Other than my tragic airport experience at the end of June, I had never been…
Whoops! Only six weeks late.
I forgot to mention that Alaska’s capital, Juneau is the only state capital that cannot be accessed by road. Rumour has it that there is one flight per week from a Canadian city which gives Juneau International Airport the international bit.
The next stop was Glacier Bay which is possibly the most famous stop on Alaska cruises. There are over 1000 glaciers in the bay however only a few of them make it to the sea. We sailed past three of the main glaciers – Johns Hopkins, Lamplugh and Margerie. Margerie was my favourite with ice reaching 200 ft in height and extending back 22 miles.
We had a professional glacier chap providing a narrative on the ship tannoy system and he got us all going with news that all of the icebergs we could see floating around had fallen off in the last 24 hours. This increased out expectation of seeing some calving when a lump of ice falls off the glacier into the sea. We were all glued to the glacier waiting. Nothing. Not even a snowball. In days gone by they used to fire a cannon which caused a chunk to fall off. I guess that’s not particularly environmentally ethical so they abandoned that practice. The end of Glacier Bay is only metres from the Canadian border. A little bit of trivia for you. A cubic foot of ice weighs 55 lb.
Later in the day Georgia was allowed to show me around the crew area, including her tiny room and the crew bar – the Pig & Whistle.
The evening trivia event was all about the 80’s. None of the team turned up so I had to do it alone. Anyway, I didn’t need those slackers (you know who you are – Martin and Kate). I won by a clear four points. In fairness the sea was a tad lively that night and Martin might be 6’6” but he’s a little fragile at times! 😂
The next stop was Ketchikan which we’d missed the week before. I stepped out with Georgia thinking we might do something interesting like see a lumberjack show. I didn’t realise Georgia had other ideas. Stocking up on drinks and snacks courtesy of Dad and some light souvenir shopping – also courtesy of Dad. It mattered little. It’s just lovely spending time with her.
I’ve met some interesting people in the cigar room. My new pal Ramero is a retired attorney from Miami. He and his wife Barbara seem like lovely people. Ramero was born in Cuba and his great uncle was shot by Che Guevara. Then Cosmo turned up and he left Cuba in 1962 at the age of 14. He was one of the 14,000 children taken from Cuba to the United States during the Peter Pan Project operated by the CIA. Castro had taken over in 1959.
After a rather uneventful sea day where the highlight was cashing in gold stickers (trivia wins), for Cunard tuut, we arrived back in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is 285 miles long and we’d sailed along its length during the night. I met my friend Susan who lives there and we headed off to Butchart Gardens about 20 minutes away. Well it’s normally 20 minutes but we took 30. Driving and talking are apparently not a good combination for Susan.
The gardens were compact but lovely. Jennie Butchart had done a super job. Her husband Robert made his fortune with Portland cement and once the quarry where they lived was exhausted, Jennie started work on a sunken garden with the help of a Japanese sunken garden expert. Well worth a visit and probable the top attraction in Victoria.
Well, that was it for the cruise. We had a whopping 60 mile trip overnight to Vancouver for the great exodus. Once we docked I noticed “tent city” just along from the helipad. I’d missed it the week before, but Susan had driven me through the equivalent area in Victoria – Pandora Avenue, where the homeless pitch their tents. I like the fact that they have tents. Most homeless people just sleep rough. The homeless in Vancouver were right on the water with fabulous views. It reminded me of the favela in Rio that overlooks Copacabana Beach.
I met Georgia at the airport and we headed to the Fairmont, which is connected, for a spot of lunch and then the spa to use their day pass facility. We had 10 hours at the airport.