Thursday, August 24
Today the ship would be docking in Skagway, Alaska. Months before the cruise, Heather and I had settled on an excursion that would allow us to see Skagway and the surrounding area in an interesting way. More on that in a bit.
We woke up about 9:15 and the ship had already docked. We had breakfast at Cabanas. Our excursion didn't meet until noon, but we headed out about 10:45 to take a walk around the town.
It was breezy, cool, and a little misty, but not raining.
From the ship to the main street, it's about a quarter mile walk. On the way, we saw The Guys (our tablemates) coming back to the ship and we said hello.
Skagway was small, with lots of touristy shops. We took a few side streets and saw some old buildings and learned a bit of history (most of which I've now forgotten.)
Heck yeah, log cabins!
At noon, we headed to the Sockeye Cycle place to begin our excursion.
When trying to decide on excursions prior to the trip, we'd talked quite a lot about our options. I'd read many trip reports that said how great the White Pass & Yukon Railroad was. You can ride it up the mountain in a train, or down, or both. If you only take the train one way, you can take a tour van and stop at different locations going the other way. Or there was a bike option. I thought, What if we did the train up and then biked down? That sounds like fun! Heather was game, so we found a company that offered this exact itinerary. (Weeks after we booked it, I realized they offered the same thing through DCL, though I either missed it then or they added it later.)
A van picked us up at the bike shop and drove us to the train station, where everyone who was doing the cycle tours boarded the same car...
Soon we were chugging away!
Photo by Heather M.
During the journey, we were allowed to go out the doors on either end of our train car and stand on the "balconies". It was a bit cold outside, and sometimes you had to wait (and/or "fight") for a good position, but the fact that you could freely go both inside and outside meant you never just sat there and got bored.
Then again, with all this scenery rushing by, who could be bored?
Photo by Heather M.
Toward the end of the journey, the train passed into Canada, so we had to show our passports. (We later came back into the USA via bikes!)
Once off the train, we got in another van and went a little farther up the mountain. We chose bicycles...
We put on helmets and got ready to ride!
Now, remember how I rode a bike in Vancouver, but said that prior to that, I hadn't ridden one in years, and was totally wobbly at first?
Well, thank goodness I rode the bike that day, because at least by today I was more confident on two wheels. However, the first leg of the downhill journey was a little freaky. We were in a group with a family of 3, so including our guide, Anna, there were six of us. The van driver followed behind us for part of the journey, to make sure we were okay with riding. After those first 5-10 minutes, I was seriously tempted to hop back in the van and say "no more" to the bikes. I admitted this to Anna, who suggested we ride a little farther and see how I felt then. At the next stop, I was feeling a little better, only now I was cold. Luckily, the van had extra gear we could borrow. I put a pair of parachute pants over my jeans, put a knit cap under my helmet, and felt a lot better after that.
We made several stops as a group as we rode. As I mentioned, we biked through U.S. customs. We took a break at Bridal Veil Falls, where we were able to fill our water bottles with glacier-fed water...
We also stopped at this place where there was a big waterfall and a pipe running up (down?) the side of the mountain.
We got to see the train we'd been on earlier, as it made its way back toward town...
We stopped at, uh, Brackett Wagon Road...? (I took these pictures so I wouldn't have to remember.)
And, after that, we rode back into town. I wished we had stopped a few additional times, though, because honestly, sitting on those bike seats for too long can be a serious pain.
Anyway, in the end, it was an experience. The train was great, and I'd recommend it. The bike thing was cool, but not something I'd do again (that route, anyway.) It took so much energy staying on the bike and not going off a cliff or into traffic that I wasn't able to enjoy myself completely. I think we were both glad we did it, but we were also glad when it was over.
We headed back to the ship about 4:30...
Look at those clouds coming in! So glad we didn't get any rain during our excursion!
Right after we came aboard, I saw they were doing the Oaken's Maypole thing in the atrium. I'd missed this on C1 so I decided to stay and watch. Heather went back to the room.
They had kids dancing around the pole (not holding ribbons), and then they started recruiting adults to hold the ribbons. They needed more volunteers, and they waved me over. I was given a purple ribbon.
And then we danced. Oh yes, we danced.
Under, over, under, over... it was slight chaos.
The finished product is a bit sad, but...
We did it.
They had a cocoa station set up in the atrium, so I got a cup. Mmmm, that hot chocolate is good!
We hadn't eaten since breakfast (save for a few snacks I'd brought with me on the train), so Heather ordered room service, and I got a veggie burger from Pete's Boiler Bites on deck 9.
Prior to leaving Skagway, I took some photos from the ship....
Perhaps I forgot to mention it was "Frozen" Day. That's what the maypole was about. There was a Frozen party up on deck 9. I had attended it on C1 so I skipped it this time, but while I was taking pictures of Skagway on deck 4 I saw some streamers and fake snow sailing over the side of the ship. Elsa's doing, methinks.
Here we are pulling away from port....
Icicles in the atrium!
There was a Frozen Menu at dinner...
Tonight we were back in Tiana's.
For my appetizer I got the Jarlsberg Tart ("with onion and thyme")
For my entree I ordered Bulda's Vegetable Lattice ("Celeriac, carrots, spinach, and shallots, baked in puff pastry served with a white wine thyme cream sauce.")
Oy, too much puff pastry! These two dishes were so similar that the entree felt redundant. (The cream sauce was really good, though.) It didn't help matters that we'd (once again) eaten about 5pm.
I didn't have it in me to order dessert tonight, but...
...Heather was nice enough to share hers with me!
"Olaf's White Chocolate Floro Dome" and "Pannekaken - Norwegian Pancake."
After dinner, we had another mouse sighting...
Randomly, here are some princess dresses from the gift shop. "Signature" pieces; $350 apiece. Bargain!
We played a game called Intuition, which was like Scattegories, and a game called Frozen Phrases, which was like Password or Taboo.
The Guys volunteered for Frozen Phrases, and were good at it!
These nightly games were a lot of fun. Azure became like our second home on this cruise.
After the games, there was Krazy Karaoke. I sang BNL's It's All Been Done.
A towel fish and three chocolates awaited us at bedtime....