Tracy, Michael, Tina, and Bheeshmar left from SEATAC airport early Sunday morning to take the shuttle bus to the pier in Vancouver, BC. It was a scenic three hour bus ride. We arrived at the pier where the Regal Princess was docked, checked in, and boarded at about 1pm.
Our rooms were fabulous. They were the second largest room available on the ship. We had a nice private balcony and our room was right next door to Michael and Tracy's. This was convenient, since we did almost everything together, so we only had to knock on the wall to find out if they were ready. Since our luggage wasn't ready yet, we went to find a bar and get some drinks.
At 5pm, just as the ship was leaving port, we attended the muster drill where we learned what to do in an emergency and how to put on our life jackets. They even described how we should jump off the boat if we needed to.
Right after muster drill was our first sitting dinner. We all sat together at a table for four. Our waiter Tony was from Portugal, and his assistant Juan was from Mexico City. They were nice,but Tony would yell at Juan all the time and that made Tracy sad.
We spent Monday at sea cruising through the Inside Passage on the way to Juneau. The girls crafted and later joined the guys who were playing Bingo. Michael was disappointed that we didn't win any money. Afterwards, we hung out on deck watching the scenery float by.
Monday was the first formal night. We had a very nice dinner and sat for pictures.
Tracy and Tina sat on deck for a while cruising to Juneau. Michael and Bheeshmar went to see the cooking demonstration and galley tour. The galley was pretty impressive, with different preparation areas for each kind of food.
Once we got to Juneau, it took forever to get off the ship because everyone was trying to get off at the same time. It was sunny and hot in Juneau, an unseasonably warm 82F. Of course, we dressed for much cooler weather, and so we were sweating while we explored the trails at the top of the tramway.
Our tour in Juneau was a helicopter glacier tour. We took off from the Juneau heliport, and flew to Taku glacier and set down there to experience the alien landscape on top of the glacier. It was really quite pretty. After a few minutes there, we flew up to the Juneau icefield, the source of the glaciers, where it snows 100ft a year. The weather is usually only good enough to go up there one time in twenty, so we consider ourselves lucky. They served us champagne and fudge up there and Bheeshmar made a snow angel.
After dinner, the ship left port and started off for Skagway.
We awoke to find ourselves at the port of Skagway, the starting point of the Yukon trail during the gold rush of 1898. Tina and Bheeshmar's tour here was a visit to Liarsville, so named for the journalists who were sent here to cover the gold rush. They claimed the gold was lying about and easily accessible when nothing was farther from the truth. The prospectors had to travel 42 miles along the Yukon Trail while carrying 2000 pounds of goods the whole way. Of course this meant many trips along a hard and beautiful countryside.
We panned for gold in Liarsville after a little variety show talking about the history of the place. We then took a bus ride up the Yukon Trail to the Canadian border. It was very scenic.
After Tracy and Michael returned from their sea kayaking tour, Tracy and Bheeshmar went on the bridge tour. Bheeshmar got to steer the boat (while it was docked).
After dinner, the ship left port and started off toward Yakutat Bay and the Hubbard Glacier.
After breakfast, Michael and Bheeshmar watched an ice sculpting demonstration. The artist metamorphosed a 200 pound block of ice into a dolphin in about 15 minutes. It was quite impressive.
The afternoon saw us entering Yakutat Bay where Hubbard Glacier meets the ocean. Hubbard is a tidewater glacier and advances about 30 feet per day. Of course, it sheds 29.5 feet in the form of icebergs, a process called calving. Hubbard is 3.3 miles wide and 300 feet high.
We knew we were close to the glacier when we could see the icebergs. Most were small, but there were a few that were as big as houses. Of course that was just the tip of the iceberg, which is only about 1/8 of it. The ship threaded through the ice and got up to within a mile of the glacier so we could clearly see the calving.
You could see 100 foot pillars and sheets of ice tumble down into the ocean followed by the thunderous rumbling of that fall. It was really hard to get a sense of scale from a mile away, but even so, it was a grand spectacle.
We spent only a couple of hours at Hubbard Glacier, then turned the ship around towards our final port of call, Sitka.
At Sitka, Michael and Bheeshmar arose early to get to their fishing tour. They fished for four hours on Sitka Sound and caught one coho salmon each. The other people on their boat caught a 25 pound king salmon a piece. There was plenty of wildlife on Sitka sound including puffins, a sea lion, and even a humpback whale which breached not 100 yards from the fishing boat.
Meanwhile, Tina and Tracy went on a historical tour of Sitka. Sitka was the Russian capitol of Alaska and was the location where Seward signed the treaty purchasing Alaska. There's a lovely Russian Orthodox church called St Michaels that has been in Sitka for over 150 years. There was also a lush park with totem poles.
That night was the Captain's Gala dinner. It was very fancy with caviar and lobster.
After dinner we went to the show: Shake, Rattle, and Roll. It was an entertaining tribute to the greats of rock and roll.
Michael and Bheeshmar stayed up to see the champagne waterfall that was set up at midnight. 648 champagne glasses stacked like a Christmas tree by the Maitre'D. It was very festive.
Today was spent packing and preparing for departure. We filled out surveys and departure forms. We paid gratuities. We're pretty ready to go home.
Our last dinner aboard ship, they decide to serve Baked Alaska for dessert.
We awoke this morning entering the port of Vancouver. We passed right under the Lion's Gate Bridge. We waited our turn to disembark from the ship, then boarded the bus to SEATAC.
At SEATAC we met Tina and Tracy's Aunt Jo and her grandson Josh. We hung out with them until our flight back home.