We woke early although we did add an hour to the clock because we are now in Alaska, so it made it easier to get up to search for marine mammals, as the Inside Passage is known to attract Humpback Whales and what did we see – yes - Humpback Whales from our own balcony for a short while.
Another day on land, this time in Juneau, the city that can only be reached via water or air, there are more hiking tracks in the area than roads. Apart from tourism, commercial fishing and some mining are growing components of the local economy. In the Tongass National Forest, the mighty Sitka Spruce dominates the temperate rainforest.
It was partly cloudy so taking a helicopter tour and husky ride was out of the question, however we did take a float plane (DeHavilland Otter) a bit later when the clouds cleared, over the Juneau Icefield, home to over 40 large glaciers and 100 small ones. The planes are quite large, window seat each, 12 pax, take off and landing so smooth on the water. The view was breathtaking, a magical blue glow on the Mendenhall Glacier and others surrounding it.
We stopped by a Knife shop to see how the famous Ulu (oo'loo) was crafted and used by the Alaskan native people, the handles made of either Caribou, Moose, Whale, Mammoth or Walrus petrified bone.
Then a photo with Skadi and Freya the Alaskan Malemute, they are retired sled dogs. And lunch at Tracy’s King Crab Shack, I had Snow Crab Nippers and Dad has King Crab cakes, yummo!
On the way back to the ship, we stopped by the famous Red Dog Salon, Wyatt Earp’s gun hangs behind the bar.
Late afternoon we joined the Evening Whale Quest, in Stephen’s Passage. Salmon spread, cheese, crackers and salad provided for the half an hour catamaran cruise before seeing our first Humpbacks – Mum and Babe, peacefully feeding along with shoreline. Then on to see another gentle giant - Sarah a regular to the waters, we also got to see our first Bald Eagle, and Stella Seals sitting comfortably on a buoy. Seeing the humpback whales in the wild is one of the true treasures of visiting Alaska, the fifth largest baleen whale, most surface active – the heartbeat of the ocean.
For another laugh we finished the evening with a comedy juggler, he was very clever.
We also found out, when leaving the lift tonight, four days a bit late, that when we get out of the lift there is different coloured carpet in the hallways to the cabins, the cabin numbers are odd on one side and even on the other, remembering which side can be confusing when trying to remember which way the front of the ship is, so the coloured carpet really does help! I know you are going to say can’t you feel which way the ship is going, the answer is not normally, as the ride has been that smooth because in the passage it’s been hard to even work out if we are moving let alone which way.