Did I mention that an elephant was sitting on our bed when we returned to our room last night? Yes, no, maybe?? Well, there it was sitting up staring at us as we walked in.
Clocks also went back an hour! A bit of trivia you may need to know at some point in time – or not – it’s just for reference.
Where did the elephant come from? The cabin stewards on cruise ships make animals out of towels so we had a different animal greeting us every night. I think they’re cute and this must be a very popular art as they even have lessons on board and sell books on the subject. I chose not to attend a lesson or buy the book, I’m happy to have someone do the hard work for me.
Ty’s first words this morning were ” I haven’t slept a wink all night”. He’s a funny man – he’d been snoring through the night. Do people normally snore when they’re awake? I think not……
Ship is still on the rocky side……this morning we sail into Tracy Arm Fjord.
As we enter the Holkham Bay toward Tracy Arm the water becomes calmer and the ship stabilizes, thank goodness. I have seen so many people wandering the corridors and common areas with a little round band-aid placed strategically behind their ear…..wonder if it works? I have a friend, who, on a Greek Island cruise placed a band-aid over her navel to stop sea sickness. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well even though we were in very calm waters that trip!!!
Opening the curtains we’re greeted by a spectacular sight of mist and snow-covered peaks rising above low clouds. Needless to say it was very, very cold but the views made the cold bearable.
We chose the Empire dining room for breakfast this morning, I like being served my food, rather than wandering around the big buffet/restaurant areas on Deck 9. They’re ok if you have limited time because of an early excursion and need to rise at an ungodly hour, but there’s nothing better than a nice leisurely breakfast being served to you! So we took the lift to Deck 2 and were shown to our table. We have a choice each meal time to either sit on our own or sit with others….we chose to eat breakfast on our own. For me in-depth conversations with strangers at breakfast is something to be avoided.
I have to mention our breakfast choices this morning because it amused me. Poached eggs were on the menu and I hadn’t had an egg for a while so “one poached egg please” I said to the waiter. Breakfast arrived, cereal, juice, a Danish, Ty’s healthy breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns and my poached egg…….looking very lonely on half a slice of sweet toast!!!! We both looked at the large plate with a small slice of toast and a perfectly formed poached egg sitting on the slice of toast. “Hmm, wonder what they did with the other half of the toast” I mused, mostly to myself. Don’t know about you, reader, but my egg needs to be slightly runny to allow me to dip a portion of my toast in the yolk…..a little hard to do when you only have a half slice of toast………
After breakfast its time to give my nails a manicure and add nail polish…..Ty was eager to get up on deck. Off you go then, my nails are coming first today, come back in an hour ….. They’ll be dry by then. Off he went, all rugged up, camera slung around the neck just the way I hate cameras being worn!!!! I know we’re tourists but I still don’t like looking like a tourist.
Ty returned with coffees, ahh, something hot to warm us up. The coffees cost $2.95 each and tasted much better than the drip coffee available 24 hours a day. The ship was moving closer to the entrance of the Fjord so it was time to go up on deck. The rain had started again but we were all rugged up and warm standing on the deck until 15 minutes later the wind chill factor kicked in and we started to feel the freezing winds through our pants. The wind was so strong it was almost blowing us over it was….thank goodness for the railing around the edge of the deck. Ok, time to get out of this wind, but where, we didn’t want to miss the spectacular scenery. Oh, of course, how silly are we, our room has a balcony.
Whilst we were heading back to our cabin two things happened.
Firstly an announcement came over asking all passengers to view the Fjord from the balconies of our own cabins, not to move the chairs from the dining areas to the windows for viewing as passengers would be dining throughout the day. I think the announcement was way too late as people and their chairs were already jockeying for position along the window edges. You’ve got to love human nature and our rebel element.
Second thing to happen was Ty spied the ice cream maker….I saw a man the night before with a very large plate of ice cream, after all the food areas had closed, so I assumed there must be a self-serve ice cream maker somewhere around. I didn’t mention it to Ty or porker (as I sometimes call him) ‘cos I knew he’d head straight for that machine as often as possible and he shouldn’t be eating too much of the sweet stuff. Bit silly to think I could have kept any sort of food from him, he spied it and off he went, like a bear following a honey pot!! “Would you like some ice cream?” he asked heading as quickly as possible to the machine. “No thanks, my sensitive teeth hurt just thinking about ice cream” was my reply. Now that he found this and the one at the other end of the dining areas he had it after lunch, dinner and in between. strawberry was the flavour of choice today! For me there were other, more, delicious dessert morsels to try.
Another announcement came over the intercom about towels on deck chairs. The announcement cautioned against guests placing towels on or over deck chairs at 7am, or any other time, to reserve them for later in the day. This practice wouldn’t be accepted, the announcement went on to say, and if a chair hasn’t been used for 30 minutes the towel would be removed by the attendants. Need this little rule in European hotel pool areas. Those of you who have travelled in Europe will know exactly what I’m talking about.
After the Porker devoured the ice cream we retreated to our balcony and set up the tripod. Step out take photos, step back into the cabin to warm up, back out to the balcony, take photos – this was the modus operandi for most of the day. The ship gets very close to the mountain walls in some parts of the Fjord, it’s such a narrow waterway.
A couple of hours later we see a huge field of ice dead ahead and we could hear lots of voices coming from the forward main deck. The ship is moving quite slowly, closer and closer to the ice flow and as we wonder whether our Captain is Italian the ship starts to move very slowly sideways. Still heading for the massive ice flow. We rush up stairs and outside to the main deck to get an amazing view of the Sawyer Glacier. The blue hues throughout the glacier are amazing and it is so big, just incredible. We’re only seeing a small part of this glacier. There are varying degrees of blue in the glacier and the iceberg going by. The shades of blue denote the density of the iceberg…..more blue more dense. So hard to imagine that the pieces of ice berg we see floating by make up only 10% of the actual size and that 90% is still under the water.
The ship is still turning and an announcement tells us the captain is going to turn the ship 360 degrees so every balcony has a view of the Sawyer glacier, which is situated at the end of the Tracy Arm Fjord. That was our cue to go back to our balcony because, as you can imagine, there were many people on deck trying to get that special photograph. The tripod was already set up all Ty needed to do was attach the camera as we waited for our balcony to face the Glacier.
Manoeuvring a ship this size in the amount of space available in the Fjord was a feat in itself and the Captain and crew should be congratulated for, what I think, was an amazing skill. Given some drivers can’t even park a small car in a normal car space…..yes, I’m sure you see them every day…..reversing back and forth several times and still not getting the car straight!!! So that was one of the highlights of the day as was the spectacular view we had from our balcony when the glacier was facing us. We were freezing cold, misty rain was falling at intervals and my gloves were not keeping my hands warm BUT we would never see this view again so freezing was worth it.
I suppose we could have travelled to Alaska in their summer (June/July) when the scenery would be lush and green, temperatures would be warmer and probably more wildlife around. Except Alaska, to me, is cold, misty, with snow-covered peaks peeping through that mist and freezing cold. We were prepared with all our thermals and wet weather gear.
For those of you who may not know, Tracy Arm Fjord is in the Tongass National Forest. It is one of two very deep, narrow fjords. The other Fjord being Endicott Arm and as we sailed into Holkham Bay it still wasn’t certain which Fjord we would be entering.It depended on the weather and the amount of floating ice.
Our on board naturalist, Michelle, explained that the area was abundant in wildlife. Brown and black bear, as well as deer seals and wolves lived in this wilderness area. Also mountain goats, although we didn’t see any wildlife, well, not off the ship anyway.
We spent the whole day in the Fjord and as there’s only one way in and one way out which meant we got to see both sides of this beautiful place. I’m not sure the photos I’ve placed below do it justice but I did try to capture the beauty and serenity of the place.
After a full day of ‘oohs’, ‘ahhs’ and ‘oh my god look at that’ or those (talking about icebergs and sheer cliffs now) we decided we couldn’t take anymore photos. If we didn’t have that fabulous picture now we were never going to get it and besides, we’ll drive friends and family nuts with the number of photos we have to bore them with already. Not only that but a sister and her husband are doing a similar trip to us in a couple of days so they’ll also have copious photos to show. Yes, I can hear the sounds of running footsteps as I write this….everyone’s trying to find a hiding place in the hills for a couple of months. It won’t work you know, you’ve got to come out eventually….you aren’t bears that can eat sticks and rocks to help you survive hibernation…..explanation on rocks and sticks when Juneau blog is published!!!!
Hmm, looking forward to dinner, all that freezing cold weather makes a person hungry. Tonight we’re going to dine in the Empire Room and, as we have “anytime dining”, we can turn up for dinner in the restaurant whenever we’re ready. When you go to the restaurant you get a choice of seating…….sit at a table for two, join others or have others join you. We choose to have others join us so we were the first people seated. That way we get to meet and have a conversation with different people. It’s a good way to mingle, we hear about the place they live and work and, if they’re interested and people generally are, we tell them about Australia and the area where we live and work.
Tonight two couples travelling together joined us, they live in Georgia. Conversation tonight centred around farming, places to visit in Australia and the usual general snippets of life in two countries. The women would love to visit Aus but travelling from US to Aus for a holiday when you run a farm could be very difficult. We hope they make it one day.
After dinner we went to watch a show but everyone in the audience was talking to someone or other which made it difficult to listen to the people on stage. Best to head to the coffee lounge and relax whilst watching people wander by.
Tomorrow we hit the streets of Skagway………