A September 2003 trip
to Alaska by madaunt
Quote: For our fifth cruise to Alaska, we went in mid-September and had many surprises. The weather was sunny and we only needed warm clothes at Sawyer Glacier. And, much as we enjoy excursions and adventures in the ports, we shopped till we dropped. The end-of-season bargains were tremendous!
Although we did not see them on this trip, our onboard naturalist said that moose, grizzly bears, black bears, and sea lions can often be seen right from the deck of the ship. We did spot some mountain goats cropping moss on the rocky cliff faces and we saw several deer flitting through the bush. Eagles we saw aplenty and seals seemed to put on a show just for our cruise. We saw seals on ice floes, in the jade-green sea, on the rocks near shore, everywhere.
The glacial ice is such a startling shade of deep, bright blue. You have to see it to believe it. And the Sawyer Glacier itself is amazing. This immense, ancient ice formation really puts us humans and our many small concerns into perspective. Visiting this magnificent formation was a spiritual experience, similar to what we felt when we went to the Grand Canyon. Sawyer Glacier is huge, colourful, and marvelous.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 6, 2003
Janet, the manager who greeted me when I walked in, is a very savvy fashion advisor. This lady knows colours, styles, fabrics, yarns, weaves, and the exact right thing for everybody and anybody. And the Invisible World is full of the most beautiful garments and accessories, all made of cotton, silk, wool, alpaca, cashmere, pashmina, and every other fine natural fibre on the face of this Earth. I love this store. I revelled in the colours and smooth, cloud-soft fabrics. Invisible World has hand-knits and jacquard weaves, yarn-dyed cottons and silks, all the colours of the rainbow. As I type this article, I am wearing a gorgeous, handknit, zippered woollen jacket made by a talented artist living high in the Andes of Ecuador. I bought this in Invisible World. I bought it for my mother. She is letting me borrow it for inspiration. She may never get it back.
If ever you find yourself in Juneau, explore all the natural beauty of this wondrous state capital but leave yourself plenty of time to go to Invisible World and visit Janet. She will find you the most exquisite sweater, jacket, scarf, hat, gloves, or blouse. Janet knows. And, strange as this sounds, the prices are reasonable to unbelievably low. I’ve bought cashmere in France, Scotland, and Italy, and I have never seen better quality and never paid such low prices as in Invisible World. I have silks from Hong Kong, New York, and Vancouver, and the silk blouse I bought in this small store in Juneau is as well cut, as well sewn (French seams through out), and better priced than anything else in my closet. And remember the handknit, pure wool, yarn-dyed jacket that I am wearing-at-this-very-moment-and-borrowing-from-Mom? It cost $10.
The petroglyphs of Wrangell have marked similarities to petroglyphs found in Korea, Mexico, France, and other far-flung coasts all around the globe. Some of the carvings are intricate, semi-realistic portrayals of fish, animals, and people. Others are hypnotic patterns with no obvious connection to any real objects. I like to sit near these carvings and think that someone all those thousands of years ago saw exactly what I see now. I lay my hand on the rock and touch edges and indentations of the carving. My hand on the rock connects me to the artist, someone existing long ago in a time and a life that I can barely imagine.
To get to Petroglyph Beach from the pier (take note of the sign that forbids swimming from the dock!), just walk straight into town and turn left at the first intersection. Keep heading out along the coast for about a mile and follow the signs down to the famous beach. The walk is scenic and there are picturesque views of the sea, the Alaskan coastal flora and fauna, and the exhibits of local, living artists who sculpt, paint, and carve much as their ancestors did all those thousands of years ago. There is a fine wooden walkway to the beach, good viewing platforms, and clean restrooms. Detailed notice boards tell about the history and significance of the petroglyphs, and there even some near-perfect replicas available for making rubbings. The original, priceless and beautiful petroglyphs are right there on the beach, just as they have been through many, many lifetimes. Please tread carefully. Commune with the past. Take only photographs and leave only your kind thoughts.
To begin with, as a Latitudes member, one has exclusive boarding privileges. When we arrived at Canada Place in Vancouver, even though it was barely past noon, there were already hundreds of passengers lined up to board the Norwegian Wind. We thought that it would take hours to get on the ship. However, as Latitudes members, we had super-express service: it took exactly 17 minutes from the time we exited our taxi to the moment we opened our stateroom door, and that included not one but three boarding photographs! Yes, there is truly VIP service for repeat cruisers with NCL. And there are many more perks for Latitudes members: we got 10% off spa treatments, fancy drinks for only $3.75 every day from 8pm, 10 free minutes in the Internet Café, three free jackpot bingo cards, a beautiful numbered art print (of a painting by Alex Pauker and with a certificate of authenticity), personal consultations with the shopping and ports specialists, and the best members’ cocktail party we have ever attended.
This members-only party is a must-do. The Showband played great dance music for almost the entire party. The band only stopped for brief intervals to let Fiona, our hostess, hand out fabulous door prizes. Fiona gave away bottles of vintage champagne, certificates for spa treatments and photography packages, intricate, crafted models of the ship, and many other desirable gifts. The drinks were great and the servers not only poured generously but, even when we were up dancing, they simply left more of whatever we were drinking on our table. And the canapés were supremely delicious. This is high praise from a woman who was eating twelve times a day. I love caviar and shrimps, and, at the Latitudes cocktail party, we had superb black Russian caviar and huge tasty shrimps. For those who don’t care for seafood, there were exotic cheeses and wonderful patés. And everything was such fun. There were no long speeches, no lengthy presentations, just music, food, drinks, prizes, and lots of laughs. It felt like a real party.
If you like your first cruise with Norwegian, just wait till your second. As a Latitudes member, there is so much more!
Vancouver, British Columbia