Hubby and I went on the Hillsdale College 10-day cruise to Alaska, aboard the Crystal Serenity. We spent about three years’ worth of travel budget, but we sure got our money’s worth, and more. Hillsdale does a big cruise every summer, and this was our first time. There were “Seminars at Sea”, with noted speakers, including Michael Walsh, screenwriter and author; Victor Davis Hanson, Classicist and thinker; David Goldman, journalist, and John Steele Gordon, historian. There were shore excursions at every stop (I didn’t do any, and hubby did one, walking on a glacier). We mostly did our own exploring, traipsing through Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Ketchikan.
The luxury ship was everything we expected. Lavish breakfast buffet with every kind of food you could possibly want, lunch in the Grill, or The Bistro, and dinners in the ritzy Crystal Dining Room. There were two specialty restaurants, one Asian and one Italian, and we had delightful dinners at both. There was a full movie theater playing first-run movies, and we took the opportunity to see Jungle Book, which was fun and well-done. I had a pedicure in the Spa, and had a nice conversation with the technician, a beautiful young lady from North Yorkshire.
My favorite part of cruising is relaxing on deck and watching the water go by, and I had ample opportunity to sit out on our private verandah on the starboard side of the ship, with my camera and binoculars at the ready. As usual, I was a picture-taking fool, see below.
On the final day, the last stop was Nanaimo, British Columbia, and we were met by a Ricochet member who is now our friend. He took us on a nice stroll by the waterfront, we had a very good pizza lunch, then went back to his home for more good conversation on his patio.
Here is a selection of the photos I took.
This is Vancouver harbor, with the cruise ship terminal.
Here’s an example of a working waterfront. It’s almost like a ballet, the way the tugboat maneuvers the barge.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, I basically stood on deck with my camera until the sun went down. Sunset over the Inside Passage.
The next day was spent entirely at sea, and we had lectures most of the day. I tried to get outside as much as I could. I took lots of pictures of the ship itself, which I found gorgeous. I did a double-take when I saw this tiny detail that most people probably would miss. Crystal Cruises logo is two seahorses. Here’s an interesting place for it.
Yes, that’s the sandbox used for people to stub out their cigarettes! This is the pool. Notice that it’s empty-there was only one pool, and it didn’t get much use.
This is what I gazed upon from the Promenade Deck (the only level with an outside walkway all the way around the vessel.
Inside, these ladies were playing beautiful string quartet music, in the Crystal Cove. They are the Astoria Quartet, and they are all from Russia. Also note the piano, and the chairs the ladies are sitting on-Crystal!
Juneau was the first port of call, and I took pictures of the channel approaching town, the town itself, and some of the other ships and boats in port.
That’s a little river, cascading down the hillside-you can see how its path traces from the top to the bottom of the hill. Too bad it was very misty that day.
This is the cruise ship Disney Wonder. See the logo on the stacks? It’s huge!
Here are some shots of the town, and some other vessels we saw. Also, our National Bird, doing what big birds do.
The next day was a stop at Hoonah, and the weather was terrible, and the town was not too interesting, at least to me. So I did what came naturally-took pictures from our balcony.
The following day was the one we had all eagerly anticipated-the trip to the Hubbard Glacier. That’s what is in the new header, and here are a bunch of closeups of the glacier, the ice-flecked channel, and the mountainsides with many “mini-glaciers”.
I thought the glaciers behind the main channel looked like big waterslides.
After a morning of glacier-viewing, we retreated to the nice, warm Palm Court Lounge, where lunch was served.
Next stop, the town of Skagway. The weather cooperated, and we had a nice stroll through the gold-rush town, with all its tourist-trap stores. But it was fun anyway. Herewith, pictures of the town and the channel where the cruise ships dock, and the wind blew very hard, late in the afternoon.
Next port of call was Sitka, a place we’d never been to. All I knew was that there is a summer chamber music festival that has gone on for 30 years, run by string-players Paul and Linda Rosenthal. It’s a pretty remote place for chamber music! Just after being dropped downtown-5 miles from the cruise ship dock, we found the Lutheran Church. They have a small pipe organ, built in Estonia in 1844. Hubby got to play it, and he was thrilled!
Here are shots of the famous (three-times-rebuilt) St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, and an interesting artifact that I couldn’t pass up.
Now, the harbor, and the working marina.
The next stop was Ketchikan, where we’d been before. We remembered from that trip that Ketchikan has a Starbucks, and no other stop had. So we walked for nearly a mile, and found it! Ahhh, the taste of your first Frappuccino in a week! Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, so we didn’t spend too much time. Here is what I saw.
The following day was again at sea, back south through the Inside Passage around Vancouver Island. I spent a lot of that afternoon hanging off our balcony, taking pictures of the beautiful islands, sea, and sky.
This next shot is an intersection of two channels. You can see the roiling waters, and the still picture can’t really convey the sense of the movement. I got out the video camera, and got video, to be posted on my YouTube site.
Thursday night we were honored to have dinner with our speaker, Michael Walsh. He had lots of interesting Hollywood stories to tell, and we enjoyed the dinner very much.
We knew that the cruise was about to come to and end. The next day was our last port call, Nanaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. It was a gorgeous day, and when we went out on our balcony, we found at the next dock, a ship being loaded with logs bound for China.
We spent the afternoon with our new Ricochet friend, Pete. We went to a farmer’s market and to the marina for a stroll.
You can see the two cannons on either side of that piper. They were fired at noon, to great effect.
Here we are with our new friend. And here we are just before getting back on the ship for the last night’s festivities.
Friday night was the Hillsdale Farewell Reception. Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale gave a speech, and everyone mingled and drank champagne. It had been an extraordinary trip, and we hope to be able to do it again in the future.
And, here we are with Dr. Arnn. He is just wonderful, and we are blessed to know him.
All in all, a most successful cruise.