20160911 – Alaska – Part 2

Sunday – hot and sunny.

Oh look our first glacier.

Oh look our first glacier.

Breakfast, lounge around, lunch and then off to catch our tour to the Mendenhall glacier. It’s a lovely sunny day which is rare for Juneau as they average 22 days rain a month and can have up to 20″ in one day. Makes Belthorn seem like a desert.

Mendenhall glacier.

Mendenhall glacier.

Good information centre, great views of the glacier and waterfall but unfortunately the waterfall walk is closed off due to flooding so we end up hanging around for an hour.

Have a wander through Juneau, more diamond and grot shops than taliban at a stoning. Then it’s back to the ship for dinner. As we’ve missed our fixed dining slot we defect to the anytime dining. Interesting table as one of the geriatrics is a 90 year old state Supreme Court judge. Very interesting and she still has all her wits about her, more than can be said for some of the other geriatrics at the table. Conversation with some of them who have 5 minute pregnant pauses between each sentence as they wrack their memory for a word – could come to all of us anytime soon.

Early night after all this sightseeing.

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Rather appropriate for this floating old folks home, George Carlin on getting old.


Monday – cold and wet.

Dramatic calving in Glacier Bay.

Dramatic calving in Glacier Bay.

Well it’s cruise Glacier Bay National,Park today.

Rangers come on board – how neat is that. They give a talk on the the park and then I nip upstairs to buy a baseball cap. Amazing isn’t it this boat sells more crap than there was junk in Steptoes scrap yard, yet when it comes to something sensible like NP items they’re in short supply because they have to drag them aboard. Any I’m lucky and get a cap to add to my collection.

Glacier bay glacier.

Glacier bay glacier.

Ship positions for photo opportunities at two glaciers and I’m lucky enough to capture a great calving – see pictures.

Evenings another round of fixed dining. By now I’ve weakened and resorted to 2 glasses of Zinfandel from happy hour and have them over dinner. We’re lucky in that we’ve got a good group on our table but I can imagine 10 dinners with people you don’t get on with must be dire.

Then it’s some sort of entertainment, I’m being generous with that word, and then try a quality bourbon to help me cope.

Wendy endures Glacier Bay

Wendy endures Glacier Bay

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How perverse are the habits of your average cruiser. You have those drinking at 09:00 in the morning; the sun lounger hogs who have their towels out by the crack of dawn on the same deck chairs, and even though it’s freezing out there spend all day on them and in the nearby jacuzzi; of course there’s always the gluttons who seem to be attempting some sort of “how much can I pile on my plate” competition; there’s the escapees from Las Vegas who spend all their time in the casino, throwing money away like an 8 armed Hindu god on steroids, rabidly milking the slots or shouting at the little white ball on the roulette table; for the ultimate in the money burning braggarts on board you just have to go to the art auction; finally there’s the snoozers who seem to be nodding off by 10:00 in the morning and spend the rest of the day snoring away, gobs wide open like some Venus fly trap.

Tuesday – warm and sunny.

Start of our Wallace Arnold coach trip in Skegway. My 16 year old's brain is struggling to cope.

Start of our Wallace Arnold coach trip in Skegway. My 16 year old’s brain is struggling to cope.

Today it’s Skegway. We’re on a crack of dawn Wallace Arnold tour. Train up and over Whitepass; coach into Yukon, Canada; lunch at Caraboo crossing, they also have the most amazing collection of stuffed bears, mammoths, moose and other Alaskan mammals; photo opportunity at Emerald lake; brief wander around Carcross, quaint local town; then drive back down Whitepass with a photo opportunity at a bridge ? waterfall.

Now a train over White Pass to Canada.

Now a train over White Pass to Canada.

Very expensive ($219) but I have to admit it was worth it, as we did pack in a lot. But I can’t help feeling sad that it come to this. I’m too young – 16 year old in the mind – to be on one of these Wallace Arnold extravaganza. They’re full of geriatrics, people our age. The ultimate for those with no sense of adventure, imagination or risk. Oh what has it come to. Still I suppose we’re the lucky ones, so much better than the alternative.

Tours late back but they have to hold the ship.

Yukon terroirity Cnada - spectacular.

Yukon terroirity Cnada – spectacular.

Then it’s straight to the dinning room. By now I’ve abandoned all hope of sobriety and as we missed the cheap wine at happy hour I succumb to buying a bottle and will just have to try and make it last.

After dinner we catch some more orgasmic entertainment. Including an Elton John show, somehow I end up doing a French test on my iPhone and then nod off. Yes it was that scintillating.

Emerald Lake in Yukon.

Emerald Lake in Yukon.

Can’t persuade Wendy to have a cocktail but I finally get to try a Vodka Martini, shaken of course. Well I won’t ever get to be a spy at this rate as that was my first and certainly my last Vodka Martini.

I suppose the best entertainment on board has to be people watching, especially on peacock evening. I’ve come to the really sad conclusion that there must be a major opportunity for an enterprising young lawyer to put his shingle up and create a web based law firm of DivorceMyFatWife.com. He could hand out posters on the cruise as I’m sure there would be rich pickings. These floating gin palaces are a magnet for the clinically obese. Unbelievable I know but at least 60% must be blobbies.

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Wow it's big. Fortunately it's stuffed.

Wow it’s big. Fortunately it’s stuffed.

 “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand
 as white but it was more yellow.” 

 “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the
 afternoons.  I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.” 

 “No-one told us there would be fish in the water.  The children were scared.” 

 “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no
 egg-slicer in the drawers.” 

 “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store
 does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.” 

Wednesday – warm and sunny.

Ketchikan red light district. Wot no propositions.

Ketchikan red light district. Wot no propositions.

Day 6 so it’s Ketchikan today, so it’s a lazy morning as we don’t dock until 12:00 then a spot of lunch before we set off to explore.

Have a wander around. Head off to Creek Street, the red light district, but alas, unlike Carl no one offers me a blow job for $5, despite wondering up and down for hours. Quaint little town, obviously more diamond shops than prostitutes. Oh how things have changed from gold rush days.

Quite nice to just wander around under our own steam.

Fixed dining yet again followed by more drinks and people watching in the piano lounge.

Our American dinner friends. Spot the democrats, spot the republicans!

Our American dinner friends. Spot the democrats, spot the republicans!

Crown the evening off with a brandy nightcap in our cabin. Wow, certainly helps me get a great nights sleep.

I’m starting to loose the will to live. 7 days on a cold weather cruise is enough. Geriatrics, blobbies and crazy people – moose racers certainly fit the bill, along with the art auction buffs – are starting to get to me – depressing. Why is it that these geriatrics – I know where well on our way there – seem to zig and zag about in front of you. Problem is they zig when you zig and zag when you zag, almost as if they have hidden rear view mirrors in a bid to stop you overtaking.
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Don’t you just love those PC progressive duckies in the Guardian.

Met police to start using spit hoods on suspects within weeks

Critics say hoods to protect officers from suspects who try to spit at or bite them are ‘primitive, cruel and degrading’.

Perhaps they should try being spat at, after all they’re witless enough to deserve it. Then we’d get to see how they feel about them.

Thursday – cool and cloudy.

Day 7, just 3 to go. It’s a sea day. I used to cope with these but no more.

Go to a naturist talk, not very good, followed by a mediocre quality video of our Glacier bay experience. Somewhat ironic that I normally complain – yes I know you’ll find that difficult to believe – that there’s not enough talks / lectures, yet this cruise has had quite a few and yet I’ve not bothered to attend. Perverse.

Evenings another peacocks parade so great people watching. My Rohan, trainers, white shirt and tie barely pass muster as the Maitre De looks at me like something he’s trod in and got stuck on the sole of his shoe – never mind little does he know that we’ve cancelled our fixed gratuities to ensure that leeches like him get no tip. You may feel this is a bit harsh on Maitre De’s, but we’ve yet to encounter one who isn’t a complete waste of space, you see nothing of them for the first three quarters of the cruise and then starts to smarmy around you as you approach the last evening and the hopes of a big tip.

Friday – warm and sunny.

Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Up at the crack of sparrows as we dock at 07:00 and depart at 13:30, so by the time we’ve had breakfast we’ve only about 4 hours in Victoria.

Walk into the city and catch a hop on hop off bus tour, just 90 minutes, but a great way to see Victoria. Then it’s a wander around the city with a very welcome dirty chai at Starbucks to defrost the frozen blood in my veins. Boy was it cold on that open top bus. Call in a few tat shops and Wendy manages to get the mandatory fridge magnet. Then it’s a gentle stroll back to the ship. It’s oh so nice to get out and have a walk.

Victoria’s a lovely city, so relaxing and laid back with plenty to enjoy. We really must think about coming back for a couple of weeks, it’s quite mild in summer and we’ve had a couple of home exchange requests for here, but I’d always dismissed them as being too cold. The real pity is we didn’t get a whole day here.

Empress hotel Victoria.

Empress hotel Victoria.

Of course you might question why the hop on / off bus doesn’t stop at the cruise terminal gate, I did. The cynic in me expects it’s another marketing department plot to extract the maximum out of us by charging for the bus into the city and encouraging everyone to go on the cruises more expensive hop on / off tour. I bet they black mailed the city council into banning a stop at the cruise terminal or they wouldn’t visit Victoria.

By way of a change we escape fixed dining and sneak into anytime dining, no one bothers to check on you. We have a good group at fixed dining but it is nice to meet the range of different people offered by anytime dinning. This time we get an interesting table of 6; one guy just recovered from chemo, so an interesting slant on life; yet again we encounter a judge – conclusion is that this cruise must infested with judges.

Vancouver Island might be ideal for 2018 Canada trip. Fly into New York; drive up through Niagra; Ottowa; Montreal; Toronto; then drive or train across Canada and the Rockies; Vancouver Island; then fly back from Vancouver, or vice versa.
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Sexy Justice Warriors and the Truck of Peace

Saturday – cold and foggy.

Yet another sea day, the last one thankfully, they’re getting a tad boring now. Highlight of the day is people watching, blogging, exercise, a fandango with the shower curtainand then it’s time to put on my fodder bag and head down for dinner. I would say dress for dinner but jeans and jumper hardly meet the Downton Abbey standards of sartorial etiquette.

After yet another lunch Wendy packs whilst I get a well overdue espresso fix, write me blog and watch people buy gold chains as if there lives depended upon it being a lifeline to heaven.

Two of our fellow diners decide they’re celebrating their wedding anniversary, it being 3 months away doesn’t seem to deter them, and of course they get a chocolate cake and card from the crew.

Booze evening with our diners.

I think the highlight of the day has to be walking and chatting with this old couple, 90+ years, married for 60+ years – earlier in the lounge they managed a 2 minute dance together, not sure who was holding who up. They both walk with a walking stick, backs bent over double like a tree bowing to the wind, the very epitome of a Disney geriatric. The old guy congratulates us on BREXIT, about time he says, smart move. Then they proceed to walk up the stairs. Yes, they walk up. No lift, no wheel chairs or scooters, even though they can barely walk. Puts the youngsters – everyone on this ship is younger than them, to shame. Awesome.

Good news is that despite Princess’s best efforts at turning us all into blobbies, we’ve survived 10 days of rampant gluttony all around without gaining any weight, despite the wine, brandy and not forgetting the all important vodka martini. Mind you weighing yourself in a what seems like a major maelstrom is an exercise in understanding of Newtons laws of motion and gravity.
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Cruising the good and the bad:

Good – Wendy likes a change, with the luxury and no cooking or housework.No change for me!

Good – get to see a lot of places without unpacking. Sadly it can be too short a visit and you’re up against a deadline to get back to the ship on time.

Good – entertainment allegedly. Especially people watching.

Good – a gym.

Bad – too relaxing. The lack of mental stimulation is enough to turn your brain to jello.

Bad – food, Food, FOOD every where you turn and every minute of the day. Just a floating adipose tissue factory of calories and cholesterol.

Good – More super blobbies than there is blubber on a whale, providing a superb incentive and motivation to have your gob sewn up and go on a permanent zero calorie diet.

Bad – more geriatrics than fans at a Vera Lynn revival concert.

Bad – geriatrics provide a depressing visual reminder of what’s possibly in store for you in the years ahead.

Good – formal nights are now anything goes, thanks mainly to Americans bucking the trend. Thank the FSM penguin suits are now in a minority.

Bad – wifi is so extortionately expensive that you’ve no internet access.

Bad – it is Wallace Arnold afloat, designed for the timid with no imagination or sense of adventure.

Bad – depressing watching people throwing money away on trinkets, booze and food, to say nothing of the senseless gambling.

Bad – cold weather cruises.

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