September 7-11, 2015 – Cruise to Alaska (Seattle - Ketchikan - Juneau)
After our wonderful visit with Jan we drove to Pier 91 and boarded our ship around noon – Holland America MS Statendam. We are really excited to start our first cruse!
We had great weather all afternoon and sailed at 4 pm – Rex enjoying the great view of Seattle from the deck. This is our first cruise and we are quickly getting oriented – we can’t believe all the food! We learned that this is the last cruise for the Statendam for Holland America. They have sold the ship and when this cruise is over they are sailing to Singapore and turning the ship over to the new owners.
We opted for the 5:30 pm seating in the dining room at a table for 6 and got a great table with a beautiful view. Our table mates were a couple from Santa Barbara, CA and a couple from the Caribbean Island of Curacao. We enjoyed our delicious dinners, great conversation and wonderful views each evening. After dinner we attended a presentation entitled “Smooth Sailing” with information on how to make the most of your cruise.
Monday evening and Tuesday we cruised to Ketchikan. The weather on Tuesday was windy and very foggy so we were not able to see much – but did attend a number of presentations. The first was titled “North to Alaska” about how to make the most of your time in the Alaska ports of call. The next one gave us a brief history and information about our next ports - Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point. After lunch we attended a presentation titled “Extreme Elements: Alaska’s Fire & Ice”. This was a look at the geographical features, from volcanoes to glaciers, which have formed the landscape of Alaska. After another great dinner we attended the “Captain’s Welcome Toast” where we were all given a glass of champagne and Captain Vincent Smit presented a toast. Captain Smit then introduced his senior staff and the crew member of the month. Afterwards the Statendam Singers and Dancers entertained us with a performance of Broadway hits. We next made our way to the Crow’s Nest a bar on Deck 12 where we listened to music by Abba.
We arrived at Ketchikan early Wednesday morning and took a city highlights tour.
It was sunny and warm and we were told this very seldom happens as it is almost always raining.
We drove to Totem Park where there were many totems on display. Our guide gave us a brief history of the park and described the totems. We were also able to see where the carvers work on the totems.
We were dropped off at Creek Street which was the red light district in Ketchikan. Every building on this street was a brothel and Dolly’s House is the most famous. We walked along Creek Street and hiked on Married Man’s trail back to the ship. We enjoyed our visit to Ketchikan – one of the stops on the cruise that we have not visited before.
After we returned to the ship we attended a class that gave us a sneak peek at Windows 10 – we can upgrade our computer to Windows 10 so this was a great chance to preview it. After dinner we attended a great show with comedian Frank King.
Thursday morning we woke to wind, rain and more fog. We were supposed to sail through Tracy Arm but the Captain deemed it too windy to safely navigate the arm so we had to turn around and go a different route. Before we turned around we got a few pictures of the beautiful scenery with many waterfalls.
We were fortunate to see a couple of small ice bergs before it got too windy, cold and foggy to be out on deck.
We attended another class on Windows 10 showing us how to navigate, customize and multitask on Windows 10. After dinner we enjoyed a show with Paul Pappas - a great pianist/comedian.
Friday morning we arrived in Juneau and were a little apprehensive because it was very cloudy and we had a Five Glacier Float Plane tour booked. When we got ashore we were told that cloudy days were the best times to view the glaciers and today was perfect for flying and viewing so we boarded our plan and off we went.
We flew up the Taku Inlet and got great views of the Juneau Ice Field and 5 glaciers - Norris Glacier, East Twin and West Twin Glaciers, Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier and Taku Glacier.
The views of the glaciers from the air are wonderful - we can’t remember which glacier is which but they were all beautiful.
Every view was a great as the last. Taku Glacier is the only glacier of the 36 named glaciers in the Juneau Ice Field that is actually advancing instead of retreating.
We got a great view of the Statendam as we are coming in for a landing.
After our flight we went back to the Statendam for lunch and while we were having lunch we watched a huge Carnival cruise ship dock behind us – that ship made ours look kind of small. After lunch we met our hiking guide, Laurie, on the dock for a hike along the west side of Mendenhall Glacier. We hiked through a beautiful rain forest around the glacier lake and beside beautiful creeks.
We hiked to a great overlook above the glacier where we had great views. We were able to see a couple of helicopters on the glacier and watched as they took off. It showed us how large the glacier really is as the helicopters and people looked like little specks. This is a much different view of the glacier than the one we got from the Visitors Center when we were here in 2009.
We really enjoyed the hike and Laurie made it extra enjoyable because of the wonderful stories she told us of living and raising children in Juneau.
It was great to see Juneau again and enjoyed our time here.
After getting back to the ship we had a late dinner at the Italian Restaurant called the Canaletto. The food was excellent and the service was outstanding. It was late when we finished dinner and after a full day in Juneau we were tired and skipped the evening entertainment.