15.05.2008 - 16.05.2008 5 °C
After a busy 3 days of visiting ports it was a pleasant change to not have to get up and go anywhere. Days 5 and 6 were spent in Glacier Bay and then College Fjord.
The morning in Glacier Bay everyone with a balcony room was offered the opportunity to enjoy a champagne breakfast on their balcony with a half bottle of Moet , crab and spinach quiche, fresh fruits and various pastries. I didn’t need much convincing to be part of this special event so we ordered the kids room service for their breakfast as well so they could enjoy their’s on their balcony as well.
The day in Glacier Bay was drizzly and grey but we were still able to enjoy our breakfast on the balcony as our balcony, being on the top deck was totally covered from the weather. Unfortunately, all those below us would have eaten inside but their view would still have been equally breathtaking.
The ship managed to move in very close to the glaciers in the bay and amazingly the captain spins the boat just about on the spot so both sides of the ship get equal viewing time. We would have spent about an hour at each of the glaciers listening to the ice crack and calve as the glacier dropped huge chunks of ice into the bay as new icebergs.
While in Glacier Bay, 4 rangers also boarded the ship to give information about the area and its wildlife. The kids had a special talk from one of the rangers in the kids club about sea otters which are often found in this region but yet to be sighted this trip. They managed to complete enough activities in their booklets to receive another junior ranger badge for Glacier Bay.
The ranger had brought along with her a young native Tlinggit who was born and raised as a fishing boat child. I had read about these families and been amazed at their lifestyle so to meet and talk with him was fascinating. His father was a fisherman and fished 12 months of the year while his wife and son lived on the boat with him. This young man was home schooled by his mother until he was 11 years old when he went to a community school, then onto secondary school the year after. He commented on how difficult it was fitting back into mainstream schooling and how he was isolated from his peers for being different. Socially he didn’t cope well and to make matters harder for him, he was also more advanced then his peers with his education so again ostracised for being different.
As we left Glacier Bay we had a commentary from the onboard naturalist of the wildlife that he was spotting from the bridge. We did get to see some sea otters and humpbacks in the distance but as the seas got rougher out into the Gulf of Alaska wildlife was harder to trace.
By late afternoon the expected swell was in the 18-20 foot range and we could finally tell we were on the ocean. Open waters now and even with the ship’s stabilisers out she was rocking big time!
We all decided we would head out to the pool for a swim however as we walked through the doors to the deck the ship went down a big swell, knocking all sorts flying and nearly emptying the pool in the process. The 3 kids that were already in the pool were like corks in the ocean and as the water in the pool also picked up the motion of the ship it created an enormous swell and flung them out the pool onto the edge and back in again. One of the 3 struggled to get out as the opposite motion dragged him back in to the pool. Poor kid got quite a fright and was a pale shade of grey for some time after. The pool was closed after that incident so instead we settled into the hot tub and watched the seas from there.
Thankfully the kids were set to go to the club disco that night so with a green apple with their dinner they weren’t too bothered by the seas. I passed on dinner and also enjoyed the apple remedy and was amazed at the difference it made to the queasy tummy. Wayne and I were set to go to one of the shows but as I entered the theatre, everything was rolling and swaying but within about 15 minutes my queasiness had gone and I could enjoy the performance. We were amazed at how these dancers and performers could keep their feet under such difficult circumstances but they didn’t miss a beat the whole show. Quite a spectacle!
Later I quite enjoyed sleeping to the rolling seas and luckily no-one rolled out of the top bunk
The following day was picture perfect. We had made it through the Gulf of Alaska unscathed and were entering College Fjord. The sun was shining, the seas were like a mirror and it was definitely a wow sort of day! More glaciers to visit however there was still quite a lot of pack ice here so we couldn’t get quite as close as the day before but spectacular nonetheless. We also saw many groups of Dall’s Porpoises catching a ride on the bow wave. They were incredibly fast and swapped from one side of the ship to the other.
Don’t know how many photos I took that day but can’t wait to show you all!
The sun is now setting about 11.30pm but is twilight for a couple of hours after. The long days are incredible however you don’t feel like going to bed with so much to see and the possibility to miss out on something. Nevertheless we were still packing up suitcases ready for our departure for Anchorage, in the morning, well after midnight.
By midnight we had docked at the port of Whittier which you could not really call a town. All the residents here live in one condominium block and are incredibly isolated, I believe a population of about 19 families.
The only way in and out of Whittier is through a one way tunnel that was built in the late 1950’s for the goldrush.. At the time it was solely for trains and until a couple of years ago all vehicles were actually loaded onto a rail car and transported through the tunnel by rail. Now vehicles can pass through in one direction every hour so if you miss the hour for your direction you can wait at the entrance for the change over. Interesting fact, when it was built it was blasted and dug from either side of the mountain and as both sides met in the middle they were only out by 2 inches!