01.09.2015 - 02.09.2015 14 °C
First item on the agenda once on the ship was to have a Muster Drill and learn the safety stuff and how to put on a life jacket. Unlike on planes, we had to actually PRACTISE it! And all before we left the shore. Ohh, I look sooo fetching in a life jacket. In fact, so fetching that we “forgot” to take a photo!
First night on board, I slept out of sheer exhaustion! Apparently the Gulf of Alaska (where we headed) can be a bit blowy and bumpy. I’d never have known! Sleeping-in helped and eating breakfast in our room helped a lot! By lunch time when we reached Yakatut Bay (home of the Hubbard Glacier) I was ready to stand on our balcony and revel in the glories of Glaciers.
With a Professor of Natural History up on the Bridge giving commentary (which could be heard on our in-room TV) we realised just how much we had learned from our little mate Steve the Naturalist/Bus Driver. Much of what the commentator said made sense, and was even familiar from our Steve-induced Fact-Absorption! And the beauty of the Glacier was just marvellous. We were bathed in glorious sun which made the glacier just more enticing, sparkly and just plain beautiful..
We spent most of the day on our balcony in AWE! With the occasional visit upstairs to the top decks to catch something on the other side (starboard or something or other!) which we were missing. (More story below these photos because I'm being slack and putting them all together!)
Formal Dinner followed that day’s entertainment. Not sure Formal Dinner could be classed as entertainment though!
Just to give you some background, the information we had received said there were 2 formal dinners on our cruise and you could hire a dinner suit on the boat! But definitely, jeans were unacceptable and a jacket and tie or business suit would be accepted at a pinch!
Well, needless to say there was no way Phil wanted to do a tuxedo or even travel with a suit (lugging it around uselessly for the other 5 weeks of our trip)! After a clever suggestion from a Been-There-Done-That friend, (thanks Greg) we bought Phil a sports jacket at an Opp shop before we left, and made sure we had a shirt and tie and slacks for these events. The jacket will be redonated in Canada or USA after our cruise!
So back to Dinner. We spruced ourselves up and went to the preceding Captain’s Cocktail Party (free booze). Had our photo taken and then went into dinner. A rectangular table for 8 was our allocated table. It had a great view out the front of the boat (sorry Martin, I mean bow of the ship)! Two couples were already sitting there nattering away. We sat down and no-one took any notice, stopped their conversation, or even shut up for the next 20-30 mins! Nor did anyone else come along to take the last 2 seats.
By this time, mightily cheesed, we were happily chatting with each other and choosing to ignore them. (Secretly though, I was wondering if I could arrange with the Maitre d’ to move us to another table from the next night, seeing we were allocated to share dinner with this lot for the rest of the trip!!)
Eventually the couple nearest to us (they’d chosen to sit across from each other) introduced themselves. We responded but not super warmly and they at various times tried to be polite people in the middle. But it was very obvious that the husband in the last couple was somehow getting peeved if attention was not on him! Yes he was a grown up, and contrary to expectations, was the first Canadian we met who wasn’t friendly!
Americans seem to find Australians fascinating, and are genuinely interested in finding out more or telling you about their travels to Australia! Except of course when they think you’re a Brit, which we busily tell them is an unforgivable offence! (Sorry Pauline, but what would Aussie life be without a bit of Pommy-bashing? Especially when you are a hidden Pom heh Phil?)
The next day had us up early with the enticement of seeing whales. But our wildlife Jinx held up, and all we were rewarded with was lovely views as we headed towards Glacier Bay. Again sunshine and blue skies had the sunnies being dragged out. So so so different from freezing cold and snow in Denali. It was lovely sitting on our balcony and lapping up sun and views! Layers and sunglasses were needed but after Melbourne’s winter just-passed, we were happy to take it! Temps were about 16C.
We got to see more glaciers and some extras that can’t be neared before Sept 1. Until then, the seals have calved and are rearing pups, so must be left alone until the pups are reared sufficiently and left to get on with living by themselves by their slightly ruthless parents. (we are talking about 6 weeks here!)
The face of Hubberd’s Glacier is not as high as the ones in Glacier Bay but had been 3 miles wide right at the edge of the water. Margerie Glacier It's 21 mind-blowing miles long) and the Johns Hopkins Glacier were awesome in their heights and right at the water’s edge. The ship edged really close (the advantage of a small boat) and just stopped there so we could all see for about 45 mins!
The thunder-cracks that attended the calving off of sections of ice were resounding through the silence. People on the ship held their breath in the hope of seeing this exciting piece of natural theatre. So so peaceful, and so exciting at the same time. Like cathedrals of ice that deserved your respect and admiration.
Just fabulous, and I will always be grateful for seeing them in all their shiny sunlit beauty.
Eventually it was time for dinner. We’d decided we wouldn’t be late as we had been the night before. Maybe we’d even be first, and see just what effect that would have on the dynamics, and level of politeness. The couple who’d made the effort the night before came next and we were immediately engaged in great conversation. You know the story, ask people about themselves and just sit back and let em talk. Throw in the odd question, and all goes smoothly. Mr Canada’s look of horror at being left at the end of the table and intermittently out of the loop was karma really!
From then on dinners have gone quite well, and we have become fans of talking to our New Jersey fellow diners, and conversation flows easily and across so many subjects.
Ahh karma indeed is a pleasure.