The Seabourn Sojourn’s arrival in Sitka, Alaska meant it was time for me to host the Ensemble Travel Group complimentary Ensemble Experience visiting the Alaska Raptor Center (which rehabilitates eagles and other raptors), the Fortress of the Bears (which rehabilitates and raises abandoned bear cubs) and Baranoff Island Brewery (a small family owned brewery). I generally stay away from the first two places as they tend to be a bit too touristic for me, but they were truly enjoyed by my guests.
We ran into a number of Seabourn guests at the Raptor Center including Gail, Captain Hamish’s wife, so we had a bit of a chat. It was also a good opportunity to take some photographs without the challenges of distance and wildlife’s freedom, but also with knowing there will be no freedom for these animals.
It was then off to the charming Baranof Island Brewery for a four beer tasting…well, actually, five including its excellent root beer. The spruce tip beer was really tasty!
Our last stop was The Fortress of the Bears which is actually made up of abandoned wood pulp tanks. I found it to be truly depressing, but others did enjoy it. I hope they put a bit more into providing the bears with a more active and fulfilling lifestyle in the future.
After the tour I took our guide’s recommendation up for some excellent salmon chowder with chorizo at Ludwig’s Bistro, which is actually just a stand next to the Sitka science center where, amazingly, a Truckee friend of mine’s daughter works…who I visited after lunch.
That evening was the Alaskan Market in the Colonnade. I am not a big fan of dinners in the Colonnade, but this one sealed the deal: Utter chaos. It was not because of the staff, but because there are so few prior Seabourn guests on this cruise. Rather than sitting down and having a glass of wine, then a nice salad before heading to the buffet-style main course, it was an aggressive and loud push for plates piled high (presumably to avoid a particular item running out…which won’t happen on Seabourn). The buffet line eventually literally went out of the Colonnade and into the elevator hallway.
I was happy when the next morning arrived and we were going to be spending the day in Tracy Arm. I had been there before on a Regent Seven Seas cruise where it spent a hour or so before heading to Juneau; dropping a number of guests (including my family) on a long catamaran ride that lasted well over four hours before heading to Juneau. As I previously mentioned Seabourn’s itinerary takes it time, so we spent the entire day there and, while there were those that took that same catamaran ride, others explored with the Seabourn Ventures team in zodiacs and/or kayaks. And then Seabourn did not head to Juneau, but Haines.
I started my day as I have pretty much each day: Dining al fresco in the Colonnade. I am not sure why, but my simple order of a French press with two poached eggs on whole wheat toast has been more than a challenge, but pretty much my nemesis. So frustrating. But as I have always said, “It is the little things.” Something is amiss.
Anyway, for me Alaska kind of started this day as the ice was floating around the ship in an amazing array of blues, shapes and sizes.
It was also the perfect place for an afternoon hot tub
|Adult Hot Chocolates prepared hot tub side!|
or just chillin’ out
But the day was not over. We still had a spectacular sailaway out of Tracy Arm.
The next day we arrived into the tiny town of Haines, Alaska. Honestly, there isn’t much in Haines itself, but it did give me a great opportunity to head inland once again for some kayaking on Chilkoot Lake. Again, it is a bit early in the season for consistent bear sightings, but it was a beautiful couple of hours of paddling.
From there it was back to the ship for a lunch (once again the Colonnade served a wonderful lunch, but not of the theme noted in The Herald) and then a well deserved nap.
And then there was Juneau. There was only one thing I was looking forward to: The Red Dog Saloon with its sawdust floor, kitsch and fun bartenders. Of course one must start your visit (ours was at 10:30 a.m.) with a famous Duck Fart. You may ask how you do make a Duck Fart. It is quite simple: Squeeze it! (Actually it is Kaluha, Baileys and Crown Royal).
Our bartender, Billy Bob, was the best and she now has coined the phrase my sweet innocent daughter texted to me, “Blackout or back out!”
After taking care of some of the crew that had come by for a bit of lunch it was time to make a decision. Backing out seemed the most appropriate!
Heading into the last few days of our cruise, I will be focusing more on the Seabourn Ventures program; a truly special addition to a luxury cruise that only Seabourn offers without the necessity of going on an “expedition”.