Sunday, September 20, 2015

Alaska 2015

[ Click on pics for larger view ]

Having just returned from The Last Frontier we have photos to share with you. The trip was aboard the Ruby Princess, seven days, round-trip Seattle to Alaska, including port stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and an unexpected trip up Endicott Arm to see Dawes Glacier. We departed Seattle, Pier 91, on Sunday afternoon, September 6th.

After one full day at sea we arrived in Ketchikan early on Tuesday
morning to rain and clouds touching the mountains beside the sea.
Cruise ships dock right along side of downtown
A lighted "Ketchikan" sign across Mission Street sets
a gateway to this pretty little town. 

We like the clouds reflected in the water.

The Ruby Princess passes to dock just northwest of town.

Still waters.

We are docked facing northwest right across from
the First Lutheran Church.
No, this isn't in Alaska. Just a photo of the Ruby with a red arror to
show you our cabin location, Starboard, Lido deck, right above the Bridge.
This may help understand the perspective of our shipboard pictures,
like the next one.
We are right behind and just above the Starboard Wing of the Bridge.
The Commodore (like a Captain) has full control of the ship from the little blue console.

The Holland America Line Zaandam is docked south of us.

Population of Ketchikan is about 8,000 but may easily double when 4 or 5
cruise ships are docked in town.

Creek Street is a popular destination for shopping.

Flora alongside a stone wall behind Creek Street shops shows
early signs of Fall.
A kitty snoozes behind the shops on Creek Street. No one was paying attention to her
until we stopped to snap her photo. Soon several other tourists must have thought
this to be a good photo opportunity and crowded around. Too much attention
for her and she trotted down the railing to leave us behind. :-)

Silversea's Silver Shadow is arriving in port. This ship is much
smaller ... about 385 guests as compared to 3,500 on the Ruby.

Could you live on a sailboat? It appeared someone was living aboard.
An adventurous way of life, but not for everyone. How about you?

Better check in if you are "from foreign."
Highlight of the trip ... The Northern Lights ...

We departed Ketchikan late afternoon Tuesday and headed north toward our next destination: Tracy Arm. The clouds cleared and we enjoyed a nice sunset around dinner time.

Sunset Tuesday evening after departing Ketchikan.

Much later, close to midnight, we heard an announcement from the Bridge, looked outside, and were amazed to see the Northern Lights playing in the sky. This was our first time to ever see this phenomena. It was worth the entire trip just to see this. Photos don't come close to doing justice, but here are several photos to give you the flavor ...

Mostly green dancing lights in the sky. We wonder what caused the dark streaks
that look wires. No wires up there (that we know of!!!)

We snapped pictures for over an hour as the lights continued
to change.

The streaks changed in number and location. UFOs???

We are looking out the Starboard side of the ship to the eastern skies.
Had we been on the port side we may not have seen the lights so well.

Seeing the Northern Lights was, for us, like a spiritual experience.
We can't really describe it.

Note the stars. The dark lower parts of the picture are mountains
along the sea, of course.

Looking more forward in this shot. We caught just a touch of our
Bridge at the very lower left.

After nearly an hour, it looked like we might see some
different colors. Tiny differences! The "splotches" (for lack
of a better word) in the upper right quadrant were in the sky, not on the
camera lens! :-)

We wish you could see the full size pictures.

Still wondering about the streaks. 

One of our last photos of the Northern Lights and some almost pink colors.

Endicott Arm ...

Wednesday morning and our itinerary called for us to cruise up into Tracy Arm ... a fairly narrow waterway that leads right up to glaciers. As luck would have it, Tracy Arm was fogged in and our Commodore decided to take us on an alternate journey up Endicott Arm ...similar but not quite as spectacular as Tracy. Fine with us, we've seen Tracy before, and something new was welcomed.

Sunrise, September 9th, Endicott Arm, Alaska

Be sure and notice the color of the water. This is due to the
glacier run off. 

This is a photographer's challenge. Well, the sunrise, is happening right
ahead, just over Dawes Glacier, making it tough to get a well lighted
shot of the Glacier. This is as close as the Commodore wants
to get so as to avoid floating ice.

Can you see Dawes Glacier?

The Commodore watches from the Bridge as a small boat of
photographers (next photo) is dispatched to take a
Ruby Princess selfie.

Like using a "selfie stick" they have to get back a ways to get
the whole ship in the picture!

Photographers circle back toward the ship. This photo gives an
overview of the scene where we stopped in Endicott Arm.

More glaciers but no longer trailing all the way down to sea level
as we head toward Juneau.

About 12:30 on Wednesday we arrived in Juneau, Alaska. The Ruby has a nice
pool area in the back of the ship. Most cruisers have gone ashore leaving the
ship mostly empty of passengers. Since we've seen Juneau before we are
exploring the Ruby Princess.

Do you know this flag? The Ruby is registered in Bermuda but this isn't
the Bermuda flag. It is a variant flag of the United Kingdom
 of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We don't know why
Princess flies this flag on the Ruby. Do you know?

Thursday morning arriving Skagway. Another cloudy, rainy day.
Alaska is beautiful even in the rain, but we did feel a bit sorry
for first-time cruisers who had expectations for glorious
sunny days.

The Alaska Ferry plies from Seattle to points north. Here she is in

Holland America's Rotterdam is docked ahead of us.

Best excursion (in our opinion) in Skagway ... the Yukon and White
Pass railroad trip to up to the top of the Pass and the border with
Canada's Yukon Territory.

One last photo on Saturday, September 12, enroute to our last port stop, Victoria, BC.
After a week of cloudy skies it was nice to have one mostly clear day.
If you enjoyed these photos, and missed our post of last year's trip, be sure to check out the archives for our posts starting here.

Thanks for taking the time to look over our photos in this longer-than-usual post on John's Island. We hope all is well with you and send you best regards from The Emerald City!


  1. Oh, what a wonderful trip!! I am a tad envious, but so happy for you!! I do love cruises and have taken some great ones, but I've never been to Alaska and would love to go there -- preferably on a cruise like this one! Your photos are the next best thing!! Thank you so much for sharing!! Hope you have a great new week!!

  2. oh, the still waters, reflections, the foggy look at the other ship. beautiful! looks like you had plenty to enjoy!

  3. Much like Sylvia, I am a bit envious! What a fantastic trip, John! I adore these photos!

  4. I feel like I just took a cruise to Alaska. Love the aurora lights! That is a dream of mine, to see those in person. The way you described it gave me chills. I am just imagining what it must be like in person!

    I am a little crestfallen to note your ship doesn't seem to have a little pointy deck at the front so you can do that Titanic arm spreading thing. I am the king of the world. But not here. Sigh.

  5. Hello John, your Alaska cruise looks awesome. I love the Northern Lights images. They are amazing. Gorgeous collection of images. Thanks for sharing, Have a happy week ahead!

  6. John your photos are fantastic! I'm so surprised to see the Northern Lights out already. I grew up watching NL in my skies but by the time they were visible where I lived they were not such fantastic colours like they have in Alaska and northern Scandanavia.

  7. You had a super trip. It's hard to believe you've never seen northern lights? We get them here but city light cuts down the brilliance. Out in the dark country is the best place to see them.

  8. What gorgeous views! Lovely tour, John, thank you!

  9. That would be a wonderful experience and one I would love to have some day. The Northern Lights are spectacular.All the pictures are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing these.

  10. I am indeed jealous. Visiting Alaska is on my bucket list. My older brother worked for an oil company in Ketchakan for a couple years when I was in grade school. He didn't bring back a single photo. That butthead. *wink*

  11. What a wonderful trip! I'm glad to see your smiling "face" again, though. I missed you. Your Northern Lights pictures are stunning, and well, I simply enjoyed it immensely. Thanks! :-)

  12. What wonderful shots. Alaska looks so pristine and beautiful. And I do love the Northern Lights.

  13. Wow a fantastic trip. Loved seeing all the pictures.
    No, I don't think I could live on a sailboat. I like solid ground. : )

  14. Thanks for sharing your nice cruise to Alaska. A great sequence of images indeed. Fantastic and uplifting the Northern Lights in the sky!

  15. All these photos can bring a serene feeling somehow. I don't know why.
    I'm sure you enjoyed these sights. Those lights too! On my bucket list.

    I like your header photo. Is that new?

  16. Oooh, that looks like quite the trip! So neat! Love the Northern Lights! They must have been fascinating to see and fun to photograph! The view of the clouds over the water and mountains is beautiful, and those cruise ships are quite impressive themselves--also love the train!


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