Tag Archives: Cruise

All at sea

Friday 12 August 2022 – Our first day at sea has largely been an opportunity to draw breath after four days of scampering about, but we have managed to pack in a bit of Playing Tourist as well. The Tourist Thing is to view the Hubbard Glacier, one of the few glaciers in the world that are actually advancing – most are receding in the face of climate change. As I said in my earlier post, the outlook for a decent outlook wasn’t bright and the ship’s foghorn was sounding regularly.

However, there wasn’t a great deal we could do about the weather, so we turned our attention to Catching Up With Stuff in the hope that it would clear before we got to the glacier. The blog, for example, needed attention; yesterday was as yet undocumented and That Would Never Do.  Another task was a bit of laundry, because these things are important, you know. So the morning passed in contented admin, until the captain announced that we were nearing the glacier, at least as far as his navigational instruments could tell – I’m sure he couldn’t actually see the thing.  Francis (our butler) had recommended that we go to the observation deck café, so we hied ourselves thither in haste, with me clutching the recently-purchased extra-long telephoto lens as well as the camera to plug it into.

After a while, the fog began to lift.

and you could begin to make out the glacier from the clouds.


The clouds lifted further

and the glacier became clearer.

Eventually, glory be!, the sun came out and we had a clear view of the glacier.

The cruise has a couple of onboard experts on various things, including, fortunately, glaciers, and so we had a lecture over the PA system.  I expect it was highly informative, but frankly I was too busy taking photos to ay much attention. Also, since it was clear that the boat was inching closer to the glacier, we thought it might be a good idea to get some lunch. So we headed to La Terrazza, where a buffet lunch was on offer and seating on the deck seemed a good idea.

After a swift lunch, I headed back to the top deck, where it was clear that we’d got a lot closer to the glacier

(to give you some idea of the size of the glacier, we were some seven miles distant!)
and the deck was a popular place to be, now that the sun was out

not that everyone was dedicated to marvelling at the wonders of nature, mind.

The surrounding scenery also had a lot to recommend it.

After a while, the ship started very slowly to turn, and we realised that the view from our cabin was going to be pretty nice.  So we went down and I started processing photos whilst Jane took one last look at the glacier from our veranda.

Before long, the ship was under way to distance itself from Disenchantment Bay, and the weather closed in once again, underlining how lucky we’d been to have such a clear view of the glacier.

Mind you, it cleared again later, as we got further away from Disenchantment Bay.

Despite the excitement around seeing the Hubbard Glacier, today has been a fairly quiet affair, getting used to the idea of cruising; an opportunity to gather strength and gird our loins for the morrow. Maybe.

We arrive in Juneau, actually the capital of Alaska, at 0930ish tomorrow. In theory we’re going to walk up a mountain and then go whale watching.  However, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the weather had some influence over what we actually do. The forecast is for a reasonably cool day with some showers, but who knows?  If you’d like to see how we got on, then please check in on the next entry here.

All a-bored!

Friday 12 August 2022 – We’re now aboard Silver Muse and underway. This is the view from our cabin’s balcony right now (it has been like that ever since we left Seward); appropriately we are in Disenchantment Bay.  (It improves – keep reading.)

We’re not missing anything right now, therefore this  is a fantastic opportunity to bring you up to date with how everything went yesterday.

This being a holiday, we were up earlier than would normally be the case at home. OK, the jetlag helped. Thing is, we needed to hand our luggage over to the nice Silversea people, conveniently located at a desk in the hotel lobby, between 8am and 9am, which means 8am ‘coz we always want to give ourselves maximum contingency for cock-ups. As well as handing over the suitcases, we had to prove that we were free of the Dreaded Lurgy and that we had ‘fessed up to the Canadian authorities about our imminent arrival in a week’s time. Jane, as always, had done a mistressful job of marshalling the necessary paperwork, which left the Silversea folks almost as impressed as I was.

It was our lot to travel by rail down to Seward, where the boat would leave. We actually had no particular idea about whether this was better or worse as an option than traveling by coach, but, whatever, we had to be ready to be picked up at 1215.  This gave me the opportunity to finish writing about our day in Anchorage on Wednesday, which had been sufficiently eventful that it took two days to write it up.

The rail trip to Seward starts, somewhat counterintuitively, from the airport. There are no scheduled trains from Anchorage to Seward, so this was a Silversea Special and it departed from the rail depot at the airport (presumably needed because of the massive logistical significance of Anchorage as a hub). A coach took us to the airport, where we joined a queue to prove, once again, that we had the paperwork, then another queue to get a boarding pass for the train and our cabin keys. There was a holding pen whilst we waited to board the train

and then we were called by carriage number.  They called carriage 555 first, and we were carriage 554, so held ourselves in readiness to sprint forward. Then they called….carriage 553. No matter, they hadn’t forgotten us and we were next to take the walk down the platform.

The carriage had big observation windows

and for the journey we had the pleasure of the company of the two ladies bottom right, Rebecca and her mother Margaret. Notice that there’s nowhere to put bags, so my super-heavyweight backpack had to be stashed somewhere else.

The carriage was run by a chap called Christian, who did the best he could to gee everyone up with tales of possible sightings of moose and eagles and bears and that, but his news that the train trip was going to take four and a half “ish” hours came as a bit of a surprise. The weather conditions also quite literally dampened expectations of fabulous and interesting views.

Christian started serving people from the far end of the carriage and it became clear that it would take him some time to work his way up to our end.  Happily, we discovered that we were next to the buffet car, which was rather like any British Rail buffet car except the lady serving behind the counter knew how to mix cocktails.  We satisfied ourselves with a hat trick of G&Ts before we were able to get a salad via Christian’s service, and that nicely lubricated the conversation with Rebecca and Margaret as we ground our way slowly along.

The most interesting challenge, photographically, was seeking a gap among the trees in order to get a photo.  The train might have been moving slowly, but the gaps between the trees seemed to flash right by.  I managed one glacier

and one lake

and that was about it (no moose or eagles or bears), which meant that by the time we got to Seward we were beginning to feel rather bored with the whole process. I don’t know whether the coach option might have been swifter, but we were all glad to get to Seward, where the weather conditions (as forecast)

weren’t all that conducive to any further beautiful photography.  Scurrying from the train to the boat was actually a higher priority

and, naïve soul that I am, I was surprised at the size of the ship.

The boarding process was very smooth and it was soon clear that we were going to be very well looked after during our cruise.  Every cabin has a butler; ours is called Francis and he came and introduced himself and talked us through some of the information we’d need throughout our cruise.  We also found the launderette, which is a nice thing to have the use of. These things are important, you know.

The rest of the day was taken up with the inevitable and important safety briefing and dinner, which we took in a restaurant called Atlantide.

Great food, nice surroundings and efficient and courteous service. After dinner, we thought it would be good to stretch our legs, so we walked around the ship to orientate ourselves.  It’s a big ship in our experience, but quite small in the general cruising context – a maximum of 596 guests if full. Relatively small as it is, it’s still an 11-story building  so there was a lot to take in.

We learned from one steward (Simon, German) that there are 437 guests on this cruise and somewhere around 360 crew, so the service level is near one-to-one; also that even if the numbers had been higher post-pandemic, the ship would not have been full, as they have to reserve some cabins for quarantine purposes. The pandemic’s consequences continue to affect the hospitality industry, even after all this time.

The strains of the day began to tell, and even the prospect of further free booze wasn’t enough to keep us going, so we called it a day at this point and got our heads down in order to prepare for a day at sea containing the prospect of seeing the Hubbard Glacier at reasonably close range from the ship. We therefore hoped for decent weather, not something that we’d seen thus far.  However…..

….the skies have cleared, making today’s activity a bit more promising.  I’ll write about that in the next post, so do come back and find out more, won’t you?


Day 11 (2) Bol, LOL, Dol… (Jane)

Stuck in Milna harbour for a second day we planned a busy day of Brač sightseeing! First stop was the Jakšić family artists’ studio in the village of Donji Humac. Lovre himself works large pieces of Brač stone into monumental masonry and sculpture and we did not visit his atelier for safety reasons. However his ex-fashion designer wife Ida showed us around her studio and the adjacent gallery. Ida makes striking pieces of jewellery in semi-precious stone and silver, all hand made and hand polished.

Their daughter works layers of Brač stone and coloured adhesives into sculpted colourful forms

and their son creates smaller sculptures of all kinds.

Next stop was the outskirts of Bol to visit the Dominican monastery, which was opened especially for us. The church contains a painting by Tintoretto

and the cemetery is most picturesque

Just around the corner from the Dominican monastery, in Bol proper, is the very well appointed Stina winery where we were to have a wine tasting;

starting with an excellent sparkling wine:

Glass in hand we were invited to enter the winery to see details of the wine-making process, but it turned out that the main doors had been slammed shut by the Bora wind with such force that they had twisted and jammed shut. After a short but noisy – and unsuccessful – attempt to open them we were ushered through the back door instead, finding ourselves inches from the conveyor belt conveying freshly picked black grapes from delivery truck to stalk remover to fermentation vat, and paddling through grape skins and water!

We were shown the various vats and ageing barrels (twice used French oak); got to taste new red straight from the vat; and then back to the tasting room for bread, cheese, olives and white and red wines. Oh and Prošek, a dessert wine; and jolly nice they all were, too! Cabaret was provided by the continuing efforts to force open the main doors, involving a fork-lift truck and much banging and (I assume) swearing, but the doors remained stubbornly stuck!

Full of bread, cheese and good cheer we then wobbled off to our minibus for the drive to the village of Dol, to Kaštil Gospodnetić for lunch. More bread, cheese, prosciutto, tapenade, tuna pate. Then a mixed peka with veal, chicken and lamb with vegetables AND local rabbit with gnocchi in a wonderful sauce. Then a huge slice of walnut cake topped with an inch-thick layer of walnuts in syrup. Then, mercifully, a walk – with the owner’s sister Ivana Gospodnetić around the house (in her family for 300 years) and the village

before returning to the gulet after a long but interesting day. Surprisingly, no-one had much appetite for dinner…

We both had an enjoyable day, each in our own way. The morrow promises a new destination, the island of Hvar. Tune in to the next entry to see how that went!