Day 1 of the cruise was an "at sea" day. We slept in, met Hunky Dory at breakfast, and made the best of our Hydro Suite passes
(the other awesome thing about the Hydro Suite pool is that you had to pay to get in, so we never shared it with more than four people). Our ship wasn't the only thing at sea that day, however: we were accompanied by a windstorm. According to the cruise info channel in our cabin, the swells were ranging from 7 to 12 feet. It was pretty neat being in the pool while the boat was rocking back and forth so violently—the pool was sunken into the floor about 3', so the water was sloshing around like a wave pool. Evan had begun to feel the ill effects of the rocking ship, which was eased a bit in the pool (the motion sickness movement/vision disconnect goes away when the brain says "oh yeah, we're in water") but after a while it got too intense. We took a nice long nap and went to dinner with the clan, tried to make it through a "Vegas-style" show but were again thwarted by the motion of the ocean, so we turned in early.
We arrived in Juneau, our first port of call on Day 2. It was one of the longer days we had in port, and we had a big shore excursion booked with the entire group: a whale watching boat ride, a trip to a glacier park, and closing out the night with a "salmon bake". The mostly-smooth catamaran ride during the whale watching was a welcome reprieve from the night's windstorm. The trip was full of wildlife spottings, including bald eagles (hard to believe they were ever endangered after a trip to Alaska – those suckers are EVERYWHERE), sea lions (which look like sausages on rocks from a distance but make this awesome moaning roar sound while they flop around), and as guaranteed by the tour company, whales. We had the good fortune of getting to see a group of three whales: a mother, a calf, and another female "escort", who were "breeching" in and out of the water, giving us a great show of tail flicks and water sprays. My camera, trying it's hardest with almost three-year-old technology, kept nearly missing all of the photo opportunities, resulting in two successes
, if you can call them that.
Next stop was the Mendenhall Glacier Park which, with the time and the stream-jumping ability, one could walk to less than 20' from a glacier. I think I can say this was my favorite part of the trip, and sadly we were only given an hour to spend there. Evan and I talked about how we would have happily spent only 2 hours on the whale watching tour and gotten another hour here, but considering the age and mobility limitations of most of our fellow passengers (and I assume a hearty chunk of the Alaska-cruising population), we could see how hiking across a mostly-dry riverbed might not be as appealing.
I was particularly struck by the magnitude of everything while walking around this place. The mountains, the glacier, the space between it all…it was just all so massive. I couldn't help but think about explorers or settlers (or PCs *) walking up to it or seeing it for the first time. The glacier had ripples of grey in the white, and spots where it was wiper-fluid blue. And, because I'm a super super dork, all I could think of was Jon Snow saying how some days it's grey or white and other days it shines bright blue. But seriously, if anything is the Wall, it's this.
After we left the glacier and enjoyed the salmon bake, the rest of the group went back to the ship and we tooled around "downtown" Juneau for a while shopping and trying to find a hat I look stupid in (which is normally hard, but the omnipresence of fur made this one a slam dunk). The look of the town was really neat too. Big sky, snowcapped mountain, steep sloping hills of evergreens, and then pow, town. In a way it looked kind of like a child's drawing, or as if the houses were little figurines placed on a shelf. There was ice cream, also.