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Day #6 Ketchikan, AK

We awoke this morning to the sight of a foggy and slightly choppy sea. I find that after a few days on a particular cruise you eventually settle into a certain pattern of life. And, so we’ve done on this journey. We started the day with our usual room service breakfast. We followed this up with some of the ship’s enrichment programs: a baking demonstration and a talk by the guest chef about the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans.

We then visited Sheryll (who’s exceedingly friendly and very helpful), the future cruise consultant here on the Veendam. We signed up for the future cruise promotion, which for $100 per person allows you to book and hold basically any available cruise within the next four years. In addition, we’ll get some of this money back in the form of future onboard credit ($70/pp.), and we got a “thank you” bottle of champagne (bonus for me) delivered to our stateroom on this cruise. At the moment, we’re signed up for a 7-day cruise next summer (July 7) on the inaugural sailing of the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Will it happen? I don’t know. The price isn’t great… actually, it’s downright awful compared to our current insanely cheap cruise ($114/pp per day vs. $292/pp per day!). I’m also not sure that we’ll want to leave the baby that soon (as sailing with him/her won’t be an option that early either). That said, we have the flexibility to move this deposit to any other sailing… including ones that are closer to home, at different times, and which might be better price performers. The upside is that the cruise (if combined with a quick couple of extra days on land), might allow us to knock out 6-7 new countries in as little as 12 days. That makes the cost per country fairly good. So, we’ll see. In any case, I’m always happier to come home from a vacation with some sense of the next trip well in mind. :-)

Anyway, back to today… we spotted a few humpback whales from the balcony of our cabin this morning. The photos aren’t too exciting, but it was nice to have had this wildlife experience.

Inside Passage -- Whale

We enjoyed another lovely lunch in the Pinnacle Grill. (Note: this time Libby went for something more exotic: a Thai-inspired version of shrimp and crab cakes, which were excellent).

We docked in Ketchikan on schedule. Since we had nothing planned for the day, we hung around the ship for a bit and waited for any crowds to disperse. Ketchikan is also a very busy (and rather touristy) port. As we were arriving, NCL’s Pearl was departing. In port with us were the Carnival Spirit and Celebrity Mercury.

We didn’t do too much in Ketchikan. We sort of wandered around the downtown area and window shopped (mostly trinkets and trash, plus jewelery of indeterminable quality and value). We did stop into the Wells Fargo to exchange some money (as I thought I might need Canadian dollars for the ride to the airport in Vancouver). We also visited the very nice and informative Southeast Alaska Discovery Center ($5/pp – worthy of the modest price). All told, we probably sent 2-3 hours in Ketchikan. If we return, we’ll make a point of doing something “more outdoorsy.” But, as it happened, this was alright, because it started to rain on the way back to the ship.

Here’s a photo of Ketchikan from our balcony on the ship:

Ketchikan, AK

We had dinner tonight in the Lido. The overall quality in the buffet is higher but the selection more limited than on other cruise lines (NCL and RCI specifically). The hours also seem strangely limited and/or out of sync with some of the day’s activities (for example, the ship departs tonight at 8:30 but the Lido closes at 8:00 – though luck for those who’ve tried to make the most of their day in port I suppose). On balance, I don’t think I like the buffet operation as much on HAL… but maybe this is a function of the itinerary and ship rather than a more systemic shortcoming??? I just don’t have enough data points to know.

We also attended our first entertainment performance aboard the ship tonight. I’m not sure why it took us so long, especially as we attended nearly everything aboard the Brilliance of the Seas earlier this year. I suspect it’s just related to that “rhythm of the cruise” thing I wrote of earlier (and perhaps also due to the effect of the four hour time different, which encouraged early bed times for us from the East coast). Anyway, the show,Encore – A Night at the Symphony, was alright… though neither especially symphony-like nor inspiring of any desire for an encore. Thankfully, the ship has mostly “mature” passengers, who statistically speaking are more likely to be either hard of hearing or simply downright senile. This was one of those rare occasions upon which having such conditions would actually be desirable. Enough said on this topic. (Although, as an aside, it’s a shame because the strings section of the Veendam orchestra can really play chamber music exceedingly well. I’ve heard them as a quartet on many evenings while updating the blog in the Explorations Cafe, and I’ve always been impressed.)

Tomorrow is our final day aboard the ms Veendam – a (hopefully) relaxing and leisurely day at sea.

One Response to “Day #6 Ketchikan, AK”

  1. Dick says:


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