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Our Second Alaskan Cruise

Back we went to Alaska for yet another cruise. This time it was a two-week cruise on the MS Amsterdam. Back in 2007, we had gone on a one week cruise at about the same time of year on a larger ship, the MS Oosterdam. The Amsterdam is very similar just smaller, and very nice. It was a fantastic time and in all of my working career, I have never taken two weeks off at the same time! Of course, I didn’t want to go back to work obviously. Being gone so long, we did have concerns for our babies, Cordell and Patience and just what to do with them for so long. Finally one of our good neighbors came to the rescue and offered to take care of them while we were gone. They could stay in their own home and feel comfortable and she would come over and take care of their needs. Things seem to work out great, although we think it may have stressed Cordell out a bit. We are back now and he is a happy boy. Patience just took it in stride and probably demanded and received plenty of love from our neighbor. Speaking of neighbors, when we had booked our cruise way back earlier in the year, I blogged about it briefly. It turned out that some Packer friends of ours who happen to live up here on the Ridge were going on the same cruise! It was fun to have people we knew already on the ship! We actually shared transportation to and from the ship in Seattle. Another unexpected thing on the cruise was the weather! For the most part, we had sunny skies, mild temperatures, and only light breezes. The captain and crew said it was the best weather on a voyage that they had all season. We really lucked out. We hit quite a few ports of call and some we’d seen before and since I don’t want to bore you with too many details, I make s synopsis of the whole thing.

Our first stop was Ketchikan after sailing the Inside Passage. We had been to Ketchikan before, but hadn’t taken any shore excursions here. This time we did and boy was it a blast! We took the Mountaintop Float Plane Tour and Crab Feast. We were bussed up to an old cannery where we had an all you could indulge crab feast. Man was it good. Then we took a float plane off the waters of George Inlet Fjord and flew over the inland mountains and peaks just east of the town. We saw mountain goats, beautiful untouched lakes, and gorgeous waterfalls. We then flew over town and over our ship and landed back in town! Then we watched The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show where we saw some of the world’s best lumberjacks go head to head in more than a dozen live exciting events such as chopping, sawing, relay races, axe throwing, log rolling and a 50-foot speed climb. It was fun and we got a lot of good pictures.

Next stop was Sitka. Sitka is a very beautiful town. It was here, in 1867 that the US bought Alaska Territories from Russia for $7,200,000 in gold! Here we took a boat ride to Kruzof Island and rode 4×4 ATV’s on old logging roads across the island to the North Beach. It was a  guided tour and they fed us well and saw many wonderful sights! back in town we had to find the local watering hole and we did, a place called Ernie’s Old Time Saloon. It was definitely a local hang out and there were some very unique characters in there.

The next day found us in Skagway. Skagway, for an old mining town, was very touristy if you ask me. The whole town was a jumble of trinket and jewelry shops. There was still some old character left to the town, but the big money maker now was cruise passengers. We didn’t hang around town for long as we headed out on a Yukon Jeep Tour. This was a fun tour as a bunch of us in well maintained Jeeps drove up the old gold rush trails of 1898 over White Pass into Canada’s Yukon Territory! We stopped at an old crossroads town called Carcross, originally called Caribou Crossing. Then we headed into the hills and up Montana Mountain where we saw a  panorama included a view of the Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world. It was a bumpy road and a little hairy at times but was a great trip!

We also made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and I was surprised at how big it actually was! Again, we didn’t see much of the city as we took an all day excursion on the Alaksa Railroad Granview Tour. We traveled down the Grandview Valley and it is one of the most scenic areas of the entire railbelt and is only accessible by train. We saw two beautiful glaciers, the Spencer and Bartlett. We also saw a mommy bear and her cub off in the meadow. We looked for moose, but didn’t see any! It was some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever partaken.

Another stop was Homer which is very beautiful they say, but the fog had us socked in all day long and visibility was down to just block ahead of you. We did walk around town and down the Homer Spit where we stumbled into another famed watering hole, the Salty Dawg Saloon. Hmmmm, we seem to find pubs and taverns everywhere we go!

Kodiak was on the agenda and boy was that a beautiful place. We had no excursions planned, but did walk the town and visited the Baranov Museum, which is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Alaska.

One of my favorite places in Alaska is Juneau! I love this town despite all the rain it supposedly receives. We did one our most fun excursions there. We boarded a helicopter, neither of us had ever been in one, and flew out of town, over the mountains. We flew over the Juneau Ice Fields and then landed on the Mendenhall Glacier. Wow is all I could say at the time! We spent some time walking on the glacier and looking at all the tints of blues and crystal you see. There were rivers of ice melt flowing on, through and under the glacier. It was fantastic. I would love to live here….I am always saying that!

Those were our ports of call. We also cruised Glacier Bay and saw the wonders and awe of the Johns Hopkins, Margerie, Grand Pacific, Lamplugh, and Reid glaciers. I also caught a fantastic shot of a calving of the Margerie. We also cruised into the Bay of Disenchantment and marveled at the Hubbard Glacier which is huge! Debbie shot a photo series of a very large calving off the glacier,  just awesome!

Well getting to the end of this extravaganza, as you know there is plenty of eating and drinking on these cruises and we did plenty of both (probably I more than Debbie). There were days spent at sea and voyages between ports that we occupied ourselves on board and there was plenty to do. There was a gym, pools, jacuzzi, a casino which we spent allot of time in and lost most of the time. We learned to play Caribbean Stud and three card poker and had fun at it even though the house took our money. The ship had many lounges and bars aboard and one of our favorites was the Crow’s Nest. It was at the top of the ship and had great views and I even did karaoke there, my first time! You had to be there. I cannot forget all the great entertainment and entertainers we watched. Some of them included Pianist Diane Fast, Comedian and Magician Jonathan Neal, Lorna Luft, Paul Pappas who was phenomenal, Dave Levesque, and the amazing ventriloquist Brad Cummings. Now Brad and I have a special bond…..I sat on his knee! During his show, we just happened to be sitting in the front row and he singled me out to pick on. Later he invited me on stage to be his “dummy”! If you saw my video in the previous post, you’ll know the rest is history. I had the whole ship rolling with laughter and was a celebrity for a few days. People kept running into me saying what a hilarity it was and the best thing they had seen! Ahh my fleeting touch with fame….sigh! It was a fantastic vacation, cruise, get away, you name it and was all made better by having friends aboard we could share it with! Can’t wait until the next one. Cruising is the only way to vacation!!!!

SOME CRUISE FACTOIDS

Total miles: 3964
Avg Speed: 17.4 knots
Fuel Consumption: approx 39,000 gal/day
Potable Water Production: 370,000 gal/day
Potable Water Consumption: 160,000 gal/day
Number of guests: 1442
Number of Crew: 597
Ship Length: 781 feet
Ship Width: 106 feet
Gross Tonnage: 62,735 tons
Total Power: 41,500 HP
Max Speed: 24.5 knots

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