We awoke on day 4 docked next to downtown Juneau, the capital (pop 33,000). You cannot drive to get here – only boat or planes connect it to the outside world. Tall hills tower above us as the Celebrity Eclipse parallel parked in behind us. The Norwegian Jewel was also in. Sharron called to say she was finally good to go!
We all walked off to the pleasant downtown and caught our taxi right beside a large fish processing plant. We drove to the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier Park. We walked on the trail for about 20 minutes to reach the base a wonderful waterfall. The huge tidal glacier was another couple of km away and not accessible. Many photos later we turned back. Dave walked by a stream teaming with large salmon. Bears were close by but we did not see any. Our cab picked us up and we were back in town, wandering around the many shops and boutiques. The Crystal Symphony ship was now in too. Another great outing in the warm Alaskan sunshine.
Our taxi driver was originally from El Salvador. He explained that Alaska puts aside royalties from petroleum and mining. Every Alaskan receives an annual dividend payment from this investment. An incentive to come and live here for sure. Ex Governor Sarah Palin tried to move the capital from Juneau to Anchorage but failed. We chuckled.
We had lunch on our sunny balcony as a pile driver drove big piles into the sea nearby for a new pier and float planes took off and landed in twos and threes. Time for another hot tub and swim before sail away. Then off we went toward Ketchican in the glorious sunset. Another very nice day.
Next day, we pulled into Ketchikan mid-morning. It was clouded over but not raining as forecast. The HAL Oosterdam, a Regent ship, the Coral Princess and Norwegian Bliss were already there to greet us. Later the Celebrity Eclipse showed up again after the Bliss left. All in all, roughly 14,000 cruise tourists in one day here!!
Art our tour guide, is Haida whose family came from BC. Ketchikan is actually on an island, the salmon capital of the world with a population of 14,000. We drove by the Simsian Nation island reserve. Art said they have timber and fishing rights on their lands. We are a 1+ hr float plane flight from Prince Rupert, BC.
We went to a small river but perhaps as it was midday again, we saw no bears eating salmon. We then visited the Saxman Totem Row Park. It consists of dozens of authentic totem poles relocated from Tlingit village sites in the 1930s. We met a native guide and followed him around. Each totem pole tells a story but you need an interpreter. Art then took us to another stream teaming with pink salmon. As we went to pick one up a local man came over and blasted Art for encouraging this. Art’s response to us was that there are a billion pink salmon (the least valued type) and they are all about to die anyway.
We saw a few more interesting sites. Ketchican Indian Community Centre provides free medical, clothing, food and housing assistance to any Native American. You have to prove you are at least 1/8th Indian explained Art. 1,145,000 annual tourists visit each year. 12+ feet of rain a year, 1949 record 202.55 inches = 12. 66 ft. Salmon like rain. We learned a lot about life here from Art.
Back on board the HAL Westerdam, it was gala surf and turf night in the Main Dining Room followed by a singing and dancing show on the Mainstage. Food was excellent, the company great and the entertainment very good.
Overall rating of cruise to come.