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whogo

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  1. July 16, 2024, Hubbard Glacier I have a drinking problem. There, I admitted it. It's time to face facts, own up to it, do something about it, go public with it. You'll recall that I needed to drink 83 included beverages per day to make this cruise a bargain. I have had one beer. I am 414 beers short of my goal. I will never make it. This cruise will never be a bargain. It's not that Seabourn don't try, they offer alcohol all the time. Seabourn will have bottles of your favorite booze waiting in your cabin when you board, will stock your fridge with your favorite beer, replenish it daily. They offer a shot of vodka as you enter the caviar party. Don't want vodka? Take the bubbly instead. Order a drink at trivia, all included. You should see the look of shock on the waiter's face when you turn down wine at dinner, they offer to bring something else, anything else. The confused look on the poor guy's face as he tries to understand that you really don't want anything. I feel like I hurt his feelings when I don't give him the pleasure of bringing me a drink. What are we doing on Seabourn? What does the staff say about the weird undemanding Whogo couple? Dosed myself with caffeine in the Observation Bar, not available until 6:15 AM and they call that “early riser”, go figure, I'd been up for two hours. Admired the snowy mountain peaks way off to port. Mountains were closer as we entered Disenchantment Bay (what a great name). Next great scenery was our arrival at Hubbard Glacier, a massive wall of blue ice, seven miles wide, 350 feet high above the waterline with another 250 feet below. It rains all the time here, but the sun shone on us, metaphorically speaking, as the overcast skies spit out a few widely scattered tiny drops on occasion. We took a ships excursion, about 120 of us loaded onto a catamaran for a narrated tour closer to the glacier. We moved from heated inside seating to outside viewing as the mood hit us. It was wonderful to get close the glacier, witness some calving and to see a number of harbor seals that had pulled themselves up on floating ice. Also saw a number of black-legged kittiwake and what's the black bird that is too chubby to be a raven? It was a black oyster catcher, marvelous bird with striking orange eyes and long orange beak, look up a photo of one. We could not have been happier with the excursion. Mrs. Whogo was not interested in sushi at The Club, I went alone, ordered a couple of sushi rolls and she showed up and snagged some away from me. Feasted on escargot and lamb chops in the dining room, I am one happy camper. Seabourn's Voyage tracker will give you their corporate take on this cruise. I have not looked through it yet (hope there is nothing bad about me), expect flowery language about gentle breezes, majestic mountains and jeweled light on rippling waters and absolutely no negativity. See if they mention that it rained all day in Sitka, e.g. You may need to do some navigation via the three line menu link (which on my iphone is off the screen in the upper left corner) to Odyssey, July 12, 2024: https://www.seabourn.com/en/us/experience/voyagetracker/index.html You can also see our approximate current position and nearby ships here: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:370039/mmsi:309416000/imo:9417086/vessel:SEABOURN_ODYSSEY or the more exact satellite position by paying for an upgrade. blue skies and blue ice Hubbard glacier calved for us escargot is tops
  2. July 15, 2024, Sitka, Alaska Our ride was a little rougher last night as predicted, still nothing to speak of. The weather service reports current conditions of rain/fog/mist in Sitka. Forecast? “Rain. High near 58. Southeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming south in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.” We dined late last night, finished before 10:00, the Grill had just two other groups when we left, the large party of Spanish speakers was just getting their appetizers, were probably eating earlier than they prefer. But I have kept you on tenter hooks long enough, you want to hear about Mrs. Whogo's experience winning the $150 credit at the spa. Was she able to book a treatment during a port stop? Yes! Did she receive the discount? Yes! Was she happy with her treatment? Yes! Was there a sales pitch to buy product? None at all. Of course her mani/pedi with extras cost more than $150, but she felt it was a bargain. Tipped. Wildlife sightings! At last. Before breakfast I saw a sea otter at some distance, bald eagles, and what the Venture team said were Steller sea lions. They are the largest of the eared seals. Only the walrus and elephant seal are larger pinnipeds. The eagle, otter and seal are the only wildlife seen since Vancouver's gulls and pigeons. Remember, all I wanted from this cruise was to reach US state #50, all the rest of this is gravy. Mrs. Whogo and I split up after my second breakfast (I ate before she arose and then could not let her dine alone). I wore my rain gear in light rain all day. It took about five minutes to tender ashore at 10:00, Silversea's Silver Nova was anchored farther away. Norwegian Bliss, with capacity of 4,004 passengers, was docked five miles away and explained the mass of tourists in Sitka. I made a pedestrian tour of the town, viewed St. Michaels [Russian Orthodox] Cathedral, the Lutheran Church, the blockhouse and the cemetery. When did you last see a Russian princess' grave? Princess Maksoutoff was the wife of the last governor of Russian America. I bought six postcards at $0.25 each without telling the shopkeeper what a bargain that was. I walked with the musical lilt of raven song, those big birds are a favorite of mine. Then I got to the good stuff. The log Russian Bishop's House, ca 1841, now a National Park Service museum with info about Russian America was also an orphanage. St. Peter's by the Sea Episcopal Church had interesting architecture with a unique steeple. Then I got to the really good stuff. Sitka National Historical Park on the site of an 1804 battle between the Russians and Tinglit Kiks.adi. Early and modern totem poles were displayed, the forest trails were a wonder, especially after the crowds thinned out, trees are impressive in the Pacific Northwest. I was pleasantly surprised to see no litter. Spent some time chatting with the totem carvers in the visitor center. The park rangers were helpful, all in all a great experience. A number one primo day. Although we had split up, Mrs. Whogo saw the same things I did plus the Sheldon Jackson Museum with info about its life as a school for the natives. Dining room meals of Vietnamese lemongrass chicken with rice noodles for me and scallops and shrimp for her. She was off to hear a singer in the Grand Salon, I had important blogging to do. Alaskan forests ravens eagles are gravy totems by Tinglits
  3. July 14, 2024, Happy Bastille Day Alaska! Forty-ninth state in the union, fiftieth and final for me. Alit in Ketchikan, Alaska at 6:32 AM. My US map is all colored in, I have completed the set, major goal of this cruise reached, I don't have to do anything else. In reality, I screwed up, should have made North Dakota my 50th state, joined the “Best for Last” club at the welcome center and received the tee shirt to the staff's applause. https://www.fargomoorhead.org/best-for-last-club/ Ketchikan did nothing, no trumpet fanfare, no greeting committee, no congratulatory handshake. I'm still happy to be here. Alaska, The Last Frontier, Nature in all her glory on display. The annual migration of thousands of miles, shifting from the Caribbean to the Pacific Northwest, undaunted, jewelry stores follow their prey feed off cruise ship passengers. Effy, Diamonds International and all the rest. Ketchikan, population 8049, today welcomed Ruby Princess (3080 passengers), Celebrity Edge (2918 passengers), Carnival Spirit (2124 passengers), Seabourn Odyssey (458 passengers). It brings tears to my eyes. You can see Russia from here. All you have to do is look back to a time before Seward arranged for its purchase from Russia. The cruise director's PA announcement of the weather and gangway opening was fine, the continued announcement of a half dozen things that were printed in the daily Herald were too much. Let those who can't or won't read suffer. We expected rain in what is considered the rain capital of Alaska. It was, instead, a beautiful sunshiny day, shirtsleeve weather. What luck. Mrs. Whogo and I were off. I had checked to see that it was open on Sundays, arrived at Totem Heritage Center to find a taped up message that it was closed due to power failure. We followed the creek back to downtown past the fish hatchery, closed Sundays. Beautiful, fast moving shallow stream, the sound of water frequently all one could hear, bridges gave a good view of some big salmon, maybe two feet long. We passed a couple of piles of bear scat without encountering the beasts. The “closed due to power failure” sign was removed as we reached Tongass Historical Museum. It was worth more than the $5 they charged us elders (old people). I especially liked displays of stone, wood and horn tools, and woven baskets, a video of the salmon cannery operation was mesmerizing. I watched a series of short videos, loved the statement in the credits of one of them that thousands of fish had been killed in the making of the film, just the opposite of what you expect in films today. Finally back to downtown, Mrs. Whogo went wild in the shopping paradise and bought postcards and salmon rub. We pulled away from the dock right on time at 3:00. The captain mentioned a few minutes before that we would leave the protected inside passage about 1:00 and might experience more motion and that scenic sailing would start about 6:30 AM as we approach Sitka. Pretty scenery this evening, too, fairly close to little forested islands, distant mountains. We watched from our table in TK Grill celebrating a milestone. Do people eat all the food in all the courses? I was served crudites, bread and butter, clam chowder, a big ribeye steak, spinach, mushrooms, a sundae and chocolate chip cookies. What a gut busting meal. Patchy fog as dusk fell added some eeriness, imagined it as the opening of a horror film. Today's tally: Zero beers, zero elevator rides. Russia's right next door on our anniversary fifty is nifty
  4. Life was simpler before Mrs. Whogo discovered my blog. She picked a fight. “Poem? That's not a poem.” “It's a haiku, it's a poem.” “You're just putting in a few random words.” “It's an ancient poetry form. Five syllable line followed by seven syllables followed by five. Eighteen syllables.” “Seventeen syllables.” “Oh, that does make seventeen. I rounded up to an even number. Poetic license. I was speaking American and counting syllables before you were born. You just don't appreciate art. Philistine.” Then it got ugly. It is a sad state of affairs when a man is treated better by social media than by his wife. Life was simpler before Mrs. Whogo discovered my blog.
  5. January 13, 2024 Where did all the water come from? We sailed close to shore last evening and enjoyed views of pine covered mountains on both sides of the ship. This morning there is a lot of water and a distant view of land off the starboard side, it is either Canada or Alaska, let's call it North America, will try to pinpoint later. Still smooth sailing, I see the slightest motion between the horizontal line of our balcony railing and the horizon. I scanned the ocean for wildlife, found none. Dining room opened for breakfast at 8:00, the middle of the morning for me, have to remember this is Seabourn and Seabourn cruisers dine late like the Rockefellers. Any American cafe could have provided my egg and bacon breakfast, will have to order lamb chops or eggs benedict tomorrow. Seabourn does set the table with a lot of nice flatware that Tommy's Cafe doesn't. Picked up my no extra charge Helly Hansen waterproof, breathable, guaranteed, hooded Seabourn jacket. Bright blue and orange colors should make it easier for a rescue team to find me. Brent Houston introduced his Ventures (expedition) team in the Grand Salon (showroom), wildlife, kayak, zodiac, Alaska experts, must be about a dozen of them. We sailed with Brent on our Antarctica cruise, he was the penguin expert, presented great talks on them, did wonderful penguin imitations. (Note that I did not call him my dear friend, we were not that close.) Mrs. Whogo and I ended up at a high top table in the Colonnade again for lunch, tables are hard to come by. I spoke with a couple of Ventures experts at their station aft of Seabourn Square, they had not spotted wildlife yet, either. The captain's noon announcement was at noon thankfully, Holland America's noon announcement on our last cruise was at 1:00, still makes me uneasy to remember that. Trivia started immediately after, we lucked into a good team, won Seabourn travel umbrellas. Chopin was Polish, Ray Manzarek was with the Doors, and the answer to the Roman numeral math question was DCIV. I've seen a map. We are sailing off the coast of British Columbia, Canada no longer visible to the east, we reach Ketchikan and Alaska tomorrow. Mrs. Whogo attended the Venture talk on alcids. What are alcids, you ask? They are chunky seabirds of the family Alcidae, including puffins. There is a chance we will see puffins flying about. We have not yet seen any wildlife beyond Vancouver's gulls and pigeons. Seabourn offered me an upgrade to a Wintergarten suite a few weeks ago for $9,100. I turned it down without checking to see if that was the price for both of us or each of us. Just as well, I can't handle our small cabin, had my watch charging cord before dinner, could not find it after dinner. I checked every drawer, shelf, cushion, cubbyhole, in the cabin, so desperate that I carefully eyeballed the ceiling. It will turn up right where I left it, if I buy a replacement in Ketchikan. I am without my smart watch, have to dig my phone out of my pocket to check the time. What an inconvenience. How do the kids do it? Formal night tonight, the clothes people are out. I look like an unmade bed in sweater and tie, but would look like an unmade bed in a suit or dinner jacket, so what's the diff? If my appearance annoys you, just remember all the things you do to annoy me and let's call it even. Signature Dinner tasting menu tonight, six course set menu, four small appetizers (we both thought they were full size) plus choice of a halibut, beef tenderloin or vegetarian main followed by dessert. Waiters expected applause as they popped the covers off the main dishes in unison. Popped our lids off and I was served my wife's halibut, she was served my beef. Boo. Hiss. Today's tally, zero beers, one elevator ride (don't tell Mrs. Whogo). Oh, Canada, eh, baby puffins are pufflings Alaska awaits
  6. July 12, 2024 We walked Canada Place terrace this morning to view Odyssey (450 passengers) and Radiance of the Seas (2466 passengers, one of the “small” Royal Caribbean ships). Informational placards were good reading, tales of Gander Newfoundland on 9/11, the real Winnie the Pooh, First Nations peoples and the like. Odyssey was connected to the power grid, great for Vancouver to have it and Seabourn to use it instead of running their diesel engines. Never saw anything loaded or unloaded on Odyssey, hope we have food, beverages and luggage for the cruise. Had fun watching the harbor activity with float planes, ferries and sail boat. Boarding was fairly painless despite being intermingled with Royal Caribbean passengers through US immigration and security, were seated with fellow Seabourners to board, could go directly to our cabin. Refamiliarized ourselves with the ship layout, cabins are in the pointy end, public rooms in the back, except the observation bar in front. Quite simple, really, but we managed to make it difficult. Ate lunch in the Colonnade (buffet) outside, could not pass up leg of lamb, the breeze made 74°F a bit chilly, I was surprised Mrs. Whogo was comfortable. Absolutely gorgeous sunshiny weather for our 4:40 sail away, the rugged Pacific Northwest scenery is nothing like home in the midwest. Cruise director Jan Stearman introduced the entertainers for the week at the pool, we will meet the guest lecturer tomorrow. I figure I can make this cruise a bargain by drinking 83 included drinks per day. I had a Molson beer, we are in Canada, eh, only 82 beers to go. Heard a PA announcement outside our cabin, not in our cabin, opened the balcony to find the “announcement” was a bullhorn voiced neighbor chatting. Heaven help me. It's one of those days made for reading on a balcony, but not with that noise. What is with people? Mrs. Whogo won the spa drawing, $150 credit to be used while the ship is in port, appointment must be made before 10:00 tonight. Will she use it or lose it? Did she “win” the opportunity to hear sales pitches for spa products? if so, will she fall for them? Stay tuned. There are children aboard from babes in arms through teenagers, well behaved so far including a table near us of all elementary school aged children with no adults. As regular Holland America cruisers, we are used to seeing walkers and wheelchairs, not prams. Good dinner and good service, no clear winner between my lamb chops and her miso cod. Have I set a record for sticking oddities in quotation marks? beautiful weather sunshine coastline asparagus miso cod lamb chops
  7. (It's Seabourn's map, don't blame me that the ocean looks like land and the land looks like ocean.) Friday, July 12 Vancouver, BC, Canada 5:00pm Saturday, July 13 At Sea Sunday, July 14 Ketchikan, AK 7:00am 3:00pm Monday, July 15 Sitka, AK 8:00am 5:00pm Tuesday, July 16 Yakutat, AK (Cruising) Tuesday, July 16 Hubbard Glacier, AK 10:00am 6:00pm Wednesday, July 17 Inian Islands, AK 5:30am 10:30am Wednesday, July 17 Icy Strait Point, AK 2:00pm 9:00pm Thursday, July 18 Haines, AK 6:00am 6:00pm Friday, July 19 Juneau, AK 7:00am 9:00pm Saturday, July 20 Tracy Arm (Twin Sawyer Glaciers), AK (or Endicott Arm. Route subject to weather.) 8:00am 5:00pm Sunday, July 21 Wrangell, AK 8:00am 6:00pm Monday, July 22 Misty Fjords National Monument, AK (Cruising) Tuesday, July 23 Prince Rupert, BC, Canada 8:00am 11:00pm Wednesday, July 24 At Sea Thursday, July 25 Alert Bay, BC, Canada 6:00am 4:00pm Friday, July 26 Vancouver, BC, Canada 7:00am You know those live blogs where everything fits together beautifully? Happy cruisers reuniting with their dear friends in the crew? Dinner with the captain? Perfectly arranged private excursions ashore? Reports of sunsets and scenery that read like poetry? This isn't one of those. We are woefully unprepared for our cruise and I don't write any better than this. We spent a night at the O'Hare Hilton because late rising Mrs. Whogo did not want to leave home at 3:00 AM for the three hour drive to the airport. No need to mention who booked the flight, we're not playing the blame game. We spent last night in Vancouver to increase our odds of not being left behind when Odyssey sails. Flying coach for four hours on American Airlines was okay, two servings of a full can of soda with packaged cookies and I have already forgotten the line for the toilets and the wet floors therein. Our seatmate on the aisle slept most of the way, lucky stiff. First snag was to find no cell phone service in Vancouver. Ouch. Forget mapping apps, boarding passes and Uber, we took the light rail (a better blogger would know its name) to Waterfront for a short walk to the Pan Pacific Hotel, worked beautifully, cost US$8.34 each. Cell phone problem was user error, although we're still not playing the blame game. Despite our lack of planning, bumped into a fellow that exchanged US$300 to Alaskan dollars at no commission, now have four crisp, new AK$75 bills. Mrs. Whogo chose our dinner restaurant, we walked a mile through the less salubrious area of Vancouver without being accosted by the street people. The guy who looked dead probably wasn't. First restaurant choice was unacceptable, second choice was nowhere to be found, chose a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place at random, seemed authentic, not that we would know and had a delightful meal and service. Mrs. Whogo won dinner with her shrimp wonton noodle soup. Returned to our room to watch Queen Elizabeth sail away and awoke to write this drivel and watch Radiance of the Seas and our Seabourn Odyssey pull in. AA flight okay crammed aloft in hollow tube long march, tasty meals [This haiku is much better when nicely calligraphied in Japanese.]
  8. Jan Stearman had been with Seabourn for 25 years when we sailed with her in 2020, quite personable and an excellent singer. She started out with Royal Viking.
  9. Thank you for the reports, Pirouette. I hate to pester you during your cruise. If I may ask, is the dining room open for breakfast or lunch? I like an uncrowded meal. The included waterproof jacket is a surprise. My bright orange with black outer jacket with inner puffer jacket is labeled "This modular jacket was designed specially for your Antarctic Voyage." Is that one of the options? I was planning to get by with a Gore-tex hooded windbreaker with sweater(s) as needed, will rethink if jackets are provided.
  10. If you are looking for a cruise on Seabourn Encore, my bet is that Seabourn is trying to figure out how to get Encore to the Mediterranean after her cruise ending in Singapore on March 2, 2025. The next cruise that my online agency lists is June 1, 2025 from Dubrovnik. Blame the Houthis.
  11. Are you afraid that Seabourn will be overrun with large groups? My suspicion is that this enhanced program for travel advisors is of no more interest or value to them than an enhanced airline mileage program is to me.
  12. We went with the lodge in Peru route a number of years ago. Howler monkeys, caimans, pirana and hoatzin were our fauna sightings, no anteaters, jaguars or snakes. There were lots of muddy trails and huge insects. We saw little but green river banks from small boats on the tributaries. Cruising on the Amazon does not appeal to me. Pink dolphin sightings are the best thing cruise reviews mention. Visits to small villages seem intrusive. I hope those villagers have monetized the visits to the point where they can walk a few miles to their real homes with air conditioning and satellite TV.
  13. Then again, the VP might be the fall guy for the CEO's blunder. Where does the buck stop?
  14. He foresaw your desire and mentioned in his review that he will sail the ship again in December. I was pleasantly surprised by his negative comments. I was expecting a fluff marketing piece from Carnival Corporation. He has set up his webpage for more reviews. I am looking forward to more. Thanks, clueless2 for calling this to our attention.
  15. It's much easier to be a lapsed Unitarian. I will have no trouble dying at all.
  16. Holland America Line may lose a few cruisers, but will probably make more money from an additional Tanzanite or insole salesperson. I would bet that Roman Catholic passengers and crew will adapt to survive on Holland America as they do on Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Viking, Windstar, Azamara, Carnival, Viking, Celebrity, Disney, Norwegian, Ponant, Regent, Princess, Cunard and Hurtigruten.
  17. Every cruise line encourages group bookings, as do hotels, resorts, museums and zoos, but this looks like an email that should have been sent to travel agents instead of individuals.
  18. Thank you for another great blog, Fletcher.
  19. The Volendam 132 day world cruise price is about $219/night. I would not expect a popular segment to sell for less. If you want a bargain on a world cruise segment, wait until it is rerouted around the west coast of Africa, that segment should go cheaply.
  20. Thanks for the details, FlyerTalker. The AA New Distribution Channel is annoying. Try to book the cheapest fare and you the system offers you numerous opportunities to spend more for seat selection and included luggage and insurance and who knows what else.
  21. Thanks for introducing me to the word spruik, BasandSyb. Seabourn is a much better experience. I do not paint as dark a picture of Holland America as you do. Ice water has always been served in the restaurants and is available for self service in the buffet. A shake of my head has always been enough to deter the nightly offer to sell me a can of water or the occasional photographer's intrusion. Yes, there are a lot of up charge items on the menus. Clearly identified, I have never had a waiter mention one, much less push one. Yes, it is a nuisance to sign for drinks, an every other day occurrence for me, much worse for a serious drinker or those who are trying to get the most from their 15 drink per day drink package. Up charge items are as easy to avoid on HAL as are the sales pitches on Seabourn for Tanzanite seminars, footprint analysis, Swarovski binoculars, and the Didaj showcase (whatever that might be).
  22. Sometimes surveys seem to be sent out for amusement purposes only. My second Seabourn cruise is coming up this summer. I did not receive the survey. I know I subsidize the drinkers, do not want Seabourn to quit being all inclusive on booze or gratuities. Included air and included excursions are not selling points. I am following a Regent blogger who has taken what I consider to be horrible included big bus tours. No, not interested.
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