June 10, 2013

Get Set for a Vancouver-to-Anchorage Cruise

After decades of enjoying very independent travels all over the world, I'm about to try something new this week -- a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska. I celebrated my 84th birthday in May, and this fall it'll be four years since my Parkinson's diagnosis. So, it's time for a new travel adventure.
I'll post some thoughts about this major new chapter in my life soon. But for now, here's the plan. I booked the cruise on the the Regent Cruise Line's Seven Seas Navigator.

Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 - Fly from Washington Dulles Airport to Vancouver. Leave 8 a.m. Arrive 2:30 p.m. Catch shuttle to Fairmont Hotel.

Day 2 - Transfer to Navigator for 5 p.m. departure.

Day 3 - Cruise the Inside Passage.

Day 4 -  Ketchikan, Alaska. Arrive 8 a.m. Depart 4 p.m.

Day 5 - Cruise Tracy Arm fjord and glacier.

Day 6 - Juneau, Alaska. Arrive 1 p.m. Depart 11 p.m.

Day 7 - Skagway, Alaska. Arrive 7 a.m.  Depart 5 p.m.

Day 8 - Sitka, Alaska.  Arrive 8 a.m. Depart 5 p.m.

Day 9 - Cruise Hubbard glacier.

Day 10 - Anchorage, Alaska. Arrive 6 a.m. Depart 4 pm. for return flight to DC.

Day 11 - Arrive DC-Dulles at 6 a.m.

Shore  Excursion Choices -- Serendipity Comes to My Aid
The only other cruises I've taken were river boat cruises on the Nile in Egypt and the Yangtze in China. On those cruises, everybody took the same land tours. When I signed up for the Alaska cruise, I received a list of tour options for each stop that totaled 25 pages when I printed it out.

I panic when confronted with so many options. Fortunately, I'd met Traveler Terpening, who keeps a stall at our local farmer's market where he sells the fresh salmon he catches during the summer when he's back home in Homer and the Aleutian Islands. He's been spending the off-season months in the DC area because his wife has been working on her doctorate in linguistics at George Washington University.

He's an interesting guy. He's worked off and on as a commercial salmon fisherman since age 15. He's also a professional photographer and travel writer. He's written his own guidebook, Alaska, one of the Bradt Travel Guides.

One Sunday morning at the market I handed Traveler my 25-page printout from Regent. The next Sunday, he handed it back with lots of helpful notes about the various options, thoughtfully taking into consideration my age and infirmities.

Thank You, Traveler!

I couldn't resist asking him how he got his first name. He said his parents were among the new wave of settlers in Alaska, the "sort of middle-class hippies" who went to Alaska when it legalized pot in the 1970s.  His mother told him he was named Traveler to make people he met think about something they liked -- traveling. But what about people who don't like traveling, he asked? "They aren't worth knowing," she replied.

If you'd like to know more about Traveler, read his obituary, published after his death in 2043 at age 68 "while attempting to traverse Iceland by snowboard and kite."

My Port Tours
Here's what I've signed up for:
  • Ketchikan -- "The Misty Fjords Seaplane Adventure" described as departing the picturesque harbor aboard a seaplane, landing at the Misty Fjords National Monument, "home to some of Alaska's most dramatic scenery. AND, what especially appeals to this "joy of quiet" meditator, landing on a mountain lake "for an opportunity to absorb the silence, serenity and monumental beauty of your surroundings."
  • Juneau -- "Glacier flightseeing via float plane (40 minute flight)" -- "an exhilarating ride past spectacular waterfalls and lush green rainforests en route to the majestic Juneau icefield and its four stunning glaciers.
  • Skagway -- "Glacier Discovery by Helicopter" -- "lift off from the historic Skagway waterfront and leave all traces of civilization behind as you journey to a rugged region filled with majestic mountains, valleys, and massive glaciers.
  • Sitka -- "Sea otter and wildlife quest" -- "discover Alaska's abundant marine and wildlife during this award-winning cruise through one of the world's most beautiful coastal environments."
As always, the advance planning for a trip is half the fun. But this is the first time my advance planning has included applying for emergency medical evacuation insurance.

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