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Juneau

June 2, 2022 – Juneau, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

The ship arrives in Juneau at 8AM and my floatplane excursion doesn’t leave until Noon, so I have plenty of time to have breakfast and look around the city. Juneau is the state capital of Alaska, so in addition to tourism, the city has the government and some industry to base their economy on. There are nice plazas, a developed waterfront, the shops are plentiful and appear to be prospering. Before returning to the ship, I check out where Wings Airways dispatches their seaplanes from, which is only a 5-minute walk from where the ship is docked.

Five Glacier Seaplane Exploration

The pilot selects me to sit in the co-pilot’s seat, so that’s a real bonus, allowing me to see out the front of the aircraft as well as having a side window. We soar over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest, catching our first glimpse of five distinctly different and majestic glaciers making up a section of the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field. We fly over the deep crevasses and azure blue meltwater pools of the Norris, Hole-In-The-Wall, East and West Twin Glaciers and lake, plus the impressive five-mile-wide Taku Glacier. Of the 36 named glaciers comprising the Juneau Ice Field, the Taku Glacier is the largest. The Annex Creek power station is visible as we fly along the Taku Inlet. There is a verdant valley between the foot of Norris and Taku glaciers and Taku Inlet.

We end the flight by overflying the harbour and city before landing on a southerly heading, returning to the dock. I buy a souvenir t-shirt and ball cap combo from the seaplane office before returning to the ship. I have lots of photos and video taken with my iPhone 13 Pro on this spectacular flight in clear and sunny weather – well worth the expense for this excursion.

I have a pizza and a beer from NY Pizza aboard the ship, sitting in the shade beside the Sea View pool on the stern, overlooking the city and harbour. It’s a lovely warm and sunny day. In fact, Juneau breaks a record today set back in 1946 for the hottest day:  28ºC (82ºF). Our Belgian cruise director complains about getting a bit of a sunburn today!

Since I have the drinks package, I’m making a point of ordering cappuccino and alcoholic drinks anytime I want one. Today I had two cappuccinos with breakfast, the beer with lunch. I also have another cappuccino in the late afternoon at the Explorations Cafe, where Maria, the young barista thanks me for leaving a complimentary comment using the Navigator app a couple of days ago. 

I skip dinner or even a snack this evening, since the personal-sized pizza I had this afternoon was 6 slices, which filled me up. I attend the 7pm Step One Dance Company Presents: Humanity and send a comment through Navigator app: “This is my first MainStage show viewed on this voyage, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Please pass on my congratulations to the performers. I know it must be tough to play to a mostly empty house, but their enthusiasm and professionalism shone through.”

I spot my first small Humpback whale at 9:30PM this evening from my verandah as we pass through Frederick Sound. The ship is making 20 knots to Ketchikan, so there is only time to grab binoculars, not my camera.

Juneau
35 photos, 1 video
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Glacier Bay

May 31, 2022 – Glacier Bay National Park, Gustavus, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I ordered breakfast from room service last night (continental, bagel and lox, coffee), so I don’t have to contend with the inevitable crowds that will be up at the Lido this morning. By 9AM we are into the Glacier Bay channel, heading north to the glacier viewing area. The bow is opened up on my deck 5, so lots of people are going by my door to access that forward view. I’ll go up there later, but I’m quite happy observing all the beautiful scenery from my verandah. It’s great to be able to duck into my stateroom to warm up, work on my journal, consult the maps to determine where the ship is located, and sip cappuccino. I’m so glad I decided to go for a verandah stateroom!

Our Timing (port side)

  • Northbound – proceeding NW, facing SE
    • Geikie Glacier (snow-covered) – 9:45AM
    • Gilbert Peninsula – 10:45AM
    • Reid Glacier (snow-covered) – 11:10AM
    • Lamplugh Glacier (blue) – 11:30AM
    • Johns Hopkins (blue) – 11:45AM
    • Margerie (blue) & Grand Pacific Glaciers (dark) – 1:00PM – 2:45PM
  • Southbound – proceeding SE, facing NE
    • Rendu & Queen Inlets (Rendu & Carroll Glaciers both snow-covered & dark) – 3:45PM
    • Muir Inlet – 4:45PM
    • Bartlett Cove

I go up to the Explorations Cafe mid-morning to get a cappuccino, and end up being given some Dutch Pea soup as well, which is a very good mid-morning nourishment break. I won’t bother with lunch! It is crowded and noisy in the Crow’s Nest, since the park rangers have setup there, and believe it or not some people are playing board games as well.

Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay
Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay – Glacier Bay National Park

Our ship slows to give way to kayakers, who are paddling from the Safari Endeavour excursion boat by Lamplugh Glacier. We then enter the narrow Johns Hopkins Inlet to view the beautiful glacier by the same name. I go to the bow viewing area on my deck and take a few people photos and a couple of selfies, but quickly retreat back to my stateroom, since I have great views from there without the crowds.

As we round the corner and head into Tarr Inlet, the National Geographic Quest excursion boat is heading south out of the inlet, and the Seabourn Osyssey cruise ship is at the head of the inlet giving their passengers a closeup view of Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. I take some photos of Grand Pacific Glacier, which is already visible in the distance on our Port quarter. Since Grand Pacific Glacier is quite dirty-looking, the star of the show is Margerie Glacier, which still has lots of blue-coloured ice on a distinct wall close to the shoreline. There is also a significant ice field above with dramatic chunks of ice sticking up. Mt. Fairweather is visible behind the glacier – the tallest peak in British Columbia, my home province!

The ship stays in position for at least an hour with the port side facing Margerie Glacier where my stateroom is located. The ship then turns to give the starboard side staterooms a view of Margerie Glacier for another hour before sailing SE down Tarr Inlet away from the glaciers at about 2:45PM. I take the opportunity to grab another cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. By 3:45PM we are offshore from Rendu & Queen Inlets. The toe of Carroll Glacier in Queen Inlet comes into view first, then the viewing angle for Rendu Glacier is favourable about 10 minutes later.

This is the end of the glacier show, as we sail SE to Bartlett Cove, where the park rangers disembark to return to their headquarters. The US Parks Service only allow two cruise ships per day to visit Glacier Bay, with Holland America and Princess having priority since they have cruised Alaska the longest. Obviously Seabourn and some other ships also gets some slots.

Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage - aboard Nieuw Amsterdam
Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage – aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

The view from my west-facing verandah on the northbound route through Glacier Bay is nothing short of spectacular, however the east-facing southbound view isn’t too exciting. We make our way eastward through Icy Strait and then turn north at Point Couverden into the Lynn Canal, on our way to Skagway tomorrow.

After having an early dinner in the main dining room, I go to the first performance in the Lincoln Center Stage. There are three performers: a cellist, a violinist, and a pianist. The cellist plays an innovative piece, while both the violinist and pianist play more traditional chamber music.

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Hubbard Glacier

May 30, 2022 – Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Early this morning, I am a bit worried about not seeing the Hubbard Glacier later today, since when I’m out on the stern deck, there is a lot of fog. The ship sails past the very impressive St. Elias mountain range eastward through the Gulf of Alaska to Hubbard Glacier this morning, while another cruise ship is sailing westward. I attend the Mariner Society Welcome Reception at 11AM, where I meet some of the officers and chat with my fellow passengers with 3, 4, and 5 star Mariner status as we sip wine and snack on peanuts.

This afternoon, it clears up nicely as the ship turns into Yakutat Bay, with beautiful Mt. Cook visible. As we turn into Disenchantment Bay, I spot both Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, taking photos as we proceed. The ship eventually gets very close to the ice pack in front of the glacier face, slowly turning to allow all passengers to get views of this magnificent area.

Daniel E. Lawson – map of the Hubbard Glacier area

There is commentary from the Explorations Lounge on Deck 11, which can also be heard on outside decks. I go down to the Promenade Deck to have a look, but quickly realize I will see everything from my verandah, with the added benefit of being able to duck inside my stateroom to warm up. This is the coldest day of the trip so far, with a cold wind coming at us from the glaciers, so I wear my toque, scarf and winter coat.

Filet mignon main course in Pinnacle Grill

As the ship starts pulling out of Disenchantment Bay, I get dressed in a suit and tie for my dinner reservation in the Pinnacle Grill. I have a lovely Tanqueray 10 Gin martini to start, then crab cakes, filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and loaded baked potato, finishing off with creme brûlée. I have a sparkling French rose with my main course. Despite the daily program saying attire is “dressy” this evening, it’s obvious that HAL no longer enforces a dress code, since I see people seated in the Pinnacle Grill who are wearing winter coats and jeans, and all manner of dress that is certainly not even close to being dressy.

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Scenic cruising through the Chilean fjords

March 17, 2020 – sailing north through Summer Passage and Sarmiento Channel, Pacific coast of Chile

2020 South America cruise

The captain updates us twice today. At 8:30am, he tells us that we are sailing through Summer Passage where there is only 2 metres sea depth below us, so we slow down to 14 knots as we proceed on a high tide. We then sail through Passo Franco and then spend the afternoon sailing through very scenic Sarmiento Channel before sailing into open waters this evening. Our destination remains either San Antonio or Valparaiso for reprovisioning.

At Noon the captain reports that our course will result in sailing 1,279 nmi to San Antonio. We have 50 kt winds on the nose right now while we are in Sarmiento Channel, which will switch to NW 15-20 kt winds by tomorrow, with 3 metre swells when we emerge into the open Pacific Ocean. He also mentions that passengers who are in need of critical prescriptions should fill in the form and present themselves with their prescription bottles to the medical staff this afternoon in the Atrium.

The Flying Dutchman ghost ship
The Flying Dutchman, a legendary ghost ship

My travel buddy first thought of this, but I agree there is a distinct connection that the Netherlands flagged Zaandam feels like The Flying Dutchman, a legendary ghost ship that never makes port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Of course, according to the story the Flying Dutchman’s crew were all dead, but the Zaandam’s crew are a long way from dead – they are very engaged, and very much alive and well!

As we sail through the very scenic Sarmiento Channel this afternoon, I spend quite a bit of time on the Lower Promenade deck taking photos with my Canon EOS R, making good use of my zoom lenses, and also take a few panoramas with my iPhone XS. We meet the predicted 3 metre swells this evening, so some passengers disappear for the evening, while the St. Patrick’s Day celebrants party on.