t want a large meal, we tried the “best Pizza in town”.
For the afternoon, we had booked a bear watching tour with Michelle of Island Wings (Link). We were to meet a van at the rain gauge near the visitor center. The rain gauge is a big deal in Ketchikan since it is considered to be the second wettest place on earth. On the rain gauge, it indicates that they received 192 inches in 2006. In the below picture, the salmon on the right side of the gauge indicates how much 193 inches is. A lot of rain indeed.
To get to the bear watching area at Traitor’s Cove, we would have to take a float plane. When we booked this excursion with Island Wings, I tried to get other folks on our Cruise Critic roll call to go with us. Kathleen really wanted to go, but her husband Jim was very uncomfortable with flying in small planes. So that Kathleen could go, another member of the group, Judy, told Kathleen that she would go with her.
Unbeknownst to Kathleen, Jim had planned a surprise for his wife on their anniversary. He was going to go on the tour with us, and had asked Judy to say that she was going as a set up to the surprise. When the van arrived, Jim finally told Kathleen that he was going to fly. Needless to say, she was very surprised and touched by his determination to face his fear, just for her.
The plans called for the float plane to fly us out to the site and drop us off with the bear watching guide. The plane would leave and take another group on their flight, returning later to pick us up. As we were heading to the float plane dock, I asked the driver if there was going to be any problem getting back by 3:30 PM rather than the originally planned 4:00 PM. We had just found out the previous night that the last tender would be leaving a half hour earlier than previously announced. She didn’t know what I was talking about. She said the ship always leaves at 5:00 PM and the cruise line was probably just trying to get people to get on the tender earlier. We were concerned since we like to have a nice margin of error when it comes to missing the boat. She said that she would check with Michelle about the schedule; but since the company also had a Misty Fjords excursion booked, the flight schedule didn’t have a lot of room for flexibility. We were very concerned.
After a few minutes we saw Michelle’s float plane fly around the Infinity and come in for a landing. I had always wanted to find out what it would be like take off and land on water. I couldn’t wait. Michelle brought the plane up to the dock and let out the previous group. We discussed the issue about the last tender being at 4:00 instead of 4:30 PM. She reassured us that she would get us back to the tender in time; and if she couldn’t, they had a very fast boat that could take us out to the Infinity. Since this was an excursion we had really been looking forward to, we decided to have faith in Michelle and go see the bears.
Michelle cranked up the engine and in no time we were in the air headed for the Tongass National Forest. With the exception of the water spray, the take off on water was about the same as taking off in a normal plane on land. We had been worried about how Jim was going to react to the flight, but we were quite pleased to see that he was doing fine. I am sure that it helped that Michelle was keeping us informed of everything she was doing and telling us about what we were flying over. She has a great personality and is a real pleasure to fly with. She also has a great reputation as a seasoned professional pilot, and her self-confidence instills a feeling of trust.
In less than 20 minutes we were landing in the middle of a gorgeous wilderness area. We pulled up to the dock and got out of the plane with the assistance of one of Michelle’s employees. The folks that had been at Traitor’s Cove got onto the plane, Michelle waved goodbye and they all took off. We were all alone in the middle of an Alaskan forest. Just us and the bears. Oh my! Well, not exactly; we did have a guide.
Armed with pepper spray, he walked us down the path to the Margaret Creek viewing platform at Traitor’s Cove. We saw lots of evidence that the bears also liked to walk down the same path. We made plenty of noise, like the guide recommended, so that we wouldn’t surprise the bears. After a short walk, we came upon a large wooden platform with viewing openings looking out onto a rapidly flowing river. The area was really pretty. There was a steep water drop off where the salmon were jumping into the air to get to the top. There was also a man made salmon elevator. The elevator made it easier for the salmon to get up the steep incline.
As we looked out onto the river, we immediately saw a black bear sitting along the river banks eating lunch. It didn’t take long before she walked out into the water and picked out another salmon. She had a good appetite. She then caught another one, took a bite and threw it back into the water. The guide told us that the bears prefer the female salmon with eggs better than the less oily male salmon. She spent a lot of time walking in the water getting more fish and looking for more. Finally, she climbed up the rocks along the banks and went into the woods.
We kept watching the river for more bears, when Kathleen told us that she had just seen a bear go under our platform. We all looked down to see if we could see the bear underneath us. We looked out in front of the platform and to the sides to see if the bear was going to show herself. We finally gave up.
A minute later, our guide called us over to the back of the platform to show us a fresh, wet bear print where the bear had climbed up behind us to cross over, while we were looking the other way. We couldn’t believe that we never saw her, less than 25 feet away. It is probably good that we didn’t, but it could have made for some great photos.
A little while later, another black bear came walking down to the river just below the platform. She reached in, got a fish and proceeded to eat her favorite food. This bear didn’t stay around very long. She appeared to be a younger adult and smaller than the other one.
Standing on the platform watching the salmon trying to jump up the river was quite entertaining and one of those experiences that are unique to an Alaskan cruise. We had been fortunate that so far our day in the Ketchikan area had been great weather wise. We had only had a few occasional sprinkles and we had even had some sun during day.
After we didn’t see any more bears for a while, the guide recommended going over to an area where a bridge crossed Margaret Creek. There wasn’t as much white water there and we were able to see the salmon sitting in the water waiting to take their run up the river to the incline where we had been previously. They were resting before facing their ordeal. It was an amazing sight seeing what looked like a river full of salmon. I could see why the bears loved this area.
The guide explained that the white spots on some of the fish were signs of weakness. Those were the salmon that weren’t going to make it. There were many totally white ones that were dead or dieing.
Shortly after we got to this new spot, the rain started. It was really coming down. Fortunately there wasn’t much wind, so I could stay under my umbrella and keep my camera dry while I waited for another bear. Sure enough, another black bear was walking down the bank looking for salmon. He jumped into the water, picked up a fish and went back into the forest. A little while later I saw him again briefly, but the rain was making the bear watching less enjoyable. The rest of the crew had gone back into the van long ago, so I finally decided to go back and join them, since the rain was not letting up.
Bear in rain Mike with umbrella
We headed back to the dock and waited a little while before Michelle landed right on time and quickly packed us in and headed back to Ketchikan. She had no problem taking off in the slight drizzle. The view back was quite beautiful, since the rain stopped and it had cleared up nicely.
We enjoyed the view, but we were worried about making the last tender. We landed and got to the float plane dock with about ten minutes to get to the tender. The van driver got us there just in time. Michelle came through for us. We got on the tender and another couple came on shortly after us, before the last tender left for the ship. The Infinity left promptly at 4:30 PM, so it’s good that we made it. This had been a great day.
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska:
On Wednesday we were going to one of the most famous sights in Alaska, the Hubbard Glacier. It is one of the largest glaciers, rising 300 feet from the water. It also moves forward at about five feet per day, resulting in calving, where the ice breaks off the glacier and falls into the water. Prior to the cruise we had been reading that some cruise ships had not been able to get close to the glacier. Some folks were reporting that they could only get within seven miles, which would be very disappointing. The cruise toward the glacier was really beautiful with lots of snow covered mountains, some very high. This is what I had thought Alaska would look like, based on TV shows; but it was much prettier in person.
I returned to the front of deck twelve at noon, about an hour before we were supposed to get to the closest position at Hubbard, so I could get a good photo taking spot in the crowd. I was standing on my stool looking at the beautiful surroundings, but the wind was pretty cold. A lot of people were sitting on their stools waiting to get closer to the glacier where the ship would slow down. At least we were having a relatively clear day with no rain, so I was thrilled.
Carol came up to see what the view from the front of the ship looked like; but only stayed a little while till she decided to go down one level to a comfortable seat in the Constellation Lounge. While we were waiting, the coffee cart came around selling metal mugs with coffee and Baileys Irish Cream. They were selling very well. For $10 it was a great buy. I don’t remember coffee ever tasting so good.
The view was just fantastic with lots of snow covered mountains. To the left was a very high mountain peak and to the right, way in the distance was Hubbard Glacier which looked like a very small white stripe from that distance.
We were moving along at a pretty good clip, so I assumed we would get to the glacier early. Bad assumption. Size and distance are very deceiving in Alaska. It seemed to be taking a long time to go a short distance. When 1:00 PM arrived, we could see the glacier; but we still had a good sized ice field ahead of us before we could get a good view without the aid of binoculars. I was also concerned that perhaps this was as close as the captain would risk going. I can imagine how disappointing it would be to come all this way and only be able to get within a few miles of this moving river of ice.
After a half hour of moving slowly through the ice field, we got into relatively clear water and pretty close to the glacier. Now it was up to the captain to decide how close we would get. We did get very close. What looked like a small snow bank an hour ago was now a massive blue wall of ice 300 ft. high.
Every few minutes we would hear a loud cracking noise and see the ice calve into the ocean. As impressive as this scene is on the Discovery Channel in HD, actually being there is so much better. With most people on deck the excitement was so exhilarating. The naturalist would tell us where he thought a big calve might take place soon. With the continuous shoot mode on my camera I was able to capture several very nice calvings of large chunks.
After a while, the captain announced that he was going to get a little closer. The staff captain at the Captain’s Table told us that our first position was 1,200 feet from the glacier face and he then moved to 800 feet; which was the closest the Infinity had been able to do all season. I was amazed at what looked like a river running under the glacier. I didn’t understand how there could be so much water behind this wall. I would understand better after landing on a glacier in a helicopter the next day.
As the captain turned the boat slowly into another position so the folks on the starboard side of the ship could get a better view, I decided it was time to go back and enjoy the view from our large aft cabin. Jim and Kathleen had the cabin right next to us. It was like a glacier watching party with several Martini Mates enjoying the view from this great vantage point. We weren’t the only ones enjoying this view. Most of the aft balconies had happy cruisers looking out at this awesome sight.
One of the benefits of an aft balcony is that there was a great view of the glacier as we sailed away. Being at the back of the ship, there was minimal wind, so that was nice. After a while, Hubbard was just a small white stripe on the horizon and we proclaimed that it had been another awesome day in Alaska.
Our day in Juneau was going to be a busy day. We had scheduled two excursions, and were quite excited. Infinity came into port around 6:30 AM. We joined the Ryndam, Coral Princess and Serenade of the Seas at the dock. We had a very good position close to the Mount Roberts Tramway. The Serenade of the Seas was quite a long walk from where Infinity and the other two ships were docked.
Juneau sits in a beautiful area surrounded by lots of tree covered mountains. It was a cloudy day and an unusual narrow section of low hanging clouds cut the view of the surrounding area in half. It was quite pretty; but we were hoping they would clear off before our excursions got into full swing.
We were off the ship by 7:30 AM so we could check out the area a bit before our 8:00 AM excursion. Juneau has more than twice as many residents as Ketchikan at over 31,000. It is also a much larger town and has quite a few new buildings. Many of them are stores that have been built by vendors that are also in the Caribbean and are sponsored by the cruise lines. Since they have kept the traditional Alaskan architectural look, they are not distinguishable; but we learned that we should look for this little white sign if we wanted to patronize the locals.
Our first excursion of the day was for whale watching. We went to our assigned meeting place in front of the Mount Roberts Tramway entrance to join our cruise mates who were going with us. Jim and Kathleen were already there, and Larry and Carole walked up shortly thereafter.
We had booked the whale watching tour with Harv and Marv (Link). There are several highly recommended operators in the Juneau area; but we wanted a small boat experience with a local, rather than to fight the crowds on a ship tour with 200 other people. Harv and Marv are actually named Jay and Pete. They switch which one will go by the Harv or Marv each year. There is a long story about the names, but you will need to take the tour to hear it.
Jay and Pete
Jay’s father-in-law Sandy picked us up and took us on about a 15 minute ride through town to the boat dock. The town was much bigger than I had thought when we came in this morning. Sandy pointed out the sights and told us some interesting tidbits. It also looked like it would be a nice place to live with all the modern conveniences and stores.
Sandy dropped us off and we met Jay, who was going to be our captain and tour guide for the next three hours. We all hit it off immediately with him. He is a man who truly loves his job and it shows. He has a great personality and was as anxious as we were to get out and see some whales.
The boat we were on was named the Merlin. It looked small from the dock, but once we boarded it, it was quite a nice comfortable size for the six of us. The boat is actually certified for 13 people, but he is only allowed to carry six people on a tour. Since we could go to the front or back of the boat, everyone would be able to have great views of whatever we saw on this excursion.
Shortly after we started the tour we passed an island with several eagles on the ground. The other eagles we had previously seen were too far away to be able to get pictures of them, but these were much more cooperative. They are quite majestic, even walking on the ground. A little further on Jay pointed out where we could get a view of the Mendenhall Glacier. It was quite impressive coming down the mountain.
I had read on Cruise Critic that we could pre-order homemade chocolate chip cookies for our tour, so I did. Everyone had raved about how wonderful the cookies made by Jay’s wife Eileen were. Since Jay and Eileen live on an island that is on the way to where we were going to whale watch, it was very convenient for Jay to stop at his house on the way.
To our surprise, Eileen was paddling toward us in a kayak to deliver the cookies. Quite a special and unique experience. What was even more special was that the cookies were just made and still very warm. Let me tell you, those cookies were just awesome! It didn’t hurt to be enjoying the soft warm delicious morsels on a whale watching boat on a cool morning in Alaska; but they would be good anywhere. If you do this excursion, don’t miss springing for Eileen’s delicious delicacies.
The ride out to where most of the whales were supposed to be was really beautiful. In addition to the snow covered mountains, we passed a light house, the Herbert Glacier, and lots of seals, including a mob that was chilling out on a buoy.
On the way Jim and I discussed cameras and lenses with Jay. He is a very avid photographer and enjoys taking photos of the Alaskan wildlife as much as his guests. Since we both had Canon DSLRs, we tried out each others lenses and talked about what new equipment we wanted. Jim recently got a Nikon DSLR and Jay was planning on getting a Nikon for his daughter as well as a professional model Canon for himself. Our discussion was interrupted by whales -- the best kind of interruption.
Jay told us how to look for blows in the distance from the hump back whales. Sometimes the blows were the first sign we saw. At other times we would just see their backs, but most times they would arch their backs and show us their tails as they dove. A very impressive sight indeed. It was so much fun to spot a whale, alert the others and take a bunch of pictures, hoping to get at least a few good ones.
One whale really surprised us coming up very close to the boat. Carol was barely able to get a picture of it since it was so close. In fact, it was so close that Jay warned her that she was about to get wet when it dove; but it decided to go under us instead of showing its flukes. Jay was as excited as we were.
We saw a lot of whales before we had to head back. My only previous whale watching experience was many years ago near San Diego. There weren’t many whales and they were far away. It wasn’t a good experience. This trip, on the other hand, was just outstanding. We saw lots of whales in a beautiful environment on a clear day with a great guide and good friends. What more could we have asked for.
When we got back to the dock, we saw Harv and Marv’s other boat, the Haarvendam; which is a takeoff on the names of Holland America cruise ships. Quite a cute name and a nice boat, very much like the one we were on.
We were pleased to run into Jay’s partner, Pete, who is Harv this season. Like Jay, he had a great personality and seemed like he would also be a great tour guide. We bought some Harv and Marv baseball caps (I had to have a souvenir of this great excursion) before Sandy took us back toward town. Since it was 11:30 and our next excursion was meeting us at 2:15, we didn’t have a lot of time for too much sightseeing. Sandy had offered to drop us off at Mendenhall Glacier or take us back into town. Since our time was limited and we really wanted to see Mendenhall, we asked Sandy if we could just stop there long enough to take some pictures and head back to town. He said that wouldn’t be a problem; but that he couldn’t wait there due to regulations. He would drop us off and pick us up about 10 minutes later. That was perfect.
Mendenhall is much smaller than Hubbard, but it is quite a sight and so close to Juneau. There is a nice visitor center there, but we only had time to walk around to get different views of the glacier and a nice waterfall to the side of it. We took some pictures and then headed over to meet Sandy.
Exactly ten minutes after he dropped us off, Sandy picked us up for the return trip to town. Quite a convenient way to see this marvelous sight without taking too much time. I have read that some of the other tour operators will drop you off at Mendenhall, but that they charge extra. On the way back Sandy, who is just a super nice guy, told us all about the area. It made for a nice conclusion to a great excursion.
Carol and Mike
Kathleen and Jim Larry and Carole
When we got back to town, we went to lunch and did a little looking around before the next tour. Our next excursion was one that both of us were very excited about. We were going to do a helicopter landing on a glacier with Coastal Helicopter (Link).
They had a very good reputation and we wanted to do a private excursion rather than one from the ship. We had read that some of the ship helicopter tours are done with groups of six helicopters landing at the same place on a glacier. That just wasn’t the experience I was looking for. When we first booked this excursion, I didn’t know how good a glacier landing would be. I really didn’t expect much since we would just be landing on a bunch of ice and snow. After doing some research, it looked much better than my first thoughts; plus everyone raved about how a glacier landing was their best experience on the whole cruise. The more I read, the more excited we became.
A van picked us up and took us past some of the same sights we had seen in the morning. We ended up at the Coastal Helicopter facility at the Juneau Airport. Quite a nice building and a very big operation. Coastal is the only helicopter company that operates year round. They have twelve helicopters, of which only 2 or 3 do tours. The rest are used for commercial work. One of our main concerns was what footwear we should have for this excursion. Their booking info said that we should bring boots or athletic shoes. They also said that they had boots that fit over our shoes. Carol was very skeptical about how anything that fit over our shoes could be efficient on ice. Once we saw them, we understood how they worked. Their boots were just great. Easy to get on and very comfortable. This was something we had not needed to be concerned about.
When we headed outside to meet the helicopter, we found out that we were going to have the helicopter by ourselves. Since it seats 6 in the back, the pilot took along one of the other employees to put in the back with me. Carol sat up in front with our pilot who was named Jag.
We had been on one previous helicopter flight when we were in Hawaii many years ago. We just loved it, but Carol was a little nervous about this one. Once we took off and Jag started telling us all about what we were going to do, she immediately relaxed and had a ball. Jag asked what glacier we wanted to go to. He has been with Coastal since the company started and is their chief pilot. He doesn’t usually do the tours. Since we didn’t know one glacier from the other, we asked him to pick the one he enjoyed the most. He wanted to go to the Hole in the Wall Glacier, which is his favorite.
The flight to the glacier was just amazing. So beautiful! We passed over a section of a glacier that had recently calved off. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful deep blue color it was. Just amazing! It was a much bluer color than Hubbard. As the helicopter climbed over mountains and into valleys we just couldn’t stop oohing and aahhing in amazement. This was quickly turning into a fantastic trip.
The glaciers themselves did not appear the least bit flat. We knew that the distances were deceiving, but even at that height the crevices looked very deep and close together. In fact I couldn’t imagine how Jag would be able to land on one of them with all of the peaks and crevices. They were very beautiful, but they didn’t look like a good landing spot, even for a helicopter.
Jag brought it down on a relatively flat spot on top of the glacier. The peaks, valleys and flat spots looked much larger than they did from the air. We got out of the helicopter and stepped down onto the glacier. For the inexperienced, it is a step of faith because where we landed looked like a puddle of partially frozen water. However, it was quite firm and not too slippery due to the boots they had given us. It looked like we had landed on a different planet, with an unearthly frozen landscape. The green mountains in the background though were very earthy and quite a beautiful contrast to the ice.
Since we were the only people around, it was perfectly quiet except for the water running off and through the glacier. The melting ice and snow move over parts of the glacier into the crevices and down to the water. We now could see where all the water that was coming out from the bottom of the Hubbard Glacier came from. The runoff made for some beautiful ice carvings as well as some lovely waterfalls and caves to look at.
The deep blue of the glacier was just so beautiful and captivating. I couldn’t get enough of it. Everywhere we walked was just another beautiful ice carving or crevice to look at and appreciate nature’s beauty. Until this moment I had not been overly concerned about global warming’s effect on the glaciers. I now understand a lot better why so many want to protect these amazing rivers of ice.
We spent about twenty minutes walking around on the glacier before we got back in the helicopter to head back to the airport. The return trip was just as beautiful as the first leg. The weather had been great for us all day and having sun shining down on the glaciers was just incredible. The green mountains and valleys, some covered in snow, were quite a sight, as were the numerous blue green mountain lakes.
It was kind of sad to have to land. We had an adventure that we will never forget and one that we will be talking about the rest of our lives. If you can do a glacier landing, do not pass it up. It is such an incredible experience.
We were taken back into town and decided to look around since it was only 4:30. The ship didn’t leave till 7:00 PM, but we had reservations at the SS United States Restaurant at 6:30 PM. We found quite a few nice souvenirs for our kids and grandkids. Carol and I also found some whale tail jewelry that we couldn’t pass up. She got whale tail earrings and I got a necklace whale tail. After our wonderful whale watching of the previous day, we had to have something tangible to remember it by.
We were very impressed with the flowers that had been put all around the city. It really made the town pretty and brightened it up.
Our last stop was at the famous Red Dog Saloon. It was quite a place with lots of interesting things all over the walls and ceilings. We didn’t have time to check it out in greater detail, but hopefully will someday. It looked like a fun place.
This had been another incredible day. The weather had been perfect and both excursions just amazing. We were ready to get back onboard and relax with our friends over delicious food in the elegance of the SS United States dining room.
Icy Strait Point, Alaska:
Icy Strait Point is another name for the little fishing village of Hoonah. Royal Caribbean converted this little town into its own private port. An old fish cannery was fixed up and made into numerous stores, restaurants and museums. They have also added the biggest zip line in the world there. Although it was blatantly commercial and artificial, this was a nice port.
We had arranged to do another private whale watching excursion, this time with F.I.S.H.E.S. (Link) This stands for Floyd’s Icy Straits Highliner Enterprising Services. We had two other couples from our Cruise Critic Roll Call join us on this tour, Dot and Con from New Jersey and Declan and Brenda from Ireland. Unlike our previous day in Juneau, this day was starting out drizzling rain. We had been very lucky for our other ports, so I couldn’t complain. After all we were in rainy Alaska, and we had expected a lot of precipitation.
Floyd met us in the parking lot near the dock and drove us in his van a couple of miles to the dock. He walked us down to his boat, the Silver Spoon. We were met by his wife who took care of the paperwork. F.I.S.H.E.S. does not take credit cards, so be sure to take cash or a check.
It was a larger boat than Harv and Marv’s, with a large outside area; but the inside space was arranged where only 5 people could sit down at one time. The youngest (by a big margin) male on the boat, Declan, offered to stand while the rest of us sat for the ride out to see the whales. As we were leaving, we got a kick out of some of the boat names.
The ride out to where the whales hang out took about 40 minutes. Floyd’s boat handled the waves well and it was a comfortable ride for at least five of us. We saw a lot of seals on the way out. They were traveling in groups and looked kind of funny moving through the water. I’ve never seen seals behaving that way. It was if they were acting silly to amuse us. I guess they are just friendlier in Alaska. We also saw a few single whales on our way out.
When we arrived at our destination, we could see whale blows in many places. There were a lot of whales out there, more than we had seen in Juneau.
Unfortunately a light rain started and it made it more difficult to take photos, since I had a baggie around the camera to protect it. We hoped the rain wouldn’t get heavier. The rain and the wind did make it less comfortable to stand outside in the cold; but I was so excited to be seeing and taking pictures of whales, that I didn’t pay much attention to it. Carol and Con chose to stay inside and enjoy the whales through the window.
Floyd’s boat does have large open outside areas to walk around and get good views and photos of the whales. It would be great in nicer weather. As soon as we saw a blow, Floyd would use his electronic depth finder to see where the fish were that the whales were going for and move so we would have a better view of the action.
One whale came up right next to the boat and went under it, our second time this had happened. I couldn’t get a picture of it, since it was so close, and I was so shocked that it was right in front of us. Icy Strait Point is certainly a port to take a whale watching tour. The whales were all over the place.
As I was looking out on the water for a whale, I saw something strange that I hadn’t seen before, sticking out of the water. I realized that it was a humpback whale’s pectoral fin. He was swimming on his side. It is such a thrill to see something in nature that we have never seen before. This cruise had provided us with many of these thrills.
As we were getting ready to head back to the dock, we saw a couple of whales swimming together. We followed them for a little while watching them blow and dive together. It was a really nice sight.
On the way back, I went inside the cabin. I hadn’t realized how cold it had been out on the front of the boat until I got in the warmer cabin. Shortly after heading back, the rain finally stopped, and it remained rain free for the rest of the day. The scenery on the way back was quite nice and relaxing. Icy Strait is a much less populated area and relies primarily on fishing. The dock area with the boats was really lovely with the wood boats reflecting in the flat water. Oh, but what a climb it was back up the ramp!
When we booked back to back days of whale watching, I was concerned that it might be too much. I am so glad that we did both of them. I wish we could have done several more days. I now understand much better why Jay of Harv and Marv’s loves his job so much and gets so excited about going out on another whale watching trip. Every day is different and each trip is special in its own way.
Heading back to town, we stopped at a restaurant/bar called the office. We had read that this was the best place to get Alaskan king crab legs. As we went into the restaurant/bar, it was quite obvious that this is a place that is frequented by the locals and visiting fisherman. We met a group of fisherman from Texas that had been having a great time and were taking a break at the local watering hole.
We sat down at a table and a waitress brought us a menu. This was not the season for Alaskan king crabs. They only had Dungeness crabs. Since we hadn’t had Dungeness crabs before, we decided to get a half order and split it to see if we wanted more. It was OK, but it wasn’t what we had been hoping to have.
We caught the Hoonah shuttle bus back to the cannery area. I wanted to check out some of the activities that are offered by RCI / Celebrity at Icy Strait Point. I had to see the longest zip line in the world. It was an unbelievably high and long zip line. There were several lines side by side, and the riders came down in a chair type harness rather than the traditional ones that I had previously used. It looked like a lot of fun, but would probably be cold in rainy weather. There was also a forest excursion tram that gave tours of the area woodlands.
After walking around outside, we visited the cannery. The stores were more expensive than what we had seen in Ketchikan and Juneau; and they had most of the same things available. There were some nice restaurants and interesting exhibits to see, especially the cannery museum.
After we had seen enough, we took the tender back to the ship for the last time. The cruise was almost over. The next day was a sea day and the last day of the cruise. It was a pretty relaxing day for me. Carol always chases me out of the cabin while she is doing the packing.
During the day we saw a large group of whales a pretty good way from the ship blowing their sprays up into the air. It was exciting to see them one last time, even if it was from a distance. The naturalist had told the audience “if you are expecting to see whales and other sea life from the ship, you won’t see them at the buffet.” It was good advice.
However, at dinner that night, one of the tables near the window in the Trellis Restaurant started making a bunch of noise and standing up by the window. Many people went over to see what was happening. A pod of orcas had come up right by the window and was now swimming beside the ship. Another special moment on a very special cruise.
Since we had plenty of time to get to the airport for our 3:15 PM flight, we were in no rush to get off the ship. We were scheduled to get off at 8:40 AM, but it ended up being about an hour later due to two medical emergency evacuations that had to be attended to before debarkation could be started. Once our color was called, it was very fast to walk to the gang plank and head for the terminal. When we finally got to the terminal after a pretty long walk, the baggage was arranged by the tag number and color. We easily found our bags and loaded them onto the provided luggage carts.
Since we had heard how waiting for a cab can take hours and having seen first hand when we boarded how long the cab line was, we knew we had made the right decision to take the Limo Jet Gold service again back to the airport. (Link)
We walked over to the building where the limos come and gave our name to an attendant. He called and placed our request. About ten minutes later a limo came up and called our name out. It was just too easy. We were at the airport in about 30 minutes, about four and a half hours before our flight. It was going to be a long day and night, since our second leg from San Francisco was a red-eye flight and we wouldn’t land in Miami until 5:00 AM. The cruise was officially over.
This cruise was so wonderful in so many ways. We were able to have a reunion with old friends, meet some great new friends, and we experienced a part of the world that was more beautiful than we could have imagined. This cruise far exceeded our expectations in so many ways. We are so glad that we finally went on an Alaskan cruise. Ever since we got back home, I have been telling everyone I come in contact with that they have to go to Alaska. I feel like the South Florida chapter of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce.
We had an incredible adventure in Alaska. We look forward to a return visit so we can spend a lot more time experiencing the natural beauty and wildlife that is so uniquely available in the great state of Alaska.
Below is a link to all of the Shutterfly albums with other photos from the vacations:
SS United States and the Main Dining: Click here for menus
Photographic Equipment Used in Review
Canon Rebel XT digital SLR camera
Canon 17-85 IS lens
Canon 10-22 ultra-wide lens
Canon 70-300 IS telephoto lens
Canon SD800 IS Digital Elph camera
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