Sunday, 9 September 2012

Day 44 - Sitka - Sep 6th

Another less than solid sleep, but getting used to it now!  This cabin location is such that there is no way you can avoid the noise of the winches when it is a tender port day and today was no exception.

It seems that our favourite parfait, from being a staple from day one, has now disappeared from the regular breakfast options.  I had to make do with option B – bacon, onions, chorizo sausage and beans.  A powerful start to the day with potentially latent problems of course!

We shared the bay with the Holland America ship – Oosterdam, so Sitka was due to be swamped with cruisers and the bay with tender boats.  Now there are over 500 Elite passengers (who get preferential tender boarding), the wait for the remainder increases with each leg.  We collected our tickets at exactly 10am; returned to the cabin to sort ourselves out; then joined the waiting masses.  The boat immediately before ours only took 8 passengers over and above the elites...  We boarded the tender at 11am for the 15 minute trip to the dock.  We were herded to the rear of the vessel where the diesel fumes were getting to be  problem, but thankfully, we managed to get out before feeling too queasy.

Sitka is not a very large place, so with two cruise ships in, dumping 4,000 passengers, into a place with only two streets, it was bustling.  Loads of souvenir shops and some reasonable bargains.  We bought two Alaskan mugs for $10, labelled Warren & Matt, for our Cruise Director and Deputy, who still seem to spend too much time dealing with stroppy passengers, some of whom are never happy unless they are complaining.   We like them both and they work well, though Matt has been suffering from some poor dental work that has knocked him around a fair bit.

We chatted to a couple of amiable Americans from the other ship and they volunteered to take our pic with the large stuffed bear in the main street, but somehow failed to capture the bear’s head!  Whilst we were talking, the church bells rang – at 12:20.  We are still puzzled as to why at that time.

As Alaska was once part of Russia, there is still a strong Russian influence on the town. The church had a notice out front, thanking visitors for their $5 donation.  Many didn’t bother to either visit or donate and no wonder.  There were a few interesting buildings to visit and the creek, just around the corner from where one of my pics was taken, seemed to be where the dead  salmon ended up after spawning.  We didn’t venture that far, but apparently, it was a bit niffy.  Nature takes care of it though, as when it rains, the dead salmon are washed into the sea and the crabs have a ready delivered food source.

As part of my ongoing collection of pics for the Twilight Princess video, (for next year) I managed a couple more pics of land based whales.  It is a constant source of amazement that these whales are also the ones with plates piled high at the buffet and especially of with desserts.  The one I snapped was seen a couple of minutes later scoffing a large hot dog from a street vendor, but I wasn’t able to take a pic.   I did manage more wheelie walker pics from the other ship though... 

Back on board, good news!  When we arrived at the buffet, it was back to normal self service, so we can assume that the novo-virus has been bowled over.  Thank goodness for that.  It has been a real strain on everyone, but especially the staff.

As is normal on port days, the quiz was in the Wheelhouse bar and along with a couple, a single and ourselves, we managed a combined team of five.  With a score of 15/20, we won!  We didn’t contribute too much, but I was able to answer a couple of musical questions that the others didn’t know, so a good team effort.  Rommel allowed us to choose our own prizes, so we ended up with a flashlight, a wallet, a pen, a karabiner and a magnetic clip.

Once again, to the early show with ventriloquist Don Bryan.  Another good show, before dinner for four, with just M & M.  A beautiful lamb rack was the star of the meal.

Off to the theatre and the cruise staff talent show.  All singers - which is a bit disappointing, but a fair show.  A couple of acts might have been better left in the staff karaoke bar, but a couple of others were just superb. With no nana nap this afternoon, an 11:25 bedtime again with an expectation of a decent sleep.

Another port day tomorrow, the Alaskan capital of Juneau and for us, a cable car/tram ride up the mountain is our plan.


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