2016 Mexican Riviera Group Photo
2011 Mexican Riviera Group Photo
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Our Diary with Photos for our 2017 Alaska Cruise!
A 7 day cruise with a 4 day land tour in Denali National Park!

Below is some information on where the 2017 Spirit of the West Cruise is going. We hope you enjoy the diary as we head to Alaska. See the map below (or scroll down). We will sail on Holland America's ms Noordam - below is a photo showing what she looks like.

See the map below (or scroll down).
Go to the Itinerary below (or scroll down).

Kathy and Mark
on holiday! Kathy and Mark on holiday
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We will sail on Holand America's ms Noordam   We will sail on Holand America's ms Noordam

Holland America's ms Noordam!

Diary for June 17th to 28th, 2017

The following photos will all enlarge if you click on them.

June 14th, 17th & 18th

So beautiful at home right now ... but Alaska should be fun!!

Looks like we're packed but they are empty! & we leave tomorrow AM!

The ms Noordam ... getting ready to sail

Global News watchers see this shot from the other side every morning

June 18th

Our home away from home for a week (1st time on Holland America)

Mark introducing the slide show at the welcoming reception

The slide show running on three screens for about 190 viewers

Re-acquainting with past cruisers and meeting first timers

June 20th

Our first stop ... alongside in Ketchikan, Alaska

The whole waterfront, even the streets, were built on pilings

Megan might not be with us on this cruise but we're thinking about her :-)

We did an excursion on the Sea Lion Express

June 20th

Our captain pulled in close for a good view of this bald eagle nest

There were tons of Bald eagles flying all around us

We then beached on an island with a Reserve and learned about Native history

and ate fire roasted Reindeer dogs and drank local Alaskan beer

June 20th

A simple but really good lunch with lots of fresh air

Brandi, one of the locals spent time with us telling of their history

and about herself and her family - right down to her tattoos

She snapped this picture of the two of us at the bonfire

June 20th & 21st

The beach with many huge logs including this enormous cedar

Our boat beaching to pick us up for our return trip to Ketchikan

We returned to find this crab on our bed ... last night it was a seal

The next morning we pulled into Juneau where we had a group tour

June 21st

Our group excursion took us up to Mendenhall Glacier

As we approached the glacier we were met by ice bergs in the river

At the glacier with a chunk of ice floating away

A park guide took this photo of us with the glacier in the background

June 21st

The Glacier just about to calve (the closest hunk ready to fall)

Jim & Karen's daughter Steph and husband Rich on the bus back to town

Back in Juneau we found this really good fish & chip place for lunch

Juneau downtown - talk about being built on / by a hillside

June 21st & 22nd

Sealaska Heritage site in downtown - some great local Native art work

A stop at the Red Dog Saloon and can you believe it, Jim & Karen were there

Tonight we're thinking maybe a bear ... ya, probably a white black bear

We pulled the curtains this am to find a very close shore line in Skagway

June 22nd

Kathy & Rick Paquin holding the sign so our people could find us

Our group had 5 cars and Kathy & Karen held the sign for a photo in each

One of the old White Pass rail locomotives with a coal car ready to go

Terrific senery as we pulled out of Skagway on the White Pass Rail

June 22nd

It was about a 1 1/2 hour train ride but we climbed close to 3,000 feet !!

One train in front of us was way above and this one behind way below

Our train as we round the corner and enter the first of two tunnels

Lucky for us we decided to pass this old trestle and take the new one

June 22nd

Here we're at the summit and also the US Canada border

Our engine dropped us and changed to the back which was now the front

The back of the seat flipped over so we could face the front again

Down below was trail #98 a piece of the original foot path

June 22nd

Building this grade was a very similar story to building the fraser canyon

Way across was a tour bus stopped for photos on its way to Whitehorse

The rock walls were so close, and even went over top of the train

Way off in the distance waited our ship with three other cruise ships

June 22nd

Back at the port - our train on the left and our ship on the right

We then walked into this nice little town to upload photos and web pages

This shop called Quilt Alaska caught Kathy's eye right away

And this place, and the girls, caught my eye right away!

June 22nd

A lunch stop at the Red Onion Saloon and Brothel

The girls in here were a lot of fun ... and good waitresses too

The train engine on the right is a snow blower (you need one of these Harry)

A really cute little town ... we loved Skagway!

June 22nd & 23rd

Not sure ... mountain goat? sheep? snail? ??? cute though!!

Speaking of mountain goats ... Jill's big lens came in pretty handy

The sky and the sea - both blue and crystal clear!!

The colour of the glacier fed ocean was amazing (with a bear on the point)

June 23rd

A few whales were swimming around us but I only got this one photo

We started seeing more and more ice as we got into Glacier Bay

and when we saw the first glacier it was easy to see where it came from

The mountains and the snow pack all around us was spectacular!

June 23rd

The glacier are massive and you can see the blue of the pure clean ice

In the center the glacier is calving - follow this ice through the next 5 photos

It's hard to visualize the size of the pieces breaking off

but compare them with the boat in the water below them

June 23rd

When the ice hits the water and you see the size of the splash

you get an idea of how big the chunks of ice are, too

The splash is humungous - guess the boat is glad he's no closer!

This guy climbed the rock faces as easily as if they were trees

June 23rd

This is a different glacier and we just caught the tail end of the splash

Again check out the boats in front to try to visualize how big the glaciers are

They're absolutely spectaular ... and so was the weather today!

The Spirit of the West lined up for the annual group photo

June 23rd

Kathy & I with our neighbours Unni and Wayne Lorenz (Pressy Lake / 70 Mile)

Us in our group teeshirts with Colleen and Billie and Hugh

Nice of someone to come along and take our picture - thanks!!

Saw a couple of dots sitting on this iceberg (didn't have the big lens)

June 23rd

but I was able to follow

the one that flew away

... right past us

Amazing and magnificent birds

June 24th & 25th

Kathy said its a dog ... I said its a pig... ??

The wake from the ship made the blue stand out in the ocean

Pulling into Seward with its huge assortment of boats in the marina

Brenda was funny, entertaining, informative and a really good driver

June 25th

A couple of coffee / pee breaks - one at this Veterans Memorial

Reindeer feed ... this is the Alaska Tundra in Denali National Park

McKinley Lodge in the wilderness just outside the park boundary

Nice big rooms in a very picturesque setting with a great view

June 26th

The entrance to Denali National Park and the start of our park tour

This little cabin was built for, and by, the crew that build the road

and of course included a log dog house beside the main cabin

Set up nicely with both a wood heat stove and a wood cook stove

June 26th

The guide said only 28% of viewers see Mt Denali at all

and only 4% get to see it completely cloud free (we joined the 4% club!!)

This Native Alaskan girl gave a talk about what the locals do, etc

Kathy found this fuzzy warm Alaskan hat that she loved (but didn't buy)

June 26th

We split the grizzly size "The Lower 48 it Ain't" and it was good

and of course we had to try some more of the local beers to go with it

The table view ... you can't look in any direction without seeing mountains

The front of The Prospectors Pizzeria ~ Alehouse where we ate

June 26th & 27th

A statue of Balto, one of the many famous Alaskan sled dogs

That afternoon 39 in our group arrived at Talkeentna Lodge

In the lobby was this huge Alaskan Brown Bear shot by a 10 year old girl

7 of us went on a dog sled tour - one of the highlights of the trip!

June 27th

Kathleen, the owner, explaining the requirements for the Iditarod

They have competed in this 1000 mile race 15 times (and one dog 7 times)

Painted on the floor was a map of Alaska and the Iditarod route

The first 5 in the group coming to the half way point of the trail

June 27th

where we switched and the dogs got a drink and enjoyed a cold wet rest

The next 4 in the group, us & Steph & Rich, got our turn heading back

A great view of the dogs working from standing in the back of the Ranger

A big frozen raw salmon steak for a treat back at home - yummy!

June 27th

At this point we got to pet the dogs that were all very friendly

although they were really sweaty and quite yucky to pet (but still fun)

They have only one litter per year (total) - this is one of four puppies

their eyes weren't even open yet & Steph, like Kathy, hated this part :-)

June 27th

I think Rich wished he come with us - 49 beers on tap!! wow!

A pretty impressive place - this is the back of the lodge

The McKinley Explorer pulling in to pick us up at the Talkeetna Station

Our group got our own dome car as we joined the others already on the train

June 27th, 28th & 29th

the room in, and the view from, the dome cars was awesome

15 minutes to spare when we arrived at the Sons of the Pioneers concert

Kathy taking advantage of our Coast Kamloops Hotel room to do homework

which in turn gave me time to finish up the last of the two diaries

For more photos see the Spirit of the West web site diary page at: www.Hugh-McLennan.com.

Our Itinerary!         Top of Page





Day 1

June 18th

Vancouver, BC

Early afternoon board the ms Noordam in Vancouver.
4:30 - Sail away and Spirit of the West Welcome Reception.
We sail under the Lions Gate Bridge and head North to Alaska!

Day 2

June 19th

Cruising Inside Passage

The Inside Passage - one of the most scenic sea-lanes in the world - unbelievable scenery!
11:00 am till noon - S of the W hospitality desk will be open for questions and information.
8:30 pm to 9:30 pm - Spirit of the West Concert and Sing-a-long under the stars.

Day 3

June 20th

Ketchikan, Alaska

This unique Alaskan port is famous for its rich native culture and scenery.
8:30 pm to 9:30 pm - Spirit of the West Concert and Sing-a-long under the stars.

Day 4

June 21st

Juneau, Alaska

A day exploring Alaska's capital with our included shore excursion and extra time to shop.
Arrive 10:00 am and we head out on our private group Mendenhall Tour
10:50 am for group one and 11:50 am for group two.

Day 5

June 22nd

Skagway, Alaska

Back to the days of the great gold rush - optional shore excursion and extra time to shop.
Arrive 7:00 am. 8:10 am the Spirit of the West group departs on the White Pass railway.

Day 6

June 23rd

Cruising Glacier Bay Park

Cruising the ice-studded fjords for a full eight hours as a Park Service Ranger narrates.
8:30 pm to 9:30 pm - Spirit of the West Concert and Sing-a-long under the stars.

Day 7

June 24th

at sea

A leisurely day of cruising
3:30 to 4:30 Bon Voyage Group Cocktail Party!

Day 8

June 25th

Seward (Anchorage) to Denali

6:00 am disembark and take the narrated motor coach tour to Denali National Park.
4:00 pm approximately arrive at the Denali National Park McKinley Chalet Resort.
An evening of entertainment (with a possible sing-a-long).

Day 9

June 26th

Denali National Park

Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour. 6:00 am or 9:00 am - a 4 to 5 hour sightseeing excursion in Denali National Park. Our group splits in two at this point with half staying at the McKinley Lodge and half transferring to the Talkeetna Lake Lodge. This is because of our large numbers (close to 200 of us).

Day 10

June 27th

Denali to Anchorage

9:45 am one half leaves the McKinley Lodge and boards the luxurious domed rail cars of the McKinley Explorer. The second half of the group will join the train at 2:30 pm ... bound for Anchorage and the Westmark Anchorage Hotel.

Day 11

June 28th

Anchorage, Alaska

7:40 am ... our Alaska Journey concludes this morning in Anchorage with flights home.
7:00 pm (with a lot of luck) we'll be at the Sons of the Pioneers concert in Kamloops!

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Here is a map - showing the Alaska Cruise stops - click to enlarge.

2017 Group T-Shirt
2016 Mexican Riviera T-Shirt
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2017 Alaska Cruise
The 2017 map of the Spirit of the West Alaska Crusie
click to enlarge

2017 Group T-Shirt
2016 Mexican Riviera T-Shirt
click to enlarge

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