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Monthly Archive: August 2018

8/26 Alaska Cruise Summary

Day 1 – boarding in Vancouver.  Not a problem!  We had to clear US Immigration again after spending about 13 hours in Canada!  Because Mom and Susan were signed up for one room and Mark for a different one (Susan and Mark sailed on Princess in the past and got discounts on rooms their names are one.), when JB cancelled, Susan and Mark each have a room to ourselves!  We got keys to each room and our cabin attendant unlocked the balcony door between the cabins. We can go back and forth.

Gloriously sunny day with blue sky for departure from Vancouver.

Vancouver skyline

Blue sky and the Vancouver, BC skyline as the cruise departs

Day 2 – awoke to fog that continues pretty much all day long!  At sea all day heading north with no land in site since it’s hidden in the fog.

Day 3 – Juneau – the sun came out in time for a walk around Juneau and a visit to Devil’s Run Brewery.

Fog in Juneau

Juneau was covered in fog when the ship arrived about 7 AM

The fog cleared for our walk around town to the Greek Orthodox church in Juneau – all uphill!

Day 4, 5, 6, 7 – fog and heavy clouds were the operative words for 4 days.  Glaciers look more blue when it’s cloudy – or so we were told!

College Fjord glaciers

Margerie Glacier in Glacier National Park

Tidal Glacier

Tidal glacier in Glacier National Park

Glacier up close!

Glacier Up close!

Day 10 – the sun comes out just in time for our 8 hour trip to Denali National Park. Yes! We saw Denali!

A few caribou munched along the raod

We took the 8 hour Tundra Tour in the NP and it went as far as Mile Marker 61. This was the view on the first clear day in about 16 days!

Denali mountain at sunset

As we left the Denali National Park about 9 PM, we could see Denali at sunset.

One of the moose along the road


8/26 Getting to the Alaska Cruise

Live in Colorado? How hard can it be to get to Vancouver for an Alaska cruise? Not hard at all – right?? Wrong! Susan’s Mom, JB, has wanted to go to Alaska to see Denali for years. We finally convinced her that a cruise and then land tour would be the way to go (That’s a whole other story.) We signed up all three of us and Mark and Susan booked plane tickets.
The story needs a small detour here. JB lives in extreme Western Maryland and can’t drive to Dulles Airport 150 miles away. This means Mark and Susan fly to DC, rent a car, drive about 150 miles to Cumberland, pick up JB after spending a few days there, and then we all fly to Vancouver to start the Princess Cruise. At the end of the cruise in Fairbanks we undo this process to take JB home.
Well, we discovered that there’s no direct flight from Dulles to Vancouver on Star Alliance meaning the routing took us from Washington Dulles to Denver (Just like being home) to Vancouver. Either that routing or fly through Chicago (never our favorite) or have very short connections in Toronto or Newark. OK … tickets are purchased and we’re ready to go.
Not quite … JB contracts an ailment that made her decide not to go on the cruise and changing our tickets was too expensive. Plus, JB paid for the trip! Off we went to DC and spent a few days in Cumberland for a visit and managed to do a few errands for Mom before we started on our little journey to get to Vancouver. Here’s the summary of that excursion!

• Boarded the plane in DC on time, left the gate on time.
• Sent to the “holding area” when the airport had a ground stop for all west bound planes. Did I mention it’s been raining on the east coast for a month?? We hung out there for an hour waiting for the weather to clear and to get new routing to Denver, taking us way south and adding a bit of time to the flight.
• Arrived in Denver one hour late and deplaned.
• Determined our flight to Vancouver was 20 minutes late, 30 minutes late, 45 minutes late, 80 minutes late while we waited for the arrival of the plane coming from Philadelphia – east coast – not a good place to come from! Scheduled departure 8:43 PM and no change for at least 2 hours.
• We hung out in the United Club and had a grand view of the hail storm hitting the airport. The hail storm was short at the terminal and just small hail – pea size – no worries! After all the hail storms this summer, this was nothing.
• Go to the gate at 8:15 (We saw the flight from Philadelphia had arrived and we could see the plane from the United Club windows.) thinking we’d board. No gate agent in site.
• Gate agent arrives at 8:45, gets on the plane, comes back and says, “I have no idea what’s going on here.” In the meantime, the gate info shows the next flight leaving from our gate was the one to Phoenix.
• Flight crew is missing one flight attendant. Finally found one and she gets applause when she shows up. The gate agent was good at keeping us updated on her search for a flight attendant.
• Boarding begins at 9:00 and we actually manage to depart about 9:30.
• Arrive in Vancouver at 11:30, clear immigration quickly and wait for our luggage for 20 minutes. They took lessons from Denver.
• Get a taxi to the hotel, arriving about midnight and were in bed by 12:20 AM. (This is 3:20 AM DC time.)

Summary – we could have flown to Europe faster from Denver than it took to get from DC to Vancouver. Oh well … we managed to get there!