Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Day 1 & 2: Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Natnl. Park/Margerie Glacier
Sunday, 12 June
Wow, the last 2 days have just been a whirlwind. To make a very short-summary of the life onboard the Coral Princess, it’s pretty much eating every time you turn around. And eating GOOD. Breakfast in the formal dining room around 8:30, mid morning snacks of whatever delicious food you decide upon at any of the many eating establishments onboard, lunch either formal or informal, afternoon snack, then the formal dinner. Looking around the dining room, I’m just flabbergasted by how many people are scurrying about serving us. In fact, that goes for every facet of the ship. Everything is clean, fresh, stocked or whatever it is supposed to be. It feels like there must be 2 or 3 staff for every passenger, though that can’t possibly be true.
And so, on with the adventure. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon we were scheduled to pull into Yakatut Bay for a viewing of Hubbard glacier. Lunch was such boring foods as New Zealand Green mussels, broiled red snapper, and multiple amazing desserts such as cinnamon rice pudding and fruit tartlets (I had both). I’m going to be RUINED when we get back, having to eat such mundane foods as frozen chicken pot pie, frozen pizza and such. How will I ever survive?
Jeannie and I were signed up for a wine-tasting at 3pm, which also turned out to be when the ship was pulling up near the glacier. BAD TIMING for sure! The testing was nice but I was antsy to get out of there. By the time we got out on deck we had gone from just heading towards the glacier to BEING there. There was a huge ice-field floating in front of the glacier and the Captain pulled the ship as close as he dare: they announced that it was about 6 miles. However, Hubbard Glacier is HUGE…about 6 miles across (although we could only see 2.5 miles of it as the right side was blocked from view by a jutting peninsula). The business end also towers about 400 feet above the water. To say that it’s a colossal work of nature would be a huge understatement. The ship sat broadside for well over an hour, and we didn’t witness any calving at all, darn it.
Self photo at Hubbard Glacier
Dinner was the formal ‘Captains Dinner’, where you are supposed to dress up…and we did. We certainly don’t do THAT very often. I wore my new suit and Jeannie a nice black dress with her ‘cockroach killers’ (shoes so very pointy that there is no possible corner that a bug could hide that she couldn’t squish it). Dinner was awesome as usual, and I’ve honestly gotten over being embarrassed by ordering so MUCH food. I have even given up taking pictures of the mundane soups and appetizers, as they are so numerous. Dinner was a nice piece of Halibut and was a work of art as all the meals are.
Alaskan baked halibut
And last night I even had THREE deserts! (I couldn’t just have ONE). I HAD to have the NY cheesecake again, and also the caramelized pear in some kind of baked pastry shell, and then finally the Banana Fosters Flambé. It would normally be aflame when they bring it, but they apparently don’t take kindly to flames on a ship. I will say that it tasted like it would burn very easily! And it was MOST delicious, as were the other 2 deserts.
I'm SUCH a piglet!
At least we weren’t the LAST group at the dinner last night (as we were the night before)…there were TWO other tables of extremely uncouth and in general QUITE uncivilized people who were still there when we left. Those senior ladies…I tell you! (anybody who is still there after us is quite obviously uncivilized, as we have self-appointed ourselves as the judges of civility…in case you were wondering). We strolled about the city for a bit (which is what it appears to be) before stopping for a quick Kodak moment in our ‘gussied up duds’.
Jeannie & I all gussied up
After that everybody went their chosen way. Jeannie and Terry headed to the casino (I escorted her there and left so-as not to steal her luck) and I headed to the room. All this eating is wearing me out and I was beat. I fell asleep with the TV on around midnight. Jeannie finally wobbled into our stateroom about 1:30am with her casino winnings (same as last night…you GO girl!). And another day bites the dust.
Monday, June 13th
Breakfast in the dining room: Eggs Florentine (BURIED in Swiss cheese), bacon, pancakes, fruit plate, and fresh papaya (yummy!). Boy was I starving…not sure how I made it from midnight to 8:30am! By the time we get done with breakfast we have entered the waters of Glacier National Park. It’s the 2nd largest park in the world, only Antarctica is larger. 2 Park Rangers came aboard around the time we were eating and I went to a talk-show at 10:15 from one of them about the park. I had NO IDEA that a mere 261 years ago glaciers totally covered this ENTIRE park out to the sea. Prior to that it had advancing so rapidly that native Indian populations that abandoned villages to escape it were quoted as saying it moved “faster than a running dog”. Hard to believe that since 1750 the glaciers have retreated and gouged valley over a thousand feet deep in what is now an amazingly huge waterway that we are sailing on! The primary glacier of this park was the Grand Pacific, and it is still around today only it has receded away from the water and is barely visible as we make our approach up the fjord. The well known naturalist John Muir fell in love with Alaska and there are photo’s of him in the late 1800’s in this very park. One is at an aptly named “Muir Point” with glacier ice all around him. That part is totally under water today.
The ship proceeded to the very end of the park and we stopped broadside to the Margerie Glacier. It stands only about 250 feet above the water and is probably less than a mile across, but it is VERY active. For whatever reason the floating ice-field is nothing like that at Hubbard, and the ship gets within about a half mile I’m guessing. So close that you can’t take a single picture covering the total glacier face.
Almost the entire passenger complement stands with camera’s at the ready, hoping and praying for a massive calving. Now and then you hear what sounds like the crack of thunder, and you quickly scan the glacier face for the action. If you are lucky you can get your camera up and get a shot of massive chunks sliding away and into the water. When I said it sounds like thunder, you can’t even imagine how loud it was. It was just an awesome display of raw power.
At the half-way point of our viewing the captain pivoted the ship around 180 degrees so all the people on the other side of the ship (the lucky exterior room passengers with windows and balconies) get their time to sit in comfort watching the show from their rooms. It’s hard to express how incredible a sight this was. I can only say if you EVER get the chance, you should not pass it up and go see it for yourself. I stood on deck (wearing a hoodie and a jacket over that) most of the day, not wanting it to end.
But end it does, and the ship starts back down the straight but then makes a hard right turn for a few more glacier viewings. They don’t compare to the Margerie Glacier either in size or activity, and at this point we are almost immune. Oh look, another majestic peak or glacier….ho hum. We did see a few bald eagles here and there, which are always an awesome sight. They hang out on icebergs sometimes, always on the lookout out for fish .
Somewhere in the middle of viewing we stopped for a deckside seafood buffet, and then again later for tasty pizza slices. Good thing I eat massive quantities of food every 3 to 4 hours…I wouldn’t want to go hungry! OH wait, speaking of food, I’m missing HAPPY HOUR as I type. It starts out down in the covered pool deck (feels like a sauna in there) and ends down in Jim and Jackie’s room (they have a balcony and an awesome view and are just down the passageway from us).
At the very front of the pool area is where the happy times are happening
There are 2 other couples that booked this cruise with us, and each person was able to bring a bottle of wine aboard (they x-rayed luggage to make sure you don’t cheat).
Happy hour begins Terry, Jeannie & Jackie
The other couples both have kids with them, and they sneakily brought bottles for them too. So each afternoon we uncorking at least 1 bottle and getting cheese and sushi and such from the 24 hour buffet’s. I had 3 slices of pizza though a bit ago and am trying to get ready for dinner in less than 2 hours (I think I can manage).
Dinner time FINALLY arrives, thank GOODNESS! I’m FAMISHED! Lets see, various amazing appetizers, 2 types of soup and FINALLY my surf and turf (filet mignon and shrimp).
After dinner us guys had to run to make the 10:15 comedy show…the last 2 nights we have been in the dining room so long we’ve been missing the shows. We’ll change that tonight. The ladies don’t have any interest and go their separate ways. Jeannie again heads to the casino, and after the comedy show I swing by and escort her (AND her winnings) home. She just has the midas touch. WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!
Well, tomorrow morning after we eat breakfast we will be IN the port of Skagway. We don’t have a lot of plans for activities though. Jeannie and the other ladies want to just go walking and shopping around. The guys and I want to take some kind of guided tour to the top of White Pass, so we get a verbal history of the place along with the scenic splendor of the area. After that I guess we meet up in town somewhere and do whatever there is to do. Lunch will be ashore, and dinner will be back on the ship as we rest up from a busy day.
OK, this is Internet Boy, signing off …(we brought 6 walkie-talkies to communicate with each other as to our whereabouts on the ship, and that’s my new nickname apparently….as I’m always taking pictures or typing on my …along with checking in on the doggie-cams now and then using the wireless. Gotta run…bed time, and breakfast is only 7 hours away! Woo-HOO!