Cruising plans crushed

I had been looking forward to a cruise with my favorite quilting sister in law – the One Block Wonder Woman in August to Alaska.   A quilting cruise, with 4 wonderful sea days, and two ports I have never been to, Sitka and Haines Alaska.

We were booked on the Princess Star out of San Francisco for August 21st, in an inside cabin.  We had excursions booked and paid for, our deposits in on the cruise and then the COVID-19 pandemic started hitting the world and the cruise industry.  We were not too worried because we both felt that things would be back to normal by August, even when Princess took a voluntary 60 day halt to their sailings.  I sailed out of San Francisco last summer on a 10 day trip to Alaska, and was quite looking forward to going again.  

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My younger sister had 2 cruises cancelled in that 60 day window, including a much anticipated Trans-Atlantic trip to Copenhagen.

Two weeks ago, the chatter on Cruise Critic implied people were getting upgrades for the sailing, and our travel agent/quilting cruise organizer got us a wonderful balcony cabin.  We were feeling so hopeful.  We had picked out excursions in each port, had hotel reservations for the night before the cruise with the group we were traveling with, airport transfers, and much more.  

I ordered t-shirts to do some fun embroidery on for the trip, got them all washed and ready to stitch.  Suddenly, the mask making needs got into full swing, and the stack of freshly washed tshirts took a back seat.  All my fun sewing has pretty much stopped while I try to keep up with the demands for masks.

Another batch ready

Then – last week I saw the article linked below in USA Today, and I  KNEW our voyage for August was in jeopardy.    Go have a read of the article after my blog post and you will understand the sense of dread I was feeling.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2020/04/14/carnival-princess-cancel-cruises-through-june-amid-coronavirus-crisis/2991576001/

As a person with a logistics background, this article left me very concerned. How were cruise lines supposed to schedule with the crazy situation they were faced with? 

Last night I got the dreaded email, first from Princess CEO and then from the travel agent.  The Alaska cruise season for 2020 is not going to happen with my favorite cruise line.  My bright spot at the end of this crazy time has disappeared, leaving me feel so very sad.  Not just for me, and my sister in law, but for all those in the travel and hospitality industries, the people in Alaska that depend on these cruise ships coming and the families of all who depend on the person working in the travel industry.   

For myself, it feels a bit selfish to whine and carry on about a cancelled cruise when people in my state, mostly in long term care facilities, are losing their lives to COVID-19.  I am praying for the “herd immunity” to start working while the researchers and healthcare professionals try to find a  way to fight this pandemic.   I’m praying too that the Health and Human Services department in our little state can figure out why so many elderly people in our care facilities are dying. What is wrong with the workers coming in and why are they not protecting the residents who are most vulnerable?  So while I whine for a minute, I really worry for those who can’t protect themselves against the unseen virus and are being done in by the very people being paid to care for them. 

Think I will go wash my hands and make more masks in the mean time.  When this week is over, I am going to start sewing for fun again. I need some joy back.  Maybe I will go sort out that album of Alaska photos from the trip last year too……

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While I do that, I can plan for 2021 I suppose.  What are you doing to muddle thru this crazy time?  

 

 

Sailing through Endicott (not Tracy) Arm

EDIT –  There is a link at the bottom of the post to a Google Photo album full of pictures of Endicott Arm.

I spent the most luxurious day of the cruise sailing in/through Tracy Endicott Arm Alaska. When I boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco almost a full week ago, I booked a day in the sanctuary for the day we sailed to Tracy Arm.For a modest $60 fee, I had access to the Sanctuary for the day. I was up before 5am and on deck in the 45 degree, windy weather and ready to see the ice and glaciers. I made a quick return to my cabin for the windbreaker that goes with my fleece jacket.

Now; before I continue, I have to address one small matter….you see….we were scheduled to sail in Tracy Arm.  In fact; we did not.

I must quote from the “Captain’s log” to tell the story properly. 30 Aug 2019 – Endicott Arm – During the night Grand Princess sailed through Stephens Passage, towards Tracy Arm.  In the morning, at 05:00 am; Grand Princess aborted attempt to enter Tracy Arm due to a large piece of ice in the middle of the bar, and entered Endicott Arm.  After many alterations of coursxe and speed to ensure a safe transit the Grand Princess was in position to Dawes Glacier at 08:30.  Grand Princess then retraced her track through the Fjord and exited the Arm at 11:35.  The two pilots which provided guidance throughout our cruise were disembarked at 14:08 at Cornwallis pilot station and after we proceeded on a South Easterly course towards our next port, Victoia; entering Canadian waters at 22:15.  Noon position 57degress41.3’N; 133degrees 44.4’W. 

I’m sure there was an announcement somewhere along the way as to the change of course etc….but you will certainly understand after reading the following why I was just slightly confused!

Back to the story & photos….

By 6 am I was settled in the assigned lounge chair, sipping champagne between cups of coffee.The angled glass windows helped break the worst of the cold wind. Located one deck above the bridge it was a great view. Watching the people on top of the bridge in the wind reinforced my decision to book the sanctuary.

In the photo below; you might notice the goats and hats etc on the guests….everyone except the lovely bride!!!  This photo was taken about 8:30 am; right in front of the glacier.  Up that close to the Dawes Glacier; the wind was not howling like it was in the preceding hours.

Taking pictures required me to get up and move to another area, but it was a great place to spend the day!!

With the red check fleece blanket (s) tucked around my legs, I enjoyed the ear warmer headband provided. Not to long went by and we were served fresh warm cinnamon flop donuts, followed by made to order breakfast omelettes.It was so good I forget to get the picture until the end.  Cold air makes you hungry and I ate while it was HOT!

The endless cup of coffee and glass of. Champagne.  (Did I mention they greeted us with champagne and the glass was not empty all day?) The travel mug was a complimentary gift, along with all that nice champagne.

After the eggs came the tray of pastry….and more coffee and champagne.

The best pastry on the ship!  (Yes…that is chocolate inside) As we progressed up the Arm to the glacier we were seeing ice in the water.

The lovely hostess in The Sanctuary was kind to take a photo of the glacier with me in the shot.About 9:30 am we turned and took the same route back out of the arm. Along the way I managed a little bit of a nap before lunch was offered and served.I chose grilled shrimp and white bean salad with tomato. It was a lovely lunch, followed by more champagne. Naps were taking place all over the place. I managed to sneak in about an hour or so.

Yes, still covered up with the plaid blanket while the day progresses.  Supposedly the air temp was 54 degrees at the high point…but that was after we left the arm and were sitting out in the sun out of the wind.  (I think it was about 38 starting out with the wind gusting!)  (That 54 degrees was a fantasy in my opinion….)

Tea time on the ship means fantastic service in the Sanctuary too.

Small sandwiches being served to each guest while we sail towards Victoria BC.

Loved the egg salad and the soft roll.

I had to skip the round of fancy cookies that came next! And the fancy pastries. I held out for the raisin scones, jam and “clotted cream”.The day ended for me at 5 in the Sanctuary, which was dinner time. I ate very light!!

If you are sailing on Princess to Alaska I highly recommend the scenic day package in the Sanctuary.

Watch for more posts on my 10 day cruise to Alaska in coming installments!

UPDATE – here is the link to the photos –View of Dawes Glacier and Tracy Arm Photos

Hot August Days and packing for Alaska

What can I say – it is just HOT !!  Summer in Delaware and that is to be expected.   We are in the “dog days” of August with Hazy; hot; HUMID; hot; thunderstorm weather. 3 out of 5 afternoons we have those drenching downpours.  This is typical of our weather radar this month!

 

Time for thunderstorms

So; in between storms we have had lots of pool time, and lots of time hiding in the house with the air conditioning.  Not much time spent in the sewing room, as over the garage it is challenging to keep it regulated to “comfortable” for any length of time.

Some evenings have been pretty pleasant after the string of storms cooled things off. We went to listen to our son in law play with his band, Lincoln City at a local restaurant, on the rooftop.

Lincoln City playing at the Counting House

His group is quite good; and it is fun to see him switch back and forth on his various guitars.

We also got an evening out at Abbotts Mill Nature Center for music.   It was nice to see so many families out for the evening.

And of course, in between times there is a little time for chillen’ on the porch!  I just loved these wine goblets that were a gift at retirement.

Chillen' on the porch

Don’t you know, as luck would have it, the day after this photo; I dropped a chilled goblet, with the stainless steel freezer balls; and cracked it! One down; one to go!  I like the plastic for by the pool and the porch (HINT FOR CHRISTMAS FAMILY….) and I like the stem!

We got lucky with the weather for the GLOW RIDE which was held in a neighboring town, sponsored by #LifecycleDE.

Getting the bikes ready

Over 80 people rode the circuit through Seaford Delaware including 2 Seaford Police Officers in the new “bike” unit.

Seaford Police riding the Glow ride

The last 2 weeks have been busy with quilt guild Community Sewing day; and board meetings; getting a newsletter article written; and sewing with my ladies at the assisted living. I sat at the kitchen counter and sorted donated squares for a solid week, where it was cooler than my room above the garage.

Sorting stacks of 5" squares

My co-chair for 2nd Time Around spent a couple of hours hanging out in the garage on a cooler day; bringing up the donations that we have accumulated over the summer and sorting them out and staging them for September work. We have LOTS ready for our September meeting to sell and even though I have been “staging the ready stuff” at the church where we meet, I still have lots to bring to that meeting!

The ladies who sew at the assisted living facility COMPLETED 15 placemats for donating to  Serendipity Quilt Shop, Dagsboro DE) for the MEALS ON WHEELS  project.

Brandywine Ladies with their placemats

They decided they needed a field trip; so instead of sewing this past week, we arranged for them to go shopping.  Five ladies along with the activities director arrived by the facility bus at the quilt shop. It was a great chance to encourage the purchase of needle threaders and top stitch needles with big eyes and flower head pins along with fabric and patterns and books. Three of the ladies are my die-hard regulars and they had an absolute ball looking at all the fabric and notions. One of the ladies is also a garment sewer; and she has made a dress to wear to a wedding in a lovely turquoise linen, and wanted a jacket made out of batik.  She had her batik picked out but I got to help her pick the piping fabric.  We were able to get a picture of them quickly in the shop with the placemats before I handed them off to the coordinator.

I’ve spent some time this month “pre-planning” my next great adventure. My sister invited me on another cruise, this time to Alaska. I fly to San Francisco next week so there is lots to get ready. Last weekend I did most of my packing; unpacking some after weighing the suitcase and repacking. I had to “pair down” a bit!  Just how many hats and mittens and gloves should I take?

ALASKA packing

I eliminated most of them!

Packing decisions for Alaska

I have a friend who is on a cruise at the same time leaving from another port and we have exchanged packing lists of “must haves”. Packing for an Alaska cruise is so different from a European or Caribbean / Mexico cruise.  I really had to think through what to take.

Before I get to that list, let me tell you about what I  have in the “must have” for any cruise.  I “must have” the following in my suitcase (in fact….I store most of it in my suitcase between cruises with the exception of the shoes) . This is my 21st cruise, and I think I have got the essentials without overdoing things.

  • USB/multi outlet Power block  (There is a picture of it in the photo with the hats and gloves)
  • Wine bottle opener / stopper
  • vinyl luggage tag (like these on Amazon – ) for cruise specific tag
  • laundry bag
  • magnet with hook (cruise ship walls are metal)
  • clothes pins
  • laundry soap pods/dryer sheets
  • Sandals, sneakers, dress shoes (1 pair each)

Purchased new for this cruise specifically

  •  “DAY PACK” (like this one on Amazon  )
  • Pop up style hamper to replace the laundry bag (tripped over one at Walgreens for $2.99 yesterday) (My sister had one I admired, easy to take to the laundry room which can be a long hike to the other end of the ship
  • a rain poncho  (like this one on Amazon  )

Those new items will stay “in the suitcase for future cruises.

I’ve cruised to Alaska once – in 2005 and know that the weather is constantly changing and subject to being hot / cold / raining.

Because I usually cruise in the winter to WARM climates, it is hard not to grab the tank tops, shorts and sundress, etc!   I did pack 1 sleeveless blouse & capri’s “just in case”. I will probably fly home in them!

A necessity is a jacket/raincoat on an Alaskan cruise. Since wet & rainy weather is the expectation; I made certain my Columbia Ski jacket with the zip out fleece lining was sprayed with water-repellant.  What I like about this jacket is it can be worn as a unit or as separate  pieces depending on the weather.  I sprayed the sneakers and walking shoes too; and let them sit out in the sunshine to dry really well before packing them.

Waterproofing the shoes

I recently picked up a lovely poncho by Rain Caper (see the link for the rain poncho).  The one I bought is black on one side and has a tan & black print on the reverse. Not as arty as the one in the link, but I think it will be more functional.   I liked the feel of it and the style; reversible etc. It has little magnets in the corners to keep you from “flopping” in the breeze!  I tried several over the years and decided this one is a winner. It is short enough that I can cycle with it on without being a hazard, long enough to cover the “backside”.   I like that it has a zip pouch that I can tuck in my bag too.  I hate those plastic rain ponchos you buy at the dollar store. They have their purpose but they lack a lot of style !

Here is a look at my packing list for this trip (a 10 day cruise with 3 travel days before/after the cruise).  This is all beyond the normal dress dinner wear & shoes,  undergarments, pajamas, sandals and sneakers, swim suit and sunscreen, wine opener & stopper and refillable water bottle/coffee cup.

  • Fleece hat;
  • 1 pair mittens; 1 pair lined gloves;
  • binoculars
  • warm socks & sneaker socks
  • 5 long sleeve tee shirts
  • 5 pair pants (nylon/zip off legs) water resistant fabric
  • 3 pair leggings/tights
  • 4 short sleeve tee-shirts (2 performance wear for cycling / exercise)
  • lightweight zip front hoodie style sweater
  • sturdy walking shoes
  • bug spray
  • Columbia Ski Jacket with zip out fleece layer.
  • Rain Caper poncho
  • ball cap (to keep rain off my glasses)
  • Tilly sun hat

Yes, all this is in a large suitcase. I use those plastic zip-style compression bags to ensure it all “fits” and nothing gets wet when the suitcase sits on the tarmac at the airport or in the rain while loading.  (Happen just about every trip….)  I weighed the suitcase and it comes in at 43 pounds. Gives me some options for tossing in things like my English paper piecing project bag and other odds and ends I can’t quite live without.

I really liked the day pack I ordered; and it may replace the much heavier one I usually carry on the plane. My husband laughed when it arrived because he said I would “never” get it re-zipped into it’s own pocket. So, I decided to video as I “unzipped” it out of it’s pocket to keep as a reminder of how it should be “rezipped” later.

Hey, when you get old, you sometimes have to have little memory triggers, right?

Our trip starts in San Francisco on Saturday; followed by two sea days sailing the Pacific coastline. We dock on Tuesday in Ketchikan Alaska. My sister and I are scheduled to go to the “Lumberjack show” in the morning; and sail at 2 pm. That should give us a little time to wander about town.  The next day we are in Juneau, where I have signed up for a “Bike & Brew Glacier View” excursion. The bike ride finishes at a brew pub at 5 pm; and we are in port until 9 pm; so there is plenty of time to wander around Juneau. The next day we will be in Skagway and I have schedule a “rain forest bicycle tour”.  It finishes up before lunch time and again, there is plenty of sightseeing time before we sail at 8:30 pm. We spend Friday sailing though Tracy Arm, looking at the glaciers and wildlife.  We have another sea day on Saturday, and dock in Victoria BC on Sept 1st.  I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do in Victoria. Sunday is a tough time to visit on your own (without going on a tour). Our time is port is from 7 am to 2 pm; so if you have a recommendation; tell me.  Our cruise finishes up with another sea day going South along the Pacific coastline and dock back in San Francisco on Tuesday.

I think I am fairly prepared and 99% packed for this trip. At least I won’t need the warm jacket at home this week or any of those long sleeve shirts!!  Fingers crossed that we have lovely 70 degree weather for the 10 days; but my expectation is wet and rainy at low 50’s.  Watch for a travel update when I return.

What are you doing for fun this month?