Quest to the Pacific Northwest - Glacier Cruising
Day 11.5, 12, and 13
I sent my last update on Saturday when we reached Valdez around mid-day. We got off the bus and walked to the nearby 'Drunken Mermaid' as it had the best sounding name for lunch options. Enjoyed more Alaskan brews and a smoked salmon pizza.
Shortly thereafter we boarded the Catamaran in Valdez and it was a good thing I sent my last post during lunch because we had no data service on the phones when we got to Whittier. As we cruised for 4 hours through Princess William Sound we saw otters sea lions, birds, and a humpback whale. We mostly sat indoors on the lower deck and played cards, but we did venture up top side to the outdoor viewing area to enjoy beautiful views, crisp sea breeze and spray, and spot wildlife with the binoculars. It was a good dry run for dressing for the glacier viewing days on the cruise! Inside they were serving something called a 'Sea Otter' which involved hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps, so that was my drink of choice to warm back up.
We docked in Whittier and said goodbye to The Hipster as he then headed back to Anchorage via the train and then on to Atlanta since Georgia Tech starts fraternity rush preparation now. The remaining 5 of us boarded the Grand Princess cruise ship and we each did our own thing for evening activities and dinner the first night. They always have a muster drill which is mandatory, but otherwise you had a choice of trivia, a show in the theater, the main dining room, or the buffet on the lido deck. Being trivia junkies, we made a beeline to that and then enjoyed a quiet dinner in the main dining room which did open seating for the first night. Near the bridge, they posted maps of our entire voyage plan for the week.
Since the first two days of the cruise (Days 12 and 13 for those keeping track) were at sea days they have been fairly relaxing with trivia, movies, and art lectures, etc. being our activities of choice. We drank ourselves from one of the ship to the other on Sunday starting with a pint at the British pub lunch, then the champagne art auction, followed by a scotch tasting as we learned about watches, and finishing with a vodka tasting. I really liked the smoked salmon vodka - would be great in a bloody Mary for brunch! We capped off the evening dressed to the nines for the first formal night. I got a new necklace on board that is a replica of the one Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was perfect with my black dress, just wish I had packed my elbow gloves!
Monday we all took up various outposts on the upper decks to enjoy the glaciers as we cruised through Glacier National Park. Two rangers boarded the ship in the morning and started with a PowerPoint lecture that was broadcast in various lounges of the ship, and then they narrated as we passed each glacier, which was broadcast over the speakers outside. I found a good spot on deck 15 where we were outside and could hear the glaciers cracking and groaning, but we sat behind a glass panel as a windscreen so that we were not as exposed. We had a misty rain/fog all day which was quite chilling, but bundled up we were fine to be outside. We passed Marjorie Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier, and Lampugh Glacier over the course of the day. The scale is massive and the blue is electric. Binoculars were very valuable on this trip as a whole, but in particular while viewing the glaciers and wildlife. We even spotted Santa's doppleganger who was on our cruise. He wore a red hawaiian shirt with surfing santas (or a similar motif) and red shorts every single day, no matter the weather
We finished the afternoon with a wine tasting seminar and then met the in-laws for an excellent dinner at the Italian specialty restaurant. After dinner, some of us (aka not the Engineer) went up to the disco hoping to dance, but the party scene was not happening so we called it quits after some time in the cocktail lounge.
Today we are in Skagway doing ziplines, rock climbing, kayaking, and a scenic train. Details and pics to follow at the next port!