Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alaska Cruise - Day 5

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Today is a day on the ship as we sail to our northern-most point on the trip, the Hubbard Glacier on Yakutat Bay. With the full day we had yesterday we slept in until about 8.30am and decided to take it easy.

With the Hubbard Glacier being one of the most active glaciers in Alaska (and one of the few that is actually advancing) we knew everyone would be going to the observation desks to get a good look at the glacier. So to prepare, we packed our laptop bag with books, binoculars (thanks Lipford family for letting us borrow them), camera and books and headed over to the Vista restaurant for a nice sit-down breakfast.

With the visit to a glacier in a beautiful bay you just know it is another day where Niels will be in his ‘happy place’. So again, Jen had to remind him that we are an expanding family and asked him to slow down. We went outside on deck 10 and looked around for a bit and with the glacier still an hour or two away we went into the Crows Nest (indoor bar/lounge with a 180 degree forward facing view. We set in the chairs for a while, but Jen couldn’t get comfortable, so we went back outside and found some deck-chairs to sit in. Niels was constantly running from one side to the other taking pictures, looking at mini-ice bergs and looking at Yakutat Bay.

Finally at around noon we arrived and sailed into the Bay. We had a couple of National Park Rangers on-board narrating the Bay and the glacier. Boy, was this ever a sight. Niels ran down to the room to get the second battery for the camera so he wouldn’t miss anything and was within arms-length of the room on deck 1 in the middle of the ship when he realized Jen had the room key on forward part of deck 10, so he went back up, back down, forgot Jen’s candy and back up again. In the meantime Jen was nice enough to get Niels some split pea soup and since Niels forgot Jen’s candy in the room, Jen actually went back. Not too efficient, but hey, we’re on vacation. We’ve got time. When Jen went down to the room she ran into Bebo Norman and crew (plus their wifes) and they all recognized her instantly. Jen was very pleasantly surprised.

Back on deck the views of the bay and the glacier were magnificent. There was surprising little drift ice so we were able to creep up to within 1 mile of the Hubbard Glacier and really get an up-close look of this giant. It’s between 50 and 250ft high and a couple of miles wide and almost 80 miles long from the base of Mount Logan (Canada’s highest peak) down to the Yakutat Bay (or Disenchantment Bay as the early explorers called it) since they thought it looked very promising at the mouth for the famed North-West Passage. Well, the name stuck, but is one of the most misnamed placed on the earth (after – among others - the whole Iceland/Greenland mix-up) since its breathtakingly beautiful.

The glacier is also one of the more active ones, so we got to see a number of calving exercises (where pieces of the glaciers fall into the bay) and actually captured a number of them on camera. The sound alone is magnificent since it resembles a thunder-clap. That was the first time I heard that, since I didn’t hear that all on the Columbia Icefields. After having taken a good number of pictures and even some short video we retreated back to the deck chairs and talked to a couple from Maryland. A little while later the Chief Environment Officer walked by and Niels greeted him in Dutch so we started talking and we probably talked for a good half hour. Very interesting to hear how the cruise line industry works, especially on labor relations (length of sailing for the crew, where the crew stays, etc…). We also got some good info on cruises from North America to Europe. Very interesting.

Before we left the Bay the ship actually did a full rotation around its own axle before sailing out of the Bay and at that time we headed back indoors to get some lunch before we went back to our room for a nap. Well, Niels took a nap and Jen watched the movie ‘The Final Cut’ with Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and Jim Caveziel. A very interesting premise and not too bad at the execution of it either.

After the movie Niels started working on the journaling and Jen took a nap. Once we realized it was close to 8pm we headed over to the Vista restaurant where we were seated with a New England couple, currently living in Virginia. This was the first time we got seated with a couple that was actually younger than us and that was a nice change and had some good conversations.
Dinner time went by very fast and before we knew it is was almost 10pm and we quickly headed over to the Queens lounge to catch round 2 of Oosterdam Superstar (Oosterdam Idol) where one of the contestants is actually contemporary Christian artist Wayne Watson, but entered into the competition as ‘Al from Juneau’. We are unsure to the extent of the audience that knows he actually is a veteran in the (Christian) music industry and that he is faking missing some notes, but it is absolutely hilarious to watch since he is acting and his facial expressions are perfect. Today he imitated David Archuleta by singing the song with his eyes pretty much closed. The wife of Gabe Scott (one of Bebo Normans musicians) actually recorded the set with the purpose to put it up on YouTube (ADD LINK) so the rest of the world can enjoy it too. Obviously he was voted through to the next round, so there might be more to come. Can’t wait!

The Superstar show moved the time ahead to about 11pm so the next thing we did was…… (zzzzzzz)

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