Alaskan Inside Passage Cruise 7/30/01 - 8/6/01

Monday 7/30/01 - Seward Embarkation

Grand staircase in the atrium of the Sun Princess After staying the night at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast, we got up at 6:30, showered, and packed up. We ate breakfast inside (it was rainy) and chatted with the fresh group of guests who had arrived at the B&B the night before. Craig and I walked downtown and did some shopping at the trading post. We went to Mailboxes Etc. to do a quick email check (I needed to delete some spam or my account would overflow). We got reindeer sausage from a street vendor, and then returned to Susitna Place. Linda was kind enough to drive us to the Egan Center, where we checked in for the cruise. We got on the 12:45 bus to Seward. The weather was rainy and foggy, so we couldn't see much scenery from the bus. We backtracked over some of the same roads that had taken us to Hope several days before. The bus drove through the big game rehabilitation center, and we saw some wounded wildlife.

We got to Seward at 3:30, checked in, and then took a shuttle bus to the small boat dock. We went into a couple of shops and then walked a mile downtown. The weather was rather rainy and we couldn't find much to do, so we caught a shuttle bus to the dock and boarded the Sun Princess. We were taken to our room, A502, on Aloha deck 11 on the port side. It was an outside double with private balcony. As soon as we entered our cabin, our steward, Alex, came by to say hello. We went to the Horizon Court for a buffet dinner. After camping, it was a bit intimidating to get used to where/when dining takes place, and we felt a bit overwhelmed at first. After dinner we walked around the ship, and then at 8:15 we needed to meet at our muster stations for safety training. We set sail at 10 pm, and it was remarkably anticlimactic. There was supposed to be music on deck, etc, but mostly just everyone wandered around looking for the party. The most exciting thing was a couple of flashbulbs going off in the nearby RV park. We went to the piano bar for a while and then ordered terry cloth robes and went to the hot tub. It was cold and rainy and pretty much deserted, but later on a man from Illinois joined us and we chatted with him. The hot tub was exhilirating, as the rain was icy cold and the wind swept across the deck, yet the water was incredibly warm. There was little going on late at night, so we got a couple drinks at the disco (the place was pretty dead, but it was neat because the dance floor had TV screens embedded in it) and then got desserts from the buffet at 1:30. We ate them in the room and fell asleep at around 2 am.

Tuesday 7/31/01 - College Fjord Cruising

College Fjord We got up at 6:15 and went out onto our balcony to view College Fjord. We saw a small iceberg flip over in our wake and fall apart. We got breakfast at the buffet and brought it back to the room to eat it. We tuned our TV to a channel where a onboard naturalist was talking about the glaciers. We watched from our balcony while listening to her commentary. We decided to go up onto the pool deck to watch the glaciers and I bought a Glacier Bailey (hot cocoa with Bailey's and whipped cream in it). Yum! It was much chillier than it had been on our hiking trip, and it was overcast. We went back to the room and saw an otter from the balcony. We changed and headed for the semi-covered hot tub (we hadn't known that it existed the night before. This hot tub cut down on the wind chill). We ate lunch at Verdi's pizzeria. Craig had a calzone and I had a Hawaiian pizza. We took a nap from 12:30 - 2, and then went downstairs to check out the shops. We made dinner reservations for 5:30. It was formal night, so I ironed Craig's shirt in the laundry room. We then showered and went to dinner.

We were seated with six other people who were very nice. We were next to a window, and the ocean was rather choppy. I had crab quiche and yogurt tamarind soup. Craig had duck and lobster bisque. We both got tournedoes of beef with carrots, squash, and potato croquettes. It was delicious! For dessert we had petit fours. Craig had cheesecake and I had the Love Boat mousse with Godiva liquer. The mousse was heart-shaped and had a candy with the Princess logo. It was a man at our table's birthday, so they sang to him and we all shared a small birthday cake.

After dinner we went to the theatre to see the Words and Music show, which had various showtunes and dancing. It was an hour long and it was very entertaining. It was impressive that they could dance so well with the ship rocking as much as it was (this was one of the at sea days). We picked up our first batch of photos (which we had developed onboard), viewed them in the room, dropped off more film, and watched a guitarist in the Rendezvouz lounge. We then went to the Wheelhouse Bar to watch Pele & Company serve up some 50's-70's style rock and roll. We got hungry and went to Verdi's Pizzeria, which is open until 12:30. Around 11 o'clock we had pepperoni and bell pepper pizza. We went back to the room and were in bed by 1. We hung a sign on our door requesting room service breakfast between 9 and 9:30 the next morning.

Wednesday 8/1/01 - Our 3rd Anniversary, Glacier Bay

Margerie Glacier calving We woke up at 9:00, and several minutes later our room service arrived. We saw humpback whales breaching and blowing from our own balcony! It was wild! While we were on the balcony, Alex was making up the next stateroom. He poked his head out of their balcony and said in his wonderful song-like voice, "Good morningggggg! Happy anniversareeeeee!" When we opened our door there were three "Happy Anniversary" balloons taped next to our door. We wrote out some postcards and at 10:30, a small boat pulled up next to us and six rangers climbed a ladder to get aboard. They would stay onboard all day as we cruised through Glacier Bay National Park.

We went to the Taste of Alaska Buffet lunch at 11:30. We had caribou (which tasted like tender beef), salmon croquettes, pasta, beef ghoulash, etc. We went to the shops and then back to the room to view Margerie Glacier. We sat near it for half an hour, and we watched it from our balcony. Then the boat swung around for half an hour of viewing on the other side. We went to deck 7, where it was less crowded than 14. It was gorgeous, and the sun came out. The glacier calved several times while we were watching, and the thunderous noise which preceded it was unreal. We went back to our room and hung out for a while, and then went up to deck 12. The sun was shining and the weather was nice. Anniversary cake and card at the Sterling Steak House We got showered and dressed for dinner and went to the Sterling Steakhouse on Deck 14. It is an "alternative dining" place where you have to pay an $8 surcharge per person for dinner. We had made a reservation earlier that day, and Fernando had squeezed us in at 6 pm, when they Stephanie dancing with James at the '50's party open, when he found out that it was our anniversary. When we showed up, he showed us to a nice window table for two. We had a blooming onion, jalapeno poppers, steak, baked potato, and bread with tomato, mozzarella, and olive oil. They sang a happy anniversary song to us, and brought us a tiramisu-style cake with dark chocolate around the edges and orange gelatine on top. The dark chocolate said "Princess Cruises Happy Anniversary" in gold leaf. There was a candle and a chocolate rose. They gave us an anniversary card from the captain, and then took our picture.

We picked up our photos and looked at them, and then headed to the Wheelhouse Bar for the '50's party. Pele & Company were playing '50's tunes. Members of the cruise staff were there, one dressed as a greaser, one dressed as a nerd, girls in capri pants and silk jackets, etc. The greaser (James) asked me to dance to "Johnny B.Goode", which was a lot of fun. Craig got roped into a hula hoop contest, much to his chagrine. But luckily none of the men were good at hula hooping, so he didn't really stand out. The party lasted about an hour, but James stuck around and talked to us a bit afterwards. We hung out in the bar people-watching as Pele continued to play. We went back to the room at 12:30.

Thursday 8/2/01 - Skagway - White Pass Railroad, Horseback Riding

White Pass & Yukon Railroad We got up at 6:30 and ate a buffet breakfast at 7. Then we disembarked in Skagway and got on board the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, which was right next to the dock. It follows the White Pass Trail of '98, where goldrushers could bring pack animals. In order to get into Canada, stampeders need to have 2,000 pounds of supplies, so that there would be no famine once they arrived. Because of this, stampeders would need to make many trips up and down the trail. The foot trail was the Chilkoot, and the pack animal trail was the White Pass. We saw the Denver Caboose, which hikers can rent as overnight accommodations. We learned about Soapy Smith, a Skagway con man who was eventually killed in a shootout with a man named Reid, who also died in the struggle. Although Reid was somewhat of a martyr for the town's honor, he was in Skagway to begin with because he was wanted for murder in the lower 48. One of the conductors had suggested that we sit in the frontmost car. Although it was directly behind the diesel engines on the way up, the engines switch to the other end at the top, and we would then be in the last car for the return trip. That means that we could stand on the platform and have an unobstructed view behind us for the entire trip down. That was wild. My favorite part was looking down from some of the trestles and seeing through the wooden slats. It felt like you were on a roller coaster. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining and it was quite warm. The train ride lasted for about 3 1/2 hours.

Craig riding Jonathan and Steph riding Doc The train dropped us in downtown Skagway, with its boardwalk sidewalks and historic buildings. We ate lunch at the Golden North Hotel, with beer from the Skagway Brewing Company. Craig had a beer sampler, including Spruce Tip Ale. The stampeders often got scruvy, so they started to brew beer with spruce tips in order to get the necessary vitamins. I got a BLT and Craig got a chicken sandwich. We went into some shops and met on the dock at 2 pm for our excursion with Chilkoot Horseback Adventures. Carrie drove us in a van to Dyea (about a 30 minute ride) where we met our horses. Craig rode Jonathan and I rode Doc. We rode through a wooded trail. At first Doc was a bit hard for me to control, and I was kind of nervous. He kept wanting to eat the vegetation along the path. At one point we had to cross a small pond, and the horses all decided to stop for a drink. The trail emerged in a nice meadow with a gorgeous view of the mountains. We stopped for a while to let the horses graze and get some photos. Then we headed back. I felt much more confident on the ride back. Doc was playful and burst into a trot at some points, which I found to be a lot of fun. When we got back, we were given lemonade and salmon pate and crackers. Carrie drove us back to town.

Returning to the Sun Princess after a busy day in port After a bit more shopping we returned to the ship, showered, and went to dinner at 8:00. We were seated with a couple from California and a couple from Kent. The man from Kent was hysterical. We talked about our trip to England, and he had us in stitches. He had requested a special curry for dinner, and they had made it for him, although it was not on the menu. He let us try it, although he said it was more salty than would be usual. It was a great night of conversation, and we scarcely wanted to leave after the meal was over! I had prosciutto with canteloupe, minestrone, beef, and tiramisu. Craig had squid, mussels, and shrimp, minestrone, swordfish, and tiramisu.

We then went to "Pub Night" with the cruise staff. James (the greaser from last night) picked me out of the crowd as part of the Battle of the Sexes. We had to run a relay race with a balloon between our knees, and pop it by jumping onto one of the cruise staff's (the nerd from the night before) lap. The man had to do the same with one of the female cruise staff. The women won, and as a result, we had to do an Old MacDonald song. We were lining up and James held me back. He whispered that when they asked for an animal, he wanted me to say "a**." "It'll get a big laugh." I agreed to do it. They asked each person in succession for an animal and then made them do the noise. The best was when one woman said "Old MacDonald had a sick wife." The guy asked what kind of noise the wife would make, and the woman replied, "With an oy vey here and an oy vey there..." (pointing to her hips). The crowd went wild, but the British cruise staff (at least the emcee) didn't get it. He asked for an explanation, but everyone was laughing so hard that they couldn't explain. So, it got to be my turn, and I was nervous. I was supposed to say "a**", and then give the noise it makes. What were they planning? Whoopee cushions? But it went off well, the emcee acted surprised, the crowd laughed, I made a screeching hee-haw noise, and it was over. But it was good fun, and I got a bottle of wine for my efforts. Craig was just glad it was me up on stage rather than him! Afterwards, we went to the hot tub, and got to bed at around 1:30.

Friday 8/3/01 - Juneau - Mine Tour, Libby Riddles

Steph, Ziggy the miner, and Craig Craig and Steph with Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod  in 1985 We were up at 7:00. There was a brief power outage. We ate a buffet breakfast and disembarked in Juneau. We caught a bus to the A.J. Mine Gastineau Mill, a gold mine and mill locate din Mt. Roberts. We got a brief overview of mining techniques (learning such terms as "sluice" and "glory hole") and then saw the remnants of the coarse crushing plant where ore was crushed into two inch segments. (It was salvaged for iron during the world wars, just like the rails from the McCarthy Railroad.) We then donned hard hats, earplugs, and flashlights, and followed our professional miner guide Ziggy into the mine. He showed us the utility pipes and the "facilities", and demonstrated equipment such as a pneumatic drill and a mucker which loaded ore into a small ore car. It was very informative and fun. The mine had come back to life within the past decade or two as university courses on mining were taught there. Then it was off to the ruins of the mill building. In the gift shop/museum we were given drinks and cookies.

We got back to Juneau at noon. We mailed postcards and called home. We bought some fudge and beer, and browsed in some shops. We went back to the ship for the 2:15 lecture by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985. We got to speak with her before her Sunset presentation. She was very nice. We told her what we had done on this trip so far, and how we would like to come back for Adventure Alaska's Iditarod trip. She encouraged us to mush dogs, saying that we could even enter the race someday! She pointed out that Joe Redington started running the race at an older age. She was a very inspirational speaker. She had an "If I can do it so could you" kind of attitude. We bought her book and she signed it for us. She gave a nice speech and showed a documentary about her Iditarod success. We talked to her again afterwards, and we got our photo taken with her.

We showered and went to the dining room for a 5:30 dinner with a couple from Texas and three women. We had asparagas with puff pastry, salad, king crab legs, and cheesecake. It was delicious! The crab legs were already cracked in half, so that they were easy to eat. After dinner we picked up photos and went to the Rhythms of the City show, with great songs and energetic dancing. After that we came back to the room and then went up for pepperoni and bell pepper pizza. We went back to the room and the foghorn blared. We went out onto the balcony. It was very surreal as the moon was close to full and was reflecting through the fog onto the water. As we watched, the moon disappeared completely as the fog took over and made visibility very short. The foghorn kept blaring every minute. We went to bed around 11:30.

Saturday 8/4/01 - Ketchikan - Float Plane to Misty Fjords, Lumberjack Show

View from the float plane We got up at 7 and ate a buffet breakfast. We disembarked in Ketchikan. At 9 we caught a shuttle to the nearby Promech Air headquarters. We got into a 6 passenger float plane (5 of us plus the pilot). Craig had to sit in the copilot's seat. We flew to Misty Fjords National Monument. We were in the air for a total of 75 minutes. Halfway through we landed in a lake, and were able to get out and stand on the float. The ride was beautiful. We listened to a narration and soothing music on headsets. We could see small lakes reflecting the threes and mountains. We saw New Eddystone Rock, and saw the Misty Fjords and all of their waterfalls below us. The flight was very smooth, and we felt very comfortable and safe.

Wood chopping at the Lumberjack Show We were back at the dock at 11. We ate a buffet lunch onboard, and then walked up to the Blueberry Arts Festival. There were local artisans, music, food etc. We had heard about it beforehand, and I envisioned a festival on the town common. But instead it was held within a parking garage. It seemed too crowded and claustrophobic to me after all of our adventures, so we didn't stick around long. But I think that it was a great civic event for the locals of Ketchikan (which is a much bigger city than I expected). We went to the local brewery and internet cafe, where we checked email one more time. I had some hot chocolate. We did some shopping, and at 3:00 we went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, right next to the cruise ship dock. It was cute. I thought it got a little cloying though. They had long set ups for corny jokes. The lumberjack competitions were very interesting, but I think the 80 minute show would have been more fun for adults and kids if it had been a little heavier on lumberjacking, and a little lighter on long winded jokes. At $30 per adult admission price, I expected a bit more.

Our formal portrait When we got back to the ship, we ate burgers and fries from the Terrace Grill. We went to the stateroom and got dressed up for formal night. We got our formal portrait taken, and then went to the Captain's Circle reception in the Vista Lounge. We talked to the cruise staff and got complimentary munchies and screwdrivers. They had an awards ceremony for the passengers who had taken the most cruises. The winners hadover 580 days at sea, which was 28 more days than our captain!

After the reception, we went to dinner. We ate with a couple from L.A. and three people from outside of Memphis. I had fruit, chilled strawberry soup, beef Wellington, and white and dark chocolate mousses. Craig had shrimp cocktail, salad, lobster tail, and the chocolate mousses. After dinner we went to see the Newlywed game. It was a riot! That lasted until 11:15. We made our way to the atrium for the champagne waterfall. We were on deck 7 (the highest deck in the atrium) and watched from the railing. James gave us streamers to throw. The waterfall consisted of 647 glasses, I believe. It was quite a sight. The maitre d' started the waterfall, and passengers were allowed to go up and pour champagne onto it, while getting their pictures taken. After that, I went to bed (12:45). Craig went out for another beer, and went to bed around 2:20.

Sunday 8/5/01 - At Sea

Lighthouse in British Columbia, as seen from our balcony We lost an hour of sleep and, as this was purely an "at sea" day, decided to catch up on our rest. We woke up at 11:40. We got dressed, and went to our first and only lunch in the dining room. We got salads and beef pot pie. I got a chantilly swan cream puff and Craig had apple pie a la mode. We bought our formal portrait, and then returned to the room to pack and prepare for tomorrow's disembarkation.

We had been given a tip from a fellow passenger about chateau briand, which is not on the menu, but can be served up for special occasions. We requested one for our anniversary the previous day (as they said they needed 24 hours notice). After much checking, they agreed to do it. We made a dinner reservation for 5:30, and when we arrived we got a table for two. As it was the last night of the cruise, the dining room was decorated with red, white, and blue balloons, and the waiters were dressed in blue vests with white stars. I thought it was funny, because for the first time in the trip we were actually in Canada. Because of our special occasion, they were even more attentive to us than usual. They wanted everything to be perfect. I had chilled pumpkin curry soup. Craig had a popover filled with sweetbreads and chicken and a salad. The head waiter, Luigi, brought over the chateau briand on a bed of fresh vegetables. He carved it at our table. It was crusted in garlic and pepper, and was so tender you could have cut it with a fork. It was so delicious! For dessert we had baked Alaska. Craig thinks it is the best meal of his entire life.

After dinner we went to see Greg Bonham, an Vegas-style entertainer who sings and plays the trumpet. The show was good; he was an excellent trumpet player. He could play very high clear notes and sustain them from a long time. After that, we went to C'est Magnifique, a French revue. It had great costumes and singing and dancing. We went to our room as we had to put our bags (except for the carry-ons) out by 10pm. After that we went to the passenger talent show. The Vista Lounge was standing room only. Unfortunately, not many people signed up and it only lasted about 20 minutes. We went to the Wheelhouse Bar and watched Pele & Company. When they took a break, we went for a pizza. Then we went back to see one more Pele set. By 12:45, everything onboard was closed, so we went to bed.

Monday 8/6/01 - Departure from Vancouver

We got up at 8 and quickly gathered our carry-ons. We went up to the buffet breakfast and waited for our disembarkation code (yellow 2) to be called. They called us at around 9:30, and we took a 30 minute busride to Vancouver airport. Once there, we collected our baggage, and were told to wait until 2 hours prior to flight time to check in. So, at 12:20, a huge line appeared, and we got into it. When we checked in, we were told that the flight was full, and we would have to get seat assignments at 1:30 at the gate. We went through customs (a nasty process, especially since we had been in the US the entire time except for the trip from ship directly to airport) and had to pay the airport improvement fee. While in the customs line, I noticed Greg Bonham (last night's entertainer) behind us. I caught his eye and he winked, and I said "Good show." He thanked me. We walked a long way to the gate and finally ended up at the right place, but it was very crowded. We sat down next to a chair with a small bag on it. I went to get food and when I turned around, the chair was Greg Bonham. Craig was talking to him. He was very nice, and talked about entertaining on cruise ships and in Vegas. He got caught up in our seat assignment plight. Noone came to the desk until 1:40. They wouldn't tell Craig anything, and wouldn't guarantee that we could even sit together. Greg told us to be "philosophical" and think positively: that we would be upgraded to first class. When Craig went up to ask again (now that the flight was actually boarding), Greg was digging through his bags. He said, "I'm looking for a pen because I wanted to sign this CD for you..." I shocked him by having a Sharpie handy (you never know who you're going to run into), and he gave us a copy of his CD and signed it for us! Craig came back with the tickets, and they were row 4. Greg jumped out of his seat to look at them, and was all excited, telling us that they were first class! They were indeed. We had really enjoyed chatting with him, and we'll try to catch one of his shows if we're ever in Vegas again. We had talked to him for at least an hour. The 5 hour flight home flew by. We had free drinks and a special meal (steak!). We had headrests and footrests and plenty of space. We were able to nap comfortably. We got in to Logan at 10:45, but had to wait 45 minutes for our bags. We took a $20 cab ride to Revere, where Craig's mom picked us up and we came home. We went to bed at 2 and had to go to work the next morning, but it was all worth it!

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