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twangster

Ovation Goes North, Way North to Alaska! 11 Nights, May 13, 2019

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Just now, twangster said:

Will try.  I've yet to see a DJ on the pool deck, no outdoor parties.  

Are They Running Open Night Club Every Night On That Sailing? I Know When I Used To Work On My Last Ship Ten Years AgoThey Did Club Night Every Night. 

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hey @twangster we can't thank you enough bro. All these posts are so informative & exciting. Your share on VOOM was so helpful. Can you give us a realtime weather / clothing advisory on and off the deck. It will help so much in preparing for my upcoming May end cruising on Ovation.

 

Please also let us know about the Spa, Couples passes and your overall experience there, whenever you find time to be there.

Three cheers to you. Keep us posted.... literally glued to this blog !

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I was up early on account of still being on my home time zone two hours different. At 4:30am it was getting light out so I was hoping for a sunrise.

Temperature was 39° F according to the itinerary channel.  

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Finally blue sky above us!

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To the East the sun was trying to rise but cloud cover obscured it and the mountain range that I know runs along the coast here.  If you look closely you sort of see mountains along the water's edge.

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To clear under the bridge in Vancouver with the largest margin possible they lowered the stacks.  The gray area with the piping is an assembly that lowers as a unit.  It appears it rides on those chrome support columns or they might be the hydraulic rams that lift and lower it.  

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The indoor pool area was a nice place to warm up.  It's pretty massive and should work great for families on these sea days in Alaska.

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The Case of the Disappearing and Reappearing Stacks

In order to pass under the bridge in Vancouver they lowered the exhaust stacks at the top of the ship's funnels.  This along with timing the transit to occur at low tide provided the necessary safety margin to sail under the bridge.

May 13 - Vancouver harbor:

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May 15 - At sea.

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22 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

WOW !  Beautiful, as always.

Amazing that the Pixels costumes and staging is almost identical to spectra on Anthem !  Obviously, the vistarama images are entirely unique to Pixels but almost everything else is Spectra !

Minor differences.  Somehow I enjoyed Pixels better.

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Ok, this is like “Where’s Waldo?”  We dropped in on the Cruise Critic meet and greet, since my wife was following this cruise on there.  One of the attendees took the mic asked if @twangster was in the room.  Only response was - the sound of crickets.  He made a few quite complementary remarks about your photos that you have shared and remarked he is looking to run into you.  

Based on the pics you shared of sailing under Lionsgate I think I have might have a photo of you, if you were wearing dark pants and a grey Hoodie.

 

 

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Since your cabin is port side I’ll share the view of the sunrise from our starboard side balcony this morning.  The aft balcony was not as impressive but I can see we are much close to land on the port side from there.  Hopefully you can find some wildlife with being so close. 

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@ScooterScott22 - I tend not to do M&Ms.  

Another Alaska Enrichment talk on day three in Two70° at 1:30pm was well attended.  This one focused on the Geography of Alaska.

Temperatures were in the mid-50s and sunny.  Some folks were in t-shirts and shorts.  Flowrider was going.

Voom is becoming very slow.  We've switched to the old satellite platform that was designed for ships half this size.  With 4000+ guests it's excruciating at times. 

Dinner tonight in Jamie's was very good and courtesy of my travel agent.  I was in a corner with poor lighting for photography so I couldn't get good food pictures.

I'm spending a lot time outdoors looking for photo opportunities and with the very slow Voom I'm going to switch from live blogging to semi-live or a few days delayed and will fill in the missing photos when I can give them the respect they warrant.  As we move into the port intensive phase of the cruise I'm going to focus on the cruise and less on the blog, at least for now.  

Back soon...

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1 hour ago, ScooterScott22 said:

Based on the pics you shared of sailing under Lionsgate I think I have might have a photo of you, if you were wearing dark pants and a grey Hoodie.

 

 

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I only see an empty space where that arrow is pointing, right between two other people.

Guess it goes to show that bots are like vampires in that regard; they don't show up in photographs or mirrors. 😁😉

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34 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

I only see an empty space where that arrow is pointing, right between two other people.

Guess it goes too show that bots are like vampires in that regard; they don't show up in photographs or mirrors. 😁😉

Yea, it has been easier to find some of the wildlife.  This morning there were a number of Dalls porpoise all around.  For those traveling later in the season keep on the lookout. They appear to be about the size of the spinner dolphin in Hawaii but have a darker back and light (almost white) side.

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16 hours ago, twangster said:

The Case of the Disappearing and Reappearing Stacks

In order to pass under the bridge in Vancouver they lowered the exhaust stacks at the top of the ship's funnels.  This along with timing the transit to occur at low tide provided the necessary safety margin to sail under the bridge.

May 13 - Vancouver harbor:

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May 15 - At sea.

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I wonder if Oasis has, or will have, that capability... It's going to be a tight fit to squeeze under the Verrazano bridge here in NY next year!

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Day Three - Sunset

After some heavier cloud cover it was nice to see it break up a little and we almost saw a sunset.  We were at this point approaching the entrance to the Alaskan Inside passage.

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There is another ship ahead of us crossing our bow in the distance.

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Some heavier clouds in the distance stole the sun from our sunset but helped to produce some dramatic late evening skies.

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With that it was bedtime in anticipation for tomorrow.

Day Four - Icy Strait Point

Progress so far...

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Weather was continuing to improve and for the first time we were treated to a nice sunrise here at 4:55am.

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There was some low cloud cover that filled some inlets and areas of the inside passage that the sun had not had a chance to burn off yet.

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Technically the sunrise was earlier but with the hills and mountains it was hidden from us until now.

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The effect of the sun and the low cloud cover was mesmerizing to watch.

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At this 5 o'clock hour is when they wash the outer decks down which is how the glass is always so clean.  This includes washing any sea mist off the North Star.

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The sunrise was quite breathtaking this morning.

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In the water there was frequently seals and small porpoises playing in the water (or feeding).  It was quite interesting to watch once my room service breakfast arrived. 

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A coffee on my balcony watching the marine life of the Inside Passage.

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As the sun rose higher the beauty of the Inside Passage began to unfold.

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Finally in the distance I could make out the floating pier of Icy Strait Point.

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The cloud cover is common at this morning hour but it looked promising for a great day.

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We began our turn to dock starboard side in.

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Finally we were at our first port of call and the first time a ship this large had ever visited ISP.

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Day Four - Icy Strait Point

My day starts with an excursion booked through Royal Caribbean called Glacier Bay Flightseeing.  Originally $399 but offered on sale for $319. 

The meeting point was inside the first building at the end of the pier where many excursions depart from. 

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It's very well organized with large displays that matched the number printed on my ticket.

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We boarded a bus for the 10-15 minute ride to the Hoonah airport.

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Our chariot to Glacier Bay on this occasion.

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The right seat or copilot's seat was offered so I jumped at the chance.

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On the taxi out to prepare for take off our pilot spotted a couple of deer.

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Soon we were airborne with a great view of the town and local marina.

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Not long after I spotted Icy Strait Point with the profile of a familiar ship in the distance.

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Hard to miss North Star.

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Our pilot made the turn and we headed off towards Glacier Bay. 

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Everyone gets a window seat!

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Alaska is quite beautiful.

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As we flew North and the peaks increased in altitude so did the amount of snow.

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In the distance I could make out the ice fields that feed the glaciers. 

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We were in the mountains now at an elevation of around 7,000 feet.

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The ice fields are massive.  It's hard to appreciate the scale but it's basically a sea of snow.

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What's amazing about this excursion is not only to see some glaciers, but to fly above and behind them, to see the ice fields that feed the many glaciers in this area.   

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Climbing still we head towards some of the highest peaks in this region. 

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You can see how the snow has deformed from it's own weight pushing down slope beginning the multi-decade process of moving towards the face of a glacier. 

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Flying in close proximity to the peaks and seeing this with your own eyes is incredible.  

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Pictures don't do this justice.

Again you can see the snow where it has advanced downslope from it's own weight, like a land slide, compressing the layers below it into glacier ice and squeezing oxygen out in the process.

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At this point we are flying above a valley of snow and ice with peaks on both sides.

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In the distance another valley of glacial ice is approaching from the opposite direction.

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Flying beside these rock peaks is an incredible experience.  They are so beautiful and experiencing them up close like this will stay with me when I see a peak way off in the distance.

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More evidence of motion in the sea of snow and ice below us.

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We are literally flying around these peaks, not above them.

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As we descend along with the valley of glacial ice below us we begin to see signs of melting with pools of turquoise blue water on the surface.

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Turning around one more peak...

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We are presented a magnificent view of the John Hopkins Glacier as seen from the glacier.

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You can clearly see the moraine or dirt trails on top of the glacier.

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With a banking turn so both sides can see the glacier below us you somewhat appreciate how wide this glacier is but it's hard to fathom the scale of all this.

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At this point more peaks are right beside us.

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Then we turn to follow the channel of water, the John Hopkins Inlet.

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Turning the corner the scale of this all suddenly becomes clear when a tiny ship appears.

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Originally looking small next to the rising sides of the valley (and the highest peaks are well behind us) I realize it's the Norwegian Bliss.  The Bliss is pretty much the same size as Ovation being slightly smaller than Ovation by a narrow margin.  In other words it's a pretty massive cruise ship, the largest to visit Alaska until Ovation arrived on this cruise, yet it seems so small in the vastness of the space. 

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Seeing something familiar, a large cruise ship, set the scale for what we had just seen and it blew my mind just how big all of it really was.

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Continuing our flight down Glacier Bay I spot another glacier.  The Lamplugh Glacier, something the folks on the Bliss will reach soon after our flyover.

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Next is Reid Inlet and Reid Glacier.

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We continue to fly South back toward the entrance of Glacier Bay park and with the peaks of the mountain range behind the snow capped peaks of these smaller mountains give way to lush green vegetation below the snow line at lower elevations.

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It's all still very breathtaking and I could have taken many more pictures.

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A suspended frozen lake in a bowl on the side of this mountain.

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Our pilot does a fantastic job bringing us safely back towards Hoonah.

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In the distance to the South I spot the North Star.  Not that North Star...

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Ovation's North Star and Icy Strait Point.

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Our pilot spots a whale excursion boat so we bank overhead in time to see a whale surfacing near the excursion boat.  No pictures of that one, had to see it live.

With the lush green land near Hoonah below us we gently land from where we had departed. 

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Back in our van and heading to Icy Strait Point my mind raced to process all that I had seen.

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Our driver dropped us off near the entrance to Icy Strait Point by the old cannery. 

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I chose to walk back to the ship along the shore.

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Here is this excursion compressed into a 7 minute video made from clips I took in between taking photographs.

At the 3 minute mark is the John Hopkins glacier and around the 5 minute mark you can see Ovation at Icy Strait Point. 

It's hard to put into words everything that I experienced on this excursion.  At $319 it was the most expensive excursion on this trip but I have to say it was well worth it.  I've heard naturalists and others countless times talking about "The Ice Fields" but now I've seen them first hand.  I can visualize the process of snow falling, compressing, hundreds of feet deep turning into glacial ice, having oxygen squeezed out and turning blue then slowly creeping it's way down a slope to the eventually find itself on the face of a glacier where we get to watch it calve countless years later.  

Pretty awesome experience and I look forward to seeing Glacier Bay by ship now that Royal can begin sailing there in future years.  When I do all this will come flooding back to me having seen this same area from high above it and from the opposite perspective.

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Day Four - Icy Strait Point

After a bite for lunch I headed back shore side for my second excursion Spasski Valley Wildlife and Bear Search.

After a 45 minute bus ride we were given a safety briefing.  This included the request to whisper so as not to startle the bears which could lead to an attack.  Living in Colorado and hiking in bear territory this was confusing advice.  I have always been told to make noise when hiking so as NOT to startle bears.  Some hikers wear cow bells so they are announced.  Hmmm.

By now it was raining and I was glad I had my rain coat.  That's Alaska weather.  The excursion takes place along a boardwalk like wooden walkway with three viewing platforms along a river.  To reach the river you cross a meadow on the boardwalk. 

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Our first viewing platform.

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Nice views down the river.

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Some participants thought a rock in the river was bear but soon realized it was just a rock

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We paused at each platform waiting for a sign off a bear.

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At the next platform we waited some more.

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At the third viewing platform we waited some more.

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Finally a bear appeared behind us in the woods.

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It was a very nice but weathered carving of a bear out of a stump. 

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On the walk out we saw evidence of a bear.

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Apparently bears don't like the rain so they retreat into the woods.  

Meanwhile 45 minutes later, back at ISP...

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I decided I wanted a bear.  I mean a beer.  What better place but by the fire at the Duck Point Bar.

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Back on board I noticed the North Star was running so I jumped in the standby line.

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After dinner it was time to leave.

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Off we slipped towards the Pacific to reach our next stop.

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Despite the bear bust, it was a very enjoyable day at ISP, one of my favorite Alaskan ports.  

For my other stops at ISP on previous cruises:

Radiance ISP 2018

Millenium ISP 2017

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On 5/16/2019 at 3:23 PM, Lloyd said:

Any views of the Alaska scenery from the Two70? I plan to sit there with my morning coffee!

 

Surprisingly I'm not visiting Two70° as much as I have on other cruises.  So much going on with great views outside but we'll see what happens when we visit the glaciers.

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twangster, really enjoying your review.  We're going on Anthem in March for first time and I think Ovation is pretty similar.  So your review has gotten me much more excited as Ovation is a beautiful ship with great views and things to do.  Our kids will love the Sea Plex and the 270 looks really nice too (even though you just commented you are not in there as much this time).  The entertainment seems pretty good too.  Seems like you're having a great time!  Thank you for sharing with us.

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On 5/16/2019 at 3:23 PM, Lloyd said:

Any views of the Alaska scenery from the Two70? I plan to sit there with my morning coffee!

 

 

23 hours ago, twangster said:

Surprisingly I'm not visiting Two70° as much as I have on other cruises.  So much going on with great views outside but we'll see what happens when we visit the glaciers.

The morning coffee might be the thing that is throwing off that equation.  I’m not saying the views are bad in two70 but there might be better spots in the morning.  With the time change, early docking times and the fact that it is light at 4-something each morning, it has been easy to be awake and taking pics before anyone is really serving.  IMHO the views to the side and forward coming into Icy Straight Point, Sitka and Hubbard glacier have been better.  The aft views are not bad, just better as we sail out, so two70 may not be ideal.  So far, in the morning, the Solarium has been one of the better spots.

We are fortunate enough to have the Grand Loft Suite on the starboard/aft and while we have pics and seen great views from all the balconies more pics have been taken from the side, in the morning specially.  I’m up again at 4:30 as we sail into Juneau and this morning the aft views are a little better than the other days.  Sorry for chiming in on the live blog, it’s just early and we are moving probably less than 10 knots so there is time to kill.  Below are the starboard and then the aft pics I just took with the phone. 

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