Monday, July 15, 2002

Posts from beyond: Alaskan Cruise, July 2002

Day 1: Sunday, July 7, 2002

Aaaah, too early! After staying the night at Tim and Belinda's, we awake at 3 AM to get ready to go to the airport with the gang. Our happy gang consists of:

  • Myself
  • Tim & Belinda Brown
  • Ceceline & Beresford Gajardar (Belinda's Mum & Dad)
  • Basil & Bridget Gajardar (Belinda's brother and sister)
  • Bernadine & Colin & Monique & Garrett Chipchase (Belinda's sister and her family)
  • Peggie Diaz & her brother Art (family friends)

After some back & forthing, we all arrive at Lester B Pearson airport, very tired but ready to go. After a long check-in process we board our Air Tango flight, which leaves at 6:45 AM. Long flight, five hours. No food or drink (lesson number one: Air Tango does NOT feed its passengers!). We arrive at Vancouver airport roughly on time, 9:30 AM local time. Lots of sitting around before we can be shuttled to the harbour - luckily, Mum has made some rice for us all to eat while we wait! We probably had time to tour the city, but we are tired anyway. Finally get the shuttle around noonish, get to the boat around 12:30. Spend a relatively short time getting checked in at the harbour for the cruise, considering it can carry 2400 passengers! On the boat and settled by 1:30 PM. We all go to our separate cabins to freshen up and meet at the Windjammer for buffet lunch. Phew!

4:30, we're still in port, having a muster drill. Jeez, those life jackets are dumb looking! But at least we all know how to put them on! Basil and I put our jackets away and meet Colin on Deck 10 to watch our departure at 5:00. We wave to onlookers from Stanley Park and on the Lion's Gate Bridge as well as other boaters, it is such a beautiful day! Allan (I think he is Malaysian), our stateroom attendant, introduces himself very quietly. We have our first dinner on ship at 6:00 in the Aquarius dining room on Deck 5, the first seating on the second level of the enormous room, with our waiter Terrence (I think he is from St Thomas or St Vincent?), our assistant waiter Roberto (from Costa Rica) and our head waiter Veli (from Turkey). I think we all have a pretty early evening that night, hard to stay awake after being up for so long!

Day 2: Monday, July 8, 2002

Spend the day cruising the sea, what a wonderful view! TV Tune Trivia in the Showboat Lounge on Deck 6 with new friends Tony and Helen (or is it Ellen? Geez, I'm awful with names), we are so close to winning! Man, I so rock at media saturation! Then Name That Tune and Brainteaser Trivia in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge on Deck 6. A day full of trivia, what a change ;-) Even do a bit of shopping in the shops on the ship, buy a beautiful ring set to wear to dinner.

Formal night at dinner, everyone looks just fabulous! Finally get to wear that silver ensemble I bought last year! I buy our first round of dinner shots from Baldwin (no idea where he was from) our bar waiter - lovely metallic glass shot glasses we get to keep.

Day 3: Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Meet up in the Card Room on Deck 7 for a game of Monopoly, during which I acquire the Skanky Ho neighbourhood. Cut it short though - we arrive at the Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay around noonish, so of course we miss lunch. We spend a couple of hours on Deck 10 just admiring the view, it is fabulous! And COLD! I mean, it seems obvious, right? There's a GLACIER less than a half a mile from the ship, of COURSE it's gonna be cold! For some reason I am totally surprised by the drop in temperature. Lots of wonderful huge chunks of blue ice floating all around the boat. We watch a small chunk calve off the glacier while we're there, it's really beautiful. The point we are at views two fronts of the glacier. Did you know that there are male and female glaciers? Hubbard's male, as it is in growth. Female glaciers are static…

I've won my very first game of Bingo in the Masquerade Theatre on Deck 5 - that's not to say I've never played Bingo before, my folks take me with them whenever I visit, I've just never won - US$155! Woo hoo!

Attend Movie Madness in the Masquerade Theatre for fun, stay to watch Glen Smith, a real live Las Vegas piano guy, who happens to be from Toronto. I wouldn't have cried if I'd missed it, but he's pretty entertaining.

Day 4: Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Shortest night of the trip (6 hours, 5 minutes) and we pull into Skagway! We're already in port by the time we wake up. If you ever go on a cruise and you have an interior stateroom, remember to bring a digital clock so you can see what time it is! Bernie and Colin are immediately infatuated with some gold quartz jewellry from almost the first shop on shore! A small train goes right through town, beside a stationary train (the White Pass train, with an enormous grinder on the front for clearing snow). Very pretty little place. I could never live there though, too relaxing! Bought a few little things, including a purple hoodie sweater to keep warm, sheesh!

Back on the ship, there are card room shenanigans again, this time with new friends Brian and Cassandra from Virginia - Cassandra has brought an UNO deck and hilarity ensues! I lose $15 to the slots in the casino, eat a fabulous meal with everyone, then we all go and watch the show in the Masquerate Theatre: Rock On Broadway - not bad, somewhat tacky but what can you expect from a cruiseline, really? Call my folks too, just to tell them I won at bingo, as we are still within hailing distance of a port so I have a signal...

Day 5: Thursday, July 11, 2002

7 AM we arrive in Juneau, Alaska's capital (not Anchorage as you may think). The bunch of us all get on a little bus that drives us a half hour away, past the Mendenhall Glacier, to Auke Bay (Auke apparently means Lake, so Auke Bay feeds out from Auke Lake, or Lake Lake, go figure) where the Chum Salmon jump full-body out of the water and are 4 feet long! And that's just in the harbour - we quickly board a small touring boat and our captain and naturalist take us out and north for some whale watching. We are not disappointed, within 20 minutes we are 20 feet from a beautiful humpback whale, and we continue to visit with them for another hour and a half! The last one we see comes right at us until it is only EIGHT FEET from the boat, then dives under and surfaces on the other side! Holy Cats! We also see some Sea Lions perching on a dinghy and goofing around, as well as a number of bald eagles. After we return we do a teeny bit of shopping (nice little photo album and some hematite jewellry - what they refer to as 'black diamond') and then get back on the boat.

Second formal night on ship, but I am so tired after the trip that after dinner I flake out in the cabin - which sucks, as I had planned to attend the Battle Of The Sexes! Poor Garrett, he's sick as a dog and can't come to dinner. He'll be better in the morning though. Bridget and I both get at least 9 hours of sleep this night, maybe 10...

Day 6: Friday, July 12, 2002

Our last port during the cruise, Ketchikan! We spend quite some time on shore though - Tim is determined to get a gemstone-globe and it just seems that they are all of poor quality... until we get to Little Switzerland! Anyone going up there, that's the place to get gemstone globes and maps, folks! Also wavering back and forth quite a bit over a white gold/diamond/tanzanite ring that is a really good price - dammit, I just should have got it! Anyway, I'm happy with what I got and what I leave behind (but I still think of that ring).

Back on ship, we cruise through The Misty Fjords while we dine, what a view! We even see a bear on shore - though, to be honest, I wouldn't known it was a bear if it hadn't been moving! During dinner our waiters seranade us with a spanish song, how nice! Later in the evening is the 80s dance party (some 80s party, only the worst of the 80s!).

Day 7: Saturday, July 13, 2002

We meet Brian and Cassandra in the Card Room for a game of Scrabble, then spend the day just relaxing - cruising the seas with nothing but ocean in sight, sitting in the hot tub. Met Tony and Helen again for cocktails after dinner, put another $10 into a slot machine. Some of us join the blackjack tournament but we don't win. Oh well. Pack everything up for our departure in the morning. We are close enough to a port to get a signal so I call Pex and arrange to meet with him at the airport on Sunday, and also call Anne who will be unable to meet. Oh well, I'll see her soon. Everyone squares up their bill with the ship. Early to bed, early to rise...

Departure Day: Sunday, July 14, 2002

Early, early, ungodly early rise for breakfast, then we all meet in the Showboat Lounge on Deck 6 before going ashore. We wait forever to get going. Monique is the sick one now, and she's just miserable. As if she is hung over, poor thing. Oh well. About 2 hours after we offload we're on the bus going back to the airport, where Pex does not meet us as he is only getting ready to leave at noon, and our flight leaves at 2:15 PM! Which ends up turning into 3 PM due to electronic problems in Toronto - so after a long flight that was cold and bumpy and headachey, we finally arrive in Toronto at 10:15 PM local. I'm in my door at midnight, thankfully I booked Monday off...

Tell me - if you're a guy, and you're on a plane sitting between two women, do you read a girlie magazine for the whole trip? Just asking...

[note: this post rescued from certain death at my old website - transplanted here July 21, 2010]

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