The 86 best photos (in quasi-reverse chronological order)
We were on the Norwegian Jewel, going in and out of Seattle, with Dr. Pookie's twin and her family. Just as an aside, we found the ship experience not as nice as our previous big-ship cruises on Celebrity and the ill-fated Costa Concordia. I don't know if it was a difference between American and European-based cruises, or Norwegian vs these other lines, but particularly the food was a let-down this time. On the previous ships, there were set dining-times in the main dining room, and one would be seated with other parties. A few of the nights were formal, requiring jacket and tie, but generally dressing up to some extent was expected. If you couldn't handle this, you could always hit the buffet in your speedos. Dinners would be 5 course affairs with a sommelier - every day a different menu. On Jewel, there were no set mealtimes, and only the French restaurant and the rear dining hall required collared shirts at dinner. 3 course meals. No sommelier. The restaurants had largely the same menu each night, though a few items cycled through. There was also a lot more nickel and diming. There were 'specialty' restaurants that cost extra money -- we had a package that got us 4 visits to these -- but even then, certain menu items (lobster, etc.) had an additional surcharge. The specialty restaurants were all pretty good, but on the whole, the food was a disappointment in comparison to our other experiences. Everything else about the ship and cruise was A-Okay and much more like the others.
We floew up to spend a little time with Dr. Pookie's mom, who watched Dr. Pookie's sister's house and cats; had lunch near the pier, and then boarded the ship. First stop: six tiny martinis:
The first day was at sea, and once we got out of the Seattle area, there was some wave action on the ocean, probably more than we ever experienced on the Mediterranean cruises. The pools were closed and sloshed impressively. It was not enough to bother any of our party, but many people complained of seasickness or at least expressed gladness that they had their Dramamine patches. Wimps.
The first stop was Ketchikan. Much of the city, including paved roads, is built over pilings. You can also see how large the difference in tide levels is. Cute town, obviously very touristy near the port area.
We took a boat out into the Tongass rainforest, and saw many a bald eagle on the way.
The forest was lush and green and full of slugs. Back in Ketchikan, they had their 4th of July parade. I think half the town was in the parade, and the other half (and the tourists) watched.
Next stop Juneau, where we took a van ride to ride bikes on a 9 mile trail, starting from a glacial lake, where the boaters made beelines for the icebergs that calved from the glacier.
We cycled around to get more views of the glacier, and not having seen one in person before, they are much larger than I thought. For a sense of scale, play find the boat in this picture. The blue is also quite startling. The pressure on the ice squeezes out any gas bubbles, and the ice appears blue for the same reason the ocean does. Pure water preferentially absorbs the red end of the spectrum, so bluer light escapes to your eyes.
The bike ride was just the right amount of exercise, and the reward of the glacier sights was great. After spending a little more time there on our own, we loaded up the vans and got our second reward: beer tasting. We tried 4 of the Alaskan Brewing Company's brews. The white was our favorite.
Back to the ship, which then navigated through a narrow fjord to get us views of another enormous glacier.
Next stop Skagway, where one of the main attractions is the White Pass & Yukon railway, which takes you along the path of the gold-rush trail into the Yukon goldfields. Lots of great views of mountains, hills, flowers, and even some of the other trains on the track.
Skagway the town has about 700 year round residents, and there were four cruiseships disgorging a couple thousand tourists each, so... the town was touristy and crowded. There is no there there. And you have to wait to eat at their crummy diner -- so we didn't, and got grub on the ship.
Next stop, Victoria, BC, home to the Parliament building and other adorable buildings, including this one, which is for sale.
We strolled about the town, stopped for the galaxy's best sangria at Pluto's, and then back to the ship, and thence Seattle, and home.