Alaskan Cruise Day 3 – Whales and Juneau

Yesterday was day 3 of our Alaskan cruise onboard the Celebrity Mercury. The cruise continues to be an excellent time. The Celebrity Mercury and crew continue to provide us with exemplary service and a good time. We are constantly reminded of why we choose Celebrity when we can.

One thing that has been odd for us on this cruise is the cruise director. Normally, by this time, we have spent hours talking with the cruise director. On this cruise, we haven’t even seen the cruise director except at the shows. It certainly hasn’t detracted from the cruise at all, it’s just different for us. Someone mentioned that this is his first cruise as cruise director. He seems to be working from behind the scenes. The rest of the activities staff has been wonderful.

We started the day early in the morning sailing towards Junuea. We were supposed to passing through whale feeding grounds around 7:30 in the morning, so we were up and on top of the ship watching for them. Last cruise to Alaska, we only saw one lone Orca whale. As we approached the feeding grounds, a naturalist on board, was giving updates and sighting of whales.

We quickly found two humpback whales that passed off the starboard side, maybe 200 yards away. They sliced through the surface several times and gave us some pretty good blows, though they never really got that far out of the water. The naturalist was reporting ahead that a research vessel was surrounded by maybe 10 humpback whales. We would be passing within a hundred yards of the vessel. As we approached, we could see in the distance many whale blows and tops of whales. They would be appearing on the surface about every 3 minutes. The naturalist revised his count to 1 dozen humpbacks.

Just as the bow of our ship reache a beam of the research vessel, the whales began surfacing, as if on cue. It was quite a sight. Hopefully, our videos and still camera shots will come out well. We were treated to a few minutes of a dozen whales swimming by our ship. Unfortunately, they were not in a playful mood and none came jumping out of the water as the naturalist said they could do. Still, it was a nice way to start the morning.

The rest of the morning was spent sailing in the narrow passageway to Juneau. It was very enjoyable to watch the Alaskan countryside go on by. It was also amazing where some really nice houses were built. Not sure how one would get to them in the winter. Maybe they are just summer homes.

We docked in Juneau about 12:30 pm a bit ahead of our planned 1:00 pm arrival. When we arrived, there was already 4 other large cruise ships in port. The Celebrity Summit, The Holland America Amsterdam, The Princess Pacific Princess were docked and the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas was anchored in the harbor. It was a busy day in Juneau indeed. The last time we cruised Alaska, we were the only ship in port.

We had no excursions planned for the day, but instead planned to walk around Juneau, do some shopping and maybe catch a few random sights. Sean wanted to see the Alaska state museum, but Savannah didn’t. I am not a museum guy myself, so I ended up taking Savannah shopping while Suzanne took Sean to the museum.

The streets were very busy and very crowded. It was very unlike last time in Juneau were there were not many people and we had the run of the town. Being the only cruise ship in town vs 5 ships made a huge impact. It didn’t make the visit bad or anything like that, but it did seem so much more touristy this time than the last time. Of course, we last visited Alaska on a cruise 14 years ago when it wasn’t quite the trendy cruise destination that it is today. I hope there isn’t 5 ships in port every stop.

Everyone picked up a few trinkets in Juneau. We also took a tram up the slope of Mt Roberts, one of the mountains surrounding Juneau. If you don’t know, Juneau is only reachable by ship or plane. We had a wonderful view of the surrounding areas from the Mt and during the ascent/descent of the tram. It turned out to be the highlight of our stop in Juneau.

Being as we had a late departure, 10:00pm, from Juneau, many folks had excursions that lasted into the night. We were back onboard for dinner in the dining room, which was pretty empty. The rest of our party (my mother, my aunt and my sister and her husband) had gone on a whale watching excursion and were not there for dinner. We only saw them for a brief moment in the night and they said they had fun and saw lots of whales up close and personal.

The nightime fun included karaoke for Suzanne (she song 3 songs) and the 50’s/60’s sock hop. Suzanne and the kids again brought they period costumes for the party. It was a good time, but I must say that the passengers didn’t quite get into like everyone did on our last Mercury cruise last November. Everyone enjoyed the music and trivia, but not all that many people danced. Suzanne and the kids enjoyed dancing with members of the Celebrity Dancers from the shows. Mr Papa enjoyed sipping on his drink and watching.

We finally retired about 12:30 am last night. We had an early arrival into Skagway in the morning, but we planned to sleep in a bit before seeing the town and our train ride excursion.