UPDATE#28 08/24 thru 08/27/07

Howdy Everybody,

The period 01/19/07 thru 08/23/07 has been covered in Updates 1 through 27.  We continue with UPDATE 2007 # 28.


 UPDATE 2007 #28   08/24/07 through 08/27/07.

     Welcome back to the new Adventures of the trawler AMARSE.  At last update, we were nearing the completion of our first week of the Alaskan Adventure.


08/24/07     FRIDAY   SEWARD, ALASKA


     When the alarm sounded at 6:15am, the VOLENDAM was already snug in her berth in Seward, Alaska.  We were enjoying our last few hours aboard this beautiful ship of the Holland America Line.  After showering, we headed to the Lido Deck for our final breakfast onboard.  I could not resist my favorite of smoked lox on a toasted bagel.  All of our friends had already left the ship headed for Anchorage and the their trips home.  Our plan was different.  We will embark on the continuation of our Alaskan Adventure by transferring to the ship in the adjacent berth.  This evening, we will sail with the SUMMIT, a ship of the Celebrity Cruise Lines fleet.



     Our room steward, Iman, had exceeded our every possible expectation for friendliness and service.  In addition to the recommended gratuity, we made sure to personally extend a bit more.  With a nod of thanks, we made our way off the VOLENDAM.

     The agents at Celebrity were kind enough to keep our bags behind their check-in desk in advance of their opening.  A shuttle trolley brought us from the dock to the town center.  Years ago, during our land-oriented, motorcycle trip to Alaska, we had taken a wonderful sightseeing tour of the Kenai Fjords.  That excursion had a duration of about 10 hours.  Of course, we didn’t have that much time today, however, the same company offered a wildlife and glacier tour of 6 hours.  With consenting smiles, we uttered the phrase, “MasterCard, Make My Day”!

     At 11am, the Glacier Explorer slipped her lines with a full load of tourists packed aboard the 95-foot boat.  Resurrection Bay was absolutely beautiful even if she was a bit stirred up from a storm system to the east.  



     Picture taking with a digital camera can be rewarding and it can be frustrating.  For some reason, there is a slight delay in the process.  It seems to me that many action shots are missed when the camera fires moments after the button is pushed.  Fortunately, I captured the final instant of this Humpback Whale displaying his flukes as he “sounded” or dove out of sight.  The picture also captured a small bird flying by.  These whales are very large and fascinating to see. It is amazing to see them as they “blow”.  Being mammals, they must surface to breathe.  When they do, they send a fountain-like mist quite high in the air.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to see several of these magnificent animals.  We wish we could have been a bit closer to get better pics.



     As the boat twisted and turned amongst the rocky outcroppings, we added the sightings of numerous species of wildlife.  We saw both “horned” and “tufted” Puffins, Black Legged Kittiwakes, Black Oystercatchers, and other interesting birds.

     As we turned the arm into Aialik Bay, we were greeted to the beauty of several glacial sights. 



The Holgate Glacier, descending from the huge ice fields, is a large tidewater glacier making its continuous migration to the sea.



     The face of the glacier is very high and the allure of the crystalline blue color is very fascinating.



     Glacial runoff forms a number of tumbling streams that drain into the tidewater basin.



     This group of sea lions has found a gorgeous place with a fabulous view for their “piece of the rock”.




     Although much larger in size, the Humpback Whale survives by eating mass quantities of krill, very small fish, and microscopic sea creatures.  They filter their food and plankton from the water through long, fibrous strands called “baleen”.  They graze through these nutrient rich waters all summer long to store up enough to sustain them throughout their long winter voyages.  The humpback whale is the one famous for their unique song.

     Another species of whale is the beautiful Orca.  Sometimes, they are referred to as “killer whales”.  These black and white marked mammals are a bit smaller than the humpback.  They generally travel in family groups, or pods.  Orca whales are known as “toothed whales” and feed on large fish and even other mammals including seals and sea lions.  This male is easily identified by the large, sharp-edged dorsal fin.



     The hours seemingly flew by on our 6-hour tour.  We have seen a wonderful variety of things and we highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting this area during the summer months.

     The small boat marina in Seward is an extremely popular place to keep your boat.  Presently, there is a 5-year waiting list.  Plans to extend the marina in the future may cut that waiting time to 3 years.



     Approximately 6pm, we painlessly checked in for our second Alaskan cruise.  Most of the guests were already onboard so we were spared the long lines of passengers.  A quick snack on Deck #10 would stave off the hunger pangs until our late dinner seating.  In accordance with international maritime rules, all persons on board attended the requisite emergency drill scheduled prior to our sailing at 9pm.



     Although comfortable, our room #3086, on the Main Deck of SUMMIT, was a bit smaller than the stateroom on VOLENDAM.   We didn’t have much time to get ready for our 8:30pm dinner.  Even with open seating, it was a bit rushed to make it to the show at 10pm.  The welcome show gave us an introduction to some of the fabulous entertainment scheduled for the coming week.  In addition to the large group of show performers, an “a cappella” group of four did a couple of numbers.  They will be appearing in a few lounge acts.  Their musical style doesn’t interest me very much, however, many of the guests were thrilled.

     We had enjoyed a very full day of activity and now we were ready for some serious sleep.  Goodnight, y’all.





     A nice breakfast was available in the Waterfall Café located on Deck 10.  Moving down to the Celebrity Theatre, we attended a lecture on “Volcanoes, Glaciers, and Auroras” given by Milos, the naturalist onboard.  Now this is what a naturalist should be like.  His talk was highly educational and entertaining.  We both look forward to more opportunities to soak up some of his vast knowledge.

     The seminar on digital cameras at 11am was a complete bore.  We could see where it headed and left after only a few minutes.  We could use this time to attend a seminar on bartending secrets.  It was a lot of fun watching Puto, the juggling mixologist, preparing various cocktails.  Judy was selected to sample his concoction of a Bahama Mama.



     Following lunch in the dining room, we emerged onto the bow deck for the approach to the Hubbard Glacier.  The Captain eased the huge ship gently through the berg-strewn tidewaters toward the wall of ice. 



     Although not bitterly cold, Judy found ways to keep snugly warm.



     The Captain continued to ease the huge SUMMIT closer and closer to the blue ice.  Soon, we could hear the loud cracking of the glacial ice on its march to the sea.



     Closer and closer, louder and louder, it was almost as if we could reach out and touch the frozen mass.  Evidence of calving littered the surrounding waters as more and more chunks fell from the face.  The enormous crevasses formed peaks and rows along the length of the slowly moving behemoth.  This was a very active and exciting place to be.  Several staff members commented that this was the closest that they had ever seen the Captain bring the vessel to the glacier.  It was considerably closer than our last trip here.  Bravo!



     Only one ship is allowed at the glacier at a time.  As we made our way out of the area, the VOLENDAM commenced her approach.  My guess is that they will not get up as close and personal as SUMMIT did.



     This afternoon was a perfect time for a good, restful nap.  Soon it was time to get ready for the first of the formal nights.  Judy looked absolutely gorgeous for our 8:30pm seating.



     My choice of soup was Cream of Chicken Dame Blanche and Judy selected the French Onion Au Gratin.  A shrimp cocktail and a Caesar salad made a nice pair of starters.  Our entrées were Tournedos Rossini.  The potato rounds were served in a potato chip basket.  Our evening wine selection was a medium-bodied red, Beaujolais Villages.



     Let me ask you, “Do we look like a happy couple?”  I sure think we do!



     I am pleased to introduce you to our table partners for the cruise, George and Kai-Li Ting, from Maryland.  George is a retired Pathologist that did research medicine.  Although the table was set for six, it was always only the four of us.  They were a very delightful couple that we enjoyed being with very much.



     Judy tried the Cherries Jubilee and I was tempted by this lovely pastry filled with praline cream resting in a sauce of vanilla and chocolate.



     At 10:30pm, we hoisted our champagne glasses in the Captain’s Toast.  The navigational crew of this Bahamian registered ship is of Greek nationality. 

     The evening production at Showtime was absolutely wonderful.  Highly talented performers, combined with excellent stage settings and orchestral accompaniment, entertained everyone with a delightful show called “Encore”.



     Great costumes and lighting helped to elevate the experience.



     The aerialist duo of Alexey and Sally amazed everyone with their agility and grace.




     We managed to round up enough energy to listen to the lounge act featuring “Guys and Doll”.





     As we enjoyed breakfast at the Waterfall Café, the ship made her approach to Juneau.



     SUMMIT was docked at the AJ Docks located a little distance from the city center.  We have been out of cell phone coverage for two days and our phones had several messages waiting.  It was with great sadness that Judy received the news that her mother, Alma Creech Ordiway, had passed away yesterday.  Mom had been living in an assisted living facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan for some years now.  Although not completely unexpected, this was the kind of call that brings on a feeling of melancholy sadness dampened by the flow of gentle tears.  I know because I felt this same deep sorrow at my own mother’s passing.  It is a feeling that is unlike any other feeling.  It is one of those personal feelings that is reserved only for your mother.  No words are truly calming, no action can bring relief, only the knowledge that you are with someone that cares and will stand by you as you find your way through the time of grief.  Mom will be missed by her children and grandchildren.  She will be fondly remembered in the hearts and minds of all who knew her.  We wish her God’s speed and a special comfort for her loved ones. 

    We took a shuttle bus into the capitol city for $2 RT and walked around the city proper.



     Since we had enjoyed a visit here just last week, we decided to return to the ship early and have our day onboard.  The outside recreational areas are beautiful, however, the Alaskan climate is a little too chilly for us to jump in.




     Judy spent a lot of her time on the phone talking with the members of the family.  I worked on the photos, logs, and updates on the computer.  I had no internet connectivity here on the boat.  Although the ship is equipped with ISP service, the fees are very steep at $.75 per minute.  We will wait for more reasonable rates.

     The elegant stairway in the main atrium is backlit to where the translucent stone glows a mellow amber color.



     An afternoon nap helped to rest us for the evening to come.  At 7pm, we found good seats in the Celebrity Theatre for tonight’s special guest performer, Mark Merchant.  The ventriloquist/puppeteer is one of the best in the world.  He deals with several characters that he makes totally believable.  You almost have to snap yourself to realize that they are not really talking themselves.  His style of humor is a bit controversial and quite probably offends some folks.  The good thing is that he has something to offend everyone.  We found him to be hilarious.

     Between Showtime and dinner, we had time to relax to the tunes of Guys and Doll in the Rendezvous Lounge.  Our dinner at table 496 started at 8:30pm.  Menu selections including Shrimp Cocktails, Mushroom Bisque, fantastic Escargot, Lettuce Wedge with Blue Cheese, Grilled Salmon Filet, and NY Steak were graciously served to our table.  Dessert was one of our favorites, Tiramisu.  It was a very enjoyable dinner in this elegant dining room.

     We took in some late night entertainment on Deck 12 in the Revelations Nite Club. It was country line dancing night and it was fun to watch the various sequences of complex dance steps.  Some of the professional dancers from the Showtime group joined in and it was immediately apparent based on the smoothness of the young, athletic fluid motions. 




     After a nice breakfast overlooking the beautiful harbor, we walked off the ship with no definite plans.  I had wanted to take a trip on the famous White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.  A fellow reader of these logs had called me before we left to highly recommend this trip and gave me some special hints on how to enjoy it to the maximum.

     We walked into the M&M Tours agency and found a nice combination trip that would give us a train trip of longer duration than those touted by the ship plan.  We would also have the opportunity to return to Skagway via motorcoach that would offer variations in the scenery.  The weather was wonderful so we signed up for the 12:30pm departure from the rail station in town.




     With time to spare, we strolled around the historic town viewing some of the old buildings and sites.  The US Parks Service is active in maintaining some of the history of this area and era.  This is a life-sized reproduction of a saloon bar as it was near the turn of the century in the Gold Rush days.  No, that ain’t sarsaparilla, dude.



     This once bustling community boasted a population of over 20,000 in the glory days of gold.  Now, this town may only have slightly over 800 permanent residents but the they continue to mine the gold from the myriad of tourists that arrive each day in droves.



     The train rumbled out of the station exactly on time.  At the suggestion of my reader, I took a vantage point on the last car, outside platform to avail my Sony camera of the most spectacular photo opportunities. 



     This is one of the most scenic train routes in the world.  The lucky observer will see majestic mountain ranges, tumbling waterfalls, giant tree forests, bridges, tunnels, and historic sites along the steel rails traversing two countries.







     Before the railroad, gold rush fever brought thousands of seekers to this hostile area.  Continuous lines of men plodding their way to the Klondike along this treacherous, narrow trail that claimed the lives of many men and their pack animals.  Perhaps as many as 3000 horses stumbled and fell from the harsh and rocky path.  Imagine all this in snowy, wintry conditions.




     The comfortable motorcoach made a stop for some Kodak moments.



     The skies were a beautiful blue and the 3-hour rail trip had been a total enjoyment.



     As part of the ship’s entertainment, the Rendezvous Lounge hosted a local singer/storyteller that gave a terrific performance related to the history and legends of this area.  The show was entitled, “North to Alaska”.



      Showtime at 7pm brought another rousing display of song and dance talent.  This troupe is thoroughly delightful in every respect.  These shows have been the most spectacular of any performances that we have seen aboard any ship so far.




     With a half hour between Showtime and dinner, the Guys and Doll set played some tunes that put us in the mood to dance.

     The dinner entrée of my choosing was a bit unique.  A medley of seafood, including scallops, shrimp, and crawfish, swimming in a tasty sauce was served over Black Linguine.  Black Linguine, what the heck is that all about?  Black linguine has been tinted from the deep black ink of the Octopus.  The pasta was quite good, albeit, a little overcooked.  The seafood was impeccable.



     A fabulous dinner and a glass of fruity wine has a way of mellowing the soul.  Judy is so wonderful to be with and I am truly fortunate that she chooses to share her life with me.  I am grateful!



POST SCRIPT:        

     Because of the large number of pictures in these few updates, we are dividing them into smaller time sections.  The website can better handle the smaller sized files.  The cruise week aboard Celebrity SUMMIT will be continued in the subsequent updates.  I hope you are enjoying these updates about our Alaskan Adventure.

     Thanks for allowing us to share our life and adventures with you.


     REMEMBER:  The website is now fully active and you can visit it at any time.  You can review any of the 2006 or 2007 logs and learn more about the crew and our plans.  Enjoy.




"AMARSE".  is pronounced,


  Our website is:   www.amarse.net   .

Lot of Love,

Fred Reed and Judy Law