Seabourn Sojourn in Alaska – Part III (A Seabourn Moment and “Such a Hike. Oy!”)
Ketchikan, Alaska is not one of my favorite ports, but there are some interesting things to do once you get out of town. However, that was not the highlight of my time there as Chef Raj advised me that the staff would need access to my Penthouse Spa Suite at 6:00 p.m. But I do not want to get ahead of myself.
I booked a semi-private hike through part of the Tongass National Park rain forest. It was a beautiful stroll (not so much a hike, but trust me that would be made up for the next day…read on!) that, in a month’s time would be fantastic for bear watching as the salmon would be running. And I do like my wildflowers.
Afterwards it was a stroll about town reminiscing about taking my children there so many years ago with my cute little daughter being pulled from the crowd at the Lumberjack Show…and then having to schlep a rabbit come stool they made for her back to New Jersey. Then, after a feeble fish and chips (Why was I so stupid to give Ketchikan a third chance?) it was back to the safety, comfort and class of the Seabourn Sojourn.
Anxiously awaiting to see what my friend, Chef Raj was up to, the staff started arriving at my suite early. Oh, this IS going to be a Seabourn Moment! My desk was cleared so that my friend, Juan (bar manager, but more importantly, bartender extraordinaire) could set up a full bar and a large table was set up on the balcony with a linen now covering the large dining table that was already there. What was Chef Raj’s plan???
Well Chef Raj was going to create an awesome steak tartare with gooey Brie cheese, his twist on lobster thermadore,as well as some incredible fresh wild salmon sashimi, plus his own salsa and guacamole while Executive Chef Claudio prepared a caviar station.
|Seabourn’s Head of Culinary Operations Chef Rajat Adhikary|
creating a true Seabourn Moment
on my Penthouse Spa Suite balcony.
|Chef Rajat and Executive Chef Claudio teamed up|
to create a fantastic, and tasty, Seabourn Moment.
|Delicious steak tartare with melted brie cheese. Yum!!!|
This was a lot of effort and culinary talent for just me. And then the guests arrived. Captain Hamish Elliott and his wife, Gail, Hotel Director Jason, and more. Plus I did invite two of the Seabourn Ventures team that are my friends from Antarctica: Jennifer Fought and Meredith Bass. (Trust me, just putting the two of them in a room is high energy party by itself!)
And, of course, Juan was “creating” cocktails for everyone. All I know is that over the two hours he made me four totally different and delicious cocktails. The man not only has skills, he knows how to put The Show on.
This truly fantastic personal and culinary experience…and the next day, in Wrangell, Alaska, would be one that I also will not soon forget.
I took a Ventures by Seabourn tour innocuously called, “Rainbow Falls Adventure Up and Over: A Mindful Living Tour” that “contributes to mind and body wellness”. It is a 7.5 mile hike with elevation gain of 2,700 feet that traverses muskeg (bog) almost the entire way, so you walk on narrow boardwalks with…and this is absolutely true…Five Thousand Four Hundred (5,400) steps. Oh and the predicted 60 degree temperatures were actually in the mid-80’s. What a workout! What views! What an experience!
While it has to be one of the best Seabourn experiences I have ever had it also is the toughest, most non-Seabourn-eque. But it made me very happy; especially when it was over. LOL
There are two great ways to describe it.
First, for the 11 of the 12 that completed the hike the only question asked of each other over the next three days was, “How are your calves? I still can’t use the stairs on the ship.”
Second, the hike is setup like a Disney theme park line for its best attractions: The length of the line (number of never-ending steps) is hidden from view, so every time you think you are about to enjoy the thrill of the ride (end of the steps) you find out there are so many more awaiting you.
|The Up and Over Hike sets you up|
starting with very gentle and well spaced out steps
And then about an hour or so in: Boom! Repeated stairways to heaven (though it seems like hell at the moment):
|This steep and long set of steps is but one of many encountered|
on the Up and Over Hike
But the views from one of the highest points on Wrangell Island were spectacular and something you simply could not otherwise experience. Awesome!
After a short cool down and a sandwich it was time to head downhill on what, if it was wet, might have been an even more challenging hike as the boards are covered with a black algae as we headed through the rain forest. We were fortunate and we needed that bit of an edge to get back to the ship on time as we had taken about a 45 minute break while one of our group of 12 had earlier needed to stop and retreat from exhaustion.
|Spruce Grouse Chick|
We finally reached Rainbow Falls and it was quite underwhelming after our adventure. It was, nonetheless, a welcome site because it meant we had completed the hike. Ironically, the similarly named Rainbow Falls Adventure Hike boasted a 1.2 mile hike with 800 steps and 800 feet of elevation that was called “moderate to strenuous”. (This hike by comparison most definitely needs to be labeled “extreme” as opposed to “strenuous” in cruise tour lingo.)
I am really pleased that Seabourn is offering more truly active activities such as this hike. As we are aging younger as we get older, luxury needs to keep up by offering us more challenging experiences. And, of course, more opportunities to see areas beyond where the cruise ships go.
It was the perfect night for room service…Seabourn style. Ahhhhhh.