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Alaska 0803
Alaska 0803

Cruising on the Mercury

Vancouver - at sea - Ketchikan - Hubbard Glacier - Juneau - Sitka - at sea - Vancouver


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Rating (out of 5):    Ship    Food    Service    Itinerary

It was time to go back to Alaska. One big advantage for the Alaskan itinerary is that we can drive to the port. Having enjoyed the Constellation so much, we decided to try the Mercury. We also liked the itinerary as it included the Hubbard Glacier and Sitka - neither of which we had seen before.

Pre-Cruise (Aug 1/2) - Drive to Vancouver

We took 2 days to drive from Calgary to Vancouver, stopping at Mom and Dad's in the OK. The trip is about 12 hours, so breaking it up over two days was nice. In Vancouver, we visited with Marj's sisters and then overnighted at Jeanne's place. That gave us a full day to explore the Vancouver harbour around Canada Place and to board the ship.

The trip was also a test for our brand new (2 days old!) Honda Accord. It was the first time we had had leather seats and a sun roof. The sun roof was awesome driving through the Rocky Mountains. The car performed well and was very comfortable.

Day 1 (Aug 3) - Boarding in Vancouver

Jeanne accompanied us down to the cruise docks early the next morning. It was a beautiful sunny day. Joan and Dave met us there and we walked around the dock area looking at the cruise ships (Norwegian Wind, Statendam, Mercury). Around lunch, Marj and I said goodbye and drove over to the cruise parking lot. We were bused back from the parking lot to the ship.

The boarding process was pretty quick, and before long we were walking the top deck. The Canada Place building is really awesome, with the white sails and all. We participated in the lifeboat drill, and then were underway.

The ship's spa usually has a free draw(s), so that they can introduce all the pay-per-use stuff and spa treatments to the passengers. As luck would have it, I won a half hour scalp / neck massage. It was great!

Day 2 (Aug 4) - Cruising the Inside Passage

Unlike our previous Alaska cruise, the weather for the Inside Passage was gorgeous. The Mercury is a smaller ship than the Constellation and quite a bit older. It was built before balconies became so popular. Therefore, we were booked into an outside cabin. Without a balcony, we had to find a place we could sit and read outside. We found that the back of the ship on deck 8 was perfect. It was quite and sheltered from the wind. We talked to a lady who was in one of the aft cabins and she didn't like the fact that when she looked out her window, she could see passengers looking back in.

Sailing up the passage was wonderful. We saw the occasional whale, and the mountains and islands were awesome.

Day 3 (Aug 5) - Ketchikan

We docked in Ketchikan early in the morning. It was mostly cloudy for the day. We didn't do an excursion, so just walked around the town. If you look at a street map of the town, you see regularly spaced streets and avenues. However, in real life some of the marked streets are actually staircases. If you had a car, it would be impossible to plot your route on the map!

Ketchikan is a great place to wander around. The houses go straight up the mountain, and some of the roads are built out from the slope like a trestle. It's amazing how many cars and trucks there are, as the roads do not go anywhere outside of the city.

Day 4 (Aug 6) - Hubbard Glacier

Another beautiful day! We sailed into Yakutak Bay under blue skies and bright sun. Lots of small white ice chunks floated around us, some with seabirds hitching a ride. The main glacier was huge. Large chunks fell into the water as we drifted by. Despite the bright sun, we bundled up as the wind off the glacier was quite cold.

Celebrity had red tartan blankets for everyone, and bar waiters came by with trays of hot chocolate. What a way to see the glaciers!

Day 5 (Aug 7) - Juneau

Our weather fortune held for another day as we docked in Juneau. Having seen the city on our previous Alaska cruise, we had booked a whale watching excursion. We went on a large boat with just over 100 passengers. We saw two different pods of humpbacks doing bubble netting and feeding on the herring. The guide explained that you watch the seaguls circling around. When they dive down to the water, the whales will burst through the surface with their mouths open. Apparently the gulls can see the whales approaching from below and dive down to get their share of the herring.

We've been told that smaller boats tend to get closer to the whales and provide better views. Although we were quite happy with our boat, we'll have to try a smaller one next time. After viewing the whales, we docked at a remote lodge (Orca Point Lodge) for a walk on the beach and a salmon barbeque.

Day 6 (Aug 8) - Sitka

More sun! We are truly blessed by the weather gods. Sitka was the capital Alaska when it belonged to Russia. There is still a lot of Russian influence in Sitka. We did a city tour which included some Russian dancing (by non-Russians!). It really is a beautiful little city.

After popping back to the ship for lunch, we walked around the town and enjoyed the sunshine. Unlike Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, Sitka is a tendering site. There is no dock for cruise ships.

Day 7 (Aug 9) - Cruising the Inside Passage

Returning back down the passge, we had some overcast weather. That was fine as we had just had 6 days of glorious sunshine and mid-70's temperatures. I can't believe how fortunate we have been on both of our Alaska cruises.

Life on the ship was wonderful. I managed to squeeze in a rowing workout every day. The gym was very well equipped. This was the second Celebrity cruise for us, and it lived up to our expectations of being our favourite cruise line.

Day 8 (Aug 10) - Vancouver and Home

We sailed into English bay at sunrise. The sun striking the cruise terminal and downtown skyline was so beautiful. Disembarkation went fairly quickly, and soon we were busing back to the car park.

We took the reverse trip home, stopping overnight in Summerland at Mom and Dad's. We enjoyed this Alaska cruise every bit as much as we did on the first one 2 years prior. We will certainly look forward to doing it again some day.

The ship was wonderful, but I only gave it 4 stars (out of 5) because of its age, and the fact that it doesn't have any (affordable) balconies. The Celebrity service and food were wonderful.