Anchorage, Alaska, August 4 & 5, 2018

We made it!  Arrived in the Sheraton Anchorage, for our Holland American southbound cruise, around 1am on August 5th.  The hotel lobby was deserted save for the lady behind the reception desk.  There were two rooms reserved for us and we were happy to finally be in Anchorage.  We arrived only nine hours later than originally scheduled.  No sightseeing, no dinner, no nothing in Anchorage today.  Blame the weather, American did.

Here’s the view from our window.

DSC07635

Luggage, as arranged by HAL, is scheduled for 8am pickup.  Rain or shine, someone will be knocking on our door to grab our bags to transfer them to the Noordam.  That means Caden and I (JoAnn and Jenna are in their own room) have to be ready at 8.  We are taking a train to Seward, where we board the ship, but the luggage goes ahead of us.

Continue reading

Update, August 10, 2018

Since my last update we have visited Haines, Juneau and, today, we are in Ketchikan.  It rained each and every day until we arrived here today.  Funny thing is that Ketchikan is the rainiest town in Alaska.  It is warm and sunny with a slight breeze.

The scenery everywhere we look is wonderful.  Eventually you will see what I mean when I can post some of my photos.  The misty clouds floating around the mountain peaks in Glacier Bay and elsewhere provide interesting, photogenic views.  I tried to capture what I felt and in one or two instances I think I succeeded.  You’ll just have to wait until I get better internet service.  When we reached the end of our voyage in Glacier Bay we arrived at Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.  While there we were fortunate to see Margerie calf.  Throughout the journey into Glacier National Park we endured rain and wind gusts of over 40 miles per hour and it was all worth it.

The next day we were in Haines where, once again, we were treated to a windy, rainy day.  I hate to sound like a broken record but the weather is what the weather is.  Haines is a pleasant little town.  Not much to do in the town but lots if one goes on a tour or takes an excursion.  Our kids took a bike tour and then hiked in the forest.  We walked around town, visited the local Chamber of Commerce, stopped in the brewery and visited a distillery.  All was a lot of fun.

On Thursday we stopped in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city.  It’s nestled on the banks of the Gastineau Channel in the Inside Passage and surrounded by mountain peaks as high as 4,800 feet.  It is the only U.S. Capital bordered by a foreign country.  We left the Noordam to, once again, be confronted with rain and wind.

Downtown Juneau is a nice and compact.  The area around the pier is reminiscent of what I would expect turn of the 20th century Alaska to look like.  We visited the Red Dog Saloon, a place where Wyatt Earp once stopped.  We had a marvelous lunch of Alaskan king crab at Tracy’s King’ Crab Shack.  The crab was as good as the crab we had in Bergen, Norway.  We visited the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a simple but lovely place of worship.  We stopped for a beer at a local brewery and generally had a fun time in the rain in Juneau.

Today, we are in Ketchikan.  More about Ketchikan later.  Pictures and more details when internet service allows.  Keep tuned.

Update August 7, 2018

For those few of you who follow our travel adventures, I want to update you on our current trip.  The internet stinks on the ship and I can’t upload photos.  Yesterday I couldn’t even get on my site to write.  Maybe tomorrow I will have stronger connectivity.  In the meantime here’s the lowdown on our trip so far.

We made it to the Sheraton Anchorage by 1:00am Sunday morning August 5.  After a few hours sleep, Caden and I had breakfast and then met Casey, who was staying at the Westmark Hotel, for coffee.  He walked over to meet us and then we walked him part of the way back so that we could see a little bit of downtown Anchorage.  Pictures to follow.

We took the cruise train from Anchorage to Seward to join the Noordam.  Pictures from the train to follow.

We are in cabin 1055, an outside with a window.  The room could use more light but it is otherwise fine.  The ship is clean and in nice condition.  So far the food in the dining room is very good to excellent although our table is not very well located

Yesterday, August 6th, was spent cruising in the Gulf of Alaska as we headed for Glacier Bay.  I took photos of the ship and the artwork on board.  The art is interesting.  After taking photos of art on many ships, I am starting to become a critic of sorts.  The art here is definitely of a nautical nature.  Pictures to follow.

Today we are traversing Glacier Bay.  It’s windy, cold and raining.  Taking photos is a challenge but I think I got some very nice ones.  Glacier Bay is a true wonder of nature.  There is a lot to report about the day.  Just one note, our trip into the bay ends at Margerie Glacier which is, according to the park ranger who is onboard to describe our journey, one mile wide and 21 miles long.  Pictures to follow.

Ultimately I will posting each and every day.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading my blog.

LAX at last, August 4, 2018

Its like deja vu all over again!  We are sitting in the Los Angeles airport after a harrowing 24 hours.  It all began yesterday, after we downloaded our boarding passes.  JoAnn received a text message that our flight to Seattle was cancelled and we would be notified in due course about American’s revised plans for us.  Problem was that we need to be in Anchorage today, Saturday, August 4th, in order to board the Noordam tomorrow.  We are destined for a southbound, inter passage, Alaskan cruise with our son and his family.

Casey, his wife, Val and oldest son, Colin are already there and we are bringing the rest of the family, Jenna and Caden, with us.  We will, that is, if we can make new arrangements with American; and that is easier said than done.  Weather is the culprit, so they say.  Apparently flights were cancelled up and down the eastern seaboard on Friday.

JoAnn, being diligent, after suffering a near cardiac event, jumped on the phone to American to work things out; or so we thought.  After initially being told that they could probably get us booked for a departure on Sunday, a day late and a dollar short, to which I responsed that we must be in Anchorage Saturday at the latest, the representative found us a flight to Anchorage via Los Angeles.  And, here we sit, waiting to board a 7:30pm flight to our destination.

Seems simple, right?  Not so fast.  When we tried to get seats, via the representative, we were informed that we had to get them assigned at the airport.  We were able to see our reservations on the internet after we hung up from the American rep.  Everything seemed fine, but was it?  JoAnn and Jenna had seat assignments but not so for Caden and me.  It all had to be resolved at the airport.

We left more than 3 hours prior to takeoff.  Plenty of time we thought.  But upon arrival at PHL we were met with a logistical nightmare; a long, snakelike line to see what was one American representative and with all the cancellations, everyone was taking an extended length of time with that one agent.  And, Caden and I had no seats and all I could imagine was that everyone in line wanted to go to Los Angeles.  Seats were flying out of inventory left and right, or so I thought.

With all the cancellations Friday, you would have thought that American would have ample representatives working to resolve problems.  No!!!  Not so.  One rep for lots and lots of troubled, soon to be unhappy passengers.  Lots of sour looks on lots of unhappy people.  Is American that uncaring that they couldn’t call people in to work overtime to resolve these problems?  After about an hour and a half we were next in line.  Oh glory be!

Our representative, who jumped on line shortly before we were called “next,” told us that JoAnn and Jenna had seats but not so Caden and me.  We knew that and told her that was why we waited in line.  She then she began to tell us she couldn’t assign seats and that we needed to see a gate agent.  Oh hell!  This was starting to look desperate.  We have to be in Anchorage today.  People are counting on us.

Off to the gate, in search of 2 seats, with little time to spare.  We almost ran all the way from security (where we were delayed so they could, due to the fact that I was randomly selected, swab my iPhone) to the gate, C29, the furthest gate in C terminal.  Everything was stacking up against us.  Boarding was to begin at 12:30pm and it was now only moments before 12 and still no seats.

I was asked to step aside, have a seat and they would let us know what they could do.  Well, by now you know we made it or I wouldn’t be writing from LAX.  Oh, the anxiety!  Now all we have to do is make it onto our 7:30 flight to Anchorage.

A Layover in Richmond, UK, May 17 & 18, 2018

Flying from Venice was a breeze, especially in light of what we went through ten days before to get there.  Since we could not make a same day connection to Philadelphia, we decided to spend our layover in Richmond Upon Thames, a pleasant suburb of London.  We were originally going to stay in Windsor but someone else, do the names Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle ring a bell, had plans for that area on the day of our stay.  Richmond was our second choice and it turned out to be lovely.  Here is a shot of the Thames from Richmond Hill Road.

DSC07349

Continue reading

Rovinj, May 16, 2018, Our Last Stop in Croatia

Well, the afternoon of Wednesday, May 16th, was our last moment in Croatia.  This has been a interesting and exciting trip.  We traveled to destinations that were new to us.  The scenery was beautiful.  The people were nice and the food good.  If you have the opportunity to visit the Dalmatian Coast sieze the day and take the trip.

Sailing into the small port of Rovinj, one is greeted with the bellower of the Church of Saint Euphemia; dominating the harbor, the sight is extraordinary.

fullsizeoutput_1c62

Continue reading