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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ketchikan, Alaska.

Our first stop on the cruise was the town of Ketchikan...beware, lots of photos to follow :-)!
We woke to find that the ship had docked while we were still asleep...the view from our cabin. It felt so surreal. After 1 1/2 days sailing, we were in Alaska...all misty, with the air so fresh and clean and it was so eerily quiet as we looked out.

The view from the other side...

 Standing on the wharf...it was a mite chilly.

 I wanted a photo taken near one of the many big pots of petunias that dotted the wooden sidewalks.
We wandered along the streets...a tribute to miners...
 Everywhere, signs proclaimed Ketchikan as the 'salmon Capital of the World'; including this big arch!
 Looking back towards the wharf...
 Looking along the appropriately named Dock St.

 We wandered past shops selling souvenirs, jewellery and a number of stores selling clothing made from fur, including... ahem...fur underwear!

 I declined the offer to have a closer look at these items...we walked on!
An old wooden church...

 We saw an arcade and decided to walk through...DH found a bear.
 At the end of the arcade was a Taxidermist's shop. He had samples of his work on display...
 We were working our way to the large totem pole pictured in this next photo. Apparently just beyond this totem pole was a shop called The Hive...a yarn shop.
 While the others checked out a bookstore I browsed the yarn shop shelves which had brands we see in Australia such as Noro...the lady working in the store directed me to a shelf of hand dyed in Alaska yarns...that was what I was interested in.
I bought 3 skeins...two as gifts for friends and those 2 have already been given away. I was thrilled with my purchases as the yarn is gorgeous. 
Next stop for all of us was the museum.

Naturally I had to stop an admire more potted colour which was outside the museum!
Just a few photos of some of the exhibits. Totems from the local area...
A lovely old cot quilt in crazy patchwork...

There was a large historical display of the local fishing industry and I loved the motto from the old cannery; ' We eat what we can, and can what we can't'.
After our visit to the museum, we went for a walk along the wooden boardwalk along and over the creek which flows through the town. It was rather exciting as we could see salmon in the creek.
Then we noticed that some of the fish were dead. Some were in the water and others were left high and dry on the banks of the creek.

I found out later that the dead salmon are a natural part of the cycle...they swim upstream to spawn and then after that, they will die. But look what swimming upstream entails...


After a while at this first stop in Alaska, we started to piece together the major elements of the history of the area...gold mining, fishing, timber felling, lots of men living a tough life...lots of drinking and the inevitable 'red light district'. Yep! A lot of the history of Ketchikan concerned some of the women who ran these houses...it would seem some became quite rich and reasonably powerful. Along the boardwalk were the old brothels, now shops etc.

More views from the boardwalk...
 We saw a funicular but it wasn't running...


Now making our way around to the waterfront again...

It was time to board our ship again...
 The Coral Princess was moored behind us...


And the Volendam was in port also...
Later, as our ship was leaving port, DH took some photos...




And that was our first taste of Alaska.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ship life...

This will be a post of mainly photos!
I was rather impressed with how smoothly the process of checking in luggage and embarkation went. It was very different to the long, slow moving queues that I saw when DH and I stood with my brother in law and his wife when they went through the process to board a P&O cruise ship in Brisbane. 


The 'red carpet' was out on the deck...

This is Ketut, our cabin attendant ( it may be known as a stateroom in cruise ship lingo but the term cabin suits it more). Aussies would remember those AAMI insurance ads which featured Rhonda and Ketut and I'm sure Australian passengers before us would also have told the 'ship's Ketut' about the ads. He said that he was the 'original Ketut'! 

I stoically tried out the deck chairs on the top deck but despite those glass panels, the wind was freezing!

The pool and hot tub area...

Pool party on the first day...

The girls tried out the pool almost straight away but found it very cold...so they tended to mainly use the hot tub from then on. DsD3 talked her dad into having a swim on the second last day...the pool was heated but the air above and around the pool was chilly!

There were lots of competitions/ games to play on board...
Sometimes we were spectators...

Other times members of the family were contestants. In the next photo the family are playing Trivia...the questions were all about Canadian singers and despite Alannah being Canadian, we only got a few questions correct. But that's okay...our team won an earlier Trivia game. 


Both Alannah and DH's names were drawn out to be contestants on Jeopardy...

DH won 'by a mile'! We were so proud of him. Just shows, his watching of all those quiz programs like Eggheads, Hot Seat, Million Dollar Minute, Pointless, Jeopardy, Chase...has paid off! Lol. I must be patient therefore when he commandeers the TV at home from 3pm until 6pm each week night...although a bucket of bottled beer prize does not really excite me! Lol

DH and DsD3 hit a few golf balls...

On 2 decks there were walking/jogging tracks; despite the cold, a brisk walk around the ship was very enjoyable. In the next photo DH sneaked a photo of me setting off on a walk after lunch one day, without bothering to change my shoes.


I sat around a lot enjoying 'down time' on 'sea days'. 


Sitting in the 'piano bar'


We ate mainly at one of the a la carte restaurants as the Tsar's Palace staff always managed to find us a table...

I did a few things on my own...here are the other 2 ladies who came to the 'knitters' meeting'....
I also went to a Q and A session with the captain and 3 officers. I learned lots of interesting things; the captain was in the Swedish Military for 10 years before starting a new career in the merchant navy and then eventually working for a cruise line. I learned that the ship was able to generate more than enough power needed to run the ship and that there was a desalination plant on board and nearly all the water we used was from treated salt water. There was some fresh water taken on board at ports but nowhere enough that was needed. At that same session, I learned that instead of traditional propellers, the ship was driven by azopods. This made maneuvering the large ship much easier...as the captain commented, with the azopods he was 'able to turn the ship on a dime'. 
 
We saw a few shows in the theatre and also a number of entertainers in venues throughout the ship...

On the Thursday night, many of the crew came on stage at the end of the show in the theatre, so the passengers could show their appreciation.
Seeing all those chefs in the photo reminds me of the session we saw later in the week, when some of the chefs demonstrated how they made decorative items out fruit and vegetables. That was quite amazing to see the items they made. 

And next, dad and daughter taking a spin around the dance floor...

So there you have it...some glimpses of ship life on the Norwegian Jewel. Those of you who have been on cruises would know about the tradition of 'towel folding'... each night when we came back to our cabin after dinner and a show or two, our cabin steward would have arranged a towel animal on the bed...this is what we saw from the doorway on the first night...
And here are some front views...
Another night...
And yet another night...
We had quite a menagerie over the 7 nights, but it was the 2nd last night that we came back to our cabin and just started laughing...it was the night that the show in the theatre consisted of acrobats and trapeze artists...so therefore the towel animal wasn't just sitting on the bed that night...on no...it was swinging from the ceiling!
What fun!