Saturday, October 18, 2008


This will be a long post and will finish my writing about the trip.  It is about time.  I can't seem to move on until I finish this.  Ever had that feeling?

  Ship's Log: Tuesday, August 5, 2008, Sitka, Alaska,  7:00am  Leg go starboard anchor.

Our room service breakfast arrived exactly on time and we watched the activity outside our window while we ate.

The Sitka port is too small for a cruise ship to dock.  Therefore we must get to shore by Tender. My first vision about a tender included muscular sailors with oars in a lifeboat.  That turned out to be wrong.   One of the tenders  had been riding above the deck just outside our cabin window.  We noticed three crew members climbing up and down the ladder and then they lowered the tender to the water.  Each motorized tender has bench seats for about 100 people. No problem getting on.  I didn't have to step or jump across a gap between ship and tender.

We did not schedule an excursion for Sitka so we get a self-guide tour map and start walking.  It's early and the stores are closed as we window shop along the main street.  We find stairs leading to the top of Castle hill.  Up we go; no need for Stairmaster today.  The view at the top is fantastic.  We can see The Amsterdam anchored in the middle of the harbor.

Castle hill was the home of Alexander Baranov, the Russian territorial governor at the end of the 18th century.  He built a house for his wife who is said to have brought civilization to Sitka, Alaska.  The house is gone now.

We walk down stairs on the other side of the hill and across a bridge to the University of Southwest Alaska, Sitka.  It is housed in one small, modern building.   I was looking for T-shirts for David's kids.  There was no bookstore and only adult t-shirts sold by the office staff.  Back on main street, fellow passengers are swooping in and out of the various shops.  We browse an art gallery of native art.  The paintings and sculptures are nice, even beautiful but expensive and large.  

We buy a bus ticket to the Alaska Raptor Center.  The volunteer staff  nurse rescued bald eagles, hawks and owls back to health and help some to return to the wild.  One enclosure is a large room called the aerobic room where the birds practice flying before they return to the wild.  There is an area where those unable to return to the wild are cared for.  We spend some time in a room with Sitka, a bald eagle who cannot be returned to the wild.  A volunteer holds her and answers questions as Sitka looks from side to side.   Bald  eagles are awesome creatures.
We take a walk along the creek although the sign cautions us there have been bears on the trail. We do not meet a bear but do see evidence there has been one visiting the area.

We have lunch of reindeer dogs and beer at an outdoor reindeer dog stand.  We sit in pleasant sunshine and watch a groups of tourists searching for treasures to take home.  As we leave, Paulette tells me I just ate Rudolph.  

We wander in and out of art galleries and shops, buy a few souvenirs on our way back to the dock.  The tender takes back to the ship.

Ship's Log:  4:42pm Commenced heaving starboard anchor.

Another wonderful dinner a little dancing and watching the captain's toast to the passengers after he introduced the executive officers of the ship.

Ship's Log:  Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Ketchikan, Alaska.  6:36am, first line ashore.

Ketchikan seems to be built on a shelf between the mountain and water.   It snakes for several miles along the southwestern shore of Revillagigedo Island, facing Tongass Narrows.  We begin our self-guided tour of Ketchikan by walking up many stairs through a residential area.  Homes are built on the hillside so sidewalks are stairs.  There are new homes next to old dilapidated ones and rehabilitates buildings.  A short hike takes us to the Totem Heritage Cultural Center and Totem Bight State Park.  We tour the museum where they have preserved some very old totem poles in glass cases.  There are modern and traditional examples throughout the building and outside.

We take the Married Man's Trail back to the row of shops and museums that originally served as the bordellos of Ketchikan.  These buildings are build along and on stilts over the rushing water of a creek.  A bronze statue of a salmon "swims" above the water in honor of the upstream journey of spawning salmon.  We have seen salmon swimming upstream.    Walking back to the ship we buy Kettle Korn from a vender in a shop under a statue of a whale.  We have our picture taken with the only full-size bear we encounter on the trip.

Last chance to buy stuff in Alaska so we get our souvenirs on the way back to the ship.  Captain Henri Lefering greets us at the foot of the gangplank as we return to the ship.

Ship's log:  12:34pm: All lines gone.

I spend the afternoon walking all the decks to see what's around.  There is a teen lounge at one end of deck nine.  There are some Red Hat ladies playing ping-pong next to the teen lounge.  I see the shuffleboards--no one is playing.    I walk through the Lido cafeteria and have coffee and a brownie with ice cream, take a picture of an orchid on my table,read my book and watch out the window.  I walk through the Casino, the duty free shop, the photo gallery where the pictures taken by the photographers on board are displayed and for sale.  Ours are not worth buying.  There is a spa with expensive massages, facials and make-up for sale.  While I do this Paulette is in the bar taking a mixology class.  She learned to make martinis and margaritas.

Then it is dinner time and after dinner we go to the lounge and listen to Bamboleo, the trio from Mexico.  We dance and talk to  some members of the Chinese family celebrating their mother/grandmother's 80th  birthday.  She is the best dancer of the family.