The day had finally arrived! We were going to board the Wilderness Discoverer this afternoon to set off on our 3 week Un-Cruise Adventure. But first, I had a whale watching tour to get to. I had previously booked a morning tour with Harv & Marv – this group gets rave reviews on Cruise Critics Alaska forum. They take folks out in small 6-passenger boats and are known for getting to the good whale sightings. I was outside the Hotel waiting for my ride at 7:30 am. The van from Harv & Marv’s came and was filled with passengers from the large cruise ship in town (the Carnival Miracle).
We had a 30 minute drive to Auke Bay where we were split into our groups for the day. Guess what, no 6-passenger boat for us. We had been combined into their 12-passenger boat. Disappointed at first, I soon realized this was a very good thing. The weather turned out to be terrible – the seas were rough, and the whales were few. I would still recommend a tour with Harv & Marv’s. Oh well, at least I gave it a try. Lou was feeling smug, since he had opted not to go on the whale watching practice run, and was snug in bed.
Captain Shawn tells us about whales. Humpbacks we see in Alaska spend the winters in Hawaii, and were just returning.
The waves were even rougher than they appear in this photo
A view of the Lighthouse – not tilted for artistic effect
We did see a pair of Humpbacks near shore
It was difficult to take photos, since the boat was rocking and it was raining. There will be better whale photos later.
After we’d been out a couple of hours, everyone started making a beeline back to shore
An eagle on the dock, taken as we waited for the return van – it’s raining hard
We made a quick stop at Mendenhall, but it was too wet to do much – a shot of the Helicopter Tours buzzing the glacier
A smiling Ranger, even though she is soaking wet, and getting wetter by the minute
I was back before lunch; Lou had already checked in our bags at the Un-Cruise holding area (next door to the Hotel). We had some lunch and walked around town for a while. It was raining pretty hard. Lou did some shopping, and he picked our favorite souvenir from the trip. Meet “Lou, The Bear.”
The sales lady is laughing, because we had all just figured out that Lou’s name was the same as the bear’s…
We topped off the afternoon with a cold brew at the Alaskan Hotel – reportedly the oldest Hotel in Alaska.
We went back to the Convention Center, where we met some of our fellow passengers and were escorted to the Wilderness Discoverer at 5pm. The Un-Cruise staff had already taken all the luggage onboard the ship.
The Wilderness Discoverer is nose to nose with the Wilderness Explorer
Boarding was quick, even though everyone had to stop for a photo. The photos were used to make a cheat sheet to help us remember everyone’s name.
Lined up, ready to board. Each group was escorted to their cabin by one of the staff.
We were shown to our cabin and found all of our luggage already on board. We had one of the larger cabins on Deck 3 – No. 400.
I wasn’t the only one snapping photos as we left Juneau
Folks are checking out the Top Deck as we prepare to leave. The mid section of the top deck was open, with seating for viewing the scenery and relaxing. Our cabin was on this deck, just behind the Bridge.
More folks enjoying the view – the sun is coming out – a good omen! The door at the edge of the photo goes into our cabin – we also had a large window for viewing.
Still checking out the view, perhaps thanking Mother Nature for the hint of sunshine in our future
We cruised into blue sky as we left Juneau and rainy skies behind
Once settled onboard, we participated in the Emergency Muster Drill, attended the Welcome Reception, and ate dinner. There will be more about meals onboard as we continue the story of our trip – let’s just say we ate well, very well. Dinner tonight was salmon with wild rice. We were totally worn out, so retired to our cabin shortly after dinner – the hectic pace before the trip plus the long day of travel had caught up with both of us.
The Dining Room is setup for dinner – tonight we had salmon and wild rice. The crew is looking apprehensive about this week’s rowdy crowd …
And, a nice dessert. Having a pastry chef onboard didn’t do anything to help our calorie-intake
We spent some more time on deck after dinner, enjoying the crisp air and clouds in the distance
Checking out the Kayaks and Skiffs stored on the aft part of Deck 3
There was some nice light on the mountains as the sun began to go down – close to 9pm
We’ll have better sunsets, but this wasn’t a bad end to our first day onboard the Wilderness Discoverer