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Regent to Alaska

Our summer adventure aboard the Regent Seven Seas Mariner has made a profound impact on our family. Traveling to Alaska changes a person in ways difficult to articulate. In this travelogue we hope to share at least a few of the memories that touched our lives.

 

We began our journey in Anchorage aboard the Grandview train. The scenery was breathtaking and diverse. We passed glaciers, forests, waterfalls, and miles of bizarre mudflats. Having cruised before I especially appreciated checking in with the ship's staff aboard the train, so there were no long lines prior to boarding the ship.

It was brisk on deck but we all gathered to see the ship leave port. Our room was a delight. It was a penthouse suite with a sleeping area and a place to hang out and play board games as a family. The balcony (made safer for the children by the addition of some plexiglass panels tied to the railing) was quickly claimed by the kids. Our whole family had fun spotting seals on the ice floes as we approached Hubbard Glacier the next morning.


 

Our first port was Sitka and we enjoyed the "submarine" tour looking closely at many types of marine life, our favorites included tiny jellyfish that roamed across our personal viewing windows and sea stars with more than a dozen legs each. It all paled in comparison to what happened the next day...

Early in the morning we boarded a smaller ship for a special excursion thru Tracey Arm. Bald eagles and spouting whales were easy to sight during our journey thru some of Alaska's most incredible scenery. We rejoined the Mariner in Juneau and took a sea plane tour over four glaciers. I was surprised at how different the ice patterns were on each one.

During the evening whale watch, I could see activity on the water's horizon but it wasn't clear what was happening til our tour boat came closer. It was feeding time. A dozen humpbacks had formed a group to create massive bubble nets around a school of fish before surfacing with their mouths wide open and scooping them up in their jaws. It was as if we had won the lottery. We watched it happen more than half a dozen times, a couple of which were 20 yards from our vessel. My son described it as a "bouquet of whales".


The highlight of our day in Skagway was actually onboard the ship once we had set sail in the afternoon. Our son visited the ship's galley and decorated cookies that were served with our dessert that evening. It was one of the numerous activities that Club Mariner had available for kids ages 5 to 8. (It was especially neat that many highlights of the cruise were being videotaped by the staff, and later we saw footage of our son's galley tour on the ship's TV channel.)

 

Ketchikan was the next stop. We especially enjoyed the lumberjack show and totem poles. Our guide also took us to a rainforest along the shore which had trees growing out of the decaying bases of older trees. One of the more amazing images was a tall, bare tree with more than a dozen Bald Eagles on its branches. Before returning to the ship, we had the thrill of seeing a young black bear looking for fish. I kept wondering if it's mother was around...

Our final day on the ship was at sea. We slept late and woke just in time to order a magnificent breakfast from room service. We had enjoyed all of the on-board restaurants, but it was quite a treat to be in our pajamas with plates of kippers, smoked salmon, and bagels. In the afternoon we had a blast in the multi-deck Amazing Race. We teamed with another family to suss out the puzzles and seek clue pages hidden all over the ship. There was trivia to solve for bonus points and I'll just give a hint to anyone reading this web page: the ship's captain has 4.5 stripes on his uniform.

 

 

Disembarking in Vancouver was especially sad for my little girl who cried when we explained that we were really leaving, not just exiting for a shore excursion. We took an extra day before flying home and I put one more tick on my list of life highlights: it's surprisingly easy and inexpensive to sign up for a behind-the-scenes adventure at the Vancouver Aquarium, and I got to feed the sea otters. For them it was razor clams and abalone, for me it was icing on the cake.

Yours,
J Saliba