Tag Archive | Alaska

Hubbard Glacier

There’s a great reason to visit Hubbard Glacier, and that is to see it before it melts away.  Yes, sadly when you visit such an incredible place, it really hits home that you are indeed lucky to see it.  Who knows how many more will see it before it disappears or diminishes?  The evidence of the melting is right there in the ocean, with chunks of ice all around.

This is Day 7 of the Vancouver to Alaska seven day cruise (Thursday, May 17, 2012), and sadly the last day of the cruise.  Most people think that a seven day cruise finishes on the 7th day, but in reality it actually finishes on the 8th day in the early hours of the morning.  We will be disembarking tomorrow morning at around 8am.

So today is a Day At Sea – this is a day to enjoy the ship, and it is as necessary to have these days as it is to have port visits.  You don’t just want to be rushing around visiting ports all the time, because when will you find the time to enjoy the ship?  The ship itself is a very important factor in your cruise enjoyment, and believe it or not, some people enjoy this part of the experience so much more – that they don’t want to get out at the ports to walk around.

Today is the very important viewing from the ship of Hubbard Glacier.  This was to be my second experience of seeing glaciers – the first one was of course, Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.  As I was eating breakfast in the Park Cafe, I couldn’t help but be struck in awe at what I saw through the windows of the Solarium, where the Park Cafe was.  I saw lots of ice, pieces of ice all over the ocean floor – it was just as though we were floating on ice.  It was an amazing sight, and I wish I had taken more pictures of the ice at it’s thickest – but my camera was charging, so this is the picture that I got through the window, and it was taken with my Iphone at approximately 8am.  The other pictures were taken with my camcorder, and not my regular camera, so may not be as nice and clear as they should have been.

Icy Ocean – Hubbard Glacier from the Radiance Of The Seas

Then after breakfast, I went outside at approximately 9am, and took pictures from the side of the ship.

Hubbard Glacier vicinity, Alaska – on Radiance Of The Seas

Hubbard Glacier vicinity – Alaska

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Wow, we are surrounded by ice!

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Now for a view of Hubbard Glacier itself.  It was hard getting a good spot to take pictures, as there were so many people out braving the cold to see the awesome and breathtaking Hubbard Glacier.

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

We got really close to the Glacier!

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

More people looking at the Glacier:

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Hubbard Glacier from Radiance Of The Seas

Enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee, and trying to stay warm

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska – Radiance Of The Seas

The Radiance Of The Seas against the backdrop of Alaska, near Hubbard Glacier

Radiance Of The Seas near Hubbard Glacier

Bye Hubbard Glacier, I hope you will be around for many more years to come!  Don’t melt away.

We left Hubbard Glacier at around 10:30 am, and the rest of the day was spent taking pictures, attending a brief CruiseOne seminar, and enjoying the ship (as well as packing).  Next, I’ll tell you about the four day post cruise tour that I took once I disembarked the cruise ship.  The cruise tour was hosted by Royal Caribbean, and involved going on a bus around Alaska – deep into the wilds of this very mysterious place.  Thank you for reading.

Radiance Of The Seas – An Overview

“Welcome to the first day of the most amazing cruise vacation of your life”  – these words are taken from the Cruise Compass that you will find in your cabin each day, that lists all the important things to know from the safety drill, to the dining, entertainment and activities.  I really enjoyed the May 11, 2012,  cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.  This is the perfect ship to take in the sights of Alaska as the views are magnificent and can be seen from within the ship due to the floor to ceiling windows.

Here are some more details of  my May 11th, 2012 cruise, including pictures of my cabin, restaurants, swimming pool, entertainment, theatre, coffee shop, and other public areas.  This is not a big ship, such as the Oasis of The Seas which can hold up to 5,200 people or so.  The Radiance Of The Seas (a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship) holds about 2,200 people approximately, and is easier to get around.  If you don’t want to get “lost” in a ship, then this may be the one for you, it is easy to get the feel of it, and to get your bearings compared to some of the larger ships.

As far as entertainment, what can I say?  Spectacular!  The entertainment was different every day, and could be viewed in the Aurora Theatre either before dinner or after dinner.  Then were was also entertainment that was brought to you all around the ship, including the lobby area – named the Centrum – or to the swimming pool by DJ Terry, and the Cruise Director and his staff such as the 70’s Disco Inferno one evening in the Centrum, as well as the highly entertaining Sail Away Party at the Poolside on the first day of the cruise.  There’s a movie theatre, a casino, shops, a gym, solarium, spa, kids clubs and activities.

The dining options are magnificent!  I ate in the Cascades Restaurant with my CruiseOne colleagues, and we had the late dining at 8:30 pm every night.  There are also a handful of specialty restaurants that are available if you wish to try something different – such as Giovanni’s Table – I tried it, and I liked it!  There is also the Chef’s Table, Chops Grille, Izumi’s,  Samba Grill, Rita’s Cantina and these all range in price and can go up to $30 per person, which is very reasonable.  If you don’t want to spend extra money, you don’t have to….Cascade’s, and Windjammer Cafe have more than enough food for you to feast on, and the food in these two restaurants is very good quality and varies from day to day.  If you are looking for specialty coffees, there’s Cafe Latte-tudes (but you will have to pay for these – they’re not included).  My recommendation to you for breakfast is the Park Cafe, this place was a fantastic discovery, because first of all, I thought it was a specialty snack shop/cafe, but the food here is included in your cruise fare, and you must try it.  The paninis were so delicous, I can’t even begin to describe them accurately – my favorite was the breakfast panini with eggs, cheese, spinach and salmon!  It was so good, I ordered a second one!  The yoghurt parfaits are tasty – there were two kinds: strawberry or mango-banana, and there were also quesadillas, as well as other types of paninis, sandwiches and fresh fruit.  Close to the Park Cafe, was another counter where you could get pastries, and a coffee bar (with complimentary American coffee) and complimentary juice machine were also close by.  On other cruises, I have always opted for the breakfast buffet, but this time I could not wait for my paninis at Park Cafe.  Also, don’t forget to try the Boardwalk Dog House, this place serves delicious hot dogs – I tried one that was spicy turkey.

Even though the cruise was not scheduled to sail until 4:30 pm, it is important to get to the cruise terminal as early as possible.   I got there at around 1:00 pm, and was actually on the ship at around 3pm (that was two hours spent in the line even though I had done my online check-in, sometimes it’s not just the cruise line, but the immigration process that could slow things down).  Now for some photos that will show you around the ship, and give you some insight into my seven days of cruising enjoyment.

Radiance Of The Seas

Firstly, we have my cabin – an Inside Cabin with no windows unfortunately, but I still loved it, it was spacious and comfortable.  There was a safety video playing on the tv, and we did have our muster drill within the first few hours of getting on the ship.

Cabin 3549 – Inside Cabin on the Radiance Of The Seas

The lobby of the Radiance Of The Seas is ever so spectacular, colorful, modern and one of the nicest lobbies I’ve seen on a cruise ship.

Lobby known as Centrum on the Radiance Of The Seas

The lobby (Centrum) of the Radiance Of The Seas

The stunning Centrum of the Radiance Of The Seas

The Centrum, Radiance Of The Seas

I headed to the Windjammer Cafe to take advantage of a buffet lunch that did not fail to please.  What a nice welcome!

Windjammer Cafe, Radiance Of The Seas

I just had to take a picture of this waiter who had some colorful drinks:

Windjammer Cafe, Radiance Of The Seas

Too full now to get anything from Cafe Latte-tudes

Cafe Latte-tudes, Radiance of The Seas

Went to take a look around the ship, and we were still in Vancouver – not sailing yet.

Vancouver in the background of the Radiance Of The Seas

The skies are still a brilliant blue, while we are in Vancouver.

Main Swimming Pool, Radiance Of The Seas

Our first taste of some terrific entertainment – poolside!

Entertainment on the Radiance Of The Seas

And the audience joined in, every one got into vacation mode, that’s the spirit!

Beautiful Vancouver from the Radiance Of The Seas

Vancouver from the Radiance Of The Seas

Vancouver from Radiance Of The Seas

View of Vancouver from Radiance Of The Seas

We were not the only ship leaving from Canada Place, so was Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody Of The Seas

View of Vancouver and the Rhapsody Of The Seas from the Radiance of The Seas

I then walked around the ship and took these pictures, some on the first day because I was so excited to see the ship, and some pictures I took on other days:

Samba Grill, Radiance Of The Seas

The Fitness Center, Radiance Of The Seas

Best place to relax, and read a book, be warm and feel like you are in paradise.  The birds are chirping, and you don’t need a jacket here.  This is also where the Park Cafe is.

The Solarium, Radiance Of The Seas

The Crown & Anchor Lounge – go here to sign up for an account so that you start getting acknowledgement each time you cruise with Royal Caribbean – you will accumulate points and/or rewards.  This is not automatic membership, you have to sign up for it, so you might as well do it while you are on your cruise.

Crown & Anchor Lounge, Radiance Of The Seas

Children’s Area – Adventure Ocean

Bring your babies along, and your other kids too!

Royal Babies & Royal Tots, Radiance Of The Seas

Sports time, stay fit on this ship with plenty to do!

Basketball Court, Radiance Of The Seas

Play mini-golf on Deck 13

Mini Golf on the Radiance Of The Seas

Rock-climbing

Rock Climbing on the Radiance Of The Seas

StarQuest Nightclub, Radiance Of The Seas

You can’t go wrong with this interactive device, find out what to do, where you are, and where to go.  It is truly your compass.

Cruise Compass – Radiance Of The Seas

Read a book in the library on one of the decks, or play board games on the deck one level up

Leisure Time, Radiance Of The Seas

Lounge & Relax Time, Radiance Of The Seas

Club Royale Casino – Radiance Of The Seas

Hair Salon, Radiance Of The Seas

This is where spectacular entertainment was delivered every evening – The Aurora Theatre

Aurora Theatre – Radiance Of The Seas

A few pictures of the entertainment, as good as any Broadway show in the Aurora Theatre

The entertainment in the Aurora Theatre, Radiance Of The Seas

Entertainment, Aurora Theatre, Radiance Of The Seas

Captain Sindre Borsheim at the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception in the Colony Club

Cascades Restaurant – Radiance Of The Seas

Forgot what the dessert was called, but it was delicious!

Dessert in Cascades

The staff of the Cascades all get together at least two or three times, and say a few things about their team, they do a terrific job!

Cascades Staff – Radiance Of The Seas

Dinner at Giovanni’s Table was a nice change, and for $20 – there was plenty to eat.   Bring your appetite!

Giovanni’s Table Restaurant, Radiance Of The Seas

The most tasty and succulent chicken dish was devoured at Giovanni’s Table

Entree at Giovanni’s Table

Dessert Selection – Giovanni’s Table

The most scrumptious breakfast ever – breakfast panini – is to be had at Park Cafe in the Solarium area

Park Cafe – Radiance Of The Seas

Park Cafe – Radiance Of The Seas

Park Cafe, Radiance Of The Seas

I love to eat Indian food, and every day the Radiance Of The Seas had Indian items in their buffet at the Windjammer Cafe, but on this day – this Andhra Pakora Curry was undoubtedly the best!

Indian Food in Windjammer Cafe, Radiance Of The Seas

The changing landscape – Alaska in the background

The Radiance Of The Seas – Alaska

Radiance Of The Seas – Alaska

Staircase Artwork of the Radiance Of The Seas

Outdoor movie time – Radiance Of The Seas

Every day there was a new towel animal design, the staff are so clever and talented

Towel Animal

They’re hard at work in the kitchen feeding so many people; I got a look at the hard workers when I took a tour of the kitchen:

Kitchen of the Radiance Of The Seas

Shopping Choices on the Radiance Of The Seas

Actually, I saw long lines today (I think this picture may have been from Day 2 or 3)

Sales and Bargains on the Radiance of The Seas

As you can see, there is a lot to do and see on the Radiance Of The Seas.  I have so many more pictures, and will also be including some in a video that I will produce soon.  I hope you enjoyed my overviewof the cruise that I took.  Actually, this could be considered a review if I give you my recommendation – and I do – I definitely recommend taking this cruise.  You will love it, you won’t be bored – in fact, you’ll have way too much to do!  Thank you for reading.

Skagway

It is now Day 6 of the cruise.  I will be taking excursion no. 3 today, and it leaves at 8am.  Who said cruising was all about relaxing?  I have had to wake up early every single day, and one of the days when there wasn’t a port visit, I had a CruiseOne seminar from 9 am to 4:30 pm or so, and still had to wake up early.  Today’s excursion is called Skagway City and White Pass Summit.  By the way, the three excursions that I booked through my own website (http://www.likecruises.com) with our Shore Excursions provider were only $141 in total for all three – that’s a very good deal, and as you can see from yesterday’s excursion to Mendenhall Glacier, it’s worth getting on a bus and exploring.

The instructions on the ticket said to be just outside the cruise pier, and to check in by 7:40 am.  It was a good job that I brought my passport with me, as we were supposed to go into Canada, just past the border.  I managed to make it to the bus in time, and we set off promptly at 8am.  Here are some pictures that were taken at some of the stops, and this time I am going to use bigger pictures instead of thumbnails, please feel free to let me know if this is a better choice or not.

We must have been near Brackett Wagon Road according to this sign

Skagway

I wonder what’s nicer – being on the train, or being at a distance and seeing the train?

Skagway, near White Pass Summit in Alaska

The landscape is now changing as we are climbing higher up the hills in the bus, this picture was taken from the bus, and shows the trees are now dotted with white.

and it is getting whiter and whiter……..snow!  And lots of it!

It’s beginning to look very white out here, and the sun is trying to break through the sky, but it is very cold!

Snow and Sun, Skagway, Alaska

Welcome to Alaska, a must-have photograph – everyone wants their picture taken here.

White Pass Summit, near the border of Canada

There was too much snow, that we couldn’t go past the border, what a shame!  I would so much have liked to go into Canada again, even if for just a few moments.  We were told the roads were not clear enough, and not passable. Now we headed back down to Skagway from the White Pass Summit.

We stopped here because it was another scenic spot to take pictures.

Scenic Skagway, Alaska

The Norwegian Pearl, side by side with the Radiance Of The Seas.

The Norwegian Pearl, and Radiance Of The Seas in Skagway

We went on a short hike, and saw the Gold Rush Cemetery

Gold Rush Cemetery, Skagway, Alaska

Gold Rush Historical Information, Skagway

Be prepared for a short hike up, about a 5 minute walk to this waterfall, past the Cemetery.

Waterfall, Skagway

Scenic, magical, mysterious Skagway

We are done with the excursion, and I’m off the bus and decided to walk around Skagway, instead of heading back to the cruise ship.  The excursion lasted about two and a half hours, and it is only 11 am or so.  However, we have until 4pm today in Skagway….so might as well see it.

Downtown Skagway, five minutes or so from the cruise ship

Downtown Skagway, Alaska

Tlingits are an Alaskan Native people who have lived in Southeast Alaska for generations.  You can read more about the Tlingits by looking at the picture.

Tlingits, read about Alaskan Native history

Skagway City Museum

Interesting choice of names for these chocolate-covered concoctions. I chose the fudge instead.

Alaskan Fudge Shop Treats

Alaska is famous for its fudge in addition to its natural beauty and wild life, gold panning, Native American history, etc.

I did try their chocolate almond fudge – it was so good!

Alaskan Fudge Shop, Skagway

Nice house in downtown Skagway

Found an Indian restaurant – didn’t eat there though, perhaps next time.

Indian Restaurant in Skagway, Alaska

Downtown Skagway, Alaska

Looks like there’s inscriptions on the rocks, or are they signs?

Skagway

Want to buy gold?  There is still a lot of signs of the Gold Rush era.

Gold Shop, Skagway

A golden hotel…..the Golden North Hotel

Golden North Hotel, Skagway

Really wished I had taken this train to the White Pass Summit

White Pass Summit Train, Skagway

Interesting name for a place

Red Onion Saloon, Alaska

That’s the Norwegian Pearl in the background

Norwegian Pearl in Skagway

Looking back at Skagway for the last few minutes before I head back to the cruise ship.

Downtown Skagway street scene

The trains of Skagway.  I think I like trains…..

    

      

The walk back to the Radiance Of The Seas rock….I passed interesting rock art, trains, and the Norwegian Pearl…..

      

The Norwegian Pearl in Skagway

Now I see the Radiance Of The Seas

The Radiance Of The Seas in Skagway

Now, I am back on the ship, and tomorrow is the last full day of the cruise.  Will let you know how Day 7 goes.  Thank you for reading.

Juneau

It is now Day 5 of the cruise – Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, and I had to wake up early because my shore excursion meeting time  – for the tour titled Juneau City and Mendenhall Glacier Tour – is scheduled for 9:30 am.  This will be shore excursion no. 2 for me, even though it is the third port (I didn’t do an excursion when in Icy Strait Point).

I walked past the train which was right outside where the cruise ship docked, and was half hoping that my excursion would involve a train up to Mendenhall Glacier, but I knew from the tour instructions on my ticket that I would be going on a bus again.  It was only a two or three minute walk, but I was almost late, so I ran the last half minute to the bus.  I was supposed to have been there 15 minutes before the bus set off.  Here are some pictures taken during one of the stops prior to getting to Mendenhall Glacier.  We stopped so that we could take some pictures of the Radiance Of The Seas, and of course, I just loved to take pictures of that beautiful ship.  Here are some of the ship with Juneau in the background:

Radiance Of The Seas in Juneau, Alaska

Radiance Of The Seas in Juneau, Alaska

Here are some pictures taken from the bus, please excuse the reflection of the windows, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures:

    

I think these pictures were taken on one of the stops when we got out of the bus:

I could keep going on, and inserting more pictures, but I think I should stop at that.  I’m sure you can see how beautiful Juneau is, and why Alaska is worth the visit?  Then we went to a place called Chapel By The Lake (it was like a Log Church),  and took a quick look inside, but I was mainly keen to get outside to take pictures:

  

We then drove to another stop to take some pictures of Mendenhall Glacier from a distance:

And now we have arrived at the final destination – first some preliminary pictures of the arrival area:

      

Then, beautiful Mendenhall Glacier, awesome, breathtaking, what can I say?

      

Here are some more pictures of the area surrounding Mendenhall Glacier, isn’t the blue color that’s in the glacier incredible?

      

    

      

  

Well, after all those breathtaking pictures (even though I do say so myself), it seems like a let-down to add pictures of a different kind, but I must finish up, here are some pictures of downtown Juneau, near the cruise ship where our bus took us after the amazing visit to Mendenhall Glacier.

A little background on Juneau: It was discovered in 1880 due to the discovery of gold, Juneau began its history as a prosperous and unique mining town, you can see some of the recommended sightseeing spots by viewing the picture of the sign post below:

You are probably wondering about the food in Juneau, here’s a picture of a menu:

Here’s some pictures I took near to where the cruise ship was docked

          

PS:  If you are going to be in Juneau on June 7-9, 2012, you should not miss Celebration 2012.  This is a major dance and cultural festival held every two years.  Read more about the festival right here: http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/celebration/celebration_2012.htm  and to view beautiful Alaskan Native art showing fabulous Tsimshian culture, please take a look here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/terrance-h-booth-jr.html?page=2

I really hope that you like my pictures of Juneau, and the Mendenhall Glacier.  You just have to visit this amazing place, it was well worth the visit.  Gold was discovered here, but there is so much more to discover too.

Icy Strait Point

It is now Day 4 of the cruise – Monday, May 14th, 2012.  I don’t have any excursions booked for today, but one of the main excursions for this port is the zip line – which is for all those who wish to experience adventure, excitement and who aren’t afraid of heights.  I’m not daring enough to take the zip line – I like adventure, and excitement – but I think I either don’t like to be too high up or I’m just afraid of rides.

Icy Strait Point is very picturesque, and I’m glad I came off the ship to take a look.  There were several people onboard the ship who didn’t want to get off today because it was raining, and there had been a steady drizzle for most of the day.  We had to get on a tender boat to get to where the boat docked, and when I got off, I couldn’t help but be in awe of how beautiful the Radiance Of The Seas looked against the snow-clad mountains.

That’s me – Davinder – posing in front of the Radiance Of The Seas.

After taking pictures of the ship, I walked along the beach, to where I could see the zip line.  The rain kept on falling on the lens of both my camera and camcorder, so I kept on putting them away, and then getting tempted to take them back out again a few moments later, and then away again after a few minutes because of the rain.  It was a busy time mostly due to the rain.  Here are some more pictures that I took along the way.

               

As you may have noticed in one of the pictures, somebody had started a little fire on the beach to keep everyone warm.  It was quite icy cold in Icy Strait Point, it surely lives up to it’s name!  The drizzle did put a little damper on my outing, as I would definitely have liked to take more pictures, but I didn’t want to damage my camera, and already had got it wet various times.

I walked into the big brown building which was kind of like a museum towards the end of the pier, and this building also had quite a few shops.  Apparently, I had missed a native dance, and found out about this later.

I then started on the track of one of the nature trails on the other side of the building shown above (museum) to the left of it, and discovered a most incredible sight – a lake with trees and snow-clad mountains in the distance (shown below).  By this point, it was drizzling quite a bit.  I then recorded the zip line on my camcorder, and will have to put it into a video later and add the link.

Altogether, I spent about two and a half hours in Icy Strait Point, and would definitely recommend that you get off the ship to visit this port.  Don’t listen to those who tell you there’s nothing to see here, if you like natural beauty, you will see a lot of that around you.  I then proceeded to take the tender boat shown below at the dock back to the Radiance Of The Seas.

  

Recommendations: take your umbrella to Alaska, and a thick jacket, plus gloves, and you can’t go wrong.  Will soon write about Day 5 of the cruise.

Ketchikan

It is now Day 4 of my trip, but Day 3 of the cruise – it is Sunday, May 13th, 2012, and it is also Mother’s Day.  Ketchikan was our first port visit on the cruise, and therefore, my first real glimpse of Alaska.  I had a shore excursion that I had pre-booked  with our CruiseOne shore excursions provider  http://www.shoreexcursionsgroup.com/Ketchikan-Shore-Excursions-s/104.htm.  The shore excursion consisted of three excursions in a package, and would allow me to experience Ketchikan, as well as two of the other port stops – Skagway, and Juneau.  The price was really good, and I figured that instead of just walking around the pier where the cruise ship docks, I should go further into these destinations, and go to the main attractions.  So, today’s Excursion 1 (out of 3)  is  the Saxman Native Village and Ketchikan City Tour.

I live in San Diego now, so it’s a little like someone coming to San Diego, but not knowing about the beautiful beaches of Del Mar, La Jolla, and Encinitas or about Balboa Park, or the Hotel Del in Coronado.  If they just wander around the cruise port area, all they would see is beautiful SeaPort Village, and the harbor area near Anthony’s Fish Grotto Restaurant.  There would be so much left of San Diego that would be left undiscovered, and that is why you sometimes just have to take these excursions, so that a professional tour organizer will take you to the best spots.

I only had to walk about two or three minutes away from where the cruise ship docked to check in with the bus – all the information about the meeting point was on my ticket.  The bus set off promptly at 8:30 am and altogether this excursion lasted about two and a half hours.  We went past the downtown Ketchikan area, which is within walking distance of the cruise terminal, and then made a few stops along the way to our ultimate destination – Saxman Native Village – which is where all the totem poles are.  The two stops we made along the way were so we could take pictures of a waterfall, and a lake.

Here are some pictures of these two stops along the way:

This picture was taken while in the bus on the Saxman Native Village Tour shore excursion

I kind of like the picture above, even though it’s not the best since it was taken in the bus, and shows one of the passengers in the way of the view.  The waterfall pictures were not that unique, so I didn’t include.  Below is a picture of  the lake where we stopped, and then I just had to take a picture of a house in Ketchikan.  Then there are some pictures of totem poles, and some interesting street signs, as well as a Ketchikan trolley.

Some historical information about the totem poles

After viewing all the totem poles, we headed back to downtown Ketchikan, which is where I took the rest of the pictures below:

          

     

Don’t forget to visit Dolly’s House on Creek Street, this is a tourist attraction – with a story behind it that I won’t get into here.  Ketchikan is well worth the visit, it is so colorful, I could not stop taking pictures.  I hope you enjoyed looking at all of my pictures, and please let me know if you have any comments.