Maple Leaf

COSMOS TOUR - VANCOUVER AND ROCKIES

INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE TO ALASKA

28TH MAY - 16TH JUNE 2001

1st Day - Journey to Vancouver, British Columbia

Manchester - London - Chicago - Vancouver. From leaving our house in Preston, Lancashire, England, to arriving at the hotel in Vancouver it took just under 24 hours. If it is possible to get a direct flight then that would be so much better, or at least only one change. We were only supposed to change at Chicago but unfortunately a couple of weeks before we travelled we received a letter informing us that we had to change at London as well. We were transferred by stretch limo to the hotel and felt like celebrities.

Quality Inn, Vancouver - Situate in Downtown about twenty minutes walk from the harbour. Nice room with two double beds, hair dryer, iron/board, tea/coffee making facilities. You could purchase a buffet breakfast for $10 or a la carte. We had a nice continental breakfast for $6.95. (Fruit juice, choice of two of six items, i.e. croissant, toast, danish pastry, muffin etc., fresh fruit salad and tea or coffee). Outdoor heated pool.

Vancouver - is a very large cosmopolitan city made more attractive by the expanse of water around it. It is Canada's third largest city, after Toronto and Montreal. It enjoys a mild climate year-round. Attractions are numerous - wander round Gastown and Chinatown, take a ride up the Harbour Tower, see a film at the Imax Theatre, have a ramble round Stanley Park etc.

2nd Day - Vancouver

We only had two days to explore but there is so much to see and do that it wasn't really enough but we managed to fit in a lot. We picked up a free visitor guide which we found very useful and followed the route it suggested for seeing the attractions downtown. We started at the Canada Centre, a 5 sailed complex on the waterfront. The route went through Gastown, one of the oldest parts of Vancouver. In 1867 'Gassy' Jack Deighton settled among the logging sheds and opened his hotel and bar. There is a statue of him. One interesting thing to see is the steam clock (the only one of its kind). You can see steam coming out of it and every quarter of an hour it whistles a tune and more steam erupts. Chinatown is certainly worth a visit and it is the largest Chinatown in North America, after San Franscisco. It was certainly interesting wandering round the supermarkets seeing all the weird and wonderful items for sale. We decided we had to sample the food and had lunch there which we enjoyed.. We had melon soup (different!!), followed by beef in ginger and green onion and sweet and sour pork with rice. Also included was a glass of Chinese tea and all for a reasonable price of $5.95 each.

I can recommend a visit to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. There is a Chinese Garden next door to it which you can visit free but it is worth paying ($7.50 and $6 for seniors) to visit the Classical Garden, especially if you can time it to have a 45 minute guided tour. I cannot remember all the times but there was a tour at 12 noon and one at 1.30 pm. A lovely young Chinese woman gave the tour and it made the visit so much more enjoyable to learn about all the different elements that had been incorporated into the garden and why. We then had a wander and ended up taking the elevator to the top of the Harbour Centre Tower ($9/$8 Seniors). There was a fantastic view of Vancouver and also a 45 minute video. The ticket is valid all day and evening so we also used it again in the evening to see Vancouver by night.

We had our evening meal at the The Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. I can certainly recommend eating here as it is exceptional value and very good food. You order a main course and included in the main course price is sourdough bread with garlic butter, a choice of soup or green salad, ice cream and tea or coffee. The price for main courses started from $9.95 for a spaghetti dish. I had a gorgeous seafood linguine which was $10.95.

One problem we found with Vancouver which unfortunately is a problem with most cities these days, and that is that there are lots of beggars around and we didn't enjoy keep being stopped by them.

Weather - sun/cloud/ probably about 16 degrees, but pleasant to wander round.

Tower View

View from the Harbour Tower
Steam Clock
Steam Clock, Gastown
Chinese Garden

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical
Chinese Garden

3rd Day - Vancouver

Today we had an included tour round Vancouver, after a complimentary breakfast, and the only breakfast included on the tour. We were both wide awake by 5 am as our body clock had not adjusted - Vancouver is 8 hours behind England. A walk I can recommend is along what is called the sea walls, but is really what I would call a promenade. The free map of Vancouver shows where the walls are. From the Quality Inn you just turn right and once you reach the water's edge you can turn left or right. If you turn right the path leads to the impressive Stanley Park where you can choose to walk along the lake, and depending on how energetic you are feeling, there are lots of paths round the park.

Weather - woke to rain but fine later.

4th Day - Kelowna

Set off to Kelowna at 8.30 am. Kelowna is a town set beside the Okanagan Lake. There was a lunch stop about 12 noon with a choice of about four fastfood restaurants. We chose Kentucky Chicken. We arrived at a winery on the outskirts of Kelowna in mid afternoon and had a tasting of some of the wines and there was a lovely view of the lake. We then continued to the Ramada Lodge Hotel for our overnight stay. There was disappointment however as we had booked for an optional excursion which was a dinner cruise on the lake, but as there had not been a lot of snow that winter, at that time not enough of it had melted into the lake and the person who owned the boat could not get it to the point where we would be sailing.Unfortunately the hotel was not near enough to the lake to walk which would have been pleasant, but was just surrounded by restaurants and a shopping mall. We decided to go for a Chinese buffet and went to see Pearl Harbour at a nearby cinema.

Ramada Lodge Hotel - Nice Room, Hairdryer, iron/board, tea/coffee making facilities. Lovely indoor pool , fitness room, restaurant part of the hotel.

Kelowna - The City of Kelowna was incorporated in 1905 and very soon after that the main street, Bernard Avenue, took on a new look. One by one the older wooden buildings were torn down or moved to make way for new brick structures that better reflected the town's strengthening economy. Kelowna is situated by the Okanagan Lake.

Weather - Sunny

Okanagan Lake

View from the Winery near Kelowna overlooking Okanagan Lake

5th day - Banff, Alberta

8 pm start for Banff. We had to leave our suitcases out at 7 am and my husband asked me if I had left everything out that I needed and I said that I had. After getting washed I realised I had not left my bra and underskirt out but unfortunately the cases had already been taken from outside the door by the porter. Oh dear - I had to spend the day without them, but I suppose it could have been worse and I could have forgotten my t-shirt or skirt or even my knickers on a windy day!! I made sure I had left everything out I needed after that.

It was a fabulous journey to Banff of about 290 miles. We stopped for lunch at Rogers Pass, surrounded by the mountains. There was a restaurant and cafeteria where it was possible to purchase a reasonably priced snack, i.e. soup and sandwich for $6.50 or hot dog $3.

A stop was also made at a natural bridge on Kicking Horse River which everyone thought was well worth seeing. We went through a time zone and had to put our watches on one hour, arriving at the Voyager Inn, Banff about 6 pm. It had been a long day and we were relieved to arrive. We soon took advantage of the extremely warm outdoor pool and indoor spa pool. As we had enjoyed our meal so much at the Spaghetti Factory in Vancouver we decided to visit the one in Banff and were not disappointed. Banff is situated in Canada's First National Park, and today draws people from every corner of the World with its spectacular scenery

On our journey we caught a couple of glimpses of the Rocky Mountaineer Train.

Voyager Inn - Room OK but no coffee facilities/hairdryer/iron, although you could borrow a hair dryer and iron from reception.

Weather - hot and sunny.

Banff - Situated in the heart of Banff National Park in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, Banff is a picturesque mountain town only a short ride from Lake Louise. Banff has something to offer everyone from adventure trips like white water rafting or more gentle pursuits like visiting the Whyte Museum.

Kicking Horse River
Natural Bridge at Kicking Horse River on the way to Banff

6th Day - Banff

A big change in the weather today as it was cold and wet but fortunately cleared up in the afternoon. There was an included outing today to Lake Moraine which was worth a visit as the ice had not all melted and with a large mountain in the background covered in snow it made for a wonderful view. From there we visited Lake Louise and the famous Hotel Chateau Lake Louise. The cloud was very low on the mountain when we arrived but fortunately lifted later and we were able to get a photograph of the lake with the glacier in the background. The coach then took us back to Banff so we could dine at our own choice, and then we all met again for an included trip on the gondola up Sulphur Mountain. The view was fantastic and it is certainly a trip worth taking. We were so lucky that the cloud had lifted. It only takes about eight minutes to get to the top. The price is $19.50. A short stop at Bow Falls near the Banff Springs Hotel completed our outing. Decided to have a change from the Spaghetti Factory but didn't enjoy it as much.

Kicking
View from the Balcony
at Banff Springs Hotel
Bow River
Bow River, Banff
Sulphur Mountain
Sulphur Mountain,
Near Banff
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake

Day 7 - Banff

We had a free day today so it was a nice feeling to be able to get up when we felt like it. We had a lovely buffet breakfast mid morning which lasted us until our evening meal (we were rather greedy!). We visited the Whyte Museum which gives a lot of information about the history of the area and the pioneers. There was an art gallery and also for this year a large exhibition about bears describing bear behaviour, natural history and details of the latest research into bears. (Admission Adult $4). We then visited the Banff Springs Hotel which was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is certainly a lovely place to stay, if you can cope with the amount of tourists wandering round it! One of my favourite views was from a terrace at the hotel.

Weather - quite pleasant.

Day 8 - Jasper

What a wonderful day today. Set off at 8 am for the 190 mile trip to Jasper, spectacular scenery again. Stopped for a couple of photoshots arriving at the Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefield for a snowcoach tour. We had a very early lunch at 11 am and then caught the shuttle bus for an 8 minute ride to the snowcoach. As we set off in the snowcoach the driver asked us if we were nervous and we all replied "No". We then arrived on an extremely steep decline and she asked again if we were nervous and we replied "Yes"!! It was a strange feeling setting off down the steep hill but we went very slowly and safely down it. In about quarter of an hour we arrived at the Glacier where we were able to get off the snowcoach and walk around the glacier for about 20 minutes. We were extremely lucky with the weather as the cloud had lifted and there was no wind. The driver said it was very unusual not to have wind. Everybody enjoyed the experience immensely. We set off again and had a stop at Athabasca Falls. The water was certainly gushing down and I am glad we visited it. A while later we arrived at the part of the river where about half the coach party, including my husband and myself, were going to go white water rafting. The trip took nearly two hours and was a very gentle white water trip - I would certainly not have been on it if it hadn't been. However, it was very enjoyable and we did go over some rough sections and got splashed so we had a laugh and a good time was had by all. We then arrived at Jasper Bungalows for a two night stay. We just had time for a quick change of our very wet clothes and a shower before we joined everyone for the only included dinner of the tour.

Jasper Bungalows - They are set beside the river in a gorgeous setting and are comfortably furnished with tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryer, there is also a launderette on the site.

Weather - sun/cloud

Jasper - Located in the heart of Jasper National Park in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. If you are feeling adventurous there are tours to suit you, or take a leisurely walk through the National Park.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier
Snowcoach
Snowcoach to Athabasca Glacier

Day 9 - Jasper

Included tour to Lake Pyramid and Lake Patricia this morning. Back in Jasper had a wander round and decided to walk along one of the trails leading gently up through the woods. I soon got a bit panicky because bears had been sighted round Jasper the day before, and I had read in the paper about a teenage lad who had just been killed by a bear. Apparently he was camping with friends, not in Jasper itself but in Jasper National Park, and they had noticed a bear in the distance so they had gone into their tent and packed all their food in it. They came out later but the bear was nearby and they did the one thing you should not do and that is run. The bear ran after one of them and mauled him to death. If I had not just read that I would probably not have been as concerned. One story about bears is "How do you know the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear?" If you run up a tree the black bear will follow you up and the grizzly bear will shake the tree until you fall off!

It started to rain and as there was not a great deal to do in Jasper we met our Tour Director as we were walking along the street so asked if we could joint the optional tour after lunch and she made a phone call and said it would be all right. We had a Chinese buffet lunch and then joined the tour to Maligne Lake and had a one and a half hour cruise on the lake, followed by a stop at the Maligne Canyon which was quite impressive. It rained most of the afternoon and later the windows misted over on the boat which did spoil the view. We got off the coach in town and joined a volunteer guide who did a local history tour.

Weather - Cloud - rain later.

Patricia Lake
Lake Patricia
Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon

Day 10 - Sun Peaks

An 8.30 am start for our 248 mile trip to Sun Peak - a small, quite new ski resort. We found the journey today a real drag and were extremely relieved when we arrived there. It took about eight and a half hours, including comfort and lunch stops. It had rained in the morning but fortunately stopped in time for us to have a nice picnic lunch by the side of a river. It started raining again soon afterwards but stopped again when we visited the Spahats Canyon and waterfall. This was very impressive. Sun Peaks was in a lovely setting amongst the mountains. We saw three bears in the distance near the ski-lift from the coach, but they were too far away to see properly. As there was a kitchen area in our hotel room we decided to be economical and bought a tin of vegetable soup, a large frozen lasagne and a tub of Haagen Datz Chocolate Chip Ice-cream.

Sun Dance Lodge - a lovely hotel. We had a very large room with two double beds and a small kitchen area with a microwave and fridge.. Outdoor hot tub, exercise room.

Weather - rain most of the day.

Sun Peaks - Quite a new ski resort, building still going on. A lovely position surrounded by mountains. Hiking and bike trails,golf course.

Sun Peaks
Ski Lift at Sun Peaks
Spahats Canyon
Spahats Canyon

Day 11 - Victoria

We made an early start at 7 am for our 263 mile journey to Victoria on Vancouver Island. We had a lovely buffet breakfast served early for us which cost $8.95 hot and $5.95 cold. The journey was not as bad as yesterday and we arrived at the ferry terminal at 12.20. We had a pleasant one and a half hour sail to Vancouver Island and then had an included visit to Buchart Gardens where we stayed for two hours. These were superb and a must to visit if on Vancouver Island. We then had a tour round the town where places of interest were pointed out. As the weather was so nice we certainly saw the gardens at their best, also all the rhododendrons were out in a lot of different colours, although it was too early for the rose garden.

The Old Spaghetti Factory was only a few steps away so, of course, that is where we decided to dine, then had a walk round the harbour and watched the buskers - it is a very good atmosphere.

Queen Victoria Inn - An extremely nice hotel and we again had a very large room with two double beds and also two easy chairs. However, the kitchen facility had a door across and you had to pay extra for the use of it.

Weather - hot and sunny

Victoria - The capital city of British Columbia. Very temperate climate.Year round golf, whale watching, cycling and mountain biking, mountain climbing, surfing, running, beachcombing, ocean fishing, fly fishing, hiking, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, walking, kite flying, rollerblading, skateboarding, windsurfing, horseback riding and beach volleyball - no need to get bored in Victoria! Buskers round the Inner Harbour create a lovely atmosphere.

Buchart Gardens
Buchart Gardens
Buchart Fountain
Buchart Gardens
Chinatown
Chinatown, Victoria

Day 2 - Victoria

Only the second day we had been able to get up when we felt like it. We explored Victoria, visited Chinatown which was a lot smaller than the one in Vancouver. Watched the buskers round the harbour again, had a free tour of the beautiful Government Building which was designed by a British Architect, Francis Mawson Rattenbury who had moved to British Columbia the year before. He also designed a lot of the lovely buildings in Canada, including The Empress Hotel in Victoria, Chateau Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel. It should have cost $600,000 dollars to build but ended up costing over $900,000 dollars and the contractor went bankrupt as he was on a fixed price contract. In the evening we went on the optional farewell dinner. We commenced the evening with a ride on a tallyho which is a cart holding a couple of dozen people and pulled by two horses. This was a waste of time and money and not worth bothering with. We then had a drive round the outskirts of Victoria looking at all the expensive houses with their lovely gardens before arriving at a harbour restaurant for a superb meal.

Weather - Cloudy but warm

Day 13 - Vancouver

An early start at 7.30 am to catch the ferry back to Vancouver. People on early flights were dropped off at the airport, the ones doing an extension in Vancouver were taken to the Quality Inn where we had stayed at the beginning of the tour. Anyone who was catching a late flight stayed on the coach to the harbour so that they could have a walk round Vancouver and would be picked up later to be taken to the airport. We were taken to the Ship Terminal at Canada Place to board Holland America Zaandam. There were just seven of the people on the tour who had booked for the cruise.We embarked about 1.30 pm and as we had only had a muffin and a coffee for breakfast in anticipation of a lovely buffet lunch on the Zaandam we quickly made our way to the buffet which was as good as we expected. Allow for the fact that you may have to wait quite a while for your luggage to arrive. We explored the ship which is absolutely gorgeous and you have to see these lovely cruise ships to appreciate just what they are like. Dinner was served in the luxurious restaurant and we had been seated on the same table as the five people we had been on the tour with plus a couple from America. The food was of an extremely high standard with a wide choice. We had been put on the second sitting at 8 pm and were pleased about this as the first sitting was 5.45 pm and as there was so much to eat for lunch we were not hungry by that time, especially if we had had afternoon tea as well!! It gave us time to enjoy hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail before dinner. If you had the cocktail of the day it was 3.75 dollars. Later on, when passing the Internet Office I realised there was a one hour 'Happy Hour' to use it for free via a satellite, so took the opportunity of sending some emails, but didn't stop on an hour as other people were waiting. Normally it would cost 75 cents a minute. There was a lifeboat drill at 4 pm which everyone had to attend. We sailed about 5 pm and went past Vancouver Island. We went to a show in the evening but most of it consisted mostly of the Cruise Director telling us what would be happening on board. Casual dress.

Weather - Cloud, some rain

Zaandam
Postcard of the Zaandam

Day 14 - Full day at sea

No time to be bored though. We decided not to waste time laying in bed late and got up just before 7.30 each morning to join the walk around the promenade deck. Three times round to do a mile. If you did various healthy activities you collected a stamp in a passport to save for t-shirts etc. At 8 o'clock we went to aerobics or stretching classes and then went for our breakfast. The first morning we went to the buffet but decided for other mornings that it was much nicer sitting in the lovely restaurant being served by a waiter. We also did this for lunchtime as well, but the buffet was popular with a lot of people. We had an interesting tour round the kitchen, enjoyed a talk by a Naturalist with slides about Alaska which was very interesting. I attended a seminar about not crash dieting (which I do!) and the best way of burning off fat. A special Royal Dutch afternoon tea was served. We decided just to have a few nibbles, followed by another walk round the promenade deck. It was the Captain's Welcome Party this evening with formal dress. A Newsletter was received each day to let you know what the dress code was. Not everyone dressed up but we always find it is a lovely part of a cruise. I think the Welcome Party is really just an opportunity for lots of photographs to be taken which they hope you will buy. We saw a whale while having dinner and saw it dive down into the water. The show tonight was Dancing' Fool with the Zaandam cast. We had to set our clocks back one hour tonight.

Weather - Ships Log at 12 noon. 48 degrees F (9 degrees C), light breeze partly cloudy sky

Day 15 - Juneau.

There was another very interesting lecture with slides from the Naturalist about the geology of Alaska but was certainly not boring. We managed to see a couple of small dark heads bobbing about in the water, probably sealions, but no whales or dolphins, although some people were lucky enough to see the dolphins. We arrived in Juneau about 12 noon but it took a while until we were able to disembark. We were in the town so did not need any tendering. We had pondered over what to do about the tours, but as we are not very adventurous we were not interested in any of the helicopter or seaplane rides. We had enjoyed the snowcoach and walk across the glacier at Athabasca glacier but would be seeing a lot more glaciers in Glacier Bay so we decided that we were not too bothered about the Mendenhal glacier. We decided the best thing would be to take our time and have a wander round Juneau itself. We got a leaflet from the Tourist Information which guided you round Juneau. We had a free tour of the Capital Building. A visit to the Red Dog Saloon is a must if you are in Juneau; it is just like the old time saloons with sawdust on the floor, and if you are lucky enough to arrive there when there is someone playing the piano and singing you are in for a treat - he was hilarious. One lady told him it was the highlight of her cruise! It was funny though to think that most of the people in the saloon would later be sitting in 5 star lounges on the cruise ships. It was a casual dress evening. The show tonight was The Hill Brothers, two very talented brothers who put on a very good show as jugglers. Casual dress.

Weather - Ships Log - 57 degree F (14 degrees C), light breeze and partly cloudy

Juneau is the capital of Alaska - there are approximately 16 to 18 hours of daylight during the summer. Approximately 30,000 people live in Juneau and it is 3,108 square miles in area and is only accessible by boat or plane. Skies can darken, temperatures drop, torrential rains can pour and winds can whip the waters. Those are the extremes. For the most part, Juneau experiences a maritime climate, with an average of 250 days of rain and mist each year.Bear, moose, mountain goats, puffins, salmon, sea lions, seals and whales make their home in Southeast Alaska. One of Juneau's biggest attractions is the Alaska State Museum. Mendenhall Glacier is located 13 miles from the downtown area.

Juneau
Welcome to Juneau
Ships
Zaandam, Radiance of the Seas
and Sea Princess in Juneau

Day 16 - Skagway

Arrived about 7 am but we were asleep so missed the arrival. We did the walk a mile and the aerobics, had some breakfast then had a wander into Skagway which was only minutes away. There were three other large cruise ships in, The Radiance of the Seas, Sea Princess and Celebrity Mercury, and also a small ship. There must have been over 8,000 tourists arrived to wander round Skagway but fortunately they were not all there at once! Sounds awful, and it was, of course, very commercialised, but nevertheless it was extremely enjoyable. It is preserved like the old wild west days. Again, we were in easy walking distance of downtown.

We had not booked any tours but got a leaflet from the tourist information which gave details of a walk round Skagway explaining the different buildings. When we embarked the ship we had been given a booklet with various offers - one was for 15 minutes free access to the Internet at a cyber cafe which I used, and also a coupon for a free Christmas decoration. As it was only a few minutes walk back to the ship it made sense to go back for lunch and then have another walk in the afternoon. We went to see the Show of 98 which relives the last day in the life of Alaska's most notorious outlaw, Jefferson Randolf "Soapy" Smith who reigned over Skagway during the wild days of the Klondike Gold Rush. The show cost 14 dollars or 12 dollars for seniors and lasted for an hour, but prior to the show starting a gentleman sang and read poems which were very amusing. The show also was done for laughs and had three saloon girls in the cast. I would recommend a visit to capture a taste of the times. We had a drink in a saloon bar where the waitresses dress as they would have done in those days. A swim in the pool and a relax in the jacuzzi afterwards finished off a lovely day.The show tonight was Tian Jiang, a solo pianist who is recognized as one of the world's most exciting young virtuoso pianists. There was also a British Sing-A-Long in the Piano Bar. Casual dress.

Weather - Ships Log - 59 degrees F (15 degrees C), fresh breeze and partly cloudy

Skagway - Approximately 800 people live in Skagway and its size is approximately a 20 by 5 block area. There are approximately 16 to 18 hours of daylight during the summer months. Skagway has an average rainfall of approximately 30 inches per year. When you approach Skagway by cruise-ship you will see a tiny town at the base of a river valley surrounded by mountains rising straight out of the salt-water fjord. One of the scenic highlights in Skagway is the narrow gauge train that runs along the White Pass. Skagway has one main street, Broadway which is the centre of activity.

Skagway
View of Skagway
from Zaandam
Skagway-ship
Zaandam in Skagway
Skagway Street
Broadway, Skagway

Day 17 - Day at sea

Most of the day was spent travelling through Glacier Bay. It was raining but there are a lot of large picture windows and also the promenade deck is under cover but open at the sides. We saw sealions and whales in the distance spouting off and also their tales tipping up as they went under the water but did not manage to see them jumping out of the water. The Rangers from Glacier Bay and one of the native Indians climbed up a rope ladder and came on board. They pointed out places of interest and also did a lecture. It was interesting seeing how the snow gradually appeared on the mountains and more and more ice could be seen in the water as we got nearer the glaciers. We went round to the end of Glacier Bay to the Margerie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier. We watched the glacier "calving" (ice breaking off). The natives call it white thunder because of the noise when the ice crashes into the water. It may sound strange, but one of the highlights was sitting on the Promenade Deck in a lounger in our anoraks with blankets round us, just gliding along slowly, watching the mountains changing with more and more snow, and the water changing with bigger pieces of ice floating in it and arriving at the Margerie Glacier. The show was Monte Carlo, a Las Vegas Spectacular with a French Twist! by the Zaandam cast. Formal Dress

Weather - Ships Log - 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) gentle breeze and partly cloudy (actually rained most of the day)

Glacier Bay - When you enter Glacier Bay you are cruising along shorelines completely covered by ice just 200 years ago. Explorer Capt. George Vancouver found Icy Strait choked with ice in 1794, and Glacier Bay was a barely indented glacier. That glacier was more than 4,000 feet thick, up to 20 miles or more wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St Elias Range of mountains, but by 1879 Naturalist John Muir found that the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay. By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr Inlet 65 miles from Glacier Bay's mouth. Such rapid retreat is known nowhere else.

Glacier Bay
Margerie Glacier
Glacier Bay
Margerie Glacier and
Grand Pacific Glacier

Day 18 - Ketchikan.

We arrived about 10 am in Ketchikan and docked actually in the town. Ketchikan is a larger town than Juneau and Skagway. The Sea Princess and Radiance of the Seas were also in port. We got a walking map from the tourist information and followed the numbers round which explained the various places in Ketchikan. It was pouring with rain but we did it anyway. Like Juneau and Skagway there are lots of shops and places to visit to get money out of the tourist. We went back for lunch and as it had stopped raining in the afternoon we went to explore again. The show in the evening was James Cielen an International Gold Medalist Magician who appears in Las Vegas. - Dress Informal. At supper time there was a Dessert Extravaganza which was certainly a sight to see, (not to mention eat). Clocks had to be set forward one hour tonight.

Weather - Ships Log - 54 degrees F (12 degrees C), moderate breeze and raining - (did stop raining in the afternoon)

Ketchikan - About 240 miles south of Juneau, Ketchikan is a community of about 15,000. The Japanese Current brings warmed Pacific air - and 160 inches of rain a year to this temperate rain forest city. The average temperature in winter is in the mid-30s, summer days average about 58 degrees. During the Gold Rushes, the town became a supply centre for the various mining operations in the area, and for a while was Alaska's largest city. Ketchikan residents largely make their living from fishing, timber and tourism, although mining has a strong historical presence there. Historic Creek Street boardwalk is raised on pilings next to the boat harbour area through what was once the red-light district.

Creek Street
Creek Street, Ketchikan
Ketchikan
Harbour, Ketchikan

Day 18 - Full day at sea

Plenty to do again on the ship. We walked the promenade deck, did Sit and be Fit, went to a lecture and slides about whales, watched a Magician give a close up trick show, had afternoon tea listening to the string trio, hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, lovely dinner The cases had to be put outside by 2 am. The show was Broadway in Concert by the Zaandam cast. Casual dress.We had a lovely end to the evening when we watched our first sunset of the cruise whilst standing at the stern of the ship. There were mountains in front and each side of us, the Sea Princess could be seen in the distance and we glided along watching the sun drop behind the mountains reflecting the colours in the sea.

Weather - Ships Log - 52 degrees F (11 degrees C), gentle breeze

Day 19 - Embarkation Day

Breakfast was served from 6.30 am in the Lido buffet and 7 am in the restaurant. A number and colour had been issued to everyone, i.e. ours was 16 and the label yellow and after breakfast people relaxed in one of the lounges and waited for their number to be called. Ours was called about 8.45 am and we made our way to where the suitcases with our colour of label had been positioned. We then met the Cosmos Rep who was waiting at the Quayside. As our flight was not until 2 pm we decided we would prefer to have a walk around Vancouver for a couple of hours rather than go straight to the airport, so the Rep paid for our cases to go into storage. We got a taxi, with a voucher supplied by the rep, about 11.15 am to the airport. It was 8.30 pm when we arrived home (12.30 am Vancouver time) the day after. 25 hours later!!! We were not impressed with United Airlines as our flight from Vancouver had just taxied away when a pilot announced that some suitcases had been left off so we went back. He then announced that the doors would not now close. An Air Canada mechanic had a look and confirmed they would not close! He went away to telephone the United Airline mechanics who were not based at the airport. Fortunately it was not too long before we set off again and more fuel had been loaded so that the plane could make up time, which it managed to do. We arrived in time to catch the plane from Chicago but it was delayed two hours and we just missed our connection in London, having to wait another four hours.

This is a photo of everyone on our tour - Our Driver was called Fern and our Tour Director was Danielle.

Fern was a very good, steady driver and gave us no scares! Danielle was always pleasant and friendly and kept us informed about the different places we were passing.

Group Photo

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