Saturday, 25 September 2010



Firstly,thanks for the comments. We're so sad to hear about Nala. She had a happy life with you, but you'll miss her. How's Josh coping? And - yes - we did miss your anniversary and your birthday, Becki. How bizarre! We've been putting our watches back one hour for the last few days, tonight as well, and then to lose a whole day. Tomorrow, I gather we put our watches forward as we'll be sailing east for the first time, but after that we start putting them back again. At this moment, it's 10.40 a.m. on Saturday, 25th September. At home, I think it's around midnight on Saturday night. Very weird. Hope the Waltons had a happy anniversary and birthday, anyway. We were thinking about you all. Wendy and Peter - thanks for your emails. Hope you have a fantastic time on your cruise. You'll be pleased to know that we've had good weather all the way down, the sea calm and only occasionally choppy. We're not the best sailors, but we've been fine. Richard says he went to a classic car chatty thing yesterday but was disappointed that most of the people there (Americans) didn't know what a classic car was! Shame!

Secondly, we are now in the Pacific again, following down the Kamchatka peninsula and sometime later today the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. We land in Muroran early tomorrow morning. We have a tour booked which will take us up to Sapporo (WinterOlympics?), which will take all day. We could probably find a computer there somewhere, but we won't have time as the tour takes so long. So we are using this on the ship - special deal of 20 mins. for the price of 10 - best offer yet! We've been at sea for a week now, and it's been a long one. There have been lots of things to do, lectures, shows, food to eat!!! etc., but we'll be glad to get on shore again. There's a professor on board who's been giving lectures on Korea, China and Japan, and he's been fascinating. There is a lady on board who gives talks about what to expect at each destination, and she's very knowledgeable and friendly, so that's been really useful.

Richard is much better now - his chesty infection has improved - but, of course, he now has a bucketful catarrh! He's coughing and splurting all over the place - and his handkerchiefs are disgusting. We have quite a good launderette on the ship, and I've used it twice so far - I'm sure many of you are wondering how I'm coping on the washing front! Being away for a month has it's problems! We have a very pleasant cabin with everything we need. It's on deck 8, near the sharp end of the ship, so we feel quite a lot of the movement - but it hasn't stopped us sleeping.

I'll try and blog again either from the ship or from one of the ports we're visiting next week.

Hope everyone is well - love from the Pacific Ocean!


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

All at sea!

Hello everyone. This is a quick update from the ship. As I suspected, there was no internet access in Whittier, and we've been at sea ever since. Today is Tuesday, 21st September, and tomorrow is Thursday, 23rd September. I don't know what day you're all at, but that's the date here!

We have a fantastic train ride at Skagway, quite stupendous. The next day we cruised through Glacier Bay and after that we cruised through College Fjord. Both were utterly magical and undescribable. We then docked at Whittier for the day, a one-eyed town if ever there was one, while some passengers got off and more got on. We are now sailing westwards across the Pacific. We followed some of the Aleutian Islands down - including Kodiak - and then crossed north into the Bering Sea, still following these Aleutian Islands. We'
re about half way through the Bering Sea now. We cross the IDL at around 2.00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Sometime after that we cross south out of the Bering Sea and follow the Kamchatka Peninsula down towards Japan's Hakkaido island. We reach Muroran on Sunday morning, and we have a trip booked to take us up to Sapporo and some other places of interest. I'm hoping that I can find an internet cafe there and will be able to write more.

Unfortunately, Richard is unwell. He has a terrible chesty cough and more catarrh than anyone should be asked to deal with. He went down to the see the doctor yesterday who put him on a nebulizer and then on to antibiotics. If anything, he seems worse today, but hopefully, once the antibiotics kick in, he'll improve. I'm taking back down to see the doctor later this afternoon, whether he likes it or not. He looks and sounds awful!

That's all for now folks. This is costing a small fortune, and I won't tell you what the doctor's appointments cost. Ah well!


Wednesday, 15 September 2010


Hello from Skagway. I made a mistake yesterday when I said our next port of call was Whittier - I'd completely forgotten Skagway! Sorry Laurence! I really should read the itinerary.

We arrived here early this morning, and we're not sailing until 8.00 p.m. We've booked to go on a mountain train up to White Pass which is the old road that was used at the time of the gold rush, and apparently there is lots to see. We cross the border back into Canada for a short while, too. That trip starts at 12.00, so we've time to get back to the ship for a bite to eat before setting off. We've just ambled round this place. It's tiny compared to Ketchikan and Juneau, and is just full of the tourist shops selling jewellry, furs, clothing of all sorts. And - you've guessed it - there's another quilting shop. Not as big as the other two that I found, but certainly as big as anything in the UK. Quilting is definitely doing well up here. Must be all the dark, winter nights with nothing else to do.

We enjoyed another show last night - the entertainers from the ship put on a fabulous performance mostly dancing. We also listened to a lecture from a woman called Libby Riddler (think that's right) who won the Iderodod mushing race back in 1995 and who is a national celebrity up here. She certainly knows all about dogs and mushing! Can't imagine anything I'd like to do less.

So this really could be the last entry until we reach Japan. I'll try for Whittier, but I'm not sure about that. And, for some weird reason known only to the US mobile phone networks, I have absolutely no connection for my phone. I've used it all over the world - South Africa, Japan, etc. - with no problems, but not here.

Be back soon


Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Hello - greetings from Juneau!

We are now in Juneau. It is a lovely city - the state capital - and we have just done a quick tour around the State Capital Building. It's a lovely, gracious building and the senate room and the representatives room are just magnificent. Now we've crossed the road and come into the state building where all the administrative work is done. We've been given a computer for half an hour for free, so I'm able to update you on our last 24 hours.

After blogging yesterday in Ketchikan, we explored the town some more. It was an amazing place. We went up the mountain in a funicular and had a coffee. The view from up there was something else. We came back down and followed Ketchikan Creek down, and could see loads of dead salmon as well as lots of live ones trying to work their way upstream, against the current, and obviously some weren't making it. Apparently, the last few years the salmon population has decreased dramatically, but this year there are millions of them. The local birds were having a feast! When we walked back along the harbour, where the creek joined the sea, there were thousands of them all queueing up to go upstream. It was the oddest thing to see. The salmon have to get back to where they were spawned to spawn themselves. If they don't make it - they die. If they do make it - they spawn and then die.

We sort of wandered around the shops and came across a fantastic quilting shop, huge and very busy. Apparently quilting is alive and well in Alaska. Even in a small place like Ketchikan, there are lots of quilters with shows and classes on all year. Amazing!

We got back to the ship, which sailed at 2.00 p.m. We had a lazy lunch, then I borrowed some books from the library and read for a while - Richard went exploring to find bits of the ship that we hadn't even seen up til then. He came back and dragged me off to see these places - a night club (Skywalkers) right at the top of the shop (I think floor 17 or something), which was fantastic. We found the imaginary golf course, tennis courts, more swimming pools and hot tubs. I'm not sure if we've seen everything yet. We had dinner and then went to see another show with a comic pianist who wasn't very funny nor particularly good on the piano. Never mind.

Today, when we woke, we were in Juneau. It's a lovely city, and we've explored around this building. We've still to look at the shops - but we found another quilting shop! Even better than the one yesterday. The shop featured the work of an Alaskan designer, a bit like Beryl Cook's work, with fabric, kits, embroidery etc. I bought one panel of one of her works, and it should make an interesting quilt. Next door was an amazing knitting shop. Sorry, Lucy - at $22.50 dollars per ball, I couldn't really afford to get you any Noro - but I've got the address - if you want to look (and thanks for the map, by the way - that's great).

So now we'll go and find a coffee and wander back to the ship. There is a cable car setting off from the dock to take us up yet another mountain - might try that. We sail at 7.30 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow is all at sea, going through Glacier Bay and seeing - yes, you've guessed it - glaciers.

The weather here is unseasonally hot and dry. Normally, at this time of the year, it's raining and raining, and not particularly warm. But we have blue skies and we're wandering around in T-shirts etc. Let's hope it continues. But - to be picky - I'd like South Korea and China to cool down before we get there. It's in the 30's at the moment. (And don't I sound American - 'picky!)

I won't be able to blog until we get to Whittier, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to blog from there. So, this might be the last blog until we get to Muroran in Japan. That'll be a long one!



Monday, 13 September 2010

Mapping the journey


Lucy here. Hope you don't mind me butting in and I hope this works (fingers crossed).

I have created another map of Mum and Dad's journey - and wow what a journey!!

View Northern Pacific Odyssey 2010 in a larger map


Hello everyone

Sorry for the delay in adding to the blog. As we suspected, the ship charges 50 dollars for half an hour or 75 cents per minute! No way. Along with everything else on the ship, they are continually asking you for money to buy this or that. We've opted out of the 10$ per person per day automatic charge for tipping, and intend to tip who we want and how much we want at the end of the cruise. It certainly takes the shine off things.

So, we are now in a little business centre in the little Alaskan town of Ketchikan - Richard tells me this is a city but it sure don't look like one. It looks rather sad and neglected. We've decided not to go on an organised trip from here but just look around ourselves. The ship docked at around 6.00 a.m. and was followed in by a Holland America ship. Side by side in a port this size they are overpowering. I got up early and went out on deck to watch all this, it was fascinating. There were little sea planes taking off and landing as well. And we gather this is one of the last times the ships will come in before winter sets in. Today, however, is sunny and very pleasant - no sign of winter on the way.

We've had a very strange two days on the ship. As mentioned above, all they want is money for this, that and the other. I hate it! It is so Americanised - but so far the Americans we have met have been lovely. There is every nationality on board, particularly Chinese. And the staff come from every corner. They are very pleasant and helpful, but again just want you to buy this or sign up for that. I imagine they are on commission! The food is excellent, and there are quite a lot of different styles of restaurant. Last night was 'formal' wear, which was a pain, and afterwards we went to a 'Words & Music' show put on by the crew which was excellent and so professional. Then we collapsed into bed. Doing nothing very much is so exhausting.

We left Vancouver late on Saturday afternoon, and have been sailing steadily up the inside passage ever since. We sail south from here and then turn north again to dock at Juneau (I think) tomorrow. Then we have Skagway, a day cruising Glacier Bay, and finally docking at Whittier - need to check the itinerary. Quite a few passengers leave at Whittier, travel up to Anchorage and then fly home. The weather has been good - sunny, warmish, and the sea has been quite calm. Hope it stays that way. We of course carry on westwards, crossing the international date line on the way. We've already lost another hour last night, as well as about 8 hours flying to Vancouver.

That's all for now. If we find another friendly computer on shore tomorrow, I'll write again


Saturday, 11 September 2010

More Vancouver


We've had the most wonderful day here in Vancouver. After 12 hours sleep last night, we're feeling more human today, and we set off after a wonderful breakfast here in the hotel on to the Vancouver Rickety Tram for a hop-on, hop-off sort of journey. This place is amazing! You could spend a fortnight here (and should) and still not see everything. We've only touched the main city, but the rest of this archipelago is wonderful. Just take a look at an atlas and see what the geography is like and you'll see what I mean.

Favourite place was Granville Island - I want to live there. They have the best market ever - and we've been to a few - with such a variety of produce and all so fresh. And the shops there! I found a shop called Maiwa which sold everything I'd ever need.

The next favourite place was Stanley Park. The trees and plants were so beautiful, the views - I could go on and on. We sat in a lovely cafe eating a basked of chips and watching ships go out under the Lion Bridge. We could just see Vancouver Island in the distance.

As you can see, we love this place. Downtown is mad busy and you get neck ache looking up between the skyscrapers (our hotel bedroom is on the 26th floor), but the rest of the city is fantastic. Apparently, Vancouver is in the top ten of the world's favourite places to live.

We're just going in to dinner in the hotel. There's a proper 'posh' dinner nearby for first-class passengers on the ship - obviously we're not in that category. We've got to have our cases packed for 8.00 a.m. to be taken to the ship, and then we board around 11.00 a.m. There was a cruise ship in today, and it looks so huge. Ours is much the same size, which is frightening.

Hope to write again tomorrow but I'm not sure what the arrangements are on the ship. Here in the hotel it's free to use the computers.


Friday, 10 September 2010

In Vancouver

Hello all

After trying to get into this blog for 10 minutes, I finally managed it (sorry Lucy). Funny things, computers.

We have arrived safely. After setting off from Lymm at 3.00 a.m., travelling down to Heathrow (beautiful journey, just the truckers for company), we caught the Air Canada flight which left at 10.50 a.m. I immediately put my watch back to 3.50 a.m., which meant we landed in Vancouver at 12.15 p.m., just after lunch! It is now 6.50 p.m. and we're both shattered. After a look round down town, a trip up the Vancouver tower for the most amazing views of the place, and then a meal in Gastown, we're going to have to give in and go to bed. Shame because we're only here a short while and we'd like to see as much as we can. But old age and poverty catches up with us all, and it's time to sleep.

We had a good journey. Air Canada aren't the worst airline I've travelled on, there was plenty of leg room, fairly good food, and an excellent selection of films to watch. I watched Sex & The City 2 and then Lovely Bones (?) from the book by Alice Sebold, which I have read. Richard watched Invictus. We then discovered on the foreign film section that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was on. Although we've already seen it, it was good to see it again and, as it was sub-titled, we didn't need to wear any earplugs. So the journey went quite quickly (8 hours).

Tomorrow we intend to catch the big red bus and do a tour of the city,hop on, hop off. There is so much to see here and we really only one full day to see it. Saturday morning we're going down to Canada Place to catch the ship around lunchtime. The weather here is much like the U.K., although I think that will all change once we're out at sea and further north.

Bye for now

Monday, 6 September 2010

Nearly ready

It's Monday 6th September, and we've started the dreaded packing. We have - at last - our tickets, passports, car parking form, visas, some currency and our boarding passes. We have booked some shore excursions, but are leaving the rest until we're there.

Many thanks to everyone who has given us tips and advice - Cynthia whose friend Jean in Pennsylvania was so helpful, Laurence and Christine, Wendy and Peter - and to Wendy's friend from Goole who told us more in ten minutes at the golden wedding party the other day than we have gleaned over the past year. And thanks too to our neighbours who are looking after Walton towers while we're away.

The next posting will be from one or other airport or from our hotel in Vancouver.