Where does a 90,000 pound ship go? Anywhere it wants to, or at least anywhere it can. At a length of 962 feet, and a width (or beam if you prefer the nautical term) of 105.6 feet, you need a pretty confident and skilled captain to take this enormous ship down Tracy Arm Fjord. Good thing we had one, because even more important, it was El Capitan’s job to make sure we could get back out. With 2,500 people aboard, and only a week’s worth of groceries and booze, it would have been a bitch to run out. … and if you think El Capitan just throws the gears in reverse and backs out, nope, that’s not how it works. In fact, El Capitan just turned us around as if on an axis and took us out bow first. Aren’t you impressed? Not with El Capitan, but with me and my fluent use of nautical terms?
I don’t know how wide Tracy Arm Fjord is, but let’s just say that Tony Romo could throw a football from either side of the ship and maybe hit land. Oh, all right. Probably not, but shore was closer than you would think safe.
Here’s where we were headed:
A close up of some ice water:
This was a fairly large chunk of ice. These “floaters,” as I shall refer to them (no, not the floaters in your eyes, and not the other ones either) were everywhere. So what happens if the ship hits these floaters? Well, nothing if the ship is going slow enough, and nothing if the ice is not so large that it’s still attached to the bottom of the ocean. If that’s the case, then by definition it wouldn’t really be a floater, would it? Glad I’m not El Capitan!
Here’s a great shot:
Waterfalls were everywhere. It made me think about global warming, and the melting glaciers, and how our great, great, grandchildren may not get to see this stuff.
Speaking of glaciers, in this case the business end of the fjord, here we are at Sawyer Glacier. I’m not sure if this is the North or South Sawyer glacier – such adorable twins, but they’re huge!
The decks were crammed with people and cameras, including us … and when we managed to get a great vantage point, we were reluctant to move. Then El Capitan turned the ship around and suddenly we had the crappy seats. Well, not so crappy, as this was truly one occasion when the crappy seats were actually pretty good … but there were better ones. So, off we went again in search of the very best spot. You have to admit, this is a great spot for a picture. The three of us managed to find each other, and we swapped picture-taking favors with another shipmate.
Check out the cute pink jacket. Yep, got it on the ship. It’s a bona fide Royal Carribean windbreaker. Not so warm, but it is pink and it is cute, so that makes up for most anything …
The weather was unbelievably warm during most of the cruise, considering we were sailing in Alaskan waters and ice was all around. The only cold days were the days we just sailed and had no stops. On those days, it was misty, windy and foggy (foghorns even blew all night one night). …and speaking of nights, well, not too much night to speak of. About four hours tops, I’d say.
One of the nights, we went dancing at the Vortex club with Sara and with Chuck and Kelly (family members you will see more of in Juneau). We were looking out of the windows at 1:00 a.m., and still it wasn’t dark. It’s hard to believe Johnny and I were up at that hour, and not only up, but up dancing. Not so hard to believe that Sara was up. Parties don’t start in college until 1:00 a.m., so she was just getting warmed up. We had a great time, but I paid for it the next day. My hips paid throughout the next week.
Back to the fjord … while we were down at the business end, our cruise director, Mike, and a few of his mates took one of the rescue boats as close to the Sawyer twin (I just can’t tell them apart!) as they dared. I never knew this before, but it is dangerous to get too close to a glacier in a boat because of calving, or ice falling from the glacier (and here I thought calving meant the birthing of cute little baby cows), and also because sometimes glacier ice shoots up from the ocean floor to become, you guessed it, a floater. While awesome to witness, it’s best to view this action from afar.
Their goal was to find a piece of ice (yes, I said ice …) and bring it back to the ship for an ice carving. An ambitious endeavor, and it took a while to find just the right piece.
Aha, got one!
Daniel and I raced inside to watch them bring it aboard.
Bigger than you thought it was!
Now, here’s the stoopid part. We never went back to see what they carved it into. What a great way to pull this all together, a picture of the finished carving, and I missed it. What a dork I am.
We ran into Johnny’s parents enjoying the view, and a little snack. What a view! I think they had the best seats, and they weren’t doing all that running around!
We saw quite a few seals sunning themselves on the floaters.
… and déjà vu, back out the way we came.
More to come, so I’ll be back in a few days with the final Alaska post!