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 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.
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.
We’re finally aboard the Holland America cruise liner! Yes, right now – on a wireless Internet connection. Thanks again to Pluggd for providing the ability for us to get online and post updates. I’ve only been aboard for a couple of hours, but… I’m beyond impressed. Our room is absolutely amazing – and we’ll be able to eat breakfast every morning on our “private” verandah. We’ve got cocktails with the ship’s captain right before dinner – so the fun hasn’t even begun. No, seriously – Holland America is teh shiz. Puts Royal Carribean to shame! Oh man, everything’s so clean. I think this is the first vacation I’ve ever taken when I didn’t want to leave the room.
However, as was explained to me beforehand, Ponzi and I are the only people on board who aren’t members of AARP. Ronni and Millie would certainly blend in with the crowd. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Let’s get a whole bunch of bloggers together and crash a cruise. It’s gotta be a Holland America cruise, though – wow. I’m just blown away by our room.
There are WiFi locations scattered throughout the cruise liner – including down the hall on deck 7 (where we’re staying). Gotta check in with the concierge, too – they’re giving us complimentary DVDs! Oh man, I never wanna go home. Hey Ponzi? Can we stay another week? I’ve already started to upload our photos from the trip (although the Flickr upload tool is acting weird). I think it has something to do with the connection’s caching mechanism. Stay tuned!
As noted in my cruise ship report, we have a general schedule for our Holland America [ms Oosterdam] cruise:
- Sat: Arrive at terminal at 1:00pm
- Sat: Depart from terminal at 4:00pm
- Sun: At sea all day
- Mon: Juneau from 11:00am to 9:00pm
- Tue: Hubbard Glacier from 12:00pm to 5:00pm
- Wed: Sitka from 7:00am to 6:00pm
- Thu: Ketchikan from 7:00am to 1:00pm
- Fri: Victoria from 6:00pm to 11:59pm
- Sat: Return to Seattle at 7:00am
Anything we “must” do (besides dogsledding, which is happening earlier in the week). I just asked Pluggd if they wanted to do a few Skypecasts – so, keep your ears on for a couple of audio updates!