Monday, May 23, 2011

Alaska - Day 6 - Glacier Bay Cruise 5/23/2011


This is the day of the Glacier Bay cruise and our opportunity to see several glaciers. The highlight was 250 foot high Margerie Glacier, at the far end of the bay, in Tarr Inlet. We got to see the glacier calve—twice! This is the process of the end of the glacier breaking off into the water; though we had seen this in documentaries, it was thrilling to hear the loud cracking sounds and the splash as the ice cracked as it moved and protruded over the water and the glacier could no longer hold the weight.

Dynamic Duo Aboard Ship

On the way into the bay, we stopped to pick up several Rangers who held televised (and in-person) classes on the natural wonders of the area. We were also able to view other glaciers on the way in and out of the bay, specifically, Lamplugh and Reid.

Margerie Glacier

Today, at dinner, we succeeded in switching from Anytime Dining—in any of 4 dining rooms—to the Traditional Plan. As you enter the restaurant, they always offer you anti-bacterial hand gel—they tried very hard to keep us healthy—and cheerfully ask, “Happy to Share?” We, equally cheerfully, always responded, “Table for two, please.” Normally, they accepted this with good grace; but, one breakfast, we were convinced they were punishing us for our exclusiveness—they took a very long time to take and then to deliver our orders, they did not refill our coffee, and my order came much later. We prefer eating alone, since we know we enjoy the company and it requires much less work than trying to make conversation with strangers.

In the Inland Passage, you always have a view of something from your balcony.

We didn’t like the seating arrangements for two in the Anytime Dining rooms: They were very close together; so, even when you sat across a small table from your partner, the people at the tables on either side of you were as much a part of your conversation as your traveling companion. The new arrangement allowed us to eat at a scheduled time and location—the International dining room. The price we paid was that we now ate at a table for eight with several other couples.

Cruising Glacier Bay

The couple from Southern California was very nice and we enjoyed chatting with them. We had very different tastes, however; whatever shows we liked, they did not; and vice-versa. We took in at least one show each night, either in the main theater or in the Explorers Lounge.

The first show was Do You Wanna Dance and was simply a music and dance extravaganza. My only complaint was that they cut some of the numbers short, just as I was beginning to enjoy them. The next night was I Got The Music and was also quite enjoyable. Perhaps my favorite was Piano Man, which featured numbers from the songbooks of Elton John, Billy Joel and Liberace.

We saw comedian Steve Moris one night; he managed to have me laughing on multiple occasions. Another night, we experienced the comedy and magic of Timm Metivier; some of his tricks were so (intentionally) lame, they were laugh out loud funny; others were genuinely puzzling. The final comedy variety act was by Alfred & Seymour, two hilarious high-energy black men that extemporaneously insulted almost everyone, especially themselves. I think some cruisers would have left but were afraid they would be picked on and, so, remained seated.

Still Cruising

One couple was from Canada. They had boarded as part of a repositioning of the Diamond Princess and had boarded in Shanghai and crossed the Pacific prior to meeting us in Whittier. She was pleasant and interesting; but, he was not much interested in conversation. They were already bored with the entertainment, since the performers had already begun to repeat shows. He was even bored with us, falling asleep over dinner one night.

We are not alone: A sister Princess ship

The third couple was absent more than present, probably a blessing for all of us. The first night the wife was ill and never appeared, while the husband—from Eastern Europe—was fairly confrontational in his interrogations; for some reason, he did not seem to like my answers to his questions. The one evening when the wife did show up, she looked ill, seemed distracted, and spoke not a word. Do you wonder why we kept to ourselves?

Close-Up of Margerie Glacier

Leaving Marjorie Glacier

There are many outsiders that actively try to halt every natural resource development project in Alaska. Many of these same people have never even been to Alaska, yet they claim to know what's best for us. ~ Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Senator [This may be code for drill, baby, drill. Resources were ruthlessly plundered in Alaska for a good many years with no practical oversight at all.]