Monday, November 7, 2011

98 Cruising the Inside Passage Day 5 - Juneau Alaska

Juneau from Mt Roberts
Continuing on from post 95 on our cruise of the Inside Passage, day 5 was all about coming ashore at the Port of Juneau.

More views from Mt Roberts
Juneau was named after a gold prospector Joe Juneau in 1881 and sits at sea level at the foot of mountains that are 3,500 to 4,00 ft or 1,100 to 1,200m high.

Cruise ships must be popular in Juneau, as one left shortly after ours arrived and another arrived soon after ours.

The port is a very deep natural port and has a tidal range of around 6ft or 5m.

 At one point we were able to observe surface waves rolling in through the passage as the tide came in whilst at one of the observation spots on Mt Roberts.
Reuben talks mountain
goats with one of the
View from the other side of Mt Roberts

The port is also a busy seaplane operations base due to the nature of transport in Alaska, and the isolation of Juneau.

In 1906 Juneau became the state Capital after Sitka lost the title due to a decline in its commercial importance.

Tide rolling in 
We found the place very scenic and friendly although we were there on a dry day and not a normal day which is wet and cold.

Whilst travelling up on the cable car to Mt Roberts the operator made a joke about the local weather stating that it normally rained 400 days per year.

We left Juneau late that evening and felt that we would be happy to come back sometime for another look.

Stay well and see you next time.

Just before casting off from Juneau

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

97 Big Basin Redwoods State Park - Santa Cruz Mountains

Declan hikes Big Basin Redwoods - multiplicity 
Tall Redwoods
Scenic trails
Let me start of with saying that we just did not give this place enough time so we will be going back.

The Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains if a scenic old growth forest which is great to hike around on the many marked trails. (trail map)

With 80 miles of trails we only tasted a couple of miles but then that was mainly due to having a 3 year old with little legs slowing us down a little.

The hike was just great and having our own Naturalist guide; my wife Julia, meant that we had a full run down on the decomposition and breakdown process, fungus identification and many discussions relating to anything from banana slugs to the difference between old growth forests compared to logged regrowth forests.

We had scenic spots to stop at, fallen trees to climb and to go under and streams to cross.

Reuben takes the
high road
The park address is:

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California, U.S.A.

Google Maps location is here and the State Park website is

Friday, October 14, 2011

96 The Blue Angels in San Francisco - A break in the cruise post -

Blue Angels taxi for take off SFO
Fat Albert C130 on take off

The other week it was Fleet Week in San Francisco and whilst we didn't get to see much of it, we did decide to see a glimpse of the Blue Angels.

I say a glimpse because instead of fighting the crowds at the waterfront in San Francisco we decided to go the the airport instead.

Fat Albert C130 returning 
Whilst the disadvantage of this was that we didn't get to see the main show. the advantages were many, including: a shorter car trip, easy parking, no crowds, and plenty of aircraft to watch taking off and landing.

The biggest advantage of going to the airport was that we did see things that the rest of the crowd didn't, such as; Fat Albert the C130 Support Aircraft do a simulated rocket assisted take off with a climb out at 45 degrees and then a simulated short landing with a similarly steep angle of decent so as to avoid small arms fire by staying as high as possible for as long as possible.

Blue Angels
We also obviously had the chance to see the Blue Angels do a formation take off and then a formation landing.  We were surprised that the Blue Angels didn't stay out longer as they were only gone for about 20 minutes.

Well next year we may fight the traffic and go in to San Fran, have a great day.

Blue Angels Smoke On take off

An FA 18 returns to SFO - landing next to a taxing United 747

An F 15 Eagle landing and holding off on nose wheel touch down

Lufthansa A380 taxing SFO

Friday, October 7, 2011

95 Cruising the Inside Passage day 4 - Hubbard Glacier

A wet day for Hubbard Glacier but hot chocolate and Bailys helped
 Day 4 of our cruise centred around our arrival at the Hubbard Glacier which was also our most northerly point on the cruise.

Yakutat Bay 
The bergs can be dirty
 We arrived earlier than scheduled after departing Icy Strait Point the night before and unfortunately the rain arrived first.

 As we sailed into Yakutat Bay and started to venture on deck we found it to be cold, windy, rainy, overcast but totally spectacular.

First glimpse of the Hubbard Glacier through the rain
As we continued into the bay towards the glacier we started to see ice in the water and the bergs started to increase in size.

Blue ice and milky water
 The water was totally milky with ground silt from the effect of the glacier, and the icebergs in some cases were full of dirt.

Visibility was poor and the mist obscured the glacier from afar but as we slowly and carefully moved forward the mountain of ice became clearer.
The glacier was shedding bergs during our stay

Size was sometimes hard to fathom standing on deck level 11 on a 70 odd thousand tonne cruise ship with the glacier still taller than the ship.

The ship held position close to the glacier and used thrusters to rotate in position slowly allowing viewing from all parts of the ship.

Peter bought a new raincoat after
this, and one for his camera also.
The Wiki page says that the Hubbard Glacier is in the US state of Alaska but starts in the Yukon Territory of Canada and stretches 76miles (122km).

Would have loved to stay and spend the entire day and night there to catch the light, and go ashore, but not on this cruise, next stop will be Juneau on our day 5.

Cruising back south after the glacier and whilst
having dinner we sailed past Mount Logan in Canada

End of day 4

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

94 Cruising Inside Passage day 3 - Icy Strait Point

Sailing to Icy Strait Point
Reuben on the look out for Orcas

Continuing on from my previous post we are now on day 3 of our cruise along the Inside Passage Alaska, heading to Icy Strait Point.   

We arrived on schedule after more spectacular scenery along the way in the sheltered waters of the passage.

On arrival we went out on deck to a find a very chilled deck and made sure we were rugged up for the shore visit.

Shore transportation
Also on arrival we spotted another cruise ship the "Radiance of the Seas" maintaining station whilst re-boarding passages  from Icy Strait Point shore excursions.

The locals at Icy Strait are apparently outnumbered by bears 3:1 and it would appear that they are outnumbered by cruise visitors by many times that.

We headed to shore using the vessels tenders and were glad that the water was calm for the trip ashore, especially when boarding the tender with children.
Beach pebbles - we brought
 some home

The shore line Icy Strait Point
We booked a child friendly tour on shore and didn't do the zip line which looked frighteningly good, for information of the shore activities you can visit the Icy Strait line Point web site here - 

Once ashore and on our Forrest Tram Tour it was time to zone in to the local sites and stories being described by the tour guide.

On the tour we stopped at a beach location and then on the way back pulled up as a pod of whales swam past.

Tail shot - wish I had my longer lens
The place was totally amazing with the vistas, waterfalls and the colored stones and pebbles along the beach.

It was a short stop at Icy Strait Point and it is a place we would like to return to and explore further one day, but now it was getting close to dinner time so it was back to the ship with some excitement about tomorrows stop "Hubbard Glacier"

Celebrity Century at Icy Strait Point

Friday, September 30, 2011

93 Cruise to Alaska day 2 - at sea

Vancouver departure Day one see post 92
Pools, hot tubs, deck chairs and bars
My previous post was all about day two of our last vacation, which was also day one of the Cruise on the Celebrity Century along the Inside Passage to Alaska.

After leaving Vancouver on day one at around 4pm and sailing through the night we moved into the next day with another day of sailing ahead.

Activities on-board meant that whilst at sea there was plenty to do with, Kids club (Fun Factory), shopping, theatre, plenty of bars and places to eat and hot tubs and pools (although the weather was OK for the hot tub but not the pool).
Julia instructs Reuben to stay
away from the guard rail.
Into the open water and away
 from land, but not for long

Whilst it may have been a bit chilly for a swim, at least the rain stayed away and the ocean was calm.

One disadvantage with taking this cruise at the end of summer is shorter hours when compared with the longer summer hours.

One of the dining places on Deck 11
Saying goodnight just outside one of the
 elevator areas in the aft section.
Had we had longer daylight hours we could have enjoyed the majestic vista from the ship whilst sailing the Inside Passage.

It was time for dinner and early bed whilst looking forward to the next days arrival at Icy Strait Point in Alaska.

Monday, September 26, 2011

92 Celebrity Century Cruise Alaska Hubbard Glacier Day One

Vancouver skyline as we depart on the Celebrity Century
A map of Alaska in Peter's
 back pocket or as Reuben
would say butt pocket
More seaplane operations this time
photographed from the ship,
Harbour Air

The seven night cruise was going to take us along the inside passage from Vancouver to Alaska with the first port of call being Icy Strait Point, followed by a visit to the Hubbard Glacier.

S76 lands at the Vancouver Heli Port
which is next to the cruise ship wharf.
A Vancouver Police escort as we
 leave port.
After arriving the day before (Saturday 10th Sep), it was now day one of the cruise, which meant a 12 noon boarding of the Celebrity Century, finding staterooms, finding your way around the ship, a lifeboat drill, and departure from port at 4pm.

A Harbour Air seaplane overhead
The ship, the Celebrity Century is a 12 deck 815ft or 248m cruise ship launched in 1995, with a capacity for 1,808 passengers and 843 crew.

Julia and Reuben as we sail under
the Lions Gate Bridge
It has a displacement of 71,545 gross tons and can do 21.5 knots or 39.8 km/h, the ships Wiki page is here and the Celebrity site for the ship is here.

Another commercial vessel at
sheltered anchor in Vancouver Port
It was interesting to see the agility of a ship this size depart port without the need for Tugboats.

The ships twin main screws and three bow and two stern thrusters enable the ship to port and depart without the need to use tugs.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse
Having said that it would appear that the Vancouver Water Police did accompany and assist in traffic control, intercepting weekend sailors who were skippering their vessels too close to our departing ship.

Once we were under-way it was hard to go below deck as the scenery was riveting, sailing along a calm waterway with blue sky, blue water and lush green mountains on all sides.

The Burrard Inlet is a great waterway enjoyed by many, a funny moment occurred when we were passing Passage Island not too long past Point Atkinson Lighthouse.
Passage Island, a great place to live on a day
like this,

Peter and I were on the back deck on the upper level capturing photos when we noticed two jet skiers following the ship and looking to catch up with us.

Then as they got closer we started to take photos of them as we were fascinated that they were this far out from shore.

Then they got even closer and we started laughing as we realized they were naked and proud of it :)

I have included three photos of the naked jet skiers to show the series of stages as they approached the ship, I have only selected the safe photos so as not to embarrass you or them, (it was cold water).
Jet Skiers far from shore.

Jet skier shows his
best side.
The two ended up coming alongside the ship to the shouts and encouragement of those in the aft Bar.

After that it was time to go below and get ready for dinner with a funny photo or two to show the girls.

Making sure that they are noticed
they came along side - up close :)

After dinner I had a chance to take a few more shots and then about midnight I took a photo at very high ISO showing the ship manoeuvring through a tight point in the inside passage.

It was a shame that we didn't have longer daylight to enjoy this part of the journey.

Sunset Inside Passage Vancouver Island

The next day was going to be all at sea and the temperature was going to start to drop, but more on that on the next post.

Midnight first night sailing
a narrow part of the Inside Passage 

 Cruise Itinerary Celebrity Century 7 Night Alaska Hubbard Glacier 
11 SEP

12 SEP

13 SEP
14 SEP
15 SEP
16 SEP
17 SEP


18 SEP