Because of the difficulty in attempting to post from the iPad and the weak Internet available on the ship, I finally gave up until we returned to Seattle. So this is a synopsis of our stops at Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska and Victoria, B. C., Canada. I also might mention that I have also added photos to the previous three posts, beginning with "At Sea."
Sitka has the distinction of being the location of the signing of the Alaska purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, perhaps eclipsed only by the Louisiana purchase in terms of bargains. The cost? A little over seven million dollars.
|The Westerdam is seen in the bay beyond the sign. Passengers had to be shuttled back and forth via tendering boats.|
|Cathedral of St. Michael|
|Altar Inside St. Michael's|
The scheduled stops at Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria were fairly brief, so we weren't afforded a great deal of time to look around, but we thought Sitka a quaint town and steeped in history.
Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska and dubs itself the Salmon capital of the world. Like all of our Alaskan stops, the weather was terrible for sightseeing:
|Harbor at Ketchikan|
|Totem Pole in the U. S. Forest Service Visitor Center|
Since we have visited Victoria, B. C. before and took in its best attraction, Butchart Gardens, we decided just to walk around downtown and take a few photos at the Empress Hotel, the iconic class destination for travelers:
The luscious landscaping in Victoria seems to be inspired by Butchart Gardens, one of the more beautiful ones we've seen, and certainly worth a visit if you haven't been there.
Back in Seattle, our driver drops us back at Phannie and Mae, who sat quietly and forlornly in the park's storage area until our return. We were as glad to see them as they were to see us:
Some final thoughts on this cruise: While we enjoyed immensely the favorite gospel groups who performed throughout the voyage, we confirmed for ourselves that our traveling style may be somewhat too impulsive for cruising. We were a bit put off by the regimentation--dining at specific times, being assigned to specific tables, being issued specific times to go onshore and to return to the ship, etc. We also couldn't help but feel at little confined by not being able to just stop somewhere on a whim to check out something interesting we happened to see. On the other hand, we're probably among the least desirable customers for cruise lines, who undoubtedly would prefer those who spend time in the bars and casinos.
As far as the Alaska portion goes, we were very gratified to be able to see three Alaskan cities we had always heard about, but we got to see very little of the topography due to the awful weather at every stop. This had the effect of giving us a frustratingly tiny look at this vast and beautiful land. So the next time we go--and we will--it will not be via a cruise ship. On the other hand, It was because of the cruise ship that we were able to see the glacier and the calving of an iceberg up close--something we never dreamed we would see. And then we were able to see a number of whales--again, a first for us.
So, do we consider it a success and worth the money? Of course. But perhaps the most satisfying part was our needing to don jackets for all of our time in Alaska while our friends in Texas were baking in 100-degree heat. I hope they are still our friends when we get back.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough every day.