Cruising to Alaska on Rhapsody of the Seas – August 16, 2009 – Juneau

Arrival in Juneau wasn’t till late morning, but overnight we had moved back toward land and by breakfast time there were tree covered mountainous islands on both sides of us.  The feeling was something like taking a cruise through the Rocky Mountains!  The day was hazy and cloudy but as we got closer to land we could see snow fields and waterfalls.

We were happy to see that a worship service was scheduled and at 8:00 we made our way to the “Shall we Dance” Lounge for church!  Our speaker was none other than Joel Olsten of Houston Lakewood Church.  However, I must hurry to add that it was on video.  Around 30 of us remembered that it was the Lord’s Day and took time for a worship service.

As we approached land the motion of the sea was replaced once again by the rumble strips we felt in Puget Sound.  Also, the land on either side of the ship narrowed the waterway as we continued.  It was exciting to near our first port, but the weather was discouraging.  The rain and clouds and wind and 57 degrees reminded us that we were, indeed, on the coast of Alaska.

Two other cruise ships were already in port and the remaining slot looked like it was an afterthought.  The ship was brought about broadside into the wind and the captain worked for quite some time to bring the Rhapsody to that dock.  However, the wind pushing against our 11+ story vessel won the battle.  As we ate an early lunch the ship was backed away and announcements were made that an effort would be made in 45 minutes or so to dock the ship.  When the ship’s side thrusters were used at full power the Windjammer vibrated to the point that we wondered if dishes would start breaking.

An hour or so later we were finally docked.  It was announced that those with RCI expeditions were to disembark first, based on their tour times.  We “independent” cruisers could ask for special dispensation to leave the ship, otherwise, the general ship population was to wait.  So we waited 45 minutes or so to leave the ship.  When our turn came, we paid $3 to be shuttled closer to town where the other ships were docked.
around juneau - 8-16-2009 6-37-20 PM.JPG We then paid $14 each for a round trip to Mendenhall Glacier.  As we got off the bus we were awestruck with the beauty of the blue glacier.  Words can’t describe it and photographs can’t capture it.  In spite of the rain and clouds we were thrilled with it all.  As we arrived, we walked along an elevated boardwalk that overlooks a nearby stream.  Almost beneath our feet a large black bear meandered along the stream which was filled with salmon.  Then someone pointed out a large porcupine that was up in a tree.  Soon, though, rain gear and all, we walked out to the point where we could get the best views of the glacier and the huge waterfall just to the right of it.  Mendenhall is unforgettable; a wonderful experience.

Back in Juneau the rain continued.  Jackie did some shopping, making her major purchases of the trip.  I was happy with the Alaska baseball caps I found.

Because of the lateness of docking and it being Sunday we didn’t make the Alaska State Museum or the public library.  The port area has a lot of nice shops, however, so we weren’t too disappointed and took our time looking around before returning to the ship.

We ate at the buffet in the Windjammer and went to the only show we would see on the whole trip.  We aren’t “show people” so the song and dance was interesting to us, but not the high point of the trip.

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