Alaska Vacation Help

Lee Moore from Irving, TX: “My wife and I did a cruise to Alaska on July 15 out of Seattle. Loved every moment! Sure a lot cooler than Dallas, TX. In Ketchikan, we took a floatplane trip – which I can highly recommend. The flight was into the Misty Fjords National Park. We even landed on one of the lakes and got out on land for a short time. Our pilot, the business owner was a lady with 20 yrs. plus experience in Alaska. Her name is Michelle.”

Bill Jones: “Last year, I returned to Alaska on September 3 and covered the area from Anchorage to ‘NORTH POLE’ (a town near Fairbanks) by car. I also discovered that tying oneself to a three-week car rental is the WORST way to see Alaska. I know the cruise is beautiful, but probably full of geriatrics (you see them getting off of Princess busses when they arrive in Anchorage). The real Alaskans are a whole other people: youthful, intelligent, pleasant and COMPUTER LITERATE. Hell, what else do you do when the days shrink to two hours of sunlight?”

Gregory Gooden: “I’ve been TWICE to Alaska’s Inside Passage. You MUST do the Helicopter tour over Hubbard glacier (the LONG tour). They land on a few glaciers, land on a gorgeous NON-glacier mountain with a view of everything that “god” gave our planet. It’s beautiful and a MUST-SEE! I hope the Tuesday Hubbard Glacier is the flight I speak of. BTW, there’s also a cute “small airplane flight” from Juneau that leads to a Canoe trip where they give you waterproof clothes and you and several others row (in a canoe) to the BASE of a glacier (where it meets a lake).. Great time! Have a great trip! I sure did! (Twice; Celebrity and Princess)”

Kent: “Sorry, I was sleeping before you started your vacation or I would have advised you to take a surge protector (not enough outlets), possibly a small night light, a sling purse for Ponzi (for the room key, etc.), And if you think the Hubbard Glacier was great, then take HAL’s cruise tour to include Denali and see the Glacier Bay and College Fiord. Great!”

Charlie Burkey Jr.: “It’s always raining in Ketchikan – or about to rain. They get 13 feet of rainfall a year. Did you make it to Ray Troll’s art gallery? There are few sights more awesome than a tidewater glacier that is calving off chunks of ice. Hubbard glacier was named long before L. Ron Hubbard was born. Knew you would enjoy Alaska!”

Jan Nieman: “I see by your schedule that you will be in Ketchikan for a few hours. I just want to let you know that you will not find friendlier people anywhere. I lived there for 2 years in the early 70’s and my son was lucky enough to be born there. Plus, my ex still resides there with his new wife. I know things have changed in 30+ years but friends and family who travel there still say the same about the folks there. Friendly and helpful all the way. Stories I could tell you about being from the lower 48 and going up there at the age of 19 and enjoying marriage and a baby in all that beauty. One more thing, visit historic Creek Street which used to be their Red Light District. But whatever you do, ENJOY.”

Keith Thompson: “Your weather sounds exactly like what we had in our visit to the great state of Alaska. I did go fishing while in Ketchikan and had 40 lbs of Salmon fillets sent home. My wife did the same as yours, make sure that the credit cards function. I hope your experience with Alaska is as rewarding as ours. We were there just a bit later than you and took advantage of the last tour of the season to obtain fantastic bargains (70% off on many things). I think that some of the photos I have show the best scenery that we have seen in our many trips both in the US and abroad.”

Bill: “I’m visiting Alaska myself. Been here in Anchorage for three weeks. I came by land, so I don’t have any ideas for you other than here in Anchorage. Restaurants. You’ll hear about Frumpy’s and the Glacier Brewhouse. Went into Glacier on Saturday and the wait was too long (make a reservation if that is your choice). Ending up having a great meal a few doors down at Ristorante Orso. More expensive, but very good food. The Smoked Salmon Chowder is wonderful.”

Alaska Photos

I’ve uploaded darn near every Alaska image in my personal inventory to an Alaskan Cruise Flickr album. I must, again, thank Pluggd for giving me the opportunity to upload both text and images while on the cruise liner (through an ample Internet connection). Sorry the markup is bulky here – I couldn’t find an easy way to strip ID and NAME attributes from the link tags.
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Victoria, Victoria

Alas, this week is winding down. We’re on our way to Victoria, British Columbia – that’s in Canada, for all of you who aren’t familiar with the name or territory. I’ve only been on the outskirts of Victoria, spending most of my BC time in Vancouver. I hear they have wonderful gardens in Victoria, actually – but I’m not sure if we’re scheduled to see any of ’em. Ponzi’s signed us up for some kind of tour and “high tea.” Guess that means we’ll be riding around in a bus with our pinkis extended? I wouldn’t mind traipsing through Victoria’s gardens, actually – it must be a shutterbug’s paradise. There’s not a cloud in the sky this morning – nothing but ocean outside our stateroom window. We have a western view for the moment, and that scenery won’t likely change until the evening hours when we roll into port.

I’m sipping my way through an espresso in the Neptune lounge again. It’s bitter, but at least it’s keeping me from getting a caffeine headache. My body has treated me rather well this week. I got slapped with dizziness only once, after a shot of Southern Comfort and a few puffs of a cigar late one night. I didn’t get seasick, and I never really felt the need to recouperate in the middle of the day. The schedule is a little wonky on this, the last day of our Alaskan cruise. Everything winds down not long after we return to the ship from our Victorian excursion. Passengers are expected to be fully packed by Midnight, placing tagged luggage outside their respective rooms well before our arrival time of 7am. All things considered, I’m happy to be returning home in the morning – we’ll have a full weekend to catch up and prepare ourselves for the coming week.

Ah, vacation. You’re almost over! Thank you for delivering wonderful experiences and fantastic company. Holland America did fine by me, too – especially with wireless Internet availability (which came to me courtesy of Pluggd). I didn’t capture our time in audio, but I did take plenty of photos – and this trip was certainly a visual smorgasbord. Would I recommend an Alaska cruise to anybody? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

The Alaskan Adventure Continues

The world could be ending right now and I wouldn’t know it. Sure, we have satellite television on board – but the time we’ve spent in our suite has been minimal. Internet access is a premium, so I haven’t spent much of my time catching up with the news online. I’m largely unplugged this week (ironic, as Pluggd is keeping me connected to the Internet for the duration of this voyage). Yes, this week wouldn’t be half as much fun if I wasn’t able to log on and post updates near real-time. And as far as I’m concerned, a couple of times a day is just about as close to “immediate” as you get on the high seas. We haven’t been boarded by pirates yet, though.

Ponzi and I had a wicked time in Juneau yesterday, coptering halfway across the city to land on a glacier. There sits a modest dogsled training camp – populated by over 300 dogs and a dozen mushers. We walked amongst Iditerod champions and hopefuls in the early afternoon hours – but when they took us on a short run “around the block,” we were smack dab in the middle of the action. Certainly, the teams didn’t open up all the way. It was a first for us, though. I’m surprised the weather was relatively temperate, especially at the higher altitude. Even so, I’m glad we picked up suede gloves in downtown Juneau earlier (miles away from and well below the dogsled adventure).

What goes up must come down, and so another helicopter returned us to less-icy ground. The views from the air were spectacular. On the bus ride back to “the city,” we spotted an American Eagle – another first for both Ponzi and myself. I snapped a few pictures through the tinted glass, so I’m afraid the images won’t be crystal clear. When we returned to Juneau’s downtown shopping district, Ponzi wanted to hop out and poke around – but I was ready to eat (as we hadn’t hda a nibble since breakfast). I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my “I hate to shop” attitude, so we shuttled our way back to the Oosterdam for a relaxing afternoon.

Today? We’re visiting the largest glacier in North America.

A Morning on the Cruise

Despite weathering a relatively restless night, I feel refreshed. The bed was comfortable enough, with two twin mattresses akimbo, 250 count sheets, and soft pillows. However, my sense of balance kept me from enjoying a peaceful sleep. I think I’m finally getting my sea legs, though. At least, I hope! It’s most difficult to manage when I can’t see the horizon. The temperature outside? Chilly, but certainly tolerable with thicker clothing. Despite the cool climate, We opted to dine on the verandah for breakfast this morning – the view was oceanic and the company kept us warm. Ponzi and I have a private space just outside our stateroom. Despite the weak coffee, they did bring us heavy cream (per our written request). We’re now getting ready to enjoy our day on board, with Ponzi hot to attend a couple of classes (even though some of them are designed to teach you how to buy more junk that you don’t really need).

Last night, Ponzi and I decided to get a nice cigar and sip cognac in the Oak Room on the upper deck of the Oosterdam. Neither of us smoke, and we really don’t drink, either – but it was an “experience” nonetheless. I took a few more photos, though I might wait to upload my favorites at the end of the day. Tried to help a mergers and aquisitions lawyer with his wireless connection a few minutes ago – seems I can never escape this lot. Coffee’s good in the Neptune room (though I had to bring in the heavy cream from breakfast). Gotta check my email now… and again, thank the gang at Pluggd for enabling us to get online and check in with friends on our journey to Alaska.

The Internet connection on this Holland America liner, itself, is flaky – and not very trustworthy. For some reason or another, Akismet crapped at at some point in the past 24 hours, and I can’t load a full page to clear ~250 junk comments from my legit queue. Argh! Ooooh, now I sound like a pirate.