Feeling as if we were all by ourselves in the world the Statendam approached Juneau. As we were alone we could set our arrival time without having to fit in with the normal convoy and that gave me half hour extra in bed. If there are more ships calling then the agent sets the pecking order so each ship can arrive without being hindered by another ship. For us that meant all summer a very early arrival as we were always tucked away in the corner of the Alaska Steamship dock. A very good place to be but it meant that everybody involved in arrival had to get going very early. Now we just had to make sure that we arrived 30 minutes before the first tour started. Much more civil and pleasant. By 07.00 hrs. we were happily parked at the Cruise Terminal and the first people streamed ashore to enjoy what was going to be a glorious day.
The Juneau Cruise Terminal as seen from the cable car going up Mount Juneau. Alongside the ms Volendam.
Taking a cruise in September when the season is closing is always a gamble and it depends on what you want out of it and when you have time. May/June has pristine but cold weather but the whales have not arrived yet. Then midsummer the temperatures go up to the mid sixties or seventies and the whale sightings increase and the weather is in general very good. Then comes autumn and the weather becomes unstable to sometimes outright nasty, but you can have a sort of brief Indian summer, which we seem to enjoy now. Although it is in general chilly and rainy, wildlife is normally very good as all the animals are well fed and have time to frolic around and to show off for our benefit.
Apart from the weather this cruise, the last cruise has another benefit and that is everything is on sale. The shops are selling out before they go into hibernation for the winter. I hope the guests are taking advantage of it, the crew certainly does. The amount of packages that came up the gangway today made me wonder where it all was going to be left and how much the Statendam was going to sink deeper into the water.
We have some large crew changes coming up in the coming weeks, about 10% of the crew will change in San Diego and another 10% in Fort Lauderdale and it is a normal pattern that the crew going home stacks up on presents for those at home. Especially the Filipino crew with their extended families take little gifts home for even the remotest nephew or niece. I once counted with a Filipino carpenter no less than 83 fluffy toys in his suitcase. Then if you can get your required goodies in the sale, it is no wonder that most of the crew streamed ashore today to shop. Tomorrow there is another chance in Ketchikan, but there we are at berth 4 and that is further away from down town. No problem for the guests but for a crewmember on limited time it is not ideal.
I could not even go ashore if I wanted to as I am officially marooned on board. The US Custom and Border Protection are enforcing a new rule and that means that if you have boarded in a US port, you are not allowed off the ship (e.g. cleared by the CBP) until you have visited a foreign port. Our next non US port is Vancouver so I cannot go ashore until then. I seldom go ashore as there is hardly any time to do so, but a little walk in the Juneau sun would have been pleasant. Still it is more of a problem for the crew who joined last cruise, going northbound after Vancouver, as until returning to Vancouver, there is no foreign port that we visit. So they have been stuck on the board for 14 days. As is usual with immigration rules all over the world, it does not make sense to the traveler, but no doubt somewhere there is logic to it.
We left at 18.00 hrs. to sail for Ketchikan. The weather forecast is promising a sunny day in Ketchikan; a SUNNY day in Ketchikan, and noon temperatures should reach 65oF. We are at dock 4 as we come in the last and also leave last. All docks will be occupied with the Oosterdam at Berth one, the Zaandam at berth 2 and the Norwegian Pearl at berth 3. Last chance for the Shop keepers to make a killing before winter descends over Ketchikan. Next week there will only be a few ships left.