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Old 07-26-2013, 04:47 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by disneyfaninaz View Post
Cool about the bear. Do you know if you can pet the puppies without going on the cart ride? My DD really wants to do that.
You definitely can. The puppies were in the petting zoo area and open to everyone with access to the camp.
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:35 PM   #153
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Still reading along and enjoying tremendously. Looking forward to pictures for the last installment. I hate you missed a pic of the bear. We are going too early in the season and don't anticipate any bear sightings at all.

Thanks again for taking us on your journey.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:37 PM   #154
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Day 6 - Juneau

Sorry for the delay, folks. Summer vacation is over and it's back to work tomorrow. My last days off were shockingly busy and I still didn't accomplish half of what I wanted to this summer! I'm going to do my best to wrap up this report before the last cruises this season ... otherwise, this report will only be good for those of you going next year, LOL. Not that that's bad!

Photos have been added to the last post, BTW.

We docked in Juneau really early (around 6 AM). Prior to the trip, I was contacted by the captain of Rum Runner Charters that our original excursion time of 7 AM needed to be pushed back to 11:00. At first, this was welcome news, especially since our Skagway excursion had been so early. However, I did not realize how early the Wonder was going to be leaving Juneau (around 5:00). The Wonder docks at the pier furthest from the tourist/shopping district (approximately 1 mile) so complimentary buses were available only until about 4:30 or so. I don't remember the times exactly, but they were early. Our excursion was 2.5 hours on the water--it takes about 20 minutes to get to the pier and another 20 back.

But this was a concern to us yet. I woke up early to call Capt. Chris just to double-confirm that our time was pushed back (he laughed, confirmed it was, and told us that if the bus wasn't at the dock exactly on time, to give him a call). But we had a leisurely morning, which meant we could actually go to Triton's for a menu breakfast!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (593) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The morning was overcast and really chilly, but later the sun came out and it warmed very nicely.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (594) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (595) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (602) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (605) by orcapotter, on Flickr

What a welcome relief from the chaos at Beach Blanket Buffet! No doubt due to many people already off the ship for excursions, hardly anyone was in here around 8:30. I do wish that the dining rooms were open later for breakfast (past 9:30) but had no problems getting down there with plenty of time. We had an awesome waiter from France and an even more awesome beverage server named "Dan" who completely charmed Mom with his impeccable attention to her coffee. She promptly dubbed him "Dan the Man." We were asked right away if we had any excursions coming up soon and we assured them we had time. I noticed, though, that the breakfast menus in the formal dining rooms on both the Dream and Wonder are identical. Not that I minded, really. I got the kid's breakfast which was just the right portion of everything I love about breakfast.


After breakfast, we leisurely went back to the room to prepare for the day. Layers was the name of the game again, as being out on a small boat presented uncertain expectations as far as the weather. We watched CMs test the lifeboats (quite alarming on the 6th deck as the mechanisms to lower the boats were directly beneath us and therefore were pretty loud).


Time came for us to be out to meet our ride to the pier. I literally had been waiting my entire life to go whale watching. My experience was limited to just Sea World and it has been a dream to see whales in the wild. Only, our ride was not there at 11. By 11:10, I called Capt. Chris again, only to get his skipper--as they were still out on the previous excursion. I told him the bus was not here yet, and I had to wait for the captain to call me back. A few minutes later, he did, and assured me that the bus was on its way as it was waiting at the wrong cruise ship dock. As this was a private charter, we were the only people on the bus when the driver finally arrived. During the 20 minutes or so to get to the pier in Auke Bay, our driver (a nice lady) pointed out some landmarks and gave us a history of things. We could already spot bald eagles on the side of the road (they're like pigeons up there).


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (613) by orcapotter, on Flickr
A really expensive gondola ride up the mountain.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (615) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Finally, we reached the pier and were greeted in the parking lot by Captain Chris and his dog, Moon Dog. He led us down onto the docks where his boat, the Rum Runner, was tied up. It's a couple minute's walk, so keep that in mind. Strangely, we took no photos of the boat. I guess I was just too excited to get started. The cabin was climate controlled with a bathroom, benches, snacks, and helmed by Capt. Chris who proceeded to tell us the functions and rules of the boat. We couldn't tell if he was joking when he told us what to do should he have to leave the boat for some reason.

After setting off, Capt. Chris spotted a whale almost right away. Now, before I go further, let me warn you that I suspect that the excursion ahead of us probably put the poor captain in a sour mood. I suspect the group muscled their way into our original time slot and however it went must not have gone altogether well. In the months leading up to the excursion, Capt. Chris was always very genial over the phone. I was therefore pretty surprised when much of our interaction with him in person was pretty salty. First example: I stood up next to him once he announced he saw a whale right away. He gave me no real direction of where to look. The boat is charging ahead and I see nothing. I'm assuming the whale must be nearby. He becomes almost exasperated that I still don't see it. He "points the boat directly at it." I still don't see it. He appears to become more impatient until I finally, finally spot it way way out in the distance. No wonder I couldn't see it! I'm a Floridian who's never gone whale watching nor have ever seen a humpback whale in person. His lack of direction was pretty off-putting.

His skipper, on the other hand, was very friendly. He was a young college guy, and pretty shortly we were outside with him trying to catch a glimpse of this elusive whale. No photos, because this whale was all over the place. After at least 30 or so minutes of chasing the whale, Capt. Chris decided to go somewhere else where whales had been spotted. This proved to be our jackpot. Several other whale watching boats were parked further out in the bay because a mother and baby were playing around. While mom napped, baby decided it was time to jump around!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (626) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Moon Dog would bark whenever wild life was near.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (631) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (634) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Most cruise ship excursions means you're sharing a big boat with a ton of other people. We had our small boat all to ourselves.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (636) by orcapotter, on Flickr
My best and most favorite shot of the trip


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (637) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (641) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (642) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (645) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The boat bouncing on the water (even with the water calm) and the suddenness of activity made clear photography a real challenge


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (646) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (647) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Moon Dog was going wild. The mother whale rested at the surface while the baby jumped around everywhere. Then the baby decided to investigate all the noise and came SUPER close to our boat, lifting his head out to peek a look at Moon Dog. It was amazing. My only regret was that I spent too much time behind the camera lens. I should have lived in the moment more.

After a while, we had to head to another point since we were running out of time. Sadly, no orcas were around. As amazing as the humpbacks were, I was really looking forward to seeing wild orcas on this trip. Of course, nature is the one in control of that and I'll have to head up to Alaska again (darn) to try again. A short while later, we arrived a buoy that was occupied by over a dozen Stellar sea lions.


They were so funny! It was easy to spot sea lions everywhere after that. Then it was one last stop at an island near the pier where flocks of bald eagles lived. Capt. Chris cut up some salmon and threw pieces in the water, calling out "HEY HEY HEY!" Slowly, bald eagles came in droves, diving at the water for the fist.

Continued in next post ...
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:30 PM   #155
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Day 6 - Juneau Part 2


Sadly, it was time to head back to the pier after the eagles. We all agreed that this was the absolute best excursion--particularly as it was private. Capt. Chris told us the previous charter didn't see anything like what we saw. There may not have been orcas, but it was incredible nonetheless. Capt. Chris may also have been a grumpy gus, but it didn't detract from the experience and I wouldn't hesitate to book him again. Hopefully on a better day for his mood, though. As we made our way through the pier back to the bus, I noticed a young family leaving another boat with Castaway Club backpacks and lanyards. We weren't the only DCL folks with private charters, though I don't know who they went with. I know Harv & Marv are also a popular choice but I found they were a little more expensive and not entirely private.

I read on the DIS that we could have asked our bus driver to take us to Mendhenhall Glacier, then we could find public transportation back to town/the ship. But it was after 2 PM at this point and Mom wanted to check out the shops (that is her passion, BTW). We also needed lunch. Our bus driver dropped us at the shops, and we decided to check out the Red Dog Saloon (touted heavily here on the DIS).


This is a stereotypical old-style saloon, complete with sawdust floors and bar wenches. It is also very, very tiny. The place has a lot of character, though, and it has the BEST clam chowder. Service, though, was lacking. We anxiously watched the clock; we figured we only had an hour before we had to leave, check a few shops, then grab one of the last shuttles back to the ship. It took quite some time to get drinks and orders put in. Some cruise ship folks didn't even take the chance to wait long enough to put in orders, and left before anyone glanced their way after the initial howdy and drink napkins. Because of this, we only ordered soups ... though Dad ordered chicken fingers. I was surprised that it all came out within 10 minutes or so. I took a few photos in here, but they didn't come out well.


If you have kids, this would be a fun place to go. Just execute some discretion: Signs and graffiti in places aren't exactly rated G, and the live entertainment does not censor anything.

We dashed out and into a couple shops before our anxiety got the best of us. I think we bought a couple of trinkets, but nothing really leaped out at me as "gotta have." I was disappointed that a lot of what I saw I had seen already in Skagway. We followed some people who I thought were DCL guests over to a bus depot, but there were no signs to say DCL anywhere. The bus itself, though, had DCL in the window.

Once back on the ship, we had time to decompress before dinner. This was "Pixar Pals" night, which replaced the Pirate Party. Honestly, it makes sense not to have a Caribbean-themed party in Alaska. Though it would've been better to have a more Alaskan-themed event, they already had Pixar so why not recycle it? I was shocked that absolutely NO advertisement was made in advanced of this year's sailings to warn people. I know many were upset.

There was a 1st Pixar Pals Bash in the lobby around 4:30 for young families who can't wait up until 10:30 PM. Dinner was the 3D Toy Story menu and we were back in Parrot Cay. The waiters/waitresses were in formal attire with little cowboy/cowgirl accents. Everyone got "3D" glasses to view the menu, but they didn't do anything for me so I put them aside. All that mattered was one thing:

LOBSTER.

As much as my family adores lobster, we seldom if ever order it at home due to the expense. Therefore, 7 night cruises are a big deal for us because that means at least one night is a lobster feast. In 2007 on the Mariner of the Seas, we all had at least 2 lobster tails. My cousin had five. There's a lot of debate on the DIS about the quality of the lobsters on DCL. The overwhelming opinion is that they're horrible, rubbery, and tasteless. I guess people must order Maine lobster pretty frequently around here. It states clearly on the menu that these are warm water lobsters. I had mentally prepared myself for a lackluster experience. I was thrilled to discover it was anything but. I found the lobster huge, tasty, and with plenty of drawn butter.

In fact, Mom and I regretted getting an appetizer and salad, for we were too full to order another tail!

Looking at the menu online, I don't remember which appetizer/salad I ordered. None of them are ringing a bell. Obviously I had the lobster, then for dessert I had Sheriff Woody's Warm Apple Cobbler & Custard--which was disappointing. Overall, the only thing great about this menu was the lobster.

The show tonight was Toy Story the Musical. Another show with mixed reviews, but everyone was excited for it. Mom let me order a smoothie in a Toy Story cup with Buzz Lightyear lit on top. The theatre was packed to the gills ... I forgot to mention that tonight was also semi-formal night. Hence the accented formal wear of the waitstaff. Then, all the characters out prior to the show were in formal wear, too. So far, the Pixar Pals Party was shaping up to be a formal Toy Story ... thing.

I felt the show was awkward, though cute. I'm just not used to the story being set to musical numbers. I think it's better than Villains Tonight, though. After the show, I'm pretty sure we went back up to the room. We didn't take any more formal photos. I wanted to see the Pixar Pals Party, so I got into my sweats and left the 'rents to go check it out. Deck 3 was already pretty full, though I didn't feel like dancing around anyway, so I tried to score a good spot on deck 4. The railings filled quickly, and I ended up squeezed on the end at the top of the stairs where the characters were due to go up and down. A woman had her stuff on the floor next to me, which she pointed out was for someone in a wheelchair. During the time leading up to the show, this woman ended up leaving for some reason, so I gained a few precious inches so I wasn't in anyone's way on the stairs. I think it was because the person in the wheelchair didn't like that spot or something. They showed up a little later and ended up in worse spots, in my opinion.

Finally, the show started. The Incredibles, Flik, Russel & Dug, Mike & Sulley, Jessie & Woody, and Remy all came out to much fanfare. They danced around deck 3 for a while before being called up one by one to the landing in front of Triton's to lead specific dances. I noticed characters dancing about, snapping the odd photo here and there. Once all the characters had their spotlight in dancing, some confetti was thrown, some giant balls thrown down by those of us on deck 4, and that was it. The characters went to bed. No formal Pixar photos were done.

Cute, but nothing like the pirate deck shows. If you think about it, they're pretty limited in Alaska for stuff like that. They can't have loud volume outside and the weather was often unwelcoming anyway. There's a lot of creative opportunity to make a really unique experience here, but it's like they don't know what that is yet. Clearly they don't want to invest the money into an appropriate Alaskan celebration (yet). The party would've been better had it not been on semi-formal night. That just created all sorts of confusion.

I'll upload photos of the party show later. Right now I have to get in bed. Back to the grind of getting up early!
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:39 AM   #156
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We are booked on a Rum Runners whale watching/fishing excursion next week. I was so glad to see your review of it! Capt. Chris has been very pleasant through the whole booking experience, so I'm really hoping you're right and he was just having an "off" day.

After seeing all of your great pictures from the excursion, I'm even more excited!

Thanks for taking the time to do your trip report!
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:45 AM   #157
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One more thing, which you may have mentioned earlier, what camera were you using for your whale/eagles pics? I'm hoping my 70-300 lens will have enough reach!
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Old 08-05-2013, 02:33 PM   #158
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Your pictures of the eagles are absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to go to Alaska next year. How far in advance did you book with Rum Runners and Captain Chris
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Old 08-05-2013, 03:02 PM   #159
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Your pictures of the eagles are absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to go to Alaska next year. How far in advance did you book with Rum Runners and Captain Chris
Not the OP, but I booked with Rum Runners around Thanksgiving, and he already had another party booked that day. Luckily, we only wanted a 6 hour and he was able to work us into his day.
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:08 PM   #160
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Are you guys already back in school? In Michigan we do not start back until after Labor day. Heck, back when I was a kid we started school the week after Labor day and finished the week before Memorial day.
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Old 08-06-2013, 02:40 PM   #161
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[QUOTE=OrcaPotter;49080164]

Our trainer was just as surprised as we were, and urgently called to the lead dogs with "GI GI GI GI GI!!!" (which was her unique command she had trained the lead dogs to turn right--to go left, the command was "hot. QUOTE]

The command for dogs (or horses for that matter) to go left or right is "gee" or "haw." Although the dogs were probably "hot" from running!


Last edited by EeyoreIsMyName; 08-07-2013 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:15 PM   #162
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Awesome whale pics - I am so jealous of your little playful humpback calf!

We had seen orcas back in 2011 (those suckers are hard to catch on film, they were hunting) but we did not see any this year...we did however get to see a few "lunge feeds" where the whale hoists its whole mouth out of the water, which was AWESOME. And we got to see a pectoral fin. Nothing like that little whale though, how cool!

Being so close to them was amazing. I was so jealous of the people who work on those boats every day and get to see this all the time! Whale boat captain may have to be my retirement gig.
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Old 08-07-2013, 12:06 AM   #163
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Loved reading your TR! I sailed to Alaska last year and loved it! Such a beautiful cruise! Can't wait to read about the rest your trip!
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Old 08-07-2013, 06:03 AM   #164
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Great whale sightings.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:03 PM   #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *pixie* View Post
One more thing, which you may have mentioned earlier, what camera were you using for your whale/eagles pics? I'm hoping my 70-300 lens will have enough reach!
I used my Nikon Coolpix S8200. It's an amazing point n' shoot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegam060 View Post
Your pictures of the eagles are absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to go to Alaska next year. How far in advance did you book with Rum Runners and Captain Chris
I booked back in early March and at the time, I got the first time slot for the day. Right before we left home, Capt. Chris called me and asked if I wouldn't mind bumping it back because of a conflict with another tour.

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Originally Posted by kid-at-heart View Post
Are you guys already back in school? In Michigan we do not start back until after Labor day. Heck, back when I was a kid we started school the week after Labor day and finished the week before Memorial day.
Yup! Most schools in Florida are out by the last week of May and we're back in session by mid-August. Students are in session 180 days a year.

[QUOTE=EeyoreIsMyName;49201938]
Quote:
Originally Posted by OrcaPotter View Post

Our trainer was just as surprised as we were, and urgently called to the lead dogs with "GI GI GI GI GI!!!" (which was her unique command she had trained the lead dogs to turn right--to go left, the command was "hot. QUOTE]

The command for dogs (or horses for that matter) to go left or right is "gee" or "haw." Although the dogs were probably "hot" from running!

That's probably what she was saying, and I heard "hot." LOL Thanks for the clarification!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zweihund View Post
Awesome whale pics - I am so jealous of your little playful humpback calf!

We had seen orcas back in 2011 (those suckers are hard to catch on film, they were hunting) but we did not see any this year...we did however get to see a few "lunge feeds" where the whale hoists its whole mouth out of the water, which was AWESOME. And we got to see a pectoral fin. Nothing like that little whale though, how cool!

Being so close to them was amazing. I was so jealous of the people who work on those boats every day and get to see this all the time! Whale boat captain may have to be my retirement gig.
It was definitely a lifelong dream to do this and it will continue to be, because it's so amazing and I still have to see my wild orcas!

Hey everyone,

I will do my best to get this report wrapped up within the next few weeks. School starts tomorrow and I'm already incredibly busy! Thanks for your patience!
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