Alaska Part Three - Cruising, Skagway to Vancouver

3rd September, 1997
4th September, 1997
5th September, 1997
6th September, 1997

Wednesday, 3rd September, 1997

Drop Cap honed home and spoke to Neil. Geoff is still in hospital but doing alright and Neil hopes to get him home tomorrow. It is raining in Skagway this morning but we had a good breakfast and set off to explore a bit more and to buy some bandaids, more film, a postcard and some Skagway pins. One for me, one for Neil. We passed some one room kiosks which originally had been used by individualistic "ladies of the night" who didn't want to be run by the barman at the "Red Onion Saloon" One was actually labelled, "House of Negotiable Affection" - I wonder if Terry Pratchett has been in Skagway.

Skagway Harbour photograph

Boat Harbour, Skagway, Alaska

Drop Cap hen we all forgathered at the hotel to be taken the five minute journey to the ship. It is enormous! Like a floating hotel and mall, which of course it is. There are shops, bars, lounges, theatres, a casino, pool, spa etc etc. We have been exploring a bit and did two loads of washing and drying in one of the laundromats.
We had a life belt drill in the Stage Door Lounge and then the Captain's cocktail party to welcome the new arrivals. We made the most of the champagne as it is the only drink we'll get free on board from now on. We are on second sitting at all the meals , which means 8.15 for dinner. It's casual tonight, semi-formal tomorrow night, formal on Friday and casual again on Saturday. I asked the lady on the purser's desk if they would shut us out for lack of tiaras and tuxedos but she said no, don't worry, be comfortable. Jacket and tie for Mac, something nice for me.
We will report further after dinner.

cabin photograph

Our cabin, Regal Princess


Drop Cap inner in the Palm Court was very good. I had smoked salmon, rack of lamb and choc. fudge cake, Mac had chicken consomme with tiny profiteroles, and a deep dish beef pie. We came back to the cabin later to find that the bed was turned down, with chocolates on pink paper doilies on the pillows. My nightie had been manipulated into a fan shape and a bowl of fruit left on the table. I'm not sure I like the cabin being constantly invaded but there you are. Our cabin is very good, quite spacious.

cabin photograph

Another angle of Our Cabin, Regal Princess

Drop Cap e have a large double bed under the porthole with side tables on each side. There is a desk/dressing table with an arm chair and an occasional table with magazines (and a bowl of fruit). We have our own bathroom ensuite and a large wardrobe. It has been possible to completely unpack, do laundry and hang things up and also to put away the bags. I am quite impressed.

deck photograph

Lido Deck, Regal Princess

Drop Cap e have sailed and are already out of sight of land. It is very calm, you wouldn't know you were on a boat really. There is a lot to do, from concerts, movies, gambling and boozing, but we probably won't do any of them. There is a library also, but we're not sure when it's open.

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Thursday, 4th September, 1997

glacier bay photograph

In Glacier Bay, Alaska

Drop Cap oday we slept late, such a luxury, and went for a light breakfast at the Cafe del Sol on the Lido (12th) Deck. This is the deck with the pool, spa, pizzeria etc. We are in Glacier Bay and stopped to pick up two rangers from Glacier Bay National Park to tell us what we are seeing. The bay is spectacular. It is a fjord, like Prince William Sound and is surrounded by the remnants of the glaciers which used to cover the whole area. Most of them have receded but there were some good ones. Johns Hopkins and Margeries Glaciers are very active and while we watched quite an impressive chunk calved off Margeries. There was a stream which ran right through Margeries and erupted in a fountain of silty water at the waterline. It was weird.

glacier bay photograph

In Glacier Bay, Alaska

Drop Cap n the afternoon we hoped to see whales but the weather closed in and fog and rain made it rather difficult. We took our books into the Dome lounge (this is the casino, level 14) but I started to fall asleep so we returned to the cabin to have a nap. It may be wasting all the ships facilities but somehow just being able to nap is a luxury. Tomorrow we dock in Sitka and we have a tour lined up at 7.30. Shades of the bus!

Drop Cap ur dinner tonight is French, and is semi-formal. I am wearing my multi-coloured shiny top over black crepe pants. Somehow seeing what some of these people consider SEMI formal, I hate to think what's coming for tomorrow's Formal - a gala captain's dinner. Most of our tourmates at least don't have formal gear - George at our table doesn't have a jacket and Doug doesn't even have a tie. At least Mac looked good in both, tonight and will wear a different combo tomorrow.

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Friday, 5th September, 1997

Sitka photograph

St.Michael's Orthodox Cathedral, Sitka, Alaska

Drop Cap e arrived at Sitka today about 6.30 a.m. We got up early and went for an historic tour of Sitka, capital of Russian America. It was the centre of furtrading operations before the Russians sold Alaska to the Americans. It is only a small town, about 8,500 population with a fishing industry and a university. We saw the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St.Michael, a replica of the original building that burned down in 1966. But the townspeople saved the icons and all the internal fittings and they built it again, like new. Or like old. It is full of gold and silver jewelled icons and artifacts.

Drop Cap hen we went on to see a performance by the New Archangel Dancers, a group of local women who dance traditional Russian folk dances quite well. I noticed that all of the tour guide/bus drivers were wearing vests covered in pins. When I asked about it ours told me that it is an old Russian custom to give badges to one another. So I gave him one of my Australian flag pins and he was very chuffed.

Drop Cap e went on to the Heritage Park with Indian totems and had a stroll through the rainforest to Indian River where the pink salmon were spawning. This is an incredible sight! We have heard so much about the salmon and its doom wracked life cycle that to actually see it was a revelation. The river was boiling with wall-to-wall salmon and the banks were lined with the corpses of the ones which have finished the cycle. I feel really sorry for salmon, they have a lousy life!

Drop Cap e passed the Volunteer Fire Department which had a sign out the front which we appreciated and would have liked to photograph but the bus didn't stop. It proclaimed prominently and proudly that "volunteers are unpaid professionals" Struck a chord.

dinner photograph

Our table at the Formal Dinner (shows how formal we all were)

Drop Cap ack to the ship for a relaxing afternoon , then our formal evening! The Captain's Dinner was very good. We were dressed as well or better than the majority, I felt, though some women and a few of the men were dressed up to the nines, if not the tens. We had a group photograph taken on the Grand Staircase in the Atrium and a number of others at the table. I had caviar and beef wellington, both very nice. It's good to be able to try these sorts of things without having to pay extra for them. Mac had soup and ravioli, both appetisers, but his appetite is always small.

Drop Cap fter dinner we went to the "ports of call" show, the first we've seen. It was bright, colourful and well done except for some backstage work which was visible and shouldn't have been. But we do nitpick over things like that. But the singing and dancing were good.

Drop Cap omorrow is our last day at sea and we have all the disembarkation procedures to master and tipping to work out etc. to say nothing of packing. Oh, well, Vancouver is approaching.

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Saturday, 6th September, 1997

Drop Cap ell, here we are on our last day. We slept late, had breakfast in the Cafe del Sol then attended a lecture on disembarkation and tipping. Came back to the room to pack as the cases have to be colour tagged and put out before 10 p.m. tonight. By the time we had done all that we went out on deck for some fresh air with our books. We looked for whales, which apparently live in these waters and saw a couple of dorsal fins dipping (Orcas or killer whales) but you couldn't really say we saw whales. It got very cool and blowy outside so we came back inside, then we heard later that people had seen whales breaking out of the waves right in front of the bow. Just our luck.

Drop Cap lobus shouted us a farewell cocktail party this evening with the champagne and canapes flowing, very nice. Ron made a speech thanking us for co-operation and calling us out in turn for our complimentary group photo. It's okay, not good, but okay. We then had our last supper - I had avocado and seafood, turkey and all the trimmings and dessert was the traditional Baked Alaska which they serve at the last dinner every cruise. They dimmed the lights and lit the Alaskas and the junior waiters paraded them through the dining room (25 of them each with a whole Bombe on a tray) to the strains of the Macarena.

Drop Cap icked up a photo of our table on the formal night.. George and Gloria Theodore, Doug Smyth and Margaret Sanderson (a couple) and us. Shows how formal we all were. Paid our cabin bill, tipped the ones we wanted to, and now all that remains is to land.

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