Outline of the Cruise: September-October 2015

(Itinerary and Information courtesy Silverseas and Wikipedia)

The Intrepids are cruising on Silver Shadow of Silversea Cruises from Seward AK to Tokyo Japan stopping in the Aleutian Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Intrepids are a like-minded travel group lead by Cathy Wilkes of Humber Valley United Church in Toronto Ontario.

In the Blog I will chronicle the day-by-day experience with photos of the day.

More Detailed information on the stops

Emergency Contact:
The Ship: Silver Shadow

or via
Gabriella at Exotic Destinations
  Tel: 416-214-2235     Toll Free: 1-877-698-6588

Monday – Wednesday, September 14 – 16 - Vancouver - Anchorage

After a brief adventure finding the lot where we were to park, we departed Pearson Airport early Monday morning and were at our hotel, the 910 Beach in Vancouver before lunchtime. We had a lovely stroll around downtown Vancouver and lunch at a great organic cafĂ© before we got into our room. By then we needed a rest, but later on went out again for dinner. Tuesday morning we were ready to really see the city, which neither of us had done since we’d only ever been there on business before. So we boarded the first Hop-on-Hop-off bus of the morning, stopping first at Granville Island. What a fun place to wander through! Lots of interesting shops and an amazing market, where we had our mid-morning coffee.
  Larry was chilly so we bought him a Canada hoodie, and while we were at it, I decided I needed a Canada baseball cap. Next stop: 

Chinatown, where we toured the lovely Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden and heard many interesting facts about the area and the long history of China. Before sitting down to a late lunch, we visited the Vancouver Art Gallery to see a show of Italian art.  Turns out that the VAG is closing for renovations, and we were there the last day, so much of the building was already off limits, but we saw what we wanted to. By the time we’d eaten, we had done enough walking for the day, so we rode the bus around Stanley Park without getting off. It’s lovely just to see on the way by. Since we had a kitchen, we stopped for groceries and made our own dinner. Nice to have a quiet evening before the next phase of our travels. First thing Wednesday morning we discovered that our flight to Anchorage was delayed by 3 hours. That gave us time to wander along the shore near our hotel, and find a wonderful restaurant with a great view for our lunch.
After that, it got more stressful. At the airport, the computer refused to print our baggage tags, so we were much-delayed at the check-in area. Next was an extremely long security line and a further delay while they triple-checked Larry’s carry-on bag. By that time, we should have been boarding our flight, but we still had US customs & immigration ahead of us! We had planned to meet the Wilkes in the business lounge, but we were far too late for that. Luckily, we made it in time to see them before we boarded, and the flight was uneventful. We were met by a SilverSeas rep at that airport and driven into town, where we were unceremoniously dumped at some back entrance to our hotel. After some confusion, some of us found the SilverSeas hospitality desk, where we were given short shrift by someone who announced she was “too old and too tired for this”. After humping our own luggage to our room, Larry and I headed out to find dinner. We discovered that Anchorage is a real party town, and tried two full restaurants before finding one with an available table. We did have a great meal. Then back to the hotel, a good night’s sleep, and ready to roll out the next morning by 11.
[All Photos of the Day]

Thursday - September 17 - Anchorage to Seward and onboard Silver Shadow

 We caught a chartered bus to the airport, where we boarded the excursion train to Seward. It was a very nice trip, with some spectacular scenery – glaciers, mountains and valleys. There were also mud flats and lots of forest. A few scattered settlements. It was not really what we had pictured as great Alaskan scenery, but we enjoyed the trip. We were happy to see the terminal in Seward, and to board the Silver Shadow. 
We were greeted warmly, given champagne and shown to our very spacious and comfortable suite. We met our butler, Ricardo, and Suite Attendant, Cecilia, both from the Philippines. I know they’ll take very good care of us. The safety drill was fun as always, especially in the damp chilly air of the open deck, but it was soon over and we had a briefing by the staff, along with more champagne. Dinner later was wonderful. It’s clear that all of our clothes should have been at least 2 sizes bigger, since the ones we have will not fit when we leave this ship! We were warned it would be rough overnight. I’m told it was, but I slept right through it.
[Lots of Photos of the Day]

Friday, September 18 - Kodiak Island, Alaska

 We docked at Kodiak in time to meet our 8:15 tour to Ft. Abercrombie State Park. What a great place! Our driver gave a running commentary as we went past the fishing harbour and numerous canning factories that are the economic engine of this area. At the park he pointed out many kinds of plants and trees, and we climbed through the forest to points overlooking the shore and water. 
We didn’t see much wildlife: a nuthatch, some ducks, seagulls and a bald eagle, 
but we heard some good bear stories. The World War II batteries at the high point of our hike revealed a part of history with which I was unfamiliar – the Japanese occupation of some of the other Aleutian Islands. Larry was fascinated by the military museum that is now in one of the bunkers, especially the communications electronics part of it. Back in town we visited a small museum in an old Russian building, and learned about the presence of Russia here in early times, as well as the earthquake and tsunami that nearly obliterated Kodiak in the 1960s. Back on board we enjoyed a late lunch and some relaxation

[More Photos of the Day]

Saturday September 19 & Sunday September 20th : At Sea.

SilverSea really does a good job of activities for sea days. There’s everything from lectures to line dancing, as well as a variety of movies and other videos, books, games, and of course great food. Saturday was a scheduled sea day, and we all enjoyed the available amenities. Collette visited the spa and came back glowing, and I know there was some shopping. Cathy, Larry and I have joined a trivia team, and are in second place after 2 days of play. The winning team really is brilliant, but we’re determined to catch and even pass them. I also played some bingo and won one card. For most of the game I thought I must have a completely different set of numbers than the ones they were using! Just as we sat down for dinner, one of the servers spotted some whales near the ship. We rushed to the window and could just see them moving, one spouted, but none really surfaced. The seas continue rough, and the winds are still very strong, so it was a restless night.
Sunday morning we arrived at Dutch Harbor in very poor weather. 
[Above 2 file photos]The captain and local pilot tried twice to anchor the ship in the harbour, but the anchor would not hold. It was not safe to stay, so they turned the ship around and left the harbour without letting us go ashore. We did get a good view of the small community from the ship. 
  The winds were so strong that the crew tied down all the deck chairs, but some of them broke loose and actually became airborne. I don’t know if any actually went over the side, but for a few moments it looked and sounded quite dramatic. Some people saw a whale or whales jumping from the water, but we all missed that sight. The crew quickly organized alternative activities for us. I joined a line dancing class. It was kind of hilarious as the ship lurched about and we all tried to hold our places and balance while remembering the steps. Very good exercise. There was an amusing explanation of the International Date Line and what happens to the day we will lose this week. (We’ll get it back on the way home from Japan.) This afternoon we’ll do bingo and trivia again. It’s certainly relaxing being at sea, and although most of the time we can see nothing but water, it’s quite a stunning sight. We’re in the Bering Sea, and it’s very grey and steely, with the sun blazing across it and constant choppy wave action. Given that the waves are about 3 – 4 metres high, the ship is surprisingly stable, although we’re all glad we don’t have to pass any kind of sobriety test involving walking a straight line. The next few days will be at sea as we make our way to Petropavlovsk Russia. We will cross the date line along the way and lose one day before we get there on Friday[we are losing an hour a day for the next few days - should help our jet-lag]

Sunday – Tuesday, September 20 – 22 - At Sea

Over the course of these few days, we’ve continued to sail west, setting our clocks back an hour each night. We’ve passed several of the Aleutians, but could not see them. The sea is now much calmer than it was, and the wind is less fierce. However, the sky is cloudy and the ocean is grey. There’s a layer of salt on the balcony chairs and railing and the temperature is a chilly 10 C. We haven’t spent much time out there, but we do keep watching for whales or other sea life. Nothing but some birds so far. There’s lots to entertain us, though, to say nothing of a continuous supply of food and drink.

We continue to participate in afternoon trivia, slipping now to third place in a field of 11 teams (that’s 88 people out of 250 passengers!). We have a new strategy, and are determined to climb up in the standings. [Later note: Our strategy worked well, but not well enough – we’re still in third place.] I’ve been playing bingo, too, but not winning much there either. Line dancing is great fun on a rolling ship, and it provides a way to burn a few of the excess calories. We’ve gone to a couple of lectures about famous musical talents. Today was Gene Kelly. Very interesting. And we’ve also learned about the next few ports of call. Every night there is excellent musical or other entertainment. Tonight we cross the date line, so there will be no Wednesday for us this week. Larry has a cold, and wasn’t feeling up to the dining room. He had lunch in our suite, alone, and I joined him there for dinner. It was very nice to have it all brought to us by our attentive butler, Ricardo. Tonight there’s a cocktail reception and formal dinner, so we’ll get gussied up in a while and head out for that. In fact, Larry has bought a fancy new Armani shirt for it. This morning, a passenger had an apparent stroke during the lecture, so now we’re moving as quickly as possible toward Petropavlovsk to get him to a hospital. We’re now scheduled to arrive there at 6:30 tomorrow afternoon. That also means a 2-hour set-back of our clocks tonight.
Link to Photos of this period

Thursday & Friday, September 24 & 25 - Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia

  Wednesday, Sep 23rd was very short – we crossed the International Date Line about 7:30pm, so only had a few hours of that day.  It did include great entertainment in the theatre, though. Thursday was another day at sea, with lots of enjoyable activities, food and conversation. We had been cleared to arrive in Petropavlovsk at 6:30pm because of a medical emergency on board, and were travelling at top speed. Suddenly the ship was ordered to turn around and get out of an area where the Russian Navy was conducting an exercise, so we drifted about for perhaps 3 or 4 hours until we were cleared to proceed. We got into the harbour late in the evening, and they were able to transfer the ill gentleman to hospital. The Russian authorities did their thing in the evening and so Friday morning we were able to board the tenders in good time to have interesting tours of the city. It is so isolated that there are limits on its development and it is experiencing the common problems of an exodus of young people and declining population, but it has an interesting history.

We visited the history museum to learn about much of its story, as well as several small sites.

New Cathedral

There is a new cathedral, still under construction, that is really beautiful.

The market is lively and interesting too. Back on board, our only option for lunch was the bar area near the pool. Luckily, the sun was out for the first time in days, and it had warmed up a bit. We joined 2 ladies at their table and had a great conversation. They are both Scottish, and travel a lot. They are members of one of the other trivia teams, so we all laughed about that experience. Later on, The Intrepid 8 managed to better our main rivals and move up to second place overall. We are determined to win this trivia challenge! We all met for a later dinner, and retired for the rest of the evening. This business of setting clocks back night after night gets difficult after a while. Having pulled out of the harbour at Petropavlovsk, we were soon into rougher seas again, so tonight we will be rocked to sleep.
Link to Photos of 24         and 25

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