16th Aug 2012
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Glaciers in Alaska
Author: Kaye Fallick
Glaciers in Alaska, Kaye, Blog, Holland America, Cruising, MS Oosterdam

Day Two of our cruise and two pictures tell the story. The first is taken about 10 am and shows the fog which has enclosed the good ship ms Oosterdam with no one on deck. Overnight we sailed north up the Inside Passage and many passengers left the dining room super quickly due to the rough conditions. Whilst it was indeed far from smooth your trusty correspondent managed to hang tough and enjoy a delicious meal in the Vista Dining Room. This morning we woke to total fog cover – and could well have been sailing anywhere. We were told conditions would calm down as we moved into Tracy Arm, a fjord about 50 miles south of Alaska’s capital, Juneau. And lo and behold, right on schedule at 3pm, the fog lifted, the sun broke through and the waters sparkled deep blue, then emerald. The fjord is described as a ‘lesson in geology and the forces that shape Alaska’ and that may well be true. To either side of us are massive prehistoric mountains, covered with deep green foliage, iced with snow. 

Glaciers in Alaska

We take our time moving slowly between these deep ravines, noting small ice floes and even a tiny fishing boat as we head toward the Sawyer Glaciers at the far end. Many times during the year too much ice is shed to make navigation safe, but today we are in luck and our captain Arjen C. van der Loo takes us up close and personal. We view this majestic blue glacier from the bow of the Promenade Deck, wrapped in red tartan rugs and sipping pea soup which is handed around by the ever-obliging Holland America staff. It is about 11 degrees Celsius with a light breeze. It takes two hours to travel the length of the fjord and about 20 minutes to turn the ship around and head slowly back to sea. Happily, our cabin is in the stern of the ship and we get to watch the Sawyer Glacier slowly recede in the afternoon sun from the comfort of our own verandah. If it is true that 8/9ths of an iceberg are underwater, then our crew are very skilled indeed as lots of small icebergs are bobbing in the water around the ship as it sails in this narrow waterway. Tomorrow we are docking very early in Juneau so it’s an early night in anticipation of our on shore adventures.



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    COMMENTS

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    ChrisJ
    16th Aug 2012
    11:51am
    I did this very same tour at this time last year and it was just as beautiful though without the fog or rough seas.. I count myself lucky to have been able to see such a magnificent area of our beautiful earth and am very grateful to those around me who helped to make it happen. There is so much more for you to enjoy on this tour and I am envious of not being there right now yet happy to know i've also seen what you are seeing.
    Abe
    20th Aug 2012
    10:56pm
    I, too, did a week on the Inside Passage tour in 2007, with my wife, and agree with ChrisJ that it was stupendous. The only thing that I could fault was the sly way the cruise line, NCL, added $10 per head to your bill, for tips towards the crew. The crew weren't spectacular and our attendant took a bottle of water from my fridge and left me a bill sitting on my bed!! When accosted he said it was for another tourist and he forgot to return it!! The tour cost us $2,240 each through timeshare, plus airfares of course. It is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday,but expensive. I am glad we went. We visited three ports and saw Little and Big Sawyer Glaciers. Our photoes and videos were magnificent. Everybody should see that scenery at least once in their life. The Skagway town tour was very entertaining thanks to a lady from California who live in Skagway for 6 months of the year. Her husband is a teacher, and she does the tour-guide/bus driving (in a crinoline dress,too). I just hope I don't ever lose my memory.
    ChrisJ
    21st Aug 2012
    8:32am
    We did it a different way Abe, we joined a tour with Cosmos Tours and did 3 days on the Rocky Mountaineer train and then 6 day bus tour from Banff through Jasper, Sunpeaks, Kamloops and more to Vancouver and then boarded the Volendam for the 7 day inside passage tour.. It cost us about the same as yours but for the whole 16 days and was well worth the money. The Volendam staff were exceptional, the Cosmos tour guide and bus driver were amazing and although there was a strike going on within the Rocky Mountaineer company at the time we joined the train we were not in the least forgotten about and the service by the office staff who had never been on the tour themselves was superb. We have recommended this tour to all who've asked about it as it was great value for money. With Cosmos you dont stay in the 5 star hotels but everywhere you do stay is clean and comfortable with great access to eateries and amenities.. As for Canada and Alaska they are two of the most scenic places on earth and we were thankful to be lucky enough to be there.. Oh and the lady with the crinoline is still there!!! She was wonderful! Good luck with the memory thing... LOL


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