THURSDAY EVENING Continued…
This will have yesterday evening as well, as Denis posted yesterday afternoon.
J went to the Green Spa to have a manicure as one of my nails had lost all the gel. Came back feeling v disgruntled (although the nails are great) not just with the price, as she said she had never seen such dark circles and puffy eyes and did a complementary eye treatment supposedly used by Queen Elizabeth which she said would amaze me. Couldn’t really see the difference and didn’t buy the 2 products at $100 each. She asked if I had any eye cream, and when I said yes, said “it’s obviously not working is it?”! Also said I had lots of pigmentation – assume she means dark patches! How to make customers feel good before the gala dinner!
Went back to the cabin and got dressed up, puffy eyes and all, for the gala dinner and went to pay for our two works of art and arrange shipping details and valuation for insurance. Girl was a bit dopey, more used to Canadians and Americans and didn’t understand UK post codes and phone numbers. Then had our formal pictures taken, don’t know if we will buy them as we haven’t seen them yet. Followed by 4 course gala dinner, giant shrimps, salad, soup, rack of lamb, yellow-fin tuna, chocolate soufflé. Went for a little walk and then retired to our stateroom.
Clocks went back in the night, another hour, so we are now 9 hours behind the UK. Woke to glaciers and stopped at 8:30 to let off people at Tracey Arm– a tender came to the side of the boat for them to be taken to the catamaran. They will re-join us at Juneau.
Had a first breakfast and then went to book our trips for tomorrow as the tour we had booked for Skagway was cancelled due to lack of interest; so we have now booked two – the city tour in the morning and a train journey in the afternoon. J bought some gloves as it is quite cold and foggy and will be even colder on the glacier this afternoon (forgot to pack any but D is going to manage without)
Having a second breakfast and watching whales, orcas and dolphins (lost count now there are so many) – incredible to see but too quick to take pictures.
The ship gets to Juneau at 1:00 and we are doing the Best of Juneau Trip – 7 hours, starting at 2:00. Includes a catamaran ride, whale watching (guaranteed or $100 refund!), landing on a glacier (sounds scary), salmon bake extravaganza….We get back around 9 and the boat sails at 10:00.
Left the ship when we docked at 1:00 and wandered about the town until it was time to get the coach. Looks like a parody of a frontier town but this is real! Juneau is the capital of Alaska but is only accessible by boat or plane. 3 main sources of employment, the government, tourism and commercial fishing. Juneau has a population of 35,000 which increases by a third when 3 or 4 cruise ships are in (April to end September).
Downtown Juneau from the ship
50 people went on the trip, but there was only 4 of us from our original party. First stop Mendenhall glacier. Had an hour free to explore, watched a short 15 minute film on how glaciers are formed and how shrinkage is measured. Walked along a nature trail and came to a point where a picture had been taken in 1952 – completely unrecognizable now as all the ice had gone and there are now plants, rocks etc.
Then back on the coach to be taken to a catamaran for a scenic trip to Orca Point Lodge where we had a meal of fresh grilled wild Alaskan salmon, chicken kebabs, “world famous coleslaw” and brownies before getting back on the boat for the whale watching trip (whales guaranteed or $100 refund!). Slow start and then they were everywhere, blowing, jumping and even breaching. Too many too count but amazing to see. J gave up taking pictures, they were just too fast, but D took loads. All the while in the stunning scenery surrounded by islands, mountains and glaciers. One island, Douglas Island has a population of 35,000 bears and they outnumber the humans by 4:1. Finally, just as the captain decided we had run out of time and that we needed to get going, they spotted an orca – a killer whale, so we had to stay and see that. We were lucky on several counts with the trip: the weather had been cold and foggy in the morning by we had a perfect afternoon (my gloves were not needed): they rarely see whales breach (jumping completely out of the water) and we saw two; finally there is only a 10% change of seeing an orca and we saw one! Excellent trip – hope we have some good photos.
Killer Whale – Orca
Back on board the Volendam at 20:30 and we had a late supper in the Lido buffet. (They were just finishing off and clearing up, ready to start the last night buffet at 10:30). The ship sails to Skagway overnight, docking at 7:00am. We are on two trips tomorrow, one at 8:30 and the other after lunch, so have set the alarm for 6:00.