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15 Days Alaska Visit ( 7 day Cruise)

August 28 – September 04, 2017 (7 Day Cruise)

We are finally on our Alaska adventure!  We planned this trip just about a year ago and it felt at the time it was a long way off into the future.  Well here it is time to start it and our plan to get here worked as well!  We had loads of contingencies built in to make sure we were here on time in Vancouver BC to board the ship.  The plan worked!


Our site in Surrey BC.  This is where our rig will wait until we get back from Alaska

Our adventure is a 14 day cruise (Norwegian Sun) and land tour of Alaska.  We also added an extra couple of days at the end of our tour to unwind.  One day in Fairbanks and then and extra day to take a train back to Vancouver from Seattle.  So the entire trip from the start on Monday the 28th to arriving back at our RV on Tuesday the 12th was all of 16 days.


Fridge is cleaned out!
Bags are packed!


Our first day started by closing up the RV for storage.  Instead of us moving the RV to the storage yard before we left, the park said they would move it for us - fine with us.  Anyway, they never moved it so it was great when we came back, all we had to do was open up the slides and plugin! 

Our cruise was leaving out of the Vancouver BC cruise port about 15 miles from where we were.   We decided to take mass transit to get there because there was a bus stop just outside the RV Park which took us to the light rail that was then direct to the cruise terminal.  We had only to be on the bus for less than 5 minutes and then we go on the light rail system at the King George Street station.  Train was about 40 minutes and it took us right to the cruise terminal.  The total trip was about an hour and cost just $6 Canadian (about $5 US).  Can't beat that!


Patty with her bags at the bus stop.

Train Station in Surrey, where we started.
Just one catch to our perfect plan though, I forgot the passports!  Patty asked me about them halfway to the cruise terminal on the train.  I got off at the next stop and went back to the RV to retrieve them.  We had plenty of time as we were trying to be there for the first boarding at 10:30 and we were a little ahead of that even.  I decided to take a cab instead of the bus back and forth from the station and the RV.  This saved a lot of time but cost more money.  The Taxi cost me $25 and the train ticket was still good so our cost went from $6 to $31.  We were in line to board by 11 am so not bad at all.


Headed to the boarding area for Norwegian Sun!
Next issue, we got on board the ship and were unpacking our stuff and Patty realized she didn't bring her insulin!  She thought I took it from the cooler!  My help in this is to always ask before we leave on a long trip if she has everything she needs because she has forgotten many times over the past 20 years.  The day before we left I was trying to figure out how she could keep her insulin cold on the land part of the trip.  I was going to take a small cooler for it but she said it could be left out for up to 30 days, so we decided to forgo the cooler.  She, for some reason, thought I taken the insulin from that cooler.  


Our balcony room


We didn’t have time for her to go back and get the insulin now.  We were on board around noon and would have still had time to get it but they didn’t bring the bags to the rooms until around 2pm.  It was about 2:30pm when she realized she didn’t have insulin for the trip and the ship leaves at 4pm.  She went to ship medical to see if she could buy some from them.  Well, of course, you can, you can buy anything you want on the ship with enough money!  The insulin ended up costing us a little over $500.  That’s about 10 times the cost if she bought it without insurance at Walmart. We can, however, submit this to our insurance.


View of Vancouver from our balcony



Vancouver Island above and below as we leave port heading north.  The adventure begins!




Our second day and first full day on the cruise was at sea.  It was great weather for being a day at sea going north to Alaska.  Not a cloud in the sky and around 75 degrees!  It turned to the only day the pool was pretty full as it never got up to that temperature again.  There were always people in the pool as it was heated but not very many after today.  We never did use the pool.  We spent the day wandering the ship with a couple of cocktails.  Patty also got a haircut and then we had pictures taken that evening before dinner.  We ended up not purchasing any of the pictures either.  We had these pictured done with us in more casual clothing as we are never in formal stuff anymore.  We just didn’t like any of the pictures enough to purchase any of them.  Sort of too bad!

Norwegian does dinner different than all of the other cruise lines, they have want they call freestyle dining.   This means that there is no set times for dinner.  The ship has 2 dining rooms with the exact same hours they are open.  They also have the same menu which made no sense to us at all.  One dining room was billed as more formal than the other which really meant very little of nothing.  You were supposed to have a collared shirt and no jeans in the more formal dining room. Oh, and no flip flops either.  That was out the window by the 3rd day of the cruise. 

Freestyle dining means that you just show up during the time the dining room is open and they seat you wherever and not with other passengers.  This was our first time experiencing this freestyle dining on a cruise.  Patty and I had different opinions about the freestyle dining.  I didn’t care for it and Patty liked it.  Patty liked it for the same reason that I did, you weren’t limited by having to stop what you were doing to make dinner.  However, I didn’t think that was ever really an issue as you just planned around dinner time.  The reasons I like the classical seating was that you got the same waiter every night.  He got to know you and what you liked.  The service seemed much better that way too.  However, it could just be the ship we were on too.  We didn’t care for the food anywhere on the ship and the service just wasn’t as good as we have had on other cruise lines either.  Whether freestyle dining had something to do with it, who knows.  


View down the glass elevator

Statue at entrance to Seven Seas Dining Room

Entertainment the first night on board.
Entertainers




Buffet dining area
Day three was our first port stop in Ketchikan Alaska.  Ketchikan is just a small fishing community and now also a tourist village. Ketchikan is only serviced by boat or plane.  There are no roads into Ketchikan from the rest of the world.  We were very surprised by that.  Actually, none of the ports we were stopping at could you drive to, even the state capital Juneau!


Ketchikan from our balcony 

Ketchikan
We made a reservation months ago for a Salmon fishing excursion here in Ketchikan.  It was raining and very cloudy when we got off of the ship so we weren’t sure the expedition would happen.  We were met by the actual captain of the boat we were taking out.  He told us that since it wasn’t windy we could go out but we were the only passengers!   It turned out we were on a boat for 6 fishermen and it was just Patty and I with the captain! The small size was why we picked this expedition in the first place but just the 2 of us was even better!  We made this expedition outside of the ones done by the ship.  The trips offered by the ship had up to 20 on a boat fishing which wasn't very interesting at all!


Very overcast and rainy day

Patty staying dry while we head to our fishing spot

Very low lying clouds
What can I say; it was cold and wet on the boat!  The captain took us out about 10 miles before we started to fish and by that time it was only raining sporadically.  The way we fished was with a weighted rig line.  The actual fishing line with a hook has a second weighted breakaway line attached.  The weighted line held the actual fishing line under at a precise depth which was controlled with an electric motor.  If a salmon took the bait the rig line would detach and then you reel it in.  Actually, it is really simple to do.  


The fishing setup with a salmon biting!
We were out 4 hours, fishing for about 3 hours and caught 10 keeper salmon. Right now King Salmon are not allowed to be kept so we actually caught about 20 but could only keep 10 as the others were king salmon.  The kings fought harder but salmon don't really fight much.





Mark's reeling them in!


Patty was reeling them in as well!

Our ship from the fishing boat as we were coming back in.
We had the fish processed and sent to our Texas place.  It ended up being 40 pounds of fish processed and cost about $200 for processing and shipping together.  So, not too bad at $5 a pound.  If however, you factor in the cost of the fishing boat excursion then it would be about the cost to purchase the fish in the store.  The catching was the fun part so we are not counting that in the cost!


10 salmon on ice
Totem poles are common here

The welcoming bear at a store

Patty trying on Alaskan hats
On our 4th day we stopped at the state capital Juneau.  Juneau is a fair sized city and real surprising considering it is not accessible by road!  Our plan for this stop was to take seaplane out over the nearby glaciers.  



Juneau waterfall

Juneau seaport

Where our ship passengers disembark



The weather was again very cloudy when we arrived but not raining.  It’s weird up here in that the clouds hang very low everywhere we went.  Our flight wasn’t until 1:30pm and we were off the ship around 11 am so we first headed over to the seaplane office to make sure they were flying.  



As we approached we saw no planes in the water and nobody waiting, not a good sign.  The office was open so we went in and found out that all of the morning flights had been canceled due to the low hanging clouds.  The woman in the office said that we should come back at 1 pm and check and see then.  Now we had time for some lunch before checking back in.  

We chose to have lunch and a couple of beers at the “famous” Red Dog Saloon.  The place has been here since the 1800s.  The waitresses are dressed up like in an old time saloon with sawdust on the floors.  We learned that when tourist season is over, like next week, the waitresses don’t wear the costumes, they take the sawdust off of the floor and there is an entirely different menu!  It was a cool place to park yourself for lunch.


Had to try the Red Dog Saloon

Red Dog Entrance and Exit doors

Sawdust floors

Uniform costumes

The piano player
Back at the seaplane site they were going to fly one round of people.  They have  6  planes holding around 12 people each and they were all going up at just about the same time.  The clouds had risen enough so we could fly under them and see the glaciers!



I was a little worried about this flight because it was on such a small plane and I am claustrophobic.  I made up my mind I was doing this, mind over matter sort of thing.  The seating is one by one so the plane seemed bigger to me and that was all it took for me, I was fine!


Patty approaching to board
Patty onboard


The seaplane tour was great!  It lasted about an hour from takeoff to landing which was plenty long enough to see everything.  I was surprised at just how smooth the takeoff and landing was on water.  The only thing is it seemed that the landing and takeoffs were very short.  It was great!


The pilot
Gastineau Channel



View from the cockpit






Norris Glacier




Taku Glacier


West Twin Glacier


The glacier runoff meeting the salt water in the channel.  They don't mix for days

Juneau from the air

Our ship from the air

We are back!  Trip was about an hour

After the seaplane ride we did a little tourist shopping and then back to the ship for dinner. 

Never seen such a large pile of king crab legs

Downtown Juneau


Monument to the miners who made the city

Recreational Marijuana is legal in Alaska



We had a great day so celebrated a little with a bottle of wine with dinner.   So now we have had beers with lunch and a bottle of wine with dinner.  The celebration did not last through the night!


Different photos of the glass elevators on the ship


Patty was up and down from midnight on with diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.  By 5am I had her wheeled down to the onboard sick bay.

Patty being wheeled to Medical


The morgue, we were definitely NOT in there!
We had just docked in Skagway for our day 5 of the cruise.  We had reservations on the train trip to the Yukon and White Pass that were made by our travel agent.  I called them an hour before to let them know but there weren’t any refunds that late.  I look at this sort of thing as we didn’t lose any money by not going on the excursion we just didn’t get to experience the trip.  The money was gone no matter if we went or not.  So Skagway was a bust for us, we never got off of the ship there.

Patty was in the sick bay the entire day!  She got out and back to the cabin around 6pm.  Basically, they gave her 3 liters of IV fluids and some medicine for vomiting.  She has Gastroparesis so she needs to be very careful that she only eats small meals that are easy to digest. We are still learning how alcohol affects this.

Day 6 of the cruise was on the ship the entire day cruising up the Icy Strait and into Glacier Bay.  Our destination was the Margerie and the Grand Pacific Glaciers.  Patty saw some of it from the cabin bed as we had a balcony.  These are mammoth glaciers!  They are several miles wide and hundreds of feet thick.  What amazed me was that they are not silent, they make a lot of noise!  The ice is always cracking which sounds like thunder.   We got to see several pieces of ice “calf” off of the glaciers and fall into the ocean.  That is incredible too!  Since the ship is big and so are the mountains around us the glaciers don’t look that big.  However, when a chunk of ice falls off into the ocean it makes a tremendous crash sound and wave.  It is very unreal to watch.  Some of the best pictures of the trip were taken here.


Approaching the glaciers we start to see loads of ice in the water





The Grand Pacific Glacier







View of Glacier from our room

Heading out to Reid Glacier


Reid Glacier

Rendu Glacier