My Alaska adventures 2006

Trip Start May 2006
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Trip End Jun 2006


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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Alaska is too full of eye candy to pick and choose just one fond memory and many of the Alaskan ports are similar in looks and what they have to offer. Each though, has at least one unique aspect and it is fun to find that one aspect and take advantage of it.

The natural wonders of Alaska are everywhere you look and whether it is blue glacier ice or a snow covered mountain or whether it is a vast tundra or lush coastal region, Alaska has something for everyone's tastes and usually lots of it!  I don't know what was more captivating--the snow capped mountains, the blue glacier lakes or extreme vastness and desolation of the Alaskan interior.


Two "things" I discovered this trip that captivated me were the Davidson Glacier near Skagway and Haines and the Hubbard Glacier in the north portion of the cruise, closest to Whittier.

Arriving in Skagway it was very cold in the morning and fortunately I was able to quickly board the (warm) Chilcat Express boat for a 45 minute trip to the Davidson Glacier area near Haines. The Express is the fastest boat in Alaska and capable of 50+ MPH. My guide Kyle was interesting, funny and informative. We landed on a beach near the glacier, took a 4-wheel drive bus to an outpost where I was dressed in canoe/wild water gear.

 A short hike to the canoes on the river preceded our paddling upriver to Davidson Lake which was fed by the glacier. This truly was a back to nature adventure and after a quick paddle around the lake, it was time to approach the glacier face. The size of the Davidson glacier face is difficult to determine and to get the proper scale of how large it really is, you must canoe right up to it (and this was one of the smaller glaciers I saw).

Icebergs as big as a bus floated near me in Davidson Lake and knowing they broke off the face recently made me appreciate not getting closer than 100 yards to the face. A few moments of utter silence in front of the massive glacier allowed me reflect on the beauty of Alaska.

We then reversed our route and headed back to the Express which had lunch waiting for us on board the Chilkat for the return trip to Skagway. Overall, a highlight of my trip.

This tour can be arranged by calling: 888-766-2103 near Haines, Alaska which is about a 45 minute jet boat ride from Skagway. Their website is: http://www.chilkatcruises.com/kayak-haines-wilderness-kayak- davidson-glacier.htm

Other Contact Info: P.O. Box 509 Haines, AK. 99827

My other favorite "thing" to do in Alaska is to take a floatplane anywhere to see the beautiful vastness of Alaska from the air. There is nothing like the vistas of mountains, glaciers, and the experience of taking off and landing on water.

 The day I was to see Hubbard Glacier Bay, my ship was able to navigate through icebergs to get within 1 to 1 1/2 miles of the glacier face which is 5 miles wide, 1,500 feet deep and 76 miles long. Watching and especially hearing the crack of ice and calving was awesome--simply awesome. The water was calm, the air crisp and the views magnificent.

 

 Some tips from The Travel Slut  for an Alaska cruise on  the Regent Cruise Line-Seven Seas Mariner:

1. Buy a cyber (internet card) for Seaport Cyber which is located in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and use it in all the ports. It is $10 for 2 hours and they are located in the downtown port areas.

2.  It would take weeks & lots of money to see & do Alaska's Inside Passage on land or air instead of a cruiseship so having a floating, mobile accommodation is best for this type of journey IMHO

3. Although embarkation was not scheduled until 2:30 PM, I was able to board just after 12 p.m. & although my cabin was not ready, I was able to walk the ship, check out the library & DVD library & enjoy the La Verandah restaurant until 1:30 p.m. when my room was ready.

4.  Be sure to take several of the free "Alaska Destination" booklets in port before boarding the ship as they contain both worthwhile coupons, freebies, and information on each of the ports & their stores, tours.

5. Make reservations for either Signatures (French cuisine) or Latitudes (Indo-chine & Asian fusion) restaurants as soon as possible after boarding as they fill-up fairly quick.

6. Be sure to experience room service at least once whether it is a full meal or a snack-appetizer. You will be pleased. It was the finest I have had on over 40 cruises.

7. Complete your in-room liquor request form as soon as you are allowed into your cabin.

8.  Spend at least some day-at-sea time in the Observation Lounge taking in the wonderful views

9. If you get the urge for popcorn, check into the movie theater and you might get lucky like I did and get a bag of fresh-popped popcorn while a movie was being played

10.  Be sure to tell any of the maitre'd's how you wish to dine---with company or not and they will do their best to accomodate you. I prefer larger tables for socializing and then learning about or sharing new experiences with my tablemates.

11. On many mornings, the tour groups were directed to the Constellation Theater prior to disembarking and I noted that the ship had set up continental breakfast items in the room for those people waiting. That was a nice touch for late sleepers and late arrivals.

12.  Disembarkation was painless and EXTREMELY fast as we started @ 7 a.m. and by 8 a.m. the ship was emptied. Request an early room service breakfast on your final night onboard.

Overall Regent impressions: The unique qualities of Regent include the cruiseline touting itself as six star---and it is backed up by many other experts and critics in the industry. Some of my experiences on this 7 day cruise adventure included a northbound Inside Passage trip from Vancouver, BC to Whittier/Anchorage, Alaska via Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and the Hubbard Glacier Bay.

My embarkation was effortless and I was delighted to find champagne and strawberries awaiting me in my verandah suite, #1064. The Mariner has a maximum capacity of 700 guests and all cabins have walk-in closets, marble-tiled bathrooms, a dedicated make-up desk, spacious verandahs and a choice of complimentary liquors for your personal in-room use. The refrigerator is stocked daily with water, beer, soda and ice.

Regent surpassed my expectations in every category. The crew were both gracious and helpful, the cabins were very large (356 sq. feet) and appointed lavishly, and the food was no less than magnificent with open seating for dining or in-cabin dining that included table linens and place settings just as if you were seated in a restaurant. The room service menu is 4 pages long and contains more options than I have ever seen on a cruiseship.

The ship is easy to navigate and has all the standard amenities of other cruiseship plus some extras including soft background music with no loud public address announcements, complimentary wine poured with meals, no formal nights, and pre-paid gratuities. The four main restaurants--Compass Rose (main dining room) , Latitudes (Asian-Fusion), La Verandah (buffet breakfast and lunch but reservation seating at night), and Signatures (French-European cuisine) were equally wonderful in atmosphere, presentation and taste. My favorite was Signatures.

Regent Cruise Lines contact info:  877-505-5395 and their website: http://www.rssc.com/
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