Statendam
Alaska 7 Day Gulf of Alaska Southbound
May 27 2007 - June 3 2007
by Philatsea


In Haines Alaska

 

Sunday May 27 Seward (Anchorage) Alaska 8:00 pm
Monday May 28 College Fjord Cruising 6:00 am 9:00 am
Tuesday May 29 Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising 10:00 am 7:00 pm
Wednesday May 30 Haines, Alaska 6:30 am 9:00 pm
Thursday May 31 Juneau, Alaska 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Friday June 1 Ketchikan, Alaska 2:00 pm 8:00 pm
Saturday June 2 At Sea inside passage    
Sunday June 3 Vancouver,B.C. 7:00 am

 

This cruise was only booked about 3 weeks from departure and had its initial problems. While on the phone with my travel agent and booking the cruise we had been given a cabin number and pricing and were just as the booking was completed the agent hit enter and a message from Holland America reservations came up saying cruise unavailable. My travel agent Darrin was somewhat confused as to how a cruise can suddenly sell out when one has already been given pricing and cabin assignment. A further check in fact showed the cruise sold out.

That night about 10:30 PM, I checked online to find that the cruise was once again available and the cabin I earlier tried to book was now in fact available again. I emailed my agent for him to check with Holland America in the morning. When Darrin did this the cruise showed sold out again.

Once again, that night just after 10:30 I checked again to find the cruise available and the same cabin available.

While I was online, I watched my cabin disappear from the booking engine. Little did I know the reason for this was Darrin was also online looking, saw it, and put a hold on the cabin.

This was great news. The cruise was on!!

This would be my third trip to Alaska and my first cruise to Alaska with Holland America. While I have cruised Holland since 1983 this would be a first with them.

I have long promised my daughters Amy (15) and Heather (13) a cruise and I received an email about 3 weeks before this cruise that had a price of $399 per person and three and fourth free (just pay port taxes). I did a quick check and found air one-way for a great price as well.

Amy would have her 16th birthday on the cruise while Heather’s 14th birthday would be a few weeks after the cruise.

I decided to fly up a day early and we arrived in Anchorage on Saturday and stayed the night in the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage.

This was the second time I have stayed at the Westmark and thus knew what I could expect.

I booked an online rate direct with the Westmark of $109 per night while all other booking engines such as Expedia and Travelocity showed a rate of $189 a night. I have run into this many times where one can book an internet rate direct with the hotel for a lot less money.

We spent the day walking around Anchorage.

That night we had dinner in the Solstice restaurant in the hotel and I must say the service was very slow. I would suggest the Brewhouse across the street as I had eaten there on my prior visit.

Sunday

I had booked the Alaska railroad transfer to Seward as I had done Alaska railroad to Whittier 2 years ago. The cruise line at that time worked with Alaska railroad to arrange the transfer of our luggage from train to the ship. This was not to be the case this time we soon found out.

We took a taxi from the Westmark to the train station for about $5.00.

The train left the Anchorage train station at 6:45 AM while the Holland America train left at 1:30 PM and was almost twice the cost.

Turnagain ArmThe train passed along Turnagain Arm as we headed south. The train offered two dome cars where we could spend time up there viewing the wildlife and scenery.

In addition, a full dinning car offered breakfast. This was done one car at a time going to the dinning car. There was also the Tiki car that offered light snacks and coffee.

On the trip, south we were available to view a few glaciers as well as dull sheep with young and bears.

During the trip while in the dome car I noticed two people standing beside the tracks that suddenly bent over. Well I had a good idea what was just about to happen and told Heather and others heard and did not believe me. Well a sudden move to the side of train that this would happen on proved that in fact we had two full moons.

I cannot recommend this trip enough as Alaska Railroad does a very good trip with guides on board and the service they offer.

The earlier departure would allow us to board the ship just after 11:30 AM and thus have almost a full day on the ship.

Statendam in SewardUpon arrival in Seward, it was up to us to find a way to the ship, either walking the one mile or taking a taxi to the ship. There was one of two ways to do this either walk or take a taxi. While the walk is not a bad walk as long as you are not hauling seven, pieces of luggage and a kid who injured her leg in her last baseball game.

I went and talked to one of the taxi drivers on getting to the ship and he directed me to the next taxi in line. I knew they would not be happy with a short trip and this was the case.

Upon arrival at the dock, we dropped our luggage inside the terminal being one of the first to do so. The sad part of this did not translate into first on first to get their luggage to their room. The last piece of luggage arrived just before 10:00 PM.

This boarding was very different from past cruises. First the amount of paper Holland America wanted for what was suppose to be almost paperless tickets was really to much. I had pre-registered online for all three of us and I was required to print three pages for each of us. Had I just filled out the forms that arrived in the package we would have filled out four forms for the three of us.

Then there was the onboard registration I had to do on day 2 of the cruise as all our immigration data had been “lost”.

The question I have for HAL is what happened to all of it including the stuff I had online? Just how safe is my personnel information?

Once on board we would not be allowed into our cabins until after 1:30 PM.

This was no problem to me. It would allow us to eat and just relax.

Now this is where things got weird. Once on board we soon heard announcements for people still getting off the ship from the prior cruise. I have never been onboard where they are still doing disembarkation from the prior cruise.

I soon found out that they had been on morning tours and were allowed to return to the ship for their stuff and to have lunch prior to boarding buses for Anchorage. I also learned that the first buses from Anchorage were the buses that would be taking these people back to Anchorage.

Several things happened the first day that were not in the program. First, we were handed a card saying that our dinner seating for that night would be first open seating and we would revert to out normal seating the 2nd night.

Lifeboat drill was changed from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM due to many passengers being late.

The ship did not depart until about 10:00 PM.

The next thing we noticed just prior to dinner was out room had been turned down but the third berth had not been done. We had though maybe this was due to luggage not arriving at first.

I had to go down to the front office at about 9:30 PM to get our third berth made up as well as more towels for the girls.

As of mid morning on the 3rd day I have as of yet to see my cabin steward.

We attended the show tonight called “Let Us Entertain You” and it was more of a variety show of what was going to come.

Monday

College FjordThis morning we arrived at College Fjord just after 6:00 AM to view the many glaciers named after Ivy League Colleges in the USA.

We never made it up on deck until just after 6:45 as we slept in a bit longer than planned. We were already at the far end of College Fjord just about to turn around and head back out.

We were able to view many seals as we left College Fjord.

The rest of the day, we spent at sea in the North Pacific Ocean headed for Glacier Bay.

 

During the 1:00 PM report from the bridge by Captain Consen, we were warned of a low-pressure area we would be skirting and thus giving us some heavy seas later that day and in the evening.

The Captain was not wrong on this one.

As we prepared to let off the Alaska Pilot something happened that I had not see before. It appears that the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage didn't send the truck down to Seward with the luggage from people staying there for the Ducks Unlimited Convention that was held that week. There were many without their luggage. 
    As the Pilot Boat pulled up beside the Statendam one looked down and what did we see, the luggage from the Hilton.
    When we arrived in Juneau there was even more luggage. 

 

 

Tonight was the Captain’s welcome aboard party and first Formal night.

One who does not want to attend the Formal Night dinner can attend casual dinning in the Lido restaurant from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

Tonight’s show was “The Hits of Broadway, The designs of Mackie” 8:15 PM and 10:15 PM

 

Tuesday

 

This morning the ship and do mean the entire ship was woken at about 5:05 AM to six short blasts of the ships whistle and interior alarm bells. I can tell you there is no way one can sleep through this, so do not worry that you may miss it.

My kids have been known to sleep through just about anything, this time they were out of bed and at my bedside so fast trying to figure out what was going on.

I noticed that there was no long blast at the end so it must be an alarm for some other emergency.
I told my kids to get dressed in warm clothes and wait for either further alarms or announcements.

A quick check of the hallway did not show much but there were reports later in the morning of people donning lifejackets in their underwear and mustering at their lifeboat station.

The Captain came on the PA about 7 minutes after the alarm was sounded and said all was ok. The alarm was the general fire alarm and it had been sounded because there was smoke detected in the incinerator room and all fire crews had to be put on standby.

Captain Consen concluded his announcement with you could now return to your normal activity. Now I must ask what most people are doing at 5:05 AM when this alarm went off.

Glacier BayToday we arrived at Glacier Bay with overcast sky’s and light rain. The snow level was right down to the water. It was colder than I had experienced in the past. Toques and gloves would have been nice today.

Just prior to entering Glacier Bay national Park there were several sightings of whales, seals, and otters.

As we proceeded into Glacier Bay, there were sightings of sheep and more whales.

The rain let up as we approached Lampugh Glacier. Lampugh provided us with a nice close-up of the glacier and her dark blue colour she puts out. We saw no caving from Lampugh.

After Lampugh, we headed to John Hopkins inlet where we viewed John Hopkins from a distance. We could not sail close into John Hopkins glacier, as there was too much ice as well as the seals were giving birth on the ice.

After John Hopkins we sailed south again to rejoin the main part of Glacier Bay where we turned north again towards Grand Pacific and Marjorie Glacier.

Noordam
Noordam in front of Marjorie Glacier

We arrived at Grand Pacific Glacier as Holland America’s ship Noordam was stopped in front of Marjorie Glacier. The size of the Noordam near the glacier gave one a good idea of the sheer size of the face of Marjorie.

Once the Noordam moved away, the Statendam moved into her position slowly. This offered a good view of seals on the ice with their young.

Once in position in front of Marjorie Glacier several large pieces caved off the glacier.

There was supposed to be a BBQ of salmon over wood by the lido pool. The BBQ was just getting going when the Rangers walked by and put a halt to it. It appears the smoke that the BBQ was emitting is not allowed in Glacier Bay and thus the BBQ had to be put out.

This resulted in the Salmon now being grilled instead. While the salmon was good it was not the same as if it had been grilled over a wood fire.

As we left Glacier Bay and the Park Rangers departed, we had several great viewings of whales and seals. We saw several breaches of whales.

This continued well into the evening and during dinner.

Today is Amy’s Birthday and we attended dinner. My kids have always found me to kid them about things in their lives such as how the dinning room waiters and assistant waiters would sing Happy Birthday to them. They did not believe me that this would happen in such a “fancy” place as they put it or at least to the extent it did happen.

After dessert was ordered, our waiters disappeared and I could see them arranging the other waiters to attend our table. It was soon that our waiter placed a cake with alit candle in front of Amy, I said hmm, and you were worried about singing. I pointed out to her that there was a large crowd of waiters around her and she tuned around to see this.

Happy Birthday was not only sung by the waiters but by the tables around us as well.

Happy 16th Birthday Amy!

The show time was Paul Pappas at 8:15 and 10:15 PM.

Tonight we attended the Filipino crew show. The crew shows on Holland America always provide a good look at culture and dance from both the Indonesian and Filipino crew on board. Tonight was no different.

There was a time where females were not on Holland America ships except for front office. The male staff played the parts of the female dancers. This is no longer the case.

Well worth to stay up until the 11:15PM show time and attend.

Just note that the Indonesian show is on the northbound leg of the Statendam and the Filipino show is on the southbound leg.

Wednesday

Today we arrived at Haines Alaska under over cast skies with a moderate wind from the south. The ship docked and most headed out on ferries to Skagway for tours on the White Pass railway. Since I have been to Skagway before I did not see the need to visit Skagway once more.

This morning I was sitting on the starboard side of the Lido restaurant having breakfast. As I finished breakfast and was drinking my tea I noticed the MV Fairweather Express ferry depart for Skagway. The amount of smoke this ferry was leaving behind was incredible. It got to the point where seeing the ferry was very hard as it proceeded up Lynn Canal.

Shortly after her departure, I noticed a sheen of oil on the water below the Statendam. I left the Lido and headed down to the Promenade deck to take a further look. When I got closer to the water, I could see the slick was rather large.

I could not get as close to the area of the slick as I wanted as the crew were doing lifeboat maintenance.

The Chief Officer and the Environmental Officer soon arrived and began to look at the slick on the water. The Chief Officer began to ask questions to the crew why they had not called the bridge about the spill. As I watched it appeared that, they were concerned that the Statendam had had the oil spill either from one of the lifeboats or other means.

As the Chief Officer came back towards me and I called over towards him to let him know what I had seen from the Lido. He was very happy to get this information. He asked me to hang on and as he wanted me to talk to the Environmental Officer.

I was asked if I was willing to provide my name as the US Coast Guard would be notified. I provided my name.

As the day went on it became clear with the calls back and forth this was taking on a life of its own.

Captain Consen had expressed to the safety Officer that he did not want me giving a statement while I was on the ship as I was on holidays and my holiday should not be interrupted as a result.

As I had been a Safety rep in my prior jobs, I knew how important statements were right after an incident. I took to writing my statement out and waited to see when it would be needed.

After dinner, I went back to my cabin to find a letter from the Environmental asking if I could attend a meeting at 0800 as we docked in Juneau with the US Coast Guard, I agreed to this request.

One has to understand that Alaska has some of the stiffest pollution regulations there is. Cruise ships have been found guilt in the past of dumping oil and it appeared that the Statendam would be accused of dumping this oil into Haines harbour if I did not come forward.

I also felt that if smaller US registered vessels (for that matter any registered) dumped they should be fined as well.

Now back to Haines itself.

Haines, AlaskaHaines is a small town of about 2000 people with the ship docking across the street from old Fort Steward. The old buildings are being used as art shops etc.

The main part of town is about one half mile to the north. There is not really much here except shore excursions you can book either on the ship or when you get off.

If you enjoy Indian art then visit the many shops in in old Fort Seward.

I would say many on the Statendam elected to take ferries to Skagway to travel on the White Pass railway.

There was a walking tour of the town one could pay for but I wasn’t sure what it offered as maps were provided on ship about the town and what was in the town

I heard many stories of people who talked to local residents of how friendly town people were and how very proud they were to talk about their town.

In the late afternoon, a strong breeze came up from the south that was very cold. I ventured ashore and did not last long ashore as the wind was just to biting cold.

Tonight was Dutch night at dinner with Dutch hats for the Ladies and the Men.

We departed Haines at 9:00 PM bound for Juneau.

The show tonight was “Dancin’ Fool” by the shipboard dancers.

Thursday

Today brought my meeting with the Coast Guard that lasted about 1 hour. All went well.

Today was a high over cast layer of cloud.

I had planned to take the girls to Mendenhall Glacier but they asked during breakfast if we could just walk around town and shop as they has already seen many glacier’s on this trip and didn’t see the need to see another one.

I did check when I was ashore on MGT transport as I had used them in the past. The rate is $12 per person return with buses leaving every 30 minutes from the tram parking lot. They have replaced their old Thomas School buses with older GM highway buses. The seats are now much better.

The bus drops one off across the street from the visitors centre at Mendenhall but one needs to go inside and purchase a $3.00 visitors pass to walk down to the glacier or visit any of the displays.

While ashore, we went shopping near the cruise ship terminal.

I have always been one to avoid ship’s tours and look for what is available privately before the cruise. You can almost find the exact same tour for half the price. I have even found fellow cruise passengers on the same shore excursion that they purchased through the ship’s shore excursion office for twice the price. I must warn you though by talking tours on your own it is up to you to make sure you are on the ship at the appointed time. The ship will wait for passengers who are on their shore excursions but they will not wait for those who are not.

In many ports in Alaska, the ships are in port much longer than other ports such as the Caribbean or Mexico thus making it much easier to do this. Taking a tour early in the day allows you plenty of times to make sure you are back in time.

Just remember that ship’s tours are given priority for passengers departing unless you are in a suite. Plan your tour accordingly.

Tonight’s show was Comedian and Ventriloquist Phil Hughes.

Tonight also had the Dessert Extravaganza at 10:30 - 12:00 Midnight Lido pool side

Friday


transiting the narrows towards Ketchikan

This morning I got up early at 0645 to be on deck as we transited the narrows and sailed between different islands in route to Ketchikan.

We were rewarded with whale sightings as well as countless sightings of Dahl Porpoise’s.

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to stand on the forward open deck in short sleeves, as the weather was clear and warm.

I stayed on deck for almost the whole morning except for a brief stop for breakfast.

I can say that any ship that offers viewing from the bow is necessary for cruises such as Alaska and Panama Canal. It allows easy and quick access to either side of the ship.

As we approached Ketchikan itself, we could see the Empress of the North in dry dock that had run aground a few weeks ago in Alaska. While many say this is a paddle wheeler one could clearly see, two pod engines on the bottom side of the ship. 

 

 

 

 

As we approached the harbour, The Carnival Spirit was anchored and tendering
while Norwegian Pearl was docked as well as Noordam. Noordam was just leaving and we would take her place at the dock.

Norwegian Pearl left shortly after we arrived leaving just the Spirit and the Statendam thus making a very different feel for Ketchikan. I have always been in port with four ships in the past thus making it wall-to-wall people.

While waiting for the first people to get off the ship the girls and I sat in the Crow’s nest and watched five bald eagles and two immature eagles sit on logs in the harbour near the ship with one eating freshly caught salmon.

For many this was a fantastic sight to see this happen in nature.

When we went ashore, we were able to visit Creek Street with only a handful of people thus making it so different from prior visits. Walking through the many stores would allow us to almost have the store to ourselves.

I have often read that the experience can be so different with fewer people in town and I must agree with this.

Tonight was the second Formal Night.

Upon arrival at our table tonight, Heather found a Birthday Card in her place setting from Captain Consen wishing her a Happy Birthday.

I must say this did not go over well with Amy because Amy did not get a card from Captain Consen as Heather did. Amy was more annoyed that it was her birthday while on the cruise and Heather’s was not until 2 weeks after the cruise.

Yes, once again, the waiters were rounded up and Happy Birthday was sung to Heather.

Happy Birthday Heather!

The show was “They write the Songs” by the ship’s cast.

Saturday

We were entering the inside passage from northern Vancouver Island to Vancouver mid morning today.

The weather today was perfect. Clear sky has and temps in the low 20’s C. This allowed for some fantastic viewing from the bow of the Statendam.

I spent almost all afternoon looking for different wildlife as well as one of the many killer whale pods that reside in Johnstone Straight.

As we were about to pass Kelsey Bay Captain Consen came on the public address to say how there was a passenger on board who lived in this very small town who saluted Holland America ships passing by with a glass of wine during the Alaska season. She had asked Captain Consen if he could blow the ships horn and thus the announcement to warn us on deck.

Captain Consen made three long blasts of the ships horn as we passed by.

One could see many people lined on the shore as we passed by. I suspect that she had a bet with many locals from Kelsey Bay that this would happen, and it did.

We were able to see many seals and a few sea lions as we headed south. It took until just after 6:00 PM before while in this part of the straight I was watching the horizon with my binoculars that I spotted a small pod of four killer whales. I pointed them out to the many others that had waited all day with me as well. The many others came over to the port side to view as well.

It was about a minute later that the Captain made an announcement to the ship saying a pod of four killer whales had been spotted. On the port side at 11 o’clock.

About 7:30 PM we entered Seymour Narrows which is the most narrow part of the inside passage. The transit of this narrows can only be made at almost slack tide.

The waters run at about 13-14 knots during other times making it impossible for cruise ships to navigate these waters safely.

At about 8:15 we passed Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

Later that night we were between Comox and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island when we out on deck and Norwegian Sun were very close off our starboard side.

Tonight’s dinner was the Master Chef’s Dinner. Dinner times were changed so all could watch the dinner show. Times were 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM.

One wears a Chef’s Hat during dinner, which also has the evening’s menu attached to it.

I had never experienced this before on Holland America and I must say I did enjoy it.

Tonight also, brought packing day and we had to have our luggage outside our door by midnight.

 

Sunday

I was up early to watch our passing under Lions Gate Bridge. The Guinness Family (think beer) to transport people to their property they were developing in West Vancouver built the Bridge. The Property was known as the British Pacific Properties.

The Lions Gate Bridge itself was named after the Lions Mountain’s that it points towards on the north shore.

I grew up here in my teenage years and I can tell you their were more Mercedes Benz and BMW cars at school than dealerships.

Today we had breakfast in the lido. The difference was the lines were long as this was the last meal on board as well as all people on the ship were up joining us for a change.

There is an early disembarkation for those that want to carry their entire luggage off the ship. Today it was at 7:30 AM.

We had requested that we be off the ship for 9:00AM and we were off just after 8:30 AM.

 

Conclusion

I normally do not write a conclusion but this time there are some things I felt I needed to add.

Amy and Heather attended the “Loft” the first night of the cruise. This is the place for 12-17 year olds. It is suppose to be available to them all day and into the evening. It is also supposed to be a “safe” place where only people their own age attended.

This was not the case however. Amy and Heather went up there one evening ad found young adults in their mid 20’s drinking, swearing and playing the video games. They left as soon as they saw this and tried to report it but the counsellor on duty was nowhere to be found. I learned this was common to happen.

In light on news reports of security on cruise ships this is not a good way to have things and just turn the cheek the other way and pretends it is not happening. This area was designed to be a safe place for 12-17 years olds and it just plain and simple was not.

I truly hope Holland America gets on the right track with online check-in. While they tell a good story on what they are doing for the environment, they sure do not practice it very well.

Every night we got endless flyers from the different shops and spa on board advertising their wares to us on glossy paper most of the time.

This combined with the nine pages of paper needed for check-in is a total waste of paper.

My last cruise on Celebrity was a slip of paper with a bar code on it and that was it.

I must also say that Holland America no longer offers Dry Cleaning on board their ships. Instead, they offer a new method of wet dry cleaning. This is because the disposal of the chemicals from dry cleaning could not safely be done in some ports they visited around the world.

Now for some times for meals:

Breakfast - Lido:
Continental 6:00 - 11:00 AM
Full 6:30 - 10:30 AM

Breakfast Rotterdam Dinning Room 
8:00 - 9:30AM

Lunch - Lido
Entrees 11:30 - 2:00 PM
Sandwiches 11:30 - 5:00 PM

Terrace Grill by the Lido Pool:
11:30AM - 5:00PM

Casual Dinner in Lido Restaurant:
5:30 - 7:30 or 8:00PM depending on the day

Rotterdam Dinning Room:

Early Seating Upper 5:30 PM
Early Seating Lower 6:00 PM
Late Seating Upper 7:45PM
Late Seating Lower 8:15PM

Show times were:
8:15PM for early seating
10:15PM for late seating

 

Photos

The Alaska Cam on 4th in Anchorage 

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The trip south on the train

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Cabin 658

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College Fjord

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Towel Animals

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Towel Animal Demo

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Glacier Bay

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Lampugh-Glacier

John Hopkins Glacier

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Pilot boat approaching Noordam after exit from Glacier Bay

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Seward

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Juneau

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Ketchikan

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opens up into another window as a wide shot

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When is a paddle wheeler not a paddle wheeler? When it has pods.

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More Ketchikan

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Bald Eagles Eating

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Earthcam in Ketchikan

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View from Earthcam

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Creek Street

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Baked Alaska

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Inside Passage

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Rip tides and whirl pools

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Pod of 4 Killer Whales (Orca's)

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Seymour Narrows

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Master Chef's Dinner

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The Final Sunset of the cruise

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Entering Vancouver and passing Stanley Park
note the damage from last falls damage still evident

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Large Vancouver shot