Tag Archives: cruising

Cruising Part Two

If you read Crusing Part One you’ll think that everything was pretty cool. The food was great, there was entertainment, lovely scenery, Juneau is a fun place to spend a day (two might be pushing it) and overall this is a nice cruise. Well, yeah. So far, I’ll give you that. Other than that Sitka thing. Sitka, you see, was the capital of Russian America. It has a governor’s palace and a reproduced (after it burned down) Orthodox church from pre Alaska Purchase times. The transfer to the US took place in Sitka. It’s crawling with history. I’ll have to go see it sometime. Maybe via ferry? Seaplane? Well, on with the story.

After we reboarded from Juneau, Captain Van der Loo said that the storm had gotten so bad that we couldn’t stop at Ketchikan either. Well, shit! Seriously, we came to see Alaska and we got Juneau? Ketchikan was the third place in order that I really wanted to visit. It’s small, almost as small as Sitka, but still, there are totem poles and rainforest trails and, oh hell! We would, the Captain said, be going behind as many islands as possible, and end up with a full day in Victoria. The full day in Victoria was nice (more later) but Victoria is in Canada, of course, and not Alaska at all. My phone works in Canada, at 89 cents per minute, that is. We were warned that there would be movement of the ship. And there was, some. We wanted to go to the magic show, but ended up crashing at 9 PM (Alaska Daylight Time) due to excessive fatigue from walking all over Juneau. But, hey, we’re on a luxurious cruise ship, right? Lots of stuff to do for entertainment.

Until 11 PM when even the casino closes. The buffet up top, too. We’d been on a cruise before where there was no limit to when you could get a snack, or a drink, or gamble for that matter. And, we’re from Vegas so we sort of expect customer service to be important to the hotel. But, honestly, as a hotel to be stuck in for two days, which we were, it was top notch. One thing we discovered is that we really don’t like cruising, we like visiting places we’ve never seen. A ship is a perfectly good way to get to a place like that, or so we thought. But even the best hotel gets confining if you can’t walk out the door, and by golly, the next day, you couldn’t! Hurricane force winds and twenty foot seas and they had to seal off the promenade deck, so everybody was stuck inside. Here is a link to a You Tube Video of the 20-foot waves, taken from 8 stories above the normal water line.

Here’s a photo, taken from about fifty feet above the water. The seas were about 15 feet at this point:

Heavy Seas
These whitecaps are about 15 feet highphoto by Steve Fey

We did learn that we’re not cruisers by our nature. Some folks love just being on the ship and enjoying the good food and all, but about that . . .

I mentioned a buffet, up on the Lido deck. It’s okay, but it ain’t the Bellagio, if you get my drift. It’s not that the food is bad, it just isn’t special. And you have to compete for a table, and wait to pick up your food, and all of the drawbacks that even the Bellagio offers. For ordinary food. The main dining room, however, is something else. There you get waited on hand and foot, although sometimes not as quickly as you’d like, and the food truly is top of the line. Some people, as you may imagine, didn’t have to worry about eating that day. Another thing we discovered is that we are not apparently prone to seasickness, as we both enjoyed our meals as per usual. I even had some nice Spanish wine. I did get tired of bouncing off walls like a drunken, er, sailor as it were, and if it had gone on too long then, as my friends were were sailors have told me, I’d have been sick along with everybody else.

If you find yourself getting motion sick, a lot of the secret to minimizing the effect is to not fight it — roll with the ship, so to speak. And watch your step!

After two days bouncing along, where we did see Humpbacks, Porpoises one evening at dinner (where we had a window seat,) which made being cooped up a bit better, we arrived in the morning in Victoria, British Columbia, which is a very nice place to visit. We rented a car for the day so we were even able to stop at a garage sale, where we bought a whole bunch of close-out priced key chain souvenirs for a quarter a pop (the lady took US money, even) and drove around enjoying the island. That’s Vancouver Island, not to be confused with the city of the same name, which is an hour and a half away by ferry.

Yukon License Plate
Something you don't see every day, even in Vegasphoto by Tami Cowden

We saw a lot of interesting things in Victoria. As one of our two stops, it sort of had to provide entertainment. This picture is of something I’d never seen before. Oddly, I see lots of Alaska plates in Vegas, but never a Yukon. (In Juneau I saw only one out of state plate — from Montana.) With that in mind, here are some more pictures of stuff we saw in our day in Canada.

Fudge & Funk
Hey, the fudge was good, okay?photo by Tami Cowden


Whatever This Is, Is in Victoriaphoto by Steve Fey

Now, to be fair, on this trip I did find a Sitka Shop. Take a look:

Sitka Shop
The Sitka Specialty Shop -- in Victoria, BCphoto by Steve Fey

So, here’s the thing with the crew. We ordered room service breakfast on day 1. Excellent. Day 2, cold. Day 3, they forgot stuff, then brought the whole order, minus the stuff they forgot, then finally brought the stuff, but by that time who cared? They lost some papers we were keeping, apparently thinking they were trash, although they were stacked neatly on top of a DVD player. I think that they were all pretty new. In fact, the employee of the month had only been there six months. Could it be that Holland America doesn’t pay all that well? I report, you decide. So, okay, they can’t do anything about the weather, but gee whiz, cold breakfast? The buffet breakfast was decent (unlike dinner) and the dining room had a great breakfast. We also went to tea one day, and a “Mariner’s Lunch,” for repeat cruisers (turns out Carnival owns them and that counted) one day. Hey, if you cruise a hundred days with them you get a “copper colored” (the Captain’s phrase) medallion. If you live on their ships for a couple years you get a platinum one, not to be confused with the silver one for a lesser collection of cruise days. Ah, lovely. Well, anyway, we made it back to Seattle without incident, paid to have them take our luggage to the airport so we could hang around Seattle a couple more hours, then took a train to the airport and came back to the blessedly dry oasis of Las Vegas.

Heck, one last picture from Seattle. It’s outside the Public Market.

Pig Outside the Public Market
This is just outside of the Public Market in Seattlephoto by Tami Cowden

And that’s about it. But, you may know I’ve always been musically inclined, so I had to put together a song about this trip. No, I didn’t really compose it: it is a parody, but I did write these new words. So, before you go, here’s an earworm for you to enjoy for a while. I know I did!


Now this is a tale of two cruisers who were out to raise some smiles.
They left to visit the frozen north; they’d be gone for quite a while. (Gone for quite a while!)

They’d visit Juneau, Sitka too, then on to Ketchikan, With a stop off in Victoria just to complete the plan.

Their captain was a sailin’ man, the ship was big and sure, Whatever came, there’d be no blame: it’d be a wonderful tour. (Be a wonderful tour!)

Two days at sea and they got to see some glaciers in many a form,
Then the captain said, “Sitka is dead – there’s a big old Northern storm!” (A big old Northern storm!)

Now that was bad, they both were sad, but they still had Ketchikan, But the captain said they’d miss that too as from the storm they ran.

The weather started getting rough, the big ol’ ship was tossed,
And no matter what the crew could do, some lunches soon were lost! (Some lunches soon were lost!)
Spoken: but not our heroes; they just got bruised bouncing off the walls. I mean bulkheads!

Hurricane Winds! Twenty foot seas! Enough to make you cry! And, what the heck? No one on deck, unless you want to fly. (Unless you want to fly!)

Two days at sea that were not to be when they set sail that day. And soon they started wondering if the sea was the place to play!

It made them mad, but they were glad to see Seattle’s isles, ‘Cause they’d have put in anywhere; even Gilligan’s Isle!