I recently returned from a cruise of Alaska’s inside passage with a group of lite rock listeners. We cruised on board the  Norwegian Jewel, which left from Seattle on Saturday, July 14th .  Here is the final part of a  journal I kept of our vacation….

Day #5 Wednesday, July 18th

Today's stop was the small town of Skagway, Alaska, a village that was popular with gold prospectors in the 19th century.  Skagway has 800 year-round residents,  2200 summer-time residents and, on any given day during the cruise season, about 10,000 tourists.

Beth and I had signed up for another excursion.  Today's adventure was a tour in a caravan of Jeeps in to Canada's Yukon Territory for a little off-roading .  We caught a shuttle driven by one of the more colorful characters we encountered in these Alaskan towns,  Sam,  a third generation Skagway product to the Jeep base camp.

I drove the final jeep in a procession of ten Jeeps, with Beth and one of our guides, Collette, on the one road out of Skagway.   We drove about 20 miles before we reached customs and entered Canada.  Staying in contact by two-way radio(there is no cell phone service in this part of the world), we passed through a portion of British Columbia and in to the Yukon.  Our destination was a small railroad town called Carcross, shortened from "caribou crossing", and, again we were told we had a good chance to see some caribou, mountain goats and, yes, quite possibly, a bear.  Here we go, again.

Suddenly the lead Jeep radioed that there was a bear in the road just ahead.  This was to be our big "bear moment"!  Unfortunately, we were in the Jeep furthest away from Mr. Bear, and the sight of a caravan of Jeeps was enough to spook him and he ran off the side of the road  when we were still a good 40 yards away.  But we did have enough time to do an extreme close-up of the bear with the camera, and if you look very closely, you can see him just before he ditched over the side of the road.

After stopping briefly in Carcross, we were guided out of town to a small private road for a session of off-roading.  When the trip flyer said, "includes off-roading", I thought we would be riding on grass, gravel or dirt, but instead we headed up a steep incline of jutting rocks and gullies.  Bouncing and holding on for our lives, I struggled to keep up with the other drivers who were taking this road at 25 miles per hour. When we reached the top, we followed the others through a course they called the "Jeep playground", bouncing and sliding over hills, turns and around an obstacle course. Beth took over driving and took her turn on the jeep playground before we headed back down the rocky road and back to Alaska.  What fun, off-roading in the Yukon!

We ate lunch and did souvenir shopping upon returning to Skagway before returning to the ship.

Later,  we went to see the ship's nightly show, a soul review.



“Washy, Washy” - Day 6…”At Sea”....Ship's Shopping list

Thursday was the second and final day at sea, returning from Skagway, Alaska to our Friday stop in British Columbia on the way back to Seattle. Even on our first cruise, we figured out quickly that a day at sea is a day for at nap...or two. Beth had a massage and facial and I finally made it the gym. I swore I would get there at least three or four times, but I only made it to the gym once. That night, we ate in the Steak House, another of the ship’s premium restaurants, where we had excellent service and a delicious meal for $25 extra each.


Waiting to greet you at the entrance to all of the ship’s restaurants were staffers whose only job was to give each passerby a spray of anti-bacterial wash. I have never had cleaner hands than I did the week we spent on the Norwegian Jewel. Concerned about the quick spread of disease, the company takes a very aggressive approach to killing the germs we normally pass on to one another. The repeated calls to “washy, washy…” by crew members with large spray bottles became an on-board joke and a part of your collective vocabulary after a few days. It worked though; we spent a week on a ship with about 4000 other people and didn’t catch anything!

4000 people on a boat!  That’s a small floating city at sea, between the passengers and approximately 1200 crew members and everyone of them is eating on board.  Just how much food does it take to feed such a group?  Here is the Executive chef's weekly shopping list:

2,500 pounds of butter

12,000 pounds of beef

1,500 pounds of cereal

2,600 pounds of cheese

900 pounds of coffee

6,500 pounds of fish

7,000 pound of flour

3,800 dozen fresh eggs

30,000 pounds of fresh fruits

1,200 pounds of ice cream

1,000 pounds of lobster

1,800 gallons of milk

1,300 pounds of pasta

8,500 pounds of potatoes

12,000 pounds of poultry

5,000 of rice

2,600 pounds of seafood

3,000 pounds of sugar

250 types of wine

2,000 pounds of veal

34,000 pounds of vegetables

4,500 cups of yogurt


Day #7  Friday, July 20th

We arrived in Victoria, British Columbia at mid-day Friday and  were allowed to disembark from 2p.m. to 9p.m.  We had had so much fun with the previous days' excursions, we decided to give it one more try.  This time, we went on an hour-long horse-drawn carriage tour of  Victoria, which is a lovely town with a European feeling.  After spending three days in Alaskan frontier-style towns, Victoria was a nice change of pace, offering the flavor of a cultured college town, with many beautiful flowering plants and gardens, and some pretty good shopping, bars and restaurants too.  Honestly, after all we had seen and done in our week in Alaska, we really had to force ourselves to get out and see what there was to see in British Columbia.  But I'm glad I didn't miss it.

Saturday morning, we were docked in Seattle when we woke and it was time to travel back to New Jersey and reality.

Here are a few more random pictures I thought were pretty cool...